Will Iranian Warships Through Suez Canal Change Balance of Power?

Will Iranian War Ships Traveling through the Suez Canal Provoke War or Peace?

Qifa Nabki Art

Recent news that Iran will send two warships through the Suez canal to dock in Syria has set off alarm bells for Israel and the US. Defense Minister Ehud Barak walked back comments by Foreign Minister Lieberman that Israel would possibly consider a military strike against the ships.

From the moment the Egyptian people began to move against Mubarak, Iran looked for a way to capitalize on the fall of Israel’s primary Arab partner. Warships through the Suez canal would demonstrate how the balance of power was tilting in the region. There is nothing illegal about sending warships through the Suez canal. Lots of countries do it.

Iranian officials have insisted the request is in line with international regulations. They said the two vessels are headed to Syria for training. On Thursday, the two Iranian naval vessels submitted a request to transit the Suez Canal, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said.

Ahmed al-Manakhly, a senior Suez Canal official, told AP that international agreements regulate the traffic through the canal. He said that only in the case of war with Egypt may vessels be denied transit through the waterway. Al-Manakhly noted that Iran and Egypt are not at war, and said the final decision on whether to grant the vessels’ passage lies with the Defense Ministry.

Iranian warships have not been able to pass through Egypt’s Suez Canal since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iranian state TV reported Saturday.

“This is awkward — at a minimum,” said David Schenker, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “It’s destabilizing. It raises tension, particularly in this time of transition in Egypt,” Schenker said. “This is typical of Syrian-Iranian opportunism.”

Why does this change things? One obvious reason is that Iranian warships could carry weapons to Syria, Lebanon or even Hizbullah.

Israel has been successful in blocking Syria from upgrading its military capability. The US and Europe stop merchant ships headed for Syria that may carry weapons from Iran or North Korea. How can they do this? They claim it is legal within the framework of the UN embargo on Iran meant to block its nuclear program. According to the US, ships traveling from Iran can be stopped and searched for arms.

For several months in 2009, Cyprus held the Russian-owned, Cypriot-flagged Monchegorsk off the southern port of Limassol. The U.S. and other European members of the council said the shipment violated Security Council resolutions and was, according to Haaretz, “traveling to Syria from Iran with weapons destined for Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia or the Palestinian group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.” U.S. and U.K. envoys said the weapons shipment violated the UN arms embargo on Iran. Iran said it did not.

Syria’s ambassador to the UN at the time argued that:

“Raising the issue of this shipment is part of an orchestrated campaign to exert pressure on us to get political concessions,” Ja’afari said in the interview. “We are saying that the Security Council has had all kinds of indications of Israeli violations of international law and has never held them accountable. It is a double standard. … Ja’Afari said Syria and other Arab nations have the right to obtain weapons to defend against “Israeli invasions and aggressions.” ”

If Iran were able to send war ships to Syria, Britain and the US would have to think twice before stopping them; although, they could be easily sunk by Israeli planes.

The US guarantees Israel’s QME or Qualitative Military Edge.  In 2008, this longstanding policy was written into law and has since become the cornerstone of the U.S.-Israeli security relationship. It is defined as a guarantee to ensure:

“Israel’s ability to counter and defeat any military threat from any state, coalition of states, or non-state actors, while itself sustaining minimal casualties or damage.”

By guaranteeing Israel’s military hegemony in the region, the US has opened the way for Israel to expand its borders over the land it conquered in 1967, rather than trade it for peace. That is why Israel ‘deeply appreciates’ the U.S. veto on UN resolution condemning settlements of yesterday. As America’s ambassador to the UN, Susan E. Rice, said after her veto of the UN resolution:

“The United States has not characterized settlement activity as illegal since, 1980. And – but what we do believe firmly and have reiterated forcefully, including today, is that continued settlement activity is not legitimate.”

Realists argue that only by bringing the balance of power in the region back into equilibrium will peace be encouraged. This logic suggests that if Iran is able upgrade Syrian and Palestinian arms, peace may become more likely. Only by creating a balance of power in the region will Israel compromise rather than expand.

