What is Behind the Uproar in Syria’s Labor Relations? The Reform Process and Jobs?

What is Behind the Uproar in Syria’s Labor Relations? The Reform Process and Jobs?
By Elie Elhadj
For Syria Comment
November 5, 2010

Syria’s Real Economic Growth Not 5%

Syriasteps quotes a study by the Planning Commission which finds that “economic growth in Syria dropped during 2008 and 2009 to 3% from 5.5% in 2007.” Growth was negative in what is termed “real economy.”

أن النمو في قطاعات الاقتصاد الحقيقي كان سالبا خلال تلك السنوات، وهو ما يضعف معدل النمو الاقتصادي بشكل عام

This is a far cry from the 5% to 6% growth that we have been quoted and which the World Bank and Economist have been repeating.

According to Syria-News.com on October 29, 2010, Mr. Dardari revealed that Syria needs to create 1.25 million jobs during the forthcoming Five-year Development Plan. 65,000 are to be created during the first year of the Plan. “Dardari on poverty and unemployment… in numbers.” However, the author of the Syria-News.com report estimates that the plan needs to produce not 1.25 million jobs but 2.1 million if Syria is merely to maintain its present unemployment rate of 11.8%.

The challenge of future economic growth in Syria

  1. Provide young men and women with work opportunities upon graduation from schools and universities
  2. Absorb the 600,000 already unemployed – out of Syria’s 5.44 million work force
  3. Absorb those who would become unemployed as a result of being laid off from privatized enterprises in the future
  4. Raise the country’s real per capita GDP

High unemployment rates have serious negative consequences in terms of lost economic contribution, prolonging poverty, and fomenting discontent; even possibly social unrest.

Evaluating Syria’s development plans is difficult because Syrian statistics are a mess. The assumptions behind the Eleventh Five-Year Plan are unknown and the accuracy of the available public data is in doubt. The IMF Country Report on Syria, No. 10/86, dated March 2010 states on page 30: “Government finance statistics suffer from major deficiencies with respect to definitions, coverage, classification, methodology, accuracy, reliability, and timeliness”.

Headlines

The following headlines appeared in the Syrian Press during the second half of October 2010: (I am translating from the Arabic)

Shamlife: “Dardari: No industrial policy-maker knows What the Answers are to Industry’s needs. The Solution is not Easy.” October 17, 2010

ALL4SYRIA: “Labor unions will attack the government… by throwing tomatoes”. October 24, 2010

ALL4SYRIA: “’Asi: The high price of tomatoes is caused by Dardari”. October 28, 2010

Shamlife: “Dardari: We could not reduce poverty…” October 26, 2010, 26, 2010,

ALL4SYRIA: “Dardari inundates unionists with ‘misleading’ data”. October 26, 2010

Syriasteps: “A minister in Mr. Outri’s cabinet… I disagree… I disagree”, referring to the Minister of Industry’s reaction to a demand by union leaders that more workers be employed in a Jableh textile factory. October 26, 2010

Shamlife: “Sharp exchanges between the Minister of Labor and Damascus’ labor union leaders”. October 27, 2010

These headlines describe the tension between leaders of Syria’s labor unions and officials responsible for Syria’ economic affairs. In particular the acrimony stems from Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Dardari’s efforts to dismantle Syria’s “socialist” economy. In order to build a viable and lively private sector, the Syrian government will have to overcome serious opposition from labor, which is clinging to the thousands of public sector jobs that provided the backbone of the socialist economy and kept many Syrian families from sinking into poverty. Unfortunately, these industries are not viable and Syria can no longer afford to subsidize them. The government must redirect its limited resources toward building the infrastructure the will attract and sustain a competitive private sector. Unemployment in Syria is already through the roof.

In a “market” system, government investment will ideally be decided by rates of return, not rates of employment. Efficient allocation of scarce resources should produce optimal growth and benefit everyone. A rate of return approach will direct taxpayers’ money toward investments that create the most profit – not just for one segment of the population at the expense of others – but for the entire nation. Other approaches are inefficient because of the ideological, ethical, or emotional bias that typically influences decision makers.

As for those business enterprises that the government already owns and manages, a “market” economy should open Syria’s doors to competition. More competition from Turkish, Chinese, and Korean goods will will further undermine the market for the goods produced by Syria’s state sector. Eventually, the government will have little choice but to sell off the 250 or so firms it owns – almost all of which are bleeding red ink. EHSANI2 wrote convincingly about the need to privatize these companies on October 17, 2010 in his “The Sin in Syria is Low Wages.”

Whenever this happens, a proportion of the workers currently employed by these establishments will be laid off, exposing them to the vagaries and humiliation of unemployment.

Possible solutions
In addition to the government’s effort to attract foreign investors, factors that can accelerate Syria’s future rate of economic growth will be outlined next. Five factors are structural, which means that a long time is required to bring about the necessary changes. Three other factors are operational and can produce quick results. Hopefully, the government will muster the political will and wherewithal to implement both types of reforms.

The first structural factor is to reduce the rate of population growth significantly. With an annual rate of 2.7% growth, Syria needs to feed, keep healthy, and educate around a million new citizens every year. Such increases are too heavy a burden for a relatively poor country. Unless Syria’s population growth rate is reduced measurably, Syria will be caught in a poverty and high unemployment trap.

Syria should institute effective programs to encourage family planning and birth control. For those who are guided by God’s views on this matter, religious scholars have it in their power to tailor their interpretations of the Holy Scripture to suit their political benefactors. Syrians would do well to ignore the dictums of orthodox ulama and the Pope. The Lord wants the faithful to be healthy, educated, and prosperous, not poor and too numerous.

The second structural factor is to enact laws that would encourage Syrian women to participate fully in economic development. Women’s equality with men is a prerequisite for economic growth. Syria would never be able to attain its full economic potential while half of its population is mistreated like second-class citizens.

Equality for women with men before the law is an absolute right, not a favor. Equality would restore natural justice to fifty percent of the society, helping to enhance women’s contribution to Syria’s economic growth.

A modern secular family law that applies to all citizens regardless of religion, sect, and denomination should replace existing family laws, including Shari’a laws and courts. That a man can marry four wives, divorce any one of them without giving reason, that Syria’s two best known ladies for sophistication, intellect, and modernity; the First Lady and the Republic’s Vice President are equal to one man, who can be illiterate, in a Shari’a court of law in giving testimony, being a witness, or in inheritance brings into question the suitability of Shari’a law to Syria’s way of life in the twenty first century. Such an anomaly is all the more surprising in light of Syria’s keen interest to project itself as a modern “secular” society. Treating women like chattel leaves its scars on women’s personality, defining their view of themselves as lesser beings and inhibiting their contribution to the country’s development.

The third structural factor is to reform the educational curriculum in order to produce graduates with the skills needed in today’s competitive business world. The educational curriculum should aim at enhancing students’ analytical competence, inquisitiveness, creativity, and entrepreneurial drive. To this end, independent studies, term paper research, use of the school’s library and laboratory should become the order of the school day instead of attending lectures passively and memorizing textbooks. Teaching should emphasize student participation in the classroom and encourage debating taboo issues, especially religious dogma. Classroom size should be reduced from 40-50 students to 20-25 students. Large and sustained capital investment in school buildings, libraries, laboratories as well as expanding the size of the teaching staff need to become a priority.

The fourth structural factor is to fight corruption seriously. EHSANI2 addressed this issue at some length, here. Suffice it to say, that corruption is expensive; be it in the inflated prices the government pays for goods and services, the unqualified employees in city hall, or the petty bribes citizens need to pay to minor officials in order to facilitate dealing with government offices. All forms of corruption are robbery and deny taxpayers fair value for their taxes.

The World Bank Institute’s Worldwide Governance Indicators shows Syria’s poor score in corruption control. Of the 213 countries in the study, Syria ranked among the worst, scoring a negative (0.96) while Denmark, for example, achieved the high score of positive 2.42. Disturbingly, Syria’s score has been on a downward slide in recent years; in 2003, it was a negative (0.5) and in 2005, it slid to a negative (0.63) (http://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi/index.asp).

The structures that have been nourishing corruption in a “socialist” Syria may well exacerbate the level of corruption in Syria’s new “social market economy”. A “market” economy could enlarge Syria’s business elites, adding ferocity to the culture of greed and exploitation that pervades the elite’s conduct. Today’s lawbreakers must be brought to justice so that would-be business offenders in the future are warned. Before the “market” economy gets underway in earnest, social welfare programs should be in place to protect the weaker members of society. Otherwise, “market” economy’s shortcomings, its focus on profit and efficiency, could scuttle the new experiment altogether, triggering even societal unrest.

The fifth structural factor is in the nature of an administrative house keeping. Given that high quality statistics can help improve the quality of planning and investment decisions and instill a culture of transparency and accountability, implementation of the recommendations contained in the March 2010 IMF Country Report on Syria to provide comprehensive, accurate, and timely statistics in accordance with international standards should become a priority.

The challenge of Syria’s data may be summarized in: A) Annual national accounts “reported for publication in the International Financial Statistics (IFS) with about 2-years lag” (IMF report, p. 30). B) Government finance statistics that “suffer from major deficiencies”, with “the largest, most persistent and volatile discrepancies, are between the financing requirements of the budget, as reported by the MOF, and government financing as reported by the Central Bank of Syria” (IMF report, p. 31). C) Monetary and financial statistics “reported for publication in the IFS with about 10-month lags, falling short of recommended dissemination practices of 3-month lags” (IMF report, p. 31). D) External sector statistics presentation and compilation methodology being inconsistent with IMF standards.

On the other hand, the operational factors can provide rapid access to money to help fund the next development plan. Three sources can be worth billions:

First: Enforce tax collection vigorously. It is reprehensible that large family businesses pay an effective tax rate of something around 4% (EHSANI2: http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/?p=7598).

Second: Stop politically convenient allocation of national resources. “Market” investment decisions are based on rate of return criterion. Return on investment should decide the priorities of future government investments, including irrigation projects.

The financial return on Syria’s investment in irrigation over the past few decades has been poor, as have the non-financial returns. Migration from rural communities to urban centers continues unabated. Reliance on capricious rainfall has not been reduced. Over-extraction of groundwater has led to negative balances in five out of the seven water basins in Syria. In all, Syria’s precious water resources are being reduced in quantity and degraded in quality.

Food self-sufficiency in an arid/semi arid Syria is a mirage, notwithstanding the national appeal such a slogan evokes. Syria does not have sufficient groundwater and rain to feed more than 15 million people. New spending on irrigation schemes will be a waste of money and would exacerbate aquifers’ condition. Syria should divert investment in irrigation schemes to other fields, including rain-fed lands.

Third: Divert resources from the military to productive investment in infrastructure, education, health, and welfare. The military is not among Syria’s regional strategic strengths. In the regional balance of power, Syria’s armed forces are not a major factor. A well-educated healthy population makes for better soldiers and officers.

Elie

Nicholas Kristof writes:

“Mounting evidence suggests that losing a job or a home can rock our identity and savage our self-esteem. Forced moves wrench families from their schools and support networks.  In short, inequality leaves people on the lower rungs feeling like hamsters on a wheel spinning ever faster, without hope or escape. Economic polarization also shatters our sense of national union and common purpose, fostering political polarization as well.”

Top Chinese political advisor hails Chinese-Syrian economic ties
2010-10-30

DAMASCUS, Oct 30, 2010 (Xinhua via COMTEX) — China’s top political advisor Jia Qinglin on Saturday hailed China’s economic and trade cooperation with Syria, urging Chinese companies there to further contribute to local economic development. Jia, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, made the remarks during his visit to a cement factory which is under construction by a Chinese company.

He described Syria as an “important trade and economic partner” of China in West Asia, saying the two countries have carried out friendly cooperation in an equal and mutually beneficial manner.
Jia applauded the soaring bilateral trade, the two-way investment and the contract of construction between China and Syria, saying it contributed to the economic progress of Syria and the friendship between the two peoples.

Chinese-Syrian trade surged from 220 million U.S. dollars in 2001 to 2.2 billion dollars last year, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce.

China also supports the just cause of Syria for safeguarding its national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and backs Syria in resuming the exercise of full sovereignty on the Golan Heights at an early date, Jia said.

