Arab Unity: Can Saudi Arabia Change with the Middle East? - Syria Comment

Arab Unity: Can Saudi Arabia Change with the Middle East?

Saudi Arabia has been adrift since Obama won elections in the US. Having tailored its foreign policy over the last 8 years to President Bush’s, even if unhappily, Riyadh must tack with Washington’s new direction. The problem is that Washington’s direction is not yet clear. US diplomats say they are going to change fundamental policies and are engaging Syria and Iran, accommodating themselves to Lebanon’s Doha agreement, and preparing definitively to turn Iraq over to Shiite leadership. None of this makes Saudi Arabia happy, but what can it do? Its partners of the last two decades, Egypt and Israel, are of little use to Saudi Arabia today.  Egypt has no regional plan and is looking inward in preparation for the dynastic hand off. Israel is not interested in cultivating its Saudi alliance. Netanyahu brushes off talk of compromise with Palestinians and continues to embarrass Arab “moderates” who look to it for regional leadership and support against Iran.

The US is not so much preparing to “change” its policies in the region as to withdraw from the commitments that President Bush got it into.  What are these commitments?  Occupying Iraq, pulling Lebanon out of Syria’s sphere of influence, destroying Hizbullah, supporting Israel without public criticism… and, I would add, preventing Iran from developing the capability to build nuclear weapons. Backing away from the commitment to use force against Iran if diplomacy fails will be the most difficult. Today, Obama still claims Washington will use force against Iran. No one believes this threat; it should never have been made. Obama will have to find a way to climb down from such over-wrought fulminations. Hopefully, Tehran will help him retreat gracefully.

Washington’s retreat from Bush’s irresponsible overreach, is embarrassing Saudi Arabia, which must find a way to once again accommodate Syria’s influence in Lebanon and do business with Damascus as it stands by Hamas and sticking pins into Israel to get back the Golan. Saudi and Egypt made a big bet on Bush’s Strategy; they lost. Now Saudi Arabia will have to back away from its Israel strategy, which consists of pretending that the “Saudi” peace plan and the PLO remain operational. Everyone knows they are not. The two state solution is finished. So is the PLO ….. that is so long as it retains the “L” between the “P” and “O”.

Most importantly, Saudi Arabia will have to acculturate to the end of Sunni domination in the Arab World. Shiite culture and influence are here to stay. Thirty years of Islamic rule in Iran, the consolidation of Shiite rule in Iraq, and the emergence of Hizbullah as the strongest force in Lebanon are testimony to the arrival of Shiism. It is transforming the political architecture of the region. Wahhabism cannot sustain itself or guide Arabia as an ideology of state in its present blinkered and puritanical form. The Saudis will have to broaden their narrow outlook on Islam if they intend to remain a source of compromise and unity in the Arab world. Enduring political unity must be accompanied by ideological accommodation.

News Round up: The best articles on the mini Arab summit

Why Syria and Saudi Arabia are talking again
It’s about Iran, Iraq, and Israel. The two foes planned to meet in Riyadh Wednesday to solidify Arab unity amid regional volatility.
By Nicholas Blanford | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

BEIRUT, Lebanon – Saudi Arabia’s steps to end its bitter dispute with Syria appear to be aimed at unifying Arabs against a trio of growing concerns: Iran’s spreading influence in the region, the uncertainties of a US drawdown in Iraq, and the prospect of a right-wing government in Israel.

Saudi outreach follows Washington’s tentative reengagement with Damascus, a move that diplomats hope will have more success in weaning Syria away from its Iranian ally than the Bush administration’s policy of isolation.

“The Saudis want to get Syria away from Iran,” says Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Washington’s style is to try engagement as well, so the Arabs are trying their best to get Syria on board.”

After a month of shuttle diplomacy, Saudi King Abdullah, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and Kuwaiti Emir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah will meet for a fence-mending summit in Riyadh Wednesday.

The rift between Syria and Saudi Arabia followed the assassination in 2005 of Rafik Hariri, a Lebanese former prime minister who was close to the kingdom’s ruling family. The Syrian regime remains a leading suspect in the assassination, although it denies involvement.

The Bush administration, angered by Syrian meddling in Iraq and support for anti-Israel groups such as Hamas, imposed sanctions and froze ties with Damascus in 2005. In response, Syria strengthened its relationship with Iran and sat out President Bush’s final term.

The result: an Arab world split between Western-backed Sunni states (Saudi Arabia and Egypt) and allies of Shiite Iran (Syria, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and Palestinian Hamas).

Relations between Egypt and Syria have also been cold, the result of tension between Cairo and Tehran. In December, Mr. Mubarak reportedly criticized Iran’s expanding influence, saying: “The Persians are trying to swallow up the Arab states.”

Arab fears of Iranian expansionism were compounded by recent unrest by Shiites in the Gulf. In December and January, Shiites rioted in Bahrain following the arrest of several Shiites on terrorism charges. In January, Saudi Shiites launched rare demonstrations after an altercation between police and Shiite worshippers in Medina.

The unrest does not appear to have been stirred by Iran, but does serve to warn Bahrain and Saudi Arabia that marginalized Shiites could provide an opening for Iranian penetration.

However, a return to traditional diplomacy by the Obama administration appears to have encouraged Saudi Arabia to bridge the rift with Syria. At an economic summit in Kuwait in January, King Abdullah invited the Syrian and Egyptian leaders to a lunch at his private residence. That ice-breaker was followed by reciprocal visits by the Saudi and Syrian foreign ministers that paved the way for the Riyadh summit.

“I do think that one of the reasons Saudi Arabia wanted to patch up with Damascus is that it realized that there was no sense in pursuing a policy that had repeatedly failed since 2006, being on bad terms with Damascus,” says Sami Moubayed, a Syrian political analyst.

Even Egypt appears to have swallowed its anger at Syria, recognizing that Damascus has influence over the Palestinian unity talks under way in Cairo.

“Egypt knows very well that for the Cairo dialogue to succeed it will need the goodwill of Syria,” says Ousama Safa, director of the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies.

Last week, Jeffrey Feltman, acting US assistant secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs, and Daniel Shapiro, a National Security Council official, met with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem in Damascus, the first visit to Syria by senior US officials in four years. Mr. Feltman described the meeting as “constructive,” suggesting it could pave the way for further talks.

Whether the overtures will lure Syria from Iran’s orbit remains to be seen. Syria has employed a fence-straddling strategy to deflect international pressure. It held indirect talks with Israel last year and helped broker an end to the political impasse in Lebanon, yet it continues to support Hamas and Hezbollah and has tightened military cooperation with Iran.

“Syria is exploiting the [international] paranoia over Iran very cleverly,” says a Western diplomatic source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Syria broke off the indirect negotiations with Israel in response to the Gaza war. But Mr. Assad has said he is willing to resume talks even with a right-wing Likud party-led government.

Reuters reported Wednesday that a Likud politician met Syrian diplomats in the US “and felt encouraged about peace prospects.”

But Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who is expected to be Israel’s next prime minister, has indicated he would prefer to concentrate on the Palestinian track.

Still, if the Saudi-Syrian rapprochement bears fruit, it could signal an easing of tensions in Lebanon before June polls – elections in which neither the Saudi and Western-backed parliamentary majority nor the Syrian-supported opposition are assured of victory.

“Elections in Lebanon are always decided by 11th hour deals [between rival factions] and if the Syrian-Saudi rapprochement continues it will impact positively on any 11th hour coalitions that are made,” says Bassel Salloukh, assistant professor of politics at the Lebanese American University.

Syrian-Saudi reconciliation also could facilitate a stable transition in Iraq when the US withdraw troops. Both Saudi Arabia and Iran will be vying to exert greater influence there. “Someone has to fill that vacuum,” says Mr. Moubayed. “Saudi Arabia has an ambition and so does Iran. Syria stands in the middle.”

Syria loyal to Iran after Riyadh meeting
Sat, 14 Mar 2009

Syrian President Bashar Assad (L) shaking hands with his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Damascus says it will not abandon its strategic ties with Tehran, despite reports of a Saudi and Egyptian effort to distance the two allies.

Iran seen as target of Saudi overtures to Syria (Reuters)
By Alistair Lyon, 10 March 2009

BEIRUT – Bottling its irritation, Saudi Arabia is mending ties with Syria to restore a semblance of Arab harmony before a summit later this month, calm regional tensions and nudge Damascus towards cooling its alliance with Tehran.

After intensive advance diplomacy, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will visit Riyadh on Wednesday, along with Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, the state Saudi Press Agency reported.

While open to Arab detente, Assad has shown no readiness to sever a bond with non-Arab Iran that has lasted 29 years.

“Saudi Arabia’s top priority is to confront Iran and its agenda in the Arab world. The Saudis want to weaken Tehran’s cards in the Arab world, thus the new approach towards Syria,” said an Arab official with close ties to the Saudis.

“They know it’ll be very difficult to break the ties between Syria and Iran, but by showing the Syrians what they have to gain if they return to the Arab fold, they hope to weaken that alliance,” added the official, who asked not to be identified.

On its part, Syria is keen to cast off any remnants of the diplomatic isolation it endured after the 2005 assassination of Lebanon’s ex-premier Rafik al-Hariri, a Saudi citizen and protege. Damascus denied any involvement in the killing, now the focus of an international tribunal that began work this month.

Furious with Saudi Arabia and Egypt for joining Western pressure that forced it to quit Lebanon in 2005, Syria hardened its alignment with Iran, Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas and Palestinian Hamas militants in shared hostility to Israel and the United States and its conservative Arab allies.

