Clinton: Omar Suleiman should lead transition; Wisner: Mubarak “must stay in office” during a power transition

Egypt unrest: Hosni Mubarak must stay – US envoy – BBC

Frank Wisner: ‘This is an ideal moment for Mubarak to show the way forward.’ Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak “must stay in office” during a power transition, a US special envoy says. Frank Wisner was speaking as protesters kept up their demands for Mr Mubarak to step down immediately.

Mr Mubarak has pledged to quit in September. Earlier, he replaced the entire politburo of his ruling party, including his son Gamal.

President Barack Obama has urged Mr Mubarak to “make the right decision” and to begin the transition “now”.

The US state department has refused to comment on Mr Wisner’s remarks, in which he also hailed the Egyptian ruling party resignations.

Financial Times reports:

Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, has indicated that Omar Suleiman, the Egyptian Vice President, should be given the opportunity to manage a peaceful transition of power in Cairo, stressing that Washington wants to see the move to a new political system achieved in as “orderly” a manner as possible.

Hilary Clinton’s words:

AMBASSADOR ISCHINGER: Thank you. Madam Secretary, before you conclude our session, let me inform our participants that we just received a report that there has been an attempt on the life of the vice president of Egypt, with apparently several people killed, which underlines the severity of the situation, as it evolves. We will keep you posted as — the news coming in, I’m sure, over the next several minutes or so.

Madam Secretary?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that news report certainly brings into sharp relief the challenges that we are facing as we navigate through this period……

But there are forces at work in any society, and particularly one that is facing these kinds of challenges, that will try to derail or overtake the process to pursue their own specific agenda, which is why I think it’s important to support the transition process announced by the Egyptian Government, actually headed by now Vice President Omar Suleiman, who was the target of the attack that Wolfgang apparently just learned of, and that it be a transparent, inclusive process to set forth concrete steps that people who are engaged in it and looking at it can believe is moving forward the outcomes that will permit an orderly establishment of the elections that are scheduled for September…..

There is a great economic pressure building up inside Egypt. In addition to the news that Wolfgang shared, there is also reports of one of the major pipelines being sabotaged. There are a lot of actions that are out of anyone’s control in any position of responsibility in leadership inside Egypt and outside Egypt. And part of what we have to do is to send a consistent message supporting the orderly transition that has begun, urging that it be not only transparent and sincere, but very concrete, so that the Egyptian people and those of us on the outside can measure the progress that is being made……

Steve Hayes in the Weekly Standard :

“This is not about trying to open up Egypt to the Muslim Brotherhood,” one senior administration official told me. “The Muslim Brotherhood is the opposite of democracy. They want to use the democratic process, exploit the democratic process, for their own ends. We have zero enthusiasm for the Muslim Brotherhood. We want a secular Egypt, a democratic Egypt.”

Mr.  Natan Sharansky says that in a 2007 meeting in Prague, President Bush told him that the U.S. supports Mr. Mubarak—to the tune of nearly $2 billion in annual aid—because if it didn’t, the Brotherhood would take over Egypt.  (From the WSJ)

Egypt Officials Seek to Nudge Mubarak Out
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and DAVID E. SANGER, February 5, 2011, New York Times

CAIRO — As Egypt’s protest entered its 12th day on Saturday, President Hosni Mubarak appeared increasingly isolated after hundreds of thousands of protesters returned to Tahrir Square on Friday and the Obama administration and some members of the Egyptian military and civilian elite pursued plans to nudge him from power.

The country’s newly named vice president, Omar Suleiman, and other top military leaders were discussing steps to limit Mr. Mubarak’s decision-making authority and possibly remove him from the presidential palace in Cairo — though not to strip him of his presidency immediately, Egyptian and American officials said. A transitional government headed by Mr. Suleiman would then negotiate with opposition figures to amend Egypt’s Constitution and begin a process of democratic changes. ….

In the opening stages of what promises to be a protracted round of negotiations, the diplomat Mohamed ElBaradei said in a news conference at his home near Cairo that opposition lawyers were preparing an interim Constitution. He said the opposition was calling on Mr. Mubarak to turn over power to a council of two to five members who would run the country until elections within a year.

Only one member would come from the military, Mr. ElBaradei said, adding that the armed forces’ most important task now was to “protect Egypt’s transition period in a smooth manner.”

“We have no interest in retribution,” he said. “Mubarak must leave in dignity and save his country.”

Mohamed el-Beltagui, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, the outlawed Islamist group that had been the major opposition in Egypt until the secular youth revolt, said that the organization would not run a candidate in any election to succeed Mr. Mubarak as president.

He said his members wanted to rebut Mr. Mubarak’s argument to the West that his iron-fisted rule was a crucial bulwark against Islamic extremism. “It is not a retreat,” he said in an interview at the group’s informal headquarters in the square. “It is to take away the scare tactics that Hosni Mubarak uses to deceive the people here and abroad that he should stay in power.” ..

The Special US Envoy, Amb Wisner has just said Mubarak needs to stay in power to oversee the transition, repeating Mubarak’s own mantra of 60 years of service, need for stability …etc.

Crisis in Egypt Tests U.S. Ties With Israel
Diplomats worry about a regional realignment in which Israel would be left feeling more isolated and its enemies emboldened.

Obama administration officials have been on the telephone almost daily with their Israeli counterparts urging them to “please chill out,” in the words of one senior administration official, as President Obama has raced to respond to the rapidly unfolding events. …

Israeli government officials started out urging the Obama administration to back Mr. Mubarak, administration officials said, and were initially angry at Mr. Obama for publicly calling on the Egyptian leader to agree to a transition.

“The Israelis are saying, après Mubarak, le deluge,” said Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator. And that, in turn, Mr. Levy said, “gets to the core of what is the American interest in this. It’s Israel. It’s not worry about whether the Egyptians are going to close down the Suez Canal, or even the narrower terror issue. It really can be distilled down to one thing, and that’s Israel.” …

Supporters of Israel in the United States have been focusing on playing up the dangers they see as inherent in a democratic Egyptian government that contains, or is led by, elements of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood, which opposes Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

In an e-mail on Friday to reporters and editors, Josh Block, a former spokesman for AIPAC, the influential Jewish-American lobbying organization, suggested “questions to ask the Muslim Brotherhood & Their Allies.”

The first question on Mr. Block’s list: “Can the Muslim Brotherhood participate in a government where Egypt continues to fulfill Egypt’s obligations to Israel under the Camp David Accords?”

Obama officials say that the United States cannot rule out the possibility of engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood — the largest opposition group in Egypt — at the same time that it is espousing support for a democratic Egypt.

“… few destinations appear to be as important to potential 2012 Republican presidential field these days as Israel. Former Arkansas governor and Fox News host Mike Huckabee has spent the past week in Israel, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was there last month, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour left Friday for a five-day trip, andSarah Palin has indicated she has plans to go later this year. The trips offer potential candidates a chance to boost their standing with the Jewish and evangelical voters in the U.S….”

Time: Syria Is Not Egypt, but Might It One Day Be Tunisia?
2011-02-05 Time

Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak has yet to answer his people’s demands to step down, but echoes of that call are reverberating around the region. In a frantic effort to stave off the potentially destabilizing protests that already ushered out the …

Syria weathers Mideast unrest for now; ‘Days of Rage’ fail to come off
Associated Press
February 5, 2011

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syria’s president recently boasted that his country, one of the Arab world’s most stifling regimes, is immune to the upheaval roiling other Arab countries. He was proven right — at least for the time being.

A weeklong online campaign failed to galvanize the kinds of mass protests that have rocked Tunisia and Egypt in recent weeks. In fact, no one showed up Friday and Saturday for what were to be “days of rage” against the Syrian president’s iron-fisted rule.

