US Economic Sanctions on Syria Have Failed

Syrian Businessmen

Syrian Businessmen

US Economic Sanctions on Syria Have Failed,” by Joshua Landis

Contrary to what Andrew Tabler of WINEP, a right-wing think tank argues, US sanctions on Syria have failed. Tabler, in a Newsweek article copied below, recommends keeping sanctions on Syria.  He claims they are working. He is joined in his desire to keep sanctions on Syria by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She worries that Obama is going soft on Syria because it has returned its ambassador and is engaging. She said, “The administration is aiding an unrepentant regime and is sending a signal that the U.S. will make concessions and seek dialogue regardless of what the facts dictate.” She said this in a Feb. 12 statement after the U.S. let Chicago-based Boeing Co. sell aircraft parts for the repair of two 747 jets owned by Syrian Arab Airlines.

Tabler argues that US sanctions have worked and are forcing Syria into a corner where it must finally make important foreign policy concessions. I don’t know what cool-aid Tabler has been drinking, but it may well be from the same dispenser as Ros-Lehtinen’s. US sanction efforts have failed badly. Don’t take my word for it.  Here is what Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman said about Washington’s backfiring sanctions effort just the other day:

So you ended up at a point when we isolate – we were the ones isolated. It was no longer Syria being isolated. It was the United States that was being isolated. So I think this administration decided that engagement is not – engagement is something we need to try.

This contorted jumble of passive constructions by Feltman can be summed up to mean only one thing: sanctions failed. Over a year ago, France broke the isolation regime that Washington had established. Quickly other European countries followed suit. They invited Syria to join the Mediterranean Process, a free trade agreement linking Europe with Mediterranean countries. Western bankers and businessmen are streaming into Syria to sniff out the possibilities for investment. Abdullah Dardari, Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy, has been besieged with delegations of businessmen from American banks as well as European countries over the last few months. Big Western concerns may make only small investments in Syria for the time being because Syria’s financial infrastructure is primitive and new legal protections for foreign capital are untested. All the same, it is in Syria’s power to attract foreign money if it makes the desired reforms. US sanctions are no longer a major factor inhibiting investors.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillion is arriving in Damascus this Saturday flanked by over 30 French businessmen eager to have his support to clinch deals in Syria. If Americans don’t get into the act soon, they will find themselves at a serious disadvantage in an emerging market that has promise and where most assets are undervalued.  As Feltman explained, the US is only sanctioning its own businessmen in Syria. For someone who is in better touch with Syria read Chris Phillips of the BBC: Syria’s Assad: pariah to power-broker.

Addendum: Alex in the comment section writes:

Andrew Tabler argues: “Damascus has never needed a bailout as badly as it does now….

Andrew habibi, what planet are you on? You have a great new idea? … to wait until Syria’s economy collapses? … until Syria’s oil reserves vanish …. a year or two of additional “effective” sanctions? … maybe hope for more bad harvests in Hassakeh region to starve them out? …

Here is an opinion piece in TIME of 27 years ago, Monday, Dec. 19, 1983.

A more serious threat to the (Syrian) regime may be the country’s worsening economy. Plummeting oil revenues and bad harvests have drained foreign reserves. According to an International Monetary Fund report, Syria’s total reserves (excluding gold) dropped from $927 million in mid-1981 to $40 million by early 1982. Electricity is now rationed nationwide.

And you say, “Damascus has NEVER needed a bailout as badly as it does now”? In 1982 .. Syria’s total reserves were down to 40 millions. The regime did not collapse and it did not change behavior, nor did it change position on peace with Israel. (peace based on UN 242 and 338). Today: Syria’s total reserves are 15 billion dollars. Keep dreaming.

In a Corner
Even with little to show, Obama still hasn’t given up engaging America’s foes. In Syria, it might just work.
By Andrew Tabler in Newsweek

The backstory, of course, is sanctions—and how badly they’ve hit the Assad regime even if they haven’t changed its behavior yet. They began in 1979, when the United States added Syria to the list of state sponsors of terrorism for supporting Palestinian terrorist groups, but the screws really tightened after 2003, when Syria allowed jihadist insurgents fighting the U.S. occupation to cross into Iraq. The resulting Syrian Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act (SALSA), alongside a series of executive orders, banned all U.S. exports except food and medicine, seized the assets of regime officials, and banned U.S. dollar transactions with the state-owned Commercial Bank of Syria. With enforcement overseen by the no-nonsense Commerce Department, it became even harder to trade with Syria than with Iran…..

Damascus has never needed a bailout as badly as it does now….

President Obama may be tempted to ease Syria’s pain—by rewriting the executive orders girding the sanctions regime due to be renewed next May—with some expectation that he’ll get something in return. He shouldn’t. Since Syria won’t abandon support for terrorist groups tomorrow, Washington should start small, with selective adjustment of sanctions rather than their outright cancellation. As Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry said last year, “Sanctions can always be tightened if Syria backtracks” from any deal with American negotiators. Those small steps (like Ford’s appointment, for example) are exactly the thing Syria is looking to respond to.