[End analysis]

Egypt is no longer committed to an alliance with Israel against Iran – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News – Aluf Benn

A year and a half ago, an Israel Navy submarine crossed the Suez Canal on its way from Haifa to the Red Sea, where it conducted an exercise, and back. The unusual voyage reflected the growing strategic cooperation between Israel and Egypt, which aimed a menacing message at Iran. The submarine’s crossing of the waterway demonstrated how quickly Israel could deploy its deterrent near Iran’s shores, with the tacit support of Egypt.

Once more, the canal is being used to deliver a message of deterrence – but this time the direction is reversed. Egypt is allowing Iranian warships to cross the canal, on their way to Syrian ports. Israel was publicly critical of the passage – arguing that it is a provocative move – but Egypt ignored the pressures and granted the Iranian navy permission to pass, symbolizing the change to the regional balance of power following the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt is signaling that it is no longer committed to its strategic alliance with Israel against Iran, and that Cairo is now willing to do business with Tehran. This is precisely what Turkey has done in recent years under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Since the uprising against Mubarak, the cold peace between Egypt and Israel has cooled even further. The delivery of natural gas to Israel, which was cut off after a terrorist attack on a station in northern Sinai, has still not been resumed.

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi returned to Cairo after decades in exile and addressed a million strong crowd in Tahrir Square on Friday, calling for the liberation of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the upcoming victory against Israel. In the past, the sheikh had expressed support for suicide attacks against Israelis and two years ago described the Holocaust as “God’s punishment of the Jews.”

The appearance of the Islamist firebrand in the square has returned hatred for Israel to the center of the public debate over Egypt’s future. Until now, the argument was that the revolution concerned domestic matters, not Egypt’s relations with the United States or Israel. The Muslim Brotherhood has also been trying to send messages of moderation to the West, but this is hardly comforting.

There is growing concern in Israel that Egypt will become a hostile front, adding to the feeling of international isolation which has only intensified since Benjamin Netanyahu became prime minister. The recent vote at the UN Security Council over the Palestinian resolution to label the settlements as illegal only increased this sense of isolation. With 14 states supporting this measure, Israel needed an American veto to foil it.

The Palestinians may have lost that vote, but the issue demonstrated which side in the conflict enjoys widespread international recognition.

Bolstered with Congressional support, Netanyahu forced U.S. President Barack Obama into the veto – which he had avoided using to date. The Americans argued that internationalization of the conflict cannot replace direct negotiations, and that forced decisions will only result in parties taking up more extreme positions.

It is not yet clear what Obama will try to get from Netanyahu in return: a plan for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the territories, or acceptance of an American peace plan. The U.S. president will argue that Washington needs to bolster its credibility in the Arab world and that Israel must contribute its lot to ensure that the new regimes in the area are friendly.

‘Clinton threatened to cancel aid to PA’ – Israel News, Ynetnews – In order to stop the PA from proposing the UN resolution declaring settlements illegal.

From Matt Duss

In terms of Israel’s security, the Wall Street Journal reported that “U.S. military aid to Israel increased markedly” in 2010, an effort that stems from policy directives the White House gave the Pentagon early in Obama’s presidency to “deepen and expand the quantity and intensity of cooperation to the fullest extent.” Speaking at the Brookings Institution in July, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro described in detail how the Obama administration is “preserving Israel’s qualitative military edge through an unprecedented increase in U.S. security assistance, stepped up security consultations, support for Israel’s new Iron Dome defensive system, and other initiatives.” President Obama raised the amount of U.S. military aid to Israel, making it the single largest expense in the 2010 foreign aid budget. He also authorized $205 million to enable Israel to complete the Iron Dome. Obama has significantly increased the level of strategic dialogue and the depth of intelligence coordination between the U.S. and Israel, particularly regarding Iran, a key Israeli security concern. According to one Israeli official, that coordination is now “even better than under President Bush.”

Since then, we’ve learned that, thanks to that intense coordination, outgoing Mossad chief Meir Dagan was able to report that Iran’s nuclear program had been set back several years.

