A new strategic alliance: Iran, Syria, Turkey and Iraq?

We learned from the Palestinians
By Zvi Bar’el

….[Israelis], it seems, like the Palestinians, know just when the time is right to miss an opportunity. When America has finally matured, we are using Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman as a defensive shield against any initiative.

As Israel continues to dig in, the region is carrying on with its regular agenda. A new strategic alliance is emerging right in front of us. It comprises Iran, Syria, Turkey and Iraq. In this alliance, Russia holds the cards and the United States, which stood by watching under George W. Bush, is trying to find room at the table.

Baghdad Pact meeting in Tehran presided over by Shah Mohammed Riza Pahlevi, (at far end of table). Presiding over the meeting is Major General Isakander Mirza, (at head of table), President of Pakistan. Seated on Mirzas right is Turkish Premier Adnan Menderes. Seated on the Shahs right is Nour Said of Iraq. Pakistan;s Premier H. S. Sudrawardy is on the Shahs left.

Baghdad Pact meeting in Tehran presided over by Shah Mohammed Riza Pahlevi, (at far end of table). Presiding over the meeting is Major General Isakander Mirza, (at head of table), President of Pakistan. Seated on Mirza's right is Turkish Premier Adnan Menderes. Seated on the Shah's right is Nour Said of Iraq. Pakistan;s Premier H. S. Sudrawardy is on the Shah's left.

The convenient division between “moderate” and “extremist” Arab states is no longer useful. Friendly Qatar has become an ally of Syria; Saudi Arabia, which claimed the patent for the Arab initiative, is sending Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal to Damascus to rebuild the Arab alliance. Syria, along with Iran, Iraq and Turkey, plans to set up a joint electricity grid, while Iran is being described as an enemy of the Arabs. The Arabs? Except for Syria, Qatar, Iraq and Sudan. The old arrangement that Israel thought it could navigate is falling apart. The bad guys and good guys are changing roles, and they are dragging the Western countries alone.

Who is an ally and who is an enemy? Who is the blind one here? Washington, which does not see where terrorism comes from, or Israel, which remains preoccupied with the locks on the gates to Gaza and the amounts of sugar, salt, concrete and iron to be allowed in? The United States, which is trying to adopt new methods against the Iranian threat and offer an alliance to Russia, or Israel, which is fumbling about trying to decide whether to procure an American anti-missile system or develop an anti-Qassam missile at a cost of $1 million each?

And what an achievement for Israel. The United States conditioned the transferring of its contribution to Gaza’s reconstruction to the release of Gilad Shalit. And what if the U.S. does not transfer the funds? How much will there be for reconstruction? How much is $5.5 billion minus $900 million? Still double what the Gaza Strip needs.

And what will happen if the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas takes place and these two enemies set up a unity government, dispatch ambassadors to European countries and hold a dialogue? What if the Europeans sign agreements with the Palestinians and invite their representatives to set up offices in their capitals? What will happen to all this achievement? Britain is already ready to talk to Hezbollah; true, “only” with its political wing, as if it’s possible to separate the organization’s military and political wings. Which half of Hassan Nasrallah is Britain planning to talk to? And what about Hamas? After all, it, too, will soon find a European interlocutor.

Does anyone understand what is happening here? Perhaps the Western countries, who are fed up with the unintelligible conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, or Israel, which is keeping score on anyone who boycotts its academics and angry with those who undermine its definitions of who the enemy is.

But here comes a chance to put forth a new vision, to raise a new flag. In three weeks, the Arab League is meeting in Qatar. This is normally a ceremony void of substance, but twice in the past it set the tone. Once in Khartum, in 1967, when it declared the “three Nos” against Israel, and once in Beirut, in 2002, when the Arab initiative proposing recognition of Israel was approved. In 35 years the Arabs’ strategic concept has changed. It can change again in a month if Israel presents a new concept, clearly and loudly.

But we better not hold our breath. We have learned well how to miss opportunities; that is what happens when you spend so much time with the Palestinians.

Turkish FM: Turkey trying to ease U.S.-Iran tension By Reuters

Price to Woo Syria Could Be Steep
, By Jay Solomon and Nada Raad, WSJ

U.S. envoys held weekend talksSyria Comment › Edit — WordPress in Damascus, hoping to enlist Syria in Mideast stabilization efforts, but Syria’s president is expected to demand a heavy price in return. Mr. Assad has his own priorities. In particular, he wants Washington to push Israel for concessions over the disputed Golan Heights region.

Clinton: U.S. to push for Israel-Syria reconciliation
By Natasha Mozgovaya and Barak Ravid

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stressed during her visit to Ankara that the United States would like to see a resumption of the talks between Israel and Syria. However, in closed talks Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu said he prefers to give priority to the Palestinian track over the Syrian one. The importance of indirect peace talks between Syria and Israel “cannot be overstated,” Clinton said at the end of a meeting with her Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan.

The focus is on Syria, but the key is really Iran (March 09. 2009)
By Phil Sands, The National

…Syria’s ability to avoid making a stark choice will depend on US willingness to compromise with Iran, said Joshua Landis, a Syria specialist and director at the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

“Traditionally, the US has sought to weaken both Iran and Syria, to lock them out of regional security discussions and deny their importance,” he said.

“If the US learns to offer them security – that is, stop threatening to overturn their regimes – and to compromise with them, then there is hope for an accommodation of interests in the region that could dramatically reduce tensions and radicalism. Of course Iran and Syria would have to meet the US half way and change some of their behaviour as well.”

US Envoys Hold ‘Constructive’ Talks in Syria (07 March 2009)
By Edward Yeranian, Cairo, Voice of America

Comments (84)

Shai said:

Bar’el concludes: “We have learned well how to miss opportunities; that is what happens when you spend so much time with the Palestinians.”

That’s an easy cop-out. We’ve missed endless opportunities having nothing to do with the Palestinians, throughout the past 60 years. What is true, is that turning a Palestinian leader into our puppet was not a very “smart move”, if the aim was to one day reach a final agreement with the Palestinians.

March 9th, 2009, 1:40 pm


Shami said:

There can not be continious relation between democracies and totalitarian dictatorial regimes.I see no obstacles for the revival of the Islamic Umma if all the countries in the Arab-Islamic world are enough representative and legitimazed by their own people in order to forge such big alliance.
The sole democracy in this Islamic world ,is Turkey and perhaps Malaysia.

March 9th, 2009, 4:38 pm


jad said:

The Islamic Umma! What does that means?
Kareem al Shami: stop looking everything through a religion eye, it poisons the message and it has bad sectarian taste to it.
In the entire article I didn’t read anything about Islam or this coalition become an Islamic Umma!
God doesn’t need to exist in any nation, he doesn’t like to have borders, He doesn’t need to be in every little details of government creation, and above all it’s not dignifying for him to treat others according to their relations to him, He wouldn’t like that; God is a message, a personal matters, while religion is not and should not take over a government, a nation not even a household, we usually kill in the name of religion but we always say “God”/“Allah”/’Yahwa” told us to do so.
Do you know why Turkey is a sole succeed? It is the only country with 99.8% of one religion, they don’t have the problem of religion you will have in an Arabic/Muslim world and it starts as a totalitarian regime, still have some of it.
Do you know that Malaysia you are praising banned Christians and any other religious groups from using the world “Allah” unless they write (only for non-Muslim), can you imagine how primitive, silly and amazingly segregated posing such law on people not to use this word in their language if they are not Muslims. What do you think the situation would be in your future Umma where you will have 5% or less are not Muslims? Not 40% as Malaysia, yet they pose this stupid law? Try for one day not to use the word ‘Rabb” considering it as a ‘Christian only’ word and see how difficult it is.
Be sure that in the Umma you are talking about Christians and other religions instantly become second class citizens regardless of how fair your government will be. It is wrong to have an UMMA based on religion, PURE WRONG. Like it or not, it will become a totalitarian regime and not a democracy as you wanted to be, Religion and Democracy doesn’t exist.
We criticizes Israel for the idea of having a nation for Jews and you are asking for the creating a nation of Islam. Get real!

March 9th, 2009, 6:38 pm


Innocent Criminal said:


are you seriously attempting to argue logicaly with a compeletly illogical concept? save your energy man.

March 9th, 2009, 7:27 pm


Observer said:

The industrial production of Turkey dropped 21 % in the last quarter of 08 and the Turkish stock market lost 70% of its value. The country needs an IMF loan badly and the US can deliver on the board of that entity. US leverage in this crisis as long as the dollar remains the world currency is still present in many parts of the world. If it is not then the US is finished.
The problem is that the population in the US will not go back to consumption for at least another 10 years. Every body is saving and saving like crazy. Even the health care industry which is supposedly immune from the recession is suffering terribly. Any chance of stabilizing the banking and financial systems in the near future is zero. The FDIC is now leveraged at 3000 % of its value and has increased fees for banks to insure depositors. The problem is that the banks may not have the money to pay the fees and only the US treasury can help. Well, it is printing money galor and it is only time before inflation hits and the value of the dollar plummets.
The Europeans have a huge burden called Eastern Europe that is as bad as the toxic mortgage securities. No one knows where the bottom is and how to get out of the hole, not even Obama knows.

