Gambill on US Policy in Lebanon and Fatah al-Islam

The Middle East Monitor has a series of excellent articles by Gary Gambill, who is sympathetic to General Aoun. The first is on the failure of US policy in Lebanon: 

Lemons from Lemonade: Washington and Lebanon after the Syrian Withdrawal

He begins:

Much like the Bush administration's spectacular liberation of Iraq, however, the emancipation of Lebanon has been overshadowed by chronic instability, sectarian polarization, and the looming threat of civil war. While American officials have put a brave face on Lebanon's unfortunate trajectory, it has been a strategic disaster for Washington, catalyzing the collapse of Syrian diplomatic isolation, renewed Arab engagement with Iran, and the proliferation of Al-Qaeda affiliates in the heart of the Arab Levant.

He then explains how the March 14 coalition ruined its chances of winning a strong majority within Lebanon by excluding Aoun, thereby splitting Christians and depending on weak Sunni leadership that could mobilize only a third of Lebanese.

For all of their anti-Syrian rhetoric, Hariri and Jumblatt preferred to leave Assad's man in the presidency rather than bow to the wishes of nearly three quarters of the Christian electorate and accept Aoun's ascension. Without controlling the presidency, they would be unable to unilaterally replace Syrian-vetted military officers, judges, and diplomats. Furthermore, they refused to offer the FPM a major ministry to join the government after the elections (Aoun would have accepted interior or justice), turning instead to Hezbollah …. The result was a cabinet composed mostly of former high-ranking officials of Syria's 1990-2003 satellite state or their political subordinates (Prime Minister Fouad Siniora was the longest-serving finance minister of Syrian-occupied Lebanon).

None for All

The March 14 coalition began its stewardship of Lebanon with a perilously weak democratic mandate. Christians and Shiites (roughly two-thirds of Lebanon's population) had voted overwhelmingly for the FPM and Hezbollah, respectively, while the coalition could claim majority support only among Sunnis and Druze (roughly a third of the population).

The result of this mistaken March 14 and US backed policy was the creation of a powerful pro-Syrian opposition uniting Christians and Shiites. Washington believed the key to destroying this coalition was to isolate and weaken Syria, eliminate Lahoud, and split the Shiites, after allowing Israel a chance to smash Hizbullah.

In February 2006, the FPM and Hezbollah signed a memorandum of understanding outlining their vision for reform, which was greeted with virtually unanimous assent in the Shiite community and 77% approval in the Christian community.[35] The Bush administration was infuriated by the accord, fearing that it would make the March 14 coalition even more willing to kowtow to Hezbollah in south Lebanon. That was true, of course, but only because the coalition was so manifestly unable to win Shiite support through other means – which is precisely what Aoun claims to be attempting. The FPM insists that the majority of Shiites (if not Hezbollah itself) will eventually countenance the disarmament once they feel their future in Lebanon is secure.

The idea that Shiite alienation is a "fixable" obstacle to Hezbollah's disarmament seems to have escaped American policymakers. The administration was convinced by its new Lebanese allies that the solution to the Siniora government's lack of "backbone" was the removal of Lahoud, which would enable it to establish firmer control over the Lebanese military. The only way to achieve this (short of accepting Aoun as president) was by ratcheting up pressure on Assad to the point that he would be willing to sacrifice his remaining institutional foothold in Lebanese government. It was also hoped that isolating Syria might help persuade Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, the leader of the pro-Syrian Amal party (which formed unified Shiite alliance with Hezbollah after the Syrian withdrawal) to break with Nasrallah and support Lahoud's impeachment. The Bush administration was already committed to squeezing Syria for broader strategic purposes, but the erroneous belief that Damascus held the key to solving Lebanon's domestic problems (as March 14 leaders invariably maintained) validated its unwillingness to press for political and economic reform…..

Targeting Damascus

Lebanon, once a carrot in the toolbox of American diplomacy with Syria, was now a stick. The most powerful weapon at the administration's disposal was the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) established to investigate the killing of Hariri.

However, while the commission quickly uncovered significant (if hardly conclusive) circumstantial evidence of collusion and evidence tampering by Lebanese security officials close to Lahoud, no direct evidence of Syrian involvement ever came to light, save for the testimony of secret witnesses later revealed to be highly questionable[36] and likely planted by the March 14 coalition (or possibly, as Jumblatt has suggested, planted by the Syrians to taint the investigation).[37] Four senior Lebanese security officials have been detained at the behest of the IIIC for eighteen months in hopes that they will implicate Syria, but to no avail. The commission has since backed away from claims of Syrian involvement.

Unable to produce conclusive evidence of Syrian complicity in the Hariri killing, the Security Council expanded the mandate of the IIIC to include subsequent assassinations of (mostly marginal) Christian public figures, but none of these investigations appears to have borne fruit. Indeed, in an environment where fear of Syria has been effectively channeled into support for the ruling coalition, the presumption of Syrian involvement in most of the killings is rather dubious – particularly in view of past "false flag" killings by the Lebanese Forces.[38]

Read the whole report. Gambill's conclusions are provocative. He argues that both the French and Saudis are ready to abandon Washington's ongoing and barren policy of "creative instability" in Lebanon.

Another excellent article explores the recent theories on who backs Fatah al-Islam:

The Rise of Fatah al-Islam
by Gary C. Gambill, June/July 2007

Here is a bit from the introduction:

The sudden outbreak of fighting between the Lebanese Army and Fatah al-Islam in late May has touched off a flurry of conspiracy theories about the meteoric rise of this shadowy terrorist group. Supporters of Lebanon's ruling March 14 coalition typically allege that the militant fundamentalist organization is an "imitation al-Qaeda" secretly controlled by the secular Baathist regime of neighboring Syria,[1] while those on the other side of the political divide allege that Fatah al-Islam is a creation of Lebanon's ruling coalition.

