News Roundup (28 February 2008)

Analysis by Joshua Landis: 

Is the Bush administration serious about Syria? Or is it just baring its teeth in a final show of strength for its allies before it bows out?

The U.S. Navy is sending three ships to the eastern Mediterranean Sea to show its strength to Syria over Lebanon. The US has also announced that it is sanctioning an additional four Syrians for "helping with the flow of money, weapons, terrorists and other resources from Syria into Iraq." The US and Israel have kept up a steady drum beat of pressure on Syria over the Lebanon presidency. Beginning with the Israeli bombing of a military facility along the Euphrates, the imposition of sanctions against Syrians undermining democracy in Lebanon, against those engaged in public corruption, and just today against those "helping terrorists into Iraq." We must not forget the car bomb that dispatched Mughniya. Now we have US navy vessels tacking towards Tartus. 

What are we to make of this? Could it be that Washington has finally decided to take its gloves off? Is it prepared for regime change?

I think we have to conclude that it has no such power or resolve. The Bush administration is furious over the Lebanon debacle. It has failed to convince or cajole Syria and the Lebanese opposition into relinquishing control of the country despite bombast about the "freedom agenda," "new realities," and forcing Bashar into a "Qadhafi-like about face."

Some may even be tempted to think that Washington is displacing its anger – and is preparing to smite Syria because it cannot dispatch Iran. But this is also fanciful. Washington is in no position to pluck even the "low hanging fruit" of Damascus. It has had its one chance at regime change. There is no well thought out endgame to these threats.

Bush is bluffing; the administration is full of sound a furry. It will do what additional harm it can to Damascus through further sanctions and perhaps even by launching a further military strike or two, aimed at a mujahidiin safe-house or some other target of opportunity, but it will be bluster. Most valuable to this administration, as it marks time time before making its exit, is reassuring allies and believers that it remained true to its core values. It fought the good fight to the last. It will pray that the International Tribunal will force Syria into a corner and into defying summonses. It will hope that it has laid enough landmines in Syria's path that one day, perhaps when Asad least expects it, the regime will explode.
This is a far fetched scenario. In all likelihood, Damascus will take its revenge. Washington is only ensuring that Damascus' anger will be meaner and more exacting when it finally comes. Talk of compromise has evaporated in the heat of battle.
Both Turkish and Qatari companies have announced that they will disregard US sanctions against President Assad's cousin. "Syria is a brotherly country," announced a Qatari state-owned firm that has major investments with Rami Makhlouf.
Bush Administration announces New sanctions aimed at Syrians By MARTIN CRUTSINGER,  Feb. 28, 2008AP Economics Writer
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration on Thursday announced it was imposing economic sanctions on four individuals it accused of helping with the flow of money, weapons, terrorists and other resources from Syria into Iraq.

It marked the administration's latest attempt to block efforts by groups in Syria from undermining the government of Iraq.

The action will freeze any assets the four individuals have under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibit Americans and U.S. firms from engaging in business transactions with the four men.

"Since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, Syria has become a transit station for al-Qaida foreign terrorists on their way to Iraq," Stuart Levey, the administration's point person on terrorist financing, said in a statement.

Levey, Treasury's undersecretary of terrorism and financial intelligence, said that a network in Syria was "going to great lengths to facilitate the flow through Syria of money, weapons, and terrorists intent on killing U.S. and coalition forces and innocent Iraqis."

A Treasury fact sheet identified the four individuals being targeted for economic sanctions as Badran Turki Hishan al-Mazidih, Ghazy Fezza Hishan al-Mazidih, Akram Turki Hishan al-Mazidih and Saddah Jaylut al-Marsumi. Treasury said each of the four individuals also use other names.

President Bush earlier this month signed an economic order that expanded penalties against senior government officials in Syria and their associates who are judged to have benefited from public corruption.

Last week, Treasury announced that it was freezing any assets held in the United States by Rami Makluf, one of the most powerful and influential businessmen in Syria, who controls the country's mobile phone network as well as other lucrative enterprises. He is also the first cousin of Syrian President Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Gulf firms unveil Syria projects, shrug of sanctions
Wed Feb 27, 2008 3:39pm EST
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis

DAMASCUS, Feb 27 (Reuters) – Two large Gulf property companies plan to invest $450 million in Syria as part of their expansion in emerging markets, executives said on Wednesday.

The projects were announced as Washington expanded economic sanctions on Syria to raise pressure on the Damascus government for supporting anti-U.S. groups in the Middle East.

Qatar's state-owned Diar will build a $350 million resort on the Syrian coast while Emaar Properties EMAR.DU of the United Arab Emirates signed for a $100 million venture with Cham Holding, which is controlled by Syrian tycoon Rami Makhlouf, on Wednesday.

Makhlouf, who was personally targeted by the new U.S. sanctions, said the project will have the support of the authorities to reorganize areas where illegal buildings are rampant in the Syrian capital.

"Good housing will be provided for inhabitants of these chaotic areas. Historic sites will be preserved," Makhlouf, who is the cousin of President Bashar al-Assad, told Reuters.

Diar's Chief Executive Officer Ghanim al-Saad said expanded U.S. sanctions on Syria would not delay his company's project on a 244,000 square-meter beachfront plot.

"Syria is a brotherly country," Saad said.

He did not give a start date but said construction would take three years to complete. Diar has issued a tender for building marine works for the resort near the city of Latakia…

Gulf investors have announced a number of megaprojects in Syria in the last three years that have not started as the 2006 Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon and a 2007 strike on Syria has raised the level of political uncertainty in the region.

Emaar laid the foundation stone in June 2006 for a $500 million residential complex near Damascus but construction has not begun. UAE construction company Arabtec was awarded a contract in January of this year to build part of the project.

Investors have also struggled to clear regulations and bureaucratic hurdles in Syria, although the government has relaxed laws restricting private investment and property prices have risen sharply….

Lebanon has been traditionally the primary magnet for Gulf investment in the Middle East, with the late premier Rafik al-Hariri establishing a private company to rebuild the center of Beirut from the 1975-1990 civil war.

But a 15-month political crisis in Lebanon and armed conflict with Israel, as well as a boom in oil prices, have helped turn investors' eyes to real estate projects elsewhere in the region.

Syria tycoon Makhlouf defiant after sanctions
Tue Feb 26, 2008 1:57pm EST
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis

DAMASCUS (Reuters) – Syrian tycoon Rami Makhlouf said on Tuesday U.S. sanctions would not stop him expanding his business empire and announced he was in talks to sell a majority stake in Syrian's leading mobile operator Syriatel to Turkish counterpart Turkcell.

"A deal between Turkcell and Syriatel would cement relations between the two countries," Makhlouf told Reuters in an interview.

"I cannot say, however, that we will reach an agreement. The negotiations are ongoing," he said.

"I should thank (U.S.) President George W. Bush because the sanctions have raised the level of my support in Syria. I am no hit and run businessman. My companies employ 6,000 Syrians, mostly young qualified professionals."

Makhlouf, Syria's most powerful businessman said he was considering selling between 51 percent of Syriatel or more. Turkcell said in November it was looking at bidding for a controlling stake.

The 39 year-old executive is the cousin of President Bashar al-Assad. He owns 69 percent of Syriatel. Gulf investors and Syrian shareholders own the rest of the company, which controls HITS-Unitel, a Yemeni cellphone operator.

Members of the Saudi royal family also have a stake in HITS-Unitel.

But Makhlouf's conglomerate, which stretches from telecoms to banks and an airline, does the majority of its business in Syria. He has ventured into heavy industry and property development as local real estate prices spiked.

Makhlouf pointed to a $100 million joint venture between his Cham Holding company and Dubai Emaar Properties due to signed on Wednesday as evidence of an undiminished appetite to do business with companies he has stakes in.

"This venture will develop areas in Damascus that turned chaotic because of illegal housing. We are talking about first-rate urban projects," Makhlouf said.

He said Syria Pearl airline, in which he owns a major stake through Cham Holding, was seeking to buy a fleet of planes made by Canadian company Bombardier.

The airline, in which state-owned Syrianair was granted a 25 percent stake, aims to regain market share lost by the national carrier to foreign airlines.

"Syrianair has six aircraft, which is unacceptable for a country the size of Syria," he said.

Syria's airline sector opened to private companies last year as part of limited economic liberalization measures ordered by Bashar al-Assad.

However sanctions imposed by the United States on Syria in 2004 have undermined efforts by the government to attract investment, although billions of dollars of Gulf capital is estimated to have been committed to projects in Syria in the last few years.

The United States froze the assets of Makhlouf on Thursday under new economic sanctions aimed at stepping up pressure against Damascus, saying Makhlouf benefited from corruption in the Syrian government.

The Treasury Department designated Makhlouf under an expansion of U.S. economic sanctions against Syria announced February 13 by President Bush. The designation freezes Makhlouf's assets under U.S. jurisdiction and forbids U.S. citizens or entities from doing business with him.

Makhlouf said he "did not have a penny" invested in the United States.

Fransabank takes plunge into Syria, plays down effect of US pressure
Chairman says move is 'part of our general expansion policy'
By Osama Habib
Daily Star staff
Thursday, February 28, 2008

BEIRUT: Fransabank on Wednesday became the fifth Lebanese bank to enter Syria, which is endeavoring to break US attempts to isolate the country politically and economically. The announcement came during a press conference in Damascus attended by the chairman of Fransabank, Adnan Kassar, and key government officials and bankers from Syria.

"We hope to start fully operating in Syria in June or July of this year and our goal is to set up branches in all major cities in the country in the coming few years," Kassar told The Daily Star. Fransabank-Syria, which will have a capital of $36 million, will provide all types of retail banking services.

Kassar said 48 percent of the bank would be controlled by Frasabank Lebanon, 1 percent by his brother Adel and the rest would be owned by Syrian partners. He added that the bank had already sold 15 percent of the original 51 percent of shares originally earmarked for Syrian nationals.

"The rest of the 36 percent of the shares will be sold in the Syrian market," Kassar said. BLOM, Audi, Byblos Bank and BEMO have established footholds in the Syrian market in recent years. Kassar said that he was not too concerned by talk of US pressure on Syria.

"We have entered Syria because we saw a good opportunity in this market," he said.

Syrian Economy to Grow at Least 6.5%, Deputy PM Says
By Massoud A. Derhally
Jan. 23 (Bloomberg)

Syria's economic growth will probably accelerate to at least 6.5 percent this year, driven by infrastructure projects and foreign direct investment, the country's deputy prime minister said.

Expansion will quicken from 6.2 percent last year, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Abdallah Dardari said in a telephone interview from Damascus today.

Foreign direct investment in Syria will increase as much as 4.3 percent to $2.4 billion this year as oil-rich Arab nations put money into real estate, banking and tourism, ignoring U.S. sanctions, Dardari said. The Middle East will have a surplus in trade and services of $327 billion this year, Deutsche Bank AG has estimated, some of which will be invested within the region.

“We will start to see projects that were licensed materialize this year and we are also launching a number of large infrastructure projects, like the development of Damascus Airport, water pipelines from the Euphrates, and refinery projects,'' Dardari said.

Emaar Properties PJSC, the Middle East's largest developer, said in 2005 that will invest $4 billion in real estate projects in Syria. National Bank of Kuwait, the Gulf state's biggest lender by market value, has said it wants to operate a joint venture in the country.

Qatar National Bank SAQ, the Persian Gulf nation's largest lender, also said last year it planned to open a bank in Syria with three partners.


The impact of a potential recession in the U.S. will be “rather minimal'' on Syrian growth because of an increase in trade with Turkey, India, Malaysia, China and other Arab nations, Dardari said. The Federal Reserve slashed its key interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point yesterday to avert a recession.

“We have noticed an increase in the inflow of money,'' into tourism, Dardari said. “We project that Gulf money will focus on that sector.''

The government aims to boost economic growth to 7 percent by 2010 by reducing bureaucracy, easing state controls and attracting more investors, Dardari has said.

“Syria is in a reasonably comfortable position at the moment economically and politically,'' said Caroline Bain, an economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit in London, who forecasts growth of 4.1 percent this year. “It is obviously very reliant on Gulf money because investment from elsewhere is minimal apart from some interest from Asia.''

Here is what Derhally writes only a few days ago.

Syrian Central Bank Chief Says Dropping Dollar Peg Successful
By Massoud A. Derhally

Feb. 21 (Bloomberg) — Syrian Central Bank Governor Adib Mayaleh said his country's moves to attract foreign investment and ts decision to end the currency peg to the dollar have helped  `rop up' the pound.

Foreign currency reserves in Syria, the second Arab country to end its dollar peg, rose 11 percent last year to $20 billion while the pound has appreciated, Mayaleh said in a telephone interview from Damascus today.

“We have about $20 billion in reserves from about $18 billion in 2006,'' he said.

The Syrian pound has strengthened 9.3 percent since the country on June 4 announced that it would follow Kuwait and link the pound to a basket of currencies including the dollar, euro, yen and British pound to curb rising import costs and inflation.

Syria is pressing to attract foreign investment and in January of last year introduced a law allowing foreign investors to own or rent land and take profits out of the country in any currency.

Foreign direct investment in Syria will increase as much as 4.3 percent to $2.4 billion this year as oil-rich Arab nations put money into real estate, banking and tourism, ignoring U.S. sanctions against the country, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Abdallah Dardari said in an interview on Jan. 23.

Mayaleh said that 10 banks in the Gulf, Lebanon and Jordan have applied to operate in Syria. Economic growth will probably celerate to at least 6.5 percent this year, Dardari said. The government aims to boost economic growth to 7 percent by 2010.

Annual remittances from Syrians living abroad are about $2 billion, Mayaleh said. The ruling Baath Party, which came to power in 1963, began moving toward a market economy in the 1990s, allowing private banks and insurance companies to operate for the first time. The U.S. imposed sanctions on Syria in May 2004, including a ban on trade transactions with the Commercial Bank of Syria, the country's largest bank. The U.S. government has accused Syria of aiding Iraqi militants and pursuing weapons of mass destruction.

A New US Mideast Strategy. But Not Yet (Arabic)

Last summer, Brookings’s Bilal Y. Saab ran an editorial in the Lebanese Al Safir newspaper in which he argued that the next US administration will have a different strategy and approach in the Middle East. He said: “…rarely have more profound changes in American foreign policy been called for in Washington than today. Democratization as the essence of America’s approach in the Middle East has failed, and global respect for American power has dwindled.”Saab then went on to say that “a new US global and regional strategy will however have to wait until G. W. Bush and Dick Cheney are out of office. For those in the Middle East who are betting their money on the assumption that change is near will still have to grapple with one formidable challenge: that of outliving the Bush administration and its unilateral and militant approach to foreign policy.”

Given its timeliness and the impact it has had on the Lebanese political scene, it is worth resurrecting that article.

U.S. shows video of Syrian reactor with possible link to N. Korea 

The United States has presented to South Korea a video of a Syrian nuclear reactor believed to have been built with North Korea's help, a Seoul daily reported Friday.
     Top U.S. nuclear negotiator Christopher Hill showed the video to Kim Byung Kook, senior secretary for foreign and security affairs for President-elect Lee Myung Bak on Wednesday, the Munhwa Ilbo said, quoting an unidentified South Korean government official.

U.S. Urges Monitoring Flow of Nuclear Materials By: Nicholas Kralev | The Washington Times

The United States wants six-nation talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear programs to begin monitoring transfers of nuclear materials and technology from the North to other countries, U.S. officials said yesterday.


A high-ranking Israeli defense official told The Jerusalem Post that Israel had indications Spain was considering withdrawing its forces from Lebanon. Spanish peacekeepers have come under repeated attacks by terrorist groups in southern Lebanon and in July, six members of the Spanish contingent were killed in an attack on their convoy near the village of el-Hiyam.

The official said that due to the attacks, Spain was under growing pressure to withdraw its troops from Lebanon, in the same way it pulled out of Iraq in 2004 following the Madrid terrorist bombings earlier that year. The official said the outcome of the national elections in Spain next month could determine whether the country would continue to participate in UNIFIL. "There are signs that Spain might be on its way out," one official said. "The combination of the attacks and the political pressure back home makes it difficult to see the country staying in Lebanon past the end of the year."

"Once one country pulls out the rest of the contributors will also start to rethink their participation, and it could ultimately lead to the breakdown of the entire force," the defense official said.

Kuwait Jumps the Queue
20.02.2008, Oxford Business Group
Syria has been having signal success over the past few years in attracting foreign investment, with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran all making headlines due to the capital they are pouring into the Syrian economy. Though garnering less media coverage, Kuwait is fast becoming one of the main sources of overseas investment in Syria, having just taken over third place on the rankings.

According to the state's official news agency, Kuwaiti investments in Syria now total $6bn, with bilateral trade jumping 30% last year to $350m.

The latest Kuwaiti foray into the Syrian market came with the signing of an agreement on February 11 between Syria's Al Sham Holding Company and three firms from Kuwait – the Al Kharafi Group, the Kuwaiti Syrian Holding Company and the Kuwait Privatisation Project Holding Company.

The partners announced plans to set up a joint company with a capital of $100m to engage in major infrastructure projects in Syria, especially in the energy, electricity and wastewater sectors.

The deal was struck during a visit by Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al Mohammed Al Ahmad Al Sabah to Damascus, a trip which saw the two countries move to further strengthen trade and financial ties. This included a proposal to establish a joint Syrian-Kuwaiti bank and talk of increasing investments.

Egypt will begin exporting natural gas to Syria next month after the third phase of the giant pipeline project was completed, Syrian Oil Minister Sufian Allaw said Saturday.

Allaw made his comments during a meeting of energy ministers from Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Turkey in Damascus dedicated to discuss the progress in the Arab Gas Pipeline Project.

The project was signed in 2001 to supply Egypt's natural gas to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon for 30 years. The first phase that links Egypt with the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba was finished in 2003 while the second stage linking Aqaba with the town of Rihab north of the Jordanian capital of Amman was completed two years later.

The project's cost more than US$1.2 billion (€809 million) and it will eventually run from the Egyptian Mediterranean city of El-Arish city through Jordan and Syria to the Turkish border with a total length of 1,200 kilometers, (750 miles).

At an Arab League meeting in March in Syria, the leaders plan to reiterate support for an initiative that promised Israel normalization with the 22 members of the league in return for the creation of a Palestinian state.

Israeli officials have dismissed as "a storm in a teacup" reports from Arab League officials that the organization may withdraw its 2002 peace plan unless Israel explicitly accepts the initiative.

Pentagon Aide's Invitations Contradicted U.S. Policy (Husam al Dairi was running the NSF office in DC for a while.)
by Steven Emerson
IPT News
February 4, 2008

At the urging of a subordinate, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England scheduled at least two meetings with foreign emissaries in direct contradiction of U.S. policy at the time. The meetings date back to 2005. They involved a Lebanese ambassador considered a proxy for the Syrian government and a leading member of Syria's Muslim Brotherhood.

U.S. policy at the time was not to engage in talks with either man, because they represent groups with whom the United States was not to communicate. The meetings were organized by England's special assistant for international affairs, Hesham Islam.

An invitation to Muslim Brotherhood official Husam al-Dairi was canceled in late 2005 after a senior State Department official heard about it and insisted it not take place. That official, J. Scott Carpenter, told IPT News he was shocked that such an invitation was issued, let alone that it was done without anyone consulting the State Department.

Carpenter was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs at the time and knew the meeting went against U.S. policy toward the Muslim Brotherhood.

"I said, ‘what are you talking about?'" he remembered in an interview last week. "It was a bad idea."

Without due deliberation, it is easy to send the wrong message "broad and near," Carpenter said. "If something like that were to come up and be blindsided … it's not just a procedural foul up. It could unwittingly create bigger problems for the United States government."

"When you have somebody who has a controversial background," Carpenter added, "you don't want to give the impression that the United States government is standing behind them."

Two discussions should have taken place, he said. One would debate whether the meeting should take place at all. If it was agreed it should, the next question should determine the level of government appropriate to meet someone from the Brotherhood. Deputy Defense Secretary is far too high, Carpenter said.

