Hizbullah and Syria Threaten Revenge in Kind - Syria Comment

Hizbullah and Syria Threaten Revenge in Kind

By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent
Last update – 23:06 14/02/2008

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Thursday threatened to retaliate against Israel for the killing of militant commander Imad Mughniyah Tuesday, saying "his blood will lead to the elimination of Israel."

Mughniyah, the deputy secretary general of the Lebanon-based guerilla group, was killed in a bomb blast in a residential neighborhood in Damascus late Tuesday. Israel denied involvement.

Nasrallah also vowed to strike Israeli targets abroad after accusing Israel of taking the fight beyond Lebanese borders by killing Mughniyah in Syria.

"You have killed Hajj Imad outside the natural battlefield," Nasrallah said, addressing Israel and referring to Hezbollah's longtime contention it only fights Israel within Lebanon and along their common border.

"You have crossed the borders," Nasrallah said in the fiery eulogy at Mughniyah's funeral in south Beirut. "With this murder, its timing, location and method – Zionists, if you want this kind of open war, let the whole world listen: Let this war be open."

"Like all human beings we have a sacred right to defend ourselves," said Nasrallah, speaking in a videotaped message broadcast over a giant screen at the ceremony in a Hezbollah stronghold. "We will do all that takes to defend our country and people."

Syria says will prove who killed Hezbollah leader
Thu Feb 14, 2008 4:35pm EST
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis

DAMASCUS, Feb 14 (Reuters) – Syria will soon present "irrefutable" proof of who was behind the assassination of Hezbollah commander Imad Moughniyah, the foreign minister said on Thursday, hinting that Israel was responsible for the attack.

"As a state, we will irrefutably prove the party involved in this crime and who stands behind it. An investigation is ongoing," Walid al-Moualem told reporters.

"We hope that you will soon hear the results of this mighty effort," Moualem said after meeting his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki, who came from Beirut where he attended Moughniyah's funeral.

Asked whether Tuesday's killing in a district of the Syrian capital swarming with security would undermine chances for peace with Israel, Moualem said the assassination killed "any effort to revive the peace process".

"Whoever wants peace does not commit terrorism, whoever wants peace does not lay siege to Gaza with a million and half Palestinians struggling for the minimum to survive," he said….

Washington has since stepped up pressure on the Damascus government and announced this week preparations to expand financial sanctions against Syrian officials and their associates.

Moualem said Syria will respond "in kind" to the latest U.S. escalation. He did not elaborate.

Comments (70)


ausamaa said:

و انت يا أخ زياد شو اللي مزعلك يعني؟؟

February 15th, 2008, 5:18 pm

 

Ziad said:

The presentation of the” perpetrators” will be an another moukhabarati movie ,as they did with Abu Qaaqa and many others…play an another one bashoura.

It’s always sad to see innocent people who will be tortured in order to confess on Tv what they did not commit.

February 15th, 2008, 5:24 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Ahhh, sorry, I missed that “torture” angle as it was not included in your first original post..!

February 15th, 2008, 5:58 pm

 

Jason said:

Many analyst are saying that a Hezbollah response is only a matter of time. Hezbollah will not respond with violence. Nasrallah is too smart. He is not about to throw his legitimacy as a resistance away for a quick, short term retaliation. He said in his speech that Israel has violated the terms of the basic understanding in the conflict, which is that both parties will only fight on the Lebanese border and not internationally. He will continue this agreement. Nasrallah will not sacrifice his political legitimacy in Lebanon and his tacit international support as a resistance. I don’t believe Mugniyah has been a major factor in the leadership of Hezbollah for some time now. Nasrallah would rather not have the link of international terrorism that Mugniyah’s name brings to the group. He is only giving Mugniyah lip service and respect by referring to him as the most important martyr for Hezbollah, mainly for reasons of popularity. Nasrallah will not throw away Hezbollah’s legitimacy for vengeance. Once Hezbollah turns to international violence, they lose. They lose politically and internationally. He won’t retaliate. Too much is at stake.

February 15th, 2008, 6:21 pm

 

ausamaa said:

The important thing is that HA has taken this act as a reason to open a “new” front and a wide-open confrontation not limited to South Lebanon as it has been for years. 1559 and 1701 tried to contain Hizbullah at the very least. This assasination has given a new dimension to the confrontation. Whoever done it or knew about intends for things to get hotter. Same like the tens of assasinations before. Intelligence services Calculate and act towards an objective, they do not take actions on the grounds of simple revenge. But who knows, those services have not demonstrated depth of thought, wisdome or consistency for a long while.

Wether Hizbullah acts or not is another question. And somewhat irrelevant too.

P.S.
And by the way, in his speach yesterday, Nasrallah said to the Israelies:” IF you wanted an open confrontation, let the world hear, it will be an open confrontation”. Did you all notice the “IF” ?? The guy is a master of both words and actions. Do not understimate him. He will keep people gussing.

February 15th, 2008, 6:39 pm

 

CWW said:

It looks like Syria has already begun rounding up Palestinians, as usual.
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1203019390293&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

February 15th, 2008, 7:37 pm

 

Nathan said:

From the Reuters article, it doesn’t sound like Syrian foreign minister, Walid al-Moualem, thought very highly about peace with Israel, even before Mughniyah’s assassination, as he conveyed a strong dislike of thier actions regarding Gaza.

Hezbollah experienced “open conflict” with Israel in the summer of 2006, it’s evident that isn’t what they actually want. But I agree with Ausamaa on the point that whoever assassinated Mughniyah intends for conflicts to get worse, which sort of leads away from Israel doing so, at this atage, except of course, the idea of peace is probably unrealistic, regardless, to the Israeli Intelligence Services…

February 15th, 2008, 7:43 pm

 

Nour said:

And where else would we turn to for credible news but the Jerusalem Post?

February 15th, 2008, 8:13 pm

 

ghassan said:

The Syrian mafia regime will try to cover up the assassination of Mughanieh similar to their cover up of the Hariri assassination Are they going to use the Palestinians as a scapegoat the way they used Abu-3ades? I don’t know if HA and the Iranian will be fooled or just ignore it!

February 15th, 2008, 8:26 pm

 

Nour said:

Ghassan,

The problem is people like you are always ready to blame the Syrian regime for anything and everything that happens. If Imad Moughniyeh is alive, then he is a terrorist supported by the Syrian regime. If he is dead, then the Syrian mafia regime killed him because they are terrorists. Whatever they do does not matter as you will accuse them of any and every crime in the region. This is the line now adopted by March 14, and it is an utterly irrational position that is going to lead to nothing but disasters.

February 15th, 2008, 9:20 pm

 

Alex said:

New York Sun Editorial

‘Realism’ in Syria

February 15, 2008

What in the world are advisers to both Senators Obama and Clinton doing in Syria in the middle of a presidential campaign — and why are the two campaigns so unforthcoming about the details of the visits? The same week that a terrorist mastermind harbored by the Baathist regime in Damascus was assassinated by a car bomb, both one of Mr. Obama’s foreign policy counselors, Zbigniew Brzezinski, a long-time critic of Israel, and one of Mrs. Clinton’s national finance chairs, Hassan Nemazee, were meeting with President Assad.

