US Loses Lebanon, Worries about Losing Egypt; Tunisians Ask Feltman to Go Home

What is happening to the US?

Tunisians objecting to Feltman's efforts in Tunisia

Arab News, one of Saudi Arabia’s leading papers which has been in circulation for 35 years, published this surprising opinion piece in favor of Lebanon’s new government. It recommends scuttling the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Washington’s brainchild. By arguing that Rafiq Hariri would not support or continence “further bloodshed in his name,” it recommends a halt to further demonization of the Lebanese party, Hizbullah and using Lebanon as a battleground for regional influence.

It demonstrates significant disagreement within the Kingdom over the wisdom of marching behind America’s drumbeat.

Lebanon should reject Hariri tribunal

Published: Jan 18, 2011

“… Disunity is Lebanon’s greatest Achilles heel, which is now being exacerbated by the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is bent on opening-up old wounds with the potential to thrust the country into civil war.

There is no doubt that Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was a great man, who worked hard to rebuild his nation and bring his people together. His reconstruction of Downtown Beirut is a testament to that. His killing in 2005 was a terrible crime ..but allowing a foreign court to regurgitate that tragedy six years with potentially devastating consequences serves no purpose at all for Lebanon’s stability and economic future.

It does, however, benefit the US and Israel which are ready to cheer on the demonization of their enemy Hezbollah, which is the only entity blocking those powers from total domination over Israel’s tiny neighbor and giving them pause for thought to pursue their ambitions to bomb Iran’s nuclear sites.

Lebanon’s so-called unity government wasn’t perfect but it was largely workable. It fell apart when outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri (now caretaker prime minister) visited the US President Barack Obama. He subsequently confirmed his support for the tribunal’s findings and upcoming indictments against members of Hezbollah….

While it’s understandable that Saad Hariri is keen to bring his father’s murderers to justice, but he should not do so at the expense of peace. Whatever a foreign court comes up with will not bring his father back but may lead to further bloodshed in his name….

Hezbollah Ally Mikati to Head New Lebanon Government
January 25, 2011, Businessweek
By Massoud A. Derhally

Jan. 25 (Bloomberg) — Lebanese President Michel Suleiman asked Najib Mikati, candidate of the Hezbollah movement and its allies, to form a government as supporters of rival parties took to the streets in protest. Mikati won the backing today of 68 lawmakers to 60 for caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri after Suleiman canvassed their views in two days of talks.

….The U.S. “should be realistic and pragmatic” about Hezbollah’s role in a new government, said Rami G. Khouri…..

“Ultimately the question is: Will Mikati be able to bridge the differences between Saudi Arabia and Syria, the two traditional power brokers in the country?” said Josh Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. “If there is no agreement between Syria and Saudi Arabia then there will be more trouble in Lebanon.”

Mikati is worth $2.5 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

Michael Young, “Lebanon’s False Choice Between Stability and Justice” (via Elliott Abrams)

…..Hezbollah, egged on by Tehran, will fight to ensure that any new Lebanese government distances itself from the special tribunal. But if the tribunal can prove its accusations, Hezbollah may be caught in a vise. If the party resorts to intimidation to stifle dissent and condemnation after the accusations come out, it could plant the seeds of its own destruction. Browbeating its domestic partners will only further isolate Hezbollah and rally other Lebanese communities against it. A Hezbollah leader lording over Lebanon will represent an invitation for an attack by Israel, which might see an opening to cripple the party if it is isolated. And this time, the Israelis have repeatedly warned that a war would be far worse than in 2006 and Shiite suffering much greater. Even among Shiites, patience with a militant organization that offers only perpetual conflict may wear thin, especially at a time when the community yearns for stability to consolidate its newfound political and economic standing in Lebanon….

