Bernard Gwertzman (CFR consulting editor) interviews Joshua Landis



Joshua Landis, a leading expert on Syrian affairs, says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s meeting last week with the Syrian foreign minister produced little of substance. He says the chief reason for this is U.S. determination to press Syria to go along with the special tribunal on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005, in which Syria is widely believed to have played a leading role. He says the plans for a tribunal have also complicated Saudi Arabia’s efforts to draw Syria away from Iranian influence.

Last week Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with the Syrian foreign minister, Walid Moualem,at the conference on Iraq held at Sharm-el Sheikh. The president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, said later that the United States was continuing to blame Syria for everything. The implication was nothing much had changed in relations. Is that accurate?

Yes. It was another milestone for Syria coming out of isolation. The United States has pulled out its ambassador and refused to send any senior representative to Syria since [former Prime Minister of Lebanon] Rafik Hariri’s murder in 2005. When [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi went a few weeks ago to visit Syria, President Bush criticized her very harshly. But now that Rice has met the Syrian foreign minister, it’s another chink in this wall of isolation that America had established.

At the same time, its significance is limited because the real purpose of the Sharm-el Sheikh meeting, for most observers, was to see if there could be a dialogue established between Iran and the United States. That did not happen, and in a sense, Syria was the fallback for the United States. Rice did this for domestic reasons, largely, because the pressure from the Democrats is that there has to be dialogue, that America has to begin preparing a new strategy in Iraq, which would include dialogue with both Iran and Syria. The administration clearly doesn’t want to pursue the implications of that. They’re opening dialogue with Syria, in a sense, to throw a bone to the Democrats and to the American people.

[The administration’s] heart is not in it. And as President Assad said, this was not a breakthrough. I think we have to take his word at this, and we see the evidence for that in the fact that Rice today published an editorial in the Lebanese paper, An-Nahar, the organ of the pro-American March 14 coalition [set up after Hariri’s assassination]. She’s reassuring her Lebanese allies that America will not let them down.

At the time of the Sharm-el Sheik meeting, I remember Michael Young wrote an editorial saying, “Don’t sell out Lebanon for the sake of better relations with Syria.” In other words, don’t give up on this trial of who killed Hariri for the sake of Syria. And so that seems to be what’s happening, the United States is reassuring its Lebanese supporters that they’re going to pursue having this tribunal under Chapter Seven of the Security Council rules.

That allows for coercive force to be applied.

What would that tribunal really decide? What are its ground rules?

There are two UN resolutions already on the investigation into the murder. They proclaim that the murder of Hariri was an act of international terrorism, and that requires all members called before the investigation to cooperate under Chapter Seven. So there already was groundwork describing the murder as an act of international terrorism. That’s the most important aspect. This lends support to further action by the United States to establish a tribunal under the same laws. There has been resistance to this by a number of European legal advisers, because they do not like these special courts.

The UN secretary-general seems rather determined to go ahead with this; he talked about going back out to the region again. I guess they’d like to get the Lebanese government itself to call for this tribunal but they’re hamstrung by domestic politics in Lebanon, right?

Yes. So this has led to criticism on the part of the Lebanese opposition and others who say that Lebanon is offshoring its judicial system. Hezbollah and other opponents of the government say this is taking your dirty laundry elsewhere, and it’s not going to help Lebanon build its sovereignty because it’s delegating its sovereignty to this international court. They threaten that it could lead to civil disorder in Lebanon.

Have the Syrians been saying much about this lately?

Syria is opposed to the tribunal.

And they still deny they had anything to do with the assassination.

They deny totally. And what’s been happening in the inter-Arab diplomacy over the last several months is that Saudi Arabia has tried to broker a deal. Syria and the Lebanese opposition say “We don’t like this court because it’s clearly political.” Saudi Arabia has asked them, “Okay, how would you rewrite the mandate of the court in order to make it nonpolitical?” The king of Saudi Arabia asked Bashar al-Assad to “send him some language.” Syria’s president did not send the language. He asked for Prince Bandar [former Saudi ambassador to the United States] to be sent to Syria and he would talk to him about it. The Saudis did not send Bandar. In a sense, they came to loggerheads over this, and where Saudi Arabia stands on this is, of course, a very important issue, because Saudi Arabia is America’s ally, and many observers believed that Saudi Arabia was breaking from the United States on this issue when the Saudi king embraced Bashar al-Assad at the Arab League meeting in Riyadh and called the U.S. occupation of Iraq “illegal.” What’s at stake in the long run is how the United States and Saudi Arabia are going to approach containing Iran.

What does Saudi Arabia want with Syria?

What Saudi Arabia proclaimed at the Arab League meeting seemed to indicate that it was looking to bring Syria back into an Arab consensus, and to contain Iranian influence in the Arab world by breaking Syria’s isolation and trying to woo it away from Iran. This Hariri court stands in the way of that, and Syria has, in a sense, been trying to cut a deal, saying “We can offer you help in Iraq and help with the Palestinian issue, and move away from Iran slightly, if we drop this Hariri investigation.”