By Saturday afternoon, the number of plainclothes security agents stationed protectively in key areas of the old city of the capital, Damascus, had begun to dwindle.

“The only rage in Syria yesterday was the rage of nature,” wrote Syrian journalist Ziad Haidar, in reference to a cold spell and heavy rain lashing the country….

A major difference is that Assad — unlike leaders in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Jordan — is not allied with the United States, so he is spared the accusation that he caters to American demands….

Although he keeps a tight lid on any form of political dissent, he is seen by many Arabs as one of the few leaders in the region willing to stand up to Israel.

His backing for Palestinian and Lebanese militant groups opposed to the Jewish state, as well as his opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, appears to have helped him maintain a level of popular support.

Israel’s continued occupation of Syria’s strategic Golan Heights also stokes nationalist sentiment, said Darwish. “This gives credibility to the Syrian leadership which is seen as fighting a legitimate cause.”

Syria, a predominantly Sunni country ruled by minority Alawites, closely controls the media and routinely jails critics of the regime. Facebook and other social networking sites are officially banned, although many Syrians still manage to access them through proxy servers.

Most of the Facebook groups that called for protests are believed to have been created by Syrians abroad — which could help explain why the planned protests fell flat.

Organizers also spoke of intimidation….

Syria Is Not Egypt, but Might It One Day Be Tunisia?
By By Aryn Baker / Beirut, Time

But don’t expect the successor of the 47-year-old regime, which he inherited from his father in 2000, to be packing his bags anytime soon. Syria may suffer the same political alienation, economic dislocation and corruption that plagues most of the region’s regimes, but its government also holds a unique position that sets it apart from the others: that of a pariah state. Assad’s Syria is the only country in the Arab world that is not beholden to Western influence or support.(See TIME’s exclusive pictures of the turmoil in Egypt.)

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Assad exhibited a remarkable degree of schadenfreude while describing the differences between Syria and Egypt. Egypt, he said, is supported financially by the United States, while international sanctions, he hinted, keep his government true to the anti-Americanism of the Arab street. “You have to be very closely linked to the beliefs of the people,” he said. “When there is divergence between your policy and the people’s beliefs and interests, [it] creates disturbance.” It was an oblique jab at Mubarak’s pro-Israel stance, one that has made him very unpopular both at home and elsewhere in the Middle East.

But if an unpopular foreign policy were enough to topple a regime, triumphant protestors would be picking through the rubble of collapsed governments from Algeria to Pakistan. “There are two components that make a people rebel against a ruling party,” says Omar Nashabe, a long-time Syria watcher and correspondent for the Beirut-based Arabic daily Al-Ahkbar. The first, he says, is socio-economic, and has to do with basic rights and the services of the government. The second is political and ideological. “Mubarak failed on both levels. His government failed to provide for the people. And instead of working in the true interests of Egyptians, he was serving the true interests of the United States. That made him lose credibility.” Syrians may be afflicted by poverty that stalks 14% of its population combined with an estimated 20% unemployment rate, but Assad still has his credibility, according to Nashabe.

That may be true, at least for the time being. But playing to popular sentiments won’t keep Assad immune from the massive changes sweeping the region, says Nadim Houry, Human Rights Watch’s researcher for Syria and Lebanon. “If the lesson Assad takes from Egypt is that it’s all about foreign policy, he is learning the wrong one.”

….The U.S. has no such leverage over Syria, which has been subjected to sanctions since 2004, when it was accused of supporting terrorism, destabilizing Iraq, and meddling in Lebanon (Charges Assad routinely denies). Sanctions have also had the unintended consequence of limiting in Syria the presence of the foreign democracy-promotion organizations that were instrumental in fomenting political organization and awareness in Egypt over the past several years. And while computer-savvy elites can circumvent the official ban on Facebook via proxy servers, a significant number of supporters for the protest “to end the state of emergency in Syria and end corruption” on Syria’s “Day of Rage Feb 4 and 5,” will be protesting in cities outside of Syria.

On Wednesday evening a small group of dissidents did manage to gather for a candlelight vigil in support of the activists in Egypt’s Tahrir square, but they were quickly attacked by a mob of what they assumed were plain-clothes police. When the main organizer, Suheir Atassi, went to the local police station to file a complaint, she was slapped and accused of being a “germ” and an agent of foreign powers, according to Human Rights Watch. In Aleppo, another protest organizer, Gassan Najar, was beaten and arrested, according to Syrian democracy activists. (See how Egyptians are improvising security as lawlessness grows.)

Syria has been under a continuous State of Emergency since 1963. Among other restrictions this limits the freedom assembly and speech, and any political opposition to the ruling Baath party is forbidden. But other limitations have been loosened under Assad, and there is now a fledgling independent media and the beginnings of economic reform. The government has encouraged cultural development and tourism. In many ways it could be said that Assad was attempting to drive Syria down the same path as Tunisia. … Assad seemed confident that new political and economic reforms, though slow, would eventually give the Syrian people what they want in a way that would not provoke chaos. “Today is better than six years ago,” he said. “But it is not the optimal situation. We still have a long way to go because it is a process. To be realistic, we have to wait for the next generation to bring this reform.”

That was last week. These days, he might want to consider speeding things up a little. “If Assad looks down on the roofs of Damascus or Aleppo,” says Nashabe, “he will see all the satellite dishes capturing the pictures of people taking to the streets of Cairo and Alexandria and calling for freedom, calling for the stepping down of a dictatorship, calling for freedom from the predations of secret police and oppression of the media.” He adds, “I think Assad is smart enough to push forward the reforms that he has already started in a very practical way.” If not, Syria may yet be the next name entered in the Mad-Libs blank for “Threatened Arab Regime.”

Ribal al-Asad, who is the cousin of the Syrian president, has launched a fierce attack on Syrian President Bashar al-Asad.

He said that the high prices of food, the spread of corruption, the lack of personal freedom, and the deterioration of the economic situation in Syria – all have made life for the people very difficult. He added that the rise in budget deficit, lack of water, declining oil production, and the rise in unemployment rates led to a decline in the society to the lowest rates, and this is the result of a large effort by the head of the authority in restricting the political and economic freedoms.

US: Conspiracy charges filed against Muslim students
If convicted, UC Irvine students who disrupted Israeli ambassador’s speech face anything from probation and community service to six months in jail. DA: We must decide whether we are a country of laws or a country of anarchy
Associated Press
02.05.11, 08:28 / Israel News

A group of Muslim students accused of disrupting a speech by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren at the University of California, Irvine, were charged Friday with misdemeanor conspiracy counts, ending speculation about what would come from their actions nearly a year ago.

The 11 students each face one count of misdemeanor conspiracy to disturb a meeting and one count of misdemeanor disturbance of a meeting, the Orange County district attorney’s office said. If convicted, they could face anything from probation and community service to six months in jail.

Natural gas supply to Israel cut off after blast at Egyptian terminal
JERUSALEM — Egypt temporarily suspended its natural gas supply to Israel as a security precaution after an explosion at a terminal in the northern Sinai Peninsula, Israel radio said Saturday.
(By Janine Zacharia, The Washington Post)

The syrian film director Omar Amiralay dies.

Omar Amiralay, né en 1944, est mort des suite d’une crise cardiaque à son domicile dans la capitale syrienne. Amiralay était connu notamment pour ses films documentaires exprimant pour la plupart des points de vue sévères sur le pouvoir en Syrie et dans le monde arabe. Le cinéaste avait signé le 30 janvier à Damas avec d’autres militants un communiqué saluant les mouvements de contestation en Tunisie et en Egypte. Son film “Déluge au pays du Baas” en 2003, produit par la chaîne franco-allemande ARTE, avait reçu le prix du meilleur court métrage de la biennale du cinéma arabe de l’institut du monde arabe à Paris.