Mr. Brzezinski himself issued a statement to the Baathist controlled press in Damascus, where he was quoted by the official Sana News Agency as saying that the “talks dealt with recent regional developments, affirming that both sides have a common desire to achieve stability in the region, which would benefit both its people and the United States.” There was no indication in respect of whether Mr. Brzezinski queried the Syrian regime, officially listed by our own State Department as a terrorist-sponsoring state, about the assassination of Hezbollah’s Imadh Mugniyah, who was slain by a car-bomb as, according to the Lebanese Broadcasting Channel, he was leaving a ceremony at an Iranian school in Damascus.

When our Eli Lake, telephoned the Obama campaign to see what it had to say about its adviser’s doings in Syria, a spokesman said it was the first they had heard about it. Mr. Nemazee’s office would not say anything about the trip, nor would Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. When Mr. Lake rang the Four Seasons Hotel in Damascus, he was informed that Mr. Nemazee had left with the delegation yesterday.

Where is the sense of reality about who President Assad is and what his regime is all about? To suggest, as the Syrians report Mr. Brzezinski said, that they share some kind of common interest in respect of “stability” is disingenuous. Mugniyah, whom the Syrians had been harboring, has been among the FBI’s most-wanted terrorists since 1983, when he authorized the attack on the American Marine barracks in Beirut. Mr. Assad runs a police state. Dictatorships can only thrive if the population is in constant terror and convinced the state itself is all knowing.

This has lead some to speculate that the Syrian regime itself might have been complicit in the killing of Mugniyah. We wouldn’t gainsay the possibility entirely. Terrorists like drug dealers and mafiosos fight over turf all the time. What we would gainsay is that a benign construction could be put onto the role of the Assad family’s Baathist regime in Syria. If the assassination of Mugniyah is a sign of anything, it is most likely that the Baathist regime is itself losing its grip on power. After all Mugniyah was a valuable asset for Mr. Assad, who relied on his capabilities to continue to threaten the prospect of a stable Lebanon.

* * *

So where’s the “realism” on the part of Mr. Brzezinski and other so-called foreign policy “realists,” who have accused President Bush of foreign policy malpractice for downgrading relations with Syria after the Syrians threw in with the Iranians to sabotage Iraq? Why are advisers to Senators Clinton and Obama in the Syrian capital at a time like this? Are they pressing for a separate peace with the regime? It is something on which Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton will be challenged in the coming campaign, we have little doubt. Where do they stand in respect of Syria — and why can’t they bring themselves to explain what their advisers are doing in the capital of one of the countries most hostile to America and Israel?

February 15th, 2008, 11:01 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Interesting reading about the marriage almost made in an anti-Syrian heaven: March 14 & the FPM.

The break-up
What was the reason behind the deterioration of the relationship between Aoun and March 14, and what could have been done to salvage the alliance?

And, for old time’s sake (or not so old, just 2002), here’s a hilarious interview with General Aoun about the “terrorist” regime in Damascus and its “terrorist” proxy, Hizbullah.

Nice to know people change.

Here’s a taste:
“GENERAL AOUN: Hezbollah is not a separate entity from Syria. It is under the Syrian operational control.

ROBERTSON: The so-called terrorist group is under the operational control of Syria?

AOUN: Yes, 100 percent, no question about that.

ROBERTSON: I understand that Damascus is the headquarters of a number of other terrorist organizations that have received aid and assistance from the Syrians. Can you tell us what they are, those other terrorist organizations?

AOUN: There are about 11 organizations of terrorism in Damascus. Among them, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the Democratic Front and the General Command Front of the Palestinians [Liberation Army], all of them are listed in the United States as classified as terrorist organizations.”

February 16th, 2008, 1:10 am

 

Enlightened said:

QN;

“That Aoun cut a deal with the Syrian Leadership and the Opposition before his return from exile does not surprise me, or others on this site, the question to be asked however is in this deal making did they offer him the Presidency?

Given his volatility and past stances, they would have been foolish to offer it to him unless they were stringing him along, or they needed some Christian cover for their activities to highlight that this is a real opposition and not a sectarian (Shiite stance against the state).

Obviously M14 did not offer him enough or what he considers his pre ordained destiny. However the events of this week has made the FPM the big losers, no people on the streets to mark the Harriri comemeration or the Mughniya Funeral.

Where does Aoun go from here? Will we see a backflip? This is common from the Lebanese politicians and all have the Chameleon DNA in their genetic make up, they change colours when it suits them.

As to Hezbollah and their response to the asassination? The Syrians and the Iranians will sit on this for a while, they have no need for any escalation while the new US government will take office in approximately a year. All that Bluff and rhetoric about striking back is just empty bluff for the masses, they cant afford Hezbollah to do it, so they will reign them in for the time being.

Any thoughts?

February 16th, 2008, 1:39 am

 

norman said:

It will be interesting if Syria finds out that Israel was not behind the killing but March 14 people or their Alqaida supporters , that will ignite the war in lebanon.

February 16th, 2008, 2:05 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Dream on Norman, or better yet sharpen your pencil and write exciting fiction books. They will sell like hotcakes, particularly to the fiction hungry participants in this blog.

February 16th, 2008, 2:28 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Enlightened, Aoun is a sincere but dangerous lunatic. Sincere because he truly believes all his statements and rhetoric (albeit weak on eloquence). Dangerous because he has managed a following of good Christian folks who are brainwashed by the propaganda machine of HA along with Aoun’s folksy statements. Lunatic, well, …, I think it should be quite obvious: from the flip-flopping between extremes of threatening Syria, trying to be the David taking out Goliath, failing, cowardly retreat into hiding and exile in France, return when true patriots in Lebanons rebelled and enabled his homecoming… only to start making unrealistic and undiplomatic demands to expose any and all past corruption and be crowned the King of Lebanon as he thinks is his God-given right…, etc., need I go on ?

But don’t listen to me rant… read the facts researched and reported by QN. Pity the poor souls who have been fooled by him. He might have a chance to redeem himself before it’s too late. Let’s hope he takes it.

(… and, before anyone jumps on me claiming that I am vindicating any of the other allegedly corrupt figures, like Geagea & Co., I am NOT. But you play the cards you have and for now this is what beautiful Lebanon has produced and they have to figure out how to work with each other).

February 16th, 2008, 2:39 am

 

norman said:

HP,

I think you are one of March 14 people.no wonder you are mad at Aussama.

February 16th, 2008, 2:48 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Sorry Norman, I’m not an M14er! Just a 50-year old nerd looking at facts, reading news, and expressing opinions colored by early (first 22-years of life) experience living in Lebanon…
And… I’m not mad at Ausamaa, I just wanted to insist that obscene words be excised from the blog because otherwise its whole value evaporates.
Not everyone has to belong to this or that group, or be classifiable as this or that faction. Independent thinkers do exist, and, although often silent, are almost always the majority.
We verbally joust here, and it’s OK, but I hold no grudges.

Now, maybe you can make the case for us as to why HA should keep its weapons instead of merging its armed forces into the Lebanese army and moving all its fights to the political arena. Why, if Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and the intellectual elite in HA put their intellectual prowess to work within the system – in Lebanon as well as internationally – they may do more good to the country and also to the Palestinian cause than any Arab country or group has ever done. I really believe this. Their discipline is to be admired, although not their fanaticism. What the heck are they afraid of ? They stand to gain so much more from working within the system. So does Le Général.

What is it with you guys wanting to classify us as supporter of this or that group ? Individuals can have identities not affiliated with groups, you know.

