Foreign Militants Crossing Syria-Iraq Border Drop to 40-50 a Month - Syria Comment

Foreign Militants Crossing Syria-Iraq Border Drop to 40-50 a Month

Banning Facebook in Syria
BBC Arabic Radio
BY Louay Ismail

Part1 (Landis speaks Arabic) 

louaybanningfacebookinthearabworld_partone_2008_02_17t11_06_19_377.mp3

Part2

louaybanningfacebookinthearabworld_parttwo_2008_02_17t11_06_40_220.mp3


The flow of foreign militants entering Iraq to fight for al Qaeda has fallen by half
Gen. Petraeus on Monday February 11 said: (Reuters)

The flow of foreign militants entering Iraq to fight for al Qaeda has fallen by half, General David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, said on Monday.

Much of the fall in numbers was due to countries barring young men from flying to the Syrian cities of Damascus and Aleppo on one-way tickets, said Petraeus.

The U.S. government has long urged Syria to take steps to stop foreign fighters crossing its long land border with Iraq. Damascus says it has stepped up security on the frontier after the U.S. criticism.

"The flow of fighters is down, we think by about 50 percent," Petraeus told Reuters in an interview.

"It's a result not just of Syrian activity, although there has been some. It's the result of source countries making it tougher to fly as a military age male," he added.

Most of the fighters coming across the borders are believed to be affiliated with Sunni Islamist al Qaeda in Iraq. Al Qaeda's foot soldiers and suicide bombers attack U.S. forces, the Shi'ite-led government and groups they regard as un-Islamic.

Last month the U.S. military said captured al Qaeda documents showed 750 militants from 22 countries entered Iraq during the 12 months leading up to August 2007.

Petraeus did not say which countries were taking action at airports, but the documents said just under half the foreign fighters entering Iraq come from Saudi Arabia, followed by Libya, Yemen, Syria, Tunisia and Morocco.

It also said 90 percent of the al Qaeda suicide bombers were foreign. Most of al Qaeda in Iraq's leadership is foreign while the rank-and-file are Iraqi, the U.S. military says.

Petraeus said suicide bombers were still getting through, although he said it was difficult to assess numbers.

 

MEMRI, here and here via War&piece "Saudi FX remains unchanged" here (thanks FLC)
"…A knowledgeable Syrian source has said that Saudi Foreign Minister Sa'ud Al-Faisal's visit to Russia and France is aimed at thwarting the Arab League summit, meant to take place in Damascus at the end of next month. The source also said that the visit was aimed at internationalizing the Lebanon crisis.
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Also, Arab diplomatic sources said that Saudi Arabia refused to approve a visit by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Mu'alem to the kingdom, during which he had intended to give Saudi King Abdullah an invitation to the summit…."

 

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Comments (73)


offended said:

An Israeli general wanted for alleged war crimes escaped arrest in the UK because British police feared an armed confrontation at Heathrow airport.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7251954.stm

What a lame excuse, I guess it’s quite easy for the Brits to play dumb when they want to.

February 19th, 2008, 6:35 am

 

why-discuss said:

Facebook is back in Syria.

February 19th, 2008, 9:05 am

 

In Damascus said:

Why-Discuss,
Facebook isn’t “legally” back in Syria although it can be accessed using various proxy services.

February 19th, 2008, 10:35 am

 

why-discuss said:

IN DAMASCUS

I am accessing it in damascus without any proxy from an internet cafe. Maybe I am lucky…

February 19th, 2008, 11:03 am

 

why-discuss said:

Two articles in L’Orient le Jour about arrests of salafist in Lebanon related to Nahr Al Bared and Ain Alak:

“Nahr el-Bared – Le juge Mezher a publié l’acte d’accusation
Réclusion à perpétuité et peine capitale requises contre des extrémistes de trois groupes salafistes
Le premier juge d’instruction militaire, Rachid Mezher, a requis des peines pouvant aller jusqu’à la prison à perpétuité ou la peine capitale contre 51 extrémistes de trois groupes terroristes, el-Qaëda, Fateh el-Islam et Esbat el-Ansar, appartenant tous à la mouvance salafiste. Les 51 sont de nationalités libanaise, syrienne, palestinienne, jordanienne et saoudienne. Parmi eux, vingt seulement sont aux arrêts.
M. Mezher a publié hier son acte d’accusation dans l’affaire des incidents de Nahr el-Bared. Le texte divise les membres de ces trois groupes en deux catégories, explique notre chroniqueuse judiciaire, Claudette Sarkis. Formé de 25 personnes, le premier groupe est accusé d’avoir formé une bande de malfaiteurs dans le but d’entreprendre des actions terroristes, pour porter atteinte à l’autorité et au prestige de l’État, inciter au meurtre et aux affrontements, piller et commettre des actes de vandalisme. Il est aussi accusé de possession d’armes lourdes, de matières explosives et de munitions. Conformément au code pénal, les 25 sont passibles d’une peine allant de 10 ans de prison jusqu’à la réclusion à perpétuité et la peine capitale.
Ce groupe est composé du dirigeant de Fateh el-Islam, Chaker Absi, et des personnes suivantes : Adnan Mohammad Mohammad, Mahmoud Ahmad Abdel Kader, Bilal Ahmad Sayyed, Tarek Mamdouh Hajj Amine, Assaad Mohammad Najjar, Abdel Rahman Ahmad Allouch, Omar Ezzeddine Ali, Abdallah Mohammad, Ahmad Baychi, le Saoudien Abdel Rahman Yéhya, Abdel Aziz Yéhya, surnommé Talha Yehya, Nabil Mohammad Ghossoub Rahim, le Palestinien Haytham Abdel Karim Saadi, Mohammad Bassam Ismaïl Hammoud, le Syrien Hani Badreddine Sankari, le Saoudien Mouhib Abdel Ghani Rachid, Tarek Ahmad el-Mir, Mootaz Marwan Sawwaf, Mohammad Ahmad Moll, Jamal Daftardar, Houssam Abdallah Sabbagh, Zouheir Hassan Issa, Ahmad Mohammad Abou Chaar et Youssef Mohammad Hajj Dib. Ce dernier est actuellement emprisonné en Allemagne où il est poursuivi dans l’affaire de la tentative d’attentat contre des trains. Selon le texte, un Saoudien qui fait l’objet de poursuites judiciaires par contumace est emprisonné en Arabie saoudite. Deux autres personnes ont trouvé la mort peu après leur arrestation, le Saoudien Abdallah Ahmad Mansour, surnommé Abou Kassem, et Chehab Khodr Kaddour, surnommé Abou Harra.
Le deuxième groupe est accusé de port d’armes et d’entraînement à la manipulation d’armes. Il est formé de neuf personnes : Ahmad Mohammad Ghazi Ratl, Nayef Salem Bakkar, Omar Mohammad Ghannoum, Ahmad Fayçal Arraj, Houssam Issam Dalal, Hilal Hassan Saad, Ayman Abdaallah Hawa, poursuivi aussi devant le tribunal militaire pour le lancement d’une grenade contre une caserne à Beyrouth, Ahmad Medhat Hélou et Kifah Abdel Majid Kass. Chaker Absi et le Saoudien Baychi sont aussi poursuivis pour faux et usage de faux. Neuf autres sont poursuivis pour avoir aidé des camarades recherchés par la justice à s’évader. Il s’agit de Mohammad Sobhi Saïd Abda, Adnane Mohammad Mohammad, Mahmoud Abdel Kader, Tarek Mir, Nayaf Bakkar, Bilal Sayed, Tarek Amine, Abdel Rahman Allouch et Omar Ghannoum.
Le premier juge d’instruction militaire a en outre émis un avis de recherche permanent pour connaître l’identité complète de quinze personnes poursuivies par la justice : Toufic Rahmoun, Amer Zakhouri, Abou Youssef, Taher, Abou Gharib el-Turki, le Russe surnommé Moussa, Hassan Rahi, Yasser Kazzaz, Rabih Masri, Mohammad Moussa, Abdel Razzak Khazné, Imad et Omar Merheb, Alaa Masri et Kassi Abou Arab.
Selon l’acte d’accusation, le premier groupe a entrepris depuis 2005 de constituer des groupes armés formés de jeunes sunnites, recrutés tantôt pour mener une guerre sainte (Jihad) contre les Américains en Irak, tantôt pour défendre les sunnites contre tout imprévu sur la scène libanaise. Ses membres ont formé un conseil consultatif et se sont réparti les rôles entre eux. Certains sont devenus guides spirituels, d’autres s’occupaient de l’achat d’armes et des entraînements militaires, et d’autres assuraient le financement. Le groupe a ensuite pris contact avec des dirigeants d’el-Qaëda et leur a prêté allégeance. Une coordination s’est établie entre les deux formations. Fateh el-Islam, poursuit l’acte d’accusation, a ainsi assuré un refuge aux dirigeants d’el-Qaëda, dont Talhat le Saoudien, poursuivi par l’Arabie saoudite parce qu’il assurait le financement de cette formation dans le royaume wahhabite. Talhat, indique l’acte d’accusation, était venu au Liban en 2006 afin de relier les trois groupes salafistes à el-Qaëda et de coordonner avec un certain Imad. Celui-ci était entré au Liban dans le but de kidnapper un diplomate arabe pour exercer des pressions sur l’Arabie saoudite afin qu’elle libère des détenus d’el-Qaëda, notamment Farès Zahrani.
Fateh el-Islam a aussi accueilli, selon l’acte d’accusation, le Saoudien Baychi, présenté par le juge d’instruction comme étant un des cadres d’el-Qaëda. Il était venu au Liban en janvier 2007 afin de servir de guide spirituel aux trois groupes salafistes.