Saudi Arabia tempered its anti-Syrian stance after Damascus backed last year’s Qatari-mediated deal among Lebanese factions and the new U.S. administration spoke of engaging with Damascus.

“It’s about teamwork, concerted Arab action,” Jamal Khashoggi, editor of the Saudi newspaper al-Watan, said. Syria’s presence “back in the team” would enable Lebanon’s election in June to take place without bloodshed, promote Egyptian-sponsored Palestinian reconciliation talks and advance prospects for Arab-Israeli peace negotiations, Khashoggi argued.

He said Saudi Arabia wanted Syria to cooperate on Lebanon, where the two countries support opposing political blocs, and think of its neighbour “as an equal, not a subordinate”. Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, a foe of Syria’s role, told Reuters last week that a thaw in Saudi-Syrian ties could reduce communal tensions and promote stability in his country.

“Half-Men” Slur Rankles…..

World Agenda: why Syria key to US hopes of unlocking Middle East
From Times Online
March 11, 2009

Her renewed efforts, which included sending top aides to meet Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s youthful President, last weekend, appear to be bearing fruit already. Mr al-Assad said this week that he was ready for direct talks with Israel if the United States were prepared to act as mediator.
Related Links

“We need the United States to act as an arbitrator when we move from the current indirect negotiations to direct negotiations [with Israel],” he said, marking a potential step toward renewed ties with the West after years of isolation and encirclement.

America and its allies in the region, from Israel to Saudi Arabia, hope to bring Syria in from the cold by luring it away from Iran’s sphere of influence. Syria acts as a middle-man between the Tehran regime and the Arab militias of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Breaking that link would isolate Iran even more and bring pressure on its armed satellites, both of which have fought wars with Israel in the past two and a half years.

To that end, Saudia Arabia’s King Abdullah met yesterday with Mr al-Assad in Riyadh, marking an abrupt thaw in frosty ties…..

A key sticking point in any Israel-Syria talks will be Damascus’s demands for the return of the Golan Heights.

Raed Rafei, LA Times

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.

Comments (61)


majid said:

hehehe, Even a kid can write a better article.
kal doctor kal!!!
Not even worth a comment.

March 16th, 2009, 10:15 pm

 

Amir in Tel Aviv said:

It’s so sad that the players and the forces in the ME (not including Israel),
always react, and never act. Always follow and never lead.
Always being dragged, and never initiate. Always complain, but will not change.
.

March 17th, 2009, 12:23 am

 

Miso said:

Has anyone watched Democracy Now with Amy Goodman today?
Israeli’s soldier shut an American Journalist last Fri.
It is very sad. Please, watch and share.

May that will be a wake call for our new USA administration !!

March 17th, 2009, 1:03 am

 

norman said:

Dr Landis,

That is a great analysis, it was always surprising to me the generosity that Iran has when dealing with Arab countries , We have to remember that these Arab countries like KSA , Egypt and the other Gulf states , actually most Arab countries stood by Saddam Husain/ Iraq when he attacked Iran with the help of the West to destroy the Islamic revolution of Iran , which for the first time became pro Arab and Palestinian , more than a Million Iranians died and another Million Iraqi for the sake of the KSA ,
Still after all that Iran continue to try to build good relation with it’s Arab neighbors,

Can somebody explain that to me.

March 17th, 2009, 1:20 am

 

Shai said:

Amir,

Are you suggesting Israel knows how to change, rather than always complain?

When was the last time we’ve changed?

March 17th, 2009, 4:32 am

 

Johnny said:

Dr Landis,

Big fan. Quick question. According to An Nahhar the Syrians didn’t attend the official opening of the Lebanese embassy bc they thought it was Sunday not Monday. What should we make of this?

I read two things.

One: Take Muallem at face value and think to myself didn’t they realize the mistake when they showed up on Sunday and no one was there?

Two: Expose the duality of the Syrian regime, and that it still does not take Lebanon seriously, despite the words it uses.

I’m all for brotherly ties and all, and have even begun visiting Syria as a tourist and seeing if I can invest in the country. If you could shed some light on this I would greatly appreciate it. I, and am sure many of my compatriots, find it quite insulting.

March 17th, 2009, 7:08 am

 

why-discuss said:

Norman

Since the Islamic revolution, Iran’s aim is to be a leader in the region. While arab countries foolishly supported Saddam Hossein in the name of Arab solidarity, to stop “Persian/Shia” expansionism, they have actually helped Iran get closer to that goal. Iran is loyal to its friend Syria, the only arab country to oppose Saddam, and courteous (but not condescending) to the pathetic Arab Sunni countries, blinded by their visceral fear of Shiism and by their obsolete and passive notion of arabism. After 50 years, the arabs, under the umbrella of panarabism have only made the palestinian situation worse. Now neighbors who were outsiders are taking over the cause. Suddenly we see a flurry of statememts accusing the Iranians to steal that sacred cause, to interfere to “disunite” the arabs and childishly KSA wants to “renunite” the arab brothers.
Are these countries aware that this febrile attitude exposes even more their weakness and their disarray?
Against Israel, military strength is the only deterrent and arab countries are far too weak. So maybe it is time for KSA and other failed sunni arab countries to leave the stage to more clever, more motivated and freer countries in the region to deal with the Palestinian issue and the long-lasted aggressive behavior of Israel. Arab media’s disparaging statements just fly over Iran’s head. Iran’s military strength and independent politics make them strong and patient enough to deal with the weaker arab countries with courtesy and calm.

March 17th, 2009, 7:32 am

 

Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Shai,

“…..Are you suggesting Israel knows how to change, rather than always complain?
When was the last time we’ve changed?”.
———————————————
Yes. This is exactly what I’m saying.
You want Examples? .. please: (1) The creation of ‘Kadima’. Show me another dynamic and adoptive democracy, that can change and adopt to different situations. Show me another western democracy that it’s politics is so adoptive
to the present situation, and that creates political ad-hock solutions.
(2) National reforms of different kinds. For example, the ‘Bakhar’
reform, that in these days saves you and me from economic collapse
(unlike many other democracies which stagnate).
(3) ‘Vinograd’ report. Show my another democracy which can allocate
it’s best resources for the sake of lesson learning and improvement.

And I have many many more examples. Stop being self-hating-Jew-Israeli.
.

March 17th, 2009, 8:47 am

 

Shai said:

Amir,

I know there’s another thing we Israelis are very good at, unlike any other “dynamic and adoptive democracies”, and that is assuming that harsh internal criticism represents “self-hatred”, be it towards our religion, or our state. What makes you think I love my nation any less than you do?!? Perhaps my relentless search for making this place a better place is even MORE a demonstration of my love for Israel, than your automatic-labeling machine one?

Your examples are ludicrous. Kadima is an invention that was created for Likudnicks that wanted out, but didn’t know where to go. They couldn’t fix their own party, certainly not their own Merkaz Ha’Likud, so they formed a new party. Except, what did this party do since its creation? Absolutely nothing. It was, and remains, the most impotent party of all. Its agenda is formed by looking right, then left, and making something up that seems to belong in the middle. In reality, this “Center party” caused more damage than Labor or Likud ever could. Who led the war in Lebanon? Who massacred 1,300 Palestinians in Gaza? Who removed no settlements, despite Supreme Court rulings? Who delivered no peace, and no security, these past 8 years? Likud? Labor? Or your amazing Kadima?

As for your “Bakhar Reform”, please suggest how it will help the expected quarter of a million who’ll be fired this year? January had 20,000 fired, soon we’ll know about February. Reforms are a great idea, when they’re implemented. And that’s precisely where your third example, Vinograd, suffers as well. What good is it, to waste the taxpayers money, for months and years, if no one plans to implement its findings? You’re talking about a “democracy which can allocate it’s best resources for the sake of lesson learning and improvement”? Where’s the improvement from Vinograd?

You know what Amir, here’s a suggestion for you – stop being such a self-LOVING-Jew-Israeli. Pride is a good a thing, but one needs to know also when NOT to feel it. The way your country and mine is behaving the past 40 years, by ruling over, suffocating and subjugating another people, without giving them any rights that all other free people on earth enjoy, deserves no particular pride. Does it?

March 17th, 2009, 11:05 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Dear Syria Comment,

I’ve just returned from the Zionist Entity after being away for about 5 years. This trip was a bit different, as I had the opportunity to travel the country and not stagnate in one area. My first week I was in the Jerusalem area, and the second week the Tel aviv area. The following are my observations:

Jerusalem Area

We travelled through Gush Etzion south of Jerusalem and the surrounding area. There were a couple of tunnels and checkpoints nothing too difficult to navigate. A side trip to Rachael’s Tomb, Heriodian, and Kiryat Arba proved to be more complicated and risky. I could see that “sightseeing” by Israelis was minimal. Walls are up to reduce shootings which have killed a number of Israelis. Arab villages dot the landscape and seem to be thriving, however, it seems some Arab villages are doing much better than others just by seeing the state of the homes we passed by.

Israelis are NOT allowed to travel to Palestinian-controlled areas such as Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Hebron. Americans like myself are. Therefore, I did not visit Bethlehem. My trip to Masada and Ein Gedi forced me to go north around Jerusalem rather than “cut through” the West Bank. I believe this is due to the Palestinian-controlled areas which we tended to avoid. Overall, Jerusalem seemed to be bigger and more built-up.

