Daoudi Cancels Trip to Washington: Syria-US Relations Remain… Well.. Not Good

Riad Daoudi has cancelled his visit to the US at the last minute. This is significant because he was the one Syrian official included on the agenda. The State Department said that it would meet with the three, but not in any official capacity only as private citizens. Sami Moubayed and Samir Taqi, the two other Syrians included in the original visit, are indeed civilians. Not so Daoudi.

Daoudi says that he needs to return to Ankara to pick up negotiations with Israel. 

I wrote earlier that it seemed that Syria was being snubbed, but I am told this is wrong. I have erased it.

Key Syria Official Cancels Trip To US

WASHINGTON (AFP)–A key official in a Syrian delegation scheduled to attend a private forum and possibly meet with U.S. officials in rare talks this week has canceled his trip, officials said Tuesday.

Riad Daoudi, Syrian lead negotiator with Israeli officials in Turkey and legal adviser to the Syrian foreign ministry, had been asked at the last minute to remain in Damascus for talks with a visiting Turkish delegation, sources said.

"Based on our information, Mr. Daoudi did not make the trip to Washington," Syrian embassy spokesman Ahmed Salkini told AFP. He didn't provide details.

But Ahmad Samir al-Taki, a consultant to the Syrian prime minister and director of the Orient Center for International Studies in Damascus, together with two others will attend the forum "Engaging Syria: new negotiations, old challenges" at Washington-based Brookings Institution on Wednesday.

Their visit is sponsored by Search for Common Ground, an international non- governmental organization, headquartered in Washington and Brussels, which had sought a meeting for them with the State Department.

State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos had said on Monday that Assistant Secretary of State David Welch, the pointman for Middle East affairs, was prepared to meet with them.

Syria is on a U.S. blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism.

But Gallegos stressed that they weren't official talks, as the Syrian team was here in "private capacity."

Still, the proposed meeting comes in the wake of a tactical shift in President George W. Bush administration's Middle East dealings following the participation of the State Department's No. 3 official, William Burns, in talks in Geneva last week over Iran's nuclear program.

Obama’s High-Powered Ride to the Airport
By Jeff Zeleny

AMMAN, Jordan — The king drove the senator to the airport.
After dinner at His Majesty’s palace tonight, known here as Beit Al Urdan, Senator Barack Obama was headed to catch a plane to Israel. So King Abdullah got behind the wheel of his dark-gray Mercedes Benz 600 Series, Mr. Obama hopped in the passenger’s seat and they headed through the streets to Jordan/Queen Alia International Airport.
The motorcade — unlike the United States, which contained more Mercedes than mini-vans — created a bit of a stir when it arrived on the dark tarmac. Reporters and photographers stood watch as King Abdullah stepped out of his door first, followed by Mr. Obama.
The two stood at the steps of the plane, talking for several moments before saying their farewells.

King Abdullah, who had been in Aspen, Colo., made a special trip back to Amman to see Mr. Obama tonight. He was waiting at the door of his home when the senator arrived. (Queen Ranie was said to be on hand, but was not seen by reporters.)
“Thank you so much,” Mr. Obama said as the king pumped his hand. The two had briefly met once on Capitol Hill, but had never shared a one-one-one meeting.
“Let’s make a photo opportunity,” Mr. Abdullah said, re-enacting their handshakes and smiling broadly for the cameras.
And so they did, repeating the scene one more time a few hours later in the shadow of the newly-painted Obama campaign plane.

Obama: Israeli Strike Against Syria Last Year "Appropriate"
22 Jul 2008 03:32 pm

More from an exclusive preview of Katie Couric's interview with Barack Obama:

Couric: If they reject negotiating– if they reject negotiations, how likely do you think a preemptive military strike by Israel against Iran may be?

Obama: I– I will not hypothesize on that. I think– Israel has a right to defend itself. But I will not speculate on– the– the difficult judgment that they would have to make– in a whole host of possible scenarios.

Couric: This is not a speculative question then. Was it appropriate, in your view, for Israel to take out that suspected Syrian nuclear site last year?

Obama: Yes. I think that there was sufficient evidence that they were developing– a site using a nuclear– or using a– a blueprint that was similar to the North Korean model. There was some concern as to what the rationale for that site would be. And, again, ultimately, I think these are decisions that the Israelis have to make. But– you know, the Israelis live in a very tough neighborhood where– a lot of folks– publicly– proclaim Israel as an enemy and then act on those proclamations. And– I think that– you know, it– it's important for– for me not to– you know, engage in speculation on what steps they need to take. What I can do is to provide leadership– so that the United States government hopefully doesn't get us into a position where– those decisions are so difficult. That's why applying tough diplomacy, direct diplomacy, and tough sanctions– where necessary is so important.