Attentat de Aïn Alak – Mirza a publié ses conclusions
Peine de mort requise contre Chaker el-Absi

Le procureur général près la Cour de cassation, Saïd Mirza, a déposé hier ses conclusions relatives au dossier de l’instruction dans l’affaire du double attentat de Aïn Aalak dans lequel deux Libanais, 14 Syriens, trois Palestiniens et un Saoudien sont impliqués en plus de douze autres personnes dont l’identité complète n’est pas connue.
Le magistrat relate l’ensemble des faits qui ont débouché sur l’attentat à l’explosif perpétré le 13 février 2007 et dans lequel trois personnes ont été tuées. Sept Syriens, une Palestinienne et un Libanais sont arrêtés dans le cadre de cette affaire. Les Syriens sont : Moustapha Ibrahim Siou, dont les révélations ont mis en évidence le rôle de Fateh el-Islam, et notamment Chaker el-Absi, dans l’attentat, Kamal Farid Naassan (qui a aidé au transport des explosifs et qui assurait des logements dans le Metn à ses camarades de Fateh el-Islam), Malek Farid Naassan, Yasser Mohammad Choukeiri, Ahmad Abdallah Mahmoud Hajji, Firas Saïd Mahmoud Hajji, Maakal Ghazi Naasan. Le Libanais est Hussein Daoud Zayat et la Palestinienne est Arifé Ghattas Farès.
Le magistrat a requis la peine de mort contre le dirigeant de Fateh el-Islam, Chaker el-Absi, accusé d’incitation au meurtre. Il a requis la même peine à l’encontre de Moustapha Siou, Kamal Farid Naassan et Yasser Choukeiri, accusés d’être les auteurs de l’attentat. Il a requis la prison à temps contre d’autres Syriens, Libanais et un Saoudien, pour faux, usage de faux et port d’armes. M. Mirza a aussi prononcé un non-lieu contre des personnes arrêtées, pour insuffisance de preuves contre elles.
Dans les faits, le magistrat précise que c’est grâce au département technique du service des renseignements des FSI, que présidait le capitaine Wissam Eid, que la piste des auteurs de l’attentat a pu être découverte. Il n’a pas exclu que l’attentat qui a coûté la vie à Eid soit « une riposte à cette affaire ». Le capitaine avait repéré et analysé une série de communications suspectes entre Aïn Alak, Achrafieh, Dora et le Liban-Nord, à partir de trois numéros cellulaires, mis en service à Nahr el-Bared. Il avait constaté que les communications faites à partir de régions du Metn s’étaient intensifiées le 13 février 2007, après 8h16, et que leurs auteurs avaient pris la route du Liban-Nord après l’attentat. En remontant la piste des communications téléphoniques, les enquêteurs ont arrêté un artisan ouvrier syrien, Kamal Naassan, qui était en contact avec les propriétaires des téléphones sous surveillance, ainsi que son jeune frère, Malek.
Leurs témoignages ont permis d’établir le lien avec les extrémistes de Fateh el-Islam et de mettre en relief le rôle détaillé de ces derniers dans l’attentat.
Moustapha Siou, qui a placé la mallette chargée d’explosifs dans le premier bus, a indiqué que l’autre charge a été déposée dans le second bus par Omar Mohammad Nasr Hajji (décédé plus tard dans les combats de Nahr el-Bared). Après l’attentat, les deux s’étaient rendus à Nahr el-Bared auprès de Chaker el-Absi à qui ils ont raconté tous les détails de l’attentat et qui les a félicités pour leur succès.
Toujours selon Moustapha Siou, Absi a envisagé, après l’attentat de Aïn Alak, de déposer une nouvelle charge explosive dans un lieu de culte chiite fréquenté par des cadres du Hezbollah, ou près de la permanence Kataëb de Bickfaya, dans le but de provoquer une discorde. Il a fini par opter pour le second choix sur proposition du dénommé Abou Moudine, dans le but de continuer à cibler la même communauté (chrétienne). Omar Hajji s’est dit disposé à exécuter l’opération en plaçant une moto piégée près de la permanence Kataëb. Mais l’attentat n’a pas eu lieu et Moustapha Siou a affirmé ne pas savoir pourquoi.”

February 19th, 2008, 11:07 am

 

CWW said:

Unless the internet cafes are constantly using proxies, which is doubtful, I believe facebook is back as well in Syria.

February 19th, 2008, 1:00 pm

 

offended said:

BLOODY HELL!

SYRIA NEWS IS BLOCKED IN SYRIA AND IN THE UAE!

WTF!?

February 19th, 2008, 2:13 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

I didn’t hear Joshua on that clip.

Unless, ya sayyidna, you double as an emirati minister by night.

😉

February 19th, 2008, 2:40 pm

 

t_desco said:

Lebanon charges Abssi over bombs

Mr Siou is reported to have confessed to the plot, as well as to plans to bomb a Shia targets linked to the pro-Syrian opposition group Hezbollah, and Christian ones near offices of the Phalange party, to stir up sectarian strife.
BBC News

February 19th, 2008, 2:44 pm

 

MSK said:

Always wanted to post a news story, so here it goes:

Syria to Facilitate Last-Minute Elections to Avoid Arab Boycott of Summit

Syria will facilitate last-minute presidential elections in Lebanon prior to an Arab summit due in Damascus late in March, the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat said on Tuesday.

Citing European circles, al-Hayat said Syria will facilitate the election of army commander Gen. Michel Suleiman President at the eleventh-hour to “force major Arab countries not to boycott” the summit slated to be held in Damascus March 27-29.

The sources said Damascus will then work toward “obstructing” formation of a new government.

Meanwhile, Arab League chief Amr Moussa said he was dispatching his assistant Hisham Youssef to Beirut in an effort to end Lebanon’s 15-month-long political crisis.

Moussa, who is expected to return to Beirut on Friday, said Youssef would arrive in the Lebanese capital late Wednesday.

The Arab League secretary general said on Monday he was planning a new mission to Lebanon at the weekend to try to end the nation’s presidential election crisis.

Moussa has visited Beirut several times to try to resolve the deadlock but has so far been unsuccessful and the political tensions have on occasion boiled over into street clashes in the Lebanese capital.

http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/getstory?openform&1E307EF23F156A4EC22573F4002A0B3F

—–

Comments, anyone?

–MSK*

February 19th, 2008, 2:56 pm

 

ausamaa said:

A good Analysis by the Lebanese Al-Akhbar newspaper.

But my view for all its worth is that neithr Bush nor Israel are in a position to take any serious aggressive actions against anyone at this time. They may try to make things look “dangerous” hoping to scare others, but not much more.

Israel saw an opportunity to do great dammage to HA/Syria, which would help also to lift the Bush Camp moral, and to salvage the Olmert precarious internal situation, and to give a boost to the Israeli public morals after the defeat it suffered in 2006, so they stupidly took it.

Why Stupidly? Because it has already back-fired. Nasrallah Threat was a bit more than a “mere” threat to the other side that this is what they can “expect” if they try to play with fire by either trying to “force” a limit on HA ability to act, or by drawing HA/Syria into a confrontation based on a Bush-Israeli Agenda.

