“The Syrian Opposition: Part 2,” by Landis & Pace in Arabic

المعارضة السورية (2)
بصدور 'إعلان دمشق' 2005 أصبح ممكنا الحديث عن 'معارضة سورية'

 بقلم :جوشوا لاندس وجو بايس
(مركز الدراسات الاستراتيجية والدولية ومعهد ماساشوستس للكتنولوجيا)

في الحلقة الأولى من دراسة 'المعارضة السورية' المنشورة في 'القبس' أمس، تناول المؤلف التشكيلات المكونة لتلك المعارضة، خصوصا جماعات حقوق الإنسان، والإسلاميين، والأحزاب، وهيئات المجتمع الأهلي، والمفكرين والمثقفين، واعتبر ان المعارضة مفككة، ومخترقة من قبل أجهزة الأمن، واعتبر ان تأثيرها في المجتمع السوري ما زال محدودا، رغم ما قامت به من انجازات، خصوصا في 'ربيع دمشق' الذي لم يزدهر ولم يتمكن من توحيد المعارضة.

في ما يلي الحلقة الثانية من الدراسة:

  الحرب العراقية: شحن الطاقة أم إضعافها؟
بالنسبة للمؤيدين الملحين على ما يدعى قلب نظرية الدومينو – بأن انهيار صدام حسين سوف يرسل بموجة مد من التوهج والحمية والديموقراطية في كل المنطقة – فقد تحولت الحرب لتصبح سيفا ذا حدين. فالناشطون بالغوا في دعواتهم للاصلاح باسم حماية سوريا من قدر العراق. لكن الحرب صدمت ايضا الناس كافة وجعلتهم يحتشدون خلف هذا النظام، الذي كان رئيسه الفخور يحافظ على الاستقرار في البلد. وقد اجبرت حمية الديموقراطية الجديدة لادارة بوش دمشق على تبني لغة الاصلاح، لكنها سهلت، ايضا، جهود الدول لتصنيف المنشقين كخدام وتابعين للغرب. فانهيار صدام أثار مسألة تحريك المعارضة الكردية، لكنه بذلك فاقم من التوترات بين المعارضة الكردية والمعارضة العربية.

ورغم ان الاكثرية الساحقة من المنشقين السوريين كانوا قد ادانوا بقسوة حرب العراق، فانهم قرنوا لومهم القاسي جدا بالدعوات للاصلاح. وفي ايار ،2003 وبعد شهر فقط من سقوط بغداد، احال ناشطو المجتمع الاهلي التماسا للرئيس محذرين من الايديولوجيا والسياسات 'العدائية، العنصرية، المغرورة والشريرة' للولايات المتحدة واسرائيل، وناشدوه القيام بالاصلاح لتقوية سوريا ازاء التهديدات الخارجية. وفي 8 ايار 2004 نظم ناشطو المعارضة اعتصاما غير مسبوق امام البرلمان. وفي الوقت نفسه على كل حال، وجدوا انفسهم، وبشكل متزايد، عرضة لاتهامات الخيانة، فعلى سبيل المثال، كان الاستثناء الوحيد للتعتيم الاعلامي بخصوص الاعتصام، مقالة لرئيس تحرير صحيفة البعث، التي اتهمت المتظاهرين بمحاولة 'تعزيز الضغوط الممارسة من الخارج'.

وكان الناشطون العرب متناقضين حول حرب العراق، إلا أن الأكراد رحبوا بها بابتهاج جماعي تقريبا. وأشعل سقوط صدام حسين، رمز القمع الكردي، شرارة انبعاث القومية الكردية داخل سوريا. وبدأت جماعات المعارضة الكردية بإثارة التحريض بشأن الحقوق الكردية، بما في ذلك عودة الاراضي المصادرة في المنطقة الشمالية الشرقية، والحق بتعليم ودراسة اللغة الكردية، وتقويم ومعالجة التمييز المنظم ضد الاكراد في الدوائر البيروقراطية الرسمية وجنسيات الاكراد التي نزعت عنهم المواطنة السورية في عام 1962. وبدأ عدد أصغر من الاحزاب بالمطالبة بحكم ذاتي سياسي وحكومة فدرالية.

وقد قال مشعل تيمو، الناطق باسم 'التوجه المستقبلي الكردي'، في ملاحظة له ان 'حرب العراق حررتنا من ثقافة الخوف.. لقد شاهد الناس كرديا يصبح رئيسا للعراق وبدأوا يطالبون بحقوقهم الثقافية والسياسية في سوريا. وفي مارس ،2004 انفجرت مباراة لكرة القدم بشكل صدامات بين الاكراد والعرب في القامشلي، المدينة الشمالية الشرقية، مما ادى الى تظاهرات كردية في كل مدن سوريا الكبرى. أما النظام السوري فلم يتوان عن سحق ما دعي بالانتفاضة، مطوقا وجامعا آلاف الناشطين ومغرقا المنطقة الشمالية الشرقية، التي يهيمن عليها الاكراد، بالقوى الامنية.

أما تأثير نهوض الاكراد على المعارضة ككل فقد كان مختلطا، مرة أخرى. فبطريقة ما، لعبت مسألة انفجار القومية الكردية، وسط تزايد الضغط الاميركي والاسرائيلي على سوريا، لمصلحة النظام – قامت اسرائيل، قبل اشهر، بشن ضربة جوية على الارض السورية.

وفي حين اتهمت صحافة الدولة عملاء اجانب ببدء اعمال الشغب، اججت المؤسسات الامنية الشكوك في أن الاكراد كانوا طابورا خامسا – انفصاليين ويعملون لمصلحة التدخل العسكري الاميركي – ليحتووا بذلك الاضطراب والهيجان داخل الدوائر الكردية. حتى أن ناشطين عربا متحمسين كانوا ذات مرة متعاطفين مع القسم الكردي، ترددوا بدعم حركة يلجأ عدد من قادتها بمحبة وحنان إلى الرئيس جورج بوش، مثل أبو أسعدي (أبو الحرية).

ومن جهة أخرى، أجبر حجم الثورة الناشطين العرب على الاعتراف بأن الاكراد قوة لا يمكن تجاهلها بعد الآن. فالمعارضة العربية تناضل لانزال 300 متظاهر الى الشارع، في حين ان المعارضة الكردية تستطيع انزال مئات الآلاف. وكانت المعارضة العربية، قبل هذا الحدث، متجاهلة، إلى حد كبير، القضية الكردية بسبب شكوكها في أن النشاط الكردي كان غطاء لمواصلة المطالبة بكردستان مستقلة. أما الاكراد، فاتهموا بالمبالغة بالتعبير عن حرمانهم ومعاناتهم، كما اتهموا بمراجعة التاريخ لترسيخ الادعاء الكردي بالاراضي السورية.

وبعد وقت قصير من الانتفاضة الشعبية، بدأ الزعماء العرب والاكراد بتشكيل اتصالات والاشتراك بعمليات تنسيق على مستوى منخفض. وأمل العرب في العمل على ظهر القوة البشرية للاكراد، في حين امل الاكراد في إدخال الحقوق الكردية الى اجندة المعارضة العربية. فالاهداف كانت التغلب على الشكوك المتبادلة، التي كان النظام يرعاها باهتمام شديد، وانشاء جبهة موحدة للاصلاح. فالبروز المتزايد للقوى الكردية اعترف به حتى تنظيم الاخوان المسلمين، الذين بعد عام واحد تماما من الانتفاضة الشعبية، اصدروا تصريحا يعلنون فيه تكاتفهم مع الاكراد والاعتراف بشرعية مظالمهم، وذلك للمرة الاولى في التاريخ.

موت الحريري، حياة جديدة للمعارضة

في 14 فبراير ،2005 مزق انفجار موكب الحريري ليقتله مع 22 آخرين. ورمت الولايات المتحدة فورا باللوم على سوريا وزادت من الضغط على النظام. وعلى الرغم من التأكيدات المتبجحة المنشورة بداية بأن سوريا لن تخضع للتحقيق الدولي الذي هو ظاهريا بحث وتحقيق في انه في الحقيقة يهدف الى تشويه سمعتها، فقد انحنى الاسد في النهاية أمام الضغوط وانهى 30 عاما من الاحتلال السوري للبنان. وكان لتنامي عزلة سوريا الدولية المتزايدة وخروجها المذل من لبنان تأثير نفسي عميق على المعارضة. وحسب ما قال كمال اللبواني:

'لأول مرة، كان يمكن مشاهدة امكان انهيار النظام، حتى ولو كان ذلك امرا بعيد الاحتمال، وبدأ الناس يفكرون بشكل اكثر جدية حول توفير البديل'.

وشهد ربيع 2005 فورة بالجهود المبذولة لتوحيد صفوف المعارضة. تطورت الاتصالات المنخفضة المستوى بين العرب والاكراد الى صيغة 'لجنة التنسيق الوطنية للدفاع عن الحريات الاساسية وحقوق الانسان'، وهو التحالف المعارض الاكثر شمولا حتى تاريخه. وفي نيسان، اصدرت 'لجنة احياء المجتمع الاهلي'، اكبر تشكيل للمجتمع الاهلي السوري، تصريحا تدعو فيه الى 'فتح قنوات الحوار' مع كل شرائح المجتمع السوري، بمن في ذلك 'الاخوان المسلمين'.

ولأول مرة منذ مجزرة حماه 1982 الشائنة، دعت مجموعة معارضة داخل سوريا للحوار مع الاخوان المسلمين. وبعد شهر من ذلك، قرأ الناشط والكاتب علي عبدالله رسالة من امين عام الاخوان المسلمين، علي صدر الدين البيانوني، يشجع فيها على اكتشاف كل الحركات السياسية السورية، حتى ان حزب البعث الحاكم كان حاضرا وممثلا. وكانت المرة الاولى التي يكون فيها 'الاخوان المسلمين' ممثلين علنا داخل سوريا منذ عام 1982. وبعد ذلك بوقت قصير، جلس الترك الى جانب البيانوني واعلن نيته القيام بتشكيل تحالف مع الاخوان المسلمين. وتم وضع اسس العمل لائتلاف معارض اوسع حتى.
إعلان دمشق

وفي 18 تشرين الاول، قبل 5 ايام فقط من الصدور المحدد لتقرير الامم المتحدة الاول حول اغتيال الحريري، كشف الائتلاف الاكثر تنوعا وتعددا للمعارضة حتى تاريخه، عن 'اعلان دمشق'، وهي وثيقة تؤسس لمنصة موحدة لأجل تغيير ديموقراطي. فالاعلان نشأ من رحلة سرية الى المغرب قبل بضعة اشهر فقط للمفكر ميشال كيلو للاجتماع مع البيانوني ومناقشة مبادرة جديدة لتوحيد القوى.
وقد اتفق الاثنان على اربعة مبادئ توجيهية رئيسية – الديموقراطية، اللاعنف، وحدة المعارضة، والتغيير الديموقراطي – وقد فوض البيانوني ميشال كيلو التفاوض حول تخالف مبني على اساس واسع لمصلحة الاخوان المسلمين. وسمح النشر الدولي للاعلان الاخير للمعارضة، قبل ايام فقط من صدور النتائج الاولى حول اغتيال الحريري، بالاستفادة من التغطية الصحفية المبالغ بها لسوريا وجعلت مسألة العثور على بدائل لنظام الاسد تكبر.
صدر الاعلان مع خمسة تواقيع لتحالفات حزبية، منظمات المجتمع الاهلي، وتسعة مفكرين. وبغضون 24 ساعة، بدأت عشرات الرابطات والاحزاب داخل وخارج سوريا بالاعلان عن دعمها. ولأول مرة في التاريخ السوري، توحد تجمع مؤلف من الاحزاب المتنازعة بعضها مع بعض والمفكرين المنتشرين الذين يمثلون القوميين الاكراد، القوميين العرب الاشتراكيين، الشيوعيين، الليبراليين والاسلاميين بظل قاعدة واحدة للتغيير الديموقراطي. اما ناشطو المجتمع المدني، الذين تكبروا سابقا على الاحزاب السياسية، فقد ضموا قواهم اليهم، وتم تشكيل مجهود مدروس لضمان ان يكون الموقعون على الاعلان مرحبا بهم من اكثرية المحافظات السورية. وبحسب ما قال احد الناشطين: 'مع اعلان دمشق، فقط، بإمكاننا التحدث عن المعارضة السورية'.

تجنبت الوثيقة عددا من القضايا التافهة التي لاحقت مجموعات المعارضة، وتراجعت عن اعلان دولة دينية، آخذة موقفا بشأن اي نموذج اقتصادي او تحديد لطبيعة الحل للمشكلة الكردية، بدلا من القول بالانكباب عليها مستقبلا في اطار عمل ديموقراطي شامل. اما السمة البارزة الاخرى ل'اعلان دمشق'، وعلى خلاف الاعلانات السابقة، فهي انه اعقبتها لجنة مؤقتة للاشراف على التنسيق المستمر بين الموقعين على الاعلان.

وكانت الانتقادات لإعلان دمشق، وبطرق شتى، دليلا على تفاهة الانقسامات التي سادت المعارضة. فالعبارة التي تشدد على انتماء سوريا الى 'النظام العربي' هي التي حفزت على اشعال النار من قبل القوميين العرب وكذلك الاكراد. وقد ادان بعض القوميين العرب هذا الأمر بصفته تسوية دنيئة وحقيرة على حساب التراث العربي لسوريا، كما ادان بعض الاكراد المتطرفين، بشكل مساو، مسألة الرجوع للهوية العربية فقط كدليل على الشوفينية العربية التي لا تنتهي، ومع انكشاف هذه الانتقادات، فإن جهود عدد من المنشقين تفشل باكتساب دعم واسع بسبب الاسلوب وليس المحتوى.

اما الانتقادات الحقيقية للاعلان، فقد دارت حول مسألة العودة الخاصة للإسلام كمرجعية، والذي رجع اليه بصفته 'دين وايديولوجية الاكثرية'، والمكون الثقافي الاكثر بروزا في حياة الامة والشعب، كما دارت حول معالجة الحقوق الكردية. كما حذر بعض المعقلين من ان الجهود المبذولة لمحاكمة الاخوان المسلمين قد تفاقم التوترات الطائفية. واحتج احدهم قائلا ان واضعي المسودة قد 'سلموا، ومن دون ان يرف لهم جفن، تاريخ سوريا الطويل من العلمانية والفصل بين الدين والدولة'، فبالنسبة للقضية الكردية، اثنت ثلاث مجموعات كردية على مطالب 'الاعلان' بخصوص التغيير الديموقراطي، لكنها رفضت في النهاية، الاعلان وذلك على خلفية انه كان غير كاف بشأن قضية الحقوق الكردية، لأنه لم يعترف بوضوح وصراحة بالأكراد كقومية مستقلة ذات روابط تاريخية بالأرض.

فالميثاق بين المجموعات العلمانية والاخوان المسلمين كان نعمة هائلة بالنسبة للجانبين، اذ كان بإمكان الاخوان المسلمين ابراز صوتهم من خلال وسائل المجتمع المدني السوري، في حين تحصل العناصر العلمانية على تأييد حركة اسلامية بارزة، فبعد مؤتمر حزب البعث المخيب للآمال، امل الناشطون العلمانيون في أن تخفف هذه الرابطة من الشكوك الشعبية من ان المعارضة العلمانية معادية للإسلام، نخبوية، وموالية للغرب.

