What is New about Bush’s New Strategy?

The White House Friday took the unusual step of dismissing what it called a "rumor and urban legend" that the United States was gearing up for military action against Iran or Syria. 

Well it should. President Bush's speech announcing his new Iraq strategy and troop surge caused not only bloggers to sound the alarm, but also Democratic Senator Biden and Republican Senator Hagel. Bush's statement that "We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq."

Anniversary of the Madrid conference for peace in the Mid East, 1991

Many are anxious that the real message tucked into President Bush's announcement of a troop surge was the threat to attack both Iran and Syria for supporting anti-American militias in Iraq. The reason for this suspicion is twofold. First the small surge in troops does not signify a new strategy; rather, it is a continuation of the "hold the course" policy Bush has been pursuing in Iraq from the beginning. The small increase in troops will hardly counterbalance the surge in violence Iraq has been witnessing. This leads us to conclude that the "surge" proposal's real intent was to kill the Baker-Hamilton recommendation of pursuing an orderly retreat from Iraq. Bush dressed the surge up as a new policy – one that recognized America was failing. The problem is that the surge cannot possible change the momentum of deterioration in Iraq by itself. This is why skeptics look elsewhere for some real meat in Bush's victory plan. We cannot believe that administration planners are any more convinced than we are that the surge will reverse the steady deterioration of government authority in Iraq.

The second reason to believe the "newness" in Bush's plan is not to be found within Iraq's troubled boarders, but outside them is his troubling support for proxies in the broader Middle East. The White House has been broadening the war's scope by building up proxies elsewhere. As Patrick Seale writes in al-Hayat:

Bush is still intent on pursuing his bankrupt 'victory strategy' – a doomed enterprise in which more lives and much treasure will be thrown away.

But that is not the end of Bush's mischief. Driven by such neo-conservative hawks as Eliott Abrams at the National Security Council, the U.S. is seeking to destabilize Hizballah in Lebanon – in effect, to complete the job Israel failed to do last summer. To achieve this goal, the U.S. has been arming the Internal Security Forces of the Seniora government and has put great pressure on General Michel Aoun, the Christian leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, to break with Hizballah.

The U.S. seems equally determined to destroy the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas by supplying arms, training and tens of millions of dollars to its Fatah rival. Egypt and Jordan have also been roped in to supply thousands of rifles and millions of rounds of ammunition to Fatah forces loyal to the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmud Abbas. This appears to be another covert program conceived by Eliott Abrams and implemented on the ground by David Welsh, a senior State Department official.

We also witnessed the support for an Ethiopian proxy to bring down the Islamic Court regime in Somalia under the presumption that it was al-Qaida. Sacrificing political stability in Somalia for three al-Qaida operatives is terrible math. Even more troubling is the continued escalation toward Iran. Beefing up Gulf defenses by sending additional battle ships to the region, leaked Israeli plans to use nuclear bunker busters against Iran's facilities, and promises to provide Patriot missiles to the Arab Gulf states all suggest that Bush is expanding the battle field in the hope that US fortunes in Iraq will be reversed if Washington can claim victory elsewhere. The problem with this strategy is that it builds on the erroneous presumption that the US is in a war against "evil." Rather than disaggregating struggles in Palestine, the Horn of Africa, Lebanon, Iran, Afghanistan, and Iraq in order to deal with each separately, Washington is stubbornly gluing them together in one super war on radical Islam. We are pretending they are all directed by al-Qaida and a nebulous enemy of freedom and liberty. This is not the enemy that exists. There is no command central. Moreover, we cannot destroy an idea with firepower. By pursuing this false war with greater determination, the US is ensuring failure with greater determination.

To make matters worse, the Iraqi government gives few signs that it views the region in the same light that Washington does or that it is not pursuing policies completely contradictory to those of Washington.

Rather than snubbing Syria, Iraq's president Talabani is in Syria today with a delegation that includes Interior Minister Jawad Bolani, Trade Minister Abdel Falah Al Sudani, Water Resources Minister Abdel Latif Rashid and national security advisor Muwaffaq Al Rubaie. Talabani said: "The aim of the visit is to evaluate and strengthen mutual relations for the benefit of both the countries."

Rather than supporting the US attack on the Iranian consulate in Irbil, Iraqi government officials condemned it. Nouri Talabani, a member of the parliament in Kurdistan, said the arrests of the Iranians "is an illegal act and if such an act took place in another country there would have been grave consequences." Cheney and Hadley have been defending the raid vigorously.

Most importantly, PM Maliki has given no sign that he will attack Sadr's army. No clear commitment from Prime Minister Maliki has been given that he will approve and support a joint effort by the Iraqi and American armed forces to disband and neutralize all the sectarian/ethnic militias.  When asked bluntly if such a campaign would include joint action against Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army (including a house-by-house cleansing of Sadr City, for example), the answers from both US and Iraqi spokespersons in the past 48 hours has been confusing and often contradictory. 

A number of commentators on this site insist that Bush does not intend further confrontation but is looking for dialogue. The tough talk they say is only posturing to improve the US's bargaining position. Bush recognizes that he must retreat and compromise, they say. I wish I could buy this interpretation. I am not so sanguine.

Neither is Tony Karon of Rootless Cosmopolitan, who writes:

I wouldn’t bet on the collective strategic wisdom of Cheney-Rice and Khamenei-Larijani-Ahmedinajad combining to avoid a confrontation. And if the U.S. is raising the stakes, you can reliably expect Iran to do the same, probably starting in Iraq.

Critics are right to label President Bush’s new Iraq plan an “escalation,” but what was most clear from his speech announcing it is that the object of this escalation is not Iraq, but Iran.

Others see the indications of negotiations as posturing in order improve America's ability to strike Iran.

Clayton E. Swisher, in his article, "Neutralizing Palestine, to better focus on Iran" argues convincingly that Rice's stated efforts at peace in Palestine are directed with an eye toward Iran and are not genuine. 

Perhaps the best article along these lines is by Rosa Brooks in the LA Times,

"Bush and the GOP are shifting tactics just like Nixon did with Vietnam — to win the next election, not the war…. It's clear that Bush knows perfectly well there's no possibility of "winning" anymore, so apparently he's seeking in Iraq exactly what Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger sought in Vietnam before the 1972 election: a face-saving "decent interval" before the virtually inevitable collapse of the U.S.-backed government."

Steve Clemons of Washington Note has been very good on laying out the new aggressiveness of the Bush policy. Read his, A "SECRET WAR" AGAINST SYRIA AND IRAN?: Friday, January 12, 2007.

Washington intelligence, military and foreign policy circles are abuzz today with speculation that the President, yesterday or in recent days, sent a secret Executive Order to the Secretary of Defense and to the Director of the CIA to launch military operations against Syria and Iran. The President may have started a new secret, informal war against Syria and Iran without the consent of Congress or any broad discussion with the country. …

UPDATE: This exchange today in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee between Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden and Senator Chuck Hagel with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

SEN. BIDEN: Secretary Rice, do you believe the president has the constitutional authority to pursue across the border into Iraq (sic/Iran) or Syria, the networks in those countries?

SEC. RICE: Well, Mr. Chairman, I think I would not like to speculate on the president's constitutional authority or to try and say anything that certainly would abridge his constitutional authority, which is broad as commander in chief.

I do think that everyone will understand that — the American people and I assume the Congress expect the president to do what is necessary to protect our forces.

