Will Sanctions and the Mughniyah Killing Make Syria Blink?

The Bush administration believes the best way to convince Syria to compromise with March 14 and improve its record on the Iraq border is by increasing the pain imposed on Syrian officials and the regime. I think this will fail, but one can never tell. We will see. There are those who believe that the situation in Lebanon is being stabilized by the heightened rhetoric of March 14, the killing of Mughniyah, and added sanctions on Syria.

The irony for me is that only 3 days ago, I wrote a policy paper for people in Washington arguing that the US had little remaining leverage over Syria. Sanctions, diplomatic isolation, the Hariri trial, and "sticks" in general had not worked. Only "carrots" and engaging Syria in mutually beneficial arrangements stand a chance of influencing Damascus' policies in a direction favored by the US. On the Iraqi border, the issue I was asked to address, winning greater Syrian compliance would be relatively easy. Syria's main interest in Iraq these days is to increase trade and to make growing commerce with Iraq an integral part of the overall effort to grow the Syrian economy. It wants the Kirkuk-Banyas oil pipeline repaired and opened; it wants subsidies for the 1.5 million Iraqi refugees in Syria, it wants…. There is a long list.

After writing the essay – surprise – Mughniyah was killed and President Bush announced a new order of sanctions, targeting anyone engaged in "public corruption." In essence, the deck has been cleared for a bare knuckle fight between Washington and Damascus.

Many analysts believe that Syria and Hizbullah, enraged by the insult of the Mughniyah killing, will strike out at a high-value Israeli or American target and get trapped in a cycle of revenge killings that only Washington can win. In such a war, America's superior press machine will be able to paint Damascus as a center of terrorism. Washington will lean on Europeans to join it in yet more Syrian sanctions and condemnation.

But Damascus is unlikely to head unwittingly down this path. It's eyes are set on Lebanon and promoting its allies there. It is unlikely that Syria will fall into this trap and allow itself to be diverted from its primary goal by the Mughniyah provocation. Damascus will hold tight in Lebanon, preventing the election of a president and the meeting of parliament. The Lebanese economy is groaning under this regime of paralysis. Saudi Arabia pumped another billion dollars into the central bank last week to keep it afloat. US markets down-graded Lebanese debt and banks to the level of super junk, which serves to raise the price of further borrowing and refinancing for Lebanon. Such economic water-torture is designed to make March 14 suffer – after all, most of Lebanon's wealthy and globalized belong to March 14. Most of the country's poor and less globalized belong to the opposition.

The battle between Washington and Damascus is largely an economic one. Washington has imposed every type of sanction on Syria it can, but to little effect. Syria's economy is growing at almost 6%. Lebanon's economy is stagnating. It has been limping along since taking a 15% dive during the Israeli clobbering of 2006. Stagnation has come despite the 7 billion dollars promised by foreign powers, military aid, and other largess, such as the Saudi infusion, from wealthy allies.

Bashar al-Assad has promised his people two things: to pursue "resistance" against Israel and America in the pursuit of "Arab rights," as his father did, and to grow the economy and globalize. Syrians are fed up with being poor and sacrificing economically for a fight which hardly seems winnable. All the same, they believe in the "Arab values" and Arab identity that go along with fighting for the Golan and fighting Israel, so long as they don't have to sacrifice too much for them. Bashar al-Assad is pursuing the China model – economic liberalization and globalization – while maintaining strict political control and preserving its regional role and leverage to fight Israel and America for the return of the Golan and "Arab rights."

Washington wants to cut Syria down to size and deny it any possibility of pursuing the resistance option of gaining leverage against Israel for a return of the Golan. It wants to destroy Hizbullah and to take Lebanon out of Syria's sphere of influence. It hopes to eliminate Hamas and force Syria to expel whatever resistance-minded Palestinian leaders it harbors in Damascus. In essence, Washington has set itself the task of inducing Damascus to follow a "Syria First" policy, much as Jordan follows a "Jordan First" policy. This is a tall order as it requires Syria making an ideological and strategic about face. It's entire identity would need to be turned inside out.

To stand some chance of success, Washington will have to demonstrate to Syrians that America's allies are winning the battle in the Middle East – both economically and in terms of security. So far, the US is doing a miserable job demonstrating this. The Syrian economy is growing and Syria has stability. Lebanon's economy is dangerously over-extended and living on the mercy of foreign infusions. It has no security. Iraq – we won't talk about it. America calculated incorrectly in Iraq at almost every level. Today, Iraqis have no future. Syrians blame this on America, not Saddam, despite US efforts at public diplomacy.

President Assad is unlikely to change course because of the new sanction law, the Mughniyah killing, and the upping of US funding for the international Hariri tribunal. This increased pressure and use of the "stick" will have to show results that the average Syrian taxi driver will understand.

Washington cannot win the economic war with Syria unless it can crash the Syrian economy. The new sanction law will be hot air if it is not used to paralyse the financial freedom of Rami Makhlouf, the President's cousin and the Mr. Economy for the Syrian regime. He will have to include all the top financiers in the sanctions regime in order to make the economy stumble and scare away foreign capital. If President Bush is serious, he will have to pursue his war all the way to the end.

President Assad is unlikely to blink in the face of President Bush's most recent provocations and warnings. Bush has lost his credibility in the Middle East. He is generally reviled. Most Syrians, and perhaps most Arabs, believe he is a greater terrorist than Assad because of what he has done to Iraq and Palestine. Assad has won the Arab propaganda war, even if he has lost the world propaganda battle. 

People believe he is a wounded lion and merely stringing out his confrontational policy until the end of his administration. Like a wounded lion, he is still dangerous, but his strength is in rapid decline. Few believe he can muster an all out fight. Certainly, he doesn't want to look weak; he doesn't want to abandon his March 14 allies; and he doesn't want to relinquish the "freedom agenda" which has become the core identity of his administration. Bush has taken a big blow in Lebanon due to his failure to anoint a new president who might allow March 14th to carry forward the anti-Hizbullah and anti-Syria fight. Bashar al-Assad and his Lebanese allies defied Western interests. They will pay a price for it. All the same, they expect to absorb the blow.