وقد تسبب الائتلاف في قرع جراس الانذار للنظام الذي كافح على مدى 20 عاما لحرمان الاخوان المسلمين من الحصول على موطئ قدم لهم في المجتمع السوري، وشن النظام هجوما مضادا من خلال بدائله داخل الدوائر المنشقة والفكرية. اذ طغت رحاب البيطار، من التجمع الديموقراطي الحزب شبه المعارض، في صحة دوافع الموقعين على الاعلان، مرددة اقوال ومنطق النظام كالببغاء، وسط تدفق الضغوط الدولية بأن اي تحد للدولة يعرض امن الشعب السوري للخطر، وقدم النظام نفسه كضامن للاستقرار واتهم المعارضة بتجاهل الغدر الاميركي والاسرائيلي هو الاسوأ، تسهيله عن طريق السعي لتقويض الدولة. ولسوء الحظ، لا تزال الاتهامات حول ولاء المعارضة تتردد بين افراد الشعب الذي يسيطر عليه القلق.

المعارضة والعالمية

لطالما كان هناك جدل قوي وعنيف داخل المعارضة السورية حول دور القوة الخارجية، فبالنسية لأحد طرفي النقاش، المعارضة مجموعة مهمة من الوطنيين الرافضين لأي شكل من اشكال المساعدة الخارجية، خاصة الولايات المتحدة، والتي تعتبر ايديولوجيتها ملخصة في شعار 'نحن لن نذهب الى الجنة على ظهر الشيطان'. اما على الطرف الآخر، فإن المعارضة عبارة عن عدد قليل من الليبراليين المتناثرين المهمشين الذين يرحبون بأي وبكل ضغط ممكن يؤدي الى اضعاف النظام، فالمنطق المعتدل يدرك الحاجة للمساعدة الخارجية، انما يرفض اي شيء يؤثر على اجندة المعارضة، او يسحب القوة والسلطة من يديها.

وقد أدى تطوران الى تفويض مؤيدي حركة الاصلاح، الاول بدء مجموعات المعارضة في المنفى في الانتشار في عام ،2004 ليبدأوا بذلك بذل الجهود لصياغة علاقات بين القوى الخارجية والمحلية. اما التطور الثاني والاهم، فهو بدء النظام في التضييق على الناشطين داخل سوريا آذار ،2005 وتصاعد هذا التضييق منذ ذلك الحين، مما حث الناشطين على السفر الى الخارج وتشجيع نظرائهم في المنفى على تشكيل لوبي للضغط على حكوماتهم نفسها 'حكومات الدول الخارجية'.

وكثف النظام من قمعه للناشطين خلال انسحاب عام 2005 من لبنان الى مستويات غير مشهودة منذ 'شتاء دمشق' ،2001 فقد بدأ النظام في اعتقال ومضايقة ناشطي المجتمع المدني، وقام بالتحريف والتشويه لحرمانهم من التعبير في الاعلام، وفي منتصف آذار 2005 سحب وزير الإعلام التراخيص من قناة 'الحرة' وراديو 'سوا' اللتين ترعاهما الولايات المتحدة، لانهما غطتا تظاهرة 10 مارس أمام قصر العدل. كما تم اغلاق موع الكتروني يقدم مقالات متكررة حول المعارضة يدعى 'موقع إيلاف الالكتروني'، الى جانب الرسالة الاخبارية 'كلنا لسوريا' الشديدة الأهمية. وقد بعث هذا برسالة واضحة الى الصحافيين الباقين بعدم الدخول مع المعارضة أو تغطيتها.

وفي ايار ،2005 اعتقلت القوى الأمنية كامل أعضاء اللجنة الإدارية لمنتدى جمال الأتاسي لقراءتهم بصوت عال رسالة من الإخوان المسلمين.ومن هنا، تم اطلاق سراحهم جميعا لاحقا ما عدا شخص واحد، وتم اغلاق المنتدى نهائيا ـ وهي الرابطة الأخيرة التي نجت من اجراءات 'شتاء دمشق' الصارمة. وارتفع عدد الاعتقالات العشوائية والاستدعاءات ومذكرات الجلب الأمنية بشدة وبسرعة. ومع حلول منتصف الصيف، كانت كل تجمعات المعارضة محظورة، اما اولئك الذين حاولوا الالتفاف على الحظر، فقد وجدوا منازلهم ومكاتبهم محاصرة بالقوى الأمنية، وشرح احد الناشطين وقع ذلك على المعارضة: 'لقد أصبح من المستحيل علينا، تقريبا، القيام بأي شيء داخل سوريا. لذا، كان امام الناس خياران: اما ان يتراجعوا ويعودوا لسابق عهدهم بالعمل السري، كالذي كانوا يقومون به في الثمانينات، واما ان يسافروا وينظموا أنفسهم في الخارج.

وبعد مؤتمرات عديدة عقيمة وفاشلة، ارتبطت المعارضة الداخلية والخارجية مع بعضها، وبنجاح، في كانون الثاني 2006 في واشنطن، فالمؤتمر لم يخلق ائتلافا جديدا، لكن الأمور التي لازمته نتيجة له من داخل سوريا شهدت كلها على انجازه الوحيد. لقد كانت خطوة أولى مهمة لكسر جدران عدم الثقة بين الناشطين داخل سوريا والمنفيين المقيمين في الولايات المتحدة.

(الحلقة الثالثة غدا)

الحلقة الأولى
المصدر:القبس الكويتية

Comments (98)


t_desco said:

Fatah al-Islam Dormant Cell Arrested in Sidon

Police arrested members of a dormant cell for the notorious Fatah al-Islam terrorist network in the southern provincial capital of Sidon and confiscated weapons, computers and a list of targets, a security source told Naharnet on Monday.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said four Palestinian members of the dormant cell were arrested in two separate busts and a manhunt was launched for the fifth.

Two of the suspects, identified as brothers Younis and Youssef Shibli, were rounded up from the family’s flat in Taamir Harert Saida district, east of the port city.

Two other suspects, Ismail al-Sayyad and Mahmoud Shaaban, were rounded up from the city of Sidon in a night time raid Sunday, the sources said.

A ranking source said a fifth suspect, whom he refused to identify, remains at large and a man hunt was launched to arrest him.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “we might end up with more than just five members. This is an ongoing operation.”

The raids were carried out by the Data Branch, an anti-terrorism police force headed by Lt. Col. Wissam al-Hassan.

The Data Branch brought in reinforcements from Beirut and carried out the raids Sunday based on information obtained by investigators from a Palestinian suspect who goes by the name of Jamal Malas.

Malas was arrested after an exchange of fire with police in the northern town of Tripoli on July 31. Fatah al-Islam’s military commander Shehab al-Qadour, who goes by the code name of Abu Huerira, was killed in the clash.

Members of the Sidon Fatah al-Islam cell were affiliated with Qadour, who had been based at the city’s Ain el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp before moving to north Lebanon’s Nahr al-Bared camp, where Fatah al-Islam terrorists have been fighting the Lebanese army since May 20.

Police had confiscated 30.000 dollars from the Malas Residence near Tripoli, and the source said the Shibli brothers “testified that they had sent the money to finance Qadour’s operations in the north.”

The four detained suspects also testified to police investigators that they had carried out three bombing attacks in the Christian villages of Roum and Kfar Falous, east of Sidon, earlier this year.

Fatah al-Islam has repeatedly threatened to carry out attacks in other provinces than north Lebanon.
Naharnet

Lebanese authorities arrest 4 Palestinians allegedly planning bombings

Lebanese authorities have arrested four Palestinians outside a southern refugee camp who allegedly confessed to planning bombings inside the country, a senior security official said Monday.

The men also admitted belonging to Fatah Islam, an al-Qaida inspired group holed up in a northern refugee camp that has been battling the Lebanese army since May 20, according to the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

News of the arrests, which occurred Friday near the Ein al-Hilweh camp on the outskirts of the southern city of Sidon, came a day after a Syrian Islamist warned that members of Fatah Islam were loose inside Lebanon and would soon launch attacks. …
(AP)

August 13th, 2007, 4:03 pm

 

G said:

. فالاعلان نشأ من رحلة سرية الى المغرب قبل بضعة اشهر فقط للمفكر ميشال كيلو للاجتماع مع البيانوني ومناقشة مبادرة جديدة لتوحيد القوى

Isn’t this the issue on which Michael Young exposed you? Now that it’s in Arabic, I hope Kilo’s lawyers sue you.

August 13th, 2007, 5:43 pm

 

t_desco said:

Suleiman: Fatah al-Islam is not linked to Syria or Official Lebanese Circles

Lebanese Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman on Monday denied charges that Fatah al-Islam terrorists are linked to Syria or to factions represented in the Lebanese government.

Fatah al-Islam, Suleiman said, “is not sponsored by Syrian intelligence, nor it is backed by Lebanese government circles. It is a branch for al-Qaida which had been planning to use Lebanon and Palestinian camps as safe haven to launch its operations in Lebanon and abroad.”

He said efforts exerted by the Lebanese Army “to avoid inflicting many civilian casualties slowed down the advance” in the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp.

However, “much has been done and little remains to be achieved,” Suleiman was quoted by the state-run National News Agency as saying.

He estimated that “about 70 (Fatah al-Islam) fighters remain in the camp along with about 100 women and children who refuse to leave despite repeated calls by the army.”

Suleiman rejected describing Fatah al-Islam as a gang.

“Those fighting us at Nahr al-Bared are highly-trained fighters, equipped with sophisticated weapons … and highly experienced in booby trapping and explosives.”

Suleiman expressed regret over the failure to materialize promises to provide the army with badly needed equipment while fighting terrorists in the north.

“We need a lot of weapons and ammunition, conventional and modern, but we have received only a lot of promises and some ammunition, but no equipment. As if they are telling us: Die first and back up would arrive later. That is why we are looking for sources to acquire weapons.”

He stressed that “I will stay in my post as commander of the army until a new president is elected and a new government is formed.”

“Is it possible to leave command of this ship while it is facing such high waves?” Suleiman asked.
Naharnet

August 13th, 2007, 5:51 pm

 

t_desco said:

Security forces crack Fatah al-Islam sleeper cell
Four Sidon men confess to being members of terror group
By Michael Bluhm and Mohammed Zaatari

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Four Sidon men confessed on Monday to being members of a Fatah al-Islam sleeper cell that had detonated three bombs in the Jezzine area on July 18 and had delivered about $40,000 to Fatah al-Islam deputy commander Abu Hureira in Tripoli, security sources said on Monday. Meanwhile, a Fatah al-Islam sniper killed a Lebanese Army soldier and militants fired five Katyusha rockets into civilian areas around the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in North Lebanon on Monday, as army commander General Michel Suleiman said the Islamist group was a branch of Al-Qaeda and not part of the Syrian intelligence apparatus.

The four Fatah al-Islam members from Sidon included two Palestinian brothers, Youssef and Younes Khaled Shibli, and two Lebanese men, Ismail Ali Sayyad and Mohammad Mahmoud Shabban, the security source said. The four said they were honored to be members of Fatah al-Islam.

Police arrested the Shibli brothers Saturday night at their home on the second floor of the Malah building in Haret Sidon, while the two Lebanese were apprehended separately in Sidon. At the Shiblis’ Haret Sidon home, police confiscated weapons, ammunition, a laptop, maps and more than $50,000. Police also recovered Kalashnikov rifles that the brothers’ mother had tossed into the building’s garden when police arrived.

The four Sidon men admitted they were behind a bomb explosion in Roum and two bombs in Kfar Falous in the Jezzine area on July 18, the security source added. The attackers threw plastic bags loaded with explosives at the homes of two targets, although police defused one of the bombs in Kfar Falous, and the explosions caused only material damage and did not wound anyone.

The members of the sleeper cell also confessed that they had been in direct contact with Abu Hureira since the battle erupted on May 20 in North Lebanon between Fatah al-Islam and the army.

The militants had been planning to use Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps to launch terror attacks here and outside the country, Suleiman said on Monday while speaking to officers who graduated with him from the military academy in 1970.

Fatah al-Islam should be seen as part of Al-Qaeda and not as belonging to the Syrian intelligence network, Suleiman added. The militants are well-armed, well-trained and have the most modern guns, rockets and cannons available. They also have a high level of expertise with explosives, he said. …
The Daily Star

August 13th, 2007, 8:28 pm

 

Kamal said:

Don’t you think General Suleiman is just positioning himself as a consensus candidate for President?

August 13th, 2007, 10:10 pm

 

Joshua said:

G, Michael Young didn’t expose me. He is just wrong.

This shouldn’t be a surprise. Lebanese Army commander General Michel Suleiman took the air out of another of Young’s great allegations when he said Fatah Islam was a branch of Al-Qaeda and not part of the Syrian intelligence apparatus.

Best to you.

August 14th, 2007, 3:43 am

 

Kamal said:

Prof, that depends on where you stand on the question I posted just above your comment. Do you take Gen. Suleiman’s words at face value or do you interpret them as presidential posturing? Maybe the guy doesn’t want his candidacy to receive a Syrian veto a la Bashir Gemayel or Renee Mou’awad?

August 14th, 2007, 4:57 am

 

Alex said:

Kamal,

Gen Suleiman has a history of saying the truth. He denied in the past other allegations from the M14 side about Syria… it is not something recent.

But in general, if he realizes that Lebanon should take into account Syria’s interests, the ones that do not negatively affect Lebanon’s interests, then good for him … finally a realistic and experienced Lebanese leader.

August 14th, 2007, 6:23 am

 

Alex said:

Today’s Asharq al-Awsat vs. Syria story:

Look at the picture they chose to go with the article for the beautiful Zabadani and Bloudan summer resorts! 😉

Here is the real thing for comparison Bloudan and Zabadani

August 14th, 2007, 6:56 am

 

Enlightened said:

Is Suleiman the way forward? Looks like the Lebanese are deferring back to Chehabism? ( Fouad Chehab) While Suleiman might be the voice of reason in Lebanon at present, i do not support his candidacy as he is another military man! We need a civil society, not a government with roots to the military, let the bickering between the two sides run its course and if no suitable candidate emerges then he can be the fall back position (with safeguards and no more than two years in office until full elections are run).

September the 25th is not too far away but a lot can happen in six weeks, the political back dealing wont reach fever pitch until two weeks out from the deadline.

August 14th, 2007, 6:58 am

 

Alex said:

Enlightened,

Probably, after all the bickering, they will not agree … we will be lucky if Suleiman takes over … as opposed to total chaos and/or 2 governments and 2 presidents

August 14th, 2007, 7:11 am

 

t_desco said:

There is clear evidence of a link between Fatah al-Islam and al-Qa’ida. Just look at all the information I gathered and posted over the past months.

Max Boot: “Why we’re not at war with them (Syria and Iran) is a little bit of a mystery.”

Matthew Yglesias commenting on David Gardner’s “America’s illusory strategy in Iraq” (The Financial Times, August 9, 2007):

“One worries, however, that the relentless blaming of things on Iran is more than a bad case of denial. Justin Logan, for example, notes Max Boot saying of Syria and Iran “Why we’re not at war with them is a little bit of a mystery.” Boot, obtained a position as a Senior Fellow for National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations on the strength of his work for the legendarily rigorous Wall Street Journal editorial page, so he must be a person we should take very seriously.”
The Atlantic

August 14th, 2007, 8:04 am

 

G said:

G, Michael Young didn’t expose me. He is just wrong.