Syrian Oil Output Rises in First Nine Months of 2010, SANA Says
2010-10-31

By Nayla Razzouk
Oct. 31 (Bloomberg) — Syria, the largest oil producer in the Levant, produced slightly more crude in the first nine months of 2010 than in the same period a year earlier, state news agency SANA said. Production climbed to 105.749 million barrels in the period, averaging 387,000 barrels a day and marking an increase of 11,825 barrels a day from the same period of 2009, it said. The Syrian Petroleum Co. pumped 49.6 percent of the total and the rest came from producers affiliated with foreign companies, the agency said.

BP’s statistics suggest that Syria will exhaust its oil reserves in 18 years.
Syria: Economic Overviews, 2010-11-01

Nov. 1 (Economist Intelligence Unit) — POLITICAL STABILITY: The president, Bashar al-Assad, and his ruling Baath party are expected to retain their grip on the country, supported by key elements in the security services. …..

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: After a period of diplomatic isolation in 2005-07, Syria has developed steadily better relations with Western and regional states–notably Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Iraq. Consequently, the EU is now ready to sign a long-delayed Association Agreement and final negotiations are ongoing. Better relations are primarily due to perceptions that Syria is playing a more constructive role in Lebanon–there have been suggestions that Syrian officials may not be implicated in the UN inquiry into the killing of Rafiq Hariri, a former Lebanese prime minister. There is also a desire among Western and other Arab countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, to weaken Syria’s alliance with Iran. However, tensions could still emerge from issues relating to the UN inquiry, undermining the apparent improvement of relations with Saudi Arabia. Relations with the US have also improved, and although US sanctions on Syria were renewed in May, the US has withdrawn its objections to Syria’s accession to the World Trade Organisation.

POLICY TRENDS: The gradual liberalisation of Syria’s centrally planned economy is expected to continue under the leadership of the deputy prime minister for economic affairs, Abdullahal-Dardari. However, the economic debate remains highly charged. There are influential officials who oppose this process, and these conflicting interests will inhibit policy formulation and implementation. Recent press reports have highlighted concerns within the Baath party about the negative impact of reform on poverty. There are also powerful members of the business elite who benefit from the status quo and might resist changes that would threaten their incumbent advantages.

ECONOMIC GROWTH: We estimate real GDP growth at 4% in 2010 as strong government spending and private consumption have both supported growth. We forecast growth of 4.6% in 2011 dropping to 4.5% in 2012 owing to lower oil production. Growth will be driven by rising foreign investment into Syria as the economy is opened up and international relations improve. This, combined with a government focus on capital spending, will drive growth in fixed investment, although the rate of expansion in government consumption and capital expenditure will slow during 2011-12. Private consumption growth will pick up as the private sector expands and as an expected recovery in agriculture in 2011 boosts incomes. However, if there is a significant improvement in security in Iraq–not our core scenario–once the new government is formed, a sizeable number of the Iraqi refugees in Syria (estimated at between 500,000 and 1m) may return home, thereby depressing consumption. Growth in trade will also pick up in 2011-12 as Syria becomes more integrated into the global economy.

INFLATION: Consumer price inflation is expected to accelerate to 4.4% in 2011, as global commodity prices rise slightly and value-added tax (VAT) is finally introduced—although food, a major component of the consumer price index, may be exempted. Inflation will then drop to 4.2% in 2012, as inflationary pressures, particularly on rents, decline owing to a stabilisation or small decline in the number of Iraqi nationals in Syria and declining global commodity prices.

EXCHANGE RATES: The Syrian pound has been loosely pegged to the IMF’s special drawing rights since October 2007 and is tightly managed by the Central Bank of Syria. The authorities are unlikely to let the pound float freely, because they place a high importance on exchange-rate stability. Weakness in the euro zone (the euro is a component of the Central Bank’s currency basket) caused the pound to depreciate against the US dollar in the first half of 2010, although it has recovered since, resulting in an estimated average exchange rate of SP46.4:US$1 for 2010. Persistent worries about the euro in 2011 will lead to a slight depreciation of the pound against the dollar, and we forecast that it will average SP46.7:US$1 in 2011-12. The Central Bank had healthy foreign-exchange reserves–US$17.4bn (about 13 months of import cover) at end-2009–leaving it well placed to maintain control of the local currency.

EXTERNAL SECTOR: In 2011-12 we expect export earnings to build on a 2010 recovery to reach an average of US$14bn, although this is still below the oil-price-related peak in 2008 of US$15.3bn. In recent years, drought has seriously constrained production and therefore exports of cotton and textiles. The drought has now eased, but the 2010 wheat crop is expected to be disappointing and a boll weevil infestation may affect the cotton crop. Overall, the trade deficit will narrow slightly to an average of US$682m in 2011-12, and as a proportion of GDP it will fall to an average of 1%.

Comments (110)


Syrian Nationalist Party said:

A draconian Baathist State like those Communist ones of past do not increase real economic percentages or provides any meaningful job opportunities. They simply falsify the numbers year after year until the violent uprising comes in and kick them out. Landis provides a platform for the Rothschild backed Baathist regime in Syria to appear as if it is had a real economy and economists that can project and plan for next week. If you are Syrian living in Syria, you will simply ignore all this hype and plan your exit out of the country, just as more than 15 million Syrians already did since the Baath party illegal take over of a descent Syrian State. Today the Baath regime in Syria had utterly bankrupted the nation. When Baath party ceased power in Syria, the Lira exchange rate was $1= LS 2.40, today it is more than $1=LS 55-60. In globally scaled percentages, Syria back in 63′ ranked way high on global GDP scale, higher than South Korea, and a hundred of other nations that Syria today, under Baathshit rule, will not even rank in GDP with a suburb, or a city of these developed nations. Fortunate for these other nations, they did not adopt the Socialist Baathist model of Government and economy, an economy that survived on handouts from countries the likes of Saudi Arabia to Islamic Republic of Iran, even Bulgaria in the past.

More than 70% of those poor souls still living in Syria are surviving in abject poverty. Millions still living on handouts. Don’t be deceived by fake numbers, Baathist Syria could not survive one week if the 3 billions transferred to Syria from expats working abroad stopped. You see, the same management team of Rockefeller-Rothschildd Ponzi & Pyramid scheme masterminder’s is in fact ruling Syria from afar. Here is how the scam works: Syria ships most of its oil revenue to their banks, all billions of Dollars received from expats are by laws transferred to Syrian Liras (an astronomical number), and the hard currency sent by expats is transferred back to the scam artists in the City of London. So every year Baathist Syria prints out more cash on Crane Paper and add it to M3. Of course that M3 Figure is top secret or falsified as well, should the real number of the printed currency is discovered, the Syria Lira will worth something like $1= LS60,000. Now you know why used car tacticians Dardari is constantly begging for cash handouts, none available in Syria. Of course he calls it investment, he fails to get any because most people do understand the scam running by the Rothschild in Syria. But the People of Syria should not hold the Assads on that, the real perpetrators are the past and present Economy / Finance Minsters and of course the past and present Central bankers of Syria, for they are the ones signing on the dotted line and willfully bankrupting Syria and Syrians to help the team of Global Ponzi scammer and their puppet assigned to Syria, Fredy Hershey.

So here it is, the plain truth, you can buy it, or you can buy Landis es’ promotional write up about the booming Syrian economy.

November 7th, 2010, 3:33 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Elie,

Thank you for painstakingly compiling together the list of articles that highlight the differences in opinions amongst the different ministries. Reducing the population growth, allowing more women participation in the economy, reforming the educational system, fighting corruption and improving the data collection and analytics are all very worthy goals indeed.

SNP,

I don’t agree that the Syrian Central Bank is uncontrollably printing the local currency. You offer zero proof of that. If you were right, the pound would have lost a lot of its value. It has been very stable for a decade now. If anything, the Central Bank has run a tight monetary policy as it has targeted a stable currency as its primary objective. Your references to “Rothschilds of Syria” are confusing, sensational and lack any quantitative analysis. Yes, the performance of the economy has been disappointing but to suggest that “Baathist Syria prints out more cash on Crane Paper and add it to M3. Of course that M3 Figure is top secret or falsified as well, should the real number of the printed currency is discovered, the Syria Lira will worth something like $1= LS60,000” is rather silly.

Dr. Landis has not been promoting a “booming Syrian economy” in the slightest. To the contrary, he has covered this area very objectively, widely and repeatedly thanks to accurately identifying the importance of economics when it comes to Syria’s future.

November 7th, 2010, 4:23 pm

 
 

Norman said:

No sale of government projects but partnerships,

Syria seeks private investment in state industrial sector
Syria: 16 hours, 50 minutes ago
Syrian industry minister Fouad Al Jouni has said investors have been invited to help revamp the country’s under-performing industrial sector but privatisation is not on the table, Reuters has reported. “We have adopted this principle towards every public sector industrial company that needs to be modernised. We are ready to begin negotiations with any investor,” Jouni said. “But there is no sale of public industrial assets. Privatization is prohibited and workers rights cannot be compromised,” he added.

November 7th, 2010, 6:30 pm

 

Souri said:

Thank you Elie. This is a great article that says almost everything Syria needs to become a successful country. It deserves to be hanged on the wall of the Syrian government’s session hall.

However, you have gotten a little bit carried away in this article. Many of your points will not happen neither in the next five years nor in the next 20 years, unfortunately.

When you say, for example:

“A modern secular family law that applies to all citizens regardless of religion, sect, and denomination should replace existing family laws, including Shari’a laws and courts.”

We have been calling for long years for much less than this and we still couldn’t get it. We don’t want a secular law to be FORCED on everybody, what we want is just a secular law for those who WANT it. Many Syrians would want not to be associated with any religious sect, yet still this simple request seems to be a taboo to even talk about in Syrian media.

This is just one example. I don’t want to even talk about education, corruption, or the other things. The problem in the article is that you depart from some premises that are simply wrong. I don’t know what you base yourself on when you say that Syria is a secular country. We need a proof for this. I don’t think banning people from wearing certain types of clothes constitutes a secular regime. We need rather to look at laws, education curricula, and the media to get a better sense of what type of country this is. Unfortunately, all these domains are dominated by backwarded interpretations of Islamic law.

Just an example, students in Syrian schools are educated that evolution is a ‘false’ theory. Evolution theory is the backbone of modern biological sciences, and Syrian students are taught in the biology curriculum that this is a false theory.

November 7th, 2010, 11:11 pm

 

Elie Elhadj said:

Souri,

Thanks for your encouraging reaction.

You said: “Many of your points will not happen neither in the next five years nor in the next 20 years, unfortunately.”

I agree. Every single recommendation faces a world of challenges. Nonetheless, it is very important to bring the issues into the public debate. Where there is life, there is hope!

Population growth rate cannot be reduced by fiat, I realize. A whole set of social, religious, economic and political factors make them stubborn to move. Political will can make a difference, however.

A modern personal status law is the prerequisite before Syria may be described as modern and secular. Experience has shown that a modern secular family law seems to be most challenging to enact in Damascus. Five decades later, a supposedly “secular” Baath Party has failed to make any progress in this direction. The political will needed for such reform is absent, thus far.

May I clarify one point. You said: “I don’t know what you base yourself on when you say that Syria is a secular country. We need a proof for this.”

I believe Syria is not a “secular” country. I have always criticized those who propagate at home and abroad that Syria is “secular” for a number of reasons, but particularly because of its seventh century desert family laws and courts. What I said in the post is this: Syria’s keen interest to project itself as a modern “secular” society.” Kindly note the words “project” itself and the quotes in “secular”. Syria is trying hard to project itself as secular, but unfortunately, Syria is not genuinely secular. Secular laws make a society secular, not some cosmetic displays of modern imported goods and clothes.

As for reforming the educational system, this has not been done for the past fifty years either and does not seem to be on the cards. Educational reform starts with changing current teaching of religion to the teaching of comparative religious thought and ethics to all students regardless of religion, sect, or denomination. Such reform, like the other reforms, requires political will first.

Attacking corruption is challenging in a governance system of Syria’s type. It is the glue that keeps the power pyramid solid. Remove or dilute the glue and the pyramid could be compromised. This, too requires political will to implement.

Improving the quality of statistics requires money and expertise. If the political will is there, such an upgrade can be achieved relatively quickly. Time will only tell whether the current poor state of the data is not due to ulterior motives beside the scientific and technical difficulties.