February 16th, 2008, 3:03 am

 

norman said:

When Lebanon has one man one vote rule, when all people are counted and the Lebanese government is a real representative of all the Lebanese people then and only then Hezbollah should merge into the Lebanese army , that is only fair to all these disfranchised people called Shai and Christians .

February 16th, 2008, 3:12 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Norman, I agree violently with you. This is bound to happen soon enough. If HA rejoins the government, it’s only 1.5 years to the next elections when all this can and should happen. Joining forces with the government now will only make everyone stronger, will establish unity within Lebanon and enhance true patriotism among all Lebanese.

February 16th, 2008, 3:17 am

 

norman said:

HP,
Hezbollah will not join the government that does not seem to represent all the people of Lebanon including Aoun supporters , without a real national unity government and new election laws there is no chance that the next election will be fair.

a new government of people not affiliated with any of the groups and new election laws that guarantee fairness , this government will prepare for the new election .

February 16th, 2008, 3:39 am

 

Enlightened said:

Norman: “firstly lets not use labels US and THEM” its very Bush either you are with us or against us mentality.

HP: My take on Aoun , given his track record etc, is that he is not a realist, and he has been duped by his allies. His supporters are in a no win position now, and the only way to really test his popularity will be at the ballot box, I think his meager victory in the Metn is a one off. The next election will finish off his support.

I have read that interview a few years ago that QN posted I am fully aware of it, And coincidentally I do not think you are ranting , but it speaks volumes about the political acumen of the Hezb political leadership to neutralize him.

However, given his faults I do believe he is one of the only sincere people within the political arena. However your hope for his redemption might be a little bit of wishful thinking, it will be labeled the biggest turncoat since Paul Revere, and at the back of his mind might be that little present under his car seat if he dared ( you know what I mean nudge nudge wink wink)

February 16th, 2008, 3:45 am

 

norman said:

The president of Lebanon should have the right to dissolve the government and call for new new election , if that is the case then the problem of Lebanon can be solved , the big problem was when The Taif accord took that right from the Christian president That is what Aoun is fighting for , the right of the Christians in Lebanon.

February 16th, 2008, 4:04 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

In the previous wars, the Arab armies proved to be worthless next to Israeli army, only because the Israeli weapons are american weapons, and the Arab weapons are russian made, good for nothing weapons.
If HA join the lebanese army , it will destroy its strategy and tactics, it will reduce it just like the Arab army, the war of 2006 was embarassing, to Israel because it was not the traditional war, Israel did not win,contrary to what Joshua said,however it was the way the weak fights the strong, it proved to be very effective against Israel.
So those who advocate HA join the Lebanese army are damn wrong, till the Arab army get strong enough.
Even Saad Harriri,and Walid Jumblat,admit that HA worthy of respect, and refused to push strongly against HA disarm.
M14 are two groups, one is controlled by Israel (Geagea)and france(Gemeyel), the other ,they actually wish to join HA, but their enmity to the Syrian regime is pushing them to be in this camp, they will change their position,if the Syrian regime collapse.
On Imad situation, if no political posturing is needed, it appears that the explosion was a mistake , possibly by him.

February 16th, 2008, 4:13 am

 

Enlightened said:

Norma Said:

“The president of Lebanon should have the right to dissolve the government and call for new new election , if that is the case then the problem of Lebanon can be solved , the big problem was when The Taif accord took that right from the Christian president That is what Aoun is fighting for , the right of the Christians in Lebanon.”

So Norman the using your logic The Taef accords which were signed under Syrian Supervision are obviously so seriously flawed that they need to be revoked to give more power to the President?

February 16th, 2008, 4:14 am

 

norman said:

Enlighted one ,

YES

February 16th, 2008, 4:17 am

 

Enlightened said:

LOooooooool Majed no one gave that a remote possibility that Imad might have made a mistake and accidently imploded himself, But lets just blame Israel we will get more political mileage out of that one , and it makes for a more interesting situation in Lebanon dont you think?

Could you imagine the embarressment if the investigation concludes that he really blew himself up, or it was faulty explosives that were a bad batch from the manufacturer? LOL I can just see AIG and Akbar rolling of their computer chairs laughing!

February 16th, 2008, 4:22 am

 

norman said:

Majed,

The reason the Arab armies lost battles with Israel and i call them battle’s not wars because Israel can not and did not occupy any Arab states , that is when you can call them wars , they lost these battles because they lacked the well to fight a long war , it has nothing to do with weapons , it has to do with determination which they did not have and Hezbollah has , that is the difference.

February 16th, 2008, 4:25 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

I think he was surrounded by security,that was impossible to penetrate.

February 16th, 2008, 4:27 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Enlightened,

“That Aoun cut a deal with the Syrian Leadership and the Opposition before his return from exile does not surprise me, or others on this site, the question to be asked however is in this deal making did they offer him the Presidency?

Where does Aoun go from here? Will we see a backflip? This is common from the Lebanese politicians and all have the Chameleon DNA in their genetic make up, they change colours when it suits them.

I think Aoun’s representative who is quoted in the article was very clear on this point. March 14 did not offer enough… Either that, or the Syrians made it very clear to Aoun that there would be no alliances with Hariri.

As for where Aoun goes from here, it’s hard to say. I don’t know if he has another backflip in him. The general turns 73 years old on Tuesday. Even if Suleiman is ushered in as an interim president, that means that Aoun’s next chance would be at age 75, at the earliest. Not a spring chicken.

February 16th, 2008, 4:50 am

 

Enlightened said:

QN :

Yes the general if we are to describe in chicken ( A Boiler ) Standards, has no options left in him, I think he was deluded if he thought that M14 would offer the post to him.

At best he is no better or worse than the others a Demagogue with very delusional expectations of grandeur.

February 16th, 2008, 4:56 am

 

why-discuss said:

How can we even talk about democracy in Lebanon when there is no census since 50 years??

February 16th, 2008, 8:56 am

 

why-discuss said:

ALEX
“Where do they stand in respect of Syria — and why can’t they bring themselves to explain what their advisers are doing in the capital of one of the countries most hostile to America and Israel?”

I guess both Obama and Clinton are under jewish lobbies pressure to state their future policies toward Syria and Iran.
The visit may be to check how ready are the Syrians for a peace treaty with Israel and therefore what would be the stances of Obama and Clinton about this issue in the coming months.

February 16th, 2008, 9:03 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Why-Discuss, “one person one vote” does not require a census. It is a principle that many of otherwise opposing views on this blog can agree on and respect its outcome. Confessionalism is artificial (and tribal) and is bound to eventually fail. Sure there can be some manipulation by the specific choice and allocation of voting districts but the process, in time, will converge on fair representation.

February 16th, 2008, 9:04 am

 

T said:

An addendum to someone’s earlier Mahciavelli post on the blog-

Book II, Chapter XXXI of Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy is titled “How Dangerous It Is to Believe Exiles”:

“It ought to be considered, therefore, how vain are the faith and promises of those who find themselves deprived of their country… such is the extreme desire in them to return home, that they naturally believe many things that are false and add many others by art, so that between those they believe and those they say they believe, they fill you with hope, so that relying on them you will incur expenses in vain, or you undertake an enterprise in which you ruin yourself… A Prince, therefore, ought to go slowly in undertaking an enterprise upon the representations of an exile, for most of the times he will be left either with shame or very grave injury.”

