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

By LINDA HEARD | ARAB NEWS
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: http://www.ajtransparency.com/ar/search_arabic

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?

Haaretz:

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)


1. Ghat Albird said:

Are the Arabs finally realizing how four influential American women consider them as fellow humans.

#1. “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people….It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country…They did not exist”

Golda Meir… in The sunday Times, June 15, 1969

#2.Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a 500,000 thousand children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–Yes we think the price is worth it.

–60 Minutes (5/12/96)

#3. The UK Guardian reports that Condoleeza Rice, Mr. GWBush’s Secretary of State proposed moving ALL Palestenian to South America.

#4. Ms Clinton’s recent remarks that the Arabs are not doing their sharre in the Iran sanctions.

Seems to me that the above comments are explicit in demonstrating the level of how the Arabs are viewed and treated.

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January 26th, 2011, 1:12 pm

 

2. Friend in America said:

I think the comments charging the U.S. as the master mind of the International criminal tribunal need correction.
As for the Hairi investigations it is correct that the U.S. did state it would support the investigation and ultimate prosecution should a suffient legal case be developed. But the U.S. was not the instigator nor the master mind and the proceedings would have continued even if the U.S. had not taken a position of support.

The expansion of international criminal law, and an international criminal court to implement such law, was popularized in Europe. Initially, administrations in Washington were reluctant to support it. The trials of several leaders for mass murders following the dissolution of Yugoslavia gave the international court broader credence. Throughout the world, including the middle east, there are people, who live in countries that lack a fair and balanced judicial system, who would welcome an international criminal court with its contnuing effort at fair procedures, no political influence and reasoned decisions based upon precedent and legislative law. I have had an opportunity to hear and talk with several justices from around the world who particpated in several Serbian criminal justice cases and I have no doubt about their objectivity and effort to to be impartial.

As a matter of openess (“transparency”) I must add that I have had reservations about the international criminal courts. I am not fully pursuaded about their efficacy. The alternative, however, is even more dicey – countries confirring international jurisdiction on their domestic courts. Spain and Italy are examples. The American Congress and judiciary have attempted stringent limitations on international extensions of jurisdiction. Whether these attempts are sufficient will depend on the next case.

As it once was said in an American Supreme Court opinion ‘justice delayed is justice denied,’ 6 years is far too long, especially for a region where tensions run so high. The international criminal court is supervised by the United Nations and it will be the United Nations that will decide whether to proceed. Stepping aside from political considerations, there are people in the middle east (besides Lebanon) who see advantages for the proceedings to continue. They draw an analogy to the civil unrest in Tunesia. Something has to happen to upset the repressive past. Somehow the message must go out that international political assassinations will not be tolerated and there will be accountability.

Question: For those concerned with the political implications of the court’s charges, is it possible that if and when the court publicizes its charges there will less civil disturbance because of the new political leadership than what was forcasted during the previous? I think the answer is yes.

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January 26th, 2011, 1:58 pm

 

3. Syrian Nationalist Party said:

“…….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…”

In fact they are helping NATO and U.S. in Afghan Genocide. They are discreetly keeping the gasoline supply by rail and truck uninterrupted to Kabul where the majority of population rides the donkey, so all that crude ends up in NATO depot, despite the fact that Iran itself is under U.S. OIL and Gas sanction regime, not permitted to import gasoline.

“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.”

It is this kind of fraudulent intent language that demeans the United States in this day of age. It may have worked 50 years ago not today. People are highly educated and have access to information more than the U.S. President is allowed to have access to public forums. An apology for supporting a thug dictator for decades, now a wanted criminal, and offering help in repatriating stolen wealth, cash and gold, setting up a politically stable government and training will go further than statements like this, discounted as mere crocodile tears from a croc that lost his prey. Rather that doing so, they are back relying on arm twisting, sending Feltman (who just have his career case miserably crashed) to Tunisia for private talk with a bunch of Juntas offerings support for a military dictatorship. It is Lebanon all over again, and we all know the movie ending scene.

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January 26th, 2011, 2:45 pm

 

4. Tweets that mention Syria Comment » Archives » US Loses Lebanon, Worries about Losing Egypt; Tunisians Ask Feltman to Go Home -- Topsy.com said:

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Elie Levasseur, Steve Ardire. Steve Ardire said: Syria Comment from Joshua Landis: US Loses Lebanon, Worries about Losing Egypt; Tunisians Ask Feltman to Go Home http://bit.ly/ey9h4z [...]

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January 26th, 2011, 4:24 pm

 

5. Akbar Palace said:

The Cycle of Despotism

I think the comments charging the U.S. as the master mind of the International criminal tribunal need correction.
As for the Hairi investigations it is correct that the U.S. did state it would support the investigation and ultimate prosecution should a suffient legal case be developed. But the U.S. was not the instigator nor the master mind and the proceedings would have continued even if the U.S. had not taken a position of support.

Friend in America,

I humbly agree. Unfortunately, everything that moves in the ME has to be tied to the US and Zionists.

Because if it wasn’t, then how else can the despots explain how the ME is lagging and always in turmoil? So you get a hard-left liberal like Obama, who tries to engage the Arab/Muslim world, and suddendly, he’s George Bush.

To prove my point, just look at the last several headlines posted by Professor Josh:

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

- Lebanon Remains Hostage to the Arab-Israeli Conflict with US Blessing

- Obama Trapped in Bush’s Lebanon War

Notice all three headlines (not to mention many more sub-headlines) tries to negatively tie the US into the crisis in Lebanon and the Arab world. As if losing these countries will have an impact on the US. It’s all great for the readership here and the “Arab Street”, but it is devoid of reality.