Here is the conclusion: (But read the entire report)

On May 19, a band of Fatah al-Islam gunmen robbed a bank near Tripoli (their third) and were tracked to an apartment in a wealthy neighborhood in the city. For reasons that are not entirely clear (but probably owe much to the visit of US Assistant Secretary of State David Welch three days earlier), this time Siniora sent the ISF into action (with a camera crew from Hariri's Future TV station in tow to record the momentous event). The pre-dawn raid was a disaster – not only was it easily repulsed, but Siniora's failure to inform the Army beforehand left Lebanese soldiers stationed outside Nahr al-Bared vulnerable to a withering reprisal hours later while most were asleep in their barracks (nine were found with their throats slit). While the deaths of 22 soldiers that day (the ISF aborted its raid before anyone got killed) united the Lebanese people behind the Army's campaign to eliminate Fatah al-Islam, the political parameters that impede the government from addressing the threat posed by militant Sunni Islamists have not changed.

As fighting continued off and on for the next month, media outlets sympathetic to the Siniora government continued to advance the claim that Fatah al-Islam is a proxy of Syrian intelligence, frequently citing security sources on alleged "confessions" by captured militants. However, in an interview published June 21, Defense Minister Elias Murr put the speculation to rest: "Does the government so far have an official confession about the links of these [Fatah al-Islam militants] or some of them to Syria? So far, there is no answer."[22]

Allegations in the same media outlets that the Syrians have been caught red-handed smuggling weapons into Lebanon also turned out to be unsubstantiated. UN specialists who spent most of June investigating border security in Lebanon reported to the Security Council that "not a single on-border or near-border seizure of smuggled arms has been documented to the team." While there are undoubtedly arms pouring across Lebanon's borders, corruption and incompetence within the Lebanese security services appear largely to blame.

US Bans top Syrians from Traveling to the US

As a message to Syria, US bans entry for people who undermine Lebanese government, AP, June 29, 2007

The United States increased pressure on Syria by barring U.S. entry to people it says are undermining the stability of Lebanon and its fragile Western-backed government.

President George W. Bush signed a proclamation Friday suspending entry into the U.S. by people who have harmed Lebanon's sovereignty or its democratic institutions, or who have worked to destabilize Lebanon through terrorism, politically motivated violence, intimidation or the reassertion of Syrian control in Lebanon.

"This is a tool the United States has to demonstrate to Syria our desire for them to stop meddling in Lebanon — to demonstrate to Syria and those who want to destabilize the democratically elected government in Lebanon that we will continue to increase pressure until they suspend their activities," said National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

They include top Syrian military intelligence officials; an adviser to Syrian President Bashar Assad; former Lebanese ministers of defense, labor, environment and information; and a former Lebanese member of parliament. Two of the more prominent people on the list are Hisham Ikhtiyar, adviser to Syrian President Bashar Assad, and Jama'a Jama'a, top Syrian military intelligence official. A year ago, the U.S. Treasury Department froze their assets, alleging they had played key roles in support of terrorist organizations.

When the news of the ban surfaced earlier this week, Wi'am Wahhab, former Lebanese minister of environment and a staunch Syrian ally in Lebanon, told a news conference that such a decision would have no relevance. "It's not like I spend my evenings in Las Vegas or I go to Miami to swim," Wahhab said, noting he's never been to America and has no intention of going there. "This decision is silly, like Bush's face …. "We tell Bush he won't let us go to America and we won't let him rule Lebanon," Wahhab said, adding that he would be proud to be sanctioned for his views. "It's a medal on my chest," he said, calling Bush a "madman."

Syria's economic reforms widen wealth gap. AFP 01/07/07

From the HuffingtonPost, read it fully, here. (By way of Friday Lunch Club)
"Among those of Fadlallah's bodyguards not killed in the explosion, 22 year-old Imad Mugniyah would join the emerging Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah and, over the next decade, as a shadowy chief of security, direct a series of reprisal attacks against Americans in a bloody chain reaction of terror and counter-terror. Among Fadlallah's admirers, outraged by the bombing and ever after distrustful of the Americans he had once admired, was a round-faced, 25 year-old theology student of already recognized charisma and organizational skills. He would rise to become Hezbollah's leader — and, after his forces fought the Israeli invasion of Lebanon to a standstill in the summer of 2006, one of the most popular figures in the Arab world: Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. "
Khalid Mashaal invterviewed on Turkish TV. (This summary was sent by Kaan Kutlu ATAC from Hacettepe University. Thanks Kaan.)
An interview ( the full-text in Turkish can be read here. For video,,, with [Damascus-based Hamas leader] Khaled Meshal was aired in CNN-TURK yesterday, June 28. In this interview recorded in Syria, H. Meshal claimed that Hamas is not considering to create a separated administration in Gaza and do not want a more divided Palestine. He also renewed the Hamas request for dialogue with Abbas.
The main points made in the interview are as follows;
* " We entered the general election to complete the political processes"
* " We always wanted a national reconciliation government but we were refused"
* "The international society did not accept the democratic result [general election]  
* "No body could not digest that Hamas came to power”
* "The US and Israel provoced a group inside Al Fatah”"
* "The situation in Gaza are being tried to resemble Taliban"
* "We do not force anybody to accept a religious administration”"
* " Israel is invader, we have the right to defend”
* "The Palestine people are being punished instead of Hamas”
* "They want to turn Gaza into hell and to make a heaven in West Bank"
* "The West has a double-standard to Hamas"
* "The US and Israel provoced Abbas to Hamas”
* "We miss Arafat".
Best, Kaan Kutlu ATAC, from Hacettepe University

Comments (17)

Mo said:

President Assad once told Jihad el-Khazen of al-Hayat, that he chose to support extending the mandate of president Lahoud because he expected “exceptionally difficult days were ahead”.
Has he bet on the winning horse?
How would it have been like had Lahoud not extended his presidency term?