It is unlikely that they will be diverted from their main policy goals by the Mughniyah assassination. If anything, they will likely rally their supporters by preaching sacrifice and endurance. They will dig in for a new round of economic strictures and pain. If Bashar cannot deliver resistance and economic growth simultaneously, Washington has a chance of winning, but of course, it will be a Pyrrhic victory. Instead of Washington drawing Damascus into a terrorist game of tit-for-tat, Damascus will draw Washington into a game of starve-the-Syrian, which is a lose-lose game for America and everyone concerned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Aleppo Jazz Quartet  in 2007 at the Citadel: Photo from here

Here are the relevant articles about sanctions, judicial pressure, and the propaganda blame game.

Bush orders sanctions against Syrian officials WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush, stepping up pressure on Syria, ordered new sanctions Wednesday to punish officials in Damascus for alleged efforts to undermine stability in Iraq and meddle in Lebanon's sovereignty and democracy.

Bush, in an executive order, said he was expanding penalties against senior government officials in Syria and their associates deemed to be responsible for — or to have benefited from — public corruption. The order did not specifically name any officials.

Bush signed the order a day after Imad Mughniyeh, one of the world's most wanted and elusive terrorists, was killed in a car bombing in Syria nearly 15 years after dropping from sight. The one-time Hezbollah security chief was the suspected mastermind of attacks that killed hundreds of Americans in Lebanon and of the brutal kidnappings of Westerners.

"The world is a better place without this man in it," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. "One way or the other, he was brought to justice."

The White House said Wednesday's executive order built on one Bush issued in May 2004 that banned all U.S. exports to Syria except for food and medicine. His earlier action followed long-standing complaints that the Middle Eastern nation was supporting terrorism and undermining U.S. efforts in Iraq.

Syria rejects new US sanctions, says Bush administration is corrupt

Syria ridiculed Thursday US president George Bush's decision to expand sanctions on Syrian officials saying that a country occupying the land of others has no right to hurl accusations.

On Wednesday President Bush ordered new sanctions to punish Syria for allegedly trying to undermine stability in Iraq and undercut Lebanon's sovereignty and democracy.

"The ones who steal the resources of other countries through occupation and corruption have no right to accuse others," said a high-ranking Syrian official to the Associated Press. "The Bush administration is not matched by any government in the world when it comes to corruption."

The official, who spoke on strict condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, was referring to reports of billions of dollars wasted by the US government on Iraq's reconstruction.

Fadlallah blames US for prolonging political crisis
America has worked 'to weaken' arab initiative
Saturday, February 16, 2008

BEIRUT: Senior Shiite cleric Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah lashed out at the United States on Friday accusing it of obstructing "any sort of solution" to the 14-month-old political deadlock in Lebanon. "The US has worked on weakening the Arab initiative aimed at solving the crisis in Lebanon and stirring political as well as sectarian tensions among the Lebanese," Fadlallah said during his Friday sermon at the Imam Hassanayn Mosque in Haret Hreik.

The Arab three-point plan calls for electing the head of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) General Michel Suleiman as president, the formation of a national unity government, and the drafting of a new electoral law for the 2009 parliamentary poll.

"The situation in Lebanon is going from bad to worse and the US and its Lebanese allies should be held responsible for the deadlock in Lebanon," he said.

Fadlallah added that the Lebanese live "in a state of fear and uncertainty because they no longer stand united."

Syria is "directly responsible" for the political crisis in Lebanon and the accompanying violence, a senior U.S. state department official said in Paris on Friday. PARIS (AFP)

  "I would describe the situation as one of continuing blockage and the continued eruption of violence in Lebanon … We regard Syria as directly responsible for this situation," said David Satterfield, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's representative for Iraq.

  "The role Syria has to play is very simple: to allow the Lebanese to proceed with free elections. It's not a complicated proposition," he said.  

Satterfield had talks with President Nicolas Sarkozy's foreign affairs advisor Jean-David Levitte and officials from the French foreign ministry. 

He said Damascus had taken action to reduce the number of anti-American insurgents passing into Iraq from Syria, but had done so mainly for its own internal reasons.

"These are dangerous individuals. They are individuals fundamentally threatening to Syria's interests as well. They are not good people to have in your country.

"Syria we believe did take certain steps (but) we do not believe the Syrians have taken any steps for the sake of Iraq to constrain this flow. Whatever they have done has been solely for the  regime's own security purposes," he said.

U.S. doubles its funds for U.N. Hariri tribunal
February 14, 2008

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States plans to double its funding of a U.N. tribunal on the killing three years ago of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Thursday.

Subject to congressional notification, Washington would raise its pledge to $14 million from $7 million to help fund the U.N. tribunal's one-year budget, Rice said in a statement issued to mark the anniversary of Hariri's murder on February 14, 2005.

"Lebanon, on this day of remembrance for former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri and all those killed, injured or persecuted in the service of the Lebanese nation, the United States shares your sorrow, but also your hope," Rice said.

"Our commitment to you and your chosen government is unshakable. We and the international community will not rest until your calls for peace, justice and freedom have been answered," she added.

The United Nations has created a special tribunal to try those responsible for the assassination of Hariri, whose killing triggered international pressure that forced Syria to end its 29-year military presence in Lebanon.

"We hope the tribunal will help deter further political assassinations, end an era of fear for Lebanese citizens and impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes, and help protect the sovereignty of Lebanon," Rice said.

U.N. investigators are also looking into other assassinations and bombings in the past three years that reflect Lebanon's lengthy conflict between the anti-Syrian government coalition and the opposition, which is led by the pro-Syrian Hezbollah group.

Syria has denied any involvement in the assassinations.

Lebanon's opposition and the governing coalition have been locked in a power struggle for 15 months that has paralyzed the government and left the country without a president since November.

(Reporting by Sue Pleming, editing by Patricia Zengerle)

Ban creates management team for Special Tribunal
Daily Star staff, Saturday, February 16, 2008


Ban creates management team for Special Tribunal

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has established a management committee of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon being set up to try those responsible for political killings, particularly the February 2005 car bombing in Beirut that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others, a statement issued by Ban's media office said on Thursday.

"The secretary general believes that this step, along with other steps announced in December of last year – the selection of the judges, the appointment of the prosecutor, the finalization of a headquarters agreement with the government of the Netherlands enabling the Tribunal to be based in that country, and agreement on a building near The Hague to house the Tribunal – are decisive landmarks in the process of making the Special Tribunal a reality," Ban's spokesperson said in a statement.

The committee, which will among other tasks provide advice and policy direction on all nonjudicial aspects of the operations of the Special Tribunal and review and approve its annual budget, is composed of the body's main donors, according to the statement.

