Hizbullah Proves it Does Not Want a Tehran on the Mediterranean

Hezbollah began withdrawing gunmen from Beirut on Saturday and handed control of the streets to the Lebanese army, after seizing much of the city in gun battles with supporters of the U.S.-backed government.

The government backed down on its earlier demands in exchange for Hizbullah’s withdrawal. Siniora has promised that the government will not fire the Shiite director of the airport and will not dismantle Hizbullah’s secure communications network so that it would become vulnerable to Israeli depredations. In essence, the government has retracted the demands that provoked Hizbullah into taking Sunni Beirut.

The spin has begun. Robert Worth in his article for the NY Times reports that “some political analysts here say they believe that the government may have won a moral victory by abstaining from large-scale violence in response to Hezbollah’s aggression. Some government leaders were already accusing the Shiite group of betraying its promise to use its weapons only against Israel.”

The pro-government analysts, of course, are putting the best face on the governments missteps by calling it a moral victory. Jumblatt may be taking some satisfaction in the government’s predicament. He provoked the crisis with his accusations that Hizbullah was behind the string of assassinations in Beirut over the last three years and therefore had to dismantle its secure communications network, which, he conjectured, had been used to plan the various killings.

By pulling back from the city it so easily conquered and by turning over its strategic centers to the Lebanese army, Hizbullah has been gracious in victory.

It has not pressed its superior hand, putting paid to the irresponsible claim that Hizbullah wants to impose an Iranian-style, Islamic mullocracy on Lebanon’s Christians and Sunnis. On the contrary, it can be argued, Hizbullah is trying to broker the type of power-sharing government that the US would only be too eager to see emerge in divided Baghdad.

It is surprising to hear that Hizbullah is not demanding more in exchange for its withdrawal. It accepted to return to the “status quo ante” on rather easy terms. The next few days will clarify whether it is not demanding more.

In the past the opposition insisted on a third of the seats in cabinet; it also hoped to push through favorable reforms to the voting law.

Hizbullah has demonstrated that it can move swiftly and decisively. It has also demonstrated that it can game out its actions and is prepared for its end-game, something that others in the region seldom seem to do. Playing out the various scenarios before launching into action is a virtue that the US and its allies, with all their resources, are capable of doing well. I have participated in several war games in Washington; they are a frequent and valuable tool on the Potomac. But if Washington didn’t try to dissuade the Siniora government from challenging Hizbullah’s communications system and then advised Hariri to make the several demands he did for retracting the order – the most important of which was the immediate appointment of Suleiman as President — Washington was clearly not heeding the advice of its best people. This is a recurring characteristic of the Bush administration.

Hizbullah has done what it said it would do – not more, nor less. The constant grinding among the religious communities is making Lebanon more sectarian with each new conflict. Fewer Sunnis than ever will be able side with Shiites and vice-versa. The Shiites will become ever more convinced that they cannot give up their arms without first getting constitutional guarantees that they will get their fare share of representation. As things stand today, the Shiites allocated 21% of parliamentary seats even though they may represent close to 40% of Lebanon’s population. This is a lingering institutional imbalance left over from Lebanon’s colonial legacy, when Shiites were discounted politically as poor sheepherders and dirt farmers. The notion that Lebanon can achieve stability before these sectarian imbalances are rectified is not a sound one.

The following links are interesting:

Lebanon does not want another war. Does it?
Despite everything that has happened in the past few days, the people have no appetite for yet more civil conflict
By Robert Fisk in Beirut
Sunday, 11 May 2008

I went to cover a demonstration in West Beirut yesterday morning – yes, please note the capital W on “West” – and then I get a text from a Lebanese woman on my mobile phone, asking if she will have to wear a veil when she returns to Lebanon. How do I reply? That the restaurants are still open? That you can still drink wine with your dinner?


That is the problem. For the war in West Beirut is not about religion. It is about the political legitimacy of the Lebanese government and its “pro-American” support (the latter an essential adjective to any US news agency report), which Iran understandably challenges.

Powerless US falls back on ‘remote-control’ diplomacy for Lebanon

Unable to pressure Syria or Iran into halting Hezbollah’s offensive in Lebanon against US-backed leader Fuad Siniora, the United States has opted for “remote-control” diplomacy using its allies.

The Washington Post reported that the United States was pleased with the intervention of Russia and Turkey, which warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that they would hold him responsible for Hezbollah’s actions.

Since Israel’s war against Hezbollah that ravaged Lebanon in 2006 — a war that the secretary of state had supported — Rice has not set foot back on Lebanese soil where her unpopularity undermined the Siniora government.

Publicly, the United States settled for repeating its “unswerving support” for Siniora.

Hizballah humiliates March 14, Lebanon enters new phase by Antoun Issa

Reports also emerged that Hizballah and Amal fighters surrounded the Clemenceau home of PSP Druze leader, Walid Jumblatt, as well as his security centres in the Chouf mountains. Nasrallah openly and sternly singled out Jumblatt in his press conference during the week, accusing him of playing lord to the Siniora government and attempting to spark a Sunni-Shi’ite conflict. Jumblatt conceded that Hizballah’s military might is unrivalled in Lebanon, and warned the Shi’ite group that it can’t impose its will on the rest of the country.

But will Hizballah impose its will?

Comments (178)

Qifa Nabki said:


I have to say, I find your postmortem a little bit bewildering.

Did anyone, in their wildest dreams, ever imagine that Hizbullah could be defeated in an intra-Lebanese armed conflict?

Did anyone ever claim that an armed showdown would be a legitimate arbiter of constitutional legitimacy?

Did anyone ever suggest that the Lebanese should “take it outside”, and settle their differences in the streets like common thugs, and that the winner of the brawl should be crowned king?

I would say not.

Therefore, why are you applauding these developments as if Hizbullah should be congratulated for its leniency? Why should they get a gold star for taking over Beirut with their superior militia but NOT turning Lebanon into a Tehran on the Mediterranean. Have we really set the bar that low?

By this logic, we should commend the United States for invading Iraq so effortlessly, and attempting to set up a democracy there, instead of installing a new Saddam Hussein.

You are essentially, in one move, completely accepting the legitimacy of Hizbullah’s existence as a massively armed collossus, justifying their action as an entirely legitimate response to an unjust challenge, and then rewarding them for not pushing their superiority on the rest of the country (as they surely have the right to do, one presumes from your analysis).

Is that really what it comes down to? A big fat ‘bravo’?

May 11th, 2008, 12:31 am


Oliver MacDous said:

The aims of HA have been achieved. It is stronger than ever, and more will flock to its side as time goes by. Hariri and Walid Bek ” I just woke up from sleep” Jumblatt are no longer such close allies as the later just took responsibility for pushing the Siniora government to essentially declare war on HA by targeting its communications network. He is trying to find a wiggle room and to buy time. Hariri has asked his followers not to fight and HA promptly asked the army to take over their positions. In all of this, the army seems to have sided ever so slightly with the HA leadership knowing very well that the rank and file are mainly Shia and if ordered against HA this will fracture the army.

Once again as I said before the Saudi royal family and the Sunnis sponsored by such an incompetent group are the big losers.

The swiftness of the victory and the rapid withdrawal of the militias thereafter is also playing havoc with the claim that HA has done a coup d’etat and will also show that they are against a Sunni Shia divide.

Unfortunately emotional Sunnis will have their blood boiling and will take revenge on a few poor Syrian migrant workers here and there.

On a broader level, Joshka Fischer is right as we are witnessing the slow disintegration of the post WWI world with artificial borders crumbling and countries fragmenting as for example in

the Ogaden, Somaliland, Somalia, Chad, Western Sudan, Southern Sudan, Iraq, Southeastern Turkey, Kurdish region in Syria, Berber regions in Algeria, Polisario, etc.

The vacuum is being filled by religious groups and non state actors.

HA as such is fully legitimate for he represents the state where the Lebanese state never existed in the South of the country.

I would love to hear from all of you ;in the meantime, I am about to go prepare a nice dish for the emergency meeting of the Arab league for they did not have time to prepare what is on the menu; which is usually the extent of their kitchen strategy.
Any suggestions for the dish are welcome!!!

May 11th, 2008, 1:38 am


ghassan said:

I am really shocked by reading the article. It seems that you did not check any news but through Hizballah’s Al-Manar. You forgot to mention that after Hizballah took over Beirut, it sent its thugs (wearing Amal’s and SSNP’s outfits) to burn newspapers, radio and TV station which are not pro-them!
You forgot to mention that the thugs started going to the houses of political leaders, reporters and even ordinary people who criticized the Syrian occupation!
I am wondering how dare HA raises the photos of Bashar Asad in place of the posters of Hariri? Why photos of a non-Lebanese leader are raised in Lebanon?
If you want to report what is going on, you have to report the real picture not only part of it!

May 11th, 2008, 1:59 am


Atassi said:

This is a very disturbing post indeed, and I don’t believe Joshua has written it!! Hezbollah has no right to invoke an armed conflict and the pro-government elements absolutely mistaken in provoking the opposition at this stage, two wrongs don’t make right sir…. testing the limits of either side will be the “ultimate goal” and agendas of a NON –Lebanese’s forces.. It’s a state of treason for creating Sunni-Shi’ite conflict nothing less nothing more …

May 11th, 2008, 2:00 am


why-discuss said:

What I saw in this event that amazed me and reassured me is that Siniora and his governement have shown to have no authority whatsoever on the Army, the only institution still solid and respected. Were the plotters in the 14 March group hoping the army will show a clear allegeance to the government and therefore reassures them that Sleiman will be “their man”?
It did not happen, the army (Sleiman) rejected the orders of crushing Hezbollah and instead took side on Hezbollah in nullifying the hurried and provocative decisions that triggers the trouble. The Siniora is doubly weakened and in disarray.
It is now clear that the Army is standing by Hezbollah and it is very possible that Sleiman is working behind the scene encouraging the opposition to push for reforms before his election as once he is president, he would have less power..
The mask fell and the real face of the army is now clear. This must worry very much 14 March and its allies, such as KSA and the US. They must have second thoughts about Sleiman:
If he becomes president and if he is supported by a strong opposition-led government and negotiates with Syria, the US-Israeli plan is in trouble. I doubt the US and Israel will let his presidency go through.

May 11th, 2008, 2:20 am


norman said:

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Fighting in Beirut Threatens a Top Bush Administration Priority

By Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 10, 2008; A11

On the eve of his trip to the Middle East next week, President Bush faces the collapse of one of his three top priorities in the region — stabilizing Lebanon, a rare Arab democracy — amid new fighting that once again pits the United States against Iran and Syria through surrogates, according to Lebanese and U.S. analysts.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asserted Friday that Hezbollah was not acting alone when its gunmen took over West Beirut yesterday. “Backed by Syria and Iran, Hezbollah and its allies are killing and injuring fellow citizens, undermining the legitimate authority of the Lebanese government and the institutions of the Lebanese state,” she said in a statement.

