Assassination Speculation

Abu Muqawama on the chances of yacht-sniping someone.

Nur al-Cubicle writes:  "There was no such yacht. Suleiman was killed at close range in the neck; the gun (not rifle) had a silencer. Le Monde suggests some sort of power struggle, which has already resulted in house arrest for General Asef Shawkat."

Landis writes: Asef Shawkat appeared on Syrian TV in May on the occasion of Martyr's Day. He is not under house arrest as has been frequently rumored since February.

Khaled Yacoub Oweis: DAMASCUS, Aug 7 (Reuters) –

Syrian authorities on Thursday freed dissident Aref Dalila, jailed seven years ago after calling for freedom of speech and assembly and abolishing monopolies in the single party country. 

"Spending so long in jail for committing no crime was beyond my imagination. My health has been deteriorating and they finally let me go. All what I can say at this point is thank God," Dalila told Reuters after his release.

His lawyer, Mohannad al-Hassani, said: "We hope that this will be the beginning of freedom for the rest of the prisoners of conscience in Syria."

Dalila, an economist, was serving a 10-year jail sentence for weakening national feelings and seeking to change the constitution. He was released from intelligence services' custody and is now with his family.

One official called Dalila "the best economist in Syria". The state's Damascus University fired him from his job as dean of the faculty of economics two years before his arrest.

Dalila was also a leader of the Damascus Spring, a movement of intellectuals and opposition figures that campaigned for democracy to replace four decades of Baath Party rule when President Bashar al-Assad succeeded his late father, Hafez al-Assad, in 2000.

Security forces crushed the movement several months later and jailed its leaders. France and the United States have been leading international calls to free Dalila, 67, and other secular political prisoners in Syria.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is due to visit Syria next month. Diplomats in the Syrian capital say French officials have brought up the issue of human rights during meetings with their Syrian counterparts in the last few months. ..

Assad, however, has rejected what he described as foreign interference in the prisoners issue and said the jailed opponents have violated the constitution…

Ammar al-Qurabi, head of the Syrian Human Rights Organisation, cautioned against expecting improvement in Syria's observance of international human rights standards as a consequence of European diplomatic overtures toward Damascus….

"If there was a change of direction the authorities would  have cancelled these trials and dropped the charges," Qarabi said. "The arrests show no sign of stopping either."

Ford Prefect writes: I have also learned that Michele Kilo’s release is imminent, maybe within the next two weeks, Inshallah! Wishing all prisoners of conscious in Syria a speedy release as well as they are true heroes. We will not forget them.

Hizbullah Deployed Advanced Anti-aircraft Rocket Systems, Israel on Alert – Daily Star

Hizbullah has been able to establish a military presence north and south of the Litani River and is already prepared to a large extent to fire rockets and missiles on Israel, an Israeli newspaper has reported.
Yediot Ahronot daily said Tuesday that security and intelligence chiefs are expected to present a discouraging assessment of the situation during the cabinet meeting Wednesday.

The report added that Hizbullah’s new military plan can effectively hinder the Israeli ground forces who would enter Lebanon to curb the missile fire.

Hizbullah’s rockets and missiles, estimated at 40,000, are found on both sides of the Litani, Yediot Ahronot revealed.

Yet, the heavy arsenal, the newspaper added, is made up of several hundred rockets with warheads weighing hundreds of kilograms and featuring a range of up to 250 kilometers (roughly 160 miles).

The arsenal is found underground north of the Litani and is well fortified in land bought by Hizbullah, the newspaper said.

In south Lebanon, the group established a fortified underground system that would be used to fight the IDF armored corps and infantry troops that advance towards the rocket arsenal north of the Litani. Meanwhile, the logistics and training center of Hizbullah, which has been boosted with thousands of new fighters, is in the Bekaa Valley region.

However, the most worrisome development to Israelis has to do with a new component that Hizbullah is attempting to set up with Syrian assistance.

The newspaper mentioned an anti-aircraft system that is aimed at limiting Israel’s ability to gather intelligence above Lebanon, and later make it more difficult for the Israeli Air Force to strike in Lebanon and Syria.

The Israeli daily warned that if Iran, Syria, and Hizbullah were able to establish a massive anti-aircraft system in Lebanon, this will fundamentally change the strategic balance of power.

This system, the newspaper pointed out, is supposed to provide aerial defense to the entire Syrian-Iranian rocket and missile arsenal in Lebanon and western Syria.

Yediot Ahronot said the message to Syria, which is also being conveyed via Wednesday’s cabinet meeting and through other means, some of them clandestine, is as follows: Israel would not accept the establishment of an advanced anti-aircraft system in Lebanon; should it be set up, Israel will not hesitate to act against it.

Israel is also warning Lebanon against granting Hizbullah the freedom to act, in light of the latest government decision in Beirut that in fact defines Hizbullah as part of the national army.

And the third issue: A warning to Hizbullah to refrain from carrying out acts of revenge for the killing of its top commander Imad Mughniyeh in a Damascus car bombing last February; Such acts would meet a “disproportional response.”

The Israeli government is attempting to convey all these messages at this time to Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and the international community, the daily said.

Israeli officials hope that exposing the Syria-Hizbullah intentions will deter Damascus and Tehran and stop them from implementing their plans in Lebanon.

“European Parliament Speaker: isolation is not the solution…” (Al-Watan Syria) – Click here for source

On August 7, the state-controlled Al-Watan daily carried the following report: “European Parliament Speaker Hans-Gert Poettering said that a new page in European-Syrian relations has been opened and stressed Syria’s important and efficient role in the region… Poettering said in exclusive statements to Al-Watan: “This new page between the two sides was opened in the context of the resumption of the multipartite European policy toward the Middle East.” He added: “It is the result of numerous bilateral and multilateral diplomatic initiatives and it is needless to say that the European parliament welcomes it. Isolation is not a solution for any of us”.

“He continued: “Syria is highly important in the region and is a key player in the peace process in the Middle East. It is certain that maintaining the contacts with Syria and with the Syrian community by the European parliament, contributed to the spread of the EU message in the region. Regarding the Syrian-European partnership agreement, he stated: “The European parliament will take into consideration additional benefits and incentives for Syria, ones which will surpass those stipulated in the partnership agreement, in order to encourage Syria to consecrate its foreign policy and its regional position in a constructive way that would help promote regional peace, stability and prosperity, especially through its support of the current peace process in the Middle East.” – Al-Watan Syria, Syria

Political suicide, Palestinian style By Rami G. Khouri, Daily Star, August 6, 2008

It is painful watching events in Gaza and the West Bank unfold, as Fatah and Hamas battle it out like a bunch of armed neighborhood gangs. The mood among Palestinians throughout the world is one of despair and gloom, tinged with embarrassment and occasional …

When they hit bottom – and they are almost there – the Palestinians will find better leadership that can regain their cohesion and credibility, and their self-respect. […]

Comments (46)

annie said:

I Come From There,
Mahmoud Darwish

I come from there and I have memories
Born as mortals are, I have a mother
And a house with many windows,
I have brothers, friends,
And a prison cell with a cold window.
Mine is the wave, snatched by sea-gulls,
I have my own view,
And an extra blade of grass.
Mine is the moon at the far edge of the words,
And the bounty of birds,
And the immortal olive tree.
I walked this land before the swords
Turned its living body into a laden table.