After Carpenter relayed his concerns to England's office, a staff member called back. She told him it would be "a huge hassle to postpone it" and if that happened, England's office would make it clear this was the result of the State Department "putting its foot down and [saying] the meeting should not take place."

Carpenter said that was fine by him. The episode, including the serendipitous way he learned about it, made him wonder whether other meetings like that took place without State Department consultation, he said.

"When the United States is meeting with dissidents, it is important to know who those dissidents are and what message we send by meeting with them. It is incredibly important that the wrong signal not be sent," Carpenter said.

That may have happened earlier in 2005, when England met with Farid Abboud, a Lebanese ambassador to Washington. Viewed as a proxy for the Syrian government, Abboud was frozen out by U.S. government officials working to isolate Syria, especially as tensions rose following the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The attack is widely suspected of having been orchestrated by Syria.

David Schenker, a former adviser in the Secretary of Defense's office on Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestinian affairs, described Abboud's influence in Washington in an article column published last March in the Weekly Standard. Schenker described Abboud as "unabashedly pro-Syria, pro-Hezbollah" and explained his diplomatic isolation resulted from that perception…

Schenker declined to discuss the controversy in England's office or Hesham Islam. But he confirmed that Islam is the "junior staffer" referenced in his article.

U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who chairs the House Select Committee on Intelligence, said news of the invitations was a cause for concern.

"Al-Mu'allim States Syria Is Willing To Help US Troops," al-Hayat by Ibrahim Hamidi: translation

On February 25, the Saudi-owned newspaper Al-Hayat carried the following report by Ibrahim Humaydi: "The day before yesterday, concurring sources have told Al-Hayat that Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Mu'allim addressed Arab and foreign officials and researchers at a closed forum that was held in Damascus on Friday and Sunday. The sources cited Al-Mu'allim as stating that: "Syria is willing to help US troops make an honourable exit from Iraq," and said that he stressed "the need to set a timetable for building the Iraqi Army and security forces on nationalistic bases and for pulling the multinational forces out of Iraq."

"The forum was organized by the German Korber Foundation, under the chairmanship of former German President Richard von Weizsacker, with the participation of: German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer; Andreas Michaelis, director general for Near and Middle Eastern Affairs at Germany's Federal Foreign Office; and Volker Pritis, head of the German Political Science Association. Al-Hayat was informed that Lodger Siemes, assistant to German Chancellor Angela Merkel for Middle Eastern affairs, turned down the invitation against the background of the Federal Chancery's hard-line position.

"As for the Syrian side, the forum was attended by: Assistant Foreign Minister Abd-al-Fattah Ammurah; Deputy Sulayman Haddad; Syrian Ambassador in Berlin Husayn Imran; and Samir al-Taqi, head of the Damascus Centre for Strategic Studies and his colleagues Sami Mubayyid and Marwan Qablan.

"The sources stated that the forum included an "ideological discussion on achieving security and stability in Iraq." They added that: "some participants talked about an interconnection between the Iraqi, Lebanese, and Palestinian crises, amid disagreement as to whether or not the solutions to these crises also are interconnected."

"Moreover, Al-Hayat was informed that: "On Friday, Syrian Foreign Minister Al-Mu'allim talked about the Syrian stance on the Iraqi crisis, and stressed the need to set a timetable that guarantees the foreign forces an honourable exit from Iraq."

"He added that: "This must coincide with the Iraqi Government building a strong army and security forces on nationalistic rather than sectarian bases, thus encouraging neighbouring states to carry out their duty of supporting Iraq's independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity." Asked about Syria's willingness to help the multinational forces make an "honourable exit" from Iraq, Al-Mu'allim stated: "Yes; Syria is willing to do that."

"Yesterday, well-informed sources told Al-Hayat that: "These forces will not remain for ever, and an honourable departure is the way to restore Iraq's independence and sovereignty." They added that: "This entails national reconciliation based on amending the Constitution, revising the new law that has replaced the De-Ba'thification or Ba'th Eradication Law, and enabling the Iraqis to build the army and security forces on nationalistic rather than sectarian bases. This is in addition to training and equipping these forces in order for them to fill the vacuum that might emerge as a result of the withdrawal of the multinational forces."

"In the meantime, yesterday official sources announced that Al-Mu'allim received Fischer and discussed with him "the achievement of a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions." He stressed the need "that Europe assumes its role by pushing forward the peace process in the region in a manner that guarantees an end to the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights and all the Arab lands occupied since 1967." The sources added that: "Al-Mu'allim also discussed with Michaelis the reinforcement of mutual relations between both countries in light of the Syrian minister's recent visit to Berlin." – Al-Hayat, United Kingdom

Comments (240)

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Unlike for Iraq, there is a well thought out plan for regime change. It is called an Arab force supplied by Saudi, Egypt and Jordan. After the Syrian army is smashed, it will be Arabs that will take over Syria with Khadam as an interim CEO (just until he dies). There will be no insurgency because most people will be happy with a Suni regime and because Khadam will now how to deal with it having learned from the master Hafez. Not one American or Israeli will stay on Syrian soil. The Arabs will go with it because it will put an end once and for all to Iranian and Shia aspirations in the Arab world.

Far fetched? No problem, let Asad risk it.

February 29th, 2008, 5:13 am


Alex said:

Asad will be happy to risk it AIG. There will be no regime change.

Former diplomat: Assad seeks to restart talks with Israel
By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Correspondent

Syrian President Bashir Assad would like to restart peace talks with Israel immediately, according to Alon Liel, former Foreign Ministry director-general, who met with Syria’s ambassador to the United States, Imad Mustafa, in Washington last week.

February 29th, 2008, 5:35 am


offended said:

AIG said:
“After the Syrian army is smashed”
“There will be no insurgency because most people will be happy with a Suni regime”

AIG, a word of advice, when you are planning to smash the army of a certain state, don’t expect the people to be happy about it.

Secondly, when you say that Khaddam will know how to run Syria like Hafez, do you mean that he will do that by giving more power to security agencies and exerting mroe opression?

A ‘very well-thought’ indeed…

February 29th, 2008, 5:54 am


Majhool said:


Steven Emerson story is ill researched.

To start, Husam Al Deiri, a Dentist and a businessman in Chicago, is not a member of the MB rather “the salvation front”

Very slimy persona btw

February 29th, 2008, 6:27 am


ausamaa said:

Jousho writes:

“I think we have to conclude that it has no such power or resolve. The Bush administration is furious over the Lebanon debacle. It has failed to convince or cajole Syria and the Lebanese opposition into relinquishing control of the country despite bombast about the “freedom agenda,” “new realities,” and forcing Bashar into a “Qadhafi-like about face.”

Couldnt agree more..

I am only trying to imagin what Bashar’s speech to the Arab Summit would be like…!!! If the “moderates” are there, he will try to restrain himself, if they are not; expect a Nasser-like speach that will seal their low-standing in the Arab street! Is he going to invite Najad, Ghol, and Pan key moon to attend as guests as well?? Najad was at the Riyadh GCC summit! Nassrallah and Khalid Mishal maybe! It is gonna be fun, all the festivities in Damascuse taking place under the frustrated eye of the “recovering” Cole and the “recovering” IDF and the envious “moderates” and the lonely Feb 14 lost kids.

The Cole; huh?!!! And what was it in the Eighties? The New Jersy I think!!

February 29th, 2008, 9:00 am


Enlightened said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Unlike for Iraq, there is a well thought out plan for regime change. It is called an Arab force supplied by Saudi, Egypt and Jordan. After the Syrian army is smashed, it will be Arabs that will take over Syria with Khadam as an interim CEO (just until he dies). There will be no insurgency because most people will be happy with a Suni regime and because Khadam will now how to deal with it having learned from the master Hafez. Not one American or Israeli will stay on Syrian soil. The Arabs will go with it because it will put an end once and for all to Iranian and Shia aspirations in the Arab world.

Far fetched? No problem, let Asad risk it

I would like to add an addendum AIG that you missed. You were typing and thinking so fast that you might have missed a point that you have forced down our collective throats for the past few months. Since I am a sincere type, let me remind you about something very important that you missed. “WHAT ABOUT THE DEMOCRACY BIT”

You are losing your edge, clearly you are a hollow hypocrite, put that in then we might believe that you have an inch of credibility.

However i will remind you of my last post to you:

“Warmongering Proneness” is a psychological trait and a measure of an individual’s susceptibility to warmongering rhetoric and posturing. Dr. McConochie, a pioneer in the field of Political Psychology, has studied this and other psychological traits related to individual and collective acts of violence. His research can be found at

February 29th, 2008, 10:32 am


kamali said:

the more Asad shows that he is ready for peace, the less possibility there will be any in the future. how sad is this!

I don’t agree with AIG, there will be peace in syria in case the ragime is removed. all the friends of the regime have weapons from RPGs, MK16, to guns and Pomeg, it is gonna be bloody again. Syria and Iraq are just the same…maybe it is less if an alwai Partner will come to power with Khaddam, it is for you to guess who might be….??? this senario is very unlikely as the regime is very flexible and they are ready to do ANYTHING to stay where they are like selling Lebanese HzB, Pals, or Jolan, Damscus maybe…or anyone apart from few….

February 29th, 2008, 10:43 am


Naji said:

With the USS Cole for a backdrop, Siniora is giving a brave speach on TV right now…!!

…he says he didn’t ask for no barges…, but since they happen to be here anyway, he would like to take this opportunity to kindly ask everyone to do as he says…these are grave times you know…!

February 29th, 2008, 11:55 am


Akbar Palace said:

Is the Bush administration serious about Syria? Or is it just baring its teeth in a final show of strength for its allies before it bows out?

Professor Josh,

I think the Bush administration is about as serious about Syria as Syria and the Palestinians are about improving the plight of their own people.

February 29th, 2008, 12:30 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Who is the hypocrite? It is you and others on this blog who have been saying in not so many words that Syria is not ready for a democracy. That is why there is no viable Amercian regime change plan. But what if the US is listening to you and agrees that demoracy is not the solution for Syria and a period in which Khadam is in charge is first required and that this is all right if it is packaged as an Arab solution and not an American one?

I would like to see democracy in Syria. That is the only long term solution for real peace. But why would Shai or Alon Liel care if Khadam replaces Asad? They will try making peace with him just like they would with any other dictator. And in addition, Shai and Liel would be happy because Khadam would not support HA. Heck, if Khadam protects the minorities, you and Alex will even sing his praises.

February 29th, 2008, 2:37 pm


Norman said:

this is what the Saudies are doing in Syria,

بندر بن سلطان أدار “محاولة انقلاب” فاشلة في دمشق قبل اغتيال مغنية


انضمت قضية التحقيق في جريمة اغتيال القائد العسكري في حزب الله عماد مغنية إلى “الملف اللبناني” كموضوع آخر من مواضيع “ابتزاز” النظام السوري بشأن “القمة العربية” الشهر القادم . وينقل موقع الحقيقة عن مصادر سياسية في العاصمة السورية قولها إن رئيس الوزراء الإماراتي وحاكم دبي محمد بن راشد آل مكتوم “نقل تحذيراً سعودياً واضحا إلى الرئيس السوري من مغبة الإشارة إلى المخابرات السعودية أو أي من أفرادها، فضلاً عن أي جهة أمنية عربية أخرى، بالتورط في اغتيال القائد العسكري في حزب الله عماد مغنية، لأن من شأن ذلك قطع شعرة معاوية نهائياً بين دمشق وهذه العواصم، ومقاطعتها مؤتمر القمة كلياً، و تفسير الأمر على أنه اتهام صريح بالخيانة والعمالة لصالح إسرائيل، وهو ما سيفرض على هذه الدول رد فعل يتناسب وحجم الاتهام” .

وبحسب هذه المصادر فإن دمشق تلقت تحذيرات مشابهة من مصر والأردن، لاسيما وأن الشوط الذي قطعه التحقيق حتى الآن أثبت ضلوع المخابرات الأردنية في عملية التنفيذ على الأرض لصالح الموساد عبر عملاء فلسطينيين ومن جنسيات عربية أخرى، بينما تولى الأمير بندر بن سلطان تمويل العملية و تولت الولايات المتحدة الدعم اللوجستي الفضائي عبر الأقمار الصناعية . وربطت مصادر أمنية محلية بين اغتيال مغنية و “تحركات” لعدد من الضباط عشية عملية الاغتيال فسرت بأنها “محاولة انقلاب” . وهو ما كشف عنه الباحث أنيس النقاش، مساء السبت الماضي خلال استضافته في “البرنامج المفتوح” الذي يعده ويقدمه غسان بن جدو على قناة “الجزيرة”، حيث أكد اعتقال عدد من الضباط على هذه الخلفية.

وإذا كانت مصادر فرنسية أكدت حصول “تحرك” لعدد من الضباط السوريين عشية اغتيال مغنية تبين أن لهم صلة برئيس مجلس الأمن القومي السعودي بندر بن سلطان عبر الملحق العسكري ـ الأمني السعودي في دمشق، وأدى في النتيجة إلى اعتقالهم، فإن هذه المصادر رفضت إطلاق صفة “محاولة انقلابية ” عليه ، وفضلت تسميته بـ “تحرك غامض” ، وإن تكن رجحت علاقته بعملية الاغتيال. ويعتقد أن التحقيق السوري سيكتفي بالإعلان عن نتائج التحقيق لجهة تورط الموساد في العملية، لكنه سيقوم بـ “تجهيل” الجهات العربية المشاركة والاكتفاء بالإشارة إليها دون تحديد إذا كان يستطيع “مقايضة” التستر على هؤلاء بتنازلات عربية فيما يتعلق بحضور “مؤتمر القمة” وقضايا أخرى تتصل بالملف اللبناني. هذا فضلاً عن عدم إمكانية الإشارة إلى أي دور محلي “خرق أمني”، لأن أي إشارة من هذا النوع من شأنها تقديم انطباع بالغ السوء من استقرار النظام. كل هذا بافتراض أن هناك “خرقاً أمنياً” على مستوى شخصي لا “عملية بيع رسمية” كما يعتقد!؟ لكن المصادر الفرنسية تؤكد أن أي إعلان صريح وشفاف عن نتائج التحقيق، لاسيما إذا أثبت ضلوع السعودية والأردن في الأمر، يرتبط أولاً وأخيراً بالكباش الإيراني ـ الأميركي وما يتفرع عنه، وبما إذا كانت طهران معنية بفتح “جبهة” مع بعض الدول العربية المعنية، وهو غير مرجح في الوقت الراهن على الأقل رغم ما شكلته عملية الاغتيال من طعنة لإيران قبل غيرها.

هذا وقد رفضت دمشق الربط بين مشاركة بعض الدول العربية في القمة التي ستستضيفها بلاده قبل نهاية الشهر المقبل، وملف الاستحقاق الرئاسي اللبناني. وقال دبلوماسي سوري رفيع المستوى لـ«الأخبار»، إن «هذا الأمر يخرج عن سياق أي منطق». وأضاف: «هذا غير معقول، القمة العربية تجتمع لحل أو تصفية مشكلات قائمة في الوطن العربي، فهل يريدون أن يأتي عقد القمة تتويجاً لحل المشكلات أو أن تناقش القمة، كما هو مفترض، هذه المشكلات لتحلها؟».

وقال الدبلوماسي إن «مقدمات القمة المقبلة في دمشق لا تشبه أي مقدمة للمؤتمرات السابقة، إلا إذا كان مكان القمة هو الذي يمثِّل رؤية معينة في عصرها وزمنها، حيث إن ضرورات هذا البعض يبدو أنها لا تنفع معها الرؤى السابقة، ما استدعى التجديد». وعبّر عن قناعته بأن «هذا البعض يستعجل كثيراً الوصول إلى غد لم ترسم بعد خرائطه النهائية».

ونفى الدبلوماسي لـ«الأخبار» صحة التكهنات التي راجت بشأن احتمال إقدام سورية على تأجيل القمة العربية بسبب توقعات بضعف المشاركة العربية على مستوى القادة والرؤساء العرب فيها. وقال: «القمة ستعقد في مكانها وزمانها ومرة أخرى بمن حضر». وكشف أن «حضور القادة أو الرؤساء العرب في قمة دمشق لن يقل إطلاقاً عن مستوى حضور الرؤساء والقادة القمم الثلاث التي سبقت قمة الرياض الأخيرة». وقال: «إن شاء الله ستكون مفاجأة مستوى الحضور للذين يعملون على عدم الحضور».

ورأى الدبلوماسي نفسه أن «عملية تسليم وتسلُّم رئاسة القمة من الرئيس الحالي الملك السعودي عبد الله بن عبد العزيز إلى الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد لا مشكلة فيها». وأوضح أنه «في القمة العربية التي عقدت في تونس، بعد تأجيل، في شهر أيار عام 2005، رفض الرئيس زين العابدين بن علي تسلّم رئاسة القمّة من رئيس الوزراء البحريني بعد غياب الملك حمد بن عيسى آل خليفة». وأضاف: «حينها صعد إلى المنبر ليتسلم القمة مباشرة». وختم: «لا نتمنى غياب أحد، وخصوصاً الرئيسة السابقة للقمة العربية»، مشيراً إلى «اعتزاز» بلاده باستضافة أول قمة عربية على الإطلاق على أراضيها.

وحسب معلومات حصل عليها منبر الملاذي فإن القيادة السورية، تلتزم الصمت والهدوء في الأيام الحالية، رغبة منها في عدم توتير المواقف، وزيادة الشحن وهو “ما كما ترغب به واشنطن والرياض والقاهرة، لتسهيل إفشال القمة”. إلا أنها باتت تمتلك معلومات هامة وخطيرة، ودلائل ستبقيها ضمن الأدراج إلى حين استدعاء الضرورة ذلك، وحينها كما تضيف بعض المصادر لمنبر الملاذي “ستقلب الطاولة تماماً، وتفضح الأمور أمام الشارع العربي”.

المصادر :وكالات

February 29th, 2008, 2:51 pm


ausamaa said:

Israel should show us first how successful it is in dealing with the Palestinian Democracy before asking for Democracy in Syria or elsewhere.

What has been happening in the West Bank and Gaza during the past few years provides excellent proof of how Israel thinks DEMOCRACY, or any Democratically-elected body should be dealt with!

February 29th, 2008, 2:55 pm


Norman said:

this is the problem in th mideast,

Chasing dreams of a new era in the Mideast
By Patrick Cockburn

Friday, February 29, 2008
Dreams and Shadows The Future of the Middle East By Robin Wright 464 pages. $26.95. The Penguin Press.

When the United States invaded Iraq and overthrew Saddam Hussein in 2003, it destabilized the whole Middle East. The U.S. military had taken over the one Arab state with plenty of oil and a large population. Washington threatened to overthrow the governments of Iran and Syria. The first Shiite government for 800 years to hold power in the Arab world was soon installed in Baghdad. The entire region was engulfed by a tidal wave of anti-Americanism.

The reaction to the invasion in the wider Middle East should have led to a greater focus on what Egyptians, Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese and Iranians were thinking. Long established autocratic regimes were discredited, less by any shining example of democracy being established in Baghdad than by their own inability to cope with the crisis. “Arab Majesties, Excellencies and Highnesses, We Spit on You” read a banner carried by protesters during a demonstration in Cairo in 2006.

Though the Middle East may be shaking under the impact of the war in Iraq, most countries have been getting less rather than more attention from Western news media and governments. Almost all the focus has been on Iraq. Newspapers and television companies strained their budgets to maintain large bureaus in Baghdad. Extraordinary events, like the victory of Hamas over Fatah in the Palestinian elections of 2006, were dutifully covered, but were overshadowed by America’s ever deeper troubles in Iraq. Countries like Egypt and Morocco largely disappeared off the media map.

It is one of the chief values of “Dreams and Shadows,” Robin Wright’s fluent and intelligent book about the future of the Middle East, that it is not solely concerned with the war in Iraq and its consequences. In describing the struggles of people from Morocco to Iran to reform or replace existing regimes, she draws on three decades of experience in covering the region for The Washington Post and other newspapers.