Lebanon and the Middle East will continue to buy from the US, and the next time a sky-scraper falls down from an organization that is supported by a ME regime, it will get beaten down. Meanwhile, the people in the ME living under this cycle of “diplomatic activity” will suffer the most.

Anyway, good luck to Lebanon. I hope they figure things out, and establish a stable, free government.

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January 26th, 2011, 6:15 pm

 

6. Friend in America said:

Akbar, We are in agreement. I am watching how the foreign policy officials react in Washington. Maybe the message to the U.S. in the Tunisia overthrow, and possibly in Egypt, is ‘propping up repressive regimes while calling for freedom and justic is over. You cann’t do both any more.’ Some ME watchers in American have forecasted such a turn of events for more than 5 years, with no one listening to them. For me, there are two things to watch. How Washington adjusts to an emerging new ME world and how the various countries in the ME adjust.
Democracy is not perfect. But an exceptional feature of democracy is the ability to transfer power without revolution or military takeover. Do countries in the ME need this mechanism now?

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January 26th, 2011, 7:04 pm

 

7. majedkhaldoon said:

It is a pleasure to come back to USA after a visit to my beloved country SYRIA,that took a month.
In Tunis the revolution is spontanuous,caused by Corruption that accompanied the dictatorship,as usual,this condition is possible in every arabic state, I said there, that Egypt is next,and if successful,then it will happen quickly in the rest of the arabic states.
In Tunis,the young people did it,they typically has no leader who is ready to galvanize the people,in Egypt,it is different.
the people I talked to,all without exception, wish the same.the spark may be the STL INDICTMENT which is expected in the middle of February,to be public.
I may add that what happened is assisted by the internet and the mobile phone

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January 26th, 2011, 7:05 pm

 

8. Akbar Palace said:

The US loses Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, Iran, Algeria, Yemen; Obama declares new Holiday

FIA,

Thanks. The whole ME situation is getting VERY LITTLE ATTENTION in the news. Obama is trying to get US forces home, and I sense the US is happy to leave the ME alone. Sort of like when GWB first took office.

And, of course, whenever the US walks away from the ME, this angers the despots. There’s nothing they hate more than inattention…

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January 26th, 2011, 7:56 pm

 

9. Norman said:

Further Improvements Ahead As Syria Reverses 10 Years Of Oil Production Decline

BMI Middle East and Africa Oil and Gas Insights
February 1, 2011

BMI View: Syria’s first oil output gain in a decade has been accompanied by a near-doubling of gas output. With the country due to award exploration blocks and complete its new refinery in the near future, 2011 is set to be the most positive year for the Syrian oil and gas industry since US sanctions were imposed in 2004.

Syrian oil production increased slightly in 2010, the first improvement since before the imposition of US sanctions against the country in 2004. At the same time, gas production almost doubled to over 10bn cubic metres (bcm), in line with government plans to free up additional volumes of oil for export. With the award of eight exploration blocks and the inauguration of a new refinery both due in 2011, the clouds appear to be clearing from the horizon after years of troubles in Syria’s energy industry.

The SANA Rises Over Syria

According to a report by Syria’s state-owned SANA news agency, the country produced 140.93mn barrels (bbl) of liquids in 2010, equivalent to 386,000 barrels per day (b/d). Output increased 2% from the 2009 average of 376,705b/d. According to data from the state-run Syrian Petroleum Company (SPC), international oil companies (IOCs) such as Total and Royal Dutch Shell contributed about 67.17mn bbl (184,033b/d), or around 48% of the total. SPC itself produced the remaining 73.76mn bbl (202,079b/d). Natural gas production totalled 10.07bcm, with a further 0.7bcm imported from Egypt to meet domestic demand.

The slight increase in oil production will be welcome news to Syria, following nearly 10 straight years of production decline. According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, June 2010, output peaked in 1995 at 596,282b/d, then stayed on a plateau until 2001 before starting to decline. In 2004 the US imposed sanctions on Syria, citing its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and its support of terrorist groups in the Middle East. This reduced the scope for Western investment in Syria, contributing to a slump in output to only 376,705b/d in 2009. This led the government to look at reducing its dependence on the oil industry, whose contribution to the economy has fallen from providing about 7% of GDP in 2005 to around 5% currently, as well as increasing investment to boost production.

Gas Explosion

Although the latest production figures are the first sign of improvement in the oil and liquids sector, the increase in gas production is even more striking. Gas output had previously peaked at 6.4bcm in 2004, before entering a period of decline. The country has been planning to boost gas output to over 10bcm since 2008, as it seeks simultaneously to increase its use of gas to replace fuel oil in power generation. With the country currently planning to start up a new refinery with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) in 2011, this should allow it to process heavy fuel oil further for export.

At the same time as reducing the amount of oil consumed domestically, Syria has also attempted to bring more IOCs into its oil sector. In 2010 the country announced a new licensing round, covering eight onshore oil and gas blocks over a total area of just under 75,000sq km, or around 40% of Syria’s entire territory. The deadline for this round was extended, with 13 companies including Eni, Dana Gas, Gulfsands Petroleum, Total and CNPC ultimately submitting bids by the final December 8 2010 deadline.

With relations between the US and Syria showing the first signs of warming following the December 2010 appointment of the first American ambassador to the country since 2005, the prospects for Syria’s oil and gas industry appear to be improving slightly. Increased oil production demonstrates that the country still has significant potential, while the almost doubling of gas production will give a major boost to exports, particularly when the new CNPC refinery comes onstream. With the award of the eight licences covered by the latest round now impending, Syria looks set for a good year in 2011.