I come from there. I render the sky unto her mother,
When the sky weeps for her mother.
And I weep to make myself known
To a returning cloud.
I learnt all the words worthy of the court of blood,
So that I could break the rule.
I learnt all the words and broke them up,
To make a single word: Homeland….

Merci Mahmoud, que la terre te soit légère.

August 9th, 2008, 9:13 pm


Off the Wall said:


Thank you for the gift. That was a wonderful translation. I was reading the introduction to the website, and I am having hard time being composed.

يحبّونني ميتاً

يُحبُّونَني مَيِّتاً لِيَقُولُوا : لَقَدْ كَان مِنَّا , وَكَانَ لَنَا .

سَمِعْتُ الخُطَى ذَاتَهَا , مُنْذُ عِشرينَ عَاماً تدقُّ عَلَى حَائِطِ اللَّيْلِ .

تَأتِي وَلاَ تَفْتَحُ البَابَ .

لَكِنَّهَا تَدْخُلُ الآن .

يَخْرُجُ مِنْهَا الثَّلاَثَةُ : شَاعِرٌ , قَاتِلٌ , قَارئٌ .

أَلاَ تَشْرَبُونَ نَبِيذاً ؟ سَأَلْتُ , سَنَشْرَبُ .

قَاُلوا . مَتَى تُطْلِقُونَ الرَّصاصَ عَلَيَّ ؟ سَأَلْتُ .

أجابوا : تَمَهَّلْ ! وَصفُّوا الكُؤُوسَ وَرَاحُوا يُغَنُّونَ لِلشَّعْبِ , قُلْتُ : مَتَى تَبْدَءونَ اغْتِيَالي ؟

فَقَالُوا : ابْتَدَأنَا … لمَاذَا بَعَثْتَ إلَى الرُّوحِ أَحْذِيَةً! كَيْ تَسيِرَ عَلَى الأَرْضِ , قُلْتُ .

فَقَالُوا : لِمَاذَا كَتَبْتَ القَصيِدَةَ بَيْضَاءَ والأَرْضُ سَوْدَاءُ جِدَّاً .

أَجَبْتُ : لأَنَّ ثَلاَثِينَ بَحْراًُ تَصُبُّ بِقَلْبِي .

فَقَالوا : لِمَاذا تُحُبُّ النَّبِيذَ الفَرَنْسِيّ ؟

قُلْتُ : لأَنِّي جَدِيرٌ بأَجْمَل امْرأَةٍ .

كَيْفَ تَطْلُبُ مَوْتَكَ ؟

أَزْرَق مِثْل نُجُومٍ تَسِيلُ مِنَ السَّقْف – هَلْ تَطْلُبُونَ المَزِيدَ مِنَ الخَمْر ؟

قَالوا : سَنَشْرَبُ .

قُلْتُ : سَأَسْأَلُكُمْ أَنْ تَكُونُوا بَطِئِين , أَنْ تَقْتُلُوني رُوَيْداً رُوَيْداً لأَكْتُبَ شعْراً …

(من ديوان “ورد أقل” 1986)

August 9th, 2008, 9:35 pm


annie said:

Off the wall;
This was not my translation.
It is from the Al Jazeera website.

August 9th, 2008, 9:38 pm


offended said:

أنا عربي
ورقمُ بطاقتي خمسونَ ألفْ
وأطفالي ثمانيةٌ
وتاسعهُم.. سيأتي بعدَ صيفْ!
فهلْ تغضبْ؟
أنا عربي
وأعملُ مع رفاقِ الكدحِ في محجرْ
وأطفالي ثمانيةٌ
أسلُّ لهمْ رغيفَ الخبزِ،
والأثوابَ والدفترْ
من الصخرِ
ولا أتوسَّلُ الصدقاتِ من بابِكْ
ولا أصغرْ
أمامَ بلاطِ أعتابكْ
فهل تغضب؟
أنا عربي
أنا اسم بلا لقبِ
صبورٌ في بلادٍ كلُّ ما فيها
يعيشُ بفورةِ الغضبِ
قبلَ ميلادِ الزمانِ رستْ
وقبلَ تفتّحِ الحقبِ
وقبلَ السّر وِ والزيتونِ
.. وقبلَ ترعرعِ العشبِ
أبي.. من أسرةِ المحراثِ
لا من سادةٍ نجبِ
وجدّي كانَ فلاحاً
بلا حسبٍ.. ولا نسبِ!
يعلّمني شموخَ الشمسِ قبلَ قراءةِ الكتبِ
وبيتي كوخُ ناطورٍ
منَ الأعوادِ والقصبِ
فهل ترضيكَ منزلتي؟
أنا اسم بلا لقبِ!
أنا عربي
ولونُ الشعرِ.. فحميٌّ
ولونُ العينِ.. بنيٌّ
على رأسي عقالٌ فوقَ كوفيّه
وكفّي صلبةٌ كالصخرِ
تخمشُ من يلامسَها
أنا من قريةٍ عزلاءَ منسيّهْ
شوارعُها بلا أسماء
وكلُّ رجالها في الحقلِ والمحجرْ
فهل تغضبْ؟
أنا عربي
سلبتَ كرومَ أجدادي
وأرضاً كنتُ أفلحُها
أنا وجميعُ أولادي
ولم تتركْ لنا.. ولكلِّ أحفادي
سوى هذي الصخورِ..
فهل ستأخذُها
حكومتكمْ.. كما قيلا؟!!
سجِّل.. برأسِ الصفحةِ الأولى
أنا لا أكرهُ الناسَ
ولا أسطو على أحدٍ
ولكنّي.. إذا ما جعتُ
آكلُ لحمَ مغتصبي
حذارِ.. حذارِ.. من جوعي
ومن غضبي..!!!
للشاعر : محمود درويش

RIP Mahmoud Darwish

August 9th, 2008, 10:29 pm


norman said:

Analysis: What is the conflict in Georgia really about?

Aug. 10, 2008
“Timing has nothing to do with it. We’re defending Georgian citizens on Georgian soil,” said Lasha Vhianov, chairman of the Georgian relations foreign committee.