A senior State Department official said Hezbollah was unlikely to have taken such a brazen step without “some kind of green light” from Iran, given the political and military risks involved. The official also said the appearance of Syria’s Lebanese allies for the first time on the streets of Beirut on Friday to support Hezbollah, after initially staying out of the confrontation, indicates that Damascus is now “pretty heavily involved.”

The Bush administration has been scrambling to mobilize international support for the beleaguered government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. Rice spoke to Siniora as well as U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the French and Saudi foreign ministers. The Arab League announced an emergency meeting Sunday to discuss the crisis, with the State Department calling on the regional body to show its displeasure with Hezbollah and its sponsors.

The Bush administration has spent $1.3 billion over the past two years to prop up Siniora’s government, with about $400 million dedicated to boosting Lebanon’s security forces. But Washington’s assistance has been put in check by Hezbollah — the Shiite militia trained, armed and financed by Iran and Syria — which has the Siniora government under virtual siege.

Along with Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Lebanon has been central to the administration’s Middle East agenda, especially in promoting democracy. Bush had been scheduled to meet with Siniora in Cairo at the end of his Middle East tour, but it is now unclear whether Siniora will be able to leave Beirut. The airport and port are closed.

“Clearly, Bush has a two-header now. He’ll have to explain away the lack of progress on the peace process, and a crisis in Lebanon that could see the collapse of the Siniora government. It comes at a time when the news from Iraq is as gloomy as ever and oil prices have reached $126 a barrel,” said Geoffrey Kemp, a Reagan administration National Security Council staffer who worked on Lebanon during the Shiite takeover of West Beirut in 1984.

State Department officials said Friday that the international coalition supporting the Lebanese state against Hezbollah, which has failed to comply with two U.N. resolutions to disarm, has never been stronger. But in each of the three Middle East crises where it plays a major role, the United States finds itself pitted against increasingly powerful forces loyal to Iran and Syria.

“The U.S. has put a lot of capital into Lebanon to support the weaker side politically and militarily. The U.S. approach is based on [the idea that] one side can prevail, and that’s not how things work. This is a country where consensual politics is the name of the game and the way things are done,” said Augustus Richard Norton, who served with the United Nations in Lebanon and is the author of “Hezbollah: A Short History.” “If there’s going to be a solution, it will involve some compromise with the opposition, which will include Hezbollah.”

For now, U.S. officials said they do not consider the fighting to be either a coup d’etat or a civil war. “We view this more as a political fight than a physical fight,” the senior State Department official said, adding that most Lebanese do not want a repeat of the civil war that raged from 1975 to 1990.

Washington believes Hezbollah has “bitten off a bit too much” and now risks alienating the rest of Lebanon’s population, including Hezbollah’s important Christian allies, he said. “Hezbollah has been politically damaged by what it did this week,” he said.

May 11th, 2008, 2:26 am


Antoun said:

An update on the violence in Lebanon:

PSP militiamen have kidnapped 3 Hezbollah members, killing 2, the other remains missing.

FM militiamen attacked a SSNP office in Halba, North Lebanon, killing 10.

May 11th, 2008, 2:40 am


norman said:


Don’t you think that the major problem Lebanon has is lack of fair representation of the Shia community , and don’t you think that the people who can give these people equal rights , I mean the Sunni and the Christian are doing nothing to correct this injustice , you know that when Martin Luther King went on the march to get equal rights for the blacks the wights in the US who were overwhelmingly more powerful then the black passed the civil right act and equality in addition to affirmative action to make the black feel that they belong , their stands saved the US from a civil war , The Lebanese did nothing in the last few years to reform their system , they refused all proposals and had non of their own .I hope now the people in power will use this wake up call by Hezbollah as something needs to change and should come peacefully before some people give up on peaceful transformation.

May 11th, 2008, 2:54 am


Qifa Nabki said:

Ya Ammo Norman,

I think you are very right about this. It is a major, major problem. We have to change the system.

If this brings about a peaceful transformation, that’s great.

But any reforms to the system must include the big elephant in the room, namely HA’s weapons and infrastructure. Your idea of integration into the Lebanese army is something that I support, but HA has not given any guarantees. Why? Because they are not useful to Syria and Iran’s interests if they answer to the Lebanese state only. We have to be realistic about this.

May 11th, 2008, 3:04 am


Qifa Nabki said:

Ammo Norman,

Plus, the political crisis during the past 3 years has not been about any of those issues. HA has never mentioned any of those issues as part of its fight with the govt. It has all been about UNSCR 1559, 1701, etc. foreign interests, and which “axis” Lebanon finds itself in: the US/European one, or the Syrian/Iranian one. He has said this himself.

May 11th, 2008, 3:12 am


Bashmann said:

Prof. Landis,

To present Hizbullah as the savior and rational party that saved Lebanon and the day, you are not only disrespecting your readers but practically the rest of the world. You seem to have fallen into the tribal mentality of “only the strongest and best gun equipped can rule” in the Middle-East. With this logic then we must all concur that the U.S should take over all of the Middle-East and do what it pleases with it, and when it pulls out, it would have done a “gracious” service to the people of the region.

I sincerely doubt your motives from this post and could not find a logical reason behind it except to think of you as an anti-American, and this would be an oxymoron position for an American born and raised to be in since it would go against everything this country stand for. As a professor of history and politics I expected a lot more from you. Has this country made you this bitter to think of its government, leaders and policies in such a cynical and antagonistic fashion? Its a shame but with a post like this you have proved that even co-directors of the Center for Middle-East studies are not immune to the sectarian divide that have plagued us Middle-Easterners for such a long time.


May 11th, 2008, 3:13 am


norman said:


Without a fair government you can not ask Hezbollah to relinquish it’s arm but with the political reform that is needed , then integrating Hezbollah in the army , and having like in the US national guards as part of a complete deal is possible but you can not ask Hezbollah to surrender it’s arm without full represetation.

May 11th, 2008, 3:14 am


norman said:

Did any body read this,

قيادة الجيش تعلن إبقاء العميد وفيق شقير في وظيفته القوميون الإجتماعيون يقفون وقفات العز ضد ميليشيا المستقبل في عكار

زئيفي:جهود 3 سنوات للمخابرات في بيروت ضاعت بليلة واحدة

نسخة للطباعة

اجرى موقع فيلكا المتخصص بالشؤون الاستخباراتية الصهيونية حديثا مع الرئيس السابق للمخابرات الإسرائيلية العسكرية آهارون زئيفي فركش بالوسطة بعد رفضه الحديث مباشرة مع الموقع. وأرسلت “فيلكا إسرائيل” أحد أصدقائها من الصحافيين الأجانب لإجراء مقابلة صحافية مع المسؤول الاستخباراتي الاسرائيلي.

وقال زئيفي للموقع معلقاً على ما حصل في بيروت: “نصحنا السي أي أيه بعدم الإعتماد على وليد جنبلاط أوعلى سعد الحريري، لأننا جربناهم في العام 2006 ولم يتبين بأن لديهم الجرأة أو القدرة على مواجهة حزب الله . فجماهيرهم عبارة عن بسطاء وعاطفيين لا ينفع معهم كل التدريب”.

وأضاف زئيفي: “لقد دربت إسرائيل رجال جعجع أحسن تدريب وسيظهر في أي مواجهة مقبلة بأن القواتيين سيصمدون وقتا أكبر في مواجهة حزب الله ولكنهم سيهزمون في النهاية”.

وتابع المسؤول الاستخباراتي الصهيوني: “نحن والأميركيين في مأزق ، لأن لا قوة في لبنان قادرة على ضرب حزب الله ، ولسنا جاهزين لضربه نحن في الوقت الحالي ولا الأميركيين مستعدون للتورط بأكثر من إرسال طواقم حراسة لمراكز إقامة كل من السنيورة والحريري وجنبلاط”.

وعندما سئل زئيفي، هل سينزل الأميركيين في بيروت فقال: “هذا ما قالته كوندي رايس للسنيورة حين إتصل بها اليوم ، لقد كان منهارا جدا ومتهما جنبلاط بالجبن والهرب من المعركة ، فوعدته بأن تحصل من بوش على أمر رئاسي بارسال المارينز لحماية مقره فقط في وسط بيروت”.

عندها بودر المسؤول الاسرائيلي بالقول لدى سؤاله، وهل تصدقها اجاب: “قد تكون تأثرت بكلام السنيورة وعويله ولكن من الناحية العملية يلزمك عدد الجنود الموجودين في ا لعراق لتواجه حزب الله في قلب لبنان بكامله ، لقد نجحت هذه “المنظمة الإرهابية” المحترفة في السنتين الأخيرتين في تدريب عشرات الآلاف تدريباً عالياً جداً وهم قادرون على حشد مئة الف مقاتل ربما فيما يعرف عندهم بالسرايا وقت الحاجة، ليسوا كلهم مقاتلين أشداء ولكن في الحروب المدينية مقاتل غير مدرب أخطر من مقاتل نظامي كما قال تشي غيفارا نفسه”.

وسئل زئيفي عن جعجع فقال : “سمير جعجع على علاقة صداقة بأوزي أ راد الرئيس السابق للموساد والأخير إتصل به مؤخرا وكان جعجع منهارا بسبب الوعود الكاذبة لحلفائه”.

عندها سئل الصحافي : “لماذا برأيك لم ينفع تدريب قوات سعد الحريري على يد الأردنيين، فاجاب: ” قلت لك سابقا أنها إرادة القتال الغير موجودة لدى قوات الحريري في مواجهة حزب الله ، في الحرب ، العامل الأساس في كسب المعركة هو رغبة المقاتل في خوضها والموت من أجل الهدف الذي يقاتل من أجله ، جماعة الحريري يحبون أباه ولكنهم لا يكرهون حسن نصرالله” .

وعندما سئل زئيفي عن العملية التي احبطت في الخامس والعشرين من الشهر الفائت على الضاحية الجنوبية، اجاب: لا علم لي بالأمر ولكن الامر لم يكن مستحيلا بوجود آلاف المخبرين اللبنانيين العاملين مع الأميركيين بواسطة حلفائهم، الآن كل ذلك إنتهى لقد ضاعت جهود دولية وعربية مخابراتية إستمرت ثلاث سنوات في ليلة واحدة ، كل عملاء المخابرات في بيروت خرجوا منها الآن واللبنانيين لم يعودوا قادرين على التحرك بغطاء مهماتهم اليومية المتعلقة بمناصبهم في الشرطة خسر الغرب الكثير بمباغتة نصرالله لحلفائهم.

وحول اغتيال الشهيد القائد عماد مغنية قال زئيفي لا علم لي بأن إسرائيل هي من قتلت مغنية ولكني أعلم بأن طرفاً لبنانياً زودها أو أكد لها شخصيته ، وشخص واحد كان يعرف من هو الحاج ربيع أو رضوان وهو زعيم.

ولدى سؤاله وهل هو جنبلاط ؟ اجاب فركش: لا تعليق.