Further more, he turned the tables on the other side by inserting the word “if” in his threat; he left the situation open to “guessing” as to both: WHAT and IF Hizbullah may do, or not do.

اغتيال مغنية تمهيد لعدوان على لبنان وسوريا وفلسطين

إبراهيم الأمين

معلومة أولى:
«الإدارة الأميركية في حالة جنون، ويمكن أن تقوم بأي شيء، وهي ستقوم بأي شيء». هذه العبارة سحبت على عجل قبل أيام من تقرير خاص بعثت به موسكو إلى عواصم معنية بالقوى المواجهة للاحتلال الأميركي في العراق ولإسرائيل. وهو كلام سبق أن شرحه الروس مباشرة لجهات معنية قبل مدة في إطار الحديث عن استعداد أميركي مفتوح لشنّ حروب أكبر في المنطقة، وإن هاجس التخلص من إيران وسوريا وقوى المقاومة لم يعد هاجساً إسرائيلياً فحسب، بل هو هاجس أميركي في الأساس.

معلومة ثانية:
تلقّت قوى المقاومة الفلسطينية قبل أسبوع من اغتيال الشهيد عماد مغنية معلومات عن إنشاء لجنة أميركية ـــــ إسرائيلية تضم رؤساء أجهزة أمنية مركزية في تل أبيب وواشنطن، ومستشارين سياسيين بينهم شخصيات رئيسية في الحكومتين الأميركية والإسرائيلية. وهذه اللجنة تعمل على إطلاق مرحلة متقدمة من مشروع مواجهة سوريا وإيران والمقاومة في فلسطين ولبنان والعراق. ناقل المعلومات تحدث عن برنامج عمل، على رأسه اغتيال شخصيات رئيسية، يعتقد الأميركيون والإسرائيليون أن غيابها يسهل المراحل التالية من المشروع.

معلومة ثالثة:
قبل بضعة أسابيع، أوفدت دولة عربية تعاني مشكلات جدية في لبنان، شخصية أمنية ـــــ دبلوماسية لاستطلاع الموقف، والتقت شخصيات رئيسية في فريق السلطة، ثم اتصلت بقوى من المعارضة، وقبل مغادرتها طلبت الاجتماع إلى جهة غير لبنانية تربطها صلات بحزب الله لأجل تحقيق تواصل لم يتم. لكن هذه الشخصية أصرت على نقل رسالة مقتضبة، فيها: هناك قرار كبير بتصفية عدد من الشخصيات الأساسية في حزب الله وحماس والجهاد الإسلامي في كل من بيروت ودمشق.

معلومة رابعة:
تلقت المراجع المعنية في بيروت تقريراً لافتاً عن تفاصيل تتعلق بأعمال تدريب أمني وعسكري ناشطة في الأردن، وفيها معلومات عن أسماء لمعسكرات التدريب وأسماء الضباط المشاركين في التدريبات التي ركزت على دروس ذات بعد أمني، وتقاطعت هذه المعلومات مع نتائج تحقيقات سابقة في جرائم اغتيال تعرض لها مقاومون فلسطينيون في سوريا، وأظهرت أسماء ضباط أردنيين متورطين في جمع معلومات عن هؤلاء المقاومين.

معلومة خامسة:
نقل مصدر موثوق في الرئاسة الفلسطينية في رام الله معلومات عن استئناف الاتصالات بين جهة لبنانية وإسرائيل، وعن أن بعض الدعم اللوجستي بدأ يرد إلى هذه الجهة من طريق مناطق الحكم الذاتي الكردية في العراق، وأن عدداً من العاملين في الشركات الأمنية الأميركية في العراق باتوا يؤدون دوراً يتجاوز حدود المهام الموكلة إليهم هناك.

معلومة سادسة:
أبلغت شخصيات غادرت حديثاً مواقعها في جهاز الاستخبارات الفرنسية جهات عربية نافذة معلومات عن تدهور مرتقب ومدروس للأوضاع في لبنان، واحتمال حصول عمليات تفجير في سوريا من النوع الذي يشيع مناخات من الفوضى والتململ وعدم الاستقرار. وقالت هذه الشخصيات إن مشاريع قرارات بعقوبات متنوعة ضد سوريا سوف تكون جاهزة قريباً أمام مجلس الأمن الدولي، أو أمام دول أوروبية والولايات المتحدة، وإن الأشهر الستة المقبلة ستشهد سخونة ربما قلبت الأمور رأساً على عقب.
كان لا بد لشخصية معنية من أن تعيد لملمة أوراقها ومراجعتها بعد جريمة اغتيال مغنية: «ليس الحدث عادياً، ولا هو متصل بصراع موضعي بين إسرائيل والمقاومة. صحيح أن مغنية هدف دائم، لكن التجربة تقول إن اغتيال قادة من مستوى معيّن لا يحتاج إلى مصادقة مسبقة، وفي حالة الحاج رضوان، هناك حاجة إلى مصادقة من المستوى السياسي وحتى إلى مشاورة الجانب الأميركي، لا تحاشياً لردود الفعل فحسب، بل لوضع هذه العملية في سياقها».
وتلفت هذه الشخصية إلى أن ما أعلنه الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصر الله خلال تشييع مغنية كان ضرورياً للفت العدو القريب والبعيد إلى أن تيار المقاومة يعرف في أي سياق حصل اغتيال مغنية، وبالتالي فإن الرد سيكون في السياق نفسه، بمعنى أن رد المقاومة لن يكون في أي حال من الأحوال من النوع الذي ينتهي عند حدود الانتقام كما يفترض كثيرون، وذلك ربطاً بأمر استراتيجي يتعلق بتوازن الردع الذي قام لفترة طويلة بين المقاومة وإسرائيل. ومثلما ترى إسرائيل أنها صاحبة الحق في إعادة الاعتبار إلى مفهوم الردع من خلال معاقبة من تفترضه مسؤولاً عن أرقها وتعبها، فإن المقاومة معنية أكثر بكسر هذه القاعدة والقول بأن إنهاك العدو وإرباكه وتعطيل قدراته هي جزء من توازن الردع معه.
وبحسب هذه الشخصية، فإن صمت المقاومة يعني تسليماً بقواعد جديدة تعني عملياً شل قدرة المقاومة، وهو أمر لن يحصل لأسباب عدة أبرزها أن المعركة لم تتوقف، وعدم توقفها هو قرار إسرائيلي في الأساس، وبالتالي سوف تكون المقاومة أمام مهمة تثبيت ما حققته من قواعد، حتى لو تطلّب ذلك أن تعمل بطريقة مختلفة عما تعوّده أهلها أو أعداؤها. وتلفت هذه الشخصية إلى أمر جديد، هو أن الترابط والتواصل الكبيرين القائمين بين قوى المقاومة في لبنان وفلسطين والعراق، والتحولات الجدية التي طرأت على سلوك القيادة العسكرية السورية بعد انتصار تموز 2006، كان سبباً رئيسياً في قرار إسرائيل وأميركا تصفية الشهيد مغنية، وبالتالي فإن هذا التحالف يجد من الضروري أن يكون رده موحداً، وضمن سياق متصل بحماية نتائج حرب تموز التي كان لها أثرها الكبير في لبنان وفلسطين والعراق، وليس منطقياً توقع ردة فعل مختلفة من هذا التحالف، رغم التهويل الذي تقوم به حكومات وأجهزة ووسائل إعلام.
وفي رأي هذه الشخصية المعنية دخلت المنطقة مرحلة جديدة، ويصعب من الآن توقع ما هو آتٍ في القريب أو في المدى المتوسط، لكن من المؤكد أن ما كان قبل اغتيال مغنية لن يشبه ما هو بعده.
يقول الرواة إن السيد نصر الله توجه ليل الرابع عشر من شباط إلى روضة الشهيدين. جلس عند قبر عماد مغنية، قرأ الفاتحة وقال له: «لا تحتاج مني إلى قَسَم، لن نترك لهم مجالاً لكي يندموا على جريمتهم!».

عدد الثلاثاء ١٩ شباط ٢٠٠٨

February 19th, 2008, 3:15 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

MSK,

First, this is from al-Hayat via Naharnet. So, not the most Syria-friendly sources.

However, it’s not so unlikely.

The obstruction of elections until the Damascus summit has been the game plan all along. Way back in the early autumn, more hopeful people were saying that it would end with Annapolis, but obviously the Syrians did not get everything they were looking for. The less optimistic people were saying that this would go on until the Damascus summit. The least optimistic of all have been saying all along that this will not end until the elections of 2009.