The spokesperson for Ban also announced that the expected contributions to the Special Tribunal will meet the budgetary requirements for its establishment and the first 12 months of operations. Syrians are preparing to sue the United States for supplying weapons to Israel that later killed Syrians in the 2006 Second Lebanon War, said Syria's foreign minister, a day after Washington announced new sanctions against Damascus.

Speaking at a press conference with his Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki, Walid Moallem promised that Syria would punish the U.S. for its decision to impose fresh sanctions against Syrian officials.

"This time I tell you we will punish the United States … there are scores of Syrians who became victims during the Israeli war against Lebanon, they will file lawsuits against America, who provided Israel with the weapons, he said.

President George W. Bush ordered new sanctions on Wednesday to punish Syria for allegedly trying to undermine stability in Iraq and undercut Lebanon's sovereignty and democracy.

Bush, in an executive order, said he was expanding sanctions against senior government officials in Syria and their associates deemed responsible for or to have benefited from public corruption.

President George W. Bush ordered new sanctions on Wednesday to punish Syria for allegedly trying to undermine stability in Iraq and undercut Lebanon's sovereignty and democracy.

Bush, in an executive order, said he was expanding sanctions against senior government officials in Syria and their associates deemed responsible for or to have benefited from public corruption.

Damascus: Syrians to sue U.S. for selling weapons to Israel

Imad Mughnieh's body may be back in Beirut and the tangled wreckage of his bombed car towed away by the police but the shattering fallout of the Hezbollah commander's assassination in Syria was still reverberating through the increasingly isolated regime in Damascus yesterday.

The administration, already under pressure from an international investigation into a truck bomb that killed Rafiq Haririexactly three years ago, faced fresh calls from President Bush for tighter sanctions for hosting one of the world's most wanted terrorists.

Analysts said that President Assad of Syria will be under even more pressure to explain to Iran how he let one of its key assets be murdered yards from a base of the Iranian Mukhabarat [intelligence service].

Mughnieh's killing was another blow for Mr al-Assad. Mr Hariri's murder was widely blamed on Damascus and led to protests that forced Syria to withdraw its forces from Lebanon, where they had played a dominant role for three decades.

That blow to Syria's prestige was compounded last summer by an Israeli airstrike which destroyed what some analysts believe may have been a nascent nuclear facility or chemical weapons plants deep inside the country. Then, as now, Syria appeared confused and weak, its stunned silence gradually giving way to contradictory denials from various official sources.

“In terms of military deterrence Syria has taken a huge hit and they have to make it back. In this region you have to look tough,” said Meir Javendafar, an expert on Iran at the Middle East Economic and Political Analysis Company in Tel Aviv.

Sensing that weakness, Washington was quick to pile on the pressure. Mr Bush ordered expanded financial sanctions against senior Syrian officials whom he accused of actions that “undermine efforts to stabilise Iraq”, where Syria is accused of sending Islamist extremists and weapons. He also charged Syria, a major backer of the Shia militia Hezbollah, with meddling in Lebanon and fermenting problems for Beirut's pro-Western Government.

“I wish to emphasise … my ongoing concern over the destabilising role Syria continues to play in Lebanon, including its efforts to obstruct, through intimidation and violence, Lebanon's democratic processes,” Mr Bush said.

The most intense pressure is likely to come from Iran, which lost, in Mughnieh, a vital asset in its covert, anti-Israeli and anti-American network. The fact that the hit took place in Damascus may raise suspicions that elements of the Syrian security apparatus were infiltrated or even turned.

Comments (188)


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151. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Enlightened,
“That Arabs are not worthy of Peace until they mirror your pre conceived notion of a Democratic Society, and until they do they are not worthy of peace or engagement!”

Where did I ever say that? What I say is since I respect what the Arabs have to say, how can you forge agreements with dictators that do not represent the Arabs but only their own interests? And what are these agreements worth anyway since they do not represent what the Arabs want?

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February 19th, 2008, 2:12 am

 

152. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

FP,
1) Cluster bombs are still legal.

2) You say: “Those who do approve of violence are equal in principles and in action to the same people on your side”. Nobody serious on my side is for killing civillians intentionally. Asad, the “leader” of the “resistance”, a head of state, has as a guest Mesh’al who has made a career out of targeting restaurants and other targets in order to kill civillians on purpose. In fact, he is proud when he succeeds in doing it. There is just no comparison between Israel and Asad and Mesh’al. You will not be able to convince me and you will not convince the majority of Americans or Europeans.

You want to fight Israel, that is ok. But if you target civillians intentionally you are beyond the pale. And if you support Asad for hosting Mesh’al you are insincere about your desire for peace.

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February 19th, 2008, 2:23 am

 

153. Qifa Nabki said:

AIG

Would it make you feel any better about Hamas if they declared that they did not aim to target civilians?

What if they claimed that their suicide operations were geared to targeting (off-duty) Israeli soldiers?

Would the profession of such an intention suddenly make it acceptable to attack areas in which there were both civilians and soldiers?

By the way, Nasrallah has said that his fighters waited for three months before ambushing the Israeli patrol in 2006, purposefully avoiding launching an attack that would harm civilians in the area.

Does that make Hizbullah’s actions legit, in your eyes?

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February 19th, 2008, 2:44 am

 

154. norman said:

1) Cluster bombs are still legal

Why can’t the Arabs buy them and use on Israel , An eye for an eye and a head for a head .

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February 19th, 2008, 2:48 am

 

155. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
I would feel better if Hamas did not target civillians and civillian targets like shopping centers and restuarants. I do not care what they say. I can see what they target and what they consider a success. In the last suicide bombing in Dimona they rejoiced at killing a 70 year old woman doing her shopping. Are you trying to play word games or is it really not obvious to you that they are targeting civillians?

If Nasrallah wants to target soldiers, as a way of fighting it is legitimate, especially if the soldiers are in Lebanon. What is not “legitimate” is crossing an international border to do so. As a way of fighting it is legitimate, but it is an act of aggression and not of self defense. Also, When he kidnapped the soldiers he also shot katyushas at civillian targets as a diversion which was also not legitimate.

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February 19th, 2008, 3:00 am

 

156. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Norman,
Who said they can’t? I am sure they can find someone to sell it to them if they don’t have them already.