Having revisited that episode since posting my comment, I beg to differ. He’s not wrong.

Edited comment
G: You will be banned for a month if you use bad language again. (Alex)

August 14th, 2007, 12:43 pm

 

Michael Young said:

Joshua,

I am surprised to hear you say that I am wrong about Kilo. That’s because, as you very well know, Andrew Tabler will be publishing a letter in the Autumn issue of The Washington Quarterly in which he highlights the fact that you mis-cited him in your footnote as the source for Michel Kilo’s alleged trip to Morocco to meet Ali Sadreddine Bayanouni; he also stresses that “given the fact that [Kilo] was in state custody at the time, the sensitivity of the matter [namely your stating that Kilo was the person who met Bayanouni, when you provided no evidence for this allegation] is obvious.”

I am also surprised, because in an email you sent to me you said that The Washington Quarterly had removed from your footnote reference to an “anonymous” source as your source of information for Kilo’s visit with Bayanouni. In other words, your excuse was that TWQ was to blame because the magazine had deleted any reference to this “anonymous” source, making it seem as if Tabler was the source. I don’t believe you. In fact, as you also know, the editor of The Washington Quarterly will be writing in the Autumn issue of TWQ that “neither the original submitted draft nor the revised draft contained a reference to an anonymous interview in the specific endnote.”

Finally, I am surprised because in the Elaph Arabic translation of your article you failed to correct the error in your original English-language piece about Kilo. There is no effort to clarify there from where you got the information about Kilo’s alleged trip to Morocco. After our initial disagreement, the least you could have done is clarify the issue for readers, instead of making the situation worse for Kilo by restating your questionable argument in Arabic.

As for your analysis of Lebanese politics and the motives behind Suleiman’s statements, my only real comment there is that your reading of Lebanese politics is as superficial and tendentious as your reading of Syrian politics.

August 14th, 2007, 1:21 pm

 

Kamal said:

The Syrian appointee, Gen. Suleiman, does us all a favor by graciously offering himself up for President… He immediately begins by lobbying his most important constituency – the Syrian regime, which holds an often-exercised veto over the Lebanese Presidency, in the form of a car bomb. Regime sympathizers promptly celebrate the “realism and experience” of a cadidate finally wise enough to “take into account Syria’s interests” while they tout his campaign rhetoric as evidence that exonerates Syria’s nefarious role in the Nahr el-Bared war. Fantastic!

(I’m curious Alex; which Syrian interests don’t violate Lebanese interests – Torturing hundreds of Lebanese citizens in Syrian dungeons? Wiping out the M14 leadership, in parliament or the media, with car bombs and hit squads? Ending the Hariri tribunal? Violating Lebanese territorial sovereignty? Smuggling weaponry to arm Shi’a and Sunni Islamic militias to fight Syrian foes, including Israel and the Lebanese government, from Lebanese soil against Lebanese will? Muzzling Lebanon’s free press and its criticism of Syrian tyranny? Sorry Alex. All of the above violate Lebanon’s interests.)

Let it be repeated that the Syrian regime is no less likely to execute an erstwhile puppet than a lifelong foe. Renee Mou’awad, remember, was Syria’s man – but not sufficiently obedient. He was replaced (by car bomb) with a more servile fellow, Elias Hrawi. Hrawi was perhaps more “realistic and experienced”. Rafiq Hariri was similarly rewarded for a lifetime of service. Not to mention George Hawi.

One day Gen. Suleiman will say or do something to displease his Syrian masters. On that day, all of you will denounce him, and he will find his sorry name on a hitlist…

Abu Kais reports:

ARMY COMMANDER: I WILL GLADLY LEAD A COUP

Army commander Michel Suleiman has graciously agreed to head a “transitional government” if Syria and Hizbullah prevented parliament from electing a president.

Army Commander General Michel Suleiman has indicated he would accept to head a transitional government in the event MPs are unable to choose the next president before the end of President Emile Lahoud’s term in office in November, provided all sides accept his nomination. Former Defense Minister Albert Mansour, told The Daily Star Monday that he has put the idea of heading a transitional government personally to Suleiman, who agreed to head such a government in the event a new president is not agreed upon. “Such a government would be in keeping with established practice, which is for a president to hand over power to a Maronite prime minister, it happened twice before,” Mansour said.

Mansour said being appointed prime minister of a transitional government would allow Suleiman to bypass constitutional requirements that prevent grade-one civil servants like Suleiman from being elected to the presidency while still in their post or within two years of their resignation. (Daily Star)

Suleiman started his “coup campaign” with a visit to the patriarch last week, and with an announcement on Monday clearing Syrian intelligence of any involvement in the Nahr El Bared camp.

Lebanese Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman on Monday denied charges that Fatah al-Islam terrorists are linked to Syria or to factions represented in the Lebanese government.

Fatah al-Islam, Suleiman said, “is not sponsored by Syrian intelligence, nor it is backed by Lebanese government circles. It is a branch for al-Qaida which had been planning to use Lebanon and Palestinian camps as safe haven to launch its operations in Lebanon and abroad.”

Suleiman, appointed to the post by the Syrian regime, has said on more than one occasion that Lebanon’s sole enemy is Israel.

It follows from all this that, if Suleiman is made head of an interim cabinet, he will try to impede the Hariri tribunal and anything he feels could threaten Syrian interests.

By agreeing to this, Suleiman has violated the constitution which stipulates that “should the Presidency become vacant for any reason whatsoever, the Council of Ministers exercises the powers of the President by delegation”. Not to mention his violation of his duty as a army commander entrusted with defending the country against any threat regardless of where it came from.

http://www.beirutbeltway.com/beirutbeltway/2007/08/army-commander-.html

August 14th, 2007, 4:19 pm

 

norman said:

This is the kind of activism the Syrian immigrants need to have.

JPost.com » Jewish World » Jewish News » Article

Aug. 13, 2007 23:49 | Updated Aug. 14, 2007 17:37
EJC head: We can pressure Syria
By HAVIV RETTIG
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Talkbacks for this article: 3

Amid concerns in Israel over increasing Russian aid to Iran and Syria, the new president of the European Jewish Congress said on Monday he didn’t think the organization would have too much of an impact on Moscow – but could put pressure on Damascus.

“I don’t think we can influence this issue,” Moshe Kantor told a press conference in Jerusalem.

Asked by The Jerusalem Post if the new EJC leadership planned to speak out against the actions by Russia – whose Jewish community is a member of the umbrella organization – Kantor replied: “The contracts are being executed now, but were signed a few years ago and we’re not seeing any new contracts now.” In addition, he said, “Russia has officially declared that these are just protective [weapons].”

Pressed on the point, however, Kantor said that European Jews were not so helpless in facing any Syrian attempt to send Russian-made missiles to Hizbullah. “If Syria plans to sell [the missiles] to Hizbullah, to terrorists, that would be a problem,” he declared.

And, moments after claiming helplessness in the face of Russian sales to Syria, Kantor said European Jewry had “lots of ways to bring pressure on Syria. We are 42 communities, and many leaders have some influence with their governments.”

The EJC leadership trip, which includes German and French Jewish leaders, has met with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and is slated to meet with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Diaspora Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog this week.

Among the topics of discussion will be European Jewish activism over the Iranian nuclear threat, Jewish identity education, Holocaust commemoration – Olmert has promised to attend next year’s Kristallnacht commemoration in Berlin – and other political and diplomatic issues.

During the months leading up to Kantor’s late-June election to the EJC presidency, his opponents, among them former Russian senator and oligarch now living in Israel Leonid Nevzlin and incumbent EJC president Pierre Besnainou, warned that his connections with the Russian government would prevent his criticizing their activities.

“When the president of the EJC is close to the Kremlin, an institution that is retreating into dark times and does not respect European democracy,” read a particularly harsh statement released by Nevzlin, “it is unreasonable to think he can contribute to Jewish development in Europe and connections with Israel.”

However, said a Kantor spokesman, the Russian-Swiss-Israeli billionaire simply prefers to operate quietly behind the scenes rather than display his activism in public, where it is less effective.

Kantor also promised at the press conference that the EJC’s activism in the European Union, for which Besnainou was praised in Israel, “will continue as it was before.” The EJC has established an office in Brussels.Print Subscribe
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August 14th, 2007, 4:27 pm

 

someone said:

Did any one read the Barry Robin Book “the truth about Syria”?
The opinions on Amazon are not helpful, so would someone please give me a review of the book.

August 14th, 2007, 5:36 pm

 

t_desco said:

Lebanese army blames lack of heavy weapons from US on long battle at refugee camp

Army commander Gen. Michel Suleiman has lamented the lack of sufficient weapons to fight the al-Qaida-inspired Fatah Islam militants holed up in the camp in northern Lebanon. He said the army was looking to other countries to buy weapons.

“We need weapons, conventional and advanced ammunition,” he said Monday. “We didn’t get anything but promises and best wishes and some ammunition, but no equipment. It’s as though they are telling us, ‘die first and assistance will follow,'” he added, without referring directly to the U.S.

The United States dramatically increased its military aid to Lebanon as a show of support for the beleagered pro-Western prime minister, Fuad Saniora. When the battle at Nahr el-Bared began on May 20 — sparked when Fatah Islam militants attacked army troops near the base — Washington rushed supplies to Lebanon, particularly automatic rifle ammunition, helmets, body armor and night-vision goggles.

But the United States has for decades adhered to an unofficial policy of not arming the Lebanese military with heavy or sophisticated weapons for fear they may be used against its ally Israel, former senior Lebanese military commanders say.

Military experts say the army could have gained a decisive edge early on in the battle if it had sophisticated weapons such as helicopter-launched anti-tank missiles and counterbattery radar designed to track the trajectory of incoming artillery and mortar projectiles. The equipment would have allowed them to better pinpoint the fighters in the densely built refugee camp. …
AP

Note the contrast to Fatah al-Islam:

“The militants are well-armed, well-trained and have the most modern guns, rockets and cannons available.”
(The Daily Star, article quoted above).

Where did those weapons come from? Where did the money to buy these weapons come from?

August 14th, 2007, 7:42 pm

 

Kamal said:

I’d like Seymour Hersh’s take on this. When “Sunni militants were armed/funded by the US-KSA-Hariri to take on Hizballa” did the US and Hariri arm them with better weapons than those given to the Lebanese Army?

August 14th, 2007, 8:04 pm

 

Alex said:

Kamal,

I guess there is no use asking you to stick to facts.

Without facts … your long list of complaints can be tripled .. why not blame 50 more disasters on Syria too … remember the Anjar mass graves which everyone blamed on Syria? … I bet you were sure then that the Syrians filled those graves … it turned out to be ottoman graves.

August 14th, 2007, 8:49 pm

 

Kamal said:

Alex,

The Lebanese soldiers (under Aoun’s command, incidentally…) that were stripped naked and executed by Syrian Occupation Forces are buried somewhere – who cares where? And the survivors are rotting in some godforsaken underground hellhole in Syria. If you gave me a choice to live in one of those 2 places, I’d pick the mass grave, frankly.

August 14th, 2007, 8:59 pm

 

Alex said:

Kamal,

During the civil war geagea and Jumblatt killed many more … please get over it.

Anyway … I give up. You are wise and you believe that you know what is good for Lebanon.

Good luck.

Here is the latest sad news from Iraq today … they are killing the Yazidis now.

August 14th, 2007, 9:21 pm

 

Innocent_Criminal said:

In case you guys missed it please check out Michael Young’s reply above, its worth reading. It took me a while to get around approving it in the comment section so it might have been lost in the clutter. look up or click here http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=351#comment-59782

August 14th, 2007, 11:23 pm

 

Kamal said:

How come Young’s comment doesn’t pop up under “Recent Comments”? (I’m not implying anything.) Sometimes a comment shows up apparently out of chronological order. Does this have to do with the “edit” function? i.e. your comment’s place in line is established when you first post it, but it doesn’t appear until your edit period has run out?

August 15th, 2007, 12:07 am

 

Enlightened said:

I just found an interesting picture of Josh while reading my daily half hour of bloggers:

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1355/1092603567_5fcba395ea_m.jpg

My question to Josh;

is there something about your choice of attire that you are not sharing with us?

August 15th, 2007, 1:03 am

 

Habib said:

Michael Young graduated with an M.A. from Fouad Ajamis’ school of political thought.

What a shining clone, nitpicking annotations with such strength.

Please find a real argument.

Underhanded remarks come from a low place…Michael Young’s cortex

🙁

August 15th, 2007, 2:32 am

 

why-discuss said:

Michael Young attacking Joshua Landis:

As for your analysis of Lebanese politics and the motives behind Suleiman’s statements, my only real comment there is that your reading of Lebanese politics is as superficial and tendentious as your reading of Syrian politics.
I think Michael Young is the only journalist in Lebanon who is impartial and well informed. He will forever stand on accusing Syria for all what is wrong in Lebanon, including maybe the 1975 Lebanese civil war… and possibly 9/11.

August 15th, 2007, 3:25 am

 

Joshua said:

The following are the clarifications that will be published in the next issue of the Washington Quarterly, as I understand them. Dr. Alexander Lennon is the editor of the Washington Quarterly. You will find a letter from Andrew Tabler, whose article on the Syrian opposition, I cited. It is followed by my reply.

Dear Dr. Lennon,

In the Winter 2006-07 edition of The Washington Quarterly, Joshua Landis and Joe Pace wrote in the article “The Syrian Opposition” that in February 2005 the then-arrested and now-imprisoned Syrian civil society activist Michel Kilo met with Syrian Muslim Brotherhood Chief Ali Sadreddin al-Bayanouni in Morocco and Europe. The authors attributed the meeting to my March 2006 report on the Syrian opposition entitled “Democracy to the Rescue” for the Institute of Current World Affairs.

However, my article only cited that “two unnamed members of the Syrian Committee for the Revival of Civil Society” flew to Morocco to meet Bayanouni. In a subsequent email exchange with Landis following Kilo’s arrest by the Syrian authorities in May 2006 for his work with the opposition, I did not confirm Kilo’s alleged meeting with Bayanouni.

This is a sensitive subject in Syria. Membership in the Muslim Brotherhood is punishable by death under Syrian law, and association of Syrians with the organization is strictly prohibited. To my knowledge, no other journalist or researcher has confirmed the alleged meeting.

During subsequent email correspondences on the matter, Landis said he made the allegation based on an interview with an anonymous source. Landis claims a line reading “interview with anonymous” in the footnote citing my article was removed by TWQ editors prior to publication.

I do not claim Landis’ accusation directly led to Kilo’s conviction, but given the fact that he was in state custody at the time, the sensitivity of the matter is obvious. Following his arrest, Kilo was charged with “provoking religious and racial dissent, insulting official institutions, weakening national sentiment, damaging the image of the state and exposing Syria to the danger of aggression.”

On May 13, 2007, Kilo was sentenced to three years imprisonment on charges of “weakening national sentiment.”

I request a clarification on this matter in the pages of your respected journal.

Sincerely,

Andrew Tabler
Institute of Current World Affairs

Here is my reply:

Dear Dr. Lennon,

The publication of Joe Pace’s and my article on the Syrian opposition in the Winter 2006-07 issue of The Washington Quarterly has stirred up a controversy, focusing on whether Michel Kilo, one of the central architects of the secular Syrian opposition, traveled to Morocco in February 2005 to meet with leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in an effort to unify Syria’s splintered opposition and agree on the principles of what became the October 2005 Damascus Declaration, as we wrote.