I personally believe that he made the correct choice, because I don’t think the Administration improvised and planned from the moment Lahoud had an extended term to pressure Syria, obtain regional concessions, and reshape its strategic weight.
Put differently, perhaps 1559 led to the extension of Lahoud, and not vice versa!

July 1st, 2007, 10:03 am


University Update - Iraq - Gambill on US Policy in Lebanon and Fatah al-Islam said:

[…] White House Link to Article iraq Gambill on US Policy in Lebanon and Fatah al-Islam » Posted at SyriaComment on Sunday, July 01, 2007 The Middle East Monitor has a series of excellent articles by Gary Gambill, who is sympathetic to General Aoun … liberation of Iraq, however, the emancipation of Lebanon has been overshadowed by chronic instability View Entire Article » […]

July 1st, 2007, 10:49 am


EHSANI2 said:

According to the link above which describes the growing wealth gap in Syria, “Privatization is unavoidable”. Let us hope that the author is right

July 1st, 2007, 12:14 pm


R said:

Gary Gambill says there is a ” collapse of Syrian diplomatic isolation” – does he mean the same Syria in the Middle East – you know the one adjacent to Lebanon, Iraq and Isreal? Or Syria in Texas or some other place or something.

Or maybe this blog employs some kind of raeality distortion field?

July 1st, 2007, 12:43 pm


t_desco said:

US, Israel plotting to kill Nasrallah – report

Syrian newspaper says Saudi Arabia, Israel, and US seeking intelligence on whereabouts of Shiite leader

An attempt on the life of Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah was foiled by the Shiite organization, a Syrian weekly magazine reported on Saturday.
According to al-Madar, the intelligence services of Saudi Arabia, the United States and Israel sought to track secret Hizbullah bunkers in Lebanon as part of a plot to assassinate Nasrallah. …

” Last summer, it was reported that Israel was trying to kill Nasrallah, but th extraordinary precautions were not due only to that threat. Nasrallah’s aides tol me that they believe he is a prime target of fellow-Arabs, primarily Jordania intelligence operatives, as well as Sunni jihadists who they believe are affiliate with Al Qaeda. (The government consultant and a retired four-star general sai that Jordanian intelligence, with support from the U.S. and Israel, had been tryin to infiltrate Shiite groups, to work against Hezbollah …).”
Seymour Hersh, The Redirection

I thought that it would be nice to have the follwing quotes all in one place:

“This time, the U.S. government consultant told me, Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that “they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”

The United States has also given clandestine support to the Siniora government, according to the former senior intelligence official and the U.S. government consultant. “We are in a program to enhance the Sunni capability to resist Shiite influence, and we’re spreading the money around as much as we can,” the former senior intelligence official said. The problem was that such money “always gets in more pockets than you think it will,” he said. “In this process, we’re financing a lot of bad guys with some serious potential unintended consequences. We don’t have the ability to determine and get pay vouchers signed by the people we like and avoid the people we don’t like. It’s a very high-risk venture.”

American, European, and Arab officials I spoke to told me that the Siniora government and its allies had allowed some aid to end up in the hands of emerging Sunni radical groups in northern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, and around Palestinian refugee camps in the south. These groups, though small, are seen as a buffer to Hezbollah; at the same time, their ideological ties are with Al Qaeda.”
Seymour Hersh, The Redirection

“Meanwhile, Al-Jazeera aired a statement by Ghassan Ben Jeddou, the network’s bureau chief in Beirut, Lebanon, who had interviewed Prince Hassan bin Talal in Amman and who said the tape contained remarks by the Jordanian royal claiming that a national security adviser in Saudi Arabia was financing Sunni militants to fight the Iran-backed Hezbollah group.

The network identified the Saudi official as Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a former Saudi ambassador to Washington.”
AP, 22/04/2007

“Ed Schultz: What about arming Sunni insurgents to fight Al Qaeda? Is that a good idea?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, that’s one of the issues, and certainly if we can strengthen localities inside Iraq, and if we can be sure they’re actually fighting Al Qaeda, that’s a good thing. But what if, in doing that, they’re bringing Al Qaeda in and not simply strengthening the resistance to Al Qaeda? That’s what we don’t know about. Apparently, some of the weapons that were-, I’m told that some of the weapons that ended up in the refugee camps in Lebanon, that the Lebanese Army’s been fighting against, because the weapons were being used by Al Qaeda in Lebanon, those weapons were paid for as part of the Saudi initiative to arm the Sunnis to fight against Iran.”
General Wesley Clark on The Ed Schultz Show – 18/06/07

July 1st, 2007, 1:23 pm


kingofebla said:

T Desco ,what is said in the media is not important ,but what is happening on the ground is…the reality says that Israel and the USA are working with the Iranian regime even before the Contra Scandal…the Israeli Iranian cooperation never ended and the sole country in the region which had weapons deals with the israelis are the iranians…(followed by the turks after the 1990’s ,but here it was not secret or under table deal).
Iraq is an another proof of the american-iranian regime cooperation….no need to speak a lot about it…the things are clear in front of all.
As for the qaidas(in the plural)…yes they are infiltrated by the CIA,the syrian regime moukhabarat,iranian vevak,the saudis,the jordanian intelligences….but the question is,are the young brainwashed people in al qaida groups are aware of the plot..????

July 1st, 2007, 2:37 pm


Tony Khabbaz said:


Check out the latest post of that dimwitted neocon pitbull Tony Badran.