Alex,

RE: Obama vs Clinton

Last update – 03:00 15/02/2008 haaretz
Jewish functionaries stirring the Clinton-Obama race
By Akiva Eldar
Tensions in the race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination are mirrored in the American Jewish community. As the gap between the front-runners narrowed in the primaries, the clash between the two Jewish camps has become more heated.

Official Israel is making an effort to maintain a respectable neutrality. Has-beens are being called into the ring, like a former ambassador to Washington, Dan Ayalon, who jabbed Obama in a sensitive spot – the volume of his support for Israel.

Ayalon is not alone. Jewish advisers and non-Jewish supporters are almost obsessively occupied with searching for skeletons in the black candidate’s past.

The Republican Party’s neoconservative clique is trawling archives for “anti-Israeli” essays by advisers who had been seen in Obama’s staff. Robert Malley, who was President Bill Clinton’s special assistant during the Camp David talks, joined Obama. The neoconservatives reached Malley’s father, a Jew of Egyptian descent, who, alas, kept childhood ties with Yasser Arafat. Malley junior is accused of publishing a joint article with an Oslo-supporting Palestinian, in which they dared to argue that Ehud Barak played a major role in the Camp David summit’s failure in July 2000.

Obama is working hard to allay the fears of “Israel’s friends,” a description reserved mainly for activists of the pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC and for Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents. As far as they’re concerned, whoever doesn’t support the Israeli government’s policy 100 percent is unfit for leadership.

Clinton is reaping the fruit of her investment in the Jewish community and Israel since first running for a Senate seat in New York. She is also benefiting from Bill Clinton’s popularity in synagogues, Israeli homes and among his rich Jewish friends.

A long list of initiatives and declarations has erased from the collective Jewish memory the first lady’s “slip” in spring 1998, after Arafat threatened Benjamin Netanyahu with a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. Clinton then said at a gathering of Israeli and Palestinian youth, members of the Seeds of Peace organization, that it was important to have a “functioning modern” Palestinian state.” She also said “it will be in the long-term interest of the Middle East for Palestine to be a state…responsible for its citizens’ well-being…education and health care.”

Since then she has commended the Congress’ decision to stop the aid to the Palestinians if they declared a state unilaterally. She also praised the separation fence and said that Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount was a “legitimate visit to a holy site.”

She adopted a more aggressive stance than Obama about Iran.

Clinton’s shift to the right on the peace process alienated some of her old friends on the Jewish left. But they remain convinced that if she wins the White House, she will quickly reclaim her old positions. Experience has taught that the link between a presidential candidate’s statements and an elected president’s actions is flimsy at best.

For example, since 1967 it’s hard to find a candidate who did not promise to move the United States’ embassy to Jerusalem. When Yitzhak Rabin reminded Gerald Ford of that promise, the president explained to him that life looked different from the Oval Office. The forecasts and evaluations regarding American politicians’ basic positions regarding the Middle East also have a tendency to prove false. Thus, for example, Hafez Assad hoped for George Bush’s victory over Al Gore. He counted on the Bush family’s ties to the Saudi royal family and on its addiction to oil. The outcome is known.

And after all that, surveys conducted by Jewish organizations show that the candidates’ positions on interior affairs, especially social issues like workers’ rights, abortion, stem cell research and medical insurance, interest the Jewish Democratic voters more than their positions on moving the American embassy to Jerusalem or evacuating some illegal outpost in the territories.

That doesn’t deter a few Jewish political wheeler dealers (elected by no one) from stirring the boiling cauldron.

February 16th, 2008, 9:42 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

T, you overwhelm us with your brilliance. Care to distill for us the implication of that Machievelli quote and its relevance and connection to the discussion? Some of us are not as bright and would appreciate your guidance.

February 16th, 2008, 9:47 am

 

kamali said:

it is quite possible now for HA to hit back using the same method. not very soon but after choosing the right time and place. Nasrallah is not like syria. he will respond and leave it for Israel to react. all isreali military Personnel must look twice behind their back.

Imad M was that important in HA. his importance is exaggerated to make the max use of the incident.

February 16th, 2008, 10:25 am

 

fadi said:

Norman

Would you actually prefer voting in Lebanon to be like the Syrian voting system.

You also said Aoun is fighting for the Christian Rights, my ass he just wants the presidency anyway he can get it, just as Bashar is holding to it at any cost.

Honestly the Syrain system should just be turned into a Monarchy as its just going to be past on from father to son or brother or probably brother-in-law. IT’s VERY DEMOCRATIC IN SYRIA ISN’T THATS WHY EVERYONE WANTS TO SPEAK ABOUT THE LEBANESE ISSUES

February 16th, 2008, 10:54 am

 

Nour said:

All you March 14 supporters on this blog are really twisted. I never knew how full of hatred M14ers are until I saw some videos of Future Movement supporters on FTV and monitored amny forums recently to examine their discussions. I’m afraid your leaders did an excellent job in inciting you and filling you with utter hatred. It is truly disgusting the things that are uttered by March 14 supporters toward their fellow Lebanese and toward Syrians in general.

The fact is that you always look for any possible explanation of any incident or event that makes Syria and/or HA look like the evil criminals your deep hatred so desparately wants them to be while dismissing any findings that might contradict this point of view. It has gotten to the point where now you will argue that Imad Moughnieh was being sent with an explosive to Lebanon that prematurely detonated. First of all, to argue that a mastermind and military strategist in the Resistance is going to be carrying explosives and detonating them himself is beyond ridiculous. Second, your mocking of the immediate accusation of Israel while you yourselves never hesitate to accuse Syria of every incident in Lebanon is truly hypocritical. However, I guarantee that this is going to be the official line of M14ers very soon. M14 propaganda tabloids will begin to print stories of how Moughniyeh was being dispatched to kill a certain Lebanese figure, but that by some divine intervention the explosives he was carrying happened to detonate prematurely. Unfortunately the spite and arrogance of March 14 is going to spell its end very soon.

February 16th, 2008, 11:08 am

 

Enlightened said:

Would anyone who supports M14 please respond and defend whats left of your honour!

February 16th, 2008, 11:57 am

 

ghassan said:

Look guys, you need to look at the facts and then let your emotions and hatred pour out of you!

Facts:
– Syria is a country which is controlled by a police mafia Asad clan for more 30 years.
– A car was loaded with explosions in the most secured area in Damascus.
– Killing the most secretive person in the world.
– Syria was silent about it for more than 24 hours.
– The car was removed from the crime scene within an hour!

Now, you draw the conclusions and please ask some Syrian citizens about the real situation in Syria.

One last thing, Syria and its cronies (March 8 group) said that the March 14 jumped too fast to conclusion (before completing the investigation) and accused Syria. Well, now March 8 jumped into conclusion, even before the start of the investigation and accused Israel and the US.

February 16th, 2008, 12:57 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

There is a huge snowstorm forecasted for Lebanon this week, the biggest in 40 years. It will start tonight, and there are reports that it may even snow in Beirut.

Damascus should get this as well.

I look forward to pictures.

February 16th, 2008, 1:42 pm

 

Shai said:

Why is everyone still debating “who done it”? Isn’t it clear who Hezbollah is assuming did it? And therefore who Hezbollah is going to try to punish now? And hence who is going to punish Hezbollah back for? And… You get the cyclical nature of these events, right? So while it’s certainly “exciting” to discuss mysterious assassinations in various capitals of our region, isn’t it EVEN MORE “exciting” to talk about how to end this endless vicious cycle?