Copyright 2011 Business Monitor International Ltd.All Rights Reserved
BMI Middle East and Africa Oil and Gas Insights
Wire News provided by

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January 26th, 2011, 9:15 pm

 

10. Shami said:

The supporters of the regime ,Norman,Alex,Averr ,how do you agree with this old fashioned but always favorite excuse of your leaders ?

Facebook is banned to prevent Israel from “penetrating Syrian youth”.

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticleNew.asp?col=&section=middleeast&xfile=data/middleeast/2011/January/middleeast_January552.xml

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January 26th, 2011, 10:56 pm

 

11. Syrian Nationalist Party said:

BEWARE- Be careful of what you post and link on Social Media Websites, all used for intelligence gathering and the setting up of massive database about citizens, profiling them and recruiting them. Exercise your better judgment when you post on Social media sites. Refrains from setting up any pages that contain any personal info, plans or ideas that can be profitable. Also, be careful with whom you accept to link to your page.

Even if you are nobody, a loser, you could be valuable if you need money or women, you are still targeted because of who linked to you or who you are linking to, or what can you be used for. So don’t be naive and a guppy. Syria is not concerned about revolution or restricting freedom but rather to close a security risk door that has already caused some serious damage in Lebanon and Syria, and everywhere else of course.

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January 27th, 2011, 12:34 am

 

12. Joshua said:

Dear Friend in America,
You write:
“the U.S. was not the instigator nor the master mind and the proceedings would have continued even if the U.S. had not taken a position of support.

The expansion of international criminal law, and an international criminal court to implement such law, was popularized in Europe. Initially, administrations in Washington were reluctant to support it.”

The STL does not apply international (criminal) law, but rather national law (Article 2 of the Statute of the Special Tribunal). Accordingly, it also is similar to the Section I for War Crimes and Section II for Organized Crime, Economic Crime and Corruption of the Criminal and Appellate Divisions of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina which has such “hybrid” chambers.

AS you claim, the US is not in favor on international law, which is why the UN and EU originally supported having international law adjudicate and the US opposed this. It insisted on a Special Investigation and Court.

“The UN Security Council has set up an international inquiry into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri….

Resolution 1595 follows a UN inquiry mission into a February 14 car-bomb suicide attack that killed Hariri. The resolution, with the United States, Britain and France as lead sponsors, was adopted unanimously. ….

the initial UN report, carried out by top Irish police official Peter Fitzgerald, said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had threatened physical harm against Hariri over his opposition to Damascus, and called for an international investigation.

“We were troubled by the issues that were raised in the Fitzgerald report, and we want to get to the bottom of this assassination and what we believe to be a terrorist act,” US diplomat Stuart Holliday said.

One alternative was to submit this case to the International Criminal Court (ICC), but that would require first a Security Council Chapter VII resolution to extend the definition of “crimes against humanity” — one of the crimes that the ICC has jurisdiction over — to include terrorism.

The US was opposed to extending the writ of the ICC and thus backed the establishment of a special hybrid court. As I recollect, the EU wanted the ICC to have jurisdiction.

You may correct me.

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January 27th, 2011, 12:58 am

 

13. Honest Patriot said:

Question:

Am I reading correctly that the article by LINDA HEARD above is essentially advocating leaving a crime unpunished while implicitly admitting that it was the work of a combination of HA and Syrian operatives?
Is this essentially saying that justice should be forgone because achieving it – or even revealing the truth – will cause the criminals to be angry and hence cause havoc?
If this is the message, who in this forum subscribes to this principle? If this is not the message, then what IS the message in that article?

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January 27th, 2011, 3:44 am

 

14. Honest Patriot said:

Is the theory linked below, presented in January 2006 about the motivation and responsibility behind Rafiq Hariri’s killing still valid?
http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/L/Joshua.M.Landis-1/syriablog/2006/01/who-killed-hariri-pushed-against-wall.htm

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January 27th, 2011, 3:50 am

 

15. Shami said:

Berlin museum presents statues from Syria resurrected after near-destruction in WWII

(The statues of Tell Hallaf temple in the Museum of Aleppo are copies of those in Berlin)

http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5gmFfNJmVq-ji09Za3LyDm6CICt4Q?docId=5774679

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January 27th, 2011, 10:33 am

 

16. Jad said:

Could someone explain to me why is Mr. Dardai killing the Agriculture and the Industrial sectors for a dream of low quality Tourism? It doesn’t make any sense for Syria, it’s a distructive aproach.
Mr. Dardari should step down or be sacked or have someone with different appraoches to work with him to balance this nonesense policies he is promoting.
It’s getting so annoying Reading his public meaningless speaches.

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January 27th, 2011, 11:16 am

 

17. norman said:

Hey Shami, I guess there were Syrians before Islam came in ,

Jad , what comment he made ?

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January 27th, 2011, 11:41 am

 

18. EHSANI2 said:

JAD,

What are you referring to? What makes you think that Mr. Dardari is “killing the Agriculture and the Industrial sectors for a dream of low quality Tourism?”

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January 27th, 2011, 11:46 am

 

19. 5 dancing shlomos said:

1) infestation grows:

New Jewish neighborhood to be erected in occupied Golan Heights
[ 23/01/2011 - 12:06 PM ]

NAZARETH, (PIC)– A Jewish settler organization announced it will erect a new neighborhood in Golan Heights, Syria occupied by Israel.

The project will expand the Katzerin settlement built on the ruins of the Syrian village of Qesrein, and will include parks and schools as well as a military preparatory center for students in pre-military service and a community center. The price of an 180 sq. meter building there will cost as much as NIS 980,000.

The Afek Hegolan settlement organization said its activities are not limited to Golan Heights, but it also holds different activities throughout occupied Palestinian areas.