Opening on an optimistic note, Wright describes how in 1983 she stood across the street from the ruins of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut after more than 60 Americans had been killed by a suicide bomber. At that time, she recalls, it seemed that Islamic fundamentalists had the initiative and were shaping the future of the region. “Yet a generation later” she writes, “Islamic extremism is no longer the most important, interesting or dynamic force in the Middle East.”

It would be good if this were true, but in general the stories Wright relates of brave reformers battling for human and civil rights show them as having had depressingly small influence. She claims there is “a budding culture of change” represented by “defiant judges in Cairo, rebel clerics in Tehran, satellite television station owners in Dubai, imaginative feminists in Rabat and the first female candidates in Kuwait, young techies in Jeddah, daring journalists in Beirut and Casablanca, and brave writers and businessmen in Damascus.”

Sadly, her own research largely contradicts this thesis. Of the many opponents of the status quo she writes about, the only ones to have achieved a measure of success are religious movements: Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank and Hezbollah in Lebanon. She does not cover Pakistan, but the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi in December shows that suicide bombers retain their deadly ability to shape events.

Why have moderate reformers failed so uniformly across the Middle East? Not because of lack of courage. Wright describes how in Syria, Riad al-Turk, first arrested for opposing a military government in 1952, spent almost 18 years in solitary confinement in an underground cell the length of his body. He kept himself sane by making pictures on the floor out of thousands of hard and inedible grains he had taken out of the prison soup during his years of confinement.

Wright also writes of heroes and heroines in a more minor, but still impressive, key, like Noha al-Zeiny, a leading official in the prosecutor’s office of the Egyptian Ministry of Justice, who was so disgusted by blatant official ballot rigging in an election she was supervising that she publicly denounced it in one of the few Cairo newspapers that dared to print her testimony.

Autocratic regimes in the Middle East may be sclerotic, corrupt and detested by their own people, but they are very difficult to remove.

Governments in Egypt, Syria and Libya that came to power by military coups in the distant past have learned how to protect themselves against their own armies and security forces. In each of those countries, the Mubarak, Assad and Qaddafi families are establishing new political dynasties. President Hosni Mubarak, jokingly known to Egyptians as the last pharaoh, has, according to Wright, now held power longer than all but two other leaders in Egypt’s 6,000-year history, and is grooming his son Gamal to replace him. Political reforms have been purely cosmetic.

Osama Harb, the editor of a moderate foreign policy journal, International Affairs, denounced Egypt’s supposed reform efforts as a sham but found he could not withdraw from the government’s inner circle without endangering himself. “It should be easy to resign, to say no,” he observed. “But not here. This is Egypt.” Just one long-established regime in the Arab world has been kicked out by voters in a closely monitored election. It happened on Jan. 25, 2006, when Hamas won a victory over Fatah, Yasser Arafat’s very corrupt nationalist movement. It was the first time, Wright says, that an Arab electorate ousted an autocratic leadership in a free and fair election – a message that resonated throughout the region. The immediate response of the international community was to boycott Hamas.

“The United States is like the prince in search of Cinderella,” the Hamas leader Osama Hamdan told Wright. “The Americans have the shoe, and they want to find the kind of people who fit the shoe. If the people who are elected don’t fit into the American shoe, then the Americans will reject them for democracy.” Fatah was encouraged by the United States, Israel and the West Europeans to ignore the results of the election and build up its military strength. An armed clash became inevitable, leading to the takeover of Gaza by Hamas gunmen in June 2007.

Wright has long been one of the best-informed American journalists covering the Middle East, and her reputation is borne out here. She is refreshingly skeptical of conventional wisdom about what is happening in the region, and her book will be essential reading for anybody who wants to know where it is heading.

She is particularly good on the moribund nature of the regimes that now hold power and know they are too unpopular to allow any open expression of popular will (though some innovations, like satellite television and the Internet, have prized open their control of information). Both the Algerian election in 1992 and the Palestinian poll in 2006 showed that the West will not accept an election won by its enemies. But since the invasion of Iraq, it is difficult to imagine a fair poll having any other result.

Patrick Cockburn, a foreign correspondent for The Independent of London, is the author of “The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq.”


Copyright © 2008 The International Herald Tribune |

February 29th, 2008, 3:19 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

So now you agree with me that democracy is the problem in the middle east?

February 29th, 2008, 3:26 pm


ausamaa said:

Its you and your like-minded peace-“loving” decedants of the Hagana, Irgune and Shtern who are the problem in the Midle East if you have not noticed yet. Well, not to worry, according to Nassrallah, and other Israeli and Western historians, it is a self-solving problem anyway if you choose to remain as you are, and what you are.

February 29th, 2008, 3:43 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

What I noticed is that the less the Arabs do, the more they talk.
That has been a serious problem for the last 60 years.
Since what we are has been working well for us over the last 60 years why should we change? And since it has not been working well for the Arabs, perhaps you should change?

February 29th, 2008, 4:02 pm


Alex said:

AIG said:

“Heck, if Khadam protects the minorities, you and Alex will even sing his praises.”

I do realize that you are disappointed in Syria’s “minorities”. Syria Comment used to have a M14 supporter called Gibran … before you showed up, Gibran held the “Syrian Christians are cowards” argument… like you he used to allude to it indirectly … “I understand the minority complex” he used to say.

Let me tell you that Syrian “minorities” are believers in a strong and independent Syria … a Syria that supports minorities and non minorities … inside Syria and in Syria’s neighboring countries if they are in trouble .. like when Israel invades their country and destroys their homes from time to time … Lebanese Christians, Iraqi Christians, Lebanese Muslims, Iraqi Muslims, Turkish Armenians, … and yes, Palestinians… were always welcomed in Syria …. something that you and your flawed democracy can not compete with because yours is currently a selfish and self centered state… a state that kills 1500 Lebanese if two of its occupation soldiers are killed.

So … THIS is your problem with Syrian minorities. You want a Syria that is like your satellite Kingdom next door, Jordan. Syrian minorities are in love with their wonderful country and they don’t give a damn if YOU approve or not.

February 29th, 2008, 4:17 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:


I am not disappointed with Syria’s minorities at all. I am just saying that whoever is the dictator in Syria, the minorities will sing his praises. They are licking Asad’s boots now, and if Khadam is in power they will lick his. That is all. Moreover, Syrian history has shown time and time again that this is exactly what will happen.

February 29th, 2008, 4:22 pm


offended said:

Enlightened, come on!
Please don’t be harsh on AIG.
He only meant Khaddam as president until he dies.
He didn’t say he should stay there till eternity.
Can’t you see how democratic that is?

February 29th, 2008, 4:34 pm


kingcrane jr said:

Another israeli lie: “From time immemorial”

Another israeli lie: “We are invicible”

Another israeli lie: “We are not the terrrorists” (what are you then, the tourists? If yes, go practice tourism outside OUR region)

One day israel will enter officially into History… and will exit from Geography.

Ther si no place in the Middle East for ANY sectarian entity, be it Jewish/Zionist (this is the first and foremost goal that would allow the rest of the domino effect), Christian/Maronite, Sunni/Saudi, or Shiite/Clerico-theocratic.

Viva la revolucion.

February 29th, 2008, 4:42 pm


Welcome | Project on Middle East Democracy said:

[…] At SyriaComment, Joshua Landis does not believe that this move signals a more aggressive U.S. policy towards Syria. He claims that the administration is bluffing, since President Bush lacks the credibility to engage in military action against a Middle Eastern regime after the failures in Iraq. “Washington is in no position to pluck even the ‘low hanging fruit’ of Damascus. It has had its one chance at regime change.” […]

February 29th, 2008, 4:44 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I meant that after him there won’t be his son. His reign will really end with his death unlike the monarchy you support in Syria in which Prince Bashar replaced King Asad just because another prince died in a car accident. Why do you support in Syria a system you would never support somewhere else?

I also made it clear that I prefer democracy and that is just an example of a viable way to make regime change.

February 29th, 2008, 4:45 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Thank you for the threats. We are used to trash talk. That is mostly what we have heard over the last 60 years. Though it is true that when it comes to unarmed Jews the Arabs are quite strong. I am sure you can tell us how easy it was to murder the Jews in Aleppo in 47. You were there no?

February 29th, 2008, 4:48 pm


Alex said:


Syrian minorities are not licking Assad’s boots … but they do like him a lot. If you see them not joining the other “Arab moderates” in opposing Bashar, it i because most of them know that he is much better for Syria than the other alternatives at this time.

And some, if you forgot, did oppose the regime … Do you know about Michel Kilo? Anwar Bunni? Aref Dalilah?

While I have my problems with one of the three above, it is a shame for the regime that they are in prison.

Do you know this Syrian minority?

or this one?

or this one?

or this one?

I don’t think they were known for licking boots… not French occupation boots, not Ottoman boots, not Israeli or American boots, and not Nasser boots.

February 29th, 2008, 4:48 pm


offended said:

AIG, you ignoramus!
What do you know about Syrian minorities?
And who told you we call them ‘minorities’ in Syria?
Habibi, we call them ‘communities’.
I am a conservative sunni, and I am proud of all other communities that make up the Syrian mosaic.
You wouldn’t know about that…

But I understand that all this cry about the boot-licking minorities is an attempt to cover your fuck-up above when you suggested that Khaddam should become the next Syrian president….

What a shameless schmuck…

February 29th, 2008, 4:50 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex and Offended,
It is a fact that the minorities in Syria have mostly accepted quietly the powers in place. You cannot change history nor can you prove your point by pointing to a few exceptional people. In the last 40 years of Asad rule, it is completely clear that the minorities are licking his boots (except the Alawites which are in power). Do you deny this?

Offended I am still interested in hearing why you think monarchy is good for Syria?

February 29th, 2008, 5:01 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Not licking American boots? Do you know how many Syrians immigrated to the US? That is the ultimate boot licking move. That is admitting that the US is better than Syria and that you prefer it to your home country.

February 29th, 2008, 5:06 pm


wizart said:

Basic Rights In A Relationship

The right to be heard by the other and to be responded to with courtesy
The right to have your own view even if your mate has a different view
The right to have your feelings and experience acknowledged as real
The right to clear and informative answers to questions that concern what is legitimately your business
The right to live free from accusation and blame
The right to live free from criticism and judgment
The right to have your work and interests spoken of with respect
The right to encouragement
The right to live free from emotional and physical threat
The right to live free from angry outbursts and rage
The right to be called by no name that devalues you
The right to be respectfully asked rather than ordered

February 29th, 2008, 5:08 pm


Naji said:

…”Boot-licking minorities”…!!?? How ironic, but, sadly, isn’t that exactly what Israel has turned the Jews of Palestine into…, a “boot-licking minority” dependent for its daily survival on the pleasure of the current hegemon/empire… having to do his dirty deeds for him even when these deeds are against its own interest…?! The rest of the “minorities” of our Syria have chosen a different path to survival, at least in theory, by working together and with their neighbors to remain relatively independent and to never serve any master against their own interests…! That’s almost it in a nutshell, really…!

February 29th, 2008, 5:12 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

The Jews in Palestine are a majority. Who is the current haegmon/empire whose boots we are licking?

February 29th, 2008, 5:18 pm


wizart said:

Ladies and Gentelmen

Have you practiced any Yoga lately?
Have you listened to classical music?
Can you stop smoking because it’s killing us?
Can you stop being verbally abusive because it’s stressing us?

Lots of free material on the internet from books to concerts.
I want more politicians to become rock stars like Bonno.
Political, poised and peace loving as you know.

What’s the best president Syria has ever had the past 200 years?
Why? what’s the job description of a good president?

February 29th, 2008, 5:22 pm


wizart said:

Verbal abuse may be overt (angry outbursts and name calling), or covert (very, very subtle, like brainwashing). Verbally abusive disparagement may be voiced in an extremely sincere and concerned way.

Verbal abuse is insidious. Verbal abuse disregards, disrespects or devalues the partner in such a way that self-esteem and self confidence gradually diminish without realizing it.

Verbal abuse attacks the nature and abilities of the partner. Verbal abuse usually escalates, increasing in frequency, intensity and variety.

Categories Of Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse disguised as jokes
Blocking and diverting
Accusing and blaming
Judging and criticizing
Name calling
Abusive anger

February 29th, 2008, 5:24 pm


Naji said:

…this is one mellow (stoned?!) wizzart of a Syrian …!! More to you buddy…!

February 29th, 2008, 5:24 pm


Alex said:


Those “few exceptional people” changed Syria’s history and to a large extent the history of the whole middle East … what else do you want them to do to show you that they are not cowards? act as selfish and as aggressive and as violent as your wonderful Israel acts towards other religious groups?

Here is what just happened in Iraq

Chaldean Archbishop Kidnapped in Iraq

BAGHDAD – Gunmen on Friday kidnapped Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Faraj Rahho in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, a provincial police officer said.

The gunmen also killed three people who were with Rahho at the time of the kidnapping after a Mass at a nearby church, said Iraqi Brigadier Gen. Khalid Abdul Sattar, a spokesman for the Ninevah province police.

February 29th, 2008, 5:25 pm


Akbar Palace said:


When you get a chance, send me an email at

February 29th, 2008, 5:27 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

ho hum

Ehsani, where you? AIG needs to be reminded to stop talking about Syrian democracy.

I swear to God AIG, if you were Syrian, you’d probably have convinced Bush to invade by now and install you as prez. Farid Ghadry’s got nothing on you.

Guys, could we humor AIG and just indulge his fantasy of a democratic Syria?

Actually, it’s not so improbable, according to everyone. Alex himself believes that Syria will be democratic in 10-14 years, or democratic enough as to compel Lebanon to return to the conjugal bed of federalism.

So then let’s fast forward to that blessed period, and imagine what it will be like. Israeli tourists visiting Damascus? Syrian tourists visiting Jerusalem? Saad al-Hariri buying Rami Makhluf’s properties up? (sorry, I had to throw that one in) 😉

February 29th, 2008, 5:28 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Has anyone else wondered if Wizart is a bot?

Just curious.

KingCrane Jr,

I responded to your question of a few days ago, here:

February 29th, 2008, 5:30 pm


Alex said:


John Mearsheimer told me that the bad news is that secular Israelis will be immigrating (mostly to the United States) in large numbers according to many studies .. and that we will end up with mostly the religious extremists as neighbors.

Those leaving the Middle East (and not only Syria) are often sick of the madness next door … not necessarily in their own countries.

February 29th, 2008, 5:34 pm


Naji said:

“Has anyone else wondered if Wizart is a bot?”

Wow QN…, by God, I think you’ve got it…!! Rather disappointing though…!

February 29th, 2008, 5:38 pm


wizart said:

bot: big olive tree

February 29th, 2008, 5:54 pm


Naji said:

big olive tree indeed… I have decided to continue to think of wizart as one mellow Syrian… we need one…!

February 29th, 2008, 6:02 pm


wizart said:

Abusive people are better left unattended cause they’re around just for attention so the more we dignify them with an answer the more hungry for attention they become. They hurt themselves and many others by being narrow minded and centered mostly on self gratification. They’re egotistical so they’re never wrong and they know everything!!

February 29th, 2008, 6:03 pm


kingcrane jr said:

I was in Aleppo for a long time, and the only murders worth reporting were Armenians and Turkomans going for an extra round, as if the Turkish holocaust was not enough.
As to what you mention here, it is…
Another israeli lie
Repeated ad nauseum and ad vomitum
By another israeli guy.
FYI, one of my cousins married a Jewish woman from Aleppo, and their children live now in California.
So, I am an anti-zionist.
Try again to confuse anti-zionism with anti-semitism and you will make a fool of yourself.
And stop talking about threats.
The murderous zionist entity is the primary threat to stability, peace and prosperity in the region.

This is kingcrane jr, on behalf of kingcrane.

February 29th, 2008, 6:08 pm


Kraig Fuller said:

February 26, 2008 — Behind the media smoke screen in the Middle East.

Reality paints a much different picture of Middle East covert operations.

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell tipped his hand just a bit when he recently opined that Syria may have been responsible for the February
12 car bombing in Damascus of Hezbollah military commander Imad Mughniyeh. McConnell, according to WMR’s Middle East Intelligence sources,
provided only a small part of the intelligence cooperation that actually occurs in the Middle East between factions from the Syrians, Iranians, Israelis, and Americans.

It is becoming apparent that the head of Syrian military intelligence, Assef Shawqat, and a group of his operatives in Syria and Lebanon have been carrying
out a number of car bombings, including that of Mughniyeh and Lebanese politicians, in order to provide “plausible deniability” and a firewall between Syria and the Israelis and Americans. This whole Covert effort started in earnest with the Assassination of Mr. Elie Hobeika, January 24th 2002. Mr. Hobeika
was closest to this group, earlier in his career, hence it was decided to take him out of the picture first, because he adamantly refused offers to induce
him to join this whole strategy anew, since the latter part of the 1990s, and because it is a given, for people “in the know”, that had he been alive today, he would be able to decipher all these covert links with exact details, names, and more…! Significantly, Shawkat is the brother-in-law of Syrian President
Bashar al Assad.

WMR’s sources report that “a faction” within the Iranian military decided to help the Shawkat faction take out Mughniyeh in order to avoid an outbreak
of war between Hezbollah and Israel in south Lebanon and a possible concurrent “shock and awe” US air strike on Iran. Hezbollah’s operational command maintains close links with the Iranian embassies in Syria and Lebanon. In addition, Hezbollah’s Special Security Apparatus is provided with weapons,
military training, and money by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the Al Qods force of the IRGC.

Shawkat has maintained close ties with the CIA, providing the agency with extraordinary rendition prisons and torture rooms for individuals grabbed by CIA operatives around the world, including Canadian citizen Maher Arar, a native of Syria. In September 2006, a Canadian Commission of Inquiry concluded that Arar, who was kidnapped while transiting JFK Airport in New York, was tortured by Syrian military intelligence. The report stated that Shawkat’s service tortured Arar “while interrogating him during the period he was held incommunicado at the SMI’s [Syrian Military Intelligence’s] Palestine Branch facility.”

After the car bomb hit on Mughniyah in Damascus, Shawkat’s intelligence operatives ensured that the scene of the bombing was completely cleansed by
first light the next morning. The only signs that the bombing had occurred were some black marks on the street and some minor damage to adjacent walls.

What is lost on the Western media is that there are covert channels between Israeli, Syrian, and Iranian intelligence. The Secretary of the conservative
Islamic Coalition Society and close friend of Ayatollah Ali Khamanei is Habibollah Asgaroladi, a radical Muslim who rejected attempts by former President Mohammad Khatami to improve relations with the United States. Khatami’s entreaties were also rejected by the neocons in the George W. Bush administration.

Asgaroladi is a member of the Expediency Council, an influential advisory group in the country chaired by former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
who was the main Iranian interlocutor between the Americans and Israelis in the Iran-contra scandal during the Reagan-Bush administration in the 1980s. More noteworthy is the fact that Asgaroladi, counted as one of Iran’s richest men, converted to Islam from Judaism during the time of the Shah’s reign.

According to WMR’s Iranian sources, beyond his radical rhetoric, Asgaroladi serves as an important back channel to Israel, especially in matters of trade matters. Asgaroladi’s position in Iran has been likened by WMR’s Middle East sources to the large number of Turkish leaders whose families converted
from Judaism to Islam before and after the Turkish secular revolution of Kemal Ataturk. In fact, knowledgeable Turkish sources report that Ataturk,
himself, was one such convert. These Turkish leaders provide much of the support for close Turkish-Israeli relations, including military and intelligence links.

Our Middle East intelligence sources report that the Syrians, Israelis, and Iranians prefer that U.S. intelligence remain largely ignorant of “some covert” and “subtle links” between Israel, the minority Alawite Muslim regime in Damascus, and factions within the mullahs in Tehran. However, it is just possible, that ignorance by the United States… that could propel America into a disastrous military action in Iran.