From Wall Street to Main Street to Political Turmoil.

March 9th, 2009, 8:24 pm


Shami said:

What does that means ? it means a political union between muslim democracies(i hope not theocracies) in the same way of the European community.It will take time ,may be a century ,because it means the revival of a super power from Morroco to Indonesia.
Jad,the succees of the turkish democracy is not because of its 98 % muslim majority which is more fragmented than what we know in Syria ,the heterodox alevis who are close to the alawi nusayris are estimated from 8 millions to 12 millions and the kurds are more than 15 millions ,have mountains and geographical unity.
Btw ,the revival of the Islamic Umma is an ideal that i share with many ,now Jad, if you have an other political projects that would make us powerfull in face of the USA and EC… give us an insight of it.

March 9th, 2009, 8:32 pm


Shami said:

Shai ,this is a sad story ,that’s why that democratization of the arab islamic world is important and many saudis are like us ,they see no other solution than democratization of their country.And i hope that the sentence will not be executed,if not the Saudi regime will make more enemies.

March 9th, 2009, 8:46 pm


Ghat Albird said:

The “(US’s)new strategic alliance” must be gaining converts at an alarming rate to the extent that the AIPAC/zionists in DC and elsewhere are sounding the alarm bells.

Consider the following pontification by Amitai Etzioni. Titled, The Road to Damascus.


An Israeli-Syrian peace deal is currently a very fashionable idea in Washington. It is said to be a (relatively) easy deal, compared to a settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as well as other intractable problems in the region, such as those that afflict Afghanistan and Pakistan. Above all, it is assumed that progress on this front will have major, strategic effects on the eight-thousand pound gorilla nobody knows how to tame: a nuclear-armed Iran. Closer examination reveals there is very little reason to expect Iran’s nuclear ambitions will be affected by anything Syria does, even if a deal with Damascus—which just tried secretly to build a nuclear bomb with the help of North Korea—can be worked out in the near future.

Among the advocates of a deal with Syria now are two influential U.S. politicians, former-Senator Chuck Hagel and Senator John Kerry. They have called for the United States to promote a peace deal between Israel and Syria, supporting moves by Turkey in this direction. A major reason? To “isolate Iran.” Danielle Pletka, the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, writes in the New York Times that “Washington is abuzz with talk of a ‘strategic realignment’” that would result from splitting Syria away from Iran and “upend the status quo” of the whole Middle East. In an article written in the prestigious Foreign Affairs, the head of the Council of Foreign Relations and former director of policy planning for the State Department, Richard Haass, tackled the subject with Martin Indyk, the highly regarded former U.S. ambassador to Israel,. Much more cautious than other advocates, they realize in full that there is no substitute for dealing directly with Iran. However, they share with others the notion that a Syrian-Israeli deal would greatly concern Iran.

To suggest that such an effect on Iran is a bucket full of wishful thinking (or drummed up by those too keen to find a foothold for peace in the rough terrain of the Middle East) is not to deny that a good deal with Syria would have some nontrivial benefits on various secondary fronts. If Syria would truly agree to and implement a commitment to stop serving as a bridge for the delivery of arms to Hezbollah, it would inconvenience Iran. Iran would then have to find other, more taxing routes for resupplying Hezbollah (by air and sea). If Syria would stop allowing foreign fighters to flow into Iraq, it would somewhat diminish the ability of Iran to make mischief in that country. And closing the offices of Hamas in Damascus might well degrade somewhat the role of Iran in Gaza and the West Bank. However, it is hard to imagine why this would have any effect on the burning issue of the day: that time is running out for stopping Iran from developing a nuclear bomb. It is this development that Israel considers a direct threat to its very survival and that is feared by the Saudis, Jordanians and Egyptians.

The notion that Iran would be “isolated” even if Syria became Israel’s best friend, a member of NATO or some Turkish- (or French-) led Middle Eastern Union, is—to put it mildly—a fantasy difficult to fathom. China and India have great interest in Iranian oil, and Russia has stakes in major arms deals and in building nuclear reactors. There is no reason that whatever happens to or with Syria will affect these interests and lineups. Other Muslim nations feel an affinity to Iran that will hardly diminish even if secular, etatist Syria’s relationship with Iran goes sour. Moreover, Syria would hardly be the first nation to find it beneficial to promise the moon and the stars in exchange for getting back a major piece of much coveted territory and being removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism and its associated sanctions—while making light of its obligations. In this case, that means still seeking to curry favor with Iran, say, by not fully closing its borders.

Those who seek strategic leverage in the Middle East must look to Tehran. There are no substitutes, easy back roads or shortcuts. Only if Iran can be persuaded, cajoled or otherwise made to give up its nuclear ambitions can Israel and other nations in the region feel much less threatened and much more ready to deal with other issues on other fronts. Furthermore, one must take into account that working out and implementing a deal with Syria will take a year or two at best; this is more or less the time many hold that Iran needs to build its first nuclear bombs. Focusing on Syria first is to squander time those who seek to advance peace in the Middle East just do not have.

Amitai Etzioni is a professor of international relations at the George Washington University and author of Security First (Yale University Press, 2007).

March 9th, 2009, 8:53 pm


jad said:

Dear IC, I know that logic and religion are not best friends but that shouldn’t stop us from trying to close the gap in-betweens and it’s our duty to do just that for our own future existence as ‘human’. Lately, I’m getting across lots and lots of Arabic sites, media and comments talking about how religions is the answer of all our problems and that it should be taking over everything including logic and science, also reading about the differences and hate between sects in our crazy Arabic world. People are praising scumbags and terrorist like bin laden and Saddam in the name of religion and sects, forgetting that there is always different ways for things to work away from religion and ideological differences. To be very honest, I’m sad of seeing young people of the ‘future’ become so blinded by hate, religion, political differences and wrong views that they are not being able to see wrong from right. What is the matter with us? Why we are always the victims? Are we as individual doing anything right before asking our corrupted and terrible governments to do what is right and correct. Why should I as an Arab be looked at as a terrorist and primitive human because of couple twisted minded criminals who came out of our countries and spread their sectarian message? Doesn’t anybody else see this ‘trend’ as odd and bizarre? I do, and it is very disturbing.

Karim, There is no such thing called an Islamic democracy or Christian democracy or Jewish Democracy or Hindu Democracy it’s all a fantasy of yours. How do you feel about Shia Democracy does that work with your Islamic Umma regardless of what Shia imam preach in their prayers?
Please don’t give us lecture in your beautifully Ottoman ideology. It’s a myth, the whole religion and democracy marriage is just adultery nothing less

March 9th, 2009, 8:58 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:


I absolutely agree with you ( sadly..).
Basically, if Muslims and Arabs would have been given the chance to
vote in real democratic elections TODAY,
the Umma is established TODAY.
Every opinion poll that is done among Muslims / Arabs, suggests
right that.

March 9th, 2009, 9:28 pm


Shami said:

Jad ,what myth ?1200 years from the Umayyad till the Ottomans do u call this a myth ?
I think that you ignore this fact,but from the Umayyads till the end of the Ottoman era ,the christians were important in number,rich and influential.Now after some decades of so called secular dictatorial regimes what is left of this religious pluralism ?.Only pictures of this” belle epoque” that you can see on Alex’s mideastimage.
Jad ,most of the muslims are for it,from Morroco to Indonesia,pro Islamic union feeling is very strong and decades of dictatorial regimes would change nothing on the contrary…that’s why democracy is important.

March 9th, 2009, 10:19 pm


Alex said:

DAMASCUS, Syria, March 9 (UPI) — Syrian President Bashar Assad said Monday that Lebanon would pay a price if a tribunal examining the assassination of Rafik Hariri were politicized.

“There are no guarantees. But if politicization exists, Lebanon would be the first to pay the price,” Assad said in an interview with the al-Khaleej newspaper in the United Arab Emirates.

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in a major car bomb attack in Beirut on Feb. 14, 2005.
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the first of its kind in the Middle East, took over from the U.N. International Independent Investigation Commission on March 1.

Analysts anticipate the tribunal will stoke already deep divisions in Beirut as allegations surrounding the assassination pull at the already fragile political landscape in Lebanon.

The issue is expected to play heavily in the run-up to the Lebanese parliamentary elections in June.