As former Congressman Robert Wexler stated on a panel at Herzliya, the U.S. “has bent over backwards, during President Bush and even more so under President Obama, in attempts to secure Israeli security interests”:

When the Turkish government uninvited Israel to a joint military exercise campaign, what did Obama do? He withdrew the United States from the exercise, then what did he do? He brought the largest presence of US military personnel, they showed up to your [Israeli] ports, and we stayed for weeks, and then what did we do? We developed a coordinated anti-missile strategy with one purpose: to protect the Israeli people.

We have offered security package after security package after security package… We continue to engage on security issues and are not acknowledged for doing so.

Syria to EU: tackle Israel, not Egypt for Middle East peace
ANDREW RETTMAN, 17.02.2011

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – The EU should take firm action against Israeli settlement-building and human rights abuses instead of playing politics in Egypt if it wants to calm tension in the Middle East, Syria’s ambassador to the Union has said.

Speaking to EU observer in Brussels on Wednesday (16 February), Mohamad Ayman Soussan said the main danger of conflict in the region comes from the Arab-Israeli problem not the revolution in Egypt or Tunisia.

“Our European friends have a responsibility here, because Europe is the principal economic partner of Israel. They have all the means at their disposal to make Israel reconsider its position vis-a-vis international law. Europe must assume this responsibility if it ever intends to take its rightful place in the international order,” he explained.

“Where in Europe do you see such a level of brutality against demonstrators? Where do you see roads that can be used only by one kind of people? Israel practices apartheid and the EU assists this everyday through its ongoing relations.”

Wikileaks: Origin: Embassy Manama
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
SUBJECT: LEBANON TRIBUNAL: BAHRAIN SUPPORTIVE; NO FINANCIAL COMMITMENT

1. (C) Pol/Econ Chief met with MFA Undersecretary Abdulaziz bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa on February 7 to review the Secretary’s note verbale and talking points A-G (reftel). SIPDIS Al-Khalifa expressed strong support for the tribunal and Bahrain’s commitment to working cooperatively to promote peace and stability in Lebanon, but said that limited resources meant that the GOB would likely not be able to contribute financially. Al-Khalifa said that the GOB would continue its public and private support of PM Siniora’s government, and agreed that obstacles to the presidential election must be removed. He added that it would be “absolutely unacceptable” for Hizballah to enter the government. Al-Khalifa said that “the time has come to talk publicly about Syria’s uncooperative stance,” and that he believed the Arab states would send a strong message to Syria at the Damascus Summit. He hinted that King Hamad would no attend..”

Comments (78)


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51. Akbar Palace said:

Majed,

I believe you, and I hope you are right. I’m not sure why you think I am “deceiving”. What the Arabs want, is what everyone in the world wants. People are people, and everyone should be free to say what they want, believe in what they want, elect who they want and generally do what they want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. It is not hard for me to comprehend. I wish the Arab people all the best.

If a nation has to go to war, like the US has done in the past, the people (and their representatives) should be able to have a say in the matter. If the war goes wrong, the people should be able to punish the government who led them to war.

GWB, for example, was re-elected AFTER the war in Iraq was initiated.

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February 21st, 2011, 8:06 am

 

52. Ghat Albird said:

ZIADSOURY

Reminding people with selective amnesia is always a positive act.

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February 21st, 2011, 10:32 am

 

53. M hussain said:

The increases in the funds provided to Israel are not an indication of the deepening relationship between Israel and US rather it is an reflection of the changing international arms market. The quantities military edge that Israel currently enjoys over its neighbours will be harder to maintain in the future as the United States will not be the only source of advance weapons. In the near future Chinese weapons and those domestically developed from a plethora of different countries will be as good as the American weapons. Its no surprise that the cost is increasing.

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February 21st, 2011, 10:39 am

 

54. Akbar Palace said:

Qaddafi flees Libya?