SEN. BIDEN: Madame Secretary, I just want to make it clear, speaking for myself, that if the preident concluded he had to invade Iran or Iraq in pursuit of these — or Syria — in pursuit of these networks, I believe the present authorization granted the president to use force in Iraq does not cover that, and he does need congressional authority to do that. I just want to set that marker. -The Washington Note

Here are additional articles of interest:

Bush is Fueling a New Cold War By: Jonathan Freedland | The Guardian
A fortnight ago the Ethiopians entered
Somalia to topple the Islamist forces who had just taken Mogadishu. Americans dislike that Islamist movement, fearing it has the makings of an African Taliban, so they backed the Ethiopians to take it out. According to Patrick Smith, the editor of Africa Confidential, the war on terror is fast becoming a cold war for the 21st century, with the US finding proxy allies to fight proxy enemies in faraway places.

Bush plan rejects dialogue with Syria 

There is a widespread feeling in the region that no concessions should be made to Syria," said al-Ani. "Many Arab states see Syria's ties with Iran to be harmful to their interests."

Still, Syrians believe the day will come when their country is called upon to assume what they see as its legitimate role as a regional heavyweight.

"We will just wait and wait," said Shueibi. "They will eventually come back to Syria."

Officials publicly say the sole aim is to see a unified and stable Iraq. But Syria's offer of help in Iraq is not without its price.

Syria in particular wants Washington to persuade Israel to resume negotiations on the return of the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau captured by Israel from Syria in 1967. The two nations held their last round of talks in 2000.

Syria has made clear that it believes Washington can press Israel to return to negotiations. "There will never be any peace talks with Israel without Washington's green light and unequivocal blessing," al-Sharaa said this week.

Sharon Warned Bush
The Strategic Interest
Yossi Alpher |
Fri. Jan 12, 2007 – the Forward

…. Sometime prior to March 2003, Sharon told Bush privately in no uncertain terms what he thought about the Iraq plan. Sharon’s words — revealed here for the first time — constituted a friendly but pointed warning to Bush. Sharon acknowledged that Saddam Hussein was an “acute threat” to the Middle East and that he believed Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Yet according to one knowledgeable source, Sharon nevertheless advised Bush not to occupy Iraq. According to another source — Danny Ayalon, who was Israel’s ambassador to the United States at the time of the Iraq invasion, and who sat in on the Bush-Sharon meetings — Sharon told Bush that Israel would not “push one way or another” regarding the Iraq scheme.

According to both sources, Sharon warned Bush that if he insisted on occupying Iraq, he should at least abandon his plan to implant democracy in this part of the world. “In terms of culture and tradition, the Arab world is not built for democratization,” Ayalon recalls Sharon advising.

Be sure, Sharon added, not to go into Iraq without a viable exit strategy. And ready a counter-insurgency strategy if you expect to rule Iraq, which will eventually have to be partitioned into its component parts. Finally, Sharon told Bush, please remember that you will conquer, occupy and leave, but we have to remain in this part of the world. Israel, he reminded the American president, does not wish to see its vital interests hurt by regional radicalization and the spillover of violence beyond Iraq’s borders.

Sharon’s advice — reflecting a wealth of experience with Middle East issues that Bush lacked — was prescient. (Read more…)

Yedioth quoted Amin Gemayel, the ex-President of Lebanon, as saying that he hoped a peace deal between Israel and Lebanon would be possible in the future.  "Peace with Israel? I wish. I hope. But this is not the time from our point of view or from your point of view," he said.

US: Some countries fear revealing intelligence secrets to Hariri probe

Second thoughts about the Promised Land: Jan 11th 2007 | The Economist

Jews all around the world are gradually ceasing to regard Israel as a focal point. As a result, many are re-examining what it means to be Jewish. Jews all around the world are gradually ceasing to regard Israel as a focal point. As a result, many are re-examining what it means to be Jewish

Carter Center advisers resign in protest over former president's book: IHT

Fourteen members of the 200-member Carter Center advisory board, who worked to build support for the human rights organization started by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, have resigned in protest over Carter's latest book.

The resignations, announced Thursday, are the latest in a backlash against Carter's book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," which has drawn fire from Jewish groups, been attacked by fellow Democrats and led to the resignation last month of Kenneth Stein, a Carter Center fellow and a longtime Carter adviser.

In their letter of resignation, the members of the Center's Board of Councilors wrote of Carter, "you have clearly abandoned your historic role of broker in favor of becoming an advocate for one side."

Berman said the religious affiliation of the resigning members, which include some prominent Jewish leaders in the Atlanta area, did not influence their decision.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, said in a statement Thursday that "President Carter has only himself to blame" over the resignations because the book was "blatantly one-sided and unbecoming of a former President."

Also Thursday, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, which represents nearly 2,000 Reform rabbis, said it would cancel its visit to the Carter Center in protest over the book when the group holds its convention in Atlanta in March.

Here are additional articles of interest:

Bush is Fueling a New Cold War By: Jonathan Freedland | The Guardian
A fortnight ago the Ethiopians entered
Somalia to topple the Islamist forces who had just taken Mogadishu. Americans dislike that Islamist movement, fearing it has the makings of an African Taliban, so they backed the Ethiopians to take it out. According to Patrick Smith, the editor of Africa Confidential, the war on terror is fast becoming a cold war for the 21st century, with the US finding proxy allies to fight proxy enemies in faraway places.

Bush plan rejects dialogue with Syria 

There is a widespread feeling in the region that no concessions should be made to Syria," said al-Ani. "Many Arab states see Syria's ties with Iran to be harmful to their interests."

Still, Syrians believe the day will come when their country is called upon to assume what they see as its legitimate role as a regional heavyweight.

"We will just wait and wait," said Shueibi. "They will eventually come back to Syria."

Officials publicly say the sole aim is to see a unified and stable Iraq. But Syria's offer of help in Iraq is not without its price.

Syria in particular wants Washington to persuade Israel to resume negotiations on the return of the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau captured by Israel from Syria in 1967. The two nations held their last round of talks in 2000.

Syria has made clear that it believes Washington can press Israel to return to negotiations. "There will never be any peace talks with Israel without Washington's green light and unequivocal blessing," al-Sharaa said this week.

Sharon Warned Bush
The Strategic Interest
Yossi Alpher |
Fri. Jan 12, 2007 – the Forward

…. Sometime prior to March 2003, Sharon told Bush privately in no uncertain terms what he thought about the Iraq plan. Sharon’s words — revealed here for the first time — constituted a friendly but pointed warning to Bush. Sharon acknowledged that Saddam Hussein was an “acute threat” to the Middle East and that he believed Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Yet according to one knowledgeable source, Sharon nevertheless advised Bush not to occupy Iraq. According to another source — Danny Ayalon, who was Israel’s ambassador to the United States at the time of the Iraq invasion, and who sat in on the Bush-Sharon meetings — Sharon told Bush that Israel would not “push one way or another” regarding the Iraq scheme.

According to both sources, Sharon warned Bush that if he insisted on occupying Iraq, he should at least abandon his plan to implant democracy in this part of the world. “In terms of culture and tradition, the Arab world is not built for democratization,” Ayalon recalls Sharon advising.

Be sure, Sharon added, not to go into Iraq without a viable exit strategy. And ready a counter-insurgency strategy if you expect to rule Iraq, which will eventually have to be partitioned into its component parts. Finally, Sharon told Bush, please remember that you will conquer, occupy and leave, but we have to remain in this part of the world. Israel, he reminded the American president, does not wish to see its vital interests hurt by regional radicalization and the spillover of violence beyond Iraq’s borders.