And, as Obama lands in Tel Aviv, he admits to Couric that his AIPAC pronouncement about an "undivided" Jerusalem was "poorly phrased" but insists that he did not change his policy.

Gulfsands, Emerald Energy Start Pumping Oil in Syria (Update1)
2008-07-22 (New York)
by Maher Chmaytelli

July 22 (Bloomberg) — Gulfsands Petroleum Plc and Emerald Energy Plc, two British explorers, started pumping oil yesterday at their Syrian joint venture, which may provide the biggest boost to the Arab nation's output in 20 years.

 “The production of oil commenced at the Khurbet East Early Production Facility in Block 26'' in north-east Syria, according to a statement today from Gulfsands, operator of the concession. 

Gulfsands aims to pump 40,000 barrels a day in 18 months, increasing Syria's production by 10 percent, company spokesman Kenneth Judge said yesterday. The venture's output, which will start at 10,000 barrels a day, may boost the country's production the most since the late 1980s, Executive Director Mahdi Sajjad said in yesterday's Daily Telegraph. Gulfsands didn't estimate initial output from the first well, KHE-4, in today's statement.

Syria is stepping up exploration to check a decline in crude output, which has dropped to 360,000 barrels a day from a peak of 600,000 barrels a day in 1996, according to the government. Its reserves of 3.2 billion barrels are expected to last 10 years, according to the U.S. Energy Department. The two London-based explorers, which each hold a 50 percentstake in the venture, must share any oil produced with the Syrian government, Emerald said today in a separate statement, citing the terms of the concession agreement.

Shares Gain

lf sands announced last year the Khurbet East find in Block 26, Syria's largest exploration plot with an area of 8,250 square kilometers (3,185 square  iles). The discovery was brought on stream five months ahead of schedule, boosting the shares of Gulfsands and Emerald yesterday by as much as 6.7 percent and 17 percent respectively. 

“With production from Khurbet East having started well ahead of schedule, which will ramp up as we tie in additional wells, we look forward to further developing the other opportunities in Block 26 in what is a highly prospective and proven hydrocarbon system in Syria,'' Gulfsands Chairman Andrew
West said in the statement today.

Comments (47)

annie said:

There goes Obama, down the drain of our hopes for some understanding of what it is all about.

July 22nd, 2008, 10:33 pm


ugarit said:


Obama would have little chance to win if he said something different. The MSM would trash him royally. There is little hope that any US president would be permitted to express an understanding of the ME.

Obama will prolong the pain. McCain will be extremely painful but will accelerate the demise of the US empire.

July 23rd, 2008, 12:48 am


idaf said:

UN’s Ban details Hezbollah letter on prisoner swap
By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS, July 22 (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday released details of a letter he received from Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah outlining his group’s conditions for further prisoner deals with Israel.

Last week the leader of the Lebanese guerrilla group made a rare public appearance in Beirut to welcome five Lebanese released from captivity in Israel after Hezbollah returned the bodies of two captured Israeli soldiers.

Israel is also due to release Palestinian prisoners in the future as a gesture to the U.N. secretary-general. Nasrallah said he had written to Ban asking him to use his good offices.

In a letter to the current president of the U.N. Security Council, Vietnamese Ambassador Le Lunong Minh, Ban said that Nasrallah “declared his readiness for participation in the remaining humanitarian cases of Israeli MIA (missing in action) of the 1980s.”

But Ban said Nasrallah was “conditioning his positive attitude to the nature and extent of Israeli humanitarian moves on behalf of Palestinian and Arab victims.”

Ban quoted Nasrallah’s letter saying the Hezbollah chief informed him that further prisoner releases by Israel should “be adequate to the high level of government commitment to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and to the importance of results achieved under the U.N. facilitation.”

In other direct quotes from Nasrallah’s July 7 letter, Ban said he referred to “the high number of innocent victims caused by the war of 2006,” adding that he considered it “as a minimum requirement that the releases comprise a maximum number of minors, women and elderly people being held in … detention.”

These cases “go into the hundreds” according to non-governmental organizations, Ban quoted Nasrallah’s letter as saying.

These must be resolved immediately in order to secure Hezbollah’s support in other humanitarian cases, Nasrallah wrote to Ban.

Under last week’s deal arranged by a U.N.-appointed German mediator, Israel also returned the bodies of eight Hezbollah fighters slain in the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, as well as those of four Palestinians, including Dalal Mughrabi, a woman guerrilla who led a 1978 raid on Israel.

In his letter Ban said: “I strongly commend Israel’s readiness to engage in another release of Palestinian detainees and welcome Hezbollah’s willingness in principle to further contribute to the solution of the humanitarian cases.”