It is hilarious. Now he is so desperate that he quotes from the Falungong cult newspapers ! I guess the lunatic right wing fringes are not lunatic enough for him.

July 1st, 2007, 6:27 pm


bakri said:

FEATURE-Traffic plan threatens ancient quarter of Damascus
11 Jun 2007 18:04:23 GMT
Source: Reuters
Alert Me | Printable view | Email this article | RSS XML [-] Text [+]

By Alistair Lyon, Special Correspondent

DAMASCUS, June 11 (Reuters) – Pilgrim buses clog a road just outside the Old City of Damascus. Partly to solve that nuisance, municipal planners want to carve a highway through a historic but neglected quarter of the Syrian capital.

“They want to knock down 1,200 shops like mine,” said Bassam al-Ayoubi, sitting among the piled shelves of his hardware store in the labyrinth of alleys known as Souq al-Manakhliyeh.

In these crumbling, crowded streets outside the Old City, which UNESCO lists as a World Heritage site, artisans and merchants make and sell anything from farm tools to copper ornaments, brassware and carpets, just as in generations past.

The governorate of Damascus envisages expanding the busy King Faisal Street, which runs parallel to the northern wall of the Old City, into a highway up to 40 metres (130 feet) wide.

Traffic in the street is often held up by the parked buses of Iranian and Lebanese Shi’ite Muslim pilgrims thronging the modern Saida Ruqqiya Mosque just inside the Old City.

But critics question whether the plan to widen the 1.5-km (one-mile) road, built in the late 19th century, is the answer to the congestion problems in the city centre.

“In the rest of the world, they now stop traffic passing near historic cities because of the environmental effects of pollution and vibration,” said Mouaffak Doughman, a former director of the governorate’s office that deals with preservation and development of the Old City.


The project would demolish swathes of workshops, homes and markets spilling out from the Old City since medieval times. Residents fear that tower blocks, hotels and restaurants will rise in their place, irreversibly altering the area’s character.

“If they do this, the history goes, the culture goes,” said Ayoubi. “It’s a disaster,” he said, adding that thousands of people would be displaced or lose their livelihoods.

Protests from residents, archaeologists and conservationists have forced the authorities to put the project on hold until a committee has reported on its impact and the value of the area. The culture minister is due to receive the report on July 15.

The governor of Damascus has invited UNESCO, which had voiced alarm over the scheme, to join the consultations. He and the culture minister have also told UNESCO that no project will be implemented without the U.N. body’s agreement.

“This is good. It is not a guarantee for us, but it is good enough for the moment,” Nada Al Hassan, programme specialist at the Paris headquarters of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, said in a telephone interview.

“For UNESCO, this area is part of a buffer zone around the World Heritage property,” she said. “The urban fabric itself is valuable, not just the individual buildings. You can’t just erase a neighbourhood without affecting the site nearby.”

Some Syrian officials query the value of a buffer zone. “The work is outside the wall. Anyway, it doesn’t harm the Old City,” Tourism Minister Saadallah Agha al-Qalaa told Reuters.

Ayoubi and many other traders and artisans rent their premises and would get no recompense if the urban renewal plan goes ahead. Only owners are entitled to limited compensation.

“We have whole souqs here. If you wipe out the souqs and open up the gates, leaving a few stones, the city will have no meaning. And this is the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city,” Ayoubi said, reiterating a Damascene boast.


Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and other empires have left their mark on Damascus, founded more than 4,000 years ago, but the pace of change in this rapidly growing city of 3.5 million has quickened since Syria gained independence 61 years ago.

New roads and buildings have devoured several venerable neighbourhoods — Syrian law protects only the walled city.

Conservationists advocate restoring rather than razing buildings near the city wall, whose Roman foundations are overlaid by Arab defences dating from the 11th century onward.

The threatened district, which contains architectural jewels such as the Ottoman-era Muallaq Mosque, is undeniably run down.

Shop hoardings, steel shutters, chaotic cables and centuries of grime hide many of its weathered stone arches and brickwork.

But much of the Old City itself is dilapidated. Decay is not a criterion for demolition, UNESCO’s Al Hassan argued.

“There are voids from things that were done in the past,” she acknowledged. “But other parts are really urban ensembles whose origins date from the 12th or 13th century. So there is this very valuable heritage outside the city wall.

“The city inside the walls cannot be dissociated from the city outside the walls, not only from a historical point of view but also socially and economically,” Al Hassan said.

July 1st, 2007, 9:53 pm


bakri said:

Some Syrian officials query the value of a buffer zone. “The work is outside the wall. Anyway, it doesn’t harm the Old City,” Tourism Minister Saadallah Agha al-Qalaa told Reuters.

How can this prostitute had said such lie,70 % of the urban fabric of old Damascus is located outside the wall,as educated person,he knows very well that this area is as rich in old buildings than inside the wall Damascus.Al Manakhliyeh,Saroujah and Salhiyeh concentrate many of the Pre Ottoman architecural jewels,if this plan is confirmed ,an important part of the damascene cultural inheritance will be erased for ever and this without mentioning the negative repercussion on the architectural harmony and the conviviality in the old city,it seem it’ is the next step after the 1970’s and 1980’s cultural massacres in Syria.

