Annapolis Round Up: Was Syria a Winner at Annapolis?

If Lebanese Chief of Staff Michel Suleiman becomes president of Lebanon, Syria will be a winner as a result of Annapolis. Lebanon as well.

Hariri's people announced today that they have reversed their decision to reject Lebanon's Army chief of Staff as president. The Future Movement is now backing Michel Suleiman for president. Here is the story: Lebanese majority backs army commander as president, in the Jerusalem Post.

This decision must be connected to Syria's decision to go to Annapolis. How? We don't yet know. Did Saudi Arabia broker it? Did France? Both? It is hard to tell. It is the right choice for Lebanon, given the circumstances.

Here is Amal Saad-Ghorayeb's analysis in the Daily Star:

Electing Suleiman "would signal a victory of sorts for the opposition, but a blow to Aoun," said Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, visiting scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center. "Part of the rationale behind this was to get him to withdraw his candidacy and put him in a corner. One motive behind this is to prevent Aoun from becoming president, and the other is to find a solution."

US-Syrian relations will be the key geopolitical dynamic affecting Suleiman's chances, and the two sides seem to be smiling on his candidacy, Saad-Ghorayeb said.

"It appears very much to be a Syrian-American agreement," she said. "It's not because of Annapolis. We were witnessing some Syrian-American rapprochement before Annapolis. I think that the [rapprochement] process will continue for some time, as long as the Americans and Syrians are engaged in talks."

March 14 touting Suleiman represents a victory for the opposition, which had raised Suleiman's name as a compromise solution before declaring Aoun the opposition's presidential nominee, Saad-Ghorayeb said.

"It's basically everything the opposition wanted," she said. "This is the exact same initiative the opposition was proposing.

"It appears the US has backpedaled, as has March 14. It's a reversal of policy. Anyone who goes back a few weeks will see that."

Here is Alex's summary of an article by Randa Tekkidine in Al-hayat.  She strikes a very different tone than her usual Syria bashing heckle.

She is saying that although the original plan was that Syria would pay in advance (help Lebanon elect a pro west president) before France rewards Syria with improved relations, the Syrians managed to get what they wanted without paying in advance and without paying anything at all.

مستقبل العلاقة الفرنسية – السورية
رندة تقي الدين الحياة – 28/11/07//

خلال مناسبات عدة، علنية أو خاصة، قال الرئيس الفرنسي نيكولا ساركوزي إن شرط تطبيع العلاقة بين فرنسا وسورية هو عدم عرقلة الأخيرة انتخابات الرئاسة اللبنانية. وأكد باستمرار التزامه بالمحكمة الدولية والكشف عن المسؤولين عن اغتيال رئيس الحكومة اللبنانية السابق رفيق الحريري ومحاكمتهم، كما أكد باستمرار أن الحوار والتطبيع مع سورية لن يتما قبل أن يكون للبنان رئيس. حتى أن بعض أوساط قصر الاليزيه كان يؤكد دائماً أن «على سورية أن تدفع مسبقاً، وبعدها نكون مستعدين للتطبيع وإعادة العلاقات معها». أما الآن فقد اصبح الحوار الفرنسي – السوري طبيعياً، وبدأت المحادثات الأميركية – السورية في أنابوليس، ولا يزال لبنان من دون رئيس، وجميع الأوروبيين يتحدثون مع النظام السوري، ولا يبقى إلا أن يزور الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد باريس أو أن يزور ساركوزي دمشق. فقد وجهت فرنسا رسائل عدة إلى القيادة السورية، وحملها أهم معاوني ساركوزي، الأمين العام للرئاسة الفرنسية كلود غيان.

وينبغي الاعتراف بأن الرئيس السوري نجح في رمي الكرة في ملعب فرنسا عندما طلب من المبعوث الفرنسي أن يقوم البطريرك الماروني نصرالله صفير بإعداد لائحة بأسماء مرشحين للرئاسة، لأن لفرنسا علاقة تاريخية مع مسيحيي لبنان. وكان هذا المسعى ذكياً وبعيد النظر، لأن لسورية علاقات واسعة في لبنان، وتأثيرها على الأرض، بعد 30 عاماً من سيطرتها على القرار السياسي فيه، ما زال عميقاً وقوياً عبر حليفيها «حزب الله» و «حركة أمل». وكانت سورية تدرك أنها نتيجة التحالف بين «حزب الله» وطرف مسيحي أساسي هو العماد ميشال عون، يمكنها أن تظهر لفرنسا أن الفشل سببه اللبنانيون أنفسهم وليس سورية.

وهذا ما حصل بالفعل. فعندما ذهب غيان مجدداً إلى دمشق ليسأل الرئيس السوري عن وعده والتزامه خلال الاتصال الهاتفي الذي أجراه معه ساركوزي، قيل له إن سورية التزمت بما تعهدت به على صعيد الضغط على «حزب الله»، وان على فرنسا أن تضغط على أصدقائها المسيحيين، وفي طليعتهم عون، لأنه العائق أمام الانتخابات الرئاسية. وكانت هذه خطة سورية ذكية، أدت إلى رمي الكرة مجدداً في الملعب الفرنسي عبر التذرع بالعائق ميشال عون.

صحيح أن العائق هو عون، لأنه بقي حتى اللحظة الأخيرة يقول إنه أفضل المرشحين للرئاسة.وفيما كان كوشنير يعمل على التفاهم معه، تبلغ في دار السفارة الفرنسية، بالمبادرة التي أعلنها عون خلال مؤتمره الصحافي، ما حمل الوزير الفرنسي على ادراك أن المسعى الفرنسي وصل إلى فشل نهائي.

فما الذي حصل، ولماذا جاءت مبادرة عون على نمط ما أعلنه الأمين العام لـ «حزب الله» حسن نصرالله في خطابه العنيف الذي ألقاه غداة اللقاء بين الأسد وغيان في دمشق؟

السبب أن التحالف العوني مع «حزب الله» استراتيجي على جميع الأصعدة السياسية والمالية والتنسيق بينهما دائم ومستمر. ومع أن اتصالات ساركوزي بعون والحريري كانت تنبع من نية طيبة لأنه يريد فعلاً أن يتوصل لبنان إلى تسوية، لكن المسعى الفرنسي اصطدم بخبرة سورية الواسعة في الساحة اللبنانية. فالرئيس السوري تمكن من تحسين العلاقة مع فرنسا من دون أن يدفع أي ثمن مسبق. وكما كان يقول والده الراحل حافظ الأسد لكل زائر غربي كان يطالب بخروج القوات السورية من لبنان: إن سورية دخلت إليه بطلب من اللبنانيين. وهذا كان صحيحاً لأن الرئيس الراحل سليمان فرنجية هو الذي كان طلب ذلك، والآن يعتمد الرئيس الابن الاسلوب نفسه.

وصحيح أيضاً أن اللبنانيين مختلفون في ما بينهم داخلياً، ولكن دور سورية مهم وأساسي، والسؤال الآن: ما هو مستقبل العلاقة الفرنسية – السورية في غياب رئيس للبنان  

The Lebanese Al-Akhbar newspaper trumpets that Syria has gained other concessions. Idaf gives a summary in the comment section as follows:

France gave an official invitation to Syrian foreign minister Walid Al-Muallem to visit Paris and finalize the Lebanese president issue.

In addition, Paris said that a follow-up conference to Annapolis in Paris will take place on Dec 17 and another one in Moscow to discuss the Golan in early 2008.

As for the Palestinians and Israelis, how did they do?

Here are the two controdictory versions. I think Uri Avnery is more pursuasive, although I would like to believe Ignatius. Avneri actually makes a convincing argument; whereas, Ignatius gives us a "keep-hope-alive" pep-talk. Here are the two articles:

The Joke in Annapolis: How to Get Out? by Uri Avnery

How Annapolis Helps By David Ignatius, November 28, 2007; Page A23

Hugh Macleod interviews Palestinians in Lebanese camps to remind us that refugees in the camps continue to live a life of missery. They are keeping hope alive – but it is a different sort of hope.

Right of return – an unbending faith 
Palestinian refugees hold a key piece to Middle East puzzle
Hugh Macleod, Chronicle Foreign Service

Even though Palestinian and Israeli leaders agreed Tuesday to work toward a peace settlement by the end of next year, they will still have to confront an intractable issue – the right of Palestinian refugees to return…

Syria says it will normalize ties to Israel only after full withdrawal
Wed Nov 28, 2007 8:23am IST
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Syria told a U.S. peace conference on Tuesday that Israel should pull out of occupied land before Arab countries would normalize ties with the Jewish state.

"The establishment of normal ties with Israel … must be the fruit of comprehensive peace and not precede it," Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal al-Mekdad told a closed session of the conference in Annapolis, Maryland, attended by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"To phrase it clearly and decisively that this (normalization) comes after the total Israeli withdrawal from the 1967 Arab land," he said in a speech obtained by Reuters.

"We are sincere in seeking a comprehensive and just peace and posses the political will to achieve it."

Talks between Israel and Syria collapsed in 2000 after Damascus declined an Israeli offer to withdraw from most of the Golan Heights but not what Syria described as the full occupied territory.

Syria had made it clear that it would only attend the talks in Annapolis if the Golan was on the agenda. The demand was met by Washington which accuses Damascus of supporting militant Palestinian and Lebanese groups.

Mekdad reiterated the Syrian position that Israeli occupation of Arab land was the root of instability in the Middle East.