وهنا يورد موقع فيلكا ملاحظة بالقول: حين قال فركش لا تعليق عرف رفيقنا جاك بأن سؤاله في محله وأن وليد جنبلاط زعيم الدروز هو المقصود.

أجرى المقابلة جاك الكسندروفيتش لصالح موقع فيلكا الاستخباراتي الصهيوني.

المصادر :المنار

May 11th, 2008, 3:17 am


norman said:

Back to Story – Help
Hezbollah fighters in Beirut melt away By ZEINA KARAM, Associated Press Writer
Sat May 10, 5:27 PM ET

Hezbollah gunmen melted off the streets of Beirut Saturday, heeding an army call to pull the fighters out after the Shiite militants demonstrated their military might in a power struggle with the U.S.-backed government.

Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, in his first public statement since sectarian clashes erupted on Wednesday, said Lebanon can no longer tolerate Hezbollah having weapons. He called on the army to restore law and order and remove gunmen from the streets.

Despite his tough talk, Saniora made a key concession to the Hezbollah-led opposition that would effectively shelve the two government decisions that sparked the fighting.

Muslim West Beirut was mostly calm a day after Hezbollah and its allies seized control of neighborhoods from Sunnis loyal to the government. Most Hezbollah gunmen had pulled out, leaving small bands of their Shiite Amal allies to patrol the streets.

While tensions in the capital appeared to be defusing, violence spread and intensified in other parts of the country.

At least 12 people were killed and 20 wounded when pro- and anti-government groups fought in a remote region of northern Lebanon, Lebanese security and hospital officials said. It was the heaviest toll for a single clash since fighting began.

At least 37 people have been killed in four days of clashes — the worst sectarian violence since Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war.

The violence grew out of a political standoff between the opposition, which pulled out of the Cabinet 17 months ago demanding veto power over government decisions. The deadlock has prevented parliament from electing a president, leaving the country without a head of state since November.

The political standoff turned into clashes after the government confronted Hezbollah earlier this week. It said it would sack the chief of airport security for alleged ties to Hezbollah and declared the group’s private telephone network illegal and a threat to state security.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said Thursday the decisions amounted to a declaration of war and he demanded they be revoked. His Shiite forces then overran large swaths of West Beirut.

The rout was a blow for Washington, which has long considered Hezbollah a terrorist group and condemns its ties to Syria and Iran. The Bush administration has been a strong supporter of Saniora’s government and its army for the last three years.

The show of force added to jitters in the Middle East and the West over Iran’s growing influence and its intentions in the region.

The Bush administration said Saturday that it was pleased to see Lebanese armed forces under the authority of Saniora working to restore order on the streets.

“Our concerns regarding Hezbollah are unchanged,” said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council. “We are seeing some lessening of violence in the streets.”

Saniora accused Hezbollah of staging a coup, besieging the capital and “poisoning” the dream of democracy in Lebanon.

“The government did not declare war against Hezbollah. Hezbollah declared the war and is waging it with the aim of changing the local, regional and international balance of powers,” he said.

After Saniora’s speech, the army called for gunmen to withdraw from the streets of Beirut and reopen blocked roads.

Seeking to stop the country’s slide toward all-out chaos and sectarian strife, the military ordered army units “to continue to take measures on the ground to establish security and spread state authority and arrest the violators.”

Saniora said he would leave it up to the army to resolve the confrontation that sparked the clashes over the airport security chief and the Hezbollah telephone network.

The army offered Hezbollah a compromise. It said the airport security chief would not be sacked and recommended to the government that it reverse the decision on the phone network.

But the compromise did not fully satisfy the opposition’s demands that the government officially revoke the two decisions.

The army has largely stayed out of the fighting, fearing its forces could break apart on sectarian lines as they did during the civil war. But in the past 24 hours they deployed heavily in neighborhoods of West Beirut seized earlier by the Shiites, stationing armored personnel carriers and jeeps on street corners and putting up more checkpoints.

In some areas they protected besieged leaders of the pro-government factions, Sunni parliament majority leader Saad Hariri and his ally, Druse leader Walid Jumblatt.

The army command is respected by Hezbollah and an opposition statement said its forces will withdraw all their gunmen from Beirut in compliance with the army request.

The opposition said a “civil disobedience” campaign will continue until its demands are met.

Within minutes of announcing that Hezbollah fighters would withdraw from Beirut, opposition activists set tires ablaze in a downtown overpass and clashes were reported in the northern city of Tripoli.

The opposition statement did not say whether Hezbollah forces would remove roadblocks around Beirut including one cutting off access to the airport and shutting it down since Wednesday.

Government-allied Druse leader Jumblatt told reporters at a news conference he hoped the crisis was now over.

Jumblatt helped spark the tensions when he alleged Hezbollah had set up cameras near the airport — which is located in the Hezbollah stronghold of south Beirut — to monitor the movement of anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians and foreign dignitaries. He suggested Hezbollah was planning to bomb aircraft to assassinate such figures.

Asked if the government compromise on its decision to confront Hezbollah was a humiliating defeat, he replied: “It is not humiliating. … If it is a question of preserving the peace, preventing civil strife, sectarian strife, it’s not humiliating.”

Fighters loyal to Hariri and the government battled the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, a secular pro-Syrian group allied with Hezbollah in the town of Halba in a remote Sunni region of northernmost Lebanon.

At least 12 gunmen were killed and 20 wounded, Lebanese security and hospital officials said.

The pro-government fighters stormed the office of the SSNP and set it ablaze after the gunbattle. Nine of the dead were SSNP and three were government loyalists, the security officials said.

The officials all spoke on customary condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

In a mountain town east of Beirut, Hezbollah accused a pro-government Druse group of kidnapping three of its members and shooting and stabbing two of them to death. Hezbollah said it held Jumblatt personally responsible for the safety of the third man.

Eight people were killed near the town of Aley late Friday in clashes between government supporters and opponents. Another civilian died in the clashes in the southern city of Sidon.

Earlier Saturday in Tarik Jadideh, a Sunni Muslim neighborhood of Beirut, a Shiite shop owner opened fire on Sunnis in a funeral procession as they passed his store chanting insults at Shiite Hezbollah leaders. He killed two and injured six, police and witnesses said.

An AP photographer who was covering the funeral said the attack came as the procession headed toward a nearby cemetery to bury a 24-year-old killed in this week’s fighting.

After the attack, angry people stormed the alleged gunman’s shop and set it ablaze. Troops captured the gunman.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

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May 11th, 2008, 3:46 am


Joshua said:

Habibi QN

I do not mean to praise Hizbullah. My weakness is that I think like an American and get angry at my government for its short-sightedness and misunderstanding of the Lebanon realities.

I am watching the demonization of Hizbullah, Syria and Iran begin for this event.

I fear that nothing will be learned from this episode.

The point, as Norton says above in Robin Wright’s Post article, is that — “If there’s going to be a solution, it will involve some compromise with the opposition, which will include Hezbollah.”

Hizbullah is not trying to impose a Tehran on the Med. It showed restraint. It withdrew from West Beirut quickly and won the cooperation of the army. This is not a coup.

Clearly, no state can survive for long with two independent armies as Lebanon has. Lebanon will survive this episode because the Lebanese Army decided not to behave as a sovereign force. It bowed to Hizbullah. This is very disturbing to all other Lebanese.

But the army is powerless because it is Lebanon in a microcosm; without unity among the sects, the army cannot function any more than Lebanon can. The army showed unity in fighting al-Qaida at Nahr al-Bared, but that is because no sect claimed the fighters of Naher al-Bared.

You point out that the problem is even worse because Hizbullah must take into account the interests of Syria and Iran or have its arms supplies dry up. I cannot contest this – although I have not seen the other Lebanese sects test Hizbullah’s nationalism by doing what Norman suggests above: offering it real equality and political power commensurate with its numbers.

They claim it is a traitor and demonize it as the slave of Iran and Syria. Unfortunately, the government has given Hizbullah no incentive to severe its links with Iran.

But let us concede that its military and even “ideological” dependence on Iran and Syria is a constraint on its ability compromise in good faith with the other sects of Lebanon, this only makes it all the more important for the US to stop its black and white – good versus evil foreign policy. By isolating Iran and Syria and by boycotting them, Washington compounds the mistake it is making on a smaller scale in Lebanon. It is ensuring that any larger compromise in the region remains out of reach.

Such a compromise will be very difficult to achieve and will take years before even the first steps are realized, but the first step must be an attempt to down play the dichotomies and to begin to reach across the ideological divides.

Only then will we be able to begin to see our way forward.

Hizbullah has proven that it can sweep aside the Lebanese state when it wants, but it has also demonstrated that it needs that state. It has a fairly reasonable sense of its limits and of the limits of the other sects of Lebanon. It is not insensitive to their political tolerances. This is a positive sign.

It should be exploited.

Instead we are hearing Washington begin to hector again and explain how Hizbullah is a terrorist entity that marches to Iran’s orders – the epitome of evil.

Other than the moral blockheadedness of the Bush administration, it is also wasting out money – not only in Iraq, but now in Lebanon. As Robin Wright records:

“The Bush administration has spent $1.3 billion over the past two years to prop up Siniora’s government, with about $400 million dedicated to boosting Lebanon’s security forces. But Washington’s assistance has been put in check by Hezbollah — the Shiite militia trained, armed and financed by Iran and Syria — which has the Siniora government under virtual siege.”

May 11th, 2008, 3:51 am


norman said:

Good analysis Joshua in the main article and the comment above.

May 11th, 2008, 4:13 am


Qifa Nabki said:

Thanks Joshua, for a very lucid response.

I guess I often read your pieces as if you are writing to me, when you are actually writing (partly) for an audience of Washington policy wonks who don’t know their Sunnis from their Shiites.

But I have a few issues with your response, I’ll try to figure out what they are and respond.

May 11th, 2008, 4:20 am


Leila Abu-Saba said:

Anybody who looks at Joshua Landis’ history, his family background and his record of service as an academic cannot seriously argue that he is “un-American” or an America-hater.

It is a prime tenet of this country’s constitution that an American has the liberty to oppose the policies of his government. A true American exercises that liberty, rather than pontificates about it.

May 11th, 2008, 4:41 am


Alex said:


You are coming here to attack Joshua basically because his position was not like yours.

I have serious disagreements with you, but I never called you “a traitor”

Some of us might sound like biased Syrian regime or Hizbollah promoters, I understand.

But you need to understand that the point you prefer to hear is out there .. everywhere in Washington and Riyadh and Paris …

But some of us believe that the reason people are dying in large numbers in the middle East is that ONLY your favorite point of view is heard in Washington … there is no one out there to suggest other solutions … solutions that some of us are convinced will make things much better for almost everyone in the Middle East… and Joshua believes that America will gain more friends and avoid more enemies if mistakes are corrected.

So he might shout it out loud sometimes. Because right now there are many leaders in Washington with hearing difficulties.