Do you think the foreign minister told that to [Secretary of State] Rice? I can’t believe that.

I don’t know if he told that to Rice, but I think that’s the clear dynamic that’s going on between Saudi Arabiaand Syria. In order to containIran, Saudi Arabia understands it needs Arab unity, and most important in that Arab unity is Syria, because Iran’s reach into the Arab world is through Syria. Hezbollah is armed through Syria. The arms come largely from Iran, but arms cannot be sent through the airports, or by ships, because Israeli intelligence will stop them. Therefore, the only way they can get arms intoLebanonis over the mountains and through the valleys of the border of Syria.

So Syria plays in a very important role in this, and as long as the Golan Heights issue with Israel is pending, as long as the United States is trying to isolate Syria, Syria is going to be on the side of Hezbollah and Iran. This is the grand bargain that’s sort of being floated all the time. It’s going to be a conduit for Iran influence in the region. Iran is going to have great influence, and this “Shiite crescent” that people have talked about, Iran allied with a Shiite Iraq, Syria, Hezbollah, is going to be operative.

Is that why Saudi Arabia wants to woo Syria?

If Saudi Arabia wants to shut that off and contain Iran, it needs Syria on its side. America has been pursuing a policy of divide-and-rule in the Arab world, getting moderate Arabs—Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia—to align with Israel and turn decisively against Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah. This is not attractive to Saudi Arabia. That’s why we saw this split at the Arab League meeting in Riyadh, and Saudi Arabia in a sense announcing to the United States, “We’re not on the same page, and we’re not willing to pursue this divide-and-rule because it won’t work.” On the other hand, this court issue is standing in the middle of this, and Saudi Arabia has an interest in defending Lebanon and Hariri.

Publicly, they’re in support of the tribunal, yes?

They are. And they’ve been trying to get a compromise mission worked out, where Syria would accept the tribunal with some watered-down language, or else sacrifice a few of its underlings, essentially admitting that it was at fault, thereby protecting the president. Syria has not budged on this issue, and it has maintained its innocence. It has refused to enter into any of these compromise positions. That leaves Saudi Arabia in a very tough position. Either it sacrifices Lebanon in order to get Syria, or it stands with Lebanon and the United States and continues this isolation of Syria.

Yesterday, in the [Israeli] Knesset committee meeting, the National Security Council head Ilan Mizrahi told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Syria’s move to restart the peace process was authentic, but he says it’s not clear whether they want peace, or whether they just want the peace process. What do you think Syria wants with Israel?

Syria clearly wants the peace process. It’s a win for them because it helps them get out of isolation. I think Syria also wants the peace, so it could get the Golan Heights back, and it’s made it very clear that the only way it will sign off on a peace is if it gets all of the Golan Heights back to the 1967 borders. And this second-track diplomacy [informal talks that were held in the past year] that we saw between Ibrahim Suleiman, a Syrian-American, and Dr. Alon Liel [former director general of the Israel Foreign Ministry] stated that they were willing to create what they call a peace park on most of the Golan. Clearly in those talks, Bashar wants sovereignty; he won’t accept less than the Golan Heights, because Egypt got all of the Sinai and Jordan got all their land [in the deals they made with Israel]. Israel has to trust Syria in order to do that, because Syria of course somewhere down the line could say, “We’re changing the rules of the game” and move troops up. But in the meantime, for Syria the peace negotiations are a win-win, because if they don’t end up with a resolution, Syria has broken out of isolation. If they end up with a resolution, Syria gets the Golan.

Well, to get to Golan, wouldn’t they also have to kick out the Hamas office in Syria?

Yes, they probably would. They would have to change their position toward Israel, and stop supporting Hezbollah, and stop supporting radical Palestinian groups. And this is obviously the trade.

Comments (53)

why-discuss said:

Mr Landis

Why do you think that Saudi Arabia, in order to contain Iran’s influence would want to woe Syria away from Iran? In the contrary, I believe Syria is a very reliable arab ally because of its language, culture and history . Its alliance with Iran allows Syria to play the broker in whatever deal or agreement KSA wants to have with Iran. Syria is the only arab country who can contain Iran!
KSA needs to have an inside eye into the Iranian political plans for the area and Syria plays that role. You are talking about unity of the arabs to face the threat of Iran: I wonder what kind of unity there is among the arab countries?? Contrary to the ineffecient isolation policy of the US, KSA is more realistic.

For the case of the return of the Golan, don’t you think that this, if it happens, will be violently opposed by the Palestinians as they will be left in the cold, if Syria disengage itself from the state of war with Israel. I won’t be surprised if the palestinians are not trying to prevent such a deal.

May 14th, 2007, 8:07 am


MSK said:

The truly interesting question – and the one that Gwertzman, for some strange reason, did NOT ask – would’ve been: Why do you, Prof. Landis, think that the Syrian government is opposed to the Hariri Tribunal? Ya’nii, not “what reasons does the Syrian gov’t give” but what Josh himself thinks.

Now THAT would’ve made the interview interesting.