When Georgian troops marched into the South Ossetia capital, they were laying claim to a region which has been part of Georgia for many decades.

South Ossetia has an autonomous government protected by the Russians, which rules over a population ethnically distinct from the Georgian majority. South Ossetia’s total population does not exceed 70,000 people, scattered throughout villages in the mountains of the tiny province.

The hostilities between Georgia and Russia, which both sides claim have included aerial bombardment by the other side, are not about South Ossetia itself.

For Russia the fighting is for greater control and influence over countries in its “near abroad.” For Georgia it’s about staking out an independent position. Internationally the situation is being watched closely by important international players.

Georgia and Russia have been in a state of detente for years now – so what drove the Georgian government of Mikhail Saakashailli to set a match to the tinder-box against such an overwhelmingly dominant opponent? Vhianov maintains Georgia was merely defending its territorial integrity, but leaves unexplained the simple fact that Georgia started the fight this time around.

The answer, many Georgian observers say, lies in the American election cycle. The Bush White House has been a close friend to Georgia, a country that is host to one of the world’s most important oil pipelines and which lies close to the border corridor to both Afghanistan and Iran.

With the possibility that the Bush administration will be replaced by one with a less aggressive foreign policy, Georgia might believe that its ability to resist Russia’s ambitions of regional dominance will be severely weakened when Bush leaves office.

Iran, too, is watching closely and asking itself whether the American military, a dominant force in the region, is backed by the political stomach for confrontation.

The question in this conflict is not whether either Georgia or Russia is correct – Georgia’s arguments against dissolution along ethnic lines are identical to those made by Russia regarding Kosovo and Chechnya – rather, the question is whether or not the West is still a relevant presence in the Caucasus and, by extension, all of central Asia.

Some watching the events unfold believe that granting Russia control over its near abroad is a fitting price to pay for Russian cooperation on the more urgent question, Iran.

But if the world’s strategy for containing the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions is to effect a psychological and political change in Teheran, the perception of Western and American weakness in coming to Georgia’s defense achieves the opposite.

This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1218104249894&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
[ Back to the Article ]
Copyright 1995- 2008 The Jerusalem Post –

August 9th, 2008, 11:47 pm


Friend in America said:

I think Havig Rettig gives too much importance to an assumed American influence as the reason for the timing by Georgia. Besides, that analysis is not correct.
The Georgian government made its military move because it became aware of Russian military buildup near South Ossetia combined with Putin’s declaration 2 weeks ago that Russia will “defend” Russian citizens living in South Ossetia. Georgia concluded a Russian military occupation was days, maybe hours, away and so it simply moved first. High risk for sure but so was waiting until after the Russian army occupied South Ossetia. Clue: note how quickly the Russian army responded. Quite a feat for an army known for its plodding. The army was at the border. Plans had already been drawn up. Clue: Putin is watching the Olympics in Bejing. He is undisturbed by the military action. He sees no reason to hurry home. Conclusion: this is no surprise to Putin. I think the Russian strategy was to prompt Georgia to make the first military move and Georgia fell for it and Putin is smiling.

August 10th, 2008, 3:30 am


norman said:


They are fools either can not fight a supper power , Iraq proved that and they should have learned.

August 10th, 2008, 3:40 am


norman said:


What do you think?.

Slain Syrian aide supplied missiles to Hezbollah
Recently assassinated Muhammed Suleiman had been supplying anti-aircraft missiles to Lebanese militant group HezbollahUzi Mahnaimi, Tel Aviv
A KEY aide to the Syrian president who was assassinated last weekend in mysterious circumstances had been supplying Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, with advanced Syrian SA-8 anti-aircraft missiles, according to Middle Eastern sources.

Once operative, the mobile missiles will threaten the dominance of the Israeli air force over Lebanon.

The assassinated aide, Brigadier-General Muhammad Suleiman, 49, was “more important than anyone else”, wrote the London-based Saudi paper Al-Sharq al-Awsat last week: “He was senior even to the defence minister. He knew everything.”

He was killed by a single shot to the head as he sat in the garden of his summer house near the northern port city of Tartus.

Nobody heard the shot, which appears to have been fired from a speedboat by a sniper, possibly equipped with a silencer. The expertise required to execute such a long-distance sniper murder has led suspicion to fall upon the Israelis.

Suleiman had been President Bashar al-Assad’s personal mentor since 1994, after the death of the president’s brother Basel in a car accident. Assad later appointed Suleiman as his operations officer and made him responsible for protecting the regime.

If Syria has passed Russian-made SA-8 mobile launchers to Hezbollah, the Shi’ite militia that came close to defeating the Israeli army two years ago, it is in possession of a potent weapon to defy Israeli air power.

Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, recently warned that Hezbollah was straining his country’s patience in Lebanon. Hezbollah announced last week its next military step would be “to stop Israeli fighter planes flying over our land”.

Despite the risk of jeopardising peace negotiations between the two countries, the attack appears to have been intended as a warning to the Syrian regime.

According to Israeli sources, during Assad’s visit to Paris last month Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, asked President Nicolas Sarkozy to tell Assad that he was “crossing a red line supplying arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon”.

Last week the Israeli defence cabinet was presented with an intelligence report on Syria’s arms supplies to Hezbollah.

Have your say

Nice shooting perhaps whoever they are will win a gold medal in the olympics

Yeshurun, london,

you have to love the way Israel puts the well being of its people before international public opinion and the so called human rights of terrorist groups.

well done 😉

Barry, woking, uk

August 10th, 2008, 8:24 pm


Shai said:


The article appeared in the Sunday Times, and is surprisingly presumptuous, assuming that only Israel could have executed such a feat. It may indeed be the case here, but high-ranking officials in the ME tend to have more than one enemy (Israel). If Israel did it, it would in fact be risking every last drop of “good will” we’re trying to create once more in these talks in Turkey. In the fine balance between communicating peacefully towards Syria, and covertly deterring her with such threatening action, I would hope our leadership (as corrupt as they may be) would opt for the first, at least at this particular point in time. While in theory it may be possible that Barak would be in charge of such an operation (as he was of the attack near Deir Ez-Zur), there is no doubt that to assassinate Suleiman would have required the PM’s approval. With everything that Olmert is going through, watching his reputation going down the drain day by day, I can’t imagine he’d risk so much for so little.