The administration is aiding an unrepentant regime and is sending a signal that the U.S. will make concessions and seek dialogue regardless of what the facts dictate,” Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a Feb. 12 statement after the U.S. let Chicago-based Boeing Co. sell aircraft parts for the repair of two 747 jets owned by Syrian Arab Airlines. Bloomberg

Syria’s Assad: pariah to power-broker | Chris Phillips
Written by: Editor on 17th February 2010
Syria’s Assad: pariah to power-broker | Chris Phillips

It’s a remarkable recovery in political and economic fortune that sees Syria and Assad being courted by the west and Arabs alike

Assad’s liberalising economic policies have also reaped rewards, with Syria’s unexpected growth enhancing Damascus’s emerging international confidence. New trade from Turkey, Iraq and the EU has eased fears that economic demands would force Syria to compromise with the US and Israel. Instead, western investors are flocking to Syria, and even the tourist industry is expanding, with Damascus recently named by the New York Times as seventh top destination for 2010. Not surprisingly, Assad’s domestic popularity is enhanced by the developing middle class, who credit their president for this economic success.

This popularity is mirrored in the wider Arab world, where Assad was voted most popular Arab leader in a 2009 Zogby poll. This further boosts Damascus’s regional clout, already vying with Egypt and Lebanon for cultural dominance over the Arab world following the widespread popularity of the Syrian drama and soap-opera industry which further projects a positive view of Syria into Arab living rooms.

While sharing his father’s unwillingness to bend to US pressure and, perhaps less ruthlessly, stifling of opposition at home, Assad has shown himself to be a different kind of leader. Since the Lebanon withdrawal he has demonstrated opportunism when backed into a corner and a sound reading of the international climate. After the initial disaster of 2005, Assad was quick to adapt the hard power exercised over Beirut by Hafez into the soft power and indirect influence that has seen Syrian dominance in Lebanon return.

As the US ambassador’s residence in Damascus is once again inhabited, its occupier will find himself dealing with a more confident and influential Syrian president than the one his predecessor left behind in 2005.

Addendum: Are US sanctions against Syria working?

As the US names its first ambassador to Syria in five years, the BBC’s Lina Sinjab, in Damascus, examines the effect of US sanctions against the country….

The French prime minister in Damascus Saturday…” al-Hayat by Ibrahim Hamidi (translation thanks to mideastwire.com)

On February 17, the Saudi-owned London-based Al-Hayat daily carried in its paper edition the following article by its correspondents in Damascus and Paris Ibrahim Hamidi and Randa Takieddin: “Damascus is witnessing an important economic and political action after the visit of a number of American and European officials to the Syrian capital. The Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout had opened yesterday a meeting for the Syrian and Czech businessmen in order to strengthen the economic relations between Damascus and Prague. He later on held a meeting with his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Muallem in which they both discussed the latest developments in the region and the bilateral relations. The Czech official is also expected to meet today with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

“The Czech Foreign Minister was quoted in this respect by Al-Hayat as saying: “The relationship between Damascus and Prague is strong and is well rooted after long years of cooperation and friendship. The relationship today is even stronger than before since Syria is a neighbor of the EU and cooperates political and economically with all the European efforts.” The Syrian president is also expected to meet with American official William Burns who is visiting the region. The Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs is heading an important American delegation that includes Daniel Shapiro who is in charge of the Middle East dossier at the State Department. Al-Hayat has also learned that the Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal al-Meqdad has returned from Morocco to take part in the America-Syrian talks.

“French diplomatic sources told Al-Hayat that a delegation of French businessmen including more than thirty persons will be accompanying French Prime Minister Francois Fillion during his expected visit to Damascus this Saturday where he will be meeting his Syrian counterpart Mohammad Naji al-Otari and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. French sources in Paris told Al-Hayat that Fillion’s visit to Syria aimed at strengthening the political and economic cooperation between the two countries. The sources were quoted in this respect as saying: “This new and important cooperation has been launched two years ago and Fillion’s visit aims at strengthening the political relations between Damascus and Paris. Fillion will talk politics in Damascus but also will deal with cultural and economic matters. He will be signing an agreement between the Louvre and the Damascus National Museum…” – Al-Hayat, United Kingdom

Talk to Hamas
As Israeli soldiers we hang our heads in shame over last year’s attack on Gaza’s civilian population. Dialogue, not war, is needed
Arik Diamant and David Zonsheine
guardian.co.uk, Monday 15 February 2010

The Israeli media marked the one-year anniversary of Operation Cast Lead, the war on Gaza, almost as a celebration. The operation is recognised almost unanimously in Israel as a military triumph, a combat victory over one of Israel’s deadliest enemies: Hamas.

As combat soldiers of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), we have serious doubts about this conclusion, primarily because hardly any combat against Hamas took place during the operation. As soon as the operation started, Hamas went underground.

Most casualties were inflicted on Palestinians by air strikes, artillery fire, and snipers from afar. Combat victory? Shooting fish in a barrel is more like it. Operation Cast Lead consisted essentially of bombing one of the most crowded places on earth, striking civilian targets such as homes, schools and mosques, and ultimately leaving a trail of more than 1,300 casualties, mostly civilians, over 300 of whom were children. As soldiers of the IDF reserves, we bow our heads in shame against this hideous attack on a civilian population.