Josh already said “Syria is opposed to the tribunal.”, followed by “And they still deny they had anything to do with the assassination. — They deny totally.”

Why Gwertzman didn’t immediately follow this up with “Well, if they say they have nothing to do with it, why then the opposition to the tribunal?” is a mystery to me.


May 14th, 2007, 8:10 am


Alex said:


Do you think Joshua knows “who dun it”?
Since he does not know, then he also does not know why the Syrian government is opposed to the tribunal.

May 14th, 2007, 8:21 am


why-discuss said:


The answers are simple:
– Syria, contrary to Lebanon, has consistently opposed any interference from foreign countries in the politics of the area.
-the International tribunal will have lebanese judges ( most probably selected among the anti-syrian crowd) who, it is expected, will be influenced by the vindicative politics in Lebanon. Therefore they may direct the tribunal into a settling of scores with Syria. As an example, the controversial and biased Mehlis report and the subsequent incarceration without proofs of alleged criminals is a clear indication that the “international” justice is not free from political interferences and therefore highly suspicious.
There are more reasons too, I guess

May 14th, 2007, 8:23 am


Alex said:


No need for more reasons … with the WMD evidence, Mehlis circus, Chirac’s “Israel can you please bomb Syria?”, and Bush and the state department every week expressing how sad they are because Syria is not a democracy … I think there is enough clowns in the international justice to make Syria decide to avoid it at all costs.

Ya’nii .. it is obvious by now the wonderful intentions of Mr. Chirac who spent part of his last day at work trying one last time to put pressure on other leaders to make sure they punish Syria after he is gone.

May 14th, 2007, 8:30 am


MSK said:


First of all, while I appreciate your answer, I would really like to get Josh’s answer to this.

As for your points, #1 is a fair one, but #2 is pure speculation. Plus, going by your logic ALL legal procedures in the MidEast are highly suspicious … should the judicional branch of every MidEastern country be shut down or put on halt until they are free from political interference?


May 14th, 2007, 8:33 am


MSK said:

Ya Alex,

you didn’t understand my first post.

I didn’t say “I wish Josh would finally say who killed Hariri.” I said that I am very interested in Josh’s ideas on why the Syrian gov’t is opposed to the tribunal.

So, dear fellow commenters, by all means keep discussing the issue, but my question was (& remains) to be directed at Josh.


May 14th, 2007, 8:36 am


why-discuss said:


Good example of the biased view of the international organisation toward the Middle east are
– the alleged WMD of Iraq resulting in a crime against humanity of hundred of thousands of death and displaced, without any condamnation or an International Tribunal called to judge the culprits!
– The alleged WMD of Iran used to disrupt and frigten the Gulf countries so they jump on the lap of the US etc..

There are so many examples of how the UN and international organization have been used and corrupted by imperialist agendas that its credibility of being an impartial judge is seriously undermined.
You may be an optimistic or a idealistic but these are the facts.
I share Syria’s and other countries view that this International Tribunal could turn out to be more problems for the area if it is played the same way the Mehlis report and the WMD fantasies haved been played in the UN!

May 14th, 2007, 8:47 am


Alex said:

Ya MSK : )

If you read what I wrote, it has two parts

1) Joshua does not know who killed Hariri
2) therefore he also can not answer your question about why the Syrians are opposed to the tribunal.

Because if the Syrians did it.. then the reason they are opposed to the tribunal is obviously to run away from being caught.

But if the Syrians did not do it, then the reason they are opposed to the tribunal is the one I wrote earlier … the exceptional interest in this particular murder comes from one thing and one thing only … to try to get rid of the Syrian regime … regardless of who killed Hariri.

May 14th, 2007, 8:49 am


MSK said:

Ya Alex,

Allahu ma’ al-saabiriin. I’ll wait for Josh to answer.


May 14th, 2007, 9:16 am


G said:

What a disgrace. An American academic openly advocating the sell-out of a country to a murderous regime (the entire interview boils down to “give Lebanon back to Syria”), the dismantling of UN Security Council resolutions and the instruments of international justice, pushing the worse kind of appeasement, and whitewashing murderers.

How much they paying you? Actually, since they’re broke, you must be giving them a freebie.

May 14th, 2007, 12:18 pm


why-discuss said:

G, your trust in Security Resolutions is naive: Look at what Iran has done with security resolutions, look what Israel has done with the security resolutions. The Security council is NOT the Good Superman you seem to think of. The only thing that can protect a country is the unity around the Constitution and compromises. Unfortunately with the Constitution of Lebanon being treated like a kitchen cloth, Lebanon looks more and more like a LIBANANA republic!

May 14th, 2007, 1:43 pm


Jason said:


Why-Discuss and Alex’s arguments make sense.

Whether Syria was involved in the assassination of Harri or not is irrelevant to this argument. The US is not interested in uncovering who was involved in the assassination. The only thing that the US is interested in is getting this tribunal out of Lebanon so that the US can have a major influence in the findings of the tribunal. This is the reason why the Lebanese opposition and the Syrian government oppose an international tribunal, clearly. Landis hints to this fact without actually saying it, although others make the same argument.