May 11th, 2008, 4:53 am


chew2 said:

Josh and others,

How autonomous is Hizbullah? When I read Nasrallah’s speech’s they indicate that he makes the decisions primarily based on well thought out nationalist/shia grounds and that he is calling the shots.

Yet I read stuff like Hizbullah would never make a serious move without Iranian approval, or Hizbullah is just an Iranian proxy in its struggle with the US. This sounds exaggerated and bogus to me.

May 11th, 2008, 5:38 am


JustOneAmerican said:

Perhaps someone can answer a question for me – ok, a couple of questions actually. Why did Hezbollah respond this way instead of taking a less confrontational response? It appears to me the decree on communications was unenforceable, so why the necessity to go as far as they did? This probably sounds simplistic, and maybe it is, but why not just tell the government to pack sand, to use an American idiom? Or something else less violent?

As Joshua points out, the rhetoric about Hezbollah’s motives is already starting in the US and HA’s actions will be shown as “proof” that they are, and want to be, a state-within-a-state and intend to be little more than the main expeditionary arm of Iran’s and Syria’s war with Israel. Judging from some of the comments in the previous thread, some Lebanese feel similarly or at the very least that HA broke a promise not to use force against other Lebanese. The level of trust regarding the motivation for HA’s arms appears to have dropped considerably as a result of their response. All that just to return to the status quo?

And what happens when, as seems inevitable, another provocation comes? Will HA feel obliged to do the same thing or go further next time and escalate? HA, it would seem, can only play this card a time or two – why play it now on an unenforceable decree? My probably ignorant perception here is that HA could have achieved what it wanted some other way; A way that didn’t result in innocent people getting killed, HA’s reputation tarnished (making future reconciliation more difficult), and the fear and disruption of Lebanese society.

May 11th, 2008, 5:51 am


avgolemono said:

“Hizbullah Proves it Does Not Want a Tehran on the Mediterranean.”

Huh? Is that title a joke? I gather that Syria proved that it no longer had or has any desire to dominate Lebanon because it withdrew its troops? Along the same lines, I’m not quite sure why anyone thinks that the US government has any desire whatsoever to dominate Lebanon. The Marines left a long long time ago.

It strikes me as ridiculous to point to today’s withdrawal as evidence of HA’s long term plans, when you could just as easily point to their “invasion” of West Beirut as evidence of exactly the opposite point.

May 11th, 2008, 6:45 am


Zenobia said:

Joshua is not anti-american, but maybe anti- imperialist america. And for good reason.
His position is realist and correct regardless if others don’t approve.
I agree wholeheartedly with him and with Norman. Nobody is testing HA’s ability to be integrated into the lebanese defenses in an elegant way. I think it is entirely possible. But they are not stupid enough to going asking for that or to accept such a move until they have secured and been willingly granted equal power and representation in the political structure. If they can achieve that- then there will be a true test of the creativity of Lebanon and its army with how they can integrate this force and utilize it for the betterment of all Lebanese while its dismantlement as an entirely separate entity does not have to cost the Shia population.

Right now, any allegiance to the external powers of Syria or Iran is a marriage of security. There must be greater benefit and the possibility of a secure investment in a marriage with the political state before HA will sever their ties with the external actors. Everyone has their price, and they have theirs too.

there maybe excellent scenarios possible. As Norman hinted at- why not a national guard? A paid national guard even. They can train with the regular army. They can retain their separate membership with the party of God, but it may mean something different than before. This could be very win win to my mind.

but justice before peace, as they say.

May 11th, 2008, 6:46 am


Shai said:

Hoping to add some “humor”, to this obviously grave situation, I just noticed that “Shai” is very close to “Shia”. I hope most here won’t accuse me of siding with Hezbollah!… 😉

May 11th, 2008, 6:58 am


Zenobia said:

Apparently, some people think you are likely a triple agent posing as an official representative pretending to be an innocent peace loving blog commenter. So… they are on to you… : )

actually,… you are closer to a cup of tea… something all of the East can appreciate.

May 11th, 2008, 7:03 am


Shai said:


I’m afraid you finally got me! Like they used to insert subliminal messages into movies in the 50’s and 60’s in the U.S. (“Drink Coke”, “Buy peanuts”, etc.), I too am pretending to be “Peace-Loving”, while subliminally inserting “Keep Fighting” messages into my rhetoric. By pretending to criticize my government, I am winning you over, only to turn you against me, continue to fight me, and in that, reinforce my government’s anti-Arab sentiments. Aha!

May 11th, 2008, 7:13 am


Zenobia said:


no. on second thought, I think you are just promoting tea. It is all a message about having tea. We just didn’t catch on to that. I finally cracked the code.

May 11th, 2008, 7:16 am


Shai said:

“Brought to you by the people of NesShai…” Drink tea, not war!

May 11th, 2008, 7:21 am


NBAf said:

“You seem to have fallen into the tribal mentality of “only the strongest and best gun equipped can rule” in the Middle-East. With this logic then we must all concur that the U.S should take over all of the Middle-East and do what it pleases with it, and when it pulls out, it would have done a “gracious” service to the people of the region.”

The US isn’t from the Middle East that why the tribal mentality rule doesn’t apply to them and they will never dominate the middle east nor have a decisive victory. Another thing, since when has the American army ever acted as professional as HA in the middle-east ?

May 11th, 2008, 7:27 am


Zenobia said:


well… on that serious note… I am signing off for night, and you can get back to the ‘gravely serious’ whom will return shortly , i believe. they will want to discuss war more, as they don’t know the power of tea.
bon nui ( or perhaps its a bonne nui)… : )

May 11th, 2008, 7:34 am


ausamaa said:

Can we safely say that no one was cut down to size in Lebanon more than Saudi and Egypt? That is somewhat bad because now they will hate Bashar even more. Bush aint really bothering anymore, so at least that is little assuring (the guy got used to losing so often that he conditioned himself to take losing in sportsmanhip manner.

But Saudi and Egypt. My God. They will be foaming at the mouth in Cairo while Mua’lim -if he gets invited or attended- looks at them -with eyes full of innocence- and tries to be cordial and accomodating. Then they will all take it out on Siniora and the poor guy will cry again, Ja’ja will be having ultra fits and some will be counseling him discreatly, while Junblat will escape “unscathed” once again but with a much lesser representation.

But would Egypt and Saudi let things settle down now. They still have not “forgiven” Hizbullah his victory over Israel in 2006. But again, Saudi can get away looking good by donating a couple of million hundred dollars to Lebanese reconstruction or support or whatever ( Gaza has to wait a while before the extra revenue of oil exports reach its Sunnies), and Egypt will say that it was only concerned with Lebanon’s safety which has been assured now. Mind you, all this assuming everyone acts with the least amount of “inforced” sanity.

What an “unfair” world..!!!

May 11th, 2008, 7:37 am


Zenobia said:


Only through the sights of its guns
By Zvi Bar’el
Tags: Lebanon, Hezbollah

“Lebanon is a hair’s breadth away from civil war. But even if a lull is reached, it will not last for long in this divided country.

In one of his more militant speeches to the domestic populace last week, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that the Lebanese government’s decisions “are a declaration of war on Hezbollah.” Nasrallah was referring to a government decision to dismantle the private telephone network his organization set up in southern Lebanon and other parts of the country, and a decision to dismiss the official in charge of security at Beirut’s airport because he allowed surveillance cameras to be installed there. That official, General Wafik Shoukeir, is a Hezbollah loyalist, and his dismissal is considered a blow to the organization’s ability to monitor what is happening in the airport.

In response to the Lebanese government’s “declaration of war,” Nasrallah has himself launched a war against the government, which he considers an illegal entity. Within hours, Hezbollah managed to take over government posts in western Beirut, leaving the majority leaders trapped in their homes. One can assume that any compromise attempt proposed today at a meeting of Arab foreign ministers will need to take Nasrallah’s new position of power into account. That is the heart of Lebanon’s internal political struggle, which should greatly concern Israel.
The recent events in Lebanon are not isolated occurrences, unrelated to the results of the Second Lebanon War. Israel continues to star as a “political side” in Lebanon, with Nasrallah continuing to use Israel to goad the government, accusing it of collaborating with Israel and the United States. He even attributed the installation of Hezbollah’s telephone network to a military need: protecting Hezbollah outposts from Israeli wiretapping or damage to the wireless communication networks. As is his wont, he cited an Israeli report – the Winograd report on the Second Lebanon War – which he said determined that the signal corps constitutes one of the key elements of the war. This naturally leads to the conclusion that in damaging Hezbollah’s military instruments, the Lebanese government is damaging the country’s security.

Nasrallah’s rhetoric in the internal Lebanese dispute is not the important point, but it does once again portray Hezbollah not as an opposition organization, but as a force competing with the Lebanese army. Nasrallah comes off as someone who intends to rack up all the political achievements he feels he deserves. It seems he will not rest until the current Lebanese government is gone, to be replaced by a unity government in which his supporters have veto power over important decisions. Thus, while Israel continues to view Hezbollah as nothing but a militant organization that can be crushed by a military operation, it is ignoring the possibility that Lebanon will shortly be run by that very organization. In effect, one can say even now that the person running Lebanon’s domestic politics is Nasrallah – no less, and perhaps more so, than the government.

Seeing Hezbollah solely as an organization is quite similar to Israel seeing Hamas as an organization, while ignoring the public foundation on which both groups rely. The result is that Israel prefers to stick with counting Hezbollah’s Katyusha rockets, or Hamas’ Qassams, as the sole index of the threat those groups pose. In order to intensify the threat, Israel terms both organizations as “Iranian,” thereby fulfilling its obligation to issue an alert.

There is no argument over the fact that the amount of missiles and rockets is not just a potential threat – both organizations use them against Israeli targets. But the way that Israel has dealt with these groups thus far proves that military solutions alone are not practical. Hezbollah was not weakened by the Second Lebanon War. Instead, the war made it even stronger, both militarily and politically. And the military offensives in Gaza have not made much of an impression on Hamas, which holds the key to continued political negotiations.

In both cases, Israel has a political alternative. If it so greatly fears Iran’s expansion into the Mediterranean, Israel can advance talks with Syria, and if it is concerned by a Hamas takeover of the political process, Israel would do better to move forward with negotiations with the Palestinian Authority – or at least to create conditions in Gaza to relieve the threat posed by Hamas. Israel sees the political threat developing in Lebanon and in the territories, but is prepared to respond only through the sights of its guns.”

May 11th, 2008, 7:48 am


ausamaa said:

From Al Jazeera

مدة التصويت: من10/5/2008 إلى 13/5/2008
موضوع التصويت:

من يتحمل مسؤولية تفجّر الوضع الأمني بلبنان؟

الخيارات النسبة عدد الأصوات
الموالاة 63.0%
المعارضة 17.6%
الاثنان معا 19.4%

إجمالي المصوتين 16277

نتيجة التصويت لا تعبر عن رأي الجزيرة وإنما تعبر عن رأي الأعضاء المشاركين فيه.