February 29th, 2008, 6:18 pm


Kraig Fuller said:

The quiet relationship between Israel and Iran

Syria’s role in leaning on Hezbollah
WMR has learned of additional pressure being brought to bear by Syria’s enigmatic military intelligence service, led by Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s brother-in-law Assef Shawkat, on Lebanese Hezbollah.

Yesterday, WMR reported on Shawkat’s role in eliminating Hezbollah military commander Imad Mughniyeh with a car bomb in Damascus. The role of Asef Shawkat’s covert operatives has been evident since the January 24, 2002 car bombing in Beirut of Lebanese Member of Parliament and Popular Christian political leader Mr. Elie Hobeika. The car bombings by Shawkat’s operatives gave critical plausible deniability to the CIA and Mossad. Hobeika was, according to our sources, aware of the links between Shawqat, Iran, the United States, and Israel. That knowledge, and the fact mentioned yesterday, that he adamantly refused offers, inducing him to join this covert US strategy , since the latter part of the 1990s, and because it is a given, for people “in the know”, that had he been alive today, he would be able to decipher with great ease, all these covert links, was considered dangerous in some circles in Damascus, Jerusalem, and Washington…

WMR has also learned from our Middle East sources that the capture by the French Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire (DST) of a Hezbollah cell in France and the simultaneous rolling up of another Hezbollah cell in Morocco by Moroccan intelligence, came as a result of information provided directly by Shawkat. Apparently, Shawkat wanted to warn Hezbollah against retaliation for the Mughniyah assassination.

The ploy to send a warning to Hezbollah from Damascus had its limits. A French security and intelligence delegation from France is due in Beirut today to work out a quiet deal on the capture of the Hezbollah cell in France, and the Hezbollah cell in Morocco has not been charged with any crimes. However, it is clear that Hezbollah is being warned that its operations can be contained with the help of Syria and, to a lesser extent, Iran.

As far as Iran’s discrete ties to Israel are concerned, WMR has learned from Middle East sources that Iran’s former top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, is a descendant of one of Tehran’s wealthiest Jewish merchant families. Larijani remains a member of the Iranian National Security Council and is a top adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

These familial religious links and pasts are not lost on Israeli leaders. Israel’s former President, Moshe Katsav, forced from office over sexual assault allegations from female staffers, is an ethnic Iranian. On September 25, 2006, WMR reported, “Moshe Katsav, an Iranian Yazdi Jew, is said to have an important direct link to former Iranian President Mohamed Khatami. One of Katsav’s cousins studied with Khatami at Tehran University.”

Such old religious ties are not merely limited to Iran. A top Saudi journalist told this editor that many people in Saudi Arabia are well aware that the present ruling Saud ruling family are descendants of a Jewish merchant family from Basra, in present-day Iraq. Their ancestor is Mordakhai bin Ibrahim bin Moshe, who changed his name to Markhan bin Ibrahim Musa. One of Markhan’s sons was named Saud, an ancestor of the ruling Saud family. There have been and remain close and discrete links between Israeli and Saudi intelligence, as well as quiet financial and other commercial ties between the two nations.

February 29th, 2008, 6:19 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Are you denying the Aleppo pogrom of 1947 or are you saying you weren’t in Aleppo in 1947? Please deny the pogrom happened. We can have a lot of fun if you do.

When you stop making threats I will stop talking about threats. Your objective is to get rid of the “murderous zionist entity” which happens to be my country. If that is not a threat then what is?

I didn’t start this discussion. It was started by Enlightened who decided to use the Khadam scenario to reinvestigate my attitudes towards democracy in Syria.

February 29th, 2008, 6:20 pm


kingcrane jr said:

For those who have questions:
I use the term “Turkish holocaust” for several genocides (Armenians in greater Armenia and parts of lesser Armenia, Assyrians in Turkey and Irak, and Greeks mostly in the Pontic area, plus other Christian minorities) perpetrated by the murderous officers who departed from centuries of Ottoman cosmopolitan tolerant rule.
By the way, it is interesting how the zionists and some turks are in collusion to negate this as being a holocaust. It seems that it was decided from time immemorial that the term “holocaust” cannot be used by the common of the mortals, just those who are darlings of frauds like Dershowitz.
As to my own humble self, I am guilty: I did participate, though unknowingly, in a mission that targetted a Turkoman who had Armenian blood on his hands.
PS: QN: Thank you! I will post again later.

kingcrane jr on behalf of kingcrane

February 29th, 2008, 6:20 pm


kingcrane jr said:

OK: Here you have it: Please provide links about the pogrom that you delude to, I meant allude to.

February 29th, 2008, 6:24 pm


DW said:

LOLZ on the AIG comment about Arabs being tough only on unarmed Israelis–just take a look at how degraded the IDF has become, because they are only used to bashing on the penned up Palestinians, they’ve lost their combat effectiveness, according to their own leaders!

February 29th, 2008, 6:24 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Make up your mind. Either the minorities or “communities” in syria are getting along well between themselves and the majority and there is no fear of what is happening in Iraq happening in Syria OR they are not and the Iraqi scenario will likely happen in Syria without a strong man in power. So which is it?

February 29th, 2008, 6:26 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:


Here you go:
“When partition was declared in 1947, Arab mobs in Aleppo devastated the 2,500-year-old Jewish community. Scores of Jews were killed and more than 200 homes, shops and synagogues were destroyed. Thousands of Jews illegally fled Syria to go to Israel.”

You claim to be from Aleppo. Did you really not know about this?

February 29th, 2008, 6:36 pm


Naji said:

Nabih Berri is giving a “historic interview”, with Ghassan Tueini and Talal Salman, on Lebanese TV (NBN, Manar, ANB, etc.) right now…!

For all the cynicism that pervades the whole discussion of Lebanon and the “middle-east”, there are a lot of earnest people with some sense of responsibility and history that are involved… Did anybody watch The General’s interview last night…?!

February 29th, 2008, 6:45 pm


Norman said:

I would not be surprised if it was a rumer to push the Jews of Syria to move to Israel,
this is what israel is promising the Palestinians,

Print | Close this window

Israeli official warns Palestinians of “shoah”
Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:52am EST
By Adam Entous and Joseph Nasr

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – A senior Israeli defense official said on Friday that Palestinians firing rockets from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip would bring upon themselves what he termed a “shoah”, the Hebrew word for holocaust or disaster.

The word is rarely used in Israel outside discussions of the Nazi Holocaust of Jews. Many Israelis are loath to countenance its use to describe other contemporary events. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the Palestinians faced “new Nazis”.

Israeli air strikes have killed at least 33 Gazans, including five children, in the past two days. The army, which carried out additional air strikes on Friday, said most of those killed were militants.

Israeli leaders said cross-border rocket fire may leave them no choice but to launch a broader military offensive against Hamas, which seized Gaza in June after routing forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

One Israeli was killed in a rocket attack on Wednesday in the southern border town of Sderot. Hamas raised the stakes by using Soviet-designed Grad missiles, more powerful and accurate than improvised Gazan Qassams, to strike deep into the larger city of Ashkelon, home to 120,000 people.

Visiting Ashkelon, defense Minister Ehud Barak told Channel 10 television an Israeli response was “required” and that “Hamas bears responsibility for this deterioration and it will also bear the results”.

Deputy defense Minister Matan Vilnai told Army Radio earlier that “the more Qassam (rocket) fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, they (the Palestinians) will bring upon themselves a bigger ‘shoah’ because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.”

Vilnai’s spokesman said: “Mr. Vilnai was meaning ‘disaster’. He did not mean to make any allusion to the genocide.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Arye Mekel, said: “Deputy defense Minister Matan Vilnai used the Hebrew phrase that included the term ‘shoah’ in Hebrew in the sense of a disaster or a catastrophe, and not in the sense of a holocaust.”

Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s prime minister in the Gaza Strip, said: “This is a proof of Israel’s pre-planned aggressive intentions against our people. They want the world to condemn what they call the Holocaust and now they are threatening our people with a holocaust”.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has so far been wary of launching a major ground offensive, which could incur heavy casualties and derail U.S.-backed peace talks with Abbas. But domestic pressure is growing.


According to Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, Barak sought to prepare the way for an offensive by sending confidential messages to world leaders, including U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who will visit the region next week.

“Israel is not keen on and rushing for an offensive, but Hamas is leaving us no choice,” Barak told them, Yedioth said.

Rice has expressed concern about Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli attacks in Gaza, but has stopped short of calling for Israeli restraint. Officials say she will make clear U.S. support for Israel’s right to defend itself.

Security sources were quoted by Israel Radio and Army Radio as saying that a major operation was being prepared but was not yet imminent.

Leading Israeli commentators urged caution on Friday over any major military offensive. Many said there are no easy options, which range from an all-out ground invasion to targeted strikes on Hamas leaders. Some suggested that only negotiations with Hamas could bring a halt to the rocket barrages.

Although Abbas and his secular Fatah faction remain deeply hostile to Hamas, the president’s office said Israel’s military actions were aimed at destroying the peace process.

Israel pulled troops and settlers out of the Gaza Strip in 2005 but still maintains control of the territory’s air space, coastal waters and major border crossings.

(Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; Writing by Adam Entous and Joseph Nasr; Editing by Dominic Evans)

© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.

Reuters journalists are subject to the Reuters Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.

February 29th, 2008, 6:49 pm


Majhool said:


“Syrian “minorities” are believers in a strong and independent Syria … a Syria that supports minorities and non minorities” inside Syria and in Syria’s neighboring countries if they are in trouble”

Very romantic. Especially the part about support for non minorities (Majority) inside Syria!!!


Putting “licking aside” it is true that some minorities in Syria has been supporting the Assads. I say some because Kurds in the north no longer do.

“Non minorities” as Alex like to call the majority, is not very happy with the regime. yet again, things have improved lately that I don’t think they would act on it.

Now, would they fight for the regime, I doubt it. Would they be thrilled to have Saudi’s take over, I also doubt it. The better solution as I see it is for Bashar nudging a bit and let the “non-minorities” be a real part of the system ( Army and security agencies), I doubt he would.

February 29th, 2008, 6:51 pm


Innocent_Criminal said:

here is a great article by Noam Chomsky, its somewhat infuriating

February 29th, 2008, 6:52 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I agree with what you say. Do you think the minorities and the majority really see much difference if it were Khadam in charge instead of Asad? If Khadam uses Asad’s methods, he will also be able to rule Syria just as well as Asad has.

February 29th, 2008, 7:02 pm


Shai said:


Israel does not have a policy that requires partner nations to first practice democracy, before we can negotiate with them. In fact, as Alon Liel pointed out in his lecture at the MEI, it has never been our policy not to speak to an enemy that approaches us, like Syria has been doing for the past 2-3 years. We have been dragged into this idiotic American umbrella, and Olmert is following Washington’s drums like no previous PM has before. Once the infamous Dubya is out of office, most of the world will sigh a big sigh of relief, and hopefully the Middle East, too, will move on to a better future. I still believe that Assad should now seize the moment, and make an unexpected public announcement / invitation, which basically says something like “There are some nations that are not interested in peace in this region. Instead, they attempt to undermine, smear, and harm Syria. Therefore, Syria will not be inviting these to participate in the process towards peace. We will turn to the (Turks, Russians, etc.) and ask them to host and broker restarting or talks between Syria and Israel (and other parties?), so that we can move forward during these dangerous moments, and not backwards. Syria makes no promises, no alliances will be severed, no halting to the resistance, etc. But we are announcing loud and clear, that we have chosen peace as our strategy and our goal. And we are here to prove it… ”

Show me one paper in the world, which the next morning will be calling Assad anything other than a courageous, regional hero and visionary, in the pursuit of peace. Everyone will hail him as a hero. And then, let’s see the Armada try to depose him. And then let’s see Khaddam boarding to USS Cole in the hopes of going ashore soon… This is the best guarantee for pressure-defusing Assad could hope for. He’ll give away nothing, and gain everything. And our region will once again enjoy a renewed positive spirit, and real optimism.

February 29th, 2008, 7:03 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Are you also denying that there was a pogrom in Aleppo in 1947?

February 29th, 2008, 7:03 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

If Khadam is in power in Syria, would you not advocate that Israel try and make peace with him?

February 29th, 2008, 7:05 pm


Naji said:

Here is Hannah Arendt, on what I meant by my earlier comment…!

“Nationalism is bad enough when it trusts in nothing but the rude force of the nation. A nationalism that necessarily and admittedly depends upon the force of a foreign power is certainly worse . . . the Zionists, if they continue to ignore the Mediterranean peoples and watch out only for the big faraway powers, will appear only as their tools, the agents of foreign and hostile interests. Jews who know their own history should be aware that such a state of affairs will inevitably lead to a new wave of Jew-hatred; the antisemitism of tomorrow will assert that Jews not only profiteered from the presence of the foreign big powers in that region but had actually plotted it and hence are guilty of the consequences.”

February 29th, 2008, 7:06 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Nabih Berri has a habit of being the opposition’s concession man.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he drops the demand for a veto tonight, and offers an “outstretched” hand.

February 29th, 2008, 7:08 pm


Majhool said:


If Khaddam becomes a president, minority communities will most definitely support him. In fact they will support any secular president that comes to power. (I am not sure about the Alawite community, but I think they would given the legendry wisdom of their leaders.

February 29th, 2008, 7:10 pm


Shai said:


I completely agree. Except, that it’s not the antisemitism of tomorrow that will assert these things – it is the antisemitism that is already here… This is why it is so hard for us to convince any Arab of our sincerity and genuine wish for peace.

February 29th, 2008, 7:11 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I am a Jew who knows his history well and I think Arendt is just wrong. Jew hatered was prevalent in the Arab world well before Zionism and the Arabs have nothing to complain about working with foreign powers. They did it themselves all the time.

Your argument can easily be paraphrased for the case of Syria and Iran or Lebanon and France.

February 29th, 2008, 7:15 pm


Naji said:

…Hanna Arnedt wrote that more than 60 years ago, …I am afraid tomorrow is already here, as Shai observes…!

February 29th, 2008, 7:16 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Thanks. This is the point I was trying to make which caused Enlightened and Alex to pounce on me.

February 29th, 2008, 7:17 pm


Shai said:


Why is Khaddam up on discussion? Is he about to replace Assad? Has anyone heard of an up-and-coming coup d’etat? I’d say before that happens, the Middle East will burn twice over, as no relevant parties will allow this to occur. Placing “favorites” in power has NEVER worked, as can be shown in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, not to mention endless other nations around the globe. Neither we (Israelis), nor the Americans have learned that lesson yet. Why are we talking to Abu Mazen? He’s a great guy, but does not represent the majority of the Palestinians. Like Alon Liel said – we’re supposed to be sitting with our enemy, talking about peace, but instead we’re hugging him, and giving him guns, and money, and support… That kind of policy has always, and will always fail. Same in Lebanon, same in Syria, same everywhere.

February 29th, 2008, 7:17 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

What she says is that by taking care of their interests the Jews will be hated by the Arabs and she implies that the Arabs would be justified to do so. I agree the Jews are hated, but I disagree that the fact that Israel had to have relations to foreign powers to survive justifies Arabs hate of Jews.

February 29th, 2008, 7:22 pm


Alex said:


1) “Syria” is not sealed from its surroundings … what happens in Lebanon, turkey, Iraq, or Palestine will affect people in “Syria” … like what happened in the 1940’s in Palestine sadly affected Aleppo.

2) We do have fanatics and savage fools in Syria like the United States, Israel, Germany, or Iraq have fanatics …

3) “The regime” in Syria is indeed doing an excellent job in positively influencing the way Syrians view the events next door in Iraq or in Lebanon … nothing is perfect of course and I’m sure there are Syrian Christians who do not trust Muslims, and I’m sure there are Syrians who do not trust Jews in general … but … Nasrallah is much more popular for Syrian Christians than Geagea (a Christian)… and all the Syrians I know would love to see Syrian Jews come back to Syria.

The regime is extremely serious about doing its part in influencing their people in a way that makes them respect all religions … and knowing our Middle East, I am very appreciative of that … not only for Syria, but for everyone .. because Syria is in the center to save millions of refugees from your wars and the wars that are planned by your neocon friends of Israel.

You understand?

No you don’t… because you are now browing your “online resources” from camera to find some dirt for you to use against Syria.

What should I expect now … eh … Mustapha Tlass’s quote?

February 29th, 2008, 7:24 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

If there is a coup in Syria, why will the middle east burn? There have been coups in the past and nothing outside Syria happened. Why should things be different now? You think that Asad will attack Israel while trying to stop a coup? If any army unit would listen to him, he would use them to fight the coup, not Israel.

February 29th, 2008, 7:25 pm


Naji said:

WOW.. FrancePress is reporting that the White House spoksperson is saying that there were “continuous consultations” with Siniora regarding the naval “support” before it was deployed…!!

This is after Siniora denied and denounced the thing this morning…!! …are they trying to sabotage him, or what…??!

Ghassan Teuini is going through all kinds of contortions trying to explain this… I cannot understand why somebody of his stature puts himself through this… Senility will creep up on all us eventually, I suppose…!

February 29th, 2008, 7:29 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

At least you are not denying the pogrom of Aleppo that was the end of 2,500 years of Jews there. You only want to justify it and make excuses for it. I guess that is an improvement over kingcrane and norman that deny that the pogrom ever happened.

I asked you a simple question: If the relations between minorities themselves and the majority are so good, why are you afraid of an Iraq scenario? Why are you always scaring Syrians with it?

February 29th, 2008, 7:30 pm


Majhool said:


I believe the issue was brought up by unlikely scenario of a Saudi take over of Syria. I agree with you saying

: “I’d say before that happens, the Middle East will burn twice over”
“Placing “favorites” in power has NEVER worked”

Just a quick note to correct your generalizing the issue of representation: Syrian regime does not represent all people in Syria. what you say hold true only in weak central governments e.g. Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq. it’s not the case elsewhere (Syria, Jordan, KSA) There the Sultan decides and the Sultan delivers.

February 29th, 2008, 7:30 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Nabih Berri on TV:

9:02 After the first quartet meeting FPM leader Michel Aoun telephoned me and said MP Saad Hariri presented the 3 tens formula and i urged him to approve without hesitation, Berri said.

9:05 The opposition adhere to Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman’s candidacy for president, Berri added.

9:08 The main obstacle is not the distribution of shares between the majority and opposition within the cabinet but the electoral law, Berri revealed.

9:10 The Speaker said the opposition backed the 1960 electoral law but the majority rejected the proposal because it wants a law which further divides the Lebanese.

February 29th, 2008, 7:33 pm


Shai said:


Our biggest problem is, that even after we acquired the capability to ensure our survival (military might, certain weapons, according to foreign sources, etc.), we still act like our life depends on the Americans. While it is certainly true that we cannot act in ways clearly contrary to American long-term interests in the region (or anywhere else in the world, for that matter), that should not prevent Israel from advancing its own interests, especially if they are of strategic and long-term significance, like peace with Syria. As I believe, it is all about leadership, courage, and marketing. In Rabin’s days, Israel had no problem convincing Washington that we should talk with the Syrians. Same goes for Peres, Netanyahu, and Barak. Unfortunately, Dubya went a little crazy after 9/11, especially since he was rudely caught right in the middle of reading a story in a kindergarten, and kind of froze for a crucial many minutes, and has decided to follow his priests advice and go “smoke ’em out” and “kick some ass” in that Middle East. Even more unfortunately, those neocons surrounding and feeding Dubya, have also managed to get to our Olmert, who seems to be quite afraid of standing up to Washington, or at least promoting our own interests in such a way as would be accepted. If he had the courage, he would have done so already. But, he doesn’t… And everyone pays the price in the meantime. All the hogwash about Israel’s plans for Lebanon, Syria, and others in this region are… exactly that. Our only plan is to make peace with our enemies, and the sooner the better. We just don’t always seem to know the quickest and smartest route there…

February 29th, 2008, 7:33 pm


Shai said:


Sorry… did I say something about the regime representing all its citizens? Maybe that comment was for someone else? 🙂

February 29th, 2008, 7:37 pm


Majhool said:


Sorry, put you made parallels with Abu Mazen to get your point out.