Turkey's Alevi question

As the current Turkish government slowly seeks ways of better accommodating the country's Kurdish minority, the relationship of the Alevi religious minority to the state has also come into question. Alevis, followers of a humanistic branch of Shia Islam, have in large part been suppressed by Ankara. The ruling moderate AK Party hopes to diffuse tensions by carving a clearer space for Alevi practice and belief in the country. Some Alevi groups, however, are suspicious of attempts at reconciliation with the state, seeing "assimilation" as a worse alternative to ostracism.

Comments (91)


norman said:

Syria diffidently won , only the opposition , IG and AIG who do not want to give any credit to president Assad deny that .

November 29th, 2007, 12:33 am

 

Enlightened said:

Alex during The Nahr El Bared operation I posted that Suleiman would eventually emerge and posted a scenario that this is where it is all heading. I woke up today and I am not surprised, not one bit.!

November 29th, 2007, 1:05 am

 

Innocent_Criminal said:

Nahr el Bared was certainly a good PR campaign on a national level for Suleiman. And his name has been on top of the list for a long time now (why else would he suggest himself as conciliatory candidate months ago)

But I disagree with Amal Saad about it not having anything to do with Annapolis. You can’t have American-Syrian rapprochement without some kind of backdoor deals. France might have negotiated the deal but it wouldn’t have passed without American blessing. And the Syrians paid a price; at the very least in the form of showing up to Annapolis without seriously discussing the Golan. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there were other deals struck we haven’t heard about. That said, it was probably the right strategy, picking your battles well to get out of your most immediate predicament. Which in Syria’s case was certainly Lebanon & foreign alienation.

November 29th, 2007, 1:36 am

 

Thomas said:

Well of course any development in Lebanon would be counted as victory for Syria on this blog. Suleiman’s name was floated months ago. Is this any big surprise? Maybe Syria is just getting smarter. They didn’t exactly get to reoccupy Lebanon, nor did they receive any concessions on the tribunal. Got to whine about the Golan a bit. Typical Arab talk.

Assad is weak and clearly needs to re-establish connectivity with the west, his Arab neighbors, and clear some distance from the Idiot of Iran. His Iranian buddy is just proving to be a pain in the ass. Plus, a concession or two on his part will make it easier for him to go see the in-laws in the UK! Or better yet, a soft landing exile in Europe should the need emerge!

November 29th, 2007, 1:38 am

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

It doesn’t appear to be a “slam dunk” for Suleiman [via L’Orient-Le Jour – my translation]:

“The hard core opposition, Hezbollah and General Aoun, believe the rapid consensus among the majority on the candidacy of General Suleiman is an Franco-American-Egyptian «conspiracy» which they have decided to oppose.

Refusing any comment on Suleiman, General Aoun continued his consultations on Wednesday and announced upcoming massive «peaceful» demonstrations supporting his own candidacy.

For its part, Hezbollah and Amal seem to have sent out the word to reject the amendment of the Constitution and to demand the resignation of Mr. Fouad Siniora. Mr Siniora cannot, they believe, put forward draft legislation to amend the Constitution, as his government is not Constitutional.

Any other action would signify legitimization of the government on the part of the Opposition, a concession that would permanently discredit them.”

I suppose it is illegal to elect the chief of the army to the presidential slot.

By the way, how ironic. As Washington puts pressure on Musharraf to relinquish his army role, it high-fives a General+President in Lebanon.

November 29th, 2007, 1:42 am

 

Disaffection said:

When the Roadmap is a One Way Street
Israel’s Strategy for Permanent Occupation

By JEFF HALPER

One may well think that the struggle inside the Jewish community of Israel is between those of the political right, who want to maintain the settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank so as to “redeem” the Greater Land of Israel as a Jewish country, and those of the left who seek a two-state solution with the Palestinians and are thus willing to relinquish enough of the “territories”, if not all, in order that a viable Palestinian state may emerge.

This is not really the case. Polls and the make-up of the Israeli government suggest that perhaps a quarter of Israeli Jews fall into the first group, the die-hards, while not more than 10 per cent support a full withdrawal from the occupied territories. (Virtually no Israeli Jews use the term “occupation,” which Israel denies it has.) The vast majority of Israeli Jews, stretching from the liberal Meretz party through Labour, Kadima and into the “liberal” wing of the Likud, excepting only the religious parties and the extreme right-wing led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the current minister of strategic affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, share a broad consensus: for both security reasons and because of Israel’s “facts on the ground”, the Arabs (as we [Israelis] call the Palestinians) will have to settle for a truncated mini-state on no more than 15-20 per cent of the country between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.

What’s more, it’s agreed that the decision whether to relinquish any territory and how much is an exclusively Israeli decision. We may proffer to the Palestinians some kind of a “generous offer” if they behave themselves and it suits our purpose, but any initiative in the direction of “peace” must be unilateral. The Palestinians may indicate a preference, but the decision is ours and ours alone. Our power, our all-encompassing concern for security and the plain fact that the Arabs just don’t count (except as a nuisance factor) limit any peace process to, at best, a willingness to grant them a tiny Bantustan on four or five cantons, all encircled by Israeli settlements and the military. Israeli control of the entire Land of Israel, whether for religious, national or security reasons, is a given, never to be compromised.

This is, of course, completely unacceptable to the Palestinians. That by itself doesn’t matter, but it does raise a fundamental problem. In any genuine negotiations leading to just, sustainable and mutually agreed-upon agreement, Israel would have to give up much more than it is willing to do. Negotiations must take place once in a while, if only to project an image of Israel as a country seeking peace–Annapolis being merely the latest charade–but they can never lead to any real breakthrough because two-thirds of the Jewish public support a permanent Israeli presence in the occupied territories, civilian and military, that forecloses a viable Palestinian state. How, then, does Israel retain its major settlements, a “greater” Jerusalem and control over territory and borders without appearing intransigent? How can it maintain its image as the only seeker of peace and the victim of Arab terrorism, effectively concealing its own violence and, indeed, the very fact of occupatio n in order to shift the blame to the Palestinians?

The answer for the past 40 years of occupation is the status quo, delay, while quietly expanding the settlements and strengthening its grip on Judea and Samaria (again, we do not use the terms “occupation” or “occupied territories” in Israel, not to mention “Palestinian”). Just look at the run-up to Annapolis and the negotiations Israel is promising. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said recently that “Annapolis is a landmark on the path to negotiations and of the genuine effort to achieve the realization of the vision of two nations: the State of Israel–the nation of the Jewish people; and the Palestinian state–the nation of the Palestinian people”. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Now look at the pre-conditions Israel has imposed just in the two weeks before Annapolis:

Redefining Phase 1 of the Road Map. The first phase of the Road Map, the very basis of negotiations, calls for Israel to freeze its settlement construction. That is something Israel will obviously not do. So, on the basis of a letter former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon received from President Bush in 2004–a fundamental change in American policy that nevertheless does not commit the other members of the Road Map “Quartet”, Europe, Russia and the UN–Israel announced that it defines the areas considered “occupied” by the Quartet as only those areas falling outside its major settlement blocs and “greater” Jerusalem. Thus, unilaterally, Israel (and the US apparently) reduced the territory to be negotiated with the Palestinians from 22 per cent to a mere 15 per cent, and that truncated into fragmented cantons.

Requiring recognition of Israel as a “Jewish state.” The Palestinians are required to formally recognize the state of Israel. They did so already in 1988 when they accepted the two-state solution, at the outset of the Oslo process and repeatedly over the past two decades. Now comes a fresh demand: that before any negotiations they recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Not only does that introduce an entirely new element that Israel knows the Palestinians will not accept, but it prejudices the equal status of Palestinian citizens of Israel, a full 20 per cent of the Israeli population. This leads the way to transfer, to ethnic cleansing. Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister, recently told a press conference that the future of Israel’s Arab citizens is in a future Palestinian state, not in Israel itself.

Creating insurmountable political obstacles. Two weeks before Annapolis was to convene, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, passed a law that a majority of two-thirds would be required to approve any change in the status of Jerusalem, an impossible threshold.

Delayed implementation. OK, the Israeli government says, we’ll negotiate. But the implementation of any agreement will wait on the complete cessation of any resistance on the part of the Palestinians. Given the fact that Israel views any resistance, armed or non-violent, as a form of terrorism, this erects yet another insurmountable obstacle before any peace process.

Declaring a “transitional” Palestinian state. If all else fails–actually negotiating with the Palestinians or relinquishing the occupation not being an option–the US, at Israel’s behest, can manage to skip Phase 1 of the Road Map and go directly to Phase 2, which calls for a “transitional” Palestinian state before, in Phase 3, its actual borders, territory and sovereignty are agreed upon. This is the Palestinians’ nightmare: being locked indefinitely in the limbo of a “transitional” state. For Israel it is ideal, since it offers the possibility of imposing borders and expanding into the Palestinian areas unilaterally yet, since its fait accompli is only “transitional,” seeming to conform to the Road Map’s requirement to decide the final issues through negotiations.

The end result, towards which Israel has been progressing deliberately and systematically since 1967, can only be called apartheid, which means “separation” in Afrikaner, precisely the term Israel uses to describe its policy (hafrada in Hebrew). And it is apartheid in the strict sense of the term: one population separating itself from the rest, then dominating them permanently and institutionally through a political regime like an expanded Israel locking the Palestinians into dependent and impoverished cantons. The overriding question for the Israeli government, then, is not how to reach peace. If peace and security were truly the issue, Israel could have had that 20 years ago if it would have conceded the 22 per cent of the country required for a viable Palestinian state. Today, when Israel’s control is infinitely stronger, why, ask the Israeli Jewish public and the government it elects, should we concede anything significant? We enjoy peace with Egypt and Jordan, and Syria is dying to negotiate. We have relations with most Arab and Muslim states. We enjoy the absolute and uncritical support of the world’s only superpower, supported by a compliant Europe. Terrorism is under control, the conflict has been made manageable, Israel’s economy is booming. What, ask Israelis, is wrong with this picture?

