China’s Rise Undermines Power of Sanctions as US Diplomatic Tool

In Schenker’s article about China (copied below), he omits one fact. Iran and Syria are forced to look to China because America has closed all doors to them and is sanctioning them. Turkey does not have to look East, but if it wants to trade with Iran and cultivate good relations with Russia, Syria and the neighborhood, it cannot afford to remain so dependent on the US and Israel for its defense and economic needs. What is more, Turkey was excluded from the EU; America’s closest ally just killed 9 of its citizens. These are all reasons that turkey is increasingly looking East to Russia and China. It does not want to alienate its new friends, who ahve the potential to help drive its economy forward. The US is insisting that Turkey sanction Iran, a 10 billion dollar a year trading partner. Asia is the future. In 2008, Asian nations as a group passed the United States with $387 billion in research and development spending, compared with $384 billion in the United States and $280 billion in Europe.

Every Middle Eastern country is beginning to make calculations similar to Turkey’s. They are discounting US power and counting on China and India to be able to soften US sanctions in the future. The US should not be following use more sanctions and more sticks to force regional states into capitulating to US and Israeli demands. Instead, the US should soften its diplomacy in the region. Most importantly, it should back away from confrontation with Iran. It should also avoid greater conflict with Turkey. Using sanctions as its main tool of diplomacy with Syria and Iran is isolating the US and producing deep resentments in the region that will inevitably find a way to express themselves as anti-Americanism.

The most compelling argument against using sanctions, is that they produce the wrong outcome. They are counter productive because they make Middle Easterners poorer. The only real solution for improved US – Middle East relations is growing a bigger middle class.  Only when Middle Easterners are better educated and better integrated into the global economy will we see serious movement toward democracy and liberalism in the region. The US should apply the same logic it applies to China to the Middle East: more prosperity will eventually lead to a more democratic regime and better relations.

It is worth reading Fareed Zakaria on this question in today’s Washington Post.  I had dinner with him on Monday, when he visited the University of Oklahoma and we discussed the wisdom America’s decision to make Iran its number one security threat and arm twist regional powers such as Turkey, India and Russia to sanction it. He writes about sanctions and containment, as follows.

By undertaking this trip to India, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia, Obama was making America’s opening move in a new great power game unfolding in Asia. Until now, China’s rise had been talked about more as an abstraction. But events over the past few months have made the rise of China tangible in the eyes of many Asians. They are watching how the United States will react. The right reaction is not containment….

China’s Rise in the Middle East

It’s unrealistic to expect that Washington could have excluded Beijing from the Middle East. But the rate of Chinese progress occurs amid a perception that the U.S. is withdrawing from the region.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was in China this month touting the “new cooperation paradigm” between Ankara and Beijing. Just a week earlier, a top political advisor to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao spent five days in Syria signing deals and planting olive trees in the Golan Heights. The Middle Kingdom, it seems, is planting deep roots in the Middle East these days.

The reach of the People’s Republic is far and wide, extending from the Far East to Africa to Latin America, and its interest in the Middle East is neither new nor surprising: China gets more than a quarter of its oil imports from the Persian Gulf and has billions invested in Iran’s oil sector. Recently, though, Beijing appears to be making greater headway, a development fueled by Washington’s creeping withdrawal from the region.

Starting in the 1990s, China filled a void in Syria left by a decaying Soviet Union, providing the terrorist state with a variety of missiles. Today, Syrian President Bashar Assad is fulfilling his 2004 pledge to “look East” toward Asia to escape the Western hold on the Middle East. In addition to serving as an ongoing and reliable source of weapons, China has invested heavily in modernizing Syria’s antiquated energy sector.

More striking, however, has been Beijing’s rapid inroads with the Islamist government in Ankara headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In October, Wen was the first Chinese premier to visit Turkey in eight years. Erdogan and Wen inked eight deals, including an agreement to transform the ancient SilkRoad into a “Silk Railway” linking China and Turkey.

Of more concern than the budding economic relationship, however, is the nascent military relationship between NATO partner Turkey and China. The most recent manifestation of these ties was the unprecedented inclusion in October of Chinese warplanes in the Turkish military exercise Anatolian Eagle, maneuvers that previously had included the U.S. and Israel.

Although Turkey reportedly left its modern U.S.-built F-16s in their hangars during the exercises and instead flew its F-4s, which the U.S. Air Force retired from service in 1996, the damage was done. Chinese participation in the exercise exacerbated the already extant crisis of confidence between Washington and its NATO partner. The joint announcement in October that China and Turkey had formally upgraded their bilateral relationship to that of a “strategic partnership” only makes matters worse.

Beijing did not choose Iran, Syria and Turkey as the focal point of its regional “outreach” by accident. These northern-tier Middle Eastern states all have complicated if not problematic relations with the United States and increasingly close ties with one another. To complement this triumvirate, China appears to be looking to Iraq as the next target of its charm offensive.

China is the leading oil and gas investor in Iraq, and it is paying millions to protect its investment there. That’s not surprising since Iraq has the world’s largest known oil reserves. China has also purchased extensive goodwill with Baghdad by forgiving $6 billion to $8 billion in Iraqi debt accrued during the Saddam Hussein era. And Beijing has gotten in on the sale of weapons — worth in excess of $100 million — to the new government in Baghdad….