ME dictators are probably a little nervous these days…

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1358972/Libya-protests-Gaddafi-flees-Tripoli-parliament-building-set-alight.html

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February 21st, 2011, 11:00 am

 

55. majedkhaldoon said:

إختراق برج المراقبة اللبناني – السوري ج1 -

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February 21st, 2011, 11:30 am

 

56. MONTAGNARD said:

Shai
In #44 above you mention “false hopes”.
Indeed your hopes are “false hopes”. You have come a long way as an Israeli to hope for coexistence with the Palestinians as equals whether in one state or two states.
First, you are the exception to the rule as an Israeli.
Second, wishing and talking about coexistence when the situation on the ground is so far away from any “true hopes” of actual coexistence, is an exercise in wishful thinking.
Third, what is to be done about a history of 64 years of oppression? and prior to that a century in planning for the crimes committed against Palestine and the Palestinians and other neighboring Arabs?
As you can see around you in the ME, time is running out for the oppressors, criminals, thugs and the enemies of the people.
That “great clip” is reality, true history and the real problem at hand.
My suggestion is the hatred and racism shown in the clip, is the real problem and unless you deal with it, it is bound to be dealt with eventually, and not on your terms.

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February 21st, 2011, 1:19 pm

 

57. Shai said:

Montagnard,

I always prefer to engage more in wishful thinking, than in “realistic observation”. Not that I think of myself as a pioneer in anything, but it is clear to me that non-dreamers also don’t make it very far, nor leave any meaningful mark behind them. If there’s even a chance to build a new future in our region, it is probably going to be a task for those with foresight, who can see 20 or 30 years down the line, already now.

We do not have the time to slowly fix the problems described in that “great clip”. The future belongs to our children’s generation, and it is them that we must raise correctly, differently. It is useless trying to convince 50 and 60 year olds that the Palestinians are a people, that they deserve to live on their land no less than we think we do, that we have and had no right to kick them out. It is the younger generation (from my age downward) that have to be reeducated.

Things will change dramatically when we have peace in the region. Even our recent ex-COGS (Gabi Ashkenazi) said today in his farewell to the Knesset, that Israel must make peace with the Palestinians and with Syria. And we know what must be done in order to reach this peace. By giving up on occupied land to the 1967 borders, Israel will demonstrate a beginning of an understanding that we are but a part of this region, and not a “special part”. We will, hopefully, begin to coexist as equals, not as rulers.

If all that is considered “wishful thinking”, I don’t have a problem with it.

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February 21st, 2011, 2:06 pm

 

58. majedkhaldoon said:

Every time a woman get involved in politics, she is accused of being promiscuous,and she commited sins,by her political foes,this is to destroy the woman ,done by her political enemies,they rarely say that about a man opposing them politicaly,accusing a woman is a lot easier and serve her political enemies more and fast,it is an evil wicked way, who ever resort to it is an evil person.
I am talking about Tal Mallouhi, who is accused by Bushra Kanafani of being commited sin,Is Bushra is a saint? has she had not done anything herself,that is bad? Does she has no daughters,sisters? where are the four wittnesses that is required by religion to swear that this is true!Bushra Kanafani has commited major sin in doing that

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February 21st, 2011, 2:12 pm

 

59. Ghat Albird said:

#55. MONTAGNARD.

An excellent synopsis of the realities. For individuals with selective amnesia it needs to be repeatedly repeated.

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February 21st, 2011, 2:32 pm

 

60. Shai said:

Ghat,

When you speak of “selective amnesia”, are you also including some of these?:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nrj5yGnAwnc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQERHieZHcg&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPfYCLNJyBU&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=is8M9O4hI7w&feature=related

I don’t see us moving forward with further demonstrations of our hatred for each other. Do you?

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February 21st, 2011, 3:29 pm

 

61. Shami said:

Majed,i fear for her,that they are using this as pretext in order to kill her and then they would say that she comitted suicide ,this is typical behavior of asad regime,peak of perfidy and treachery.

We must always be careful of the use of anti-imperialism-zionism factor exploited as cover for political killing.

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February 21st, 2011, 4:25 pm

 

62. Jonny said:

Video: Boy tortured by Syrian police

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February 21st, 2011, 5:15 pm

 

63. Ghat Albird said:

SHAI.

A cursory review of past events is you must admit an indicattion of Arab hospitality. i leave to you to determine how and when the world’s oldest Sefer Torah came to be on the island of Djerba.

