Why Syria Doesn’t Want War with Israel

Sharon during the Israeli Invasion of Lebanon

Sharon during the Israeli Invasion of Lebanon

Landis Analysis:

I usually like Robert Baer’s analysis. This time, however, both his psychology and history fail him. Writing in Time Magazine (copied below), Baer argues that Syria will continue to provoke Israel because of “the Alawites’ dark insecurity.” [They have a complex, he argues, because Salafists don’t think they are Muslims]. What is more, he argues that the only way Alawites can prove their Arab-Islamic credentials is by periodically going to war with Israel. He writes: ” they will risk war with Israel if they believe their survival requires it.”

This is pop psychology. The Alawites smashed the Muslim Brothers in Hama, January 1982, well before Israel invaded Lebanon and forced Syria into a war it did not want and sought to avoid. Israel over-ran Syria’s anti-aircraft batteries in the Baqqa valley and cut off its troops excape route to Damascus, forcing Syria to respond.

The vast majority of Sunni Muslims in Syria denounced the radical wing of the Muslim Brotherhood for risking civil war and killing Alawites indiscriminately. Damascene Sunnis, led by Ratib Shallah and others, stood by Hafiz al-Assad and were duly rewarded for their loyalty and wisdom in saving their country from Iraqi type slaughter.

Hafiz did everything in his power to avoid war with Israel. He did not seek it in order to cleanse his “dark insecurity,” as Baer argues. I was living in Damascus at the time of both Hama and the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. The Palestinians at the University of Damascus were besides themselves with anxiety that Syria would not resist Israel’s incursion. Syria withdrew its forces to the Beirut-Damascus road in an effort to avoid confrontation with Israel. Israel sought out the Syrians, exceeding the red lines they said they would stay behind. They cut off Syria’s ability to withdraw its soldiers from Lebanon by taking the Beirut-Damascus road, the site of Syria’s anti-Aircraft missiles, and forced a confrontation with Syria that Hafiz was trying to avoid.

The reason Syria did not want to join battle with Israel is obvious. Israel shot down almost 100 Syrian MiG 23s without losing one of its own American made planes. Israel had AWACS and advance radar, which the Syrians lacked. Syrian pilots needed to make eye contact with Israel’s F15s and F16s in order to fire their missiles. I spoke to a number of Syrian pilots after the event. They never did succeed in making eye contact with the enemy. The US planes could fire their sidewinder missiles from well over the horizon, using their radar to guide them to their targets. The Syrian pilots knew they were being sent to their deaths, but they did it anyway. Those I spoke to were bitter and cynical. Hafiz called for a truce after a day. Syria’s defeat in 1982 shook the regime to its core. It did not strengthen it as Baer suggests.

Syria has scrupulously avoided direct war with Israel, because it would undermine its hold on power. That is why it must work through militias and non-state actors, which don’t have a return address. If Alawites have dark insecurities, it is because they fear getting into a war with Israel — not because they welcome it. That is why Syria wants peace with Israel and the return of the Golan. There is no upside to war with Israel – particularly not for Alawites. Syria has shown admirable restraint in the face of recurrent Israeli provocations, bombings, and assassinations. This is because the regime is secure. Its legitimacy derives from Bashar al-Assad’s ability to avoid war — both external and internal civil war — not in his desire to provoke it.

Why Syria Will Keep Provoking Israel
By Robert Baer
Time, 3 October 2008

Oddly enough, Saturday’s car bombing in Damascus will serve Iran’s interests. Tehran thrives on chaos, which presents it an opportunity to come to the aid of friendly regimes and causes in the Middle East that need backing. More than likely, Iranian leaders were on the phone with counterparts in Damascus all Saturday, telling the Syrians not to lose heart. The Iranian message to Damascus is simple: If Israel and the United States see any weakness in the Assad regime, they will drive a truck through it and bring it down. And, if history is anything to go by, that’s a message Damascus will listen to.

What we tend to ignore is why Syria has had an uninterrupted record of attaching itself to radical causes and countries like Iran. For starters, Syria is ruled by a besieged and insecure minority, the Alawites, a heterodox-Shi’ite ethnic minority. About 12% of Syria’s population, the Alawites are looked at by extremist Sunni Muslims as heretics, fallen-away Muslims, usurpers who should be put to the sword. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, the Sunni extremists came close to getting their way. During a February 1982 Muslim Brotherhood insurrection in Hama, Syria’s third largest city, Hafez al-Assad felt compelled to flatten it in order to stay in power…

To Americans, it may appear reckless for the Syrians to provoke Israel by beefing up Hizballah —especially with Israel now constrained in how it can respond to Iran’s nuclear program. (The U.S. has made clear to the Israelis that getting into a war with Iran is the proverbial bridge too far, and that Washington therefore won’t support or enable an Israeli military strike on the Islamic Republic.) But, again, Americans don’t understand the Alawites’ dark insecurity — and the fact that they will risk war with Israel if they believe their survival requires it.