There are several quotes in the interview that support this argument. The major quote, “Syria and the Lebanese opposition say “We don’t like this court because it’s clearly political.””
This is true and cannot be ignored.

The US has labeled this assassination an act of “international terrorism” and will no doubt look to burn Syria and Hezbollah if the tribunal leaves Lebanon, regardless of any factual involvements, and both Syria and Hezbollah know this. Honestly, I’m tired of the “terrorism” card being played by the US and its allies to justify their actions. The card has been overplayed in Iraq, Israel, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Russia…take your pic.

The assassination is a Lebanese issue that needs to be solved by the Lebanese if the internal political situation can be reconciled. US credibility in the Middle East is ZERO, which leaves one to stop and question US motivations and interests, and rightfully so. I’m an American and I would question US motivations as well.

May 14th, 2007, 2:08 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

Syria is willing to split from Iran,will help USA to win in Iraq,will close Hamas offices,will abandon HA in Lebanon, will give up on Golan heights,will make peace with Isreal, just please drop the Hariri investigations
If this is not admitting guilt,what else could it be?
this must be the end.

May 14th, 2007, 2:49 pm


Alex said:

Majed, you know that none of this is true. There won’t be any dramatic changes in Syria’s relations to all its friends and allies. If Syria was really willing to submit to pressure you would have seen it happen already in early 2006 when the Syrians were at their weakest point. If they did not sell out then, they will not sell out now… if you talk to them you would understand just how confident they are.
Dagan: Assad deal will not end Syrian support of Hezbollah

May 14th, 2007, 3:07 pm


G said:

OH I see, so Alex is admitting that Landis is consciously lying to his audience! Thanks Alex. Somehow we all knew that he was lying. That’s what he does.

May 14th, 2007, 3:12 pm


why-discuss said:

G what are you talking about? who is lying to who?
You seem to see everything in a good guys against bad guys. Maybe you like Bush’s manichean view of the world: The good ones being the US and its wonderfully democratic-kingdom allies: Egypt, KSA, Jordan etc.. and the bad guys who don’t obey blindly Uncle Sam: Iran, Syrian , Hezbollah… A view that is showing its crack as the US will talk to the Axis of Evil Iran to get help in the murderous mess they have created in Irak, after having creating a monster : Saddam Hossein.

May 14th, 2007, 3:36 pm


Atassi said:

saying “We can offer you help in Iraq and help with the Palestinian issue, and move away from Iran slightly, if we drop this Hariri investigation.”

What he meant ” We will Stop the stealthily and below the radar instigations in the Iraq conflict, We will stop meddling in the Palestinian affair, and stop the proliferatcation of the Shiia crescent into Syria”
This is pathetic!!

May 14th, 2007, 3:36 pm


Jason said:


I’m assuming when you talk about “An American academic openly advocating the sell-out of a country to a murderous regime” you are referring to the Hama massacre? In a sense you’re right, and I will give you that, but Landis does not support a “murderous regime” and to say so is ignorant and rude. This tragic massacre was a terrible event, but your argument is weak. What regime is not murderous? If this is the case, the US should end all relations with Israel and isolate them for their crimes against humanity. Your argument is lacking and basically non-existant.

May 14th, 2007, 3:43 pm


why-discuss said:

Bashar collaborated with Brammertz for the investigations. If he seriously wanted to block the investigation, he could have find ways to boycott it as he did with Mehlis-007.
Bashar is opposed to the international tribunal and for good reasons in view of the poor credibility of the UN after the fiasco of the Iraq war and the cat and mouse game on Iran’s nuclear ambitions. He never stated that he was against the Hariri’s murder investigation. Can anyone show me where he said so?
He is playing his cards vey well as now the US is courting him to help them in Iraq and Saudi courting him to play the broker with ‘threatening’ Iran. You may think he is stupid but I think he is very cunning…

May 14th, 2007, 4:07 pm


Atassi said:

Where have you been dude? Did you just wake-up after a longe long sleep!! Many events occurred after the Hama massacre!!
and forget the Israel did this and Israel did that CD.

May 14th, 2007, 4:08 pm


Jason said:


Oh I totally agree with you. I don’t play the “Israel did this Israel did that card,” because that argument is irrelevant. You must have misunderstood what I wrote. I dont agree with people making arguments based on the “murderous” historical events of other countries, because the argument is pointless and gets nowhere, simply because all regimes have had their murderous incidents. I was responding to G’s post.

May 14th, 2007, 4:22 pm


Jason said:

And yes I understand there have been events since Hama.

May 14th, 2007, 4:24 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

thank you,and I agree with you, I feel that the USA is just about getting defeated in Iraq,and I feel that Syria will win the heart of Iraqi people,the defeat of USA is a defeat of the traitors in the middle east like the kings,and Mubarak they really are half men,they lost their testosteron long time ago.