Sharon’s advice — reflecting a wealth of experience with Middle East issues that Bush lacked — was prescient. (Read more…)

Yedioth quoted Amin Gemayel, the ex-President of Lebanon, as saying that he hoped a peace deal between Israel and Lebanon would be possible in the future.  "Peace with Israel? I wish. I hope. But this is not the time from our point of view or from your point of view," he said.

US: Some countries fear revealing intelligence secrets to Hariri probe

Second thoughts about the Promised Land: Jan 11th 2007 | The Economist

Jews all around the world are gradually ceasing to regard Israel as a focal point. As a result, many are re-examining what it means to be Jewish. Jews all around the world are gradually ceasing to regard Israel as a focal point. As a result, many are re-examining what it means to be Jewish

Carter Center advisers resign in protest over former president's book: IHT

Fourteen members of the 200-member Carter Center advisory board, who worked to build support for the human rights organization started by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, have resigned in protest over Carter's latest book.

The resignations, announced Thursday, are the latest in a backlash against Carter's book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," which has drawn fire from Jewish groups, been attacked by fellow Democrats and led to the resignation last month of Kenneth Stein, a Carter Center fellow and a longtime Carter adviser.

In their letter of resignation, the members of the Center's Board of Councilors wrote of Carter, "you have clearly abandoned your historic role of broker in favor of becoming an advocate for one side."

Berman said the religious affiliation of the resigning members, which include some prominent Jewish leaders in the Atlanta area, did not influence their decision.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, said in a statement Thursday that "President Carter has only himself to blame" over the resignations because the book was "blatantly one-sided and unbecoming of a former President. Also Thursday, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, which represents nearly 2,000 Reform rabbis, said it would cancel its visit to the Carter Center in protest over the book when the group holds its convention in Atlanta in March.

Comments (41)


1. Gibran said:

US warns Iran on Iraq ‘meddling’

Iran was “fishing in troubled waters”, Mr Cheney told US television
US Vice President Dick Cheney has warned Iran not to interfere in Iraq.
The US government thought it was very important that the Iranians should “keep their folks at home”, he said.

His comments come after US forces detained several Iranians in northern Iraq on suspicion of aiding insurgents, accusations rejected by Tehran.

Mr Cheney is the latest member of the Bush administration to warn that the US will take steps against those trying to destabilise the situation in Iraq.

US officials say five Iranian nationals arrested during a military raid in Irbil on Thursday are linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard which they accuse of training and arming Shia insurgents in Iraq.

I think the message that the president sent clearly is that we do not want (Iran) doing what they can to try to destabilise the situation inside Iraq

Dick Cheney

Iran’s foreign ministry says the men are diplomats and were working at the Iranian liaison office in Irbil. It has demanded their immediate release.

Washington has often accused Iran, or factions within the Iranian government, of aiding Shia groups in Iraq militarily and politically, but has offered little proof of Tehran’s alleged activities.

President George W Bush on Wednesday warned that the US would take a tough stance towards Iran and Syria, which he accused of destabilising Iraq.

Mr Cheney told Fox News that Iran was “fishing in troubled waters” by aiding attacks on US forces and backing Shia militias involved in sectarian violence.

“I think the message that the president sent clearly is that we do not want (Iran) doing what they can to try to destabilise the situation inside Iraq.

“We think it’s very important that they keep their folks at home” he said, adding that the Iranian threat was growing, multi-dimensional and of concern to everybody in the region.

Pursuit

Mr Cheney’s television interview formed part of attempts by the Bush administration to promote the new drive to improve security in Iraq, which involves sending an extra 21,500 US troops.

What the Americans claim is incorrect. The Americans want to radicalise the atmosphere in Iraq to justify their occupation, but we will act wisely

Mohammad Ali Hosseini
Iran foreign ministry spokesman

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates is in the UK for a brief visit, meeting Prime Minister Tony Blair and Defence Secretary Des Browne.

“My first priority is making sure that we preserve the gains that we’ve achieved in Afghanistan and then talking about the way forward in Iraq,” Mr Gates told reporters on his flight to London.

Earlier there were tough words from the US National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley, who told ABC Television that the US had the authority to pursue Iranians in Iraq who “put our people at risk”.

He did not elaborate on whether this could mean sending US troops across the border into Iran if necessary.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking before she embarked on her current Middle East tour, insisted that the US was not going to let either Iran or Syria continue activities that endangered American soldiers in Iraq.

“That’s not an escalation, that’s just good policy,” Ms Rice told the BBC.

‘Illegal action’

Tehran vehemently denies the charges of interference and says the men detained on Thursday were “involved in consulate affairs”.

The outside of the Iranian liaison office raided by US forces

“Their activities were legal and in the framework of the law,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said in response to the allegations.

The Iranian government has also demanded compensation for damage to the building where the men were seized.

Mr Hosseini said the building the Americans attacked opened in 1992 and was officially registered as the Iranian consulate. The Iraqi authorities have said it was a liaison office in the process of being registered as a consulate.

Iran is adamant the office and the staff inside should have had diplomatic protection and that America’s action was illegal.

“What the Americans claim is incorrect. The Americans want to radicalise the atmosphere in Iraq to justify their occupation, but we will act wisely,” Mr Hosseini said.

Last month several Iranians were arrested by the US in Baghdad, among them two senior Revolutionary Guard officers. They were released after huge pressure from the Iraqi government.

The Revolutionary Guard, known locally as the Pasdaran, is a parallel military force with its own army, air force and navy.

It was set up to enforce and defend the principles of the 1979 Islamic revolution and answers directly to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

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January 14th, 2007, 9:19 pm

 

2. Akbar Palace said:

From Professor Josh’s opening paragraph:

“Bush’s statement that “We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.”

Bush sure has a lot of chutzpa saying the US will “interrupt” Iranian and Syrian “support” (aka terrorists) from flowing into Iraq.

Bush is supposed to turn the other cheek and allow Iran and Syria to terrorize Iraq.

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January 14th, 2007, 10:51 pm

 

3. MSK said:

Dear Josh,

you got a double posting of some items. Unless that fake “news” of Amin Gemayel having talked to Israeli media (which has already been dismissed days ago) is worth mentioning twice …

“We also witnessed the support for an Ethiopian proxy to bring down the Islamic Court regime in Somalia under the presumption that it was al-Qaida.” – The Ethiopians are no proxy for anyone. They would’ve gone into Somalia with or without an OK from Washington. And the US Admin did not claim that the Islamic Courts ARE Al-Qa’ida. As for the idea that they had connections to Al-Qa’ida & the Taliban – well, surprise(!), they did. There are TV interviews with the leaders of the Islamic Court movement on that issue.

On that note – how would YOU have dealt with the Somali Taliban?

Also, Yossi Alpher’s assertion is nothing more than that, and has been questioned already.

Also, quoting something that Patrick Seale writes in Al-Hayat? C’mon … that’s like quoting Bernard Lewis or Fuad Ajami …

You’re not THAT desparate for good press on Syria.

And PLEASE … the Iraqi president’s name is TalAbani – no relationship to the Taliban whatsoever.

I’m a bit more careful about the evaluation of Talabani’s visit to Damascus as well. Maybe it’s about telling the Syrians to not even contemplate to support any Sunni groups. Or maybe Muwaffaq al-Rubay’i wants to tell Bashar in person how Saddam got executed – he was right next to him & even had a short debate with the Iraqi ex-dictator.