Israeli finance minister Yuval Steinits had passed a decision granting Katzerin NIS 8.5m to build a research center expected to be built by the end of 2011.

2) give a sailors finger and a soldiers foot to the kangaroo tribunal.

3) last i was in leb, the beirut star was an imprint of the nyt and michael young was a scurvy neocon. any change?

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January 27th, 2011, 12:15 pm

 

20. 5 dancing shlomos said:

2) foot should be boot – steel toed. couldnt change.

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January 27th, 2011, 12:29 pm

 

21. jad said:

Hi Ehsani, Norman
That what I understood from what Mr. Dardari said according to one of the news website

وعن الاستثمار الأجنبي المباشر المقدر بـ 2،500 مليار دولار ذكر الدردري التركيز على قطاع السياحة في المرتبة الأولى ومن ثم الصناعة التحويلية يليها قطاع العقارات.

Agriculture is not on this priority list, why?

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January 27th, 2011, 12:55 pm

 

22. Syrian Nationalist Party said:

In fact we have Dardari on video recently stating “Agriculture will not do it” and he repeated it 2 times. Wheat right now trading @ $846.25, holding positions till $1500 Corn @$ 650.25, holding position till 1200.00 Soy@ 1397.88. Cotton still an incredible bargain @ $169.18, but that is because oil is cheap and price of Polyester and Rayon is reasonable. Once oil shout to over $150 and it will by 2012, Cotton will shout in price to above $500. What this mean for Syria, is that in couple of years, government subsidies must go way up or there will be food and job revolution in the street, will see wheat being smuggled out to neighbor countries after subsidies, New corruption means will evolve out of the ration system that will be instituted. The textile industry, which is Syria industrial base, will be decimated when Synthetics run high in prices. Syria cotton threads are inferior in quality and are not usable for weaving textiles for export earnings. Tourism is on a downhill trend, room vacancies are at all time high, even Hiltons giving away free rooms. This trend will go on for the foreseeable future, estimated 7-10 years, if the world economy and job market improved, and that it is not going to happen when the U.S. annual budget deficit is now above 1.5 Trillion and the Dollar is the world reserve.

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January 27th, 2011, 4:28 pm

 

23. majedkhaldoon said:

There are calls for demonstrations in Syria,5th of february,what is going in Egypt seems to be heading toward a change,it is getting out of control,Mubarak may leave.
It is proved now, that liberty and justice can not be sacrificed for the sake of stability for long
FREEDOM,FREEDOM FREEDOM

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January 28th, 2011, 8:08 am

 

24. Shami said:

Majed ,Egypt is the epicentre of the arab world ,once the egyptian people succeed in toppling mubarak regime ,it will initiate a domino effect for sure.One thing is sure ,these protest even if they dont topple Mubarak now ,will have an effect on the post Mubarak transition which is near.

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January 28th, 2011, 9:07 am

 

25. majedkhaldoon said:

Shami,
I agree,people,specially young,are sick and tired of corruption,and dictatorship.
Jordan is moving too

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January 28th, 2011, 9:15 am

 

26. gk said:

Would you please let you know about the freedom of speech and human rights that the Syrians are enjoying in Syria! The treatment of political (sorry corrupt) prisoners is extremely civilized and up to the standards of any developed country in the world!!!

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January 28th, 2011, 9:41 am

 
 

28. why-discuss said:

Syrian nationalist said:

“Tourism is on a downhill trend, room vacancies are at all time high, even Hiltons giving away free rooms.”

Please give me the address of a Hilton hotel in Syria!! I’ll love to get a free room in an unexisting chain of hotels

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January 28th, 2011, 11:41 am

 

29. Alex said:

Al-Arabyia reported that Internet access in Syria has been shut down.

This is not accurate. There is pressure on the network and it is slow as everyone is following the news on “blocked” facebook!

All my Syrian friends on Facebook are posting and following the news through their proxies as usual.

Here is the denial in Arabic:

http://www.sy-n.com/readnews.php?sy_seq=127931

مصدر مسؤول: الانترنت في سورية لم ينقطع وهو متاح بكل أنحاء البلاد

الاخبار المحلية
شارك

نفى مصدر مسؤول, مساء الجمعة, ما نقلته إحدى القنوات الإخبارية عن توقف خدمة الانترنت في سورية, مضيفاً أن “الانترنت لم ينقطع وهو متاح ويعمل بكل أنحاء البلاد”.

وذكرت وكالة الأنباء السورية (سانا) أن مصدر سوري مسؤول “نفى ما نقلته قناة العربية حول قطع اتصالات الإنترنت بسورية ويؤكد أنه متاح ويعمل في كل أنحاء سورية “.

ونفى المصدر “المعلومات التي أوردتها قناة العربية بأن سورية قطعت اتصالات الانترنت”, وأكد أن الإنترنت “متاح ويعمل في كل أنحاء سورية وإن ما نقلته القناة عار عن الصحة”.

وكانت قناة “العربية” الإخبارية بثت خبر عاجلاً مفاده أن خدمات الانترنت في سورية قد توقفت.

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January 28th, 2011, 11:42 am

 

30. jad said:

A very good article, I’m impressed of the courage of Mr Akel to write it in these times, the only problem of it is that All 4 Syria publish it….his last sentence is a bit too dramatic that his article would’ve been much better without it.

