Carter Blasts Feltman

Josh Hersh, in the New Yorker (Thanks FLC)

“… Perhaps the only thing Carter hadn’t found time for, of late, was an epic e-mail from Jeffrey Feltman, the State Department’s envoy to Syria—“It’s this long,” Carter said, spreading his hands wide as if he were taking measure of a prize fish. Carter, who has been outspoken in his support for more American engagement with the Syrian regime, and groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, which are on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations, has a particular disdain for Feltman, who as Ambassador to Lebanon during the Bush Administration, consistently antagonized Syria. “For some ungodly reason, when Hillary decided to send some representative to Syria they picked out Feltman,” he said.

Carter praised Obama for his recent speech in Cairo but stopped short of agreeing with those who claimed it had helped March 14 win the election. Instead, he credited much of the progress to Obama’s “general attitude toward this region” and “the favorable attitudes that people now have toward the United States.

As for the future of Hezbollah, Carter said, “Oh, I don’t think Hezbollah’s going to create any problems for Obama, or for Lebanon. I think they’re satisfied to maintain the status quo.” This may be optimistic. Carter said, “We’ve met with Hariri, we’ve met with other leaders today, and I think that withdrawing weapons from Hezbollah is out of the question. I don’t think they’re going to even bring it up. And that’s the main thing that Hezbollah wants.”

Helena Cobban of Just World News writes:

With Mitchell now due to be in Syria either Friday or Saturday you can find the transcribed highlights of my June 4 interview with FM Walid Moualem here. You can find the news-analysis piece I did on this for IPS here:

Talking To: Blogger Elias Muhanna
Elias Muhanna talks about his blog, “Qifa Nabki,” and the election results

UPI: “Syria ‘ready to help,’ officials say”

I am very eager to see a real improvement in our relations with Washington,” said Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem in an interview with Foreign Affairs magazine. “But nothing has happened yet.” Moallem acknowledged the Washington sanction decision was based on Syrian support, along with Iran, for the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas. “But it’s very strange that you condemn me as a ‘terrorist’ at the same time as you call on me to help you combat terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere,” he said, referring to Washington. “It doesn’t make sense!” He noted, however, that Damascus was ready to step forward to act as a possible intermediary regarding Washington concerns over Iranian proxies and its controversial nuclear program. “We are ready to help,” he said.

Will Syria play key role in Obama’s Mideast peace efforts? US envoy Mitchell was in Egypt Thursday, and arrives in Damascus Friday. Syrians hope for a new rapprochement under an Obama administration.
By Julien Barnes-Dacey in CSM

Comments (72)

Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Someone, please tell Mr. Mu’alem that with Pharaoh Obama the first
now in power, it is no longer appropriate to use the ‘Terrorism’ word.

From now on, one has to use the ‘violent extremist’ expression.
no excuses will be accepted.!

June 12th, 2009, 12:21 am


offended said:

سيادة العماد أول مصطفى طلاس وزير الدفاع السوري السابق أثناء استعراض تذكاراته و مقتنياته الأثرية لقناة روسيا اليوم: “هذه مغنية بلغارية اسمها مونيكا” قال مشيرا إلى لوحة زيتية “قلت لها اشلحي قبعتك حتى نتباهى, فقالت لي قبعتي جزء من أناقتي, مستعدة أشلح كل شيء ما عدا قبعتي, فقلت لها لا بأس, في هذه الحالة لم تعد لدي مشكلة”

June 12th, 2009, 6:56 am


trustquest said:

Stump the chump,
Moallem said: “We are ready to help,”
When poor Moallem will learn not to play the Iranian card, Iran had asked him twice before to come to Iran and in made him and his boss declare in press conferences that Syria can not play an intermediary between Washington and Iran. All I wish is people in Syria can talk to remind him and his boss of their repetitive mistakes.
But we should commend him on his forthcoming and begging for improving relation with Washington and here is the big difference between the Iranian policy and the Syrian policy. But one should mention that with elections all around the dictator ( Iran, Lebanon, Europe, Morocco, …) you wonder for how long this regime will survive.

June 12th, 2009, 11:54 am


yaser said:

to put more pressure to obtain a change in policy you have to reach out in the right way , I think Mitchell’s visit to Syria is an indication that the U.S is more relaxed now (after the elections results in Lebanon) and can now consider/afford to start a dialogue with Syria , but make no mistake ; Syrian influence in Lebanon is not the same as it was before and many bargaining advantages has been lost (and many others squandered ) , that leads to the question : is the U.S better off , just by keeping the not-so-helpful Syrian role on a leash , and not by involving in a not so gratifying rapproachment ,as Syria will not have much to offer in this particular juncture ?
and , will it be more plausible to consider other alternatives (what happened to America’s support for oppostion figures )?
I am putting those questions because I don’t see this visit in any other form except a photo op .
P.S thanks for those who responded to my comment in the last post .

June 12th, 2009, 12:29 pm


norman said:

Obama envoy in Syria on revived peace push
Thu Jun 11, 11:41 pm ET

DAMASCUS (AFP) – US Middle East envoy George Mitchell is due to arrive in Syria amid renewed efforts to revive stalled Middle East peace talks a week after President Barack Obama reached out to the Muslim world.

As part of a tour of the region and on his first visit to Damascus, Mitchell is set to pursue the Obama administration’s cautious pursuit of diplomatic engagement with Syria in a bid to promote Arab-Israeli peace.

The US envoy heads to the Syrian capital after a brief visit to Beirut, where he was to hold talks Friday morning with Lebanese officials following elections June 7 that saw a pro-West coalition defeat a Hezbollah-led alliance.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters in Washington that Mitchell’s trip to Syria and Lebanon is partly a “follow-up” to Obama’s speech in Cairo last week and that Washington rated it a “very high priority.”

The Obama administration has been cautiously pursuing diplomatic engagement with Syria, which has long had strained ties with Washington, in a bid to promote peace in the Middle East.

Jeffrey Feltman, the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, and National Security Council Senior Director Daniel Shapiro visited Damascus last month for a second visit since Obama took office in January.

In Cairo on Thursday after visiting Israel and the West Bank, Mitchell urged Arab states to take “meaningful steps and important actions” to make peace with Israel, following talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit.

However Abul Gheit stressed that Israel should first take its own “serious” steps such as ending Jewish settlements — a key stumbling block — and reducing its military occupation of the West Bank before Arab states act.

“We are working hard to achieve our objective, a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, including a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel,” Mitchell told reporters in the Egyptian capital.

This includes “peace between Israel and its other immediate neighbours and full normalisation of relations between Israel and all of the Arab nations as contemplated by the Arab peace initiative,” he said.

The 2002 initiative, backed by all 22 Arab League members, offers Israel normalisation of ties in return for a withdrawal from territory occupied in the 1967 war, a Palestinian state and an equitable solution to the Palestinian refugee problem.

Mitchell was speaking a week to the day after Obama vowed in Cairo to forge a “new beginning” for Islam and America in a landmark speech to the world’s Muslims, promising to purge years of “suspicion and discord.”

In Damascus, former US president Jimmy Carter — fresh from Lebanon for last Sunday’s general election — said on Thursday he believed Washington could lift sanctions on Syria and upgrade ties to ambassador level.

Washington first imposed economic sanctions on Syria in 2004 over charges that it was a state sponsor of terrorism, and they have been extended several times since.

Ties deteriorated after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the assassination of Lebanese former prime minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005.

Washington recalled its ambassador in February 2005 following Hariri’s murder which was blamed on Syria, and no decision on a replacement has yet been taken.

Ahead of Mitchell’s trip to Lebanon and Syria he flew to Amman on Thursday for talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, a key player in efforts to steer the Middle East peace process back on track.

Copyright © 2009 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.Questions or CommentsPrivacy PolicyTerms of ServiceCopyright/IP Policy

June 12th, 2009, 1:17 pm


why-discuss said:

Is Syria ripe for a peace treaty?
Syria has been weakened by the loss of Lebanon as an ally with connections to the West and the sanctions are putting more pressure on the economy. It may face a different and weaker support from Iran on Hamas and Hezbollah if Mehdi Karoubi is elected as he has expressed that Irans’ priority should be its people and not Hamas and Hezbollah. Bashar al Assad is now showing again his interest in renewed negotiations with Israel. It seems Syria is ripe (and in a hurry) for a peace treaty with Israel with all the benefits that may come with it. The Lebanon card ( and Hezbollah) seems lost and the Iran card may not last very long. Lebanon with its internal divisions and its 500,000 palestinians refugees may find itself with not many cards for negotiations with Israel.

June 12th, 2009, 3:50 pm


Alex said:


Syria did not lose Lebanon…. just like Syria did not lose Lebanon when it agreed in 1989 to allow the Saudis to appoint Rafiq Hariri (a Saudi) as prime minister of Lebanon.

Walid Jumblatt today spoke about his mistakes in being aggressive in criticizing Bashar Assad in the past and he said that Syria is Lebanon’s natural depth and he said that 1559 was the worst thing to happen to Lebanon … and that all that must be put behind them as they all work together as one …

June 12th, 2009, 5:53 pm


Alex said:

UPDATE: Mousavi Personally Claims Victory In Iran Election
2009-06-12 19:25:10.78 GMT

TEHRAN (AFP)–Reformist former premier Mir Hossein Mousavi claimed that he
had won a landslide victory in Iran’s presidential election on Friday.
“In line with the information we have received, I am the winner of this
election by a substantial margin,” Mousavi told a news conference in Tehran.
Only minutes earlier, close Mousavi aide Ali Akbar Mohatshemi-Pour told AFP
his candidate had won 65% of the vote.
“According to the information received from provinces and from Tehran,
Mousavi has got 65% of the votes cast,” he said.
Mousavi has been running a neck-and-neck race with incumbent Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, who is seeking a second four-year term.
Speaking to journalists in Tehran, Mousavi noted what he said was an
extraordinary turnout, including by “people who had never voted.
“Everyone saw that. We had queues of people waiting two or three hours to
vote. This is the sign of hope that with one vote an election can change. I
thank Iranians for this.”
Even so, Mousavi said, there were problems.
“We have seen that in certain cities like Shiraz, Isfahan and Tehran there
was a shortage of ballots and some of our headquarters were attacked,” he said.