By that point, though, there may not be a country left.

Still, I don’t see how they could facilitate an election without settling the issue of the cabinet, vetoes, etc. Stay tuned for a post on this subject.

February 19th, 2008, 3:26 pm

 

Alex said:

Joshua you linked part two twice, you were in part one.

I will try to fix it.

February 19th, 2008, 4:21 pm

 

offended said:

Who Killed Imad Mughniya? by Sami Moubaeyd:

[……
…..
Muqtada Al Sadr after all has all the requirements needed to create another Hezbollah. The situation in Iraq today is identical to the one that existed in Lebanon when Hezbollah was created in 1982. There is occupation. There is chaos and plenty of arms. There are Shiites – backed by Iran, who are (or were) treated as an underclass by Sunnis. And there is a lot of indoctrination and plenty of money being pumped into the slums of Baghdad, where Sadr is king, promising to emancipate Iraqi Shiites – just like in Beirut in the 1980s. The man in-charge of re-structuring and training the Mahdi Army, with the aim of making it another Hezbollah, was Emad Mughnieh. This explains why Sadr ordered several “freezes” on the activities of the Mahdi Army in 2007. He wanted to re-structure, re-train, organise, filter, and re-vamp the Mahdi Army, under Mughnieh’s guidance.
….

…. ]

http://www.gulfnews.com/opinion/columns/region/10190764.html

February 19th, 2008, 4:37 pm

 

offended said:

Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Meets President Bashar Al Assad:

They also discussed ways to consolidate Arab solidarity.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Mohammad hops to Riyadh in the coming few days….

http://www.gulfnews.com/nation/Government/10190922.html

February 19th, 2008, 4:47 pm

 

Alex said:

Offended,

The difference there is in the numbers … the Iraqi version of HA can be in the hundreds of thousands.

Allowing the situation between this American administration plus Saudi Arabia on the one side, and Iran and Syria (and HA) on the other to deteriorate even more seems like a one way ticket to hell.

There are things that you can not undo … HA became what it is now thanks to Israel’s foolish invasion of Lebanon in 1981 … and now … this other HA in Iraq … and imagine if McCain is in the White house promising to fight them until he sees victory… what will that look like?

February 19th, 2008, 4:52 pm

 
 

Alex said:

Let Beirut Burn, They Say …
Lebanon’s Warmongers

By RANNIE AMIRI

“If you think we are going to sit with our hands tied, then perhaps we would have to burn everything. If you want chaos, then we welcome chaos. If you want war, then we welcome war. We have no problem with weapons or with rockets which we will launch on you.”

– MP Walid Jumblatt, Progressive Socialist Party leader in Lebanon’s ruling March 14 Coalition, in comments directed at the opposition prior to this week’s commemoration ceremonies in Beirut.

February 14th, 2008 marks the third anniversary of the assassination of the late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Since his death, the country has witnessed political, military and social upheaval. Recent statements by Walid Jumblatt and parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri in the days prior to the commemoration of this tragic and seminal event have exposed Lebanon’s deep wounds. Indeed, they have nearly been tantamount to declarations of war; partly as an attempt to provoke the opposition into one and partly out of frustration from failing to have done so.

A brief recap of what has transpired in Lebanon since the 2005 Hariri assassination:

The withdrawal of Syrian troops after a 29-year presence; a continued string of high-profile political assassinations; the 2006 Israeli invasion resulting in over 1000 civilian casualties and a humanitarian crisis from one million displaced persons and widespread destruction of the country’s infrastructure; the resignation of five Shiite ministers from Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s cabinet, paralyzing the government and clearly delineating the line between the opposition (led by Hezbollah, Amal, and The Free Patriotic Movement) and the March 14 Coalition (led by Hariri’s Future Movement, the PSP and the Lebanese Forces among others); intermittent yet foreboding Sunni-Shia street violence; fighting between the Lebanese Army and the imported militants of Fatah al-Islam in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared; the continued vacancy of the post of president after 14 postponed parliamentary sessions, and most recently, riots over electricity and water cuts to Beirut’s southern suburbs.

Previously discussed has been the evidence presented by Seymour Hersh, one of the United States most respected investigative journalists, regarding the Bush administration’s strategy of cooperating with friendly Arab dictatorships to supply and arm Sunni radicals-including those affiliated with al-Qaeda-to act as force against Hezbollah. Directly implicated in bringing these groups into Lebanon vis-à-vis Palestinian refugee camps were Saad Hariri and Prime Minister Siniora.

But we know this occurred only after the Israelis failed to crush Hezbollah themselves in 2006. New facts, however, have brought to light the truly treacherous nature of this government even then.

Al-Manar reports that the respected Israeli political analyst Emmanuel Rosen disclosed that a “well informed political source” admitted to him the Olmert government “received a letter from the Lebanese government in the last 24 hours of the war asking them not to stop the war before Hezbollah was crushed, adding that it is extremely preferable to liquid Nasrallah.”

Ha’aretz correspondent Avi Issacharoff, in his book Spider Webs – The Story of the Second Lebanon War (to be published in the United States as 34 Days: Israel, Hezbollah and the War In Lebanon) says:

“For the first time, we revealthat moderate Arab states and the people close to the Lebanese government have conveyed messages to the Israeli government via different sides demanding Israel continue the war until Hezbollah was completely crushed.”

Of course, that didn’t happen. But the deaths of thousands of Lebanese, a second Qana massacre and the littering of southern Lebanon with cluster bombs did. Whereas many rightly place the blame for this carnage squarely on the Israelis, it now seems they had partners in Lebanon encouraging their crimes.

With the failure of the 2006 war to achieve its objective, the implosion of the deal with the radicals of Fatah al-Islam, and the unwavering demand of the opposition for veto power in the cabinet, the belligerent tone adopted by the majority continues to ratchet upward as Jumblatt’s comments illustrate. Saad Hariri himself said: “If confrontation is our destiny, then we stand ready.”

When all of these facts are brought to the forefront, the duplicity of Lebanon’s government becomes truly remarkable. They seek to convince us of being the victims, yet they suffered the least and complained the most about the war. The people of southern Lebanon and Beirut on the other hand, who suffered the most from the Israeli onslaught, complained the least, even when left homeless. A third of the cabinet positions, in order to exercise some measure of restraint on those cutting deals with the United States and Israel-against them no less-is their only demand.

Plainly stated, Lebanon’s March 14 Coalition is the War Party and Siniora, Hariri, Jumblatt, Geagea and Gemayal its foot soldiers. They have the support of the War Party in the United States and forged an alliance with Israel (every government of which constitutes a War Party) against their own people.

What Jumblatt and Hariri have threatened to do, in no uncertain terms, is to bring the house down if the opposition does not yield. The only obstacle standing between them and the disaster they wish to precipitate is the resilience and patience of a people who have already withstood the mightiest military in the Middle East. Twice.

The challenge facing these people now will not be a military one but rather to keep a peace their own government has shown no interest in preserving.

Rannie Amiri is an independent commentator on the Arab and Islamic worlds.

February 19th, 2008, 5:02 pm

 

Alex said:

Report: Syria to present progress in Mughniyah killing probe within days

By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent

Senior Syrian officials will hold a press conference in the coming days in order to present progress in the investigation into the assassination of Hezbollah’s deputy leader Imad Mughniyah, who was killed last week in a Damascus blast, a Lebanese newspaper reported Tuesday.

The Hezbollah-linked Al-Akhbar said Syria has decided not to make the details of the investigation public at this time, until the investigation progresses and is able to clarify who was responsible for the attack.

The paper added that the decision was made in part due to preparations for the Arab League summit scheduled to take place in the Syrian capital in late March.

The report essentially hints that Arab states’ security services were involved in the assassination, and the newspaper’s editor wrote a separate article Tuesday accusing Jordanian intelligence officials of gathering information on the activities of Palestinian terrorist organizations in Syria, which were the targets of assassination attempts.

Al-Amin reiterated that Hezbollah is likely to retaliate against Israel, in a manner that breaks the rules of the game employed by the sides in their conflict thus far. Al-Amin quoted a senior Beirut figure as saying the region was entering a new era.

“It is difficult to anticipate what is in store in the short and medium term, but what is certain is that what happened before Mughniyah’s situation does not resemble what will happen after it,” the figure said.