Tel Aviv

One trip was from Tel Aviv to the Golan wineries north of the Sea of Galilee. Travelling to Tiberias, we passed huge Arab villages both within Israel and inside the “fence” (Green Line). I was amazed at the size and condition (good) of the Arab villages and houses all through this part of the country. The Golan winery is much bigger and professional than I had expected, as varying vinyards throughout the Golan feed the factory for the various wines they sell. They take their wine-making seriously.

Another organized trip was to a Druze village in the Galil. There we were invited to hear a short description of what the Druze are, what their basic beliefs are, and how they live. We were then invited to have a Druze lunch which consisted of a huge, round metal tray with many different meats, rice and salads and a large piece of Arabic pita bread (lafa) used to pick everything up (no forks and knives).

The speaker was a ex-SLA member who, of course, didn’t have many nice things to say about Hezbollah. He claimed that if Israel wanted to win the war in Lebanon, they should have employed more Druze soldiers. I considered that bravado.

http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/MFAArchive/2000_2009/2002/12/Focus%20on%20Israel-%20The%20Druze%20in%20Israel

Observations

Generally, I saw some Arabs at all the major markets in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (Carmel and Mahane Yehuda). None of them were hassled in any way. Some had their own stalls for selling.

The Arab population is growing. Assuming a stalemate in political negotiations, it won’t take more than a generation for the population in Israel to become 50/50 Arab and Jew. For all the talking and getting nothing done, choices really do not have to be made, as Jew and Arabs will continue to live together and mold Israel into whatever the people want. Of course, someone could “light a match” and try to upset the status quo, and this is the only mistake I can forsee in the immediate future. Otherwise, Israel will eventually become a binational state, whatever that means. I don’t see Israel creating a war to redefine her boundaries, unless she is threatened.

Something to think about.

March 17th, 2009, 11:44 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

it is sold and the cash deposited in U.K. Rothschild Banks?

SNP –

How do you know the cash isn’t deposited into Saudi or Gulf banks?

BTW – Why can’t the Arabs wait 50 years and liberate Palestine in the voting box?

March 17th, 2009, 5:33 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Why? Because at 49 years, 11 months and 29 days, the Knesset will pass laws that prohibit them from the ballot box either by stripping Israeli Citizenship of Palestinians or simply ban them from having voting rights.

SNP –

All the more reason to wait the 50 years. Then there would be no dispute that Israel were an “Apartheid State”. Israel would not only be isolated from the West, they would be isolated from most Jews as well.

TWO STATE SOLUTIONS. don’t worry about it.

Honestly, I don’t know what this “Two State Solution” thing is all about. I’ve already witnessed and experienced a defacto “Two State Solution”. Am I missing something?

So you bosses sent you here to softly peddle the One State scam, that is all?

“One State”, “Two State” etc., I’m not sure what you prefer. If you want a Palestinian state, all I’m saying is to wait a few years until the population of Arabs in Israel grow larger than the population of Jews. It’s not rocket science.

My advice: Be patient.

March 17th, 2009, 7:11 pm

 

Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:

AP,

I want to salute your for the first time I hear you say something that totally makes sense and is based on first-hand observations and not on Internet scavange hunts.

For all the talking and getting nothing done, choices really do not have to be made, as Jew and Arabs will continue to live together and mold Israel into whatever the people want.

Here are some statistics: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1070813.html

March 17th, 2009, 8:43 pm

 

qunfuz said:

I think AP and SNP should keep on talking to each other for as long as they can.

Poor Iran. It doesn’t do anything as radical as become a proper democracy, only dares to stand up for itself on occasion, tries vaguely not to become a full puppet of empire, gives a few quid to the elected representatives of the Palestinians, gives a few guns to the resistance in Lebanon, and it’s accused of building a Persian-Shii empire. The accusers squawk about Arabism and Islam while allying themselves with Zionism, living under American military protection, and encouraging the most fanatical, anti-semitic, violent, misogynistic, sectarian forms of Islam.

Excellent analysis, Joshua.

March 17th, 2009, 8:50 pm

 

Friend in America said:

Global Security News republished the following from yesterday’s London Guardian. Interesting.

World Could Face “Nuclear Anarchy,” Report Says
Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A British defense physicist and defense analyst warned in a new report that the global spread of nuclear energy facilities could drastically increase the chances of weapons material falling into the wrong hands, the London Guardian reported yesterday (see GSN, Jan. 13).
“We are at a crossroads. Unless governments work together to safeguard nuclear energy supplies, the rise in unsecured nuclear technology will put us all in danger. Without this, we are hurtling towards a state of nuclear anarchy where terrorists or rogue states have the ways and means of making nuclear weapons or ‘dirty bombs,’ the consequences of which are unimaginable,” Frank Barnaby, emeritus consultant at the Oxford Research Group, said in a paper for the Institute for Public Policy Research.
Nuclear plants by 2075 could produce enough plutonium to power 1 million bombs, Barnaby said. Plutonium would be accessible to most nations, as would nuclear physicists and engineers who could design a device. That would leave those nations capable of producing the bomb “and it is to be expected that some will take the political decision to become actual nuclear weapons powers,” the report states.
Increasing establishment of atomic power plants is likely to include fast breeder reactors that produce surplus nuclear fuel, creating an opening for terrorists to acquire the material, Barnaby argued.
The threat must be addressed by nations and other entities, Barnaby said. The 2010 review conference for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is a “make or break” meeting for the future of the pact, according to the report, he said. Nations should also work to persuade non-nuclear states against acquiring enriched uranium, according to the report.
“A global nuclear renaissance, if badly managed, could bring enormous complications in terms of nuclear nonproliferation and terrorism,” said IPPR official Ian Kearns. “Policy-makers need to be alert to the dangers and to construct policies that bring secure low-carbon energy and a stable nuclear weapons environment” (Terry Macalister, London Guardian, March 16).

March 17th, 2009, 8:55 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Yossi,

This past trip was eye-opening for me. The reason is, for all the trashing of Israel for putting up fences and checkpoints, Israel has basically cut, or at best, much greatly reduced their claims to these areas.

I hear comments on this website that Israel is “greedy” or Israel doesn’t want peace, ad infinitum. What I actually saw was the opposite: Israel is getting smaller. For the past 5 years, I’ve been getting this distorted picture, but it only took this past trip to convince me otherwise.

Moreover, I don’t sense any great uproar in Israel for doing this. I don’t think Israelis have a great fear of the Palestinians or Arabs per se, I do think they have a fear of Iran. My sense is that if Jews lived for 2000 years as a minority, then returning to that state of affairs isn’t so terrible or anything to afraid of. Sure we would prefer to have a Jewish state, but it’s not worth subjugating a majority for it. Understanding the American and Israeli Jewish community myself; I know it wouldn’t fly.

So the bottom line is: will there be a peaceful transition to an Arab-majority rule later this century, or will that be preempted by a major war? I say “major war”, because the smaller battles we’ve seen recently between Lebanon and Gaza will not affect this larger issue.

I would like to hear AIG’s opinion on this of course, since he is the only other “right-leaning” Israeli on this website.

March 17th, 2009, 9:02 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

gives a few guns to the resistance in Lebanon

Confused,

And “poor Iran” also continues to build the bomb while it threatens Israel and keeps inspectors away from their nuclear facilities in violation of their signed agreements.

You forgot that those few extras.

If any government or organization wants to completely “F up” the Palestinians chances of statehood and independence, it won’t be Lebanon, Syria, Israel or the KSA – it will be Iran.

March 17th, 2009, 9:08 pm

 

Shami said:

Qunfuz,dont be naive ,the Iranian regime is not democratic,but a clerical totalitarian regime in which the selected president chosen among regime men, has few power ,the true power is concentrated into the hands of a mafia arround rafsandjani and some mollahs ,it’s not because the arab regimes are bad that you should magnify them.

Dr Landis ,who told you to remove a passage from your previous version of your article ?(onthe nature of the syrian regime),you were right.

March 18th, 2009, 1:32 am

 

majid said:

TO AP Comment #10,
Thanks AP for the excellent brief you gave about your recent trip. Your description of the general conditions of the Arab population of Israel is quite revealing, and you have certainly made the case for the one-state solution. After reading your comment, I became convinced that the Palestinian people are much better off under Israeli rule than any other rule in the Middle East including their own Hamas or Fatah rule. I think this is the way the problem should be solved. The Palestinians, including those of Gaza and West Bank, should all be part of this State and under Jewish rule. The last 60 have proven that the Palestinians are their worst enemies, and therefore they should be part of the Jewish State.
Your comment also inspired in me the though of extending this model to Syria, even though I’m not Syrian. Currently, the Syrian people are, under the current regime of Damascus, in worse condition than the Palestinians. Most Syrians loathe the thought of their country being allied with mullah regime of Iran. As you may well know Syria is a police State and thus such opposition cannot be voiced freely. I believe that the Israeli Government is adopting the wrong approach by trying to negotiate with this government of Syria with the hope of distancing it away from Iran. Instead, the Israeli Government should appeal to this general sentiment of the Syrian people and try to reach a deal with the people similar to the way Israel treats its Palestinian citizens. I strongly support a Syria ruled by the Israelis in a similar way the Palestinians are ruled. The people of Syria would certainly welcome the change which they cannot force on their own – for all practical purposes the people of Syria are now ruled by an occupying minority rule and a Jewish rule would definitely be less dictatorial and more just to them. By promoting to the Syrians the benefits of being ruled like the Palestinians of Israel (which is much much better than the way the current regime rules Syria) both the strategic interests of Israel as well as the well being and aspirations of the Syrian people will be satisfied. After reading your comment, I’m more convinced than ever that Israel is a necessity in the Middle East rather than a villain as most misguided analysts (particularly those SyriaComment analysts) would like to portray.