May 14th, 2007, 4:41 pm


China Hand said:

As I recall, Chapter VII actions come in different flavors: article 41 for pressure excluding armed force and 42 for the kitchen sink including armed force. I would imagine that Chinese and Russian opposition to a section 42 sanction would be absolute (they declined to support them for Iran or North Korea), which leaves economic sanctions. So I would amend Josh’s comment to coercive “economic” force.

May 14th, 2007, 5:13 pm


ausamaa said:

From the above interview:

Well, to get to Golan, wouldn’t they also have to kick out the Hamas office in Syria?

Yes, they probably would. They would have to change their position toward Israel, and stop supporting Hezbollah, and stop supporting radical Palestinian groups. And this is obviously the trade.

Josh, do you “really” think that Syria will get the Golan if it did the above? Would the Palestinans also get the West Bank and Gaza if they stopped resisting Israel’s occupation?

May 14th, 2007, 6:00 pm


EHSANI2 said:

BEIRUT (AP)–Lebanon’s prime minister formally asked the U.N. Security
Council Monday to impose an international tribunal to prosecute suspects in the
assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Prime Minister Fuad Saniora sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban
Ki-Moon asking that the tribunal be established, Information Minister Ghazi
Aridi told reporters. The request follows Saniora’s failure to win opposition
support for the tribunal.
Saniora’s move, which effectively bypasses the divided legislature, is bound
to further deepen a fierce power struggle between the prime minister’s
Western-backed government and the Hezbollah-led opposition.
The issue of an international tribunal that would try suspects in the 2005
assassination of Hariri has sharply polarized Lebanon. It is at the core of a
deep political crisis between the government and opposition groups – a conflict
that has taken on an increasingly sectarian tone and erupted into street
battles, killing 11 people in recent months.

May 14th, 2007, 7:54 pm


Bakri said:

Ex-arab league envoy Clovis Maksoud offers his take on Lebanon’s problems – and the region’s

May 15th, 2007, 12:00 am


Nur al-Cubicle said:

Wow. The US wants to equate the Hariri assassination with 9-11! Give me a break. Heads of government are assassinated all the time!

May 15th, 2007, 12:08 am


Nur al-Cubicle said:

It should be recalled that Iran and Syria have been collaborating for years against Turkish geostrategic ambitions.

Israel’s control of the Golan is confirmation of its status as the region’s superpower and there is no way that Israel will give it up. Why, it would represent “compromise”…and then, why Israel would have to “compromise” with the Palestinians! Can’t have that. Rabin meditated it…look what happened to him!

May 15th, 2007, 12:24 am


norman said:

The Lebanese hatred of Syria is blinding them and will lead to the destruction of Lebanon for the sake of Harreri and the US , I hope they wake up before it is too late as Syria will not role over and die for anybody’s interest.

Expect the summer to be hot in the Midleast.

May 15th, 2007, 12:41 am


norman said:

قال لـ القدس العربي ان نائب الرئيس الامريكي لا يعتبر ورطة بلاده في العراق عائقاً.. وانباء عن وساطة اماراتية
مصدر دبلوماسي: احتمالات الحرب مع ايران باتت الأرجح بعد جولة تشيني