“With the support of the people, I will pursue these illegal acts in court.”
“We expect the vote count to be done properly so that afterwards we can
organize a celebration.
“The will of the people must be respected.”

June 12th, 2009, 7:13 pm


Alex said:


IRNA: Ahmadinejad Wins Iran Presidential Election

June 12th, 2009, 7:32 pm


t_desco said:

Huh? –

Booby Trap Parcel Defused at the General Security Department

A package containing about 150g of explosives was found Friday at the General Security Department headquarters in Beirut. (…)

Voice of Lebanon radio said initial investigation revealed that the sender of the booby trapped package is called Mahdi al-Hajj Hassan.

MTV also said that the man lives in Beirut’s southern suburbs.
(Naharnet, 12 Jun 09)

Mastermind of bombing attempt against US embassy arrested


BEIRUT, Dec 12 (KUNA) — Lebanese Army intelligence on Friday arrested the mastermind of a bombing attempt against the US embassy in Lebanon. A Lebanese military source told KUNA a man identified as Mahdi Al-Hajj Hassan was arrested for questioning over planning to deliver a package containing explosive material to the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. The Lebanese army had apprehended Abd Mreish, Lebanese and a Palestinian, identified as (A.S.) for carrying explosives within the US Embassy headquarters in Okar suburb. Mreish was carrying a bag containing 1.5 kilograms of explosives, uncovered at an explosive detecting machine. Al-Hajj Hassan was arrested after Mreish and his Palestinian companion admitted he had asked them to detonate the explosives inside the embassy building. The package was found to contain explosive material, and it was deactivated without incident.

Two Lebanese sentenced over US embassy bomb plot

Published: October 16, 2004

A military court sentenced two Lebanese men to seven and three years in jail yesterday over what Lebanon has called a foiled plan to bomb the US embassy in Beirut to protest the US war in Iraq. (…)

Judicial sources said the court sentenced Mahdi Al Hajj Hassan who said earlier he had manufactured what appeared to be a bomb to scare the embassy and teach America a lesson over Iraq to seven years, and Al Abed Mreish to three years.

June 12th, 2009, 8:35 pm


Alex said:

Iran’s Ahmadinejad wins 69 percent of vote in early election tally
By News Agencies
Tags: Israel News

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was ahead with almost 69 percent of the votes in Friday’s presidential election, after 35 percent of the ballot boxes had been counted, election commission figures showed.

Ahmadinejad’s main challenger, moderate former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, had nearly 29 percent of the votes cast, according to the commission which is part of the Interior Ministry.

Earlier Friday, Iran’s IRNA news agency announced that Ahmadinejad was re-elected in a nationwide election after the polls closed Friday. The official count is still not ready, but supporters of the two front-runners, Ahmadinejad and Mousavi, have claimed victory.
Mousavi said at a Tehran press conference that he was the clear winner of the votes but accused the government of having made numerous legal violations.

Iranians packed polling stations from boutique-lined streets in north Tehran to conservative bastions in the countryside Friday with a choice that has left the nation divided and on edge: keeping hard-line President Ahmadinejad in power or electing a reformist who favors greater freedoms and improved ties with the United States.

Turnout was massive and could break records. Crowds formed quickly at many voting sites in areas considered both strongholds for Ahmadinejad and Mousavi, who served as Iran’s prime minister in the 1980s and has become the surprise hero of a powerful youth-driven movement.

“I hope to defeat Ahmadinejad today,” said Mahnaz Mottaghi, 23, after casting her ballot at a mosque in central Tehran.

June 12th, 2009, 9:29 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Alex –

Here’s a good article you and Professor Josh seemed to overlook:

Your Welcome.

June 12th, 2009, 9:46 pm


majid said:

The Arabs formulated this scientific theory 1000 years ago, which scientists at Washington University say today was the reason why Mr. Bush succeeded in averting getting his head hit by the shoe projectile thrown upon him in Baghdad last December.

كيف عرف نوري المالكي أنه ليس المقصود وبقي بلا حراك؟
حادثة بوش والحذاء ساهمت باثبات نظرية “عربية” لجامعة واشنطن

قبل ألف عام: ابن الهيثم

بوش تجنب الحذاء بينما وقف المالكي بدون حراك

لندن- كمال قبيسي

من يعود لمشاهدة فيديوعن قذف الرئيس الأمريكي السابق، جورج بوش، بالحذاء في ديسمبر/كانون الأول الماضي في بغداد، وهو شريط متوفر على موقع “يوتيوب” وغيره، سيستغرب ويتساءل: كيف تملص بوش من حذاء تطاير نحوه بسرعة حصان، ولماذا بقي رئيس الوزراء العراقي، نوري المالكي، واقفا الى جانبه بلا حراك في المؤتمر الصحافي، وكأن شيئا لم يكن ؟

الجواب سهل لعلماء النفس، فهم يقولون انه لو أسرع المالكي بخفض رأسه قبل بوش تحاشيا للضربة، لبقي الرئيس الأمريكي ثابتا بلا حراك، وبالتالي لارتطم الحذاء به تماما. لكن بوش “رأى” أن المالكي لم يتحرك، فنشط دماغه بسرعة فاقت سرعة الحذاء المتطاير وعرف بأنه المقصود من الضربة، وليس سواه.

أما كيف استطاع الرئيس الأمريكي أن “يرى” الحذاء ويتملص منه بسرعة، فهو موضوع نظرية معقدة اشتهر بها علماء الدماغ بجامعة واشنطن، وهي عربية الأصل بالأساس، وتطرقت اليها مجلة “كيورينت بايولوجي” الأمريكية في عددها الذي صدر الأربعاء 10-6-2009. قالت فيه إن الحادثة ساهمت باثبات ما تقوله النظرية عن وجود نظامين للرؤية لدى الانسان منفصلين: واحد بعينيه والثاني بالادراك عبر الدماغ، أو الجهاز العصبي، وهو الذي جعل بوش يدرك بأنه المقصود من ضربة تحاشاها، لأنه لم ير في الحقيقة أي حذاء “بل أدرك خطرا بدماغه فقط” وفق تعبير عالم النفس الأمريكي، جيفري لين.

وأعطى لين مثلا: “لو قذفنا بكرتين معا نحو شخص ما، فستبدوان متساويتين له في كل شيء، لكنهما مختلفتان لدماغه الذي يقوم بعملية حسابية سريعة ليدرك أيهما تمثل خطرا أكبر عليه، فيصدر أوامره لأعضاء لتتحاشاها قبل زميلتها من حيث لا يدري الشخص المستهدف، ولهذا بقي المالكي بلا حراك حين قام الصحافي العراقي برمي الحذاء، لأنه شعر أن بوش سبقه بادراك خطر الضربة، لذلك ترك له ردة الفعل” كما قال.

قبل ألف عام: ابن الهيثم

وقبل علماء النفس والدماغ والبصريات في جامعة واشنطن، وبأكثر من ألف عام، أدرك ابن الهيثم، وهو الفيزيائي والرياضي العربي المولود في البصرة، أن البصر لا يتم بالعين وحدها، فتحدث في كتابه “المناظر” وهو من 7 مجلدات، عما أسماه “الادراك البصري” منطلقا من قوانين وضعها للبصريات ضمن كتابه الذي حين ترجم الأوروبيون عنوانه الى اللاتينية استخدموا 5 كلمات للاسم ليفهموه، كما استخدم بعضنا “الشاطر والمشطور وما بينهما” للسندويتش في أيامنا.

قال ابن الهيثم ان التأثير المباشر للمثيرات الضؤية لا يكفي وحده لتكوين الشكل المرئي بالعين، ولا بد من اضافة آثار خلفتها انطباعات سابقة في الجهاز العصبي، مشيرا بذلك أيضا الى نظامين للرؤية السليمة، واحد عضوي بالعينين وآخر نفسي بالأعصاب والدماغ. كما تحدث ابن الهيثم عن الرؤية في الغرف المظلمة، وسمى الواحدة منها “قمرة” ومنها جاءت كلمة كاميرا.. الكاميرا التي بثت للملايين مشهد رئيس أمريكي متملصا من حذاء رآه بأعصابه وآخر بقي ساك

June 12th, 2009, 10:40 pm


why-discuss said:


And if Hezbollah did not want to really win the elections?

It sounds very logical as well as the apparent indifference of Syria during and after the elections.

Et si le Hezbollah ne voulait pas vraiment gagner les élections ?
Par Scarlett HADDAD | 13/06/2009 l’Orient