March 18th, 2009, 2:06 am

 

Shami said:

Majid ,why under jewish rule ?
It’s sad that your pro israeli arguments make sense ,because of the bad situations we have in the arab and muslim worlds ,it’s the same mistake in which qunfuz felt ,you should look forward as our poor performance of today is an accident of history and is temporary,our human and economic potential are very considerable and eternal and we will be a superpower sooner or later.

March 18th, 2009, 2:35 am

 

majid said:

SHAMI said “you should look forward as our poor performance of today is an accident of history and is temporary,our human and economic potential are very considerable and eternal and we will be a superpower sooner or later”

That’s a very common mistake of Middle Easterners: They want to be a superpower.

You’ll never be one. First you have to learn from those who know how to be one. You don’t know how to be such superpower.

March 18th, 2009, 3:34 am

 

Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:

If anybody is looking for a benevolent Jewish ruler I could probably make myself available in the 2011 timeframe.

March 18th, 2009, 4:23 am

 

Shami said:

Majid ,

Are you fatalistic or racist ?

Why the middle eastern people are doing well in the west?

The answer is the solution.:opportunities.

March 18th, 2009, 4:25 am

 

Shami said:

Yossi
If the arab and jewish people of Palestine chose you ,why not.
Syria also had a christian PM ,when it was a democracy.

March 18th, 2009, 4:32 am

 

abbas said:

where is the promised article about why should Syria get the Golan back, is it that hard to find a reason ?

March 18th, 2009, 4:37 am

 

majid said:

SHAMI said “Majid ,

Are you fatalistic or racist ?

Why the middle eastern people are doing well in the west?”

The answer is in your question. What makes the West such a good place that provides opportunities for the Middle Eastern people to do well? And what makes the Middle East such a bad place that doesn’t provide opportunities for its own people? Do you need to ba a genius? a fatalist? a racist?

March 18th, 2009, 4:40 am

 

jad said:

I like this ‘SC’ special edition of super smart comments’ exchange. Very amusing!
Is it a scene from ‘Dumb and Dumber’?
http://www.cinemasterpieces.com/dumddumberadv.jpg
Keep going you two, I can’t wait to see the ‘Finale’ when AP comes back with his classical lines for both of you.

March 18th, 2009, 4:44 am

 

Shami said:

Jad ,ahlan to Mr Insultor.

Interesting Article by our Jewish friend.
Turkey’s return to glory
by
Marc Gopin
For reasons of history, culture and geography, there is a surprising opportunity for Turkey to assume a position of central global leadership in the 21st century and thereby further all of its legitimate national interests.
This is shocking considering the fact that the West and the Arab world often associate the Ottoman Empire with a case study in long-term decay. But it turns out that Ottoman history is replete with extraordinary cultural wealth that is perfect for this moment of history, especially when it comes to the nonviolent diplomatic engagement of multiple civilizations and religions.

This is exactly what the world needs right now. Turkey is where the West and the East must meet, this is where Islam must engage and be engaged, this is where Jews must reconcile with Muslims, and this is where Arabs, Muslims, Jews and Christians must find a new basis for an international social contract between them.

The current divisions are clear, regarding Israel, Palestine and Hamas, for example. It is also clear that Turkey is shifting its traditional role as a non-Arab military power in the region. The prime minister has clearly shifted gears in terms of standing up to Israel’s conduct of its war in Gaza, as well as demonstrating a clear willingness to engage Syria, Hamas and Iran, essentially those who the powerful neoconservatives in Washington labeled “the axis of evil.” This is a bold and difficult move, but if it is framed in the right way it may place Turkey at the cutting edge of diplomatic practice in the 21st century.

In order for Turkey to resume its historic role as a successful weaver of civilizations and religions it will need to perfect its skills of international diplomacy. The nexus at which Turkey is situated is fraught with difficulty, but also with immense opportunity. The West, Israel and the Arab world are in a place of extreme tension with Iran. The West and at least significant portions of the Arab world are in tension and division with Hamas. The West, Israel and Europe are in a significant — though more muted — place of tension with Islamic civilization. Most importantly, much of the world is in great tension with Israeli policies. Turkey has the potential to positively impact all these fronts.

The key to all Turkish engagement must be what I would refer to as ‘positive diplomacy.’ Positive diplomacy focuses on opportunities rather than problems, on relationships rather than controversies and on encouragement rather than criticism. Turkey is to be applauded for roundly criticizing Israel’s use of excessive force in Gaza because the humanitarian circumstances of the war were extreme. But now it is time to turn the message in a positive direction.

Most importantly, in order to not be blackmailed in Washington by reactionary lobbies that do not want to see peaceful progress in the Middle East, Turkey must jettison old forms of diplomacy that focused narrowly on defense of Turkish pride, especially regarding Armenia and the tragic violence at the beginning of the 20th century.

An integrated set of aggressive strategies is called for. These include: First, a very public engagement and reconciliation with Armenia that is accompanied by significant gestures to Armenian citizens, including possibly official welcoming ceremonies to visit Turkey, commemoration of past life in Turkey and also shared mourning of loss of life; second, an embrace of human needs in Azerbaijan, and a commitment to help Azerbaijan develop a more successful negotiation with Armenia in the future; third, an embrace of Jews, Judaism and Israelis that is very public and builds on past relations but that is combined with a strong embrace of Palestinians and very public efforts to negotiate with Hamas on the foundations of a long-term treaty with Israel; and fourth, an ongoing engagement with Syria and Iran as to the conditions of their engagement with Israel and with the Arab world.

The most important point is that Turkey needs to escape the straitjacket of old defensive diplomacy in Washington that held them hostage to the Armenian issue, and instead reclaim their historical, geopolitical and cultural nobility as a bridge of civilizations, continents and religions. This is where the very progressive Islam that is guiding many Turkish citizens today can be a paradigm of enlightenment and democracy that will put the lie to the reactionary Western — and extreme Arab — perceptions of Islamic civilization as violent. Secondly, freed from pressure in Washington by aggressively pursuing a new relationship with Armenians, Turkish leadership will be able to positively engage Jews on their own terms, as they did for centuries, while at the same time calling upon them to engage all Palestinians with dignity, respect and generosity. Turkey is a country that can officially and openly invite hundreds of Israeli professionals and spiritual and cultural leaders to engage in a new relationship with Palestinians on Turkish soil as equals, to engage Muslims, to engage Gazans, to engage Hamas. This could be revolutionary for conflict resolution in Israel and Palestine.

A clever politics can also be a visionary politics. US President Barack Obama has pioneered a politics that combines vision and pragmatism, realism and hope. Turkey can do the same through the venue of its new/old model of enlightened Islamic civilization. Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi, for example, is one of the most popular poets in the world today, and Sufis are the pioneers everywhere I go in the Arab Middle East where there are bold young peacemakers. This is the age of Rumi, this is the age of the Sufi visionaries and peacemakers.

If this path is pursued with humility and without arrogance, I am convinced that even the most conservative elements in the Arab world will be challenged and even enticed. No one in the Gulf wants the shadow of Osama Bin Laden to haunt the Arab and Muslim worlds forever. The poison has spread broadly to Central Asia, and everyone fears that this is threatening the fabric of the Muslim social order, while it simultaneously emboldens intolerance of Islamic civilization in the West. We need bold leadership in the Muslim world, we need bold partners to prod with great confidence Israel and its enemies to earnestly pursue a final settlement. No one is situated better than Turkey, and no one will be more grateful than President Obama, the most powerful leader in the world today. Turkey needs to bury its ghosts of the 20th century so that the 21st century will see its return to international glory. The time has come for an Ottoman-inspired enlightenment.

*Dr. Marc Gopin is the author of http://www.marcgopin.com and director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University.

18.03.2009
Op-Ed

March 18th, 2009, 5:06 am

 

Shami said:

Majid,i told you the source of the problem are our dictators.
When our countries will reach the level of democratic rule our revival will follow directly.As people we lack nothing.

March 18th, 2009, 5:23 am

 

why-discuss said:

Majid
“I strongly support a Syria ruled by the Israelis in a similar way the Palestinians are ruled.”

Great idea! Talk to Amr Moussa about it, maybe egyptians who are stuggling for bread would welcome it as well as all the whole arab world. A brilliant suggestion

Wake up…

March 18th, 2009, 6:33 am

 

jad said:

Shock me Karim, say something intelligent.

March 18th, 2009, 6:58 am

 

majid said:

WHY-DISCUSS said “Great idea! Talk to Amr Moussa about it, maybe egyptians who are stuggling for bread would welcome it as well as all the whole arab world. A brilliant suggestion”

Notwithstanding your obvious displeasure at the suggestion, currently only the Syrians are in urgent need of such scheme of being ruled by the Israelis. The Egyptians are doing very well since they’re not looking to other countries such as Iran or Turkey to continue to create havoc around them in order to divert internal dissent to imaginary enemies. The idea is indeed very brilliant especially when you take into consideration the hapless conditions of the poor Syrian citizens who cannot distinguish any longer between friend and foe. Once Israel is accepted by the poor Syrian as a good model government, then there will be no more scapegoats for the present dictators of Syria to use in order to hide their failures in front of their people. The Egyptians have long got rid of this old fashioned scapegoating when they beat the Syrians into signing the peace agreement and got their land back. I don’t see a way a Syrian setting foot on the Golan under the current circumstances. Getting ruled by the Israelis would on the other hand give the Syrians a chance to see their lost land once again.