As for the goals of the operation, these too are questionable. Allegedly, operation Cast Lead was intended to stop the firing of missiles by Hamas. But the Qassam missile problem had been solved before the operation started. The ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel in place from 19 June 2008 had resulted in a drastic reduction of missiles fired from Gaza from a few hundreds per month to about a dozen for a period of five months. It was Israel that never lived up to its end of the bargain to end the siege of Gaza, breached the ceasefire in November 2008 by attacking targets in the Strip, essentially ignored Hamas’s proposal to renew the ceasefire, and eventually began operation Cast Lead a few weeks later.

The true goal of this operation was different from the one announced by Israeli officials. The real objective was not to stop the Qassams but to overthrow the Hamas government. As such, the operation failed. Hamas in Gaza is stronger than ever.

A year after this brutal war, a change of strategy is needed. Israel should commence immediate talks with Hamas, negotiating not only a ceasefire but also the “core issues” to be part of an end-of-conflict agreement. An open dialogue with Hamas is clearly in Israel’s interest.

First, because Hamas was democratically elected in Gaza and has won the trust and respect of a significant part of the Palestinian people, anyone hoping to resolve this conflict will eventually need to bargain with the group.

Second, Hamas has proven capable of delivering peace and quiet to the citizens of southern Israel. As demonstrated before, Hamas has a strong hold on all organisations acting in Gaza and can enforce a truce.

Third, a prisoner exchange deal is our only chance to bring back the abducted IDF soldier, Gilad Shalit. In return, Israel will release hundreds of Hamas prisoners, out of the 8,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. Such a deal can have a pacifying influence on public opinion both in Israel and in Palestine and can be an important step towards reconciliation between the two peoples.

Hamas is currently Israel’s enemy, but peace is made with enemies, not with friends. Hamas is also a powerful, pragmatic and well organised movement, possibly a future partner with whom Israel can “cut a deal”. A reluctance to recognise Hamas as the party in charge in Gaza is a strategy that failed and needs to be replaced. A nation that is truly looking for peace cannot afford to ignore its partners.

• Arik Diamant and David Zonsheine are the founders of Courage to Refuse, a movement of Israeli reserve soldiers who refuse to serve in the occupied territories. In November 2009 they launched an initiative calling Israel to open a dialogue with Hamas

Comments (36)


1. Alex said:

Dear Robert Satloff and even more dear Daniel Pipes,

Congratulations.

By hiring Mr. Andrew Tabler (“next generation fellow”), WINEP is producing even more valuable analysis and even more rational, accurate and valuable recommendations to the American government.

Andrew أخصائي سوريا الفهيم Tabler said:

Damascus has never needed a bailout as badly as it does now….

Andrew habibi, please leave planet WINEP and come back here

So you think you have a great new idea? … to wait? until Syria’s economy collapses? … until Syria’s oil reserves vanish …. a year or two of additional “effective” sanctions? … maybe hope for more bad harvests in Hassakeh region? … that should do it! right? … Syria will at that point need a bailout!! … Then it surly will accept to stop supporting the jihadist terrorists. And that would make WINEP ‘s experts happy!

Here is something for you that was in an opinion piece in TIME magazine, Monday, Dec. 19, 1983 (27 years ago)

A more serious threat to the (Syrian) regime may be the country’s worsening economy. Plummeting oil revenues and bad harvests have drained foreign reserves. According to an International Monetary Fund report, Syria’s total reserves (excluding gold) dropped from $927 million in mid-1981 to $40 million by early 1982. Electricity is now rationed nationwide.

So you are still sure of your “Damascus has NEVER needed a bailout as badly as it does now”?

1982 .. Syria’s total reserves were down to 40 millions! … and as you know, the regime did not collapse and it did not change behavior and it did not change its position on peace with Israel. (peace based on UN 242 and 338)

Today: Syria’s total reserves: 15 BILLIONS.

keep dreaming (and waiting) Andrew!

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 10:37 am

 

2. Henry said:

The Tabler piece is some great analysis…

In a Corner

By Andrew J. Tabler
Newsweek, February 17, 2010

This week, President Obama named Robert S. Ford as his ambassador to Syria — meaning that he still intends to engage America’s foes. (Ford would be the first U.S. ambassador there since the 2005 assassination of Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.) And while the president’s record so far against Venezuela, North Korea, and Iran might merit a reconsideration of the “engagement agenda,” this time it might be different, because Syria is in a bind. The regime is running record budget deficits, and it is suddenly fanatical about ending U.S. sanctions (which, Damascus has only just admitted for the first time, are truly damaging). Once upon a time, Syria was obsessed by political problems — Lebanon, President Bush, the Golan Heights. Today, the game is more about economics than ever before (including the last time we tried serious engagement with Syria). Which means President Bashar al-Assad may finally be ready to play ball.
The backstory, of course, is sanctions — and how badly they’ve hit the Assad regime even if they haven’t changed its behavior yet. They began in 1979, when the United States added Syria to the list of state sponsors of terrorism for supporting Palestinian terrorist groups, but the screws really tightened after 2003, when Syria allowed jihadist insurgents fighting the U.S. occupation to cross into Iraq. The resulting Syrian Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act (SALSA), alongside a series of executive orders, banned all U.S. exports except food and medicine, seized the assets of regime officials, and banned U.S. dollar transactions with the state-owned Commercial Bank of Syria. With enforcement overseen by the no-nonsense Commerce Department, it became even harder to trade with Syria than with Iran.