Aussi étrange que cela puisse paraître, le Hezbollah est plutôt soulagé des résultats des élections législatives. Le ministre et député Mohammad Fneich a beau répéter que son parti voulait remporter les élections législatives, de plus en plus de voix au sein de l’opposition considèrent que le Hezbollah craignait en fait de se retrouver aux commandes du pays, même s’il avait ses alliés pour occuper les devants de la scène. Pour étayer cette thèse, les voix de l’opposition rappellent que c’est bien le Hezbollah qui a convaincu l’ancien ministre Wi’am Wahhab de renoncer à présenter sa candidature pour le siège druze de Baabda. Wahhab aurait pourtant pu être élu avec l’apport des voix chiites, de ses partisans et des chrétiens favorables au général Aoun. Mais le Hezbollah estimait qu’une telle candidature serait considérée comme une provocation par le leader druze Walid Joumblatt alors que ce dernier était en train de multiplier les signaux positifs en direction du parti. C’est aussi le Hezbollah qui a souhaité que Nasser Kandil retire sa candidature dans la troisième circonscription de Beyrouth, comme il n’a pas fait grand-chose pour aider ses alliés sunnites, à Beyrouth et ailleurs. C’est encore lui qui a refusé d’aider le candidat sunnite à Beyrouth 2, Adnane Aracji, par respect de l’accord de Doha qui prévoyait un partage à égalité des quatre sièges de cette circonscription entre l’opposition et la majorité (un sunnite et un Arménien pour la majorité, un chiite et un Arménien pour l’opposition). Lorsque la question était posée à ses cadres, ceux-ci répondaient : « Nous ne voulons pas prendre le risque d’une confrontation confessionnelle sunnito-chiite, surtout dans un tel climat de mobilisation extrême. » Certes, le Hezbollah a mené la bataille électorale selon les règles, en mettant tout son poids dans la balance. Mais au sein de l’opposition, certains estiment qu’il recherchait essentiellement deux objectifs : d’abord, montrer que sa popularité au sein de la communauté chiite est en hausse et cet objectif a été atteint puisqu’en moyenne, 90 % des suffrages de cette communauté ont plébiscité le Hezbollah dans la Békaa et au Sud. Le second objectif était de faire en sorte dans les circonscriptions où les voix chiites ont du poids que le général Michel Aoun puisse conserver un important bloc parlementaire et cet objectif a été aussi atteint, puisque le Bloc du changement et de la réforme compte désormais 27 membres et que Aoun a remporté la plupart des sièges de la « montagne chrétienne ». Le Hezbollah tenait à cet objectif d’abord pour montrer que l’alliance avec lui est utile et porteuse de victoire, ensuite parce qu’il estime que la campagne internationale menée contre le général Aoun le vise indirectement et cherche à l’isoler pour mieux le briser. Ces objectifs atteints, le Hezbollah peut se déclarer satisfait, d’autant qu’il craignait d’être placé sur le devant de la scène dans une période assez critique pour la région. Avec le forcing de la nouvelle administration américaine pour trouver une solution au conflit israélo-palestinien et sa volonté de relancer un processus de paix entre, d’une part, la Syrie et Israël et, d’autre part, le Liban et Israël, le Hezbollah aurait pu se trouver dans une situation inconfortable. Comment concilier le fait d’être une des principales composantes du gouvernement issu d’élections remportées par l’opposition et celui de mener des négociations avec Israël ou de traiter indirectement avec l’administration américaine dans ce contexte ? Dans cette période confuse de redistribution des cartes régionales, le Hezbollah préfère rester en retrait, sans oublier le fait qu’il ne voulait pas non plus assumer devant la population la responsabilité d’être la cause de sanctions économiques contre le Liban au vu des menaces proférées par des chancelleries occidentales. De plus, le Hezbollah avait aussi saisi avant tous ses autres partenaires au sein de l’opposition le désintérêt de la Syrie à l’égard du processus électoral libanais. Alors que certains alliés de la Syrie annonçaient sans relâche que Damas comptait entrer dans la bataille électorale par le Akkar, la Békaa-Ouest et Tripoli, rien ne s’est passé jusqu’à la fermeture des bureaux de vote. Même auparavant, certains piliers de l’opposition s’étaient plaints auprès des dirigeants syriens d’un afflux d’argent en provenance d’Arabie saoudite, contrairement à l’accord conclu entre le roi Abdallah d’Arabie, l’émir du Qatar et le président Bachar el-Assad au cours de leur rencontre au sommet du Koweït, lorsqu’ils s’étaient mis d’accord pour ne pas intervenir dans le cours des élections libanaises. Là aussi, les autorités syriennes n’avaient pas réagi, tout comme elles n’étaient pas non plus intervenues dans la composition des listes de l’opposition, laissant quasiment tomber certains de ses alliés. De l’aveu de certains chefs de l’opposition, la Syrie n’a donc rien fait pour favoriser une victoire de ses alliés. Et lorsque la question a été directement posée aux dirigeants syriens, ceux-ci ont laissé entendre que le résultat des élections ne compte pas, à partir du moment où les relations entre Damas et Washington sont en train de s’améliorer, tout comme celles de Damas et de Riyad. Les autorités syriennes seraient donc prêtes à ouvrir une nouvelle page avec Saad Hariri devenu Premier ministre, du moment que leurs relations avec les dirigeants saoudiens sont devenues plus cordiales. D’ailleurs, comme toujours, c’est Walid Joumblatt qui a donné le ton en déclarant hier au Akhbar que « Saad Hariri peut dialoguer avec la Syrie, et cela est inévitable ». Mais plus important que les considérations internes libanaises, la Syrie a des défis régionaux et internationaux à relever. Elle s’apprête à relancer le processus de négociations avec Israël et souhaite montrer de bonnes dispositions à l’égard de l’Occident. Pour elle, les élections libanaises ne constituent pas un enjeu très important, d’autant que ses alliés libanais restent forts et en mesure de s’opposer à d’éventuelles décisions qui visent à les marginaliser…

En somme, les résultats des élections législatives arrangent un peu tout le monde, l’équilibre des forces est pratiquement inchangé, ce qui rassure l’Occident, et la victoire indiscutable de Saad Hariri lui permet de jouer un rôle nouveau sur la scène interne et régionale. Seuls ceux qui espéraient un véritable changement sont déçus…

June 13th, 2009, 2:04 am


norman said:

ASIA NEWS JUNE 13, 2009 U.S. Continues Charm Offensive With Syria
George Mitchell, Obama’s Mideast Envoy, Lands in Damascus for Latest Outreach as Hopes Rise for Productive Talks

President Barack Obama’s Mideast envoy, former Sen. George Mitchell, touched down Friday in Damascus, in the latest outreach by the U.S. to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Just a little more than a year ago, Syria was viewed as a pariah state, even among some of its Arab neighbors. But in recent months, Mr. Assad has emerged as a potentially important partner for Washington in the Middle East’s suddenly shifting political and diplomatic landscape.

Sen. Mitchell’s short trip — it’s unclear if he will meet Mr. Assad on Saturday — is the latest push in a diplomatic charm offensive by Washington across the region.

View Full Image

Associated Press

Saad Hariri, leader of Lebanon’s victorious Western-leaning coalition, left, with George Mitchell in Beirut Friday.
Analysts say that outreach, including Mr. Obama’s speech to the Muslim world in Cairo last week, may be having a positive effect on sentiment toward the U.S. across the Middle East.

In Lebanon elections last weekend, an American-backed coalition of politicians beat back a challenge by an opposition bloc led by Hezbollah, despite some polls predicting victory for the Iranian-backed group. Sen. Mitchell flew into Damascus after a stopover in Beirut, where he met officials, including Saad Hariri, son of the slain prime minister and leader of the Western-leaning coalition.

Lebanese politics are as much about family and clan loyalty as they are about policy. But several analysts attributed the surprise victory at least partly to Mr. Obama’s outreach, and a general cooling of tensions between Washington and its regional irritants, Iran and Syria.

A big part of the thaw has been the dramatic rehabilitation of Syria’s Mr. Assad in the eyes of many Western and Arab officials.

The Bush administration and its Western and regional allies spent years isolating Syria. Western officials suspected a Syrian role in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. The U.S. recalled its ambassador to Syria, and a popular outpouring in Lebanon forced Damascus to end its long occupation of the country. Washington also accused Syria of facilitating the flow of insurgents into Iraq, and the United Nations atomic watchdog is investigating evidence that Damascus was building a nuclear reactor before Israeli jets destroyed the site in 2007. Syria has denied the accusations.

But Mr. Assad also proved instrumental in a Qatar-backed peace plan last spring that ended a long political standoff in Lebanon. Shortly after, he entered into indirect peace talks with arch-foe Israel.

Mr. Assad’s hands-off approach in recent months in Lebanon has encouraged some Western officials and analysts into thinking he is eager to play a supporting role in cooling Mideast tensions further.

The Lebanon elections, though they went against Syria, may help pave the way for more productive talks with Washington, says Joshua Landis, co-director of the University of Oklahoma’s Center for Middle East Studies . “This is a real strategic opening, this is an opportunity,” said Mr. Landis. “Things were on hold until the Lebanon elections.”

If Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad holds onto power in Friday’s elections, Mr. Assad could be a useful ally for Washington in pressuring Iran into meaningful talks. Sen. Mitchell’s stopover follows lower-level visits by U.S. diplomats in recent weeks. U.S. officials are pressing for help stabilizing the Iraq-Syria border and in Arab-Israel peace efforts. They also want Damascus to clamp down on Hezbollah and Hamas.

Ian Kelly, a spokesman for the State Department said Sen. Mitchell’s trip was part of crafting a “broad-based, comprehensive peace, dealing with all the different players in the region.”

Damascus, meanwhile, is seen as pushing for the return of Golan from Israel as part of any comprehensive peace deal. Syria also wants the U.S. to loosen economic sanctions imposed on it for alleged links to terror financing. An ease-up of sanctions is seen as especially important because Syria’s state-controlled economy is suffering from high budget deficits and dwindling oil revenue.

June 13th, 2009, 2:17 am


t_desco said:


such conspiratorial explanations suffer from what Bourdieu called “une vision naïvement finaliste de l’histoire”.

The Iranian FM who was reportedly bragging in Paris that the opposition would win in Lebanon, was he also part of that ‘great conspiracy’?

June 13th, 2009, 9:14 am


t_desco said:

As “la triste noche neoliberal”, the “sorrowful night of neoliberalism”, as Rafael Correa calls it, is coming to an end in more and more countries in Latin America, it may be only just beginning in Lebanon, according to this great Newsweek interview with Karim Makdisi:

‘We Don’t Know What We’re Good At’

Q: Do you think they’re on track to keep plugging away at it?

A: As the neoliberal discourse has gone down globally, in particular because of the financial crisis these past couple of years, everything in Lebanon has been on pause. So there’s been very little public policy discussion beyond whether you’re pro-American or anti-American, for the resistance or against the resistance.

Q: Could you give an example of what that status quo looks like?

A: One recently hatched plan is for Cedar Island, which would be built off the coast south of Beirut. You’d be able to see it from space, just like in Dubai, the idea being that we need to bring investment in from the Gulf by selling real estate. You can do that, but it’s going to destroy the environment off the coast—there have already been studies here at the university showing that.

This is what’s associated with the Hariri regime: very big grandiose Gulf-style construction projects which create big glamour but have detrimental effects both on the environment and, consequently, on other sectors like fishing and agriculture.