March 18th, 2009, 7:30 am

 

majid said:

WHY-DISCUSS said “Great idea! Talk to Amr Moussa about it, maybe egyptians who are stuggling for bread would welcome it as well as all the whole arab world. A brilliant suggestion”

Notwithstanding your obvious displeasure at the suggestion, currently only the Syrians are in urgent need of such scheme of being ruled by the Israelis. The Egyptians are doing very well since they’re not looking to other countries such as Iran or Turkey to continue to create havoc around them in order to divert internal dissent to imaginary enemies. The idea is indeed very brilliant especially when you take into consideration the hapless conditions of the poor Syrian citizens who cannot distinguish any longer between friend and foe. Once Israel is accepted by the poor Syrian as a good model government, then there will be no more scapegoats for the present dictators of Syria to use in order to hide their failures in front of their people. The Egyptians have long got rid of this old fashioned scapegoating when they beat the Syrians into signing the peace agreement and got their land back. I don’t see any way a Syrian setting foot on the Golan under the current circumstances. Getting ruled by the Israelis would on the other hand give the Syrians a chance to see their lost land once again.

March 18th, 2009, 8:15 am

 

Shai said:

I too am touched by AP’s description of his visit to the “Zionist Entity”.

Let’s take a closer look at his comments:

“There were a couple of tunnels and checkpoints nothing too difficult to navigate.”

AP quite naturally travelled on Jewish-roads, not where Palestinians travel. On the latter, the near-600 roadblocks and checkpoints are a “little” more difficult to navigate…

“Walls are up to reduce shootings which have killed a number of Israelis.”

Almost like a comment you’d hear from the Soviet Governor of East Berlin in 1961…

“Arab villages dot the landscape and seem to be thriving, however, it seems some Arab villages are doing much better than others just by seeing the state of the homes we passed by.”

The kind of “thriving” your dog experiences when you throw him Kibbles-n-Bits.

“Israelis are NOT allowed to travel to Palestinian-controlled areas such as Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Hebron.”

That’s reverse-segregation that should be investigated. The Palestinian perpetrators will be punished.

“I was amazed at the size and condition (good) of the Arab villages and houses all through this part of the country.”

Would you let your real-estate agent describe a neighborhood that way, from a kilometer away? Should have taken a closer look.

“For all the talking and getting nothing done, choices really do not have to be made, as Jew and Arabs will continue to live together and mold Israel into whatever the people want.”

Living together? You mean, next to one another. Mold Israeli into whatever the people want? Who are the people, Jews, or Arabs?

AP, it is a real shame that in your only visit in 5 years you only “passed by” Arab villages, and didn’t enter them to speak with real, living, breathing Arabs. Seeing them from your seat on the bus is not enough to understand anything about their conditions, about their life, about their frustrations, about their aspirations. Of course, in a Safari they also don’t let us get off the bus, lest we get too close…

One conversation with an Arab, that’s all, just one. One question to an Arab: “Please tell me what it’s like for you as an Arab to live in Israel.”, that’s all, just one question. But no, Arabs just didn’t “happen” to fit into your tour of Israel. From a distance, sure, you saw them. You saw just how much they mix and “thrive” amongst the Jewish population. But in reality, they do neither. You stayed in a hotel in Tel-Aviv, and probably went out to some restaurants. How many Arabs did you see along the way? Maybe you went out for some night entertainment, a club, a bar? How many Arabs did you see?

There’s a reason why my Arab friends do not go into Tel-Aviv, or Netanya, or Ramat Gan, or Herzliya, or Caesarea, or another 90% of “Jewish” towns in Israel. It is because they’re unwanted. Arabs in Israel are feared by Jews. They are looked down upon, spat upon, beat up and harassed by young (and not so young) racist hotheads that tend to support certain political parties whose name I won’t mention here, out of respect for their achievement in the recent elections in Israel.

Read the article Yossi attached up above in comment 15. Here’s what the writer had to say: “Altogether, roughly 2.5 million Israelis live in mixed locales and regions, but despite increasing geographic proximity, Arabs and Jews continue to live separate lives, defined by alienation, mutual feelings of racism and of being threatened, competition over resources and a general atmosphere of conflict.

Seeing Arab villages dotting the landscape, in relative proximity to Jewish settlements, and seeing an Arab or two in Shuk Ha’Carmel in Tel-Aviv, is not an indication to successful racial integration. If you had simply ASKED a single Arab, anywhere, about his/her life with Jews, you would have been given the real answer. Here and there, there are success stories. There are a few “mixed” communities. But on the whole, the absolute majority of Jews in Israel fear, suspect, and distrust Arabs, and vice-versa. We live NEXT to one another, not WITH one another.

On your next trip, take an extra day, and go meet some Arabs. I promise they don’t bite, and the experience might be even more eye-opening for you.

March 18th, 2009, 8:30 am

 

Majid said:

AP, I must apologize because it seems that Shai may have got agitated because someone voiced approval of your recent visit brief. So he’s now at your back fuming with anger and disgust at your apparent failure to deeply and accurately explore the Arab misery in Israel as he sees it from a closer angle. I must give him credit for his idealism. But aside from that I don’t see that he has anything concrete or practical to offer despite his long stay in that part of the world, except perhaps words of sympathy that don’t see any harm in associating with despots or their cronies on pages like Syriacomment and perhaps other media. I wonder if he has ever thought of himself living under dictatorships and what his feelings would be if were to practice first hand forced silnce and muting of freedom of speech in contrast to what he currently enjoys where he lives. I would like to see how ideal he could afford to be if he were to live as a citizen of Syria under such totalitarian regime or perhaps under a mullah ruled government in the great republic of Iran.

March 18th, 2009, 10:05 am

 

Shai said:

Majid,

You said: “I wonder if he has ever thought of himself living under dictatorships and what his feelings would be if were to practice first hand forced silnce and muting of freedom of speech in contrast to what he currently enjoys where he lives. I would like to see how ideal he could afford to be if he were to live as a citizen of Syria under such totalitarian regime or perhaps under a mullah ruled government in the great republic of Iran.”

What does the lack of freedom in Syria have anything to do with the Occupation of Palestine? I’m not sure I understand what bothers you more – that I criticize AP’s “Looking Good in Palestine” conclusion from his trip, or the fact that I actually communicate here on SC with Syrian ex-pats who, unlike you, don’t believe the best interest for their nation, in the short term, is the violent replacement of the current regime.

Do you honestly believe there’s even a single person here on SC who likes the fact that Syrians have no real freedom of speech? Or that Syria is ruled by a dictatorship, rather than a free democracy? What’s the matter, got a problem with people who think differently, also about your own country? Why not adopt the Neocon’s “You’re either with us, or against us!” principle. That’s sure to get progress going in Syria.

But again, I don’t see what this has anything to do with my criticism of AP’s depiction of Israel and of Arabs in Israel. If you’re so pro-freedom, you should embrace criticism, also and perhaps especially when it challenges your own beliefs. Don’t you think?

My nation impresses you so much, because we enable people like me to freely express ourselves? What about enabling people like me to freely settle myself and my family on lands that do not belong to me? What about enabling people like me to collectively suffocate and subjugate 4 million of your brethren, with no rights whatsoever, for over 40 years?

Because you’re convinced under Arab rule the Palestinians would be far worse off, means you condone what we do?

March 18th, 2009, 10:35 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Shai, Majid, etc

Thank you for the replies, the support, and you comments.

Let me just say, as a pro-Zionist, I am somewhat saddened that I viable Jewish state does not look sustainable. That being said, nothing is predictable in the ME and we are FAR from a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israel conflict.

My fear is that whenever the Knesset gets close to being a majority Arab, there may not be peaceful transfer of power (internally). More troubling, outside actors like Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran can ruin things as well.

My point is that long-term, Israel will not be a Jewish State, however, near-term Israel will need to continue to act on behalf of her citizenry and protect the state. Security of one’s country is the most important goal of any country.

Majid,

Israel has no interest governing beyond her borders, even in Palestinian areas. This is why Israel is getting smaller. This is why “hard right” MK Lieberman wants to cut additional Arab settled land out of the “Jewish State”. It is a last gasp effort to keep Israel a majority Jewish state.

I think what you are saying (as well as AIG) is that real democracy be introduced to the ME, of which, I can’t disagree at all.

Of course, my concern about the “One State” scenario is how rejectionist organizations such as Hamas would react, if, say, Israel and Palestine formed one country. That State would be (for all intents and purposes) about 50/50 Jewish/Arab.

How would the police and the army combine? How would fanatics on each side be prevented from causing civil unrest and violence? If the “walls come down”, would violence take off or what? How do both Arabs and Jews prevent Israel/Palestine from falling to potentially very high levels of violence?

I think these questions are valid, yet, a lot has to take place before we even have to face them. Israel’s non-Jewish minority of 20% will slowly increase until these questions come into focus. Assuming no major outside disturbance, I think the transition could be quite peaceful.

Shai,

As much as I am willing to admit that Israel will not remain a Jewish State, I am not here to apologize for Israel like you are.

No, I did not stop to greet Arabs in any West Bank village in Area B or the like. Yes, the checkpoints are a bitch, yet the Palestinians make due. If they have no record, the Israeli authorities allow them into Israel to work. It’s a hassle. Meanwhile, 2 Israeli policeman were shot dead in a drive-by shooting along highway 90, so checkpoints are still very much necessary. You can disagree all you want.