Mona Eltahawi in the WashPost, concerned about Hillary Clinton’s statements supporting Husni Mubarak against the Egptian demonstrators, takes Washington to task for propping up the Mubarak regime.
“Unlike Tunisia, Egypt is a major U.S. ally. When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that the Obama administration’s “assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people,” she showed once again how out of touch she is with popular anger at Mubarak. She also alerted Egyptians that Washington was as concerned about the protests and the potential “Egypt effect” as Mubarak must be.
Washington is rapidly losing friends in the region. As I have been arguing for some time, the US is pursuing bad policies which will only lead to its increasing isolation in the region. Turkey has turned away from Washington for its full throated support of Israel and ill-advised destruction of the Iraq state. Starving Iranians is unpopular and counterproductive. It is hard to understand why the US would designate Iran its most important enemy and foreign policy issue when Iran hardly threatens the US. Supporting Israeli dispossession of Palestinians is sure to lose the US friends and fuel further terrorism. Demonizing Hizbullah and Syria and pursuing economic warfare against them, rather than supporting international law on the Golan issue is wrong. See Cobban’s Arab world waking from 40-year sleep? for more on this.
..the administration has worked with pro-democracy groups to advocate for freer media and assembly. It has pushed for outside monitors to scrutinize elections in Jordan and Egypt. And it has encouraged social networks like Twitter and Facebook to spread the word about pro-democracy movements — the very networks that helped spread word of demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt. “In giving us guidance as we develop our policies in the region, the president was adamant that we take stock of the brittleness and hidden risks of the status quo,” said Samantha Power, a senior director at the National Security Council who handles human rights issues.
State of the Union: These are the Middle East quotes from the State of the Union address by President Obama
  • “We saw that same desire to be free in Tunisia, where the will of the people proved more powerful than the writ of a dictator. And tonight, let us be clear: the United States of America stands with the people of Tunisia, and supports the democratic aspirations of all people.”
  • Nothing on Egypt
  • Nothing on Palestine/Israel
  • Iran: “Because of a diplomatic effort to insist that Iran meet its obligations, the Iranian government now faces tougher and tighter sanctions than ever before.”
A few readers comments over the last two days:
  • The parliamentary vote was 68 for Mikati; Hariri got 60. A clear win. Hariri mobs are now taking it out against the media. They attacked, shot at and destroyed cars for Al-Jazeera, NBN and OTV.
  • This time, HA got what it wants democratically and Hariri is inciting violence. Last week Hariri said that he would not take this to the streets because that’s what “thugs and people who are against democracy” do? Let’s see how the media will spin this one. The US is also showing its democratic colors and threatening to pushing all Lebanese if their parliament votes for a Opposition led government.
  • Listening to some of the speeches made in Tripoli today to incite the mobs in that city and their reactions! Scary stuff. Saudis did a great job there through Hariri. More qaida-esque groups will emerge from that city.
  • “Miqati’s willingness to go against Hariri and the latter’s outrage that he’s loosing the PM seat has a lot to do with the fact that they are business rivals. On the wider context, hariri is Saudi’s businessman in Beirut while Miqati is closely linked to Rami and other tycoons in Syria.”
  • “outrage in lebanon as a terrorist organization takes control of its government” …This is the CBS news opening line at the evening news tonight
  • Solidere shares (Hariri’s company) up 4.5% on the Miqati news. Egyptian stocks down 6.25% today

The Guardian’s story on how they got the Palestine docs:

Expelling Israel’s Arab population?
Israeli negotiators, including Tzipi Livni, proposed “swapping” some of Israel’s Arab villages into a Palestinian state.

The Right of Return

Erekat’s people offered returning 10 thousands Palestinian refugees each year for 10 years. Olmert responded with a agreeing to the return of a thousand refugees for 5 years, while Rice said we can send them to Argentina or Chille instead. Livni told Arakat that the 10k is Olmert’s personal opinion and that her position is no refugees period.
All documents are available here:

If the latest batch of leaked cables demonstrate anything, it is that Israel over the last ten years has been intransigent and deaf to generous offers of peace and territorial compromise. Is it become the new Front for Steadfast Resistance?


The ruling coalition in the Israeli Knesset expected to appoint Michael Ben-Ari, the first outspoken follower of Meir Kahane to be elected to the Knesset since the Kach Party was banned in 1988, to head the investigation into the funding of “leftist NGOs” and human rights groups.

MI6 ‘Drew Up Plan to Crush Hamas’

2011-01-25 – Telegraph
Adrian Blomfield

Jan. 25 (Telegraph) — British intelligence advised the Palestinian Authority to crush Hamas and other violent groups in the West Bank by detaining some of their leading figures, leaked documents have shown. In an effort to restore peace during the Second Palestinian Intifada against Israel, MI6 drew up a strategy in 2004 to help Yasser Arafat’s security forces neutralise “rejectionists” opposed to a Middle East peace deal….