No, the issue for Israel is rather how to transform its Occupation from what the world considers a temporary situation to a permanent political fact accepted by the international community, de facto if need be or, if apartheid can be finessed in the form of a two-state solution, then formally. And here’s the dilemma, and the source of debate within the Israeli government: does Israel continue with the strategy that has served it so well these past 40 years, delaying or prolonging negotiations so as to maintain the status quo, all the while strengthening its hold over the Palestinian territories or, at this unique but fleeting moment in history when George Bush is still in office, does it try to nail it all down, forcing upon the Palestinians a transitional state within the framework of the Road Map?

Olmert, following Sharon, is pushing for the former. Netanyahu, Lieberman, the right-wing (including many in Olmert’s own party) and, significantly, Labour Chairman and Defence Minister Ehud Barak, always a military hawk, are resisting out of fear that even a process of pretend negotiations might get out of hand, creating expectations on Israel. Better, they say, to stay with the tried-and-true policy of status quo which can, if cleverly managed, extend indefinitely. Besides, Bush is a lame duck, and no pressure will be put on Israel until June 2009, at least six months after the next American president is inaugurated, Democrat or Republican. We’re just fine until then; why rock the boat? The only tricky time for Israel is the two years in the midst of a presidential term. We can weather that. Annapolis? We’ll try cautiously for apartheid, hoping that Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas], prodded by Quartet envoy Tony Blair, will play the role of collaborator. If that doesn’t work, well, status quo is always a reliable default.

In the meantime, as long as the Israeli public enjoys peace-and-quiet and a good economy, and as long as it remains convinced that security requires Israel to retain control of the territories, no pressure will come from the home front for any meaningful change of policy. Given this political landscape in Israel, in the territories and abroad, it’s hard for Israeli leaders to conceal their ebullient feeling that, whether formally or not, “we’ve won”.

November 29th, 2007, 1:50 am

 

Innocent_Criminal said:

But lets not forget that the deal is not a sure thing yet. The big prize is the outcome of the hariri investigation. and its there that the winner gets the last laugh.

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/11/28/news/UN-GEN-UN-Lebanon-Hariri-Probe.php

November 29th, 2007, 1:50 am

 

why-discuss said:

The 9th Brammertz report

It sounds that they know the perpetrators and the accomplices.. and that the murder is primarily related to Hariri’s political stand vis a vis the 1559, the election law and his own candidacy. The “extremist’ path seem to be a lower level suspect.
The other cases are still investigated, the Ain Alak is the only one that seems to be solved and Lebanese autorities are about to prosecute some suspects.

Curious point: A non native arabic speaker called Al Jazeera to inform them about the Abu Addas video!

November 29th, 2007, 1:58 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

it is a nice way to split HA and general M Aoun

November 29th, 2007, 1:59 am

 

norman said:

Is it possible that the opposition in Lebanon will call to change the constitution to be able to elect Suleiman then when enough parliamentarians are there move to elect a president from March 14 camp.

November 29th, 2007, 2:12 am

 

Enlightened said:

Norman, that trick would not work, unless quorom is established, and then the opposition walks out. You would want to know the rules and procedures as set down in the constitution, and these are vague at best, you could fly a jumbo through the lebanese consitution! ( a pun)

November 29th, 2007, 3:20 am

 

Enlightened said:

Article in The New York Times on Israel’s Secret Nuclear Arsenal

Here is the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/29/world/middleeast/29nixon.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

Should provide some interesting reading as some documents from the Nixon era become de classified, some old historical news, but good to see that it is coming out into the open.

November 29th, 2007, 4:53 am

 

O. Mellman said:

Of course Syria was a winner.
Syria was a winner when it lost the Golan.
Syria was a winner when it failed to regain the Golan.
Syria was the winner even when Israel annexed the Golan.
Syria was a winner when it was kicked out of Lebanon.
Syria was a winner from the Israeli pounding of Lebanon.
Syria was a winner when the Israeli attacked the site on the Euphrates.
Syria is a winner now too, although duuuuh I am not sure why, is
it because it was allowed to read a note for 2.20 minutes.
I guess that is a huge victory for unwanted Baathist dictatorship.

Landis is … [edited by moderater for insults]

November 29th, 2007, 5:47 am

 

ausamaa said:

Syria is a definit Loser!!!!!

But for the “unintiated”, General Suliman was Syria’s and the Opposition’s candidate since over than a year ago and I mentioned this in more than one comment last year. Actually he was the “threat” used by the Opposition against 14 Feb & Co. at the start of the government ministers withdrawl crisis last year.

And for all intents and purposes, I think the Opposition’s and Syria plan was to get him to become the next President since a long time.

On the other hand, the increasing mentioning of his name by the Feb 14 gang could be a ploy to cause a split in the Opposition (Hizbullah/Aoun/Berri)by showing that Hizbullah is “willing” to drop “Aoun”, however, the wild card will be a “hidden” understanding that Sulieman will be elected only to resign after the next Parlimantarian elections!!! If the 14 Feb turn back out and fail to support General Sulieman, then they will risk antagonizing him and the Army.

Jaja and Feltman may be having some trouble getting a goodnight’s sleep nowadays I imagin. Actually, Junblat is already flashing his turning signal to change direction.

What do you know. Syria sure Lost. Big Time!!!!!

LOL

November 29th, 2007, 8:49 am

 

GG said:

Kudos to Ausamaa and Thomas.

Those who believe that G. Suleiman is a victory for Syria are simply betting on the past. True he came to power under Syrian occupation, but does that mean he would allow Syria to return to Lebanon in any form other than a neighbour? I think not. If indeed Suleiman was a US-Syria deal (which I think it wasn’t because it makes of mockery of US policy in Lebanon) then I Syria may come to regret it as much as they regretted killing Hariri.

Lebanon political landscape has changed dramatically and Suleiman noted the people’s distain for Emile Lahoud. He would not want to share that legacy.

The real loser is M14 because they back peddled and have tried to bluff the opposition. The real winner is the opposition, especially Aoun who knows M14 can never accept Suleiman, without being exposed as hypocrites and opportunists.

But did you really expect any other conclusion from Josh?

Josh, try to keep your hopes and desires out of what you write; it only takes away from you standing.

November 29th, 2007, 12:02 pm

 

offended said:

GG,
Nobody is suggesting that G. Sulieman is Syria’s toy. If he’s ain’t an ally, then he’s definitly not a foe.

November 29th, 2007, 1:13 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Post Annapolis poll – some real figures from a real survey in Israel.

From the article:

“On the question of Syria, 62 percent said Israel should engage in talks with its foe, while 35 percent opposed.

But 69 percent said they opposed Israel giving up the Golan Heights plateau — captured from Syria in 1967 and demanded back by Damascus in any peace deal — in return for full peace, with only 28 percent supporting the move.”

To the full article, which includes more figures:
http://www.africasia.com/services/news/newsitem.php?area=mideast&item=071129111740.0qtqcp1m.php

November 29th, 2007, 2:11 pm

 

Observer said:

I must confess that the byzantine political scene in Lebanon is baffling to me. It reminds me of my family: who is married to whom and whose cousin spilled the milk on the floor and let the cat out the door. The question is as follows:
1. Is Lebanon going to be a winner and stability the ticket to that win
2. Are the parties going to leave Lebanon alone for once and not fight their proxy wars there: France US Syria KSA etc…
3. Will Lebanon emerge in the Pro-Israel camp or the anti Israel camp

November 29th, 2007, 2:51 pm

 

Innocent_Criminal said:

Well, Aoun just agreed to nominating Suleiman as president.

If there was a deal, then we should see the opposition return to parliament or some sort of compromise reached. IMHO, most signs seem to point to a deal being struck, way too many rapprochement signals for it to be a coincidence. But I am not as optimistic as others that these are the first steps of bringing Syria from the cold.

The only thing I can think of that contradicts my feeling is that Syria is some how desperate to mend the relationship with the US & Saudi and therefore are willing to unilaterally compromise. And that’s highly unlikely.

November 29th, 2007, 2:57 pm

 

Atassi said:

Norman,
Whey should the world give credit to Dr. Assad. Please elaborate more.

By the way, Sulieman was a staunch supporter of Hezbollah and the resistance until they clumsily forced themselves into a direct engagement with Israel in the summer of 2006. With his great vision and clever work, the man distanced himself from the group.

Sulieman is NOT anyone’s toy… I heard that many of his top brass officers are Aoun’s supporter. this can “will” be an issue when designating a new Army commander!!

November 29th, 2007, 3:23 pm

 

Suha said:

The Lebanese press gives a more complicated picture of the apparent endorsement of Sulayman by M14ers. There has been no official endorsement. Hariri chose a minor MP and neither Junblat, Geagea, or M14 as a whole released an official position on the matter.

After the stalemate, and with the ball in M14’s court, they had to throw it back somehow. So now Hizballah finds itself in a position where it can accept the offer and spurn Aoun or reject the offer and spurn Sulayman. Neither of these is appealing knowing that, with no official endorsement of Sulayman by M14, it could all be just a strategic move by M14 meant to reorganize the dynamics in its favor. Worse yet, the constitutional amendment now accepted by M14 could very well be meant to bring in Riad Salameh, not Sulayman.

No one has won yet.

November 29th, 2007, 3:29 pm

 

abraham said:

One day after Annapolis, Israel is demonstrating its commitment to peace with a missile strike on Gaza:

http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/11/28/gaza.strike/index.html

November 29th, 2007, 4:31 pm

 

Alex said:

I have a simplification for those of you who insist on finding the total scores before the game is over:

Syria WILL “win” in Lebanon.