March 9th, 2009, 10:27 pm


SimoHurtta said:

Surely nobody can deny the fact that EU is formed by countries which are near each other, have the basically the same cultural heritage and religion. Turkey is not wanted among the EU public as a EU member state because the public sees it “different” and the difference in the end is a different religion and to some extend different culture and past. Surely Turkey understands that for it it is not so easy to join EU. What the EU public do not understand that Turkey has the option to create a own union based on large Turkish tribes and nations in central Eurasia and with fellow Muslim states.

Henry Kissinger is said having said
“Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world.”

We can imagine the power of Turkey, Iran, the stan and Arab countries would have with some level of unity and co-operation. And if Russia is pushed further away from Europe it will help that kind of union become reality. Not because Russia “loves” the alternative, but because it has no other options.

Now when the situation that control of the world through money is not any more so “controlled” new alliances and power structures are created. Surely Islam and the common past have a role in potential new alliances and co-operation especially when the “West” can’t offer any more any new constructive alternatives.

Of course Christianity in Europe was not the main reason why EU was formed, neither will Islam be in the a potential new alliance. Surely the Muslim nations understand that if they are not allowed in the western clubs and the best option they are offered is a client state status they have to create new “clubs”. They have much the rest of oil and gas reserves. A good start for a new “club”.

March 9th, 2009, 11:18 pm


jad said:

“Every opinion poll that is done among Muslims / Arabs, suggests right that.’ Because the majorities in the Muslim/Arab world from Morocco to Indonesia are uneducated and ignorance to what they are asking for and they have no clue what ‘Duty’ and ‘rights’ really means.
They become very weak with severe delusion that they see GOD as only a ‘Saviour’ not as a ‘Guide’ who show them the way and they need to do the effort to get there not him, they want him to do everything for them.
Bunch of losers we (Arabs and Israelis) are, after your comment “Prince” I ‘sadly’ agree with the article that You ‘Israelis’ spend so much time with the Palestinians. Have a peace break for a change.

I agree with IC, it’s waist of energy talking to someone like you;
I’m glad to know that you don’t see Ottoman as occupier and you told me before that you don’t consider the martyrs of May 6 which is weird but this is your problem…
I did like your last line, very touching: (that’s why democracy is important.) for what? to get into a ‘religious’ dictatorial regime? Where it is worst since you can’t argue about GOD rules….

Finlay, stop bragging about the Christians during the Arab and Ottoman era, which is a pure political LIE.
“I think that you ignore this fact,but from the Umayyads till the end of the Ottoman era ,the christians were important in number,rich and influential.”
Who is ignoring the facts me or you?
During the Umayyad period Christians forced to wear distinctive dress
During the Abbasid period Arab-Christian forced to convert to Islam and they were crucified at the city gates
Not until the 19th century where European pressure forced the Ottoman Empire to make reforms and give the personal statutes of Christians and other religions.
In numbers! Are you kidding me? We lost 50% of the Syrian Christians community as a direct result of the 1860 massacre which led to the immigration of Christian to the west and that was during your lovely Ottoman period.
Yours and many others accusations of the Syrian Christians being in a coma and lost their role of being Syria’s ideas engine and Syria’s cultural assets, is not true.
It sounds like it is your way of convincing the Syrian Christians communities with a different regime/government/Umma the situation would be better and flourishing for them forgetting that average Syrians are not close to understand the responsibilities and duties of the western democracy as we know it, not to mention that there is no enough room to separate religion from state in all middle east countries when you get your Umma.
I’m in no way saying that the existing regime/government is doing a great job either, since the Syrian Christians’ ‘political’ voice doesn’t really exist and nobody in the government really care to hear anything from them except when they want to show how tolerated we Syrians are toward each other which is true in general and should be encouraged at all times, yet a better role for that community must be encouraged and supported as well.
Watching the clip of Al-Farah Choir at Kennedy centre I came to a conclusion that many Syrian Christians are defending Syria as a state and history in anyway they could and they are trying their best to show the cultural, traditional, human and above all the tolerance and the bright face of Islam more than their Muslim countrymen.
I have big problem understanding why a Christian Syrian like me is more connected and more proud of his background, his language, his poetry, his music, his history and his Syrian tradition an above all his Syrian martyrs than his Muslim Syrian brother?
Why I do defend a Shiaa from a Sunni attack or the opposite or even between a Durzi and an Alawite, while I’m not even a Muslim, don’t you see that strange?

March 10th, 2009, 12:03 am


ehsani2 said:

Dear Observer,

Your comment above (6) is rather dire. You seem rather pessimistic about the global economy. Sadly, you may not be pessimistic enough.

March 10th, 2009, 12:24 am


Shami said:

Jad,what i read from you remind me a mixture of Bat Yeʾor and Zakaria Butros.I dont think that you read Anne Marie Eddé ,Yuakim Mubarak S.J or Georges Corm.
For the 1840-1860 era,these wars were planned by external powers,in the begining it was a british-french conflict each power had its proxy,decades before this date napoleon tried with the armenians but it didnt work.
If such incidents were systematic but obviously they were rare,the christian presence would have been erased long time ago.
For your knowledge ,Istanbul the capital of the Ottoman empire had a christian majority untill the first world war,in other words they were the neighbors of the sultans for centuries.Many if not most of the wonderful wooden Ottoman villas that we see today on the bosphorus were inhabited by christian ottoman families.
For the 1840-1860 civil wars…


March 10th, 2009, 1:14 am


norman said:

I like what you said,
Do you feel closer to a Muslim from Malaysia or a Christian from Syria , Syrian Christians feel closer to Syrian Muslims than a Christian Westerners,

It is time for the Middle East to have people evaluated for who they are not who their parents are , what they do , not what their color is , what they do and how they treat others and the care they express to their fellow human being not what religion they belong to , In God’s eyes we will be punished or rewarded for what we do , not what religion we belong to , all religions are there so people will treat each other with respect and care.

And for those who think that their religion is the right way to heaven , God bless you , you do not have to convert others , Keep heaven to yourselves , many of us believe that God will evaluate us for what we do.

March 10th, 2009, 1:51 am


jad said:

You SOB Karim, where the hell did you read me criticizing the prophet or Islam as a religion.
You and your comments are nothing but a fucking sectarian pieces of crap.
Don’t you dare to compare me to any of your freak sectarian friends.
I don’t read for those freaks because they are the reason we have scumbag like you writing stupid comments without even using their brains.
As for the stupid Ottomans and your love to them why don’t you move there and show them your sectarian ugly face they might love you there.

March 10th, 2009, 1:58 am


majedkhaldoun said:

how long it will take for the economy in USA te recover?
How bad it will get?
how bad syria will suffer?
generaly,most people believe things will get better in the future.3 years.

March 10th, 2009, 2:09 am


Shami said:

Norman, i prefer a good christian on a bad muslim and vice versa ,whatever they are eastern or western.Of course in culture and tradition ,i’m closer to a syrian or middle easter christian than muslims from Malaysia,for this reason i’m for the revival of this past pluralistic society,the christians are the original people of Syria and i would be glad to see all of them back in their fathers land.

March 10th, 2009, 2:13 am


Shami said:

The sectarian it’s you and you are a big one , unlike norman and alex.
And be polite because your insults are returning to you.

March 10th, 2009, 2:23 am


Jad said:

You remind me of Ousama bin laden.
Calling for a Religious Democratic Umma and can’t take any criticism, what democracy Umma you are calling for, ya Jahel.

March 10th, 2009, 2:30 am


Alia said:


Help me please here, I don’t know what Umma you are talking about.

It looks as if some people are optimistic that Syria is at the dawn of a new start and that it has choices; one of which is to be involved in a new federation of Islamic majority states.. in this case the last thing we want to repeat is our miserably failed history.

The great religion of Islam has nothing to do with the Omayads, the Abbasids, the fatimids, the Ayubis..etc.who, we are taught in schools were admirable specimen of civilization. In fact, they were no such thing! In the first place, we Sunnis should have never accepted the murderers of the grandson of the Prophet and of Ahl-al Bayt as our rulers and continued to close our eyes…their mistakes were Too Many To Count. The positive has been highlighted and the negative pushed under the rug. The Ottomans what have they done? Turkey needed Ataturk to clean it up from the Ottomans so that Islam can be discerned properly in it.

Anyway, if ( a big IF) we are starting again, it is good if we do not repeat our mistakes. How are we going to live in countries with multiple ethnicities and multiple religions and talk again of Umma vaguely?
We are not Muslim conquerors who will set the rules and find some clerics who do suitable Ijtihad for us so that we get what we want and the blessings of the clerics on top of it. It cannot work like that. We have to accept that co-existence means equal existence and build our nation on that, otherwise you know what, we might as well stay where we are. Enough spilled blood.

And Shami, this Ummah…what about the Shia? I guess they also are not included.


I have one comment on what you say, logic and religion are not contradictory. Ignorance and fanaticism make everything illogical and meaningless. But we do not need to respond with outrage, when the time comes for nation-building, we must all bring what we have to offer and take our rightful role and fight for our rights to complete citizenship in our own countries.