When I was preparing to write this article, I emailed Andrew Tabler for confirmation of Kilo’s role as a key architect of the Damascus Declaration. Andrew had already written a fine article on the opposition, describing the Morocco trip without saying who had gone on it. Andrew replied that “According to several people I interviewed, Kilo was the guy who went to Morocco and met with Bayanouni in [February] 2005.” Ali Sadreddin Bayanouni is the head of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

I was grateful to get what I believed to be this confirmation of Kilo’s central role from Andrew and to find out that “several” activists he had interviewed had told him “Kilo was the guy who went to Morocco.” I replied to Andrew to ask how I might credit him for his help and if he would co-author. He wrote back: “just give me some kind of special credit in the footnotes. That would be enough for me.” I understood this as confirmation that Kilo went to Morocco and that I could use it in my article if I credited Andrew. I cited his published article, but did not mention our email exchange. I should have.

I am aware of no one who denies that Kilo went to Morocco; but beyond the controversy about whether he did or about footnotes, in my mind, is a separate question: whether I should have written what I did as the Syrian government was cracking down on the opposition. The following is my rationale:

First, the Syrian authorities already knew who had traveled to Morocco long before our article was published. They had Kilo and other leading activists under investigation, had their passports, and would simply have had to look to see who had Morocco stamps in them. Second, Michel Kilo did not try to hide his role as one of the central architects of the Damascus Declaration or subsequent declarations. Like most other brave reformers, he tried to get as much coverage for the opposition as he could to build public consciousness and pressure on the government.

I believe that it is better to raise public awareness of his central role in trying to knit together a viable Syrian opposition at great risk to his freedom. Not only do I believe it corresponds more closely to Kilo’s own efforts, but I also believe that only public pressure is likely to gain his release from jail.

Joshua Landis
Damascus, Syria
July 21,2007

August 15th, 2007, 3:27 am

 

Enlightened said:

Josh:

I thought this matter was dead and buried! Why do you continue to defend your self against the baseless accusations that you were responsible for Kilo’s detention?

The regime had Kilo under observation for a while after he signed the Beirut Damascus declaration, furthermore his activities prior to that, in the piece he wrote “Obituaries” was a veiled dig at the nature of the Regime.

The only person responsible for Kilo being in Jail is Kilo himself. He chose his actions, and yes you do have to admire him that he would pursue his actions under threat for his personal safety and incarceration. I am perplexed that this issue is raised again (how he landed in jail), the issue that is more salient is, Why should a person like Kilo find himself in Jail? The true issue is the lack of freedom of expression in Syria and no one on this blog has come out and categorically stated that the Laws guaranteeing freedom of expression in Syria are inadequate.

Ps I am waiting for your response about your attire!

August 15th, 2007, 3:44 am

 

Joshua said:

Here is the original draft of my response to Dr. Lennon of the WQ, which was edited to make it shorter.

Dear Dr. Lennon,

The publication of Joe Pace’s and my article on the Syrian Opposition in the December 2006 issue of the Washington Quarterly stirred up a considerable flap. The controversy focused on whether Michel Kilo, one of the central architects of the secular Syrian opposition, had traveled to Morocco in February 2005 to meet with leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in an effort to unify the ranks of Syria’s splintered opposition, as we had written. (This controversy between Michael Young, an opinion editor for the Lebanese newspaper, The Daily Star, and me can be read on “Syria Comment,” a blog that I manage at the following link: http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=197

I wrote the sentence claiming that Michel Kilo traveled to Morocco based on evidence sent to me by Andrew Tabler, an excellent journalist whom I trusted and with whom I had become good friends during my 2005 year as a Senior Fulbright Fellow in Damascus. I had also interviewed Michel Kilo twice and we had appeared on an hour-long al-Jazeera TV show to discuss the Syrian opposition. Kilo explained to me in our discussions that he was a central architect of the Syrian opposition’s effort to unify and increase pressure on the Syrian government for a democratic opening.

When I returned to the US and was preparing to write on the Syrian opposition, I emailed Andrew for confirmation of Kilo’s role as “an architect.” of the Damascus Declaration. Andrew had already written a fine article on the opposition, describing the Morocco trip but without saying who had gone on it.

Andrew responded to me on May 15, 2006, explaining that: “According to several people I interviewed, Kilo was the guy who went to Morocco and met with Bayanouni in feb 2005.” Bayanouni is the head of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. Here is the entire email:

From: Andrew Tabler
Sent: Monday, May 15, 2006 11:59 PM
To: Landis, Joshua M.
Subject: Re: question

Hi

According to several people I interviewed, Kilo was the guy who went to Morocco and met with Bayanouni in feb 2005. He also drafted the first DD [Declaration of Damascus], although I don’t think all of it, as there was another person. I know from the Assyrians that Kilo was the one who inserted the stuff about Islam, because they had a problem with that.

Abdel Azim was a key player in getting all the parties to agree, and getting the MB on side but not signing the document until 2 hours after it was announced. Kilo was the “architect” I think. Same goes for this week’s declaration [The Beirut-Damascus Declaration] as well, I hear.

Andrew

I was grateful to get this confirmation of Kilo’s central role from Andrew and to find out that “several” activists he had interviewed had told him “Kilo was the guy who went to Morocco.” On the same day, I wrote back to Andrew and asked if he would join us as a co-author of the article. He was on the ground in Damascus and had good contacts with many opposition members. Unfortunately, Andrew was under exclusive contract with the Institute of Current World Affairs and could not get a release to write independently.

A few hours later, I received a response from him explaining that “sadly” he could not coauthor. Nevertheless, he kindly offered, “I can certainly help you out with questions and finding answers.” He ended the note by suggesting that I footnote him – “just give me some kind of special credit in the footnotes. That would be enough for me.”

I understood this exchange that took place in a twelve hour period to mean that I could quote Andrew on Kilo’s Morocco meeting if I gave him credit in the footnotes. I footnoted his published article, but did not mention our email exchange, which I should have.

After the article was published and Kilo was clearly in deep trouble with Syrian authorities and facing a trial for his opposition activities, Andrew wrote me to say that he could not confirm what he had previously written about Kilo going to Morocco. I was surprised by this post-publication retraction because I believed that Andrew had not only confirmed it but had also given me permission to quote him.

The controversy is not about footnotes, however, or about whether Kilo went to Morocco. Andrew does not deny that Kilo went to Morocco. No one has. I am writing this note from Damascus, where I have spent the last two months. I have spoken to good friends of Michel Kilo, all of whom are devastated by his arrest.

The real question is whether I should have written that he traveled to Morocco even though the Syrian government had cracked down on the opposition. Andrew writes, “I do not claim Landis’ accusation directly led to Kilo’s conviction, but given the fact that he was in state custody at the time, the sensitivity of the matter is obvious.”

I debated about this with myself. The following is my rationale.

First, the Syrian authorities already knew who had traveled to Morocco long before my article was published. They had Kilo and the other leading activists under investigation and had their passports. Syrian police would simply have looked to see who had Morocco stamps in their passports.

Second, Michel Kilo did not try to hide his role as one of the central architects of the Damascus Declaration. On the contrary, like most other brave reformers, he was proud of his role and tried to get as much coverage for the opposition as he could – that is why he talked to foreign reporters when they would listen. As a journalist himself, Kilo knew that getting his and the opposition’s story out was important. He needed to build public consciousness and pressure on the government.

Andrew and I differ over the best strategy for advancing Michel Kilo’s cause and defense. He suggests that we not discuss him. I understand this caution. I believe, however, that it is better to raise public awareness of his central role in trying to knit together a viable Syrian opposition at great risk to his freedom. Not only do I believe it corresponds more closely to Kilo’s own efforts, but I also believe that only public pressure is likely to gain his release from jail.

In closing, I quote a Syrian friend with whom I discussed this recently and who spent ten years himself in a Syrian prison. He said, “Many encouraged Michel Kilo to take the risks he did. Perhaps, we are all complicit somehow. In the end, you must remember that it was the Syrian government who arrested and sentenced him.”

Joshua Landis
Damascus, Syria

August 15th, 2007, 3:56 am

 

Enlightened said:

Damn;

G had beaten me to the punch already linked the picture of Josh in previous post.

G you the man!

August 15th, 2007, 5:02 am

 

Offended said:

Dr. Landis;
Your argument is more valid and convincing than Young’s, and I believe it is unfair to assume that you had ill intentions toward Kilo when you wrote about his visit to Morocco. We are all aware that Syrian authorities knew where he had gone and who he had met, better than anybody else. We also know that he knew the risks he was taking, before taking them.
However, I still feel uneasy whenever I read (or re-read) your posts following the announcements of the respective verdicts against the civil society figures (Kilo, Buni, Homsi), in each one of those posts, you kind of have drawn a surreptitious advocacy of the verdict. In the case of Al Bunni for instance, you’ve quoted him saying in an interview (with Joe Pace) : “ we [Syrian opposition] need to exploit American pressure, not for the sake of American interests, but for the sake of achieving our own goals.”..…don’t you think that the accentuation of such quote would somehow justify the arrest and imprisonment of those figures before the international community and Syria’s sympathizers all over the world???

August 15th, 2007, 5:34 am

 

t_desco said:

Sleimane : Des propos qui n’étaient pas destinés à la publication
L’article de Philippe ABI-AKL

C’est simplement l’un des présents qui a cru de son devoir de répercuter sur les médias les confidences du commandant en chef aux cadres vétérans.
De plus, et surtout, selon des sources militaires autorisées, les assurances et les indications du général ne sont pas reprises avec la précision requise.

Les majoritaires, est-il besoin de le dire, en veulent également à l’officier pour sa disculpation des SR syriens à propos de Fateh el-Islam. Les sources citées répondent qu’il a également blanchi les parties gouvernementales mises en cause, à ce même propos, par nombre d’opposants. Et elles rappellent qu’aucune instance judiciaire n’a établi de lien entre le groupe terroriste et les SR syriens. Alors que les informations dont l’armée dispose montrent que Fateh el-Islam relève d’el-Qaëda. Et entretient des cellules dormantes dans plus d’un camp de réfugiés palestiniens ou encore ailleurs. …
L’Orient-Le Jour, 15 août 2007

(my emphasis)

August 15th, 2007, 10:05 am

 
 

Akbar Palace said:

test

August 15th, 2007, 11:13 am

 

Leb Christian said:

Good Job Michael, expose this poor excuse for an academic.

August 15th, 2007, 4:54 pm

 

norman said:

Leb Christian ,
You are a foony not Christian or an Arab just trying to stir hatred of the Christians who are the most nationalistic of the Arabs. you should be ashamed of yourself.

August 15th, 2007, 5:48 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Akbar Palace

I heard that Israelis believe more what Nasrallah says than what their leaders say.. is that true?

August 15th, 2007, 5:54 pm

 

Kamal said:

Norman,

> Christians who are the most nationalistic of the Arabs.

Only those with an inferiority complex and who are consciously or subconsciously intimidated by Muslim Arabs and feel the need to protect themselves from suspicions of external allegiances and to prove their patriotism by championing pan-Arabism. All in the vain hope that by promoting a pan-Arab identity as an alternative to Muslim identity, they will be taken as equals in the Arab/Muslim world…

Proud (i.e. those with no inferiority complex and who refuse to be intimidated) ethnic/religious minorities in the Mideast – Christian, Jewish, Kurdish, Yazidi, Coptic, Black – reject pan-Arabism for the imperialistic Muslim-dominated fascist ideology that it is.

August 15th, 2007, 6:03 pm

 

Kamal said:

Enlightened,

I believe G and Gebran are 2 distinct people.

(K and Kamal, on the other hand, are one and the same.)

August 15th, 2007, 6:07 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Michael Young swimming against the currents of Politics, Logic and Reason at any given time. All at the same time. Consistantly and…..Unashamedly!

He writes as if he is addressing the mini-Al Harriri or the Junblate audiences! To to please the Gassan Tuwaini likes? Or High Commissioner Feltman?

BTW, Is it true Young and Al Jarralah are organizing the launch of CAJ4HA: The Creative Analytical Journalists 4 Hire Association?

August 15th, 2007, 7:01 pm

 

Leb Christian said:

Norman – you can be Arab all you want, please don’t assume anything about my roots. I am as nationalistic as can be to Lebanon, and not to some phony Arab nation, which you yourself don’t believe exists.

August 15th, 2007, 7:31 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Ah…you’re still around Leb Christian. “I am as nationalistic as can be to Lebanon” you say. Heck, we cannot but believe you; the name you use on this blog proves what Labanese Nationalistics think that Lebanon SHOULD BE.

Unfortunatly, I do not think you gonna get there with the Birth rates being what they are both in Lebanon and in the “phony Arab nation”

Wanna do some adjusting and fine tuning to your NATIOLISTIC LEBANESE school of thought????

August 15th, 2007, 7:51 pm

 

Leb Christian said:

Ausamaa – you’re still here I see. I thought you went into eternal isolation to try to dust off the embarassment you went through a couple days ago? So you’re still celebrating Ben Laden with your nickname?

In any case, what would you know about Lebanese? You’re not Lebanese! I know you have wet dreams about getting rid of Christians in Lebanon, but you can keep dreaming.

August 15th, 2007, 8:05 pm

 

Kamal said:

Ausamaa,

You’re proud of the birth rate?

August 15th, 2007, 10:38 pm

 

Thomas said:

Well perhaps this is the latest plot to get rid of the eye doctor in Damascus. High risk speculation from “DEBKA”. Consider the source.

Buoyed up by the triumphs of Hizballah’s war offensive against Israel in 2006 and Hamas’ takeover of Gaza, the clerical rulers of Tehran have invested so heavily in their expanding power structure across the region that a fiasco could push their regime and military prop, the fierce Revolutionary Guards, into a perilous slide at home. To play it safe, DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Iran sources reveal they have hatched a plan to replace the vacillating figure in Damascus with a puppet at their beck and call, modeled on Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut.

Thus far, Assad has not strayed too far from the guidelines he and his Iranian allies laid down together, but Tehran can never be sure when he might swerve from the straight and narrow to make his peace with the Americans. The can only guarantee Syria stays in their pockets by installing a pro-Iran loyalist in the presidential palace in Damascus.

Sources close to Persian Gulf rulers believe that if Tehran opts for this course, its chosen instrument for throwing up a military ruler would be the Syrian armed forces, on the assumption that a general has the best chance of unifying the country and its ethnic and religious minorities around the new regime. The Iranians have therefore doubled and tripled their efforts to build up influence in the Syrian army.

An overt manifestation of their success is the prevalence of Syrian army men sporting beards in the style of Revolutionary Guardsmen. But two additional Iranian steps have been more discreet.

1. Three-week, five-star vacations in Iran are being handed out to hundreds of graduates of every Syrian officers’ course and their families. While the families visit tourist sites, the graduates undergo indoctrination at special RGs seminaries.

2. Last April, RG instructors began handpicking outstanding Syrian officers at these courses and forming them into secret cells for planting in military units on their return home. They are trained to seize centers of government, military installations and public buildings.

It is not known if Assad knows what is going on in his armed forces, or how deeply collaboration with Iranian intelligence for implanting these cells has penetrated the high Syrian command.

Such information would be of paramount bearing on the Syrian ruler’s decision on whether or not to stage a flare-up with Israel, now projected for November or early next winter. An American intelligence estimate, passed to Israel last week, predicts that Syria will then plans to ignite clashes by low-intensity military operations to test Israel’s responses.