May 11th, 2008, 8:03 am


ausamaa said:

Oh, oh… Syria is attending the Cairo Foriegn Ministers summit at a very low key level?! But David Welch is in Cairo.

Wi’am Wahab is now on New TV saying that one should not expect anything good from this meeting.

Now should we expect Junblat -out of fear for himself- will be the one calling on Saudi to cool things off in Lebanon?? Or will Tariq Metri try to do that?

Or is everyone still waiting for the Marines and the Saudi National Guard to land in Lebanon and revive the Feb 14.

Again, hope springs eternal.

May 11th, 2008, 8:11 am


Shai said:

This is the kind of freedom of speech Israelis enjoy (thank god):

May 11th, 2008, 8:21 am


offended said:

If HEZBOLLAH was indeed a thuggish organization with a sectarian agenda that is subservient to Iran and Syria, then it’d have done the following after it has crushed the future militia and got the cooperation of the army:
1- Take control of the Saray, arrest Saniora and Ahmed Fatfat.
2- Raid the residences of Sa’d Hariri and Junblatt and arrest them and put everyone to a tribunal of its liking.
3- Install a new government with a shia’ PM (and those who don’t like it can bang their heads in the wall).
4- Revoke all government decrees regarding the Hariri tribunal and deport the UN investigative team.
5- Set free the four poor security officers who are rotting in jail without trial.
6- Elect a shia’ president. ( and those who don’t like it can bang their heads in the wall)
7- Invite the Iranian and the Syrian armies to establish permanent military bases in Lebanon.
8- Anyone who doesn’t like any of the above shall be silenced and thrown into prison.

QIFA NABKI, when Hezbollah does all of the above, then and then only you can compare it to (or use the analogy of) the American invasion of Iraq.

May 11th, 2008, 8:42 am


Honest Patriot said:

Offended, you may have been sarcastic in your post but I, for one, believe that item (4) is on the agenda the moment HA is back in or becomes the government.
4- Revoke all government decrees regarding the Hariri tribunal and deport the UN investigative team.

May 11th, 2008, 8:55 am


offended said:

Honest Patriot:
Maybe. It’s a strong prediction. But, don’t you think that if Hezbollah is determined to do that, they’d do it now? (riding the momentum of their military incursions?)

May 11th, 2008, 9:18 am


SHAMI said:

Dr Joshua,many recent studies have proved that the sunni community in lebanon is a little more numerous than the shia community but they remain very close and if you add the 500 000 palestinians there will be a clear sunni majority in Lebanon ,even if they are not lebanese nationals but we should take them into account as permanent or i hope long term inhabitants,i would prefer that our palestinian brothers of lebanon became syrian citizens if they can not go back to their home Palestine.
Likely the moslems in lebanon are today 60% of lebanon population ,it’s important for me as Syrian muslim that Lebanon remain a country with a christian character and we should be honest that what make Lebanon so different it’s this liberal westernized character.

May 11th, 2008, 9:26 am


Honest Patriot said:

Offended, I don’t think they’d do it now. I give them a lot of credit for truly superior intelligence and cunning. Doing so now would play in the hands of those accusing them of being Syrian and Iranian puppets. Nasrallah is way too smart for that.
Like QN, I can potentially be an avid supporter of Nasrallah and Aoun and the biggest critic of the M14 “gang.” IF, and that’s a big IF, they switch to playing by the rules, trust the Lebanese Army and trust the Lebanese people to vote their conscience. Oh, and of course that pesky little detail of weapons and the militia. It has to become integrated with the army and be under the authority of a civilian government.

May 11th, 2008, 9:30 am


Honest Patriot said:

Ya Habibi ya Shami, your words are music to my ear. Now I want to sit down with you to a delicious fool-m’dammass breakfast and fresh-garden bassal a5dar (with turkish coffee and heyl of course). Sabah-el-5eyr winnoor wilmantoor. Have a great day!

May 11th, 2008, 9:34 am


SHAMI said:

avec plaisir dear Honest Patriot.

May 11th, 2008, 9:36 am


Honest Patriot said:

… and by the way, today’s statistics, if you count the druze with the moslems is 35% Christian and 65% Muslims (and Druze) in Lebanon. That’s a shift from a ~ 50-50 split circa 1980. Projected to become a 20-80 split in another generation (20 years or so). Times-a-changing.

And while I’m at it, switching for a moment to Israel, it won’t be long before the demographic balance of Israel proper – not counting the occupied territories – turns it into an apartheid state if they don’t make peace before then.

AIG, are you listening? I know Shai is already on board with this reality but I see the Likudniks in denial. The advice from Haaretz quoted by Zenobia earlier in this thread is truly Wisdom personnified. If I were an Israeli, and in particular a Likud supporter, I would be clamoring for Netanyahu to adopt Rabin attitudes and begin to make peace, quickly!

“Israel has a political alternative. If it so greatly fears Iran’s expansion into the Mediterranean, Israel can advance talks with Syria, and if it is concerned by a Hamas takeover of the political process, Israel would do better to move forward with negotiations with the Palestinian Authority – or at least to create conditions in Gaza to relieve the threat posed by Hamas. Israel sees the political threat developing in Lebanon and in the territories, but is prepared to respond only through the sights of its guns.”

You got politically very smart folks. Heed their advice.

May 11th, 2008, 9:42 am


Shai said:

HP, since when have human beings followed good advice?… Or, for that matter, acted rationally?

May 11th, 2008, 9:54 am


Qifa Nabki said:


You didn’t understand my point to Joshua.


The correct analogy would be: that you, Offended, were fine with the American invasion of Iraq, up until they began behaving badly. Prior to that, it was totally legitimate, reasonable, and justified.

Surely not 😉

May 11th, 2008, 11:30 am


Qifa Nabki said:

Another day, another opportunity for politicians to ruin our lives.

Let’s see if we can make a few predictions.

The government will NOT resign.

Gemayel, Geagea, and Jumblatt will continue issuing meaningless statements about coups and hands outstretched in dialogue.

Hariri will reluctantly play along, while loudly ruling out the possibility of fitna.

Aoun will keep his head low.

Nasrallah will be magnanimous, as he always is, leaving the shamateh to his pet parakeets, Naim Qasim and Wiam Wahhab.

Washington will throw some more sanctions on Syria and underline Hizbullah’s name on the top 10 terrorist organizations, then use a yellow highlighter to make it seem really bold and striking, and then maybe erase it and write it out in all CAPS.

In short, we will limp along as usual.

Let’s hope otherwise?

May 11th, 2008, 11:55 am


norman said:

This is better,

Printable view

Sun, May 11, 2008, 12:04 GMT

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) signs agreement to develop its first property in Syria with the M.A. Kharafi Group

Dubai, 11 May 2008: InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has signed an exclusive agreement with MAK Hotel Holdings, a member of the M.A. Kharafi Group of Kuwait, to develop an InterContinental Hotel in the Syrian capital.

Located in the city centre, the 370-room InterContinental Damascus, due for completion in 2010, will form part of the capital’s only integrated development which will include a shopping mall, cinema complex and office space.

Targeted at the luxury leisure traveller, InterContinental Damascus will be the perfect starting point for those keen to explore the areas historic sites, known to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

John Bamsey, Chief Operating Officer, IHG, Middle East & Africa, commented: “The M.A. Kharafi Group is one of the largest Groups in the Middle East and we are delighted to be partnering with them on the InterContinental Damascus. Over the last few years we have witnessed a substantial increase in tourism levels to Syria; our aim is for IHG to be at the forefront of this demand for accommodation. When open, InterContinental Damascus will offer guests a luxurious and first-class place to stay while discovering this historically rich location; testament to InterContinental’s commitment to provide authentic and enriching destination experiences for all guests.”

Mohamed Fahmy, Managing Director of MAK Hotel Holdings, commented: “This is an exciting development for our group and we are thrilled to be working alongside IHG to deliver an exceptional InterContinental branded hotel in the heart of Damascus. There is great investment potential throughout Syria and we look forward to expanding our portfolio within the region.”

Incorporated in the design of the InterContinental Damascus are a number of world-class meeting rooms, specialty shops, health club and spa. The property will also feature the largest grand ballroom in Damascus, with capacity for 2,500 people. With other highlights including an all-day dining restaurant, three speciality restaurants and bar, the hotel is set to become a key attraction for both local and international travellers.

With tourism to Syria increasing rapidly and the Ministry for Tourism visitor figures indicating a 23 per cent growth in the first quarter of 2008, the Syrian Government has significantly increased spending on tourism, recognising the pivotal role that it can play within the nation’s economy. As part of this spending, the Government has implemented a substantial marketing campaign, coupled with planned infrastructure, to improve leisure facilities across the country.

Currently there are 36 InterContinental Hotels and 10,900 rooms across the Middle East and Africa, with a further 11 properties and 3,488 rooms in the development pipeline.


About IHG
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) [LON:IHG, NYSE:IHG (ADRs)] is one of the world’s largest hotel groups by number of rooms. IHG owns, manages, leases or franchises, through various subsidiaries, almost 4,000 hotels and more than 590,000 guest rooms in nearly 100 countries and territories around the world The Group owns a portfolio of well recognised and respected hotel brands including InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn® Hotels and Resorts, Holiday Inn Express®, Staybridge Suites®, Candlewood Suites® and Hotel Indigo®, and also manages the world’s largest hotel loyalty programme, Priority Club® Rewards with over 37 million members worldwide.

IHG pioneered the travel industry’s first collaborative response to environmental issues as founder of the International Hotels and Environment Initiative (IHEI). The environment and local communities remain at the heart of IHG’s global corporate responsibility focus. We’re the first major hotel group to have measured our environmental and carbon footprints and we’re in the process of setting reduction targets.

With more than 1,600 hotels in its development pipeline, IHG needs to find around 150,000 people over the next few years to meet its global expansion plans.

InterContinental Hotels Group PLC is the group’s holding company and is incorporated in Great Britain and registered in England and Wales.

IHG offers information and online reservations for all its hotel brands at http://www.ihg.com and information for the Priority Club Rewards programme at http://www.priorityclub.com. For the latest news from IHG, visit our online Press Office at http://www.ihg.com/media

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May 11th, 2008, 12:05 pm


offended said:

Qifa Nabki, tayyeb, even when I don’t agree with the analogy I will ride this canoe with you; yes I acknowledge that I was opposed to the American invasion of Iraq. But what’s that got to do with my reaction to Hezbollah’s incursions? Any sane human being would be innately opposed to military aggressiveness. However, the differentiation between Hezbollah and the Americans go beyond that to the details and to what lies beneath the surface. The Americans, for reasons far more numerous to count here, have f**ked up their adventure so badly. And it’s become obvious that there were malicious intentions behind it. While on the other hand, and even without entertaining the idea that Hezbollah was actually deterring the government from dismantling its phone network; you’d find that they actually had no demands other than revoking these two decisions and reinstating the army officer in the airport. They didn’t seize the opportunity to demand anything more. How does that tally with the allegation that Hezbollah is indeed trying to establish an aperture for the Persians on the Mediterranean?