لأننا لسنا خارج التاريخ لا… لا… لا لحكومة عطري
البحر القذر لا ينتج إلا سمكاً ميتاً
معن عاقل
28/ 01/ 2011

“وعلى المقلب الآخر، استعانت حكومة عطري بكل أنواع التجارب والخبرات والدراسات الأوربية وغيرها، لكن معظمها انتهى إلى الأدراج، مدعية في معظم المواقع أن هؤلاء لم يقدموا حلولاً، وأن ما ورد في دراساتهم تعرفه، لأن أهل مكة أدرى بشعابها، ومع ذلك لم تستطع حتى الآن معالجة الأزمات التي تثقل كاهل المواطن السوري، لم تستطع تنظيم سوق العمل ولا تقوية وتعزيز شبكة الأمن الاجتماعي، ولا إصلاح القضاء ولا تطوير الإعلام، والأهم، لم تستطع خلق البيئة الإدارية والقانونية الكفيلة بمحاربة الفساد والحد منه، وعمدت إلى تعميمه كقيمة مؤسساتية ووظيفية وكثقافة عامة شعبية، فتحولت إلى ما يشبه البحر القذر الذي لا ينتج عنه إلا سمكاً ميتاً.”

“في ظل حكومة عطري تستطيع أن تقرأ خبر تخصيص البادية بمليار ليرة سورية فقط لا غير، وهي التي تتجاوز مساحتها 55% من مساحة سورية ويقطنها نحو مليون مواطن وتحتضن معظم الثروة الحيوانية الغنمية، في حين أن مستثمراً واحداً في الرقة حصل على ما يقارب الثلاثة أرباع مليار ليرة كقرض من المصارف الحكومية على منشآت لا تتجاوز قيمتها ربع هذا المبلغ، وحين كشفت عناصر من الجهات الرقابية الأمر جرت معاقبتها وتحويلها إلى أعمال أخرى هامشية في مؤسسات أخرى، وأكثر، في مدينة دمشق ثمة مستثمر واحد سحب قرضاً من المصرف العقاري على مشروع إنشائي مساحته لا تتجاوز 12 ألف متر مربع بقيمة مليار ومئتي وخمسون ليرة علماً أن قيمة الأرض لا تتجاوز في أحسن الأحوال الخمسين مليون ليرة.
في ظل حكومة عطري لا يستطيع مجلس الشعب أن يستجوب وزراء الإعلام والشؤون الاجتماعية ولا أي وزير آخر، وأكثر، هناك تهمة يسجن المواطن بسببها عرفياً لمدة ستة أشهر اسمها سب وشتم الحكومة، كما أعيد الاعتبار على ما يبدو لتهمة الثرثرة.”

وحكومة عطري هي من حاصرت الإعلام وحرياته ولم تستطع أن تفهم الفرق الجوهري بين الديمقراطية والحرية، فالأولى مطلب سياسي ربما يهم قلة قليلة من النخب السياسية والثقافية، وهي غير مطروحة أصلاً، بينما الثانية هي مطلب اجتماعي واقتصادي وإنساني وأخلاقي، وهي ضرورة حيوية للتقدم، سيما في مرحلة التحولات لأن الحرية والإعلام في مثل هذه المرحلة يلعبان دوراً في فضح الفساد وترسيخ الشفافية وتقويم الخطط الحكومية والأهم أنهما يتيحان لمن لم تسحقه هذه المرحلة أن يصرخ، على الأقل، من الألم، لكن حكومة عطري أرادت خنق كل شيء وتحويل الإعلام إلى أعمى يتلمس إنجازاتها في الظلام الدامس للفساد المستشري.
ما قبل ويكيليكس شيء وما بعده شيء آخر، وما قبل تونس شيء وما بعدها شيء آخر، ولا أحد يعلم تحت أي حجر أو بحصة تشتعل شرارة الحريق، لأن مفهوم الأمن عن طريق قوة أجهزة الأمن والجيش سقطت، والمعادلة الجديدة بسيطة جداً سبق أن عرضها الرئيس الأسد منذ عقد من الزمن في خطاب القسم، وجوهرها ليس بالخبز وحده يحيى الإنسان وليس بالحرية وحدها يحيا الإنسان، فما بالكم إن كانت حكومة العطري تعمل على اغتيال الاثنين معاً.
وبهذه المناسبة سأسرد على حكومة عطري ما لا تستطيع أن تراه أو تسمعه، وما لا يستطيع إعلامها أن يقوله بسبب حالة الخصاء التي أوصلته إليها.
عندما انطلقت قناة الإخبارية السورية علق أحدهم ساخراً بأنه على قناة الجزيرة أن تغلق، لأن وزير الإعلام شخصياً مهتم بهذه القناة وقرر أن يعطيها كامل الحرية، وطبعاً شهدنا في الفترة الأخيرة تراجعاً سريعاً لشعبية الجزيرة، فقناة الإخبارية السورية سحبت البساط من تحتها “بمؤازرة” ((الكلمة التي يحبها رئيس الحكومة)) بقية وسائل الإعلام، عندما لعبت دوراً في تغطية الأحداث في تونس ومصر والأردن واليمن، والأهم أحداث الجارين، لبنان والعراق.
وإثر التغطية الإعلامية السورية الحارة للأحداث الساخنة في المنطقة، يمكن لأي مراقب ذو نظرة سطحية أن يلحظ المتعة التي يتحدث بها السوريون عن الثورة التونسية وامتداداتها إلى بعض البلدان في المنطقة، ويمكن أن يتبين الابتسامة الماكرة للمستمعين، وهذه المتعة والابتسامة تحملان رسالة، إنهما ملغمتان، ولكن ليس على طريقة السيدة ديانا جبور وفهمكم كفاية.