Qifa Nabki has written up what he has been told by Lebanon’s Cabbies on the Syria-Israel Negotiations

UN seeks aid for drought affected people in Syria
Chinaview.cn, 4 October 2008

The United Nations launched an appeal Friday for 20 million U.S. dollars to help up to 1 million drought affected people in Syria for a period of six months.

A vast majority of the funding is required for livelihoods and food, said Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Syria is currently experiencing a drought that is by far the worst over the past four decades, according to OCHA.

The Syrian government estimated that up to 1 million people — predominantly herders and subsistence farmers — are at risk of losing their livelihoods and of increased malnutrition.

Up to 59,000 small herders lost almost all their herds and 47,000 herders lost 50 percent to 60 percent of their livestock.

Food prices have risen at a rate that has outstripped household incomes and the purchasing power of the general population, especially in the drought-affected areas, Byrs said.

Anemia, malnutrition and diarrhea are on the rise in the country, especially among children under the age of five, as well as among pregnant women.

Availability of drinking water also decreased in the rural areas of north-eastern Syria, particularly in those villages depending on protected wells as their only water source.

The situation is not expected to improve until the spring 2009,if the rains do not fail for a second year in a row.

Danger lies in ties with Kurdish opposition
03 October 2008
By Michael Howie

AN EXPERT on Syrian politics believes any links Jojo Yakob has with Kurdish opposition parties could land him in bigger trouble than his homosexuality if he is returned to his home country. He claims Mr Yakob could be arrested for any ties he might have with Kurdish groups.
Joshua Landis, the co-director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, said: “They will be watching him like a hawk.”

About 200,000 Kurds in Syria have no passport and are on society’s margins.

Offering Mr Yakob a small glimmer of hope, he said gay people could avoid state aggression “if they keep their heads down”.

But he admitted: “I don’t know what the secret police would do to him.”

A spokesman for the Syrian Embassy in London said: “Homosexuality is illegal, but there are no special units to deal with this problem.

“People are not prosecuted – society looks at this as a disease for which they can be treated – it is a similar position to that taken by the Vatican. I cannot give a clearer answer. But we are not Switzerland.”

Israeli General (commander of the northern front) threatens Syria and Lebanon with the Da7ieh treatment (total destruction) during the next military confrontation. (In Arabic: Thanks Alex)
[Addendum Oct 8] David Schenker argues that if there is a formalized arrangement b/t Hizballah and the LAF, or if there is a March 8 Government come the spring, the US will revise its policy toward the LAF to deny it attach helicopters and other equipment. PolicyWatch #1407: The Future of U.S. Military Aid to Lebanon

Syria rebuffs nuclear inspectors
BBC, 3 October 2008

The head of Syria’s nuclear programme has said that the country’s military sites will remain off-limits to international nuclear inspectors.

Damascus said it would co-operate with an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inquiry only if it did not threaten its national security……

Afghanistan wins spot on IAEA board after Syria withdraws
The Daily Star, 4 October 2008

Afghanistan won a place on the 35-member board of the UN atomic watchdog on Friday, after Syria pulled out of the race for the seat. Syria had been competing with Afghanistan for a spot in the body that oversees the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that had become vacant for the so-called Middle East and South Asia (MESA) group after Pakistan’s one-year term expired.

…. “For the sake of unity within the MESA group, Syria has decided to drop its candidacy,” said Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, and added: “There will be only one candidate for the MESA group.”

Had MESA nations been unable to decide on a consensus candidate, the matter would have had to go to a vote by all of the IAEA’s 145 member states.

Syria’s bid for a greater say in the IAEA had run into fierce opposition by the US, which alleges that Damascus was building a covert nuclear facility at a remote desert site called Al-Kibar until it was destroyed by an Israeli strike in September 2007….

Afghanistan, which is a US ally, had announced its candidacy on Wednesday. …

Judge orders Syria to pay families of hostages
By Kate Brumback
AP, 3 October 2008

An attorney acknowledged Friday that it will be difficult to force Syria to pay more than $400 million to the families of two American men kidnapped and decapitated while working as civilian contractors in Iraq…..