May 11th, 2008, 12:07 pm


why-discuss said:

Intercontinental Hotel in Syria, what does it show about the kind of investments the Arabs and the Iranians prefer in Lebanon and Syria?
Gulf arabs investments in Syria and Lebanon: Building luxury hotels, malls and appartments. Promoting a consumer society.
Gulf arabs investments in Lebanon: supporting militarily and politically Sunni politicians and militias.

Iran investments in Syria: Car Factories, Cement factories, Gaz pipeline, rehabilitating religious sites, continuous flow of Iranian pilgrims in Damascus. Promoting self dependency.
Iran investments in Lebanon: Social services for the destituted Shias in the south and supporting militarily and strategically Hezbollah.

May 11th, 2008, 12:57 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Offended, habibi

Do you really think I am comparing Hizbullah to America? And Nasrallah to Bush? Even if I criticize the opposition, I hope you also notice the fact that I reserve much praise for this man. Ausamaa thinks this makes me suspect; I hope you don’t feel the same way.

I was merely taking issue with one aspect of Joshua’s analysis, which was that he was seeming to accord legitimacy to the opposition’s claims on the BASIS of their successful military strategy.

That’s it.

Of course, the opposition derives its legitimacy from entirely other sources. That was my point. I prefer that we leave all talk of legitimacy to the political sphere, not the military one.

May 11th, 2008, 1:04 pm


ugarit said:

Here’s one of the reasons HA reacted as it did to its communications network being lableled as illegal:

“Hizbullah’s command and control system remained operational throughout the war; they evaded Israeli jamming devices by using fiber optic lines instead of relying on wireless signals.” — http://counterpunch.org/shahid04142008.html

May 11th, 2008, 1:08 pm


Oliver MacDous said:

This morning I checked the on line editions of several newspapers such as AlHayat, L’Orient Le Jour, Daily Star, Sharq Awsat, Safir. I checked their headlines today with the same headlines they posted in August of 2006. The Sarq Awsat was most telling for it had a major headline on the destruction of Beirut in the last 3 days by the clashes and no headline about the destruction of Lebanon by Israel in 2006.

I think that the Saudis will try to save Hariri and the Sunni groups and abandon Walid Bek. HA is aiming to isolate him as he played the spoiler fully in this regard. He continuously insisted on the putting barriers to any compromise. He is a smart cookie, I would love to see him come out of this situation.

Let us see what is happening in the mountains this is where the action to watch will be.

QN and HP I love to read, they bring so much to the richness of the discussion.

As I said before, the Caravan is moving on.

Oliver MacDous aka Observer

May 11th, 2008, 1:28 pm


anonymous said:

Good job Dr. Landis. The truth always provokes a reaction.

May 11th, 2008, 2:25 pm


offended said:

علمت سيريانيوز أن ثلاثة من العمال السوريين في لبنان وصولوا مساء السبت إلى مشفى الباسل في طرطوس من بين 12 عاملا سوريا جريحا اعتدى عليهم عناصر من تيار “المستقبل” اللبناني.

وكانت مصادر متطابقة قالت إن عناصر من تيار المستقبل ,الذي يرأسه سعد الحريري, قتلوا ثلاثة عمال سوريين وجرحوا 12 آخرين في منطقة المنية في لبنان, وذلك ضمن موجة من العنف شهدها لبنان بين أنصار المولاة القريبة من الغرب والمعارضة القريبة من سورية.


May 11th, 2008, 2:27 pm


oxymoron said:

i’m a Student here at the University of Pittsburgh and have been reading your blog for…. heck… way too long…
i’ve always been a big fan even when your posts were ridiculously wrong.
I’ve Always been a Fan even when my teachers showed me how wrong your facts are.

but this is… well… i don’t know what to say…
My god Josh. were you high when you wrote this?
what were you thinking? where’s your critical thinking at?
no iran on the Mediterranean?
then why in the WORLD was he monitoring the runway where MP Tueni landed on the day before he died?
then why in the world does he pretend to give the army control when he is firing MORTARS on my country.
Are you in lebanon right now?
Can you see the pics of Mahmoud and Bachar up in West Beirut or are you too blind?
if yes then you need a reality shock.
if not… then please …. [Remainder of comment deleted by SC for obscene language and insults.]

May 11th, 2008, 2:30 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


Why the new moniker?

Nice to see you here lately.

May 11th, 2008, 2:31 pm


Bill Baar said:

I think Hezbollah: The Defeat of Victory a better take on what’s turned out to be a foolish move by Iran to flex it’s muscles after the debacle it’s taken in Sadr City.

May 11th, 2008, 2:32 pm


Shai said:

Hi QN. What’s your take on how things are progressing at the moment? Here in Israel they’re starting to call Lebanon “Hezbollah-land”… (even Haim Ramon suggested treating Lebanon as such…) This is not good news. Even more reason for Syria and Israel to return to the table, to discuss the regional situation, and to try to calm everyone down.

May 11th, 2008, 2:35 pm


Atassi said:

“Wi’am Wahab is now on New TV saying that one should not expect anything good from this meeting.

Yea Salammmmmm…Wi’am Wahab !!!! How low can we go !!!
“”4- Revoke all government decrees regarding the Hariri tribunal and deport the UN investigative team.””” This will be most likely outcome in the event of a wider regional escalations

Joshua said
“”Hizbullah has proven that it can sweep aside the Lebanese state when it wants, but it has also demonstrated that it needs that state. It has a fairly reasonable sense of its limits and of the limits of the other sects of Lebanon. It is not insensitive to their political tolerances. This is a positive sign.””
Very good point, But I would also read it form a different prospective Iran imposed and closely controlled this form of “State shield “strategy as cover up and protection for the party. It’s known that discipline is the name of the game and Hezbollah mastered this virtue!!
Happy mother day to the mothers on this board

May 11th, 2008, 2:35 pm


Oliver MacDous said:

I just listened to Jumblat imploring his rival Amir Talal Arslan to negotiate on his behalf the surrender of his troops and the Chouf mountains to the Lebanese Army and the opposition insisting that all the weapon stores and militia be completely disarmed. They are offering him a way out of this mess. He lost his militia and is endangering his position with the Druze community just as the Hariri group abandoned him fully. He was planning on a fight between Future forces and HA with his group emerging stronger than ever. Well this failed fully.

The opposition is asking for his surrender and he is simply trying to save face.

By the way what is for dinner at the Emergency Arab Foreign Ministers meeting? I think it is left over cake from Jenna’s wedding.

May 11th, 2008, 2:37 pm


sam said:

Well done prof. This article hit the nail on the head. HA could have taken over the whole country, but they didn’t. Further legititmizing there opposition, for a 3rd of the vote for over 40% of the shite pop. I think that is still unfair to the shites, so why won’t they(march14) accept to end to all this? I m also starting to believe that HA operates without outside instructions. I truly don’t think HA takes orders from Syria and Iran, maybe brainstorm together, but no orders.

May 11th, 2008, 2:37 pm


Piotr Chmielarz said:

I agree with Joshua statement and I would like to add that in my opinion Hezbollah has no exit but begin this protest what will happen if they agree on dismantlign this telephone web and cameras on airport, what will be next maybe Siniora wants that his friends from Mossad Amal or CIA organise next car bombs which will be directed against his opponents. In commentary there is written that big elephant is Hezbollah weapon. I don’t agree with this if Hezbollah doesn’t have this weapon israeli army in 2006 easy capture Lebanon in the same way as in 1982. if Hezbollah doesn’t have this weapon organisation can’t liberate south Lebanon in 2000. In my opinion the only thing which Israel count is force- does Israel withdraw from any area which occupied from free will no they withdraw from Sinai in 1979 after they almost lose war in 1973 israeli goverment understand this time that if his army will fight next war with arabic coalition so israeli army will lose it because arabic army wasn’t army from 1948, 1956,1967 which israeli army easy destroy of cource they withdraw from Gaza in 2005 because they want to concentrate all forces which they need to attack Lebanon and they want to froze peace process with Palestinian- so as long as Lebanon has hezbollah this country can consider themselves as secure In my opinion the true army of Lebanon is Hezbollah in fact shiite defends this country so logical way is that they have more to say about country matters I wonder why they and their christian allies wants only 1/3 position in goverment. What sunnis or Druze or maronites do during israeli invasion in 2006 do they go on field in order to defend their homeland no they does’nt, and they now call to dismantle telephone web, disarm Hezbollah why maybe because they want second israeli occupation. there will be a voice but there is lebanon army, can this organisation can be named as army. Does this army defend country during invasion in 2006 no they hide as rats or withdraw under convoy of ONZ. How many succes has lebanon army Sabra Shatilla 1982- very easy victories because palestinian refuges doesn’t have weapon so it was easy to massacre them- Nahr al-Bared- easy too because this force wasn’t well organised.

May 11th, 2008, 2:40 pm


rb said:

It has also demonstrated that it can game out its actions and is prepared for its end-game, something that others in the region seldom seem to do.

While Nasrallah is certainly a good strategist, one is as much struck by his missteps as his successes in recent years.

First, there was the 2006 war, which Hizbullah clearly did not foresee (although it was quite foreseeable). As it turns out they secured their “divine victory” because the Israelis made even more serious mistakes, but it certainly wasn’t a triumph of strategic master thought.

Then there was the withdrawal from cabinet, and the “tent camp” siege of the government–which turned out to NOT to have the rapid and decisive effect that Hizbullah intended. Nasrallah seems to have never anticipated that he would simply be ignored, and that it would be business as usual in the Grand Serail.

Finally, there is the take-over of West Beirut. While the rather foolish and incautious cabinet decisions were the cause of this, I think it was also driven by Hizbullah’s continuing inability to leverage M14 as much as they wanted to. The withdrawal of fighters from the street (albeit, after some very thuggish behaviour by their Amal and SSNP proxies) was clearly intended to spin this all as a reluctant Hizbullah with a national agenda (rather than a sectarian move), they’ve clearly underestimated the effect in the Christian community where it has all done substantial damage to Aoun (a fact that even his most loyal deputies are privately admitting). Given that the Christian community is the only one in play–the Shiite, Sunni, and Druze communities are all pretty much solidly behind the Hizbullah/Amal, Mustaqbal, and the PSP respectively, and now even more so–the long term result could be a politically weakened M8. Ironically, this comes at a time when M14’s weak government performance were causing it some real problems with its constituents–however, events in Beirut will now counter that with a “rally around the (sectarian) flag” effect.

It is also possible that the M14 groups will now do some serious arming and training (despite all the accusations, their past efforts have been VERY limited and haphazard), probably with Saudi/Jordanian/Egyptian support–not really in Hizbullah’s long-term advantage.