MSNBC: Report: Syria among worst for rights abuses
2011-01-24 20

NEW YORK — Syria’s authorities were among the worse violators of human rights last year, jailing lawyers, torturing opponents and using violence to repress ethnic Kurds, Human Rights Watch said on Monday. The rights organization’s annual report …

Comments (83)

Pages: « 1 [2] Show All

51. Norman said:


If there was a Casino and it is closed now, That is a good news, Casinos take money from the economy, but might be needed for the Saudis who come and visit.

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January 29th, 2011, 11:07 am


52. Shami said:

Norman ,regardless of being with or against gambling houses,,my question was about the reason behind its closure after it was decided by asad cronies to establish it lately?
Norman it’s about this one ,if you missed this piece of news.

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January 29th, 2011, 12:06 pm


53. Norman said:

What ever the reason, I think it is a good move ,

Why can’t they do this in Arab states, They need vaccination too.

Print Back to story

Bill Gates, Abu Dhabi prince pledge vaccine funds
Thu Jan 27, 7:37 am ET

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Bill Gates’ foundation and Abu Dhabi’s crown prince are donating $50 million each to vaccinate children in Afghanistan and Pakistan against polio and other diseases.

Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation say two-thirds of the funds will go toward a pair of vaccines against pneumonia, diphtheria, whooping cough and other ailments afflicting young children in Afghanistan. The rest will be given to the World Health Organization and UNICEF to provide polio vaccines in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Gates recently told The Associated Press eradicating polio is his top priority, and that he’s planning to announce a major donation to the effort in Davos, Switzerland on Friday.

Copyright © 2011 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.Questions or CommentsPrivacy PolicyAbout Our AdsTerms of ServiceCopyright/IP Policy

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January 29th, 2011, 12:16 pm


54. Syrian Nationalist Party said:

Egypt was always thought of as a 2 steps revolution. Unlike Tunisia, there exist expensive strategic and security interests in Egypt, mainly, Israel boarder security, Suez and some very major investments. So it was expected there will be a military confrontation, Western panic that will mobilize to secure these interests and shift the balance on the first uprising move. However, as expected, the new installed regime will be even worse and more corrupt than the one fled and there will be no business in Egypt for the foreseeable future. Comes the first Anniversary and the trouble will brew again, this time, the protesters will most likely be armed, have army elements of their side and culminating in complete success in about a year after the first anniversary.

It will not happen in Syria now; Bashar is popular leader, made decisions in the past decade that the majority of Syria’s population supports. He did put a big fight and took a lot of heat from global powers to stand up to those value Syrians cared about. He is now well trained and seasoned leader and managed to even wrestle Lebanon back from America and France to Syria’s orbit. The fact he is Alawites means nothing in this day of age, he is Syrian, born in Syria, not Kenya. Yes, his facade Bathist party is bla, bla, bla; we know the sad state of it and all the miseries Syrians suffering from it. Focusing on getting Bashar to change this one party status should be priority one. Once he sign on Political Party Laws and remove emergency laws, Syrians exiles can set up shop in Damascus, have access to the policy makers, change will inevitably come. If he fails to do that though (on behest and by succumbing to the demand of Foreigners and Baathist objection), the discontent and disconnect will pressures change in 2-3 years time. Let’s hope that he will make prudent decisions in Syria’s internal policy as the one he did externally.

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January 29th, 2011, 12:50 pm


55. majedkhaldoon said:

Did Israel pull back its ambassador,from Egypt?

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January 29th, 2011, 1:57 pm


56. Shami said:

SNP:Once he sign on Political Party Laws and remove emergency laws.

I doubt change will happen in this way.
Anyway,if transition towards democracy goes in this way ,i will be happy when i will be proven wrong in this regard.

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January 29th, 2011, 3:00 pm


57. Norman said:


I found this for you,please note that the owner is not Alawi( Shia),

With new casino, Syria
bets on openness to

By ZEINA KARAM Associated Press

Posted: 01/29/2011 10:42:04 AM PST

Updated: 01/29/2011 10:42:05 AM PST

DAMASCUS, Syria—The young roulette dealer,
dressed in electric green, gives the wheel a spin as a
crowd of men clutch their whiskey glasses, hoping
to strike it rich.