As for the Golan, Israeliguy’s poll shows a 70/30 resistance/readiness today to return the Golan to Syria. This makes it difficult, but certainly not impossible, to reach a deal eventually (in a year or two). They need to “flip” twenty to thirty percent of Israelis.

How difficult is it? … we need another Poll that measures how soft (or not) are the current opinions of those 70% who currently do not support returning the Golan. I think a good indication is the 35% who do not support even “talking” to Syria … I assume these would be very difficult to “flip”. We have an ambassador here from that group (AIG).

But in general, I am quite confident it is doable with difficulty.

November 29th, 2007, 4:49 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Syria has lost hopes to get into Lebanon as intimately as it was when the syrian army and the intelligence were there. They must have come to the conclusion that the world community will not tolerate an overt immixion in Lebanon’s political or military life. They will probably want to keep some sort of influences, especially in not allowing Lebanon to make a separate deal with Isreal.

Suleyman is the only one that has declared that nahr el bared conflicts has nothing to do with Syria that resulted of being shunned by M14. His rather good relation with Hezbollah and his realistic attitude toward Syria make him look like an ‘opposition’ candidate but his nationalism, his clean past, his clever management of an army that has all religious sects coexisting in harmony make him a ‘nationalist’ candidate. If Lebanon is serious about establishing a non-conflictual relation with the direct neighbor Syria, that may solve many pending issues, both economical and political, Lebanon needs a president that would be a balance to a possible confrontational prime minister if Hariri jr succeeds Siniora. While I believe Aoun has a very good political program, his overt antagonism to M14 is detrimental to his full acceptance by the maronites and the sunnis. I view Suleyman as the only reasonable president. But in Lebanon, reason does not seem to prevail.. I just hope that the foreign influences will for once influence in this direction.

November 29th, 2007, 4:54 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
The 30% who are ready to give back the Golan assume a total Syrian “flip” and of course would not agree to see Syria on the on the Sea of Galillie, which is what Hafez and Bashar demand. In reality, there are maybe 10% who maybe support the deal you are envisioning. And with Netanyahu leading the polls in Israel, the chances of peace with a non-democratic Syria are 0. So your assessment is dead wrong. The chances for a regional war are much higher than those of a peace between Israel and Syria.

And as for Lebanon, once the tribunal has run its course, we will see who won and who lost. Currently Syria lost big because Hizballah is not in a position to attack Israel in the next 5 years. So basically, the Syrians are left with Hamas which is completely isolated as the wide support for Fatah and Abu Mazen in Annapolis showed. So, Syria has no cards left to pressure Israel and also has nothing to ofer. Asad is playing a worthless hand and everyone knows that. Also, he is running out of time because of the economic situation in Syria. Be prepared to see Netanyahu take full advantage of this.

November 29th, 2007, 5:11 pm

 

Alex said:

It is OK AIG … I know by know how much you want to see only an old woman. You are a specific type out there (in Israel and elsewhere) and there are many others like you.

I understand and expect the different shades of support/resistance in that poll … that’s why I said that we need to see more detailed polls that ask about different scenarios.

November 29th, 2007, 5:27 pm

 

Atassi said:

Alex,
I think your analogy is incomplete ” Syria WILL “win” in Lebanon”.
I am confidant Syria can’t offered and stay as a sustainable winner against the wishes of the International community “ as you can coming to Annapolis enforce this fact”, We all know that Syria has an interests in Lebanon as anyone else does, and I think Syria has finally realized the fact that “ Syria may have the right to have a strategic influence on Lebanon for being next door , but it can’t dictated the Syrian national aspirations views anymore”

:Syria WILL “!!!” in Lebanon.

November 29th, 2007, 5:31 pm

 

Alex said:

WHY

Syria does not want to send its army back into Lebanon. This ould be even less popular a move in Syria itself. Syrians certainly did not like the circumstances with which Syria withdrew from Lebanon, but they are happy it finally happened.

When I say Syria will win in Lebanon, the Syrian army has nothing to do with it. Syria will win by being again Lebanon’s closest ally and friend. Lebanon will not be used against Syrian interests.

November 29th, 2007, 5:32 pm

 

Alex said:

Atassi,

It will be a healthy and special relationship based on mutual respect. Leave the details to later 😉

November 29th, 2007, 5:34 pm

 

why-discuss said:

AIG

Are you trying to convince us and yourself that Syria is weak? It is apparently a weak country , for sure, not much economical development, not a very powerful army, it lost Lebanon etc.. but it seems to still bother Israel a lot, why do you think the ‘powerful’ Israel keep talking about Syria if it was irrelevant and weak?
You know very well that Israel is terrified by Iran’s increased military power. Syria happens to be the only arab ally of Iran. That is where its power comes. That is the Ace of the game and there is nothing the US and its allies have been able to do against Iran’s growing power, despite continuous Israel pressure on the US to act.

Judicious and powerful alliances compensate weakness, Israel knows it very well.

November 29th, 2007, 5:42 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Alex

That is what I said…

“Syria must have come to the conclusion that the world community will not tolerate an overt immixion in Lebanon’s political or military life . They will probably want to keep some sort of influences, especially in not allowing Lebanon to make a separate deal with Israel”
Of course time is over for a syrian army in lebanon! there are many other ways of influencing Lebanon and ‘winning’.

November 29th, 2007, 5:47 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
You employ wishful thinking while not addressing my arguments. The Syrians have no way of pressuring Israel and they have nothing to ofer. No Netanyahu administration would ever give the Golan to a non-democratic Syria and that is who the next Israeli PM is most likely going to be. In fact the current Knesset would never vote for giving the Golan to Asad. If you want to convince anyone, do tell what is your plan to sway 50% of the Israeli public? How is Asad going to do that? Or is it wishful thinking again with no concrete plan behind it?

May I remind everybody that is November 29. It has been 60 years since the famous UN resolution that was rejected by the Arabs and plunged the middle east into war.

November 29th, 2007, 5:47 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

WHY-DISCUSS has it right in all his posts!

True nationalism and true independence is the only way for Lebanon to emerge with a promising future. Suleyman represents the best hope for this. Aoun has been far too antagonistic and egotistical. In his declaration today accepting (or more precisely “not opposing”) Suleyman, he claimed that all constitutional changes made to prevent the Army chief from becoming President (article 49) were made because of him (Aoun), and that the change is being reversed now also because of him, i.e., to remove his chances to become President by allowing a popular candidate. True, Aoun’s approach to dealing with Hizbollah and establishing accountability for the financial management of the country have some merits, but alas his ego is seeping through and spoiling all otherwise good moves and positions he would take. His style of insulting the current government and his blanket-accusations of theft and corruption — all without substantiation and without having proven that he could do better or that he has the experience to know what it takes to build a country economically — discredit his otherwise honest and nationalistic approach.

November 29th, 2007, 5:51 pm

 

Bashmann said:

For those delusional analysts who think there are deals being struck between Washington and Syria here is a excerpt from President Bush interview which aired yesterday with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer where your hopes looks only like a pipe-dream;

“BLITZER: Syria is a country that the State Department still has on its list of states that sponsor international terrorism, yet they were invited to attend.

What was the thinking behind that?

BUSH: The thinking was because some of the Arab nations requested that Syria come. And we wanted to make sure as many Arab nations came as possible and — which was quite an accomplishment for the secretary, I might add, to have convinced those nations to arrive. And I thought it was a very important signal for both the Palestinians and the Israelis to see the Arab nations there in the room, supporting a democracy living side-by-side in peace with Israel.

BLITZER: So was it good that the deputy foreign minister of Syria showed up?

BUSH: I didn’t think it was harmful at all.

BLITZER: Because whenever I think of that, I think of the words you said on 9/11 — and you said this from the Oval Office — “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”

So if Syria is a country that harbors terrorists…

BUSH: Yes, we have our differences with Syria. No question about it. I also happen to believe that a democracy in the Palestinian Territory will advance the interests of people who care for peace. And we care for peace.

BLITZER: But do you think there’s an opportunity now for the Israelis and the Syrians to negotiate a deal over the Golan Heights?

BUSH: That’s going to be up to Israel and Syria.

BLITZER: Well, what do you think?

BUSH: I think what they ought to do is focus on a Palestinian state, Wolf. That’s what we’re focusing on.

BLITZER: So that’s the priority right now, the Israeli- Palestinian forum (ph).

BUSH: That’s why we had the conference in Annapolis yesterday which, as I said, was a hopeful beginning…”

Keep up the faith, only a few more centuries and Syria will be on board with the West.

Josh, you might want to start a new blog called
The Offical SyriaComment

Cheers

November 29th, 2007, 5:54 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Why,
The relationship with Iran makes Syria even weaker because it isolates it in the Arab world and in regards to Europe and the US.

It is clear from the fact that the Iranians did nothing when Syria was attacked in September that there is no real alliance. Iran did not even ask Hizballah to react. When the US/Israel attack Iran if it doesn’t back down, we will see the full extent of this.

And as a matter of fact, with Hizballah out of the picture and Hamas isolated, Syria does not bother Israel a lot. For me, this is sad because it makes the “realist” camp in Israel stronger. They will say: Why not let Asad stay in power? This ensures that Syria remains isolated and economically backward and cannot cause us any problems.

I think this view is horrible. The long term interest of Israel is that there be democracy in Syria and this should be the aim of the Israeli foreign policy.

November 29th, 2007, 5:56 pm

 

why-discuss said:

An Apartheid struggle if Israel continues its occupation?