Q: What about the wrenches opposition groups could throw into the plans?

A: Hizbullah doesn’t oppose privatization—or even joining the WTO. Ten years ago, there were debates about opening up the economy. In a sense, the ideological struggle is over.

Q: So is there another alternative vision to replace those old competing ideologies?

A: No. There’s been no serious work done in trying to figure out what Lebanon can do productively. So rather than joining agreements for the sake of joining agreements, we need to come up with a logical development plan. But even the opposition has not come up with a proper plan. In the absence of that, like in the current climate, when just a small group of leaders sign international agreements without studying their impacts, this exacerbates social tensions. And in this country, when you have increased tensions and inequalities between rich and the poor, it will get translated into sectarian violence. That’s the equation we always have.
(Newsweek, Jun 12, 2009)

Alain Gresh on Iran:

L’Iran tel que nous ne le connaissons pas

Cette attaque publique contre Rafsandjani, l’un des hommes les plus puissants du pays (et considéré comme l’un des plus corrompus) est sans précédent. Durant la campagne présidentielle de 2005, Ahmadinejad s’était déjà présenté comme le candidat de la justice sociale, l’ennemi des mafias qui avaient accaparé les richesses du pays. Il avait gagné en faisant de nombreuses promesses, tenues seulement en partie grâce aux prix élevés du baril de pétrole, mais sans être le moins du monde en mesure de briser l’emprise des « mafias » (lire Ramine Motamed-Nejad, « L’Iran sous l’emprise de l’argent », Le Monde diplomatique, juin 2009, en kiosques). La question économique et sociale a été la première cause de la défaite des réformateurs en 2005 et la victoire de M. Ahmadinejad ; elle jouera un rôle central dans ce scrutin où Ahmadinejad a multiplié les promesses sociales.
Nouvelles d’Orient

(my emphasis)

June 13th, 2009, 10:47 am


norman said:

To all,

I personally think that the win of Ahmadinejad , will raise the value of Syria in the Mideast ,

What do you think.?

June 13th, 2009, 12:12 pm


t_desco said:

The WSJ agrees with you, Norman:

“Not all big Arab states stand to lose with Mr. Ahmadinejad’s victory. Former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, Mr. Obama’s top Mideast envoy, is in Damascus Saturday for talks with Syrian officials.

With Mr. Ahmadinejad likely staying put in Tehran, Washington may have more interest in trying to woo President Bashar Assad away from Iran’s orbit. That could translate into leverage for Damascus amid U.S.-Syria negotiations. For instance, Syria wants the U.S. to loosen economic sanctions imposed on it for alleged links to terror financing.”

The problem with that is that Ahmadinejad’s victory could also signify an increase in the likelihood of conflict and a threat to stability in the region.

June 13th, 2009, 12:23 pm


norman said:

T_ Desco,
I wonder if they expected Ahmadinejad to win ,Look at this , the picture even better , do you think it will make the Lebanese more realistic and sober,

Saturday, Jun. 13, 2009
Comments (0)
US says Syria has key Mideast peace role
DAMASCUS, Syria President Barack Obama’s special Mideast envoy said Saturday that Syria has a key role to play in forging peace in the region during a visit that marked the strongest U.S. push yet to improve relations with the country.

The Obama administration has stepped up pressure on Arab countries to help resume Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and also pursue a peace deal with the Jewish state themselves. Syria is seen as a key player in this process because of its support for the Palestinian militant group Hamas that controls the Gaza Strip and its intermittent peace talks with Israel.

“Syria has an integral role to play in reaching comprehensive peace,” said George Mitchell, Obama’s Mideast envoy and the highest ranking official to visit Syria since 2005 when the U.S. recalled its ambassador.

Syria and the U.S. share an obligation “to create conditions for negotiations to begin promptly and end successfully,” Mitchell told reporters after a 90-minute meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad in the capital, Damascus.

A senior Syrian official described Saturday’s talks as “very positive” and said the two also discussed the situation in neighboring Iraq, where the U.S. has often criticized Syria for allowing militants to enter across its border. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of not being authorized to talk to the media.

Mitchell’s visit to Syria follows two separate trips in the past few months by senior U.S. officials Jeffrey Feltman, acting assistant secretary of state, and Daniel Shapiro, a Middle East expert at the White House. Feltman is currently in the country with Mitchell.

The Obama administration hopes the diplomatic outreach will encourage Syria to play a positive role in both the Mideast peace process and also in Iraq.

“I’ve held substantive discussion with President Assad and on the full range of serious issues in our bilateral relationship,” Mitchell said. “We seek to build on this effort to establish a relationship built on mutual respect and mutual interest.”

Despite the diplomatic overtures, the Obama administration renewed Bush-era economic sanctions against Syria last month as a way to keep pressure on the country to cooperate.

The Bush administration imposed the sanctions and withdrew its ambassador in 2005 following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut. Many Lebanese politicians have blamed Syria for the killing – a charge Damascus has denied.

Syria has intermittently explored the possibility of peace with Israel over the past few years. The country held four rounds of indirect talks with the Jewish state last year mediated by Turkey. But the discussions were halted during the three-week Israeli offensive on Gaza that ended in January.

Syria has since said it is ready to resume indirect talks with Israel as long as they focus on a complete Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau captured from Syria in the 1967 war.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he is not willing return all the territory. He has also refused U.S. demands to commit to the creation of a Palestinian state and to halt settlement construction in the West Bank, hampering efforts to resume peace negotiations.

Direct talks between Syria and Israel under U.S. auspices failed in 2000 over the issue of the extent of an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights.

June 13th, 2009, 12:58 pm


t_desco said:


as Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett have argued, the Obama administration’s Iran strategy could be one of containment and isolation (and, if I may add, the same approach seems to be working extremely well in North Korea). Syria would indeed play a key role in such a strategy, but could Syria actually afford to break with both Iran and Hizbullah?

BTW, I just found this great article by Joseph Stiglitz on “neoliberalism”:

Wall Street’s Toxic Message

(…) In many parts of the world, global institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank came to be seen as instruments of post-colonial control. These institutions pushed market fundamentalism (“neoliberalism,” it was often called), a notion idealized by Americans as “free and unfettered markets.” They pressed for financial-sector deregulation, privatization, and trade liberalization.

The World Bank and the I.M.F. said they were doing all this for the benefit of the developing world. They were backed up by teams of free-market economists, many from that cathedral of free-market economics, the University of Chicago. In the end, the programs of “the Chicago boys” didn’t bring the promised results. Incomes stagnated. Where there was growth, the wealth went to those at the top. Economic crises in individual countries became ever more frequent—there have been more than a hundred severe ones in the past 30 years alone.

Not surprisingly, people in developing countries became less and less convinced that Western help was motivated by altruism. They suspected that the free-market rhetoric—“the Washington consensus,” as it is known in shorthand—was just a cover for the old commercial interests. Suspicions were reinforced by the West’s own hypocrisy. Europe and America didn’t open up their own markets to the agricultural produce of the Third World, which was often all these poor countries had to offer. They forced developing countries to eliminate subsidies aimed at creating new industries, even as they provided massive subsidies to their own farmers.

Free-market ideology turned out to be an excuse for new forms of exploitation. “Privatization” meant that foreigners could buy mines and oil fields in developing countries at low prices. It meant they could reap large profits from monopolies and quasi-monopolies, such as in telecommunications. “Liberalization” meant that they could get high returns on their loans—and when loans went bad, the I.M.F. forced the socialization of the losses, meaning that the screws were put on entire populations to pay the banks back. It meant, too, that foreign firms could wipe out nascent industries, suppressing the development of entrepreneurial talent. While capital flowed freely, labor did not—except in the case of the most talented individuals, who found good jobs in a global marketplace.

But my concern here is more with the realm of ideas. I worry that, as they see more clearly the flaws in America’s economic and social system, many in the developing world will draw the wrong conclusions. A few countries—and maybe America itself—will learn the right lessons. They will realize that what is required for success is a regime where the roles of market and government are in balance, and where a strong state administers effective regulations. They will realize that the power of special interests must be curbed.

(…) Old-style Communism won’t be back, but a variety of forms of excessive market intervention will return. And these will fail. The poor suffered under market fundamentalism—we had trickle-up economics, not trickle-down economics. But the poor will suffer again under these new regimes, which will not deliver growth. Without growth there cannot be sustainable poverty reduction. There has been no successful economy that has not relied heavily on markets. Poverty feeds disaffection. The inevitable downturns, hard to manage in any case, but especially so by governments brought to power on the basis of rage against American-style capitalism, will lead to more poverty. The consequences for global stability and American security are obvious.

Faith in democracy is another victim. In the developing world, people look at Washington and see a system of government that allowed Wall Street to write self-serving rules which put at risk the entire global economy—and then, when the day of reckoning came, turned to Wall Street to manage the recovery. They see continued re-distributions of wealth to the top of the pyramid, transparently at the expense of ordinary citizens. They see, in short, a fundamental problem of political accountability in the American system of democracy. After they have seen all this, it is but a short step to conclude that something is fatally wrong, and inevitably so, with democracy itself. (…)
(Vanity Fair, July 2009)

(my emphasis)

June 13th, 2009, 2:03 pm


norman said:


Western countries want to enslave poor countries by putting them in debt , as the financial institution doing to the poor American consumer.

June 13th, 2009, 2:20 pm


majid said:

Khamenei and Ahmadinejjad have just set the stage for the “Velvet Revolution” in their wilayat al-faqih of Iran. See here and here.

June 13th, 2009, 5:37 pm


Shami said:

There are no more hated regimes by their people than the iranian regime.
As for Ahmad Najad or pseudo reformists ,they have no other choice other than to be puppets.
The iranian regime is totalitarian theocratic regime even worse than those we have in the arab world.(corruption,minority totalitarianism and human rights violations).

June 13th, 2009, 5:43 pm


norman said:

If Mousawi does not come out and support the the result of the election , the reformists in Iran will be destroyed for a long time to come , The West will try to use the disturbances to break Iran .but that will not succeed and Iran will be moving toward a cultural revolution .

