The US Love-Hate Relationship with Mukhabarat

David Ignatius goes to the heart of Washington’s love -hate relationship with the mukhabarat in today’s Washington Post: Jordan’s ace of spies. The Mukhabarat are the secret police services that dominate Middle Eastern security regimes. The US has become dependent on them to protect its security interests in the region.

Mukhabarat are the antithesis of freedom and democracy, which America champions in much of the world. In the Middle East , however, the US seems to have lost its moral compass. The complex relationship between Washington and the various Mukhabarat forces of the Middle East stands as testimony to America’s need for muscle to protect its security interests in a region, where it is not popular.

Ignatius writes of Gen. Saad Kheir, “the brilliant but emotionally wounded spymaster who headed Jordan’s General Intelligence Department (GID) from 2000 to 2005.… he was a genius… a superstar….”

Kheir researched his targets so thoroughly that he got inside their lives…. A former CIA officer told me about one sublime pitch….. Like many Arab intelligence services, the [Jordanian mukhabarat] has a reputation for using brutal interrogation methods, and I’m sure that it didn’t get the nickname “the fingernail factory” for nothing. But Kheir’s successes in interrogation often came from a different kind of intimidation. Colleagues recall him standing behind a suspect, his voice deep with menace, as he talked of the suspect’s family, friends and contacts. That was much scarier than physical violence would have been. He waited for them to break themselves, and it usually worked…. in his prime, he was a genius… He made his name penetrating Palestinian extremist groups…. It’s hard to think of a foreigner who helped save more American lives than Saad Pasha.

Arab Mukhabarat chieftains, so reviled in the US press, are openly admired by the official class in Washington for their brutal freedoms.

Ignatius draws a sharp line between physical and mental torture. He reviles physical torture but recognizes the genius of mental menace, especially when used to break anti-American extremists.

Reading Ignatius’ opinion piece reminded me of an evening I spent with Staff Sgt. Eric Maddox who was the intelligence officer responsible for capturing Saddam Hussein. As a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Maddox was a natural invitee to speak about the intelligence behind Saddam’s capture. Maddox was an excellent speaker. Like Ignatius, he abhorred physical torture and had spoken out adamantly and bravely against it within the US intelligence community. He explained that mental pressure was the key to gaining useful information.

Once Maddox realized that he had arrested the head of Saddam’s insurgency, Muhammad Ibrahim, US soldiers swept up over forty members of Ibrahim’s family and extended clan in Takrit. Maddox explained that the psychological pressure he could bring to bear on Ibrahim was overwhelming. Ibrahim knew that he could have his entire family freed if only he provided information on Saddam. Ibrahim caved quickly.

In the audience at OU was a Syrian refugee, Mohammad Al Abdallah, whose father still languishes in a Syrian prison. Mohammad had also been imprisoned but was eventually released after a long and grueling period of interrogation. On his release he had traveled to Lebanon, from where he was eventually granted refugee status in the US. Mohammad arrived in the US only the month before Maddox came to talk at OU. By coincidence, Mohammad was settled by US authorities in Oklahoma City, where he looked me up. I invited him to dinner and to hear the Maddox talk.

Ironically, Mohammad’s father worked for the PLO, which for most of its existence was considered a Palestinian extremist group by the US. His father could easily have been one of the prisoners that Ignatius wrote about. At the end of Maddox’s talk, Mohammad raised his hand and explained that he was a recent refugee who had been tortured, not so much physically as mentally. He explained that he appreciated Maddox’s distinction between physical and mental torture and that he understood the importance for the Americans and Iraqis of capturing Saddam Hussein. All the same, he described how he had been subjected to mental torture by intelligence officers who were probably no less convinced of their righteousness. The Syrian secret police were holding Mohammad’s father when they interrogated Mohammad. He explained that he would have preferred to be physically tortured.

The audience hushed. One could hear only awkward shuffling. Staff Sgt. Eric Maddox also fell silent. What could one say? It was a very important moment for everyone at the talk.