U.S. High School Joins Forces With Syria to Tackle Iraqi Refugee Crisis
The Wall Street Journal, 3 October 2008

Using drawings from Iraqi children who fled to Syria to escape the war in Iraq, American Conserve School and Syrian Al Enawi Secondary School have published a book in hopes of raising awareness of the 1.5 million Iraqi refugees. A U.S. high school worked with a secondary school in Syria to publish a book that hopes to raise awareness of the Iraqi refugee crisis. The book contains drawings by Iraqi children who fled to Syria to escape the Iraq war.
The book, entitled Through the Eyes of Children: The Iraqi Refugee Crisis 2008,…..

Senior Salafi cleric issues stark warning to Damascus
By Nicholas Kimbrell
The Daily Star, 3 October 2008

Lebanon’s leading Salafi cleric, Dai al-Islam al-Shahhal, has warned Syria to stay out of North Lebanon or risk opening “the gates of hell.” In an interview to be published in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Anbaa, Shahhal made clear that Syrian intervention in Lebanon would be met with stiff opposition.

A military incursion would open “the gates of hell and lead to what is similar to Iraq and its misery,” he said, according to excerpts received by the Lebanese news outlet Naharnet.

“The Syrian command and its allies in Lebanon,” Shahhal added, “are keen on driving a wedge between the Salafi movement and the Lebanese military establishment in order to drag the whole Sunni community into conflict….”

Major powers warn against any Syrian move into Lebanon
By Hussein Abdallah
The Daily Star, 4 October 2008

….. An-Naharnewspaper quoted an official US source Friday as saying that US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch had told Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem that the United States totally rejected any Syrian military intervention in Lebanon.

The source said Welch made it clear to Moallem that recent bombings in Damascus and Tripoli should not be used to justify any kind of military intervention in Lebanon…

Comments (79)

Pages: « 1 [2] Show All

51. OFF THE WALL said:


I hate to sound like pro-regime again, for I am fiercely independent. But issuing presidential decrees and appointments during parliamentary break is common even here in the US (of course not in the same manner). It is constitutional prerogative given to presidents and prime ministers in most countries including well established democracies. Once the parliament is in session again, these appointments and decrees can be ratified, or rejected. Please understand that this is not a defense of regime, or government. It is merely a piece of information that I believe is relevant to this discussion.

It was the way BUSH forced Bolton’s appointment as US Ambassador to the UN. When he was up for re-appointment the congress made it hard on him to a point where he withdrew. And American presidents have used the recession appointments frequently to bypass pre-appointment congressional hearings and to force the legislative branch to accept de-facto conditions.

As for gifts or appropriation, my argument was not to defend the authoritarian nature of such appropriations, but to agree with the decision to support Maaloula, no more and no less. `I am a firm believer that the power of the purse should not be in the hand of the executive but in the hand of the legislator, with the executive having the right to recommend budget request and to reject budgets and send it back for revision to the legislator.

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October 5th, 2008, 5:33 pm


52. Off the Wall said:

We have been a HONDA family for the past 18 years.

As for enrolling in 2 space programs, if Palin can be a Republican and a Reformer at the same time, why not? 🙂

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October 5th, 2008, 5:40 pm


53. Qifa Nabki said:


What exactly do the Israeli hawks think that the Lebanese should do about Hizbullah? Fight them on Israel’s behalf? They are the most popular single party in Lebanon! Why are they popular? Not because they want to annihilate Israel, but because the Lebanese are sick of being cannon fodder…

(Of course, this is also why many hate Hizbullah).

You should meet my friend Abbas. You could discuss all these questions with him, and he would tell you what the various probabilities are. 🙂

Here’s a sample of a recent conversation I had with him (he is one of the people I mentioned, whom I asked the question about the next Israel-Hizbullah war).

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October 5th, 2008, 6:24 pm


54. Alex said:


About once a month you write about this blog’s bias and the way you feel not welcome or the way your comments do not get published.

Can you please let me know by email if you feel that anything of the above takes place?

And please do not be over sensitive to other comments that do not support yours. Off the Wall’s opinion, for example, is different from yours, but that does not mean you are “not welcome” here.

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October 5th, 2008, 6:27 pm


55. EHSANI2 said:

According to Israel Radio, US officials claim that the US sanctions against Syria will be lifted in the near term.

If the report is true, the young lion of Damascus can claim a massive win in his 8-year old duel with this White House.

The regional powers will take notice of this development fairly soon to be sure.

Damascus stood to the world’s superpower and won. No one can take this away from the young Syrian leader.

Though the signs have been there for a while, the lifting of these sanctions will constitute the final chapter of the attempt to isolate Syria.