February 19th, 2008, 5:24 pm

 

MSK said:

Ya Offended-

So the Iranians killed Mughniyeh because he helped Muqtada al-Sadr re-building his Mahdi Army to be able to take on the Iran-allied Badr Corps in the ongoing war for supremacy in Baghdad & the Shi’ite southern Iraq?

Interesting theory …

–MSK*

February 19th, 2008, 5:29 pm

 

Observer said:

Several comments:
Syria will try to have as many Arab leaders as possible commit to the summit next month. If it cannot get them in, it will lower expectations, if it can get a majority, it will isolate the KSA and perhaps Egypt as well. Many GCC are as worried about the KSA as they are about Iran and the chaos in Iraq and would like to have a quieting of the situation before the US elections are over.

HA has effectively broken the political blockade that the EU and the US and its allies in Lebanon tried to impose on it after the 2006 war and the beefing up of UNIFIL. The fact that France with a large contigent of soldiers is closing two cultural centers in Saida and Tripoli both Sunni strongholds bodes ill to its presence in Lebanon and means that the Hariri group does not have what it takes to control people in his own backyard

The election of a president will not happen until and unless the demands of the opposition are met. The latest threats if not followed through by Jumblatt and Hariri will turn out to have been nothing more than another bluffing. If the Welch club has received assurances about a new Israeli/US offensive that is coming then this is a different matter, but now Russia cannot back Jumblatt and will lean towards both Iran and Syria as the US and some in the EU allowed the independence of Kosovo, an in your face move that will not go down well in Moscow.

Uri Avnery predicts not one but a wave of retaliation for the death of Mughniah. I predict economic targets as well as security agents will be targeted. Faute de mieux, a few spectacular attacks on the UNIFIL contingents.

February 19th, 2008, 5:39 pm

 

Norman said:

I look at what is going on in Pakistan , I see a picture close to what happened in Lebanon, kill the potential prime minster , have election then make the presidency ceremonial , in a sea of conflict between two camps to divide the country and push the Muslims to kill each other so they will be busy and not able to attack the west.

February 19th, 2008, 5:53 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Observer,

HA has effectively broken the political blockade that the EU and the US and its allies in Lebanon tried to impose on it after the 2006 war and the beefing up of UNIFIL.

This is true, but this is to characterize the struggle as a victory for Hizbullah, which was not the case. I believe that everyone has lost as a result of the standoff; the question of which party has lost more will require more time to be answered.

It is easy to isolate several examples of ‘losses’ on the M14/USA/EU side. Nobody seems to take into account the losses that Hizbullah and Aoun have incurred. Prior to 2005, Hizbullah was still riding high on the wave of popularity from its successful ouster of Israel in 2000, although people were now beginning to question its rationale for maintaining its arms. The July War in 2006 revived some of this popularity, but also created a great deal of resentment among those who privately questioned the wisdom of maintaining an armed resistance. The ensuing government standoff has only served to deepen this resentment.

So, what was once almost universally regarded as a legitimate national resistance is now supported fervently by half the country, and despised by the other half. This does not bode well for Hizb’s future… They will recover, but there will be some big fences to mend. Similarly, Aoun returned to Lebanon and swept up 70% of the Christian vote. He has lost much of this support, as a result of the standoff.

It’s a losing situation, for both sides.

Finally, you said:

The latest threats if not followed through by Jumblatt and Hariri will turn out to have been nothing more than another bluffing.

The opposition spent many months threatening “greater actions” and “more plans” and ratcheting the conflict to another level. This bluffing did not seem to really matter in the end.

February 19th, 2008, 6:35 pm

 

Observer said:

QN
These are tactical changes, but on the overall strategic level, only HA and the Iranians have a long term plan. The rest including Aoun have plans that do not extend beyond what is for dinner that evening.

HA can afford to wait not a few more months but even a few more years and with the increased emigration of Christians and Sunnis will certainly become stronger. Demographically they can wait out anybody in Lebanon. In the long run, HA is aiming to root out Western influence and will do so slowly and surely. I can hear already a few lamenting how Hamra is no longer glitzzy and that the only vestige of a Western influence can be found in Jounieh. This is exactly what HA wants. Now, I believe that HA does not want any confrontation with their fellow Sunnis or Palestinians. The problem is that the current pseudo leadership of the Sunnis is so inept and short sighted that they will cut off their noses despite their faces. Let us have this conversation again after November.

Now, Marsh 14 and the rest will be sacrified by the EU/US/Israel whereas HA will not be by Iran. I can assure you that the days of both Butter and Guns available are over.

February 19th, 2008, 7:37 pm

 

Jason said:

Normam,

You’re right. Too bad the US is supporting the non-democratic side in both conflicts, while claiming to be the champion of democracy promotion. I wonder how the US will side step this and find a way to support Musharraf now. I guess they could say something comical like “Musharraf is advancing democracy by having elections.” I bet that’s going to be the line coming out of Washington. Let the propaganda begin.

February 19th, 2008, 7:42 pm

 
 

Observer said:

For both QN and HP in particular this link is worth watching

http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1676.htm

February 19th, 2008, 8:07 pm

 

Observer said:

apparently Abbas does not want Barghouti to be freed from jail according to reports from a Fatah insider on Al Jazeera as he will be a major rival: this is the kind of democracy Welch and RBC can live with
http://www.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/1E7249BA-4237-414F-A815-8FA85B15825D.htm

February 19th, 2008, 8:19 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Observer,

Tell me what percentage of Finkelstein’s clip you agree with, and I’ll tell you what I think of it.

February 19th, 2008, 8:58 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

What the hell, here’s what I think:

He’s mostly incoherent. He makes some valid points, but what he is advocating essentially amounts to a cycle of never-ending war. The slave should resist the master until the master is subjugated and forced to reconcile with the emancipated slave. The master should, however, “never forgive, never forget”, just as the Jews (once slaves, now masters), never did. This paves the way for never-ending violence.

Finkelstein respects the Jews “a thousand times more” because they have never forgotten… So he must somehow sympathize with their aggression. But he wants the Arabs to adopt the same logic, so where does this take us?

Plus, equating the Americans with the Nazis is ridiculous. Under the Nazis, people were put to death for resistance of any shape. This is not the case under the American hegemony, as heavy-handed as it can be. This is sheer nonsense.

Finally, if Finkelstein is so concerned for the slave status of the Arabs, why doesn’t he urge them to rise up against their own regimes? By focusing purely on the resistance against America, he is actually enabling the existence of the more immediate enslavers of Arabs, i.e. the regimes that pay lip service to resistance in order to hang on to their seats.

February 19th, 2008, 10:18 pm

 

Enlightened said:

Alex:

The preliminary report into the Mughniya hit will be published Saturday. No doubt it will be a interesting post when we discuss it here. Prior to its release ( we have a few more days), early indications are that some Arab intelligence agencies were involved.Now for the strategic implications: ( Questions )

1. Will Syria use this strategically to save face re; Arab Summit and name countries involved (given that some have indicated a boycott)

2. Ratchet up the heat on the M14 crowd by trying to implicate them in the assassination ,

or will Syria do an about face and facilitate the election of the President to guarantee Arab attendance for the summit, then proceed to block the formation of a government?

However this is Interesting:

“Al-Manar reports that the respected Israeli political analyst Emmanuel Rosen disclosed that a “well informed political source” admitted to him the Olmert government “received a letter from the Lebanese government in the last 24 hours of the war asking them not to stop the war before Hezbollah was crushed, adding that it is extremely preferable to liquid Nasrallah.”

This reporting suggests that both sides are stoking the fires at the moment, a few weeks ago in the Syrian media reports were circulating that Seniora has long been an Israeli spy and agent. Reports from either the media outlets are not dying down implicating each other in one form or another of treasonous acts.

I do not think that Syria or HA can and will move to strike Israel via the Lebanese border, but have drawn the line against the elected Lebanese government and are now prepared to move against it.

Your thoughts?

February 19th, 2008, 10:56 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Observer, what exactly is Finklestein saying needs to be further liberated post the 2000 Israeli withdrawal? What is the resistance resisting? I would like to know what Finklestein’s own claim to personal courage and resistance is when he so despisingly puts down people who “just want to live” ? Talk is cheap. Let’s judge a person by his actions. He seems to want to perpetuate hatred.
Equating HA to the French resistance or to the Russian resistance against the Nazis simply does not compute. Israel did not unilaterally invade Lebanon, not in ’78, not in ’82, not ’06. Every time it was subjected to aggression and provocation, first from the Palestinians, then from HA, and in each case, it was through actions not sanctioned by the Lebanese Government.

