Posted by Joshua on Tuesday, November 11th, 2008
Diplomats: Uranium found at suspect Syrian site
International Herald Tribune, 10 November 2008
Samples taken from a Syrian site bombed by Israel on suspicion it was a covert nuclear reactor contained traces of uranium combined with other elements that merit further investigation, diplomats said Monday.
The diplomats — who demanded anonymity because their information was confidential — said the uranium was processed and not in raw form, suggesting some kind of nuclear link.
But one of the diplomats said the uranium finding itself was significant only in the context of other traces found in the oil or air samples taken by International Atomic Energy Agency experts during their visit to the site in June.
Syria has a rudimentary declared nuclear program revolving around research and the production of isotopes for medical and agricultural uses, using a small, 27-kilowatt reactor, and the uranium traces might have originated from there and inadvertently been carried to the bombed site. But taken together, the uranium and the other components found on the environmental swipes “tell a story” worth investigating, said the diplomat…
The leaked information came shortly after the IAEA Director Mohammed ElBaradei announced he would release a formal, written report on the subject, Reuters reported. The IAEA had no immediate comment.
“It isn’t enough to conclude or prove what the Syrians were doing, but the IAEA has concluded this requires further investigation,” a diplomat with ties to the organization said. …
‘America’s Role Is Central’: INTERVIEW WITH SYRIA’S FOREIGN MINISTER
Spiegel Online, 10 November 2008
“This truly is the time to come to a comprehensive peace,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem tells SPIEGEL …
Part 2: ‘We Don’t Want Syria to Experience What Iraq Has’
SPIEGEL ONLINE: American sources say that Syria knew in advance of the commando operation. Is that true?
Moallem: This is a fabricated story by the Americans. It has nothing of truth to it. They were confused, and they were late with their own statement from Washington. And then they leaked this story to the media. It is totally untrue.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: If it is untrue, then why didn’t the Syrian army respond? Why didn’t you protect your citizens?
Moallem: Frankly, we did not expect such an aggression. We don’t understand why (it happened) — especially now that Syria is exerting enormous efforts to tighten its side of the border. Anyway, we are not Georgia. We were seeking wisdom not to escalate the situation.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: The situation would improve even further if Damascus gave the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to all the facilities in Syria it wants to inspect.
Moallem: Seven months after an aggression against a Syrian military position near Deir al-Zor, Israel went to the IAEA and claimed that Syria intended to build a nuclear reactor. This is totally untrue. We have allowed inspectors to visit the site. They spent three days there, they took samples and analyzed them. I assure you: They did not find the materials needed to build a reactor — graphite, for example. They came to Damascus fulfilling a memorandum of understanding between Syria and the agency in which we allowed them to visit the site once.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: The IAEA would like to see three other sites as well.
Moallem: We do not want Syria to experience what Iraq has experienced. You remember the big American lies before the war in Iraq. Now they want to see this location, then they want to see three other locations and then, maybe, another four. We are not ready to repeat this. This will harm our national security…
JERUSALEM, Israel — The U.S. is providing Israel with high-powered X-band radar capable of detecting missile launches up to 1,500 miles away — and sensitive enough to detect small- and medium-range missiles being fired from Iran and Syria. The radar will grant Israel about 60-70 seconds more warning time when missiles are launched. The system’s massive range means targets as far away as southern Russia can be monitored.
Exploratory Oil excavation Drilling Start in Lattakia — Ooops 🙂
SANA (Syria Arab News Agency) 20 September 2008
Lattakia – Oil excavation drillings started in the Syrian coastal city of Lattakia on Saturday following the construction of the Oral Touch Drilling Machine last week.
Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Sufian Allaw said in a statements to reporters in the city that Syrian and foreign experts had already finished oil studies of the oil well and the black material discovered in it.
He added that drilling works in the experimental well could reach down to 3500 meters underneath along with continuous analyses and supervision of the discovered materials to see whether there are oil-carrying stones or any other probabilities such gas or oil.
The Minister said that in case oil has been discovered then drillings will not be done inside but outside the city by way of horizontal or slant drilling.
The discovered site last year produced almost one thousand barrel of good oil brand which had surfaced to the as drillings were being made for building pillars in the site. By Ahmad Fathi ZAHRA. © SANA (Syria Arab News Agency) 2008
“Heartbreak with Palestine” by Sami Moubayed
…..Another question in the survey was: “Who is your favourite former Arab leader?” I expected answers such as Jamal Abdul Nasser or Arafat — those who had worked hard for the sake of Palestine. Surprisingly, the highest number of votes (75 per cent) went to Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Young Syrians voted for him because he built a country from scratch, provided jobs and authored a success story for the nation. Lowest on the list were Arafat and Nasser — precisely because of their commitment to revolution and armed resistance, which led the Arabs nowhere. ….
…Given that the October 26 raid was an unauthorized and illegal attack, killed innocent civilians, resulted in negative diplomatic fallout, and likely increased rather than decreased the threat of terrorism in Iraq, it would appear to be a great opportunity for the Democrats to attack the Bush administration for its dangerous and reckless action.