Turkey objects to Iran-centric Nato shield

“… As negotiations on a missile defence shield enter their final days before a Nato leaders’ meeting in Lisbon, Turkey is turning out to be more of a problem to the alliance than Russia, whose hostile attitude towards its former Cold War enemy is starting to fade.

One of the main sticking points in agreeing the final text of Nato’s new strategic concept is the language in which countries describe the potential missile threats to Europe, EUobserver has learned.
Despite being one of the early members of the military alliance which it joined in 1952, Turkey has grown increasingly at odds with its Western allies as it seeks closer ties to its eastern neighbours Iran and Syria, which the US and also some European allies, such as France, want to name as threats.

Not mentioning the Middle Eastern hotspots would create renewed difficulties with Russia, Nato diplomats say, just as Moscow has started to give signs that it no longer considers the shield to be directed against itself.
Other Nato sources say that “it is not Turkey alone” which is creating a problem for the shield, but a broader “nexus” of issues connected to missile defence, such as France’s reluctance to join the aim of a “nuclear-free world” and Germany’s insistance on nuclear disarmament….”

Tehran Sets Deadline For India

“…India, fresh off a visit by US President Barack Obama, is being put in a dilemma by the Iranian government which says it has until the end of December to put up or shut up about its proposed investments in Iran’s rich South Pars gas field.

A senior official at the petroleum ministry told Asia Sentinel that it is a “tough ask for New Delhi to balance India’s energy needs with America’s discomfort about any country doing business with Iran.”
Although contracts have been signed, the money that has flowed so far has not been enough to invite US sanctions. However, this will need to change if the South Pars project is to move forward.

Roger Cohen argues that Hillary Clinton will be successful in negotiating a just two state solution to the Arab-Palestinian conflict. Few others respond to the latest Washignton offer to Israel in such a positive light. Read Hitchen’s article which follows Cohen’s.

Madam Secretary’s Middle East

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has taken charge…. The heavy lifting is now in Clinton’s hands. Officials in Washington, Jerusalem and Ramallah tell me that the secretary of state will lead what her husband recently called the attempt to “finish Rabin’s work.”

“She’s not insecure about Israel, she will call the shots as she sees them,” a senior U.S. official said. “And she would not be engaged if she did not feel there was a way to get there.”

Clinton’s new role was evident last week. During a video conference with Fayyad, she announced $150 million in direct U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority (and said America was “deeply disappointed” by “counterproductive” Israeli housing plans in East Jerusalem). The next day she went into nearly eight hours of talk with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that opened the negotiations door a crack.

Before I get to that, some background. The Clinton of today is not the Clinton of a decade ago. Compare that sharp criticism of Israel’s East Jerusalem building with her 1999 position that Jerusalem is “the eternal and indivisible capital of Israel.” Somewhere in the past decade her conviction hardened that the state of Palestine is achievable, inevitable and compatible with Israeli security.

“A bit of an epiphany,” in the words of one aide, came in March 2009 on the road to Ramallah. “We drove in a motorcade and you could see the settlements high up, and the brutality of it was so stark,” this aide said. “Everyone got quite silent and as we approached Ramallah there were these troops in berets. They were so professional, we thought at first they were Israel Defense Forces. But, no, they were Palestinians, this completely professional outfit, and it was clear this was something new.”

That “something” is fundamental: the transition from a self-pitying, self-dramatizing Palestinian psyche, with all the cloying accoutrements of victimhood, to a self-affirming culture of pragmatism and institution-building. The shift is incomplete. But it has won Clinton over. And it’s powerful enough to pose a whole new set of challenges to Israel: Palestine is serious now.

Another moment came in September 2010 when Clinton held a meeting with Fayyad that threw her schedule off because it ran so long. Fayyad is Mr. Self-Empowerment, the Palestinian who, at last, has put facts before “narrative,” growth before grumbling, roads before ranting, and security before everything. Clinton, I was told, has “strong views” on Fayyad. She said last week she had “great confidence” in him….

Israel’s Shabbos Goy
Why America will come to regret the craven deal Obama is offering Netanyahu.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, Nov. 15, 2010

Those of us who keep an eye on the parties of God are avid students of the weekly Sabbath sermons of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. In these and other venues, usually broadcast, this elderly Sephardic ayatollah provides an action-packed diet that seldom disappoints. A few months ago, he favored his devout audience with a classic rant in which he called down curses on the Palestinian Arabs and their leaders, wishing that a plague would come and sweep them all away. Last month, he announced that the sole reason for the existence of gentiles was to perform menial services for Jews: After that, he opined, their usefulness was at an end….

Read Clinton on Syria: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton give a speech during her visit to Government House in Melbourne on November 7. Syria has failed to meet Washington’s hopes since the Obama administration started to engage with the former US foe, Clinton said in an interview published Friday.… George Mitchell has engaged with Syria on the Middle East peace progress, and my Assistant Secretary Jeff Feltman has had good consultations with Syrian officials about Iraq,” she said. “But we have also had some very difficult discussions with Damascus about its actions in Lebanon and elsewhere,” the secretary said.