March 10th, 2009, 2:34 am


alia said:

Listening to the Voices of A Billion Muslims

The largest and most comprehensive survey of the Muslim world conducted by Gallup from 2001 to 2007 yielded surprising results that challenge the conventional wisdom on issues ranging from the drivers of extremism to support for democracy

By John Esposito with Dalia Mogahed | 02 March 2009

…..While the conventional wisdom in the West has been that democracy requires secularism, separation of church and state, the desired Muslim model is neither a theocracy nor a secular democracy but rather a model that integrates faith and democratic values; more specifically the data show that a majority want a system of government that combines democracy and faith/Shari‘a. Of course, what respondents mean by Shari‘a can vary widely from no law that contradicts Shari‘a to laws based on Shari‘a.

Responses to the Gallup Poll indicate that wanting Shari‘a does not automatically translate into wanting theocracy. Significant majorities in many countries say religious leaders should play no direct role in drafting a country’s constitution, writing national legislation, drafting new laws, determining foreign policy and international relations, or deciding how women dress in public or what is televised or published in newspapers. Others who did opt for a direct role tended to stipulate that religious leaders should only serve in an advisory capacity to government officials.


March 10th, 2009, 3:08 am


Shami said:

It’s not allowed to be followers of people and our traditional scholars have harshly criticized the Umayyads ,so was the position of the Salaf like Al Tabari ,Abu Hanifa, Ibn Hanbal who was jailed by the Abassi caliph al Maamun that we should not hate for his patronage for science and culture,the biggest mistake that the Umayyad and Abassid did was the establishment of the hereditary regime in Islam.The only caliphs that we consider righful were elected by an assembly of Sahaba .Umar 2 known as Umar ben Abdelaziz corrected the situation,he forbade any attack against the Alid familly and rehabiliated their names as saints of Islam.
We also refuse the hereditary imama as wanted by the shias and i consider democracy as acceptable according to the islamic tradition and the clerical rule or theocracy is stranger to our understanding of religion.
We criticize because men are faillibles ,but without excess and hatred..,the Umayyad then the Abassids , also built one of the most beautiful civilizations in history that make us proud.
If we forget Yazid and the problem of the hereditary illegitmate kind of rule,the things were not all bad.

March 10th, 2009, 4:19 am


Alia said:


There is a whole lot more than an assembly of Sahaba which voted one Caliph. Our own sources are very rich in details on the matter why don’t you study them, instead of repeating what you have been told. Abu Bakr appointed Omar, Omar appointed 6 people from the original Meccans and not one from the Ansar to make a choice between themselves etc….that is hardly a representative sample.

The traditional scholars of Islam actually documented a lot more than what we are willing to hear and reflect upon, we choose from the massive histories what serves our present ideological goals. This is ignorance and not Truth which we were placed in charge of seeking.

MY point ? The political history of Islam is not the religion of Islam, there is nothing divine in it and contrary to your assertion we should not “forget ” the dark spots and rejoice- as we have been doing for centuries- over the positive light.

Since you are educated you can read for yourself and come to your own conclusion, you do not need a scholar to tell you what to think.

Who is “we” who reject hereditary Imamat ? what authority does this “we” have to tell other sects what they should believe in and persecute them on its basis? The A’ma themselves never sought anything else than the spiritual life….they were after all Ahl al bayt, what have we Sunnis offered them of respect and love?

Interestingly this response from the SUNNI Mufti of Aleppo: Shaykh Dr. Akkam on the issue:

Q: هل جماعة السنة مقصرة في ذكر ومحبة آل البيت ومعرفة مآثرهم وتاريخهم ؟

A: المحبة ليست أثراً ظاهراً فحسب، وإنما مضمون يتجلى سلوكاً وأدباً وخلقاً ينسجم مع ما يدعيه المحب. وآل البيت محل اتفاق، وساحة للقاء بين الجميع سنة وشيعة وغيرهم، وكلنا مقصرون إزاء التعرف على هذه العصبة الطاهرة العظيمة.
ونسأل الله أن يعرفنا حقوق آل بيت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم. واجتهد أنت، ولنجتهد سوية في بذل الجهد للتعرف عليهم، واتباعهم والسير على هداهم.


March 10th, 2009, 10:18 am


Enlightened said:


Forgive me I don’t want to intrude on your discussion, but I do have a question/favour to ask. Can you translate the response in Arabic that you posted. I am interested to know what was said, merely out of curiosity.

I cannot but fully agree with your assertation:

“MY point ? The political history of Islam is not the religion of Islam, there is nothing divine in it and contrary to your assertion we should not “forget ” the dark spots and rejoice- as we have been doing for centuries- over the positive light.”

I remember many hours reading, and searching I read all the hadiths, Sahih and Bukhari, different commentaries and interpretations of Islam, read the gospels, parts of the Torah and came to the conclusion in my early twenties that there is no universal truth. That the most pious and most religious of men learn to accept all human beings no matter how different they are in practices of faith or culture.

March 10th, 2009, 10:55 am


Shami said:

Alia,it’s not a ansar or mekkan problem ,why do u think the rafidi extremist shias of today make takfir of 99% of the sahaba ,ansar and mekkan included ?they only respect a dozen of them.
We dont consider the 4 rightful caliphs as infaillible people ,they were among the best ,but they comitted mistakes .You should study the question as whole ,and not base your judgement on some weak versions related by Imam al Tabari or Hadith books.
Alia ,who told you that they are not loved ?Anyone who hate one of them is not a Sunni.And who told you that the extremist Shias(the rafida among them) love all of them?By Ahl Bayt i dont only mean the 11 imams.I send you back to your reading you will find Alids who are called liars by them.

March 10th, 2009, 11:17 am


Shami said:

Culture in the Time of Tolerance:
Al-Andalus as a Model for Our Own Time


March 10th, 2009, 11:27 am


Alia said:


Here it is :

Q: Are the Sunnis not giving Ahl-alBayt their proper dues as far as remembering them, loving them, knowing their traditions and their history?

A: Love is not only an outside expression, it reveals itself in the conduct, the correct approach and the character, which all attempt to emulate those who are inspiring admiration.

Ahl al Bayt are a locus of agreement, a space of meeting between Sunnis, Shias and others. All of us have shortcomings when it comes to the knowledge of this great and purified group of people.
We ask Allah to give us the knowledge of the rights of the family of the Prophet (saaws). And you ( who are asking the question) strive, and let us all strive to make an effort to know them better and to follow them and walk in their footsteps.
Enlightened, the source is one. The spiritual realm is there and no one is forbidden entry but grace is a prerequisite.

March 10th, 2009, 1:21 pm


jad said:

Ya fatta7 ya 3aleem ya razza2 ya kareem!
7ayartna ma3ak ya Faheem,
Do you want an Ottoman Turks or an Andalus Moorish to stretch from Morocco to Indonesia?
May I have the choice of different styles for my house decor or is it going to be a mishmash of the two with a nice huge Harem?

March 10th, 2009, 3:10 pm


Shami said:

Alia,i know Akkam well and what he says is basic,the title of his doctorate thesis was related to shia’ism and we are not concerned,go ask the rafida why they hate first generations members of Ahl Bayt,among them many sons of Hasan,Zayd son of the imam Zayn al Abidin,and the uncle of their hidden mahdi Jaafar called by them al Kazab,the liar ,we sunnis love all the above.
Our problem with the rafida is this culture of hatred which is not limited to more than 99% of the sahaba ,the wives of the prophet but also Ahl bayt members.
Ahl Bayt are not in need of such hypocrit love.

March 10th, 2009, 6:00 pm


Shami said:

You saw ,Jad i’m not alone ,there is a consensus among the western scholars of Islam.are those also pro Ben Laden?

March 10th, 2009, 6:06 pm


jad said:

Some people never learn, there is one thing I’m sure about you Karim, that is:
you are a Bin Laden pro, you are disgrace to call yourself a Shami, go back to your name Karim or choose some nick name like Abu something it fits you better than Shami (kteri mbahbe6 3lek hal ism).
Who writes what you write and have nothing in his brain but religion, wasting his energy and passion over sectarian differences doesn’t worth to read or listen to.
You, sadly though, are brainwashed as those young people I wrote about who we see all over the net talking about sects and religions forgetting the core of religion and humanity.
I’m not interested in knowing or watching or reading your religious segregation classes’ madrassa in backward Afghanistan, try somebody or somewhere else where people are happy to listen to your message. The web is full of that and I’m sure that you know all of the sites by now.
Here, in SC, I come to enjoy and learn, to exchange ideas that build my knowledge and open my eyes to a better world and a better future, not to live in the past the way you do.
Form now on; mind your own business try to avoid me and when you read something that doesn’t fit with your close minded perspective be kind enough to avoid any kind of exchange with me since I’m not going to tolerate neither you nor anybody who will call me a sectarian just because I’m a Christian Syrian.
And be sure that I’ll always write back politely or rude, and I will always defend what I think is not balance or appropriate and I will criticize any idea that I’m convince it doesn’t work, I wont tolerate any comments that have any slightly hint of religious preferences or radical ideas against other sects, and I have the freedom to defend my points of views as a Christian, as an Arab and above all as a Syrian. Kids like you are old enough to know and understand every word I wrote above and I hope that you stick to them.