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in an interview published Thursday that creation of a Palestinian state is a vital Israeli interest, and that failure to reach a peace agreement could plunge Israel into a South African-style apartheid struggle.
Such a scenario, he said, would mean “the state of Israel is finished.”

Time is running out for Israel, it is clear they are desperate for peace to keep the state jewish..

November 29th, 2007, 5:57 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Winners and Losers

Alas, Dr. Landis’ projection of “winners” and “losers” belies his obvious bias towards Syria, and Assad in particular. We all owe to Dr. Landis the opportunity and information of this forum. He indeed is a true scholar and a great facilitator. BUT, let’s acknowledge that the value judgments he issues about Syria are all heavily coloured by his deeply rooted bias. No need to analyze the source of the bias; we all have our preferences, reasons, and drivers, and his have to be respected as a right. Let’s not, however, view his analyses as those of an objective analyst. They are NOT.

The biggest disappointment to me has been the position towards the horror of the political assassinations in Lebanon. On the world scene such assassinations lead to world wars where the bad guy is always defeated. Is everything going to be pushed under the rug in Lebanon ? Is this right ?

November 29th, 2007, 6:04 pm

 

why-discuss said:

AIG

Let Israel flex its muscles with Iran instead of cowardly air bombing opponents in Gaza, then we’ll see. Israel is far too afraid to confront Iran, this is why they make these cheap and easy attacks on the weakest links, Syria and Gaza. Not a reason to feel glorious…

November 29th, 2007, 6:06 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Olmert is desperate for peace with the Palestinians to stay in power, but this statement will not help him one bit with Israeli public opnion. And did you notice that he doesn’t mention Syria?

November 29th, 2007, 6:08 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Why,
If Iran is so strong it would protect its allies in Damscuss and Gaza and not let Israel bomb them. But it is not. It is a paper tiger. Israel and the US will attack Iran if all diplomatic efforts fail, you can be sure of that.

Iran is doing to Syria what Syria did to Lebanon. It will let Syria pay the price of the Iran vs US/Israel struggle. Some justice at last.

November 29th, 2007, 6:13 pm

 

Alex said:

WHY

So you are a francophone?!

“immixion” is interference : )

Syria was in Lebanon from 1976 to 2005 … Did Syria annex Lebanon like Saddam quickly annexed Kuwait or like Israel annexed the Golan heights?

Also … the few years before Syria was forced to withdraw its army after UN resolution 1559 and after a million Lebanese demonstrate in the streets against Syrian presence, in those years (2000-2005) we had a constant and consistent reduction in the size of the Syrian army in Lebanon … it was down to 15000 roughly with a plan to withdraw it completely at the same rate of about 4000 per year.

So there is no Syrian “loss” in not having a Syrian army in Lebanon.

So … Syria was already on the path towards relinquishing “control” over Lebanon … gradually … and provided the other pieces of the regional solutions picture were in place.

As for potential Syrian “control” or influence over Lebanon in the future, let’s look at the three components:

1) Military and security: Syria wants to make sure Lebanon is not used by Syria’s enemies. Syria will demand close cooperation with the Lebanese army and with the Lebanese security agencies.

2) Economically: a natural process of integration, similar to the one between Syria and turkey, will take place with help form the official governments, but it will be the business community in each country that will drive this process based on its needs and desires.

Lebanon will not be forced by Syria to issue any laws that are not its advantage economically. It has no reason to fear the larger neighbor just like Syria does not fear being closer to the larger neighbor, Turkey.

3) Foreign policy: Syria will expect Lebanon to not sign a separate peace treaty with Israel and to not be a tool of Saudi Arabia to be used against Syria like the Seniora government was/is.

When you add up Hizbollah’s 40% to Aoun’s 15% to all the the allies of Syria who favor such a policy .. including General Suleiman, Syria’s close friend, all of them naturally favoring these policies … you should not be worried about such a direction in policy being “forced” from outside.

That is the extent of Syrian hopes in Lebanon.

WHY_DISCUSS … Syrian domination in Lebanon can not an option mainly because the Lebanese people already demonstrated that they do not want that .. not because America and France and Israel and Saudi Arabia woud not allow it … Syria showed in the past that it can stand up to all the above group and to often have its way at the end.

Again, Syria will win in Lebanon… it is already getting there.

November 29th, 2007, 6:26 pm

 

Disaffection said:

Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said failure to negotiate a two-state solution with the Palestinians would spell the end of the State of Israel.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7118937.stm

November 29th, 2007, 6:28 pm

 

norman said:

.

————————————————————–
Published: Thursday, November 29, 2007

Conference May Mark Easing Of U.S. – Syria Tensions
The Associated Press
ANNAPOLIS, Maryland — Syria left a Mideast peace conference with nothing concrete on reviving its stalled peace talks with Israel. But its delegates received warm handshakes and words of thanks from Secretary of State Condolezza Rice, whose administration has all but shunned the Arab state.

At the end of a day of speeches and meetings in Annapolis Tuesday that focused on pushing forward the Israeli-Palestinian track, Rice walked over to the Syrian delegates, according Imad Moustapha, Syria’s ambassador to Washington.

“She shook hands with us and thanked us for participating,” Moustapha told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday. “She also asked us to pass our greetings to Foreign Minister Waleed al-Moallem.”

“Her body language was very positive,” he added. “(The encounter) was very relaxed. There was no tension.”

The gesture may have been a small one, and it may have been more symbolic than substantive. But, coming on top of Syria’s willingness to participate in the conference, it could indicate a slight thaw in the ice that has marked relations between the U.S. and Syria for almost three years.

——————————————————————————–

November 29th, 2007, 7:24 pm

 

Bashmann said:

Alex,

“1) Military and security: Syria wants to make sure Lebanon is not used by Syria’s enemies. Syria will demand close cooperation with the Lebanese army and with the Lebanese security agencies.”

Syria is in no position to demand anything at this time. It has made another fatal move in going to Annapolis and screwed up its traditional alliances. Another “wise” policy decision by your favorite President Bashar Asad.

I’m afraid the only thing Syria can demand and hope it will get now is for its population to be content with what they have economically as price hikes for basic needs and consumer goods inside the country are taking their toll on a wide section of the impoverished.

But then again, this should be easy for Syria do, as it is the one thing you would always expect the regime to obtain from the populace through its elaborate security services, thanks to the emergency laws that has been in effect for the last 44 years.

Cheers

November 29th, 2007, 7:27 pm

 

Alex said:

Bashman,

the same thing I said to AIG … when it comes to the regime you hate, you insist to only see the old woman

So .. Syria will always be weak … Syria will be in no position to express its interests … heads or tails, the regime always loses in your opinion.

By the way, the comments section’s database crashed, we just fixed it … too many simultaneous clicks!

November 29th, 2007, 8:15 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
If you could give reasonable arguments instead of insist on wishful thinking, you could convince someone. If you didn’t live in Canada and support a tyrant in Syria then maybe anything you say could carry weight. But as things stand, you are defending a regime under which you wouldn’t be willing to live a day. Yet you view their regional terrorism as “knowing how to play the game” and their opression as “needs to be improved”. As for the poverty in Syria, “it is problem but Bashar is working on it”.

The bottom line is that you are supporting a despicable tyrant without any good reasons.

November 29th, 2007, 8:28 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

“She shook hands with us and thanked us for participating,” Moustapha told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday. “She also asked us to pass our greetings to Foreign Minister Waleed al-Moallem.”

So that’s how a rotten carrot and a piece of choclate look like….. : )

November 29th, 2007, 8:45 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG

And you are living in the United States and supporting a country, Israel, that kills innocent Palestinians children, but you justify it as “at least in Israel we are debating these issues and we are working on them”

I am not expecting you to stop loving Israel and to stop giving us your point of view.

There is no way for me to give you convincing arguments. there is no way for Joshua to give you convincing arguments, and there is no way for events on the ground to convince you … you are determined to see things in a specific way and there is nothing that can influence your way of thinking.

I am here to communicate with those who are more open minded. They might like some of my arguments, and reject others.

November 29th, 2007, 8:51 pm

 

GG said:

Alex,

No one is arguing with you on the point of Syria and Lebanon being neighbours and having close ties. This is only natural as Syria surrounds Lebanon. Read Michel Aoun’s speeches and you will see that he advocates close ties, but with each country minding its own business. Furthermore, Syria being the size it is it would not make sense to look at Syria as anything other than an economic opportunity for the Lebanese and Syrians alike. I wouldn’t call this winning, but if that is the word you choose to use; then fill your boots. However, under the Assad regime (particularly under the inept and short-sighted Bashar) Syria is going nowhere and will lose (in the classic sense of the word) because the regime seeks direct or indirect control of the country, which is no longer possible. So I have to assume you’re advocating a change in the Syrian regime!

November 29th, 2007, 9:01 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
No, I don’t justify killing innocent Palestinians. It is something that needs to be stopped and the Israeli army is all the time devising more and more accurate weapons. It is you that support killing innocent Israelis by supporting the syrian regime arming with inaccurate Scuds (or are you against that?).

I am supporting a democratic regime in Israel that is all the time trying to get better and acknowledges its mistakes. You are supporting a tyranical regime that suppresses criticism and is not willing to improve.

I am supporting a democratic regime that has brought economic prosperity to its people. You are supporting a regime that has brought poverty and backwardness.

I am not even asking for a convincing argument. I am asking for an argument. Why do you support the totalitarian Syrian regime? How can a liberal Canadian like you support such a regime?

November 29th, 2007, 9:05 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

But why are you asking for an argument from me? … actually… why are you here on Syria Comment?

You would like to see the difference between your opinions and those of “Alex” as the difference between the lovely, democratic Israel, and the ugly, murderous, despicable, weak and utterly “bad” Syrian regime.