–MSK

http://www.aqoul.com

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January 14th, 2007, 10:58 pm

 

4. ugarit said:

Bush has the chutzpa to illegally attack Iraq, kill hundreds thousands of Iraqis, destroy their nation and also be completely incompetent in occupation yet he has the chutzpa to tell Iraq’s neighbors (while the USA is about 10,000 km from Iraq) not to interfere. Only rotting empires think that way.

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January 14th, 2007, 11:00 pm

 

5. Alan said:

Opening Salvos of a greater Middle East War –

A war involving the US, Israel, Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda…..

http://www.crusade-media.com/news46.html

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January 14th, 2007, 11:37 pm

 

6. Gibran said:

ALAN,
We said exactly what appears in your link few days ago on this blog. The exceptionally genius pro Assad chorus of Dr. Landis who regularly comment on this blog insist Mr. Bush is bluffing! I’d say let them keep their heads in the sand and happy with their wishful analyses. I mean it all adds up: Air craft carriers, Patriots, Admirals, Training in Turkey Incirlik etc…
The only thing left is the zero hour for the fire crackers to go off. Does it make sense to you that Iran is scrambling to convince everybody all of a sudden about its ‘peaceful’ nuclear intents? There is a rush of Iranian diplomatic activity going on! Is it not a clear attempt to weather the gathering storm? At least the Iranians seem to take things seriously! Perhaps the Syrian regime is resigned to its fate and waiting for the moment when it will receive the bullet of mercy! I guess having your head in the sand may help in this case!

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January 15th, 2007, 2:19 am

 

7. ugarit said:

Gibran said: “… Does it make sense to you that Iran is scrambling to convince everybody all of a sudden about its ‘peaceful’ nuclear intents? There is a rush of Iranian diplomatic activity going on! Is it not a clear attempt to weather the gathering storm?”

Iran is not scrambling to “suddenly” convince everybody about its peaceful nuclear intentions. Iran has always been stating their peaceful nuclear intentions. In fact, Iran has not broken any international laws or treaties.

What you state is only true in the imagination of the US.

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January 15th, 2007, 3:25 am

 

8. sam said:

Air craft carriers, Patriots, Admirals, Training in Turkey Incirlik etc…

Psych Warfare.

That’s all it is. Bush doesn’t have the backing or the balls.

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January 15th, 2007, 4:50 am

 

9. sam said:

That speech wasn’t for the American people.It was for the Mid East regimes. And for the record, the 80 million Syrian and Iranian people will fight for their countries. When I was a kid in the village(1973) I remembered trucks coming by to distribute AK-47, to all males 16 and over, telling them if they see Israelies to kill them, offering a bounty. I don’t know about the Iranian peoples feelings about Ahmedineajad, but the Syrian people love Bashar. They will fight any invader that comes.

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January 15th, 2007, 4:59 am

 

10. Gibran said:

You believed them of course UG?

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January 15th, 2007, 5:00 am

 

11. Joshua said:

Alan,
Thanks for the excellent link. The article says much of what I labored over here. Could have saved my time!

MSK,
Thanks for the alert on the double posting. Some hard-to-find code playing tricks. I think I have cleaned it up.

Also thanks for your disquisition on the differences between the Eastern Question and Great Game. Of course anyone who has dipped into a book on the 19th century cannot help but come away with some sense of how Anglo-Russian competition in the East started with Russian encroachment on Turkish domains first against the Tartars in the Crimea, then the Ottomans, Qajar Iran and eventually extending through central Asia. My aim in not recounting this history was to spare my readers a long and pedantic elaboration of Russian expansion, trusting that they have knowledge of the illustrious history of imperial competition over the region – perhaps, however, not as refined and learned as your own.

The point of my short intro on Russian reassertion was to remind folks of the basic premise of balance of power politics – that Russia has long sought influence in the states to its south. Russian reassertion is nothing new. Far from suggesting an a-historical reading of the past as you conjured was my intent, I was merely reminding readers of what they surely already know, that Russia has interests to its south and that these interests have not disappeared simply because Russia has cast off its Communist mantle.

Indeed, I am a bit surprised that you didn’t display the armature of your doctoral learning by reminding us that already in the 17th century, Russia fought several wars against the Turks. During the 18th century, the titanic struggle between the Russians and Ottomans added some 17 major battles between the two armies and their allied kingdoms, Khanates and principalities.

By the nineteenth century the two states were almost constantly at war. This is not “classic ‘since time immemorial’” argumentation, as you officiously state. Ivan the Terrible

Russia emerged in the 16th century as a multiethnic empire, particularly under Ivan the Terrible, who launched a holy war against Russia’s traditional enemy – the Tartars – conquering Kazan and later Astrakhan and Siberia. The emergence of Russia as a great power has a definite beginning. There is nothing immemorial about it. It is again becoming a great power after a decade of weakness and retrenchment. As a great power, it has interests to its south. I am surprised you find this a contentious assertion. All the same, I am grateful for your learning and willingness to share it.

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January 15th, 2007, 5:16 am

 

12. Alex said:

Iraqi President TalAbani in Damascus today said: “Syria helped all of us (Iraqi opposition to Saddam) when we were going through the roughest times. We are indebted to Syria’s priceless help … and I will work hard to ensure we have the best relations with Syria”

These words are more than what I expected … what can we read into the sweet words? especially acknowledging Syria’s valuable role in helping Saddam’s opposition … sounds like he credited Syria with the end of Saddam more than he ever credited the United States.

Also, Fakhri Kareem, TalAbani’s adviser confirmed the presence of Iraqi security officers in Damascus for some unidentified period.

تعهد الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد خلال استقباله نظيره العراقي جلال الطالباني بأن تبذل بلاده أقصى جهودها للمساعدة في إرساء الاستقرار في العراق.

وقال الرئيس السوري في تصريحات نقلتها وكالة الأنباء السورية إن أمن البلدين أمن مشترك، وأعرب عن استعداد بلاده لمساعدة العراقيين على تحقيق المصالحة الوطنية ودعم العملية السياسية في العراق.

من جهته قال الطالباني إن “سوريا ساعدتنا في أحلك الأيام ونحن مدينون لها وضميرنا مثقل بهذا الدين الذي لا يقدر بثمن”، مؤكدا تصميمه على إقامة أفضل العلاقات مع سوريا.

وأعلن فخري كريم مستشار الرئيس العراقي أن المباحثات الأمنية السورية العراقية حققت نتائج إيجابية، وكشف عن وجود وفد أمني عراقي منذ فترة في سوريا.

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January 15th, 2007, 5:41 am

 

13. Gibran said:

Thanks for the information Sam. That means there will be no shortage of weapons in the hands of the Syrians when the revolution to overthrow Bashar begins.

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January 15th, 2007, 5:49 am

 

14. Alex said:

The Good Soldier of Syria

By Zvi Bar’el

he inhabitants of Bint Jbail and the surrounding villages already know the new clients’ tastes. The French, for example, like to buy perfumes and discs, and they are also the ones who come to the local restaurants. Watches are also a popular gift among the Western soldiers. Those who come from the poorer countries make do with purchasing inexpensive souvenirs, but they, too, are contributing to the local economy when they buy new uniforms or mend the old ones.

The soldiers of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), who arrived there under UN Security Council Resolution 1701, are not only a supervision and separation force but also a significant economic factor in southern Lebanon. Thus, for example, after a round of “appearances” by the commanders of the forces in the village and after making the acquaintance of mukhtars and the mayors of the towns, the headquarters also began to hire local workers for service jobs like driving, translating and maintenance.