Ban said he hoped the next releases lead to “further humanitarian moves.”

July 23rd, 2008, 12:53 am


Akbar Palace said:

Ugarit said:

There is little hope that any US president would be permitted to express an understanding of the ME.


How do YOU know US presidents are not “permitted to express an understanding of the ME”, and how would YOU recognize it if they did?

July 23rd, 2008, 1:59 am


JustOneAmerican said:


No one should expect long-standing relations between two countries to change overnight barring some dramatic and immediate change in circumstance. The US and Syria are no different in that regard. International relations have a certain inertia that take time and energy to overcome, especially in a democracy – a sudden change by Obama, without careful preparation, will appear rash to most voters, who will question the reasoning behind a dramatic change in long-standing policy absent new circumstances. Consider Nixon’s rapprochement with China as an example – it only began after Nixon was elected and initially talks proceeded in secret. It took three years to engineer and prepare the way for his historic visit.

July 23rd, 2008, 2:20 am


Majhool said:

My Talk with the Saudis, and What I Learned from Them
on Wednesday, July 23, 2008 – By: Lerner, Rabbi Michael


I had expected the World Conference on Dialogue convened by the King of Saudi Arabia to be little more than a photo op for the King, a cheap way to buy good public relations for a regime that has refused to increase production of oil as a way to reduce the current surge in the price, provided haven and support for the Wahabist form of Islam that has fostered extremists like Saudi-born and raised Osama bin Ladin and many others, and has done far too little with its wealth to alleviate the poverty and suffering of many in the Middle East.

Imagine my surprise, then, to hear the Saudi King in a language that, as one Muslim observer pointed out to me, sounded more like the New Bottom Line of the Network of Spiritual Progressives than it did like a speech of a self-absorbed monarch.


July 23rd, 2008, 3:07 am


Majhool said:

Syria rejects ICC’s move against Sudan president

http://www.chinaview.cn 2008-07-23 07:26:42 Print

DAMASCUS, July 22 (Xinhua) — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad rejected on Tuesday the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) move against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, considering it as an attempt to blackmail Sudan and interfere in its internal affairs.

Assad made the rejection while meeting with Sudanese presidential advisor Ghazi Salah El Din Atabani, who delivered Assad a message from al-Bashir on the latest developments regarding the court’s move, according to the official SANA news agency.

“Such a court decision will hinder the efforts to establish peace in Darfur, and will undermine any effort to boost stability in Sudan,” Assad was quoted as saying.

The president also stressed that Syria, chairman of the Arab summit, will do whatever required to stand by Sudan as it is suffering from plots targeting its security and stability.

In a statement to reporters after the talks, Atabani praised Syria’s stance in support of Sudan, noting the important role Syria plays due to its Arab summit presidency.

The Hague-based ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo formally requested an arrest warrant last week against Bashir for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in the western Sudanese region of Darfur.

It was the first time that the ICC charges a sitting head of state, a move decried by Khartoum as undermining peace efforts in Darfur.

Sudan, which is not a member of the ICC, has rejected the ICC allegations, dismissing them as “null and false” and maintaining the ICC has no jurisdiction over Sudan.

July 23rd, 2008, 3:09 am


Alex said:


الوفد الأكاديمي السوري في واشنطن طلب الاجتماع مع «أيباك»
واشنطن – جويس كرم الحياة – 23/07/08//

أكدت مسؤول في الخارجية الأميركية لـ»الحياة» أمس أن مساعد وزيرة الخارجية لشؤون الشرق الأدنى ديفيد ولش «لن يستقبل» الوفد الاكاديمي السوري غير الرسمي الذي يزور العاصمة الأميركية. وقال أن مسؤولا من مكتب سورية في الخارجية، لم يحدد اسمه او مستواه، قد يلتقي الوفد. وأبلغ المسؤول التنظيمي للوفد توماس داين «الحياة» أن المجموعة التي تشرف على ترتيبات زيارة الوفد «طلبت رسميا عقد لقاء مع لجنة العلاقات الاسرائيلية – الأميركية» (أيباك) الجناح الأقوى للوبي الاسرائيلي في الولايات المتحدة، الى جانب سلسلة لقاءات أخرى «خاصة» يجؤيها اعضاء الوفد قبل مغادرتهم واشنطن نهاية الأسبوع.