Clinton’s remarks on Friday. After Hassan Nasrallah said his group will “cut the hand” of anyone who tries to arrest its members for the 2005 assassination of Rafik Hariri….Clinton said: “Hezbollah should know that resorting once again to violence in Lebanon runs completely counter to the interests of the Lebanese people, the interests of the region, and of the United States … They should also know that if the goal of violence is to stop the tribunal, it won’t work …

Rafik Hariri murder probe hinders progress on Lebanon-Syria ties
Blandford in CSM

The Hariri murder probe is getting closer to issuing indictments, straining ties between Lebanon and Syria and complicating US goals in the region.

Last week, a senior UN official warned that Lebanon was in a “hyper-dangerous” situation.

Despite the focus on Hezbollah, Syria remains within the circle of suspicion for the murder of Hariri, as well as other prominent anti-Syrian figures, and would like to see an end to the tribunal, analysts say……

But there are signs recently that the US may be toughening its attitude toward Damascus.

“Rather than playing a positive role, recent Syrian behavior and rhetoric has had a destabilizing effect on Lebanon and the region, and has contributed to these recent tensions,” says Jake Walles, deputy assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, citing the transfer of weapons from Syria to Hezbollah and the indictments against 33 Lebanese figures. “These types of activities directly undermine Lebanon’s sovereignty and directly undermine Syria’s stated commitments to Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence.”

Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute of Near East Policy, says that the US may adopt more of a balanced “hybrid policy” with Syria than outright engagement in the coming months.

“By now most policy makers expected there would be daylight between Syria and Hezbollah, but the arrest warrants forced everyone to go back to the drawing board,” he says.

Jerusalem Post: MI Chief: Iran and Russia giving Syria advanced weapons
2010-11-02, JPost

Outgoing Head of Military Intelligence General Amos Yadlin made his final appearance in front of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday, saying that he has seen “three defense ministers, two chiefs of the general staff and two …

“… In addition to supplying long range weapons such as M-600 and scuds missiles to Hezbollah, Syria was recently reported to have entered into a military alliance with Hezbollah, consisting of joint headquarters which would take hold in the event of war with Israel…..

While it remains a distinct possibility that Israel would attack Lebanese targets during a future conflagration with Hezbollah, it is doubtful that Israel would willingly extend the war to Syria. This remains the case even if Israel were to set itself an ambitious (and unrealistic) aim of eliminating Hezbollah. Israel would inevitably face condemnation from all corners of the international community; from allies and even the US, and would be hard pressed to find approval from Washington, keen to engage Syria and concerned about Syria’s ability to make life difficult for troops in neighboring Iraq. An Israeli attack and the lack of US support would make the likelihood of an emergency UN Security Council meeting and subsequent binding resolution a near guarantee, limiting Israel’s time and ability to launch a credible and effective operation against Syria. Indeed, expanding a war against Hezbollah would effectively assure Israel of international isolation. Following the US lead, Europe, Canada and Australia would outwardly condemn Israel’s actions in the harshest tone possible and would add fuel to the fire of the ‘boycott Israel’ movement. Much closer to home, Israel would face unrest not only in the Palestinian territories, but also in Arab neighborhoods in the north of Israel. Egypt, Jordan and Turkey would recall their ambassadors (assuming that Turkey’s ambassador will soon be re-stationed in Tel Aviv) and face virulent public demands that future relations with Israel be reassessed….

But assuming that, as Leiberman predicted, Israel did go to war against Syria, attacking Syrian targets, and destroying its airforce and the Assad regime, the question of Assad’s successor would become urgent. It is highly doubtful that Israel would want to open such a pandora’s box. Despite the rhetoric, posturing and concern over Syria’s ties to Iran and Hezbollah, Israel has enjoyed over two decades of relative quiet on its Syrian front…..

A future war between Israel and Hezbollah is unlikely to involve Syria, and if there were any kind of engagement it would be on a small scale, with Israel most likely attacking the transfer of balance-altering weaponry. If Israel were to attack Syria without a significant casus belli, it could face unprecedented diplomatic isolation as well as thousands of rockets aimed at its population centers and military targets. Assad, on the other hand, stands to lose his hold on power if he becomes embroiled in a large-scale conflict with Israel. Both parties have compelling reasons to want to avoid such an eventuality. There is no cause for complacency, however. In a border wherehedging trees can lead to a fatal exchange of fire, and Iranian nuclear ambitions could provoke an Israeli attack, unpredictability remains the best presumption.”

Syria: U.S. Can Keep it’s Diplomatic Advice
2010-11-04 AP. CBS News’ George Baghdadi in Damascus.