July 1st, 2007, 10:29 pm


EHSANI2 said:

By Jay Solomon
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration, fearing a rupturing of Lebanon’s
political system, is ratcheting up pressure on Syria and its Lebanese allies
ahead of what the U.S. believes could be a bid by opponents of Prime Minister
Fuad Siniora to set up a parallel government in Beirut by the fall.
On Friday, President Bush signed a proclamation blacklisting from U.S. travel
any Syrian or Lebanese individuals seen as threatening Beirut’s democratically
elected government. It also listed 10 people who the U.S. believes are playing
central roles in seeking to overthrow the current government.
The U.S. moves come as the United Nations reports an unimpeded flow of
weapons into Lebanon from Syria, part of an apparent campaign by Damascus and
Iran to rearm the Shiite militia Hezbollah after last summer’s war with Israel.
U.S. and Lebanese officials say these arms are also reaching a growing number
of Palestinian and Sunni militant groups in Lebanon challenging Mr. Siniora’s
control in the north and south of the country.
This mix of arms and political polarization is infecting Lebanon with rising
sectarian tensions and the threat of a return to all-out civil war, said U.N.
and Lebanese officials. It is also stoking concern in Washington and Tel Aviv
of another major conflict erupting between Lebanon-based militants and Israel
in the months ahead.
“I am deeply concerned that Lebanon remains in the midst of a debilitating
political crisis and faces ongoing attacks aimed at destabilizing and
undermining its sovereignty,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote in a
report released Friday. Mr. Ban said he was particularly alarmed by last
month’s bombing in southern Lebanon that killed six Spanish U.N. peacekeepers,
as well as the firing of three Katyusha rockets into Israel from the same
Among the 10 individuals who the U.S. believes are playing central roles in
seeking to overthrow the current Beirut government are Assef Shawkat, who is
the brother-in-law of Syrian President Bashar Assad as well as the country’s
and intelligence chief; Hisham Ikhtiyar, one of the Syrian leader’s top
advisers; and Rustum Ghazali, former head of Syrian intelligence inside
Lebanon. Six former Lebanese ministers who are viewed as working as proxies for
Damascus inside Lebanon are also on the list.
U.S. officials acknowledged that the U.S. travel bans are unlikely to have
much direct impact on Syrian leaders. But they say they are more focused on
dissuading Lebanese politicians from siding with the Syrians against Mr.
Of particular focus are Christian politicians who have joined into a formal
political alliance with Hezbollah in a bid to unseat Mr. Siniora. Some of them,
such as retired Gen. Michel Aoun, have in the past coordinated closely with the
U.S. on Lebanon policy, particularly on the need to reduce Syrian influence.
They also have presented themselves as potential allies to Washington if any
new government is formed in Beirut.
“A lot of people are opposed to Siniora, and might try to bring him down but
still want to present themselves as friends with the U.S,” said a senior Bush
administration official working on the Middle East. “We want to convey to them
that there’s a price to pay” for their actions.
Some of the Lebanese politicians on the White House’s watch list called it an
example of the U.S. interfering in their country’s domestic politics. They also
called Mr. Siniora a lackey of the U.S. “The decision is a dictatorial measure
[by the U.S.] targeting democracy in Lebanon,” said Assad Hardan, a former
Lebanese labor minister.
Beirut is scheduled to hold elections in September to replace President Emile
Lahoud, who was installed by President Assad before Syria’s military withdrawal
in early 2005. Lebanon’s president is elected through a parliamentary vote, and
Mr. Lahoud is constitutionally barred from serving another term. But Beirut’s
legislative body has been shuttered for more than six months as Hezbollah and
its political allies have taken to street protests to try to unseat Mr.
Many Lebanese and U.S. officials fear that Mr. Lahoud, with Hezbollah’s and
Gen. Aoun’s backing, is preparing to unilaterally establish a rival, pro-Syrian
government in Beirut, arguing Mr. Siniora’s mandate has expired. Lebanon was
similarly split between competing governments in east and west Beirut during
the height of the country’s civil war in the 1980s.
“The two-state government is a real concern for us,” said the senior Bush
administration official. Mr. Lahoud is “trying to create an alternate
government that’s going to challenge Siniora.”
In addition to trying to stabilize Mr. Siniora politically, the Bush
administration is increasingly seeking ways to help Lebanon’s security forces
seal its eastern and northern borders with Syria. A U.N. report released last
week said arms and militiamen were transiting into Lebanon from Syria virtually
These porous borders have allowed Hezbollah to restock much of the rockets
and artillery spent during last summer’s war with Israel, particularly in
Lebanon’s central Bekaa Valley, according to the U.N. And the weapons flows
have allowed Damascus-based militias, like Fatah-Intifada and the Liberation of
Palestine-General Command, to refortify their military posts inside Lebanon.
These militias, as well as an al Qaeda-linked Sunni army, Fatah Islam, have
clashed with Lebanon’s armed forces near the cities of Tripoli and Sidon over
the past month, killing hundreds.
The Katyusha missile attack on Israel last month was also believed linked to
one of these private armies, according to Lebanese officials. And members of
Mr. Siniora’s government fear even greater confrontation between the state’s
security apparatus and these pro-Damascus militias if Lebanon’s political
crisis intensifies.
The U.N. is calling for improved intelligence-sharing and military equipment
to aid Lebanon’s policing of its borders. But many U.S. and U.N. officials
working on Lebanon say much more drastic measures are being considered
privately to head off a potential escalation of violence in Lebanon. One would
seek to redeploy some of the U.N.’s peacekeeping contingent to the Syrian
border from its current base in Lebanon’s south. Another would be for Mr.
Siniora to seek troops from neighboring Arab countries to assist Lebanon’s
policing of the Syrian border.
Both actions, however, are likely to meet stiff resistance inside the U.N.
Security Council. And President Assad has already said he would view any
deployment of foreign troops on Syria’s border as a hostile act.

July 1st, 2007, 11:58 pm


why-discuss said:

CNN: Officials: Captured Hezbollah agent helped plan deadly Karbala raid

….The U.S. military declined official comment on Daqduq’s arrest, as did the Iraqi government. But documents and forensic evidence, seen by members of the Iraqi government and shown to CNN, support the claims…..