Tax collection enforceability is achievable, but not without political will.

Reallocation of the country’s scarce resources from irrigation and the military to infrastructure, social and welfare programs, education, health, etc… is a political decision as well.

As I said in the post: Hopefully, the government will muster the political will and wherewithal to implement both types of reform, the structural and the operational. Difficult as it has thus far been to move, political will could, nonetheless, be spurred into action through earnest and sincere debate, possibly.

Souri, Please remember that where there is life, there is hope. Don’t lose heart!

Elie

November 8th, 2010, 3:36 am

 

Souri said:

Thanks Elie. Everything you said sounds absolutely right.

November 8th, 2010, 5:36 am

 

Mr.President said:

Elie,
Thanks for the wonderful article. I have yet to see, from you and others, a REALISTIC execution plan. Writing opinions and waiting for an execution plan from the man on top does not cut it. What you called POLITICAL WILL did always exist in Syria. The issues are a million time more complicated. Here is a question for you. What is the first step in creating a secular inheritance law in Syria? Would you send the army to the street if 90% of your people (including 90% of your army) reject your step? what would you do next if the army turned against you? would you just die? ok what is the next step, in your plan, after you die?

Corruption existed in the East for thousands of years. It even exists in the new so-called democratic country of the Middle East (Israel). It exists in China of today, Russia,… it is a form of hidden taxation in this culture.

Reducing population growth in Syria is still yet not an option. The real weapon that Syria has to protect itself from invading Israeli army is its high population growth. That was why Israel accepted to do piece with Egypt and not Syria. That is why it pulled out of Gaza. It is the same reason why the West could not invade Turkey, during WWI, and split it into a million pieces (they tried but failed). It is the same reason why the Allied Forces won WWII (they had the people and the stolen resources (colonies and slaves) to keep producing low level tanks forever).

your friend 🙂
Mr.President

November 8th, 2010, 6:49 am

 

Elie Elhadj said:

MR. PRESIDENT,

Nice hearing from you.

Leadership is the answer to your questions. Leaders are followed with enthusiasm by their people. Not all presidents and kings are leaders.

Name a leader in the ME during the past one hundred hears? Using fundamental religious and political reforms as the criteria, it is fair to say that aside from Kemal Ataturk the ME has been devoid of leaders during the past century.

The great majority of Arabs are afflicted with poverty, ignorance, ill-health, and dogma cluttered minds. Arab rulers manage to rule for life with the help of the sword and religious intoxicants.

You asked: “What is the first step in creating a secular inheritance law in Syria?”

The answer is to get the parliament to enact a modern secular personal status law for the president’s signature.

You asked: “Would you send the army to the street if 90% of your people (including 90% of your army) reject your step?”

In answer, I do not believe that 90% of Syrians would reject modernity. Not even a quarter of 90%. Why? Because women, one half of the population, would welcome their manumission from men’s subjugation. Most of the enlightened and educated men would also welcome the granting of their daughters, wives, mothers, and sisters the dignity of equal legal rights to those of men. The loud minority of Islamists could be dealt with by the security forces.

The benefits arising from such a reform would justify the risk. That the security men might be warning against reform could be the result of timidity and exaggerated fear. The easy option for the generals is to resist reform, even at the expense of condemning the country to stagnation. Such voices should be ignored or replaced.

As for fighting corruption, I hope you are not saying that corruption should be accepted as a way of life in Syria. Two wrongs do not equal one right. The bribor and the bribee are in the wrong, children should be taught.

Population growth is unaffordable in poor countries. Size and volume is not the issue here. Rather, it is the quality of the person as a productive unit. Illiterate and unskilled workers in ill- health are a burden rather than an asset. A healthy educated population produces better soldiers.

I sense in your reference to the inheritance issue concern that it would challenge the religious sensibilities of 90% of the population. By extension, you might be concerned over religious reform in general. While I understand and appreciate your concern I would like to say that most of the recommendations in the article have no religious connotation; namely, improving the quality of Syria’s statistics, better tax collection, reallocation of resources from irrigation and the military to more rewarding investments.

Elie

November 8th, 2010, 11:08 am

 

LeoLeoni said:

Mr President,

Article 25 section 3 of the Syrian constitution states that all citizens have equal rights and duties under the law.

25/3- المواطنون متساوون أمام القانون في الحقوق والواجبات .

In addition, Article 45 of the Constitution states that the state guarantees women all opportunities enabling them to fully and effectively participate in the political, social, cultural, and economic life. The state removes the restrictions that prevent women’s development and participation in building the socialist Arab society.

لمادة الخامسة والأربعون

تكفل الدولة للمرأة جميع الفرص التي تتيح لها المساهمة الفعالة والكاملة في الحياة السياسية والاجتماعية والثقافية والاقتصادية وتعمل على إزالة القيود التي تمنع تطورها ومشاركتها في بناء المجتمع العربي الاشتراكي

Clearly, the inheritance laws which discriminate against females contradicts with the constitution and the essential notion of human rights.

Like Elie said, It is hard to see anyone rioting against applying equality. The law could equate between males and females heirs when it comes to inheritance, and at the same time, allow for wills to be created. The divisor of the will could devise their property to anyone that suits them, this includes Islamic sharia proportions which grants the sons double the daughters. But if the individual dies intestate (without a will) then there shall be no discrimination between sons and daughters.

Also there shall be no limit on the amount an individual proportions in their will to others. Sharia sets the limit at a 1/3. 2/3 have to go to the immediate family members. This is not fair in the current spirit of the time because there are many instances where individuals do not want their distant relatives (for example) to be granted anything. They might rather have the money given to charity or to a specific individual. It is not the duty of the state to set limits on wills.

November 8th, 2010, 12:28 pm

 

Badr said:

The real weapon that Syria has to protect itself from invading Israeli army is its high population growth. That was why Israel accepted to do piece with Egypt and not Syria.

What a brilliant strategy to frighten Israel into giving up the Golan for peace with Syria. Syrian mothers, we call upon you to fulfill your national duty, and breed tens of millions of new fellow citizens, even if they have to live in an abject poverty, and lead a miserable life!

November 8th, 2010, 1:04 pm

 

EIU said:

Elie,

Regarding the real GDP growth figures: the EIU has taken the 4.3% growth rate for 2008 stated in the Central Bank’s main economic indicators as an actual (compared with 5.7% in 2007); for 2009 we have estimated growth at 5.0%, whereas the central bank puts it at 5.9% (we won’t take that as an actual until a fuller breakdown is available from the central bank or the Central Bureau of Statistics; the figure could well be revised down). As you mention, the quality and timeliness of Syrian statistics are generally poor. We haven’t seen the original of the State Planning Commission report that is referred to in the Syria Steps article, but it is quite plausible that a different statisitical analysis could come up with a lower growth rate than the official figures. The report could also be a parting shot from Taysir Reddawi perhaps??

November 8th, 2010, 1:11 pm

 

Elie Elhadj said:

EIU,

Thanks for the elaboration.

Given the challenge of the data, is it not a wonder how decision makers in Damascus arrive at their plans and decisions!?

The IMF’s report on the quality of Syria’s data above mentioned should be embarrassing enough to prompt serious action to ameliorate the deficiencies, not only to satisfy international agencies, but also to help institute a culture of transparency and accountability that would control and protect the nation’s finances.

Elie

November 8th, 2010, 2:30 pm

 

Mr.President said:

BADR,
Are you kidding me? It is the population growth that helped Israel take and keep the West Bank from the Palestinians and not its great army or unlimited western money. I wonder where Israel would be had it not been for the great population growth from ex Soviet countries. It was a wonderful strategy while killing time using a 60+ year piece process. Please tell me what Israeli or western politician is willing to ignite an Israeli civil war? A war that is against 500,000 and growing armed West Bank Jewish settlers. How many world Jews are willing to supply money and arms to support the settlers against the central government?

Mr. President

November 8th, 2010, 3:02 pm

 

Souri said:

Hi again,

What Mr.President says is indeed the official position of Syrian government. This is how the Syrian regime understands social change: a decree from top and the army and secret police carrying out the orders.

Social change in civilized societies does not happen this way. People usually TALK first about the change before it happens. How can any social change happen in Syria when secular activists are not even allowed to talk and are jailed when they dare to talk?

The real problem in Syria is that the Syrian regime regards secular activists and thinkers as a THREAT instead of allies. The regime markets itself in the West only by its virtue of being a so-called “secular” regime in a barbarous Islamist society. This is the only virtue that the regime has and which has kept it in power until now. To allow secular activists to work in Syria would be a deadly threat to the regime, because those secular activists would immediately immerge as a civilized ALTERNATIVE to the regime, and thus undermine its basic dogma of existence. The Syrian regime can only remain in power if the Syrian society REMAINS a barbarous Islamist society and if civilized alternatives do NOT exist.

If we understand this situation, we can understand why the Syrian regime has never made any effort to bring about secular social change in Syria, and why it continues to ban civil reformers from talking and having an influence, while it has fully allowed backwarded Islamists to talk and dominate the Syrian society.

The Syrian regimes NEEDS the Syrian society to remain a backwarded sectarian society if it wants to remain in power. This is the only way the regime can maintain the support of the West and the religious minorities in Syria.

November 8th, 2010, 3:44 pm

 

Souri said:

As for the over-breeding defense strategy, I don’t think the Syrian government thinks like that anymore. They have just started some modest measures to control birth rates, especially in the eastern region. There are also some attempts to increase public awareness on the issue.

A big population is not of any defensive value when it is poor, unemployed, uneducated, unhealthy, and disgruntled. This is a major source for social and political instability like Elie explained well in his article.

November 8th, 2010, 5:41 pm

 

majedkhaldoon said:

Secularism is not compatible with middle east people thinking,believes and religions,secularism is a form of dictatorship,and supported by dictators,secularism is the enemy of freedom and democratic system,it implies excluding large segment of people,who believe in their religion,if we to have free election in Syria, and I mean completely free,who will win ?, the answer is clear the religious people will win,we have seen what happened in Turkey,in Gazza and we know who will win in Egypt if there is completely free election.
Secularism is immitation of the west, as if the west is ideal, it is not, we have seen the west way of life has led us to severe financial crisis,economists have proven over and over that they are wrong, socially the diseases in the west are widespread like Aids,gonorrhea,syphylis,alcoholism drug abuse, society where divorce is 25 %,and 50% of the other people are living like a cat and a dog,families are dispersed,people hardly talk or know their neigbours,I hardly call it true community,prisons are full,corruption in secular society is widespread,while religion call for love and friendship among people, secularism call for envy and jealousy,and encourage law suites.
the idea that was brought by Elie that if we ban marriage where man marry four wives the economy will floorish and boom, my question , how many people where a man is married to four wives in Syria? I do not know of any, and if we are to ban this kind of marriage, how many will be effected by this ban ?, and how is it that such a ban will floorish the economy and cause boom?

November 9th, 2010, 9:03 am

 

Alex said:

Elie, Thank you for this logical and convincing list of the five structural factors that can help accelerate economic growth. It is always a pleasure to read your (and Ehsani’s) concise and balanced
contributions at SC.

I would like to mention the following universal factors that are not easily under the control of the leadership of Syria:

1) People of “the south” (Syrians included) are present Hedonistic or Past oriented. (see animated video clip below)

2) Even in the United States, more young people are dropping out of school or staying in school but finding it too “analog” and too rigid for what they are accustomed to when they spend hours each day controlling the show … sitting at their computer at home playing games. (see animated video clip below)

3) The trend of a distribution of wealth that is becoming more top-heavy in many countries, is not limited to Syria. Here is what Nicholas Kristof wrote in the New York Times yesterday:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/07/opinion/07kristof.html?_r=4

The richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of income, up from almost 9 percent in 1976. As Timothy Noah of Slate noted in an excellent series on inequality, the United States now arguably has a more unequal distribution of wealth than traditional banana republics like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guyana.

C.E.O.’s of the largest American companies earned an average of 42 times as much as the average worker in 1980, but 531 times as much in 2001. Perhaps the most astounding statistic is this: From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent.