June 13th, 2009, 5:49 pm


Shai said:


I also agree with you. The West has tried talking to Ahmedinejad and it hasn’t worked, in as far as stopping the enrichment of Uranium. But no one tried speaking through a common ally – Syria. It’s time to become Syria’s ally. (True for America, and for Israel.)

June 13th, 2009, 6:04 pm


Shai said:


And here’s my take for tomorrow… Yet another event is about to raise Syria’s value in the region – Netanyahu’s speech tomorrow at Bar-Ilan University.

In it, he will attempt to allay some of the Obama administration’s concerns vis-a-vis the 2-state solution, but in reality will more likely allay the fears of his coalition (less Labor) that he’s gone dovish. He will try to make everyone happy, but won’t succeed. American officials have already leaked out the expected disappointment in Washington from tomorrow’s speech.

This, and indeed Ahmedinejad’s re-election, will undoubtedly force Obama and his advisers to rethink Syria and her potential contribution to stabilizing an already less-than-stable Middle East. It truly doesn’t take a genius to recognize Syria’s ability and readiness to help out in Iraq, Iran, Palestine, and perhaps Lebanon (if things should destabilize again). If Mitchell doesn’t think it today (after his visit), he’ll think it Tuesday, after he meets Netanyahu.

June 13th, 2009, 6:39 pm


Off the Wall said:

As disappointed as I am with the results of the Iranian election, my conversations with Iranian expats where I live show that Musawi’s significant gains in popularity occurred only over the past three to four weeks, which is barely enough to overcome a sizable support Ahamdinejad enjoys among the poor in rural areas and in the poorer sections in urban areas.

To Iranians, Rafsanjani represents corruption and wealth, he owns the Azadi university, with 300 campuses scattered throughout the country, and was very supportive of Musawi, which helped the latter among the rich and among liberal college students and inteligentcia, but hurt him with the rest of the population, much of whom remain poor.

Finally, with one person, being above the constitution and above the democratic processes, Iran’s chances for a true democracy is not as good in the near future. The president, at best, is an elected prime minister answering to a theocratic establishment. The only difference would have been in tone, and slight economic reforms.

Iran has 30% unemployment rate. The largest among developing countries. The biggest losers in the current economic stagnation are the young college graduates. Now if there is anything that threatens the establishment, it would be this issue, more than anything else. At the same time. We have to wait and see. What al-arabia is reporting is simply the activities of few thousand disappointed supporters, it does not yet rise to the level of velvet, green, or color it on you own revolution. It has a potential. But I doubt that Iranians have the stomach for a potential civil war. For the Mullas are not ready to give up their power. Especially after what they can claim as a ballot box victory. Their argument would be that as open as the elections were, it would be hard to argue that the large margin is only due to fraud.

I tend to agree with Shai and Norman. A crack down on the nascent liberalism will be devastating to the future of Iran. The ballot box, with peaceful demonstrations will continue to be the best option for reformers. Iran has a much wider range of civil society institutions that other countries in the region. And if the example of the young Lebanese minister of interior teaches us anything, it is that civil society is where the best and brightest find their calling in manners that are consistent with their independence. If violence emerges in Iran, you will see the leaders of reform movement being first and foremost in condemning it.

That said, I do expect that the mullas will now realize the danger of liberal movement in Iran and will beging cracking down on it. I expect a stronger enforcement of Hijab rules on campuses, a resurgence of religious policing activities activities, which may lead to minor clashes in isolated localities. The crack down will be calibrated to make it hard for younger but not hard enough to rise up.

If true, by resigning his positions, Rafsanjani is setting himself up to be the spiritual leader of the opposition, but Khatami is the only one who has enough credibility to be in that position. I will be watching his next move.

Despite of all of this, Iran has managed to do many things her Arab neighbors continue to fail to do. I see it only moving a head, no matter how the west wants. Iran has established a reasonable level of economic and food sufficiency and with that, it will be able to withstand external stresses. I hope as a country, Iran can manage to get out from under its theocratic rut. Let us see if as a country, Iran can withstand internal stress.

I will send you a new email address through alex by tomorrow morning my time.

BTW, Try ASTRAL-Cameroon Cigars . I had one last night, and It was outstanding.

Alex. sorry for the commercial link but I had no other way of showing the Cigar to my dear friend Shai

June 13th, 2009, 6:39 pm


Off the Wall said:

Crack down already begun
Mousawi under house arrest
Cell phone services down (preventing texting and organization) and preventing the thousands from turning into millions!

Calls from AhmadiNejad that the opposition is an arm of the west intensify. It will be rough for a while.

Juan Cole’s POV

My own guess is that you have to get a leadership born after the revolution, who does not remember it and its sanguinary aftermath, before you get people willing to push back hard against the rightwingers.

So, there are protests against an allegedly stolen election. The Basij paramilitary thugs and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards will break some heads. Unless there has been a sea change in Iran, the theocrats may well get away with this soft coup for the moment. But the regime’s legitimacy will take a critical hit, and its ultimate demise may have been hastened, over the next decade or two.

On other news:

Natenyaho plan is unacceptable. Again, a state with no soverignty. Notice the arrogant condition regarding eastern borders of the non-state he proposes.

Here it goes (excerpted from Huffington post)

The Washington Times’s Eli Lake reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will say in his speech this weekend that he is prepared to accept Palestinian statehood under the following conditions:

• Any Palestinian state must be demilitarized, without an air force, full-fledged army or heavy weapons.

• Palestinians may not sign treaties with powers hostile to Israel.

• A Palestinian state must allow Israeli civilian and military aircraft unfettered access to Palestinian airspace, allow Israel to retain control of the airwaves and to station Israeli troops on a future state’s eastern and southern borders.

• Palestinians must accept Israel as a Jewish state, a nod to the hawkish side of Mr. Netanyahu’s governing coalition that has raised concerns that the Palestinian Authority, which nominally governs the West Bank, does not recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Washington’s reaction (Excerpted from Haaretz)

The proposals to be outlined in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech on Sunday will not be enough to satisfy the Obama administration, a senior U.S. official was quoted as saying on Friday.

The official said Netanyahu told U.S. envoy George Mitchell this week what he planned to say in the speech and that it was “not adequate” to satisfy Washington, who is pushing for an immediate resumption of talks on Palestinian statehood.

June 13th, 2009, 6:55 pm


Shai said:

Dear OTW,

The Maestro looks good… 🙂

I fully agree with you about Iran. The West must come to understand that Democracy is not going to suddenly appear in our region, just because “a bunch of white men” are ready to sacrifice their lives for it. Our region has historical and cultural complexities that span thousands of years, unlike America or even Europe. To carefully undo the fibers that make up the different tribes and nations of the Middle East, and begin to create new ones, will take much time, effort, patience, and sensitivity. It is perhaps the latter, that the West has always had difficulty understanding and relating to.

To buy a $50 rug at Bed Bath & Beyond takes 5 minutes. To buy the same rug in our region takes an hour… 🙂

June 13th, 2009, 7:01 pm


Off the Wall said:

Well Said. This is why I gave up on political parties and I am very excited about civil society institutions.

If one reads the biography of Mr. Baroud, with whom I am very impressed, one would come to a conclusion that there is hope. This young man has been a civil society worker (lawyer) much of his young professional life. It was astonishing that when President Sulieman nominated him for the cabinet position as the Doha agreement stipulated, non of the sectarian parties in Lebanon mounted any real opposition to his appointment. Iran has many Barouds, Syria is beginning to have her own (The fellow behind Jad’s favorite website Civil Society approach reforms in steps, it may take longer than a revolution would, but the effects are long lasting. There is no return back in Lebanon from the procedures and competence shown by Mr. Baroud., as all4syria, both are non-partisan outlets gave a voice to a cadre of professionals, lawyers, and human rights advocates no opposition group managed to give through their rhetorics.

There is no doubt that I would like to wake up one morning and realize that the region was tranformed. But it would be naiev to even assume that this is remotely possible. This of course does not mean that one should endorse the current power structure. It means that reforms take time and the results will be mixed bag of one step forward and one step backward. But it is not a gausian process with zero mean, not whatsoever.

June 13th, 2009, 7:30 pm


majid said:

يا سيد او تي دبليو
اجد تصرفك هذا يدعو للسخرية٠ كيف تناقش مع هذا المدعي من سيبيريا حين يحلل بقوله بان هذه المنطقة هي منطقتنا اي يدعي لنفسه حق الانتماء الى ارض مسلوبة٠ وعلاوةعليه تريد مراسلته الكترونياً. يا رجل والله عيب٠ لا لزوم للرد٠ انها فقط من باب النصيحة٠

June 13th, 2009, 7:56 pm


norman said:


Are you trying to tell me that we like to haggle,That comes handy when you want to buy a car , to the point that my mother in law takes me with her , she just bought an Infinity, G37 sedan ,

shai,One more thing , how about a couple of word from Netanyahu like this ,
(( Israel has no territorial claim for a Syrian land )).

i think , Talks will start the day after,


The major problem that we have in the Mideast is what is obvious, people do not accept defeat , Hezbollah showed a great maturity in accepting the result of the election , while the moderate in Iran seem to have a problem with that ,

The other problem , that we always mention the religion with any statement and position which is not the case in the US , we do not see in the US the media associating the positions of the congressmen with their religious association ,being Mormon, Baptism , Jewish , Presbyterian or anything else , we have the advantage that we look alike and many have the same language and names , so if the media there stops labeling people with their religious affiliation , and look for what they stand for ,the whole Mideast will be better ,

And that is my take,

June 13th, 2009, 8:33 pm


Alex said:

Juan Cole presents Six Pieces of Evidence that the Iranian Presidential Election Was Stolen.

The announced numbers in Tabriz this year are definitely not consistent with historical data from that city.