On 18 July 1290 every professing Jew in England was ordered out of the Realm, for ever, by King Edward I. Between sixteen and seventeen thousand Jews had to flee, and none dared return until four hundred years later

The Edict of Expulsion of 1290

The ancient El Ghriba Synagogue, (Arabic: معبد الغريبة‎), also known as the Djerba Synagogue, is located on the Tunisian island of Djerba. It is situated in the Jewish village of Hara Seghira, (currently known as Er-Riadh), several kilometres southwest of Houmt Souk, the capital of Djerba. It currently houses the world’s oldest Sefer Torah.[

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February 21st, 2011, 7:16 pm

 

64. Shai said:

GHAT,

If what you’re suggesting is that Muslims have treated Jews better than Christians have, I agree. But Israel was created so that Jews would not have to depend on anyone’s level of hospitality. I hope, one day, many Jews will go back to Arab countries that were their home. I also hope, that there they will be treated as equals, in the true (democratic) sense of the word. As we are reminded nowadays, even Muslims aren’t treated as equals in certain Arab states (Bahrain for instance).

But I still don’t think recalling what certain Jewish leaders had to say about the Palestinian People helps. Few Arabs need these reminders. It’s the other voices that have to be amplified. It’s the clips of “wishful thinker” Israelis marching every single week of the year with Palestinians in the village of Bil’in that you have to put up for us to see, and call “great clip”.

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February 22nd, 2011, 1:13 am

 

65. why-discuss said:

Shai

Note that for many arabs, Israel acts the same way as their local dictators but towards its neigbours (spies, plotting, grabbing lands, deprivation of liberty, arrogance, exploitation etc..) and it is supported by USA, known to have always supported the dictators that serves them well.
For many arabs the equation is (Israel=Mobarak=Kaddafi)*USA
I guess they hope to change that too

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February 22nd, 2011, 3:16 am

 

66. Shai said:

Why-Discuss,

I understand what you’re saying. And I agree with you that Israel now has a far greater challenge – to convince the PEOPLE of the region, each in their respective country, that it truly wants to live here as an equal, not as a ruler or an oppressor.

But this is a challenge that also Arab States themselves have. Do you think the average Lebanese suspects Israel more than Iran, KSA, or Syria? Even the average Palestinian is becoming more aware of outside influence by various self-interested parties, who conveniently “forget” their promises whenever the heat rises above a certain temperature.

Hypocrisy and abuse are exercised not only by Israel, but quite likely by every nation in the region. We all must undergo transformation.

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February 22nd, 2011, 6:56 am

 

67. Akbar Palace said:

Convincing Liberals that Israel isn’t the Problem

convince the PEOPLE of the region, each in their respective country, that it truly wants to live here as an equal, not as a ruler or an oppressor

Shai,

Israel can not “convince the people” of the middle east of anything as long as the Arab media is government owned.

Israel has no territorial ambitions outside of the West Bank, and is willing to negotiate peace treaties with the Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese.

In “order to live here as an equal”, Israelis would have to move backward to the founding of the state. I prefer the Arabs move to Israel’s level: freedom, democracy, education and a government that promotes economic development; not terrorism.

It is now time for the Arab people to take the reigns and build what their leaders prevented them from doing.

The Shai’s of the World still have it Wrong

For example, here’s an article by a leftist, Jewish liberal: Joel Klein. He titles his article:

“How the U.S. Should Support Middle East Reform”

And the conclusion is to pressure Israel.

http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,2048150,00.html

It’s time for Leftists and Liberals to grow up, just like the Arab people.

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February 22nd, 2011, 7:15 am

 

68. Shai said:

I agree, Leftists and Liberals must grow up. They must reach the level of understanding of the Middle East shown by the likes of George W. Bush (“don’t misunderestimate me”), Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and the rest of the gang.

What a beautiful Democracy has GWB achieved for Iraq, and for Afghanistan. By the way, just out of curiosity, since by your own admission certain Arab regimes have not been promoting freedom and democracy (and in some cases promoted “terrorism”), why is it you supported the Bush Administration’s close relationships with these regimes?