4) The perceived “uproar in Syria’s labor relations” is also mirrored elsewhere. Here is a piece in the Huffington Post today that describes what Americans who are out of work, or those who are afraid to be out of work are going through:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/05/study-longterm-unemployme_n_779743.html

According to a research study conducted by William T. Gallo, professor of health policy and management at CUNY, the six- and ten-year risk of heart attack or stroke in people between 51 and 61 years old who have lost their jobs is more than double that of the employed. Gallo also noticed some stress-related changes in the health behavior of older jobless people: there was less physical activity and an increase in daily cigarette consumption among long-term unemployed smokers, an increased risk of a smoking relapse, and some increased drinking and weight gain, which increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Gallo said that even the risk or fear of losing one’s job was just a strong a predictor as the actual job loss on an older person’s overall health because of internal psychological factors.

I always argue with my friend Ehsani that privatization in Syria should start with a more modest willingness to convert state owned businesses into partnerships between the state and private investors … workers would be trained instead of fired.

November 9th, 2010, 10:15 am

 

5 dancing shlomos said:

Possible assistance that Syria might find useful:

-international community not warring against Syria. this tends to affect an economy no matter how corrupt, weak, strong, healthy, honest.
-rich patron to assist a la Taiwan, japan, s. Korea
-copy Israel – steal: ideas, technology, land, resources, labor, and receive, free, $200 – $400 billion per year from the west.

These few items will assist any emerging economy no matter the type of govt.

also

castrate all suggestions from univ of Chicago(Friedman idiot-thugs), Harvard, imf, world bank, u.s. treasury, u.s. fed, u.s. period.

November 9th, 2010, 11:14 am

 

Ghat Al Bird said:

ALEX.

Always find your pointed comments as in #18 – 4 above quite pointed.

There are thousands of “employable” people in the US that have not worked in years. According to several critics the number of people in the US that are “umemployed” almost equal the population of Canada. Some foresee that in the future some citizens will never “work” and be provided a stipend using the British model.

Dr. EE who lives in England might have some factual data/staistics.

I do not have the exact number of Canada’s population but I would guess its between 35 and 40 million. I would think that once the unemploed US population reaches a critical stage that the issue of “private versus public financing” becomes irrelevant and costly in terms of public health as erported in the huffingtonpost.

November 9th, 2010, 12:57 pm

 

Alex said:

Thank you Ghat!

I hope you will like this clip too. Young Jewish protesters disrupted Netanyahu’s address to the General Assembly of Jewish Federations:

Young Jews Disrupt Netanyahu at Jewish General Assembly from stefanie fox on Vimeo.

November 9th, 2010, 2:00 pm

 

Alex said:

http://politicalcorrection.org/fpmatters/201011080003

Netanyahu Tests Obama, Again
November 08, 2010 6:15 pm ET — MJ Rosenberg

Is this is a sick joke?

While visiting Israel in March, Vice President Joe Biden delivered a speech that delighted the Israeli right and its followers here. The key passage was this: “When it comes to Israel’s security there can be no daylight — no daylight — between Israel and the US.”

That formulation, which was devised by the pro-Israel lobby here, pleased the Netanyahu government, which interprets it to mean that Israel has carte blanch from Washington to do whatever it wants. No other country in the world enjoys such a pledge from the United States.

Within hours, the Israeli government responded to Biden’s endorsement by announcing that it would be building 1,600 new settler units in Arab East Jerusalem.

That announcement — and the slap in the face that it represented — led to the Spring 2010 crisis in US-Israel relations that seemed to indicate that, at long last, the United States was standing up to Israel on the settlement issue. In Israel, it was widely speculated that Netanyahu’s government would fall. Many believed that the dispute would force him to implement a settlement freeze or face serious consequences.

But then, surprising even Netanyahu, the Obama administration surrendered. Without Israel conceding anything, the administration let just a short time pass before it not only caved on settlements but denied that there ever was a crisis between the two governments.

And the sad thing is that Obama could have prevailed. The Israeli right knew it had a weak hand to play while the Israeli peace camp was suddenly optimistic that Obama would be the “honest broker” he had promised to be.

But political considerations prevailed. Despite the fact that polls have always shown that most supporters of Israel in this country oppose settlements, the lobby and the Democratic Party donors who take their cues from the lobby warned Obama to back off.

Obama did. And the administration has been flailing in the region ever since.

And today the Israeli government offered another demonstration of just how misguided the administration was when it wussed out.

Incredibly, last night Vice President Joe Biden again offered up the “no daylight” formulation in a major speech to a Jewish organization in New Orleans. (Netanyahu himself spoke to the same audience today.)

Biden used the exact same words he had used in March — “no daylight, no daylight” — and, guess what, the Netanyahu government responded a few hours later by insulting him and the United States in precisely the same way it did in March.

It announced another thousand new settlement units in East Jerusalem. The progression of events is so identical that, when I read today’s story, I thought that the computer had somehow pulled up the story from March.

But, no, it’s not the same story, although it is the same Netanyahu.

The question is: what will Obama do this time? Especially when it is clear that this latest announcement was timed to kill off US-sponsored negotiations. (See this analysis by Americans for Peace Now and this.)

Following Tuesday’s “shellacking,” the big question in Washington is whether the president is going to push back against ugly slaps like this or simply try to conciliate his adversaries.

Netanyahu, who grew up in the United States, is as much a Republican as he is a Likudnik (he worked with Speaker Gingrich against President Clinton) and will do everything he can to sink Obama and the Democrats. The President needs to understand that when he plans his response to Netanyahu’s latest diss.

What should that response be? It should not be a statement by the State Department that settlement expansion is “counterproductive.” No, Obama himself should simply restate US opposition to settlements. And he should say that the United States believes that a settlement freeze must be implemented (most importantly in East Jerusalem) as a prelude to direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians toward a final status solution. He should say that those negotiations must produce an actual map of Israel and Palestine — with Israel free to do whatever it likes in the area that will be Israel. And Palestinians free to build their state in Palestine.

The settlement issue will simply solve itself by the establishment of borders. (No country can build in another country. Period.)

The administration must not even consider ignoring Netanyahu’s provocation — and not only because that would give a signal to all the president’s adversaries that he will easily be rolled over the next two years.

He must fight back because, as General Petraeus warned him, US interests throughout the Middle East (i.e., Iraq and Afghanistan) are imperiled by the perception that the United States is the tail wagged by the Israeli dog. He also needs to do it for the Palestinians and for Israel, too.

Just yesterday the Washington Post reported on the declining morale of the Israeli army. Increasingly, young Israelis are ducking service in the military. In a country where just a few years ago draft dodging and refusal to do reserve duty was almost unheard of, large numbers of Israelis today do everything they can to avoid service. The reason why is obvious. It’s one thing to defend one’s country. It’s another to defend an occupation.

If Obama truly is Israel’s friend, he will help Israel out of the hole it has dug itself into. No one else has the leverage. No one uses its United Nations veto on Israel’s behalf over and over again, even when the State Department itself is deeply embarassed to do so. No one else provides Israel with almost $4 billion a year.

The United States has both the right and the obligation to demand that the settlement insanity stop now. Neither this country nor its president should be treated as if they barely matter.

November 9th, 2010, 2:17 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

“I always argue with my friend Ehsani that privatization in Syria should start with a more modest willingness to convert state owned businesses into partnerships between the state and private investors … workers would be trained instead of fired.”

Alex,

For years now, the state has tried every permutation and combination to revitalize the state sector in an effort to stop or reverse the repeated losses. Predictably, none have worked.

Your “partnership” suggestion has been tried and is on the table now. The reason it has not worked is because no bank would be willing to fund or lend to an operation without collateral.

Suppose the state partners with private investors in its tire manufacturing operation. Banks that would lend to upgrade the machines would usually want to hold the real estate as collateral. But, in most cases this is owned by the state. The banks have no recourse to that. They cannot claim such assets when the company defaults or is unable to repay its loans. Such ideas sound good on paper till you sit down and try to make them work. Private investors usually don’t find governments as good business “partners”. The latter group simply does not have the same incentive system as private investors. To put it rather bluntly, the vast majority of the state sector is beyond repair. It will also take more than “training” to get the current crop of state employees to adapt to the new demands of the economy.

We must ask ourselves two simple questions:

1- Does it make sense for the government to be in the business of making tires, shoes, cloths, beer, canned food or bottled water?
2- If not (assuming most rationale people agree with this answer), is it better to lay the groundwork for a privatization exit strategy over say a 10-year period or is the country better off looking for ways to fix a broken system through illusive partnerships/re-training/islah idari…etc?

I think that you know where I stand. What I am calling for is a credible national dialogue rather than shooting both the message and the messengers when it comes to the idea of privatization. Those that are against the idea are yet to explain how the current system is sustainable in the long run. I think most in the government know that the current numbers do not add up if we keep the system in place.

November 9th, 2010, 3:20 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex, Re: #22,

If I was Netanyahu, and I never intended to give up the West Bank, E. Jerusalem, the Golan, etc., then I would not dare do these “slaps in the face”, as we have seen in recent months. I would, instead, let my best people (Livni, Barak) numb to death all the politicians in DC, including Obama (why oppose him if I don’t have to). I certainly wouldn’t let Lieberman represent my country.

But if I was Netanyahu, and I did believe that the 1967 borders will be necessary in order to achieve peace, then I’d face two terrible dilemmas: First, do I risk my own skin by declaring this belief right now, knowing full well that many in Israel oppose me, and may bring me down. Or, second, do I try to create a reality whereby Israel is forced to comply with certain steps, the last of which end at the 1967 borders? Certainly I will be deemed a national-hero more if I “stood up” to U.S. pressure, than if I nodded each time Washington said “Settlement buildup runs contrary to Peace…”

In Shamir’s days, I would never have thought that he created a reality that brought upon Israel the wrath of Baker-Bush (which ended up forcing Madrid). But in Netanyahu’s case, I certainly wouldn’t rule it out!

November 9th, 2010, 3:35 pm

 

Elie Elhadj said:

Alex,

Thanks.

Re. your point no. 1. Most of the Syrians, Arab professionals in general, who settled abroad are doing rather well. Meanwhile, their fellow compatriots back home are not. “People of the South” are not intrinsically unproductive.

Your point no. 2. I read point no. 2 to mean that Syrian youth will be excused if they drop out because in so doing they merely emulate American drop outs and that such behavior is out of government control.

Your point no. 3. “The trend of a distribution of wealth that is becoming more top-heavy in many countries, is not limited to Syria”.

Disparities in income and wealth are not the issue. The issue is that wealth, which is created through corruption and illicit wheeling and dealing in addition to avoiding paying taxes.

Point no. 4. “The perceived ‘uproar in Syria’s labor relations’ is also mirrored elsewhere”.

That the uproar is mirrored elsewhere does not make the pain of being laid off in Syria any less painful. Let’s remember that Syria’s social safety net is considerably less generous than that in many other countries.

Finally, you said: “Syria should … convert state owned businesses into partnerships between the state and private investors … workers would be trained instead of fired”.

For partnerships to succeed, the partners should be of like character, skill, and ability, etc… Governments everywhere, Syria included, are not good businessmen. Even if some private investor agrees to partner with the government, how would the shareholding be divided? Who would be the manager? What authority would government bureaucrats (who had run the business to the ground in the first place) have.

As an alternative to privatization, the government might opt to retain 100% ownership but engage a private sector manager, company or individual, with a proven track record of restructuring loss-making businesses. But, even in such a case there is no escaping from the fact that re-engineered work methods would involve drastic reductions in the employment roll. I have seen businesses cut down their work force by 50%, yet produced bigger volume of products than before.

As for training, the re-engineered business will apply work methods that are efficient with the help of automation to reduce labor cost. Typically, a minority of the old staff might be trained and retained. The majority would not be. The culture of the new re-engineered business differs from that of the old and most people would find it difficult to adjust to the new methods and supervisors.

Elie

November 9th, 2010, 3:48 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Elie,

In addition to the arguments that you presented, please note the issue of funding and bank financing that I alluded to in my comment above. As a banker yourself, I am sure that you are aware that in such “partnership” structures where a government is a partner, it is difficult for banks to secure their collateral. Indeed, this has been a major stumbling block recently as the government has attempted to institute a B.O.T framework with the private sector. Banks have no idea how to secure their funds in the case of default. This problem is yet to be resolved in any partnership structures where the government is a party especially that the real estate is typically owned by them.