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October 5th, 2008, 6:33 pm


56. Alex said:


I usually do not believe Syria related news from Israel.

But inshallah.

Here is the full article

‘US considers lifting Syrian sanctions’
Oct. 5, 2008
Jpost.com and Herb Keinon , THE JERUSALEM POST

Washington is considering a possible change of policy towards Syria in the near future, which would entail lifting sanctions against the country but would not include returning the US ambassador to Damascus, Israel Radio quoted senior US officials as saying on Sunday.

The officials reportedly said that discussions were being held over the best way for the US to influence Syria, in light of the improved relations with France and the visit of French President Nicolas Sarkozy to the country in September.

A US official said there were several encouraging signals on the Syrians’ part, including the decision to renew diplomatic ties with Lebanon.

On October 2, a senior Israeli diplomatic official said Jerusalem had no problem with the US engaging in dialogue with Damascus.

The official made the comment in response to two US-Syrian meetings held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York earlier last week.

“The Syrians are putting out all kinds of feelers to the US to set things in motion before the upcoming elections,” the official said. “Damascus has already gotten credit for engaging in indirect talks with Israel and is now trying to capitalize on that with the Americans.”

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke for 10 minutes with Syrian Foreign Minister Wallid Muallem at a dinner with Arab foreign ministers on September 28. The next day she dispatched her top adviser, Assistant Secretary of State David Welch, for a more lengthy meeting with Muallem.

CNN quoted a State Department official as saying that at the Welch-Muallem meeting, the two traded long-standing grievances, and also discussed Washington’s support for Israeli-Syrian peace talks, Syria’s role in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, and its ties to Iran.

Welch, according to the CNN report, also said Syria should play a more positive role in the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations and stop supporting Palestinian terrorist groups.

He also raised the issue of Syria’s strategic relationship with Iran.

It is precisely here, according to Israeli officials, that a US dialogue with Syria could be productive.

According the Israeli official, Israel realizes that if the West wants to move Syria out of Iran’s orbit, the US will have to play a more active role in Israel’s negotiations with Syria in general, as well as increase its own dialogue with Damascus.

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October 5th, 2008, 6:50 pm


57. Shai said:


And once again Israel missed a beautiful opportunity. We could have sat at the table with Syria, and pretended (both sides) to do anything and everything to help end Syria’s isolation. I say “pretended” because we see how helpful Israel has been… Still, this gesture would have been appreciated by Syria, and reciprocated by various CBM’s perhaps. But instead, Syria’s gone and done it all on its own… Indeed if the U.S. sanctions are lifted, Bashar will have proved to all that his strategy worked.


You know, I often ask myself the same question about the hawks here. And then I’m reminded of the entire EXCOM around John Kennedy in October of 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Everyone around him, generals, national security advisers, heads of intelligence, you name it, all supported attacking Cuba. And why? Probably because deep within each one of them, there was some finished belief in the inevitability of a clash between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. And if that were the case, then better now, when the odds still favored the U.S. Same here in Israel, perhaps. Certain people (I claim almost the entire Right) feel that clashes with the Arab world are inevitable. As such, it is better to fight HA today, than wait for it to get sophisticated anti-air missiles tomorrow.

So to be honest with you, I don’t think the average Israeli hawk really gives a damn about what the Lebanese people can or cannot do to stop Hezbollah. In a way, it is better for him/her if they could do nothing. It’s a bizarre way of looking at life (with certain fates), but perhaps most conservatives anywhere form their belief systems and actions in such a way. Certainly when I hear rhetoric by commentators such as AP or AIG, it seems they too believe in this “fate” (the inevitability of endless clashes).

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October 5th, 2008, 6:57 pm


58. Off the Wall said:


I sure hope that you are not intimidated by any of my comments. If that is the case, then I apologize. As you can see, I have agreed with and supported your arguments regarding the language of the describing our recent history. And I have occasionally opposed your arguments as well. If I ever use inappropriate tone or language, please feel comfortable to let me know and to berate me for all to see. I feel welcomed here and I have no reason or right to make others feel otherwise.

This is what I would call “Breaking News”. But how near is near-term, was there any indication and how trustworthy is the source?

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October 5th, 2008, 7:04 pm


59. EHSANI2 said:

No, there is no confirmation as of yet.

Of course, this is the very first hint. Much needs to be clarified.

The main loser here is KSA. The U.S. seems to have come to the conclusion that its policy had not worked and that it was time to try something different.

Again, the news may turn out to be wrong and this is why I qualified my comment by saying “if true”.