March 10th, 2009, 6:54 pm


Shami said:

Jad so are our people from Morroco to Indonesia,they want the revival of the Islamic Umma ,and i agree with them but i want it ,democratic,pluralist and liberal.

[deleted by admin: repetition of previous comment]

March 10th, 2009, 7:38 pm


jad said:

[deleted by admin]

March 10th, 2009, 7:49 pm


jad said:

when you delete the reply delete the one before, since I never and will never attack the Islam faith or the Muslims in any way to deserve the accusation I’m getting, otherwise don’t let someone to comments such sectarian language and accusations out of his inability for an open discussion.

March 10th, 2009, 8:10 pm


Alex said:

Dear Jad,

I Can not delete his comment. If I were in your place I would have responded denying his accusation and then I would have told him that I made a mistake by trying to discuss the issue with him in the first place.

But if you already did that before and he came back accusing you again of being jealous of Islam, then please provide me the link and I will delete his last repetitive comment.

March 10th, 2009, 8:25 pm


jad said:

(Jad,what i read from you remind me a mixture of Bat Yeʾor and Zakaria Butros)
Alex, do you know who is Zakaria Boutros?
He is a Coptic Christian who attacks the Islam faith, The Quran and The Prophet and some radicals called for him to be killed.
Is that good enough for you to go back and delete such comments that led to my outrage and gave this ‘karim’ to call me a sectarian “big one”
In every word I wrote I didn’t even come close to criticise the Islam as religion at all. My point was that democracy and religion doesn’t get along, what is wrong with that??????
Then he comes back with this ridiculous thing that (It’s your fault that you feel bad when you see so much importance for Islam,you have to accept us we accept you as you are.) When did I mention that I’m not accepting or I’m afraid of Muslims?
And, I’m not you Alex to react as you do, I’m a different person and I react the way that fits the situation I’m being put in at the time.
So you either delete all of that or you keep my impolite reply, you chose.

March 10th, 2009, 8:38 pm


jad said:

Here are my last lines before his beautiful reply:

(Form now on; mind your own business try to avoid me and when you read something that doesn’t fit with your close minded perspective be kind enough to avoid any kind of exchange with me since I’m not going to tolerate neither you nor anybody who will call me a sectarian just because I’m a Christian Syrian.
And be sure that I’ll always write back politely or rude, and I will always defend what I think is not balance or appropriate and I will criticize any idea that I’m convince it doesn’t work, I wont tolerate any comments that have any slightly hint of religious preferences or radical ideas against other sects, and I have the freedom to defend my points of views as a Christian, as an Arab and above all as a Syrian. Kids like you are old enough to know and understand every word I wrote above and I hope that you stick to them.)
Is that enough warning for him to stay away from writing back to me or not?

March 10th, 2009, 8:58 pm


Alex said:


First, there is no way your “impolite reply” can remain here. In the future please send me an email.


I will delete your last comment because it is a repetition of your earlier unfounded accusation to Jad.

And if you need to discuss this further send me an email. Don’t leave a message here.

March 10th, 2009, 9:03 pm


Alex said:

This is an interesting view from Washington! … apparently there is enough time to negotiate calmly with Iran.

U.S. intel chief: Israel takes `worst-case` view of Iran nukes threat

By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent, and News Agencies

A top U.S. intelligence official says Israel had adopted more of a “worst-case” interpretation in concluding that Iran was further along in nuclear weapon development, but this was based on the same facts as Washington was working with.

In testimony before Congress on Tuesday, the officials – Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Maples – said Iran does not have any highly enriched uranium, the fuel used to power a nuclear warhead.

The officials also said recent Iranian missile tests were not directly related to its nuclear activities. They said the two programs were believed to be on separate development tracks.
Blair had been asked to clarify recent conflicting statements from defense officials on Iran’s nuclear program.

U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen said in a televised interview last week that the U.S. believes Iran has obtained enough nuclear material to make a bomb.

But U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said hours later that Iran was in fact not close to having a nuclear weapon, which gives the United States and others time to try to persuade Tehran to abandon its suspected atomic arms program.

“They’re not close to a stockpile, they’re not close to a weapon at this point, and so there is some time,” Gates said on NBC television’s “Meet The Press.”

“We assess now that Iran does not have any highly enriched uranium,” Blair said. “We assess that Iran has not yet made that decision,” to convert the low-enriched uranium it is making to the weapons-grade material.

March 10th, 2009, 9:09 pm


Shai said:

Dear Alex,

I’ve got an even-better suggestion that enables calm negotiation with Iran:

Let Israel and the U.S. assume that Iran already has a nuclear weapon. Now, that both know they cannot destroy Iran’s nuclear aspirations or capabilities, negotiations can begin and continue… surprisingly calmly!

How’s that? 🙂

March 10th, 2009, 9:18 pm


Alex said:


Excellent idea.

But if it works well for Iran, then Somalia will also claim they already have nuclear weapons.

March 10th, 2009, 9:20 pm


Shai said:


Don’t they? 🙂

If the U.S. ran away from Mogadishu with its tail between its legs, following a few AK-47’s, RPG’s, and one Blackhawk down, can you imagine if Somalia had had nuclear weapons?

(p.s. What do you say about Bibi’s MK meeting with a Syrian official in the U.S.? Someone seems to be in a hurry… I wonder who. :-))

March 10th, 2009, 9:40 pm


Shami said:

Alex,i’m sorry but Jad paranoia towards Islam is clear like cristal.He began with ben laden and taliban ,when i spoke about a tolerant and a civilized democratic project for our Umma far from extremism and theocratism.

March 10th, 2009, 9:44 pm


Alia said:


Unfortunately there is much incoherence in what you write. You are completely unable to clearly state your point of view regardless of what it may be, except for insisting that I should read the literature of the Rafida. I have not gotten one constructive argument so far. You started quoting al-Tabari I answered you then you were unhappy with me quoting him back to you…so what if you (plural) know Shaykh Akkam, may be I do too….what difference does it make what his PhD thesis was in in this context, are you saying that the Mufti somehow is not a good enough reference for you ? or is it that the “we” are not seeing eye to eye with the Mufti, this is getting real interesting.

What does Andalusia have to do with anything, we are here and now and what is is that you and the “we ” you are referring to have to offer that will take us to Andalusia….write two sentences and make them coherent then I will write back.

March 10th, 2009, 10:28 pm


jad said:

“Jad paranoia towards Islam is clear like cristal”
Prove it or apologize and shut your mouth.

“He began with ben laden and taliban ,when i spoke about a tolerant and a civilized democratic project for our Umma far from extremism and theocratism.’
Prove it or apologize and shut your mouth.

Are you going to stop this childish behavior? I fed up with you.

Dude; who is the paranoid? Who attacks Shia whenever is possible and linking Youtube of them preaching and swearing? Call them names? who?
You are a weird person that needs serious help to get out of his pathetic mental state he locked his mind in.
Allah yshfeek min jahlak.

March 10th, 2009, 10:49 pm


Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:

Freeman gave up and speaks his mind. You can read about it in WSJ and elsewhere.


Freeman speaks out on his exit


You will by now have seen the statement by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair reporting that I have withdrawn my previous acceptance of his invitation to chair the National Intelligence Council.

I have concluded that the barrage of libelous distortions of my record would not cease upon my entry into office. The effort to smear me and to destroy my credibility would instead continue. I do not believe the National Intelligence Council could function effectively while its chair was under constant attack by unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country. I agreed to chair the NIC to strengthen it and protect it against politicization, not to introduce it to efforts by a special interest group to assert control over it through a protracted political campaign.

As those who know me are well aware, I have greatly enjoyed life since retiring from government. Nothing was further from my mind than a return to public service. When Admiral Blair asked me to chair the NIC I responded that I understood he was “asking me to give my freedom of speech, my leisure, the greater part of my income, subject myself to the mental colonoscopy of a polygraph, and resume a daily commute to a job with long working hours and a daily ration of political abuse.” I added that I wondered “whether there wasn’t some sort of downside to this offer.” I was mindful that no one is indispensable; I am not an exception. It took weeks of reflection for me to conclude that, given the unprecedentedly challenging circumstances in which our country now finds itself abroad and at home, I had no choice but accept the call to return to public service. I thereupon resigned from all positions that I had held and all activities in which I was engaged. I now look forward to returning to private life, freed of all previous obligations.