The Syrian leadership is divided on this issue:

The anti-war faction. This camp consists of the veteran class of Syrian army generals, traditionally the most American-oriented of the armed forces. Its leaders, defense minister Gen. Hassan Turkemany, chief of staff Gen. Habib Ali, and the presidential military and intelligence adviser Gen. Muhammed Nasif, all urge abstaining from hostile action against Israel.

The pro-war faction. This camp is headed by the Gen. Assaf Shawqat, head of Syrian military intelligence and the president’s brother-in-law. Around him is a band of ambitious young Syrian generals and colonels who have not yet made their name. They network closely with the high command of Iran’s armed forces and Revolutionary Guards.

Their argument for war is that the Assad regime is wobbling so badly that it would take the extreme measure of a war with Israel to unite the country behind the national leadership. These young Turks have convinced Asad that Israel is determined to avoid the kind of large-scale ground operation which went awry in the 2006 Lebanon War and will therefore focus on aerial bombardments of military bases and certain infrastructure targets such as bridges, power plants and water works. They estimate that even then, Israel will confine itself to a limited air offensive, because its policy-makers and military leaders alike will be leery of provoking reprisal from Syrian medium range ground-to-ground C and D Scud missiles against the central and southern populations.

By mid-July, the war faction appeared to be winning the upper hand with President Assad, against the veteran generals.

At the same time, neither camp can know for sure exactly where aggressive action against Israel may lead. A Syrian military defeat in a battle for the Golan and heavy Israeli bombardments deep inside Syria could generate conditions for a military coup d’etat against Assad by generals held up as popular heroes for fighting Israel.

At the same time, Assad’s failure to repulse heavy Israeli military pressure would open the door to Iranian military intervention and a tailor-made opportunity for ousting the regime in Damascus.

August 16th, 2007, 12:17 am

 

norman said:

Leb Christian, Kamal,
Ausama, (I gave you a line so you do not feel that i put with the others),
There is no Lebanese nation , there is only one Arab nation from the Iran to the Atlantic ocean and from Turkey and the Mediterranean to the Arabic sea and the Sahara desert , All people who live in this land are Arabs as the people who live in the US are Americans , these people like in the US and any large Nation are of many ethnic and religious backgrounds , and should have as in the US equal rights under the law no matter what their ethnicity , religion or the color of their skin , yes I am proud to be a Christian Arab who is from Syria and yes proud to be an American of Syrian Arab descent , you should remember that Islam is a religion not a nationality no matter what some people try to claim we should remember that Islam spread in the Arab world and the Arab people who were living there became Muslims or stayed Christians and Jews , Islam did not bring settlers with the spread of Islam .

August 16th, 2007, 1:14 am

 
 

Leb Christian said:

Norman – you’re a riot aren’t you? The people that live in the US are Americans, and that makes us Arabs? Are you sure you’re ready to embarrass yourself publicly like that?

The Americans live in a country called … (hold for it… groundbreaking info) the United States of America. That is why they are called Americans. We do not live in “Arabia” to be called Arabs.

There are Arabs in the Middle East, but there are several other ethnicities. Your attempt at forcing this arabness on others is quite frankly pathetic. There is nothing wrong in being an Arab, you should be proud of your roots, just don’t try to tell me who I am.

There was an attempt at population replacement by the Arabs but it did not succeed, particularly in places such as North Africa and the Levant.

Last but not least, I invite to take a look at a study carried out by National Geographic to try to identify the origins of people living in Lebanon. It turns out the Arab gene is barely present, while the Phoenician gene is omnipresent. I know that doesn’t go well with some revisionists like that Ben Laden celebrating dude, but I would hope that you would have an open mind and able to free yourself from the chains that Arabs have placed on you. Look it up.

August 16th, 2007, 7:24 am

 

offended said:

Phoenician Lebanese said:
while the Phoenician gene is omnipresent

My my my! and now I can’t claim an Arab identity unless my DNA shows some roots in the Qahtan or the Adnan blood lines?

And what makes you think that the general characteristics of Syrian genes are any different than the Lebanese? or would you be as pathetic as to think that the current international borders have been the circumscribing lines for immigrations, marriages, inseminations and breeding in the area since the immemorial?

If somebody tells me that I, as a Syrian, have a Phoenician genes, I would tell him to stick his findings up his ass, what I am concerned about is the here and now. The overwhelming and dominating language and culture of the area is Arabic, and that makes us all Arabs by the virtue of our birthplace …

August 16th, 2007, 8:28 am

 

Leb Christian said:

The National Geographic study showed that there were more similarities between lebanese and Tunisian (Carthage) then Lebanese and Syrians. There is intermixing but the predominant gene remains Phoenician. So you don’t have to worry about having Phoenician blood, you can be just Syrian (for your sake and ours).

Concerning your pathetic claim that if we speak Arabic, then we must be Arabs. I speak English does that mean I am English? And does that mean that Australians, Canadians, Americans, Irish Scottich and a shitload of other nations are English? Please check yourself before ridiculing yourself.

Last but not least, due to the topography of Lebanon, I can be as pretentious as to say, that thanks to the natural barriers, we are less likely to have succumbed to the attempted colonisation by invading Arabs. So instead of shoving any findings up anybody’s ass, i suggest you shove your pathetic Pan Arabic theory up yours first.

August 16th, 2007, 9:07 am

 

offended said:

Well it seems that the snidest of the Phoenician genes percolated throughout the centuries and subsided in you!

Congrats anyway, and I won’t respond to the filthy personal attack (expected form an alienated Lebanese living in an identity crisis such as yours), but let’s stick to the facts.

As a start, please provide a link to the study, and let’s go from there…

August 16th, 2007, 9:42 am

 

Leb Christian said:

May I remind you that you started with the personal attacks instead of sticking to facts. So don’t start crying when I respond in the same tone as your filthy posts. Choose in which court you want to play and stick to it, instead of acting like a child.

Now, it seems that you’ve grown up between your last post and this one, so I’ll tone it down a little.

Here is the link to the National Geographic study. Read it and let me know what you think.

http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0410/feature2/online_extra.html

Here are some extracts : “”We’re not seeing a significant genetic influence from elsewhere on the coastal population in what was the Levant region,” says Wells. “The people are very similar to the groups we see inland in Syria and Jordan, for example, suggesting that there wasn’t a huge influx of Sea Peoples or others from outside the area. A cultural shift occurred but not a genetic one. Today’s Lebanese, the Phoenicians, and the Canaanites before them are all the same people.”

Wells and Zalloua are finding similar results among samples taken in Tunisia, site of ancient Carthage and the largest of the Phoenician colonies. “Less than 20 percent of the genetic lineages found could have come out of the Middle East,” Wells continues. “They’re showing the markers of aboriginal North Africans. That means the Phoenicians moved into this area and, like the Sea Peoples, had more of a cultural impact than a genetic one.””

August 16th, 2007, 10:00 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Why-Discuss said:

I heard that Israelis believe more what Nasrallah says than what their leaders say.. is that true?

I’ve also heard that Nasrallah will never accept living in peace with Israel. BTW – Which Arab “leader” do you believe?;o)

August 16th, 2007, 10:54 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

Maybe you Phoenician Leb Christian should use Wikipedia to find out what Arabs in reality are. Wikipedia describes Arabs in a narrow context as a coalition of Semitic ethnic nations and in larger context as the people who speak/use Arabic. Seems that also the Phoenicians in Lebanon fit in that category of “Arabs”, but not the Phoenicians in Malta.

Lets not forget that the Conservapedia (creationists) tells us that all the people (including Arabs and Phoenicians) origin from the same genes. Adam and Eve if you do not remember Leb Christian. 🙂

I admit that it is some times offending when others use my “group” in their “games”. As a western Christian I am not very happy when some “revisionists” like G. Bush and Olmert speak about western values, Judeo-Christian values and how the West supports them in their actions in Middle East. Despite that the most influential Christian Church leaders (Pope etc) and the wast majority of us westerns (in polls and demonstration) have made their opinion clear.

—–

Akbar have noticed that the bearded men in Israelistan have begun to expel also western Christian priests. Hmmmm the public in the only nation which has claimed to has defined it self as Judeo-Christian will not like that. If they are told about that, which the Fox Media probably will not do. 🙂

August 16th, 2007, 2:54 pm

 

Offended said:

Leb Christian,
I read the article about the research, the subject of the research is Phoenicians not Lebanese people. and I wonder, for the sake of arguement, why the conductor of this research wouldn’t mention anything about taking sample from the Syrian coast? was Syrian coast less Phoenician than the Lebanese one?
Maybe the 14th March ilk now wants to change (reads manipulate) history?

So I could as a Syrian have a Phoenician roots after all and I still don’t care the dam. And I must say that I feel pity for anyone who thinks that having Phoenician ancestry may give him/her a unique identity in our present life…

August 16th, 2007, 3:04 pm

 

Leb Christian said:

The research points to the fact that Lebanese and Phoenicians are for the most the same people. This is what you tried to deny, but failed miserably.

You can be whatever you believe you are. It is the last of my worries, as long as you don’t come and impose your view of the world and your Pan Arabic bullshit on me.

You’re an Arab, and you feel the culture of the Arabs represent you. Fine. I don’t. Period. I am not even claiming to be of Phoenician roots, I am simply saying leave us the f* alone. I feel pity for those who are still running after this Pan Arabism defunct myth, and to cover their insecurity try to impose this myth on others. I basically feel pity for you. But the good news is, we’re not the same, and Thank God for that.

August 16th, 2007, 3:55 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

“”I am simply saying leave us the f* alone””

That is easily achieved with your own efforts. Stop commenting so you do not need to “hyperventilate” of your “Aryan” origin.

August 16th, 2007, 4:36 pm

 

Leb Christian said:

SIMOHURTA, begging for attention are we? “Aryan” origins? I sense you have some serious issues deep down?

Are you sure you want to play with the big boys? How about you just stand on the sideline and watch until you actually make a valid point?

August 16th, 2007, 4:58 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Phoenicians…. Right!! And they built the Pyramids, the China Wall, Gardens of Babylon, and the rest of all civilization’s other great monoments icluding Junblat, Jaja, Jemayel, mini Hariri and the Seniora of course..

If all like-minded Lebanese have nothing to fall back on except the Phoenician claim and the Cedar Revolution, envy such a people.

Ya kayeie, ma halkun tishooo wi tfia’oo ba’aa???

August 16th, 2007, 5:50 pm

 

Leb Christian said:

Ben Laden celebrating dude, I’m sorry I don’t understand that last phrase. Could you please repeat that? Funny, according to you I’m an Arab yet I don’t understand what the heck you’re saying…

I understand you have little to be proud of, and the only way for you to raise your head just a little is to try to belittle others. But hating others is no way to live Oussama. Try to get over that jealousy and build upon your neighbours.

August 16th, 2007, 6:00 pm

 

Kamal said:

Guys, it’s not necessary to get into a discussion of genes. There’s no question that Lebanon has a distinct culture relative to the Arab World, which can be simplified, in a word, as ‘liberal’. Those who hate Lebanon hate it for the same reason others love it – its distinct culture! Every time they attack Lebanon and Lebanese-ness, they admit Lebanon’s uniqueness.

And how do they express their hate? By attacking Lebanon’s “whorishness” and “moral depravity” (while hypocritcally partaking, of course), i.e., its liberalism, as seen through their perverse lenses. Leb Christian, you’ve missed many of Ausamaa’s foul-mouthed rants where he likens Lebanon to a prostitute offering herself up to be raped, etc. Yes, he’s even sicker than you think. He’s referring to politics of course, but the metaphor is telling, and is frequently used by Lebanon-haters (see for example the Arabist knuckleheads who populate the comments’ section of the blog of that rumor-monger, the Angry Arab).

There are also, of course, distinct cultures within Lebanon, and distinct cultures within Syria, etc.

Me, I think Lebanon’s ‘depravity’ is valuable to Lebanon and to the Mideast as a whole. I think this unique cultural space is worth protecting – from external imperialists who want to “unify with” (i.e. swallow) Lebanon, and internal fanatics who “love death as much as you love life”, who seek martyrdom for themselves AND the country, whose model of a nation-state is the Islamic Republic of Iran…

Back to the question of nationalism/identity:

We all have multilayered identities. “Arab” is one of several associations I identify with. “Lebanese” is another. And “Canadian”. I even identify with “Christian” (purely within the Lebanese context)as a community I belong to – NOT as a religion. Belonging to these various groups does not prevent me from holding strong critiques of each and every one of them…

The problem is with ominous, simple-minded statements made by the likes of Norman, such as “Christians are the most nationalistic of all the Arabs” and “there is only one Arab nation from the Iran to the Atlantic ocean and from Turkey and the Mediterranean to the Arabic sea and the Sahara desert”. That’s just sheer stupidity. Poorly written, too, like Ausamaa’s drunken outbursts.

When Norman and other brainwashed folks refer to Arabism, they are not speaking merely of identity issues. They are referring to specific policies they want you to adhere to. One aspect of their Arabism is the primacy to the Palestinian cause over all others (not within their own country of course – god forbid! – but in yours). In practise, that means supporting the right of Palestinians to form armed gangs on Lebanese soil, for example. Objecting to this makes you an automatic traitor to Arabism.

I fully support the Palestinian cause (I don’t have to prove myself to anyone, but I dedicated 4 years of university activism in the US to the Palestinian cause), but not to the exclusion others. For instance, I also fully support the Kurdish cause – in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran. One’s perspective on the Kurdish question is another litmus test of Arabism because Arabism, being a fascist totalitarian ideology, detests minority rights and multiple identifications. So a true Arabist, in their eyes, supports the Palestinians and opposes the Kurds…

Of course, a true Arabist has nothing but sheer hate for Lebanese Christians who insist on their distinctiveness, who dare to identify with Western culture, and who, relative to other minorities living under Arab hegemony, have managed to maintain some (dwindling) political power within their own country. The Arabist fanatics will never forgive us for this insubordination.

Arabism also promotes the nationalist cause above non-nationalist causes – such as liberalism, democracy, and women’s rights. This is a typical feature of ultra-nationalism, which is itself a glorified tribalism. It’s the notion that we must band together against the foreigner, and should keep hush hush about our domestic problems rather than “airing our dirty laundry” before foreign eyes.

So advocates of non-nationalist causes are accused, at the very least, of detracting attention from the main issue – for example, the Ba’thist regime’s confrontation with the Bush administration is more important than its domestic repression and regional terrorism. At worst, advocates of non-nationalist causes are accused of outright treachery and serving as tools of foreign forces.

Take a look at the totalitarian language of the charges against Syria’s very best citizens, its dissident intellectuals. It’s all about “weakening national sentiment” (criticizing your own country, as any good citizen should), “tarnishing Syria’s reputation” (airing dirty laundry), and “sowing division and strife” (promoting minority rights). This is the evil language of an evil ideology.

I happen to think that women’s rights, free speech, and cultural liberalism are more important than supporting the Ba’thist confrontation with the neocons or using Lebanon as a battlefield in defense of Iran’s right to develop nuclear weapons. If that makes me a traitor to Arabism, then I must wear that badge – with pride!

August 16th, 2007, 6:02 pm

 

ausamaa said:

LEB CHRISTIAN,

The name Ausamaa, which you do not seem to like, was given to me by my Parents years ago before your idol bin laden was created and then abandoned by your current “liberators”.
The name Leb Christian is CHOSEN by you presumably to reflect the rotten state of your Political and Social beliefs and orientation.