Dr. Landis has been urging everyone that cares to listen to do just this for years. Many have criticized him for making the suggestion.

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October 5th, 2008, 7:10 pm


60. shibl said:

Hi Off the Wall,

I am one of the authors of Palin bot thingy.

Thank you for your comments, we modified the site a bit to make it clear it is a spoof. Have a look and tell me what you think? We tried to still make it subtle to keep the user guessing for a few seconds.

It is neither for nor against Palin, just having fun at her robotic answers.

I disagree with the sexist part, but u have to agree that the sexy librarian thing is part of her perceived persona.

The new URL is:

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October 5th, 2008, 7:20 pm


61. Alex said:

Meshaal Calls For Syria-Saudi Thaw: Arab Diplomat
2008-10-05 14:22:32.810 GMT

RIYADH (AFP)–Exiled Hamas supremo Khaled Meshaal has called for a thaw in ties between Saudi Arabia and Syria during a recent visit to Saudi Arabia, an Arab diplomat said Sunday.

“During meetings with Saudi officials, Meshaal raised the issue of Saudi-Syrian relations, which have long been tense, and stressed the importance of improving those ties,” the diplomat told AFP, requesting anonymity.

Relations between Riyadh and Damascus have been tense since the February 2005 assassination of Lebanese former premier Rafiq Hariri, a close Saudi ally, in a bombing widely blamed on Syria.

Meshaal, who lives in exile in Syria, visited the Saudi holy city of Mecca in September to perform umrah, or smaller pilgrimage, and to meet with Saudi officials.

Fresh tensions between Syria and Saudi Arabia surfaced after a deadly car bombing in Damascus last month that killed 17 people, with Syrian official media complaining that the Saudi authorities did not condemn the attack.

Syrian authorities blocked the distribution of the Saudi-owned pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat after the Sept. 27 car bombing, the paper’s Beirut bureau chief told AFP on Thursday.

The head of the Palestinian Islamist Hamas also met in Mecca with Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, the Arab diplomat said.

Meshaal also met with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman for talks on Cairo’s efforts to broker a reconciliation between Hamas and the rival Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, the diplomat added.

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October 5th, 2008, 7:26 pm


62. EHSANI2 said:

The financial crisis has hit the EU hard. The Euro has hit new recent lows in early Asian trading. The rescue plan for a troubled German mortgage lender (Hypo) seems to have hit a snag over the weekend. Germany’s response was to guarantee all private savings accounts.

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October 5th, 2008, 7:31 pm


63. Innocent_Criminal said:


THe article doesnt seem to be from an israeli source. As mentioned in the article its also quoting CNN. One of my guesses is that the current administration feels compelled to start building some of the bridges with Syria because both nominees want them to. Its an act of descensy of some sort to the next administration. Unless of course some sort of deal has been struck prior to the Rice-Welch-Moullam meeting we dont know about???

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October 5th, 2008, 8:22 pm


64. Off the Wall said:

Interesting words from the architect of the end of history

I have argued the same, but way much less elegantly than Fukuyama

Excerpts from his new article (just saw it on NEWSWEEK vis huffpost). I am reading the article now,

Ideas are one of our most important exports, and two fundamentally American ideas have dominated global thinking since the early 1980s, when Ronald Reagan was elected president. The first was a certain vision of capitalism—one that argued low taxes, light regulation and a pared-back government would be the engine for economic growth. Reaganism reversed a century-long trend toward ever-larger government. Deregulation became the order of the day not just in the United States but around the world.

The second big idea was America as a promoter of liberal democracy around the world, which was seen as the best path to a more prosperous and open international order. America’s power and influence rested not just on our tanks and dollars, but on the fact that most people found the American form of self-government attractive and wanted to reshape their societies along the same lines—what political scientist Joseph Nye has labeled our “soft power.”

It’s hard to fathom just how badly these signature features of the American brand have been discredited. Between 2002 and 2007, while the world was enjoying an unprecedented period of growth, it was easy to ignore those European socialists and Latin American populists who denounced the U.S. economic model as “cowboy capitalism.” But now the engine of that growth, the American economy, has gone off the rails and threatens to drag the rest of the world down with it. Worse, the culprit is the American model itself: under the mantra of less government, Washington failed to adequately regulate the financial sector and allowed it to do tremendous harm to the rest of the society.


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October 5th, 2008, 8:41 pm


65. ausama said:

What is next after survying Lebanese Cabbies about Syrian-Israeli negotiations? Survaying Mono street Bar Girls about the prospects of an Iranian-Israeli confrontation?