Syria on Thursday slammed advice given by a senior U.S. diplomat as to how the Middle Eastern nation should manage relations with its neighbors and internal political groups, …

Syria Must Wield Influence in Lebanon to Help U.S. Relations,
Says Top Diplomat, By Glenn Kessler, Nov. 1 (Washington Post)

Feltman discounted Iranian influence on Syria, saying that unless Damascus mends relations with Washington, it has no chance of winning the return of the Golan Heights, which was seized by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. Syria has said that it wishes to have its territorial expectations met through a peace agreement with Israel and that Syria recognizes the essential role that we can play in achieving that,” Feltman said. “So this suggests to me that Syria is in fact interested in a better relationship with us. But our interests in a comprehensive peace doesn’t mean that we are going to start trading our other interests in Iraq or Lebanon in order to get Damascus to like us better.”

But Feltman refrained from naming any consequences for Syria and Iran if they undermine the Lebanese government, except to say that Syria risked losing an opportunity to improve ties with Washington. … Feltman said that the administration is “deeply concerned” about Lebanon.

Haaretz: Outgoing MI chief hints at Israel role in strike on Syria nuclear facility

Outgoing Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin took part Tuesday in his final meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, ahead of his imminent departure from the post which he has held for the last four years. In his …

A century of dispute peaks in south Beirut
by Rami Khoury, The Daily Star – Opinion Articles –

Zvi Bar’el writes Thanks to our friend at War in Context:

“Iran is not the enemy, Israel is the enemy,” the head of the Center for Strategic Studies in Saudi Arabia declared in an interview with Al Jazeera. This was his response to a question on whether the $60 billion arms deal between Riyadh and Washington was meant to deter Iran. The American efforts to portray the deal as aimed against Tehran doesn’t fit with the Saudi point of view, and it seems this isn’t the only subject over which these two countries fail to see eye to eye.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia twice last week, and Iran reported that a senior Iranian official would visit Riyadh soon. It’s not clear if it will be Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki or the head of the National Security Council, Saeed Jalili.

But the frequent contacts between Iran and Saudi Arabia are not over the big arms deal or Iran’s nuclear plans. The two countries have concluded that they need to reach an agreement on two other issues regarding their sphere of influence in the region: Iraq and Lebanon.

Regarding Lebanon, Iran is trying to persuade Saudi Arabia to help stop the work of the special international tribunal investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. This would prevent the collapse of the Lebanese regime. While Iran is worried about Hezbollah’s status, it also doesn’t want Lebanon to collapse or fall into another civil war, whose results cannot be ensured.

In this respect, Tehran doesn’t have to make too great an effort to get Riyadh’s support. This became clear last week to Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs and a former U.S. ambassador to Beirut, when he visited Riyadh. During his meeting with King Abdullah, the monarch tried to figure out America’s position if the international court’s work were stopped. Arab sources say Feltman was “furious but restrained,” and made it clear to the king that Washington was determined to support the tribunal.

With all due respect to the American insistence, if the client that is supposed to pay Washington $60 billion decides it’s vital to halt the tribunal’s work, it won’t make do with consulting the Americans. It will throw its full weight behind the efforts. Meanwhile, the indictment the tribunal is due to publish is not expected before February.

Comments (19)

norman said:

Syria rebuilds Mideast clout, shrugs
off US incentives and pressure to
shun Iran, Hezbollah

BEIRUT – Syria has bounced back from years
of international isolation and is wielding its
influence in crises around the Middle East,
shrugging off U.S. attempts to pull it away
from its alliances with Iran, Hamas and

Damascus played a role in helping Iraq’s
fractious politicians agree this month to form
a new government after eight months of
deadlock. Now with Lebanon’s factions
heading for a possible new violent collision,
Arabs have had to turn to Syria in hopes of
ensuring peace, even as Damascus backs
Lebanon’s heaviest armed player, the Shiite
militant group Hezbollah.

Washington has increasingly expressed its
frustration with Syria, which it says is stirring
up tension through its support of Hezbollah.
Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham
Clinton said Syria’s behavior “has not met
our hopes and expectations” over the past 20
months and that it has “not met its
international obligations.”

Since 2005, Washington — along with its
Arab allies — hoped to squeeze Syrian
influence out of its smaller neighbor
Lebanon. But Arab powers that once
shunned Damascus, particularly Saudi
Arabia, have had to acknowledge its regional

This month, Syrian and Saudi officials have
been holding talks trying to avert an
explosion in Lebanon. It’s a remarkable
turnaround from several years ago, when the
two countries were locked in a bitter rivalry
and an outright personal feud between their
leaders, Syrian President Bashar Assad and
Saudi King Abdullah.

Fears of violence in Lebanon are high
because an international tribunal
investigating the 2005 assassination of
former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is expected
soon to indict members of Hezbollah.

Many Lebanese fear that could break the
country’s fragile unity government grouping
Hezbollah and pro-Western parties loyal to
Hariri’s son, Saad, who is the current prime
minister, and even lead to clashes between
the two sides. With Syria’s backing,
Hezbollah demands Saad Hariri break off
Lebanon’s ties with the tribunal.

Little is known about the Syrian-Saudi talks,
but Lebanon’s daily As-Safir reported
Monday that the contacts have produced a
five-point compromise plan in which Hariri, a
close Saudi ally, is likely to declare Hezbollah
innocent of the assassination once the
tribunal issues indictments.