لندن ـ القدس العربي :
اختتم ديك تشيني نائب الرئيس الامريكي امس جولته في المنطقة العربية التي بدأت بالعراق وشملت عواصم دول الرباعية العربية مصر والاردن والمملكة العربية السعودية ودولة الامارات العربية المتحدة، وسط حرب كلامية مع الرئيس الايراني محمود احمدي نجاد الذي شن هجوماً دبلوماسياً مضاداً تمثل في زيارتين مفاجئتين احداهما لدولة الامارات والثانية لسلطنة عمان.
مصادر دبلوماسية عربية عالية المستوي كانت قريبة من مباحثات تشيني اكدت لـ القدس العربي ان احتمالات الحرب باتت اكثر رجحاناً من احتمالات السلام في المنطقة بعد جولة نائب الرئيس الامريكي، وان اللقاءات المتوقعة بين الجانبين الايراني والامريكي في بغداد قد تكون الفرصة الاخيرة لتجنب المواجهات العسكرية.
واشارت الي ان تشيني كان يتحدث الي قادة دول الخليج الذين التقاهم بلهجة الواثق والمطمئن في الوقت نفسه، مؤكدا لهم ان تورط بلاده في العراق لا يعني انها في موقف ضعف ولا تستطيع شن حرب اخري ضد ايران.
وكان تشيني قد تفقد قوات بلاده في كل من العراق ومنطقة الخليج اثناء جولته الاخيرة، وتعمد اللقاء بالجنود الامريكيين علي ظهر حاملة طائرات امريكية والتأكيد بلهجة حاسمة ان الولايات المتحدة لن تسمح بامتلاك ايران اسلحة نووية، وان خيار الهجوم العسكري ليس مستبعداً.
وقد رد الرئيس الايراني احمدي نجاد بالتهديد برد شديد اذا ما هاجمت الولايات المتحدة بلاده، وقال في مؤتمر صحافي عقده في ابوظبي يدركون انهم اذا اقدموا علي هذا الخطأ فرد ايران سيكون شديداً وسيندمون ، واضاف كل الناس يعرفون انهم لا يستطيعون ضربنا. ايران قادرة علي الدفاع عن نفسها، انها دولة قوية، والقوي العظمي لا تستطيع منعنا من امتلك الطاقة النووية .
ولوحظ ان الدول الخليجية بدأت فعلاً تبحث عن بدائل لمضيق هرمز لتصدير نفطها الي الخارج، وهناك مقترحات بمد خط انابيب الي البحر الاحمر، او بحر العرب عبر اليمن، بسبب مخاوف من احتمالات اغلاق هذا المضيق الذي يمر عبره 18 مليون برميل يومياً. ويتوقع محللون غربيون ان يستهدف الرد الانتقامي الايراني في حال تعرض ايران لهجوم امريكي، اغلاق هذا المضيق وضرب القواعد الامريكية واحراق آبار النفط في الخليج علاوة علي قصف اسرائيل بالصواريخ سواء من قبل ايران مباشرة او من خلال حزب الله اللبناني او الاثنين معا.
وقال المصدر العربي نفسه ان تشيني اعرب عن اعتقاده بان ضرب ايران ربما يكون افضل المخارج من ورطة بلاده في العراق، لان طهران هي صاحبة اكبر نفوذ في هذا البلد، ومصدر تسليح ميليشياته، واضاف المصدر ان التقديرات الامريكية لا تتوقع انتقاما شيعيا عراقيا يستهدف قوات بلادها في حال اندلاع الحرب مع ايران، بل ربما يحدث العكس تماما، اي ان تستغل فصائل وحركات مقاومة سنية الهجوم الامريكي علي ايران من اجل تصفية حساباتها مع الفئة الحاكمة حاليا في بغداد بدعم امريكا وحمايتها. واشار المصدر الي ان تشيني طلب من حلفائه في السعودية ومصر والاردن والامارات طمأنة الجماعات السنية في العراق، ومحاولة كسبها الي الجانب الامريكي، وايصال رسالة لها بان الولايات المتحدة فقدت الثقة تماما بالسيد نوري المالكي وحكومته لفشلها في ضبط الاوضاع الامنية وتحقيق المصالحة الوطنية واعطاء دور اكبر للسنة في عملية صنع القرار.
وقال المصدر ان تشيني طمأن قادة دول الخليج ان مفاعل بوشهر النووي الايراني الواقع علي الشاطيء الآخر من الخليج لن يتعرض للضرب لانه ليست له اي قيمة او خطورة، ولوجود خبراء روس فيه، وحتي لو تعرض للقصف الامريكي في حال حدوث حرب فانه لن يسبب اي تلوث لمياه الخليج لعدم وجود بلوتونيوم مخصب فيه.
وكانت الدول الخليجية التي تحصل علي حوالي تسعين في المئة من المياه من محطات التحلية المقامة علي شواطيء الخليج اعربت للمسؤولين الامريكيين عن مخاوفها من مواجهتها ازمة مياه خانقة في حال حدوث تسرب اشعاعي نووي يلوث مياه الخليج في اي مواجهة مع ايران.
وشدد المصدر نفسه علي ان مباحثات تشيني في العواصم الاربع التي زارها تركزت علي الملفين العراقي والايراني فقط، ولم تتطرق مطلقا الي ملف الصراع العربي ـ الاسرائيلي، وفسر ذلك علي ان هناك تبادلا للادوار بين تشيني والسيدة كوندوليزا رايس، حيث بات دور الاخيرة مقتصرا علي الملف الاسرائيلي ـ الفلسطيني.
وتتردد في ابوظبي حاليا تكهنات قوية بان السيد نجاد طلب وساطة دولة الامارات العربية المتحدة مع واشنطن حول ازمة المفاعل النووي، وانه قدم افكارا جديدة في هذا الخصوص سيحملها وفد اماراتي الي واشنطن في اليومين القادمين يرأسه الشيخ محمد بن زايد ولي العهد والقائد العام للقوات المسلحة في ابوظبي. وقد غادر الوفد فعلا الي العاصمة الامريكية ومن بين ابرز اعضائه الشيخ عبد الله بن زايد وزير الخارجية.
وقلل مسؤول من دولة الامارات من اهمية هذه التكهنات وقال ان زيارة الوفد مقررة قبل زيارة نجاد الاخيرة لدولة الامارات.


May 15th, 2007, 1:50 am


Souri said:

You are not an expert on Syrian affairs.
What you said is EALAK علاك .

May 15th, 2007, 2:14 am


norman said:

Actualy he is and more than any other , even Syrians.

May 15th, 2007, 2:45 am


Souri said:

No he is not.

May 15th, 2007, 3:02 am


Akbar Palace said:

Question to Professor Josh:

Well, to get to Golan, wouldn’t they also have to kick out the Hamas office in Syria?

Professor Josh replies:

Yes, they probably would. They would have to change their position toward Israel, and stop supporting Hezbollah, and stop supporting radical Palestinian groups. And this is obviously the trade.