Thus begins a night of gambling, drinking and
mingling at the newly opened Casino Damascus—
the first to open in Syria in nearly four decades.

The glittering casino showcases Syria’s gradual
shedding of its socialist past in favor of the free
market. At a time when economic discontent is
shaking Tunisia and Egypt, President Bashar Assad
is gambling that gradual change can insulate his
country from such tumult.

But for this country’s secular regime, Casino
Damascus may be too much for devout Muslims to

“Gambling is a grave sin,”

said Mohammed Habash, member of parliament and
director of the Islamic Studies Center, who puts it on
a par with drug abuse. “We must use all legal means
to prevent gambling from entering our lives.”

The casino is hardly as glamorous as those in
neighboring Lebanon or Turkey, but officials hope
it will help shed Syria’s image as a rigid, closed
country and attract tourists from oil-rich Arab

“Syria has opened up, and this is one of the signs,”
said Jihad Yazigi, editor-in-chief of The Syria
Report, a Paris-based online weekly founded the
year after Assad succeeded his father, Hafez Assad,
as president.

Casinos are rare in Arab countries; many use Islamic
law, which forbids gambling. On a recent night,

the smoke-filled Casino Damascus was operating at
full capacity. Coins jingled in slot machines, and
smartly dressed men and women placed bets at
baccarat, blackjack and roulette tables.

“It’s a good economic move, but a bad one for
society,” said Marwan, a 70-year-old Syrian. “I see a
lot of young people getting into trouble. This is not
a good hobby,” he said.

Still, it didn’t stop this twice-weekly customer from
taking his seat at the blackjack table, although he
and other gamblers

declined to be fully identified, reflecting the stigma
that still surrounds gambling in Syria.

That stigma apparently explains why the casino is
near the airport, some 30 kilometers (20 miles) from
downtown, and was inaugurated without fanfare on
Christmas Eve.

There are no signs advertising its existence, and it
is one of the few public places that does not feature
a portrait of Assad—a sign the president does not
want to be associated with it publicly, even though
the casino could not have without his approval.

The owner is Syrian businessman Khaled Hboubati,
whose father owned a casino in the same place
before it was closed down in the mid-1970s during
Hafez Assad’s three decades of iron-fisted rule.


son, a British-trained eye doctor, has moved slowly
to lift Soviet-style economic restrictions. He has let
in foreign banks, thrown the doors open to imports,
authorized private universities and empowered the
private sector.

“It shows a desire on the part of the Syrian
government to portray a more liberal Syria in terms
of societal behaviors,” said editor Yazigi.

Today’s Syria is buzzing with young people
enjoying the country’s many sidewalk cafes, pubs
and nightclubs. Glossy shopping malls vie with the
famous bazaar, and dozens of historic houses have
been converted into boutique hotels and fine
In this photo taken Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011, cars pass in front of the Damasquino Mall in Damascus, Syria. Today’s Syria is buzzing with young Syrians enjoying the country’s many sidewalk cafes, pubs and nightclubs. Tourists can choose between Western-style glossy shopping malls or a tour through Old Damascus with its bustling bazaar. The newly opened Casino Damascus will help shed Syria’s image as a rigid, closed country and attract tourists from oil-rich Arab countries. ((AP Photo/Muzaffar Salman))
In this photo taken Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011, people buy food from KFC at the Damasquino Mall in Damascus, Syria. Today’s Syria is buzzing with young Syrians enjoying the country’s many sidewalk cafes, pubs and nightclubs. Tourists can choose between Western-style glossy shopping malls or a tour through Old Damascus with its bustling bazaar. The newly opened Casino Damascus will help shed Syria’s image as a rigid, closed country and attract tourists from oil-rich Arab countries. ((AP Photo/Muzaffar Salman))
The Damascus Opera House, inaugurated by Assad
and his wife, Asma, in 2004, features international
orchestras, plays and exhibitions.

Tourism Minister Saadalla Agha Al Kalaa says
tourism last year rose 40 percent from 2009,
generating $8 billion in revenues, and this month a
U.S. ambassador arrived to take up his post, the first
since 2005.