Though this is not a huge economic boom, a gap is already developing between the owners of shops close to UNIFIL headquarters and those that are farther away. The extent of the sales at the nearby shops is now growing by a factor of three or four relative to their previous level, and the owners of these shops can up rents higher by tens of percentage points.

The ability of small villages or isolated shops to overcome the huge damages suffered during war cannot return the economy of Lebanon to its pre-war trajectory. To this end, all eyes are on the third Paris conference, the meeting of the donor countries, which began to help Lebanon after Israel’s withdrawal in 2000, which is to be held in Paris in two weeks. This oxygen pipeline, the government hopes, will bring in $1 billion in direct donations, as well as guarantees and investments that will join donations Lebanon has received from Arab countries, and especially Saudi Arabia, totaling about $2.5 billion.

Though these are very large sums, as the direct damage from the war is estimated at more than $3 billion, and the national debt stands at about $41 billion, both the donor countries and the government know that Lebanon will find it hard to raise the funds without a demonstration of political stability and control of the country’s systems. This, therefore, is the playing field of Hezbollah’s power game, and indeed the game has started up again.

This week Nasrallah stopped “the sacred recess” that was aimed at giving the Lebanese a time-out from the political fracas in honor of the Muslim and Christian holidays. The mass demonstrations that had shrunk during the holiday period to a symbolic presence in the large city squares of Beirut expanded last week. Civil servants who are opposed to the economic reform that the prime minister is proposing in advance of the third Paris conference have gone out on strike. Predictably, Hezbollah has announced its support for the strikers and has called for an escalation of protest until “the government is brought down.”

Ostensibly, Arab intermediaries have an opportunity to try to untangle the Lebanese knot. Thus, for example, Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa has twice done the rounds in Beirut, holding well-publicized meetings and even exuding “cautious optimism” that had no basis at all. The smiles he won from Nasrallah and the honor with which he was greeted at the bureaus of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and Speaker of the Lebanese National Assembly Nabih Beri turned out to be nothing more than traditional hospitality.

The best proof of the Arab League’s impotence in face of “the Lebanese problem,” as this crisis is defined, was in Saudi Arabia’s mustering to try and squeeze out a solution.

Last week King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia met with Na’im Kassem, Nasrallah’s deputy (Nasrallah himself could not come because of clear security reasons) and with Mahmoud Fanish, the Hezbollah minister who resigned in November together with five other ministers. The Saudi king has a personal and royal interest in what is happening in Lebanon. His close friendship with Rafik Hariri and his commitment to help with respect to the investigation of his assassination have created a crisis between Saudi Arabia and Syria. Beyond that, Saudi Arabia is one of the most important donor countries for Lebanon; in addition to the $2 billion Saudi Arabia contributed to Lebanon during the war, it is preparing to continue its contributions in the framework of the Paris conference.

But even the “friendly conversation” that was held in Riyadh a short time before the pilgrimage to Mecca did not especially impress Hassan Nasrallah. Apparently the greater the pressure on his organization to reconcile with the government, the more Nasrallah realizes the power of the political lever he has in his hands. This was best described by his rival, Sa’ad Hariri, Rafik Hariri’s son and the head of the Al Mustaqbal group, which constitutes a majority in the parliament. In a public statement issued in Beirut, Sa’ad Hariri said that “Lebanon is facing a new wave of political and ideological terror … by means of a timed and financed campaign aimed at spreading chaos in public life, paralyzing the constitutional institutions and isolating areas in Lebanon from the rule of law, while exploiting some of the media to promulgate sectarian and ethnic policy and promote the killing of those whose names appear on the lists of traitors and plotters.”

This aggregate of expressions has been formulated in recent weeks to counter Hezbollah’s accusations that the government is guilty of treason and plotting against it. For the benefit of anyone who does not comprehend this lexicon, Hariri made it bluntly clear that “Hezbollah, with its leadership and the many means at its disposal, is the spearhead of an attack against the Paris conference.”

However, Hariri, too, knows that the conference is only a means, and not Nasrallah’s main target. The target is the Lebanese government, and the aim is to prevent the establishment of an international tribunal to judge those responsible for the assassination of Rafik Hariri, with “those responsible” standing for “the Syrians.” This is Nasrallah’s big debt to the Syrians. After he did not succeed in preventing their retreat from Lebanon, and on the backdrop of the large amount of aid he received from them throughout the years and is continuing to receive, Nasrallah feels a profound obligation to prevent embarrassment of Syria, of the sort that could be caused by an international trial. After all, no one is accusing Hezbollah of the assassination, and everyone knows about Rafik Hariri’s close relations with the organization.

This is the crux of the collision between Nasrallah and Fuad Siniora. Bringing to trial those responsible for the murder of Hariri, his close friend and his boss for decades, is the main and perhaps the only impetus that is keeping Siniora in the high political position that can determine the judicial move.

Giving in to Nasrallah would mean, as far as Siniora is concerned, the collapse of the justification for his political existence.

This is the cause of the war that is going on now in Lebanon, into which Hezbollah wants to drag the important economic conference, as he feels its failure might result in the Siniora government’s losing a significant share of its popularity and perhaps might thus fall.

Within this intra-Lebanese struggle, the name of Israel is not absent. Thus, for example, the pro-Hezbollah newspaper Al Diar has published that Russia is now asking to add another assassination to the international investigation. This is the assassination in Sidon last May of the brothers Nadal and Mahmoud Majzoub from Islamic Jihad. The Hezbollah and Palestinian elements in Lebanon claimed at the time that Israel was behind this assassination. Israel denied the charge.

This report, coming at this time, is aimed, in fact, at casting further doubt as to the identities of murderers who are moving around freely in Lebanon, since perhaps the Majzoubs’ assassins are also the ones who assassinated Hariri, and what about the espionage cell that was “exposed” in Lebanon a month later? But the larger matter is that elements in Hezbollah are attributing specifically to Russia the intention to add this incident to the international investigation committee’s wealth of investigations. It appears that in this publication there is even a suggestion to Russia, whose role until now in the investigations was an attempt to persuade Syrian President Bashar Assad to cooperate, to take a more active role and to try to create balance in the investigation committee: the investigation of Syrian elements alongside the investigation of Israeli elements. There has been no official confirmation from Russia this is indeed its intention, but in the Lebanese dynamic, in this matter, too, Israel is liable to find its name winding its way through the streets of Beirut.

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January 15th, 2007, 5:53 am

 

15. Alex said:

There is no Peace Department

By Zvi Bar’el

Amos Gilad knows everything. Last week, the head of the political-security division in the Defense Ministry explained in detail how it is possible, for example, to know whether Syria is heading toward war. You can see preparations and changes in the deployment of its army, because you cannot just go to war on the spur of the moment, Gilad explained. In the case of Syria, we do not see any such changes and, therefore, all the publications about war preparations are “the words of journalists.” That is, nonsense and vanity. Right now, Gilad says when moving on to explain the true threat, Iran and Syria are mainly engaged in rehabilitating Hezbollah and thus have no time for war. And what about the contradiction in the views of Military Intelligence and the Mossad regarding Syria’s intentions? Neither of them knows exactly what Assad’s intentions are, Gilad declares. In fact, Gilad also does not know. What does he know? That Assad is not mature enough, that he is young, that he lacks ability and determination, and, in short, that Assad is no more or less than a Syrian model of an average Israeli leader, except for his age.