Comments (48)

majedkhaldoon said:

Is there more informations about the assassination attempt of Omar Suleiman,where when and who did it?
It indicates split in the army,and explains the army position

February 5th, 2011, 5:46 pm


Jihad said:

The so-called assassination attempt on the torturer and Zionist collaborator Omar Suleiman is a mini-drama made in Hollywood and acted on the lips of Hillary Clinton. They want to paint him nunder a different light. There is no rift in the army, at least in its higher echelons. It is known that Omar Suleiman holds the leash around the necks of the high-ranking officers in the army who are also bankrolled by the US.

It is clear since the beginning that the racist White Man in the West, including the one who resides in the White House nowadays who adresses the Egyptian peple as a satisfied redneck used to address his slaves in Mississippi, do not wish to see the end of the Mubarak regime. They want to make sure that old policies continue under new collaborators. They may gladly see the Arab world destroyed in order to save the last colonial entity in its midth.

On this level, the acts of some Egyptian “figures” is disappointing, especially the statements of Ayman Nour and the praise he heaps on Omar Suleiman as if he is some kind of an angel. With the entry of the baffoon Amr Moussa, the plot thickens. After more than 10 days of sustained and courageous demonstrations, no clear platform has emerged. If it is not needed right away, they should keep at least and work to achieve the main aim which is to get rid of Mubarak and his cronies. Every day that passes and Mubarak and Suleiman are still hanging around is another minus for this civil revolution. The latter needs to get uncivil a bit to make the US agents and Zionist collaborators in Cairo understand that their days are over now, not tomorrow and not in a few weeks.

I should also say that the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) representatives ought to shut their mouths if they have nothing of value to say, instead of saying we are not this and that and we won’t this and that. They might even say we love the criminel in Coma Ariel Sharon in order to please Weestern media. The Egyptians who work their lands did not forget the shameful vote of the MB’s deputies in favour of the law that liberalized the way agricultural land is leased in Egypt.

As for Omar Amiralay, may his soul rest in peace. He was Rafiq Hariri’s favourite. He made a hagiographic documentary about him: The Man with the Golden Shoes.

February 5th, 2011, 6:27 pm


Norman said:

Looking at what happened in Tunisia and happening in Egypt, two friends of the US and Israel and not happening in Syria a foe of the US and Israel might make Syria more reluctant to cooperate with the US, on the other hands it might make the US more eager to deal with Syria and he government that has the approval of most of the Syrian people,

Apparently the law in Egypt permit the president to be a partner to any foreign company doing business in Egypt to the amount of 51% of the profit without putting any capital,he is worth 40 to 80 Billion, amazing !.

now that is clear why Mubarak does not want to leave,

The US and the West main concern is to save the Israeli Egyptian treaty no matter what and that is why they pushed Suleiman to VP .

The quest is will the uprising stop ,,,, I hope not until the whole regime and Egypt’s posture toward the Arab /Israeli conflict is changed ,

Syria is right to stay quiet, as if the regime does not change all together Syria will be getting brownies from the people of Mubarak,

February 5th, 2011, 6:40 pm


Observer said:

There is shrieking in the AIPAC and its amen corner and the Israel firsters about what will happen if La Vache qui Rit is outed. Others are working behind the scenes to try to out fox or out stay the opposition. I suspect the Saudis have told the US that Egypt is a red line that cannot be crossed. It may be too late.

Cosmetic changes are being made as bones thrown to the dogs for the people to eventually disperse. Desperation of the people for real change is still the biggest motivation for the protests.

News of the wealth of the Mubarak family being around 70 billion are coming out. They are adding to the firestorm and may be a way for those he put under house arrest to get back at him as he is sacrificing them to stay in power like Mr. Ouz or Mr. Shafiq.

Confrontation states have an excuse over those that made peace with Israel; namely that they can justify some of the measures of repression in the name of defense. Also the population in Syria and Lebanon have had periods of instability with a civil war in both and with a prime example of what would happen with Iraq as an example of the politics of chaos.

Here is the dilemma for the US and Israel:

1. The peace should have had a dividend and it did not materialize. All those that made peace are in deep doodoo right now. Those advocating peace and an end to the Israeli Palestinian conflict at the expense of the Palestinians have one key backer either lost or certainly unable to have any room for continued pro Israel policies.

2. The collaboration with Zion was supposed to insure unwavering support from the Hyperpower. This is a mirage as the Hyperpower is shrinking by the day and the world is breaking around it in every more local and regional power plays.

3. Shock and Awe has turned on its head as the Hyperpower was outmaneuverd politically and check mated militarily. As Patreaus says the Green Dollar is my main weapon not all this high tech garbage that is being used to fleece the public back home.

4. Khamenei gives a speech in Arabic reminding Egyptians of their pioneering role in Arab and third world liberation movements.

What will KSA do now?

If it spends 62 billion on weapons rather than trying to help its allies reform and boost their economies then it is clearly going to be finished in a few years. No amount of hardware is going to help the rage of the people.

I cannot imagine it embracing reform as the grip on power will slip and walking the tight rope of royalty drawing legitimacy from defending the Faith is going to be ever more difficult.

The questions that I have for Joshua and others are
1. Will Israel intervene militarily to save Jordanian monarchy,if the regime is challenged

2. Israel and the US have a diminished ability to attack Iran right now but if Egypt is lost will this make the attack more likely in the near future

3. Will the media spin any new regime in Egypt as being hostile and non conformist to the ideals of a true democracy so as to consolidate further the support for Zion

4. Will the US realize that its Israel first and US second policy in its dealings with the region is at a dead end

5. Will the oil imperative carry over the Israel imperative if there is instability in KSA.

6. Will Qatar be the target of a fierce direct or indirect attack

7. Will the fight be carried through Lebanese factions to inflame the region and distract.

8.What will Israel do on the short and medium turn.

February 5th, 2011, 9:04 pm


Yossi said:


Interesting questions…

>>> The peace should have had a dividend and it did not materialize.

As a result of the alliance between Egypt and the USA Egypt was able to export to the west and to get its elite trained in Western universities, establish business ties, etc. Egypt has been growing at a pace of 8% a year, something that Syria can only dream of. It is actually mostly due to this opening to the digital age that the regime became weaker, rather than its being pro- or anti- US/Israel.

With respect to your questions:

>>> 1. Will Israel intervene militarily to save Jordanian monarchy,if the regime is challenged

This is highly unlikely, especially that Israel is split on whether the monarchy is useful to Israel. Many would want to see Jordan become de-facto Palestine and would then force it to accept sovereignty over those left-over pieces of the West bank where most of the Arabs are concentrated, leaving the rest to be annexed to Israel.

>>> 2. Israel and the US have a diminished ability to attack Iran right now but if Egypt is lost will this make the attack more likely in the near future

Can’t see how this makes an attack more likely. American imperialism in the Middle East is over, America can’t finance its military presence there for much longer, definitely not take on Iran, when Iran is a major oil supplier of China, and the American debt to China has to be re-serviced almost in its entirely in the next two years.

>>> 3. Will the media spin any new regime in Egypt as being hostile and non conformist to the ideals of a true democracy so as to consolidate further the support for Zion

The media probably will spin it like that, but the new regime will probably also be guilty as-charged. It is kind of difficult for people in the West to view Islamists like Erdogan and Naniya as natural allies, believe it or not.

>>> 4. Will the US realize that its Israel first and US second policy in its dealings with the region is at a dead end

It’s possible that the US will realize that its interventionist doctrine has not served its people well and is unsustainable. The tea-party movement has rekindled a libertarian current in American politics that is pulling towards such a direction. But like other powerful and cumbersome bureaucracies, it is possible that the American military complex will only be dismantled after a series of defeats.