Finally, what does Hizbullah do if M14 just ignores Hizbullah’s obvious preeminent military power? I suspect they’ll do exactly that: not soften on the “presidential package” (next cabinet/PM, new electoral law), leaving Hizbullah no better off than before. Indeed, given the damage M8 has taken in non-Shiite communities, in a few months it could even be in a somewhat worse position.

In short, I think this is far from being an unalloyed masterstroke of strategic brilliance.

May 11th, 2008, 2:46 pm


offended said:

Don’t worry QN. I’d be even more sympathetic with Hezbollah had they lost the fight to Hariri.

May 11th, 2008, 2:46 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

Many mistakes in this post, and I agree with the first comment by QN,and Atassi.
HA must withdraw from the airport,so Israel will not have justification for bombing it.A return of some balance in Lebanon is going to happen, foreign landing may be comming soon, especially at the Syrian lebanese border, and to secure the airport,and the goverment.Also HA can not claim his weapons were never used against Lebanese.

May 11th, 2008, 3:05 pm


Honest Patriot said:

Dear Observer/Oliver-Macdous, flattery will get you EVERYTHING!
You said:“QN and HP I love to read, they bring so much to the richness of the discussion.”
You may not have realized it, but putting me in the same league as QN is in itself a chest-pumping compliment for me. Not that I’m modest (truly or falsely) but I know where my strengths are (and they are many ;-)) but they sure are not in history, politics, or prose. But hey, compliments make one feel good. So Thanks!!
And now here’s your “reward”: I’ll delay my engagement in Mother’s Day activities to put in one more bit today. Here goes…

Offended said:
And it’s become obvious that there were malicious intentions behind it [the American invasion of Iraq]. While on the other hand, and even without entertaining the idea that Hezbollah was actually deterring the government from dismantling its phone network; you’d find that they actually had no demands other than revoking these two decisions and reinstating the army officer in the airport. They didn’t seize the opportunity to demand anything more. How does that tally with the allegation that Hezbollah is indeed trying to establish an aperture for the Persians on the Mediterranean?
I submit that, as misguided as the invasion of Iraq was, and while it was driven in part by maicious intentions of a few operators bent on creating any advantage they can for Israel in their own hidden way, the main drive was truly powered by paranoia from the life-changing and century-changing 9/11 events in the U.S.
G.W. Bush was sincere when he explained that he had the full conviction of the necessity of a preemptive strike in Iraq lest one of these days Saddam succeeds in getting and sharing WMDs. Heck, when even Colin Powell was willing, albeit reluctantly, to go along, I don’t believe for one minute that there was — at the top level of the leadership — anything but blindness and incompetence. And even those, those traits became obvious only in hindsight. Remember that ALL European intelligence agencies were convinced of Saddam’s plans for WMDs. Saddam played along too, wanting to give the impression of strength, even when he was making public denials. The record for all this is now established historical facts. I don’t buy the malicious intentsions premise. Please note: I am NOT defending the invasion nor its execusion but mereley pointing out the error of attributing the causes to malicious intentions.

Atassi said:
“”4- Revoke all government decrees regarding the Hariri tribunal and deport the UN investigative team.””” This will be most likely outcome in the event of a wider regional escalations.
Well, some of us suspect that if it were up to HA:
– The Syrian Army would never have left Lebanon
– The tribunal would never have been set-up
– The assassinations will just have their files closed as unsolved mystery
And we HATE this, believing it is the perpetuation of the rule of despots. Prove us wrong and we’ll gladly repent, apologize, and tow the line. But we doubt it. We doubt it very much.

Oliver MacDous said:
I just listened to Jumblat imploring his rival Amir Talal Arslan to negotiate on his behalf the surrender of his troops and the Chouf mountains to the Lebanese Army and the opposition insisting that all the weapon stores and militia be completely disarmed.
The logic in this? HA’s weapons are for the resistance and, when needed and convenient, for the imposition by force of their will internally. No one else has the right to self-defense. Might is right. HA is mighty. Hence HA is right. Beautiful and convincing.

Sam said:
Further legititmizing there opposition, for a 3rd of the vote for over 40% of the shite pop. I think that is still unfair to the shites, so why won’t they(march14) accept to end to all this?
Sam, and why can’t we effect this through democracy and elections? You have no confidence that, in time, the voice of the real majority will be heard?

May 11th, 2008, 3:29 pm


Naji said:

Lebanese PM: Hezbollah is worse than Israel
By Yoav Stern and Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondents

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Sinora on Sunday branded the militant Hezbollah group as worse than Israel, saying “even the Israeli enemy never dared to do to Beirut what Hezbollah has done.”

Siniora was speaking as clashes between Hezbollah and pro-government fighters raged on for a fifth day across Lebanon. More than 40 people have been killed since the fighting began.

The violence was sparked when Siniora’s internationally backed Lebanese government tried to crack down on Hezbollah last week.

Hezbollah, a Shiite guerrilla group backed by Iran, responded by seizing control of many Beirut neighborhoods loyal to the government.

Israel’s Vice Premier Haim Ramon told cabinet members on Sunday that Lebanon must be viewed as a “Hezbollah state.” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, meanwhile, said during the weekly cabinet meeting that Israel was following the crisis closely, but would refrain from intervening.



May 11th, 2008, 3:47 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I am listening but not hearing anything new that has not been said in the last 60 years. There is no demographic threat, it is just an invention of ultra-right wing Jews that has been adopted by Arabs. So chill.

Hizballah is like a dog chasing a car. If he ever catches it, will it know what to do with it? They have no end game because they will not be able to coerce a unity government in which they call the shots. And without the cover of the rest of the Lebanese, a Hizballah led Lebanon would be a pariah state. The Israeli “realists” such as Ramon are already starting to send this messge out.

May 11th, 2008, 5:00 pm


norman said:


Israel does not need an excuse to bomb Lebanon , the only reason for them not to bomb is the retaliation that they will get from Hezbollah if they do , It is time not to think that Israel will be nice if we are nice , they are nice only if they think that they have to to avoid punishment.


Siniora is right to claim that the Israeli attack was better , The Israeli attack did not try to get rid of his miserable government , Hezbollah is trying to make Lebanon for all the Lebanese and stronger and more independent

May 11th, 2008, 5:02 pm


Naji said:

Well, the Israeli attack of 2006 was openly declared in support of the Siniora “miserable” government, but… the man has no shame…!!!??

May 11th, 2008, 5:38 pm


offended said:

Anybody heard Junblatt on Al Arabiya TV couple of hours ago?

He sounded jaded and I think he was probably sedated, and for a fleeting moment I felt sorry for him.

May 11th, 2008, 5:44 pm


Naji said:

He was on NewTV just a couple of minutes ago…! He has been all over the airwaves all day crying for help… learned that trick from the Siniora, I guess…!! Quite pitiful…!
I feel sorry for the whole lot…

May 11th, 2008, 5:48 pm


Naji said:

جنبلاط مُحرق الأخضر والابس الامس، وغندي اليوم

انتهت في أحياء العاصمة، وتشارف على الانتهاء في مناطق الجبل. اجتماعٌ عربي في القاهرة، ووفدٌ بمعية عمرو موسى الى بيروت. هكذا تُلخَّص أحداث اليوم الخامس من المحاولة الانقلابية الفاشلة.
في بيروت أولاً اكتشف فؤاد السنيورة فجأة أنه لم يكن موفقاً في تعبيره أمس. بعدما كانت وثائق عين التينة قد كشفت، أن كلام صاحب الدولة، لم يكن غير دقيق وحسب، بل أصلاً وأيضاً غير صحيح.
وفي الجبل ثانياً، أعلن وليد جنبلاط تراجعه عن أكل الأخضر واليابس وانتزاع الصواريخ وتهليله بالحرب والفوضى. فبعدما فجّر البلاد من أقصاها الى أقصاها، بناء على مراسلة مدبجة بالاشتراك بينه وبين الياس المر ومروان حماده، ظهر جنبلاط اليوم بمظهر غاندي الزمن المعاصر. لا سلاح. لا معارك. لا مراكز. لكن الوقائع ظلت تصفه بما وصف به السنيورة. فمن جهة أولى أكدت المعلومات أن ما أعلنه جنبلاط اليوم، كان موضع اتفاق أبرم بينه وبين عين التينة بالأمس. لكنه أجل سريانه، وراح يماطل ويسوف، مراهناً على تطورات خارجية في اللحظة الأخيرة. وهو ما أدى الى مزيد من الضحايا والدمار. ومن جهة ثانية، ورغم الإعلان الجنبلاطي، استمرت المعارك في أكثر من منطقة في الجبل، رغم اتجاهها الى حسم واضح لقوى المعارضة.
أما في القاهرة، فانتهى اجتماع وزراء الخارجية العرب، في غياب دمشق، الى إقرار زيارة بيروتية سريعة. لكن المعلومات تؤكد أن العقدة لا تزال في الموقف السعودي المتعنت. وهو ما استمر إعلام الرياض مرآةً دقيقة له. كأن ثمة من يعتقد هناك، أن من قبض منهم الأموال، أعطاهم في المقابل الحق الكامل في القبض على أرواحهم، خدمة لمصالح من دفع ومن يأمر.
لكن قبل السياسة، لنبدأ من ميدانيات هذا اليوم الأبرز، من تطورات الجبل.

May 11th, 2008, 6:01 pm


offended said:

Naji, you know what’s my calamity is?

I only get Al Arabiya TV on my connection. I haven’t even one figure of the opposition speaking to them. They’ve claimed that there was a collective boycott from the opposition to them.

May 11th, 2008, 6:06 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


It seems things are calming down. Beirut is quiet, but there are still flare-ups in the Chouf. I spoke to one of my relatives, who is near Beiteddine, and she could hear mortars not so far away.

It seems that there are some Hizbos & PSPers who are having too much fun.

Until there is a real political solution on the table, I’m afraid nothing will change. There has been no indication that either side is going to bend. March 14 will likely just ride this out, and let Hizbullah bask in the negative limelight for a while. Of course, they will wait too long (as they always do), and the opportunity will be missed for a satisfactory compromise.

As more time goes by, if we don’t get a solution, people will find themselves scratching their heads and wondering what this whole operation achieved, besides 42 dead Lebanese (so far), tens of millions of dollars of damage, and more political and sectarian hostility.

May 11th, 2008, 6:07 pm


Bashmann said:


I’m not attacking Joshua, nor am I prompting my point of view. There are enough sane people on this blog who are making a lot more sense than the propaganda you and Josh have been putting out for the last few years. This blog is starting to sound like Al-manar TV station. It has lost its credibility long time ago when you and Josh have decided to take sides in the conflict and lost all sense of objectivity. A true academic would not post such a view and expect to keep his credentials intact and safe from questioning. The essence of university studies and academic research is true, unbiased, objective, and honest perspectives.