November 9th, 2010, 3:59 pm

 

Elie Elhadj said:

EHSANI2,

You are absolutely correct. Thanks for pointing this factor out.

Elie

November 9th, 2010, 4:08 pm

 

Alex said:

Dear Elie and Ehsani

1) Education: I absolutely recognize the urgency of education reforms. I was merely trying to add something … to point to an issue that is not Syria specific … the brains of kids and teens today are wired differently. They have no patience to education in general… becuase it is “analog” in nature … becuase they can not multi-task (linear class format) … because they have no control (can’t click on a mouse button to take action) …

If Syria is to reform its education system, I am convinced that this is one main issue that should be addressed.

One example: I recently spoke to a 14 year old who is obviously a brilliant kid … he sounded like a drop-out candidate to me. He had no patience to attending his (French) school in Aleppo anymore… it was too slow for him.

2) Partnership:

Where there is a will there is a way. Many government owned businesses are attractive not because of their current assets but because of their potential for generating high profits if well managed and financed. Many formulas can be considered for partnership … Elie mentioned private management (with performance contingent Bonus structure) …

Banks are not always needed to finance expansion or modernization. Private investors might have enough cash to handle the modest investments required in many cases.

Syria hates revolutionary approaches. If you want to help them discover the beauty of privatization, try to think harder of creative incremental steps along that road.

November 9th, 2010, 5:23 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Alex,

“I” don’t need to think harder. “They” do. Since Syria hates “revolutionary?” approaches, it is their job to find alternatives. I wish them the best of luck.

November 9th, 2010, 6:37 pm

 

Norman said:

Alex, Ehsani, Elie,

I do not know why the Syrian government has to privatize the factories, why can;t the government continue to make the same poor quality tires, shoes, beer but products that the poor Syrians can afford and satisfy with , while leaving the private sector to invest in any industry they like with assistance from the government with tax break and financing to make good and even excellent tires , beer, shoes that can be marketed in the EU and surrounding states, with time and improving the income of the Syrian people they will start buying the better quality products and government factories will close as most employees would have migrated to the private sector.

November 9th, 2010, 10:49 pm

 

Norman said:

Shai,

What kind of pressure you think Netanyahu is waiting for ?.

November 9th, 2010, 10:51 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Assef Shawkat Reportedly Involved in Hariri Killing
Syrian President Bashar Assad’s son-in-law Assef Shawkat is reportedly involved in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot said.

It said Maj. Gen. Shawkat is likely to be summoned for trial by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

Aharonot said Brig. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, is also likely involved in the Hariri crime.

It quoted experts inside and outside Israel who are following up on the Hariri murder case as saying that STL Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare refused an urgent request to postpone issuance of the report’s conclusions about for fear that Hizbullah would rein in power.

For this reason, Aharonot wrote, the STL report will be issued in December as planned.

It said the experts believe that data on the involvement of Shawkat and other senior officials in the Syrian military intelligence in the Hariri assassination has led U.S. President Barack Obama to change his position on Syria.

November 9th, 2010, 11:12 pm

 

LeoLeoni said:

The government hasn’t allowed private sector to flourish because it knows that public companies will go out of business if that is fulfilled. Public companies going out of business means a lot more dissent from the labour class (bulk of baath party supporters). So the decision makers found it better to dissatisfy some private investors as opposed to anger the tens of thousands in the public sector. The public companies wanted to have a monopoly on their substandard products since it is the only way to survive. This explains why imports for all sorts of goods were restricted for a very long time. Even with a monopoly, many public companies have a hard time surviving due to business being politicized. Business becomes profitable when it makes rational economic decisions, not political ones. Companies hire not because they want to make a political party or person happy, but because they find it efficient to do so when an additional employee gives a positive marginal rate of return. I find it hard to expect a competent manager willing to work at a public company knowing they will lack independence and that most of their decisions will be handed over to them due to a political motive. I remember few years ago I spoke with a manager at a public glass company, and he was telling me how many employees, due to being members of the Baath Party, can get away with barely getting any work done, without having the power to fire or even discipline. In the end, it’s the taxpayers money and the resources of the country that these companies are wasting by selling bad products at a loss. There are many other sectors that this valuable money can be spent in.

Alex,

It’s ironic that you say Syria hates revolutionary approaches. According to Article 6 of the Baath party constitution, it states: “The (BASP) is revolutionary and believes that its main objectives in the resurrection of Pan-Arab Nationalism and the establishment of Socialism can not be fulfilled but through the road of revolution and struggle; and that dependence on slow development and contentment with superficial, partial reform menace these objectives with failure and loss.”
http://www.baath-party.org/eng/constitution2.htm

It seems that the ruling party for the past 47 years doesn’t believe in gradual change but in revolutionary approaches, consistent with the way it took power by force and how it radically nationalized the industries and businesses. Anyways, I don’t know what’s revolutionary about saying the government has no business getting involved in cigarettes, alcohol, tires, etc. especially when these companies are operating at a loss.

November 10th, 2010, 12:21 am

 

Elie Elhadj said:

Alex,

Thanks for the explanation. I now understand the meaning of point 2 in your comment 18.

Re. partnership and capital… For a business to be financially efficient, a certain proportion of funding is advised to be in the form of borrowing. Capital is the most expensive form of financing.

NORMAN,

The word “market” in Syria’s new “social market economy” signifies, by definition, market efficiencies, not only in rate of return investment decisions but also in allowing competition to take its course. To create one set of industries for export only (in free zones, for example) in order to dump on local consumers inferior expensive products is anomalous. It would be better to retire the laid off employees early, or transfer them to whatever work they might be able to do in government offices.

LEOLEONI,

You are absolutely correct in saying:

1. “The public companies wanted to have a monopoly on their substandard products since it is the only way to survive”. Competition is an integral part of “market” economy.

2. “In the end, it’s the taxpayers money and the resources of the country that these companies are wasting by selling bad products at a loss”. So very true.

MAJIDKHALDOUN,

Nice hearing from you.

You said: “the idea that was brought by Elie that if we ban marriage where man marry four wives the economy will floorish and boom…”

At issue here is human and women rights the absence of which inhibit the contribution of one half of the population. The issue is not only men being allowed to marry four wives. The problem goes well beyond that to being able to divorce any one of the wives without giving reason, to a woman being equal to half the male in a Shari’a court of law, to being offered as a misyar “wife” or a mut’a “wife”, to being subjected to those insane humiliating fatwa’s coming out of orthodox clerics from Al-Azhar and Riyadh, all of which, by the way, are armed with impressive isnads.

The issue is human and women rights. Equality before the law between men and women is a sacred right. It should be enshrined in the laws of every civilized society. It might have been suitable in seventh century Arabia for men to give women less rights than give themselves but certainly not in today’s Syria.

Why should a woman not be able to divorce her husband with the same ease as a man can divorce his wife? Why should your daughter or wife, just for example, not be equal to some vagrant illiterate male in a Syrian court? Is this God’s justice? Is this how the Prophet treated Khadija? Who inserted all these exploitative inhumane discriminatory rules against women in Islamic law? Please don’t tell me God did. Why not follow the example of the Prophet and Khadija?

The people as represented in parliament must decide. The people must be the lawmakers today.

Whatever happened to the Hadith: “My community reaches no agreement that is an error”? Why not let the “community decide? Electricity, computers, telecommunications, and modern polling techniques have made referendums on specific issues simple, just as these technologies have made the election of community representatives easy. Modern technology has rendered the consensus of the ulama obsolete. Certainly, the consensus of the community is superior to the consensus of a caucus of unelected ulama, unless the caucus of the ulama is a committee within the parliament.

Regardless of who inserted these inhumane discriminatory rules, they do not belong in Syria’s society any more. Let Syria’s parliament decide.

You talk about democracy and the importance of free elections. Ever since when democracy became relevant to the men of God. Give them the chance of free election and they’ll take over city hall, throw away the keys, and declare their godly mission to persecute others and establish darkness everywhere they go. It happened in Christian countries before secularization It continues in Arab countries regrettably, though the clerics are under the thumb of politicians today, being used to keep the faithful under control.

Secularism in the West has its shortcomings. However, why don’t you take all the wonderful things Western and ignore the bad ones? Just imagine a Syria, Arab and Muslim worlds, without the goods and services they import from the West! Would you want to live in such a world! You undoubtedly attended some university in that evil disgusting West!

Elie

November 10th, 2010, 4:11 am

 

Shai said:

Norman,

I apologize for interjecting on a discussion about Syria’s Reform Process, but I was merely responding to Alex’s comment about Israel. As to your question, I don’t know if Netanyahu is waiting for pressure, but if he HAS accepted (in his own mind) that the 1967 borders are the only solution, then he might be “waiting” for the type of pressure the U.S. applied during the Bush-Baker era. If he believes that we can squeeze the Palestinians (and possibly the Syrians) to the bone, and still get “peace”, then he’s as delusional as Lieberman. And you know my view already – I don’t believe he is.

November 10th, 2010, 4:40 am

 

Norman said:

Shai,

I hope that you are right ,

November 10th, 2010, 4:50 am

 

majedkhaldoon said:

Elie
Again and again you make controversial contradictory,unrelated false statements,far away from the question that I ask,evading the question,while talking about numerous subject which will take for ever to discuss.the question is how the economy will flourish by a ban on four wives in Syria,if it is not the issue then why do you bring it?women human rights equality is social issue that I advocate,please be direct and do not beat around the bush,tell me how the economy will get better if we issue a ban on four wives in Syria,will such ban increase productivity,or quality and how?

November 10th, 2010, 8:12 am

 

Ghat Al Bird said:

NORMAN.

According to a major web-site Netanyahu is along with Lieberman but agents of those who really call the shots at least in the US. The list below is the justification for Joe Biden, the US Vice President, to state that “the US and Israel are bonded together FOREVER”, and for Bibi to ignore Obama.

List of Zionist Organisations in the USA

Ameinu
American Friends of Likud
American Gathering/Federation of Jewish Holocaust Survivors
America-Israel Friendship League
American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)
American Jewish Committee
American Jewish Congress
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
American Sephardi Federation
American Zionist Movement
Americans for Peace Now
AMIT
Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
Association of Reform Zionists of America
B’nai B’rith International
Bnai Zion
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
State of Israel Bonds/Development Corporation for Israel
Emunah of America
Friends of Israel Defense Forces
Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
Jewish Community Centers Association
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs
Jewish Labor Committee
Jewish National Fund
Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America (JWV)
Jewish Women International
MERCAZ USA, Zionist Organization of the Conservative Movement
NA’AMAT USA
NCSJ Advocates on behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia
National Council of Jewish Women
National Council of Young Israel
World ORT – ORT America branch
Rabbinical Assembly (RA)
Rabbinical Council of America (RCA)
Religious Zionists of America (RZA or Mizrahi)
Union for Reform Judaism (URJ)
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (Orthodox Union or OU)
United Jewish Communities (UJC)
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ)
Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO)
Women’s League for Conservative Judaism (WLCJ)
Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ)
Workmen’s Circle (Arbeter Ring)
World Zionist Executive, US
Zionist Organization of America (ZOA)
And here is the good bit …
.
Every organisation above is ALSO a member of what is called :
“The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations” (this is the daddy of them all !)
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (CoP; often referred to as the Presidents’ Conference) is a “non-profit organisation” that describes itself as “a central address for key American, Israeli and other world leaders to consult on issues of critical concern to the Jewish community.”
The Conference meets to make major statements or meet with important leaders. The Conference was founded to promote the state of Israel in the USA and that remains its primary task.

November 10th, 2010, 8:22 am

 

LeoLeoni said:

majed,

To deal with your question, the amount of kids an average person with several wives begets is a burden on society given the overpopulation of the country. This is usually more than the average number of kids in a monogamous relationship. Plus people who tend to marry more than 4 wives tend to be religious who seem to never like the idea of using contraception. So this adds to the irresponsible child production. It’s known that Syria is suffering from overpopulation and is on a mission trying to create awareness to reduce the number of the family. A population growth that is faster than GDP growth is detrimental for society. This is just one dimension of the issue, you still have lots of other dimensions regarding human and women rights that Elie discussed.

November 10th, 2010, 9:08 am

 

majedkhaldoon said:

Leoleoni
do you have statistic to prove your point ,in Syria?