I happen to have a Christian Lebanese wife, and we never care or cared about such stuff.And a Christian mother of Palestinian origin. Maybe that will answer some of your questions. I drink scotch on the rocks when I do, and I feel at ease talking to Sunni or Shieat or Christians or Jews, poor or rich alike, and I respect the stuff they believe in, and I do not hold them accountable for the continuous change of mind which God seems to undergo every few hundered years or so..

But when I come across sick minds who nothing but revenge and hate in their Speach, things get different… and your ideas and the ideas of your likes -while being unworthy of responding to- seem to spark some response from me while fully knowing that it is a useless excercise. Maybe it is just easier fun getting on your nerves as I do not have the personal email of your hero’s of the Cedar Rev….ulsion.

And Kamal,

To your question, no, I am not happy about the Birth Rate. But “ignoring” the implications of the same, or “reducing” that birth rate by killing the Live and Born ones does not seem as a attractive and feasible proposition (or solution)!

caio…

August 16th, 2007, 6:31 pm

 

Peter H said:

Very interesting comment, Kamal. Wadood Hamad, a left-wing Iraqi, has discussed the destructive impact of pan-Arabism on Iraq. He writes that the “the rhetoric of Pan-Arab unity has been employed ad infinitum over any serious attention to social, economic, cultural, and political issues.”. He also writes:
“Pan-Arab nationalism, not unlike other nationalisms, e.g. Zionism, is an ethnocentered political ideology having its roots in German romanticism. Inasmuch as one should objectively criticize the role Zionism played in retarding peace and progress for all inhabitants of the Middle East, one must, too, be questioning what Pan-Arabist rhetoric and “theory” have presented to the cause of peace and progress.”

http://www.wpunj.edu/newpol/issue38/hamad38.htm

August 16th, 2007, 6:36 pm

 

Leb Christian said:

Kamal – a refreshing post. Thank you for this.

Ben Laden celebrating dude – I chose my nickname indeed. I chose Lebanese first, then I identified with my community in Lebanon. For the record, even the staunchest laic citizen of Lebanon must and will identify to his community. As Kamal pointed out, it has nothing to do with religion, but simply of belonging to a community. But I suspect that won’t register in that little head of yours.

Your problem is that you can’t seem to be able to have a good night’s sleep knowing that there are Christian Lebanese who dare not be dhimmis in the Middle East.

You still fall for the pathetic Pan Arabist rhetoric fed to you by your leaders, then fine by me, but one suggestion, avoid vomiting that crap on public forums, spare yourself the public humiliation.

Oh and you seem to be obsessed with the Lebanese’s struggle for freedom. I understand it, you’ve been living as a slave to your dictators for so long, that you’re bitter in seeing us succeed. You really need to see a doctor about that inferiority complex of yours Oussama.

August 16th, 2007, 7:10 pm

 

ausamaa said:

well said, Leb Christian, may God bless you,,and your likes!!! If HE can.

August 16th, 2007, 7:53 pm

 

Leb Christian said:

Oussama, I’m glad you agree 🙂

August 16th, 2007, 7:58 pm

 

ausamaa said:

مفاجأة نصر الله.. والخيار السوري
GMT 3:45:00 2007 الخميس 16 أغسطس
القدس العربي اللندنية

——————————————————————————–

عبد الباري عطوان

السيد حسن نصر الله زعيم حزب الله اللبناني، رجل لا يكذب، يقول ويفعل، وعندما يتوعد اسرائيل بمفاجأة، قد تغير وجه المنطقة، اذا ما اعتدت علي لبنان، فان عليها ومن خلفها، أخذ هذا الكلام علي محمل الجد، خاصة وهي تجري مناورات عسكرية مكثفة في الوقت الراهن، بالقرب من الحدود اللبنانية والسورية، استعدادا لحرب جديدة، تعتقد انها ستنقذ ماء وجه مؤسستها العسكرية بعد هزيمتها المهينة في لبنان قبل عام.
من المرجح ان السيد نصر الله لا يتحدث هنا، عن صواريخ جديدة، تصل الي نقاط ابعد في العمق الاسرائيلي، فقد كشف في حديثه لقناة الجزيرة قبل بضعة اسابيع عن ازدحام ترسانته بمثل هذه الصواريخ التي تصل حسبما قال الي كل نقطة في الدولة العبرية، مثلما كشف ايضا في احاديث ســابقة، عن امتلاك الحزب عشرين الفا منها علي الاقل.
مفاجأة السيد نصر الله ستظل موضع تكهنات من قبل الخبراء العسكريين، الامريكيين والاسرائيليين منهم خاصة، ولكن ما يمكن استخلاصه للوهلة الاولي، هو امكانية تزويد هذه الصواريخ او بعضها، برؤوس كيماوية او بيولوجية. لان الحرب المقبلة اذا ما اشتعل فتيلها ربما تكون الاخيرة في المنطقة فعلا، ولن تتردد اطرافها في استخدام كل ما في جعبتها من اسلحة، لان الدرس الذي تعلمه العرب من العراق، وغزوه واحتلاله، هو ان بقاء الانظمة المستهدفة مستحيل مهما قدمت من تنازلات، ولهذا ليس امامها غير خيار شمشون . ومثلما لم يتردد حزب الله في تسجيل ضرب العمق الاسرائيلي بالصواريخ، فانه لن يكون مفاجئا، او مستغربا، اذا ما لجأ الي استخدام اسلحة الدمار الشامل في اي مواجهة جديدة.
من الواضح ان الحلف السوري ـ الايراني المستهدف امريكيا واسرائيليا، ومن بعض حلفائهم العرب المعتدلين ، بات يميل الي التخلي عن استراتيجيته السابقة في التقوقع في خندق الدفاع، والتزام الصمت تجاه الطرف الآخر، وينتقل بشكل تدريجي متسارع الي استراتيجية الهجوم الاعلامي، في تزامن محسوب مع الاستعدادات العسكرية التقليدية وغير التقليدية. ولعل الانتقاد الساحق وغير المسبوق الذي شنه السيد فاروق الشرع نائب الرئيس السوري علي كل من السعودية ومصر، قائدتي ما يسمي بـ محور الاعتدال هو اول مؤشرات التوجه الجديد.
سورية التزمت الصمت لاكثر من ربع قرن تجاه حليفيها السابقين، مصر والسعودية، ولم توجه كلمة انتقاد واحدة لنظاميهما حتي بعد ان تفرقت السبل، وانهار مثلث التحالف الذي جمعها بهما وتوثق منذ غزو القوات العراقية للكويت عام 1990، وتجسد عمليا فيما سمي في ذلك الوقت بمنظومة دول اعلان دمشق ، ولهذا فان السؤال الذي يطرح نفسه بقوة هو عما دفع السيد الشرع الي شن هذا الهجوم علي النظامين المصري والسعودي، بهذا الوضوح، وتسمية الاشياء باسمائها وبالصوت والصورة، مثل قوله ان الملك السعودي عبد الله بن عبد العزيز، والرئيس المصري حسني مبارك لم يجرآ علي عقد قمة ثلاثية مع الرئيس بشار الاسد في الرياض خوفا من امريكا. او قوله ان السعودية عجزت عن اقناع الادارة الامريكية برفع الحصار المالي عن الفلسطينيين بعد توقيع اتفاق مكة الفلسطيني، وهي اقوي حلفاء واشنطن في المنطقة.
الاجابة علي هذه الاسئلة، وغيرها، يمكن استخلاصها من تعمق حال القطيعة، وحدوث الطلاق البائن الذي لا رجعة فيه بين النظام السوري وحلفائه السابقين في الاشهر الاخيرة، لان الاخيرين ذهبا بعيدا في التماهي مع الاستراتيجية الامريكية في المنطقة، وشاركا بحماس في ابرز اهدافها اي عزل سورية وحلفائها مثل حزب الله في لبنان، وحركة حماس في قطاع غزة، والتمهيد للدخول في حلف عسكري جديد مع اسرائيل والولايات المتحدة لضرب ايران، في حال فشل الجهود الدبلوماسية لإيجاد حل سلمي لأزمــــة المــفاعل النووي الايراني.
السيد وليد المعلم وزير الخارجية السوري اشتكي اكثر من مرة في جلسات خاصة، من رفض نظيره السعودي الامير سعود الفيصل زيارة دمشق تلبية للدعوات المتكررة من قبله، والسيد الشرع تحدث في خطابه في عيد الصحافيين عن رفض السعوديين المشاركة في اجتماع استضافته دمشق علي مستوي الخبراء لبحث الوضع في العراق، كما قال انها لم تلتزم باتفاق اقامة منطقة حرة بين البلدين، اي ان القطيعة امتدت حتي للجوانب الاقتصادية ايضا.
من الواضح ان المسؤولين السوريين توصلوا الي قناعة راسخة بان الشريك السعودي السابق اختار منحي مختلفا، وادار الظهر كليا لسورية، وانتقل الي مرحلة الايذاء، وبدأ بالحرب الاعلامية، وتحدث السيد الشرع صراحة عــن هذه المسألة عنـــدما قال ان وســائل الاعلام الســعــودية تتــحــدث مــرارا وتكــرارا، وبـ سلبية مؤســفة عن ســـورية خــلافا لوسائل الاعلام السورية آملا ان لا يتكرر ذلك في تهديد مبطن.
في الاسبوع الماضي، ويوم الاثنين السادس من آب (اغسطس) قطع الامير سعود الفيصل الشعرة الاخيرة في العلاقات مع سورية، عندما جدد في لقائه مع الصحافيين ما سماه بالمضامين التي وردت في الموقف الصادر عن مجلس الوزراء السعودي، وقال ان المملكة تحرص في كل مواقفها علي المحافظة علي مصالحها الوطنية، وأمنها، واستقرار شعبها، ووحدة العمل العربي، وتضامن العالم الاسلامي، و الفهم الواقعي للعالم والقوي المؤثرة فيه، وتري ان الطريق الي ذلك هو استقلالية القرار الوطني، والتعامل بندية وانفتاح مع دول العالم اجمع ووصل الي القول ان ما يحول دون ذلك هو القوي التي تتحدث باكثر من صوت، وتبحث عن مكامن الفرقة، وتبني مواقفها بعيدا عن الحقائق، وتعمل من اجل منفعتها الضيقة المباشرة، وان طريق التعامل مع ازمات المنطقة وتحقيق تقدم شعوبها ينبني علي تجاوز هذه القوي وشعاراتها وايديولوجياتها .
الامير سعود الفيصل لم يسم هذه القوي التي تريد بلاده تجاوزها، وايديولوجياتها، ولكن امبراطورية الاعلام السعودي الضخمة، قالت في اكثر من مقال لكتاب معروفين بعكسهم للسياسة الرسمية السعودية، بان الدولة المقصودة هنا هي سورية.
العارفون ببواطن الامور، في سورية يقولون ان هناك مدرستين داخل النظام السوري، واحدة تتسم بالمرونة والاعتدال، والتحلي باكبر قدر ممكن من ضبط النفس، والابقاء علي قنوات الاتصال مع واشنطن والغرب الاوروبي وحلفائهم من العرب، يمثلها جناح يتزعمه السيد وليد المعلم وزير الخارجية، ومدرسة اخري لا تري اي فائدة في مجاراة الغرب وحلفائه، وتؤكد علي ضرورة العودة الي ينابيع النهج السوري الاصلية، في التمسك بالثوابت القومية السورية في مواجهة السياسة الامريكية والاسرائيلية، واتباع نهج التصدي، وتثوير المنطقة مرة اخري. ويمثل هذه المدرسة السيد الشرع.
جناح الشرع عارض اعادة العلاقات الدبلوماسية مع النظام العراقي المنبثق من رحم الاحتلال، وطالب دائما بدعم المقاومة مثلما عارض اي تقارب مع محور الاعتدال العربي الذي يتبني حروب امريكا الحالية في العراق وافغانستان، والقادمة ضد ايران، مثلما عارض ايضا، وبقوة مسايرة لجنة التحقيق الدولية في مقتل الحريري رئيس وزراء لبنان الاسبق وشروطها المهينة، ولكن كفة الجناح الواقعي الذي يمثله السيد المعلم طوال العامين الماضيين كانت هي الأرجح.
الصورة تغيرت فيما يبدو، وباتت الاستراتيجية السورية الجديدة تنحاز الي جناح الصقور، في تبادل مدروس للأدوار، بسبب ادراك القيادة بان الوقت يمضي بسرعة، واحتمالات المواجهة مع اسرائيل وامريكا باتت اكبر وربما اسرع مما يتوقعه الكثيرون، ولم تعد هناك فائدة من الصمت والمسايرة والتخندق في خندق الدفاع والتغاضي عن حروب الطرف الآخر الاعلامية، والتحالفات السياسية والعسكرية المتسارعة التي ينسجها اقليميا ودوليا، وهذا ما يفسر مقاطعة سورية الكاملة لاجتماع وزراء خارجية الدول العربية الاخير الذي بحث مسألة تفعيل مبادرة السلام العربية، واستبعادها كليا من مؤتمر السلام الامريكي الذي دعا اليه الرئيس بوش في الخريف المقبل، وتقلص زيارات المسؤولين العرب الي عاصمتها، وخاصة السعوديين والمصريين.
السؤال هو: هل تبدأ سورية بترجمة استراتيجيتها الجديدة في خطوات عملية علي الارض، وكيف؟
من الصعب اعطاء اجابة حاسمة في هذا الخصوص، ولكن ما يمكن قوله هو ان تهديدات السيد حسن نصر الله وخطابه الجماهيري القوي والمعد جيدا وتزامنها في الوقت نفسه مع خطاب السيد الشرع وغير المسبوق في انتقاده للسعودية ومصر وامريكا ومؤتمر السلام المقبل والهرولة العربية اليه دون تبصر، وحدوث تحول في لهجة الاعلام السوري، كلها تؤشر الي بداية حرب اعلامية شرسة.
مشاكل سورية كثيرة ولكن الاساسية فيها هو ان محورها الذي تقف في خندقه يملك الارضية الوطنية القوية، ويرتكز علي منظمات وقوي شعبية تقاوم الاحتلال الاسرائيلي (حماس وحزب الله) ويمتلك الصواريخ وطابور الاستشهاديين، ولكنه لا يملك الأدوات الاعلامية الفاعلة والمؤثرة في اي حرب اعلامية مقبلة.
فقد كان لافتا ان محطة الجزيرة المدفعية الثقيلة التي عولت عليها الحكومة السورية طويلا وكثيرا لم تبث تهجمات السيد الشرع علي السعودية مثلما كان متوقعا منها، وفضلت اتخاذ موقف اقرب الي الحياد في هذا الصدد. وفي الوقت نفسه لا تتمتع الفضائية السورية بمصداقية كبيرة في اوساط الشارع العربي لانها ما زالت تتبع اساليب الحرب الباردة الاعلامية، او بالأحري الشق السوفييتي منها. بينما تملك الجبهة الاخري امبراطورية اعلامية ضخمة متعددة الاذرع، ومهيمنة بالكامل علي الساحة العربية.
التطور الاخطر الذي يمكن ان يكون بالغ التأثير، اذا ما لجأت اليه القيادة السورية، هو النزول الي ميدان العنف، او الارهاب ، لزعزعة استقرار خصومها. فليس هناك ابرع من المخابرات السورية في هذا الميدان، اذا ما قرروا اللجوء الي خيار شمشون اي علي وعلي اعدائي . ويكفي التذكير بان فتح الاسلام ورغم كونها ليست صنيعة المخابرات السورية، باعتراف العماد ميشال سليمان قائد الجيش اللبناني، وهو محق في ذلك لان الاصوليين الاسلاميين، والسعوديين منهم خاصة، يعتبرون النظام السوري نظاما علمانيا ملحدا، فان التسهيلات السورية هي التي ابقت هذه الجماعة علي صغرها، تصمد لمدة ثلاثة اشهر في مواجهة جيش رسمي جرار وتلحق به خسائر كبري في الارواح والمعنويات.
سورية حكمت المنطقة العربية بأسرها بـ العنف الفلسطيني طوال فترتي السبعينات والثمانينات وتستطيع اعادة الكرّة مرة اخري، فهناك الملايين من المحبطين من عمليات الإذلال والمهانة التي يتعرض لها العرب علي ايدي الامريكان وحلفائهم العرب، لكن السؤال الذي يطرح نفسه هو عما اذا كانت سورية تملك الوقت للسير في هذا النهج مرة اخري؟
الايام المقبلة حافلة بالمفاجآت، وهي قطعا ليست سارة لامريكا واسرائيل، ومحور الاعتدال العربي، فنحن امام صراع فيلة مقبل، ومرحلة اللاسلم واللاحرب، او بالاحري اللاحسم الحالية لن تطول في جميع الاحوال، ومفاجأة السيد نصر الله قد تكون واحدة منها فقط.