>>> 5. Will the oil imperative carry over the Israel imperative if there is instability in KSA.

I suppose you’re asking whether a “democratic” KSA will have an interest in and would try to dictate to the US how to deal with Israel. I think they will continue to sell their oil to the highest bidder.

>>> 6. Will Qatar be the target of a fierce direct or indirect attack

I don’t know…

>>> 7. Will the fight be carried through Lebanese factions to inflame the region and distract.

That’s an invariant of the Middle East.

>>> 8.What will Israel do on the short and medium turn.

Israel would hanker down and wait for the West to become as anti-Islam and anti-Arab as Israel is now. Signs of that happening right now in Europe are accepted with enthusiasm in Israel. Then it could try to finish what was left unfinished after 48 and 67. That’s the only “out” that Israel has in the medium term. It could also decide to withdraw unilaterally from some areas in the West bank, like it did in Gaza, but that doesn’t change the strategic picture much. Israel is very unlikely to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians, more so given the developments in Egypt and those that will unfold in the next two years.

Now here’s another question: how long do you think Assad will be able to stay in power? After the Americans will have left Iraq and Jordan will fall, there is no way Assad will be able to hold-out against the Sunni wave.

February 6th, 2011, 4:36 am


Observer said:

I think that an attack on Iran may become more likely with the use of cruise missiles and air power as Cheney devised a plan to attack 5000 targets at once.

I think that the Jordanian Monarchy could be sacrificed for the sake of expelling all Palestinians into it but the country is so artificial that even as a Palestinian state it cannot survive. It does not have natural resources and in competitiveness cannot compete with Israel.

Egypt growth of 8% is meaningless as the country ranks in the bottom quarter of countries in the quality of education, in bureaucratic inefficiency, in corruption, and in the difference between rich and poor. It is awful in how the few have used the peace dividend to create a personal fiefdom for incredible greed and depravity.

The joke about the Sunnis is that they are like Big Ben they neither advance nor retreat and are stuck with discussing issues like the length of the veil and the method of ablutions. The MB in Egypt are called the Ikhwan Mustaslimun, the capitulating brotherhood as they have long ago capitulated their principles. All this for a mirage of few seats in a rigged parliament.

The Europeans see Israel ( in private of course ) as the biggest threat to their existence as it exacerbates the tensions with the Muslims and the rest of the world. The Europeans understand very well that the turmoil in the ME will mean a lot more illegal immigration and crime and poverty. They already have a problem with the East Europeans coming through and disturbing their peace and quiet. They are aging and they need youth to help them.

The Europeans are trying although they are having difficulty to promote institutions and open the ME for business to employ the youth in their countries make money fend off Chinese competition and prevent immigration. They are determined to steer away from the ME conflict and are trying to solve it the problem is that AIPAC is more powerful than the EU.

As for Israel, I really would like to know how is it that they can continue to justify occupation, mass imprisonment, massive corruption of the occupied, torture, war crimes, invasions, and theft in this 21st century. How is it that survivors of the mass brain washing that led to the monstrosity of the second world war can fall victim to the same mass delusion of being the eternal victim and to consider that they are chosen among humanity.

Even the ideology of the Baath party that claimed to have Arabs expropriate Islam ( the eternal message in their slogan ) could not take hold among the Syrians and Iraqis for they saw in it how racist it is and how it undermines the very universal aspect of a religion that is far beyond being politicized.

I have argued before that the regimes need to be uprooted from their very bottoms the problem is that there is no nation state concept in these countries and that the only ideology that is now prevalent is that of a politicized Islam..

The debate remains on whether it will be Turkey or Iran or both that will dominate the region.

February 6th, 2011, 9:00 am


Ghat Albird said:

How about this crystal ball thema.

To forestall any unfriendly Egyptian regime Israel retakes the Sinai Peninsula as a pawn.

Daydreaming about nuking iran is a nightmare. But then teenagers love horror movies.

Its time for America to consider its own “Clean Break from Israel” before it becomes full fledged banana republic.

February 6th, 2011, 11:19 am


Norman said:

The Christian Science Monitor –
How Syria dodged an Egypt-style ‘day of rage’
Outside opposition groups had called for protests in Syria over the weekend. Why did only security forces and hopeful journalists show up?

Syrian and tourists in old Damascus, Syria, on Friday. Campaigns on Facebook and Twitter called for a ‘day of rage’ in Damascus on Friday and Saturday. But by early afternoon there were no signs of protesters anywhere in the capital.
(Hussein Malla/AP)


By A correspondent
posted February 6, 2011 at 9:21 am EST

Damascus, Syria —
Swaths of plain-clothed security forces and hopeful journalists were the only people gathered at the parliament building in Damascus on Friday and Saturday as protesters failed to respond to calls for demonstrations in the Syrian capital.

Outside opposition groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been banned since an uprising in the 1980s, had tried to rally Syrians to protest against President Bashar al-Assad, who has ruled the country with a firm hand since the death of his father, Hafez al-Assad, in 2000.

But Syria appears to have dodged the “winds of change” in the Arab world that have led to mass popular protests in several countries. The extensive security apparatus effectively nipped any possibility of protests. But geopolitical factors as well as local support for Assad also make any imminent challenge to his ruling Baath Party, which has been in power since 1963, unlikely.

Related: Six countries in the Arab world where ‘winds of change’ are blowing

“The security forces have effectively suppressed civil society and scared people into submission,” says Mazen Darwish, a prominent Syrian activist who ran the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression until it was closed by the authorities in 2009.

Secret police, known locally as mukhabarat, asserted their presence in the week running up to planned protests, breaking up small gatherings in support of Egyptian demonstrators and warning local activists against protesting. Human Rights Watch, a New York-based rights group, said that on Thursday night Ghassan al-Najjar, the 75-year-old leader of a small Islamic group based in the northern city of Aleppo, was arrested. Najjar, one of the few active domestic figures, had been among those calling for peaceful protests.

Fears of sectarian fallout and the violence perpetrated by pro-Mubarak thugs in Egypt put off the remaining few who were considering turning out. And local activists decided not to back protests, pointing to a lack of organization.

There has been no organized opposition in Syria since the quashing of secular, religious, and Kurdish figures who came together in 2005 to sign the Damascus Declaration asking for reform. Furthermore, most of the 15,000 who by Friday morning had joined the Facebook page calling for revolution were believed to live outside the country.

Geopolitics aid the Syrian government, which is technically still at war with Israel and seeking to get back the occupied Golan Heights. The government’s foreign policy, including a hostile stance toward Israel and support for militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas, is popular.

“Syrians, repeatedly told of threats and conspiracy from outsiders, are more passionate about what is going on in Gaza than in Aleppo,” said Abdel Ayman Nour, a journalist who runs the critical website All4Syria. In the runup to protests, some media alleged that those calling for protests were Israeli saboteurs.

Relatively youthful, Assad, who has led Syria for a decade, is set apart from the region’s older autocratic rulers such as Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. He is popular for modernizations, including introducing the Internet in 2001 and economic reforms that have seen shops and cafes flourish.

“I see progress being made, and want to give that a chance to see where it goes,” said one man in his thirties who described himself as anti-regime and asked not to be named.

The wave of unrest in the Arab world is being felt in Syria in other ways, however. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal last week, Assad said the region’s protests signaled “a new era” in the Middle East and promised to push through reforms to strengthen civil society and introduce local elections.

Mr. Darwish, the activist, says he expected to see announcements on these issues during the next Baath Party congress, which is to take place in the next few months.

Joshua Landis, the author of the Syria Comment blog, said the pace of reform could affect future stability. “Syria has a growing population and life is getting harder,” he says. “This is not a situation that is endlessly sustainable.”