I would like to remind you that I DID travel to an Arab-Druze village and actually sit in one of their home for lunch. I DID drive through their villages along the way to Tiberias. MOST Arabs are living quite well as their beautiful, multistory homes attest to. I would also like to say that I was quite disappointing from the “development” towns of Ashdod and Ashkelon. Here, the overwhelming majority of Israelis are immigrants, middle-to-lower class and living is non-descript apartments. I’d say in these cases, the Arabs are living “larger” than the Israelis. I was disappointed at how the beautiful beaches were still barren and devoid of facilities, shops, and economic life. Apparently, they aren’t getting the attention they need.

Arabs and Jews continue to live separate lives, defined by alienation, mutual feelings of racism and of being threatened, competition over resources and a general atmosphere of conflict.

Shai,

Just to make a long story short, I humbly disagree with that statement. Both arabs and Jews perfer to live with their co-religionists. Even in the US, the Catholics, Jews, Indians, Greeks, etc tend to live with their own. The resources in Israel are excellent, and all Israeli citizens are able to take advantage of them. Jews and Arabs are working well together in the current state of Israel.

What about enabling people like me to freely settle myself and my family on lands that do not belong to me?

Shai,

Please tell the forum exactly what DOES belong to you? Let’s start there.;)

March 18th, 2009, 11:32 am

 

norman said:

Syria’s Assad praises Obama, wants meeting
Wed Mar 18, 2009 7:28am EDT
ROME (Reuters) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he hoped to meet U.S. President Barack Obama and expressed his willingness to help mediate between the West and Iran.

Assad, in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica published on Wednesday, also confirmed he was ready to resume peace negotiations with Israel but expressed concern about the political climate there.

“With the pullout in Iraq, the will for peace, the closing of Guantanamo, (Obama) has shown himself to be a man of his word,” he said, referring to the U.S. naval base in Cuba where hundreds of suspected Islamist militants have been held, most for years without trial.

But Assad said it was too soon to speak of a “historic shift” in U.S. foreign policy.

Asked about meeting Obama, Assad said: “Yes, in principle. It would be a very positive sign. But I’m not looking for a photo opportunity. I want to see him, to talk.”

Obama has been reviewing U.S. policy toward Syria, including whether to return an ambassador to Damascus. Earlier this month he sent two envoys to Damascus earlier this month, where in a change of tone after years of animosity with Syria, one of the officials said they had found “a lot of common ground.”

Washington pulled its ambassador out of Syria after the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

Syria, which is on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, denies any involvement in Hariri’s murder but the United States pointed fingers at Damascus.

Assad said the United States under Obama could play an important role bringing peace to the region. Although he voiced confidence about the growing diplomatic roles of countries like Turkey and France in the area, he said “only Washington can press Israel.”

PEACE TALKS

Assad said he was willing to resume negotiations with Israel but expressed concerned about the ascent of Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud party after last months’ election.

“I’m not concerned about Netanyahu’s thinking, but of the return of the right-wing of Israeli society, which Netanyahu’s rise reflects. This is the biggest obstacle to peace.”

Israel and Syria last held direct peace talks in 2000 in the United States, failing to reach a deal on the future of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, which Damascus wants returned.

Since mid-2008, Israel and Syria have held off-and-on indirect negotiations in Turkey.

On Iran, which Washington believes wants to build nuclear weapons, Assad said: ” … with Iran, I’m ready to mediate.”

He urged the West to come up with concrete proposals for Tehran, which he said was “an important country, like it or not.” Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Of Iran’s role in Iraq, he said Tehran’s influence should not be seen as negative if based on “reciprocal respect” and drew distinction between influence and interference.

“If instead we’re talking about facilitating dialogue with Tehran, a concrete proposal is needed to give to that government. Until now, I’ve only received an invitation to play a role. Agreed, but that’s not enough,” Assad said.

“What’s lacking is a plan, rules and specific mechanisms to put forward to Tehran.”

(Writing by Phil Stewart; Editing by Matthew Jones)

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

March 18th, 2009, 12:28 pm

 

Shai said:

AP,

I was born in Ramat Gan, inside Israel. The State of Israel, as it was created in 1948, did not include any territory that was acquired after 1967. The territory that I feel “belongs” to me, therefore, is Israel of pre-1967. I put “belongs” in quotes, because in the grander scheme of things, I actually don’t believe that a piece of land belongs to anyone, it belongs to everyone. But until we create my fantasy UME (United Middle East), Tel-Aviv belongs to me, Damascus belongs to the Syrians, and Ramallah belongs to the Palestinians.

You said: “As much as I am willing to admit that Israel will not remain a Jewish State, I am not here to apologize for Israel like you are.”

That’s a shame, AP. Although Israel is indeed not your nation, you are being asked here on SC to consider and reconsider much of its policies and actions on the ground. By “not apologizing for Israel”, do you mean that you support the Occupation of Palestine? Do you support Israel’s widespread racism towards Arabs? Do you support Likud’s No-State solution?

I’m glad you had lunch at a home of a Druze family. Many tours take visitors to such “learning experiences”, especially over lunch, where pita and labaneh and polite smiles are exchanged, rather than open discussion. Did you find the time to ask a few questions? Did someone in the group ask “So, what’s it like for you to live in Israel?”

Please don’t mock the intelligence of most here, by telling us that “MOST Arabs are living quite well as their beautiful, multistory homes attest to…”

Most Arabs do not live in “beautiful, multistory homes”, and if you’ll care to check, you’ll find that the Arab population suffers from some of the highest rates of unemployment in the country. Their per capita income is FAR lower than that of the Jews. Their towns and villages receive the LAST priority in funding, infrastructure, education, programs, etc.

It is no a coincidence that Eretz Nehedert’s (Israeli SNL) clip of Lieberman’s victory speech had him address his viewers as: “Citizens of Israel, Citizens type A, Citizens type B, Citizens type C, and Arabs…” But hey, it’s just a joke right?

Remember the covers on the mirrors AP. Don’t be so afraid to remove them. That’s the only way we can change.

March 18th, 2009, 2:59 pm

 

norman said:

this is good , he is leaving though,

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

——————————————————————————–

Last update – 15:54 18/03/2009
Assad: Olmert agreed to give up all of the Golan
By Haaretz Service and Reuters

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to withdraw from all of the Golan Heights during indirect peace talks with Damascus, Syrian President Bashar Assad told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

In an interview which appeared in the newspaper’s Wednesday edition, Assad said Israel and Syria were within “touching distance” of clinching a peace agreement.

The Syrian premier told La Repubblica that during the Turkish-mediated peace negotiations, Olmert indicated to Turkey’s prime minister, Reccep Tayip Erdogan, that he is ready to relinquish all of the Golan Heights to Syria.

Assad added that both sides were very near an agreement, and that all that remained was to finalize last details over the precise route of the 1967 line which would serve as the future border between the two countries.

As both sides reached the final stages of talks, Olmert requested a pause in the talks so as to consult with his government. Shortly afterwards, Israel launched its offensive in the Gaza Strip.

“Turkey became exasperated with Israel because it felt duped [because of the Gaza war],” Assad added.

The Syrian leader said he was concerned over the future of peace talks given the make-up of Israel’s next government, which in all likelihood will be formed by Benjamin Netanyahu. “I see the finish line moving further away,” Assad said. “I am not fearful of Netanyahu, but from the fact that Israel voted for a rightist government. This is the biggest hurdle to peace.”

Assad also said he hoped to meet U.S. President Barack Obama and expressed his willingness to help mediate between the West and Iran.

“With the pullout in Iraq, the will for peace, the closing of Guantanamo, (Obama) has shown himself to be a man of his word,” he said, referring to the U.S. naval base in Cuba where hundreds of suspected Islamist militants have been held, most for years without trial.

But Assad said it was too soon to speak of a “historic shift” in U.S. foreign policy.

Asked about meeting Obama, Assad said: “Yes, in principle. It would be a very positive sign. But I’m not looking for a photo opportunity. I want to see him, to talk”.

Obama has been reviewing U.S. policy toward Syria, including whether to return an ambassador to Damascus. Earlier this month he sent two envoys to Damascus earlier this month, where in a change of tone after years of animosity with Syria, one of the officials said they had found “a lot of common ground”.

Washington pulled its ambassador out of Syria after the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

Syria, which is on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, denies any involvement in Hariri’s murder but the United States pointed fingers at Damascus.

Assad said the United States under Obama could play an important role bringing peace to the region. Although he voiced confidence about the growing diplomatic roles of countries like Turkey and France in the area, he said “only Washington can press Israel”.

On Iran, which Washington believes wants to build nuclear weapons, Assad said: “… with Iran, I’m ready to mediate”.

He urged the West to come up with concrete proposals for Tehran, which he said was “an important country, like it or not”. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Of Iran’s role in Iraq, he said Tehran’s influence should not be seen as negative if based on “reciprocal respect” and drew distinction between influence and interference.

“If instead we’re talking about facilitating dialogue with Tehran, a concrete proposal is needed to give to that government. Until now, I’ve only received an invitation to play a role. Agreed, but that’s not enough,” Assad said.

“What’s lacking is a plan, rules and specific mechanisms to put forward to Tehran.”