Do you doubt Bush knew about how “free” the Egyptian or Saudi people were under their rulers? Your tax money went to fund Mubarak and the King’s regimes. I guess that’s not the kind of “growing up” you’d have Republicans do, right? :-)

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February 22nd, 2011, 9:50 am

 

69. Akbar Palace said:

Shai,

That’s right. The days of despots like Saddam Hussein and little Mahmouds is over. Aren’t you happy? I am.

Despots who threaten regions will continue to be isolated. Thank G-d the US is around to deal with Saddam Hussein and the Taliban. Thank G-d the US is leading the effort to isolate the madmen who run Iran and the regimes that support them.

Despots who stunt the growth of their people will eventually be toppled by their own people.

If the liberals and leftists were perpetually in office, Saddam and Taliban would still be in power.

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February 22nd, 2011, 10:04 am

 

70. Shai said:

“If the liberals and leftists were perpetually in office, Saddam and Taliban would still be in power.”

And so would another million Iraqis. Who aren’t around to “thank” George W. Bush. Given Iraq’s current state-of-democracy, I think it was worth it. Don’t you?

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February 22nd, 2011, 10:42 am

 

71. GHat Albird said:

SHAI said : Israel was created so that Jews would not have to depend on anyone’s level of hospitality. I hope, one day, many Jews will go back to Arab countries that were their homes. I agree wholeheartedly.

Trust you have the same hope for the thousands of Palestenians that have lived in makr – shift camps in Lebanon for over 6o years. And that the hatred that inspired Bibi in the 1990s to implore the US to invade Iraq where millions of men, women and children have neen killed needs redress.

For the reason to invade Iraq was part of a report of a Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000, for Bibi Nethanyahu. Former United States Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle was the “Study Group Leader”, but the final report included ideas from James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Robert Loewenberg, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser.

The plan proposed new policies:

1. Rather than pursuing a “comprehensive peace” with the entire Arab world, Israel should work to “contain, destabilize, and roll-back” those entities that are threats.

2. Changing the nature of relations with the Palestinians, specifically reserving the right of “hot pursuit” anywhere within Palestinian territory as well as attempting to promote alternatives to Arafat’s leadership.

In regards to SYRIA an effective approach, and one with which Americans can sympathize, would be if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hizballah, Syria, and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon,

That Given the nature of the regime in Damascus, it is both natural and moral that Israel abandon the slogan comprehensive peace and move to contain Syria, drawing attention to its weapons of mass destruction programs, and rejecting land for peace deals on the Golan Heights.

That Israel can shape its strategic environment, by focusing on removing Saddam Hussein from power in IRAQ.— an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions. If you all need further and specific partculats about the Clean Break check Wikipedia.

Could it be that Israel too needs its day of RAGE?

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February 22nd, 2011, 11:30 am

 

72. Shami said:

When the arab people taste freedom ,religious extremism vanish.
It’s very spontaneous and this time not a show staged by political regimes or parties.

http://www.nowlebanon.com/ContentPictures/egyptian-muslim-christian-4-022211040050.jpg

http://dc-cdn.virtacore.com/2011/01/a1bae5c0512a457bbd6ae462cf4b799a.jpg

http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld//files/2011/02/cr_mega_422_tahrir-unity.jpg

http://anilnetto.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/2011-02-06-MuslimsChristiansTahrirSq.jpg
I’m sure , the Syrian people will do the same when they will take back their stolen rights.

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February 22nd, 2011, 12:13 pm

 

73. Shami said:

http://www.zawya.com/Story.cfm/sidANA20110222T131029ZSWZ73/Syrian%20communist%20dissident%20on%20hunger%20strike%3A%20NGOs

Syrian communist dissident on hunger strike: NGOs

DAMASCUS, Feb 22, 2011 (AFP) – A former member of Syria’s communist opposition who was jailed a year ago has launched a hunger strike to protest over the conditions of her imprisonment, rights groups said on Tuesday.

Tuhama Maaruf, 47, had began the hunger strike five days ago in Adra prison, just outside the capital Damascus, the eight non-governmental groups said in a joint statement.

She was calling for “an end to the inhumane practices to which she is subjected” and requesting her “transfer from Adra prison to a prison for women,” they said.