To protect their pride, officials from Damascus had to pretend the sanctions didn’t hurt them very much. But the evidence is everywhere. First Syria had to switch from deals in dollars to those in euros to avoid restrictions on dollar-denominated oil sales. Then the regime had to ground most of its civilian air fleet — as well as President Assad’s personal jets — because the sanctions forbid the sale of spare parts without an export license. (Sanctions classified anything with more than 10 percent American content as an American product, and since U.S. companies dominate the aerospace industry, even third-party retailers from other parts of the world couldn’t sell the parts to Syria.) Worse still, Damascus was compelled to institute rolling electricity blackouts because U.S. sanctions made it very difficult for international companies to build new power stations there. Executive orders by President Bush even held up the sale of a number of lucrative companies owned by Assad’s cousin.

The regime’s economic woes only made sanctions more effective. Syria’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), which supplies official figures used by the International Monetary Fund, claims that the economy grew at 4 percent in 2009. But other data make those numbers appear to be exaggerated: in the past five years, oil production — traditionally the regime’s lifeline — has plunged 30 percent, making Syria a net importer and causing Damascus to run record budget deficits upward of 10 percent of GDP. (Deficits are new in Damascus; when Assad’s father was president, budgets were always balanced.) Then a massive three-year drought devastated Syrian agriculture, displacing up to 300,000 residents in Syria’s northeast. Meanwhile, free-trade agreements between Syria and Turkey undermined Syria’s heavily protected market, slamming Syria’s manufacturing sector, which contracted some 14 percent in the past two years. Exacerbating these pressures, children born during a baby boom in the 1980s and early 1990s are finally entering the labor market, meaning that the Assad regime has to create more jobs than ever just to keep the official unemployment rate steady at 11 percent. Damascus has never needed a bailout as badly as it does now.

And Washington has the means, but its checkout list is long. In the short term, the United States wants the regime to return to talks with Israel and cut off the flow of jihadists into Iraq. In the long term, Washington wants Damascus to sign a treaty with Israel (which would return the Golan Heights) and end its support for Hizbullah and the Palestinian party Hamas (whose military leadership is based in Damascus). This, the thinking goes, would create tension between Sunni Syria and Shia Iran, with which Assad has a close military relationship and several sweetheart investment and assistance deals. (Iran also sends arms to — and trains militants from — Hizbullah and Hamas.)

That’s why Washington is looking for creative ways to turn sticks (sanctions) into carrots (cash). Syria clearly wants the Obama team to dump trade sanctions, banking restrictions, and a spate of executive orders from the Bush years that make life difficult for the regime. For its part, Washington has already eased export-license restrictions on aircraft repairs for the state-owned Syrian Arab Airways. It is also considering more scholarships (for Syrians to study in the United States), cultural and business exchanges, lifting its block of Syria’s WTO application, and repairs to more Syrian aircraft — in return for incremental changes in Assad’s behavior.

It’s true that we’ve been down this road before, which is why there are plenty of doubters in Washington — those who think that, even if we bankrolled Syria’s entire government, it wouldn’t change Assad’s behavior. After the October 1973 War, the United States extended $534 million in assistance to Damascus, hoping to lure it from the Soviet orbit and into a peace treaty with Israel. Instead, Syria became a leading critic of the 1979 Camp David accords (between Israel and Egypt), earned the label of state-sponsor of terrorism, and was cut off from U.S. assistance. When Washington reengaged Damascus in the 1990s, American diplomats circumvented the ban on foreign aid by enticing U.S. companies to invest in Syria’s energy sector, including a $430 million gas deal with ConocoPhillips. The down payment came to nothing when Assad’s father, Hafez, turned down President Clinton’s March 2000 Syria-Israel peace treaty in Geneva.

This time, though, it’s different. During those previous overtures, the Syrian regime was economically viable. Today, it badly needs Western technology to squeeze every last drop out of its declining oil fields and irrigation projects and foreign investment to create enough jobs for youth entering the labor market. The best way for the regime to do this is to get Washington to end sanctions, which, it hopes, would make Syria seem like a safe investment opportunity for businesses — a tough sell considering the nation has technically been at war with Israel for 62 years, spawning the inevitable corruption that comes with indefinite martial law. (Syria is ranked 126 out of 180 on Transparency International’s list.)

That’s why President Obama may be tempted to ease Syria’s pain — by rewriting the executive orders girding the sanctions regime due to be renewed next May — with some expectation that he’ll get something in return. He shouldn’t. Since Syria won’t abandon support for terrorist groups tomorrow, Washington should start small, with selective adjustment of sanctions rather than their outright cancellation. As Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry said last year, “Sanctions can always be tightened if Syria backtracks” from any deal with American negotiators. Those small steps (like Ford’s appointment, for example) are exactly the thing Syria is looking to respond to.

Andrew J. Tabler is a Soref fellow in the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 3:23 pm

 

3. Ford Prefect said:

Hey Alex,
I also heard Tabler, the Next Generation Fellow (LOL!) genius at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (that super duper think tank that is always searching for a good war to start) is now lobbying Congress to add to SALSA (the Syrian Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act) a bit of Meringue. Those geniuses at WINEP think that by combining salsa with meringue, Syria will finally flip. Nice going, dudes, dream on.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 3:34 pm

 

4. Bach said:

Wishful thinking Josh.