Related articles:

Lebanese leader: If Syria signs peace deal with Israel, so will we

Netanyahu advisors tell him to push ahead with Syria track

Assad: Direct Israel talks possible if U.S. mediates

——————————————————————————–

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March 18th, 2009, 3:23 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Cheney’s death squads involved in Hariri’s murder?

http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/124229

March 18th, 2009, 3:56 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Majid

Do you live in Syria?? Doesn’t look you do. Your description of the plight of the syrians sound more like Burma or North Korea, not like Damascus or Aleppo or Lattakieh. In your zeal on fighting dictatorship, are you sure you are not mixing up the countries?

March 18th, 2009, 4:01 pm

 

norman said:

this is important to me,

2009-03-18
Charity benefits from improved US-Syria ties
US allows transfer of funds raised by Syrian ex-pats for organisation helping child cancer sufferers.

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DAMASCUS – In a sign that Washington may be easing its economic embargo on Syria, the Treasury Department last month authorised the transfer of 500,000 US dollars to a popular Syrian charity that supports children with cancer.

This is the first time a transfer of charitable funds has gone through from the United States to Syria since sanctions took effect in 2004. It follows a recent series of visits by high-level Washington officials to the country.

Syrians living in the US raised the money for the charity – called BASMA, which means smile in Arabic – at a fundraising dinner in Washington last April, according to Imad Mustafa, Syria’s ambassador to the US.

BASMA executive director Rania Khaddour said that before the US transferred the money, it wanted to find out more about the organisation and its activities.

Established three years ago by 12 volunteers in Damascus, BASMA provides psychiatric, moral and financial support for Syrian children with cancer and their families.

It also spreads awareness of the illness, according to the organisation’s chairwoman Mayya Assaad.

With 12 full-time staff members and 80 volunteers, she said the association tries to focus on child sufferers and their families at a psychological and financial level. “We provide services to more than 1,200 children with cancer all over Syria,” said Assaad.

“Without individual and group donations, we could not maintain or improve the quality of the services we offer to so many.”

In June 2007, Mustafa’s wife, Rafif, visited the BASMA headquarters in Damascus and promised to provide support from the Syrian community in the US, said Assaad.

“So many Syrian-American associations responded to this initiative, including the Syrian-American Cultural Council and the Syrian-American Doctors’ Association, which agreed to provide technical support and training for workers in the children’s cancer field,” she said.

“The money raised that night will go toward establishing a 30 million dollar centre in Damascus that will specialise in treating children with cancer.”

At the moment, the majority of volunteers spend their time trying to boost the morale of cancer-stricken children and their families.

“Unfortunately, most people in our country have not yet realised the importance of psychological support,” said Damascus-based BASMA volunteer Basim Farhoud.

“There is so much potential to help a child learn ways to stay mentally and emotionally strong and fight this disease.”

The association’s volunteers help parents find ways of keeping their children upbeat, said Chadan Naji, the vice chairperson of BASMA, by for instance getting them to play musical instruments or draw.

The mother of five-year old Mustafa, who has leukaemia, said that her son’s outlook has improved a great deal thanks to BASMA volunteers.

“Mustafa was so depressed when he first entered the hospital,” she said.

“Now he sometimes even looks forward to coming in for treatment because he knows he will get to play. They have helped reduce his pain and forget his sickness through the activities and entertainment they provide.”

For all of the association’s hard work, many practical problems still remain for Syrian children fighting cancer.

“At the moment, there are no specialised centres to treat children with the disease,” said Assaad.

“In the Damascus children’s hospital, there are only 34 beds for children with cancer and only two or three doctors who are trained to treat them. The specialist doctors are only two or three.”

While there are no official statistics on the number of children suffering from cancer in Syria, Assaad said that international organisations have estimated between 1,200 and 1,500 new cases arise every year.

“These children need the support of everyone around them,” she said. “They have a right to study and play like other children even when faced with this horrible illness.”

[Syria News Briefing, a weekly news analysis service, draws on information and opinion from a network of IWPR-trained Syrian journalists based in the country].

March 18th, 2009, 5:38 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Norman
Excellent, can you please post a short article about how can we help?

March 18th, 2009, 6:40 pm

 

majid said:

Shai said “Do you honestly believe there’s even a single person here on SC who likes the fact that Syrians have no real freedom of speech?”
Is this a rhetoric question? The real question is why do you voice sympathies with cronies of the regime that there are many of them here on SC?

Why-Discus said “Majid

Do you live in Syria??”

I’ll give you the benefit of doubt, and assume you’re kidding and that you don’t really mean the question. Burma perhaps is a better choice when there is no alternative to Syria!

March 18th, 2009, 7:31 pm

 

Shai said:

Majid,

I don’t know of any “cronies of the regime” here on SC. Maybe you can point them out for me. But I do know many who love their country, want to see it change, reform, and become one day a democracy. Because they believe this will have to begin under (and with the blessings of) the current regime, doesn’t make them “cronies”, does it? There are alternatives to Bashar, and when I hear you suggesting that Israeli rule (over Syria) might be such an alternative, I’m not sure we’re still engaging in a serious conversation.

Btw, is your litmus test to freedom-supporters in Syria their will to oust Bashar? Is that the only test, or are there other ways of proving “loyalty to freedom”? And with all due respect Majid, if you’re not a Syrian, what right do you have to judge other Syrians when it comes to their loyalty to their country?

March 18th, 2009, 7:54 pm

 

ausamaa said:

What an entertaining discussion. The effect on Democracy on those backward people in the Middle East and the same type of theorizing and putting the cart before the hourse stuff that we have got accostomed to for decades. And a most challengig Title as well: Can Saudi Arabia Change with the Middle East??!!

I thought Syria was where all the Changes were supposed to take place. By hook or croock that is. Or that was the “intention” and the “bet” at least. Unfortunately for Syria doubters/haters, things did not come out as they wished. So now we go and bark up another wrong tree:Saudi Arabia!

I would say: Wrong again!!! And I would say why not go for the root cause not for the symptoms.

How about a more realistic and more interesting title: Can Israel change with the Middle East?

Obviously, niether Israel nor the God unBless his sole Dubbyia managed to change the Middle East is Israel favore, so would be too much if some start entertaining the possibility of Israel Changing into somethig more “reasonable’? Or should I say “survivable”??? Especially ast Israel seems to be begining to loose on its own turf. I mean in the US. Are there writing on the wall or am I imagining things as I have imagined Syria getting out of all the past mess leaner, stronger and more “central”??!!

Ciao to all the great minds that were proven….wrong but have not noticed it yet.

March 18th, 2009, 8:10 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

The State of Israel, as it was created in 1948, did not include any territory that was acquired after 1967. The territory that I feel “belongs” to me, therefore, is Israel of pre-1967. I put “belongs” in quotes, because in the grander scheme of things, I actually don’t believe that a piece of land belongs to anyone, it belongs to everyone. But until we create my fantasy UME (United Middle East), Tel-Aviv belongs to me, Damascus belongs to the Syrians, and Ramallah belongs to the Palestinians.

Shai,

I agree with you that Tel-Aviv belongs to you and Israel, but Israel is more than Tel-Aviv, further, there is nothing “holy” about 1967.

If your God is 1967 and that’s your chosen religion, please bow and pray to the God of the Green Line 5 times a day.

IMHO, too much time has transpired between that time an now. The proposal at Camp David put half of the Old City of Jerusalem in the hands of the Israelis as well as the Gush Etzion settlements south of Jerusalem. Areas now under Israeli control were offered to the Palestinians in return, and I see nothing wrong with that. Then there is the bold offer of placing Galilee Arab towns under the Palestinian umbrella, which “hard line” MK Lieberman has proposed.

In short, I’m not a believer in the 1967 God. I like to think I have more of an open mind, as well as a desire to access the Old City of Jerusalem just like the Palestinians do.

Do you support Israel’s widespread racism towards Arabs?

No, yet I do not hold Israeli “racism” over Israel’s head while she is at war with a people that cannot accept 1 Jew in their own country or guarantee his or her safety. I do not hold Israeli “racism” over Israel’s head while Israeli Arabs are represented in the Knesset and live and work with honor and safety in Israel. Find another cause that interests me.

Do you support Likud’s No-State solution?

I have the data showing what Barack proposed as a solution. I do not know what Olmert, Livni or Likud is proposing or what Hamas and the PA are counter-proposing. If you have some links, that would be good. In light of the impasse, the status-quo continues as a defacto solution, which may be what both governments prefer.

Did you find the time to ask a few questions? Did someone in the group ask “So, what’s it like for you to live in Israel?”

Yes. I asked him how he arrived in Israel. He said he was a Druze from southern Lebanon who fought in the SLA. He said the “racist” (my term) Israelis allowed the SLA to immigrate to Israel for fear of being slaughtered in Lebanon. He said the SLA was made up of Druze, Christians AND muslims (which I didn’t know). He also said that if the Israelis employed more Druze to fight in Lebanon in 2006, they could have WON THE WAR (which I termed “bravado” in an earlier post). This Druze fellow was obviously more pro-Israel than you HaBB.

Considering the opulent home we visited and the many other similar homes and buildings that made up the town, and considering that Israel basically saved this guy’s life, it would have been silly for me to ask our hosts about how they “liked” living in Israel.

Majid,

Unfortunately, lovers of freedom are not held in high esteem on this website. But if you have some gripes about Israeli racism, that would be better;)

March 19th, 2009, 11:15 am

 

why-discuss said:

Majid
Do you live in Syria??”