Exclusive Monitor photos of Egypt’s turmoil

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February 6th, 2011, 11:31 am


Shai said:


“Daydreaming about nuking Iran…, “Israel retakes the Sinai Peninsula…”

I hope you’re not going to insert these into some Must-Read report, as you did in a previous comment a few days ago.

February 6th, 2011, 11:59 am


Averroes said:


Thanks for your detailed response above. Your point #8 is interesting. “Try to finish what was left unfinished after 48 and 67” as the only “out” from the hole Israel finds itself in.

This means Israel has learned very little from the last 30 years, and still would like to perfect that military magic bullet that would make all her problems go away. The obsession of most Israelis with military hardware and military culture would worry me if I were an Israeli.

I do not see any indications that the Arab/Muslim nations of the region are going back to where they were in 1948 or 1967. Nations like Iran, Turkey, Syria, soon to come Egypt, and hopefully not too far away Arabia are taking major steps on all levels, including the military. Their societies are evolving into self-sustained (thank you sanctions), well determined, robust societies.

Even the sectarian hatred that Israel, the US, and their allies like the Saudis have been using recklessly to try and fragment the nations of the Middle East is not working. If fact, it is becoming like inoculation, building immunity against major sectarian based self destruction. Just look at Tahrir square in Egypt, where Christians stool guard protecting the praying Muslims and Muslims made human shields around churches to protect them.

We are not as efficient yet on a per-capita basis as Israel, but we are not infinitely far behind either. I think that Israelis should be able to see that and should change their ways of thinking based on this observation.

But if, as you say, Israel effectively still dreams of a military solution as its “out” then that tells me they are on a dangerous path. It’s very tempting to try, and very difficult NOT to deploy all those toys, so I think that Israel will try that option and will only learn through a lot of pain. I pray that wisdom prevails.

February 6th, 2011, 12:20 pm


Nour said:

“As a result of the alliance between Egypt and the USA Egypt was able to export to the west and to get its elite trained in Western universities, establish business ties, etc. Egypt has been growing at a pace of 8% a year, something that Syria can only dream of. It is actually mostly due to this opening to the digital age that the regime became weaker, rather than its being pro- or anti- US/Israel.”

That’s hillarious. Where did you get that Egypt experiences consistent economic growth at 8% yearly? In fact, the last two years Egypt has witnessed economic growths of 5.3% and 4.6% respectively, which is comparable to that of Syria. Keep in mind also that GDP annual growth does not tell the entire story of economic performance, especially that these numbers can be padded or minimized based on political considerations. The standard of living of the average Egyptian has been gradually and consistently deteriorating. Egypt has a higher poverty rate than Syria with the outward manifestation of extreme poverty much more apparent in Egypt, as one can see people living on the streets, in shanty towns, in cemetaries and amongst garbage. This is while Syria is under sanctions and receives no foreign aid, whereas Egypt has no sanctions imposed on it and receives US aid to the tune of $2 billion a year.

If you’re suggesting that Syria should enslave itself to the US and the cancerous entity to the south in order to go from 4% economic growth to 5% economic growth then you are going be consistently disappointed with the Syrian response. Syria has to chart an independent course for itself, outside of US pressure and meddling, in order to achieve real economic improvement, based on increased productivity. Assad’s 5 seas plan and the continued investment in agriculture and industry, as well as tourism, is a much better option than selling out Syria to US and “Israeli” interests.

February 6th, 2011, 12:56 pm


Shami said:

How can you mix a liberal democracy like Turkey and the would be liberal democracy Egypt,InshAllah !!! , with your “menhebak” regime and an “infaillible” clerical theocracy ?
Aver,it will make you proud:

February 6th, 2011, 1:32 pm


Shai said:

Averroes, Yossi,

I don’t know what either of you mean by “finish what was left unfinished”, or “dreams of a military solution.”

Could Israel ever cause 4 million Palestinians to board buses and head Eastward? I doubt it. How does that work in today’s world? The International Community would intervene after the 50th bus (the first 49 would be explained as “self-defense”.) But seriously, it cannot happen, not in today’s Israel or today’s world.

So what IS the so-called “military solution” (stress on the word “solution”)? We defeat every single Arab air force within 500 mile radius? That would mean all-out war, with thousands if not tens of thousands of missiles hitting every square mile inside Israel. That also won’t stand more than a few weeks tops. The Int’l Community would eventually force a cease-fire upon all the parties. What “solution” would be achieved? Nothing, except for speeding up the ’67 border negotiations with Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine. And much of the region would have to be rebuilt, because many cities and towns would lay in ruins.

We can speak about dreams all we want, and I’m sure just as Jews in Israel fantasize about the sudden disappearance of all Arabs in the region, so do Arabs fantasize the same about Israelis. But reality will dictate either a faster or a slower route to the ’67 borders. We’ll either go through another regional war, or hopefully a peaceful breakthrough, most likely on the Syrian-Israeli track.

By the way, yesterday I happen to catch this interesting clip on YouTube of Netanyahu… at 28 years of age! Put aside the already-then arrogant character, and listen carefully to the “solution” regarding the Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza. You’ll be surprised! (I was).

February 6th, 2011, 1:43 pm


Ghat Albird said:

SHAI. Now thats a must read.

Israel predicts Egypt regime will survive


Israel expects that the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will survive pro-democracy protests that have shaken the country over the past three days, government officials and analysts said. The wave of demonstrations throughout Israel’s southern neighbour have raised speculation about whether Mubarak will be forced from office, and how the protest movement will affect ties with Cairo.

But Israeli officials and analysts said they did not foresee the downfall of the Egyptian government, and were confident that even regime change would not result in the breakdown of ties with Cairo.

“We have an earthquake in the Middle East … but we believe the Egyptian regime is strong enough and that Egypt is going to overcome the current wave of demonstrations,” a cabinet minister, speaking on condition of anonymity, told journalists on Thursday. The Egyptian demonstrations are inspired by those who overthrew Tunisian dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali earlier this month, but the official said Israel saw limited parallels between the countries.

“Mubarak is not Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. There is a huge difference. The Egyptian regime is well-rooted, including the defence establishment. Their regime is strong enough to overcome the situation,” he said. Israel has, so far, been silent on the eruption of large-scale anti-government demonstrations in Egypt, the biggest the country has seen in at least three decades, for fear of being accused of interfering in Egyptian domestic affairs.

February 6th, 2011, 2:16 pm


Yossi said:

Averroes, Observer and Nour,

I’m not advocating for Syria to “enslave” itself to the US and Israel. First, I’m not a Syrian so it’s not my business anyway. Second, like I said, America’s involvement in the ME is pretty much done so I wouldn’t bet on this horse if I was a Syrian.

I’m also not saying that the decisions made by Saadat and Mubarak were all good, clearly they were very corrupt, and oppressive, and their strategy towards Israel unpopular. But when thinking about poverty vs. development, you have to juxtapose the decisions which they did make with the alternatives. Egypt, with its unique geography and exploding population was on a path of poverty anyway. The question is, would it have been better off being an ex-communist client, trying to pry open markets like Syria while being sanctioned and harassed? Most likely it would have been in a worst state right now (but perhaps the society would have had less inequality, like in Syria).

One thing is for sure, because the alliance with the West was UNRELIABLE, in the sense that it forced Mubarak to allow more freedom of communication and assembly, that has been the enabler of the current revolution, and for the Egyptian people, that weakness of their dictatorship is a benefit that Syrians do not enjoy.

About Israel, it’s pretty obvious it hasn’t “learned” anything of strategic significance over the last 30 years. On the contrary, Zionism has unlearned most the strategic observations that were made as early as 80 years ago, about the fate of that movement if it didn’t learn to coexist with the Arab aboriginals. Israel at this point doesn’t have any vision for the future, cannot develop new strategies, is being led by an opportunistic set of corrupt politicians representing sectorial interests, and as a result acts rather randomly and based on very short sighted calculations. Therefore, what Israel will do is fully dependent on what the West and the Arabs will do.