Professor Josh,

During the famous handshake on the White House lawn, didn’t they say the same thing about Yassir Arafat? That good ‘ol Yassir would have to “stop supporting radical Palestinian groups”? LOL!

“Fool me once…”

Why-Discuss discusses the Golan:

For the case of the return of the Golan, don’t you think that this, if it happens, will be violently opposed by the Palestinians as they will be left in the cold, if Syria disengage itself from the state of war with Israel. I won’t be surprised if the palestinians are not trying to prevent such a deal.


The Holy Palestinians are quite busy killing each other right now and so they’re a bit too pre-occupied to protest to the Assad family inheritance. Meanwhile, the Assad’s are busy putting in the final details of their modernization plan to the great Syrian Nation. Oh yes, the Syrian government is also very busy getting the jihadists armed in Lebanon and Iraq.

Too much important work still remains.

May 15th, 2007, 3:02 am


ausamaa said:

And we can presume that Ehud Olmert and other Israeli leaders are very busy paving the roads to peace and justice in the area as they have been doing since 1948!

May 15th, 2007, 5:14 am


Joe M. said:

Professor Landis,

Why do you continue to use the language of calling the governments of Jordan, Egypt and Saudi “moderate Arabs”? The only way they can be considered “moderate” as a group is from an America and Israeli perspective of their political positions. Are Israel and the USA “moderate” causes? You might think it is a little point, but you constantly use this language, and i think it is symptomatic of a bias you have. Even though I often find myself in agreement with your opinions, I am a bit troubled by this. It seems to me that you are accepting American domination with statements like these. I hope you will stop doing it in the future.


May 15th, 2007, 5:26 am


Alex said:


Professor Josh,

During the famous handshake on the White House lawn, didn’t they say the same thing about Yassir Arafat? That good ‘ol Yassir would have to “stop supporting radical Palestinian groups”? LOL!

“Fool me once…”

Did the Palestinians get their state?

Both Israel and the Palestinians did not do everything they were supposed to… and I won’t get into “who is to blame more”…

May 15th, 2007, 6:12 am


ausamaa said:


Why are you being so shy about “who is to blame more”???

Blame the “ones” who came from the four different points of the Globe, stole the land and forced millions of its occupants to flee, and subjected the remainder of the population to one of the crulest occupations in modern times. And then claimed….ha ha ha.. Democracy and Civility!!!!!

May 15th, 2007, 10:04 am


Akbar Palace said:

ausamaa said:

And we can presume that Ehud Olmert and other Israeli leaders are very busy paving the roads to peace and justice in the area as they have been doing since 1948!

Yes, you can presume that Olmert and other Israeli leaders have already paved the roads to peace and justice. If other ME sheikdoms and thugocracies had their roads paved to peace and justice as well as the Israelis, you wouldn’t be posting on this website.

Alex asks:

Did the Palestinians get their state?


The answer is that the Palestinians already have a state, as violent and unjust as it is. I think the question you should ask is: “Has terrorism helped the Palestinian cause?”

Both Israel and the Palestinians did not do everything they were supposed to… and I won’t get into “who is to blame more”…


I’m not sure what you mean. Creating a nation-state is not easy business. And what these nacent states are “supposed to” do is usually not something you find in an instruction booklet. I think what they’re supposed to do is defend themselves, create a viable government, economy, and eventually, peace.

Personally, I think Palestine will attain that stature once all this jihadist nonsense gets solved.



A question for Nasrallah and Haniyeh:

“Parlez-vous francais?”

May 15th, 2007, 11:07 am


AL-SYASY said:

خدام يعلن التوبة ويطلب العودة الى دمشق
الكاتب/ صحيفة المدار
Monday, 14 May 2007
خدام يعلن التوبة ويطلب العودة الى دمشق المدار السنة الرابعة العدد 172- السبت 12-5-2007 بعث نائب الرئيس السوري السابق عبد الحليم خدام والموجود حاليا في احدى ضواحي باريس برسالة مطولة الى القيادة السورية يعتذر فيها عن كل ما صدر عنه من مواقف وتصريحات أساءت الى سوريا وشعبها . وقال مصدر مقرب من خدام —-أن خدام عبر في رسالته بصفحاتها العشر عن الندم لما سببه من مشاكل لبلده نتجت عن تلفيقات كان مصدرها بعض السياسيين اللبنانيين والخليجيين . وأضاف المصدر أن خدام أبدى استعداه للعودة الى دمشق والاعلان عن موقفه الجديد مقابل توقف الملاحقات القضائية بحقه وحق اولاده .

It seems that Europe (France) is loosing the battle for Lebanon against the Americans.

May 15th, 2007, 12:29 pm


norman said:

Syria should take him back to decrease the outside presure , forgivness is a sign of strength.

May 15th, 2007, 1:29 pm


EHSANI2 said:

Al-Mustaqbal TV will host Khaddam on wedensday. It has been suggested that he will accuse Bashar personally rather than Syria the country with Hariri’s murder.