Such a deal would be a setback for
Washington, which has pressed for support
of the tribunal, and for pro-U.S. factions in
Lebanon who fear the country is coming
under Hezbollah’s thumb.

But it would mark a new success for Syria
and illustrate how it has come to restore its
regional clout largely on its own terms.

It has done so while ignoring incentives from
Washington. President Barack Obama has
made repeated overtures to Damascus this
year, nominating the first U.S. ambassador to
Syria since 2005 and sending top diplomats
to meet with Assad, in hopes of swaying it
away from its alliance with Iran and regional
militant groups.

Still, “Syria did not abandon Iran, Hamas,
Hezbollah or its principles regarding the
(Mideast) peace process,” said Sami
Moubayed, a Syrian political analyst who is
the editor-in-chief of Forward Magazine.

Relations with Washington have now chilled
before they even had a chance to fully warm

Last month, Assad accused the United States
of sowing chaos around the world.

“Is Afghanistan stable? Is Somalia stable? Did
they bring stability to Lebanon in 1983?”
Bashar Assad told Al-Hayat newspaper,
referring to U.S. intervention in Lebanon’s
15-year civil war, which ended in 1990.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice in turn accused
Syria of displaying “flagrant disregard” for
Lebanon’s sovereignty, citing its provision of i
ncreasingly sophisticated weapons to
Hezbollah and other militias in violation of a
U.N. resolution.

“Hezbollah remains the most significant and
most heavily armed Lebanese militia,” Rice
said on Oct. 28. “It could not have done so if
not for Syria’s aid, and facilitation of Syrian
and Iranian arms.” Iran funds the militant
group to the tune of millions of dollars a year
and is believed to supply much of its arsenal.

As it spurns moves by the U.S., Damascus is
making friends elsewhere — and not just
with staunch anti-American governments
such as Iran and Venezuela, whose President
Hugo Chavez swung through Damascus in

Iraqi leaders looked to Syria for help in
solving the political stalemate stemming from
March parliamentary elections, which failed
to produce a clear winner. Prime Minister
Nouri al-Maliki, who along with other
prominent Iraqi officials made a trip to
Damascus, is expected to form a new
government after last week’s deal broke the
political impasse.

Syria’s emergence as a regional heavyweight
is a reversal from just a few years ago. Rafik
Hariri’s assassination prompted a wave of
anti-Syrian protests that forced Damascus to
withdraw its military from Lebanon and end
its long control there. In 2006, relations with
some Arab states took a dive when Assad
called Saudi King Abdullah and other Arab
leaders “half men” over their disapproval of
Hezbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers in
a cross-border raid, which sparked a 34-day
war between Hezbollah and Israel.

Syria could benefit from improved ties with
Washington, which would boost its economy
and end sanctions first imposed by President
George W. Bush. Assad also wants U.S.
mediation in indirect peace talks with Israel
— a recognition that he needs Washington’s
help to win the return of the Golan Heights,
seized by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war.

But after rebuilding its regional status, it may
feel less of a need to pay the price for better

Syria has “turned the page on isolation” by
building its partnership with Saudi Arabia
and asserting a role in Iraq, Peter Harling, a
Syria-based Mideast analyst with the
International Crisis Group, says.

“Syria has been doing well in a region that has

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November 17th, 2010, 12:26 pm


why-discuss said:

“Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham
Clinton said Syria’s behavior “has not met
our hopes and expectations” over the past 20
months and that it has “not met its
international obligations.”

What a stupid statement! Condie used it all the time, about Iran, Iraq etc.. What does it mean ” international obligations”?

Are Israel and the US meeting their “international obligations”?

Hilary talks like a hair-combed parrot without an ounce of originality! No wonder her meeting with Netanyahu lasted 7 hours!
It is time Obama removes her from this job where she is emphatically useless and nominates someone else.

November 17th, 2010, 10:38 pm


Norman said:


Let me make it clear to Madam secretary that Syria was fooled once in 1990 when President G H W Bush promised Syria a move on the peace process if Syria stood with the US and the Western alliance to expel Saddam out of Kuwait only to find out that that peace process stopped after the Madrid conference , so if the US wants Syria to help this time around and Syria can ,the US has to put up first and force Israel out of the Golan , Lebanon and solve the Palestinian problem to their Satisfaction and according with International law , Then and only then Syria will respond to the US interests , Syria does not have the intention to be fooled twice as they say fool me once , shame on you fool me twice shame on me and Syria will not be fooled twice,

November 17th, 2010, 11:02 pm


why-discuss said:


The US is totally unreliable, promises and betrayal, that is all we have seen from the US in the region in the past 50 years.
The only consistencies are the blind support of Israel and the defense and expansion of its energy supplies in the region. Human rights, democracy claims and the nuclear witch hunting are only tools to stigmatize countries who try to hamper its actions.

I think that seeing China competing in the region for its own energy needs (China is already in Africa and eyeing Iraq and maybe Saudi Arabia) the US may have to think again about its policy in the Middle East. The rush to push peace in the Middle east is maybe to rehabilitate the US image badly damaged in the region with the hope to counteract China’s attempts to grab the energy market by playing on the anger against the US.
A failure of the peace process may signify the end of the US political and economical presence in the region. The only presence will be military.