For instance, Alex’s inserted-article about Obama’s and Hillary’s aides visiting Damascus nowadays is clearly an indication that Syria is important in their minds to stability in the region – which is certainly some good news for us few remaining hopefuls. But no less important, should be the question – where are McCain’s mideast aides nowadays, and what do they think when it comes to Syria? Clearly, most surviving Republicans are NOT going to identify themselves with the record-breaking failed administration of the Dubya Legacy. So there’s good reason to believe McCain, should he win (or even before the elections) would be interested in developing his own policy vis-a-vis Syria. Therefore, he, no less than Obama or Hillary, should now be targeted by all of us “doves”, to try to influence the man to adopt sane and balanced policies towards Syria, and to recognize Syria’s significance in the region, in its stability (or lack thereof), and in the path to peace.

February 16th, 2008, 1:44 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Shai,

Here’s a piece by Michael Young, on this question you raise. He has his own obvious slant on the issues.

A new US Middle East policy in 2009 ? Don’t bet on it
By Michael Young
Daily Star staff
Saturday, February 16, 2008

Iraq is the rare regional issue where one sees some sunshine between the candidates’ positions. On the Republican side, John McCain has taken a similar view to that of the Bush administration. The war has to be won, and the military “surge,” which McCain alone backed, has been a success. For the Republican frontrunner, “a greater military commitment now is necessary if we are to achieve long-term success … [and] give Iraqis the capabilities to govern and secure their own country.” McCain prefers honesty to deadlines, and believes Americans need to be told that the war will be a long one, because “defeat … would lead to much more violence in Iraq, greatly embolden Iran, undermine US allies such as Israel, likely lead to wider conflict, result in a terrorist safe haven in the heart of the Middle East, and gravely damage US credibility throughout the world.”

Mike Huckabee’s chances of being nominated are so slender as to make a rundown of his Middle East policies unnecessary. But on the whole, his approach to Iraq is little different than that of the administration. He too supports the surge, opposes establishing a withdrawal schedule, and sees the war in Iraq as part of the war on terror.

The Democrats, in contrast, have focused their Iraq strategy on setting a withdrawal timetable. Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton promise to begin an immediate pullout of troops after their election. Obama wants to do this at the rate of one or two brigades every month, to be completed by the end of 2009. Clinton is less specific, but promises to direct the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the defense secretary, and the National Security Council “to draw up a clear, viable plan to bring our troops home starting with the first 60 days” of her administration.

Both candidates leave themselves wiggling room in the event they win. As Clinton knows well, drawing up a plan and starting to remove troops is different than setting a deadline for finalizing the procedure. The senator also intends to stabilize Iraq as American soldiers head home. But that link between stability and withdrawal can cut both ways. If a pullout generates instability, this would undermine the logic of Clinton’s plan, justifying a delay. Indeed, both she and Obama have waffled on whether they would go ahead with a withdrawal in such a case. When the Illinois senator was recently asked by 60 Minutes whether he would stick to his timetable even if there was sectarian violence, he replied: “No, I always reserve, as commander in chief, the right to assess the situation.”

The candidates also differ over whether to engage Syria and Iran in assisting to normalize Iraq. Obama has often said he would talk to the two countries, while Clinton vows to “convene a regional stabilization group composed of key allies, other global powers, and all of the states bordering Iraq.” McCain disagrees, refusing to enter into “unconditional dialogues with these two dictatorships from a position of weakness.” He insists that “the international community [needs] to apply real pressure to Syria and Iran to change their behavior.”

Much of this is bluster. For Obama, the rationale to talk to Syria has declined since Iraqi tribes began defeating Al-Qaeda in Anbar Province. The Syrian card in Iraq is much weaker than it was when the senator first formulated the idea, making higher the political cost of opening up to Damascus at a time when it is actively undermining Lebanese sovereignty and is isolated in the Arab world. Clinton’s proposal, meanwhile, is mostly old hat. Iraq’s neighbors already periodically meet to discuss the situation in the country, and the US has participated in these gatherings. As for McCain, his instincts are right, but he has no good reason to abandon the current dialogue taking place between Iran and the US in Baghdad. The Iraqis back it and it might calm the situation on the ground.

In the shadow of Iran’s growing power in the Gulf, there is no realistic withdrawal option in Iraq. The United States fought a war against Saddam Hussein’s army in 1991 to deny Iraq hegemony over the oil-rich region after the invasion of Kuwait. That goal hasn’t changed with respect to Iran. Washington is boosting arms sales to its Gulf allies, but knows that without a US military presence such assistance only has a limited impact. The US also continues to warn of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, with even Russia today openly questioning why Iran needs intercontinental ballistic missiles if it doesn’t seek a nuclear military capacity.

There is also the matter of Israel. All the candidates loudly support the security of Israel, which regards Iran’s nuclear capacity as a strategic threat. To cede ground to Iran in Iraq could harm Israeli interests, justifying the candidates’ eventually backtracking on withdrawal. In the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, don’t expect much new either. All the candidates support negotiations (who wouldn’t?) and Israel’s right to live in peace and security. Depending on who gets elected, the president might engage a bit more or a bit less in pushing for a settlement. But the US has limited scope to do very much, because the dynamics of the process are much less Washington’s to manipulate than ever before.

The Palestinian territories are physically and ideologically divided, with rival Hamas and Fatah governments ruling over Gaza and the West Bank. Hamas offers a menu of armed struggle, while the mainstream Fatah movement (the party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) defends peace talks. But Israel, wracked by its own internal divisions, will not significantly bolster Fatah’s fortunes by ceasing settlement building until the Palestinians put their house in order. Palestinian moderates, in their turn, respond that unless Israel makes serious concessions, they will lose all credibility. It’s a Catch-22, and US pressure to force a solution would only exacerbate the internal contradictions in both societies.

Facing such obstacles, a new administration can, at best, actively pursue the negotiating process in the hope that some breakthrough will take place. But that’s what the Bush administration is already doing today.

A new administration is also as unlikely as the present one to subordinate political interests to defending freedom and human rights. President George W. Bush is as good as it gets on that front. He may be responsible for what, until recently, was a full-blown fiasco in Iraq, but his actions did overthrow a tyrant, while in Lebanon the US played a key role in forcing the Syrians out of the country. But Bush’s rhetoric on liberty notwithstanding, the deterioration in Iraq and Iran’s rise have prompted him to again rely on autocratic US allies such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan as a counterweight. This situation will only persist in a polarized Middle East, and none of the presidential candidates has expressed particular displeasure with Bush’s conduct on this front.

Things are more likely to change, however, on the specific issue of how to deal with terrorist suspects. None of the candidates care for the Bush administration’s “extraordinary rendition” policy, or its ambiguous position on torture. This will have a marginal impact on human rights in general in the region, but discontinuing such practices will be sold by a new administration as a sign that America does really care, even as Arab regimes resort to their old habits by brutalizing their foes.