“Why are we talking to Abu Mazen? He’s a great guy, but does not represent the majority of the Palestinians”

February 29th, 2008, 7:39 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

That is a good point. We can see that Shai is waffling badly on the issue of democracy. In one case he wants it, in the other not.

February 29th, 2008, 7:45 pm


Shai said:


I see what you meant. When I said that Abu Mazen doesn’t represent the majority of the Palestinians I meant more that he doesn’t control the majority, nor can he deliver for the majority. The sad fact is, that Abu Mazen can at best speak for the majority of Palestinians in the West Bank, but certainly not for Gaza. Therefore, any agreement we sign with him (which I hope we won’t, not now anyway), will only hold for the West Bank, and can be easily nullified by Hamas. Hence, it is not an agreement with THE Palestinians, but only with part of them, and therefore we should wait. To make it clear, it is not my requirement, nor has it ever been Israel’s, to make peace with a democratic nation or a people. From my point of view, let Khaled Mashaal himself come back to Ramallah, let him be voted the next Palestinian president (or even forcibly take over), and I’ll be willing to negotiate with him. The same goes for Assad, Ahmedinejad, Khadaffi, or Kim Jong Il. I, unlike some others, cannot wait for democracy in the Middle East. If we wait for that, we’ll see it in our dreams, or in Heaven.

February 29th, 2008, 7:52 pm


wizart said:

If everyone with opposing views keeps responding with insults then everyone who’s observing the interaction will realize how the bad apples (the offensive, verbal abusers) are driving good apples out which is obstructing peace in the region and wasting human lives.

February 29th, 2008, 7:54 pm


offended said:

I am from Aleppo, but I was born way after the incident of pogrom you are claiming has happened there in 1947. From all the tales and the relayed anecdotes about the Jews of Aleppo, I’ve not heard one story or reference or even a hint at a massacre.

Do you have any resource to back your story up beside the biased Jewish literature?

February 29th, 2008, 7:55 pm


Shai said:


Do you think the bad apples can ever know that they’re bad?

February 29th, 2008, 7:56 pm


offended said:

Shai, what’s the public mood in Israel right now regarding the USS Cole deployment and the latest escalations in Gaza, if I may ask?

February 29th, 2008, 7:56 pm


Majhool said:


To seek peace in not a bad thing, be it with dictators or with those who are not. I happen to be with piece just because it’s good for the average person.

Now, the issue of democracy is important to the average person and maybe to the world in general. Democracy in theory should be the making of the people themselves. Practically in achieving democracy the people would benefit from internal and foreign elements (a tipping point). After all imposing “democaracy” is as bad of a foreign interference as providing legitimacy to dictatorships.

February 29th, 2008, 7:58 pm


kingcrane jr said:


Ignorance is bliss, I guess.

You fell into the trap like the Bible Belt Militarists fell into the trap set by the Pro-Zionist Neocons.

You have only selective propaganda to offer.

What is “scores of Jews” just to quote the most inaccurate term in the two pieces of misinformation you quote?

In 1947, I was in Jerusalem, studying to become a Roman Catholic priest; I am born Greek Catholic, but I am first and foremost an Arab, and the so-called “Judeo-Christian” garbage that some French priests forced on us (basically, Zionist propaganda for us, their Christian “elite”) was unacceptable.
I left Jerusalem a few years later, and enrolled in Damascus University where I met my future wife.

Upon returning to Aleppo, I met with several of my Jewish friends; here is a summary of the facts:
-There were numerous anti-British and anti-French demonstrations in Aleppo, as news from British-administered Palestine filtered. Jewish leaders defused the situation, and no significant problems occured. But a few hotheads from the Jewish side and a few hotheads among those protesting the British policies did go at it.

-The policies of the Syrian government have a strong political connotation. So, less Jews are allowed to leave Syria in the twenty years after Elie Cohen is finally caught? You tell me if that is retaliation.

-Many of the older generation of Jews refused to leave, but my three closest Jewish friends eventually left… for France, mostly because the zionist entity gave Jews a bad name in Aleppo, not because they were forced to leave.

-My son needed special tutoring as a child; we chose a Jewish lady who needed the money so to bribe her way out of Syria. She also was a very good teacher. Her experience: After going to Europe a few years later, she went to Israel where she felt like a third class citizen. Luckily for her, she met a Jewish-American man who took her back to Brooklyn. They have never gone back to Israel, but she sure misses Syria.

-Unfortunately, the Aleppo Codex was ceded to the Zionist entity. Many Jews who refused to go South to third-class-citizenry were upset: these proud men and women had less to connect with the city…

But, once again, I will answer humbly with human experiences I have been through in my life to your propaganda.

It would be refreshing if you read the excellent article authored by Noah Chomsky that is linked to in one of the posts.

Unless Noah Chomsky is a pogrom instigator…

But you need first to go look up the definition of pogrom. Have you bothered to do so?

PS to all: I will be out of contact for a few days, attending a funeral.

kingcrane jr, on behalf of kingcrane

February 29th, 2008, 7:59 pm


Majhool said:


Now I agree with you CONTROL is the magical word, not representation.

February 29th, 2008, 7:59 pm


Naji said:

Wow… Berri is calling for Siniora to be invited to the Arab Summit in Damascus…!!!

February 29th, 2008, 8:01 pm


Majhool said:


Last time I checked things like Zionism, Arab Nationalism (in the political sense) were things for the average person to consume.

Shouldn’t this forum rise above all that silly ideological discussion.

February 29th, 2008, 8:01 pm


Shai said:


Regarding the USS Cole I don’t hear much, at least not interpretation-wise. As for Gaza, the mood is not good. Barak said yesterday that a land operation is almost a sure-thing, today’s papers mention that it is ready to go. Personally, and as I’ve mentioned numerous times before, I believe Hamas has every interest in the book to escalate things, to push us to invade, and to show the Palestinian people and the world Israeli tanks and artillery killing innocent civilians once more. I think the likelihood for a massive operation is now very high, and that once it takes place, it’ll make Lebanon 2006 look like kids-play. And, when our soldiers and aircraft end up killing many many more innocent lives, who’s to guarantee that Hezbollah won’t join in, and lob a few thousand missiles at Israel? And, if that happens, we’re at war. It will be terrible, everyone will get dragged in (Lebanon, Syria, Iran), and the people of this region will suffer terribly, because the extremists were allowed to run the show. I’m still hoping (fantasizing) that Assad will surprise us all, and suddenly pull out a “peace-rabbit” our way. Otherwise, I may not be sharing good news with you two-three weeks from now.

February 29th, 2008, 8:05 pm


kingcrane jr said:

Zionism is a specific belief with a single definition.
Arab Nationalism has as many definitions as there are stars in the sky.

February 29th, 2008, 8:06 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Your case is exactly that of how knowledge is suppressed in oppressive regimes. People did not want to talk about the pogrom because it does not shine a positive light on Aleppo. And of course you couldn’t find it in your school books.

If you do not believe wikipedia just google “aleppo Jews” or “aleppo pogrom”. Why don’t you ask Landis? Also the Itamar Levin book includes an eye witness report:

February 29th, 2008, 8:07 pm


Shai said:


Absolutely. I stand corrected.

February 29th, 2008, 8:09 pm


Majhool said:

kingcrane jr

I meet Israelis quite often, and they are not motivated by ideology. It’s simply greed. for example, they want to retain the Golan not because God had given it to them, they want it because it’s pretty, has plenty of water, and most importantly they have no one to stop them.

February 29th, 2008, 8:09 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

For heaven’s sake, the Aleppo synagouge was burned to the ground. Hundreds of Jewish businesses torched, many Jews were killed and you are trying to belittle it? If you can’t look reality in the face, then what is the use?

February 29th, 2008, 8:10 pm


offended said:

Do you think it would help at this time if Israel does the reverse thing; lift the siege of Gaza completely? Wouldn’t that refute all the pretenses Hamas is using to fire Qassam rockets?

I know this may sound insane, but humor me and let’s think about this because all the other alternatives are dire and ugly..

February 29th, 2008, 8:12 pm


Majhool said:


Just to put things in context, Jews in Aleppo were not the only ones. Sectarian violence took place against Christians in both Aleppo and Damascus in the 1800s. These events are mainly due to ignorance and incompetent governments.

February 29th, 2008, 8:21 pm


Alex said:


I want to make something very clear: next time you accuse me again of justifying violence I will block you form this blog. Not a single exception from now on. I have warned you yesterday and the day before that I refuse to allow you to use your dirty Netanyahu smearing tactics on me or anyone else here.

readers of this blog are not interested in your personal attacks on the character of the other commentators.

You want to discuss what happened in Aleppo to refute our claims that minorities in Syria love their country … fine. But you are not here to lecture everyone on who they support or what they believe… stick to the issues.

February 29th, 2008, 8:21 pm


Shai said:


Of course it is not insane. Collective punishment has the opposite effect – but my idiotic leadership doesn’t understand this yet. They need to read it in history books 50 years from now, to be convinced. But, unfortunately, it ain’t gonna happen. We’ve already entered the emotional realm, and now certain Israeli leaders (Olmert, Barak) feel they can no longer bite their lip. For 7 years Sderot and other Negev settlements were bombed, on a daily basis, by these rockets. I think we’re idiots for trying to respond using millions of dollars worth of aircraft, precision-guided missiles, high-tech, targeted-assassinations, etc. If we wanted to apply any pressure, we should have announced on national TV, on prime time, in Hebrew, Arabic, and English, that we now view ourselves at war, and as such, will apply the principle of reciprocity, instead of attempting to “squash” and humiliate the enemy. We could have announced that for each Qassam landing in Israel, for instance, a single 155 mm artillery shell would be lobbed into Gaza. In those 7 years, we would have managed to create internal pressure on the Palestinians that would have remained respectful of our adversary. I don’t know if it would have helped in the end, but at least we wouldn’t have acted arrogant and disrespectful. Even in war, you have to know how to respect your enemy. That’s the only way to achieve peace with him shortly afterwards.

But, it’s too late for all that now. My guess is, Hamas steps up the firing, sooner or later (a day, a week from now) a larger amount of Israelis die, and the tanks and infantry roll in. And then, like in Lebanon, you can just start counting the days, followed by the dead. That’s when the true test will occur – if other parties will join in (Hezbollah, Iran, Syria). If yes, we’ll have a regional war. If no, the International community will wake up two-three weeks later, and force a cease-fire on all sides. Many many innocent lives will be lost by then, though… Sorry to sound so gloomy. That’s our reality, I’m afraid.

February 29th, 2008, 8:24 pm


offended said:

AIG, Wikipedia eventually seems to quote your resources. I am still not buying it all.

However, if this really had happened, then it is a black spot in our history. And I am immensely ashamed it took place.

However, I am not ashamed before you, because you don’t seem to be morally capable of regretting what the Hagganah did to Arabs in Kafr Kasem way before the incident in Aleppo….

And by the way; could that have been a retaliation ??? people like you who believe in power and not in moralities should not be so bothered you know, a word has got to Arabs in Aleppo and they got furious by what happened to their brethern in Palestine and took out their rage on the Jews next door…

Anyway, spare me the false indignation…

February 29th, 2008, 8:25 pm


Alex said:


If you have the time, can you please give everyone here a summary of what Berri sadi today and what Aoun said yesterday?


Can you tell us if Alon did indeed meet with Ambassador Mustapha? 😉

By the way, I told you how “they” will use it to make Syria a traitor:

Here is Al-Arabiya .. Syrian ambassador meets with Israeli … to tell him that Syria is ready for peace now … and .. oh, in Gaza the same Israel is killing Palestinians.

Read the comments from their readers to see how they react to such a news story.

February 29th, 2008, 8:25 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

We are discussing if minorities love the regime, not their country don’t try to change the subject.

And isn’t it interesting that people from Aleppo are not aware of their own history as it pertains to the Jews? Both Kingcrane and Offended do not believe the well known fact that in December 1947 all the synagouges and hundreds of Jewish stores were burned and about 75 Jews were killed.

Can you explain to me why they don’t know this? This is not a rhetorical question.

February 29th, 2008, 8:28 pm


Majhool said:


You are not coming with anything new. Syrians are def. not aware of their history especially those dark momemts. which is not that bad. all countries do it.

February 29th, 2008, 8:31 pm


wizart said:


Good question.

The bad apples don’t usually realize the extent of their damage on their own so their abuse needs to be exposed and the general public which is full of good apples are then given a chance to understand objective realities. This will enable them to face reality as it is not as they wish it were and by doing that hopefully achieve peace.

There’s nothing like sunshine to disinfect bad apples:)

It’s the audience that runs in the thousands that messages are directed to here. I’m not counting on the bad apples to self-adjust and stop insulting and name calling in the name of Syria. They lack impulse controls. I hope more people come out and expose those who are really giving Syria a bad name by carrying on their shameful ongoing name calling and immature insults which is such a waste.

February 29th, 2008, 8:31 pm


Shai said:


Wallahi, I cannot call myself an educated man without having learned to read Arabic… so I can’t read the comments on the link you gave me! 🙂 But yes, we know and knew that some media will have a ball with this bit of news. So what? Like I said before, if it’s not this, it’ll be something else. Our leadership, Assad included, must rise above that. There are certain things that even the media cannot distort. An unexpected announcement by Bashar, for instance, is one… 🙂 Plus, let’s give our public (in Israel, and throughout the Arab world) a little more credit than that. They know the media, they know the editors, and they have a brain. There’s a limit to how much anti-propaganda can be successful. You know this better than I do.

As for the meeting in DC, I cannot confirm it yet.

February 29th, 2008, 8:37 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:


You should be ashamed that you don’t know your own history.

It is interesting that you are trying to make excuses. What retaliation? Kfar Kasem happened in 1956, we are talking 47. The people of Aleppo were angry about the partition resolution, that is it. The Jews lived in Aleppo for 2,500 years, they were not Zionists and because of the UN partition, their neighbors in Aleppo murder them and burn their stors and synagouges. I thought there was a difference between being anti-Zionism and and anti-Jewish, no? I guess this difference is not very clear to Syrians.

February 29th, 2008, 8:37 pm


offended said:

For those who are interested, here is a recording of the excellent interview of General Aoun:

February 29th, 2008, 8:38 pm


Alex said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

We are discussing if minorities love the regime, not their country don’t try to change the subject.

“Offended …It is interesting that you are trying to make excuses.”


Get a proper email and contact me. I need to get a serious discussion with you if you are to continue participating here.

I have had enough of your insults and insinuations.

For now stop adding any comments.

February 29th, 2008, 8:39 pm


Majhool said:


The difference is indeed not that clear for many arabs. so you are right. The Arab people have been ignorant for centuries. The Syrian Gov should prob appolgies to the Jewish community in Aleppo.

So? Does that allow the Jews to displace the Palestinians, the answer is no.

February 29th, 2008, 8:42 pm


Shai said:


Haval – yesh po anashim she’mechabdim otcha. Im ata rotze lehashpia, ata hayav leharot kavod bechazara. Ana, mtza et haderech.

February 29th, 2008, 8:47 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I was not insinuating anything. Take a second, calm down and read offended’s reaponse. He was making excuses.

I will stop posting on this thread from now if that is what you wish.

Yachul lihiyot shkzat higzamti. Na’aseh miktze shiporim.

February 29th, 2008, 8:48 pm


Majhool said:


Let me even add this

Lat night on MBC there was an Arab Documentary on the “Gins” some sort of devilish underworld beings. Both the Muslim and the Christians clerics I believe one was Syrian and the other Lebanese linked Jews to the wrong doing of the “gins”.

See arabs do it out of ignorance. Israelis do it out of greed.

February 29th, 2008, 8:54 pm


offended said:

AIG, i stand corrected, Kafr Kasem took place on 56, but listen to this:

6-7-1938 The Ansel gangs blew up two cars in Yafa’s market, leaving 21 Arabs killed and 51 wounded.

14-7-1938 a hand grenade thrown in the veg. market killed 12 Arabs.

15-7-1938 a road side bomb in front of a mosque Jerusalem killed 10 and wounded 30.

26-8-1938 the Ansel gangs blew up two bobby-trapped cars in Jerusalem market killing 34 and leaving 35 wounded.

27-2-1937 the Ansel gangs blew up two bombs in Yafa killing dozens of Arabs.

That and whole bunch of other murderous acts, like the blowing up of the upper floors of King David hotel in Jerusalem on 1938, which was housing the interim government of Palestine.

This sounds like a systematic targeting of the Arab population of Paelstine at the time. A planned merderous acts. Sanctioned by the Brits of course…

February 29th, 2008, 8:57 pm


offended said:

And btw, ‘Ansel’ is transliterated from Arabic. I don’t know if it is spelled correctly in English.

AIG, I wasn’t making excuses, if I was; I wouldnt say I am ashamed of the incidents if it took place, no?

I have a feeling that you are trying to pick up on me…

ha ha ha ha….

February 29th, 2008, 9:02 pm


Shai said:


I’ve made a similar comment before, to QN I believe, where I asked if having these arguments over the facts of the past is going to get you closer to the future you seek? I just don’t believe so. I think it’s a complete waste of time, as it only further stresses the rift between us, and recalls a history full of pain, suffering, distrust, and hatred. I’m not saying history should be ignored. It must be repeated and understood if forgiveness and reconciliation is to ever take place. I just don’t think we’re there yet. Not for quite a while. Now we need to focus on the future. That’s my humble opinion…

February 29th, 2008, 9:05 pm


Nour said:

Don’t believe the story of the so-called “pogrom” in Aleppo. It’s pure propaganda. There were certainly skrimishes at the time and some Jews did fall victim to the overall political climate of that era, but the claim that such a vast amount of destruction was perpetrated is absolute nonsense and there is no evidence supporting it. Please provide the evidence or else stop your silly accusations. And by evidence I don’t mean the contensions of zionist websites.

February 29th, 2008, 9:09 pm


offended said:

Shai, I also don’t like digging up history books and unraveling bad chapters.
But this AIG chap keeps trying to make us feel morally inferior to his effing standards…

He’s trying to score points you know…

Btw, I am so intrigued by the Hebrew exchange that just took place, could you please translate? 🙂

February 29th, 2008, 9:11 pm


Majhool said:


I think what you rightly accuse AIG of, applies also to Nour and Norman

February 29th, 2008, 9:17 pm


offended said:

Nawret al mahkameh ya Majhool.

7aka badri we inshara7 sedri..

Where did Norman or Nour wrongly accuse anybody of justifying the killing of civilians?

February 29th, 2008, 9:20 pm


Alex said:


I wish that you do what everyone else does … come up with some useless new hotmail or yahoo or gmail email .. call it and register properly as a user in Syria Comment.

At the rate you smear the character of many of us here I would have to turn into a referee and turn this blog into an AIG vs. the others mud fighting competition.

I have disagreements with Shai, QN, Akbar Palace and even Ausamaa … but none of us got into the type of negativity that you keep generating, intentionally or unintentionally.

February 29th, 2008, 9:23 pm


Shai said:


It was a secret message that had to be delivered just now, in accordance with this month’s chapter in “The Protocols”… 🙂

February 29th, 2008, 9:24 pm


Shai said:


YGM (You’ve Got Mail)…

And, by the way, I can confirm that Alon Liel’s organization (Israel-Syria Peace Society) confirmed that Alon and Imad Moustapha recently participated in the same Seminar in Washinton D.C.

February 29th, 2008, 9:27 pm


ausamaa said:

This is becoming more exciting by the minute. I mean becoming reduced to arguing and providing counter arguments to what ANOTHERISRAELIGUY and Akbar Palace are saying….!!!!

A most constructive, enjoyable and especially informative dialouge indeed.

BTW, why is Bush sendng the Cole, Israel is supposed to be the Agent-in-Place and the local subcontractor in times of need. What the heck has happened? Incomptence? Loss of credibility? What a turn of events! Ithough the IDF was supposed to take care of all the Arab armies combined? Only to discover that a handfull of US ships are still needed to merely send a message. And then maybe to receive one once the bluff is called as will eventually happen. Talk about shooting oneself in the foot!! As has become the norm with Bush.