November 10th, 2010, 9:37 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

Leoleoni very aptly expanded on my “revolutionary?” insertion in 29 above.

Indeed, it was really “revolutionary” when private property was confiscated back then. If privatization is revolutionary then most governments in the world are culprits. Has Turkey been revolutionary?

Alex,

I am well aware that the government will not privatize and even come close to what I think they should do. This is due to two reasons:

1- Ideological. 2- The lack of political will.

In general, sticking with the status quo is the easiest option. Why run the risk if you can convince yourself that “things are not that bad”?

The truth is that I am not naïve enough to believe that this government will ever privatize

November 10th, 2010, 9:38 am

 

Elie Elhadj said:

MAJID,

You ask: “how the economy will flourish by a ban on four wives in Syria…”

The four wives issue is a part and parcel of a Shari’a law that allows and encourages a bunch of other discriminatory things against women, discrimination that makes women regard themselves as lesser beings; thwarting their participation as full members of society.

The four wives thing cannot be segregated from the rest of the provisions against women’s equality with men. The whole package is a single unit and beyond dissection to pieces.

I am not calling only for stopping men from marrying four wives. Even if marrying four wives is good for the economy (and it is not as LEOLEONI explained), I still call for removing the provision from Syria’s law books. The issue is not merely economics. The issue is one of human rights, of women rights, of self-respect, of equality with men, issues that go beyond money.

I am advocating granting dignity to wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters. Men must not be able to divorce their wives without giving reason. Courts must not treat women as half men. God’s justice must not sanction such primitiveness. That men’s bullyness is encouraged and abetted by the country’s law is shameful to the entire country. You surely do not want your daughter to be maltreated by her husband in such manner. Do You?

I am calling for enacting a modern law that does away not only with the four wives provision but with the entire corpus of God’s family law.

I cannot be clearer on this issue any more.

Thank you LEOLEONI for your added explanation.

Elie

November 10th, 2010, 9:48 am

 

Alex said:

Shai,

While none of us has access to the contents of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s brain, it is not that difficult to realize that his intentions are the same “smart” intentions he always had … to outsmart the Arabs and to offer very little of the occupied territories if he absolutely had to … an offer he is sure the Arabs will refuse and in that way Israel will not be portrayed as the obstacle to peace that it is.

If he really wanted peace with Syria he would do what he easily can to demonstrate his positive intentions … it is so simple and easily doable … he has to meet with his loyal agents in the US … and he has to tell them that if they really love Israel, they need to relax a bit on the opinion pieces and the Think Tank panel discussions and the published “policy papers” that they come up with on a consistent basis each time there is a hint of a dialog between the Obama administration and Damascus.

The passion Likud’s friends have when they attack Syria leaves no need for intentions guessing. Netanyahu’s allies are ensuring the United States will not work for peace between Syria and Israel and this is what he wants.

And then there is Iran … do you have any doubt that Netanyahu wants “a strike” on Iran?

If the US does end up going to war (there is no isolated clean strike option here) then I can’t see why the world should not see Netanyahu (and Israeli hawks who are pushing every day for that war) as “evil” as Saddam and other similar lunatics in history who never learned from lessons.

November 10th, 2010, 9:52 am

 

majedkhaldoon said:

Elie
You failed to prove the connection,what you are talking about is social issue not economy,why dont you admit that?such a ban will have no effect on flourishing the syrian economy.
Look Elie ,I like moslems and christians to live togather in harmony and respect of each other, you are guilty of islamophobia,which will cause discourse and rift between them,Islamophobia is a zionist agenda.
Leoleoni
do you live in colorado?

November 10th, 2010, 10:12 am

 

LeoLeoni said:

Majid,

I don’t think a survey on this has been taken in Syria. In the meantime, I have yet encountered a polygamous family in Syria with less than 3 kids, the national average. (WORLD FACTBOOK)

My problem with those who say polygamy should be left unrestricted is that they are inconsistent. If you accept a man marrying more than 1 wife, then with the same logic you should not have a problem with women being allowed marrying more than 1 husband. But since most people would never accept that, then they should not accept polygamy on either side. You either accept it for both, or prohibit it for both. Any other position is inherent discrimination.

No I don’t live in Colorado.

November 10th, 2010, 10:49 am

 

Alex said:

Elie, Ehsani, Norman, Leoleoni

The revolutionary attitude of the Baath party started to evaporate the day President Hafez Assad took power … through a “corrective movement”.

Anything else is an old party slogan and nothing more.

Privatization is considered revolutionary by many, and it is considered a necessity by others. What I am saying is that logical and constructive reforms are being introduced gradually… the cautious ones (the “old guard” etc) need to feel that their opinion was taken into account … at least initially.

Then a year or two later, after the first step taken proves that it was not that risky or not foolish, more aggressive and more ambitious steps can be taken when they face less resistance.

If you care to help and advise decision makers in Syria on how to START to move along the privatization road … help them find modest first steps they can take, even if it is not the most “financially efficient” if a certain proportion of funding is NOT in the form of borrowing and even if “Capital is the most expensive form of financing.” … optimization can come next, first they need to dip their feet in the water to test it before they jump.

November 10th, 2010, 11:18 am

 

Syrian Nationalist Party said:

@LEOLEONI

“It seems that the ruling party for the past 47 years doesn’t believe in gradual change but in revolutionary approaches, consistent with the way it took power by force and how it radically nationalized the industries and businesses. Anyways, I don’t know what’s revolutionary about saying the government has no business getting involved in cigarettes, alcohol, tires, etc. especially when these companies are operating at a loss.”

These cigarettes, tobacco, alcohol, tires, Cotton mills, textiles, land, etc, none was State property, it was people properties that were stolen from them by Baathshit under Nationalization scam, very little if any capital is imputed since by the Baathist regime.

It may not be profitable for the Nation, but sure was profitable to the Party bosses, army profiteers that found building mansions is more important than liberating Iskenderun and Golan. It is very hard for these self enriched political and army mafia bosses to let go with these freebee obtained industries when they have used it for 45 years as cash cow, so they are opting for “PARTNERSHIPS”, meaning, they keep all their illicit earned cash in Swiss and U.K. banks and the new investor partner will put all the cash needed for modernization. A more appropriate action will be to give back all the stolen lands and industries, back to which it was stolen from, along with proper compensation for lost profit, lost potential and pull some of the stolen cash stashed in U.K. banks and grant it out for the original owner to rebuild and modernize all.

November 10th, 2010, 11:52 am

 

norman said:

Alex,
I do not think that the Syrian government is worry about the feeling of the old guards she is worry about the people who will lose their jobs without a safety net ,

About the small steps , how about letting the private sector invest in factories even if the government make the same , like Shoes, beer tires , so the government factories will produce low quality products that people can afford and when these people can afford better quality products they can buy from other places including imports , have two tracks not this or that .

By the way ,Leoleoni ,
What is wrong with having more children if you can provide for them , I have 4 and would have loved to have more,
Majid

Elie is not Islamophobe but i agree with you that the government especially the Syrian government should not interfere in Islamic laws, it should encourage one wife and show the people the benefit but some time when the first wife can not have children or is sick with chronic disease , having a second wife if the first one agrees is probably preferred to divorce ,

The priority should to improving the economy social change will move a long .

November 10th, 2010, 12:20 pm

 

majedkhaldoon said:

Leoleoni
I abhore polygamy,and I believe what is right for a man,should be right for a woman,and vise versa,if my sister was married to a man and he marry another woman,I will insist on divorce,but this is social issue, a ban will not cause economic boom.
You know john Stewart,the comidian,he is the youngest in his family which has his parent and nine kids,they all came fron one mother.
I think there is medical evidence that the less kids the higher the intelligence,Obama is an example.

November 10th, 2010, 12:38 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Alex

“first they need to dip their feet in the water to test it before they jump.”

I thought that we have had enough time with our (their?) feet dipped in the water no? How long is one supposed to stay in a dip mode? What are the prerequisites to go from dip to jump?

November 10th, 2010, 1:02 pm

 

Alex said:

Norman, the “old guard” is the simplified way of saying “those in the regime who do not like change” … they are still there, some of them are not old. Those in charge of security are usually against change … and in the case of privatization, they will probably make the argument you made “people who lose their jobs will be very unhappy”

Ehsani,

They did not really start dipping their feet in the privatization pool … did they?

November 10th, 2010, 1:16 pm

 

norman said:

Ehsani,

Probably a push from Economists like you and public demand

November 10th, 2010, 1:18 pm

 

LeoLeoni said:

Norman,
There is nothing wrong with having more children if you can provide for them. The problem is with those who can’t, and apparently there are a lot of them.

You said: “but some time when the first wife can not have children or is sick with chronic disease , having a second wife if the first one agrees is probably preferred to divorce”

Well, then, with that same logic, when the first husband can not have children or becomes chronically ill, then having a 2nd husband is preferable to divorce. Would you say then the government should permit women marrying more than 1 husband?

There are a lot of advances in medicine when it comes to begetting children. Parents have variety of ways in begetting children that were not available in the past. Another alternative is adoption. In Islam, fathers of adopted children are not allowed to give their name to their children. This is absurd in the 21st century, the same way as it is absurd to permit polygamous marriages.

November 10th, 2010, 1:20 pm

 

norman said:

Leolioni,

She should be able if she finds a husband that agrees and the first husband does not mind , We have to be real that the issue is that for the man to have more than one wife is in the Islamic religion while for the woman to have more husbands is not , that the real reason , Islamic scholars should help and put restriction ,
I did not know that adopted children can not take their fathers last name , that is probably part of the tribal culture that we have where the last name define your tribe ,and that is absolutely wrong , and the government can allow that and leave it to the people ,

November 10th, 2010, 1:33 pm

 

Mr.President said:

Elie,
You said “Men must not be able to divorce their wives without giving reason”

They do it in the USA. It is called No Fault Divorce. Men do not have to give the judge a reason or they just make a funny statement like Incompatible… to hide the real reason.
Polygamy and Polyamory (a woman having multiple marriages/lovers during her lifetime) always acted as a tool for a fair distribution of wealth. I did explain this point before.
Watch out Polygamy is a well-known practice in the USA in certain states. Polyamory is also a well-know practice, in the USA and the world, in the Bisexual and lesbian communities. Take a trip to the Castro district of San Francisco and find out for yourself.

Mr.President

November 10th, 2010, 2:22 pm

 

Norman said:

Norman,

It would surely help if Islamic scholars help in discouraging or even prohibiting polygamous marriages, but the reality is that it might not happen. In the meantime we should not wait for an Islamic reformation to happen for us to take legislative or social reforms because we have have to wait a few more decades if not centuries. The legal institution should always be independent from the clergy. Turkey and Tunisia have already taken bold steps in creating civil laws in marriage and their experiment has proven with great success.

President,

Almost everything prohibited is practiced everywhere, but this does not make it lawful. Human and heroine trafficking also occur in the US and Syria, but that neither makes it right or lawful. So I am not sure what you are trying to prove here.

November 10th, 2010, 2:48 pm

 

LeoLeoni said:

Norman,

It would surely help if Islamic scholars help in discouraging or even prohibiting polygamous marriages, but the reality is that it might not happen. In the meantime we should not wait for an Islamic reformation to occur for us to take legislative or social reforms because we might have to wait a few more decades if not centuries. The legal institution should always be independent of the clergy. Turkey and Tunisia have already taken bold steps in creating civil laws in marriage and their experiment has been proven with great success.

President,

Almost everything prohibited is practiced everywhere, but this does not make it lawful. Human and heroine trafficking also occur in the US and Syria, but that neither makes it right or lawful. So I am not sure what you are trying to prove here.

November 10th, 2010, 3:07 pm

 

Elie Elhadj said:

MR.PRESIDENT,

Not giving reason for divorcing his wife shows the ease and simplicity in which the man can divorce his wife.

If this is how a man can behave in the eyes of God, then the wife should be able to divorce her husband with exactly the same ease.

LEOLEONI,

Your logical humane thinking is a breath of fresh air.

Elie

November 10th, 2010, 4:12 pm

 

majedkhaldoon said:

If it is true that Asef Shawkat is involved in Hariri murder,it means that Syrian regime is involved,however we should not reach a conclusion till the tribunal report is issued,I seriously doubt that the Israeli newspaper knows anything about the report yet.
And as far as the false witnesses are concerned,they are not false witnesses till the report is issued,and point to their falsness,this issue is definitly politicised now.