All the Mukhabarat services have experts like Saad Kheir, who are experts in a “different kind of intimidation.” They know how to “stand behind a suspect with menace and talk of the suspect’s family, friends and contacts.”

Jordan’s ace of spies
By David Ignatius
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Washington Post

…. I asked Tenet in 2003 if any foreign intelligence services had been especially helpful against al-Qaeda, and he answered instantly, “The Jordanians,” and continued with Tenetian enthusiasm, “Their guy Saad Kheir is a superstar!”

So the next time I was in Amman, I asked the royal palace if I could meet the legendary intelligence chief, and it was duly arranged. I was driven to the GID’s fearsome headquarters, past its black flag bearing the ominous warning in Arabic “Justice Has Come” and escorted upstairs to the pasha’s office.

Kheir had a rough, boozy charm — somewhere between Humphrey Bogart and Omar Sharif. He was dressed elegantly, as always — in this case, a cashmere blazer, a knit tie and a pair of what looked to be handmade English shoes.

The pasha told me a few stories, and others filled in the details: He made his name penetrating Palestinian extremist groups, such as the Abu Nidal organization. Once he had burrowed into the terrorists’ lair, he was able to plant rumors and disinformation that set the group’s members fighting among themselves. Before long, Abu Nidal’s fraternity of killers had imploded in a frenzy of suspicion and self-destruction. I stole that idea for “Body of Lies.”

Kheir researched his targets so thoroughly that he got inside their lives. A former CIA officer told me about one sublime pitch: Kheir tracked a jihadist to an apartment in Eastern Europe and handed him a cellphone, saying: “Talk to your mother.” The man’s mom was actually on the line, telling him he was a wonderful son for buying her a new TV and a couch and sending her money. “The spoken message was, ‘We can do good things for you.’ The unspoken message was, ‘We can hurt you,’ ” explained the CIA officer. I took that scene, too, verbatim.

Like many Arab intelligence services, the GID has a reputation for using brutal interrogation methods, and I’m sure that it didn’t get the nickname “the fingernail factory” for nothing. But Kheir’s successes in interrogation often came from a different kind of intimidation. Colleagues recall him standing behind a suspect, his voice deep with menace, as he talked of the suspect’s family, friends and contacts. That was much scarier than physical violence would have been. He waited for them to break themselves, and it usually worked.

Kheir ran afoul of his boss, King Abdullah, when he began pushing into politics and business. It was the classic overreach of intelligence chiefs in the Middle East, and he was sacked in 2005. His dismissal took a cruel toll: Kheir could be seen carousing late at night at his favorite restaurant in Amman, no longer a master of the universe or even, fully, master of himself. But in his prime, he was a genius….

Comments (26)


1. Qifa Nabki said:

Excellent post, Joshua.

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December 13th, 2009, 7:13 pm

 

2. Mohammad Al Abdallah said:

indeed, excellent post Josh, I remembered that day. 🙂

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December 13th, 2009, 8:05 pm

 

3. Off the Wall said:

From the Davos pedigree intellectual comes a piece of unparalleled self indulgent moral ambiguity and relativism, from the victim, comes the truth about ugliness.

Torture is torture, no Ignatius, Friedman, Maddox, or a master of moral relativism such as Dershowits can color it otherwise.

Josh, I always held you in very high regards, and your post today only cemented my view. It went above and beyond in its simplicity and power. Thank you.

It is writings like David’s piece which makes it harder everyday for human rights in the Arab world. What does David think, we do not deserve to be treated with dignity, and my question to him is why does he think that mental torture is less harmful than physical torture ? or even why is it acceptable acceptable when practiced against Arabs and Muslims ?. He goes even further, trying to illicit sympathy for someone responsible for causing much pain and suffering to families not only in Jordan, but in Palestine and other places.

The true hero of this is Mohammad Al-Abdellah. Thank you Mohammad for telling it as it is, I am sure that those in the audience on that day now think twice when they listen to the moral equivocation so common among our intelligentsia here in the US.