Israeli commando units have in the past shown great bravery and expertise in certain long-distance operations (Entebbe, Tunisia, Beirut, etc.) Our fighterpilots have flown far to reach their targets (Osirak, Deir Ez-Zur, etc.) But to shoot Suleiman in the head, while he’s resting in Tartous, in the middle of the day, would require the kind of operation that has everyone involved (ground, air, sea support), that I can’t imagine Israel would undertake “just” for a close adviser to Assad, and a supplier of military hardware to HA. Is he the first or only person to do that? No, and even if he’s taken out, someone else will do it the next morning. It’s not like destroying a nuclear facility, or assassinating the head of the Fatah 20-30 years ago, or rescuing hostages in Africa. There is neither deterrence here, nor the foiling of some terrible project underway. If Syria wants to pass anti-aircraft hardware to HA, it can do so in Ketchup bottles (joke). Lebanon’s ability to defend itself against Israeli jets does not depend on a particular individual in Syria, Iran, or N. Korea. Killing Suleiman will not stop anything. In theory, it could reinforce the need to support HA, if Syria or Iran believe that Israel is behind the assassination.

Bottom line, I don’t know, but there seem to me too many reasons why it would not be Israel. It would be so much easier for some disgruntled ex-colleague, or even HA itself (payback for not involving HA in the Mughniyeh investigation, coverup, etc.) Fancy speedboats, swaying sideways and up-and-down with the sea, with single-shot olympic snipers holding the Israeli flag, seem a little far-fetched to me… If it was the Sayyed himself, maybe. But not “some” Suleiman… (no disrespect intended).

August 11th, 2008, 4:31 am


Qifa Nabki said:

A Special Shot in Lebanon

August 11, 2008: Apparently, Syria has shipped some SA-8 (officially, the 9K33) mobile anti-aircraft missile systems across the border to Lebanon, for use by the Shia terrorist group Hezbollah. This bit of news came out during the clamor that followed the August 2nd assassination, by a sniper in northern Lebanon, of Syrian Brigadier General Mohammad Sulaiman. Israel denied any responsibility for the killing, even though Sulaiman was known to be responsible for shipping Iranian weapons from Syria to Hizbollah forces in Lebanon. Sulaiman has long been a major player in supporting Hizbollah, and is part of the senior leadership in Syria.

The SA-8 is a four decade old Russian system that was quite innovative when it first came out. The 6×6 vehicle carries the radar (with a range of 30 kilometers), and six missiles (with a range of 15 kilometers). The system has undergone many upgrades over the years, and can still be dangerous to aircraft not equipped (with countermeasures) to cope. The presence of the SA-8 makes the skies over southern Lebanon more dangerous for the regular recon flights by Israeli jets, as well as any combat operations in a future war.

It’s not certain that the Israelis killed Sulaiman, although the sophistication of the hit points to Israeli special ops. But Sulaiman had many enemies in Lebanon, where he has long been active in legal, and illegal, business dealings. Lots of powerful businessmen in Lebanon have been burned by Sulaiman over the years, and would like to see him gone.

August 11th, 2008, 2:57 pm


norman said:


Now Tartous is Lebanon , we live and see .

August 11th, 2008, 3:02 pm


Shai said:


It’s called “Greater Lebanon”… 😉 But I still doubt Israel did it.

August 11th, 2008, 3:06 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Ammo Norman,

Why are you trying to create distinctions between “Syria” and “Lebanon”?

Do we not speak the same language? Share the same blood? Eat the same hummus? Listen to the same bad pop music?

Our anti-aircraft guns are your anti-aircraft guns! Our plastic surgery-enhanced sunbathing beauties are your plastic surgery- enhanced sunbathing beauties! Our disgusting mountain of garbage outside Saida is your disgusting mountain of garbage outside Saida!

We are brothers!

August 11th, 2008, 4:06 pm


Alex said:

Norman, Shai,

I still don’t think it was Israel, although everything is possible, just like I did not think Syria necessarily killed Hariri (and every other Lebanese assassinated), although everything is possible there too.

As for the story that Suleiman was shot from a speedboat. I also heard that he was shot by more than one sniper simultaneously … the snipers were not on the boat at the time, they were on a rock on the shore… it was night time … they used silencers … and night vision equipments.

Many, many parties can hire three good snipers and buy them night vision equipments.

Bu they still need some local intelligence … simply to know that for the past few weeks Suleiman sat on the balcony, smoking his argeeleh perhaps, for hours every night?

That’s why it could be Israel, or many others … It could be Iran, Hizbllah (blaming him for Mughnyieh) … it could be the Syirans (after discovering he was an agent …) … could have been some business related revenge …

Forget it.

August 11th, 2008, 4:18 pm


norman said:


i am proud of your Syrian ism , You are my nephew after all.

I am proud of you , I was just testing you.

August 11th, 2008, 5:20 pm


Syrian said:


What is wrong with

August 11th, 2008, 7:21 pm


Alex said:


I can’t see anything wrong at this time. Did you have a problem accessing the site?

August 11th, 2008, 10:02 pm


Syrian said:

When i go to it tells me site not found. I have to go to to get here

August 11th, 2008, 10:45 pm


Enlightened said:

( This might interest some, especially those with lost Phonecian DNA)

Around Africa in a Phoenician boat

Lina Sinjab
BBC News, Damascus

The Phoenicia, Arwad Island, Syria
The boat is entirely wooden and has only one sail
On Arwad Island off the coast of Syria, a group of 20 sailors-to-be are preparing for a voyage their captain believes has not been undertaken for two and a half millennia.

They plan to set off on Sunday on a journey that attempts to replicate what the Greek historian Herodotus mentions as the first circumnavigation of Africa in about 600BC.

Their vessel, the small, pine-wood Phoenicia, is modelled on the type of ship the Phoenician sailors he credited with the landmark voyage would have used.

The Phoenicians lived in areas of modern-day Lebanon, Syria and other parts of the Mediterranean from about 1200BC and are widely credited with being both strong seafarers and the first civilisation to make extensive use of an alphabet.

Mammoth project

Celebrating Damascus as a capital of Arab Culture for the year 2008, event organisers sponsored the British-run expedition project to mark their festivities.

Phoenicia route map
The year-long voyage will take the crew into some of the most dangerous waters in the world.

As well as sailing round the southern most tip of Africa, they are preparing to deal with pirates and long periods of waiting for favourable winds.

The skilful shipbuilders in Arwad are familiar with construction techniques dating back 200-300 years, but shipbuilder Orwa Bader, 28, says this is the first time they have ever tried to build in the Phoenician style.

“Usually it takes three men and two months to build any type of ship. But this time, we needed at least five to 10 builders to work on it over eight months to make it ready. It was a hard but enjoyable job.”

The vessel, designed on the basis of information from wrecked ships, pottery and other archaeological artefacts from the era, is made entirely of wood, with a single sail and no engine.

The only concession to 21st Century sailing equipment is its navigational system. Its top speed will be the equivalent of 10km/h on land.