But the good news is that we now have a qifanabki blog (at a great eventual intelectual loss to the visitors to Syria Comment of course) where we can be “subtly” reminded of the clear and present danger represented by a possible Syrian Army entry into Lebanon!

Let us all pray for the day Akbar Palace and AIG follow suit and open their own blog thing and leave us alone to our “doomed fate”.

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October 5th, 2008, 9:29 pm


66. OFF the Wall said:


I love the change, simple, barely noticeable, and if I did not know, it would have taken me sometime to recognize. This is very smart. Good job. I also like the questions, I asked few and your answer generator seems to have a nice list of answers, simple and composite, which are consistent with the personality in question

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October 5th, 2008, 10:53 pm


67. why-discuss said:


The scenario of the re-entry of the syrian army or at least a stronger influence of Syria in Lebanese politics, while dreaded by the 14 Mars fans, could in fact be a protection not only from islamic hysterics in the North of Lebanon but also from the Israelis recent threats. Syria would easily rein Hezbollah, eliminate the Al Qaeda cells in Northern Lebanon by helping the lebanese army and bring a cleaned up Lebanon into the Israeli peace process.
The other scenario of snubbing Syria’s help will oblige the over stretched Lebanese army to fight an endless and bloody war against al Qaeda that may spill easily to Beirut. It will also allow Hezbollah to flex its muscles and provoke Israeli violent retaliation. And finally, it will not encourage Syria to include Lebanon in the peace negotiations, therefore leaving Lebanon in the cold with only the help of the useless UN.
Is the possible Saudi-Syria thaw a sign that Syria may get a greenlight to re renter lebanese politics with the benediction of the Saudis and the Americans? Is the elimination of US sanctions on Syria an incentive to encourage Syria-Israel negotiations and boosting possible Syria’s role in Lebanon?
Are the threats to Lebanon from Israel a disguised suggestion to Lebanese leaders to operate a rapprochement with Syria so Hezbollah become neutralized?
Signs are showing that for the West, Syria has become the only serious road to peace with Israel. Therefore should be given a special treatment. Are we seeing this?

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October 6th, 2008, 12:27 am


68. jad said:

(Just an observation, nothing more, and I’m absolutely not hassling anybody at all. so please, nobody take this personally.)
It’s kind of interesting when we have some drama go on SC, but for someone to be so sensitive about it is wrong, and to ask to be treated differently because they are on one side or the other doesn’t fit into the balance that people are asking for.
In any debate you can’t expect people to fully agree with you especially with ME folks who’s everyone of them thinks that he is the smartest man on earth and he knows everything!? I also think it’s your duty to convince whoever read your comments with what you believe in and your ideas and that is the goal we should be looking for.
I’m sorry OTW, but to apologize for your thoughts out of courtesy and politeness doesn’t sound that right to me. (I’m just saying that out of respect OTW, and I truly hope that you understand my point and not take it the wrong way)

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October 6th, 2008, 3:40 am


69. Zenobia said:


Barbarella? !?

the more I learn , the more I discover what a cheese ball you are.

tell the truth, do you listen to Martin Denny late at night and make fake martinis for the right effect…: )

i still haven’t gotten over those other you-tube links you posted awhile back with the couple running on the beach etc. I was hoping that might have just been an anomaly… but…

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October 6th, 2008, 4:01 am


70. Qifa Nabki said:


Ya habibi you are welcome any time to comment on the blog. I would love to debate with you there.

But the prerequisite is that you actually read the commentary instead of assuming you know what I’m saying.


In the case of the Syrian invasion, I think I concluded that it was a ridiculous idea.

But who needs to read, when one just knows!?

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October 6th, 2008, 4:24 am


71. Alex said:

LOL .. Martin Denny?!!!


I’m too Syrian to appreciate Martin Denny music.

Ya3ni if I am to escape this planet and go to the moon, my options are limited, I hope you realize

1) With Shai, Jad, and a Chinese man stuck in some small Chinese spaceship.

2) With that Barbarella, listening to “fly me to the moon”

And I don’t drink Martinis or Alcohol in general… don’t like it. Like a good old Syrian I drink Fruit Juice only … carrots, Orange, fruit cocktail …etc.