May 15th, 2007, 2:32 pm


norman said:

Lebanon president warns U.N. over Hariri court
Tuesday, May 15, 2007; 11:48 AM

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanese President Emile Lahoud warned the United Nations on Tuesday against setting up a tribunal for suspects in the 2005 killing of former premier Rafik al-Hariri.

In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Lahoud said there could be renewed instability in Lebanon if the U.N. Security Council moved to set up the court as requested by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.


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Siniora wrote to Ban on Monday urging the United Nations to form the tribunal unilaterally because he said efforts to secure full Lebanese approval had hit a dead end.

Lahoud said any move by the Security Council to set up the tribunal unilaterally “would imply a full bypass of the constitutional mechanisms in Lebanon.”

That “would not only threaten Lebanon’s stability … but would as well hamper the court’s judicial capacities to hold an impartial trial,” wrote Lahoud, quoting from a letter he sent to Ban in February.

Siniora was “falsifying facts to drag the Security Council … into siding with one Lebanese party against the other,” he added.

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has refused to convene parliament to approve the court plans because he, like Lahoud, considers Siniora’s government unconstitutional.

Both Berri and Lahoud are allies of Syria. Lebanese leaders who back Siniora’s government accuse them of acting on Syrian orders to derail the court. They accuse Damascus of the Hariri killing, which was followed by attacks on other anti-Syrian figures. Syria denies involvement.

The opposition, which also includes pro-Syria Hezbollah, have said they accept the idea of the court but fear it will be used as a political tool and want to discuss its mandate.

The United States, which backs Siniora, said last week it would push for the court’s creation.

Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs David Welch arrived in Beirut on Tuesday and is expected to discuss the tribunal with Lebanese leaders.

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May 15th, 2007, 4:23 pm


norman said:

The real axis of evil
North Korea, Iran and Syria, three pariah nations, comprise a real threat
Now they are preparing for war against Syria and Iran.

May 15th, 2007, 6:22 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

Death of Jerry falwell,is a loss to G.Bush

May 15th, 2007, 6:31 pm


Alex said:

I hate to be this inconsiderate, but God certainly does not seem to be rewarding the extremists from all sides.

I hope that in the future, those who seek military solutions to conclude conflicts to their liking would think twice before they assume that God wants them to go for it.

May 15th, 2007, 6:38 pm


norman said:

Alex ,
Unfortionatly extreemists do not see that.
When people do to others what they like done to them there will be no war.

May 15th, 2007, 6:51 pm


Atassi said:

From: a patriotic Syrian expatriate
To: Syrian regime
Subject: the facts after the expatriate conference

Twenty some years ago I, Left my dear home land Syria seeking a good education and quest for new life aboard. That was the time when your late father was ruling the county and the Hama rule was the name of the game then, and the fear factor was the dominate shadow over the streets of every city in Syria.
As one of the post 1967 and Post Hama generation. I experienced the fear factor that ruled the streets of every city in our country; I seen the oppressed people making the choices of leaving if they can, give-up the emotion and stay numb or rotten and die from torture or sickness in the regime prisons.
And most of us were emotionally hurt by the losses of the Golan to the repeated defeats to our external enemies.
As a patriotic Syrian, I no longer will be silent about these human right abuses and imprisoning of the free dissidents. Our Syria in dire needs of new rules and principle. Our Country Syria crying loud for fair, civil liberties, and above all rules of law.
This reckless and irrational path our country marching on, will not be granting its citizens the security or prosperity needed to keep it form becoming failed state.
Our country asking for a political compromise that would take the heat and pressure out, ease the tensions between the regime and free people and unite the Syrians against the incoming storm.
Our county must shake the ugly past and gaze at the future ahead.

My Best Regards,

May 15th, 2007, 6:52 pm


bilal said:


This Almanar is a tool in the Syrian regime hand. Khaddam will never write such a letter. I hope in his interview tomorrow he will tell us more how he is going to liberate Syria from the Assad Regime.

May 15th, 2007, 7:19 pm


Jamal said:


My heart feels every word you say here. Thank you for putting it so eloquently.

In Syria there is too much waste. Wasted time, wasted resources, wasted opportunities and worst of all a waste of the most valuable thing human resources.

Your comments would not make sense to the Syrian regime. One, they are not patriotic Syrians like you, the extreme opposite. And two, they are stupid criminals who could never understand the idea of “rule of law” or “civil liberties”, even if explained to them in words to teach a 10-year old (but the 10-year old would get it).

What you write makes me feel very emotional and angry at the situation.

I worry that a failed state would not scare Syria’s “leaders” personally, it would be their idea of a good time – a world of fear and violence and chaos and looting where you can freely kill anyone who gets in your way and boast about being a big warlord.

May 15th, 2007, 8:42 pm


AL-SYASY said:

the article was in al-madar not almanar, khadam is an agent working for europe and assad is an agent working for the americans. if u want to disscuss u and mr Landis the crisis in Lebanon please talk about the real players (France and the US) and dont waste ur time talking about small agents like assad and hizbullah and hariri and khaddam….etc taking their orders from the real players in a silly play.

May 15th, 2007, 8:58 pm


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