On a second note, reading Ignatius’s full piece, a Freudian psychologist can probably read some sexual tension as if Ignatius is awed by the sexual dominance of his model mysterious alpha male character. It was obvious in the movie. Was David exercising his novelist’s genius, or was he really awestruck by this bully of a character.

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December 13th, 2009, 9:48 pm

 

4. idaf said:

Thanks for the post Joshua.

Yes. It’s no secret that Jordanian Mukhabarat delivers when it comes to saving American or Israeli lives. Ironically, not Jordanian or Palestinian lives though.

“Hani Pasha” in the movie is told in a heated conversation with the CIA character played by the Russell Crowe (if I remember correctly): “we pay your salary”. As many things in the movie (Body of Lies) this is “stolen” from real life facts.

Not to mention the many unconvincing actors and unrealistic end of the plot for Arab viewers, it fascinated me when I first watched the movie that Ignatius made a hero of the Mukhabarat head. I doubt that Gen. Saad Kheir is any different as a character compared with the head of Mukhabarat in Egypt, Saudi or Syria. I don’t think that Ignatius will be portraying the latter positively in a novel or article anytime soon.

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December 13th, 2009, 11:55 pm

 

5. Joshua said:

Dear Mohammad,
I remember well myself. I shall never forget your equanimity and coolness as you explained to us all what had happened to you and why the moral division between mental and physical pressure was not so clear.

IDAF, I fear you are correct. I will not hold my breath for a positive right up of a Syrian Hani Pasha…..

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December 14th, 2009, 1:57 am

 

6. qunfuz said:

thanks for this excellent post, Joshua. These people (like Ignatius) are disgusting. Alliance with the US is obviously not a path that will lead to a respect for human rights in the Arab world.

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December 14th, 2009, 12:11 pm

 

7. love you alex said:

Excellent post professor.

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December 14th, 2009, 4:41 pm

 

8. Akbar Palace said:

More on Moral Compasses

Professor Josh writes:

The Mukhabarat are the secret police services that dominate Middle Eastern security regimes. The US has become dependent on them to protect its security interests in the region.

Mukhabarat are the antithesis of freedom and democracy, which America champions in much of the world. In the Middle East , however, the US seems to have lost its moral compass.

Professor Josh,

Again, singling out the Jordanian security services as well as stating the the US government has “lost its moral compass” is no surprise coming from you, the lead pro-Baathist Syrian spokesperson in academia.

Every country has a secret service to take care of the harshest and most severe cases of espionage against it. How a government/country deals with these threats, what a free citizenry expects from its government officials in terms of dealing with these threats, and the checks and balances available to ensure that a government doesn’t go way beyond its mandate all factor into the “moral compass” you accuse the Americans of losing.

That’s a laugh. There are no checks and balances in the ME except for maybe the GOI, overwise, there is virtually no investigative reporting or citizen action group anywhere else in the ME, least of all in Syria.

Where are the accusations against Syria, Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah? What do they do to their enemies and their opposition?

You and David Ignatius are merely cheerleaders for governments who do the same thing or even worse, and then point the accusing finger at the “punching-bag” of choice: the United States of America.

Considering the involvement and oversight by the US congress, the free press, the number of investigative organizations and NGOs, I’d say your accusations of the USA are typical pro-terror horseshXt. The US’s moral compass is order of magnitude higher than your own.

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December 14th, 2009, 5:36 pm

 

9. Robinson said:

“he described how he had been subjected to mental torture by intelligence officers who were probably no less convinced of their righteousness.”

For someone who has spent as much time as Dr. Landis in Syria, this is a remarkably naive statement.

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December 14th, 2009, 7:03 pm

 

10. norman said:

Source: Crisis Group
Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author’s alone.

Damascus/Washington/Brussels, 14 December 2009: Syria’s foreign policy has long been a contradictory mix of militancy and pragmatism, but new dynamics create opportunities for the U.S. if it does more to deepen its engagement.