ما أريد أن أقوله كمواطن سوري”
لا لحكومة العطري لأنها باعتقادي زرعت في كل مكان وتحت كل حجر وفي مفصل كل مؤسسة وفي كل ضمير اجتماعي ومؤسسي بذرة الفساد وسوسة التذمر، لأنها لم تستطع أن ترتقي إلى مستوى الإرادة السياسية في الإصلاح والتطوير والتحديث، إنما على العكس عملت على اغتيالها.
لا لحكومة عطري لأنها غير مؤتمنة على خبزنا وحريتنا، غير مؤتمنة على مقررات المؤتمر القطري لحزب البعث، وغير مؤتمنة لأنها بثت مراراً وتكراراً معلومات مضللة حول خططها وإنجازاتها فاغتالت بذلك أيضاً ثقتنا بها كمواطنين.
لا لحكومة عطري لأننا لسنا خارج التاريخ، إنما نحن قلبه، وما يجري في المنطقة العربية من تهاوٍ لأنظمة علمانية ولو شكلياً بسبب إخفاقاتها في حل مشكلات التنمية والحرية ومكافحة الفساد، يمسنا في الصميم ويفتح الباب على مصراعيه لأصوليات دينية ضمن أجندات دولية وإقليمية وشعبية مع حفظ الفوارق الجوهرية بينها حتى لو تقاطعت عفوياً في لحظات معينة، ويهدد مقومات الأمن الاقتصادي والاجتماعي وحتى الجغرافيا السياسية.
أكرر، بوصفي مواطناً سورياً، لقد خاطب الرئيس الأسد كل طموحاتنا وقتلت حكومة عطري البسيط من طموحنا لذلك:
أطالب باستقالتها أو إقالتها، لا فرق.
أطالب بالحد من استخدام قانون الطوارئ والأحكام العرفية وحصرهم بقضايا الإرهاب والتجسس وبعض الأنشطة السياسية لصالح تعزيز القضاء وإصلاحه وزيادة فعاليته وشفافيته وإطلاق الحريات الإعلامية وتشكيل حكومة جديدة ترتقي إلى مستوى الإرادة السياسية والشعبية.
أطالب أن يأخذ مجلس الشعب دوره في محاسبة الحكومة على خططها وإنجازاتها ومساءلتها.
ولا مانع إن انتحر عطري أو نُحر، لا فرق، فلن يأسف عليه أحد.”

http://all4syria.info/content/view/38365/70/

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January 28th, 2011, 12:33 pm

 

31. Shai said:

Alex,

Netanyahu supposedly ordered his cabinet ministers not to comment on developments in Egypt. I guess it’s pretty much the same throughout the Arab World. What’s being reported in Syria, and whose side will the media take?

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January 28th, 2011, 2:37 pm

 

32. majedkhaldoon said:

The chief of staff of Egyption arm forces was in USA,he was sent back to Egypt,He may be sent to replace Mubarak,American adminstration is on high level of anxity, higher than Mubarak,this is probably on informations from the American embassy,that Mubarak can not survive this protest

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January 28th, 2011, 3:33 pm

 

33. Alex said:

Shai,

In Syria (and in many Arab countries) there are laws that make it illegal to criticize leaders of fellow Arab countries. For example, theoretically, I am in trouble for each time I criticized Mubarak and King Abdullah in the past ;)

I imagine Mubarak is already over … Hosni, and Gamal are finished. The army will take over.

This reminds me of something that one of our Syrian team members wrote on Onemideast May 2010 to counter Israeli argument that Israel does not need to give the Golan back to a weak Syria that can not pose any harm to Israel.

http://www.onemideast.org/?p=12

Indeed the Golan border has been quiet and we would hope for it to remain so until a peace treaty is signed.

However, the situation can quickly and dramatically spiral out of control following any of the following developments:

5.Egypt: Popular resentment of the Mubarak regime could lead to massive turmoil in Egypt. An anticipated Muslim Brotherhood takeover of power will lead to Egypt’s pulling out of its peace agreement with Israel

Official Syria is probably mildly concerned that this revolutionary spirit is contagious, but there is also satisfaction that their policy of boycotting Mubarak paid off. During hte past three years there has been efforts by third party friends of both sides to reconcile the differences between them. The Egyptians wanted Syrian concessions in exchage for Mubara k accepting to host President Assad in Cairo!

President Assad offered to visit Cairo but otherwise gave the Egyptians nothing. The Syrians were convinced that the days of Mubarak’s Egypt were numbered and that his real weight in the region is minimal .. he had no influence in Iraq, no influence in Lebanon, no influence with Iran or Turkey, bad relations with Qatar, and minimal influence in Palestine.

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January 28th, 2011, 3:37 pm

 

34. Alex said:

I just hope this scenario does not repeat in Cairo … it would be the saddest news:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2942449.stm

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January 28th, 2011, 3:42 pm

 

35. Shai said:

Alex,

President Assad should have agreed to visit Cairo, only if Netanyahu was there too… :-)

I imagine these developments are both positive, and worrisome. We have no example yet, in the Middle East, where a violent takeover of an existing regime brought freedom and democracy in its stead.

Can you imagine the Egyptian Army hands control over to the MB? I can’t. They’ll have another General take over, he’ll make all the necessary promises, and Egypt will be the same.

If the Army is in control, Egypt will never sever its ties with Israel. The billions it gets from the U.S. each year are too valuable.

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January 28th, 2011, 3:52 pm

 

36. Alex said:

Shai

I imagine no one can tamper with the 2011 Presidential elections anymore.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_presidential_election,_2011

Gamal Mubarak is finished, and I heard he is in London already (don’t know if this is true though).

El-Baradei is a bit less of a puppet but he is a western-friendly leader who will surely not touch that peace treaty with Israel.

But if the Muslim brotherhood decided to prpare a presidential candidate for next September then he can question El-Baradei about his wine drinking photos and the photos of his daughter (married to a Christian) on Facebook …

Egypt is a very conservative country … have to take the brotherhood seriously, even if one of their own does not run for president .. they will take a large part of parliament.