It all points to a country breaking out of the
isolation it has suffered over accusations of
involvement in the assassination of a former prime
minister in neighboring Lebanon, of working
against the U.S. presence in neighboring Iraq and of
supporting Palestinian militants.

Syria has fought three wars with Israel, while its
troops stationed in Lebanon controlled that country
for 29 years. Market reforms and hopes of foreign
investment are a strong incentive to prevent any
renewal of tensions.

Assad has not matched liberal economics with
political reforms, and opponents who publicly
criticize the regime are jailed.

Still, that legislator Habash can denounce the casino
openly as sinful, and be joined by other lawmakers,
suggests something may be loosening up on the
political front. The parliament, a rubber-stamp body
in times past, is scheduled to discuss the casino in
special session on Feb. 15.

The economic liberalization itself has critics who
say it is pushing up prices and widening the gap
between rich and poor in the nation of 23 million

Unemployment is estimated to have reached 11
percent last year.

“There is a dangerous economic disparity between
Syrians, and such projects as the casino help
emphasize that gap,” said Nabil al-Samman, a Syrian

“The transformation from a near-socialist system to
a capitalist one was rushed and unstudied. The
people with money took advantage of this
opportunity to get even richer while the poor have
gotten poorer,” he said.

Yazigi says it’s not the pace of liberalization that has
worked against it, but corruption and an inefficient
legal system that, despite improvements, still tend to
scare off foreign investment.

The lawyer for Ocean Club, the company operating
Casino Damascus, says the casino aims to lure back
Syrian money spent at casinos abroad.

“This way you are at least saving Syrian funds from
being squandered outside the country,” he told The
Associated Press.

He spoke on condition of anonymity, citing a
decision by the club owners to avoid publicity.
Owner Hboubati declined interview requests.




AP writer Albert Aji contributed to this report.


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January 29th, 2011, 5:49 pm


58. Shami said:

Norman ,this is not important,that’s why i said cronies,btw,did you see alawite supporters of Bashar here?it’s the same logic in Syria,they never put themselves on the front line.
I personally see no problem with casinos ,people are free to go or not ,but basic freedoms are priorities.
Now ,as i told you ,my question was about why did they took an u turn after they allowed it.(is true)

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January 29th, 2011, 6:09 pm


59. Shami said:

(if true)

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January 29th, 2011, 6:13 pm


60. Said said:

Hello, regarding the happenings in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere I would like to recommend to you and your readers an article about the mass uprising in Tunisia and the perspective of permanent revolution.

It exists in english and
and arabic.

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January 29th, 2011, 7:05 pm


61. Shami said:

The nobel prize in chemistry Ahmed Zewail(whose wife is Syrian)has clearly called for the end of Mubarak regime ,this moral support will be of great help for the sake of change towards the better,egyptians are very proud of him.

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January 29th, 2011, 7:08 pm


63. Shami said:

Norman ,Bashar would be invigorated in reading such writing,this popular love will be enough for him to remain the dictator of Syria till death.

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January 29th, 2011, 10:33 pm


64. Friend in America said:

Shifting the discourse from casinos (an interesting topic) to the dynamic events in Egypt, I sense many but not all commenters on this site see national affairs in terms of autocratic leadership by strong men and international affairs as the “playground” in which the strongmen jockey around with each other and outsiders. If I lived in an arab country I would probably understand that very well.

Take America out of that perspective. It’s not that way things are done. America may be part of the “western culture” but it never has been nor will be a colonialist in the mid east. It will influence and encourage and finance. This began during the cold war and has continued since then. Because of its advocacy of democratic institutions while supporting autocratic arab governments America has a “bi-polar” foreign policy. The contradictions, rationalized by the pragmatists, have never been accepted by the “purists.” The inconsistency is decades long.