Piracy fears

The route goes through the Red Sea, past Somalia and down the East African cost before rounding the southern tip of Africa around Christmas time.

The Phoenicia, Arwad Island, Syria
The vessel was designed from archaeological evidence
The ship’s skipper, Philip Beale, planned the voyage.

“The most difficult part will be circumnavigating around the Cape of Good Hope where many shipwrecks are testimony to the difficult conditions there. You can get big waves of 20 metres or more there. It is a dangerous area and we’ll be there in December and January.”

He predicts they have a 70% chance of completing the voyage successfully.

“But there’s a 30% chance we make a serious navigational error or we come up against pirates and we are kidnapped or something,” he adds.

Few luxuries

The ship will be crewed by a largely British team of volunteers, some of whom have never done anything similar. Living conditions will be tough, and little different from those the Phoenicians would have endured.

The experience will be new for John Bainbridge, 23: “It’s about how you get on with people. That’s the most essential skill,” he says.

The Phoenicia, Arwad Island, Syria
Local boatmakers said they had never done anything like it before
And Julia Rouc, 26, originally from Zimbabwe, is hoping to spend time reading and possibly continue developing her aspirations to become a professional artist.

“I am excited about it. It is a great experience. I am used to living in tough conditions so it is all fine by me. But I am not sure if I will have time to continue painting.”

Below deck, it feels extremely hot. There will be no ventilation and no running water, and one toilet for the 20 crew members. Their bunks are barely big enough to lie in.

Unlike the Phoenicians’ ships, the vessel will be equipped with lifeboats, and will carry large amounts of food and fresh water.

But just like the ancient sailors, the crew will not really know how the boat will fare until it hits the open sea.

August 12th, 2008, 1:53 am


norman said:


There is nothing with the web site, When Joshua moved back to the US and changed the host of his blog he had to get new web site i believe and that is which is known as Syriacomment not Syria,

I hope that will explain it.

August 12th, 2008, 2:20 am


norman said:

Article:Syrian villagers keep Jesus’ language alive:/c/a/2008/08/11/MN07125IIU.DTL
Article:Syrian villagers keep Jesus’ language alive:/c/a/2008/08/11/MN07125IIU.DTL
Back to Article

Syrian villagers keep Jesus’ language alive
Brooke Anderson, Chronicle Foreign Service

Monday, August 11, 2008

(08-11) 17:06 PDT Maaloula, Syria — Marian Shanees had never seen the letters of her native language of Aramaic. Now, a new program in Maaloula, one of the few places where Aramaic is still spoken, will change that.

“This is the first time I’m seeing my alphabet,” said 7-year-old Marian, who started learning the language in early July at the Aramaic Language Institute. “I’m really happy to be studying the language of my ancestors.”

Aramaic was the language spoken by Jesus and a Semitic tribe thousands of years ago. Today, it is still spoken in three Syrian villages, Jabaadeen, Serkha and Maaloula – all within an hour’s bus ride of the Syrian capital of Damascus.

In the summer of 2007, the institute, in affiliation with the University of Damascus, opened its doors in Maaloula, the main town where Aramaic is spoken. Now, children and adults who grew up speaking the language can learn to read and write it.

“I wish they had the language institute here when I was a kid,” says 35-year-old Nidal Khoury, a local grocery store owner, who acknowledges that, like most other Maaloulans, he doesn’t know the alphabet of his native language.

He added: “As time goes by, the language could die. Now there’s a chance for it to survive.”

Not that long ago, Aramaic was in danger of extinction. A lot of Arabic words had entered the vocabulary of the Aramaic speakers due to their mandatory education in Arabic, an increase in the bus service to Damascus and the advent of mass communication.

Twenty years ago, a group of European academics traveled to Maaloula to study Aramaic, and their visit made the locals realize they had something special. About 10 years ago, Maaloula residents began teaching the language in churches, and in 2007, the town opened the Aramaic Language Institute. Today, children and adults who grew up speaking the language at home can learn to read and write it. (Their alphabet is the same as Hebrew.)

Right now, Maaloula’s relatively new Aramaic Committee is trying to gather information on the language from the town’s elders to create a modern Aramaic dictionary.

Elias Tajara, 60-year-old former math teacher, is in his second summer teaching Aramaic. For Tajara, who remembers a time when the entire town spoke Aramaic fluently, teaching his native language is more important than math because “it’s the language of our forefathers.”

It might seem unusual for a town of 4,000 (10,000 in the summer) to put so much emphasis on a language estimated to be spoken by just 18,000 and that appears more cultural than practical.

But Maaloula is an unusual place. An ancient hillside town of monasteries and churches, it is reminiscent of the Mediterranean countryside from a hundred years ago. The narrow streets are lined with olive trees, the valley below Maaloula is home to an orchard of apricot trees, and canopies of grapevines in old stone courtyards provide shade from the summer heat.

Children play on the sides of the roads unattended, people greet each other on the streets by first name, and contact between acquaintances is typically initiated by a knock at the door rather than a phone call.

To new visitors, the Old City of Maaloula resembles a labyrinth, with tunnels and narrow passageways connecting the homes built into cliffs – usually only suitable for foot traffic, and sometimes bicycles and motorcycles.

Maaloula is also one of the few majority-Christian towns in Syria – 70 percent by most estimates, two-thirds Catholic and one-third Orthodox.

But the town’s Christians point out that Muslims here also speak Aramaic. Maaloulans are well aware that it’s not their religions, but their native tongue that makes them unique. With pride, they tell visitors they speak “the mother of Semitic languages.”

Twelve-year-old Daha Ammar, part of the Muslim minority in Maaloula, started learning written Aramaic one week ago. “I speak the language at home, but I don’t write it,” she said. “This is the first time I’m learning the letters.”

The relatively new language institute has also attracted adult students.

Carla Serhan, a professor of linguistics at the University of Balamand near Tripoli, Lebanon, is spending the summer in Maaloula to learn Aramaic. At first, she admitted, “It was weird to be in a class of children – they’re the age of my daughter.”

After a couple of weeks, she got used to the new classroom environment. “First I want to understand the language, and then I want to compare it with Arabic,” she said.

Nawaf Al-Makhlouf, dean of the Higher Language Institute at the University of Damascus, believes it is exactly this sort of curiosity that will drive enrollment of non-Maaloulans to study Aramaic. The student count now stands at 60, and it is increasing by the week. Because of the demand, he says, the Aramaic Language Institute is now considering opening a winter session.

“Aramaic is part of our history and culture,” Makhlouf says. “Aramaic is to Arabs what Latin is to Europeans. It’s the root of our language.”