Of course, chaos is another scenario, but I hope not.

The Palestinian authority is even weaker today … after the Aljazeera’s documents, they now lost Hosni Mubarak, their number one ally and protector.

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January 28th, 2011, 4:13 pm

 

37. Alex said:

Speaker of Egypt’s Parliament will be on TV to make a special announcement.

We need to pay attention to these two articles in Egypt’s constitution. I believe both might need to be updated.

Article 76

The President shall be elected by direct, public, secret ballot. For an applicant to be accepted as a candidate to presidency, he shall be supported by at least 250 elected members of the People’s Assembly, the Shura Council and local popular councils on governorate level, provided that those shall include at least 65 members of the People’s Assembly, 25 of the Shura Council and ten of every local council in at least 14 governorates.

The number of members of the People’s Assembly, the Shura Council and local popular councils on governorate level supporting candidature shall be raised in pro-rata to any increase in the number of any of these councils. In all cases, support may not be given to more than one candidate.

Procedures related to this process shall be regulated by the law.
Political parties, which have been founded at least five years before the starting date of candidature and have been operating uninterruptedly for this period, and whose members have obtained at least 5% of the elected members of both the People’s Assembly and the Shura Council, may nominate for presidency a member of their respective upper board, according to their own by-laws, provided he has been a member of such board for at least one consecutive year.

Article 84

In case of the vacancy of the Presidential Office or the permanent disability of the President of the Republic, the President of the People’s Assembly shall temporarily assume the Presidency; and, if at that time, the People’s Assembly is dissolved, the President of the Supreme Constitutional Court shall take over the Presidency, however, on condition that neither one shall nominate himself for the Presidency. The People’s Assembly shall then proclaim the vacancy of the office of President. The President of the Republic shall be chosen within a maximum period of sixty days from the day of the vacancy of the Presidential Office.

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January 28th, 2011, 4:55 pm

 

38. Shai said:

U.S. is sending a clear message to Mubarak, but it may be too late…
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4020564,00.html

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January 28th, 2011, 5:00 pm

 

39. Chris said:

Joshua,

I thought you might be interested in an article i’ve just placed on my blog about the prospects of the Egypt protests spreading to Syria.

http://cjophillips.wordpress.com/2011/01/28/egypt-protests-is-syria-next/

Any feedback most welcome!

Best wishes

Chris

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January 28th, 2011, 5:04 pm

 

40. Norman said:

Alex,

The friends of the US and the West should understand by now that if they fall as happened in Tunisia and probably will happen in Egypt, the western government will be the first to jump ship ,

What kind of loyalty is this, i am sure that they rethinking their alliances to the US and the West, that would be my conclusion.

What is yours .

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January 28th, 2011, 6:52 pm

 

41. Syrian Nationalist Party said:

Mubarak has agreed to step down tonight, his entire family already fled to Paris and London. This is reliable intelligence.

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January 28th, 2011, 7:04 pm

 

42. Friend in America said:

Joshua – Thank you for your note in #12. I skipped over jurisdiction based on domestic law because my thread was already too long. It is better you outlined it for all of us. Proscution of criminal cases using the law of the appropriate country (usually where the crime occurred or the country of citizenship of the victem(s) can be performed in most cases and are beneficial where local judicilal system does not prosecute. But ‘crimes against humanity’ usually does not have a domestic authority and that is where I have reservations.
Several decades ago I had the opportunity to read what was then the only English translation of court record of the Nurenburg trials. The lawyers for various defendants argued lack of jurisdiction very forcefully. The Hairi case is different. The International Criminal Court can apply Lebanese law for prosecution of the case.The Lebanese judicial system has not, and likely will not, investigate and prosecute the Hairi case. That creates a good argument for an impartial international court to intervene. Justice avoided is justice denied.
My regards.

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January 28th, 2011, 10:54 pm

 

43. Alex said:

Norman,

The United States can not win. For now it defined its strategic interests in a way that mostly overlaps with Israel’s right. If you want to push your remaining Arab allies to do the right thing by introducing all the required reforms, you are guaranteeing they will all be voted out and replaced with a more patriotic leader, because their people do not like their obedience to American/Israeli policy objectives.

Also, if you are an Egyptian President you will not like it when the President and secretary of state call you to make it “very clear” that you had “an obligation” … The US tends to be much more tolerant with its rich Arab allies … the Saudis were never asked to implement the most basic human rights … like allowing women to drive a car. The Kuwaitis never had to have Presidential elections … the Bahrainis never had to share wealth fairly with their majority Shia population …

America has Multiple Personality Syndrome (MPS) … on the one hand it wants to be seen as the defender of human rights (we did Iraq to help the Iraqi people have democracy)… on the other hand, it wants to pressure its allies to do what is right in terms of protecting US interests in the Middle East which are currently too close to Israeli interests and too far from what “the Arab street” wants to see.

It was refreshing to read Tony Karon‘s realistic recognition of the United States’ dilemma as it ponders its impossible to reconcile objectives of its multiple personalities, and as it continues to lose allies among the set of authoritarian “Moderate Arab” leader.

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January 28th, 2011, 11:56 pm

 

44. Shami said:

Shame on the old dying king,guardian of dictators.

Saudi king slams Egypt protesters

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/meast/01/29/egypt.middle.east.reaction/

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January 29th, 2011, 8:12 am

 

45. Norman said:

The supporters of Israel in the US are on TV supporting Mubarak , fearing a change in the posture of Egypt from the Moderate camp to the resistance one ,

The 1.5 billion that the US gives Egypt will probably guarantee the Israeli interest, no matter who ends up in power .