So who are the people who really know something, and who is busy covering his derriere even in 2007? Indeed, the head of Military Intelligence said Syria has lowered its level of preparedness and that “Assad is turning toward peace,” but at the same time, several hundred Al-Qaida personnel have arrived in Lebanon. Are they more or less dangerous than Hezbollah? And where did they come from? Did they come via the same Syria whose leader is turning toward peace? And what about Iran – has it already reached the point of no return or does it have another three years? And has someone heard an official response on the matter of Israel planning to attack Iran?

Beyond bluff and spin, lack of knowledge and a paucity of information, it is possible to acknowledge the one single, consistent thing emerging from these remarks: There is no forecast for peace. Or more precisely, any scenario that includes the expressions “peace,” “negotiations” or “agreement” dissipates into the militant discourse that ostensibly knows very well which missile of what diameter is now aimed at Tel Aviv. And, in truth, why should someone in Military Intelligence or the Mossad, in the political-security division or in the research department, engage in something that is not a threat? In prevention, which is not military but diplomatic?

It seems that being cloistered within separate conceptual boxes – one of which is labeled “military” and the other “diplomatic” – has created the same fortified wall that separates the two lobes that should determine Israel’s policies. As if one is responsible for the dangers and threats, and the other for chances and opportunities.

If this were not the case, last week’s verbiage might have sounded like this: “The Mossad’s assessment is that negotiations with Syria are likely to prevent an atmosphere of war”; Khaled Meshal’s statement about Israel being a “fact” signals the beginning of recognition of Israel, the Shin Bet believes; unilateral Israeli involvement in the internal Palestinian struggle would increase the chance of deterioration, according to a senior officer in military intelligence; the release of prisoners and a real easing of passage at checkpoints is liable to prevent the spread of fighting in Gaza to the West Bank and to reduce the violence; and, in particular: the head of Military Intelligence believes that Israel’s failure to make a diplomatic initiative is liable to lead to war.

But woe to any official who would say such things. Without a commission of inquiry, he would find himself deposed from his high position by the end of the same day – because, after all, he exceeded his authority and “is engaging in politics.” But what about someone who says there is no chance of negotiating with Syria? Is he not “engaging in politics?” And whoever loudly declares that only checkpoints or only arrests or only targeted killings will stop terror is not engaging in politics?

The same senior army and intelligence personnel can no longer hide behind vague statements that “there is no military solution to the conflict” and then pass the ball over to “diplomatic chattering.” The time has come for them to actively point toward the chances as well, to turn their ears not only to the movement of a Syrian tank, but also to attach colored pins to the diplomatic movements that are occurring in the region.

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January 15th, 2007, 5:55 am

 

16. Abhinav Aima said:

Hmmmm…. Lots of people here want to ride into Damascus on the top of American tanks… And what’s the deal with all these Haaretz articles? Why don’t you guys just say what’s on your mind?

I haven’t heard anything about Michel Aoun in so long…

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January 15th, 2007, 8:59 am

 

17. aussamaa said:

Talbani’s remarks are very interesting: What is he really saying? We are Not a willing participant in the “surge” and all that is associated with it, we have nothing to do with all that and we will convey this to Bush, so please Mr. Bashar do not make our live more miserable than it already is? Or, was he “sent” in an attempt by Bush to kind of find out what Syria’s real intentions are after the new approach was adopted , since he can be more trusted -by both President Bush and President Bashar- to relay a more accurate and impartial assessment than the Roubai’i & Co. Seems by the tone of his remark that Syria told him that it will Stay its current Course ….

Less interesting: Abbas’s “delay” of his visit to Khalid Mishael (?!) in Damascus as I predicted yesterday. Rice may have whispered some words of wisdom in his ear. Same perhaps as she is been whispering on the ears of Siniora. Abbas is smart and realizes that the US might at one point leave him high and dry, the much weaker Siniora is still taking the US at its word.

Somewhat interesting: is the news item that the US does not intend to fight Iran and Syria. Well, we do not how to take such statements. First Bush wants to go after “terrorist supply” routs and “support basis” then he does not have the intention to take action against Syria and Iran. Meaning, Guy’s, never mind what you hear, of course we are not going to attack you, so please do not really start making it more difficult for us!
Contributing to Syria’s relaxation also is the fact that Russia is pulling the plug on the International Tribunal by requesting names of non-cooperative countries to be revealed. There goes the whole Hariri thing, Syria is off the hook and it’s all water under the bridge.

Very interesting: the “tiny bit” of information in a round table discussion I watched on ABC yesterday, made by one commentator while discussing if the congress can cut of funds to Bush to restrain him, and that “tiny bit” was that the Surge will not happen before June ( even if you make it April, that is too far into the future. Heck it now takes six months to lift 20,000 thousand troops and deploy them in ready and welcoming Iraq, while it took Bush senior three months to assemble half a million troops in 2000/2001). So, things are not really Final in that Department. Or are we sending Maliki to the slaughter house now, promising him support in the future, and if he does not get things better, we can either say: He is not capable, we are not going to support him, and Iraqis do not want to help themselves, We Are Out?

Most interesting is the Mossad’s inability to figure out what is happening and what to do! Meaning they do not have much confidence in the intentions or the abilities or the credibility of the actions of the current Godfather, President Bush.

One thought on the currently popular speculations about the intent of the US or Israel to attack Iran to destroy it nuclear program which is not a “threat” yet; Which is more important to US strategic interests, taking care of North Korea’s atomic weapons which threatens Japan and the whole region over there, or to please, humor and Israel in its quest to Remove the Iranian threat? No thing is done about or to North Korea, so I do not believe that the US will really jump on the Israeli wagon here. And to do what? To defend an “asset” that can not stand up to Hezbollah in Lebanon??? It seems hardly likely. Crying Wolf is not going do it this time. AIPAC or Not…

Where does all that leave us? I will pet my humble experience consisting of decades or watching what happens here, to put forward one small prediction:

Bush has blown it, Israel is in deep stuff and its on its own to find a way out as well, and eventually POTUS will have to listen to his father’s advice and make amends to Syria and Iran or just let things be.

And I have finally figured out WHO he can most beneficially Blame it all On?

The Democrats!!!! How? We shall see.

Maybe as in: We made mistakes, we were trying to correct them, but they stood in my way.

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January 15th, 2007, 9:36 am

 

18. aussamaa said:

Abhinav Aima,

Michel Aoun is alive and well from what we see on TV. He seems to have made his choices when his people rebuffed Welche’s remarks, and he seems heading for the Presidential Palace come next elections.

He and Sayed Hassan Nassralah, Karami, Berri, Al Huss, and Ibrahim Qulailat maybe very busy in the coming few weeks. Either celebrating their peacefull victory if Saudi conceds to reason, or deposing the Siniora government by People Power if it does not. As happened in the Ukrain and else where if you recall. “Democracy” and “People Power” are good things, you know…!

The real question is where is Junblat and Ja’ja???? Camera Shy !!!

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January 15th, 2007, 9:54 am

 

19. MSK said:

Dear Josh,

it’s good to see you respond to someone in the comments section.

Not wanting to drag out this Russia conversation, let me just say this: Stating that Russia, as a great power with long borders to the Middle East, has an interest in what is going on in the Middle East is one thing. But equivocating Imperial Russia’s colonialism towards the Black Sea, the Caucasus Region, Central Asia, and further with the Soviet Union’s policy towards the Middle East and now “New Russia”‘s policy towards the region … that is something else.

As is your assertion that the US replaced the British in that old “competition with Russia” game.

You seem to emphasize (and please correct me if I’m wrong) the continuity in Russia’s (and GB’s/US’) politics viz-a-viz the Middle East over the differences of the historical eras. I think that, while there is a continuity rooted in the geo-strategic location of both regions towards one another, there are marked differences between the eras that should not be glossed over.