For example, if France or the Netherlands will decide to mass-expel Muslim immigrants then you can expect Israel to do the same the day after. If the current level of pressure on Israel (which is not critical) will continue, then the occupation will be sustained. If on the other hand the pressure would intensify, then eventually Israel will either explode internally in a civil war (between secular-urbanites and pro-settlers) or yield to pressure. So.. there is a direct correlation between what Israel will do and how it’s perceived in the West.

There is also an indirect correlation between Western perception of Islam and backing for Israel. Today most of the anti-Islam right in Europe is indeed very much pro-Israel but I agree with Observer that this can backfire from Israel’s perspective. It depends on whether Europe will be consistent in the implications of its anti-Islamic policies (which will call for support for Israel) or rather realistic about them (which will call for the sacrifice of Israel).

February 6th, 2011, 2:20 pm


Shai said:


Well, as long you call him “a cabinet minister”, and not “a Jewish cabinet minister”, then I’m okay with that… 😉

I think it’s rather irrelevant what some Israeli “experts” think will or won’t happen in Egypt. No one in Egypt is asking Israel what it thinks.

February 6th, 2011, 2:23 pm


Shai said:

Yossi said: “Israel at this point doesn’t have any vision for the future, cannot develop new strategies, is being led by an opportunistic set of corrupt politicians representing sectorial interests, and as a result acts rather randomly and based on very short sighted calculations. Therefore, what Israel will do is fully dependent on what the West and the Arabs will do.”

I agree 100%.

February 6th, 2011, 2:26 pm


Joshua said:

You write:

“because the alliance with the West was UNRELIABLE, in the sense that it forced Mubarak to allow more freedom of communication and assembly, that has been the enabler of the current revolution, and for the Egyptian people, that weakness of their dictatorship is a benefit that Syrians do not enjoy.”

I think you are correct. Egypt was vulnerable precisely because it has is a high degree of civil society and opposition party formation compared to Syria, where the opposition is practically nonexistent in an organized form and the youth have been largely depoliticized.

February 6th, 2011, 2:41 pm


Shami said:

Very well said Dr Landis.

February 6th, 2011, 3:18 pm


Averroes said:


The name I chose for my self is not Aver.

February 6th, 2011, 3:33 pm


Shami said:

I’m sorry ,but i fell bad when i see a person who have chosen such honourable name indorsing a mixture of this divine-soviet style propaganda, despite that you are aware that those who produce it ,are a bunch of hypocrites.This is the opposite of an Averroist stance.

February 6th, 2011, 4:24 pm


Averroes said:

Your Royal Highness @ 12,

Turkey a “liberal democracy”? Wow. Turkey, which hanged Adnan Menderis and expelled Erbacan from power because both had an Islamic agenda, you call a liberal democracy? Have you totally forgotten those great figures? Professor Necmettin Erbacan, the great visionary, mechanical engineering genius, and outstanding statesman who was forced out of an elected post by your “liberal democracy”. You forgot about them? Have you no shame, sir, or is it enough that Turks are “Sunnis” and you personally have a Turkish heritage to turn a blind eye?

Turkey is a democracy, but it’s not the same as the Western liberal democracies. The Turkish version of democracy is good, in my opinion, and strikes a good balance and is a good example for other countries in the region, I’m not disagreeing with that. Turkey has been rediscovering its Islamic heritage which is also a great thing for everyone, I’m not disagreeing with that not one bit.

My point to Yossi was that all those nations, Turkey included, have been taking significant steps of self-reliance and independence from the West, each in its own path and each in its own way. In that light, Turkey IS comparable to Iran and Syria, and not just comparable, but also cooperative and with room to grow the very good relations, as we are seeing take place.

Egypt will too, insha’Allah, take its place in a new born democracy that will be carved to fit its own set of realities, and I’m really hopeful that Egypt will have an advanced level of democracy that everyone can learn from, including Syria, Iran, and Turkey. Egypt has always been a beacon of thought and civilization and I would be very happy to see it take its rightful place.

The shake that the events in Egypt have caused (and will continue to cause) is a good thing, even for Syria. In the overall picture I support the regime in Syria, but that does not AT ALL mean that I agree to everything it does. It does not AT ALL mean that I don’t see a lot of room for improvement and reconciliation, and it does NOT mean that idol worshiping is something I’m proud of. Please shake away that simplistic approach you seem to be advancing all the time.

One of my relatives in Aleppo owns a shop in the downtown. He says that even on election days, no one comes to force anyone to hang pictures of Bashar. It is usually the more corrupt merchants that voluntarily hang the pictures in open hypocrisy and in (futile) attempts to deter harassment by municipality officials, and to create an artificial halo of “da3m” around themselves. We have to acknowledge that we, as a people, have many diseases that we cannot project onto others.

We have a long way to go, and I would very much like that all of us Syrians, the Shamis and the Majhools and the Averroses and Alexes and everyone find our many common grounds and start from there with mutual respect and good will.

February 6th, 2011, 4:26 pm


Ghat Albird said:

SHAI said:


Well, as long you call him “a cabinet minister”, and not “a Jewish cabinet minister”, then I’m okay with that…

What a faux pas? Are there any ministers that are not?

February 6th, 2011, 5:16 pm


Shai said:


No, today there are no non-Jewish Ministers. There is a Deputy-Minister that is Arab (from Likud).

From March 2007 – March 2009, however, there was a Muslim Minister – MK Raleb Majadele (Labor), who served as Science, Technology, Culture, and Sports Minister.

By the way, earlier you mentioned the minister that assumed Mubarak would stay in power.

Netanyahu last week said this:

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week that if democracy prevails in Egypt, he does not believe it will pose a threat to peace with Israel.

“All those who value freedom are inspired by the calls for democratic reforms in Egypt,” Netanyahu said during a speech to the Knesset last Wednesday. “An Egypt that will adopt these reforms will be a source of hope for the world. As much as the foundations for democracy are stronger, the foundations for peace are stronger.”

February 6th, 2011, 5:33 pm


Yossi said:


You said:

>>> I don’t know what either of you mean by “finish what was left unfinished”, or “dreams of a military solution.”

>>> Could Israel ever cause 4 million Palestinians to board buses and head Eastward? I doubt it. How does that work in today’s world? The International Community would intervene after the 50th bus (the first 49 would be explained as “self-defense”.) But seriously, it cannot happen, not in today’s Israel or today’s world.

Of course it cannot happen in today’s world, but why would you assume it would not be an option in tomorrow’s world? The rules of war are constantly changing, and the current ones were written by the US and the UK, as well as the institutions enforcing these rules are rigged to serve the purposes of this current hegemony. But this hegemony is fading and as a result a more chaotic world will ensue. This raises the stakes for Israel and the Arabs and could result in a good-old-fashioned all-out war with mass expulsions of populations ensuing, as happened in the 40’s and 50’s.

February 6th, 2011, 6:37 pm


Norman said:


I hate to admit it but i agree with you that Israel is waiting for the right moment to expel all the Christians and Muslims Israeli and Palestinians out , the question is, will that awaken the Arabs , may be, and will Israel risk a continuous war without interruption, That is if the Arabs have their act together.with all the risk to Israel economic development,

two other notes, Israel will never reoccupy the Sinai as that will be considered an act of war and will justify the cancellation of the peace treaty by Egypt and that is something Israel does not want,I think that Israel will sit and wait,

For all of you hoping that Egypt will cancel the treaty with Israel ,,,,, You are dreaming , Egypt is very dependent on the West and KSA to do that,
The maximum that you can hope for is for Egypt to play a more useful rule to convince Israel that time is not in her side and that the time is now to settle the Palestinian problem once and for all , that will be for the benefit of Israel that needs a sobering experience.
,,,,,,Will see,

February 6th, 2011, 8:58 pm


Shai said:

Yossi, Norman,

I can’t predict what “tomorrow’s world” will look like. I can only guess based on things I see today. I don’t see mass expulsions happening in Israel’s future, simply because Israel is not a Holland or a Belgium or a U.K. It is a tiny island surrounded on all sides by half a billion Muslims, and it is as close to 100%-dependent on other nations as one can be. It cannot afford to do what any European nation past, present, or future might.