وأكد الناطق باسم مكتب الشرق الأدنى في الخارجية الاميركية جون سليفان لـ»الحياة» أن ولش «كان يود الاجتماع بالوفد» الذي يضم مدير مركز الشرق للدراسات في دمشق سمير التقي، والأستاذ الجامعي سامي مبيض والخبير الاقتصادي سمير سعيفان والذي يعمل أيضاً مستشارا اقتصاديا للحكومة السورية، الا أن «برنامجه يخضع دائما لتغييرات ولن يتيح له عقد هذا اللقاء». وربط ذلك بـ»السفر» وأنه لن يعود قبل نهاية الأسبوع، موعد مغادة الوفد. وأكد سليفان أن مسؤول من مكتب سورية في الخارجية،وهو برتبة أدنى من ولش، سيلتقي الوفد. وشدد الناطق باسم الخارجية غونزالو غاليغوس أن الاجتماع «ما زال قائما» في مكان وزمان محددين وأن مسؤولا آخرا سيستقبل الوفد.

وينظم الزيارة مركز «البحث عن أرضية مشتركة» ومجموعة العمل الأميركية – السورية التي أنشأها المركز، وهي مؤلفة من 16 عضوا (8 أميركيين و8 سوريين) ويجتمعون دوريا للبحث في سبل تحسين العلاقات بين الجانبين.

وأكد داين، وهو عضو فاعل في المجموعة والمسؤول التنظيمي عن الزيارة، أن الخارجية الأميركية أبلغت الوفد الجمعة الماضي استعداد ولش الاجتماع معها، قبل «التغييرات التي طرأت في الساعات الأخيرة». وأكد داين الذي زار حلب ودمشق الربيع الماضي والتقى قيادات سورية من خلال عمله في المجموعة، أن الوفد سيجري اجتماعات «خاصة» في العاصمة الأميركية وندوة علنية في مركز «سابان» التابع لمعهد «بروكينغز» اليوم. وقال في اتصال هاتفي مع «الحياة» أن الوفد «قام بتقديم طلب رسمي الى لجنة العلاقات الأميركية – الاسرائيلية لعقد اجتماع خاص مع مسؤوليها» وأنه «ينتظر الرد». وترأس داين منظمة الادارة التنفيذية لـ «ايباك» بين فترة 1980 و1993، وهو يؤيد، الى جانب شخصيات أخرى في المجموعة، الانخراط بشكل أكبر مع سورية، واتخاذ واشنطن دور أكثر فعالية في عملية السلام بين تل أبيب ودمشق والتي تتم اليوم
بوساطة تركية.

وعلى مستوى الخارجية، قال سليفان لـ»الحياة» أن واشنطن «ماضية بسياستها للحد من الانخراط الديبلوماسي مع دمشق، الا في حال اتخاذ سورية خطوات ملموسة ووقف وسائل زعزعة الاستقرار في المنطقة». وأضاف: «ينتظر المجتمع الدولي من السوريين أن يدينوا الارهاب، وأن يوقفوا وقف تسلل المقاتلين الى العراق وتهريب السلاح الى لبنان، وطرد قيادة المجموعة الفلسطينية الارهابية من أراضيهم وانهاء انتهاكات حقوق الانسان». وسحبت واشنطن سفيرتها من دمشق في شباط (فبراير) 2005 بعد اغتيال الرئيس رفيق الحريري، كما لم يجر المسؤولون الأميركيون سوى لقاءات معدودة مع السفير السوري في واشنطن عماد مصطفى، آخرها كان في نيسان (أبريل) الماضي، وتطرق الى التعاون السوري – الكوري الشمالي المزعوم في المجال النووي.

وقال الخبير السياسي في معهد واشنطن لدراسات الشرق الأدنى ديفيد شانكر لـ «الحياة» أن تراجع ولش عن لقاء المجموعة جاء بسبب «خشية واشنطن من ارسال الاشارة الخطأ حول أي تبدل في الموقف الأميركي»، وبسبب معارضة شرسة في البيت الأبيض ومجلس الأمن القومي لأي تغير في السياسة الأميركية في هده المرحلة. وأصدرت مؤسسة «نهضة لبنان»، وهي فريق عمل للدفع بالمصالح اللبنانية في واشنطن، بيانا تشير فيه الى أن الوفد ليس «غير رسمي» بل يضم مسؤولين في الحكومة السورية، و حضت الخارجية على عدم الاجتماع مع اعضائه.

July 23rd, 2008, 6:09 am


Akbar Palace said:

There goes Obama, down the drain of our hopes for some understanding of what it is all about.


Did you really think Obama was going to sell Israel’s security down the river? Who gave you this impression?


Of course, Obama will flip-flop again if elected, but right now, he has to pander to the pro-Israel christians and the pro-Israel Jews.

Don’t worry, he’s still “your guy”: naive, anti-military, and anti-democratic.

July 23rd, 2008, 10:54 am


annie said:

Thank u JustOneAmerican; let’s wait and see.

akbar : although I am not on talking terms with you, may be Israel would be more secure if it stopped its present policy of hutzpaesque oppression and land grabbing.