November 10th, 2010, 4:15 pm

 

Alex said:

Powerful piece by Rime Allaf

Syria, or the loneliness of the long-distance runner

http://www.rimeallaf.com/articles/article.php?d=10&m=09&y=2010

Syria has never been in better company, in retrospect. Having lost its strong alliance with Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and having risen up again after a period of suffocating isolation, it seems to be even better placed, strategically and politically. Egypt has become nearly insignificant in the Arab world’s affairs, through its participation in the blockade of Gaza, and Saudi Arabia has had no choice but to accept its anti-Syrian drive had failed, and to step aside while Qatar got Syrian help in solving the last Lebanese stalemate.

Ten years after having stepped into his father’s shoes, there is no doubt that the Syrian president is today satisfied with his achievements, and with the renewed importance his country holds in the region. Syria still has major issues of its own, the Golan being the most important, but it will also continue to have its stakes outside its own borders. For the long distance run still ahead, and even while Israel and its allies continue to threaten its security, it seems that Syria will be a lot less lonely, and lot more confident in its international dealings.

November 11th, 2010, 12:26 am

 

Norman said:

Alex,

Apparently Rima, read what you and others wrote about the rise of Syria, and yeas Syria is like a Camel that runs slowly but continue to run for his goals and reach it .it is more important to reach your goal than reaching no goals but running faster,

November 11th, 2010, 7:32 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

Alex,

Rime offers a pointed review indeed. I wish that she had introduced the 5-seas strategy of the leadership and explained how it has been the driver of the recent Syrian foreign policy. Even this week’s visits to Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania are seen as part of this strategic vision.

It would be interesting to see Dr. Landis write a note on the specifically on the 5-seas strategy and help explain its implications.

November 11th, 2010, 8:43 am

 

Mr.President said:

Elie,
You said “If this is how a man can behave in the eyes of God, then the wife should be able to divorce her husband with exactly the same ease. ”
No I disagree. She should not be able unless her marriage contract specifies that. I have explained before my opinion on this. SHE RECEIVED A DOWRY FROM THE MAN WHEN SHE MARRIED HIM. Most Syrian women if not all demand cash and other financial packages before they agree to marry the man (it make sense since there is no community properties in Syrian marriages). I would not be fair for the man if the woman gets married, collects “mucho dinaros” and files an easy divorce.

In Syria a woman can petition the judge and explain the reason for her wanting a divorce. Judges usually grant her request if it is logical and convincing.

Also, Sharia laws have to be interpreted by judges. In Syria Shria law is not as rigid as in Saudi Arabia. Judges are usually decent members of the Syrian community. Usually a judge in Syria will tell a divorcing man to take a hike, for at least six months, before he grants him his wishes.

Also, what is God have to do with marriages?

Mr.President

November 11th, 2010, 9:34 am

 

Mr.President said:

Elie,
You said “If this is how a man can behave in the eyes of God, then the wife should be able to divorce her husband with exactly the same ease. ”
No I disagree. She should not be able unless her marriage contract specifies that. I have explained before my opinion on this. SHE RECEIVED A DOWRY FROM THE MAN WHEN SHE MARRIED HIM. Most Syrian women if not all demand cash and other financial packages before they agree to marry the man (it makes sense since there is no community properties in Syrian marriages). It would not be fair for the man if a woman gets married, collects “mucho dinaros” and files an easy divorce.

In Syria a woman can petition the judge and explain the reason for her wanting a divorce. Judges usually grant her request if it is logical and convincing.

Also, Sharia laws have to be interpreted by judges. Sharia law in Syria is not as rigid as in Saudi Arabi. It is usually up to the judges to decide. They are usually decent members of the community. Usually a judge in Syria will tell a divorcing man to take a hike, for at least six months, before he grants him his wishes.

Mr.President

November 11th, 2010, 9:43 am

 

Alex said:

Norman, Ehsani,

She might not be sure yet of the weight and significance of the 5 seas strategy.

It would be nice if Joshua writes about it. Remember Yoav Stern wrote for Syria comment an article in 2008, at the time it was only the four-seas strategy 🙂

http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/?p=4252

November 11th, 2010, 10:42 am

 

Elie Elhadj said:

MR.PRESIDENT,

As women become equal to men in law, the monetary arrangements you described will be altered to reflect the lesser risk that women would face in divorce.

As long as the woman has little legal protection from her husband’s whim, her best protection will be monetary in order to shield her from the vagaries of divorce. Grant the woman full legal protection in divorce and you’ll see very quickly that the up front dowry and other monetary arrangements become less important.

Equating women with men in the eyes of the law would reduce the cost of marriage considerably; thus, solving a major social problem in Syria.

Elie

November 11th, 2010, 11:11 am

 

Majhool said:

Something to consider when advocating women employment. In the US corporations were supportive of women getting into the workforce because they were able to get two employees for the price of one. It used to be the case that a man was able to support his family with his income, today it is impossible since employers assume that both husband and wife are working and hence pay both accordingly.

November 11th, 2010, 11:43 am

 

Alex said:

Just uploaded topic #2 at Islam Comment

Are contemporary Muslim societies tolerant of religious minorities?”

http://www.islamcomment.com/twoseas/?cat=4

Our favorite Syrian bloggers Abufares, Yazan Badran, Wassim Al-Adel, Tarek Barakat, in addition to Ghassan Karam, Taufiq Karam, Ayman Hakki and Nabil Beitinjaneh participated in this discussion. Very smart contributions that easily surpass the quality of reporting and analysis we usually read in the mainstream western media.

November 11th, 2010, 12:44 pm

 

Mr.President said:

Ehsani,
What makes you think that once Syria sells or shuts down its public industries the private investors will just run to replace them or fix them? Maybe they will not. . I have known many individuals who run family-operated $million+ businesses in Syria. Most of them will not risk putting their money to modernize their OWN private businesses. Dardari has to make the numbers very very attractive to investors. This is true in order to compensate them for all the normal risk factors and other additional ones specific to Syria (Israeli threat, US intention to change Syrian government, Lebanese civil war that can spills into Syria,…) I do not know how he can do that with the price of labor, corruption, and real estate so high.

Mr.President

November 11th, 2010, 4:46 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

TURKEY:STATE-OWNED COMPANIES WILL HAVE 1.7 BLN EUROS SURPLUS And the year has not yet ended.

Have they really state owned companies in Turkey? At one stage over 20 percent of the industrial workers of Turkey were working in state owned companies. Hmmmmm….

November 11th, 2010, 5:10 pm

 

Alex said:

Israeli soldiers celebrating destruction of houses in Gaza … “bye Gaza, bye!”

November 11th, 2010, 6:53 pm

 

Elie Elhadj said:

MAJIDKHALDOUN,

I shall not dignify your slur in 44 with a reply.

Elie

November 12th, 2010, 5:08 am

 

Milli Schmidt said:

One look at the website of Syria’s Investment Agency really says it all.

http://www.investinsyria.org/e/index.php?id=1&m_id=1&op=m

The typo in the tag of the site (Investin Syria) is really just the cherry on the icing…

November 12th, 2010, 6:08 am

 

why-discuss said:

Is Iran going to become the protector of christians in the Middle east, since KSA does not care, and Iraq and Egypt are unable.
If it does, its international status will surely infuriate Israel and the US who are desperately trying to isolate Iran by refering to
the plight of christians in Iran, while ignoring the tragic situation in Egypt and Iraq. Isn’t ironical that the pope send envoys in a country accused of persecuting religious minorities?
Let’s see if Ahmadiejad will offer asylum to the christian iraqis who are under siege of sunni extremists in a total silence from Saudi Arabia, the bastion of sunnism and breeding ground of Al Qaeda

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101111/wl_mideast_afp/vaticanreligionpopeiranahmadinejad

November 12th, 2010, 10:16 am

 

norman said:

WD,
With Syria around Christian Arabs do not need foreign interference or protection

November 12th, 2010, 11:38 am

 

WHY said:

Milli Schmidt

What tag? investinsyria = invest in syria

November 12th, 2010, 5:19 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Norman

I wish I could see a well mediatised declaration from Syria that it is ready to host the iraqi christians in Syria until the situation in Irak stabilizes. Historically, Iran and Syria have hosted many iraqis, lebanese, armenians, russians fleeing persecution and wars.

November 12th, 2010, 5:57 pm

 

Norman said:

WD,

Syria as an Arab state is always open to any Arab Christian, Muslim, Sunni, Shia, Kurds Charkas, even newcomers to being Arab Armenians ,

There is no other Arab state with same hospitality,

The statue of liberty really belongs in Syria,

November 12th, 2010, 9:29 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Norman

I agree fully but I wish this was reported in western medias and that they are ceremonies or any media-attractive event that would convey that internationaly.
Very few people in western countries are aware of the way Syria opened its border to Iraqi refugees and helped them for many years while another rich arab country neighbour to Iraq ,KSA, closed its borders.
Only negative information on Syria are conveyed in the western media. This must change.

November 12th, 2010, 10:03 pm

 

Norman said:

WD,
You are right that Syria is not good in public relation but i keep spreading the word in my daily work , drip, drip,

November 12th, 2010, 10:23 pm

 

Why said:

Norman,

What is an Arab Armenian? Just because you identify yourself as Arab doesn’t mean everyone in the Middle-East is an ethnic Arab!

November 12th, 2010, 10:43 pm

 

OFF THE WALL said:

Norman and Why-Discuss
The western media, especially american media is the laziest I have seen. Yesterday a CNN special report on water in the ME was so stunningly superficial and incompetent especially when compared to a 4 hour special done by Aljazeera about 4 months ago.

It serves them to be lazy, inconvenient truths that embarrass their Masters-Owners can remain buried.

Aljazeera should start a US only channel with focus on US issues and more balanced and intelligent international coverage, and like they did with Aljazeera English when they brought in one of the giants in broadcasting (Sir David Frost), they should vie to get the honorable Bill Moyers to head that channel. If any channel would be able to break the hold of Fox news and lazy news-making, It would be such a venture.

At the same time, I fully agree with Why-Discuss. Syria should publicly declare itself a safe haven for Arab Christians, and should make that announcement in no lesser place than the UN and by the highest possible ranking office holder. It is a reality and not a propaganda, and this reality should be shown, primarily to give those with no hope such as our brothers and sisters in Iraq a renewed hope. In fact, Syria has the right to call in a meeting of the General Assembly on the issue, but doing so will put the relationship with Egypt even at more precarious situation than it is already.

November 13th, 2010, 3:41 am

 

WHY said:

Aljazeera is a joke. They say one thing in Aljazeera english and then another in Aljazeera Arabic. It’s run by a bunch of Islamists and Arabists. Speaking of Arabism, why do you keep referring to the Christians in Iraq as ARAB? They are Assyrian and Chaldean and do not refer to themselves as Arab and they are their own ethnicity. Enough with the Arabo chauvinism.

November 13th, 2010, 3:53 am

 

Badr said:

WHY,

Would you mind telling us what your definition of the term “Arab” is?

November 13th, 2010, 3:56 am

 

Norman said:

Why,Badr,
By the why , I am one of those you mentioned and yes we consider ourselves as Arabs , My father will be turning in his grave the day i do not,
An Arab is everybody who lives in Arab land Armenian,or others ,has the same rights as anybody in Syria and Lebanon , like an American , is everybody lives in America, Mexican , Cuban, Italian , Scottish, German, Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Jewish and so on ,

OTW,

Syria is known for everybody in the Arab world to be a safe haven , it is the place where Arabs , Christians and non Christians can come without a passport or visa, the Western neglect of Syria’s contribution is intentional because of it’s conflict with Israel as Ghat says , the Western media is controlled by pro Israel people,
On the other hand Syria will never play the religion card and announce to the world that Arab Christians are persecuted in their home states,for it’s own self gratification , she is better than that,

November 13th, 2010, 7:24 am

 

WHY said:

Badr,

Arab people are an ethnic group who originally were the tribal people living in the Arabian peninsula. With the Islamic conquests they were able to move around and settle in the Levant, Mesopotamia, and North Africa. They spread their language and history with them. Today a country like Syria has many ethnic groups, some of them precede the coming of the Arabs. It would be absurd to call the Assyrians, Armenians, and Kurds Arabs. They don’t identify themselves as that. But they wouldn’t mind identifying themselves as Syrian because Syrian is more associated with geography than with language, culture, and genealogy, in which the term Arab is associated with. In Syria, the predominant ethnic group are Arabs, but that doesn’t make Syria Arab! The same way in the US, the predominant group are of British origin, but they do not consider themselves British and would not identify themselves as such but American. USA after all stands for United States of America as opposed to United States of Britain or England! Same thing with the Spanish in South America. Today most of South America speak Spanish and many have Spanish ancestry. But they distinguish themselves from the Spanish! They are South American! Whether Argentinian or Bolivian or Venezuelan etc.. Over time they have their own history and culture that becomes distinct and distinguished from Spain!