It’s clear from the above, that you don’t know what you are talking about.

For instance, the Union pour la Mediterranee, was sent out to ALL countries that border the Mediteranean Sea. Basically, whether you’re a cold blooded murdered or Ghandi, you’ll get an invitation to join it.

Second, his name is Fillon, not Fillion. As he announced this trip, Fillon got a letter from Amnesty International, CIJ, FIDH, Human Rights Watch, OMCT, and REMDH reminding him of the Human Rights situation in Syria. Furthermore, Marini was dispatched in preparation to the meeting with Assad, and gave a letter to him. Do you know what was in that letter? 10 subjects :
- Lebanon
- Lebanon
- Lebanon
- Lebanon
- Lebanon
- Lebanon
- Lebanon
- Lebanon
- Lebanon
- Peace Process

Third, “has been besieged with delegations of businessmen from American banks as well as European countries over the last few months”. You know using words like besieged isn’t going to make the statement credible ;-)

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 3:47 pm

 

5. Ghat Albird said:

Canada is on record as to how it will respond to any attack on its “sole” democratic ally in the Middle East.

As the saying goes you’ll have been warned.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/bureau-blog/an-attack-on-israel-would-be-considered-an-attack-on-canada/article1470211/

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 5:13 pm

 

6. Akbar Palace said:

Professor Josh states:

Contrary to what Andrew Tabler of WINEP, a right-wing think tank argues, US sanctions on Syria have failed.

Professor Josh,

Can you explain or list for us the reasons why you think WINEP is “a right wing think tank”?

As far as I know, WINEP’s director, Dr. Robert Satloff is a darling of the liberal NPR.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6624599

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

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 6:17 pm

 

7. Menafeeds [Deluxe Edition] « Melone said:

[...] Joshua Landis (Syria Comment) | US Economic Sanctions on Syria Have Failed | Contrary to what Andrew Tabler of WINEP, a right-wing think tank argues, US sanctions on Syria [...]

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 6:29 pm

 

8. Ford Prefect said:

A quote from the wiki entry posted above by Akbar:

Satloff is described by the New York Review of Books as “a neoconservative with very hawkish views on the Middle East”.

hmmmmm….

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 6:40 pm

 

9. Ghat Albird said:

FORD PREFECT said:

A quote from the wiki entry posted above by Akbar:

“Satloff is described by the New York Review of Books as “a neoconservative with very hawkish views on the Middle East”.”

FP. Spot on.

Isn’t it amazing that in a nation of some 306 million ALL the ” REAL” experts on the Middle East in the US are of one belief and one particular view of the ME?

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 6:54 pm

 

10. Alex said:

Dear Bach

I would appreciate it if you try to be a bit more polite in your comments next time. I hope this is clear.

Before telling Dr. Landis “It’s clear from the above, that you don’t know what you are talking about.” You should try reading some of the articles which you don’t like to read.

The significance of President Assad’s participation at the summit was not question of who is a Gandhi or “A cold blooded murderer”.

Here are two links with a few hints for you if you want to understand:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1001650.html

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=1003499&contrassID=2&subContrassID=5

“By “the fellow there,” he meant Assad, the Syrian president who managed to steal the show not only from Olmert but also from the president of Egypt, the joint chairman of Paris Summit for the Mediterranean”

As for Marini and your inside information about what he told Assad “Lebanon,Lebanon, Lebanon …”

Try to remember that Philippe Marini happens to be the Président du groupe d’amitié France-Syrie du Sénat français

Here is what he wrote on his site:

Lorsque le Sénat décidait, en 1997, de créer un Groupe sénatorial France-Syrie, il marquait par là sa volonté très forte d’établir de nouvelles relations avec un grand pays, par l’histoire, par la géographie et par la démographie. Un pays, la Syrie, dont les destinées avaient été unies, un temps, à celles de la France. Un pays situé au carrefour de l’Orient et de l’Occident. Un pays-clé pour le Proche et le Moyen-Orient.

And here is the mood during that meeting when, according to you, he lectured Assad about the only thing that counts on our planet (Lebanon, Lebanon, Lebanon …)

http://www.sana.sy/servers/gallery/20100202-113812.JPG

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 6:55 pm

 

11. Ford Prefect said:

And some sample WINP positions to answer AP’s question above, since he is confused on where WINP is on the political spectrum:

In Spring 2002, WINEP declared that “circumstances were not ripe for high-level efforts to restart the peace negotiations, and that the most urgent task was to prevent a regional war while fighting terrorism and weapons proliferation,”

They further claimed that not starting the peace process “allows Israel to assert its overwhelming military advantage and to continue to create facts on the ground, especially settlements, which will make peace all the more difficult to achieve in the future.”

WINEP also rejected the Bush administration’s “road map” for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Echoing those opposed to any negotiations with the Palestinians, WINEP Executive Director Satloff dismissed the proposal as a “sham” since it was based on an “indecent parallelism between Israeli and Palestinian behavior.”

I am not arguing the validity or the stupidity of such hapless positions, but the above should be enough to underscore WINP’s political orientation.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 6:56 pm

 

12. offended said:

^ LOL!