August 16th, 2007, 8:22 pm

 

Kamal said:

Thank you Peter, and thanks for bringing that article to my attention. I’ll be reading…

August 16th, 2007, 9:18 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

“”SIMOHURTA, begging for attention are we? “Aryan” origins? I sense you have some serious issues deep down?
Are you sure you want to play with the big boys? How about you just stand on the sideline and watch until you actually make a valid point? “”

Begging of attention? No I am rather “astonished” with your Phoenician style of discussion and your racial theories. You say “it has nothing to do with religion, but simply of belonging to a community”. A logic person would say that is stupidly said. What makes Lebanese Christians a community? The religion and the culture based on it naturally is the basic glue. I suppose that the genetic differences between the Lebanese different Muslim and Christian communities are not so different. The last elections in Lebanon showed also that the opinions of Lebanese Christians (or Phoenicians prefer it more) are not so united as you would want.

As an outsider living in a democratic country I can’t understand the reluctance in Lebanon to solve the political problems in a democratic way. Through new elections as they did just in Turkey, when they encountered a political deadlock. Now two equal strong sides claim being the majority. Naturally making a new census would help in dividing the political power in Lebanon in a fair and balanced way.

As we can presently see in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia building a society where the political power is divided on tribal and religious basis is not “functioning” very well. A good recipe for generations long civil wars indeed. Maybe all groups there should consider other means to build a national identity and a better society. Otherwise you have a vast amount of Lilliputian states with the democracy and human rights level of Israel (= the dominant tribe/religion rules and the others left alive obey with the power of rifles).

Could you LebC imagine how functioning the US political system would be if it would be based on the present Iraqi and Lebanese example. The President would have to be White Catholic, Vice President a Afro-American Lutheran, the Speaker of the House a Jew etc. Certainly such a system in any country would force the communities to organize themselves behind the their “community” leaders and parties, enlarge the differences and create tensions. Naturally holding a census every lets say 150 years would build steam in the system, when the different groups amounts change.

Do you really Leb C consider your self as as a big boy. A big mouth doesn’t make a boy big. Maybe boys (small and big) should leave the scene and let adults discuss in a civil way.

August 16th, 2007, 10:03 pm

 

Kamal said:

Simohurtta

The Lebanese system of confessional democracy is seriously flawed and needs urgent reform. This is a complex issue that deserves its own discussion. But I wonder why you bring it up, since it is irrelevant to the discussion here, which is about Arab nationalism. A few words on this before we return to the topic at hand: I posit that your indignation about Lebanon’s democratic shortcomings is severely misguided given the hellish tyrannical dictatorships that surround (imperfectly) democratic Lebanon. For laughs, try applying the Syrian model to your American analogy. Nuff said.

Back to topic:

Leb C only brought up the genetic study to defend against Norman’s attempt to impose Arabness on us against our will! Leb C’s point is that we are ethnically distinct. The additional point I made above is that we are culturally distinct. Since we are ethnically and culturally distinct, and furthermore, have no wish or desire to be coerced into some pan-Arab totalitarian state – by what definition of the “nation” are we part of “the Arab Nation”? On what basis do these fanatics insist we must toe the Arabist line, and furthermore, that it is incumbent upon Christians, above all others, to display their Arab credentials (I shake my head at the inferiority complex inherent in such a sad statement)? And when o when will they drop their dream to swallow us up?

Surely as a citizen of a Western democracy, you have at least some sympathy for our desire to remain free, our insistence on our distinct identiy, and our fear of a giant neighbor who threatens us constantly, boasting of its superior size and military might and willingness to inflict harm and high birth rate? A neighbor that has never recognized our existence and continues to express its ultimate goal to “unify” with our little country – against our will?!

No sympathy at all, my Scandinavian friend?

August 16th, 2007, 11:37 pm

 

Enlightened said:

Wow ;

Logged on this morning and you gents have been busy!

Let me get this straight! After reading all your discussions about culturally distinct people, ethnically distinct people, morally defunct people, Liberal people , Pan Arab ideology etc………

I have come to the conclusion that I am one F up individual without a identity, and hence forth going to start a new project to colonise Mars where I can start a new race! Ethnically and culturally distinct of course, with out being labelled or having a label. Anyone interested?

August 17th, 2007, 12:38 am

 

norman said:

Failed people look for communities to belong to while successful ones make their own .
In the us you can be Mexican American , Italian American , Irish American , Jewish American , Arab American , Black American , Cuban American , Muslim American Or WASP , they are all Americans and whoever thinks otherwise can leave , so is the case in the Arab world there are Lebanese Arabs , Syrian Arabs , Muslim Arabs , Christian Arabs , They are all Arabs because they all came from Arabia when the semitic people migrated .
Any way , The majority of the Lebanese consider themselves Arabs and for that we should be grateful and the likes of The Leb Called Christian and Kamal are the minority.

August 17th, 2007, 1:33 am

 

Jamal said:

Warning, not for the squeamish. Article on the Imad Moustapha ‘Syrian Diplomat in US Writes Blogs’ Washington Post August 16, 2007 – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/16/AR2007081600918.html

I’m always stunned when people on Syriacomment refer to this guy with approval.

When I first read his blog a couple of years ago I laughed assuming it was a brilliant and hilarious satire set up by someone making fun of the Syrian regime. When I discovered it was for real I wanted to shed tears that Syrians are represented by such an offensive clown.

This guy is an outrageously smug, shallow, pseudo-intellectual, an over-the-top boaster about his privileged lifestyle, his material possessions, his jetset leisure interests and vacations, his much younger trophy wife, the brand of socks he wears – you name it.

Some PR agency must be getting a lot of belly laughs writing this and getting paid by someone who doesn’t see how ridiculous they make him and his fantasy country look.

His public association with Syria makes me very, very angry. He is a low-grade regime prostitute strutting in the spotlight and betraying Syrian people with the unreality and deception he unloads.

And a liar. Get this from the Washington Post article: “Moustapha said he does not think Syrian President Bashar Assad is aware of his blog. “I never told the president about it,” he said.

August 17th, 2007, 5:01 am

 

Enlightened said:

I made some unsavoury remarks about Syria’s ambassador to Washington once , and got bagged by some commentators here;

but this comment takes the prize:

“His public association with Syria makes me very, very angry. He is a low-grade regime prostitute strutting in the spotlight and betraying Syrian people with the unreality and deception he unloads.”

I always thought that the ambassador was more clown than ambassador , perhaps some others are coming out with a similar view.

August 17th, 2007, 7:15 am

 

Alex said:

Enlightened!… go back to work.

August 17th, 2007, 7:26 am

 

norman said:

Saudi hits back at Syria in growing diplomatic spat
17 Aug 2007 11:54:07 GMT
Source: Reuters
Alert Me | Print | Email this article | RSS [-] Text [+]

Background
Iraq in turmoil
More RIYADH, Aug 17 (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has rejected as “lies and fallacies” high-level Syrian accusations that its role in the Middle East was waning, signalling a new low in diplomatic ties already strained over Lebanon and Iraq.

In an unusually scathing statement, the conservative Muslim kingdom, which has been trying to bolster its regional role, lashed out against criticism made by Syrian Vice President Farouq al-Shara earlier this week.

“The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has followed with great surprise the distasteful statements recently made by … Shara, which included numerous lies and fallacies aimed at harming us,” said the statement, quoting an unnamed official sourced and carried by the official Saudi Press Agency SPA late on Thursday.

“Talk about the paralysis of the kingdom’s Arab and Islamic role does not come from a rational and prudent person, as this role is well known to everyone … Perhaps Mr Shara had a slip of the tongue and meant by paralysis the policy he speaks for.”

In a sharp speech at Damascus University, Shara had said Saudi’s regional role was “virtually paralysed”, pointing to the failure of a Palestinian unity deal forged in the Saudi holy city of Mecca in February.

Shara said the outline of the Mecca deal had already been hammered out in Damascus anyway, and hinted that its collapse showed either that Saudi Arabia was hamstrung or that the kingdom had lost the ear of its old ally the United States.

Shara also criticised a Saudi decision not to attend a meeting on Iraqi security hosted by Syria earlier this month.

Ties between Syria and Saudi Arabia have been strained since the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, a close Saudi ally.

Saudi King Abdullah, once close to Syria’s Baathist leaders, was outraged by the murder in Lebanon, which was under Syrian military and intelligence dominance.

A U.N. investigation has implicated Syrian and Lebanese security officials in the killing, a charge Damascus denies.

A political standoff between Lebanon’s pro-Syrian Hezbollah and the Lebanese government, which is backed by the West and Saudi Arabia, has further soured relations since last year’s war between Israel and the Shi’ite Muslim guerrilla group.

Riyadh is also concerned about the growing influence of Syria’s Shi’ite Muslim ally, Iran, particularly in Iraq and Lebanon, where Shi’ite groups are strong.

Tensions appeared to ease with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s attendance of the last Arab summit held in Riyadh in March, but the latest exchange appeared to mark a downturn in relations. The next Arab summit is due to take place in Syria.

“Shara’s claim that the Mecca agreement … had been agreed in Damascus is an unforgivable insult to the Palestinian leaderships,” the Saudi statement said.

“God willing, every Syrian and Saudi is keen on maintaining and strengthening this (Arab) brotherhood, despite the abominable voices and their owners who will vanish in the wind.”

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August 17th, 2007, 12:24 pm

 
 

Joshua said:

Dear Leb. Christian,

You cite the National Geographic article, “In the Wake of the Phoenicians: DNA study reveals a Phoenician-Maltese link,” to argue that Lebanese are descended from the Phoenicians. Here is the pertinent paragraph you cite:

”We’re not seeing a significant genetic influence from elsewhere on the coastal population in what was the Levant region,” says Wells. “The people are very similar to the groups we see inland in Syria and Jordan, for example, suggesting that there wasn’t a huge influx of Sea Peoples or others from outside the area. A cultural shift occurred but not a genetic one. Today’s Lebanese, the Phoenicians, and the Canaanites before them are all the same people.”

The article does not argue that the Lebanese show a major DNA link to the phoenicians. On the contrary, the scientists argue the opposite, that Lebanese DNA has much more in common with that of Syrians and Jordanians than with any external “Sea People’s” or “Phoenicians.” This is the same result they found in Tunisia, where Carthage was North Africa’s large Phoenician capital. Over 80% of the DNA from Tunis is related to the indigenous people of North Africa. As the scientists conclude: “A cultural shift occurred but not a genetic one.” They don’t say how much of the DNA could be linked to Phoenicians.

The results of this DNA study do not disprove your basic argument, which is political: the Lebanese are their own nation and want their own political destiny, separate from that of Syria. Syrians could not fail to observe that even Hizbullah wanted Syrian troops to leave Lebanon in 2005, although Nasrallah thanked Syria for its role in stopping the civil war and its help. DNA does not have to be a predictor of political identity.

I recently ran a DNA story on Syria Comment about Turkey. The results of a fairly careful DNA study of Anatolia suggested that less than 10% of the DNA of today’s “Turks” can be traced back to Central Asian types. Most is from the Middle East, the Balkans and peoples surrounding the Black Sea. No surprise there, except to the Turkish nationalists who would like to believe that the Turkish race displaced others following the conquest.

No good DNA studies have been done on Syria, as far as I know. But when they are done, I imagine they will show a similarly tangled web of DNA influences.

Arab nationalism, like German nationalism, Italian nationalism or other volkish nationalisms that suggest a racial, or DNA integrity of their people are more political than scientific.

As a result, definitions of what makes one an Arab have been changing over the decades to accommodate this scientific knowledge. Increasingly, those who define themselves as Arabs are insisting on a cultural and linguistic affinity, rather than a racial one.

In the same vein, Lebanese have increasingly sought to define their separate identity in political and cultural terms, rather than than to base them on race, such as the Phoenician argument.

Kamal does this nicely in his comment above. He points to the liberal traditions of the Lebanese, their open culture, their distinct political past, and most importantly their adherence to Lebanon’s constitution and distinct political traditions to argue that Lebanese enjoy their differences and do not want to be part of Syria, an Arab nation, or other national concoctions of the region.

The problem, of course, is that while almost all Lebanese may agree that they are not Syrians, important differences in identity still bedevil the positive formation of a distinct Lebanese identity. While the Maronites traditionally argued for the Phoenicianness of Lebanon, the Sunnis championed its Arabness. Today, the Sunnis are abandoning their old arguments of Arouba and the Shiites have taken them up instead. Lebanon’s proper relationship with Syria and Arabism remains in dispute, as does the manner in which Lebanon’s various communities should share power. All of these disputes are solvable, but will perhaps require more compromise than any side wants at the moment.

Syria is going through its own identity transformations. Pan-Arabism is contested in important ways in Syria today. Many claim the Baath Party’s Arabism is outdated because no other country wants to unify with it or sports a Baath Party of any import. Syria’s many ethnic minorities insist that the government abandon Arabism as its official ideology for a more neutral Syrianism based on the country’s actual borders.

Bashar al-Assad has been boosting various aspects of Syrianness, not only in state propaganda, but in cultural forums.

Perhaps the most obvious example of this was his election parade. As I observed at the time, the first float in the parade was of a ship commemorating the Sea Peoples of the early Syrian civilizations based around Ras al-Shamra on the coast.

One Syrian politician, having read the post, recounted an amusing and pertinent story about the Gemayels and Hafiz al-Assad. After successive meetings with various Gemayels, who all lectured Assad on their Phoenician roots and the distinct identity of Lebanon as a way of insisting that Assad not demand too much of them, Assad responded with a story of his own. He said, “I also come from the coast and my village of Qurdaha is closer to the water than yours. Perhaps I am more Phonecian than you?”