Ancient speech
Some words and phrases in the ancient language Aramaic:

Hello: ibrikh yuma

How are you? ikh chob (masculine); ikh cheeba (feminine)

Yes: Eh

No: La

What’s your name? mo ushmakh (masculine); mo ushmeesh (feminine)

Sun: sheemsha

Moon: sahra

E-mail Brooke Anderson at

San Francisco Chronicle Sections DatebookCommentaryBay AreaSportsNewsBusiness
© 2008 Hearst Communications Inc. | Privacy Policy | Feedback | RSS Feeds | FAQ | Site Index | Contact

August 12th, 2008, 2:31 am


MNA said:

I, too, have been experiencing difficulties accessing since last night.

August 12th, 2008, 2:44 am


Enlightened said:

All those experiencing Difficulty accessing Site:

Yes sometimes it does happen, but do not be alarmed, it is simply the intelligence services trawling to find out all our identities! Specifically those who identify with that independent form of phonecian DNA, that has a independent and rebellious nature to it!

(Please note sarcasm)

August 12th, 2008, 2:52 am


norman said:


What do you think?.

‘Syria and Hizbullah gaining strength’

Aug. 12, 2008 Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Tuesday that “it is not a coincidence that the IDF is holding intensive drills in the Golan Heights,” adding that UNSC Resolution 1701 was not accomplishing what it set out to do.

“Hizbullah has gained significant strength in the last couple of years,” said Barak during an IDF Armored Corps drill in the North. “We are closely following a possible violation [of the resolution] caused by the transfer of advanced weapons systems from Syria to Hizbullah. The necessary preparations have been made, and regarding all the rest – I always prefer not to talk, rather to take action when the time comes.”

Barak expressed optimism with regards to the IDF’s capabilities. “The army is regaining its strength, and coming back to the right morals, carrying out the right exercises and it is our obligation as the government to ensure that the proper means are available to carry out such drills in a correct and intensive manner.”

Referring to a proposed budget cut to the Defense Ministry, Barak said: “We live in a country where security and defense consist not just of tanks and planes, but also of fostering excellence and caring for the population through education and social welfare.”

Nonetheless, Barak emphasized that “security and defense take precedence over quality of life and in a country such as ours, we do not have the luxury of cutting the defense budget.”

The defense minister also addressed the Gaza ceasefire and the strengthening of the group.

“So far, the ceasefire has proved promising,” he said. “There have been ten instances where rockets were launched in the past 6 weeks, compared to the hundreds of attacks that occurred in the past. Every week that passes with the ceasefire in place enables us to gain strength and to maximize the possibility or the probability of bringing about the right conditions for the release of [captured IDF soldier] Gilad Schalit.

Barak added that “in the meantime, the government must care for the social and economic infrastructure as well as the preparation of the home front in the Gaza periphery and the surrounding areas.

Concerning the Georgia-Russia conflict, Barak warned against leaving friends during testing times.

“We view Russia as a very important country both on a regional and global scale,” he said. “[At the same time,] we see Georgia as a country with which we have friendly relations, and Israel, particularly due to its experience, must ensure that it does not rush to leave its friends at a testing time.”

“This is what we have expected from our friends and it is what our friends expect from us,” he continued.

Barak’s remarks came amid Russian protests over Israeli weapons sales to Georgia.

The defense minister was accompanied on the drill by IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, OC Ground Forces Command Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrahi and other senior IDF officers.

“I am pleased with what I see and think that we are heading in the right direction,” said Ashkenazi, adding that “the training and the drills serve to restore the army’s readiness to act when necessary. Furthermore, we are talking about a process. There is still work to be done, there are no shortcuts, it is very hard work. I think that people understand this, I think that officers understand this. We are all working hard and use every day to strengthen our capabilities and readiness to execute our tasks.”

This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1218446177941&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
[ Back to the Article ]
Copyright 1995- 2008 The Jerusalem Post –

August 12th, 2008, 12:23 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Release one, lock another up?

SYRIA: Damascus Declaration activist arrested

Posted August 12th, 2008

DAMASCUS, August 12, 2008 (MENASSAT) – Syrian security forces have arrested Ghazi Omar Qaddour, 62, on the basis of his activities and participation in the Damascus Declaration meetings. Qaddour was arrested on Monday August 11 in the northern city of Aleppo.

In a statement, freedom and human rights defense committees in Syria said they strongly condemn the arrest of Qaddour, and that they hold the Syrian authorities fully responsible for of his health condition. The committees see Qaddour’s detention as a violation of Syria’s commitments to The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which it has ratified.

Freedom and human rights defense committees in Syria called on all relevant international human rights organizations to intervene hastily with Syrian authorities to immediately secure Qaddour’s release, and bring an end to the escalating chain of arbitrary detention.

Security forces in Syria have been conducting a crusade of arrests against the leaders of the Damascus Declaration since its first convened on December 1, 2007. Twelve of its members have been tried by the first criminal court in Damascus.

Ghazi Qaddour is a member of the Syrian Council of Freedom and Human Rights Committees, a member organization of the Euro-Mediterranean network for human rights.

(Mehyi Eddine Isso)

August 12th, 2008, 3:04 pm


norman said:

Printable view

Tue, Aug 12, 2008, 15:22 GMT

Lebanon president in groundbreaking trip to Syria

by Roueida Mabardi

DAMASCUS, Aug 12, 2008 (AFP) – Lebanese President Michel Sleiman heads on Wednesday for a groundbreaking visit to Damascus carrying an agenda loaded with thorny issues, including the establishment of diplomatic ties.

The two-day visit is the first by a Lebanese head of state since a 2005 Syrian troop pullout from Lebanon in the aftermath of the murder of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri.

The summit between Sleiman and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad aims to redefine ties between Beirut and Damascus, which dominated Lebanon for three decades until it withdrew its forces.

The agenda features prickly issues such as a border demarcation, a review of longstanding accords, Lebanese detainees in Syria and the presence of radical pro-Syrian Palestinian groups in Lebanon, diplomatic sources said.

According to a Lebanese official in Beirut, the establishment of diplomatic relations and opening of embassies will top the agenda.

Assad and Sleiman, whose states have not had diplomatic relations since independence more than 60 years ago, agreed to finally set up ties at a meeting last month in France, their former colonial power.

Beirut-Damascus links have been on the decline since former Hariri’s murder in a February 2005 Beirut bomb blast in which Syria has consistently denied charges of involvement.

But the Doha accord struck in May between the pro- and anti-Syrian camps in Lebanon after an 18-month political crisis which degenerated into deadly factional violence cleared the way for Sleiman’s election as president.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora has since formed a new government of national unity, a development which would have been impossible without the consent of Damascus.