February 29th, 2008, 9:31 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


I like that, Alex.

Hmmm, let’s come up with some other good ones.

There are so many options!

AIG, I too have been trying to get you to cough up an email address, but you’re not willing to take this relationship to the next level (*sniff*).


February 29th, 2008, 9:33 pm


Shai said:


I wrote you a response up above, around 7:03 pm. Wondering what you think about it.

February 29th, 2008, 9:38 pm


Alex said:


I am not trigger happy … I now that Norman, Nour, and Alex can once in a while write something rude. But here are the differneces

1) AIG is almost ALWAYS negative .. it gets to you at some point when someone is always pointing out to your mistakes … real and imaginary ones.

2) AIG has an automatic “attack your opponent’s character” attitude … I know when his attacks are justified or semi justified .. but t is obvious that he either does not know when to stop, or he does not want to stop … it is a tactic … call them anti Semites … call them supporters of terror, call them “making excuses for the killing of Jews” … it makes whoever read these pages to learn have a negative impression of Alex and Norman and Offended … basically an intentional attempt to discredit anyone who dares criticize Israel for anything.

3) I have not had a single request to ban anyone here but AIG… I lost count of how many times I was asked to ban him.

So it is this systematic and relentless strategy that he relies on that is making it impossible to conduct any intelligent conversation.

And … I need an email to discuss this with him, yet he refuses to generate an anonym email… for now he is registered at Syria Comment with something like

February 29th, 2008, 9:40 pm


Majhool said:


I think offended’s “7aka badri we inshara7 sedri” falls into the same catogory “character smearing”

and yes I know you are not trigger happy. in fact you are too nice.

February 29th, 2008, 9:46 pm


Majhool said:


Nour said on Feb 15

“All you March 14 supporters on this blog are really twisted”

Charachter smearing?

I can dig 100 more similar comments.

February 29th, 2008, 9:51 pm


offended said:

Alex, why don’t you ban everyone and keep the salvation front’ers and the Mrach 14’ers?

I think that would suit Majhool quite nicely…

February 29th, 2008, 9:52 pm


Majhool said:


Offneded seems to continue the “charachter smearing” is this allowed on this forum?

February 29th, 2008, 9:54 pm


Shai said:

Ridiculing the webmaster is far worse than character smearing. I stand for an immediate and permanent banning of Offended and Majhool! No… I don’t… 🙂

February 29th, 2008, 9:57 pm


offended said:

Yeah, but Nour didn’t accuse you of supporting terror did he/she?
I wouldn’t ask Alex to ban you if you called me twisted (twisted like in biased)… the difference in opinion itself means that we think there is something wrong in the other perspective…

February 29th, 2008, 9:58 pm


Majhool said:


Rediculing the Webmaster?? Never, Alex is a dear friend. would never do such a thing. He knows it.

February 29th, 2008, 9:59 pm


Shai said:


I know… I was just kidding.

February 29th, 2008, 10:00 pm


offended said:

I have a feeling that I know you from somewher else…
have you always been Majhool?
Because I myself wasn’t offended all the time… if you know what I mean…

February 29th, 2008, 10:03 pm


Majhool said:


First I neither support M14 nor the Salvation front. and to insinuate that just because I criticize the dictatorship in Syria is smearing. Plus my name is Majhool not Badri.

February 29th, 2008, 10:04 pm


offended said:

Badri Abu Kalabsha is a nice character, not a smearing one…

Humor me Majhool, please… do you have other version of you on the internet?

I have a feeling that you do…

February 29th, 2008, 10:07 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Seriously, shooting guns into the air after your feudal lord finishes giving an interview has to be the most idiotic thing that people do in Lebanon.

Berri should tell his people not to do it. Nasrallah did, and the Hizbis stopped doing it.

All it takes is a single stray bullet to kill someone (or damage a satellite dish, whatever) and we have a mashkal on the streets.

February 29th, 2008, 10:09 pm


Shai said:


Headin’ in. Please read your mail.

February 29th, 2008, 10:16 pm


Majhool said:

Offended, I have always been Majhoul on SC. I am too scared to call my self anything other than Anonymous. I continue to want to visit Syria every other year or so and don’t wish for an unfriendly interrogation, detention, or fal2a at the airport in Damascus.

February 29th, 2008, 10:17 pm


offended said:

Majhool, I understnad.

But do you have presence somewhere else on the net?

I have a feeling that we belong to the same ‘sphere’, if you know what I mean…

February 29th, 2008, 10:21 pm


Majhool said:

Same Sphere? Socially you mean? This is very possible.

Let’s see People in my sphere are usually
1) Non-minorities, although I do get along better with minorities.
2) Traditional old families, although I don’t enjoy the arrogance they express.
3) Expatriates or expatriates in the making.
4) Never enlisted in the army or the security services and have no intention to do so.
5) Busy making money.

February 29th, 2008, 10:33 pm


offended said:

cyber sphere?

February 29th, 2008, 10:37 pm


Majhool said:

Nop. SC & Creative Syria only. No time. Busy making money.

February 29th, 2008, 10:38 pm


offended said:

Ok, must have mistaken you for someone else.

Good luck.

February 29th, 2008, 10:49 pm


Nour said:


You know very well that AIG comes here and attacks, ridicules, and mocks all Syrians and patronizes Arabs and belittles our people’s sufferings. In addition, no matter what the topic of discussion is, he always takes it back to his lame argument that Israel is a model state superior to the Syrians and all other Arabs, and that the Syrian regime needs to be overthrown because they are undemocratic, even if that means bringing in the likes of Khaddam. So it’s not just a matter of a few attacks here and there, but rather a consistent practice of changing the topic and demonizing Syria and belittling the Palestinians.

I do attack certain people here and there, and especially March 14ers whom I think and will continue to think are collaborators and traitors. I don’t hide my feelings about them and never will. But I do not continuously change any topic to this issue and twist all discussions to turn them into an attack on March 14.

February 29th, 2008, 11:05 pm


Enlightened said:


cc: Offended, Alex

I come a very secular sunni family, we have very good friend(s) that are orthodox,maronite, assyrian orthodox, Alawite, Shiite, I am married to a Shiite. I have several friends that are jewish that I met during my university days. I employ Arabs from all denominations in my business, the one i am closest to is an alawite.

I do not have a minority/majority complex, I treat everyone as human beings first and foremost. AIG the only person here with a complex is yourself ( Perceived superiority complex), and formost when I called you a hypocrite, you then tried to backtrack very quickly in subsequent discussions with the other commentators.

Your arguments are getting more pathetic by the day, your talk about minorities in Syria being the latest example, Take your minorities talk and place it where the sun does not shine, because it is pathetic in the extreme. There is no minorities Just Arabs! And They are all one community, or communities as Offended so bluntly states to you!

And stick to what you know best “Democracy Talk”, then that really does not show you up does it either ? as your Khaddam example how small minded you are, lets get regime change happening, get Khaddam in, and he will know how to handle the insurgency, because he learnt from Hafez! I guess then if this happens you will tell us that we really need democracy right?

What Utter Lunacy!

Alex What happened to the five comments per day?

February 29th, 2008, 11:37 pm


Alex said:

It is not fair to attack AIG after I asked him to not participate anymore until he registers properly and have a discussion with me by email.

Let us move to other topics please.

February 29th, 2008, 11:56 pm


Akbar Palace said:

AIG, I too have been trying to get you to cough up an email address, but you’re not willing to take this relationship to the next level (*sniff*).

QN –

Apologies for misspelling your name.

As for AIG, I have to agree with 98% of what he writes. And there is no question that AIG understands the internal workings of the neighborhood. I think you’re lucky to have him here as an alternative to the government controlled Arab press.

And if you think AIG is repetetive, now you know how I feel about these pro-Palestinian/anti-American/anti-Israel websites.

Five comments/day?

That means Alex, Offended, Naji, Wizart, Qifa Nabki, and Shai have all violated the rules. (I didn’t;)

March 1st, 2008, 12:21 am


Enlightened said:


“As for AIG, I have to agree with 98% of what he writes. And there is no question that AIG understands the internal workings of the neighborhood. I think you’re lucky to have him here as an alternative to the government controlled Arab press.

And if you think AIG is repetetive, now you know how I feel about these pro-Palestinian/anti-American/anti-Israel websites.”

I am glad that you did not say 100%
So does that 2% that you have doubts about include the labels he throws about us being terror supporters? Just curious Akbar? Let me know.

Akbar you have registered, and have a proper email address.!

So until he registers, I dont want to speak for others, but I would enjoy a AIG free zone.

March 1st, 2008, 12:37 am


Enlightened said:

Robert Fisk: The gardens of the devil, still sowing death

The foundation of their lives remains the war that was fought before they were born

Saturday, 1 March 2008

The first time I saw one, my first instinct was to pick it up. It shone in the sunlight, bright green, something new and fresh amid the dry grass of the south Lebanon hills. The little cluster bomblet seemed to have been made to hold in the hand. No wonder the little children died.

Israel rained more than a million bomblets into the orchards and fields of southern Lebanon in 2006 – after the ceasefire to the 34-day Israel-Hizbollah conflict had been announced. So far, post-war, they have killed more than 40 men, women and children. Some of the mine disposal men and women who turned up in Lebanon found that the cluster bombs had themselves been dropped on minefields left behind by the Israelis in 2000.

And these minefields, in somecases, had been laid over old Palestinian minefields. And some of these minefields – and here the 20th century’s most titanic war threatens us yet again – had been inadvertently placed over carpets of mines dug into Lebanon’s red earth by French Vichy forces in 1941, as they awaited British and Free French invasion from Palestine.

As usual, the Second World War turns out to be the foundation for so many of the Middle East’s present-day horrors. In Tripoli, they publish a “White Book” on Libya’s legacy from the 1939-45 war, the tens of thousands of mines buried in the sands around Tobruk and Benghazi by the Italians and Germans, the British and the Australians and New Zealanders and South Africans.

“The Italians lay mines,” says the caption beneath a photograph of Berti’s engineers placing landmines in the desert. “The British lay more mines. The Germans lay more and more mines. Then they leave but the mines are still there!”

Twenty years after the war – when at least 800 Libyan farmers and family members had already been blown up by mines – an Italian journalist was describing the continuing carnage during mine-clearance.

“These mines are so sensitive that a light footstep is enough to make them jump into the air like a grasshopper – all we found of the two men were a few rags of flesh and clothing.”

Egypt calls its own Second World War minefields “the Gardens of the Devil”, and they run from El Alamein to Mersa Matruh, east of the Libyan border. Add to these the vast minefields laid by Egyptian and Israeli forces in the eastern deserts in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973 – the Israelis have maps of 5.5 million landmines they planted in Sinai and the surrounding area after 1967 – and you have a good idea how deadly, how poisonous the sands remain.

As the Egyptian Mail pointed out last month, we in the West remember the dead of Alamein every year. But who remembers the dead of Egypt? And just for the record, although the British and Italians and Germans have all forwarded their ancient minefield maps to the Egyptians – and although the Egyptian army cleared 2,976 mines between 1983 and 1999 – there remain about 17.6 million landmines beneath the Egyptian coastal strip, according to the country’s clearance organisation.

Since 1982 alone, 700 Egyptians have been killed by them and another 7,600 wounded. And while they die, our survivors grow older. When I wrote about the film Atonement a few weeks ago – with its graphic five minute tracking shot of the 1940 Dunkirk evacuation beaches, and the landmine destruction of Balham Tube station – I little realised how many memories it would awake.

A lady from Scotland wrote to tell me how as a child during the Blitz she “regularly slept down the Underground – I missed the landmine which dropped in the Balham High Street, the resultant flood drowned many people (including Cecilia in Atonement). I recall the Tube station being closed for a long time to clean (out) the bodies. I also remember seeing the tide mark high on the wall afterwards”.

More dramatic was a letter from 90-year-old former Second Lieutenant Hal Crookall, a Dunkirk veteran in the East Yorkshire Regiment. In my article, I noted how the first sight of the Dunkirk beaches in the film provoked my cry of “Fuck me!”– and how these were the first words to be uttered by a young corporal in the movie a few seconds later. So imagine my shock – and the smile that spread over myface – when I read the following words from Mr Crookall.

“Most of the men from my platoon were dockers from Hull. We had been left behind to fight rearguardactions, and had to make our own way towards the beach, which we did largely by following the noise made by the Navy’s guns and the shells screeching over our heads, and the noise of the Stuka bombers attacking the beaches. When we did finally find our way on to the beach and came over the sandhills to see the scene, most of my chaps said in broad Yorkshire: ‘Fooking ‘ell!’ which in some cases was abbreviated to ‘King-ell!’.”

In 1943, Second Lieutenant Crookall was wounded in – of all places – the Libyan desert. Not by a mine – he and his soldiers placed sandbags in the bottom of their Bren carrier to prevent the mine blasts hurting them – but by a German shell splinter which penetrated the vehicle’s 3/8 inch plating and smashed into Crookall’s arm. He was invalided out of his infantry division, posted around the Middle East and ended up in Damascus.

“My wound practically finished me off as a violinist,” he told me this week. “But I was in Damascus when Josephine Baker arrived to give a concert to the Free French and she asked me to accompany her. Then I played again.” After the war, Crookall returned many times to the Middle East, a guest of Ali Ayoubi, the son of a Syrian president, he says – I think he would have been the son of the Syrian prime minister. “My father had two bodyguards,” Crookall remembers Ali telling him. “(President)Assad has about 10,000!” In Libya and in Egypt, of course, the people of the desert have no bodyguards. The foundation of their lives remains the war that was fought before they were born andwhich is still killing and maiming them, just as it maimed Second Lieutenant Crookall 65 years ago. I suppose the moral can only be expressed in a cliché. In the Middle East, the Second World War has not ended.

March 1st, 2008, 1:15 am


Akbar Palace said:

So does that 2% that you have doubts about include the labels he throws about us being terror supporters? Just curious Akbar? Let me know.


I’ve accused participants here of being terror supporters. I also accused participants here for other offenses I’ve witnessed. If the shoe fits…

Akbar you have registered, and have a proper email address!

How do you know this? Can I get the real email addresses of the participants here too? Who do I talk to?

March 1st, 2008, 1:27 am


norman said:

You can push on Alex Name you will get Creative Syria , Go to contact us you will get to Alex E-Mail , Alex has all our E-mails and from my side he can use his judgment and give my E-mail to any body he thinks is appropriate and wants to contact me. I trust Alex .

March 1st, 2008, 1:53 am


Enlightened said:


In your usual flippant way, you have avoided the question, so typically AIPAC of you, infact change your thread name to that, it is more apt, because in that case the shoe definitely is a perfect size for you!

March 1st, 2008, 1:59 am


Majhool said:


I disagree. AIG, represent our official enemy Israel. It’s only realistic to expect him to show distrust of his enemies “Arabs”. Peace loving Israelis are the minority, so SC webmaster has to decide whether or not their argument needs to be aired at SC. I hope they do.

Syrians and many arabs and muslims demonize Israelies and Jews daily. They also belittle their sufferings in WWII (Najad and Bashar are examples of that). All is quite natural and human given the state of continuous hostilities.

Also, Nour it’s subjective, some might be quite offended by you Nour calling them “collaborators and traitors”. I don’t see it any better than “supporter of terror”

I am not going to judge AIG intentions Because I have no way of knowing. SC as I like to be has to accommodate for all warring parties given all participants show some professionalism in the way the put their argument and counter argument. Plus as educated people should not we all rise above feeling and restrain from taking sides?

March 1st, 2008, 2:00 am


norman said:

Alex, You said,
(I am not trigger happy … I now that Norman, Nour, and Alex can once in a while write something rude.

When did i write something rude ,The truth hurts sometimes but has to be said.

March 1st, 2008, 2:05 am


norman said:

Thanks for coming to my defence , You are right i do not call for killing Jews or Israelis , Lebanese or anybody but call for people to treat others the way they like to be treated ,
As for you Majhool ,
you seem to think that because you are Sunni you should have special right, , Well , wake up , you are not more Syrian than any of us and yes you do not have any special privileges , you are better than any of us only if contributed to Syria more than us and i doubt that , considering yourself a majority because of your sect of Islam is so childish ,

people are worthy because of what they do , not because of their family name or their religion or whom they know.

I do not know how long you went to school in Syria , I went to public school in Syria and i was never told that Jews are bad people , we were told that the Zionists took our land and pushed the Palestinians including my mother out so they can bring people from The EU and the US to have a permanent base so the west can keep us busy with wars and keep our future under their control .

About the minority love for Syria , I do not think we need to justify ourselves , most the traitors in the Arab world as I see it are not of the minorities ,

The only thing the minorities want is equal rights and obligations under the law ,

We trust the present regime in Syria to protect these minority rights more than people who think they are a majority because of their religion .

March 1st, 2008, 3:16 am


Majhool said:


I am as secular as it gets. As for being non-minority that was something Alex uttered and I found funny. In fact, Alex and others always reiterate how good the Syrian regime is with the minority. I don’t find that bad at all, in fact if you read me correctly you would figure out that I wish the majority of Syrian to be part of the ruling circle similar to how minorities are. It’s very hypocrite to trumpet how the Shia are entitled to more power since they are the majority. And then deny it for the majority of Syrians. My preference is a secular system and would love to see a Christian as a PM.

“you seem to think that because you are Sunni you should have special right, , Well , wake up , you are not more Syrian than any of us and yes you do not have any special privileges”

This is so funny and unfounded. Makes me wonder if you have a minority complex and paranoia. Sunnis are not privileged in the regime everyone knows that. let me quote the carnegie endowmen: It is a regime controlled by the Alawite minority and determined to perpetuate its power at all costs

Maybe you did not attend the “Islamic” curriculum, or study Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice just for the fact that wicked merchant was jewish. Or maybe you forget that average people in Syria when refer to someone wicked call them yahoodi?

I am with the rights of Palestinians and Syrians, and I see the path to get these rights is through self critique etc.


If AIG is not acceptable, Norman’s “most the traitors in the Arab world as I see it are not of the minorities”is not acceptable either. Be fair.

March 1st, 2008, 3:42 am


Enlightened said:


To utter AIG and compare him to Norman in the same sentence given the history of the two is laughable, sorry but you did really make me laugh.

March 1st, 2008, 3:54 am


Majhool said:


I did not track history of AIG enough to judge. I am not a regualr at SC as you may know. Yet again, I noticed that AIG is critical of Arabs and Syrians, but why not? Is SC supposed to be to Pro-Syrians only? it would be boring and tasteless.

I take it you accept labeling people as traitors just like Norman. I find it sad and I hope that does not make you laugh.

March 1st, 2008, 4:02 am


norman said:


The last time i looked i found that without the Support of KSA and Egypt there would have not been an invasion of Iraq , the last time i looked i saw these rich countries wasting their oil revenue on prostitute in Syria , Iraqis i might add while leaving the Palestinians to starve and the Iraqis to defend themselves , I do not know about you but i call that treason .

Name calling of Jews is wide spread in the US , I hear even from Jewish Friends , the most important part is the everybody is equal in the US under the law , people can live anywhere they want.

Shakespeare as i know was westerner not an Arab , From what i know the Arabs protected and saved the Jews in Spain and forced the Crusades to let them worship in Jerusalem .these are the Arabs and muslim that i associate with.

About being paranoid , you must be kidding , I was in Syria in the late seventies where only the Christian and Shai professors were killed by the MB , sometime in the classrooms, they did not fined any corrupt Sunni Baathist to kill ,
Looking at Syria , I see that the economy is not controlled by the Shai , It is controlled by the Sunni ,and that is where the real power is you should know that you are busy making money , May be you should share some of it with country that educated you ,or at least stop blaming it for all the ills ,

March 1st, 2008, 4:30 am


norman said:

These are the traiters , they conspire with US aginst Syria .