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February 19th, 2008, 3:01 am

 

157. Qifa Nabki said:

Are you trying to play word games or is it really not obvious to you that they are targeting civillians?

Thank you. This is what I’m saying. Your hair-splitting about “intention” amounts to word games, AIG.

When you drop a million cluster bombs all over the Lebanese countryside, in the final days of an armed conflict, you are targeting civilians, no matter what you declare your intention to be. When you drop huge bombs on civilian areas, you are targeting civilians, no matter what your declared intention is.

This is true whether you look at it from the perspective of theory (which is what we’re doing now through our comparisons) or practice, when you look at the numbers of Lebanese civilians killed.

My argument is the following: if you are going to denounce Hamas for its actions, you also have to denounce similar actions by the Israeli Army. If you are satisfied with the Israeli Army’s tactics, then you have to accept those of Hamas as well as being legitimate acts of war.

I reject both.

PS: Are you sure you’re in Israel and not NJ? You must be a night owl.

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February 19th, 2008, 3:31 am

 

158. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
We will just not be able to agree on this.
The bombs on Dhaye were aimed at the bunkers that were there.
The cluster bombs were a failed attempt to stop the katyusha firing crews.
They were not meant to harm civillians and Israel is NEVER happy that it kills civillians. Hamas rejoice when they do it. If I can’t convince you this is a major difference, so be it.

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February 19th, 2008, 3:42 am

 

159. Qifa Nabki said:

By the way, AIG, for someone who is constantly hounding the Arabs on this blog to criticize their governments and make them live up to universal standards of decency, human rights, etc., I don’t hear a symmetrical criticism coming from you. And this despite the fact that you don’t have to worry about being thrown into prison.

In fact, you ridicule Shai for the slightest piece of criticism of Israel.

This is not right. Your points (which I sometimes agree with) will be more credible if you are more critical of your own government’s travesties and failed policies.

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February 19th, 2008, 3:44 am

 

160. Qifa Nabki said:

Ok, let’s call it a night.

Apologies to all for the blah blah blah.

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February 19th, 2008, 3:47 am

 

161. Enlightened said:

AIG: I am not claiming you said that, I am concluding that this is your position after you have been on this blog for a few months, and we can safely assume from the thrust of your arguments here, with many of the commentators on this site:

and then you quote

“What I say is since I respect what the Arabs have to say” AIG you need some honesty and perspective here, I just witnessed your exchange with QN and others earlier, while I admire your unflinching love for Israel ( a trait that most Arabs lack for their states), you need to temper that with some un biased perspective. ( Dont worry there are others on this site with a similar position re their positions ).

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February 19th, 2008, 4:05 am

 

162. Ford Prefect said:

I was about to post another answer to AIG who is justifying the use of a million cluster bombs as legal affair in fighting HA.

But, instead, I counted to 10. It feels a lot better, actually!

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February 19th, 2008, 4:06 am

 

163. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
What do you mean? I think Olmert is an idiot that mismanaged the war in Lebanon. I wouldn’t have shot the cluster bombs for many reasons, but I am sure it was not done for the purpose of harming or hurting civillians. It is just not a thing the IDF does. I know it looks different on the receiving end.

We are only talking, there is no need to apologize for anything.

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February 19th, 2008, 4:10 am

 

164. Enlightened said:

LOL FP Maybe I should have done the same

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February 19th, 2008, 4:11 am

 

165. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

FP,
Indulge me, what is not legal about it?
I agree it was not effective, but why was it not legal? The way the bombs were used was to identify by radar a katyusha shooting and to fire cluster bombs to that area in the hope of getting the Hizballah crew firing the rockets. Seems legal to me.

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February 19th, 2008, 5:15 am

 

166. Nour said:

AIG,

A UN investigation in 1996 found that Israel deliberately targeted the UN shelter housing civilians. You are a hypocrite and a liar just like your government. Your terrorist soldiers always target civilians and they have done so for some time, yet you always play the victim and assert a moral superiority on your part when nothing can be further from the truth. No matter what evidence is presented that your sick, criminal army targeted civilians, you merely say “no, the IDF would never do so, you are wrong.” But your propaganda does not work with people who lived through your terror. Civilians who were targeted know that they were targeted. They are not imagining things. When an ambulance is deliberately struck, when a civilian car is deliberately bombed, when hospitals, schools, apartment buildings are deliberately destroyed,you are targeting civilians. So spare us your nonsense and your typical self-righteous rhetoric for we are not stupid enough to buy it.

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February 19th, 2008, 5:18 am

 

167. Shai said:

QN, FP,

Judging from his level of awareness, and from other responses of his at similar hours of the day, I’d say AIG is as close to Ramat Hasharon as I am to New Jersey. Which, if that is the case, makes him a plain liar, and a coward. Incidentally, most officers in the Israeli army who’d served 10 years, wouldn’t tell you they did – a bit of innate humility mixed with a sense of security – neither of which your AIG knows. I think Alex is right – he is a hawkish, neocon, ex-Israeli, now-American, living comfortably somewhere on the East coast, telling US Israelis how to run our future. Last time he did something for his country was when Hafez was still alive, and in his early 50’s… Ha, what a joke.

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February 19th, 2008, 5:23 am

 

168. Shai said:

Nour,

Seems you and I (unlike some other “Israelis”) are on the same time zone. Please understand that the last thing I want to do is agree with anything this ex-Israeli “AIG” says, but on the issue of targeting civilians as a policy, I do have something to say. It is true that it is almost never the case that an Israeli army officer receives orders to target civilians. I say “never” because obviously there are times when an air-force pilot is given a target he knows involves innocent civilians as well. Things we’ve done in Lebanon, and are doing in Gaza, don’t attest to what I say, I know. But that is because Israel still hasn’t figured out what it wants. We haven’t figured out that we cannot possibly be deemed “humane” if we continue to “accidentally” or “inefficiently” use cluster bombs. Our problem is that we fight like in war, yet pretend that we can limit that war. The harsh reality is, that we can’t. That is why we must choose – either to continue to lie to ourselves, and hurt innocent civilians in the process, or to seek an alternative, and an end to our need for a superior might.