The wise proverb says: al ***** la yosadik 7ata yara.

A case in point is Akbar Palace.

و العفو منكن

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 6:57 pm

 

13. Akbar Palace said:

Satloff is described by the New York Review of Books as “a neoconservative with very hawkish views on the Middle East”.

Ford Prefect,

Thanks for pointing that out. I missed it.

But of course, I’m not done.

Anyway, I suppose I could ask the “New York Review of Books” why they think Satloff is a “neoconservative” and why they think he has “very hawkish views”.

But since you, Ghat and Professor Josh are so well informed, perhaps you can tell me instead.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 7:00 pm

 

14. Ford Prefect said:

Ghat Albird,
It is amazing, indeed! It sheds some light as to why the US foreign policy is such a colossal failure in the Middle East, spot on, as you said.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 7:02 pm

 

15. Akbar Palace said:

why the US foreign policy is such a colossal failure in the Middle East

Ford Prefect,

How do you measure “failure”?

Do you measure it by how well your jihadist friends are succeeding? Maybe you measure it by how well your favorite Arab autocracy is growing economically? Or maybe you measure it by how many jihadists kill fellow Arabs.

Feel free to elaborate.

I measure America’s success in the ME by how well she contains and confronts those Arab and Muslim states that support terrorism. In that sense, I don’t think it is a “failure”.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 7:11 pm

 

16. Ford Prefect said:

Offended,
I need to have a drink with you, ASAP!

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 7:14 pm

 

17. Alex said:

Ghat Albird, Ford Prefect

And the problem is that those “experts” all agree with each other and ONLy read each other’s opinions, and if by mistake they read something different, they don’t understand it, they don’t trust the author, and they surely dump the info out of their memory instantaneously.

That way they maintain what they proudly call “Moral clarity”

http://www.amazon.com/Case-Moral-Clarity-Israel-Hamas/dp/0966154851

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/01/AR2009010101780.html

in other words … “please don’t listen to those who disagree with us … it might pollute your moral values … we are moral, our critics are terror supporters”

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 7:16 pm

 

18. offended said:

FP,

Anytime, Sir!

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 7:23 pm

 

19. Shai said:

FP, Offended,

Can I join you?

An amazing article by Gideon Levy, on Assassinations:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1150683.html

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 7:34 pm

 

20. Ford Prefect said:

Offended,
Be careful of what you wish for. We might have that drink as early as next week! I am certainly looking forward to it. email me (ford.prefect42@me.com)

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 7:46 pm

 

21. Ford Prefect said:

As always, you are always welcome to join us!

Gideon Levy hit the nail on the head.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 7:51 pm

 

22. Akbar Palace said:

Gideon Levy hit the nail on the head.

Ford Prefect,

What “nail” is that? That the Arabs can kill whomever they want, but Israelis can’t even kill a violent enemy combatant who works with the Iranians.

If Israel played by the rules of the Left, she would have been gone a long time ago and Ha’aretz would be a mere memory.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 8:09 pm

 

23. Ford Prefect said:

AP,
The “nail” that Gideon (and I used as a metaphor) is talking about is called killing. We have been killing one another for 60 years with no end in sight. I am hoping that you can see that it is not working and many Israelis are taking notice.

Instead of playing the whack-a-mole game that has been a loser, why not address the real issue of occupation?

So you think that by killing, Israel has ensured its survival thus far and Ha’aretz is really enjoying the fruits of that killing?

Good for you. Keep sending your best and brightest to carry out these tasks.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 8:36 pm

 

24. Akbar Palace said:

I am hoping that you can see that it is not working and many Israelis are taking notice.

Ford Prefect,

I am not Israeli, but I am fairly familiar with the country and its people.

My impression is that Israelis have been debating issues of war and peace every day, month after month, year after year. There are liberal and leftist political parties, Arab and ethnic political parties, center parties, and right/conservative parties.

Israel has played both the peace-maker, the victor, and the bruised fighter. Like I opined earlier. If Israel ever unilaterally disbanded the IDF, she would have been gone a long time ago. Conversely, the land for peace has worked so far with Egypt and Jordan. No so much with Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.

But you claim it is “not working” or is a “failure”, and I just would like to know your criteria.

Instead of playing the whack-a-mole game that has been a loser, why not address the real issue of occupation?

Again you claim Israel’s defensive posture “has been a loser”. How so? As far as I can see, Israel is doing fairly well. How could she be doing any better?

So you think that by killing, Israel has ensured its survival thus far and Ha’aretz is really enjoying the fruits of that killing?

Like I said, I think Israel’s defensive posture is working OK. Are you claiming the Arabs would leave Israel alone if she dismantled the IDF? To me, the Oslo accords were proof that this assumption is false, plain and simple. I recall (maybe because I’m older than you) Shimon Peres pleading with the citizenry and the government NOT to retaliate time after time after each terrorist attack. Israeli restraint was answered by more terror, not less.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 9:17 pm

 

25. Ghat Albird said:

AKBAR PALACE said:

Again you claim Israel’s defensive posture “has been a loser”. How so? As far as I can see, Israel is doing fairly well. How could she be doing any better?

Like many have said before its not what one writes that counts, Its what the reader remembers. In a way AP is correct. Israel and her supporters always stress the view of “how does one negotiate with those that are attacking you?”.