The remaining prisoners and the Shebaa farms issues remaining after 2000 certainly are not sufficient justifiers to what HA was engaging in. The agenda is much more global than that, with Syria and Iran being the puppet masters. I don’t know about you or Finkelstein, but I’m not fooled. He appears to be on a self-aggrandizing mission and he is not convincing.

Sorry, but a better debater would be needed to make a case for HA’s continued “resistance.” I think that I (without any formal training whatsoever in political science or history, etc.) can make a much better case for HA and against Israeli agression than Finkelstein can. And it would be easy. The Palestinian cause itself is the easiest one to argue. And yet, our Arab brothers managed to screw it up so utterly throughout the decades that despite having the weakest case of any international conflict, the Israelis manage to have more than half of the world convinced, and even Turkey has diplomatic relations with Israel.

The faux-passion that Finkelstein displays can be compelling to those who seek vindication of their views but I’m sorry that I don’t find persuasion in there. You yourself make for a much better advocate.

Very interesting link though, thanks for that!

Cheers,

HP

February 19th, 2008, 10:59 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Once again, I’m slower and less expressive than Professor QN. So I hereby take my hat off in a ceremonious gesture, wave it down while I bow, and try to think hard about just being a reader on this forum. It’s less work and more fun.

Yall ya Qifa, out yourself and run for office.

February 19th, 2008, 11:02 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
I take off my tarboush to you. If many people in the mid-east have your analytical abilities, even if they hate Israel with all their hearts, there is still hope.

I really don’t know where Finkelstein got the notion that it is a Jewish tradition or habit or whatever “never to forgive or forget”. That part of his diatribe was quite antisemitic. It is a generalization that has no foundation in reality. It is an interesting example how Jews can be antisemitic.

February 19th, 2008, 11:03 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Enlightened, and you believe this rubbish about the Lebanese government sending a message to Olmert about not stoppping the war ? Something like this, if true, cannot be hidden. If true, then whoever it is came up with the message is guilty of Grand Treason and should be hung by their feet like Mussolini. Come on now!

February 19th, 2008, 11:05 pm

 

Enlightened said:

HP: I can temper what I read and know the discernible difference between what is Goebbels type of information and mis information!

Does that answer it? (LOL)

In other words NO I DONT BELIEVE IT, much the same way I don’t believe what Hersh had to say either

February 19th, 2008, 11:09 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Y3ne, now AIG is nominating you too, ya Qifa. Yalla, maybe you can settle in Tel-Aviv, then run for elections, then you’ll be the savior I am talking about….

Na,…, I think I’m losing it. I did get a kick from AIG’s tarboosh coming off though.

February 19th, 2008, 11:15 pm

 

Enlightened said:

When AIG took off his Tarboush he had a temporary moment of insanity:

“I really don’t know where Finkelstein got the notion that it is a Jewish tradition or habit or whatever “never to forgive or forget”. That part of his diatribe was quite antisemitic. It is a generalization that has no foundation in reality. It is an interesting example how Jews can be antisemitic.”

Can a Jew really be anti semitic if he doesn’t agree with Israel’s position or tactics or policies? OR is it just another way to discredit and silence dissenting voices, even though Finkelstein can be a nutter sometimes?

What a HOWLER AIG! Now put back that Tarboosh on you made more sense with it on

February 19th, 2008, 11:24 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

HP,
QN tells it like it is. His analysis is not full of denial and wishful thinking. I do have disagreements with him but it is about things reasonable people can disagree.

There is an old joke about the falach who in the 1930s visits the zoo in Jerusalem for the first time. He stands in front of the cage with the giraffe for an hour and then turns away and marches back to his village saying: “There is no such animal!”

Most of the other analysis here reminds me of this joke.

February 19th, 2008, 11:33 pm

 

offended said:

MSK,

I am afraid you’ve inferred the wrong theory from my quote of Sami’s article. It in fact indicates that Imad was a key to solidifying Al Mahdi’s army, Iran’s arm in Iraq. And that Israel and the US had shared intelligence and consent about him and his assassination plot…

You may want to read the rest of the article for the other theories presented.

February 19th, 2008, 11:41 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Enlightened,
Is it that difficult to understand that anyone that makes demenaing generalizations of Jews is being antisemitic?

Do you really believe that it is true of a large majority of Jews that we “never forgive or forget”?

Finkelstein can criticize Israel as much as he wants, but why make the racist comments?

February 20th, 2008, 12:04 am

 

Enlightened said:

AIG:

1. The difficulty is not hard to understand when someone makes generalizations about Jews (some of us can recognize it) and I for abhor it ( We arabs get the same treatment)

But you were very quick to call him Anti semitic just for genaralizing

2. I Dont believe in generalizations

3. Free speach, you call him anti semitic because he does not toe the Israeli line

February 20th, 2008, 12:51 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Enlightened,
You are not making sense. Did Finkelstein generalize about Jews or not? If yes, he was being antisemitic. It is quite simple. I am calling him an antisemite because he made an antisemitic remark. Unless you don’t think his remark was a generalization; care to explain why?

February 20th, 2008, 1:00 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

HP, many thanks for your continuing endorsements. But if Finkelstein is right about anything, it is that leaders come last, and especially in the Middle East.

Conditions have to be right. It takes either a hegemon or a political genius to create the right conditions. No candidates on the horizon, alas.

February 20th, 2008, 1:05 am

 

Enlightened said:

YES Finkelstein is Anti Semitic! So Is Sacha Baron Cohen, that makes you happy to throw around the anti semitic label so freely right AIG? After one statement, does he have a history of being anti semitic , is Finkelstein not semitic in origin?

One statement does not make him a Anti semite AIG!

February 20th, 2008, 1:09 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Enlightened,
One racist statement makes you a racist just as one antisemitic statement makes you an antisemite. That is a common norm.

And please read carefully: antisemitism is hatred of Jews. It has nothing to do with semites, just as dogma has nothing to do with dog and ma. It is a euphemism invented by German racists in the 19th century. It is unfortunate that semitism is part of the word, but it does not contribute to the meaning. So when you read antisemitism translate in your head to “hatered of the Jews as a group” and you will not make the mistakes you made in your post.

And just for your information, there were tons of antisemitic Jews throughout history. We are used to them. They are par for the course.

February 20th, 2008, 1:34 am

 

Enlightened said:

The Idiocy in your argument is :

“And just for your information, there were tons of antisemitic Jews throughout history. We are used to them. They are par for the course.”

When you really are meant to say there are Anti Zionist Jews, as Finkelstein surely is, rather than merely and casually state that he is anti semitic!

There is a difference between Anti Zionist and Anti semitic right? Finkelstein is Anti semitic you are wrong!

February 20th, 2008, 1:44 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

OK, AIG and Enlightened, this is getting tired. What’s with labels anyway? Use of adjectives is good enough, as in crazy, ignorant, superb, erudite. How does one become an antisemite anyway? One can be jealous, angry, selfish, etc., but to hate a whole class of people just because they belong to a given race or religion or whatever common denominator they may have is simply a reflection on the narrow mind of the hater. There are always distinctions. Take AIG and AP for example. We learned through following the posts (and thanks to my brilliant questioning [applause]) that AP is religious and AIG is not. The only thing we learn from the Finkelstein video is that he likes to hear himself talk and basks in the attention he gets by espousing positions that he knows will create a lot of controversy and anger. He is a basket case. Period. Now, AIG, if you are indeed in Israel (and as you know there are many doubters on this blog), it’s well past bedtime unless you have the day off tomorrow. Bonne Nuit.

February 20th, 2008, 2:12 am

 

Enlightened said:

LOL HP:

I stated earlier that Finkelstein is a nutter, but I dont believe he is anti semitic, its just a label that AIG throws around liberally sometimes any way enough said.

I posed a question to Alex earlier wondering where he is?

February 20th, 2008, 2:17 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

…and, by the way, I do think Finkelstein is sincere; you can’t fake this level of craziness. But crazy he is, and of course he is articulate and a student of history, so that notwithstanding his coocoo bent, those whom he supports will of course welcome him and cite him as a reference.
Now, Alan Dershowitz is no crazy, but I don’t trust him because he has proven that he’s willing to compromise his ethics for a buck or for additional fame (as in joining the O.J. team). So, his punishment of Finkelstein ends up, in my view, mitigating somewhat, and to some (not me), vindicating Finkelstein’s failings.