Reshuffling the Cards? (I): Syria’s Evolving Strategy,* the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines changes in Damascus’s outlook and concludes that further shifts will hinge on the regime’s assessment of the costs – in terms of domestic stability and regional standing – of its choices. That, in turn, largely will depend on what other parties do.

“At the heart of the problem is a profound mismatch of expectations”, explains Peter Harling, Crisis Group’s Iraq, Syria and Lebanon Project Director. “The West wants Syria to fundamentally alter its policies – loosen or cut ties to its allies and sign peace with Israel – as a means of stabilising the region. Syria, before contemplating any fundamental shift, wants to know where the region is headed and whether its own interests will be secured”.

Despite a turbulent and often hostile neighbourhood, the Syrian regime has proved remarkably resilient. Still, on virtually all fronts, it can see hazard. The economy is wobbly; to prosper, it will require significant reforms and massive investment. Regime policies have done little to stem Islamist sympathies that chip away at its secular foundation. The potential for domestic spillover of regional tensions – the spread of sectarianism, stalemate in the Arab-Israeli peace process and threat of confrontation over Iran’s nuclear program – is real. As a result, while Damascus is keen to maintain close ties with Tehran, it has sought to rebalance them through new alliances that broaden its strategic portfolio.

This is an opportunity to be seized, but to do so the U.S. and Syria need to devise a diplomatic process through which both test their intentions, promote their interests and start shaping the Middle East in ways that can reassure Damascus about the future. This should start around realistic goals that could include containing Iran in arenas such as Iraq or Yemen; cooperating to encourage national reconciliation in Iraq; and encouraging the Lebanese government to insulate itself from the regional tug-of-war by refocusing on governance. Washington and Damascus could also work together by combining Syrian efforts to restrain Hamas with a more welcoming U.S. approach to intra-Palestinian reconciliation.

“The U.S. is looking for evidence that, at the end of the day, Syria is prepared to cooperate on regional issues”, says Robert Malley, Crisis Group’s Middle East Program Director. “But so too is Syria – in its case, for proof that the risks it takes will be offset by the gains it makes. The region’s volatility drives it to caution and to hedge its bets pending greater clarity on where the region is heading and, in particular, what Washington is prepared to do”.

Crisis Group will analyse changes in Syria’s regional approach and prospects for improved relations with Washington in further detail in a companion report to be published shortly.

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December 14th, 2009, 7:32 pm

 

11. Henry said:

Discussions of a moral compass from the indefatigable defender of the regime in Damascus are too funny!

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December 14th, 2009, 9:33 pm

 

12. Joshua said:

Dear Robinson,
Which part is naive? That Ignatius would suggest that Saad Khair believed in his mission or that I suggest some Syrian Mukhabarat believe in it?

Henry, Are you saying that that the US has not lost its moral campus in the Middle East? Or did you just want to get into an ad hominem attack?

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December 14th, 2009, 10:02 pm

 

13. Alex said:

Here is another example of others who lost their moral compass,

http://lilysussman.wordpress.com/2009/11/30/im-sorry-but-we-blew-up-your-laptop-welcome-to-israel/

If you are not solidly on their side, they shoot your laptop

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December 14th, 2009, 10:18 pm

 

14. Akbar Palace said:

Discussions of a moral compass from the indefatigable defender of the regime in Damascus are too funny!

Henry,

I’d normally agree with you, except it is more SAD than funny. Any serious discussion of a government’s “moral compass” has to include a whole spectrum of factors including what checks and balances a government has limiting the actions of the executive branch of the government. No small factor.

We could ask the esteemed professor more about government checks and balances assuming he attended undergraduate, 101 classes in government and history. However, I think professor Josh has found his “niche” and isn’t too concerned right now about who he has bad-mouthed, including the country where he was born, raised, and provided his tenure.

Pin the Tail on those with a “Moral Compass”:

http://www.ou.edu/sias/home/left_navigation/people.html

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December 14th, 2009, 11:24 pm

 

15. Alex said:

Akbar said

“However, I think professor Josh has found his “niche” and isn’t too concerned right now about who he has bad-mouthed, including the country where he was born, raised, and provided his tenure.”