The Egypt situation is a good example of developing foreign policy. At first, Washington’s public statements were supportive of President Mubarak. Then the President made some remarks that acknowledged the need to recognize the legitimate grievances of the citizens. Various American political writers took this as confusion within the Obama administration … maybe it was but more likely they were signals. During these days communication lines with the Mubarak government were kept open. Mubarak took some soft first steps, but it was too little too late. When Mubarak ordered the army to intervene, Washington realized Mubarak either had misunderstood the import of the daily communications or he found domestic political reasons complelling. I suspect the latter. There was a lengthy phone conversation 2 nights ago (Washington time) between Presidents Mubarak and Obama in which Obama finally had to say in clear language if the situation turns into violence between the army and the citizens, America will publically voice its concerns and withdraw all foreign aid. The next day the army sat quietly in position and the soldiers socialized with the demonstrators. The story is not over and there will be more twists and turns. For now this event signals a limit on America’s support for autocratic Arab leaders.

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January 29th, 2011, 10:38 pm


65. Norman said:


Overlook the driver to the driving and the direction of the country, most Syrians do . You would love him too if you do.

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January 29th, 2011, 10:40 pm


66. Norman said:


Egypt for the West and Israel is,

1 )personalities,(( Mubarak,))

2 )Regime and constitution,((Suleiman)),

3 )The policies of Egypt toward Israel and the Palestinians
Israel and the West are starting by changing the faces (( Mubarak)), he will step down now that Suleiman , their man,is VP.
The next step to see if they are willing to change the regime ,(( Suleiman )) and the constitution ,and that is possible and agreeable to them to avoid changing the policies of Egypt.

The biggest deal for the revolutionaries is to see if they can change the policies of Egypt and to see what Israel will do.

That is what will decide if the revolution is a success or a failure ,and the West and Israel will try hard to steal the goal of the revolution and avoid changing the policies of Egypt.

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January 29th, 2011, 10:51 pm


67. qunfuz said:

thsnks for posting my guardian piece, Norman. Unfortunately they cut the paragraphs on sectarianism in syria, the heart of my argument. here’s a fuller version (just of the syria bit)

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January 29th, 2011, 11:00 pm


68. Shami said:

Norman ,you have the loves of Alex ,Qunfuz ,and +/- 20 millions with Bashar,is that not enough for him ?

I’m happy with my minority status in this regard.

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January 29th, 2011, 11:27 pm


69. Norman said:

He cares about what you think and wants your approval.

As you say , We are in the bag , you are not ,

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January 29th, 2011, 11:42 pm


70. majedkhaldoon said:

Mubarak is a stubborn man,so far the army is split , those who are loyal to Mubarak,they are high rank generals, and those who sympathize with the people,and refuse to fight the people,those are low rank officers,with the continued demonstrations,the security will deteriorate,and the need to provide goods and sevices for people needs,and the tiring factor on both sides,all will increase the power of sympathizers in the army and Mubarak must leave,following this,the momentum of the people will climax,and the regime will give in,this will take no more than few days,this is a gradual course,there is another possibility and that the army makes a decision quickly and end the regime.
Mubarak has to understand that he faces revolution and not a temporary uprising,he will be forced to leave,his time is finished.
With success of the revolution in Egypt,this will effect other Arabic countries,regardless of heavy hands any dictator has.
Ahmad Shawki said Zamanu AlFarde Ya Ferawnu walla,this is true now

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January 30th, 2011, 7:55 am


71. qunfuz said:

Shami and a copule of commentors on my blog think I’m defending dictatorship. I’m not defending anything, simply trying to give a realistic assessment of whether revolution is likely in syria. For the reasons I’ve given, I don’t think it is likely. And indeed, so far, I seem to be right. The client regimes of Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and (perhaps) Yemen (but Yememn has the sectarian/ tribal divisions, so I doubt a popular revolution will unfold there) are in trouble. But not Syria, so far.

We’ll see what the future holds. I may be wrong. Everything has changed now..

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January 30th, 2011, 9:42 am


72. Norman said:

This can add to explain why Syria will not follow Tunisia and Egypt,

It is the national pride, and i want to add that as long as Syrians have to go to the Philippines to get domestic help there are not enough poor people in Syria to accept any job , They do not do that in the US for GOD Sake,
No hungry people in Syria,,0#

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January 30th, 2011, 9:51 am


73. majedkhaldoon said:

It seems that the US embassy in Cairo has contacted Mohammad AlBaradei with encouraging statement to him.
As for Qunfuz words, I agree with him that Syria is not heading now toward a similar revolution,but I do not see a situation where Egypt is free democratic state comming out of revolution without effecting the rest of the Arabic countries,and specially Syria,Syria must have serious changes.