Contemporary Russia’s policy towards the Middle East is driven by (1) concerns over support for Islamist/separatist movements inside Russia, (2) attempts to prevent a strategic control of the Middle East (a.k.a. Russia’s southern border) by the US (or any other global player, should there emerge one), and (3) the perception that a state that wants to be recognized as a “great power” has to behave like one, i.e. take on “great” responsibilities.

It is not driven by any form of sympathy or solidarity with the Arab or Muslim world.

I hope you forgive my sometimes … errr … acerbic tone. It’s just that SyriaComment is such an important website, used by many as a reference and seen as “telling the truth” and thus I hold it to a higher standard than, say, some private blogs.

In any case, I really appreciate that you took the time to engage.

–MSK

http://www.aqoul.com

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January 15th, 2007, 10:26 am

 

20. Craig said:

Bush is still intent on pursuing his bankrupt ‘victory strategy’ – a doomed enterprise in which more lives and much treasure will be thrown away.

Yeah, everyone knows Bush should be pursuing the “defeat strategy” :O

Don’t believe all the disclaimers that the US is not headed to war with Iran. The US is absolutely headed to war with Iran. And everyone knows it. I guess it’s the old “diplomacy” routine, the ignoring what’s right in front of your face in order to tell pleasant untruths.

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January 15th, 2007, 11:53 am

 

21. Craig said:

BTW, I’m sure all the American readers support the directive for the CIA to go after Hezbollah, right? 100%, right? Because it’s the job of the CIA to hunt down America’s enemies, and Hezbollah has murdered hundreds of Americans. Right?

There aren’t any Americans on this blog who think that’s a bad idea, right?

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January 15th, 2007, 11:59 am

 

22. Akbar Palace said:

Ugarit said:

“Bush has the chutzpa to illegally attack Iraq, kill hundreds thousands of Iraqis, destroy their nation and also be completely incompetent in occupation yet he has the chutzpa to tell Iraq’s neighbors (while the USA is about 10,000 km from Iraq) not to interfere. Only rotting empires think that way.”

1.) Bush never “illegally” attacked Iraq because it was sanctioned by the UNSC. Perhaps the Iranians should take heart.

2.) Bush never killed “hundreds of thousands of Iraqis”. In any case, the Iraqis insurgents, gangs, thugs, the jihadists, and even Saddam have killed many more innocent Iraqis than US forces. But no one dares mention this because only Americans murder innocent people…we all know that.

“Rotting empires”? A perfect definition of the Middle East and the thugocracies that are still hanging by a thread…

BTW – Why do you posters insist on copying and pasting complete articles when a URL link is all you need??

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January 15th, 2007, 12:02 pm

 

23. Akbar Palace said:

Craig –

We are with you Habibi!;)

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January 15th, 2007, 12:17 pm

 

24. Saladin said:

Craig,
Its a given… the CIA have to do what they have to do. Its what they get paid for. But keep one thing in mind. CIA has no jurisdiction outside US soil.
The CIA ‘IS’ the one who’ll be hunted down instead. Just as they have been in Beirut ’83.

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January 15th, 2007, 12:53 pm

 

25. MSK said:

Craig,

interesting to see you’re turning up here now as well …

Counter-question: Do you think the US should go after China (Korea War 1950-53), Vietnam, etc.?

HA killed US troops during a war in which the US had become one of the warring parties. HA then also took hostages. However, HA of today is not the HA of the 1980s, just as other countries and political groups have changed (just check under “PLO”).

2nd counter-question: Do you think any country where the US killed people outside a declared and under international law legalized war should “go after the US”?

Now, I’m not exactly a friend of either HA or the Syrian and Iranian regimes … but I would suggest that one looks at overall goals and whether singular courses of action are helpful or counterproductive.

So, yes, the US could physically take out HA. But would it be worth the massive civilian casualties involved, and the political fall-out, not to speak of the furtherance of unethical politics and violation of the spirit of what the US political and social system is supposedly standing for?

The US should make its politics on the basis of “but they did it first to us”. And it won’t lose any power by stating “we don’t do certain things (like torture, etc.) because they are inherently wrong”.

You & your ilk seem to have lost sight of what the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are all about and what the whole point of the US was supposed to be.

–MSK

http://www.aqoul.com

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January 15th, 2007, 1:06 pm

 

26. Saladin said:

Akbar… you toughty little git. stop it with the teasing.

1- “…the war started without a further resolution, which was seen by many governments throughout the world as a violation of international law. The United States had decided that it was unlikely to gain support from the Security Council, and decided to lead its coalition of the willing into war.”

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

2- Bush DID kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6040054.stm

both your points refuted.
next time, support your statements, Punch Bag.
🙂

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January 15th, 2007, 1:16 pm

 
 

28. ugarit said:

Akbar Palace Said — “1.) Bush never “illegally” attacked Iraq because it was sanctioned by the UNSC. Perhaps the Iranians should take heart.”

Funny, you must be watching Fox News. No wonder you’re confused.

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January 15th, 2007, 2:21 pm

 

29. ugarit said:

The killing of the US Marines in Lebanon occurred in 1983 and HizbAllah formed in 1985. So it could not have been HizbAllah which bombed the Marines. BTW, that act cannot be called terrorism since the Marines are not civilians.

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January 15th, 2007, 2:28 pm

 
 

31. Lettre 13 » Blog Archive » Recap on Where the White House is heading in the Middle-East said:

[…] SyriaComment.com: What is New about Bush’s New Strategy? […]

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January 15th, 2007, 4:04 pm

 

32. ugarit said:

craig said: “Because it’s the job of the CIA to hunt down America’s enemies, and Hezbollah has murdered hundreds of Americans. Right?”

You’re mistaken. HA is not the enemy of Americans. Israel has been very skillful in confusing Americans with regard to this issue and many other issues.

HA only came to existence due to Israel’s war of aggression against Lebanon. There was no HA prior to the Israeli invasion (the 1982 one) of Lebanon. HA is the enemy of Israeli policies and not the Americans. BTW HA disagrees with American foreign policy and not the American people. That’s because Americans don’t really know what’s going on.

Israel has attacked a US military target in the past and we don’t hear people saying that Israel is the enemy of America.

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January 15th, 2007, 4:46 pm

 

33. ugarit said:

“Fourteen members of the 200-member Carter Center advisory board, who worked to build support for the human rights organization started by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, have resigned in protest over Carter’s latest book.”

This is good news because the percentage of members who agree that Apartheid exists against the Palestinians is much higher now. It’s too bad that 14 people can be that ignorant of what Israel has been doing.

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January 15th, 2007, 5:11 pm

 

34. Akbar Palace said:

Saladin said:

“both your points refuted”

Not so fast:

UNSC 1441 (which passed unanimously with Syrias vote) referenced UN Charter Chapter VII which permits use of force. UNSC 1441 also threatens “serious consequences”. There wasn’t anything illegal about it.

http://www.state.gov/p/nea/rls/15016.htm

As far as the murdered US marines in Lebanon are concerned, once again Ugarit tries to BS the “scholars” on this forum:

http://www.cnn.com/2003/LAW/05/30/iran.barracks.bombing/

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January 15th, 2007, 5:18 pm

 

35. Akbar Palace said:

“This is good news because the percentage of members who agree that Apartheid exists against the Palestinians is much higher now. It’s too bad that 14 people can be that ignorant of what Israel has been doing.”