Until then we will hear at nausea Hilary claiming that Iran and Syria are not meeting their “international obligations”

November 18th, 2010, 2:16 am


Shai said:


If Clinton is removed, she’ll join Palin as her VP in the next Presidential Elections… 🙂 She is definitely no Madeline Albright. I’m surprised there aren’t more pro-Israel voices inside the State Department that explain to Clinton that continued blind-support of Israel does more DAMAGE to Israel’s national security, than good. If the U.S. is so concerned with our security, it is time they get into the game of INFLUENCING our long term strategic interests.

November 18th, 2010, 6:26 am


Shai said:

Early seeds of the inevitable U.M.E. (United Middle East) – Pictures of Yasser Arafat, Palestinian flag, Syrian flag, Soccer match, in Israeli-controlled Hebron!

November 18th, 2010, 6:36 am


Off the Wall said:

Did no one notice the moronic writing in the moron’s article:

Starting in the 1990s, China filled a void in Syria left by a decaying Soviet Union, providing the terrorist state with a variety of missiles.

Anyone planning on writing to the LA times in protest?

November 18th, 2010, 8:41 am


Ghat Al Bird said:

Cantor versus Clinton in pursuit of Bib’s blessings.

“I’m with you, not my president,” Eric Cantor told Israel’s Prime Minister Binjamin Netanyahu”.

Cantor huddled with Netanyahu just prior to the Prime Minister’s meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Cantor’s office put out a statement bragging about his pledge to Netanyahu: “Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington,” the readout said.

“He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other.”

No wonder as some website claimed Sarah Palin is thinking of “tattooing” the American and Israeli flags on her body as symbols of her commitment to the security of both.

November 18th, 2010, 10:00 am


Alex said:

Off the Wall,

Some people are not interested in learning from their mistakes.

I have a two year old post to suggest to David Schenker (“the moron”) whose Syria expertise in 2010 is just as useless as it was in 2007 when he was also recommending to the US government to put pressure on any country that tries to be close to Damascus.

November 19th, 2010, 12:19 am


Alex said:

Shai, WD

Dennis Ross is the one behind this administration’s failures. Each administration has in it some adviser (mideast expert) who ensures continued “support for Israel”

November 19th, 2010, 12:26 am


Off the Wall said:

These are not mistakes, this moron is a member of a long list of morons who are intentionally being moronic. This is how he was taught to do hasbara. Keep using words like terrorist state to describe any opposition to Israeli crimes and the un-critical american public will continue to drink the hasbara cool-aid. It is old trick and it will continue until we make it a liability and a reason for marginalizing such propagandists as intentionally misleading hate inciters and perhaps guilty of war crimes through advocacy.

What the heck, it is blackmail operation all over again. I guess free F35 is worth launching a new campaign of hate and lies. #

November 19th, 2010, 11:07 am


Ghat Al Bird said:

OFF THE WALl’s comment under #11 above is partially responsible without any of the guilt that may be attached/attacked for the following:

1. Suugest that a Syrian media outlet headline its reporting of the F-35’s as follows: Obama by provifing Israel with the F 35s is to show Israel that he and not Cantor can really deliver.

2. A second media suggestion is to imply that Cantor to outbid Obama will promise to free Jonathan Pollard as soon as the GOP gains control of the Congress.

3. Another proposed commentary in the Arab media might imply that based on Cantor’s promise to Bibi Netanyahu the US Congress will vote to allow every American citizen to qualify for Israeli citizenship.

November 19th, 2010, 11:59 am


Off the Wall said:


I’ll take guilt attached or attacked. It is getting beyond bizarre, it is bizarrely sick. I wonder if it has anything to do with the on-off problem of elevated lead concentration in DC water. Lead is known to drop IQ levels 🙂

As the Hitchhiker guide to the galaxy says: the job of the president is not to wield power, but to distract the attention from where real power lies . DC is getting even weirder than what Douglas Adams in all his genius could have ever concocted. I have to say it again, it is Bizarrely sick. But yet again, DON’T PANIC

By the way,


November 19th, 2010, 4:50 pm


Alex said:

Off the Wall, if you found David Schenker to be a Moron, try this on .. a bit more dangerous fool

How the US and Israel Hope to Destroy Hezbollah



“I’ve got these [expletive deleted] just where we want them Maura! Watch the 1000 slow cuts as we shred Hezbollah–who do they think they are? And we’ll do it by using 1757 and this time we’re going all the way. I told Israel to stay out of Lebanon because the IDF can’t defeat Hezbollah plus the whole region would burn. I will handle this and it will be my Christmas present to Lebanon.”

So, reportedly, said Jeffrey Feltman in conversation with his former office staffer, now US Ambassador to Lebanon, Maura Connelly during October 17, 2010 visit with MP Walid Jumblatt at his Clemenceau residence. On December 12, 2008, reported that “Former US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman presented Prime Minister Fuad Siniora with what the American diplomat described as his personal Christmas present to Lebanon. Mr. Feltman assured PM Siniora that he will force Israel out of Ghajar village before the end of 2008.”