NEWS | OPINIONS | SPORTS | ARTS & LIVING | Discussions | Photos & Video | City Guide | CLASSIFIEDS | JOBS | CARS | REAL ESTATE

U.S.-Saudi Effort Seeks to End Syrian Interference in Lebanon

By Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 1, 2008; A10

The United States and Saudi Arabia have launched a joint campaign to pressure Syria to end its political interference in Lebanon, including the U.S. deployment of the USS Cole and two other warships off the Lebanese coast, according to U.S. and Arab officials.

The new military, economic and diplomatic steps include the toughest actions taken by the Bush administration against the regime of President Bashar Assad, such as a recent presidential executive order allowing sanctions against Syrian officials meddling in Lebanon and a member of Assad’s family. Saudi Arabia is withdrawing its ambassador from Damascus and pressed for an Arab League meeting, to be held next week, to discuss the political vacuum in Lebanon brought on by its inability to elect a new president since November, U.S. officials said.

The Lebanese parliament has not elected a new president because of an enduring standoff that pits the Syrian-backed Shiite movement Hezbollah and its Christian allies against a coalition gathered around the government, which is backed by the United States, Saudi Arabia and France.

President Bush and King Abdullah first discussed a joint effort on Syria during the president’s trip to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in January. Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal then discussed details at a White House meeting on Feb. 15 attended by Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley, according to U.S. and Arab officials.

The proposal led to serious debate within the administration, which held back its plan from key European and Arab allies, the officials said.

“It’s likely the Syrians will see this in the context of measures we are taking in order to discourage their unhelpful behavior in Lebanon,” said a senior administration official, speaking anonymously because of the sensitive diplomacy.

Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday that the USS Cole, a guided missile destroyer, and two other ships will remain in the eastern Mediterranean “for a while.” He added: “It does signal that we’re engaged, we’re going to be in the vicinity and that’s a very, very important part of the world.”

But Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said yesterday that his government had not requested a U.S. naval presence off its coast, and summoned Ambassador Michele J. Sison to ask for clarification of U.S. intentions.

The presence of the three warships has also sparked anger from militant groups and suspicions in the Lebanese media about long-term U.S. plans, even though the State Department said the ships are about 60 miles offshore — well beyond the 12-mile limit of Lebanese territorial waters.

“The American move threatens the stability of Lebanon and the region and is an attempt to spark tension,” Hassan Fadlallah, a Hezbollah member of parliament, told Reuters. “The administration has used the policy of sending warships to support its allies in Lebanon before, and that experiment failed.”

The deployment of U.S. warships off the Lebanese coast dates to 1983, when Navy ships opened fire on Muslim militias. Retaliation included the suicide bombing of the Marine compound in Beirut and the death of 241 U.S. military personnel, which eventually led to the Marines’ withdrawal.

“U.S. gunboat diplomacy in Lebanon did not, does not and will never work. If there is one way how not to help your allies, this is it,” said Bilal Y. Saab of the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center.

Some Middle East experts and both European and Arab allies doubt that the U.S.-Saudi effort will have serious impact on Damascus. “The Syrian regime is playing for time, and reasons that a new administration will be forced to jettison the current policy of isolation,” said Emile el-Hokayem of the Henry L. Stimson Center, a defense think tank.

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March 1st, 2008, 4:39 am


Enlightened said:


I did not track history of AIG enough to judge. I am not a regualr at SC as you may know. Yet again, I noticed that AIG is critical of Arabs and Syrians, but why not? Is SC supposed to be to Pro-Syrians only? it would be boring and tasteless.

I take it you accept labeling people as traitors just like Norman. I find it sad and I hope that does not make you laugh.

Maj Norman is a Nationalist, Normans track record of insults,barbs, labelling etc are negligible.

There is nothing wrong with criticism, its healthy but dont listen to what I have to say, go and read the Blog from 4 months ago and read specifically what AIG has to say, there is nothing wrong with criticism as I say, but it becomes a bit boring when We are all terrorists- supporters, sympathisers and my favourite anti semite, Bootlickers etc etc etc.

Until you do this and let me know, then Majhool sorry I will keep laughing , not out of contempt or disgust just out of humour that you placed Norman and AIG in the same sentence.

Yalla hurry up you have a lot of reading to do.

March 1st, 2008, 4:54 am


Majhool said:


I will take your word for it. However please note that Norman insists (by repeating) to label people traitors.


“The last time i looked i found that without the Support of KSA and Egypt there would have not been an invasion of Iraq”

I agree.

The last time i looked i saw these rich countries wasting their oil revenue on prostitute in Syria

More insults and generalization to your fellow Arabs. I thought you were Pro-Arab

“About being paranoid , you must be kidding , I was in Syria in the late seventies where only the Christian and Shai professors were killed by the MB , sometime in the classrooms, they did not fined any corrupt Sunni Baathist to kill”

So you are paranoid after all. This proofs my point, so you think it’s healthy going forward to be paranoid? you think it’s healthy to deny the majority of Syrians a chance to participate in the ruling circle? what about the 20K+ sunnis killed by minorities in Hama? how do you feel about that? I am not trying to score points. Syrians are not perfect and not the source of all ills in the world either. Alawits killed sunnies and Sunnis killed alawites and Druze killed Maronites etc… we are not perfect and we have to acknowledge that.

As for Shia being the majority I meant in Lebanon. As for money being the real power, not in Syria, The richest sunni guy in Syria would not dare say a word against the regime, power in Syria defines life and death.

As for giving, I never said I am busy making “lot’s of money” I said busy making money.

March 1st, 2008, 5:00 am


Enlightened said:

Norman :

You are a Traitor! ( Majhool now you are even) I did it for you.

Norman behave yourself, remember your Arab solidarity.

March 1st, 2008, 5:06 am


Majhool said:


lol! Thanks for keeping Norman in Check! You made me laugh.

I can see how you see Norman as a nationalist. I don’t. I view nationalism as defending the rights of all citizens especially those whom we disagree with. To be nationalist yet paranoid of half of the population does not add up.

March 1st, 2008, 5:16 am


norman said:

Enlighted one ,
Thanks for your efforts , Majhool started his abuse here

Majhool said:


I think what you rightly accuse AIG of, applies also to Nour and Norman

February 29th, 2008, 9:17 pm

, He says some thing and act differently , he is secular but wants cot as according to religion in Syria , God saves Syria and the Arabs from the likes of Majhool.

March 1st, 2008, 5:27 am


Majhool said:


If you do accept such language coming from Norman then i resign from contributing in SC and CS. please let me know.

March 1st, 2008, 5:34 am


norman said:

By the way , for your information , people are not paranoid if they build their stand on facts like what the MB did in Syria , that is called learning from history , Something you do not seem to understand .

If you have the mouth to criticize Syria , you should have the heart to help.

March 1st, 2008, 5:35 am


Qifa Nabki said:


Just curious: who are the “collaborators and traitors” you are speaking of?

March 1st, 2008, 5:42 am


norman said:

Now Majhool is throwing a tantrum , God help us he quits ,
Is that a threat or a promise , I like to think it is a promise.

March 1st, 2008, 5:56 am


norman said:

To All ,
This is the kind of Syria Majhool wants , Shut up people he does not like what they are saying then complain about the government of Syria putting people in prison because of their opinion.
A majhool style Syria will be much worse.

March 1st, 2008, 6:03 am


Majhool said:

No Norman,

I am just checking the rules arround here. If words such as yours are allowed over here, then it’s no place for me, it’s neither a threat nor a promis,just a preference. I don’t expect you to understand given your Hegemonic approach to Nationlism and paranoia. By the way you sound just like Buthayna Shaban.

No, I am not shutting you up. I am wondering why you are alloowed to throw insults at Arabs left and right, call people traitors, label sunnis as MB supporters and get away with it, while others cannot. it’s called Fairness ( also a concept you did not learn from your “Qaymeyyeh” books”)

Good luck to you.

March 1st, 2008, 6:03 am


norman said:

GOD you figured me out ,

Again , Paranoia is fear from the unreal , the MB were real and that is not paranoia.

March 1st, 2008, 6:14 am


norman said:

Majhool. ,

Ask the Palestinian about the traitors , they will tell you who they are , KSA , Egypt, Jordon ,
Who called Hezbollah irresponsible , who called on Israel to continue the destruction of Lebanon and the killing of more than 1500 people , yes Majhool ,they are the traitors and if there is any self respect in these countries to anything called Arab or Islam these rulers would be in the west enjoying their money and spending it on their women.

I have to call it as it is , here and anywhere .including CS .

March 1st, 2008, 6:28 am


Innocent_Criminal said:

Alright guys lets put an end to this right now.

Norman – Your stereo-typing and its wrong. Also, the remarks you use attacking Majhool are extremely tacky. “God saves Syria and the Arabs from the likes of Majhool” I mean seriously? I am not taking sides between you two. actually I pretty much disagree with both of you. But your attacks have been more personal.

In general I thinks its reasonable to accept there will be some name calling (polite ones at least) in our discussions here. but not when it steers the whole discussion into ridicules tit for tat. So please, with sugar on top, the both of you need to move on.

AIG – I felt that letting you to continue comment was your best counter-argument ;). the more you spoke the more you sounded idiotic. but I leave dealing with you to Alex.

March 1st, 2008, 8:06 am


wizart said:


Welcome to Syria Comments. Money is important. I like balance too.


Let’s judge not being judged by friends or enemies alike. Peace is made among enemies. Countries have no permanent enemies. People do.


I understand what you’re saying and I respectfully disagree with your conclusions. We can’t paint entire populations based on the action of a few people. Please read my earlier scripts on abuse 🙂


If you really have the authority to ban people equally then I suggest you do it by taking a vote of those who actually read this blog and not only those who attempt to hijack it. The technology is there to help you accomplish such task as you know. This way everyone feels heard and nobody will be accused of applying double standards. This blog is now the property of Syria comment readers:)


I appreciate the decision to delegate maintenance of your blog as it becomes a lively & well balanced comment depository on Syria.
I would like to invite you and your growing son to lunch one day.

Please drink lots of green Shai/tea and stay away from sc stress!
Sincerely yours,
Syrian and Palestinian olives.
cc March 2009. All rights reserved.

March 1st, 2008, 9:17 am


Enlightened said:

Majhool Nationalism or any (ism) is a sickness, unless you happen to be Lebanese (QN I am mocking us), which is a very rare sickness, and the only place on earth where this disease does not proliferate!

Innocent Criminal where have you been? Do you have anything to do with the appearance of the Cole?

Alex, Regarding AIG, I just want to state I dont want him banned, we do need different opinions on the site, but we do need some parameters set whether administratively enforced (or self enforced, I think you tried this), to ensure that the site does not get hijacked!

I just got sick of being called a supporter of violence,terrorism, but then again I think hel be back under another name, and Ip adress then the cycle will start again!

But I am putting my creative mind to work , I am going to do a best of AIG comments with some rap attached to it, can anyone think of a character or provide a picture of AIG to accompany it (tip QN your Tarboosh might be needed). Offended you can help me in this your drembake skills are good i hear, Shai we might need a Hebrew speaker as well ( a mix collaboration). HP can make a guest singing appearance, and Alex and Norman can produce. Well if the SC conference does not get off the ground then we can put our efforts into this.

March 1st, 2008, 9:23 am


Shai said:


Interesting idea… but who says the SC conference isn’t taking place? I just don’t think the members know of this yet. And, we’ve yet to hand out the flyers. And decide on a particular hotel in Istanbul, and the type of food and beer to be served. Trust me, at least 20-30 people will come, and it’ll be great! I’m game, if anyone else is also. We mustn’t turn this into a Davos, 2008 event. It’s really much much easier.


You said: “Please drink lots of green Shai/tea and stay away from sc stress!”

I can’t but take serious offense at the idea of having people drink me, green or otherwise… It’ll take a while to recuperate from this one. This is not the kind of CBM’s I had in mind… 🙂

March 1st, 2008, 12:13 pm


offended said:

This is interesting,
Berri said that Aoun had called him during the recent quartet meeting with Amer Mousa and told him that he was offered the 10:10:10 formula and asked whether he should accept it. Berri urged him to do so. And called Amer Mousa to ask him to stay for one more day until they clear this thing. Amer Mousa called back and said that the offer has been rejected. Another wasted opportunity.

And yet Husni Mubarak comes out and say that Syria is the problem in Lebanon…
Go figure…

March 1st, 2008, 12:27 pm


Shai said:


What are you doing up so early…?

March 1st, 2008, 12:30 pm


offended said:

Shai, is your name’s rhythm like that of ‘shy’ or like ‘pay’? : )

March 1st, 2008, 12:30 pm


offended said:

Up early?
It’s 4:30 PM here man!

March 1st, 2008, 12:31 pm


Shai said:


Shai is pronounced just like “shy”. Which is why I got “offended” by Wizart’s remarks that people should drink me… 🙂

March 1st, 2008, 12:31 pm


Shai said:


2 hours ahead of me? Where are you – Iraq, Afghanistan? 🙂

March 1st, 2008, 12:32 pm


offended said:

Well yeah I just finished a tour with Prince Harry in Hilmand province (Afghanistan) and we are heading back home… we got a nice tan….

Okay I am obviously joking, I live in Dubai, United Arab emirates.

March 1st, 2008, 12:36 pm


offended said:

But I was serious about the tan. I am gonna get up soon and go get some!

March 1st, 2008, 12:37 pm


Shai said:

LOL. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Royal Court itself “leaked” his whereabouts to the media, so that obviously it would now “have to” bring him back… 10 weeks was way more than Harry needed to have “operational experience” in the battlefield. He is now 100% ready to lead his kingdom one day, in jousting matches, or mere naval campaigns against the Spanish Armada, or the French, or even German U-boats… Long Live Prince Harry! Long Live England!

Dubai… ah, what an amazing example of ingenuity, perseverance, and accomplishment. Israel has so much to learn from you!…

March 1st, 2008, 12:40 pm


offended said:

Shai, Dubai would make an interesting case study. It is partly true that the circumstances that convened to make this city what it is today can not be replicated easily anywhere else. Take for example that the leader moves around here without any security. And most of the time he drives alone. I think he’s about the only Arab leader who has this ‘advantage’.
But like any other place, there are the ups and there the downs…

Btw, talking of media leaks, did you hear anything about the outcome of the joint meeting between ambassador Mustapha and Dr. Alon?

March 1st, 2008, 12:55 pm


offended said:

Shai, I just read that our envoy to the Un has denied the meeting took place.

And now I remember that you said it was not a meeting per se, they’ve only attended the same seminar.

So it is highly likely that they spoke to each other.

March 1st, 2008, 12:58 pm


wizart said:

Dear Mr funny all color Tea 🙂

Thanks for the compliment. Always honored to drink green! You’re a great antioxident & combined with our legendary olives we can achieve the impossible:) We can arrange an educational conference on the side to help study ourselves and how we became so peaceful;)

I would also like a nutritional seminar on other ways to control our lives and enrich the general population who lack internet.

We can set up daycare for children with special education needs.

Check this out if you have kids you want them to grow up in peace:

Can we invite Bono and the pretty Lebanese who sung habibi Bashar?

Confidence Building Measures
Continental Ballistic Missiles

2008-2018, Istanbul Turkey

P.S: A Syrian lady may sing Habibi Saad for a much higher price.

March 1st, 2008, 12:58 pm


Shai said:


I hear tumbleweeds, don’t you?…

March 1st, 2008, 1:02 pm


Enlightened said:


10+10+10 does not a compromise make, I think that Berri is trying to make himself not the obstacle here, but is a bit of bluster. (ok Aoun is the point man) do you think that Aoun would be allowed to say yes without his Shiite partners consent.Do you seriously think this is the real issue, HINT HINT (Nope). The blocking third is bunkum.

The real fight or disagreement is about (in no order of preference)

1. The Interior and Security Ministry
2. Justice Ministrty
3. The Head of the army
4. Prime Minister

This is the real fight, not the blocking third, no agreement has been made on these , feel free to give me your thoughts.

Shai, just watched BBC news is it escalating that badly in GAZA, its 12 midnight in Sydney still up!

March 1st, 2008, 1:03 pm


Shai said:


And yes, I think it is amazing that Dubai’s leader drives around on his own. As far as I know, the last Israeli to even close to that was David Ben-Gurion, who could be seen walking around near the beach in Tel-Aviv, doing “exercises” (even standing on his head, believe it or not)…

March 1st, 2008, 1:03 pm


Shai said:


33 Palestinians dead in Gaza. Operation is in essence already underway… I imagine things will get worse in the coming days. I hope I’m wrong.

March 1st, 2008, 1:05 pm


Naji said:

Kindest Shai,
…try and watch the shameful carnage being visited upon Gaza RIGHT NOW …watch it on AlJazeera, for example, …I am sure that a couple of tears will come to your eyes, but tell me, if that was happening to your Jewish neighbors and kin, rather than to your other (e.g. araboushim!) neighbors and kin, would you be sitting in front of your computor writing me back right now…!?? …would you be carying arms against the agressor, whoever he may be…!?? …wouldn’t you, at least, be out in the street protesting…?! …would you support and pay taxes to whoever was doing this to your neighbors and family…??!!

This anachronistic tribalism is what is stifiling the “middle-east”, and we seem to have infected tho whole damn world of late…!

March 1st, 2008, 1:39 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

A piece of US policy in the Middle East that might actually do some good
By The Daily Star

Saturday, March 01, 2008


The current US administration has had a very strange and counterproductive way of promoting democracy in the broader Middle East. One of the main foreign policy initiatives pursued by US President George W. Bush in his “freedom” agenda has been the war in Iraq, a conflict that purportedly aimed to create an Arab democracy in the heart of a largely autocratic region. A Nobel-prize winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz, has predicted that the war will probably cost American taxpayers between $3 trillion and $5 trillion. But even after this expensive investment of funds, not to mention the lives of thousands of American soldiers, it is still too early to predict whether Iraq will ever fully evolve into a stable state, let alone a full-fledged democracy.

But while the US president and his military have proven to be mostly ineffective at guiding societies toward democratic transition, other arms of the American government have had a much better track record. One of these, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), announced on Friday that it would spend $7 million on a project that stands a far better chance of promoting democracy in this region: judicial reform in Lebanon. The grant will go to the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) a non-governmental organization based in the United States, to work with the Lebanese judicial system. The NCSC and USAID will work with the Justice Ministry to develop the capacity of the judicial training institute, to improve court administration, and most importantly, to enhance the judiciary’s independence.

Given the current state of Lebanon’s judiciary, there is no doubt that it is badly in need of reform. The judiciary currently lacks the ability to speak independently of the executive or legislative branches, or to render verdicts without coming under some form of political pressure. Ordinary citizens have so little confidence in the ability of the courts to deliver fair and impartial rulings that they have frequently resorted to extra-judicial means of resolving disputes or exacting justice.

The potential rewards that Lebanon stands to reap by strengthening its judiciary are many. Judicial reform will go a long way toward building investor confidence, and thus toward creating jobs for thousands of unemployed citizens and eliminating Lebanon’s staggering national debt. Building a properly functioning judiciary will also be a required first step if Lebanon ever hopes to achieve the status of a properly functioning democracy.

Because judicial reform has the potential to bring so many benefits to Lebanon, the USAID grant is a welcome gift from the American people. While we strongly disagree with many of the US administration’s “democracy-promoting” initiatives, as well as its symbolic and often provocative gestures of support, we are unable to criticize something that has the potential to improve the lives of millions of Lebanese people. If only the US government would invest more heavily such initiatives, rather than on military adventures, perhaps we would really begin to see true democracy begin to take root in the Middle East.

March 1st, 2008, 1:59 pm


wizart said:


I’m angry at this situation and this is my way of expressing anger.

The time to dig a well is way before we’re thirsty. That’s why I’ve been investing my time preaching about how to achieve peace through negotiated logic and pragmatism not through sending out missiles.

Excuse me but watching Aljazira is not going to solve the problems you’re describing. These things are solved in classrooms during peaceful times and by sending expert empowered negotiators who know how to give and take.. not just be hostages to unmoving positions.

I’m upset whenever I see/hear/notice precious lives being wasted.