February 20th, 2008, 2:21 am

 

Enlightened said:

HP :

I can recall a article of Dershowitz a while ago taking Finkelstein to task on a number of issues, and he led the campaign to deny Finkelstein tenure at St Paul (correct me if my memory is wrong). Most academics have a coocoo bent ( Sorry Josh), its how they get noticed LOL

Dershowitz is by all accounts a brilliant lawyer and speaker, and so is Pipes a brilliant writer, but I wouldnt entrust these men at the negotiation table, articulate and brilliant they might be, but not compromisers , bt alas they would make good dinner guests , it would be interesting table talk!

February 20th, 2008, 2:33 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Enlightened, yeah but keep some distance b/c Dershowitz has really bad breath 😉
(And I guess AIG fait dodo maintenant)

February 20th, 2008, 2:48 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Enlightened,
No, there were many Jews that were antisemitic way before Zionism existed. Karl Marx is a famous example and there are many others.

I am not calling Finkelstein an antisemite to shut him up or because he is an anti-Zionist (he is a zionist by the way as he is for the two state solution and the existence of a Jewish state in Israel). I am calling him an antisemite because I heard him make an antisemitic remark. What is so difficult to understand?

HP,
Thank you for making sure I get enough sleep.

February 20th, 2008, 2:50 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

You must be on travel, AIG, or an early riser as it is now close to 5 a.m. in Israel, no?
Anyway, time for me to hit the sac now, but before I do let me reiterate my appreciation for all the superbly interesting exchanges. If it were up to you guys (and gals) on this forum, peace would have been signed a long time ago.
~nite

February 20th, 2008, 2:56 am

 

Enlightened said:

AIG (I Yawn)

you seriously like a verbal stoush dont you? Get some sleep and dream of peace, not anti semites and tell us where you really are! The suspense is killing some here ( I dont care where you are as long as you are as far away from sydney as you can be North pole would be my wish)

Anyway, do you think war will break out with HA?

February 20th, 2008, 3:02 am

 

Shai said:

Enlightened,

Soon I’ll tell you where he is… 🙂

February 20th, 2008, 4:59 am

 

Alex said:

Enlightened,

I just finished reading the comments in this post. Sorry for the late reply.

So you want me to guess what Syria will do with the assassination investigation info? : )

I HOPE Syria will not name specific Arab countries.

The Syrians probably have lots of dirt on everyone … from Lebanese politicians, to Arab leaders. But they never used it in the past… I guess if they use it, then it is consumed. But also, there are red lines that everyone in the Middle East still observes apparently.

Besides … most people are not sensitive anymore to news about Arab Moderate leaders “cooperating” with Israel or the United States… so, even if Syria comes up with the most stunning story … most people will either say that Syria invented the story or that … who cares, we know that the Jordanian King, or the Saudi or Egyptian leaders are “American agents” ….

One thing I want to repeat because I am sure of it: The Syrian regime never cared for Arab summits … they will not compromise on anything (except if it was a transient thing) in order to convince his majesty to show up in Damascus.

Besides … many summits are attended by 10 to 15 leaders out of the 22 … But when they try to spin the absence of Mubarak and Abdullah as a sign of Syria’s isolation … I will not be surprised.

February 20th, 2008, 6:48 am

 

Shai said:

Enlightened,

People like AIG see the world in black-or-white, in us-vs-them, in me-right-them-wrong. They cannot fathom that someone could have harsh criticism towards the Jewish people, and very positive criticism at the same time. People like AIG call us “liberals” traitors, and pro-Syrian, and whatnot, because we actually criticize ourselves (Israelis, Jews) much more than we do others (like the Arabs). They find that bizarre, and cannot accept it as a positive thing. For every accusation I make towards my people, they want to hear 50 towards you. That’s the only way “we” can prove we’re not anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist. It is WE that are the ones still in Israel, even though we can live elsewhere, it is WE that are fighting for peace, and not against it, WE are here to make sure Israel remains a nation and not destroy itself from within, all the while THEY (these AIG’s) are comfortably lounging themselves in the U.S., wasting their abilities typing nonsense rhetoric into blogs like these, instead of fighting for progress right here, in this region.

I had a commander in the army once, who used to say to his soldiers “become experts at how TO DO, not at how NOT TO DO”. Any Dick and Jane out there can be experts at how NOT to make peace. But it takes a lot of courage to find the few that are willing to lead. Nothing is easier than staying behind, labeling people, wasting good oxygen. God gave us not just a mouth, but also two ears, and a mushy brain between them. It’s really our privilege and duty to every now and then not fear using them in ways we never thought we would…

February 20th, 2008, 6:52 am

 

Shai said:

Alex,

Shouldn’t you be asleep? Soon I’ll start to think that you also live in Ramat Hasharon, instead of New Jersey… 🙂

February 20th, 2008, 6:54 am

 

MSK said:

Ya Offended,

The Mahdi Army is NOT Iran’s arm in Iraq. The Badr Corps, the military wing of the SIIC (ex-SCIRI) is. Contrary to them, Muqtada al-Sadr has only tenuous links to Tehran, and building up the Mahdi Army (as Mughniyeh is claimed to have done in the article you cited) would be a direct threat to Iranian interests in Iraq. The MA is the only truly Iraqi-nationalist Shi’ite force in the country and they are diametrically opposed to Iran’s allies in the country.

Sorry to burst your bubble.

–MSK*

February 20th, 2008, 8:29 am

 

Kooki said:

We don’t know who killed Imad, and we’re not even sure if Facebook is blocked…But we’re still reading Syria Comment.

Why-Discuss is right. You can access Facebook from most internet cafes in Damascus now. But on the other hand, it is still blocked by the biggest ADSL service provider, the Syrian Telecom Establishment. I just tried, and was given the usual “access denied” message highlighted in yellow.

If you REALLY want to access your Facebook account, however, you can get around the block by going to what’s called a proxy site and it will piggy-back you into Facebook. I don’t want to name them because that would be tempting fate, but if you google “Facebook proxy sites” you will come up with half a dozen alternatives. They are mostly designed for teenagers trying to outwit their parents’ bans on endless chat sessions.

Out of idle curiosity, I keep a record of what’s banned and what’s not, and believe me, there is not much logic to it. So not surprisingly, all sites ending in the Israeli .il domain name are banned. But Jerusalem Post and Haaretz and other key sites are not. Amazon.com, outrageously, is blocked, but other Amazon sites are not. Anyone with a blog on blogspot is banned, but many other bloghosters are not. Logitech is banned etc etc.

In November, Facebook was pretty much universally banned. I talked to an internet cafe owner who was very cross about this and went along to his service provider to protest (!). A few days later he informed me he was back on line.

Following the previous discussion regarding the identity of Qifa Nabki, can I suggest that Joshua incorporates some of the feature of Facebook into his own site, eg pix of contributors etc?

Just Kidding

February 20th, 2008, 8:44 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Kooki, I like you already, even with a name like that 🙂
Shai, I just suffered insomnia (~4:00 a.m. EST); I’m NOT in Beirut 😉 (nor Ramat Hasharon for that matter)

February 20th, 2008, 8:56 am

 

Shai said:

HP,

Sorry to hear… maybe you should move to this part of the world, it’ll cure your insomnia! 🙂

February 20th, 2008, 9:39 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
The problem with you is that you psycho-analyze people instead of addressing the issues. A sure sign that you lost the debate.

You can call me whatever you want and make as many absurd claims about me as you like but it won’t change a single fact on the ground. I never called you an antisemite or a traitor, just a useful idiot, and I am on record saying that I am sure your are sincere in your naive beliefs.

If you think Finkelstein is not an antisemite, if you think there is some shade of “gray” about this, just say so and let’s discuss. Or are you waiting for a CBM from Finkelstein also?

In any case, nipagesh bakalfi. I am for Bibi, who are you supporting? The fact that you cannot bring yourself to say which Israeli party you support, makes me very suspicious. What are you ashamed of? Why are you hiding this? Are you worried that the people on this blog will not “approve”?

So, how about being honest and telling us which Israeli party you support? If there were elections today, who would you vote for?