“Syria wants a stable, united and Arab Lebanon which does not serve as a trampoline for hostile activities,” Elias Murad, editor-in-chief of the Syrian ruling Baath party’s newspaper, told AFP.

Officials in Damascus insist Syria has not interfered in Lebanese affairs since its troop withdrawal and has worked to reunify ranks in Beirut, pointing to the Doha power-sharing accord.

But the Beirut daily An-Nahar, reflecting the suspicions of the Western-backed and anti-Syrian parliamentary majority in Beirut, on Sunday voiced doubts over how Damascus will “manage the relations.”

The official in Beirut, declining to be named, said ahead of the visit that the fate of a Lebanese-Syrian higher council and a 1991 friendship and cooperation treaty would also figure high on the agenda.

The parliamentary majority wants both the treaty and council to be scrapped.

But the council’s secretary general, Nasri Khouri, said embassies did not spell the end of the coordination body. “There will be coordination between the two countries’ embassies and the council,” he told AFP.

The fate of the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms, where Beirut claims sovereignty with the consent of Damascus, is also expected to be discussed.



Copyright © 2008 ABQ Zawya Ltd. All rights reserved. Please read our User Agreement

August 12th, 2008, 3:23 pm


Syrian said:

the domain does not seem to be redirecting to I have the same problem from 2 computers with different public IPs

August 12th, 2008, 4:02 pm


norman said:


( ) takes you to the old blog .

( syriacomment ) takes you to the new blog.

I hope that will be helpfull.

August 12th, 2008, 4:21 pm


Syrian said:


This problem just started a couple of days ago. I am able to get here because I know to go to I am simply pointing out what seems to be a technical problem to alex with the way requests for this blog are being routed. (Did you notice the sharp decline in comments in the last two days…??)

August 12th, 2008, 5:05 pm


Shai said:


It is very difficult to tell what Barak’s interests are, in making the declarations he has during the past few days. On the one hand, he is obviously speaking to Hezbollah and Syria, when he talks about arms continuing to pass freely through the Lebanese-Syrian border. On the other, he is talking also to potential voters in an upcoming election. His rhetoric needs to sound “tough” and uncompromising. No one will vote for him if he talks about peace. He has failed on that realm, and the Left/Center is no longer impressed by him. He now needs to court all those who want someone with his military experience at the helm (as opposed to Livni or even Netanyahu).

My guess – he is very much too late. His reputation, and his party, will crash in the next election. The best he can hope for, is to have the next Kadima leader offer him to stay as DM in return for supporting the next coalition government. Otherwise, if he doesn’t do that, he’ll find himself with one of the smallest parties (as Likud did in the last election), and with no position whatsoever. Chances are, pressure from within Labor will force him to resign. So these are his last motions, trying to survive politically at almost any cost. Hopefully, that “cost” doesn’t entail going on any military adventures in the region…

August 12th, 2008, 5:24 pm


norman said:


I got it now , stupid me.

August 12th, 2008, 5:26 pm


norman said:


This is for you,

Last update – 18:06 08/05/2008

Olmert said ready to bring about peace agreement with Syria

By Haaretz Service and Reuters

Tags: Golan Heights, Turkey, Israel

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Thursday he was prepared to bring about a peace agreement between Israel and Syria during his term in office, according to a report in the magazine Paris Match.

Olmert told the French weekly that his top priority was reaching peace with Syria and the Palestinians, adding that no other matter was as important or urgent for the future of Israel.

He also said that if Israel and its enemies were to cease fighting and work together to build a common future, the Middle East could be turned into a paradise.

Earlier Thursday, the pan-Arab London-based daily newspaper Al Hayat reported that Turkish officials are moving to convene a three-way meeting between Israeli and Syrian representatives. The meeting would likely take place in Istabul, as Turkey continues its efforts to jump-start peace negotiations between the two countries.

Ankara would like both sides to commit to a signed declaration as a starting point for talks. According to the report, Turkey decided to postpone the proposed sit-down after the Syrians revealed Jerusalem’s stated willingness to withdraw from the Golan Heights in exchange for peace. The newspaper added that the Syrian leadership was assuaged by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s refusal to deny or backtrack from the claims when word reached the news media in Israel.

Israel Radio also cited a report in the Egyptian daily Al Ahram stating that Israel has received messages from Damascus regarding the continuation of contacts between them in the near future. The newspaper quoted a Syrian official as stating that the probability of direct Israeli-Syrian negotiations taking place while President Bush remains in office remains slim, according to Israel Radio.

The United States would support a Turkish-brokered Syrian-Israeli peace drive but wants to see Damascus change its policy on Lebanon, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in remarks published on Sunday.

“We do not wish to stand in the way of any attempt to achieve peace between Israel and its neighbors including Syria,” Rice told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper in remarks translated into Arabic.

“If the two sides wished to exert an effort for peace the United States would give its blessing and back these efforts. The problem is that Syria is yet to show a desire for Middle East peace especially vis-a-vis Lebanon,” she added.

August 12th, 2008, 6:21 pm


Shai said:


Thank you. I believe Olmert is a dead-duck (as opposed to lame-duck). He’s lost every last nano-ounce of respect he may have ever had, and everyone is ready for him to leave. No one will give him the backing he needs to get a peace agreement. Plus, in a mere 4-5 weeks from now, he will have to resign, following the election of a new Kadima leader in their primaries. With all the vision and good will Olmert may have found over the past 12 months or so, he is just too late. The more we learn about him, the less we want HIM to be the one to shake Assad’s hand.

The next challenge to peace is whether Livni or Mofaz will be chosen, following by their ability (yes/no) to put together a coalition government, and thus become Israel’s next PM, without going to elections. If not, Bibi will be our next PM…

August 12th, 2008, 6:38 pm


trustquest said:

I think the firlter is restricting the comments, I have put two comments and non showed up.

August 12th, 2008, 6:41 pm


norman said:


Sometime i wish Bibi will Winn to see if what you say will come through .

August 12th, 2008, 7:17 pm


norman said:

13:08 , 08.12.08


Spy Games

Investigating. Assad Photo: AP

click here to enlarge text

click here to reduce text

Syria arrests suspects in Suleiman assassination

Damascus security forces arrest two naval officers, hotel security chief in connection with murder of Syria’s liaison officer to Hizbullah
Roee Nahmias

Syrian security forces arrested several suspects in the assassination of Mohammed Suleiman, a senior aide to Syrian President Bashar Assad, earlier this month, the Syrian opposition’s website reported Tuesday.

Suleiman was gunned down in the Syrian port city of Tartous some two weeks ago.

According to internet reports, Syrian security forces arrested two naval officers, in ranks analogous to colonel and major, and are holding them for questioning in connection with the assassination.