I see it in an entirely different way.

It is rarely worth it to argue with you.

GG,

There are many perceptions about the Syrian regime. Most of them negative, and most of them either wrong or exaggerated. I have seen the same thing in the 80’s … Hafez was portrayed as weak and worthless too when the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia combined forces (like the past few years) to weaken him.

My impressions are not based on what the regime’s adversaries want me to believe… and they are not based on what Teshreen and al-Baath newspapers want me to believe.

Do you know why AIG is here for hours everyday? .. because Syria is not weak.

November 29th, 2007, 9:30 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Because I truly don’t understand why people who live in democratic regimes and fully understand their benefits for the citizens of the country, support police states. It is something I really would like to understand.

And Hafez Asad left a very weak Syria when he died, both economically and militarily. Do you deny this? Why was Syria strong when he died?

November 29th, 2007, 9:58 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Did you know that in every Israeli university there is a large department for Arabic and middle eastern studies? Israelis are just curious about their environment. I have some time and am really intruiged by the question why there is no democracy in the Arab world and why there is not even any advancement towards democracy.

I thought that you, a Canadian liberal, who understands what democracy is can explain this irregularity. Yet, you are an even bigger puzzle, since you support democracy for yourself (insist on it I might say) yet are willing to postpone it for decades for the Syrians.

Is there rational thinking behind what is going on that you could articualte?

November 29th, 2007, 10:17 pm

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

Do you know why AIG is here for hours everyday? .. because Syria is not weak.

You’ve nailed it, Alex. The nohow and contrariwise obese twins TweedleIG and TweedleAIG,

November 29th, 2007, 10:23 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Perhaps you Nur, an American, that according to your blog cherishes democracy, can explain why you support the Syrian regime? Why aren’t you an active supporter of changing the regime?

November 29th, 2007, 10:32 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

Thank you for letting me know about Arabic studies departments in Israeli Universities. Did you know that many of those Israeli experts write to me to thank me for my contribution to knowledge? … did you bother reading the names (and the universities) of some of those who signed my guest book?

I explained before, but I will again: CHANGE… CHANGE …CHANGE … if you found a system better than democracy and wanted me to support “flipping” Canada overnight towards that system, then I will not do that. Changing a system … a country with 20 million inhabitants … takes years and years.

I want Syria to become a democracy within the 7-14 years. You challenged me in the past to support a 10-year process towards democracy. I did.

Then you said: “What is your plan? … if you don’t have a plan then you are nothing more than a regime mouthpiece” … I gave a link where my plan was discussed over a 100 pages of comments by Israelis, Americans, Syrian and Lebanese critics of the Syrian regime … and tey ended up mostly accepting it. But you came back saying “There was no plan …. that was your typical nonsense”

My friend, you seem to believe you are the ultimate expert on the Middle East and you seem to believe that your negative predictions are taken from some holy book… and you expect everyone to agree with you, or you will reject anything he/she says.

So .. again … why do you need me to give you my opinion about anything?

November 29th, 2007, 10:33 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Yes, because your plan never addresses the core problem, which is how to make the Asads let go of power. Why would they? Will it be done by their own good will or do they need to be pressured? And your plans always start with the world changing but not the Asads. Why?

And if you see democracy moving backward in Syria, instead of forward, why do you still support the regime? Why are you not creating an opposition party to back a plan to make Syria a democracy in 10 years?

And why is it that in no Arab country, such a 10 year plan has ever been implemented?

November 29th, 2007, 10:45 pm

 

GG said:

Alex,

Again I didn’t raise the issue of weakness; on the contrary I wrote that Syria has the potential of becoming an economic power. But as you raise the issue of weakness, what do you mean? Are you saying that Syria is an economic powerhouse? If so then how do you explain the terrible state of its economy? Or are you referring to military weakness? Well, perhaps Syria is able to bully its Western neighbour (which isn’t much to shout about since the Lebanese virtually have no army, navy, or airforce), but it doesn’t seem to have fared too well in military conflicts against its “arch enemy” Israel, nor has it been convincing as the great bastion of the Arabs, as it is always at pains to inform us. So, whatever perception you have of Syria, the single undeniable one is that it is weak. Hafez Assad was a master at convincing the world that his country is a power in the region that cannot be ignored, but the sad truth of the matter is lay aside its ability and propensity to cause trouble and Syria has nothing. Is this the strength that you mean?

November 29th, 2007, 10:51 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG … I am not a politician, and I am not a leader. I don’t even like to use my real name and do not show my picture on any of my sites… and you want me to form an opposition party?!

Bashmann knows that I do not like opposition parties … they are counterproductive .. because they only criticize .. they criticize the good and the bad. Syria does not need more politicians. Syria needs reasonable and intelligent and non-selfish and independent people .. and Syria needs variety of opinions. This is what I try to do in Creative Forum. Whenever I read an opinion from someone who does a good job representing his point of view, I invite her/him to contribute to a debate.

And who told you that “my plan” asks the world to change but not the Assads?

November 29th, 2007, 11:29 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

I am not convinced that Syria is as weak as some mentioned here,if Syria is that weak ,then why is the regime is still there?why Israel avoid fighting Syria?why the USA army did not invade Syria?I do not think Syria is weak.

November 29th, 2007, 11:30 pm

 

Alex said:

GG,

Whatever strength Syria has … it was enough for Baker and Hamilton to tell their president that he must take Syria’s interests into account.

Why don’t we have this same conversation a month form now? I think the picture will be clearer at that time.

November 29th, 2007, 11:31 pm

 

Bashmann said:

Alex,

Not quite the answer I expected from an esteemed and well rounded Syrian political analyst such as yourself. I’m disappointed my friend.

All I can say to you my friend is I’m a believer in leadership, while you seem to believe in pursuance.

In politics, leadership takes courage and perseverance and in the end always wins.

Cheers

November 29th, 2007, 11:53 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Syria is not the only arab country with economical problems.
Most arab countries who are not oil producers and have a sizeable population have economical increased problems whether they are friendly to the US or not, despite donations.( see Egypt, Jordan, Yemen etc..). Aside from corruption, most arab countries lag terribly in technological advances. Even Lebanon with its famous Universities, is suffering from technological underdevelopment. I would also say the same about Institutions and Arts. Arab goverments seem to care only about trade and consumption, not about developping scientific centers, encourage research , arts etc…
Israel, whose population came from developped countries value highly technological development and institutions. In that Israel has an upper hand on all arab countries.
If arab countries don’t modify their educational prorities, they will become just clients and consumers, and will stay in the niche of trading and banking, not an encouraging future for all the brilliant scientific arabs who are leaving to western countries or Dubai to satisfy their thrive for exercising practically their knowledge. A sad reality.

November 30th, 2007, 12:04 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Can you elaborate more about the opposition issue? Why is criticism bad? It is very common in Canada and the US? So what if they criticize the good? People can see and decide for themselves.

How will you get the regime to transfer power to the people without opposition parties? The Asads have not put forward a ten year plan to reach democracy. Somebody has to advocate for it. Opposition parties are essential.

And you say that “Syria needs reasonable and intelligent and non-selfish and independent people”. But these people like to live in democracies. For example, you are living in Canda and most people in Syria given a choice would leave. It is a paradox you need to address.

November 30th, 2007, 12:27 am

 

Disaffection said:

“they are counterproductive .. because they only criticize .. they criticize the good and the bad. Syria does not need more politicians. Syria needs reasonable and intelligent and non-selfish and independent people .. and Syria needs variety of opinions.”

this is a contradiction isnt it? opposition is counter productive but there is a need for a variety of opinions. hey?
my friend, syria needs people that care about syria not people that sing from the same hymn sheet and fit into the desired mould. one thing one learns is that self critique is a vital ingredient to progress. forums and pretty websites expressing views of readers (living around the globe except in Syira) are all very good but they are not being exposed in Syria to syrians. whats the use? of course opposition is good and criticising is even better as it keeps the people in charge on their toes. Are you saying you’re only interested in people that agree with you? a 10 year plan? when is that 10 year plan expected to kick start? you might have that but whats the regimes plan? do they even have a 5 year plan? if they had started a 10 year plan since they took power we would have been typing these comments from our homes in Syria. or perhaps we wouldn’t have needed this forum at all. come on now, who are you trying to convince apart from yourself?

November 30th, 2007, 1:27 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Alex,

I think that in the spirit of true Lebanese-Syrian brotherhood, since you once nominated me for president of Lebanon , the least I can do is nominate you as head of an opposition party. 😉

I’d also like to take this opportunity to not so subtly state to all of my fellow armchair generals: I told you so!! A few months ago, NO ONE imagined that the Syrians would come to Annapolis, and NO ONE imagined that if they did, it would be because there were back-door negotiations between them and the Americans that involved giving them their consensus candidate in Lebanon in exchange for showing up in November.

In fact, when I suggested as much , I recall that IDAF brusquely insisted to me that:

“NOT EVERYTHING SYRIA DOES IS RELATED LEBANON.
Some Lebanese need to grow up, get over their conspiracy theories and understand that the world does not rotate around Lebanon.”

Now it seems that everybody is not surprised that Syria showed up, and not surprised that back-door negotiations were probably held, and not surprised that Syria has “won” in Lebanon by scoring a friendly president.

As infrequently as it happens, I hate being right.

November 30th, 2007, 1:30 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

QIFA NABKI:

Perhaps your handle should be KAFA NABKI since QIFA NABKI comes – as you may know – from an arabic poem from the “Jahiliya” in which QIFA means “let us stand.” Of course, as you also probably know, KAFA means “enough.”

Anyway, I like your posts and concur with your views.