I am not so immodest as to believe that this controversy was about me rather than issues of public policy. These issues had little to do with the NIC and were not at the heart of what I hoped to contribute to the quality of analysis available to President Obama and his administration. Still, I am saddened by what the controversy and the manner in which the public vitriol of those who devoted themselves to sustaining it have revealed about the state of our civil society. It is apparent that we Americans cannot any longer conduct a serious public discussion or exercise independent judgment about matters of great importance to our country as well as to our allies and friends.

The libels on me and their easily traceable email trails show conclusively that there is a powerful lobby determined to prevent any view other than its own from being aired, still less to factor in American understanding of trends and events in the Middle East. The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth. The aim of this Lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views, the substitution of political correctness for analysis, and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those that it favors.

There is a special irony in having been accused of improper regard for the opinions of foreign governments and societies by a group so clearly intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government – in this case, the government of Israel. I believe that the inability of the American public to discuss, or the government to consider, any option for US policies in the Middle East opposed by the ruling faction in Israeli politics has allowed that faction to adopt and sustain policies that ultimately threaten the existence of the state of Israel. It is not permitted for anyone in the United States to say so. This is not just a tragedy for Israelis and their neighbors in the Middle East; it is doing widening damage to the national security of the United States.

The outrageous agitation that followed the leak of my pending appointment will be seen by many to raise serious questions about whether the Obama administration will be able to make its own decisions about the Middle East and related issues. I regret that my willingness to serve the new administration has ended by casting doubt on its ability to consider, let alone decide what policies might best serve the interests of the United States rather than those of a Lobby intent on enforcing the will and interests of a foreign government.

In the court of public opinion, unlike a court of law, one is guilty until proven innocent. The speeches from which quotations have been lifted from their context are available for anyone interested in the truth to read. The injustice of the accusations made against me has been obvious to those with open minds. Those who have sought to impugn my character are uninterested in any rebuttal that I or anyone else might make.

Still, for the record: I have never sought to be paid or accepted payment from any foreign government, including Saudi Arabia or China, for any service, nor have I ever spoken on behalf of a foreign government, its interests, or its policies. I have never lobbied any branch of our government for any cause, foreign or domestic. I am my own man, no one else’s, and with my return to private life, I will once again – to my pleasure – serve no master other than myself. I will continue to speak out as I choose on issues of concern to me and other Americans.

I retain my respect and confidence in President Obama and DNI Blair. Our country now faces terrible challenges abroad as well as at home. Like all patriotic Americans, I continue to pray that our president can successfully lead us in surmounting them.

March 11th, 2009, 1:10 am


Shami said:

Jad,how should we react in front of people who say bad words on the sahaba ,prophet’s wives and even ahlul bayt members and make takfir of them.It’s a real problem ,when it happens , we can not stay neutral in front of such enormities.It’s not different than Zakaria Butros deprecation of Islam.Now i’m not attacking the shias as whole ,there are moderate among them ,like the Zaydi shias of Yemen.Despite all ,we still consider them muslims as we consider muslims other deviant groups like the khawaridj.

March 11th, 2009, 1:30 am


Off the Wall said:


AIPAC 1, Obama -10, common sense and decency -100

The more reason to be more resolute and vigilant than ever

March 11th, 2009, 1:52 am


norman said:

Jad, Shami,

Can we stop arguing theology , Let God decide who is right and who is wrong , Let us here try to Use the talent of every Syrian and every Arab to improve the Arab Nation and advance the live of it’s people , I see no value in arguing who is first to go to heaven , I honestly do not care ,

Shami , what you should know that the minorities in the Arab world are afraid of the Majority Muslims looking at them as the Christian fundamentalists look at the Jews and the Muslims in the US , I think that should make it clear to you that the Minorities , especially the Christians need assurances from the Muslims that the Christians are equal to other Syrians including the Muslims and that they have the same right and obligations that the Muslims have including being anything they can be including being presidents if elected , Christians have no illusions that being elected president is not something easy but who would have guessed that the US will have an African American , first generation to add , as president , It just should be not allowed so Syria can use all the talent that it has.

Syrian Christians are afraid of being like Egypt where Christians are not allowed to build Churches , It was easier for Butros Galli to become a secretery general of the UN than being a forign minster in Egypt , what a loss of talent .

For the Muslims of Syria to gain support from the Christian communities and other minority communities leaders who are Muslims should assure the minorities of their place in Syria as equal to the Muslims in all rights and obligations ,
Until now i see no strong Muslim leader who can lead that charge.

May be you Shami , One day.

And that is my take!.

March 11th, 2009, 1:59 am


norman said:

w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m


Last update – 03:10 11/03/2009
Netanyahu’s pre-election vow to Syria: Israel won’t provoke war
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent

Even before last month’s elections, Benjamin Netanyahu sent a message to Syria promising that a government under him would “not provoke war” and would be interested in “seriously and genuinely exploring” a peace process.

Likud officials met with senior Syrian figures in January in Washington to prepare the ground for further exchanges after Israel’s next government takes office, Likud sources said.

The officials, however, did not express any willingness to make concessions or withdraw from the Golan Heights, as Syrian President Bashar Assad says is necessary.

The two sides agreed that the meetings may result in the resumption of negotiations with American mediation to be held after the Israeli government forms.

In his message, Netanyahu expressed a willingness to solve the Shaba Farms question and the issue of the village of Ghajar on the Israel-Lebanese border.

The meeting with the Syrians was held following an American initiative. Americans, including some affiliated with the Obama administration, are closely following the process.

The Syrians were represented by “a Syrian citizen of the highest stature in his country,” according to the Israeli sources.

The Likud officials updated Netanyahu immediately following their return to Israel, several days before the elections.

Assad, meanwhile, has said in recent months his government would be willing to negotiate with any government in Israel.

On Monday, Assad told Al Khalij, a daily published in the United Arab Emirates, that all Israeli governments are similar and Syria will negotiate with whomever represents Israel. But Assad was skeptical about Israeli governments, whether right or left. He said “one is bad and the other is worse – the right is right and the left is right, the right kills Arabs and the left kills Arabs.”

Similar exchanges are also being held by Likud officials with Palestinians, Likud sources say. They hope to massively boost the Palestinian economy and set the stage for calm and peace.

Related articles:

Likud MK confirms he met Syrian official in U.S.

Report: Syria won’t renew peace talks until Israel clarifies Golan plans

Bush to Olmert: Why are you giving Syria the Golan for nothing?



close window

March 11th, 2009, 2:13 am


Off the Wall said:


Amen to that. 🙂

March 11th, 2009, 2:43 am


jad said:

Dear Norman,
NO, NO, and NO, I didn’t argue with this guy about religion issues, heaven, God or the right and wrong believes and faith are at all, so please don’t go where he wanted you to go with his delusions.
He creates this niche himself and he accuse me of being a sectarian, Islam faith attacker and that I’m afraid of Muslims and he keep going on and on about that, without even reading what I wrote and what I meant in my comments.
He doesn’t have the courage to notice his mistakes and he doesn’t have the courage to even apologize or prove his accusation he wrote above and describe them as “Crystal clear”.
You build your reputation in years and one day someone will destroy it for you in couple words.
I wont let it go until he recognize what he did and that he is wrong accusing me of something I’m not and something I do fight every time and everywhere I see it. He knows exactly what he is talking about and he knows very well that he is wrong yet he wont stop digging.
just read his last comment explaining to me about his stands regarding Shia as if nothing happened or as if I support any curse they might say during their prayers, he thinks that he can get away with what he already wrote couple hours ago.
I’m really disappointed of some of our countrymen who live in the west yet they learn nothing of their experience and their adventure and they trap themselves in an unproductive projects, I’m sorry for them.
Anyway, I appreciate your words, Thank you.

March 11th, 2009, 2:44 am


norman said:


Thank you,

Jad ,

Cool down , It does not matter what anybody says , What matter is what in your heart that we all see,

Where are from in Syria , Are you from Aleppo , like everybody else as it seems.

I feel lonely coming from Homs and Hama.

March 11th, 2009, 3:03 am


jad said:

Thank you Norman,
I’m from Damascus Half Shami half Mediterranean.
Don’t feel lonely my friend we all here for you.
Big smile.

March 11th, 2009, 3:24 am


alia said:


You have nothing to offer to the people of our religion. The Sahaba that you think you are defending were not pointing the fingers at others they were making sure they were acceptable to Allah first of all but of course you and the like of you think that you got everything right- you think the Jihad al-Nafs ( the striving to purify oneself) belongs to someone else

There always were people who were mistaken or plain wrong, nobody put you in charge of them. You are in charge of yourself and in charge of what you have to offer in the sake of Allah (swt) and as far as I can see you only have incoherent talk.