More accusations and pressure on Hezbollah…

July 2nd, 2007, 2:10 am


norman said:

Noting the article about the economic reform in Syria and the widening gap between rich and poor makes me concern not for the reform but for the resentment that it will create from the poor against the rich of Syria therefore the Syrian rich should move through taxation to decrease the gap of inequality that the new economy will create , Syria will risk another socialist revolution Syria can not afford to have.

July 2nd, 2007, 2:32 am


norman said:

This is for Alex and Ehsani2 and all the people from Syria,

حلب مدينة تعبق بتاريخ عريق
GMT 21:00:00 2007 الأحد 1 يوليو
بهية مارديني


من أقدم المناطق التي استوطنها الإنسان
حلب مدينة تعبق بتاريخ عريق

بهية مارديني من دمشق: حلب من المدن السورية الواقعة في الجزء الشمالي وتعتبر من أقدم المناطق التي استوطنها الإنسان، ومن أهم المناطق الأثرية والسياحية فيها التي عادة ما تكون مزار السائحين الراغبين في التوغل في القدم والجمال. وتعتبر قلعة حلب الشهيرة واحدة من روائع العمارة الإسلامية التي اكتملت أعمال نشأتها في عهد السلطان الظاهر غازي بن صلاح الدين فأقيمت البوابة الرئيسية ويتكون مدخل القلعة الأساسي من بناء ضخم مؤلف من أبواب ودهاليز وقاعات للدفاع والذخيرة. وفي أعلى هذا البناء قاعة كبيرة هي قاعة العرش التي زينت واجهتها بزخارف حجرية، ويوجد ست نوافذ صغيرة ومنافذ كبيرة تطل على حلب القديمة. وشهدت القلعة عدة حضارات منذ آلاف السنين وكانت دائماً ذات موقع إستراتيجي وعسكري هامين.

أما الأبراج كان أبرزها برج المدخل المرتفع وبرج المدخل السابق للجسر ويقابلها برج ضخم ينهض على سفح جدار الخندق المكسو بالحجر، وسور قلعة حلب أهليجي الشكل تتخلله أبراج بعضها مربع الشكل وبعضها دائري ويرتفع السور اثنتي عشر متراً.

مدينة حلب القديمة

تبلغ مساحة مدينة حلب القديمة 4 كيلومتر مربع و يقع نصفها ضمن الأسوار حيث يحيط بالمدينة القديمة سور أثري يمتاز بأبراجه الدفاعية و أبوابه الكثيرة و المحصنة ولا يزال قسم من السور قائما مع عدد من الأبواب مثل (قيسرين – النصر – الحديد – أنطاكية)

الجامعُ الأمويُّ الكبير

الجامع الاموي الكبير يعد أكبر جوامع المدينة التي تحوي ما يقارب ألف جامع و مسجد تمثل 14 قرنا. وقد بني هذا الجامع في عهد الخليفة الأموي سليمان بن عبد الملك يتميز بمنارته الجميلة والمربعة الشكل ومنبره الرائع المصنوع من خشب الأبنوس والمطعم بالعاج ومحرابه المصنوع من الحجر الأصفر والمزين بالمقرنصات وأروقته المتناظرة المتناسقة.


ومما يميز الخانات واجهاتها ذوات المداخل العالية وأبوابها الخشبية الضخمة المقنطرة والمدعمة بالنحاس وغيره من المعادن, أهم خان في حلب هو (خان الجمرك) وقد بنى حاكم حلب(خان الصابون) في بدايات القرن السادس عشر الميلادي، ويشد (خان الوزير) الأنظار الذي يضم نافذتين رائعتين والذي يعود إلى القرن السابع عشر أثناء الفترة العثمانية، ومن الخانات الموجودة في حلب أيضاًُ (خان النحاسين) و (خان البندقية) و (خان العطارين) و (خان العلبية) و(خان الحرير).

الحمَّامات الأثريَّة

تشتهرُ مدينةُ حلبَ بِحمَّاماتِها الأثريَّةِ الَّتي يزيدُ عدَدُها عن السِّتِّينَ حَمَّاماً، بعضُها مبنِيٌّ منذُ أكثر من 800 سنة ومن أجملها: حَمَّـامُ النَّحَّاسِينَ، وحَمَّـامُ البابِ الأحْمَرِ وحَمَّامُ يلْبُغا النَّاصِرِيِّ، الَّذِي بُنِـيَ فِي القرنِ الرَّابعِ عشرَ، وقدْ قامتْ وزارةُ السِّياحةِ بترميمِـهِ وتَمَّ افْتِتاحُهُ وتوظيفهُ سياحِيّاً.

متاحِف حـلب

(المتحفُ الوطَنِيُّ)…

يضم المتحف مجموعة من القطع الأثرية الموجودة في شمال سورية , ومن بينها تماثيل بازلتية رائعة من القرن التاسع عشر ق . م وجدت في تل حلف , وقد رتبت المجوعات في المتحف حسب تسلسلها التاريخي والجغرافي , وفي المتحف أيضاً آثارات من القصر الآشوري في أرسلان طاش , بالإضافة إلى ماداتو القديم وقطع أخرى استعملت من قبل الآشوريين خاصة في دمشق وفينيقيا.

(متحفُ التَّقاليدِ الشّعْبيَّةِ)…

وهو يقعُ في دار أجقباشَ الَّتي يعودُ بناؤها إلَى عامِ 1757 م وهي مُزدانةٌ بروائعِ الْمنحـوتاتِ والخشبِيَّاتِ السُّقوفِ الَّتي اشتهرتْ بِها حلبَ، ويضمُّ أكثرَ من ألفِ قطعةٍ من النَّفائسِ الشَّعبيَّةِ الْحلبيَّةِ والَّتي يعودُ تاريخُها إلَى أكثر من ألفِ عامٍ.