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January 29th, 2011, 8:22 am

 

46. Norman said:

Ghadry is in the news,

If Egypt falls, Syria must follow
Jan 28, 2011 18:03 EST
egypt

By Farid Ghadry, a Syrian-American who co-founded the Reform Party of Syria (RPS) dedicated to freedom and human rights in his native country, blogs at ghadry.com. The opinions expressed are his own.

When watching the riots in Tunisia and Egypt, the question on everyone’s mind is, what outcome will these organic and popular uprisings will produce?

The world may be witnessing a new dawn in the Middle East fostered by enlightenment or a new Egyptian government trailing behind Syria as the latest conquest the Mullahs of Iran can claim is the result of their wise policies.

With Hezbollah’s latest dismantlement of a Lebanese government, aided by the complicity of the Assad regime and an Egypt whose future remains uncertain, it is essential for US and European policy makers to view Syria as a clear and present danger rather than the country stabilizing the region. No matter what happens, Egypt is a changed country. If it falls in the “L” column, Syria and Iran will play an essential role in supplying Egypt, as they did to Hezbollah, with the necessary tools to destabilize North Africa. This outcome will place a heavy military burden on Israel, the result of which may engulf the region with intermittent wars for many years to come.

As the world watches images of Egypt erupting, similar images are being reproduced in Syria. We have witnessed today many demonstrations in Damascus, Aleppo, and Qamoshli. With 10,000 IRGC (the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution) personnel residing permanently in Syria, we also witnessed them, mixed with Syrian Army Battalions, deploy in several cities around the country. Yet, the international media, and al-Jazeera especially, have gone dark on Syria.

Instead of supporting a similar organic uprising by a people whose 65% of its citizens were born enslaved living in total misery, the world seems oblivious to the pain Assad inflicts on our people. I believe this is a major mistake. One that Syrians, Israelis, Lebanese, and Americans will pay a dear price for.

With Syria becoming free and falling into the hands of its people, a major supply line to Hezbollah and possibly Egypt will be disrupted. The fall of Syria might also save Egypt from a possible takeover by the Mullahs. This scenario is basked in pessimism but when was the last time the west received good news from the Middle East?

Al-Hurra, a US-funded TV station, has been slow in responding to any threats affecting the Syrian regime. Why? Because planted within its Virginia offices are sympathizers and supporters of Assad and Hezbollah. The last time al-Hurra broadcasted a negative story on Syria was in 2005 due to pressure from the Bush administration.

If al-Hurra covers the demonstrations happening in Damascus, it will encourage Syrians to rise against Assad. And while many pundits and experts will capitalize on Assad’s propaganda that his alternatives are hardcore Islamists, the reality is that Syrians are mostly secular people. The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood cannot possibly muster more than 10% of the votes but the mere thought that some analyst could be wrong has frozen our intellect to the point where we view Assad’s evil as a stabilizing factor. The question becomes: Are you really willing to bet Egypt on Assad’s stability? The time has come for true leadership in the region.

Photo caption: A protester walks in front of a fire in downtown Cairo January 28, 2011. President Hosni Mubarak ordered troops into Egyptian cities on Friday in an attempt to quell street fighting and growing mass protests demanding an end to his 30-year rule. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

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January 29th, 2011, 8:26 am

 

47. Ghat Albird said:

From admittedly a biased as well as a logical premise why would the average Syrian or most all Syrians revolt when their country’s historical position in the region is finally being vindicated by other Arabs?

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January 29th, 2011, 9:34 am

 

48. Shami said:

Alex,could you ask your friends in Damascus,is that true that the last jewel of asad regime,the casino,has been closed?
if it’s true ,what are the reasons invoked?

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January 29th, 2011, 10:59 am

 

49. Norman said:

The US is hedging her bets, they forced Mubarak to appoint Omar Suleiman as VP, the next step is to push Mubarak out and secure the status qua between Israel and Egypt, The ultimate goal.

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January 29th, 2011, 11:02 am

 

50. majedkhaldoon said:

Some call it ripple or domino effect,I call it revival of the feeling of Arab unity,what happened in Tunis,Egypt and other Arab countries,is the feeling that we are one people,the feeling of Arab unity revived, Israel must watch with great fear,seeing the Arab rise,from deep sleep,the west was trying to convince us that Arab nationality has failed,today we witness that Arab nationality and the desire for Arab unity is alive and strong.

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January 29th, 2011, 11:06 am

 

51. Norman said:

Shami,

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.
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503543_162-20026947-503543.html

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January 29th, 2011, 12:06 pm

 

53. Norman said:

Shami,
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:

Shami,

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

With new casino, Syria
bets on openness to
world

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
swallow.

“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
countries.

“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,
however,

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.

Advertisement
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.

His

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
restaurants.
Advertisement
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
people.

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
economist.

“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.

———

Online:

http://www.syria-report.com/index.asp

———

AP writer Albert Aji contributed to this report.

Advertisement

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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:

Shami,

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:

FIA,

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)

http://qunfuz.com/2011/01/28/tunisia-in-syria/

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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:

Shami,
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,

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/egypt/110130/syria-egypt-protests-next-domino?page=0,0#

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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.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/an-arab-revolution-fueled-by-methods-of-the-west-1.340079

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)

http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/comment/this-has-little-to-do-with-islamists-or-with-washington

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:

Alex,

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:

http://www.elaph.com/Web/news/2011/1/628234.html

السلطات السورية تمنع اعتصاما امام السفارة المصرية

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January 30th, 2011, 3:19 pm

 

82. Alex said:

Shai,

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

http://www.opinion-maker.org/2011/01/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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