You think that the people who built Andalusia were busy pointing fingers at others what you are writing is plain nonsense, the people of Andalusia have nothing to do with you or groups like the one you belong to. Like a lot of people you jump on a wild horse and you do not know where it is taking you.

Take care that you are not among the ones that are confused and lost. Neither the Sahaba (RA) nor ahl-al Bayt (AS) will recognize the state of people like you…

Worry first about your Islam and then worry about everybody else’s and whatever group you belong to May Allah (swt) prevent you from reaching any position where you can spread dissent among the people.

March 11th, 2009, 10:40 am


Shami said:

Norman ,i told you ,i want the syrian christians to be more influential and i’m more sad than you are to see them leaving.
I want also the jews back in Syria.I’m nostalgic of Damascus,Aleppo,Cairo,Beirut,Alexandria,Smyrna,Istanbul,Sarajevo of the the Ottoman era and we syrians and the egyptians we inherited this wonderful cosmopolitan society ,am i responsible of its destruction?I told you on the identity of the culprit=dictatorial totalitarian regimes and before this date the European interventionism in Orient.What i said is not different from the opinion of Georges Corm ,a lebanese christian thinker.
Is he also pro Ben Laden Jad ?


Si on observe d’une manière objective la façon dont l’Empire ottoman a assuré la gestion de
cette diversité ethnique et communautaire, on ne peut passer sous silence la situation stable et
confortable pour leurs élites des nombreuses et importantes minorités (Grecs, Arméniens,
Chrétiens arabes d’églises orientales différentes), grâce aux réseaux d’intérêts économiques
qu’ils géraient dans le commerce ottoman avec l’Europe, l’artisanat, les services, ce qui leur
assurait richesse et respect. Quant à la dégradation de ces situations, elle a largement été le
résultat des politiques des Etats européens à l’égard de l’Empire ottoman, des conflits
d’intérêt entre ces Etats et de la concurrence acharnée à laquelle ils se livraient entre eux en
Méditerranée, concurrence ayant souvent recours au prétexte de la protection des minorités de
l’Empire, dans le but d’accroître leur influence et leurs domination sur cet Empire en
attendant son dépècement final

March 11th, 2009, 10:47 am


Alia said:


No you do not want the Christians or the Jews, this is all cheap talk. Who do you think you are kidding…?

March 11th, 2009, 10:56 am


Shami said:

Alia ,am i lying do you mean?

March 11th, 2009, 11:24 am


Alia said:


Whether you are lying or plain confused is for you to figure out, you are dwelling with your own self.

Now you are busy abusing the Shia for what a group of them is saying about the Sahaba…instead of finding the commonality between yourself and the moderates among them and building a true brotherhood of the spirit as you were commanded.
Tomorrow you will abuse the Jews and the Christians because of what a group of them will say about the Prophethood or the Trinity. Would that be unheard of?

Who are the disbelievers and those who were lead astray in your discussion groups? Let me guess…

March 11th, 2009, 12:23 pm


Shami said:

I have no problem with their own religious concepts,trinity or other and i’m aware that our christian brothers dont believe in the prophetical mission of Mohamad.It’s not a problem at all and i respect them as they are ,the problem exists when a party uses insults and mockery against the other ,this is the case of the rafidite shiites and a small number of christians,Is tolerance applicable towards such people ?.it’s not for the people who says that the wife of the prophet was a whore as repeats Zakaria Butros and Rafidite shias.Now if you accept such enormities for yourself,you are free ,it’s your problem but our societies can not be neutral when the people they consider as saints are reduced with the vilest means.
I have no problem with shia’ism as the mazhab of Jaafar al Sadiq,father of Aisha and grandson of Abu Bakr(from his mother side),teacher of Malik and Abu Hanifa.For example,there is no problem with the Zaydi shias.Nowadays the Ismailis and the Ibadiya of Oman,Tunisia and Algeria have build strong ties with us.So nothing is eternal.

March 11th, 2009, 12:46 pm


Alia said:


What do you exactly mean by : “but our societies can not be neutral when the people they consider as saints are reduced with the vilest means.” What is the extent you are going to go to to silence those people ? Can you silence everybody? Is it your responsibility?

March 11th, 2009, 12:52 pm


Shami said:

As i said ,if you accept it for yourself and your familly ,it’s your problem…But in general the muslims care about the honor of the prophet more than they care on their own.No need to invole the police in such situations.

March 11th, 2009, 1:12 pm


Alia said:

Actually it is not my problem nor is it yours and do not instruct me on what the muslims in general care about, you have no such authority or knowledge.

such statements as:
“No need to invole the police in such situations.” do not belong to Islam or to the Prophetic example, they are in the realm of lawlessness that does not belong to the “democracy” that you are calling for either.

Poor guy- what a waste.

March 11th, 2009, 1:20 pm


Shami said:

Alia , i’m not a pro theocracy bigot.
Islam is an important part of my identity but i also have other points of reference.
If the medieval muslims(Umayyads and Abassids) succeed to build greats civilizations,it was not thanks to religious bigotry but because they were practical people.

March 11th, 2009, 1:39 pm


norman said:


can you tell me what the KSA do after the reticule of the prophet in European papers , what did they do to protect the faith , did they break relation or cut the oil supply to these ungrateful nation , what they do when the Palestinians were being killed , nothing , so please stop talking the Talk , walk the walk and do something to the people who offend the Muslims and Arabs from the West.

March 11th, 2009, 2:25 pm


Shami said:

Norman,I’m not a representative of the Saudi Regime.
And let me tell you ,i see more Islam in 21th century Europe than in our countries.So it’s true that we are against Europe for its foreign policy but for its internal policy ,we look at it as a model in many fields.

March 11th, 2009, 2:38 pm


Shami said:

In the middle ages of Europe ,the positive influence was in the opposite direction ,from the Islamic world to Pre Renaissance Europe.

March 11th, 2009, 2:43 pm


SimoHurtta said:

And let me tell you ,i see more Islam in 21th century Europe than in our countries.

???????????????????????? What do you mean?

The Renaissance happened over 300 years ago and actually it was a process to reduce the religion’s influence and “iron grip” in human thinking. Sure European artists and scientists took the opportunity to assimilate Greek and Arabic scientific (not religious) knowledge. After Renaissance the Church and religion never again could get back that total control of the society, which caused a long period of slow or no development. Slowly but steadily religion was pushed to the role it now has in developed western countries.

I am no expert in the history of Islam and Arab countries but I suppose that the most successful periods in that history where times when dogmatic religious attitude was lower than “normally”. In times when people were allowed to think and speak with out a bunch of religious figures jumping in and saying that is not “allowed”.

March 11th, 2009, 4:15 pm


Alia said:

Sure European artists and scientists took the opportunity to assimilate Greek and Arabic scientific (not religious) knowledge.


Actually, Islamic Philosophy springing from Islamic religious thought’s encounter with Aristotle affected catholic religious thought in a most profound way- I am speaking of the influence of Ibn Rushd of Andalusia esp. on Thomas Aquinas…

Both Islamic and Jewish Mysticism affected Christian mysticism, as seen in John of the Cross and Theresa of Avilla.


Of course, at the time both philospophy and mysticism were part and parcel of Islam. Now both groups are considered more or less heretics by the more or less ignorant leading authorities as well as the people who think they know all there is to know about Islam.

March 11th, 2009, 5:48 pm


Nour said:


I think that what Simohurta was trying to say was that science and art were not able to flourish in Europe until power was whisked away from religious authority and religion was relegated to its natural place. This is contrary to what Shami is advocating, as he believes in the inception of a religious state.

March 11th, 2009, 6:26 pm


alia said:


I have taken what Simo said and what you are saying ( and what we have been taught rather uncreatively on the subject) a step further.

There would have been no Renaissance had there been no influx of philosophy and mysticism along with the sciences and arts of the Arabs, the Greeks and others…of the kind that came from Andalusia. It is not just the society of the Middle Ages that needed to redefine the role of religion as you are stating, it is the Christian religion under the Papacy that needed to re-invent itself, as it was doing already through the 30 year war, the various sects, the new doctrinal reform and without philosophy- even if it is implicit- there is no society.

As for religion being “relegated to its natural place”, I think this is another superficial observation that we have been taught from the West. What does NATURAL mean semantically? Who defines the natural place of religion?

As far back as we can tell, religion was at the center of society. The fact that for a couple of hundred years it is “relegated” to the periphery in a small percentage of the world population does not make it its “natural” place. The experience is ongoing and we should see the results…

Needless to say, nothing that i am saying has anything to do with what Shami is saying unless completely by accident since I have no clue what he is talking about most of the time truthfully.