February 7th, 2011, 12:04 am


Yossi said:


I agree with you that this scenario is unlikely, but the point is that still, this is something that Israelis await for and wish would happen, however unlikely. In other words they might as well wait for God to take all the Arabs to hell directly. What else can Israelis wait for? They aren’t willing to pay the price for the two-state solution (and seems like the other side is also not serious), neither are they willing to unilaterally withdraw, so what’s left? Wait for the Arabs to disappear.

February 7th, 2011, 12:54 am


Shai said:

Dear Yossi,

I actually agree more with your previous comment – where you said that Israelis have no vision for the future. In other words, they aren’t “waiting” for anything! If they actually engaged in thinking about their future (rather than being completely numb and apathetic), they’d actively support either a one- or two-state solution. They’d reach conclusions about whether the current, or past strategies Israel defines for itself work in favor, or against, their short or long term goals. But they do neither. They do none of these things.

Israelis, I’m sad to say, aren’t waiting for anything. They’re living, at best, for today. Otherwise, Israel couldn’t have remained an Occupier for over 42.5 years, without withdrawing from or annexing the territory it conquered in 1967.

February 7th, 2011, 1:24 am


Shami said:

History did not end in 1950 in Turkey with Menderes’s execution ,Turkey succeded to resume its political process towards democracy after 1983 and current Turkish democracy is near to meet European criteria of Copenhague and that’s a great achievement.As for Erbakan ,there is no need to over dramatize the soft coup that ended his government,his refah party only represented 20% and paradoxically and against the will of the authors of the coup,this accident of history ,has had a positive outcome with the appearance of a more reasonable gathering within the turkish muslim conservative trend.(the AKP)and here too, turkish history did not stop with Erdogan and the AKP,the rule of democratic change-over will allow other politicians and other parties to come next.And btw,despite his cleverness, Erbakan is backward looking,his movement ,Milli Gurus promote a fundamentalism that is close to that of our islamic arab parties,also,this powerful movement spends a lot of money to disseminate anti evolution books in biology.
Averroes ,unlike today Syria and today Iran, the fate of the Turkish political regime is not bound to a specific person as is the case of the syrian regime whose fate is related to that of a member of Asad family,and in today Iran ,to the existence of theocratic system in which the head of the clerical establishment is the ultimate political authority above 70 millions iranians,such totaliratian regimes are doomed to a bad end,Averroes,you are not obliged to be an emotional and mellow person in front of the syrian regime propaganda,you know that they are not clean at all.And may i ask you ,how do you feel when you are forced to bribe for an official document?

February 7th, 2011, 3:50 am


Averroes said:


Thank you for agreeing to use my selected name, and thank you for calming down your tone. I think we can communicate better now, and I’m happy to say that.

What you said about Erbakan is correct. BTW I know the Milli Gurus very well. I spent one Hajj season in their camps in Mecca, and I have friends that are high up their ranks. Erdogan’s offshoot was actually for the better, and it is still not the end of the line, as you said.

What I want to say is that I do agree that history did not end in 1950. But just as Turkey’s timeline is different than that of the UK, Syria’s and Iran’s timelines are bound to be different as well. Each country has its own specifics and its own heritage to deal with.

To get to where it is today, Turkey had to go through some really rough times, where wearing a Tarboush was punishable by death. Surely, this seems overly harsh today, but to the authorities of the 1920s and 1930s, it was necessary to ensure the turning of the Ottoman page, and to ensure the new Turkey will remain secular. Decades later, Turkey is a much more tolerant place and closer to a European style democracy, and indeed, Islam is back in a better and gentler form.

In Iran and in Syria, I think something not too different is taking place. Granted, it is at a very different timeline, and quite a different specifics, but I think the direction is overall defendable. Iran has real elections and real opposition. True, they are under the approval of the Supreme Leader, but is that very different than Turkey’s democratic process being under the watchful eye of hardline Turkish military generals?

Shami, I will say to you that you also don’t HAVE to be limited to a rejectionist role to anything and everything that comes out of the Syrian regime. I invite you to try and see through all the noise and see that strategically, there is a direction that’s actually not that bad.

I agree with you 100% that a LOT more is needed, but I think that at least Syria is moving in the right direction.

I was in Syria recently and I saw two major developments: One is the new curriculum from the Ministry of Education. I invite you to have a look at it at It is excellent, and it’s not just for Arabic, but for all subjects. It teaches individuality, critical thinking, and independence. It’s much more mature than the previous curriculum. This is the basis of a new generation that will be rooted in great values, and will hopefully cured of many diseases our society now suffers from. I invite you to take a close look at the books.

The other development is the major anti corruption moves taken by the government. Almost the entire Aleppo City Council has recently been either sacked or jailed for corruption including Mr. Ma’an Shibli, a very close associate of Bashar himself. This tells me at least that the will is there.

And to answer your question, I have not had to bribe a Syrian official in many many years. During those years I’ve updated my driver’s license, made a new passport, did quite a few Family registrations, and bought real estate. Mostly I have not been asked to pay anything, and in the few cases where I have been, I’ve resisted and got my way. It’s still there, but it’s getting better.

February 7th, 2011, 11:22 am


Shami said:

Averroes,I’m allergic to cult of personality totalitarian regimes,I refuse this old disk :the president is clean and the people around him are corrupt .I don’t like regime supporters excuse that the Syrian people are naturally inclined to be corrupt ,what you presented as an anti-corruption campaign is ,not new practice in syria al asad ,which is the dismiss of civil servant by the necessity of cards redistribution ,before this one,it hurts,Miro ,al Zo3bi.what makes this look false is that close relatives and the inner circle are untouchable ,worse ,they are corruption itself and in the same time they are the guardians of the regime.
I also don’t like you comparison between Turkey (and the other successful Muslim democracy Malaysia) which is a genuine democracy with such grotesque totalitarian regimes. Recently, the Turkish politicians are about to put an end to the political interference of the military council and placed it under the control of the government, whereas ,in your favorite regimes, a dictator in Syria holds decisive political power and the theocrats in Iran have in theory absolute power over politicians that they themselves select, and this lovely regime, still enforce barbarian sentence such as stoning to death of women, torture and mass political killing, as for the so called struggle between reformers and conservatives inside the Iranian theocracy is in reality a chimera, even during the so called reformer Khatami ‘s presidency, dozens of women (30 ?) have been stoned to death.
Averroes, i agree that there is a possibility of a variety of democracies, but basic requirements are necessary ,such as universal human rights and basic freedom observance ,transparency and accountability ,multi-party system , democratic change over ,separation of powers , in all these points ,your most preferred regimes ,the asad family regime and mahdist “infallible” theocracy have miserably failed.
Seriously, Averroes , do you believe that Bashar would promote the transition towards democracy and ends his family regime?what will be in your opinion the fate of hafez asad statues ?

February 7th, 2011, 4:48 pm


Averroes said:


Timeline … this was a key word that I think you did not consider in my previous response. Timeline is different per country. Turkey was quite terrible just a few decades ago.

Your mind seems pretty made up about the regime, which is fine. It took a long time for me to reach where I am right now, but I am willing to change my mind if realities change. I hope you would be willing to change your mind as well.