November 30th, 2007, 1:37 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

HONEST PATRIOT:

Actually, “qifa” (more correctly, qifaa) is the dual imperative form, meaning “Halt!” The poet (Imru’ al-Qays) is addressing his two companions, at the beginning of his great ode, the first line of which begins “Halt (you two)! And let us weep…”

November 30th, 2007, 1:57 am

 

why-discuss said:

The lebanese constitution needs serious overhaul: Every election of a new president needs a mofification to the Constitution!

November 30th, 2007, 2:35 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

In fact, the entire system needs to be overhauled.

My personal vote is for a bicameral system.

November 30th, 2007, 2:41 am

 

Alex said:

Qifa Nabki,

You are still my candidate for 2014, I did not forget!

: )

Especially now that you mentioned a “bicameral system”

Disaffection and my friend Bashmann,

What part of what I worte you did not like?

1) I am not interested in politics

Can’t I have a personal opinion? .. can’t I not like politics just like most people hate politics?

2) I am not interested in leading people

This one is a bit more complex. But basically … I only believe in basic moral leadership, and only through living and practicing what I would like others to “follow”, not through pushing and pulling … The only things I belive in very strongly are the basic moral values … I would not shy from trying to “lead” at that level … but anything else where I have no strong conviction, I will not lead … because … what if I was wrong?

Today, information is available to everyone to make up their minds… they don’t need the Baath party to lead them and they don’t need Mr. Khaddam to lead them and they don’t need the Neocons to lead them.

So whenver there is a lot of uncertainty, like in politics, I am all for helping promote forums where every opinion is welcome so that readers can be exposed to all kinds of views … without “leadership” … they are smart enough to deicde. For example, I am now working on an Egyptian “human rights” type of blog. It will be ready in days.

3) I am not impressed with opposition parties.

Opposition parties in general are always criticizing the party in power … If I ever lead an opposition party, i would make sure my deputies will only criticize the mistakes, and not criticize everything.

AIG asked “what is wrong with criticizing the good”?

The same way a fair judge will give anyone his rights for a fair trial, I believe that anyone in power deserves to be judged honestly and fairly … if they are corrupt we should call them corrupt. If they are conducting a wise regional policy, we should give them credit for their wisdom.

If a human being who is part of “the regime” is always criticized .. even when he/she is doing a good job … How do you think that affects his/her attitude towards those who always criticize him/her? … From my experience … I know how this constant complaining leads to more lack of tolerance to any form of “opposition”.

Of course we need opposition parties to make sure that whatever regime is accountable and that their mistakes are communicated to the people. That function of opposition parties is obviously desirable.

In Syria’s case … most “opposition” politicians gave the regime a good excuse (as if they needed any) to delay political reforms … they were mostly terrible… for different reasons,

Sorry Bashmann. You (personally) are considerably more sophisticated than most others and I know you care about Syria’s future. But your party or Khaddam’s party or Farid Ghadry’s party or the Ikhwan (brotherhood) party are all disasters in their own ways … none of them is worth taking a risk for. Michel Kilo and Aref dalilah are exceptions by the way and I am sad the regime keeps them in jail until today.

After we have a regional settlement … one that follows the wise direction that Hafez set decades ago, then the priority will be shifted to economic, then political reforms.

And that is the 7-14 year plan.

AIG .. i can not force the regime to give up power, and no one can … but the situation on the ground can graudally and naturally move the country in the desired direction … without force, and without anyone’s leadership … only after there is peace and stability. People will demand the reforms you want to see … only when enough people demand it will it start taking place. Not when “Alex” or Bashmann or president Bush make “pro-democracy” statements from north America.

November 30th, 2007, 2:55 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Why do you need a regional settlement and only then move to economic and then to democracy? They need to go hand in hand.

In essence, you are letting Israel determine whether Syria is a democracy or economically developed. Because if we don’t make peace with Syira you are in favor of the current situation staying the same. Right?

Why will the position the ground move naturally without force and without leadership? I cannot think of any historical example like this that a tyrant “naturally” moved to democracy. What model do you have in mind? Today people want reforms but the Asads put them in jail and censor facebook. Why will things change?

November 30th, 2007, 4:18 am

 

Alex said:

AIG

I answered your first question already … Israel does not have a veto on reforms in Syria … Israel can accelerate or slow down the process .. but eventually even Israel will realize that there will be no way to reach a peaceful settlement with Syria and Lebanon… I hope we are not too far from that point in time… but we’ll see.

Your second question is a good question, but I will only give you a general answer at this time… the devil is in the details, I know.

There will always be resistance to change … and there will always be ways to minimize resistance to change.

“The Syrian regime” is made from a number of groups and individuals … these are different people with different needs… If we design the change process in a way that meets enough of the needs of a majority of these individuals, then we might succeed.

It takes a number of positive forces to be able to deal with resistance to change.

November 30th, 2007, 6:45 am

 

Disaffection said:

unfortunately Alex, to make an omelette you got to crack few eggs. You expect the regime to evolve. Well thats very idealistic as it hasn’t done so since it took over. why should it do so now? because there is demand for it? they’ll just suppress it. And they prove this at every opportunity.
I appreciate you don’t put me in the same category as Bashman as i’m not a member of a political party nor do i criticise the band and the good hence I dont have an angenda. I am however a member of a forgotten yet significant number of Syrians betrayed by their own system driven to leave Syria in search of a half decent life. And when there is so much deconstruction, corruption and bad decisions making (primarily domestically), then one finds things to criticize way to easily. I can see that irritates you.

November 30th, 2007, 10:21 am

 

GG said:

Life’s failures always seem to rise to the top. I wouldn’t take too much notice of Baker and Hamilton; after all wasn’t the former the one who advised Bush senior that offering Lebanon on a plate to Syria in return for its co-operation in Gulf War One would also secure Israel’s northern border. Where did he get that from “Rough Guide to Lebanon”? Admittedly Hafez outsmarted that twit.

Nevertheless, it’s a date; meet me at 8. I’ll be the one wearing a rose and carrying copy of Tishreen under my right arm.

November 30th, 2007, 11:42 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
As I see it, there will be no war in Lebanon or Syria, for the next 5 years. Hizballah cannot afford a war and neither can the Syrian regime. Given that, Israel is not going to rush to make any deal with Asad. As Simpson writes, the deal Israel is looking for is a lease on the Golan and a flip. This is very far from the Syrian position. Barak has just said that he will not leave the government and induce elections because then Netanyahu will be elected. The chances of a deal with Syria in the next 5 years are slim to none.

As usual you remian vague. You know what, let me ask simpler questions. What is the first step in your plan assuming there is no peace deal in the offing?

November 30th, 2007, 4:38 pm

 

Bashmann said:

Alex,

Thanks for the vote of confidence in me personally. But what don’t you like about Alenfetah Party? It’s calling for realism in politics? Or was it its call for transparency and accountability in government? Or was it the checks and balances that we are trying to institutionalize in Syria? I guess all those years living in the West made you a skeptical about freedom and democracy. Maybe it’s the lack of trust in the people of Syria that is making you apprehensive? I’m just trying to understand the reluctance on your part in being an active member of a political party striving to make a change in Syria for the well being of our fellow countrymen.

What is puzzling to me the fact that when I talk to my fellow Syrians abroad they seem to possess a natural thirst for a change in Syria yet they fail to take the first step in getting involved in the political affairs of their country. We can thank the legacy of your favorite late President Hafez Asad for that. I’m not naïve to dismiss the fear factor involved when it comes to being active in an opposition party inside or outside Syria, yet I do not believe you would be so naïve either to simply believe that political reforms in Syria would be initiated by the government in Damascus without the people of Syria whether they are outside or inside demanding it or getting involved.

You speak of priorities when it comes to change and democratic reforms to the government in Syria and this falls to the bottom of your list. Then let me ask you this, don’t you think that after 37 years of the Asad family monopoly on power in Syria it is time for us to take charge of our own affairs in a country that has been raped by institutionalized cronyism and corruption and protected by a ruthless mafia headed by
security agencies that have no boundaries in carrying out their despicable crimes?
What is more urgent that such an endeavor?

You favor stability today over human sufferings in Syria, a topic that I’ll address in details in an article I’m working currently. You seem to equate change with chaos, yet most all opposition groups are calling for “peaceful” political change.

You speak of Michel Kilo and Aref Dalilah as “exceptions” to the rule!! Who do think you are fooling Alex? Exceptions!!!! Let me give you a few more names aside from the thousands of people being arrested, harassed, jailed, killed and chased out of the country;
Dr. Kamal Labwani, Mahmoud Issa, Faek Al Mir, and the respected human rights lawyer Anwar Al Bunni and the list goes on, do you think these guys can wait another 10-14 years in prison? You mentioned that you are sad the government keeps them in jail, then may I humbly ask, what are you doing for them based on your emotions toward them?

Alex, I do not doubt your love for Syria, it is evident in your wonderful site, what saddens me is that people like you have chosen appeasement of the regime over direct and honest criticism of it. The regime will be there Alex, ‘till you and many others like yourself come clean and speak out the truth about the government in Syria.

Cheers

November 30th, 2007, 6:04 pm

 

Alex said:

Disaffection,

Criticizing corruption and mismanagement does not irritate me because there is so much to criticize. I have not met any Syrian who is satisfied with the regime’s anti-corruption efforts…

But even when it comes to their poor performance on many internal issues, there are many difficult challenges and risks and I am more understanding of SOME of the failures.

And there were many improvements. So I do not like those who criticize …everything.
I’ll give you a clear example of where politicians’ criticism becomes silly: Mr. Khaddam’s interview following Israel’s “mission” inside Syria. In that interview he made two points:

1) Bashar is so arrogant and stubborn … he does not listen to anyone’s advice. He monopolizes decision making and that’s why we have terrible decision making (supposedly).