Several employees of the hotel Suleiman was staying in at the time of his assassination were also arrested, including the hotel’s chief of security.

According to reports, Suleiman was acting as Syria’s liaison officer to Hizbullah at the time of his murder. He reportedly supplied the Shiite group with Russian-made SI-8 Missiles, which have the ability to limit IAF surveillance flights in Lebanese skies.


August 12th, 2008, 8:33 pm


Alex said:


There is a problem with (hosting or forwarding) … When Joshua goes back to Oklahoma he will check with the hosting company.

Few more days.

Trustquest … please email me whenever a comment of yours does not show up. I can release it from the filter for the next few hours after you post.

August 13th, 2008, 12:09 am


Enlightened said:

Interesting News:

Alex any hint as to who this “retired” general might be? If you respond with Rustum Ghazale, I am going to be mightily upset!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008 | 03:50 Beirut 31° Partly Cloudy

Today In Lebanon
Syria begins talks to designate first ambassador to Lebanon
August 12, 2008

Syrian sources told NOW Lebanon that Damascus has begun talks on who its first ambassador to Lebanon will be.

The two names proposed at present are Dr. Imad Fawzi As-Shiaybi, a university professor well-known in the decision-making centers of the Syrian regime, and “a resigned general in the Syrian military,” according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The source said it was as yet unclear which of the two was the more likely candidate.

-NOW Staff

August 13th, 2008, 1:12 am


norman said:

Enlighted one ,

How about Mustafa Tlass?.

August 13th, 2008, 1:17 am


Enlightened said:

Sheesh Ammo Norman:

But heres some comedy:

Tlass at his acceptance speech and recalling his description of Arafat:

” You Lebanese are the son’s of 60,000 wh….”

I don’t think its him, he is too old at nearly 80, he would be enjoying his retirement.

August 13th, 2008, 2:45 am


alle said:

How old is Gen. Ibrahim el-Safi?

August 13th, 2008, 4:08 am


Shai said:

Not really my place to comment here, but as my own country has had its share of general ambassadors, I feel “qualified” to make the following statement:

Generals make BORING ambassadors. They spent 30-40 years of their lives in dusty deserts, atop oily armored vehicles, eating food out of tin cans, watching their soldiers and officers get ready for war, day and night, year in, year out. They never had to think, let alone talk, to anyone diplomatically. They are used to orders, not to open conversation. There is nothing subtle about their profession, contrary to that of diplomats. They are used to making the decisions themselves, not to discussing matters at great length.

And, of course, not to mention the fact that most of their “abroad” travels entail military campaigns in neighboring counties, rather than vacations in the South of France… They are NOT “men of the world” and, therefore, should NOT represent nations in the diplomatic Corps. At best, they could be military attaches abroad. But certainly not ambassadors. That is, unless by “ambassador” we mean “military representative”…

August 13th, 2008, 5:15 am


norman said:

Last update – 13:49 13/08/2008

Report: Syria fears Israel strike, taking preventive steps

By Yuval Azoulay, Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Service

Tags: Israel, Golan Heights, Syria

Syria’s leadership fears that a drill conducted Tuesday by the Israel Defense Forces in the Golan Heights may develop into a military offensive against Damascus, the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Watan reported Wednesday.

Syrian sources told the daily that Damascus has taken several preventive measures against a possible Israeli strike. The sources added that the IDF drill in the north is increasing tensions in the region and is not in line with recent peace initiatives.

“The danger of these exercises is greater because they are being carried out near the cease-fire line bordering Syria,” the sources were quoted as saying, “and because Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi supervised.”

Barak told IDF soldiers stationed in the Golan Heights on Tuesday that Israel is closely monitoring the strengthening of Lebanese militant organization Hezbollah.

“We’re following the violations of the [regional] equilibrium by Hezbollah and Syria, and the strengthening beyond the fence,” Barak said while observing the IDF drill.

“It’s not for nothing that we’re training here,” he added.

Barak went on to criticize an expected cut to the Defense Ministry budget proposed by Finance Minister Roni Bar-On at part of the 2009 budget.

“We live in a country in which security is made up not only of tanks and planes, but also of the fostering of excellence, education and welfare. In a country like ours, we do not have the luxury to harm the defense budget,” Barak asserted.

Related articles:

Barak: We must dedicate each day of Gaza calm to freeing Shalit

Slain Assad aide reportedly gave anti-aircraft missiles to Hezbollah TV: IDF trains for simultaneous Hezbollah, Iran, Syria missile strikes

Get Haaretz news headlines delivered daily to your inbox!
———— Click here to sign up for Haaretz newsletter ————

Bookmark to

Digg It!‎

Peace plan rebuffed
Palestinians reject PM’s offer to return 93% of West Bank, calling it a ‘waste of time.’

Iran is not Israel’s friend
Iranian VP gets summoned by parliament for saying Iran is a friend of Israel’s.

August 13th, 2008, 11:48 am


Shai said:


Israeli leadership is once again demonstrating its innate ability to send the wrong messages to those who want peace. It’s becoming almost an “art” here… Maybe it should be an Olympic sport – I’d send Olmert, Barak, et al to compete… and bring back the gold.

August 13th, 2008, 12:28 pm


norman said:


Do you think that it could be because Israel is worry about peace and what it can do to the Israeli society , do you thing Israel might face difficulty between it’s people with the lack of external threat.

August 13th, 2008, 1:11 pm


Shai said:


Israel is not “worried” about peace. Most Israelis would like, in some strange notion, to reach peace one day. But to most, at this point in time, that peace does not mean returning territory that belongs to someone else. Right now, the fear and distrust that most Israelis (probably 70%) have towards Arabs is such that doesn’t allow them to think beyond tomorrow. Most do not think rationally right now, only emotionally. How else can you explain the mixed signals we’re sending the Syrian leadership (talks in Turkey, while military exercises with live fire on the Golan)? How else can you explain Mofaz’s statement that he’s very much interested in peace, but not in land-for-peace, rather, “peace-for-peace”.

Israelis are certainly not “worried” about the lack of external threat. What worries people like me, is that most Israelis don’t see that as a possibility right now (i.e. the end to such external threat). They’ve just accepted it as some eternal axiom. So they’re becoming apathetic towards anything and anyone that might challenge that kind of thinking. Whoever is going to deliver a peace agreement before Knesset and the Israeli people (Livni, Netanyahu, etc.), they’ll have to do one hell of a job convincing those 20% out of the 70% that need to be turned over (“flipped” in our lingo… :-)). It will not be easy, I’m afraid.

August 13th, 2008, 5:54 pm


Post a comment

Neoprofit AI Immediate Venture Instant Prosperity