Signatories of the statement included the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Syrian League for the Defence of Human Rights.

The group expressed its “complete solidarity” with the detainee and appealed for the authorities to take “all measures necessary to guarantee and enforce the respect of human rights.”

Maaruf was jailed in 1992 for one year and then freed pending trial.

She was arrested in the northern city of Aleppo on February 6 last year before being transfered to the prison to complete a six-year sentence of hard labour.

The sentence was originally handed down in 1995, for “membership in a secret organisation (the banned communist party) that seeks to modify the economic and social character of the state.”

Maaruf, a dentist, is married and a mother of two.

rm/dsg/dv

© Copyright AFP 2011.

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February 22nd, 2011, 12:25 pm

 

74. Shai said:

GHAT,

You know my hope for a UME one day, I won’t repeat it. It includes Jews, Palestinians, Kurds, every minority and majority in the region.

As for the Clean Break, I find it interesting that you stress the Jewish influence much more than the non-Jews (particularly the President and his staff) who made the ultimate decisions.

Btw, if you consider that we’re still enemies, is it that far-fetched what Netanyahu did or didn’t do? I’m not suggesting it was the right thing to do, certainly if there was influence to go to war and to kill people. But the fact that an Israeli opposition leader (he wasn’t PM at the time) went to DC to influence all the fanatic advisers to push Bush towards War, rather than Peace, isn’t really surprising.

I don’t think Bibi could have done this under a different U.S. President. And I don’t remember other Israeli leaders since or before that have had so much influence in DC.

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February 22nd, 2011, 2:58 pm

 

75. MONTAGNARD said:

Shai
You talk about your vision of the UME like if it were around the corner, when in reality it is a far fetched vision, with nothing on the ground to support its implementation.
Going back to the clip posted by ZIADSOURY @#42 and the clips you posted @#59. The fundamental difference is that in Ziad’s clip, the statements were made by past and current leaders and the founders of Israel. These leaders were and are in a position to set and implement policies of the state of Israel and its conduct vis a vis the Palestinians and the Arabs. When such a fanatic, racist, bigoted, intolerant, supremacist, criminal attitude and beliefs, as shown in the clip, are at the center of power of the Israeli circle of decision makers, and during a time when they have the upper hand due to their military advantage, no just peace can be expected (even with my full appreciation of your wishful thinking and dreaming).
On the other hand your clips show Muslim Imams giving sermons (pep talks) to their limited audiences. They are not rulers of countries or decision makers affecting war and peace and the lives of the Palestinians under occupation.
The Palestinians and Arabs have no alternative but to keep on fighting for their rights, with any means available to them and to acquire more means, in order to force upon Israel and its supporters a just and equitable peace.

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February 22nd, 2011, 4:58 pm

 

76. Shai said:

Montagnard,

I unfortunately agree with you. The clips were meant to demonstrate that it’s not only the Israeli side that worries the Arabs, it’s also the Arab side that worries Israelis. I don’t think most people consider rationally what you said, because an Imam, to most here in Israel, probably far better represents the Arab Street, than his dictator leader does.

Look at the glass the other way around, and you can see why many Israelis don’t believe the Arabs will ever accept us in the region. Unfortunately, we’re also doing our share to make that a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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February 22nd, 2011, 5:04 pm

 

77. majedkhaldoon said:

ALGERIA
Algerian cabinet approves lifting of state of emergency
Would Syria do the same?

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February 22nd, 2011, 9:50 pm

 

78. majedkhaldoon said:

US and europe stand in regard to Libya,imply a plan,while the most reasonable thing is that the egyptian army moves west and control Libya,to put an end to the problem in Libya,now that Gadhafi is behaving arrogant and aggressive,what against this move is that Egypt has no leader, there is a true vaccum in the Arab world,also US and europe do not want Arab to unite,so their plan is to wait till things get ugly, and more bloodshed is spilled,then Nato will find it necessary to take over Libya to save the lives of Libyans,this way they have a justification for their action,while the Arab world will stay quiet,then they will control the oil,and split the Arab world

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February 23rd, 2011, 12:58 am

 

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