I know all this is meaningless to those who have suffered at the hands of the Israeli Army. Nothing i say can make you suddenly love me, or forgive me, or even understand me. But I am trying to at least send across the message that there is no policy in the IDF to hurt civilians. Almost twenty years ago, just after the first Intifada had started, I was in Officer’s school. My group was sent to a week’s patrol in the streets of Gaza. One evening, one of the cadets forced his way into a house, and wreaked havoc all over the place. It made those of us who saw it plain sick. It stood against everything we knew. We barely understood what we were doing in Gaza in the first place, but to see this inhumanity was too much. A few days later that same cadet was court-martialed, spent a bit of time in jail, and was kicked out of Officer’s school.

As I’m writing this, I’m asking myself “who am I kidding – that’s supposed to make Nour feel better?” But I guess I’m just trying to give you a sense that most of us on this side of the fence still do not accept any act of inhumanity, still do not rejoice at your suffering, and still long for the day our children can grow up in peace together.

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February 19th, 2008, 6:15 am

 

169. Nour said:

Shai,

I’m sorry, I don’t buy that. Many of the targets of Israel make no military sense whatsoever and cannot be deemed to be anything but civilian targets. Moreover, Israel has used weapons such as napalm and vacuum bombs over civilian areas. As for rejoicing in the killing of civilians, many Israelis do rejoice and have been taped celebrating civilian deaths. Many Israelis have been on tv stating that all Arabs should be killed. When Baruch Goldstein massacred innocent Palestinians in a mosque, many of the settlers were celebrating his accomplishment and mourning his death, with one Rabbi stating “a million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.”

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February 19th, 2008, 11:02 am

 

170. MSK said:

Dear QN,

The Palestinian demand for a peace agreement (we’re talking final deal, not initial claim) is simple:

– Borders based on pre-67 Green Line with minor adjustments so that Palestine receives the same amount of land from Israel that Israel receives from the West Bank but overall not more than 3-5% — that way some settlements are inside Israel

– Most of East Jerusalem will be part of Palestine — if Israel receives East Jerusalem land there will be land compensation elsewhere — but the parts of EJ that Israel receives will be minor – like a corridor up to Mount Scopus …

– The Old City will be Palestine except for the Jewish Quarter & the Western (Wailing) Wall that will be Israel — The Old City may also be administered together, in a kind of Israel-PA-UN administration

– Israel will recognize the Right of Return & Palestine will not implement it — The refugees in Lebanon will be offered to move to Palestine (Gaza/WB) or another Arab country OTHER than Lebanon or receive compensation. The refugees in other Arab countries will be offered to stay and receive compensation. A token amount of refugees – say 10-50,000 – will be allowed to return to what is now Israel in the framework of “family reunions”. The compensation for refugees will be paid by international donors (read: EU/Japan/etc).

– Palestine will agree to only have a token armed force – a “beefed-up” police if you want – its security guaranteed by the Arab League and the U.N. Israel will not have the right to conduct police/security operations in Palestine but for a limited number of years (10? 20?) the border crossings (Gaza-Egypt / WB-Jordan) will be jointly monitored by Israel/Palestine/EU

In the end, we’re talking about some kind of Geneva Accord thing.

Now … the big “if” is whether Hamas would honor such an agreement. But the vast majority of Palestinians would go for it. One thing that Westerners always seem to not get is that the solution of the problem is as much about justice & dignity as it is about land and money.

The same goes for Lake Tiberias and Syria’s access to it. Of course Syria will get all the land back and recover its full sovereignty. But then … maybe part of the Israel-Syria agreement is to lease the shoreline to Israel for 99 years …

–MSK*

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February 19th, 2008, 11:14 am

 

171. Honest Patriot said:

I think MSK’s outline is an excellent crystal seed on which much can be built. The one issue I have is with the losseness of:
“- Israel will recognize the Right of Return & Palestine will not implement it —”
I realize perservation of “dignity” and the ability to claim victory is always dear to the Arab heart but, within the context of an enforceable peace agreement, the statement as written is a non-starter. Maybe OK to use it as interpretation by Arab leaders of a more crisply defined agreement but something like that cannot go in the official agreement.
I’m sure details can be worked out in this element, and, in general, this reinforces my strong belief (as an observer, not an expert) in what I’ve often repeated: that the elements of a definitive solution are known. I also believe that what’s lacking is the courage of a true statesman in Israel (as Rabin was) to take the first step and make peace happen.
Shai, are you running for elections any time soon ? With you in Israel, QN in Lebanon, Alex (if he’s willing?) in Syria, this can be pulled off in real time.

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February 19th, 2008, 12:42 pm

 

172. MSK said:

Dear HP,

Recognizing the Right of Return is not just a question of dignity, or even “ability to claim victory” – it is first & foremost a question of international law. Refugees have the right to return to their homes. Period.

And as QN outlined above, we’re talking about what the absolute red lines are, beyond which a negotiator cannot retreat. On the Palestinian side, the Right of Return is one of those.

The trick is to sign & publish a document in which (1) Israel recognizes the Right of Return and (2) Palestine forfeits its right of implementation at the same time. 😉

–MSK*

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February 19th, 2008, 2:06 pm

 

173. Shai said:

Nour,

I do understand you. But although some of your information regarding the IDF is incorrect, there’s certainly no point arguing it to death. Suffice to say that civilians have and do suffer at the hands of our army, unfortunately. As for Baruch Goldstein and his hord of settlers, I certainly hope you don’t view most Israelis as being similar. Most of us really are human beings, not monsters like Goldstein and his supporters.

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February 19th, 2008, 2:15 pm

 

174. ausamaa said:

I really hope this is not a Good Cop-Bad Cop sort of thing…! Why am I so suspicious some times? Bad experinces I guess!

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February 19th, 2008, 2:41 pm

 

175. Honest Patriot said:

Dear MSK (Love the niceties :-)), OK, sold. To me (and maybe I’m cynical) we’re into the semantics. There is agreement on the substance so why isn’t this being done? I tell ya, if this was an objective commercial endeavor all them leaders would have been fired by now. The equivalent is for them to be voted out of office, but, alas, this requires a majority of free, reasonable, and engaged people. I still think the breakthrough (to reach to what there is evident agreement on) is a courageous leader – preferably from Israel, since it’s their turn after Sadat made history.
Life is what happens to you while you’re waiting for peace in the Middle East 🙁
Cheers,
HP

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February 19th, 2008, 2:51 pm

 

176. MSK said:

Dear HP,

(Call me old-fashioned but I strongly believe in style & thus judiciously choose whom to “dear” and whom … not.)

The major issues between Israel & Palestinians are the Right of Return & Jerusalem.