(متحفُ تاريخِ العُلومِ عندَ العربِ)…

وقد أعدَّهُ معهدُ التُّراثِ العلمِيِّ العربِيِّ فِي جامعةِ حلبَ، ويضـمُّ مُعَـدَّاتٍ من صناعاتِ الغزلِ والنَّسيجِ والزُّجاجِ والأصبـاغِ، ونُظُمِ الرِيِّ، وآلاتٍ لرفعِ الْمِياهِ، لعلماء عرب سـابقين، وأدواتٍ طبِّيَّـةٍ وصيـدلانيَّةٍ، ونَماذجَ من الألبسةِ الْحلبيَّةِ والصُّورِ والْمُخَطَّطاتِ وبـه مكتبةٌ تضمُّ عدداً ضخماً من الكتب والْمخطوطــات القديمةِ.

أبواب حلب

لحلب تسعة أبواب بعضها مازال قائماً وهي: باب قنسرين أو السجن، باب المقام أو دمشق، باب النيرب، باب الأحمر، باب الحديد أو بنقوسا، باب النصر، باب الفرج، باب الجنان أو العتمة و باب انطاكية.

(باب الفرج)…

فيها باب للمدينة أنشئ في عصر الملك الظاهر غازي، وقد هدم ولم يبقَ إلا برجه الجنوبي. وفي وسط ساحة باب الفرج يقوم برج الساعة وإلى الشرق منها يقع مسجد بحسيتا وإلى شرقه المدرسة القرموطية . وفي النهاية الشرقية يقع الجامع العمري ثم جامع الدباغة العتيقة . وتقع المكتبة الوطنية في ساحة باب الفرج مقابل برج الساعة.

(باب الحديد)…

في المدرسة الأتابكية على بعد مئة متر من الباب ثم التكية الإخلاصية وجامع الصروي في حي البياضة ، وحمام البياضة ، ومكتب الحموي وهو مسجد رمم وجدد . وفي شرق خندق الروم في حي باب النيرب تقع المدرسة الطرنطائية .

(باب النصر)…

أعاد بناء الباب الملك الظاهر غازي ، ومقابله يقوم خان أوج خان أي الخانات الثلاثة، وهو أقدم خان خارج الأسوار، ويقع بعده قصر جنبلاط أو جان بلاط وقريب منه المدرسة العثمانية ذات الطراز التركي وأمامها مصبنة الزنابيلي وحمام أزدمر وحمام القاضي وجامع المهمندار وخان قورت بيك ابن خسرو باشا .أما خانقاه الفرافرة فقد بنته ضيفة خاتون ، وهو رباط لإيواء الفقراء والمقطوعين. وجامع الحيّات بناء قديم جداً، وبجواره المدرسة الرشدية العسكرية مقابل القلعة وكانت مخصصة للتعليم العسكري . وعلى بعد 100م من باب النصر يقع جامع الزكي .

(باب المقام)…

وحول باب المقام في حي الفردوس مازال ضريح خاير بيك ثم مدفن أوغلبك ويقع شمال المدرسة الظاهرية البرانية التي تقع جنوب المقام والمدرسة الكاملية وجامع ومدرسة الفردوس إلى الجنوب الغربي من المدرسة الظاهريةوهي مدرسة ومدفن ورباط وتعتبر من أكبر مدارس حلب.

وبالقرب من المدرسة الكاملية يقع مدفن وسبيل قره سنقر ويعرف باسم سبيل المقامات.أما مقام الصالحين فيحوي العديد من القبور الدوارس. وفي جنوب محلة الفردوس تقوم تربة الرحالة على الهروي وفي غرب مدينة حلب يقع مشهد الحسين وعليه كتابات هامة.

أحياء حلب

(حي الجديدة)…

أنشئ بعد عام 1420 وقد سكن فيه تجار المدينة والأغنياء فأحسنوا بناء بيوتهم حول الكنائس القديمة ككنيسة الأربعين شهيداً القرن الخامس، وكنيسة مار الياس وكنيسة السيدة. قامت الدور في هذا الحي في شوارع متوازية على شكل أحياء مغلقة. وجميع البيوت مزدانة بزخارف خشبية وكتابات في الغرف ولها أقنية ذات نوافير وأزهار. ومن أبرز هذه البيوت بيت باسيل والدلال وصائغ والوكيل وكبة وغزالة، وأجقباش وأصبح متحفاً للتقاليد الشعبية. والسيسي وأصبح مطعماً، ووقف إبشير باشا ويضم سوقاً رائعاً بعمارته وجامعاً وخاناً ومصبغة وفرناً وقهوة 1653م.

(حي الجلوم)…

وفي حي الجلوم يقع جامع البهرمية ويمتاز بمئذنته ومحرابه. وإلى الشرق مدرسة الجلبي والبيمارستان النوري ، وإلى الغرب المدرسة المقدمية وخان القصابية أو خان أيرك وخان الجمرك ويضم 127 مخزناً في طابقين، وجامع التوتة ثم جامع القيقان في حي العقبة والملاصق للسور. وفي جنوب الجلوم تقع الزاوية الهلالية وهي مسجد قديم

المطبخ العجمي

وهو عبارة عن بقايا قصر يعود تاريخه إلى القرن الخامس عشر الميلادي وفيه قبتان مزخرفتان بشكل جميل وإيوانان رخاميان مدهشان .