July 23rd, 2008, 1:58 pm


Akbar Palace said:

akbar : although I am not on talking terms with you, may be Israel would be more secure if it stopped its present policy of hutzpaesque oppression and land grabbing.

Annie –

I fail to see how Israel’s evacuation of Gaza and Lebanon without any agreement “hutzpaesque” or “land grabbing”. Now all we have to do is try to get Senator Obama to agree with your myopic assessment!;)

And believe, the next time an anti-Israeli comes along like Pat Buchanan or James Baker (or Professor Josh) pointing fingers at Israel, all Israel has to do is point to Lebanon and Gaza.

Israel isn’t giving up any more land without real peace and security guarantees. Write that down.

Surprise, surprise, the anti-semitic Arab Media is disappointed at Obama:


July 23rd, 2008, 3:53 pm


Alex said:


Did you ever try to think that maybe the fact that Gaza and South Lebanon were not part of a negotiated agreement between Israel and a reliable Arab partner … maybe this was the reason you do not have peace with those parties in Lebanon and Palestine? … what did you expect? .. the Palestinians will live in peace with you because prime minister Sharon decided that Israel is too strong to bother sitting with them and reaching a mutually beneficial agreement?

Only a comprehensive agreement with Syria / Lebanon / and the Palestinians will give you (and us) the benefits of real peace.

July 23rd, 2008, 4:04 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Let’s wait 10 years and see how Syria and Iran cope with the economic challenges that lie ahead of them and then we can decide if Asad is reliable or not. If Syria is on the right track eocnomically, then everything will be fine. If not, perhaps Asad will realize that he needs democratic reforms and that will lead to real peace, not a fake one with a dictator.

Israel is in an excellent position to compete in the globalized knowledge economy. Is Syria? Maybe yes, maybe no. Are the Syrians going to be the Chinese of the middle east or the Zimbabwe of the middle east? Let’s wait and find out.

July 23rd, 2008, 5:00 pm


Akbar Palace said:

… what did you expect?

Alex –

I had no expectations that a withdraw of Israeli forces would be met with quiet.

I was just responding to the usual [Zzzzz] accusations like the one Annie posted above.

July 23rd, 2008, 5:16 pm


Craig said:

There goes Obama, down the drain of our hopes for some understanding of what it is all about.

Annie, is that you? The cheerleader for the “resistance” in Iraq? Talking about “our” hopes for Obama? lol. Maybe you should define “our” for us?

July 23rd, 2008, 6:31 pm


Nidal said:


What’s up, buddy. Did you read the book I mentioned to you a while ago? If not, let me kindly remind you what it was :-): “Defending the Holy Land: A Critical Analysis of Israel’s Security and Foreign Policy”, by Zeev Maoz. I highly encourage you (and anyone) to read it closely.

If you know of any groundbreaking books on the subject, let me (or us) know so that we can share it.

July 23rd, 2008, 6:33 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Thanks for the reference again.
Could you also help me with these other references?
I am looking for the following books written by Syrians or Arabs:
1) A critical examination of the education system in Syria.
2) A critical examination of antisemitism in Syria.
3) A critical examination of corruption and its causes in Syria
4) A critical examination of Syria’s defense forces and strategy over the last 60 years
5) A critical examination of science and technology in Syria
6) A history of the Israeli/Arab conflict based on archives of Arab countries

Let’s start with those. I feel it is really unfair that all the discussion should be based on books written by Israelis. It seems a little orientalistic and colonialistic to me. Let’s hear what the Arabs have to say.

I am also very much interested in well researched work by a Lebanese about the Lebanese civil war. Could you recommend such a book?

July 23rd, 2008, 8:05 pm


Alex said:


I merged two of your comments in the one I released above.

Please try to be more efficient without exceeding the four comments per day.

July 23rd, 2008, 8:16 pm


Alex said:

Attention to everyone here:

Since AIG is interested in studying corruption in Syria … I will be happy to assemble your thoughts into a Syria Comment post about this topic that we can all discuss.

Who is interested in writing (up to 500 words) about the causes and best remedies to this problem?

AIG? Bachmann? Majhool? Atassi? Trustquest? Zenobia? Norman? …

If I see enough interest, I will go for it.

July 23rd, 2008, 8:22 pm


Nidal said:


I was offending you at all. You always seem to be on the defensive.

It’s easy to recommend books written by arabs. Just start with Georges Corm’s “Le Proche Orient Eclaté”. There’s an english translation of it on amazon. There are tons of books out there written by arabs about a critic of arab governments. Again, it’s not an offense. Simply a friendly exchange of knowledge. I am really interested in your suggestions.