On Lebanon, expect little transformation as well. The country is not high on the list of priorities of any of the candidates, which means that no one feels strongly about altering the current approach. To quote a former US ambassador in Beirut, Washington for once has a Lebanon policy. It is mainly focused on consolidating the gains of the co-called Cedar Revolution of 2005. This means that the US will continue to block escalating Syrian efforts to return to Lebanon; it will pursue efforts to contain Hizbullah and limit its military activity, particularly through the United Nations; and it will press forward with the Lebanese-international court now being set up near The Hague to try suspects in the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Though continuity is likely, candidates will sell this as difference. For example, recently Obama issued a statement on the occasion of the third anniversary of the Hariri assassination. The senator praised the Cedar Revolution, condemned Syrian actions in Lebanon, and backed UN resolutions seeking to prevent Hizbullah from rearming. However, he framed his proposals as a stark contrast with those of the Bush administration. But what Obama prescribed was almost exactly what the administration has been doing in the past three years.

That’s very much a paradigm for how all the candidates approach the Middle East: they differentiate themselves from Bush without acknowledging that even his administration has been compelled in the last three years to behave like its predecessors, once the supposed neoconservative interregnum ended. The region has always been adept at imposing its rhythms on others as a means of resisting change. Barring something dramatic, none of the candidates will disturb that stasis.

February 16th, 2008, 2:06 pm

 

Shai said:

Qifa Nabki,

Thank you for the article. While clearly McCain is set on not-withdrawing from Iraq anytime soon, I don’t believe that’s bad news for Syria. In fact, perhaps quite the opposite. Perhaps BECAUSE McCain wants to remain in Iraq until “Iraqis can govern themselves”, he may find it very useful to engage the parties that can influence that eventuality, which are of course Iraq, Iran, and Syria. I believe that McCain is far more sane when it comes to understanding the consequences of isolating particular nations in the Middle East, rather than bringing them closer. The man has sat in Vietcong jail for some 5 and a half years. He’s endured torture by his captors. He knows war, and knows suffering, and is probably one of the few Republicans who would likely do anything he can to prevent another war in the Middle East. Though he clearly doesn’t like the notion of awarding dictatorships, his weighing of pros-vs-cons when in comes to Syria will probably favor engagement over isolation.

February 16th, 2008, 2:25 pm

 

norman said:

denies widening investigation into militant’s death
Posted : Sat, 16 Feb 2008 13:46:05 GMT
Author : DPA
Category : Middle East (World)
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Middle East World News | Home

Damascus – Syria denied Saturday it was setting up a commission with Iran and Hezbollah to investigate the killing of Imad Mugniyah, a senior member of the Lebanese fundamentalist group who died in a car bombing in Damascus, media reports said. Syria will conduct the investigation alone, sources told the Official Syrian News Agency SANA.

On Friday, Iran’s IRNA news agency quoted the country’s deputy foreign minister, Ali Attar, as saying the formation of a joint committee was agreed during talks in the Syrian capital.

Mugniyah, who died on Tuesday, was a senior leader in Iran-backed Hezbollah’s militant wing. He was believed to have been behind numerous hijackings, bombings and abductions in the 1980s and early 1990s.

He allegedly played a role in the 1983 bombing of US Marine and French peacekeeping troops in Beirut that left more than 350 dead.

Hezbollah and Iran blamed Israel for the death of Mugniyah. Israel denied any involvement.

February 16th, 2008, 3:59 pm

 

Alex said:

T,

“A Prince, therefore, ought to go slowly in undertaking an enterprise upon the representations of an exile, for most of the times he will be left either with shame or very grave injury”

Since most of us here are “exiles” … it is perhaps a good thing to remember that sometimes we really do not know much about what we are arguing about.

And thanks for Akiva Eldar’s article … he is always honest. It is good that he reminds us that American Jews are not all AIPAC driven… many form their opinions independently.

Nour,

It started with some understandable reaons for not liking the Syrians (army presence and control of Lebanon pre 2005 …etc)

But what we have today (3 years later) is madness.

I feel the same disappointment when I read those forums … throw them any AL-Syassa story and they all adopt it and forward it to all their contacts and then they post it in their individual blogs… and then they hate Syria even more.

No one cares to check the logic of those stories … as long as they contain one of these necessary ingredients

1) Syrian regime is Iranian Shia puppet.

2) Syrian regime is planning terrorist attacks on Lebanon/Arab capitals ..etc

3) Syria trying to acquire some form of WMDs

4) Syria / Iran / HA / Hamas are stabbing each other in the back, making deals in secret with Israel, America, Saudi Arabia … or at least begging for those deals (in the case of Syria) but being turned down … usually some Syrian official who attempted to negotiate that deal is reportedly back to Damascus even more depressed that before.

5) More Arabs and Europeans are now working closely with Khaddam or with M14 or with Saudi Arabia to help the patriotic Syrians overthrow their criminal regime.

6) and Al-Syassa’s favorite: it is not UBL … it is always Asef Shawkat.

Look at any story or analysis .. you will find it is a collection of two or three of these ingredients.

Yet .. M14 crowds love them! .. and don’t even try to remind them of the times they were wrong in the past.

Ghassan,

You make a reasonable argument about the analogy between the Lebanese and Americans and Saudis who accused Syria of Hariri’s murder within 5 minutes, and Hizbollah accusing Israel of killing I.M. with a similar lack of patience.

Now let us look at your irrefutable proof that Syria killed him:

1) The Syrian regime has a well known intelligence capabilities … true. But … are they unique in that sense?

2) The car bomb went off in a well secured area of Damascus … no such thing happened in the past elsewhere? … why don’t you accuse Ariel Sharon for all the bombs that went off in the “well secured Israeli cities and towns from 2001 to 2005? …. your reasoning so far implicated Sharon for all those suicide attacks, no? .. remember that Prime minister Sharon can also depend on his ruthlessly successful intelligence assets.

3) – Syria was silent about it for more than 24 hours? … Syria was also silent about almost everything else … did Syria do the Deir Ezzore attack too? … Syria is almost always silent for a while until they understand what happened and how everyone else is spinning the story … if they don’t have to react immediately, the Syrians won’t.

4) The car was removed from the crime scene within an hour! … so you suggest keeping it there on the street so that people who would love to laugh at the failure of the Syrian regime to protect their guest? … and do you think you are asking questions that the Iranians and the HA experts will not look at? … you think the Syrians think that Iran and Ha are stupid an gullible? … the Syrians will kill HA’s leader and hide the evidence from the naive Iranians and HA investigators in Damascus?

Oh I forgot … Al-Syassa’s stories also showed us that the Syrian regime is … stupid. So … of course, they would do that stupid mistake of underestimating the Iranians and HA.

Shai,

Welcome back here.

I think that the George W. Bush example taught us all a lesson … be careful what you wish for .. you might get it.

I am neutral on US elections as far as Syrian/ Americans relations are concerned … although I like Obama and Huckabee for their character… they seem to be more honest than the typical politician.

Who knows … Obama might be convinced to appoint a favorite of AIPAC as his VP in order to avoid their indirect insinuations that they will oppose him and support the republicans.

So we end up with another Cheney! … remember, Obama is also not experienced in foreign policy … so they might need someone as experienced as Cheney!

February 16th, 2008, 6:52 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex, do you really see Obama winning? I just can’t imagine the Clinton-duet with all their contacts and access to “private” money letting that happen. When the time comes, if need be, they’ll pull out their tricks… But another Cheney, i certainly hope not!

February 16th, 2008, 7:36 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Nour said:

All you March 14 supporters on this blog are really twisted.