The first one is linked to an Israeli “admission” to have established their state on other people’s lands & houses, the second is linked to the post-67 religio-fication of Israel, in which J’lem morphed from a place where weird (& despised) religious Jews dwell to the “eternal & indivisible capital of the Jewish nation”.

And while a solution to No 1 will be painful – for both sides – I am not sure if one for No 2 is possible.

–MSK*

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February 19th, 2008, 3:06 pm

 

177. Honest Patriot said:

I changed my mind. Instead of QN, now I want MSK to run for President of Lebanon. 😉
(OK, if MSK is not Lebanese, then we’ll stick with QN and vote for MSK as President of whichever country he’s in.. [even if the US! – If Obama can do it, so can MSK])
You guys not only amaze me with the eloquence (and elegance) of the simplicity with which you articulate what otherwise are confusing issues, but also with your poise, humor, and civility.
There IS hope for the world.
(Why do I have the feeling that both MSK and QN are erudite long-term academics somewhere in the ME? Am I getting close? Alex: Help, the curiosity is heating up)

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February 19th, 2008, 3:26 pm

 

178. Akbar Palace said:

The major issues between Israel & Palestinians are the Right of Return & Jerusalem.

MSK* –

It is clear from your writings you aren’t Jewish.

The major issue between Israel & Palestinians is peace. The Right of Return and Jerusalem was (for all intents & purposes) agreed to.

The real sticking point was a verifiable peace. And with Hamas now totally out of the control of the Palestinian Authority, I don’t see them putting down their Qassam salvos.

The first one is linked to an Israeli “admission” to have established their state on other people’s lands & houses, the second is linked to the post-67 religio-fication of Israel, in which J’lem morphed from a place where weird (& despised) religious Jews dwell to the “eternal & indivisible capital of the Jewish nation”.

Firstly, I don’t see any “admission” solely coming from the Israeli government. I see this as a mutual statement coming from both parties to the conflict, not just the State of Israel.

Secondly, you may think Jerusalem only contained “weird & despised religious Jews” prior to ’48 (we can see your glaring “objectivity” here in full view), but in my point-of-view, these Jews had every right to live there as they did for generations. And, BTW, most, if not all, were “kicked out” during the ’48 war. Palestinians were not the only refugees created during Israel’s War of Independence.

Lastly, your quotation marks around “eternal & indivisible capital of the Jewish nation”, is a further sign of your unending bias. Jerusalem is and always has been the center of Jewish thought including the direction Jews pray toward on a daily basis.

MSK*, try to do better in your objectivity and maybe you’ll win a prize;)

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February 19th, 2008, 3:58 pm

 

179. Honest Patriot said:

AP, maybe you make good points, but you also dismiss the influence of religious extremists in Israel and their contribution to the inflamation of negative feelings and paranoia. We need balance and a situation where each of you “reasonable” folk admit to the negative influence of your “crazies.”

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February 19th, 2008, 4:04 pm

 

180. Akbar Palace said:

HP –

How do you define an Israeli “religious extremist” or “crazies”? And what percentage of Israelis to you think these people represent in Israeli society?

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February 19th, 2008, 4:27 pm

 

181. Honest Patriot said:

AP – Good questions. I don’t know the answer to the percentage question, but I clearly see their impact on positions and decisions taken by the state of Israel. As far as definition, then it’s basically those elements who, believing that it is their God-given right to occupy all of the Biblically “Promised Land,” oppose any land-for-peace agreement, continue the pressure to unceasingly expand the settlements, and believe in ethnically cleansing any part of Israel that is currenlty under Israeli control. Again, I’m no expert, but judging from news reports over the last 50 years or so, and from history books and reports, those elements do exist and are active.
I will hasten to add, AP, that on the Arab side, there are equally fanatical crazies, and, regrettably, those have way too much influence on both sides, probably disproportionately to their numbers, to the point of being, I believe, a major factor in preventing, so far, a peaceful settlement.
And, while portions of othe ME spirals downward, life and progress continue in many parts of the world…

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February 19th, 2008, 5:19 pm

 

182. MSK said:

Dear HP-

I’m not giving away anything … 😉

AP-

My reference to “weird & despised religious Jews” is to the way how the Israeli leadership thought about Jerusalem’s inhabitants for a long time. If you don’t know the history of your own country … that’s not my problem.

As for refugees – of course there were Jewish refugees from Jerusalem in ’48, but contrary to your assertion they were not the majority of J’lem’s Jews. The Jews of the Old City were kicked out, not the tens of thousands of Jews in West J’lem (almost none lived in East J’lem at the time). Again, read your history books.

And just to make it crystal-clear – Jews have a right to live wherever they damn well please, and especially in the sites of their ancestors be that Jerusalem, Aleppo, Baghdad, Beirut, Berlin, Lvov or Tel Aviv, Manhattan, Paris. That goes for everyone else as well.

Now, within the framework of a MidEast peace settlement in our time … we may just have to accept that, for reasons well known, for the foreseeable future Arabs won’t be allowed to immigrate into Israel and Jews/Israelis won’t be allowed to immigrate into Palestine (and maybe also not into other Arab countries). That’s unfortunate but a fact.

As for my quotation marks – I was quoting a law & thus used quotation marks. I wanted to make it clear that I’m quoting & not necessarily subscribe to the idea myself. And I don’t see what a division of Jerusalem into an Israeli and a Palestinian part (with a kind-of division of the Old City) has to do with J’lem being the center of Jewish prayer. Having West J’lem as capital of Israel and East J’lem as capital of Palestine doesn’t impede anything.

Cheers,

–MSK*

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February 19th, 2008, 5:43 pm

 

183. Akbar Palace said:

My reference to “weird & despised religious Jews” is to the way how the Israeli leadership thought about Jerusalem’s inhabitants for a long time.

MSK* –

Please post your reference to the above quote. My copy of Howard Sachar’s, “A History of Israel”, 2nd Ed., p. 324 says there were about 85,000 Jews living in Jerusalem. And near as I can tell, the “Jewish troops” fought rather hard for Jerusalem. H. Sachar claims:

“On May 2, under the cover of a heavy Transjordanian artillery bombardment, Eygptian infantrymen stormed the kibbutz of Ramat Rachel, lying astride the entrance to southern Jerusalem. What followed was the single most furious encounter of the Palestine war.”