Yet, even in the course of the final dramatic week of the presidential campaign, neither Barack Obama nor Joe Biden uttered a word of criticism. And, despite contacting the offices of every single Democratic member on both the House and Senate Foreign Relations Committees, I was unable to find any criticism from and of these leading Congressional Democrats either.
The raises the serious possibility that, even under an Obama administration and an expanded Democratic Congressional majority, such militaristic policies may continue. This is particularly disappointing given that many observers had hoped that Syria would be the focus of a likely early diplomatic victory of an Obama administration. ….
Secret Order Lets U.S. Raid Al Qaeda
By ERIC SCHMITT and MARK MAZZETTI
New York Times, 9 November 2008
The United States military since 2004 has used broad, secret authority to carry out nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks against Al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere, according to senior American officials.
These military raids, typically carried out by Special Operations forces, were authorized by a classified order that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld signed in the spring of 2004 with the approval of President Bush, the officials said. The secret order gave the military new authority to attack the Qaeda terrorist network anywhere in the world, and a more sweeping mandate to conduct operations in countries not at war with the United States…
Mideast Negotiators Vow Talks Will Go On
By Matthew Lee and Amy Teibel
Washington Post, 10 November 2008
Israeli, Palestinian and international negotiators pledged Sunday to continue peace talks launched last year by President Bush, even though the quest for peace will certainly outlast his administration.
But future talks will be held in an increasingly uncertain terrain, with the prospect of a hawk coming to power in Israel’s parliamentary elections in February and deeply divided Palestinian factions controlling the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It is also unclear how high Mideast peacemaking will figure on President-elect Barack Obama’s agenda.
…..”I believe that the Annapolis process is now the international community’s answer, and the parties’ answer, to how we finally end the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters after the talks.
….”Abu Mazen has warned against the possibility of Israel using this transition period in Israel and the U.S. to accelerate settlement activity and attacks and incursions,” Erekat said.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Isreal’s chief peace negotiator, is running evenly with hawkish former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu in polls to become the next prime minister.
Netanyahu’s spokeswoman, Dina Libster, indicated Sunday that he would not continue the Annapolis process if he won.
“The process as it has been until now is not helpful, and there is no point in continuing with it,” she said…..
It is also unclear whether Obama will prioritize the Mideast peace process, at a time when he must handle an economy in crisis and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Quartet envoy Tony Blair urged Obama on Sunday to carry on with the process, saying, “The single most important thing is that the new administration in the United States grips this issue from Day One.”
Syria pleased to show itself and its rich history
By Judith Fein
The Boston Globe, 9 November 2008
The flaps of the Bedouin tent were open, and the father, dressed in a long, gray robe and sporting a red and white kaffiyeh, grinned and waved for us to enter.
“Where are you from?” he said as his family gathered around him.
“The United States,” we answered.
“Ahlan wa Sahlan, welcome!” the family called out. They ushered us into their desert abode where we leaned on overstuffed pillows and were served tea.
In the souks of Aleppo, where locals shop for everything from camel meat to spices, clothing, and kitchenware, vendors and shoppers called out “welcome” and a man pressed hard candies into our hands.
And at the Umayyad Palace Restaurant here in the capital, the owner gave me an oval piece of black meteorite with one of Allah’s names inscribed on it. “It’s for safety and protection during voyages,” he said. Were we really in Syria, a country not high on Americans’ destinations wish lists?…..
Analysis: How Damascus could leave Teheran isolated…
By AMIR MIZROCH
The Jerusalem Post, 10 November 2008
Syria’s Bashar Assad, derided as the son even his own father didn’t want to succeed him, is turning out to share many of Hafez’s wily and cautious traits. Despite a series of recent blows to his homeland security (the killings of Hizbullah terror chief Imad Mughniyeh and Syrian military adviser Muhammad Suleiman, and the IAF’s destruction of his nascent nuclear plant), Assad junior is managing to keep a steady hand on the reins of power.
Assad Jr. is plainly looking to the long-term. He has accounts to settle with several players in the region, but for the moment he’s playing it cool. And for this, and his indirect talks with Israel, the West, and notably France, have rewarded him with greater acceptance.
Assad may have slammed Israel on Sunday as “not serious” about peace, but he does not want to abandon the talks. Far from wanting to return to pariah status, he wants to parlay his newly acceptable status into a warmed relationship with Washington…..
– A Mujahideen Bleed-Through From Iraq? A Look at Syria
The Jamestown Foundation, Volume 5, Issue 36 (October 22, 2008
Al-Qaeda’s organizational goal in Iraq was to acquire contiguous territory from which to spread its influence and operatives, as well as those of its Islamist allies into the Levant, the Arabian Peninsula, and Turkey. Having been weaned as an insurgent in Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden has consistently refused to commit large al-Qaeda resources to jihads lacking country-wide maneuver room or Pakistan-like contiguous safe haven. The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, therefore, opened a chance for the above-described expansion by al-Qaeda and its allies that would not have been possible under a Saddam-controlled Iraq.This is the first of four articles that will assess the initial stages of the penetration of the Levant by al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups. This piece will look at Syria, and will be followed by analyses of the bleed-through from Iraq into Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel. The quartet of articles will seek to assess the validity of the recent claim by the state-run Syrian newspaper Al-Thawara that because of the war in Iraq “the [Levant] region is throbbing with terrorists.” (quoted in Christian Science Monitor, September 29).