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July 2nd, 2007, 2:48 am


Alex said:

Thanks Norman : )

July 2nd, 2007, 4:32 am


bakri said:

And this is for Alex,so i hope it will help him to abandon his minority complex for good.
(from the leb Magazine hebdo)

Les chrétiens d’Alep aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles
Pionniers de la renaissance nationale et ecclésiale
Dans le cadre du septième mois de l’Orient chrétien, organisé par le Centre de documentation et de recherches arabes chrétiennes de l’USJ et abordant, cette année, l’apport des chrétiens dans la modernisation du monde arabe, l’archimandrite Ignace Dick, vicaire général d’Alep, a donné une conférence portant sur les chrétiens d’Alep et comment ils ont permis la renaissance nationale et ecclésiale. Magazine a participé à cette conférence.

M onseigneur Ignace Dick a commencé par expliquer quelles sont les diverses raisons qui ont amené la communauté chrétienne d’Alep à se développer et à jouer un rôle de premier rang dans la vie de l’Eglise en Orient. Cette communauté est devenue, d’ailleurs, le ferment de la renaissance culturelle et nationale arabe.
Le rôle central d’Alep

Historiquement, en 1516, Alep est la ville arabe la plus proche de la capitale Istanbul. Elle est en contact avec, d’un côté, l’Irak et, de l’autre, l’Anatolie et, au-delà, le monde grec. Les ports méditerranéens, Tripoli puis Alexandrette, qui desservaient Alep, sont ouverts aussi au grand trafic avec l’Occident et les ports. Cette nouvelle situation d’Alep la place au centre des transactions commerciales internationales. Avec l’opulence économique, elle s’ouvre à l’Occident et au monde grec oriental. Elle suscite, alors, l’éclosion culturelle spirituelle et artistique, dont les principaux agents sont les Alépins eux-mêmes.
A part cette ouverture et l’influence extérieure, Alep eut la chance, à cette époque, de profiter de l’influence de plusieurs personnalités de valeur, telles que des évêques éminents, des théologiens, des poètes, des artistes, ainsi qu’une élite bourgeoise qui soutenait les arts et les œuvres.
Aussi, la renaissance d’Alep se manifeste-t-elle dans divers domaines, tels que le développement démographique, puisque les chrétiens d’Alep ont quadruplé en trois siècles; ainsi que par le développement urbain. En effet, les chrétiens habitent, surtout, en dehors des murailles. Le noyau est le quartier Jedaïdé, faubourg à l’angle nord-ouest de la vieille ville, attesté par Ibn Chihna au début du XVe siècle. Là, sont groupées plusieurs cathédrales, l’Arménienne datant de 1455, la maronite, la melkite et la Syrienne.
Parallèlement, d’autres facteurs permettent à la ville d’Alep de se développer, tels que le commerce et l’artisanat. Les chrétiens ont une grande part dans ces activités et sont plus aisés que la masse des musulmans. Les domaines fonciers étant réservés aux musulmans, ils s’adonnent au commerce et à l’artisanat. Cette ville a profité, aussi, des missionnaires qui lui ont assuré une véritable renaissance culturelle. Ces derniers ouvrent des écoles, encouragés par la hiérarchie orientale. Ils enseignent les langues étrangères et les rudiments du calcul.
Plusieurs missionnaires ont appris assez d’arabe pour traduire ou composer des ouvrages utiles à la piété. Des cours approfondis de religion sont donnés aux candidats au sacerdoce par des prêtres orientaux, tels Mikhaïl Baja et Boutros Toulawi, qui est maronite et disciple de Rome.
Les communautés orientales ouvrent aussi des écoles qui initient à la lecture et à la comptabilité, telle que l’Ecole maronite, fondée par le futur patriarche Douaïhi et le père Boutros Toulawi. Aussi, divers Alépins suivent-ils leurs cours de philosophie et de théologie au Collège urbanien à Rome et reviennent à Alep. Les chrétiens alépins furent, au XIXe siècle et jusqu’au milieu
du XXe siècle, les principaux agents de la modernisation de leur cité et aspirent
à continuer leur rôle dans la Syrie moderne et dans l’ensemble du Proche-Orient

July 2nd, 2007, 6:04 am


Akbar Palace said:

The U.S. moves come as the United Nations reports an unimpeded flow of weapons into Lebanon from Syria, part of an apparent campaign by Damascus and Iran to rearm the Shiite militia Hezbollah after last summer’s war with Israel.

Well, it is good to know that the UN admits that UNSC Resolution 1701 was another worthless, toothless UN exercise.

If the UN was smart, they’d put into place a series of UNSC resolutions similar to the ones that helped initiate regime change in Iraq and put it squarely at the doorstep of our Chinless Boy Wonder. But as all despots know, the UN isn’t smart and isn’t coherent. Oh well. Looks like the US will have take the role (again) as the world’s policeman.

July 2nd, 2007, 11:21 am


SimoHurtta said:

Oh well. Looks like the US will have take the role (again) as the world’s policeman.

Akbar do you have enough policemen in your police station? Seems that the “criminals” are beating badly your policemen in Afghanistan and especially in Iraq. Already a couple of divisions in graves, hospitals and on pension. Also the local people seem not to be very happy with the presence of your policemen and with their behaviour. Can you imagine US soldiers having a same kind of beating like in Iraq on the same time in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. Not even you Neocons are so stupid to think USA could manage to do that. Or are you?

By the way why do you Akbar demand UN to make more resolutions about Lebanon, Syria and Iran, when you are strongly against the numerous (toothless) resolutions about Israel? Oh well, I forgot, Israel is above UN and Israelis have not to follow the same rules they demand others to follow, because USA, Tuvalu, Nauru, Marshal Islands and Micronesia support Israel.

July 2nd, 2007, 3:54 pm


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