FYI, I am not Syrian, but Lebanese.

July 23rd, 2008, 8:25 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I am not interested in 500 words. I am interested in a serious book by a well known academic that traces the history and extent of corruption in Syria in the last decades and also proposes what needs to be changed to address it. You would imagine that since most Syrians agree that corruption is a huge problem in Syria that there be at least one book on the subject. No?

July 23rd, 2008, 8:27 pm


Alex said:

The 500 words (by each of many of you) plus another 200 comments will add up to the most up-to-date book.

You can use your 500 words to ask questions in you want.

I am not a book reader, and unfortunately, most Syrians learn from TV and the internet, especially younger Syrians (the majority).

July 23rd, 2008, 8:36 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:


[the point I was trying to make is that] there is no book written by a Syrian general criticizing the Syrian defense policy or army. There is no book written by an ex-education minister of Syria or Egypt crticizing education in Syria. Yes, there are many Syrians that criticize the government of Saudi Arabia and vice versa. Each Arab country is happy to criticize the other, but not itself. I would like to see self criticism byknowledgable people, like what you see in Israel. Otherwise, all these discussions are quite boring. It is really amusing to me that Lebanese are trying to improve Israel by giving Israelis advice especially based on the excellent work you have done in your country.

I read the most recent version of Corm’s book. What he writes about Israel is extremely shoddy and at a high school level.

July 23rd, 2008, 8:47 pm


Seeking the Truth said:

How about this one:
“Syria: Neither Bread Nor Freedom By Alan George”

July 23rd, 2008, 8:48 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

On the Lebanese Civil War, the build-up and aftermath:

Farid El Khazen, “The Breakdown of the State in Lebanon”

Kamal Salibi’s “A House of Many Mansions”

Elie Salem’s “Violence and Diplomacy in Lebanon”

Marius Deeb’s “The Lebanese Civil War”

Fawaz Traboulsi’s relevant chapters in “A History of Lebanon”

There are plenty more.

As for Syria, I’m not an expert on the literature. Spend some time on Amazon and JSTOR. You’ll find something I’m sure.

July 23rd, 2008, 8:57 pm


Alex said:


Your four comments for today are done.

I edited part of the above comment, I hope you note what I edited and stay away from that style of communicating with others.

July 23rd, 2008, 8:57 pm


Alex said:

Syria buries dozens of guerillas returned in Hezbollah prisoner swap
By The Associated Press
Tags: Lebanon, Syria, Israel

Mourners in Syria buried dozens of guerillas killed fighting Israel over the years after their remains were returned Wednesday as part of a deal between Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Israel.

Relatives waiting at Syria’s border with Lebanon showered the coffins with rice and rose petals. Black-clad Muslim women among the thousands of Syrians and Palestinians in the crowd uttered cries of joy as they watched the convoy snake toward the Syrian capital, Damascus, for a burial ceremony.

Israel returned the remains of nearly 200 Arab fighters to Lebanon last week in a prisoner exchange with Hezbollah. Israel also released five Lebanese prisoners. In return, Hezbollah returned the remains of two Israeli soldiers the group captured in a cross-border raid that triggered the 2006 war.

On Wednesday, 114 of the slain fighters were returned to Syria. Most of the dead were Palestinians and Syrians. There were also eight Tunisians, three Libyans, an Iraqi and a Nigerian. The were transported from Lebanon to Syria after Hezbollah identified the remains.

By also seeking the return of non-Lebanese fighters in the deal, Hezbollah sought to broaden its support among all Arabs, not just Lebanese Shiite Muslims.

A young Libyan man who came to collect the remains of his father, killed 19 years ago while carrying out an attack in Israel, said he was thankful for Hezbollah’s effort in the negotiations.

“I feel proud. We have waited a long time for this moment,” said the 20-year-old, Ibrahim Ali Nonsah.

The coffins, covered with wreaths and Palestinian and Syrian flags, were trucked across the border to a ceremony attended by representatives of the Syrian government and radical Palestinian factions based in Damascus.

Some of the slain fighters were buried later at a cemetery in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus. Tens of thousands of mourners waved Palestinian flags and shouted for the killings to be avenged.

Others will be buried elsewhere in Syria. The remains of the other Arab fighters will be handed over to their governments.

July 23rd, 2008, 9:26 pm


ugarit said:


There is no qualitative difference between the countries of the Saudi camp and the Syrian and Iranian regime in that they all agree that their priority is to stay in power, and all are willing to sell the Palestinians and their own slogans to stay in power and to please the American administration. I mean, what about that request by a semi-official Syrian delegation visiting Washington, DC to meet with officials from AIPAC? And this article here quotes a source in the DFLP that the Syrians whose bodies or remains were returned by Israel to Lebanon in the recent prisoners’ exchange were in fact wanted by the the Syrian regime because they were working (fighting) with Palestinian organizations?