February 20th, 2008, 1:28 pm

 

Shai said:

Enlightened,

Your suspense is over. This AIG is indeed in New Jersey, not in Ramat Hasharon as he tried to claim. That, in my book, makes him both a liar, and a coward. What do you think about his “10 years in the IDF”? Should we believe that? You know, he tries so hard to upset us all, but you know what, he ain’t gonna succeed. Because this AIG, a truly “VERY-useful-idiot-and-now-liar” is only about the past, not about the future. He doesn’t have the slightest clue how to get Arabs and Jews together, only apart. So he does what he knows – I guess in that way, we can’t really blame him. But just someone remind me, why on earth he does what he knows on THIS forum? I’m sure there are far better places, where real antisemites congregate, where anger and hatred is spewed much more efficiently, and where he’ll surely find himself at home. I pity the guy – he could have even made 34th seat in the Likud party…

February 20th, 2008, 1:51 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
You are a despicable liar. I am now actually in Ramat Gan but will be going home soon. We already had a discussion here about the NJ IP. And if you want to track me, in a few days I am flying to the US. Have fun.

So please, let us know, which Israeli party would you vote for? Is that too difficult to ask? Why can’t you be honest about it? Doesn’t that matter a little more than playing “where in the world is Carmen San Diego” with me?

February 20th, 2008, 2:09 pm

 

Shai said:

Enlightened,

It seems the gentleman from Ramat Hasharon, now Ramat Gan, tomorrow San Diego, is desperate to know what party I would vote for in Israel’s next election. So for the record, so that no one on this forum or any other, can ever say I wasn’t clear about my intention for the upcoming election in Israel, I am hereby declaring that I will be voting ONLY for a party that doesn’t have AIG as its member. Think of the power I’ve just placed in this gentleman’s hands – he can literally make sure that I don’t vote for any party he chooses, by simply joining it himself. “Lost the debate”? What debate? Does he not understand that this isn’t about A debate, it’s about MANY debates, and debates only occur between two people that want to listen, not just talk… and talk… and talk.

February 20th, 2008, 2:50 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
I am not desperate to know who you will vote for. I have a good idea. I would just like to make the point that for some reason you are ashamed to say which party you support and let the others on this blog think by themselves why this is the case. Why not just be honest? What are you hiding? Why can’t you be clear about your position?

A debate is each side questioning the reasoning and logic of the other side. You may find it hard to believe, but I most enjoy people challenging my ideas.

February 20th, 2008, 3:06 pm

 

Shai said:

Another “Israeli” Guy,

Though I promised not to address you directly, I will do so one last time, hoping you’ll finally get the message.

The only thing I’m “ashamed of” in this forum is, my friend, YOU. I’m not ashamed of telling people the political party I’ll vote for, that is, if I know which party I’ll vote for, and if anyone I care about asks me. Since I neither know which party I’ll vote for yet (I’m quite disappointed with ALL parties right now), nor have I been asked by anyone I care about in this forum, I haven’t and won’t discuss this issue now. I’ve mentioned in the past that the bizarre political logic in Israel is such that those who speak against the Arabs and against compromises are precisely those most likely to make peace with them. That does not mean I’m voting Bibi in the next election (sorry), but it does mean that choosing a party or a leader is even more difficult than it might be in any other normal country.

So that you, AIG, and others understand, there is a very simple reason for my disinterest in engaging you in anything whatsoever. It has nothing to do with “losing the debate”, or not enjoying being challenged by other ideas – I debate plenty of people on this forum, and have in the past, who completely disagree with me. I’ve engaged Rime Allaf, for instance, in numerous exchanges on a particular topic in the past, and although it was evident to me that she is as close to being anti-Zionist as one could be (or at least at the time I saw her as such), I still enjoyed our debates, because they were civil. With you, from the minute you first read my words on this blog, you began labeling me. The instant you referred to me as a “useless idiot”, you lost any sense of respect I may have been able to have for you. The content of your words became meaningless, because the disrespect you showed me was the kind that my worst enemy on this blog wouldn’t have shown. I’ve debated people here that have basically blamed me, and my fellow countrymen, for everything wrong in the universe, including murder, rape, you name it. But I’ve been able to hear them, and even respond, much more easily than with you.

I don’t know where you grew up, and frankly I don’t give a hoot, but where I come from words matter, and respect matters. No one I associate with would listen or speak to anyone who referred to them as “useless idiots”. That’s not the kind of language I learned to use, when I disagree with someone, even greatly. I haven’t and I won’t engage you, not because of the thoughts that may stand behind the words, but because of the words that stand before the thoughts. To me, you come off as an arrogant, relentless, disrespectful SOB. I never imagined I could meet someone like that on a blog, certainly not a “fellow” countryman. You’ve caused me to feel not love or hatred towards you, but plain apathy. And that’s a shame, if you at least hoped to get a response from me on any of the issues you’ve raised. So that’s it, really, I have nothing else to say to you. I wish you all the best, and I hope you get from this forum what you wish for. But with all due respect, it won’t be from me.

February 20th, 2008, 6:58 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

I think AIG used the phrase “useful idiot,” not “useless idiot.”

… Not trying to get in the middle here but just wanted to suggest, Shai, that you lighten up a bit and not be so upset at AIG. After all, showing disrespect to others only hurts those who actually do so, not their targets, at least in the eyes of folks whom you, Shai, would care about.

Cheers,

HP

February 20th, 2008, 7:27 pm

 

Shai said:

HP,

Thanks for trying to calm me down. But for me it’s not an issue of “lightening up” or not. From the minute I stepped into this forum, I was extremely impressed by the visitors, by the writers, and by the commentators. There are tons of blogs out there that try to deal with serious issues, but unfortunately attract all sorts of “trash”. Here, that is just not the case. Remember, I’m here not because I’ve got nothing better to do in my early mornings or late evenings, I could easily spend the time with my wife or two little girls. I’m honestly trying to learn as much as I can from engaging Syrians, Palestinians, Lebanese, and other Arabs, as well as non-Arabs, who are willing to share their thoughts with me. I’m here to build an understanding and knowledge-base that can help me and my counterparts have a better chance at succeeding in our quest – peace in our region, in our lifetime, soon. The interaction and learning, therefore, is very important.

And then I run into this AIG, who from the first minute differentiates himself from all the rest, by labeling me, and by using the kind of language I use to hear about 20 years ago, during my youth. Now it’s not that it hurts me – it doesn’t. In fact, at first it made me laugh. That there are still “serious” Israelis out there who just hate us “liberals” that much. But then the relentlessness about silly things (like trying to get me to say which party I’ll vote for) started getting annoying. And AIG knows that it’s annoying, but he quite enjoys that fact it seems. So I decided I had had enough, and I would say so. That’s really all, HP. I get less emotional when I hear Rime Allaf, or Nour, suggesting that my fellow countrymen are a bunch of murderers and rapists, than I do hearing AIG badmouth me… Oh well, c’est la vie, non?

February 20th, 2008, 8:17 pm

 

Enlightened said:

LOL Shai, Because of the time difference I just read the posts I’m in Sydney Australia.

Look firstly I admire your stances RE peace, I think we are far closer than people think, I always believe if various vested interest groups have had limited power to sway public opinion there would have been peace 2 years after Israel was established.

Anyway, concerning AIG if I ever did meet him I would engage him and have coffee with him, even given his faults (we all have them), whether he is in New jersey or in Israel it doesn’t matter, most use different names here and don’t tell where they are from, its inconsequential really. ( I would prefer as I stated earlier that he would be isolated at the North Pole to gather his thoughts and learn some meditation) 10 years in the army might have fried his brain a little, but thats normal. I have an employee (Syrian Alawi served 3 years in Iraq, got discharged from Army after his stint, I always tell him he is a bit loopy)

AIG I have noticed does come up with some good points but the whole thrust of his arguments ” Syria, Arabs aren’t democratic we don’t engage them for peace until they are) etc is getting tiresome, I believe he is one of those that doesn’t really desire peace, thats why everything is black and white, you cant compromise unless you have the ability to see things in grey and white. (so using logic he might have bad eye colour receptors) Anyway Shai keep posting and and worry about the criticism from AIG, and I am going to apply Murphys law to him ” Never argue with a fool, people might not know the difference”

February 20th, 2008, 11:45 pm

 

Shai said:

Enlightened,

I’ll take your words of wisdom, and apply them from now on.

BTW, it never bothered me where he was from, Israelis or ex-Israelis have the right to voice their opinion wherever they may be. It’s just the relentless badgering about silly things was getting to be too much. I’ve hinted on numerous occasions that I did not wish to engage him, yet he continued. But you’re right, no one is forcing me to respond… so I won’t. But I was hoping he’d finally get the message.

February 21st, 2008, 12:11 pm

 

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