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January 30th, 2011, 9:58 am


74. Shami said:

Qunfuz,yes you are a supporter of a sectarian theocratic regime and its militias ,and of course the asad family regime .You are free with your stance,but hypocrit or naive emotion can not erase rationality,for me ,it’s a matter of time ,asad family regime is not the end of history in Syria,sooner or later ,our country will retrieve press freedom,multi parties political life,an effective civil society ,this is basic requirement for a healthy development of any society.
Now the question on how Bashar regime will finish,we can only guess this regime end scenario,such events often take us by surprise ,i personally think that the regime will end through uprising ,for the simple reason that bashar will not give up by himself ,he is a stuborn dictator,if not this year,the next year and if not the next year ,the year after,let him using allah in his slogans or other than allah,palestine…,through uprising ,putsch or whatever else ,there is no escape for change, he will face his fate and bahsar knows that the same people that were raising his pictures will be the first to spit on him once he becomes powerless.

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January 30th, 2011, 11:23 am


75. Nur al-Cubicle said:

It only goes to show that you can pursue unrealistic if not irrational foreign policy for only so long before it collapses in a heap.

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January 30th, 2011, 11:23 am


76. Norman said:

The US and Israel are trying to steal the goals of the Egyptian uprising which is first is the stand of Egypt against the Palestinians ,

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January 30th, 2011, 11:38 am


77. Alex said:

Zvi Bar’el, again, demonstrates why he is one of the most realistic, consistent, and mature analysts in Israel or elsewhere.

An Arab revolution fueled by methods of the West

The Arab street suddenly uses ‘our’ methods: Facebook and Twitter – the tools of democracy we have invented – to present us with a situation of disorder.
By Zvi Bar’el

So what has happened so far? A corrupt president in Tunisia flees, to cheers from around the world. Protests erupt in Egypt, and gloom descends. Protests are held in Iran, and the world cheers. A prime minister is deposed in Lebanon, to fear and dread. An Iraqi president is overthrown in a military offensive, and it’s called democracy. Raucous demonstrations take place in Yemen, and they’re called interesting but not terribly important.

Why the different reactions? This is supposedly the new Middle East the West always wanted, but something still isn’t working out. This isn’t the Middle East they dreamed of in the Bush administration, and not what nourished Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wildest dreams. A new, unexpected player has appeared: the public.

Up to now, the world has been divided into two camps: “complicated” countries where the government represents the public and every decision is subject to public oversight, and “easy” countries where business is conducted at the top and the public is just window dressing. The dividing line between the two has always been starkly clear. Everything north of the Mediterranean belonged to the first group and everything to the south and east to the second.

The north had political parties and trade unions, a left wing and a right wing, important intellectuals, celebrities who shaped public opinion, and of course, there was public opinion itself. In the south the division was simple. It was the distinction between moderates and extremists, meaning pro-Westerners and anti-Westerners.

If you’re a Saudi king who buys billions of dollars of American weapons, you’re pro-Western and therefore entitled to continue to rule a country without a parliament, one where thieves’ hands are amputated and women aren’t allowed to drive. If you’re an Egyptian president who supports the peace process, you’re pro-Western and have permission to continue to impose emergency rule in your country, jail journalists and opposition members, and fix elections.

And what if you’re the ruler of Qatar? There’s a problem classifying you. On the one hand, Qatar hosts the largest American military base in the Middle East. But it has close relations with Iran and Syria. On the one hand, its ruler promotes democratic values and its foreign minister occasionally meets with top Israeli officials. But it nurtures Al Jazeera.

Of course, we love Al Jazeera when it shows us exclusive pictures of mass demonstrations, discloses secret documents, and is open to interviewing Israeli and Jewish spokespeople. But we hate it because it covers Hamas and Hezbollah’s successes. The huge challenge of categorizing Qatar shows that the terms pro-Western and moderate have no connection to the universal values the West seeks to export. They only represent the degree of the fear and the threat posed by the values the anti-Westerners send to the West.