It may be time to use the same methodology and have the Palestenians in Gaza use the same tactic, “how can one negotiate with those that control your everyday life, in an open air prison and forces u to use underground tunnels in order to provide for your family”.

Possibly AP could erudite for us.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 9:40 pm

 

26. Off the Wall said:

Alex, FP, Offended, and Ghat

And the problem is that those “experts” all agree with each other and ONLy read each other’s opinions,

I believe this is called, Intellectual incest and inbreeding. AEI, WINEP are notorious in that regard.

AP
Like I said, I think Israel’s defensive posture is working OK. Are you claiming the Arabs would leave Israel alone if she dismantled the IDF

How about asking Israel to respect its own IDF and not to put its soldiers and officers at risk of being arrested in most of the world airports.

Anyone believing the neocon’s likud strategy:

Israel defensive posture relies on taking the battle to the enemy’s territory. That may be have served it when fighting was done by organized armies, but with HA finding the golden egg of popular resistance, taking the battle into enemy’s territories is now more costly than ever. It is unsustainable and very risky. And as the world’s patience with criminal IDF activities becomes shorter and shorter, you know that you will now have to achieve more and more destruction in an increasingly shrinking window of opportunity. Very soon, this window will become nill, which means that you would have to apply infinite force to achieve limited objective, making your self less and less appealing even to yourself. It is a vicious cycle you put yourself in. The arrogance, stupidity, and lack of vision of those advocating this strategy, while sitting here in US-based think tank is staggering. You should call them your most dangerous enemies, yet, you keep advertising their genius. Come to think of it, you remind me of us Arabs, more than half a a century ago. We mature, while you take our place as a prideful, blind nation. Congratulation, you made it into the middle east, but only after most of us have left that train station of immaturity.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 9:51 pm

 

27. offended said:

Dear FP, I’m certainly looking forward to it, too. Email is already sent.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 10:04 pm

 

28. offended said:

Shai,

You’re always welcome to join us. And you should be able to, inshallah, when there’s peace and all these troubles are left behind.

Gideon’s article is spot-on, I’d read excerpts earlier in the day on Richard Silverstein (excellent) blog, this part rings true the most:

“We eliminated Abbas al-Musawi? Well done, Israel Defense Forces. We got Hassan Nasrallah. We killed Ahmed Yassin? Well done, Shin Bet security service. We got a Hamas many times stronger. Abu Jihad was eliminated? Well done to the Sayeret Matkal special forces unit – of course, according to foreign news reports. We killed a potential partner, relatively moderate and charismatic. As a bonus, we got revenge attacks like those after “the Engineer” Yihyeh Ayash was slain. We also got the danger hovering over every Israeli and Jew in the world each anniversary of the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh, which was also blamed on Israel.

…Between you and me, what are we prouder of, the cherry tomatoes we developed here or assassinations?”

So it seems to me that, in the doctrine of Mossad, the assassinations are less about outcome and more about revenge.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 18th, 2010, 10:09 pm

 

29. Shai said:

Akbar,

“If Israel played by the rules of the Left, she would have been gone a long time ago…”

There you go again, demonstrating you know nothing about either Israel or Israelis. “The Left”, dear Akbar, fought all of Israel’s major wars. “The Left”, Akbar, started, ran, managed, and came damn close to completing “The Right’s” dream of Greater Israel. Barak outdid all the previous Leftist-PM’s, and built more settlements in less than a year than anyone else. Today, as Defense Minister, and as Leader of the Left, he allows the continuation of tens if not hundreds of settlements that haven’t been approved. Even the Ministry of Justice has no power over this leader of The Left.

So you must be referring to The-Liberal-Part-of-The-Left, not just The-Left. The liberal part that is for giving back territory in return for Peace. But wait! There is NO SUCH PART amongst The Left in Israel. But THERE IS amongst The Right! How else can you explain Begin’s return of the Sinai? Sharon kicking out screaming Jewish settlers from Yamit? Sharon ordering the entire removal of Jewish settlements from Gaza? Bibi’s return of key Palestinian towns and cities to Arafat’s control, and not even based on a Peace Agreement, but “merely” on some failed Oslo Agreement!!! (Which Bibi of course supported).

I’m starting to get really confused here, Akbar. Maybe the left-to-write keyboard you’re using in the States has “The Right” come out spelled on my side as “The Left”…

But again you prove you know nothing about Israeli politics. Although, like the Neocon Bible teaches you, you are doing a good job of searching for others to blame. And, of course, crossing all borders in the attempt to discredit, perhaps even delegitimize, any and all possible opposition. Now it’s “If Israel played by the rules of the Left, she would have been gone a long time ago” Hmmm… If I’m another Israeli-Politics-Ignorant, what do I make out of that declaration?

1. That Israel doesn’t play by “the rules of The Left”.

2. That Thank God it doesn’t do so.

3. That we must make sure it doesn’t do so.

4. And that, it must not matter much what “the rules of The Left” are, because if someone takes the time to actually state it, it must be pretty damn bad…

Christ, I should be a writer for FOX News… I can get them ways of making people NOT-think! Ignorance catches far quicker than all of man’s other diseases, doesn’t it Akbar?