Norman said: “I am one of those you mentioned and yes we consider ourselves as Arabs , My father will be turning in his grave the day i do not,”

This is argument from tradition. You simply choose to stick with that because your dad brainwashed you into thinking like that and refusing to think otherwise because you don’t want to separate from that tradition. It’s hard to see the ground you are speaking on when it is stemming from emotion and not rational. Today most Syrians also think like that because the Baath party ever since 1963 has been brainwashing young Syrians to think like that. They fool the masses into thinking the Assyrians, Babylonians, and the Akkadians are Arabs, although they existed before the Arabs. This propaganda is detrimental because it creates a chauvinistic attitude towards minorities. Just look at Sudan and Iraq to see how minorities feel living in their countries among the tyranny of the majority.

November 13th, 2010, 2:21 pm

 

Norman said:

Why,
Islam came from Arabia , Arabs were there they just changed religion,

November 13th, 2010, 3:46 pm

 

Badr said:

WHY,

Thanks for the answer. Evidently you disagree with the Arab League definition, which defined an Arab as “He who lives in our country, speaks our language, is brought up in our culture, and takes pride in our glory.”

November 13th, 2010, 4:39 pm

 

WHY said:

Norman,

Egypt, the rest of North Africa, Lebanon, Northern Syria and Iraq, had no Arabs before Islam. Arabs came to Egypt with Amr ibn Al As in the 7th century.

Badr,

The Arab league’s definition is based on circular logic. What exactly is our land? That would be the Arabian peninsula and it would not include North Africa or the majority of the Levant.

As for those who speak our language, this is like saying the South Americans are Spanish, cote d’ivorians are French, and the Americans are English!

As for culture, the culture of the Khaleeji people greatly differs from people in Sudan or Morocco or the Levant! These people were never throughout history a monolithic group!

As for glory, it’s mostly emotional nostalgia about the early Muslims who went around conquering other people. The majority dream about the past and forget their present and have total disregard about the future. This glory easily turns into chauvinism which ends up repressing minorities like Christians in Sudan, Kurds in Iraq and Syria, and Amazigh in North Africa! If the Arabists knew how to become liberal and accommodating to the different cultures in the region, the region wouldn’t be such a crap hole to live in, in which the majority want to immigrate, and where ethnic and sectarian wars are happening everywhere. Now Sudan is on the verge of separating because since it’s independence, the majority did not know how to treat the minority with equality.

November 13th, 2010, 5:09 pm

 

Ghat Al Bird said:

Thanks to a felony by a member of the US. Congress Bibi and Avigdor now openly rule Washington DC as well as the 50 states.

The RAW STORY website reports on Nov. 13, 2010 that Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday during a meeting in New York that the new GOP majority in the House will “serve as a check” on the Obama administration, a statement unusual for its blunt disagreement with U.S. policy delivered directly to a foreign leader.

“Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington,” read a statement from Cantor’s office on the one-on-one meeting. “He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other.”

This just isn’t normal. Laura Rozen called the meeting itself “unusual, if not unheard of.” But it’s what Cantor said that’s astounding.

We’re talking about a powerful member of Congress engaged in foreign policy, vowing to a foreign government to oppose the administration’s policies regarding that government. Ron Kampeas from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency news agency said he can’t remember any U.S. official ever doing this. “[T]o have-a-face to face and say, in general, we will take your side against the White House — that sounds to me extraordinary,” Kampeas said this week.

It is that and more. Cantor not only met in private with a foreign leader to undercut the foreign policy of the elected American president, he proceeded to brag about it.

Also keep in mind, a few years ago, Speaker Nancy Pelosi traveled to Syria and met with Bashar al-Assad. At the time, none other than Eric Cantor personally accused Pelosi of possibly violating the Logan Act, “which makes it a felony for any American ‘without authority of the United States’ to communicate with a foreign government to influence that government’s behavior on any disputes with the United States.”

As Adam Serwer noted yesterday, “Based on Cantor’s own standard, he’s just committed a felony.”

November 13th, 2010, 5:39 pm

 

Badr said:

WHY,

Are you not the “infamous” AIG? 😉
If you say you are not, what is your opinion on the issue of why Israel and Syria have so far failed to reach a peace treaty, and if (how?) it could be reached in the future.

November 14th, 2010, 3:06 am

 

WHY said:

BADR,

Regarding your first question, I am not that person.

Regarding the second question, Israel and Syria never reached peace because both sides never intended to have peace in the first place. Israel was created based on the idea of a Jewish nationalism, something that never existed before. The normal reaction in the region was to reject that, but instead of opposing Israel rationally, Syria, Egypt, Iraq and the rest of decided to go for the ultra nationalist Arabist paths, which is simply empty slogans and the creation of paper tigers. The entrepreneur and the educated middle-class in those societies disappeared with the implementation of state socialism and dictatorship in the name of the nationalism. When that failed miserably, the masses turns to religious extremism as their only hope. There were no enlightened rationalists to counter the extreme religiosity of the region because they were wiped out by the regimes who didn’t want any critical minds to exist.

The Baath and Hafez al Assad never intended to make peace with Israel. (2000 was a bit different) He could have worked with Sadat a deal to get back Golan in return for peace, but he said that he would never make a deal without the Palestinians. His nationalistic dogma got the better of him. Sadat wasn’t into that, as he was more of a pragmatist. Sadat knew that if he waited for a comprehensive peace plan it would never work, because it would be too big for Israel to accept and the Arabs would never get something that big together and coordinate it efficiently. He ended up being right. Soon Assad was in deep conflicts with Yasser Arafat and their battles spread into Lebanon. Today Syria is demanding the Golan and would probably dismantle Hizbollah if Golan is returned, but the Israelis are too stupid to realize that. Now they are turning overtly nationalistic and religious and their pride got the better of them. The point I want to make is, nationalism as in what went on Europe in the 19th and beginning of the 20th century can no longer work in the Levant. Jews in the Levant can never find peace with the idea of a Jewish state because a “Jewish state” will by definition oppress the Palestinians in it and around it. 2 State solution seems dead with Israelis turning right wing, constructing more settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. They are digging their own grave for what is called a “Jewish State” because now the only viable option is a 1 state, a secular liberal state protecting the civil liberties of both Palestinians and Jews. It won’t happen anytime soon.

November 14th, 2010, 4:13 am

 

Badr said:

WHY,

I’m sold. AIG would never give a response close to yours. On a different note, is there something specific you’re inquiring, since you’re using the moniker “WHY”?

November 14th, 2010, 5:09 am

 

Ghat Al Bird said:

The Zionists have a plan in place to destroy the US. And the other news item reports that Avigdor has informed the US to tell the Palestinians where they can go. (reported by Reuters ).

http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/11/11/gordon-duff-in-motion-the-plot-to-destroy-the-united-states/

November 14th, 2010, 8:14 am

 

majedkhaldoon said:

I said it before, Israel is a liability to USA, and the zionists will keep working till they destroy USA,they are pimps treating USA as a prostitute.
The war in Iraq has cost USA more than trillion dollar,if this money were spent in good cause we would not get in this painfull and prolong crisis
George Bush admitted that the war was based on intelligence that was wrong,what did he do about this, he should have punished those people responsible for such lies.

November 14th, 2010, 12:40 pm

 

Shai said:

And, as further support for Ghat’s well-established academic source’s claims against the Zionist Plan to destroy the U.S., I offer the final incontrovertible piece of evidence:

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_l0UE3ow7vpI/S_lBkx_VEsI/AAAAAAAAAmU/Fkc9EHQncgM/s1600/jews.gif

Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

November 14th, 2010, 1:43 pm

 

norman said:

Hey Shai, I am very disappointed , That guy you put up looks like me , What did i do to you,?

November 14th, 2010, 1:50 pm

 

Shai said:

Norman, then I’m afraid you’re a zionist-in-disguise. Now we have yet another thing in common… 🙂

November 14th, 2010, 2:19 pm

 

Ghat Al Bird said:

The guy whose photo not shown on this link does not look like Norma at all.

http://theuglytruth.wordpress.com/2010/11/14/the-baghdad-cathedral-massacre-zionist-fingerprints-all-over/

November 14th, 2010, 4:45 pm

 

Norman said:

Ghat,

The Israeli intention to have Ethnic and religious weak states in the Mideast where Israel is the strongest is logical and expected as it will justify the Jewish state that they want.

November 14th, 2010, 5:25 pm

 

Norman said:

I want to add that no matter what the foreign intentions are , it is our fault that they succeed,

November 14th, 2010, 5:49 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Freeze Frame

Alex, Shai, etc,

I’m still scratching my head why Israel makes up about 50% of all the posts here on SYRIA Comment.

I thought getting rid of AIG would fix that, but it hasn’t.

Oh well. Anyway, reading the posts on this thread, you’d think the US and Israel were ready to war against each other.

Sorry to bring you to reality, but it seems the US and Israel are more on the “same page” than you lead us to believe…

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20101114/wl_nm/us_palestinians_israel

November 14th, 2010, 7:17 pm

 

Norman said:

AP,

The answer to your question is that many here think of Israel as part of Syria, are you happy now, the secret is out ,

November 14th, 2010, 7:47 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

many here think of Israel as part of Syria

Norman,

Thanks for the info. All this time I was led to believe Lebanon was part of Syria. I stand corrected;)

November 14th, 2010, 8:05 pm

 

Norman said:

Lebanon and Jordon too ,

November 14th, 2010, 8:21 pm

 

Ghat Al Bird said:

AKBAR PALACE said:

Freeze Frame. After scratching his head says: ” Sorry to bring you to reality, but it seems the US and Israel are more on the “same page” than you lead us to believe…

Back in 2009 several members of AIPAC were charged with espionage. Two or more resigned or were forced out of their position with AIPAC (Seems they were not on the ame page but were in the process of stealing pages). One of them by the name of Rosen had begun to spill several pages and AIPAC tried to stop him.

At present Rosen and AIPAC are tussling in court over the organization’s long history of using classified national defense and economic information for the benefit of their foreign principal, Americans must begin to ask some very serious governance questions. Why won’t the mainstream media cover any aspect of the defamation suit? Shouldn’t this matter have been resolved in a bona fide criminal setting in 2009 rather than being surrendered by prosecutors under the watchful eye of Obama political appointees? Why wasn’t AIPAC itself indicted for espionage? And most important of all, why isn’t AIPAC properly registered as a foreign agent of the government with which it breaks bread (and chocolate) on Fridays?

Darn it. On second thought AP may is right after all. AIPAC by stealing US government secrets is using the same pages as the US government.

November 15th, 2010, 8:22 am

 

Syria Comment » Archives » Assad Grants State Employees a 50% Bonus as Job Creation Lags said:

[…] 1%. This number supports the lower growth figures that Syria Steps reported on last week and which Syria Comment covered as well. Admittedly, these numbers are calculated in the crudest fashion possible. Unfortunately, […]

November 15th, 2010, 10:22 am

 

Norman said:

Joshua, Alex,

Is there a problem with last post , i can not post any comments and can not see any comments,

November 15th, 2010, 6:36 pm

 

Ghat Al Bird said:

AVIGDOR CLAIMS GOLAN HEIGHTS PART OF ISRAEL

Over the weekend Avigdor Lieberman said that the Golan Heights was part of Israel because the Sykes-Picot treaty (English-French-Russian agreement 1916) drawing a boundary line west of the Golan Heights was “imperialist” and “arbitrary.” Breathtaking isn’t it?

November 16th, 2010, 12:46 pm

 
 

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