March 11th, 2009, 7:41 pm


Off the Wall said:

Dear Jad
I can understand your anger and frustration after being accused of sectarianism. Yet, I do not believe that many of us take such accusation seriously. I for one, never doubted your secular credential and I am in full support of your vision of our Syria. We all need your enthusiasm, energy, and devotion of our mother country. From where I stand, your sensitivity to this issue does not indicate fear of Islam, it indicate a deep commitment to a secular and equal Syria, where everyone lives happy not because of the grace of other groups, but because they entitled to that. I guess this is one fundamental difference I have with those who advocate a mythical benevolent Caliphate. They view granting others some minor rights as a gesture, not as a duty. The essence of true democracy is not in the rule of majority, it is in the equal rights of all.

Nour and Simo
I tend to agree with Alia on this one. It was the whole package.

March 11th, 2009, 8:01 pm


Nour said:


When I said that religion was relegated to its natural place, I meant away from the political sphere and in the metaphysical and philosophical sphere. I don’t believe that society has to be religion-free for it to advance, but I do believe that the political system has to be completely separate from religious authorities and ecclessiastical bodies. What I am against is the transformation of religion into a temporal, political and administrative affair and not the theological or philosophical ideals pertaining to the mysteries of the soul and of immortality, the creator and the supernatural.

I recognize that Islamic philosophers contributed their part in enlightening the Europeans which lead to the Renaissance. And this is where I believe religion is at its best. But the Renaissance also helped realize that religious institutions must be completely separate from the political life of the nation for free thinking to materialize, leading to advancement and development.

March 11th, 2009, 9:04 pm


Alia said:


That is very well stated and we are in agreement.

March 11th, 2009, 9:17 pm


SimoHurtta said:

Nour is right about what I did mean. As an engineer by education I see that the biggest benefits of Renaissance that science was able to be separate itself from the tight grip of the religious based governing “apparatus”. Also during Renaissance the foundation for non religious based philosophy and social sciences was laid.

Without doubt during the complex and long development which the Renaissance era was, many impulses from different other religions and societies were adopted. But giving all or most credit to philosophy and mysticism along with the sciences and arts of the Arabs, the Greeks and others is in my mind a bit “exaggerated”. To get the Renaissance “working” were needed those brave soles who where able call into question the official “truth” and seek for new information and impulses. And they did not copy the ideas in the 1:1 ratio and made big own modifications.

It is for me difficult to understand how an extremely dogmatic and orthodox religious society could function and develop on the moral and legal foundation and rules created thousands years ago. Could the Talebans, Jewish ultra orthodoxes or the US “intelligent design” people run a modern developed country with the rules and world view which did fit to a agricultural and nomad cultures millenniums ago? Hardly.

In Finland was some time ago made a poll about how the people see the role of religion in our society. The majority did see religion as a personal affair, not any more a “state” affair, and favoured that religion should have as little influence in normal politics as possible. I suppose that the same attitude is dominant also in other European countries including the catholic countries.

March 11th, 2009, 10:29 pm


alia said:

But giving all or most credit to philosophy and mysticism along with the sciences and arts of the Arabs, the Greeks and others is in my mind a bit “exaggerated”


I certainly did not mean to give all or most credit to the Arabs etc…on the other hand, there is nothing negative about acknowledging that most civilizations benefited greatly from what came before them. We know quite well how much Europe benefited from the proximity of the Islamic civilization.

Recently, someone brought up the issue of the Islamic mind and Elie Elhadj responded on the topic.

Before a man picks up a hammer and drives a nail to make a different object than ever before, something in his mind, his imagination, his sense of who he is, what he is doing, the purpose of his new action must have changed.

This is what the Qur\’an did for the Arabs and this is what permitted them to break out and explore the world and take in from other civilizations and make new steps in every scientific branch.
The text of the Qur\’an and its philosophical, spiritual implications on the place of man in the world, his freedom from superstition, his allegiance only to God, the joys and marvels of discovering the Creation and the laws that cover and rule it and through them to know something about the Creator…all that was explicitly stated and implicitly and explicitly understood by the people who received the Message. And it was an immensely liberating message from the ignorance of the ages that had preceded. As opposed to the Catholic Church, Islam did not restrict science or knowledge until it reached its lowest points that we are witnessing now with Talibans and Takfiris and Jihadis and the KSA and its rulers etc…who have squandered billions of wealth and remain one of the most uncivilized and unproductive places on earth.

The Islamic civilization was not built by Taleban or their likes nor by people who spent their time discussing what type of veil the women should have. The beginning of Islam was not dogma and doctrine.

When Andalusia and the rest of the Islamic world was enjoying civilization, the Church in contrast was ruling in Europe and it was the rule of dogma and ignorance. Physicians were studying live patients and dissecting dead bodies without any hindrance in the world of Islam while the Church continued to forbid dissection of bodies well into the 15th century- with threats of excommunication.

Compare the status of physicians of all religions, of patients of all religions, hospitals and medical faculties between the Islamic world and Europe in the middle-ages



So yes, the man who does the work of the engineer is a brave soul but this man stands on the shoulder of others who have allowed him the freedom to be in his shed using his god-given abilities to advance science and engineering etc…without threats or interference.

March 12th, 2009, 2:09 am


Shami said:

Simo ,what I meant are the social accomplishments in Europe ,rule of law and democracy not the spiritual side.
The philosophical dilemma of the Catholic church towards the temporal and the spiritual should not be transposed to the Islamic context ,the clerical rule as it was known in Europe had no equivalent in the Islamic history.
Clericalism did not exist in Islam and should not ,the Caliphs who played an important role in development of science ,despite their religious title as successors of the prophet were not men of religion in the sense of Islamic clerk or muftis .The men of religion were of two kinds ,those who were subjected to the authority of the “prince” and the dissidents,those who opposed the policy of the ruler(Ibn Hanbal ,Ibn Taymiyya). As for the scientists, they were rewarded in Gold and we dont known in the history of Islam,trials who opposed clerics to scientists such as what happened to Galileo.
Some were at the same time men of religion and men of science and philosophy ,i cite for example , Ibn Roshd(lat:Averroes)commentator of Aristotle,was a malikite judge ;the physician Ibn Nafis al Dimashqi (the first to describe the blood circulation ) was Hadith Scholar.
Ibn Khaldun ,the founder of sociology ,also was an islamic judge.

March 12th, 2009, 3:36 am


Zinko said:

The Iraq-Syria-Iran-Turkey alliance with Russia as a silent partner was first proposed by Ahmad Chalabi.

You can check for yourselves.

March 13th, 2009, 5:21 am


norman said:

SYRIA: Damascus getting courted from all sides

The Syrians know what they want: to have their cake and eat it too.

The government in Damascus wants to enjoy good relations with moderate Arab regimes and Western powers while conserving its strong ties with Iran and non-state actors like Hamas and Hezbollah, analysts say.

But what do the Americans want in the Middle East?

From the point of view of Arab observers, the U.S. policy in the region has been inconsistent .

One day, it’s waging war in Iraq. Another day, it is stating support for the creation of a Palestinian state while approving of Israeli politicians who don’t seem to want it.

Then lately, with President Obama in office, it is engaging with the Syrians to woo them away from the influence of the Iranians.

After the visit of senior U.S. diplomats to Damascus last week, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are courting Syria to join the U.S.-allied Arab front instead of sticking with Iran, a non-Arab state.

The kingdom on Wednesday hosted the Egyptian and Syrian leaders in a bid to reconcile their diverging views of the region.

But many wonder whether the U.S. and its regional allies are really serious about delivering what Damascus expects in order to loosen its relations with Tehran.

The Syrians have expressed their willingness to hold peace talks with Israel — but only if they are brokered by the U.S. They have repeatedly said that they expect nothing less than the return of the water-rich and strategically important Golan Heights, which were seized by Israel in 1967.

Most expect Syria to remain on its best behavior in Lebanon and Iraq for a while in case it is rewarded with better economic and diplomatic relations with the West.

Egypt needs Syria to help mediate a reconciliation between the Islamic militant group Hamas and the Palestinian Authority led by the Western-backed Mahmoud Abbas.

Saudi Arabia is, meanwhile, trying to get Syria back on the wagon of an Arab initiative, which offers Israel peace in exchange for the return of Arab land.

But if Syria doesn’t regain control over the Golan Heights, politicians and diplomats say, it’s hard to imagine why Damascus would let go of proxies such Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Israel has not appeared eager to give back the land. So the task of wooing Syria might not be easy after all.

Relations between Syria and the so-called moderate Arab states soured tremendously after the summer 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, when Syrian President Bashar Assad described leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan as “half-men” for their failure to act to stop the Israeli counteroffensive.

Iran and Syria back Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim militant group in Lebanon that is viewed with suspicion by predominantly Sunni Muslim Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

— Raed Rafei in Beirut

Photo: King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, center, speaks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, left, and Syrian President Bashar Assad in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Credit: Hassan Ammar /Associated Press

March 13th, 2009, 12:11 pm


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