Ugarit –

And the majority of participants here are apologists of Arab terrorism. But that still doesn’t make terrorism right. And Jimmah Carter’s one-sided narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict is wrong too.

The Carter Center employees resigned because of the lies, not because of the title. Here it is in their own words:

“Your book has confused opinion with fact, subjectivity with objectivity and force for change with partisan advocacy…
“In the past you would inject yourself into this world to moderate between the two sides in the pursuit of peace and as a result you earned our admiration and support. Now you repeatedly make false claims. You wrote that UN Security Council Resolution 242 says that “Israel must withdraw from territories” (p. 38), but you know the word “must” in fact is not in the resolution. You said that since Mahmoud Abbas has been in office there have been no peace discussions. That is wrong. You wrote that Yassir Arafat told you in 1990 that, “The PLO has never advocated the annihilation of Israel” (p. 62). Given that their Charter, which explicitly calls for Israel’s destruction, was not revised until the late 1990s, how could you even write such a claim as if it were credible?
“You denied on Denver radio on December 12 that Palestinian Prime Minister Haniyah said he would never accept or negotiate with Israel. However the BBC monitoring service reported just the opposite. In fact Haniyah said: “We will never recognize the usurper Zionist government and will continue our jihadist movement until Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem) and the Al-Aqsa Mosque are liberated. When presented with this fact you said, “No he didn’t say that, no he did not do that, I did not hear that.” These are not points of opinion, these are points of fact.”

In a subsequent interview, Berman (one of the resignees) said he was led to resign after becoming deeply troubled after reviewing Carter’s book, shocked by factual errors and a message that doesn’t serve the cause of peace

Liane Levetan served on the board for 10 years. Here is what she told an interviewer when asked why she resigned: “ … the truth is something that has got to be told. And certain portions of this book do not tell the truth…When you are convinced that there’s something that’s wrong or not truthful, you can’t sit by on the sidelines and let things get by.”

Dr. Kenneth W. Stein was the first to resign. Here is his reason in his own words: “I just want to be sure that when people write history … they write it the way it was. They don’t try to shape a person’s opinion and slide them down a path in order to come to an inevitable conclusion … [the book contains] factual errors, copied materials not cited, superficialities, glaring omissions and simply invented segments.”

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January 15th, 2007, 5:27 pm

 

36. ugarit said:

Akbar Palace said: “As far as the murdered US marines in Lebanon are concerned, once again Ugarit tries to BS the “scholars” on this forum:

http://www.cnn.com/2003/LAW/05/30/iran.barracks.bombing/

Hezbollah became an organization in 1985 while the bombing was in 1983. CNN has no idea what it’s talking about and neither does the judge.

Even if HA were responsible for the bombing the marines would have been a legitimate military target. This was a war zone and the US was supporting one side over another. It is not terrorism to attack a military target.

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January 15th, 2007, 5:31 pm

 

37. ugarit said:

Akbar Palace wrote: “UNSC 1441 (which passed unanimously with Syrias vote) referenced UN Charter Chapter VII which permits use of force. UNSC 1441 also threatens “serious consequences”. There wasn’t anything illegal about it.”

It is not up to the US to decide what kind of force can be used nor what the serious consequences are. Since this is a UNSC resolution then the UNSC would decide what the action is and not the USA. Remember the US wanted another resolution but withdrew it when they realized that there is no support for it.

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January 15th, 2007, 5:34 pm

 

38. simohurtta said:

Hmmm Akbar why do your “liberal” friends in Israeli Knesset and streets resist an Israeli Arab as a minister? Some Israeli politicians say that an Arab can’t serve as an minister in the Jewish Sate. What more proof that Israel is a racist Apartheid country, build to serve one religion and one tribe, do you need?

Are Akbar you an apologists of Palestinians occupation, land theft and mistreatment? Be careful it is anti-Semitic which is a crime.

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January 15th, 2007, 6:05 pm

 

39. PoliticalCritic said:

The U.S. is clearly gearing up for war with Iran and it is a HUGE mistake. They have the resources to attack, but they do not have the ability right now to fend off the retaliation. Iran is more than willing to attack and there are hundreds of thousands of American forces in the region for them to target.

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January 15th, 2007, 6:23 pm

 

40. John Kilian said:

ugarit said: (January 15th, 2007, 5:34 pm / #)
It is not up to the US to decide what kind of force can be used nor what the serious consequences are. Since this is a UNSC resolution then the UNSC would decide what the action is and not the USA. (endQuote)

It is a feature of the UNSC to commonly pass resolutions and then do nothing to follow up on them. The US can not rely on an institution with as checkered a past as the UN for serious security matters. If the UNSC is going to say one thing, then it can not complain when the US follows up on it. Ask the residents of Darfur how secure UNSC resolutions make them feel with the UN endlessly delaying any intervention due to the preposterous excuse that the perpetrators of their genocide have not properly invited the UN to enter Sudan. Even when UN troops were on the case in Bosnia they stood aside and allowed the Serbs to take all the men in “UN safehaven” and dumped them in a ravine.

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January 15th, 2007, 10:23 pm

 

41. C. Lockhart said:

Yossi Alpher (Forward article entitled “Sharon Warned Bush”) is full of it. If, as Alpher contends, Sharon didn’t want the Iraq War, then why did the Israeli government wait over four years to correct what would then be misinformation in the following CNN etc. news accounts? The 2002 accounts, not what Alpher says today, are what the U.S. public perceived as Israel’s stance on the war. And that stance hurt the anti-war cause in the run-up to the Iraq invasion in March 2003. I’m not impressed by Alpher’s self-serving allegations, appearing for the first time in 2007 and after the Iraq War has proven to be a fiasco. Would Alpher have made these vague contentions if the war had been a success? I don’t think so. Then we would have heard him or another Israeli government mouthpiece trumpet Israel’s 2002 pro-war statements.

Here’s what Sharon and his cronies led the U.S. public to believe in 2002:

Sharon, 16 August 2002. AFP, citing Haaretz: “Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has urged the United States not to delay its threatened strike on Iraq any further. Postponing a military operation against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s regime ‘will not create a more convenient environment for action in the future,’ the Israeli daily Haaretz quoted Sharon as saying Friday [16 August 2002] in a message sent to the US administration.” http://www.arabia.com/afp/news/mideast/article/english/0,10846,267538,00.html

Peres, 15 August 2002. CNN: “Attacking Iraq now would be ‘quite dangerous, but postponing it would be more dangerous,’ Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said Thursday [15 August 2002]. ‘The problem today is not if but when,’ Peres said, ‘and if they think we wait, [Iraqi President] Saddam [Hussein] will change, and if he will change, it … will be for the worse; he will have more weapons.” http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/meast/08/15/peres.iraq/

Ranaan Gissin, 16 August 2002. CBS: “Israel is urging U.S. officials not to delay a military strike against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, an aide to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Friday. … ‘Any postponement of an attack on Iraq at this stage will serve no purpose,’ [Ranaan] Gissin said. ‘It will only give him (Saddam) more of an opportunity to accelerate his program of weapons of mass destruction.’” http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/08/18/world/main519037.shtml

According to one author, these war-mongering statements came at the time Bush and his cronies were deciding to strike Iraq. See “The Iraq War of 2003 and the Politics of Denuclearization,” Bruce D. Larkin, The University of California at Santa Cruz http://www.gcdd.net/TX=2003/TX.028=2003.11.11.IraqWar.pdf, p. 21 et seq.

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January 22nd, 2007, 7:58 am

 

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