July 23rd, 2008, 10:11 pm


ugarit said:


The press coverage of the White Man of the developments in Zimbabwe has been quite sickening but not surprising at all. We are treated to articles that want us to believe that Mugabe is the worst dictator out there. Yet, here he is meeting with opposition leaders and signing deals with them. Can you imagine the pro-U.S. dictators in UAE, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Egypt, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, and other places meeting with opposition figures? I mean the president-for-life-and-death in Egypt put an opposition figure in jail for daring to run against him in a sham presidential election.

July 23rd, 2008, 10:13 pm


Alex said:

I think that “Alhaqiqa” is another Al-Syassa … if you go through their stories from the past few years you will find that most were not true.

But it is very interesting that the Syrian delegation asked to meet with AIPAC.

I disagree with angryarab … nothing is wrong with talking to AIPAC. Is he suggesting that one should not talk to his adversaries, then how different is that from the Neocons?

July 23rd, 2008, 10:44 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


It’s hard to argue with him that they are all qualitatively the same with respect to staying in power.

In other news:

US wants Lebanon to talk to Israel about Shebaa

And, a list of Lebanese detainees in Syrian prisons (via BeirutSpring):

July 24th, 2008, 12:05 am


trustquest said:

Shouldn’t they first be talking to thier adversaries inside the country?
Why they push their adversaries in prison if they talked to Americans. I hate bias.

July 24th, 2008, 12:17 am


Alex said:


No bias here.

They should indeed talk to their adversaries inside the country.

Qifa Nabki,

I did not criticize that part. I agree.

As for the Lebanese prisoners in Syria, do you think they are all alive? Do you think they are in Syria?

Logically speaking, why do you think Syria does not want to release the ones who are alive in Syrian prisons?

I do not have a solid opinion. I THINK that some of those names are indeed in Syrian prisons, others died either in Syria or in Lebanon during the civil ear.

July 24th, 2008, 12:27 am


Qifa Nabki said:


I have no idea. Some people believe that most of the prisoners are not from the Civil War, by the way. Rather, they were jailed between 1990 and 2005, for resisting the Syrians in some fashion or another.

July 24th, 2008, 12:53 am


Alex said:

Syrian chief negotiator says Syria can not ignore Israel … Israeli troops as so close, he can see them from the roof of his office building in Damascus.

Syria allied itself with Iran because Egypt was too busy with internal problems and Saudi Arabia busy with its own interests.

Taki said he is in Washington to present to the Americans Syria’s vision for the future of the Middle East.

رئيس الوفد السوري: لا نستطيع تجاهل إسرائيل لأننا نراها من أسطح المنازل

قال في واشنطن إن دمشق تحالفت مع إيران بسبب ظروف المنطقة.. ومصر والسعودية والأردن مشغولون * مسؤولو الخارجية لن يلتقوا الوفد
واشنطن: محمد على صالح
قال رئيس الوفد السوري الذي توجه الى واشنطن مطلع الأسبوع، الدكتور سمير تقي، ان سورية لا تستطيع ان تتجاهل الوجود الاسرائيلي «لأنه إذا صعد الى سطح العمارة التي بها مكتبه يقدر رؤية القوات الإسرائيلية». وتابع:«إن سورية أيضا لا تستطيع تجاهل اميركا بعد العراق لان اميركا صارت جارة لسورية» في اشارة الى وجودها بالعراق. وفي كلمة له أمس امام معهد «بروكينغز» للأبحاث اشار الى إن الوفد السوري يريد خلال جولته الاميركية والتي تستمر 10 أيام ان يقدم تصورات دمشق للمنطقة الى واشنطن. وتحدث تقي عن التحالف السوري الإيراني، موضحا انه جاء في سياق الظروف الاقليمية، قائلا ان تغير الظروف في المنطقة «هي التي دفعت سورية للتحالف مع ايران وذلك لأن مصر صارت مهتمة بشؤونها الداخلية واهتمت السعودية والاردن بالمشاكل التي تشغلهما.

July 24th, 2008, 1:05 am


Nidal said:

Alex & QN,

I am also perplexed by this issue too. How many of them are still in jail, how many of them are dead or lost? Who knows. This issue needs to be dealt though. It should not be thrown in the abyss. But I don’t think it would be resolved until Lebanon becomes stable politically, and relations with Syria improve.

July 24th, 2008, 1:07 am


norman said:


What would Lebanon do if Syria said that there are no living Lebanese in Syria’s prisons and all the missing are dead ,

Would Lebanon continue the war of words with Syria ?.