As it turned out, Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and Lebanon never did receive Feltman’s promised 2008 Christmas present and Israel has its tanks and troops in Lebanon’s Ghajar village even as pressure mounts for ending its four-year illegal occupation of North Ghajar which, in violation of UNSCR 1701, Israel invaded in July 2006 and from which it has refused to withdraw. Feltman is now again assuring his Lebanese allies that he’s Santa Claus and Hezbollah’s head will adorn his sleigh during his Christmas eve rounds. The reason for his optimism is that US and Israel are quietly confident that they can achieve with UNSCR 1757 what was intended but fell short with UNSCR 1559, stripping Lebanon’s Resistance of its defensive weapons. On November 11th, Vice Premier and Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom predicted that “a Special Tribunal for Leban (STL) indictment against Hezbollah will lead to the implementation of Resolution 1559 and the forced disarming of the Party as well as the collapse of the effort at a Syrian-Lebanese-Iranian-Turkish alliance.”

The US-Israel plan includes the expectation that members of Hezbollah, possibly even Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, will be indicted, tried and convicted, in absentia of course, of involvement in the February 14, 2005 murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. The US State Department Office of the Legal Adviser has proudly assured the White House that because its office insisted back in 2005 that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon be established under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, anyone who the STL convicts will face sure UN sanctions. Chapter Seven allows for the use of unlimited international armed force to implement any verdict that the STL hands down. Washington and Tel Aviv intend that those convicted will not escape the full power of the United Nations system anymore than others earlier, including former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.

Israel, serial violator of international law including more than 60 UN Resolutions is also busy boastlng that international law supports the Tribunal and that high priced law firms around the world can be hired if necessary to back up the legal work of the STL office of the Prosecution, led by Daniel Bellemare of Canada. Within hours of Israel instructing Secretary of State Clinton, not to worry, that there is no way for the STL to be stopped or its final judgment sidetracked and all the US has to do is fund it, the White House announced an additional $ 10 million for the Tribunal and got the UK to pony up another $ 1.8 million. More cash is expected from France. Today the STL is flush with cash and it will likely remain so.

Based on interviews with two former staff members of the Office of the STL prosecution, as well as numerous public statements by US officials, there are reasons to take seriously the “all the way” intensions of Jeffrey Feltman and Silvan Shalom. Their governments assert the that STL is legitimate under both international law, given that it was established in accordance with a U.N. Security Council resolution issued under Chapter 7, and also under Lebanon’s legal and constitutional principles contrary to what is being claimed by Hezbollah and STL’s adversaries in Lebanon.

In addition, the US State Department points out that the preamble to the Lebanese constitution provides that “Lebanon is a founding and active member of the United Nations Organization and abides by its covenants and by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Government shall embody these principles in all fields and areas without exception.” Moreover, the Charter of the United Nations obliges U.N. member states to “accept and carry out the decisions of the (U.N.) Security Council.” According to one State Department lawyer, “If the STL indicts and convicts one member of Hezbollah we win. A driver, a boy scout, we don’t care. The Security Council can do a dozen things to topple Hezbollah. For example, can you imagine the effect of Iranian style sanctions if applied against Lebanon until the killers are handed over? The Lebanese only care about money and with all those sects hating each other anyhow, the country will quickly implode in recriminations and civil war if they’re forced to diet a bit…And very tough sanctions against Syria? The US and Israel will only have to collect the pieces and do what should have been done half a century ago and that was to install governments that understand regional and international realities.”

Efforts by Hezbollah and Syria to derail the STL are viewed in Tel Aviv and Washington as futile, because Lebanon is thought to have nothing to say about the STL. It is created by the UNSC and nothing the Lebanese Parliament, Cabinet or people do will affect it. The only reason Lebanon is in the picture at all is that it is the crime scene. And it happens to harbor some suspects. Apart from that Lebanon is essentially irrelevant to the STL work.

Following the STL indictments, assuming they include Hezbollah, Washington sources expect that the Israel lobby will launch an international media campaign of defamation against Hezbollah, Syria and Iran and they will be joined by the US government and some of its European allies. The objective will be to essentially unite the world against the presumed Shia killers of the Sunni Prime Minister. More than a dozen US-Israel projects that failed in Lebanon over the past decade, from an airbase in Kleiat to street battles to cutting optic telecommunication lines may come back into play when stamped with the imprimatur of international law and full UN Security Council legitimacy.

The coming media campaign will employ especially sharp personal attacks on Hassan Nasrallah.

Hezbollah’s assessment

On November 11, 2010 Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah discussed the Special Tribunal at a neighborhood Martyr’s day gathering in South Beirut. He told his audience that Hezbollah knows the US-Israel strategy, which he explained is:

“Let’s accuse Shiite men of assassinating the most important Sunnite leader and consequently issue an indictment in this regard. We will call on the Lebanese government which had signed an agreement with us to arrest these men. The latter would set to arrest them and dispatch army troops and security forces which would be engaged in a clash with the Resistance.”