So are you saying it is not patriotic to criticize “bad-mouth” your country if things are going in the wrong direction?

How different are you from the hardline “Baathists” who would call you a traitor if you bad-mouth your country.

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December 14th, 2009, 11:28 pm

 

16. norman said:

This will make Shami happy , it made me so ,

December 15, 2009
Warmer Relations With Turkey Kindle Hopes in Syria
By ROBERT F. WORTH
ALEPPO, Syria — Ever since Syria and Turkey lifted their visa restrictions in September, Turkish visitors have poured into this picturesque northern city. Hawkers in Aleppo’s ancient souk now call out to shoppers in Turkish, and cross-border commerce has soared. The two countries have embarked on a very public honeymoon, with their leaders talking about each other like long-lost friends.

But this reconciliation is about far more than trade, or the collapse of old Turkish-Arab enmities. At a time of economic and political uncertainty here, the new warmth with Turkey has stirred hopes about Syria’s future direction, in areas that include religion, oil and gas, and peace with Israel.

For some here, the new closeness with secular, moderate Turkey represents a move away from Syria’s controversial alliance with Iran. For others, it suggests an embrace of Turkey’s more open, cosmopolitan society. And for many — including Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad — it conjures different dreams of a revitalized regional economy, less vulnerable to Western sanctions or pressure.

“It’s much more than an economic relationship,” said Samir al-Taqi, director of the Orient Center for International Studies in Damascus. “It’s about regathering the region, and a feeling that the West is much weaker, less liable to do anything here. I think Syria has lots of ambitions to redefine its geopolitical position.”

Those ambitions became apparent in October, when Syria delayed signing an economic agreement with the European Union that it had sought for years, hinting that it wanted better terms. The agreement had been initialed in 2004, when Syria felt threatened by the United States invasion of Iraq and desperate for economic and political succor. Now Syria’s leaders feel far more confident, analysts say.

That confidence has less to do with Syria’s still-ailing economy than with its political position. The West’s isolation of Syria has given way to engagement, despite Syria’s continuing support for the militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah. The United States is expected to send a new ambassador to Damascus soon, ending a long freeze in diplomatic relations.

Syria’s relationship with Turkey — which has been slowly warming for years — helped bring about this political realignment. Turkey mediated indirect talks between Syria and Israel in 2008, fostering renewed hopes in the West for a peace deal.

But the widespread notion that Turkey will draw Syria toward moderation and a regional peace deal may be something of a fantasy, albeit a useful one. Turkey’s alliance with Israel has cooled noticeably since Israel’s war in Gaza a year ago, which provoked outrage in the region and reaffirmed the political value of Syria’s ties to Hamas. Israel expressed interest in restarting indirect talks with Syria this month, but many here are skeptical. Syria is keenly aware of the backlash it might face from domestic radicals — or even from Iran — if it drew closer to Israel.

Instead, the new Turkish alliance may be valuable precisely because it helps Syria hint at change while keeping its options open, said Peter Harling, a senior Damascus-based analyst with the International Crisis Group, and lead author of a report on Syria’s foreign policy published Monday.

“In a region full of unresolved conflicts, Syria has chosen to hedge its bets,” Mr. Harling said. “Aligning with Turkey helps Syria to offset competing pressures from Iran and the West while strengthening its position economically.”

But the relationship is not just about providing Syria with political cover. Mr. Assad, the Syrian president, has made clear that he hopes to foster a regional energy network, building on Turkey’s natural gas pipelines. Trade between the countries doubled between 2007 and 2008, and doubled again in 2009, to an estimated $4 billion, according to the Aleppo Chamber of Commerce.

“I think there is a sort of vision developing between Syria and Turkey where they could serve jointly as a regional trade hub, linking Europe with the Gulf and other parts of the East,” said Nabil Sukkar, a Damascus-based economic analyst.