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October 6th, 2008, 4:25 am


72. Jad said:

Juice eh!, So you are RAMEZ fan…
I’m not sure if you heard about Ramez mania in damascus, when he open his little shop (jugo juice kind, syrian style of course…) on Aleppo st. he was so IN at that time, it was end 80s.. and everybody used to go there, he then open the one on Baghdad st. I’m not sure if he is still IN…

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October 6th, 2008, 4:55 am


73. Johnny said:

Josh, though I agree with the following comment in general:
“Syria has scrupulously avoided direct war with Israel, because it would undermine its hold on power. That is why it must work through militias and non-state actors, which don’t have a return address”

I beg to differ on the return address. The militias and non-state actors may not have a return address inside Syria proper, but ask any residents in the occupied territories and southern Lebanon and we will tell you otherwise. The return address is more often than not on top of our heads.

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October 6th, 2008, 11:01 am


74. Joshua said:

Johnny, habibi — Allah yukhalli rasak. Kish barra wa ba`iid.

You are absolutely right. Syria’s weakness has obliged it to fight a non-traditional war. The result is that many Lebanese are held hostage to a larger struggle that they want no part of.

All the more reason for not misinterpreting the war’s causes. If one believes that it is due to “dark Alawite insecurities,” as Baer and others argue, the proper strategy to end it is indeed regime change in Syria, whatever the cost. Many Lebanese neocons and some Israelis argue this.

I think such a policy is stupid and misguided. It will only lead to increased Lebanese chaos and suffering, not to mention lots Syrian chaos and suffering. This is a cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face policy.

The real solution is to help end the Arab-Israeli conflict and restore the Golan to its legal owners. Once this is accomplished, Syria will not have incentive to destabilize Lebanon. Certainly, it’s Lebanon strategy will not depend on supporting “resistance” and an armed Hizbullah. For Syria to give up support for Hizb before getting the Golan back, is to give up its claim to the Golan.

Syria will continue to work for a “friendly” Lebanon, but that will not be so objectionable – even to right wing Lebanese – if Syria is at peace with Israel and supports a Lebanon at peace with Israel. Everyone will be the richer and every-one’s house will be safer – everyone but the 20,000 Jewish settlers on the Golan – which is where the real problem lies.

All of this “dark Alawite” hocus-pocus is a diversion from the real problem of occupation at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict. No matter who rules Syria, they will need to fight for the Golan and they will need allies in their struggle. I doubt that the Muslim Brothers or the NSF have a better plan than the present Syrian regime has. During the 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, they recommended that Assad attack Israel on the Golan in order to support Lebanon and defeat Israel. That would have been a losing strategy for Syria, but, of course, that was the point. They want Syria to be defeated again in order to bring down the present regime that they abhor.

This is the quintessential cut-of-your-nose-to-spite-your-face strategy. Lebanon and Syria are linked by geography, economy, and culture. Only a happy and peaceful Syria will help to bolster a happy and peaceful Lebanon. And the same goes for a happy and peaceful Israel. The international community should put its shoulder behind the task of easing the return of the Israeli settlers back to Israel proper and returning the 300,000 Golani refugees in Syria back to their homes and land, rather than seeking to crush Syrian efforts to get back the Golan.

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October 6th, 2008, 3:35 pm


75. ausama said:

Dear QN, Thanks for the warm invitation and Mabrook anyway.. good luck..

I am gonna be visiting Damascus and Beirut next week and I will try to give my version of what cabbies there think. And will try to get a feedback from the Mono street crowd as well. I hope my version will match yours, but Lebanese cabbies usually keep telling me: We Lebaneses have learned nothing.!! we will see this time.


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October 6th, 2008, 6:12 pm


76. ugarit said:

“It’s hard to fathom just how badly these signature features of the American brand have been discredited.” — http://www.newsweek.com/id/162401

They were discredited when they were pronounced but Fukayama and his ilk just realized what was going on. Need I remind Fukayama of “Voodo o Economics”. Who in their right mind would have thought that the US truly stands for democracy! Let’s ask South America what the US and Reagan did to them.

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October 6th, 2008, 7:04 pm


77. Alex said:

Robert Fisk’s World: When it comes to Palestine and Israel, the US simply doesn’t get it

6 Oct 2008

Palestinians ceased to exist in the United States on Thursday night. Both Joe Biden and Sarah Palin managed to avoid the use of that poisonous word. “Palestine” and “Palestinians” – that most cancerous, slippery, dangerous concept – simply did not exist in the vice-presidential debate. The phrase “Israeli occupation” was mercifully left unused. Neither the words “Jewish colony” nor “Jewish settlement” – not even that cowardly old get-out clause of American journalism, “Jewish neighbourhood” – got a look-in. Nope.

Those bold contenders of the US vice-presidency, so keen to prove their mettle when it comes to “defence”, hid like rabbits from the epicentre of the Middle East earthquake: the existence of a Palestinian people. Sure, there was talk of a “two-state” solution, but it would have mystified anyone who didn’t understand the region.