Nasrallah continued,

“Primarily this is the plot. It is not important for the Americans, the Israelis and the sponsors of the STL what would happen or what might happen in Lebanon. Lebanon in itself is not important, neither is martyr PM Rafiq Hariri, the Sunnites, the Shiites, the Muslims, the Christians, the Future Movement, March 14 Bloc nor March 8 Bloc. What is important is Israel, and Israel’s interest is that the Resistance be hit, eliminated, isolated, besieged, weakened, snatched away from its popular environment and its image be distorted. Its morals, belief and will must be harmed and consequently, it would be ready to be hit or to surrender to this plot.”

Hezbollah MP Nawaf Mousawi, one of the most sought after Hezbollah officials for discussions by visiting American and foreign delegations, advised the media a short time later that: “The Resistance party is prepared for all scenarios”, adding that “nothing would surprise Hezbollah…. Hezbollah has prepared a series of responses. Every option corresponds to a specific scenario. Thus if things are positive, we’re ready. But if things are negative and the efforts failed in reaching a solution to the crisis, we’re also ready. In brief, we’re ready to face all options.”

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon and can be reached at

November 19th, 2010, 7:06 pm


Norman said:

Alex,OTW . Ghat

It looks to me that with Obama in the white house what President Bush used to do and say loudly is being done quietly and for the benefit of Israel , any hope of a peaceful solution in the Mideast is a fantasy , there is no alternative to war and decisive victory , i can not believe how much Syria would have advanced without the presence of Israel that is pushing the people of the Mideast to become more radicals and conservatives ,

November 19th, 2010, 9:08 pm


why-discuss said:


The article by Franklin Lamb is terrifying. I also show the short-sighted views of the Sunni and Christians Lebanese leaders (Siniora, Geagea and company) and the way they were mislead (was it planned?) to believe that the only people who will be indicted is their arch-ennemy: Syria. They submitted themselves to all the conditions to have an’ independant’ tribunal under the ‘impartial’ UN with Chapter 7 in order to take annihilate Syria. Little they knew about the UN probity!

Now they have to face a possible collapse of the government and international sanctions if they fail to deliver the accused. Lebanon may join Iran and Syria in becoming a target of sanctions and investigations whose only purpose is to allow Israel to impose its conditions in any negotiation.
Lebanon may end up of having to keeo the 500,000 palestinians…
A depressing constatation.
I must say to Israel: Bien joué! and to the Lebanese: you got s… up!

November 20th, 2010, 12:21 pm


Ghat Al Bird said:

NORMAN said:

Alex,OTW . Ghat

It looks to me that with Obama in the white house what President Bush used to do and say loudly is being done quietly and for the benefit of Israel , any hope of a peaceful solution in the Mideast is a fantasy , there is no alternative to war

NORMAN et al.

Although not an admirer of WC or his policies the man its claimed said a truism that for some reason no ever acknowledges:- ” The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see”. (Winston Churchill)

Or as I am wont of saying the solution of the problems in the ME will only be made by those that have the longest history of being there and dedicated to one and only one objective.

For better or for worse the Arab speaking nations in the area must develop a single cold bloodedness in pursuit of their rights. No easy task indeed.

November 20th, 2010, 5:13 pm



For the past 70 year, the whole political history of Lebanon is nothing more than one frantic attempt after another to prove that Lebanon is not Syria (much like Pakistan’s goal has been merely to prove that they are not India nor are they the “other” India).

How sad…. and what a waste….

One can say to these dumb myopic politicians enjoy lunch,…oops, I forgot, you are lunch.

November 21st, 2010, 4:19 am


Canadian From Lebanon said:

As a Canadian who was born in Lebanon, I find the events that gripped my country of birth in the last 5 to 10 years to be very perplexing. The political assassinations that took place since 2004 and even earlier have one objective to achieve. The perpetrators have the ultimate aim of imposing the rule of totalitarianism characteristic of so-called ‘resistance axis’ for lack of better term. It is of utmost importance for the party, or parties, behind such deplorable acts to domesticate the Lebanese people, the only people in the Arab world who enjoyed freedom of speech and a semblance of democratic rule for over 70 years until the Syrian and Iranian regimes found it in their interests to destroy this rare oasis in the desert of despotism and totalitarianism. Comparing the Syrian people, who have long been domesticated according to the wishes of the ruling regime, to the Lebanese, I do not see a shred of resemblance between the two as some would like to believe.

I honestly pray and hope that the US administration is serious this time about its pronouncements with regards to its Lebanon policy. The establishment of justice and rule of law is fundamental for a free and democratic Lebanon. Whereas President Bush may have had the best of intentions behind supporting this goal, he and his staff may have suffered from lack of foresight and better judgement. Mr. Obama may have re-discovered recently the importance of maintaining a stable and democratic Lebanon in this turbulent region after he determined that his overtures to the Syrian regime have proven to be fruitless as expected by many. This regime understands only the language of force and intimidation. For the sake of Lebanon and the region, I hope Mr. Obama will deliver based on this realization. I must add that this regime and its Iranian backers are living in fantasy world while inhabiting the web of a spider which will collapse at the slightest punch.

November 21st, 2010, 6:15 pm


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