Stealing the Iranian Election

1. It is claimed that Ahmadinejad won the city of Tabriz with 57%. His main opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, is an Azeri from Azerbaijan province, of which Tabriz is the capital. Mousavi, according to such polls as exist in Iran and widespread anecdotal evidence, did better in cities and is popular in Azerbaijan. Certainly, his rallies there were very well attended. So for an Azeri urban center to go so heavily for Ahmadinejad just makes no sense. In past elections, Azeris voted disproportionately for even minor presidential candidates who hailed from that province.

2. Ahmadinejad is claimed to have taken Tehran by over 50%. Again, he is not popular in the cities, even, as he claims, in the poor neighborhoods, in part because his policies have produced high inflation and high unemployment. That he should have won Tehran is so unlikely as to raise real questions about these numbers.

3. It is claimed that cleric Mehdi Karoubi, the other reformist candidate, received 320,000 votes, and that he did poorly in Iran’s western provinces, even losing in Luristan. He is a Lur and is popular in the west, including in Kurdistan. Karoubi received 17 percent of the vote in the first round of presidential elections in 2005. While it is possible that his support has substantially declined since then, it is hard to believe that he would get less than one percent of the vote. Moreover, he should have at least done well in the west, which he did not.

4. Mohsen Rezaie, who polled very badly and seems not to have been at all popular, is alleged to have received 670,000 votes, twice as much as Karoubi.

5. Ahmadinejad’s numbers were fairly standard across Iran’s provinces. In past elections there have been substantial ethnic and provincial variations.

6. The Electoral Commission is supposed to wait three days before certifying the results of the election, at which point they are to inform Khamenei of the results, and he signs off on the process. The three-day delay is intended to allow charges of irregularities to be adjudicated. In this case, Khamenei immediately approved the alleged results.

June 13th, 2009, 8:51 pm


norman said:

It is a done deal,

the US needs to work with anybody there , The supreme leader is the effective leader and that did not change.
Here is the reaction,

17:41 , 06.13.09

Syria, Hamas welcome Ahmadinejad victory

Assad expresses ‘confidence in continued strengthening of Damascus-Tehran relations’, while spokesman for Palestinian terror group says ‘West must respect choice of Iranian people’; Jimmy Carter says expects no change in US policy towards Iran
News agencies

Syrian President Bashar Assad and the terrorist Hamas group expressed their satisfaction on Saturday with the reelection of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Results Disputed

Iran declares win for Ahmadinejad in disputed vote; clashes ensue / Roee Nahmias, agencies

After Mousavi condemns ‘manipulation’ of election results, demonstrators set fire to tires outside Interior Ministry in most serious unrest in Tehran in a decade; Police beat opposition supporters with clubs, warn against ‘unauthorized gatherings’. Israeli deputy FM: Ahmadinejad reelection demonstrates increasing threat from Iran
Full Story

“The Syrian president expressed his confidence in the continued strengthening of the relations between Tehran and Damascus,” Syria’s official news agency reported, while Hamas spokesman Fauzi Barhoum said “the Western world should respect the democracy and the choice of the Iranian people.

“This is a democratic and free election. We hope that this new Iranian leadership will continue to support the Palestinian rights and the Palestinian people and continue to respect the Palestinian democratic choice and help us to end the sanctions and face all the challenges,” the spokesman for the Islamist group told Reuters.

Celebrating Ahmadinejad’s victory in Tehran (Photo: Reuters)

Also on Saturday, pro-reform Iranian presidential challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi posted a statement on his Web site urging his supporters to resist a “governance of lie and dictatorship” after state media indicated that incumbent President Ahmadinejad had apparently been reelected after receiving almost 65% of the vote with over four-fifths of the ballots counted.

The Palestinians watched the Iranian vote closely. Iran is a major patron of Hamas, which overran Gaza two years ago, ousting the forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas and his aides have in the past accused Iran of meddling in Palestinian affairs and making Palestinian reconciliation more difficult.

An Abbas aide, Saeb Erekat, hinted at Iran’s role Saturday. “We want Iran to take the side of Palestine, not this faction or that faction,” he said.

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa also congratulated Ahmadinejad on his victory in the elections and said he hoped Iran and the Arab world would begin to enjoy a better relationship.

“We hope that the next term would witness progress on the relations between Iran and the Arab world and cooperation in establishing peace in the Middle East. Also that the security, regional security in the region will be paramount in working together to free the region from all weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons,” he said.

Former US President Jimmy Carter said he did not think there would be any change in American policy toward Iran “because the same person will be there.”

Speaking about Ahmadinejad after a meeting with the Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Carter said “hopefully, he’ll moderate his position.”

Meanwhile, in Israel, ministers appeared unsurprised by Ahmadinejad’s win, but emphasized that it should serve as an alert to the international community.

The international community must step up efforts to deal with Iranian terror and nuclear aspirations “immediately,” given the results in Iran, Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon said Saturday.

“In Israel, we had no illusions, because we knew there was no essential difference between candidates on the topics of terror and nuclear development. If there had been even a spark of hope for a change in Iran, the reelection of Ahmadinejad demonstrated once more the increasing threat from Iran,” he said.


June 13th, 2009, 9:25 pm


t_desco said:


Juan Cole: “Ahmadinejad … is not popular in the cities, even, as he claims, in the poor neighborhoods, in part because his policies have produced high inflation and high unemployment.”

Abbas Barzegar:

“On Monday night at least 100,000 of the former prime minister’s supporters set up a human chain across Tehran. But, hours before I had attended a mass rally for the incumbent president that got little to no coverage in the western press because, on account of the crowds, he never made it inside the hall to give his speech. Minimal estimates from that gathering have been placed at 600,000 (enthusiasts say a million). From the roof I watched as the veiled women and bearded men of all ages poured like lava.”
Wishful thinking from Tehran

Juan Cole should be more careful and not make such sweeping judgements without access to any reliable polling data. Ahmadinejad’s rallies in other cities were apparently also well attended (they looked bigger to me than those of Moussavi). He certainly is popular. The question is if he is 63% (or even 50%) popular.

June 13th, 2009, 9:25 pm


Akbar Palace said:

The West must come to understand that Democracy is not going to suddenly appear in our region, just because “a bunch of white men” are ready to sacrifice their lives for it.


Human rights is not something only for ” a bunch of white men”.

It is for everyone.

And it is time to stop making excuses. Everyone in the world has a right to basic human rights. Not 100 years from now…but today.

June 13th, 2009, 9:59 pm


trustquest said:

“وفي شارع افريقيا، ردد مائة شاب شعارات مؤيدة لموسوي وهتفوا “الموت للدكتاتور” وفي مفترق طرق جهان كوداك رشق متظاهرون اخرن الشرطة بالحجارة واشعلوا النار في صناديق القمامة وهتفوا “موسوي موسوي”.

The news out of Iran indicated that protesters were shouting dead to dictator (Ahmadinejad),
But he is not a dictator he was elected in free election for five years, he was not selected and placed for 9 years and second 9 years like Syrian dictator, what is wrong with the world, can’t even take elected fellow for more than 5 years. It seems the populace in general and young people in particular start getting fed up with oppressors and the enemies of freedom. We hope this virus to spread to Syria, Egypt and other countries under oppression, I start believing that Obama plan is working.

June 14th, 2009, 2:35 am


norman said:

Khatamy was a president and a reformist , there was such hope for him but he was disappointing ,

Trustquest ,

The dictator in Iran is not Ahmadinejad it is the supreme leader and that can not be changed , Presidents and PM in Iran are to implement the supreme leader instructions, and for that the supreme leader apparently trust Ahmadinejad more than Mousawi.

The Us should deal with anybody there and try not to interfere for the sake of the reformists and the US national interest.

June 14th, 2009, 3:38 am


Shai said:


“Human rights is not something only for ” a bunch of white men”. It is for everyone.”

You’ll have me in tears in a minute. From a nation that still puts executes people and has, at least during the reign of the previous democratically-elected President, exercised torture, I think it’s a little hard for you to talk about “human rights”. And with the kind of human-rights “gloves” the U.S. treated Iraqis over the past 6 years, I think some in our region would almost prefer their own regimes.

But you know I’m not arguing AGAINST human rights by saying Democracy will happen much much slower than the West thinks. Of course, FOX taught you that anyone against forcing Democracy down someone’s throat, as if it’s precisely the pill he’s been begging for, is against basic human rights. Well, thankfully, life is even more complex than Black-or-FOX. Human rights are a must in our region, as they are in yours. But as OTW wrote above, in the regimes that exist today, change will occur slowly, and smartly. Not the American go-get-’em GI-JOE style (that’s my “white men” I was referring to). I know it’s hard for you to understand this point.

June 14th, 2009, 5:40 am


Off the Wall said:

Khatami tried his best, but as we all know, the supreme leader and a small group of cleric are his bosses. They blocked every move he did. After him, they did a lot of work to prevent another Khatami from emerging and I doubt that when they approved the four candidates, they expected that Mousawi will even have any real popularity.

A crucial point is that in the next four years, AhmadiNejad’s claim to legitimacy will always be challenged among a wide swath of the public. That may not affect his ability to govern, but it will have an impact on the ability of the cleric to argue that they are guardians of the people interest and of a unique form of democracy. Another important battle will be in what happens to Rafsanjani. AhamdiNejad threats to him with corruption investigation are probably approved by the supreme leader. Clashes in the house will be costly, and If Rafsanjani is threatened, the regime will lose support among some of the backbone of the revolution, Tehran’s merchant class.

I few more months, expect a parade of dissidents who would swear that they witnessed fraud (it is already beginning inside Iran as some claimed).

June 14th, 2009, 6:33 am


t_desco said:

It is important to understand that we are seeing two things here, in my view: the struggle of hardliners vs. reformers on one hand and, linked to this but not identical with it, on the other hand palace wars (not unlike North Korea, btw) between the groups backing Ahmadinejad (probably including Khamenei) on one side and the groups linked to Rafsanjani on the other side.

The youths protesting in North Tehran are genuinely interested in reforms and so is (probably) Mohammad Khatami, but the people around Rafsanjani may actually be more interested in preserving their (considerable) interests.

Palace wars can turn pretty nasty (“thuds and screams from inside the Topkapi Palace”, as Brad DeLong likes to say…) and sometimes they can even leave the confines of the palace and engulf the whole country (like, for example, when Mao’s power was challenged and in response he unleashed the ‘Cultural Revolution’).