Learn a little bit about The Left in Israel, then come back and talk to us.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 19th, 2010, 7:25 am

 

30. Ford Prefect said:

Right on Shai! It wouldn’t have been half as bad that armchair ideologues in the US think that they know Israel, but it is the Israelis (and subsequently all the inhabitants of the Middle East) who have to pay the ultimate price for the ignorant and deadly policies hatched in the boardrooms of AIPAC, AEI, and WINP evil-thinktanks.

So you are either with them (and being with them, you are automatically immune from committing mistakes) or you are a tree-hugging apologist leftist Israeli who is exposing your nation to the gravest existential (and it must be “existential” every single time)dangers.

Just like Bush and his Dick who imagined the world split nicely between surrogates (they labeled them “patriots” because it sounds good) and lethal enemies that must be destroyed.

Sorry to tell you Shai that your patriotism and the love you have for your country do not measure up to the Gold standards of Daniel Pipes and the influential armchair ideologues who are thinking for you.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 19th, 2010, 3:01 pm

 

31. Akbar Palace said:

Ford Prefect,

When you support Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, the PA, Iran and other jihadist organizations and supporting countries, does that make you an “armchair ideologue”, or are you somehow exempt?

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 19th, 2010, 3:07 pm

 

32. Akbar Palace said:

So you must be referring to The-Liberal-Part-of-The-Left, not just The-Left. The liberal part that is for giving back territory in return for Peace.

Shai,

Actually both the Israeli Left and the Israeli Right “is for giving back territory in return for Peace”.

Learn a little bit about The Left in Israel, then come back and talk to us.

Shai,

It seems to me you need to learn a little yourself. OTOH, I would like to “learn” how you put up with the vast majority of your own countrymen who have political views so different from your own. It really must be difficult.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 19th, 2010, 3:31 pm

 

33. Shai said:

Akbar,

Another thing Neocons are particularly good at – when they don’t know what to say, they go blaming someone or something… anything…

As for your “majority of your own countrymen” as a notion for anything whatsoever, I don’t know about you, but I usually use my God-given brain to make up my mind, not my fingers to count the majority.

It will be very difficult to make advances in any field whatsoever, if people followed “the majority”. That’s as true in science and medicine, as it is in politics. I imagine your investment-advisor isn’t making decisions on where to invest, based on where the majority on Wall Street go.

Not long ago, some Jew said: “If we do what we always did, we’ll get to where we always got..” (paraphrased). His name was Albert Einstein. Although I don’t expect you to understand this, I do think you should hope your leaders do. Because it is their job NOT to follow “the majority”, but instead to LEAD the majority. Maybe it took the Hebrews 40 years to cross the 200 kilometers of the Sinai Desert, precisely because the leadership followed your rule, and kept asking the majority which way to go…! :-)

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 19th, 2010, 3:44 pm

 

34. Ford Prefect said:

Akbar,
I am exempt. I do not support Hamas, HA, Iran, or Jihadist organizations. I happen to believe that all of the above are toxic waste resulting from the deadly thinking of the armchair ideologues, war mongers, and people who never put on a battle uniform. Those carbon-emitting humanoids made it to various Republican and Democrat administration and continue to wreak havoc everywhere..

While Syria was fighting jihadists in the 80′s, these same jihadists were receiving the honor designation as “freedom fighters.” Heck, the grand master of them, Usama bin Laden was a hero in Reagan’s White House.

Syria and Syrians have suffered from jihadists more that you can ever fathom, Akbar.

So, here we go now. Just as the US and Israel used jihadi extremists to further their objectives at one point, Syria cannot be considered an anomaly in that regard.

We really don’t need a lecture from right-wingers about extremists. They are the problem that started it all.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 19th, 2010, 4:45 pm

 

35. Akbar Palace said:

Haf Mi’pesha

I am exempt.

Ford Prefect,

Of course you’re “exempt”. And spare me the “I do not support…” BS. You conveniently took out “Syria” from my list of terrorist supporters.

While Syria was fighting jihadists in the 80’s, these same jihadists were receiving the honor designation as “freedom fighters.”

Ford Prefect,

You can’t hide your glowing, red-hot hypocrisy. It’s written all over your hypocritical face. While Syria was “fighting jihadists”, how many innocent civilians were killed? It seems to me when Israel kills 1500 Gazans (which may be mostly combatants), you get irritated.

When the Syrians killed a order of magnitude more people, which website were you on whinning and moaning?

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

If fact, now that we know you “do not support Hamas, HA, Iran or Jihadist organizations”, please link for us the websites you participate in showing how much you despise them.

Or do you only reserve your venom for the usual suspects: the US and Israel?

We really don’t need a lecture from right-wingers about extremists. They are the problem that started it all.

You many THINK you “don’t need a lecture from right-wingers about extremists”, but I think you do. Several, and at every opportunity;)

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

February 19th, 2010, 5:24 pm

 

36. Syria’s quiet revolution | Sakhr al-Makhadhi | WorldBBNews said:

[...] assassination, which looks like it could finally be eased this summer. Assistant secretary of state Jeffrey Feltman admitted: “So you ended up at a point when we isolate – we were the ones isolated. It was no longer [...]

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 15th, 2010, 3:59 am

 

Post a comment


− 3 = two