It is too soon to tell how far that vision will go, or whether Syria will start to feel swamped by imports from Turkey’s more powerful economy. In the meantime, the political opening has corresponded to a real social and cultural rediscovery, with Turks and Arabs warming to each other after long years of hostility. Syria, after all, was born out of the Ottoman Empire’s dismemberment in 1920, and its identity was built in large part on the rejection of its former masters in Istanbul.

On a popular level, there was bitter resentment over Turkey’s annexation of the Arabic-speaking Hatay district, which had been Syrian. As recently as 1998 the two countries were on the brink of war over Syria’s support for Kurdish rebels. Relations improved slowly after Syria expelled Abdullah Ocalan, the rebel leader.

The thaw has accelerated strikingly in recent months, with Turkish journalists writing glowing accounts of their travels here. Many Syrians say Turkey feels much closer to them culturally than Iran or Saudi Arabia, two important allies of recent decades. Turkish films and television shows are often dubbed into Syrian Arabic and become huge hits here. One film, “Valley of the Wolves: Iraq,” portrayed Turkish agents taking revenge on American soldiers for massacres carried out on Arabs in Iraq, in a neat parable of recent policy shifts.

For Syrians, the warmth is partly aspirational: many hope that Turkey’s gradual shift over the past decade from military autocracy to a more democratic and tolerant political system will be replicated here. For the moment, they must be content with having new friends.

“Before, we were afraid to come here,” said Omer Sonmez, a Turkish businessman who first visited Syria three months ago, and now crosses over regularly to trade roasted pumpkin seeds and other foods. “We thought it would all be so closed, with no women on the street. But when you talk to Europeans, they say the same thing about Turkey!”

“And look,” Mr. Sonmez added, glancing around at the crowds emerging from Aleppo’s covered market. “We are not so different. Even our faces are similar.”

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December 15th, 2009, 3:24 am

 

17. Off the Wall said:

AP
How much is Daniel Pipes paying you to attack Joshua with made up charges that do not even stand a very cursory scrutiny.

You said
Again, singling out the Jordanian security services as well as stating the the US government has “lost its moral compass” is no surprise coming from you, the lead pro-Baathist Syrian spokesperson in academia.

It was Ignatious who was talking about Jordanian secret service. Joshua presented a “Syrian” guy, who is a political refugee in the US because of the suffering he and his family endured in “Syria” and whose father is a political prisoner in “Syria”. It is clear that the good professor is the one with independent thinking not you. I guess campus watch needs to find someone other than AP to do their bidding in intimidation.

Wow that was fast, CW already sent the cavalry, welcome on board Henry and Robinson.

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December 15th, 2009, 4:10 am

 

18. Shai said:

Deputy FM Ayalon says: “Syria didn’t desire peace, and through these negotiations it fooled everyone in a bid to emerge from the global isolation. Looking back today, we can say that the Turkish mediation was a mistake, as it affected the relations between us. Therefore, there is a need to separate between relations between countries and relations with the entire region.”

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3820252,00.html

Where does this buffoon-of-a-deputy get the chutzpah to assess such a thing? Who is he to talk on behalf of Israel (“WE can say that…”)? Since when does the Foreign Ministry, the main body that should breed open-minded diplomats, turn down an opportunity for negotiations with an enemy?

I hope few outside of Israel take this “Deputy-Dawg” Danny Ayalon seriously. He represents neither the opinion of experts in the field of diplomacy, inside his own Ministry or out, nor the opinion of his own Prime Minister! That someone hasn’t fired him already is a crime in and of itself.

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December 15th, 2009, 12:25 pm

 

19. norman said:

Feltman: U.S. has Normal Relations with Syria, Disagrees with Damascus on Hizbullah, Iran
By Naharnet
Dec 15, 2009 – 5:48:58 AM

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U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said Washington has “normal” relations with Syria.
“The long time spent to form the new Lebanese Cabinet may have left a positive impact on the Lebanese because it may mean that the Lebanese are beginning to understand each other,” Feltman said in remarks published Tuesday by pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat.