After crushing the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (SMB) at the city of Hama in 1982 – killing up to 20,000 people and leveling a quarter of the city – President Hafiz al-Assad adopted the traditional and traditionally unsuccessful tack of Arab tyrants of trying to use government largesse to co-opt Syria’s remaining Islamists and thereby moderate their message. ….
“The Syrian regime fell – as have others – in[to] the famous illusion that they can toy with the terrorist fundamentalist bear at the beginning of the day and then get rid of it or put it back in the cage at the end of the day! This is an illusion that is repeated and always repeated in the Middle East region….
Having now tightened up Syria’s borders with Iraq under pressure from Washington and the French government, Bashar al-Assad is now running a country-size hotel for a variety of ill-tempered Islamist guests (al-Akhbar [Beirut], September 30; NOW Lebanon, September 27). In addition to long-term tenants Hamas, Hizballah, and the secular Palestinian fraternity, Syrian security has to keep tabs on newer and not fully domesticated guests: a growing Syrian Muslim Brotherhood organization; a militant “official” clergy that is stoking greater Islamic fervor at the grassroots level; more than a half-million Iraqi refugees; a multinational assortment of veteran mujahedeen stranded in Syria after leaving Iraq; and would-be fighters who got to Syria but were prevented from entering Iraq. Among the veteran fighters are a contingent of Syrians who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan – some commentators are calling them the “Syrian Afghans” –with military skills they can impart at home and in other countries of the Levant (al-Hayat, September 28).All told, President Bashar al-Assad – a man not as skilled as his father or as able to control the regime’s security services – is faced with a growing Islamist threat to the stability of his regime. ….
A Mujahideen Bleed-Through From Iraq? Part Two – A Look at Lebanon
Volume 5, Issue 38 (November 5, 2008)
11/05/2008 – Lebanon always has been a country whose people are more loyal to family, clan, tribe, and faith than to the concept of Lebanon as a united nation-state. Since 2003, this existing internal divisiveness has been sharpened by the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq and the U.S.-led international effort to drive Syria out of Lebanon. The former opened a role for Lebanon as part of the path for would-be jihadis traveling to fight in Iraq. The latter – together with the 2006 Hezbollah-Israel war – forced the precipitate decline of effective governmental authority in Lebanon, allowing jihadis to use the country for transit and basing. This made it a target for aggressive expansionist efforts by Saudis and other Salafis and encouraged the rapid growth of internal violence between political and religious factions. Overall, the Iraq war and Syria’s departure from Lebanon gave al-Qaeda and its Islamist allies an unprecedented opportunity to infiltrate their influence and manpower into Lebanon, as well as help strengthen the Sunni Salafist trend in northern Lebanon. ….
As in Syria, the growing al-Qaeda and Saudi-backed Salifist movement in Lebanon’s north and its Palestinian refugee camps clearly is in part a product of the militant bleed-through from Iraq. But, as in Syria, Salafism’s Lebanese growth is occurring in already fertile soil: Lebanon’s Sunni north has been slowly radicalizing for much of this decade – Tripoli’s Sunni leaders long viewed Hezbollah as the “Resistance,” but now regard it as the “party of evil” – and the eviction of Syrian forces has substantially reduced Beirut’s ability to limit the growth of Salafism (Middle East Times, June 30). Bin Laden’s operatives and Saudi intelligence will continue to push these trends, thereby once again demonstrating just how closely aligned are the interests of al-Qaeda and Riyadh outside the Arabian Peninsula.This said, al-Qaeda still has considerable work to do in Lebanon. While Ayman al-Zawahiri said in April 2008 that Lebanon is now “a Muslim frontline fort,” Lebanese Salafists will for the foreseeable future be more concerned with securing increased political power and communal autonomy in the country than in flocking to support the worldwide Sunni jihad. …
SYRIA: Secret world of sexy women’s lingerie
By Khaled Hijab
Los Angeles Times, 9 November 2008
“Look within your culture to discover the unexpected. What it might be hiding from you can give you a shock.” That is how designer Rana Salam ended a talk about her book of undergarments, “The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie,” at American University of Beirut.
“Secret Life” takes readers on a tour of the hidden intimacies and gaudy traditions of an outwardly rather conservative Arab country. …
Made with Chinese toys and other accessories, the collection of underwear Salam gathered includes bras and G-strings decorated with coconut shells, television remote controls, glow-in-the-dark toys and singing birds as well as edible lingerie with a variety of flavors.
Salam called them works of art. She said she visited the factories as attempt to “get into the brains of these designers, to know where all the creative ideas are coming from.” As she put it, “These are people who lack basic education about design but tend to produce one of the most creative pieces of work my eyes ever witnessed.” …