You claim that J’lem morphed from a place where weird (& despised) religious Jews dwell to the “eternal & indivisible capital of the Jewish nation” is just a swipe at Israel and Jews. Jerusalem has always at the center of Judaism.

Take notes MSK*

And just to make it crystal-clear – Jews have a right to live wherever they damn well please

Does that include Hebron MSK*?

Good questions.

HP – Thanks.

As far as definition, then it’s basically those elements who, believing that it is their God-given right to occupy all of the Biblically “Promised Land,” oppose any land-for-peace agreement, continue the pressure to unceasingly expand the settlements, and believe in ethnically cleansing any part of Israel that is currenlty under Israeli control.

HP –

Most Jews (like myself) believe G-d promised them the Land of Israel for an “everlasting eternity”. That said, most Jews realize the need for a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians per the “land for peace” formula. This includes those who adhere to the Meretz, Labor, Likud, Kadima, and even some religious parties. I would agree that the beliefs you described above is an apt description of an Israeli “extremist”, but the percentage of Israelis who adhere to it, IMHO, is no more than 5%. Further, a small minority of this 5% believes in targeting innocent civilians.

Again, I’m no expert, but judging from news reports over the last 50 years or so, and from history books and reports, those elements do exist and are active.

I’m not saying they DON’T, I’m just saying they are a small fringe in Israeli society.

I will hasten to add, AP, that on the Arab side, there are equally fanatical crazies, and, regrettably, those have way too much influence on both sides, probably disproportionately to their numbers, to the point of being, I believe, a major factor in preventing, so far, a peaceful settlement.

IMHO, the fanatics and “crazies” on the Arab side far outnumber those on the Israeli side. That includes Iraqi scientists who still believe the world is flat.

And, while portions of othe ME spirals downward, life and progress continue in many parts of the world…

We just have to try harder to work for peace.
Our little discussion is probably the best thing;)

Thank you for the questions (shukran),

AP

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February 19th, 2008, 6:34 pm

 

184. Qifa Nabki said:

HP,

Everytime you praise MSK or myself, you make it that much more difficult for either of us to be elected president.

🙂

Don’t you know that Joshua is a Syrian regime mole, monitoring the private views of all political aspirants? Now you’ve gone and let the cat out of the bag! The Syrians will never go for us now.

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February 19th, 2008, 6:45 pm

 

185. Shai said:

Honest Patriot,

You wrote a bit earlier that the much needed breakthrough in our region might come through a courageous Israeli leader. I hate to ruin your hopes (and mine), but I just don’t see that happening anytime soon. Unfortunately, there are no new faces on the horizon. In theory, if the Winograd Report would have created enough public pressure, Barak might have been forced to give the Kadima-led government an ultimatum which basically says “Olmert can no longer be our PM, take him out (or rotate him), replace him with someone else (Livni?), and then we’ll stay in the government and not call for new elections”. Hence in theory, Tzipi Livni (our young and rather inexperienced foreign minister) could have found herself leading this nation into whatever near future she may have had in mind. But, as Israelis have grown numb to the infinite ups-and-downs of our region, so too have they basically decided to dismiss the true ramifications of the Winograd Report, and all potential pressure is basically gone. I now don’t see elections happening anytime soon, so Netanyahu won’t be PM just yet, and so we’ve got the same leaders, and the same impotency. They might be particularly good at executing unbelievably bold operations (if Israel did indeed eliminate Imad Mughniyeh), but they are certainly particularly bad at planning and bringing us closer to peace.

Olmert, Barak, and Netanyahu have all failed miserably. But in Israel’s bizarre political reality, they’re all still around. Don’t expect your “breakthrough” to come through one of those clowns. I’d much rather bet on someone from the other side of the fence, like Syria. Or, maybe we do need to await a new administration in Washington, with a Clinton or a McCain in power (I doubt Obama will make it), and hope they’re bold enough to remind Israel where most of its financial and military support comes from. And then, like Baker-Bush did some 17 years ago (Jesus, how time passes… what a waste!), force all sides back onto the negotiation table (Madrid II, Barcelona III, or Barbados XXXVII).

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February 19th, 2008, 6:46 pm

 

186. Anaconda said:

February 16th, 2008 — !

Bush’s strangest Syrian bedfellow: Assef Shawkat, Head of Syria’s Military Intelligence… At center of suspicion in Hezbollah leader’s car bombing…. of America’s “Most Wanted” Imad F. Mugniyah.

The head of Syrian military intelligence, Assef Shawkat, is no stranger to working with the CIA. Syria has, since 9/11, served as a host for the torture of “extraordinarily renditioned” prisoners captured by the CIA. Shawkat has been at the center of the CIA’s program.

WMR has learned from reliable sources that the car bombing in Damascus of Hezbollah military commander Imad Mugniyah on February 12 was carried out by Shawkat with the active encouragement and support of Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams and Israel’s Mossad. WMR has reported in the past that Abrams is the coordinator within the Bush White House of political assassinations, particularly those in the Middle East, and specifically, similar car bombing assassinations in Lebanon. WMR has also previously reported that many of the car bombings in Lebanon were the result of coordination between Israeli, American, and Syrian operatives, including “rogue” Syrians and Lebanese agents in the employ of Assef Shawkat.

Mugniyah was wanted by the United States and Israel for a number of terrorist attacks in the 1980s and 1990s, including the 1983 bombings of the US Embassy and Marine Barracks in Beirut, the 1985 hijacking of an Athens-to-Rome TWA flight in which Navy diver Robert Stethem was murdered, and the kidnapping and murder of Beirut CIA station chief William F. Buckley in 1984 and Marine Corps Lt. Col. William Higgins in 1988.