There was even a Biden jibe at George Bush for pressing on with “elections” – again, the adjective “Palestinian” went missing – that produced a Hamas victory. But Hamas appeared to exist in never-never land, a vast landscape that gradually encompassed all the vast and black deserts that stretch, in the imagination of US politicians, from the Mediterranean to Pakistan.

“Pakistan’s (nuclear) missiles can already hit Israel,” Biden thundered. But what was he talking about? Pakistan has not threatened Israel. It’s supposed to be on our side. Both vice-presidential candidates seemed to think that our ally in the “war on terror” was now turning into an ally of the axis of evil. Even Islam didn’t get a run for its money.

Indeed, one of the funniest reports of the week, yet another investigation of Obama’s education, came from the Associated Press news agency. The would-be president, the Associated Press announced, had attended a Muslim school but hadn’t “practised” Islam.

What on earth did this mean, I asked myself? Would AP have reported, for example, that McCain had attended a Christian school but hadn’t “practised” Christianity? Then I got it. Obama had smoked Islam but he hadn’t inhaled!

Travelling across the US this week – from Seattle to Houston to Washington and then to New York – I kept bumping into the results of America’s White House-induced terror. A well-educated, upper-middle-class lady at a lunch turned to me and expressed her fear that Islam “wanted to take over America”. When I suggested that this was pushing things a bit, she informed me that “the Muslims have already taken over France”.

How does one reply to this? It’s a bit like being informed by a perfectly sane and rational person that Martians have just landed in Tennessee. So I used the old Fisk trick when confronted by ravers of the “admit George Bush did 9/11” school. I looked at my watch, adopted a shocked expression and shouted: “Gotta go!”

But seriously. There was Biden on Thursday night, telling us that along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan – he was referring, of course, to the old frontier drawn by Sir Mortimer Durrand which most Pushtuns (and thus all Taliban) regard as fictional – “there have been 7,000 madrassas built … and that’s where bin Laden lives and we will go at him if we have actually (sic) intelligence”.

Seven thousand? Where on earth does this figure come from? Yes, there are thousands of religious schools in Pakistan – but they’re not all on the border. In another extraordinary bit of myth-making, Obama’s man told us that “we kicked the Hizbollah out of Lebanon” – which is totally untrue.

And, of course, Israel – a word that must be uttered, repeatedly, by all US candidates – became the compass point of the entire Middle East, this “peace-seeking nation … our strongest and best ally in the Middle East” (quoth Palin) of whom “no one in the United States Senate has been a better friend…than Joe Biden” (quoth Biden).

Israel was “in jeopardy” if America talked to Iran, Palin revealed. “We have got to assure them that we will never allow a second Holocaust.” Thus was the corpse of Hitler dug up yet again – just as McCain resurrected the shadow of the Second World War last week when he blathered on about Eisenhower’s sense of responsibility before D-Day. That Israel can quite adequately defend herself with 264 nuclear warheads went, of course, unmentioned, because acknowledging Israel’s real power undermines the image of a small and vulnerable country relying on America for its defence.

Israelis deserve security. But where were the promises of security for Palestinians? Or the sympathy which Americans would immediately grant any other occupied people? Absent, needless to say. For we must gird ourselves for the next struggle against world evil in Pakistan.

Biden actually demanded a “stable” government in Islamabad, which was a little bit hypocritical only a few days after US troops had crossed its sovereign border to shoot up a Pakistani house allegedly used by the Taliban. As General David Petraeus told The New York Times this week, “The trends in Afghanistan have been in the wrong direction … wresting control of certain areas from the Taliban will be very difficult.”

It’s an odd situation. Obama and Biden want to close down Iraq and re-conquer Afghanistan. The Palin College of Clichés characterised this as “a white flag of surrender in Iraq” while continuing to warn of the dangers of Iran, the name of whose loony president – Ahmadinejad – defeated McCain three times in last week’s pseudo-debate.

But it’s the same old story. All we have learned in America these past two weeks, to quote Joan Littlewood’s Oh! What a Lovely War, is that the war goes on.

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October 6th, 2008, 11:40 pm


79. sadek seklawi said:

la youjad ay jaysh bel 3alam men wen makan fe ywa2ef l mokawame b lebnan w 5osousan ” hizbollah ” la2enno shefna be3younna w howwe l 2ossa kella :D:D ne7na 3esha2 shhade 2owe w 3azem w 2iradde ( w allah men fo2 bye7mina w byensorna ) .

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October 8th, 2008, 10:51 am


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