Who are you talking to? There aren’t that many M14 supporters on this blog, as near as I can tell.

And if there are independents who occasionally say something positive about M14, I don’t hear them spouting the kinds of things you accuse them of.

FYI, there are ‘twisted’ people on every side. If you look for them, you will find them. Try not to assume that anyone who doesn’t think exactly like you is automatically twisted.

February 16th, 2008, 7:39 pm

 

Naji said:

Well, go check your TV…!! The war has just started…!??

February 16th, 2008, 8:24 pm

 

Alex said:

War did not start … but probably very soon.

I just watched Aljaeera … one Shiite opposition spokesperson and one M14 … I can’t see them being able to agree on anything.

The question now might be … Lebanon alone or … the whole region … The opposition spokesman said that few months ago Syria foiled a Saudi backed attempted coup d’etat in Damascus.

And .. that there will be violence very soon …

February 16th, 2008, 8:56 pm

 

Naji said:

… keep watching…!

February 16th, 2008, 9:00 pm

 

offended said:

This whole thing makes me sick….they just never learn…
Amal movement spokesperson has denied Amal’s involvement in the clashes with Hariri goons; who were they fighting then?

February 16th, 2008, 9:10 pm

 

offended said:

Alex, do you think this news about the coup’s attempt to be true?

February 16th, 2008, 9:11 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

FPM: War-and-peace is a government decision

Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) leader Alain Aoun announced that the decision of war-and-peace should be in the hands of the Lebanese state.

“We feel it necessary to speed up finding a solution to the crisis and building a nation which will bear the responsibility of protecting those threatened with death, liberating the land which is still occupied and resolving all hanging matters.”

“We already put forward the Memorandum of Understanding as a means of addressing Lebanon’s problem with Israel. In the tenth article of the Memorandum, we lay out a plan we plan to regain the Shebaa lands and our prisoners. This is the beginning of a peaceful disarmament of Hezbollah. But some retain the logic of war and force.”

In an interview today, Aoun emphasized the FPM’s support of a peaceful solution to all matters, whether internally or in terms of relations with Syria and Israel. “We reject the option of war, but the prevailing speeches indicate the depth of the problem, and the easiest solution at the time of a dispute is a request for divorce,” he said. “We must unite our perceptions of the nation. These concepts are not limited to security issues and the defense of Lebanon but also include the concepts of partnership and respect for the rights of all groups and a Lebanese reconciliation. ”

Regarding the disarmament of Hezbollah, Aoun said, “We would have preferred to resolve the problem by restoring rights and then dealing with the disarmament of Hezbollah, but this did not happen. We therefore bear no responsibility for what the confrontation will result in for the other party, which rejected our proposal for resolving this matter.”

“No one wants ‘open war,’ and I think that the speech of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah placed the condition of ‘if they want war.’ What is required today is the restoration of rights as a means to prevent war and to bring peace to the region,” Aoun concluded

-NOW Staff

February 16th, 2008, 9:13 pm

 

Naji said:

Alex,
…not a few months ago, but TWO months ago …!

February 16th, 2008, 9:15 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Offended,

I agree with you. The level of wickedness and egomania is unbelievable.

When are people going to understand that they’re not going to get everything they want? These leaders (on all sides) are basically telling their supporters: we are the ones in the right, we are the ones who are virtuous, noble, free from error, and under siege. Therefore, there is no alternative to violence. This is the unspoken message.

They should all be thrown in 7abs Roumieh with the other inciters and public enemies.

February 16th, 2008, 9:22 pm

 

Alex said:

Naji,

Tue. two months ago.

Offended,

I have no idea.

I assume they (Syria or the opposition) have some more details to show if necessary… but it can be a coup at an early stage … for example there was some communication between those planning it and they happen to be fans of the kingdom… with no direct connection etc.

I mean .. if Khaddam people were involved .. and Khaddam is obviously close to the Saudis .. that can be it.

February 16th, 2008, 9:24 pm

 

offended said:

You know what amazes me Alex; that Syria is determined to go on with the Arab summit no matter what. I mean, the conspirators will be right there in the hospitality of Damascus. I think Syria should allow for some anti-Saudi demonstrations at the time of the summit. Let the Saudis understand they have crossed serious red lines…
I wonder if Abdullah himself will come…

February 16th, 2008, 9:33 pm

 

Alex said:

Abdullah will not come .. and I doubt Saud Al-faisal will come.

February 16th, 2008, 9:42 pm

 

Naji said:

Offended,
From where I see it (very up close, …too close in fact …!) there is no chance of the Saudies, or anybody else for that matter, attending the summit…!!?? Unless there is a dramatic change of course, we seem to be heading for one of those existential moments: “To be, or not to be” sort of thing…!! That will probably be for the better… Wish us luck…!

February 16th, 2008, 9:48 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

The heightened rhetoric of the past couple of days has brought home the farcical quality of the Lebanese crisis.

The two sides are mirror images of each other. They echo each other’s accusations, calling each other: traitors, tools, proxies, usurpers, un-Lebanese, etc. They merely substitute key words here and there: Syria/Iran for Israel/USA/KSA.

On opposition websites, the comment boards are covered with a single narrative: Hariri et al are Israeli agents looking to destroy the Lebanese resistance and to lift the burden off Israel by opening another front with Hizbullah, and as such they are traitors of the worst kind.

On loyalist websites, the boards are covered with a formally identical narrative: HA/Tayyar are Syrian/Iranian agents looking to destroy Lebanese sovereignty and to bolster the Syrian/Iranian regimes by crippling the free, democratic government of Lebanon, and as such they are traitors of the worst kind.

When will the Lebanese people wake up and reject these destructive alternatives?

February 16th, 2008, 9:53 pm

 

offended said:

Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid (the ruler of Dubai) will be visiting Syria and Iran next week; could that be an attempt to mediate and probably salvage the summit (and more)?

(Noting that Mohamed had met George W. Bush, Angela Merkel and Nicola Sarkozy. All during this past month)

February 16th, 2008, 10:16 pm

 

Alex said:

More “news” from Al-Syassa .. coming soon to many M14 and “Syrian opposition” blogs.