Significantly, the Israeli Prime Minister’s office has denied any role in Imad Fayez Mughniyeh’s assassination. However, Israeli government and intelligence officials are ecstatic, happy, delighted and pleased with Assef Shawkat’s “proven” and tried… performances, and that it occurred, finally in Damascus…

Mugniyah’s car exploded at around 10:45 pm in the up-market Tantheem Kafer Souseh neighborhood of Damascus. WMR has learned that the car bombing of Mugniyah was to be timed with the February 9th birthday of President Ronald Reagan, a gesture by Shawkat to the Americans, but the specially designed Mitsubishi seats containing the bombs were installed, or “activated…” later… due to “Political calculations… “, linked to the Intelligence “aims” sought….and security Concerns…, resulting in the February 12th assassination, a timing quite reminiscent for Assef Shawkat and his brutal “Henchmen”…. [ Assef’s last “promotion” dates to February 13th 2005…]
The “ultimate Promotion” for Assef Shawkat’s LONG Murder career, with MOSSAD and CIA … is around the corner now…Assef is on the HOT SEAT for Blowback…
Whoever carried out the operation demonstrated very impressive capabilities, in particular in collecting intelligence. That’s Assef Shawkat.
Such an operation requires the most exact planning for months in advance. Precise information is needed, which must come from the target’s inner circle. That’s Assef Shawkat.
They must have provided details on his daily routine, movements, hiding places and security arrangements.That’s Assef Shawkat.
Planning such an operation also requires precision in getting the operators where they need to be, and even more important, they must know how to get away. That’s Assef Shawkat.
And all this must be done without leaving a trace….. That’s also, Assef Shawkat.
The car, a brand new Mitsubishi Pajero SUV, was badly damaged in the attack “like a shredded metal can,” according to Housham Nasaiseh”, 19, who works in a sweetshop nearby, and arrived at the scene a few minutes after the explosion. At least nine other cars were also damaged. All this was done without leaving a trace….. That’s also, Assef Shawkat….

By this morning, the car had been towed away. The scene had been cleared, and the only signs of the attack were a black mark on the ground and damage to nearby buildings….reminiscent of the car bomb attack on Mr. Elie Hobeika in Hazmieh Lebanon, January 24th 2002, 9.40 AM, when the whole area was “washed away” within a couple of hours from the attack, on orders from Syrian Military Intelligence….
Typical and Vintage Assef Shawkat…. and his goons.

In the Middle East, dates, particularly anniversaries, carry much weight. The assassination of the popular Christian Leader, Lebanese Member of Parliament, and ex-Minister in several Hariri Governments, Mr. Elie Hobeika on January 24th 2002, coincided with the birthday of Elliott Abrams…, the then-National Security Council Middle East director. Hobeika’s car bombing assassination in Beirut was also carried out by Shawkat’s operatives, according to WMR’s Middle East sources. The Hobeika assassination was the first in a series carried out by the CIA and Mossad with the assistance of Shawkat’s intelligence operatives in Lebanon.

Shawkat, by delivering the goods on the assassination of America’s “Most Wanted” Imad F. Mugniyeh, has ensured that he will now receive the protection of the Bush White House in the current UN investigation of car bombings in Lebanon, most notably that of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri.
Now, the 241 Marines, William F. Buckley, Colonel Higgins, Robert Stethem, the 63 Murdered at the US Embassy in 83, and many others, including French troops at Drakar, can now rest in Peace…. 25 years later…..

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February 19th, 2008, 7:28 pm

 

187. Honest Patriot said:

Shai, I’m an optimist. Guess why?… hmmm, think, think,…..
hmmm,


(give up?, OK)…

Yes, it’s because of people like you. Now, you have a genteel way about you which makes you subject to accusations of softness by your compatriots but, as Ausamaa in a stroke of brilliance hinted (in his good cop / bad cop remark), you certainly are (understandably) a strong supporter of the state of Israel and of the well-being of its citizens and the promise of its future. Now, do you think you’re unique? Don’t you think there may be more “Shais” in Israel and that perhaps one of them will emerge with the leadership skills, vision, and charisma, to first win majority support, then the premiership, and then go on to the bold initiative I claim should come from Israel (after the Arab League so obvious opening at the Beirut summit)?

As I see it (and heck, I’m no expert of the standing of Professors QN or MSK 😉 — which is probalby why many here choose to ignore me [and I’m OK with that]), there is no way a bold initiative will come from Damascus. I think you agree, which is why you’re advocating Confidence-Building-Measures, i.e., small steps. I don’t see these either happening because there are so many divisions among the Arabs that each group is watching the other waiting to use a “Gotcha” against them and to one-up them in who is the best true defender of the Arab cause.

OK, so now here’s your assignment (Oops I think I’m being inspired by them Professors on this blog)…
Take a second look at those compatriots of yours who are of the same general inclination as you, identify the courageous leader, and encourage them to enter the political arena. The rest will take care of itself.
(And after everything works out, I will accept a citation in the History books).

— No offense meant to anyone in the peppering of humor here. Just thought to lighten a bit the otherwise serious message. —

Shalom, wassalamoo 3alaykum wa ra7matoollahee wa barakatoh

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February 19th, 2008, 9:37 pm

 

188. Shai said:

Honest Patriot,

Thank you for the kind words. It’s not that I think a great leader can’t rise in Israel to lead us into a better and brighter future. We’ve got people that lead in many fields in the world (Hi-tech, agriculture, etc.), so talent is there. The problem is this numbness I spoke of, which many of my own compatriots are experiencing. Sad as it may be, because now is exactly the WRONG time to be numb, many Israelis are just fed up with the situation, seeing how these immortal political dinosaurs never vacate their seats for the next generation to try out their abilities, how corruption is widespread, and frankly, how the mideast is turning from its normal soup of “rotten vegetables” to a soup of you-know-what. You’re right, this is when bold and courageous leadership is required, not when things are “ham-de-la”, but I just don’t see it happening soon.

I can tell you that there are those of us who are searching to support potential leaders, including ones who may not have entered politics yet. And we may yet succeed. But to see someone rising in the next 2, 3, or even 4 years is doubtful. The system here is made up of people who care more about their Volvos and their nameplate with an MK before their name, than about their country. They are people who love themselves so much, that they cannot possibly contemplate failure, or the desperate need for replacement. Hence they’ll make it nearly impossible for a “rising star” to indeed rise. Even people like Ami Ayalon, who truly have leadership capabilities (he’s done amazing things in the Navy, and later in the Shaback), have found themselves stuck between old and impotent dinosaurs, who’ll do next to nothing to promote newness. The rest are too busy dodging police investigations into corruption allegations, or sexual harassment (seems to be a recent favorite for some reason…), or whatnot.

Do I sound depressed? Yeah. Am I still optimistic? Yeah. Why? Because like I’ve said earlier, I don’t have a moment to waste on this earth being pessimistic. It gets us nowhere, and we become useless. Only way to see change, is to go make it happen. The reason why I’m here, on this forum, is part of that quest… If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to tell my children’s children one day, that their grandfather did something positive in his lifetime towards achieving peace in our region.

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February 20th, 2008, 6:13 am

 

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