June 14th, 2009, 10:45 am


trustquest said:

You are right, thanks for the correction and I can feel your sadness in the current Iranian saga for the loss of the reformers who could have made a big difference for themselves and for others.

June 14th, 2009, 1:09 pm


t_desco said:

Wow, Ahmadinejad pretty much declared war on Rafsanjani and his circle in that speech (“200 individuals”, if I heard that right). He went for the jugular: illicit wealth of former government officials.

June 14th, 2009, 2:27 pm


norman said:

No Hezbollah veto in new Lebanon govt: Siniora
3 hours ago

CAIRO (AFP) — Outgoing Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora said on Sunday that Hezbollah’s right to veto legislation would not be reinstated by the new Lebanese government.

The Shiite movement Hezbollah and its Christian allies last year obtained the right to veto thanks to a deal that allocated them 11 of 30 cabinet seats.

The deal was eked out to defuse a power struggle with the rival coalition of Saad Hariri, whose Western-backed coalition defeated the Iranian-backed Shiite group and its allies in a general election on June 7.

But Siniora said that the deal “has nothing to do with the Lebanese constitution or its democratic system,” following talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit in Cairo.

“This is why this formula was for a predetermined period which ends with the end of the mandate of the current government.”

“If a new government of national unity is formed, it will be based on partnership and not on the principle of veto,” Siniora told journalists.

Hezbollah and its allies have demanded that their veto power over key decisions be maintained.

Hariri’s camp has said it would not accept this request while Hariri himself has said it was too early to speculate on such demands.

June 14th, 2009, 2:40 pm


Shai said:

Why Discuss,

Yossi Sarid had an article this weekend titled “And They’re Calling Him a Negro”. He was referring, of course, to those Settlers in the W

June 14th, 2009, 3:26 pm


Shai said:

Why Discuss,

Yossi Sarid had an article this weekend titled “And They’re Calling Him a Negro”. He was referring, of course, to those Settlers in the West Bank who are calling Obama a Negro. Last time those posters were up in Israel was in Rabin’s time. And he was assassinated by someone who felt more than supported by the masses.

Maybe AP can tell us what he thinks of those posters, and whether the Settler friends he visited in Efrat, West Bank, last time he was in Israel are some of the ones calling Obama a Negro. Would they tear down such posters (“Obama is an antisemite”) if they ran across them?

June 14th, 2009, 3:32 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Actually, President Carter endorses the Gush Etzion settlements…

Sorry Shai.

June 14th, 2009, 6:03 pm


Shai said:


🙂 You’re funny.

Carter said about Gush Etzion that he thought it was one of those close settlement blocs to the 1967 lines that wouldn’t be dismantled or returned. Does that mean he endorses in any way shape or form Settlement activity in the West Bank, or in Gush Etzion specifically? Of course not! If he endorsed it, he’d endorse other settlements as well and, in fact, would be against a Palestinian state, just as your buddies in Efrat are.

Btw, it was a nice attempt to ya’ani answer my question above, without answering it. Let’s try again – “Maybe AP can tell us what he thinks of those posters, and whether the Settler friends he visited in Efrat, West Bank, last time he was in Israel are some of the ones calling Obama a Negro. Would they tear down such posters (”Obama is an antisemite”) if they ran across them?”

June 14th, 2009, 6:10 pm


offended said:

Great speech by Bibi. He took the short path to anti-climax by reciting the whole mandate of the Likud party. (i.e. all bunch of crap)

June 14th, 2009, 7:33 pm


Shai said:


I wasn’t excited by the speech either, nor did I expect much. To be honest, I was somewhat surprised that he made it so clear (to his coalition) that he is talking about two states. Reaction from the Right has not been good, and in the coming days we’ll see if that translates into anything. Apparently, the only two people who were privy to the entire speech in advance, and with whom Bibi consulted, were none other than Benny Begin (Menachem Begin’s son) and Bugy Yaalon (ex-COGS).

Lots of interpretations here in Israel, also of course covering the Palestinian reaction (“1000 years…”), but the real question we should be asking ourselves is: “If Netanyahu is going to lead Israel in any positive direction, could he have said anything differently, at THIS stage, and aimed at HIS people?” I’m not sure the answer is yes.

I’m actually not at all excited by his public removal of key elements the Palestinians demand for negotiations (Jerusalem, Right-of-Return, demilitarized state, etc.) He has to also show his voters that he is not accepting anything in advance, unlike all other PM’s on the Left and Center.

June 14th, 2009, 8:18 pm


t_desco said:

‘Cultural Revolution’ in Iran?

“”Although the president is not the chief decision-maker, Ahmadinejad’s win is a sign that Iranian politics is in a state of flux,” said Alireza Nader of the RAND Corporation.


“The power of the traditional ruling elite — men such as (Hashemi Akbar) Rafsanjani — has been effectively challenged by Ahmadinejad and his supporters, including top-ranking and fundamentalist members of the Revolutionary Guard.” (…)

“There is a clash at the heart of the system between Rafsanjani and the supreme leader,” said Ali Ansari, director of the Institute for Iranian Studies at St Andrews University.”

“Khamenei’s backing of the disputed election results has surprised many in Iran, precisely because it is directed against a substantial segment of the revolution’s political establishment. Just as Mao Zedong, in China’s Cultural Revolution, unleashed a campaign of terror carried out by poorer young people against what he decried as the more liberal, “bourgeois” elements of the communist party, so does Ahmadinejad claim to be waging a class war, with the backing of the poor and the security forces, against a corrupt political elite brought to power by the revolution. And he clearly has Khamenei’s backing.”

Ready to take on economic oligarchs: Ahmadinejad

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (…) has pledged to work for the common man, oppose the country’s economic oligarchs and ensure that Tehran maintained a high profile internationally.

“People (…) are seeking justice, ending discrimination, protection of public wealth and are against special privileges for special people,” he said at a late evening televised address on Saturday.

Ahead of the President’s speech, his press adviser, Ali-Akbar Javanfekr, announced that Mr. Ahmadinejad would unveil more “corruption cases” in his second presidential term. “The fight against economic corruption and illegal enrichment is a general demand and conforms to the principles of the Islamic Revolution,” he added.

Analysts say these observations from the President’s camp point to a possible head-on confrontation between Mr. Ahmadinejad and the former President, Hashemi Rafsanjani, who now heads the powerful Expediency Council.
The Hindu

As I said, Ahmadinejad’s speech today contained a direct attack on Rafsanjani and his circle (without mentioning any names, but the crowd did that for him). Unfortunately (but unsurprisingly) I couldn’t find any report or translation, yet.

June 14th, 2009, 8:21 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:


N’Jad is right regarding the corrupt nature of Rafsanjhani.
So I’m not surprised that N’Jad’s electorate supports him on that.
N’Jad threatened to expose “files”, to prove his corruption claims.
If he indeed has those proofs, I’m sure he’ll show them along the
way, when the power struggle becomes sleazier.

June 14th, 2009, 9:40 pm


Yossi said:

I felt somewhat pleased at Bibi’s speech. It was the most he could conceivably offer and to be honest if you buy into the two-state vision then his demands for a clear recognition that one of these states is “for the Jews” makes sense (in the logical settings premised by narrowing discussion to a single type of solution). This is why the two-states vision is such a double edged sword for the Palestinians and really a necessity for Israel. Obama has put the Palestinians in a real bind. They can either accept it and kiss goodbye to their keys for homes in Haifa and Jaffa or they can try to switch to a one-state vision. The trick for the Palestinians in switching to the one-state solution would be in making sure that they are not viewed as the ones that have squandered American goodwill invested towards a two-state solution. They will also need to really articulate such a vision in a framework of true pluralism and maturity, which is not something their society was ever ready for. Unable to boldly step in either of these directions, they will continue to do what they are doing now: a mixture of aimless “resistance” on one hand coupled with playing along on the diplomatic front, but without any sweeping vision speeches or anything like that.

June 15th, 2009, 12:09 am


Akbar Palace said:

BB’s speech:

Obama’s response:

“The president welcomes the important step forward in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a written statement. “The president is committed to two states, a Jewish state of Israel and an independent Palestine, in the historic homeland of both peoples. He believes this solution can and must ensure both Israel’s security and the fulfillment of the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for a viable state, and he welcomes Prime Minister Netanyahu’s endorsement of that goal.”

Yes, a “real bind”.

June 15th, 2009, 12:46 am


why-discuss said:


One iranian expert on CNN said that Khamenei dreaded to have Moussavi as a president as when Khamenei was president and Moussavi his prime minister, Moussavi was bullying him and he did not want to face that again. For him the election was rigged.

Another expert Kaveh Kafriasabi said that Moussavi was an amateur, who has been more interested in painting during the last 21 years when the Islamic Revolution made of Iran a stronger power player in the international community, especially under Ahmadi Nejad.
He believes that Moussavi failed to present the proofs of the irregularities and acted foolishly denouncing bluntly the result of the election.

June 15th, 2009, 3:18 am


Shai said:


“They can either accept it and kiss goodbye to their keys for homes in Haifa and Jaffa or they can try to switch to a one-state vision.”

If we agree that a so-called UME can be created, after a few decades of peace, then there certainly can be a de-facto right-of-return one day.

Truth is, during Bibi’s speech, I kept thinking that I wasn’t sure which Bibi actually preferred – a two-state solution, or a one-state one! He said things like “… and they’ll have their own anthem, and their own flag…” To me that sounded an awful lot like a single, binational state.

Well, why can’t the Palestinians now choose the most obvious path? Why can’t they simply say: “Thank you for the very honest speech – we understand that there are vast differences between us that apparently cannot be overcome. Let us not continue to try to force one another into our preferred solution. We want to formally express the end to our national aspirations (to a separate state) and, instead, to be fully accepted as citizens of Israel. We don’t want Jaffa or Haifa or Lod back. We want to stay where we are. We accept the results of 1967, we accept Jewish settlements in the ancient land of your peoples, and we are ready to live in peace WITH you (not side-by-side).”