2) Bashar is so weak and unstable … he flips 180 degrees depending on who is the last person to talk to him and flip him!

I used to be impressed with Mr. Khaddam’s skills in foreign policy in the past. But since he decided to be a “political opposition” leader, he started to make one silly statement after another.

GG,

If not Baker, then the foreign ministers of Germany, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Turkey … and many other western journalists and politicians who made the same statement: Syria is still playing a central role in all conflicts and its interests must be taken into account.

AIG,

I think the Poll that IG linked to this week is a good way to quantify the chances instead of calling them “slim to none”

30% of Israelis would return the Golan before the process even started and before the Americans started to clean the image of Syria … like they did to Sadat’s image when they liked his new approach or like Baker or Clinton did in the 90’s to Hafez treating him like a king.

You can see a sample of what it will look like here.

As for remaining vague, I know … I can’t type 50 pages here. If I start getting into the details it is endless … if I don’t go in depth into each point then it sounds superficial and naive.

If there is no peace .. there will need to be a completely “flipped” American attitude towards Syria … if that is not there either .. there will be a bloody and inconclusive war in the middle east… then there will be peace.

The situation we had the past few years is not sustainable.

November 30th, 2007, 6:25 pm

 

Alex said:

GG,

Here is how The New York Times sees it:

Syria, the most important outside influence over Lebanese politics, had hesitated until the last minute over whether to attend the conference.

Immediately after the talks, Syrian allies in Lebanon endorsed the first major political breakthrough. Analysts say the talks could thaw strained relations between Syria and the United States.

“The Syrians did not want to go to Annapolis, and without them the conference would have been a failure and would have weakened the Arabs,” said Talal Atrissi, a political analyst and sociologist at Lebanese University. “The Syrians traded their participation, which did not cost them anything, with a deal on the Lebanese presidency.”

And if you remember what Randa Takkeidine (always an anti Syria analyst) wrote in Alhayat newspaper this week: The Syrians got what they wanted from France without paying in advance and without paying anything at all.

It sounds like Syria is still outsmarting others even after Hafez is gone.

November 30th, 2007, 6:41 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Its not how the NY times sees it, its how a Lebanese sees it. Check out how Azmi Bisahra sees it on the other thread.

November 30th, 2007, 6:59 pm

 

Alex said:

Bashmann,

You want an example of what I do not like in taking sides?

take your attempt to speak as if you are a democrat in congress attacking, politely, your republican counterparts:

“But what don’t you like about Alenfetah Party? It’s calling for realism in politics? Or was it its call for transparency and accountability in government? Or was it the checks and balances that we are trying to institutionalize in Syria? I guess all those years living in the West made you a skeptical about freedom and democracy. Maybe it’s the lack of trust in the people of Syria that is making you apprehensive?”

So you insinuated that:

1) I am against realism in politics but “alinfitah party” will bring realism back to Syrian politics.

2) I am against transparency and accountability in government. But “alinfitah party”‘s call for transparency will make a real difference over there in Syria …

3) I am against checks and balances .. and your party is going to make it happen by calling for it from Florida.

4) I am skeptical about freedom and I lack trust in the Syrian people.

Bashmann … you want realism? No Florida based or Washington based party will make any difference back there in Syria .. and the regime will not allow any serious Syria based opposition party to function!

So that’s why I am saying: please forgive me if i do not join or even believe in any opposition party … because anyone who does not realize how futile or counterproductive it is to form a Florida Syrian opposition party is not … a realist.

The best you can do is to participate a an individual, smart, and good Syrian in debates and discussions .. just like I do … nothing more and nothing less.

That’s my personal opinion, since I was asked.

As for the other names in opposition who are in jail .. I chose my Kilo and Dalileh carefully … I do not approve of the positions taken by many other opposition figures. I am totally against putting anyone of them in jail and I wrote to some Syrian officials few times expressing my opinion … but it is useless … I will not waste time doing that.

Do you like Mamoun Homsy?

November 30th, 2007, 7:12 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
It is bewildering. You say: “the regime will not allow any serious Syria based opposition party to function!” yet you support the regime. The moment I think I may start finding some sense in your position you throw me for a ride.

You agree that the regime will not allow any serious opposition but also agree that opposition is needed for change and then you support the regime. I am getting a headache. How can change ever happen?

November 30th, 2007, 7:34 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

Again, I answered this point. You need to understand that I do not take sides in an absolute way … I do not “support” the regime. I support most of the regime’s foreign policy and some of its internal policies… so maybe overall I give them a 6 or 7 out of ten.

Let me give you an example that you might understand: I received many emails the past two years asking me: “are you a Syrian Jew”? … they felt that I am too friendly to Israel … which I am by their standards.

You feel I am too friendly to the regime because I am more friendly to the regime than you are.

November 30th, 2007, 7:47 pm

 
 

Alex said:

Change can happen when natural opposition, and not opposition created, organized and backed by Washington and Saudi Arabia, adds up to too much pressure on the regime to change things faster … twenty million Syrians who are much more effective than the farid Gahdry “opposition party”.

It will … it will.

I know you think the regime responds to unconditional pressure… it does not. It goes more hard line. the regime responds better to selective and constructive criticism.. the type that is done quietly and in private.

It does not mean they always respond (Kilo’s case) … but they do sometimes .. which is much better than the other approach.

I know you would hate the analogy .. but think of how Israelis would react to Arabs blaming Israel for EVERYTHING that goes wrong in the Arab world…. you simply learn to ignore them… and you say to them: “too bad…I am here to stay, whether you like me of not”

Arabs who hate Israel have no choice .. they have to talk to Israel.

“opposition politicians” who hat ethe Syrian regime have no choice … they have to talk to an work with the regime

Israel who hates Iran has no choice … need to talk to Iran (Ahmadinejad will leave next year)

Alex who is opposed to all kinds of religion-based countries .. needs to tolerate and understand and accept Israel and Iran and Saudi Arabia …

November 30th, 2007, 8:13 pm

 

GG said:

Alex,

As you said, we’ll discuss this next month, but I would just like to respond to your last point. Tweedledee and Tweedledum (aka Thanassis Cambanis and Nada Bakri) also wrote, “General Suleiman won the support of the opposition Christian leader Michel Aoun, a retired general and a former army chief who was seeking the presidency himself and is backed by Syria.” Aoun backed by Syria! How seriously can you take this article?

Western journalists are on the whole stupid creatures. In 2005 when Aoun returned to Lebanon they were calling him anti-Syrian. When he signed an MOU with Hizballah he became Syria’s prodigal son and a Pro-Syrian. It’s a good job he’s not middle of the road, or they’d really get confused. He may even become known as Aoun, the “pro-western-march 14-anti-Syria-Hizballah” presidential candidate.

As for Randa Takkeidine, well, what can I say! Arabs like a good conspiracy. The ones’ I like best are those that see a Syrian behind every rock, pretty much the way the Arabs see an Israeli behind every rock.

November 30th, 2007, 8:25 pm

 

Alex said:

GG,

I agree on both examples

1) When Aoun won the majority of Christian votes there were two headlines: CNN and ABC I think .. one said “Anti Syria politician wins elections” and the other said “Pro-Syria politician wins elections”

I sent it to Joshua at the time.

2) David Lesch testified in Congress this month saying the same thing: in the middle east they used to blame everything on the CIA … now we blame everything on the Syrian intelligence.

November 30th, 2007, 8:53 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
I would not accept to live in a non-democratic country. If a totalitarian regime came into existence in Israel, I would fight it tooth and nail.

You on the other hand are comfortable with police states and are willing to find excuses for them and understand their position even after decades of deterioration in Syria (of course this is done from the comfort and freedom of Montreal).

This is probably a difference that can’t be bridged. Even during the American Revolution there were Loyalist who supported the British Crown. I guess you are a latter day Loyalist to Asad.

November 30th, 2007, 8:56 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG

How many times will you repeat this same thing?

You tolerate a state that kills Palestinian children and steals Palestinian and Arab lands … and I tolerate an authoritarian regime for now.

I see you have a burning desire to feel morally superior.

November 30th, 2007, 9:21 pm

 

Across the Aisle » In-Roads to Damascus said:

[…] The recent news from Beirut is also promising. The Syrians and Americans have apparently agreed on a presidential candidate for Lebanon, army commander Michael Suleiman. Apparently there has been serious cooperation on this front for some time and hopefully it can continue into other areas. The overlap between American policy and Syrian influence is considerable. Syria shares a large border with Iraq and has accepted a large number of Iraqi refugees. Unfortunately, refugees are not the only things crossing the Syrian border. Weapons and insurgents have been coming into Iraq from Syria since 2003, sometimes with tacit support with Syrian regime. […]

December 3rd, 2007, 3:34 am

 

SyriaComment - Syrian politics, history, and religion » Archives » Electoral math: The history of a failing formula said:

[…] On the face of it, this arrangement would appear to be a dream deal for Syria’s allies. When March 14 announced its support of Suleiman for president, many commentators close to the opposition trumpeted it as a major victory for Syria. After all, Suleiman has a spotless record on Syrian-Lebanese ‘partnership’ and cooperation, and is a strong supporter of the Lebanese resistance. With the help of Suleiman, Syria would be able to secure the future of Hizbulah’s arms (at least in the short-term), deal a blow to the Tribunal, and potentially bring down the government in the event of another deadlock (according to the Constitution, the government must fall if over 1/3 of the Cabinet resigns). […]

January 15th, 2008, 2:33 am

 

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