“This is what I observed through my reading of the policy statement, which means that time has come for the Lebanese to rally behind an internal, national agenda,” he added. His remarks were translated into English by Naharnet.

Feltman said he hoped the Lebanese would start a new phase by attending to domestic affairs and “stop thinking about what Americans or the Saudis or the Syrians or any external element believe, but think of what Lebanese need.”

He described America’s relationship with Syria as “more normal than before and on more than one level.”

“Several dialogue channels are now open, meaning that today dialogue is multi-sided,” Feltman said, adding that the two countries continue to exchange formal visits.

“This is a positive and useful aspect. The important thing today is that that we are talking with each other, and not at each other. And that’s better for us and for Syria, as well as for the Lebanese,” he believed.

He pointed to the “deep differences” with the Syrians in views regarding Hizbullah and Iran.

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December 15th, 2009, 12:38 pm

 

20. norman said:

Syria arrests opposition writer Mustafa Ismail

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December 15th, 2009, 4:44 pm

 

21. norman said:

Arab-Turkish Forum approved future work plan in all fields
Published: 12/15/2009

DAMASCUS – Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu and the Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa underlined during a joint press conference Tuesday that the 2nd Ministerial Meeting of the Arab-Turkish Forum came out with a future work plan to boost bilateral cooperation among the Arab countries and Turkey.

They added that this forum clearly expresses the two sides desire to enhance relations and push them forwards to a strategic level.

“The meeting has approved two important documents; the joint statement and the work plan in all fields… we also discussed the Arab league Secretary General’s initiative to boost the Arab-Turkish relations that will be discussed and submitted to the Arab ministerial Council next March on turkey’s hosting of the 3rd Forum in Istanbul next June with expanded activities to cover the political, economic and cultural domains,” Minister al-Moallem said.

He added that the meeting was successful and there was an agreement by the two sides on the topics discussed, saying “no one in the Arab world has any notice or objection to the Arab-Turkish relations in light of the Turkish stances towards our just causes, embodied during the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza.”

For his part, Davutoglu underlined that Turkey gives great importance to develop its relation and cooperation with the Arab and neighboring countries, because this cooperation is necessary, particularly with the existence of available energies and capabilities in the political, economic and cultural relations.

“Turkey has started to establish for this strategic high-level economic cooperation with forming strategic cooperation councils with Syria and Iraq, starting to establish for the same mechanism with Turkey and Libya as we look forward to an economic integration between turkey and the Arab states, Davutoglu said.

He added “our history is one… our goals are one, today we reached important decisions to boost cultural cooperation to be implemented as of next January in Cairo.”

Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa said this Forum reflects an Arab-Turkish desire to boost relations and push them forwards to a strategic level that will have an impact in the regional work.

“Agreement has been made on a number of practical steps represented by holding several workshops during the coming months including Syria’s hosting of a workshop on the regional security in the first quarter of 2010 and Turkey’s hosting of another workshop on culture and scientific research in the second quarter of 2010,” Moussa added.

On expanding the concept of the Forum and establishing a forum for the Arab-Iranian relations, Minister al-Moallem said “this topic is being suggested in the framework of the Arab League and there are similar forums and councils in china, Japan and India and there is cooperation with continental states including the European Union, South American countries and Africa as continents, so this issue needs the approval of the Arab Foreign Ministers Council.

In turn, the Turkish Foreign Minister affirmed that Turkey doesn’t seek to develop relations with neighboring countries only, but rather is working to establish unique cooperation relations with all Arab countries whether in the Middle East or in Africa, pointing out to his country’s relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council and Arab countries in North Africa.

Davutoglu said Ankara wishes for this cooperation to be carried out within the framework of the Arab-Turkish Cooperation Forum due to the immense benefits that these relations can have for both sides.

Regarding whether or not Turkey is assuming extra burdens due to developing its relations with Arab countries, Davutoglu said “Our relations with all Arab countries are historic and important… we are not seeking to upset any side through them, and they are not alternatives to relations with any other side because they are integrative relations, not competitive relations.”