I’ll give you the benefit of doubt, and assume you’re kidding and that you don’t really mean the question. Burma perhaps is a better choice when there is no alternative to Syria!

I have no doubt that you don’t live in Syria. Your views show a total ignorance of the everyday life of the syrians. I am not interested to know where you live, but it does not sound like a place I want to be.

March 19th, 2009, 4:42 pm

 

Shai said:

AP,

I know you’ve been brainwashed by your Neocon idols (FOX, etc.) into believing in this pro-America, and anti-America terminolgy. So to you, anyone who harshly criticizes something, is inevitably anti-this, or anti-that.

But what the hell does “Pro-Israel” mean? Does it mean pro-anything Israel does? Does it mean pro-Occupation, pro-racism, pro-inequality, pro-belligerency? What does it mean? And how can an Israeli, who lives, and works, and serves, and raises his family, and stays in Israel, how can such a person be “anti-Israel”?

If you mistakenly use this idiotic term “pro” instead of “patriotic”, then you’d be wise to understand that being patriotic doesn’t mean running away from criticism, even harsh, unending criticism. I assure you (not that I feel I have to), that I have given to my country, and am continuing to give to Israel, no less than your little SLA-Druze friend has. In fact, I would dare say even more.

You’ll recall that I’ve also hinted to you in the past that when you’ve given a 1/10 of what I have to Israel, you can begin to criticize my patriotism to my country. But until then, keep writing fantasy-summaries of your visit to the Zionist Entity, and keep entertaining the likes of Majid, who buys your depictions so much, that he’s ready to have Israeli Apartheid over the entire Middle East. I guess he’s what you’d call a “pragmatic Arab”. And I’m sure you like them just that way…

March 19th, 2009, 7:00 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t …

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/7948494.stm

March 19th, 2009, 7:10 pm

 

Shai said:

AP,

Those silly Arabs, they just don’t seem to know what they want. We, good-hearted Jews and Israelis, are giving them opportunities time and again, to feel equal, to be equal, and yet, they just don’t seem to get it…

In the 1936 Berlin Olympics, an African-American gentleman by the name of Jesse Owens represented the United States, despite the inequalities and maltreatment experienced by people of his race in America. His 4 gold medals were an achievement for African-Americans, for their identity and for their rights, no less than for America, perhaps more.

Of course Mira Awad should go to the Eurovision. And she should tell her story to all the international media, the story the SLA-Druze didn’t tell you, about how 1/5th of Israelis live in their country (equal, thriving, big houses…)

March 19th, 2009, 8:38 pm

 

qunfuz said:

shami – if you look carefully you’ll see I wrote that Iran DIDN’T become a proper democracy. It is a half democracy, however, which is better than any of the Us-client Arab states.

Is nobody going to answer my good history of syria question?

In return I will offer my own recommendation: The Dark Side of Love by Rafik Schami. I’m reviewing it for the Guardian, and unless i’m smoking something very good, Schami is Syria’s Tolstoy.

March 19th, 2009, 10:24 pm

 

Shami said:

Qunfuz ,ask the iranian people themselves what they think about their democracy,opposition members are systematically executed,Iran which is a country of minorities persecute the Arabs and the Sunnis who are more numberous than all the Shias of the Arab world(if we exclude the case of Iraq),one many aspects it remind us more the worse dictatorial totalitarian regimes than a democracy ,on the ground despite this electoral make up ,the true power remain invariably in the hand of 2 groups ,the wilayat faqih ayatollahs and the radsandjanian mafia,on the ground corruption in Iran is more important than most of Arab countries worse than any arab country of the persian Gulf..I prefer to face a clear dictatorship as we have in the arab world and Syria than a pervidious regime as the Iranian one.Despite his past ,i believe that Khatami has become a reformer,what happened on the ground? Iran had under Khatami presidency 20 cases oof execution by stonning ,he was against and it happened,why ? the answer because he was powerless in front of Khamainei gang,also despite his presidency they closed hundreds of pro reform newspapers ,assissinated and jailed members of pro Khatami people.(all of them reformers of islamic trend ,the only one which survived khomaini persecutions.
Saudi Arabia which is often presented the big monster in this field ,the number of stonning during the same period was 0.
I also invit you to check some datas.
Let us compare Iran to our failed arab states with the help of indicators.
First the human developpment index of Iran compared to the HDI of Saudi Arabia that was 30 years ago a beduin country of illeterates unlike countries unlike that already had a sophisticated society 30 years ago.

http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_20072008_EN_Complete.pdf

http://www.india-server.com/news/transparency-international-2008-3958.html

These failed states come ahead of Iran ,what would happen following the revival of this nation of 300 millions Arabs ?

March 20th, 2009, 12:04 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

In the 1936 Berlin Olympics, an African-American gentleman by the name of Jesse Owens represented the United States, despite the inequalities and maltreatment experienced by people of his race in America.

Shai,

Thanks for the history lesson on your favorite subject: “Racism in the US and Israel But no Other Country Please”.

Since 1936, America has come a long way. Even Michelle Obama is “proud to be an American”. I am happy for her. I think I can say Israel has come along way also, even though Israel’s existence has been in question since her inception 60 years ago (and is still in question) by fanatical Arabs.

But if 1936 Berlin was some sort of propaganda hiding the US from the evils of racism, then, I guess, the US was hiding from the same evil in WW2 just a few years later.

http://deathby1000papercuts.com/2008/01/bush-questions-fdr-decision-not-to-bomb-auschwitz/

March 20th, 2009, 11:24 am

 

qunfuz said:

yes, yes, Shami. you still haven’t realised that i wasn’t claiming iran is a democracy. as for ‘the revival of this nation of 300 million arabs’, i desire it as much as you do. but it isn’t happening, certainly not among the Sunnis. (i’m a sunni arab myself). the most obvious thing about iran when i visited, after the general disgust of the population with ‘men in beards’ and restrictions on personal freedoms, was the number of bookshops, and the number of people reading – Russian novels, Indian religion, European philosophy…

as for iran’s involvement with arab resistance movements…the key point is, why are arab ‘governments’, with the exception of syria, not involved? There’s no persian-shii empire, only arab failure (and the US empire, of course).

March 20th, 2009, 3:54 pm

 

Shami said:

certainly not among the Sunnis. (i’m a sunni arab myself)

certainly ? among who the martians ?qunfuz 90 % of arabs are Sunnis.

If you meant the Arab cultural renaissance during the late ottoman era in which the christians had a pioneer role in what we called Al Nahda,but here too ,the christian and muslim intellegensia had resumed the cultural heritage of the Islamic civilization.

As for the shias ,inside Iran shi’aism as religion is hurt because of mollah hypocrisy and totalitarism ,the police state and the educated iranians who didnt leave Islam ,millions have adopted Sufism which is a Sunni phenomenon.In fact Iran itself was a Sunni country prior to the Ilkhan and the Sefewi rule .
As for the books ,the iranians as people are not very different from us,they are sons of great civilizations as we are ,many of the great figures of the islamic and arabic culture were persians and for the arab world ,it was said some decades ago ,the books are written in Egypt,printed in Lebanon and read in Iraq.

Now as i said,in the west we are doing better than the average western people,….so it’s question of opportunities,the dictators we have are unable to provide them and will not ,because the interests of the rulers and the arab people are in opposition,those of our dictators and Israel are meeting ,you understand now ,their ability to remain for so long in power.But is this configuration eternal ?

March 21st, 2009, 11:48 am

 

qunfuz said:

i agree with your last paragraph, partially at least.

So what if Iran was once Sunni? Syria and Egypt were once Shii.

And Sufism is neither “a Sunni phenomenon” nor a Shii phenomenon.

Many Iranians have also embraced Hinduism and Krishnaism.

March 21st, 2009, 1:48 pm

 

qunfuz said:

and the sad fact remains that the iranians are much better educated than the arabs, and that i saw more people reading in an afternoon in isfahan than in a month in any arab country.

March 21st, 2009, 1:49 pm

 

Shami said:

Qunfuz ,not as much ,the indicators that i posted above ,like the Human developpment index shows that their Arab neighbors ,Saudi Arabia included have an higher HDI than Iran,we should take into account that the arab beduin countries began from nothing unlike was nearly a developped country 30 years ago.

Qunfuz:So what if Iran was once Sunni? Syria and Egypt were once Shii.

Not at all ,and you meant the Fatimid Khilafa era ,they never were Shi3i majority despite the Fatimid rule, Egyptian population despite its Fatimid ismaili political elite remained a majority Sunni country ,the copts were also more numberous than the Ismailis.

http://www.google.fr/search?hl=fr&q=egyptian+sunni+majority+fatimid&btnG=Recherche+Google&meta=&aq=f&oq=

March 21st, 2009, 4:09 pm

 

Shami said:

Qunfuz:And Sufism is neither “a Sunni phenomenon” nor a Shii phenomenon.

Not true ,Sufism is deeply related to Sunnism ,most if not all of the important sufi figures were Sunnis .(Ibn Arabi,Rumi,Abi Yazid Al Bistami,Hasan Al Basri ,Hallaj,Suyuti,Muhasabi,Rifa3i ,Gilani,Hafiz,Suhrawardi,Junayd,Attar,Ghazali…..).
Of course millions of Shias in today Iran ,have adopted Sufism but they are viciously persecuted by the regime for the reason i cited above.
As this one ,executed few days ago.

http://iranianminorityshumanright.blogspot.com/2009/03/imhro-strongly-condemning-execution-of.html

March 21st, 2009, 4:29 pm

 

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