March 1st, 2008, 2:07 pm


Shai said:


I am more angry at this than you can imagine. But I have to be realistic. There aren’t enough here to demonstrate in the streets. I have to first change public opinion, and the Palestinian issue is, unfortunately, not the way right now. The Syria one is. I’m sorry…

March 1st, 2008, 2:16 pm


Naji said:

…I am with you, “dude…”, and that was what I was attempting to point out… Unless, in this case the Jews of Israel, begin to drop some imagined barriers and start REALLY beleiving that the other Palistinians are basically their poor KIN (jews that converted a long time ago, if you will!), there is no hope of a reall peace…!

March 1st, 2008, 2:25 pm


Naji said:

I picked Gaza because this is happening RIGHT NOW, and JUST A FEW MILES DOWN THE ROAD from where you and, for that matter, me are…!!!

If you turn on to AlJazeera(arabic) right now, you will see Mesh’aal giving a speach about the Holocaust in a voice-over to the scene of Gaza burning LIVE…!! …Very dramatic and moving… If you think that this has nothing to do with peace with Syria, you are very unfortunately mistaken my friend…!!

Mesh’aal is speaking from Damascus… and the holocaust image was suggested by a vengeful statement from an Israeli minister, as you know…

March 1st, 2008, 2:37 pm


wizart said:


Yesterday you called me mellow! Today I claim credit for mellowing you up from wanting to pick up arms to hopping the jews come out and hugg their Palestinian cousins!


Brother Teressa (I like this Dudette unfortunately she’s dead now.)

March 1st, 2008, 2:40 pm


Naji said:


March 1st, 2008, 2:44 pm


norman said:


I did not mean the people of KSA, Egypt or Jordon , only their leaders who as you must know have no support from their people ,
About God saves the Arabs ,
In a place like the Arab world where there are many ethnic and religious groups , only valuation depending on people’s deeds will improve that part of the world ,
That is my take .

I did not mean to insult anybody but for anybody to think that he is better because of his religion is not acceptable to me .

That reminds me with the Christian fundamentalists who think you have to believe the way they do to go heaven.

March 1st, 2008, 2:46 pm


Shai said:


Please know that I am not shutting my eyes, or my heart, to what is happening so close to me (and you). It makes me sad, and ashamed, and angry, for all the innocent lives that are lost for so many years, because while certain human beings on this planet are capable of walking on the moon, almost 40 years ago, we still cannot figure out how to live at peace with each other! When I so “calmly” speak of the time not being right for talking to the Palestinians, and instead to the Syrians, it is not because I don’t feel the pain you suffer. It is because unfortunately, Abu Mazen cannot deliver any agreement we may achieve with him. If and when the Palestinians work out their differences, and agree on a single governing body, we will gladly speak with it, if it is willing to speak with us (i.e. if it’s Hamas). Please do not think that I, or many other Israelis, are forgetting your plight, nor your basic human right for independence and freedom.

March 1st, 2008, 3:45 pm


Innocent_Criminal said:


I’m around. i read through the comment every single day, but i haven’t been in the mood to contribute much in the last few months. just moderating and reading.

Speaking of the Cole, there is a huge possibility that bringing it in along with other navy vessels means that Israel might be attempting to hit Iran very soon. The Cole has capabilities to intercept ballistic and mid-range missiles. Like the ones Iran and possibly Syria would fire against Israel in case the latter hits Iran. So Lebanon might be just an excuse, and what’s going on in Gaza is certainly not a coincidence.

The American/Israeli/Saudi/Egyptian camp has agreed that Iran is the main threat not Israel. So the peace process with the Palestinians must materialize and quickly for the “moderate” Arab states to make peace with Israel. Hence why Gaza is getting bombed back to the stone age. First get squash the intifada, make peace with the PLO, and other Arab states follow suit.

When will Iran get hit within this timeline I am not sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens before the end of Cheney’s, excuse me, I mean Bush’s term 😉

March 1st, 2008, 4:41 pm


Naji said:

I think you are right, except that these cowards have set their sights much lower… all they are hoping to achieve at this time is to pound the hell out of HA and Hamas while their collaborators hold the prey down and the American anti-missile ships cancel out the ability of Syria, Iran, or more imortantly, HA to retaliate against the Israeli interior… That’s all… very bloody business, but nothing imaginative…!

March 1st, 2008, 4:52 pm


offended said:

I am cheking Syria News website and there isn’t one single news item about Gaza.

That’s weird….

March 1st, 2008, 4:54 pm


offended said:

Naji, IC
This theory is based on the hypothesis that Cole IS able to intercept long and mid range missiles.

I don’t know if this is technically possible.

March 1st, 2008, 4:57 pm


Naji said:

Oh I think the Americans have made a lot of advances along these lines latey… i think they have a few new tricks they would like to try out… what have they got to loose…?!

March 1st, 2008, 5:02 pm


offended said:

Naji, for them there is nothing substantial to lose, at least for the current administration.

But if this missile interception thing turns out to be a phony, the whole thing might back fire on them….

March 1st, 2008, 5:09 pm


Naji said:

The Kuwaiti government, after the Saudi, has just asked all its subjects to leave Lebanon immediately…!! Alla yestor…!

March 1st, 2008, 5:11 pm


Naji said:

“back-fire on them”…!?? At worst, a few Israelis (not Americans) will die and they will lose Olmert (he is all used-up anyway), that is all…! Not too bad of a risk and they will have demonstrated to Iran (and even Russia!) just what they can do against their puny little rockets…!!

March 1st, 2008, 5:17 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Shai, the point you are making is well taken. Unilateral agreements with minor regional players in the region will not yield the overall intended peace we are all working for.

As we all know, peace will happen only with leaders who are strong enough to deliver on it. A peace track with only one of the two Palestinian factions (Abbas/Fatah) is doomed to ultimately fail.

I am afraid, however, that negotiation for true peace with all the players in the region is being torpedoed by the war hawks in the US and abroad for reasons that are now well known.

The current US foreign policy implemented through the practices of preemption, regime change, benevolent hegemony and American exceptionalism is sadly enough, still being implemented and it is work-in-progress.

The current hawks in the administration know that the clock is ticking and it is clear that their departure is coming faster than things are changing, to their liking, in the Middle East.

I have been told that under no circumstance, the status quo in the Middle East will be left alone and passed to the next administration.

Today HA and Hamas are alive and well, Syria is more defiant and internally stronger, Lebanon’s project is in enormous peril, and Iran, with its huge influence in Iraq and it increased oil wealth, is stronger than it ever was.

This is a totally unacceptable situation. Plans are being executed today to affect all the necessary changes before the next administration take over.

As reckless and as dangerous as it seems, Israel is being asked and pushed for an all out ground assault in Gaza to annihilate Hamas (By the way, it is not the Kassam rockets that are bothering Israel – as stupid and reckless as they are when they are being fired).

Indicators from Washington are telling Israel that the time is now right, Gazans are fed up with Hamas, and the US will provide international positive coverage to the ground assault. IDF is being told that this is a “cake walk!” Sounds familiar?

Next, as IC correctly mentioned above, the US 6th Fleet assets are mobilized closer to Lebanon to provide military operations cover as well deterrents for the upcoming military activities in Lebanon to destroy HA militarily (Work is currently under way to preserve a friendly HA to exist politically). They are theorizing that with the vacuum in leadership after the Mughniyah assassination and the current hostile conditions in Lebanon against HA, conditions are ripe to deal a final blow to HA. On top of the agenda is the head of HA leader who they believe, if he dies, HA will disintegrate rapidly.

Syria, on the other hand, they feel is better left alone for the moment – but continuously threatened militarily. With the demise of HA and Hamas, Syria will be pushed to the irrelevance, they say.

As for Iran, they will not hit it. Rather, it is much easier and effective, they think, to completely destroy all Iranian influence points in the region. With the complete collapse of Hamas and HA, a weakened Syria, and a rising friendly government in Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories; Iran will be really relegated to being a neutral spectator in the Middle East. As for Iranian threats to Israel, they know that this is hog wash talk – Iran can only use its surrogates to strike. Remove its surrogates, and Iran is forever neutered. And if Iran needs to be struck militarily, it will be much easier to do so when all of its “nasty” surrogates are completely eliminated.

So this is the plan being implemented. If modern history and past examples are any indication, we should not be at all surprised at the outcome of such a reckless plan.

March 1st, 2008, 5:33 pm


Shai said:


That bit of news (about the Belgian writer) could be interpreted quite differently from the way you intended on a forum like this… Not sure I would have brought it up (even if I was on your side)… Sorry.

March 1st, 2008, 5:36 pm


Syrian said:


Trying to catch-up to the comments by wading through all the subthreads has become a chore .  Have you thought about implementing some
sort of nesting to at least keep this place organized and make it easier for us to follow threads we’re interested in.  (and some people can have
private islands where they exchange views that may just not be as
interesting to the rest of us)

March 1st, 2008, 5:42 pm


offended said:

Excellent analysis Ford Prefect, I really hope their plan doesn’t get materialized.

Shai, I erased it. I honestly didn’t know it would hit a sensitive cord…

March 1st, 2008, 5:44 pm


Naji said:

Ford Prefect,
What a brilliant and concise summation of the current situation. I will also add that, particularly at this time, it is usefull for many to force all the likely presidential candidates to take stances that will either be held against them or will hold them hostage to a particular position towards the arab/israeli conflict… a nice little side benefit, especially when this is perceived to be a “cake walk” and either a natural boost to McCain’s chances, or a strong nudge to Obama’s Israel position…!

March 1st, 2008, 5:48 pm


Innocent_Criminal said:


you might be right, I looked up the cole fire power and she is not the strongest vessle out there. Its a guided missile destroyer but not the same class as the one that shot down that satellite. My source was a retired lebanese army general, who said on a television interview today that the cole can shoot down mid-range missiles. so it seems he is wrong.

March 1st, 2008, 6:05 pm


Naji said:

Not nearly as elaborate or eloquent as FP’s, of course, but I believe my comment above was an even more concise summation…!

“these cowards have set their sights much lower… all they are hoping to achieve at this time is to pound the hell out of HA and Hamas while their collaborators hold the prey down and the American anti-missile ships cancel out the ability of Syria, Iran, or more importantly, HA to retaliate against the Israeli interior… That’s all… very bloody business, but nothing imaginative…!”

March 1st, 2008, 6:16 pm


Shai said:

Ford Prefect,

You may very well be right in your analysis of the situation at the moment. Unfortunately, too much of the past few years attests to that type of thinking, and to that form of action. However, and I think we would agree on this, the chances this so-called reckless plan will succeed is NIL. Neither the U.S., nor Israel, Egypt, KSA, Jordan, Kuwait, or the International Space Station, can determine and enforce the leadership of any nation or people in this region, or any other for that matter. The best that could be achieved, is this 14-month long puppet-government that would wave its flag over its embassy in Jerusalem (LOL). What amazes me, however, is that the Neocons in DC have actually managed to convince some relatively-smart leaders in this region that is it either feasible, or worthwhile, or both. While the real explanation may lie either in your depiction, or in Naji’s, or somewhere in between, facts will still be such that many many innocent lives are and will be lost. My biggest fear, as I’ve written above in various places, is that things will get out of control, and that multiple parties will join in (Hezbollah, Syria, Iran…), leading to an all-out war. If that is the case, then the region may yet suffer like in no previous war in this century, or the last. Literally tens of thousands could die, and many more would be injured. Our “clock” could be set back years into the past. We’ll find ourselves here again, around the year 2030, right back where we left, but only much much later, and after almost indescribable pain and suffering. And for what reason? God only knows, and it’s a shame I’m an atheist, because if I wasn’t, at least I’d have some peace of mind. Unfortunately, I have none! It is indeed such a shame that, as I wrote previously, while some people of this planet have already figured out how to walk on the moon (almost 40 years ago!), others, in this region, cannot even figure out how to live at peace with one another. What does that say about us?

March 1st, 2008, 6:50 pm


Ford Prefect said:


Thanks – I certainly hope that everything I wrote is just words and the execution plan of the Cheney’s White House end up in the shredder. We will keep trying (Naji, also pleading the case of peace to Presidential front runners) to bring some sense and sensibility to the current hawks but, I am afraid, it is a hopeless case.

It is remarkably unprecedented in history that an administration has so much power and means of destruction at its disposal – passed by a rubber stamp Congress. What even more scarier than the power they have is the people who control that power: inept, belligerent, duplicitous, and incredibly incurious about anything rational.

Naji couldn’t have said it any better: Alla yustor.

March 1st, 2008, 6:56 pm


Shai said:


I didn’t mean for you to remove it. And, personally, it didn’t strike a sensitive cord. But I’ve read a few comments in this forum, by people that unfortunately I thought would be fed the wrong messages by this report, though it does seem to be true. It is shameful, of course, but the majority of people who actually survived the Holocaust could not, and would not have done something like that. Out of something like 20 uncles and aunts on both my parents’ side (brothers and sisters of my 4 grandparents), only my grandmother’s sister survived the Holocaust. She came to Palestine in 1945, and years later I managed to see her tattooed number on her arm (she was about 18 when taken to Auschwitz). The last few years of her life, while suffering from Alzheimer’s, she would wake up in the middle of the night screaming that the Dobermans are in the room… She was about 75 at the time.

March 1st, 2008, 7:00 pm


Naji said:

Learning that you are involved in making the case to presidential front runners, I am much more rested now…!! Such a grasp on the situation combined with such eloquence and erudition…!! (Sorry about fawning like that…!)

March 1st, 2008, 7:06 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Excerpts from Aoun’s interview on Kalaam al-Nas a couple of days ago:

March 1st, 2008, 7:11 pm


Shai said:


We need to join forces in addressing the candidates, not only in the U.S., but indeed in Israel as well.

March 1st, 2008, 7:12 pm


Innocent Criminal said:

which ever way it happens, one thing is for certain. the shit is gonna hit the fan real soon. Gaza, Cole, Saudi/Kuwaiti nationals being requested to leave lebanon, right before an arab summit in Damascus along with new sanctions on Iran. This stew is just about to come to a boil.

in an interview today, a Hariri backed parliament member was very certain when pushed that the summit will not go through without a Lebanese president. I am sure he believed what he was saying, cause they must have Saudi assurance of that.

What really amazes me is the willingness of Lebanese leaders to take their country into the abyss without blinking. Everyone knows that if its gonna get dirty, the Lebanese will be worst off. But those leaders couldnt give a monkey’s butt, they are just executing their bosses instructions without question.

Which reminds me, does anyone remember a thing called the Hariri investigation? What ever happened to that? Gee, I hope it wont get politicized with all that is going on 😉

March 1st, 2008, 7:16 pm


Ford Prefect said:

You are absolutely right. Military hostilities in the region produce only one predictable result: death and destruction. Civilians on all sides will suffer the most. Politically, however, results will be so unpredictable and chaotic – one wonders if these hawks ever learn from their stupid mistakes.

It is sad that some, like Akbar Palace, still think of wars as being fought like they did in the medieval ages: two armies in middle of a battlefield nowhere having at it. They are ambivalent to the idea that there are inhabitants of lands everywhere. AP once comically proclaimed that if the Lebanese heeded the advice of the IDF, they should have left the battle areas and no civilian would have suffered.

This is the same sick concept espoused here in Washington by the military hawks. They theorize that to defeat the enemy, collateral civilian deaths are inevitable – unless they escape somewhere safe! They convinced the public that the enemy is “hiding” behind civilians (they still have not fathomed the idea that the enemy is part of the civilian ethos). Worse, they promote military operations of “shock and awe” so that shear power of the military is even more amplified – instilling greater fear in the minds of civilians who could think otherwise.

As you said, Shai, this doctrine, born here in the US in the hallways of many think tanks, is America’s primary export to places like Israel. Many Israeli leaders, unfortunately, are now adopting this doctrine for many reasons – one of which is that they think it works. (If it is coming from our American friends, who defeated Hitler, the Soviet Union, and the Sandinistas then it must be right!) Further, it is precisely this stupid doctrine that is producing belligerent and radical elements everywhere.

Nevertheless, as grim as the picture looks right now, I applaud the scores of Israelis who are putting their lives on the line and making the incredibly hard choices of pursuing peace. We all know that it is much easier for you to adopt the main wisdom of shooting the heck out of your enemies. We also know that you and your colleagues are much smarter than that.

Shalom, Shai!

March 1st, 2008, 7:21 pm


Shai said:

Innocent Criminal,

The shit’s already hit the fan. Tens of civilians dead in Gaza, few Israelis dead, and for all practical purposes, the Gaza operation has begun. If this current crisis is limited only to Gaza, we’ll be “lucky” (all of us). If it spreads beyond that, to Lebanon, or elsewhere, we’ll be facing regional war.

March 1st, 2008, 7:24 pm


Shai said:


I too was raised on distrust, suspicion, and even hatred of Arabs. I lived through the 1973 war (I was 4 at the time), with sirens in my home town of Ramat-Gan, while my father was fighting in the Sinai. It took spending some years in the U.S. and Europe, and getting to know Arabs up close, before I began to understand where and how we were wrong. Both sides have and continue to demonize one another, and no form of empathy is humanly possible. One must have the perspective, that so few in fact achieve. But once I reached this understanding, I swore to never go back (cognitively). And I won’t. Fortunately, I believe most Israelis could be persuaded to think back like they did in Rabin’s years. Their adopted numbness over the past decade could be awakened, if we only make the right moves, and press in the right places. A new administration in Washington could help do that, as well as Bashar Assad himself. I’m still hoping (fantasizing) about the latter surprising us all, even before a further 9-12 months of Hell in the region have to be traversed.

Ford Prefect, have no shred of doubt in your mind, that it is because of people like yourself that I can and do dedicate myself to the achievement of peace in our time. All our children deserve a better future. And we owe them at least that.

March 1st, 2008, 7:35 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Naji, please don’t rest. The case for peace is much more difficult to make than war. It is a very, very long road littered with land mines of narrow interests, racism, and billigerence.

I implore you to keep working and pressing every which way possible, one person at a time, to spread the word of how peace is possible, achievable, and easier than many would like us to think.

March 1st, 2008, 7:40 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Shai – cheers and march on. We are right there with you.

March 1st, 2008, 7:42 pm


Shai said:


Do you live here? Gaza/West Bank?

March 1st, 2008, 7:52 pm


norman said:

I think your assessment is right , But i think Iran’s nuclear installations will be attacked , BUSH will not leave that to the next administration , we should all remember that the US moved three aircraft carriers to the Gulf few months ago and sold or warehoused massive amount of weapons paid for by the Gulf states to be used by the US in a surprise attack on Iran , The six fleet in the eastern mediterranean is just to complete the circle around Syria ,Lebanon, Hamas and Iran ,

Does anybody have any doubt that KSA is complacent in this plan?.including the invasion of Gaza .
Probably all this was planned during President Bush last visit to the GULF.

March 1st, 2008, 8:35 pm


offended said:

Naji lives in Damascus.
As far as I know, he’s about the only commentator in this forum who lives there!

March 1st, 2008, 9:10 pm


offended said:

Sorry to hear about your aunt.
I recently watched a movie called (Valley of Elah). It is revolving around the American soldiers who are coming back from Iraq with PTSD and other hidden illnesses. People tend to relate more to a physical injury. It takes watching movies like these to realize that the internal scars are deeper and sometimes much more painful.

March 1st, 2008, 9:24 pm


ausamaa said:

Sorry, but I just saw you past comment while going through this post now, It is past medight here.. so I will come back to it tomorrow.

March 1st, 2008, 9:27 pm


Shai said:


No probs – it’s almost midnight here also… so it’s time to head in.


I completely agree with you, which is why I think none of us even begin to understand the horrific damage we’re doing to the children of this region. Generation after generation are being raised to believe that life is not good, and that hope is nonexistent. These are the worst crimes. A dead person no longer suffers. It’s the living that are doing the suffering.

March 1st, 2008, 9:42 pm


norman said:

I do not know how people who get involved in war do not think of the day after and how they are going to be able to live with their neighbors in both sides.

March 1st, 2008, 10:12 pm


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