Minister al-Moallem commented on this by saying that those who want good wishes for the Arab world should encourage Turkey to have such relations with Arab countries due to the mutual trust between Turkey and the Arab nation, saying that these relations must be used to achieve security and stability in the region.

Regarding the strategic dimension that Turkey seeks through its relations with Arab countries and Asia, Davutoglu said that Turkey’s foreign policy is based on a goal, beginning with neighboring countries which may be in the Caucasus region or Asia, but Arab countries have special standings with Turkey and share many things and goals and strategic interests, as well as strong economic relations, adding “We wish to leave a useful legacy to coming generations that achieves mutual benefits and cooperation in the economic and commercial sides.”

On whether or not the Forum discussed the peace process in light of the peace efforts in the Middle East, particularly the Turkish mediation in the indirect Syrian-Israeli negotiations and the recent decision of the Israeli Knesset regarding the occupied Syrian Golan, al-Moallem said the Forum didn’t discuss Israel’s actions that indicate its unwillingness for peace, and that the Forum discussed the Arab determination to hold Arab-Turkish relations, which is why such issues were not discussed.

“As for the Turkish role in the peace process regarding Syria, President Bashar al-Assad repeatedly clarified Syria’s stance in Paris… we trust Turkey’s role as an honest mediator in the indirect peace talks, but currently we don’t find an Israeli partner for making peace, but rather we find Israeli practices that affirm this conviction.”

Regarding the suggestions for activating security cooperation between Turkey and Arab countries, Moussa said that Syria made an invitation to host a workshop on regional security, which is an integral and main issue in light of the regional situation, adding that the main factor in achieving peace in the Middle East must be based on making the region free of nuclear weapons.

H. Sabbagh / Mazen

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December 16th, 2009, 3:42 am

 

22. Akbar Palace said:

How much is Daniel Pipes paying you to attack Joshua with made up charges that do not even stand a very cursory scrutiny.

Of The Wall,

I have not “charged” Professor Josh with anything. I simply disagreed with his biased remark that “the US seems to have lost its moral compass”.

Judging from the posts here, apparently Robinson and Henry agreed with me.

I do not get paid by Daniel Pipes, but maybe Robinson and Henry do.;) Speaking of “moral compass”, the US allows freedom of speech on all university campuses. I’d sure like to see that in Syria…

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December 16th, 2009, 5:36 am

 

23. Robinson said:

Dr. Landis,

“Mohammad raised his hand and explained that he was a recent refugee who had been tortured, not so much physically as mentally. He explained that he appreciated Maddox’s distinction between physical and mental torture and that he understood the importance for the Americans and Iraqis of capturing Saddam Hussein. All the same, he described how he had been subjected to mental torture by intelligence officers who were probably no less convinced of their righteousness.”

If I am reading you correctly you imply that the Syrian Mukhabarat officers who mentally tortured Mohammad were “probably no less convinced of their righteousness,” than Americans and Iraqi’s who were after Saddam Husayn.

I think that is a naive statement.

I apologize if I am misreading your implication.

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December 16th, 2009, 5:51 pm

 

24. Should we have killed bin Laden? at Mary P Madigan's Journal said:

[…] Taliban and other enemies are supported by the Pakistani government, the Saudi government and other mukhabarat states, we consistently pretend that these state-supported terror militias are ‘stateless’ […]

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May 18th, 2011, 11:30 am

 

25. Syria: A Way Forward said:

[…] grip for the past decades.  Why?  On the one hand, there is fear of the dreaded mukhabarat or security services, who have dealt with political challenges in the past through […]

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July 3rd, 2011, 12:47 am

 

26. Syria Freedom Runners said:

[…] this political grip for the past decades.  Why?  On the one hand, there is fear of the dreaded mukhabarat or security services, who have dealt with political challenges in the past through imprisonment, […]

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July 5th, 2011, 5:42 pm

 

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