مغنية أقام في عمارة يملكها رامي مخلوف بصحبة صديقته نهاد حيدر قبل اغتياله

»السياسة« – خاص:
ادخلت عملية اغتيال القائد العسكري لحزب الله, عماد مغنية في دمشق منذ ايام ظلالا قاتمة من الشكوك والريبة لدى جميع فصائل المقاومة الفلسطينية المعارضة التي توجد اغلب قياداتها في دمشق, وكذلك المعارضة اللبنانية عموما »وحزب الله« على وجه الخصوص تجاه الاهداف الخفية للنظام السوري, الذي بدا منذ لحظة اغتيال مغنية صامتا ومربكا ولم يقدم حتى الان اي دليل واضح على براءته اولا, او على كشف الفاعلين الذين ادعى انه يعرفهم وسيفضحهم بالدليل القاطع ثانيا.
واكدت مصادر شديدة الخصوصية ل¯ »السياسة« ان معلومات كثيرة بدأت تتكشف لتميط اللثام عن مناورات واسعة في سير التحقيق الذي تشرف عليه القيادة العليا في دمشق وتحاول بموجبه إلصاق التهمة بثلاثة من الفلسطينيين التابعين للجبهة الشعبية القيادة العامة برئاسة احمد جبريل بدعوى انهم مخترقون اسرائيليا.
ومن بين المعلومات المتوافرة ان مغنية كان يسكن قبل مقتله شقة داخل عمارة في كفر سوسة بصحبة صديقته نهاد حيدر والعمارة يملكها نادر قلعي الشريك التجاري لرامي مخلوف ابن خال الرئيس بشار الاسد مما يلقي الضوء على ان حركة »الثعلب« وهو لقب مغنية, كانت معلومة خطوة بخطوة لدى النظام السوري.
وفي هذا الاطار طرحت المصادر تساؤلات مضافة ابرزها عن حجم واهداف الصفقة التي يعقدها النظام السوري مقابل التضحية بأبرز حلفائه على الساحة الفلسطينية وهو تنظيم الجبهة الشعبية القيادة العامة برئاسة احمد جبريل, اضافة الى مستقبل العلاقة بين النظام وباقي فصائل المعارضة الفلسطينية.
اما على صعيد العلاقة المستجدة بين النظام السوري وحزب الله عقب عجز الاجهزة الامنية عن كشف او اصطناع ادلة وشواهد تغطي بها قضية مقتل مغنية على الاراضي السورية وبالقرب من مراكز المخابرات والقنصلية الايرانية, فإن الحزب كما اكدت المصادر بدأ يشعر بالانكشاف وعدم الثقة من النظام السوري الذي كان يعتبره خط الدفاع الاول واصبح حاليا غير قادر على حماية احد.
وقد لفتت المصادر الى عدم التعاطي السوري المسؤول في عملية اغتيال مغنية لجهة اعطاء الاوامر باخفاء معالم الجريمة وطمر الحفرة التي احدثها الانفجار وعدم ارسال احد للتعزية بمغنية في بيروت ما يؤشر الى عدم رغبة القيادة السورية اجراء تحقيق موسع في جريمة الاغتيال وان وفد »حزب الله« الذي توجه الى دمشق للمشاركة في عملية التحقيق لم يتم التعاون معه بالشكل المطلوب ما يخفي انطباعا من ان تكون القيادة السورية غير راغبة بالتوسع في التحقيق لغايات خاصة بها وقد ابدت هذه المصادر خشيتها من وجود صفقة وراء عملية الاغتيال.
ولهذا فلقد ابدت هذه الاوساط قلقها من ان تكون ازاحة مغنية مقدمة لوصول »السكين« الى عنق قادة »حزب الله« الذين لا يمكنهم ان يتراجعوا في مسألة بحجم اغتيال ابرز قادتهم لكنهم في الوقت عينه لا يمكنهم الذهاب بعيدا في التهديد لان وضعهم اصبح مكشوفا واي خطأ في تقدير الحسابات قد ينعكس سلبا عليهم وعلى الجهات الداعمة لهم التي اشار اليها نصر الله في خطابه بقوله ان نهاية اسرائيل ستكون قريبة على ايدي الحزب والدول التي دعمته في حرب تموز بالاشارة الى ايران وسورية.
والسؤال المطروح بحسب هذه المصادر هل تدفع ايران وسورية بنفسيهما في أتون الحرب كرمى لدماء مغنية? ام يتعين على »حزب الله« اعادة حساباته جيدا وترك الامور للقنوات الديبلوماسية لانها قد تكون افضل بكثير من المغامرة العسكرية غير المحسوبة النتائ

February 16th, 2008, 10:48 pm

 

Nour said:

QN,

There are a few people on this blog whose positions clearly mirror those of March 14. They go to great lengths defending March 14 figures and spare no effort to attack and belittle opposition leaders. I agree that there are extremists on both sides, but the fact of the matter is that March 14 has gone the extra length in inciting its followers and instilling a feeling of hatred in them. I see their tv stations and newspapers spread nothing but lies and propaganda specifically aimed at increasing tensions. Their leaders do the same in their speeches. So, yes, in my opinion, they are sick and twisted. It is not only a shame but a downright crime to be engaging in such divisive behavior.

February 17th, 2008, 12:40 am

 

norman said:

If King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia does not come ,Syria will understand that Arab ism and Arab independence is dead and that Syria should Seek Syrian interest only , will the Arab Syrians see that?.

February 17th, 2008, 2:24 am

 

Shai said:

Alex,

Do you think that peace between Syria and Israel could help do the following:

1. Bring about peace also between Lebanon and Israel, and essentially force the Lebanese people to decide once and for all about their own future, and their own country, because they’ll have nothing to point outwards to (Israel/U.S./etc.)?

2. Saudi Arabia might join-in on this peace, and not wait for a Palestinian state to be formed, perhaps so as to pressure the Palestinians as well to finally decide on their demands vis-a-vis Israel and each other (Hamas, Fatah). If that happens, will that bring Syria and Saudi closer? Is the divide so severe, putting aside the usual rhetoric?

February 17th, 2008, 5:26 am

 

Alex said:

Shai,

Usually, I would have replied with a whole boring page full of my opinion … But I think for the next six weeks we should all sit back and watch.

First there is the assassination of I.M. in Damascus and Hizballah’s move to much more hard line position as a reaction to this assassination.

Then there is the ongoing humanitarian situation in Gaza

Then you have Lebanon … barely making it everyday without falling into another civil war.

And … the turbulence that precedes Mideast summits lately

You see … ever since this American administration started to exercise their brilliant ideas in international diplomacy and conflict resolution (i.e. we do not talk to the “bad guys”) … Mideast Summits started to cause a lot of turbulence in the area.

Summits involve “bad guys” sitting with the good guys. And that seems to be very painful to the Americans and some of their “Arab moderate” friends (who are NOT bad at all)

Before the Arab Summit last year in Riyadh, before the Annapolis summit, and now before the Damascus summit … there was/is this incredible stress in the Middle East .. and it is because they are too allergic to sitting next to the bad guys… unless of course the bad guys accept to perform according to some list of demands from the good guys… then they can be rewarded with a chair to sit next to the more civilized ones.

So … that’s where we are now .. I do not know if the region will survive all this stress …

February 17th, 2008, 6:49 am

 

why-discuss said:

If a revenge for Mughiniyeh will be carried outside Israel, Iraq is the best ground. The assasination of a US army official in Iraq will be a big blow to the US and would not be easily pinned on Syria or Hezbollah.. Let’s wait and see

February 17th, 2008, 8:47 am

 

The Independent said:

Josh,

I always enjoy reading your commentaries and thoughts about Syria and its environs.

Yes you are absolutely right, “The battle between Washington and Damascus is largely an economic one.” Both Israel and the U.S. and its allies in the region fear any kind of regime change in Syria (as the March 14 side would like)and therefore have not acted yet directly against the regime.

While Lebanon is sinking into an economic abyss, you painted too rosy a picture about Syria’s highly subsidized economy (Syria’s economy is growing at almost 6%). In a matter of years, Syria will be a net importer of oil, if it hasn’t happened already (data is not available or otherwise top secret). Any enhanced oil recovery they attempt on their archaic fields will not help in the short run. So today they rely heavily on cheap iranian oil.

What about prices for flour, sugar, coffee, etc..? These staples of the majority of Syrian society will soon lose government subsidies and will and are becoming more expensive day by day.

All this smells like inflation to me, even though the highly edited official numbers may not state so.

Too rosy a picture Josh!

February 18th, 2008, 11:18 am

 

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