What could Bibi say then? No, you MUST have your own state?

June 15th, 2009, 3:56 am


Shai said:


Why do you continue to demonstrate a special ability to understand your buddies-in-Efrat’s dreams of living in the ancient land of their Judean tribes, yet you cannot fathom the dreams of very real Palestinians to use their very real keys, to reopen their very real modern-day homes, out of which they were kicked out just 60 years ago?

June 15th, 2009, 4:30 am


t_desco said:


it is perhaps surprising that the extremely conservative Khamenei would back somebody as radical as Ahmadinejad, but then this is a ‘revolution’ with conservative characteristics.

There are still no reports about what was, in my view, the most important passage in Ahmadinejad’s victory rally speech, so I will have to do this from memory:

It truly amounted to a declaration of war against Rafsanjani and his circle. He said that, under the banner of the fight against corruption, the illicit wealth of former office holders would be investigated. He singled out “200 individuals” without naming anyone, but I think that at that moment the crowd began shouting the name of “Rafsanjani”, which seemed to please Ahmadinejad. In rather chilling rhetoric, he went on to compare these officials to a ‘drop’ of ‘contaminated water’ that could threaten all the ‘clean water’ of society.

More concretely, he announced that he would reintroduce this bill in parliament:

GC Rejects Bill On Probing Officials’ Assets

TEHRAN, July 17–Spokesman of the Guardians Council Abbasali Kadkhodaei said on Tuesday the parliament’s approved draft for investigating the assets of officials has been rejected. (…)
(Iran Daily, Jul 18, 2007)

June 15th, 2009, 9:31 am


t_desco said:

The background:

By backing Mousavi, “Ahmadinejad’s behind-the-scenes opponents” (i.e. Rafsanjani and his circle) were “protecting their own considerable financial and political interests, which include control of key segments of foreign trade, private education and agriculture“.
(Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times, June 7, 2009)

“(…) In October 2006, the supreme leader of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei in a letter to the President and Cabinet demanded a reduction in the class gap. He stated that:

“Because of the class gap that has remained from former regime, now our country needs economic justice more than anything.
(Abbas Bakhtiar, January 25, 2007)

Ahmadinejad: Corruption revelations will continue

Iran’s incumbent President Ahmadinejad says he will reveal more names to the public if “the racketeers” do not stop meddling in public properties.

In an address in Esfahan on Friday, Ahmadinejad said “Some asked me why I mentioned some names, and I say this is just the beginning of the way, if they do not stop plotting against people and the government…all of them will be introduced to the public.” (…)

Ahmadinejad accused the Rafsanjani family as well as some other prominent political figures in the Islamic Revolution of “political sabotage” and “money laundering”.

Ahmadinejad who is seeking a second term in office, added in the Friday speech that “They preferred their families and their groups’ benefits over the benefits of the public and little by little, rings of power and wealth started to shape, till they were detached from the workaday public.,” Fars news agency reported. ”
(Press TV, 06 Jun 2009)

More signs of a power struggle:

Iran: There Will Be Blood
Steve Clemons

Possible repercussions (although somewhat alarmist):

Any earthquakes in Iran have the potential to rattle Lebanon
The Daily Star

In other news:

Lebanon busts key Qaeda cell: army commander

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) — Lebanon has busted a key Al-Qaeda cell network that was plotting attacks in a number of Arab countries, its army commander said in comments published by Kuwaiti newspapers.

“We busted a huge network of Al-Qaeda,” Lebanese Brigadier General Jean Kahwaji was quoted as saying by Assiyasah newspaper.

The network was plotting to “destabilise Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Gulf countries including Kuwait,” Kahwaji said at a function held at the Lebanese embassy in Kuwait City.

He provided no details about the date of the arrest, nor the number of those arrested or their nationality. There was no immediate confirmation from Beirut. (…)

June 15th, 2009, 10:18 am


t_desco said:

Finally, some good news (if true):

Why is Dennis Ross being ousted as Obama envoy to Iran?
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent

Dennis Ross, who most recently served as a special State Department envoy to Iran, will abruptly be relieved of his duties, sources in Washington told Haaretz. An official announcement is expected in the coming days.

The Obama administration will announce that Ross has been reassigned to another position in the White House. In his new post, the former Mideast peace envoy under President Bill Clinton will deal primarily with regional issues related to the peace process.

Washington insiders speculate that a number of reasons moved the administration to reassign Ross. One possibility is Iran’s persistent refusal to accept Ross as a U.S. emissary given the diplomat’s Jewish background as well as his purported pro-Israel leanings. Ross is known to maintain contacts with numerous senior officials in Israel’s defense establishment and the Israeli government.

Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem surmised that another possibility for Ross’ ouster is his just-released book, “Myths, Illusions, and Peace – Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East.”

Ross, who co-wrote the book with David Makovsky, a former journalist who is a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, argued against a linkage between the Palestinian issue and the West’s policy against Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Ross and Mokovsky also raised the possibility of military action against Iran.

“Tougher policies – either militarily or meaningful containment – will be easier to sell internationally and domestically if we have diplomatically tried to resolve our differences with Iran in a serious and credible fashion,” they wrote.

Another possible reason for the reshuffle could be Ross’ dissatisfaction with his present standing in the State Department, particularly given the fact that Washington’s two other envoys to the region – George Mitchell, who is overseeing the Mideast peace process; and Richard Holbrooke, who is dealing with Pakistan and Afghanistan – wield great influence and are featured prominently.

A diplomatic source in Jerusalem speculated that perhaps Ross preferred to work for the National Security Agency, which answers directly to President Barack Obama, and would thus be considered a more enhanced role. (…)

This, however, could be a worrying development:

Report: Amendment to Rules of Tribunal: Decline in Transparency

The daily Al Akhbar on Monday said that amendments to 14 rules in the Rules of Procedure and Evidence (RPE) that were unanimously adopted by the judges of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon indicated a decline in transparency.

It said the most prominent amendment related to exposing the court to skepticism (rule 96) suggests that the STL could “hide information” related to measures that paved the way for the issuance of the indictment until after the final verdict and after the appeal or even to a non-specific date “if need be to protect any person.”

Rule 96:
A) Subject to sub-paragraph , pre-trial filings, proceedings and orders shall be public, unless otherwise provided by the Rules or decided by the Pre-Trial Judge at the request of a Party.
B) Any filing or order relating to coercive investigative measures, including requests for search warrants, arrest warrants or subpoenas; (ii) a request for confirmation of an indictment; or (iii) an application or notification under Rules 115-119 that is filed under seal by the Prosecutor shall remain under seal for as long as is necessary for the effective conduct of the investigation and/or the protection of any person.
C) This Rule shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to the Defense.

The STL President proposed these amendments which are designed to further enhance and facilitate proceedings before the Tribunal. The amendments relate to the investigation stage of the proceedings (rules 16, 18, 77 and 96).
(Naharnet, 15 Jun 09)

June 15th, 2009, 2:02 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Why do you continue to demonstrate a special ability to understand your buddies-in-Efrat’s dreams of living in the ancient land of their Judean tribes, yet you cannot fathom the dreams of very real Palestinians to use their very real keys, to reopen their very real modern-day homes, out of which they were kicked out just 60 years ago?


Unlike you, I recognize not only the dreams of the Palestinians, but also the dreams of the Jewish people.

I think Bush, Carter and Obama recognize these dreams as well.

What’s your excuse?

June 15th, 2009, 2:07 pm


Shai said:


By sarcastically saying “Yes, a real bind” (in reference to the dream-breaker a 2-state solution has for the Palestinian people), you are certainly not demonstrating recognition or understanding of the Palestinians’ justified dream.

My grandparents had to flee their home in Eastern Poland in 1939, and escaped to Russia which was the only nation that received them. They lived there for 8 years as refugees. Imagine they had lived there for 60 years, not 8. Imagine Israel was not an option for them and, instead, a new Polish-Jewish state was offered, Bantustan-like, adjacent to their old homeland. Their dream of going back home was not to be met, ever. And, if they didn’t like that option, another option would be given, namely to live under an Apartheid in the same territory.

They too would be in “a bind”, wouldn’t they?

Btw, you still haven’t answered my questions in comment #52 above. Are they too difficult?

June 15th, 2009, 4:04 pm


Akbar Palace said:

By sarcastically saying “Yes, a real bind” (in reference to the dream-breaker a 2-state solution has for the Palestinian people), you are certainly not demonstrating recognition or understanding of the Palestinians’ justified dream.


By recognizing a Palestinian state, how am I not demonstrating “recognition or understanding of the Palestinians ‘justified dream'”?

And are you ALSO saying Carter and Obama are “not demonstrating recognition or understanding of the Palestinians ‘justified dream'”?

My sarcastic remark was my (believe it or not) agreement with Obama’s reaction to BB’s speech and Obama’s understanding of the solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Bevakasha, ten li hokhakha she ata lo manyak kaze majnoon smali.

Sorry, I had to get that out.

June 15th, 2009, 5:30 pm


Shai said:


I have a feeling you have a lot more to get out than just that. After Obama is able to rally the entire world and reinvigorate a sense of optimism in just a few months, in a way neither you nor the President you supported for over 8 years were able to do, I imagine there’s a lot of internal frustration that needs to “get out”.

Don’t think that by writing in semi-Hebrew, you’re impressing either me or our readers. Maybe to you, the words “Smali” (Leftist) are synonymous with “Majnoon” or “Manyak”, but that’s also not surprising, is it?

When you’ve calmed yourself down, and gotten all your needs out, use the scroll bar on the right, go up to comment #52, and see if you can answer those difficult questions I posed to you earlier.

June 15th, 2009, 6:29 pm


Shai said:

Bibi’s Speech: When a few reporters were asked this morning on Israeli radio how they would describe Bibi’s speech last night, one of them (Ben Caspit of Ma’ariv) said: “One giant step for Netanyahu, One small step for Peace.”

I thought that was the most appropriate description I’ve heard so far, and pretty much covers it all.

June 15th, 2009, 6:42 pm


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