I am not sure what we are to get out of this anecdote other than a bit of amusement, but I would suggest that perhaps it indicates that Hafiz understood that identity is politically defined and plastic. He chose to support Baathism and pan-Arabism rather than pan-Syrianism, as many of his generation did. No doubt, he found it useful in uniting Syrians and supporting the foreign policy of Syria, as his son does as well. All the same, he seemed to have a sense of humor about its scientific underpinnings and understood that people make their own determinations about their political identity.

Identity is plastic and largely determined by political choices.

August 17th, 2007, 4:58 pm

 

Innocent_Criminal said:

Kamal,

You and are clubing anti-Lebanese remarks with anti-lebanese-christian remarks, its stereotypical and a mistake.

I fully support the Lebanese western-like & so called open minded culture, this distinctiveness is what makes Lebanon great. Hell, I wish more “arab” countries knew how to party like the Lebanese, they sure know how to have fun. But my main criticism is that MOST Lebanese have fallen into the trap of distinguishing themselves purely on a religious basis. This has been a retarded and fatal mistake (i.e. civil war). The sad thing is we see the same thing happening to Iraq right now. And who ever calls this phenomenon a cultural or religious divide is either lying or a complete moron. It’s purely political in which tribal-like power-hungry leaders have manipulated to herd their own supporters.

I also agree with you that pan-Arabism has been oppressive towards other identities. But that does not mean that everything about Arabism is evil. I fail to see how an economic and political unity similar to the EU’s cannot be accomplished between “Arab” countries. I mean if the Europeans who speak different languages can do it why can’t the members of the Arab League? Sounds better to me than dividing countries into mini-states led by warlords. That said whatever form of unity these countries can accomplish (I know it won’t happen anytime soon) should not mean the annihilation of other distinctly non-Arab groups such as the Berbers, Kurds, etc. On the contrary i believe these minorties should enjoy more rights than the majority (which ever that might be). But just like Europeans who are against the EU have been living in it, so can other mid-eastern minorities, if their rights are respected and protected of course.

Leb-Christian,

Basically, you’re just mirroring Normans own shortcomings with your retarded comments. Congratulations on proving that both sides of the spectrum have closed minded bigots.

August 17th, 2007, 5:44 pm

 

G said:

G,

You just called Dr. Landis “Bashar’s towel carrier” and you called me “the buttboy of the ambassador.”

wow!

I asked you a million times to stop your filthy comments. But it is obvious you are a hopeless case.

You are banned for a month. Please do not post anything as I will next make your comments go automatically to the spam filter.

Come back in Mid September if you are still interested.

August 17th, 2007, 6:21 pm

 

G said:

Bashar al-Assad has been boosting various aspects of Syrianness, not only in state propaganda, but in cultural forums.

Are you joking?! Look, we all know you are Bashar’s towel carrier, but readers do read, you know. Besides, you yourself was talking about the persistence of Arab nationalism in Bashar’s policy in Syria. So please, stop lying to your readers.

August 17th, 2007, 6:31 pm

 

norman said:

Criminal,
You owe me an apology as i am not a bigot or a racist , What you said about the EU i will say about the US and i can see Arab ism as a united factor , So i agree with your writing , I may have not made that clear .

(I also agree with you that pan-Arab ism has been oppressive towards other identities. But that does not mean that everything about Arab ism is evil. I fail to see how an economic and political unity similar to the EU cannot be accomplished between “Arab” countries. I mean if the Europeans who speak different languages can do it why can’t the members of the Arab League? Sounds better to me than dividing countries into mini-states led by warlords. That said whatever form of unity these countries can accomplish (I know it won’t happen anytime soon) should not mean the annihilation of other distinctly non-Arab groups such as the Berbers, Kurds, etc. On the contrary i believe these minorities should enjoy more rights than the majority (which ever that might be). But just like Europeans who are against the EU have been living in it, so can other mid-eastern minorities, if their rights are respected and protected of course.)

August 17th, 2007, 6:33 pm

 

Jamal said:

Alex, it loooks like you are cutting off further criticism of the “Ambassador” (response to Enlightened above).

If you are a friend and admirer of the guy let’s hear you in his defense.

If not, let’s hear that too.

Don’t be shy about telling us what you really think.

August 17th, 2007, 6:34 pm

 

Offended said:

I.C.;
Not that I want to defend Norman, but all he did is that he notified Lebanese Christian not to encompass all Christian of the Levant in his theories about identity (i.e. so many Levantine Christians identify as Arabs)… how could that be bigotry?

Josh, that was an impressive analysis of the relationship between identity and politics in the Arab world, but I would just like to stress that my belief in Arabic identity is genuine and not plastic!

August 17th, 2007, 6:39 pm

 

Offended said:

G,
Khras…

August 17th, 2007, 6:55 pm

 

Alex said:

Jamal,

Enlightened is a friend. He knows I was joking. I never stop anyone from expressing their opinion, except …

G,

You just called Dr. Landis “Bashar’s towel carrier” and you called me “the buttboy of the ambassador.”

I asked you a million times to stop your filthy comments. But it is obvious you are a hopeless case.

As I warned you last time, you are now banned for a month. Please do not post anything as I will next make your comments go automatically to the spam filter and then it will be difficult to convince the software that you are not a spammer. It is better if you do not try.

Come back in Mid September if you are still interested.

August 17th, 2007, 8:28 pm

 

Leb Christian said:

Joshua – Thank you for your detailed response, although I think you’re mistaken on the conclusion of the study. I invite you to read it in its full length to catch the jist of it. The extract I pasted on here is very clear : “Today’s Lebanese, the Phoenicians, and the Canaanites before them are all the same people.” That does not mean that their DNA is any different from Syria (as he mentions), but it is limited to coastal Syria (mountain chain being the natural barrier). Conclusion, we are overwhelmingly descendents of the Phoenicians… and so are most Syrian in the coastal region. So that basically argues for Lebanon to annnex coastal Syria 😉

Innocent Criminal – you’re the only retarded commentator on here. So retarded that you’re not even capable of countering my arguments. Shall I expect the usual “I didn’t address your arguments because they are worthless / retarded”? Pathetic

August 17th, 2007, 9:18 pm

 

why-discuss said:

I think Farouk Shara spoke the truth when he said Saudi Arabia is paralyzed and the reaction of KSA show that he has touched a nerve there.
KSA is very worried that Iran is gradually taking away from them the leadership of the Palestinian issue and through it an increased power in the arab world. The arab street seems to admire much more Nasrallah and Hanyeh ( accused of being sponsored by Iran) than the King of S.A or Jordan ( accused of being sponsored by the U.S).
The Saudis has been very weakened by their endless supplies of young saudi terrorists in Iraq and in 9/11. They have huge internal problem reining the same wahhaby extremism they have encouraged and financed at home and in neighbouring countries, Pakistan being a good example.
Their credibility in the world is on the decline and therefore the emergence of the Iran power and their Syrian ally can only irritate them, as their only alternative is to throw themselves even more into the arms of the US.
Iraq is the ultimate fight for the Saudi to give back to Sunnis their leading roles in the area, but that fight seems now to favor more Iran and this is why KSA is redoubling their financial support to sunni insurgents. The fall of Iraq in the hands of the Shias will be a terrible blow to the KSA monarchy… No wonder they are becoming hysterical on Syria..

August 17th, 2007, 9:35 pm

 

Joshua said:

Jamal has told us he does not like Syria’s Ambassador to the US, Imad Moustapha, because, Jamal writes: “he is shallow, pseudo-intellectual, an over-the-top boaster about his privileged lifestyle,…”

This is just silly. Imad Moustapha is without doubt one of the best Ambassadors Syria has produced. I don’t believe many Syrian-Americans would contest that. Most have regaled me with stories of how his door is always open, how he invites them to dinners when they are in town, and helps resolve their problems. He does not stand on ceremony, but insists that acquaintances call him by his first name.

He is the consummate public diplomat. He has traveled the length of the US many times to give lectures at universities and to public organizations. He never says no. His openness and willingness to respond to even the most silly or hostile questions is astounding – not only for a Syrian diplomat, but for any diplomat.

He has championed Syrian artists on his blog and by organizing a major Syrian art exhibit in Washington. The official catalogue for the show is beautiful and demonstrates the rich and varied artistic accomplishments of Syrians.

His blog is a refreshing testament to his many interests and enjoyment of life. Far from being embarrassed by the privilege that being a diplomat has allowed him, he talks about his adventures and often makes fun of the pretensions expected of him. What is more, his blog got him a profile in the Washington Post, which is more than most diplomats from more important countries to the US manage to get. Bravo to him.

As for the suggestion that he might be a “pseudo-intellectual,” this is a sophomoric jibe. Mustahpa has read widely in the literature written by Americans about Syria and the Middle East more generally. He always,

No one would suggest that Ambassador Mustapha has had an easy time in Washington over the last several years. Nevertheless, he has made the most of it and countered the needless demonization of his country and people with aplomb.

I wish Syria had many more like him.

Here is a fine Interview with Ambassador Imad Moustapha published a few days ago by Sami Moubayed.

August 17th, 2007, 10:41 pm

 

Habib said:

Media Image is not kind.

Imad Moustapha is a mousey figure who doesn’t look or sound good on television or radio.

Please rid Syrian-Americans of this figurehead.

August 17th, 2007, 11:35 pm

 

Enlightened said:

Jamal:

Alex and I differ on the ambassador he doesnt stifle opinion I can and will express opinions different to Alex, Alex was referring to a wise crack that I pulled on him by telling me to go back to work.

Josh’s summary of the Ambassador is personal, my opinion of the Ambassador is not as rosy, I think he needs to polish his image, but that is just my opinion. I have never met the man, and he might be as nice as apple pie, I said on an earlier post that he would have the hardest job in the world at the moment, I wouldnt fancy being in his shoes, I would have to agree on one thing with Josh however, the man does not appear boring or stuffy however.

Alex take up Jamals challenge and let us know, we now know Joshs opinion on the matter.

August 17th, 2007, 11:46 pm

 

Jamal said:

Joshua, Joshua, Joshua,

Dr Moustapha is not a private self-funded, free spirit personality playboy – which is the persona he projects on that blog. He is theoretically a servant and serious representative of the Syrian people.

But then again, there is nothing serious or representative about the violent criminal regime he is part of. Think about it.

Sure, he plays his role as charmer and disarmer, never saying no, always responding “frankly”, staging distractions and befriending whoever might help him sustain the act – which is aimed at getting others to leave his bosses alone. And leave his bosses alone to do what? Think about it.

I say he is a pseudo-intellectual because if he had a mind capable of depth and integrity he would be ashamed to be linked to that regime and feel guilt and embarrassment in the presence of other Syrian intellectuals. Or any intellectuals anywhere.

But that’s going too deep. No matter how much he reads, he is apparently not processing it or gaining any sophisticated understanding of how the world works. Otherwise he would know to tone down the vanity, outrageous ego and nonstop silly boasting about his wife and his life.

And how intellectual is it to go to Damascus and smugly report those new designer stores as if they were the best thing that has happened to Syria? I guess the 1 million Iraqi refugees don’t get onto his radar screen (though he grumbles about the heavier traffic) from where he sits in all those fabulous restaurants.

I agree with you about how nice it is to have Syrian art by his artist friends on display. But again, it distracts from the reality of how little mileage serious creative people are allowed in Syria.

If you personally like the guy and feel him to be intelligent then maybe you or others should coach and counsel him.

August 18th, 2007, 12:02 am

 

Jamal said:

Okay, I’m a spoilsport. The guy is a paid pantomine performer and I am angry that he’s getting some scattered applause. But not from where it matters, if you read that interview,

August 18th, 2007, 12:31 am

 

Innocent_Criminal said:

While i’m sure Mr. Moustapha is a delightful intellectual who has a humble characted and strives to do the best at his job. (I’m taking Josh’s word here since i don’t know the man personally). I still think that he is part of a major problem Syria’s government has, which is the lack of a single decent english speaking PR person.

And the fact that he is the best syria has to offer highlights the deep void the government has in this department. I mean consider who you have to compare him to, 1) Walid Al Moualim and 2) Bouthaina Sha3ban. The first you barely hear speaking english for prolonged periods of time and when that occurs its far from exciting. While Mrs. Shaaban loves to scream and regurgitate the same pre-planned comments over and over and over and over again. IMHO Al Sharaa used to have that charisma and both he and Mustapha can actually think and reply to questions off their feet (a huge feat in itself by Syrian politicians) but Al Shara’a star has faded years ago. And the Syrian government still does not have a single spokesman that is “media friendly”.

Norman,
You are right, i am sorry. i mixed you up with majedkhaldoun who had made several ani-shia’a and jewish comments. I apologize.

August 18th, 2007, 1:23 am

 

Alex said:

Enlightened,

I remember in one of my Management books a cartoon where the board of directors were announcing their choice for a new director. They announced “after carefully studying the qualification of all the candidates, and after comparing their pros and cons … we selected the tallest candidate”

Imad is not the tallest candidate.

And while we are here, Bashar is too tall.

I agree with Joshua. Imad is Intelligent, humble, and interesting. His performance is also quite impressive.

But there is no need to analyze Imad … those who do not like Bashar you will not like Imad … if you don’t like the regime then you won’t like both of them no matter what they say or do.

In addition, there is this impression that if Imad has an accent (and he does) and if he does not look like Hollywood’s impression of a British diplomat character, then he will not be an effective communicator.

Americans are not as impressed with looks as some of us in the Middle East.

Watch him at The world Affairs Center for example.

As for Jamal’s preference for refusing to play any role as long as Syria in not democratic … I think we can’t wait that long : )

Imad is doing the right thing. He has the courage and energy to risk operating in an environment that consists of the current American administration on the one hand, and the hardliners and “old guard” in Syria, on the other.

Now I will find something negative to say, since Jamal managed to find somethig positive to say : )

We need non-officials to speak for and defend Syria … Imad and Buthaina are accused of not saying the truth … but this is not surprising … officials ALWAYS filter their public statements … or they don’t tell the truth.

President Bush’s spokesman does it all the time. This is not unique to the Syrians.

Take the example that outraged one of the commentators on SC: Imad mentioned that Bashar does not know Imad’s blog.

Assuming that this is not true .. Why do you think Imad chose to give that answer? … if he is the show-off character that you accused him of being then we would have expected him to be proud tha tthe president reads his blog, no?

If he denied it then I imagine he is protecting the president of Syria from agreeing with his ambassador’s choice of topics … maybe Bahsar does not want Islamists in Syria to be disappointed in him agreeing to the nudity in some of the pieces of art on Imad’s blog?

Mwybe at some point in the future Imad might make an offer to Israel (a PR type offer) … Bashar might need to be able to deny he knows about it.

But again, we need more Sami Moubayed, Murhaf Jouejati, Rime Allaf types to communicate on behalf of Syria.

August 18th, 2007, 3:26 am

 

Kamal said:

So long as Imad Moustapha is a PR agent for the Ba’thist regime, he has no credibility. All the good qualities listed by Prof Landis and others will and should be dismissed as propaganda when one is in the pay and service of a murderous tyranny. If Moustapha would defect and become an advocate for democracy and human rights then his blogging and defense of the arts might take on some meaning and validity.

August 18th, 2007, 5:01 am

 

Leila Ahmad said:

Dr. Landis, you’re a phony, and a pathetic one at that! I do not envy those who have to sit through your classes and endure your stunted tendentious “scholarship”. But I guess only in America can a phony such as yourself get an academic job–albeit at a third-rate university.

August 19th, 2007, 2:11 am

 

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