July 24th, 2008, 1:14 am


Qifa Nabki said:

Ammo Norman, Nidal, Alex:

I can tell you from personal experience that the Lebanese in Syrian jails issue is one of the big sources of resentment towards Syria among Aounists, and Lebanese Christians in general.

It wouldn’t be a good move for Syria to say that they are all dead. First of all no one would believe them.

But it looks like Moallem was positive about some kind of solution.

Here’s Michael Young’s latest piece, which touches on this issue.

July 24th, 2008, 1:15 am


Nur al-Cubicle said:

The State Department said that it would meet with the three, but not in any official capacity only as private citizens

Gee, it makes you wonder why the US troubles itself by maintaining a State Department.

July 24th, 2008, 1:31 am


ugarit said:

Latest news is that the State Dept. is NOT going to meet with the three.

July 24th, 2008, 1:40 am


norman said:


Do you think that Lebanon is responsible for the more than 4000 Syrian soldiers who died saving Lebanon during the civil war ,

Hezbollah seems to be the only organization that does not allow revenge to affect it’s drive to achieve it’s goals.

They did not seek revenge after the defeat of the Hariris and Jumblats , They made a deal with Israel after Mughneia’s death . they seem to be willing to offer sacrifices to achieve their goals.

July 24th, 2008, 1:56 am


Nidal said:


I agree with you about the Aounists and Lebanese Christians resentment (or uneasiness) towards Syria because of the Lebanese in Syrian jails issue. Yet, I have a feeling that it is going to be resolved pretty soon, most likely at the end of next year after the 2009 elections.


I don’t think Lebanon, as a nation, is responsible for Syrian soldiers deaths, since they were occupiers (yet invited by President Frangieh in the beginning). Although I do think that certain people or factions are definitely responsible for the very few atrocities (and there were some) committed on Syrian soldiers. But that occurred on a minor level by individuals which should be prosecuted individually. Therefore Lebanon cannot be blamed as a whole. That’s why I am a huge proponent of a type of Truth and Reconciliation commission (of course somewhat different from the South African example) to heal past wounds, because I do not believe that any of the main actors, whether Syrian or Lebanese, will ever be indicted (and that’s unfortunate).

July 24th, 2008, 3:17 am


Zenobia said:

Let’s start with those. I feel it is really unfair that all the discussion should be based on books written by Israelis. It seems a little orientalistic and colonialistic to me. Let’s hear what the Arabs have to say.

You are so disingenuous and patronizing. It is just painful to read.

July 24th, 2008, 4:07 am


Enlightened said:

LOL Zenobia:

Yes it is a little orientalistic , but do remember “Our claims” We are from the region and we will colonize it and fashion it in our image!


July 24th, 2008, 5:21 am


Akbar Palace said:

…there is no book written by a Syrian general criticizing the Syrian defense policy or army


I found a book written by a Syrian General. Lt. Gen. Mustafa Tlass:

It called “The Matzoh of Zion”.

Tlass attempted to create a reputation for himself as a man of culture, and emerged as an important patron of Syrian literature. He published several books of his own, and started a publishing house, Tlass Books, which has been internationally criticized[1] for publishing anti-Semitic materials. In 1983, Tlass wrote and published The Matzoh of Zion, a book that intends to prove the ancient “blood libel” myth, i.e. accusations that Jews use the blood of murdered non-Jews in religious rituals such as baking Matza bread. Tlass has re-printed the book several times, and stands by its conclusions.

I found this comment from MEIB to be interesting:

By far, his [Tlass] most important work is a two-volume memoir entitled Mirror of My Life. Its importance comes from the fact that its author is the only Syrian politician since 1963 who has laid down his memoirs for history.


The outspoken Tlass has made other inappropriate public statements in the past that have greatly embarrassed the regime, most notably his remark in January 1991 that he felt “overwhelming joy” when Iraqi SCUD missiles landed in Israel.6 American officials were outraged, but again Tlass escaped rebuke from Assad.





July 24th, 2008, 10:53 am


Qifa Nabki said:

Ammo Norman

I agree with Nidal. And I’d also add that Syria wasn’t a completely innocent bystander in the Lebanese Civil War. It helped stabilize the country, but there was a political agenda alongside the humanitarian one, and sometimes that political agenda helped to prolong the hostilities rather than curb them.

July 24th, 2008, 10:56 am


norman said:

The only way for Syrian _ Lebanese relation to improve is to let all the prisoners in both countries to go free , imprison the criminal ones in their respected countries and assume that the rest are dead, I think that was the case after WW2.

with that Syria and Lebanon can look for the future instead of the past.

July 24th, 2008, 12:51 pm


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