On a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is a Stalin or Saddam style rule, and 10 being a Switzerland or a Sweden, I give the regime right now a 5 or a 6. To reach this figure, I try to take into account all the inertia from the history, the political realities, the sectarian realities, the ethnic realities, the war with Israel, the embargo by the US, the Iraqi refugees, the Lebanese refugess (during 2006), the type of Arab states surrounding Syria that want to tear you down, the population, and everything else I can remember. Given all those factors, this is my assessment.

In my view, it’s a passing grade, but there’s still a long long way for us to go. I don’t want to destroy it all and start anew. I believe we can evolve from within into the future. That’s my belief, anyway. So please stop painting us here who support the regime as enthusiastic rubber stamps for everything the regime does. That’s just not the case. There’s a wide spectrum between 1 and 10.

Also, it seems you have not been in Syria for quite some time. There are very few Hafez Al-Asad statues left in the country, compared with what used to be the case 10 years ago. Bashar had them all taken down. I have not seen a single statue of Bashar anywhere.

February 7th, 2011, 5:47 pm


NK said:


The problem with Syria’s movement towards a more open democratic society is really the pace. Bashar has been in office for more than 10 years now, how much did Syria really improve ? the answer is not much.

Those people in Aleppo city council that got saked never got jailed, or questioned, they were just let go !. You should pay a visit or two to Syrian courts and see for yourself the extent of corruption.

You can argue that Syria has seen some improvements, but then Syria have to deal with the other countries in the region, and some of their advancements will eventually rub off on their Syrian counterparts. Taking that into account and how little improvements were really implemented, my guess is that most of it was due to outside influence rather than a genuine move on part of the Syrian government.

A few weeks back, I read a study which showed that since 1981 the average Syrian has been losing 0.3% of his/her income annually, so over 30 years, Syrians are making ~9% less than they used to in 1981, which wasn’t much to begin with. Combine that with the 9% unemployment rate ( I believe the actual number to be much higher ), I really think the country is heading towards an Egypt style uprising. maybe it won’t happen this year, but the situation is not sustainable.

The real problem in Syria is finding an alternative for the Assad regime, after 40 years of repression, there is no real opposition in Syria, and if something similar to what happened in Tunisia or what’s happening in Egypt is to take place in today’s Syria, the power vacuum might be just too big to fill by anyone other than another military dictatorship.

February 7th, 2011, 6:01 pm


Averroes said:


I don’t disagree that the pace is too slow. I think that we could have done better for sure.

In fairness, I would ask you to consider what was going on during the 10 years he has been in power: 9/11, then the terrible invasion of Iraq in 2003, then the threats of the US invasion of Syria for years after that, and the 2 million Iraqi refugees coming into the country with all the challenge that brings. The Hariri assassination in 2005 and the tribunal, then the 2006 war in Lebanon. I think we can agree that those were major challenges, where the regime was placed under intense, unprecedented pressure. It is a well known fact that the Saudis paid hundreds of millions of dollars incite sectarian hatred in Syria (and Lebanon and Iraq) and to try and topple the regime (by bribing Syrian army personnel). If you want to be fair, I don’t think you can totally ignore those important factors that would delay reform.

It’s really only two years ago that the regime started breathing easier, and this may not last even. I believe that Assad has a little bit more time than other rulers in the region, but not too much time. I would love to see him take some bold steps toward serious and significant reforms. If those reforms do not materialize and if the people do not see tangible steps toward fighting corruption, especially at the upper echelons, then yes, there might indeed be an Egypt style uprising in Syria.

I don’t think it’s going to happen tomorrow, but it could happen in a year or two, so the time to act is now.

And on the Aleppo council, there are actually a number of people who have been jailed. I know one for sure because I’ve known him personally since my young years and he comes from an extremely well connected family. I’m not going to mention his name here, but I know that he’s been inside for over 3 months now.

February 7th, 2011, 6:39 pm


EHSANI2 said:


I think that you are referring to “MR”. I do agree with you that the city council is not exactly let go. In fact, the case has just been moved to the courts and many in the group are waiting for sentencing by the judge.

February 7th, 2011, 6:58 pm


Averroes said:


Thank you for confirming my statement. Yes, I am was referring to him.

February 7th, 2011, 9:36 pm


NK said:

Another thing that I can’t get my head around is, If Assad was sincere about reform ( and I hope he is ), why does the regime impose all the censorship on media outlets in general and internet use in particular, I mean come on, blocking Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook !!! not to mention the long list of censored websites, even Lebanese newspapers are prevented from reaching Syrian news stands from time to time. To me this just doesn’t make any sense.

February 7th, 2011, 10:24 pm


Averroes said:


This is a valid point. I cannot speak for the regime, and I do not know the line of thinking behind these decisions. I think it is the old mentality of many of the heads of the security apparatus that’s in play here. They see an anti Assad video on YouTube and they block the entire YouTube site. They see the potential of Facebook to influence youth and move them in ways that can cause trouble and they block it. Pretty brutal, but to older people who probably don’t understand the internet very well, it might seem like a quick and dirty solution.

Needless to say, this is a futile and counterproductive strategy, and I do not agree to it or support it. I think that the regime should put some serious recourses into taking a lot of the points that they are worried about face on, instead of using these outdated methods of censorship.

I do not, however, see these restrictions as an indication of insincerity by Assad. I think, you might compare it to a parent preventing children from doing certain things because they think they know what’s better for their “children”. You don’t want your child to be sucked into fanatic religious groups, or drugs, or online sex, so you block their access to it, and hope to have a better sleep at night.

The only thing is the people and youth are not children and they should not be treated as such.

True, enormous efforts of polarization and attraction are being employed by countries like Saudi Arabia to incite and entrench sectarian hatred within Syria, as this is the most effective means of breaking Syrian society. But Saudi funded TV hate stations have been pumping their shit for years, and the yield from that has not been game changing. I think that YouTube, FB, and Twitter can be opened without too much risk.

Again, I do not endorse or agree to this approach and I think it should be reconsidered, but I do not see these mesures as an indication of insincerity either.

This is a very abbreviated answer 🙂

February 8th, 2011, 11:00 am


why-discuss said:

Stalemate on the Street Poses Risks for Mubarak’s Opponents,8599,2046908,00.html#ixzz1DQUTP7M3

February 8th, 2011, 11:52 am


Angelis Dania said:

Has anyone noticed a trend here?

Media: Syrian leaders bad. Will fall to problem X.
Syrian leaders: We good. We’ll stand.
Result: Syrian leaders stand.
Media: Syrian leaders bad. Escaped problem X, but will fall to problem Y.
Syrian leaders: We good. We’ll stand.
Result: Syrian leaders stand.

Rinse and repeat.

It seems everytime a problem arises for Syria, a big wave of foreboding and regime doomsday articles flood the media, and Syria just ends up weathering the storm and being on the right side (so to speak) of the issue, as it has demonstrated so many times in the past with the Assad leadership.

Still, that doesn’t and won’t stop couch analysts from questioning the sense and intelligence of Syrian political strategy, which is by proven track-record arguably the sharpest in recent history.

Looking at it from the side of the oppositions, it must really be a pain in the you-know-what. As an humourous analogy, it’s almost like all those opposed are the Wile E. Coyote to the Syrian Road Runner. :p

February 8th, 2011, 11:00 pm


Norman said:

Angelis Dania,

Thank you, your words are uplifting and encouraging , so thank you again.

February 8th, 2011, 11:09 pm


Nafdik said:

Angelis, you seem to forget that all dictators follow the pattern. They stay up until the moment they fall.

The Assads have nothing special in this regard, all arabic countries until last week ahd not changed regime sin e they 60s.

February 20th, 2011, 8:53 pm


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November 28th, 2011, 4:24 am


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November 28th, 2011, 7:21 am


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