And all of a sudden, into the whirlwind, into the era of certainty and the lexicon in which the region’s countries are neatly packaged, the Arab “street” erupts, a sophisticated street. It uses “our” methods: Facebook and Twitter – the tools of democracy we have invented – to present us with a situation of disorder. How do you defend yourself against this? This Arab street has already used these tools to depose Tunisian President Zine El Abedine Ben Ali, and its ideas have gone viral. What if it manages to establish democracy in Egypt? In Yemen? Look what happened to the Shah of Iran, albeit using now-outmoded cassettes.

And when Al Jazeera’s cameras come close to the demonstrators, it also becomes clear that these are not religious radicals. Lawyers, journalists, university students, women with their heads uncovered, high school students, the secular and the religious are taking to the streets. They’re not shouting “God is great,” but “corruption out,” “dictator out” and “we want jobs.” Such nice slogans make you identify with them. In the words of “The Internationale”: “arise ye workers from your slumber.” It makes us want to join them until we remember that, as U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt described Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza, he “may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.” It’s disrupting the order of things.

We don’t have to wait for other regimes to fall to understand that the revolution is happening before our very eyes. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will not fall due to demonstrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, and Yemen’s ruler will also continue to rule by force. But it’s a revolution of awareness and of the fundamental notions of what the Middle East is. Most importantly, we need a revolution in the way the West views the region.

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January 30th, 2011, 12:35 pm


78. Nur al-Cubicle said:

Is it just me, or the Middle East’s “Shining Beacon of Democracy” shaking in boots now that democracy is about to come to Egypt?

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January 30th, 2011, 1:41 pm


79. Alex said:

Another must read by Tony Karon (Senior editor at TIME)

US officials forced to explain their support for Hosni Mubarak’s repressive autocracy over the past week have stressed Mr Mubarak’s cooperation with Israel and support for a US regional strategy highly unpopular with the citizenry of the Arab world. As the State Department spokesman, PJ Crowley, told Al Jazeera: “Egypt is an anchor of stability in the Middle East … It’s made its own peace with Israel and is pursuing normal relations with Israel. We think that’s … a model that the region should adopt.”

Washington has long expected that Mr Mubarak’s successor would not be as pliant. A May 2007 cable from the US embassy in Cairo released last year by WikiLeaks warned that: “Whoever Egypt’s next president is, he will inevitably be politically weaker than Mubarak, and … among his first priorities will be to cement his position and build popular support.”

The cable continued: “We can thus anticipate that the new president may sound an initial anti-American tone in his public rhetoric in an effort to prove his nationalist bona fides to the Egyptian street, and distance himself from Mubarak’s policies … We can also expect the new president to extend an olive branch to the Muslim Brotherhood … in an effort to co-opt potential opposition and boost popularity.”

And all this was before the people of Egypt had stepped up to demand a say in the matter. Except their message to America may be am even simpler one: this is not about you.

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January 30th, 2011, 3:02 pm


80. Shai said:


Zvi Bar’el’s problem, is that he is labeled “a liberal” and, in today’s Israel, that’s not a very good thing to be. It hints at lack of patriotism, at anti-Zionism, at having a soft-spot for our enemies (which could be viewed as outright betrayal) and, in general, at uselessness.

If Zvi knew how to yell more, how to instill fear and hatred more, he’d have a far better chance at being heard. The fact that you like what he writes only goes to reinforce those who criticize him and his views. “You see? Only our enemies like him…”

So if you want Zvi Bar’el’s words to be heard more in Israel, don’t be honest with how you feel about him… 🙂

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January 30th, 2011, 3:13 pm


81. Shami said:

السلطات السورية تمنع اعتصاما امام السفارة المصرية

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January 30th, 2011, 3:19 pm


82. Alex said:


I know what you mean, but his readership among the hardliners in Israel is already minimal 😉

Incidentally, he is not the most extreme critical of Israel. I like his moderately critical tone that is often mixed with sarcasm. He won’t sound too extreme to Israelis at the center I think and he therefore has some chance to get some of them to read him.

Others, like Gideon Levy are much more confrontational with their Israeli readers.

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January 30th, 2011, 3:51 pm


83. why-discuss said:

Franlin Lamb: Lebanon: Hezbollah the New Government

According to Al Rai, Feltman is worried about the withdrawal of Lebanese judges from the TSL, one of Hezbollah strategy to undermine the TSL.

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January 31st, 2011, 6:06 am


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