You and Joshua, have been giving a mask of civility on uncivilized rouge regimes and movements in the Middle-East. These forces are the reason people in the Middle-East and American soldiers are dying. Do not lecture me about people dying, I’ve seen enough in my years and know why people are dying in the Middle-East. Some of us are still thinking that freedom and democracy can be attained by appeasement of dictators, religious fanatic and despots. These forces are at the center of terror and chaos, yet you both seem to think of them as legitimate representative of their people. These forces uses arms and secret service agents to arrest, kidnap, torture, and kill anyone who disagree with them.

Hizbollah is raping Lebanon nascent democracy as we speak and you dare to
come here and say its just another point of view?!!! When you have a point of view you do not point a gun at my head. You lay down your arms first, and put yourself on equal footing in front of your opponent. That is the essence of democratic and civil debate. Hizbollah is a renegade militia that is trying to have a veto power over the majority voice in Lebanon with the power of the gun. Yet you and Joshua are calling on the administration to “hear” the other side. What a wonderful idea. That’s how this country won WWII, by inviting the rest of the nation to listen to Nazi Germany “point of view”.


May 11th, 2008, 6:07 pm


Naji said:


I really feel sorry for you…! Only Al Arabia…??!! What have you done to deserve this punishment…??!!!

May 11th, 2008, 6:09 pm


Naji said:

Jihad Khazen and Barry Atwam on ANB, with Zeina… and good ol’ Wi’am Wahhab on Manar…!

May 11th, 2008, 6:14 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


You referred to Uqab Saqr as a “little hustler” recently.

But Wi’am Wahhab is “good ol'” to you? 😉

Just curious.

Tell me, if you had a son, would you prefer he grow up to be like Uqab or Wi’am?

May 11th, 2008, 6:16 pm


Alex said:

Naji what is ANB??

May 11th, 2008, 6:17 pm


offended said:

But Naji, I am not really worried. This blog provides me with Al Manar point of view (as Bashaman suggested)

May 11th, 2008, 6:24 pm


why-discuss said:


I don’t know where you get your information but Lebanon is NOT a nascent democracy, Hezbollah is NOT a renegade. I think you should stop watching CNN and FOX news and stop listening to your neo-cons friends who think they have been called by God to spread the US democracy in the world with weapons and blood. Switch to Al Jazira or New TV to listen to what is happening in Lebanon and the middle east if these channels have not been banned in the area where you live.

May 11th, 2008, 6:28 pm


Bashmann said:


Do not worry about me, I do not need to watch Aljazeera or New TV, I have this blog, as I mentioned previously. 🙂


May 11th, 2008, 6:37 pm


Alex said:

Well Bachmann,

The problem is that you would like me to humor you … to play along … to pretend that what is upsetting you today, and the previous two years is simply that “democracy” is not advancing fast enough in Syria (and Lebanon).

As for your view that this blog is a propaganda tool for the Syrian regime. Let me compare it to your lovely Saudi media tool: Al-Arabiya.

Syria Comment had a debate between those who were glad the opposition in Lebanon gained the upper hand very quickly despite the 20+ people who died, and between those who felt that Hizbollah’s use of military force inside Lebanon is fundamentally wrong, even though they still respect Nasrallah.

Syria comment also has many Israeli commentators, something the Syrian regime dose not approve of in Syria. for example, AIG writes here almost everyday that the Syrian regime and its allies are the cause of most problems in the Middle East.

Syria comment also has many commentators who really do not like the Syrian regime: Ghassan, Bachmann, Majhool, Trustquest, Kamali …

There was a time when your group was much more active, but it so happens that your group gets more motivated to write when there is bad news for Syria of the Syrian regime. Lately there is much less major bad news, and many of you realized by now that most of the bad news was actually inventions from Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Syassa which is close to the Saudis, they were not real news.

As an example of what used to motivate you, the latest such “bad news” for the regime was that Asef Shawkart was supposedly kicked out and under house arrest and that Bashar and his sister are not talking to each other …

So …. I don’t know how much more diversity can one have in a Syria blog.

And I don’t know how much more proof that our formula is just fine than to check this post


which was about corruption in Syria and about the stupidity of the US administration combined. It was followed 544 comments by everyone, from pro regime Syrians and Lebanese, to Israeli, to anti regime, to Americans …

Sorry if Syria comment is not living to your expectations of objectivity (i.e.: anti regime, anti hizbollah, anti Shiite) … sorry if all other Syrian “opposition” blogs combined do not have a small fraction of the participation this blog alone has.
May I suggest to you another alternative?


You love Saudi Arabia, the backer of Al-Arabiya. You will love everything they say and show.

I have watched for hours Al-Arabiya’s coverage of what is happening in Lebanon. They are trying their best to get Lebanon’s people to hate each other’s religion … when all other TV channels are saying “fighting between town a and town B” .. Al-Arabiya said “Shiite town A is heavily shelling the citizens of Sunni town B”

Another thing I heard from the anchorman on AlArabiya an hour ago asking one of his guests: “So, can we say that now the Sunnie Shia fighting is spreading to Shia Druze fighting as well?”

May 11th, 2008, 6:46 pm


offended said:

I have the greatest of respect for this journalist.
عبد الباري عطوان – القدس العربي

فعندما يعلن متحدث رسمي مصري، ان بلاده لا يمكن ان تسمح لقوة تدعمها ايران بالسيطرة علي مقاليد الامور في لبنان ، فان هذا يعتبر اعلان حرب علي المقاومة في لبنان، ومؤشرا علي قرب التدخل عسكريا ضدها. فلماذا لم يقل هذا المتحدث الشيء نفسه عن الاحتلال الامريكي للعراق، والاسرائيلي لفلسطين؟ وكيف يسمح بحصار غزة، ومنع الوقود عنها، بل وبتزويد اسرائيل بالغاز باسعار مخفضة؟


May 11th, 2008, 6:57 pm


norman said:

A Saudi on LBC is quoting the invasion of Kuwait and he expects a collective move to change the status in Lebanon and disarm Hezbollah.

May 11th, 2008, 6:59 pm


Alex said:


I heard that Egypt wanted the Arab league to send Egyptian troops to control Lebanon. Accordng to Al-Arabiya’s reporter from Cairo “Syria refused”.

Instead they are sending Amr Mousa with the prime minister of
Qatar (Syria’s only friend in that Arab meeting) to mediate between the Lebanese.


on Alarabiya they had one screaming guest who also called for immediate international intervention to save Lebanon from Ahmadinejad’s criminal occupation army …

May 11th, 2008, 7:01 pm


offended said:

Alex, yes I heard of that too. Let’s see what Amr will come up with!

I wonder what kind of messages (except ‘I told you so’) he will carry to the various figures.

You and I know that sending Arab troops will only make matters worse. We will be adding one more ingredient to the recipe.

May 11th, 2008, 7:08 pm


offended said:

Oh dear! oh dear!

Al Arabiya TV is airing a chronological report on the Sunni sect’s crisis in Lebanon.

May 11th, 2008, 7:14 pm


Alex said:


I predict that after few more days of similar Al-Arabiya coverage, the TV station and its pathetic owners in Saudi Arabia will be perceived differently by moderate and independent Lebanese people.

May 11th, 2008, 7:25 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I predict that due to its coverage the ratings of Al-Arabiya will go up relative to al-Jazeera.

I think Asad made another mistake. All current indications show that the latest events will lead to an establishment of a strong Sunni militia in Lebanon backed by the international community and the Arabs. This will be a huge threat for Asad and could drag him into a war he can ill afford.

May 11th, 2008, 7:30 pm


norman said:

I say it again ,

KSA is in cooperation with the US divide the Arabs and Muslims into ethnic and religious groups and involve them in wars to make the Mideast as it was in the years of the Roman empire, That is the price that Egypt and KSA are asked to do to save their regimes,

The question is : Will they succeed , It depends on how Lebanon ends up , If Hezbollah wins decisively then they have no chance , If Harri and Siniora are left , then with the help of KSA they will start the civil war in Lebanon .

May 11th, 2008, 7:35 pm


Alex said:


I understand. Everything is possible, especially in Lebanon where everyone from outside is either interfering or is planning to or dreaming of interfering.

May 11th, 2008, 7:36 pm


Bashmann said:


Do not try to spin my point and dismiss it as another biased opinion. You know what I’m talking about, and I’m glad you bring up your post that
attracted the most comments ever on this blog. Let’s examine what
Mr. Landis says in it;

“”A lot of people think of Makhluf as a highway robber, and in some ways he is. But he is also one of the few people who can work through the system to get things done,” said Landis, referring to Rami Makhluf. “All kinds of banks and people and foreign investors who want to join in Syria’s development are going to think twice and think ‘What’s going to happen to me?’”

If I did not know better, one would think that Mr. Makhluf is not so bad after all said and done. He is simply a Syrian entrepreneur that knows how to get around the system. How lovely. If this isn’t a biased opinion I do not know what is.

As for your other comment “sorry if all other Syrian “opposition” blogs combined do not have a small fraction of the participation this blog alone has.” May I remind you that Aljazeera has the largest audience and participation among Satellite TV station in the Middle-East, that does not make it an unbiased and objective point of view. You might as well call it
Al-Jazeera Al-Muslima TV station.

Get back to the true debate and answer what I previously mentioned. You and Joshua have openly expressed admiration of the Syrian regime, Hezbollah, and Iran at times. I’m not sure what to admire about them, except their efficacy in creating chaos and bloodshed in the ME. This is coming from a blog that portends to be giving objective analysis of Syria.

Let me give you a good example of what I’m saying. In this post;


Joshua was trying to bring all the economic news on how investment into Syria are poring in despite the sanctions the U.S has placed on the country. In one of those tidbits of innocent news, he puts this;

“At a cost of 600 million dollars, Egyptian investors will build the largest cement factory in the Middle East, in Syria. “

We are delighted with all the good fortune Syria seem to enjoy with these investments, however, Joshua, either purposefully emits the beneficiaries of all these investments or the people behind it. Just to set the record straight on this one, Firas Tlas is one of the wonderful investors brining this 600 million dollars factory into Syria. Surprised? I do not think so. I believe both of you know this.

Let’s get back to honest objectivity before you end up another blog that is perceived as a Syrian regime mouthpiece.

By the way, Since you brought up Alarabia Satellite Station, they are claiming that they have invited Naserllahs’ stooges to appear on the air and they refused to do so since yesterday. I wonder why!!! But then again I did not expect you to say this on this blog. 🙂


May 11th, 2008, 7:38 pm


Alex said:

This Kuwaiti newspaper site


is suggesting that this is what happened


It sounds like Al-Syassa in reverse though.

May 11th, 2008, 7:39 pm


offended said:

You see Alex, AIG’s comment is a good testament to your Old Shoes reference of Al Arabiya TV.

I totally support establishing a Sunni militia in Lebanon, a first mission of which shall be to liberate Sheba’ farm.

May 11th, 2008, 7:42 pm


JustOneAmerican said:

I made a comment with a few questions in it that got held in moderation and is now back at 5:51am. If you all could scroll back up and take a quick read, I’d be much appreciative.

May 11th, 2008, 7:42 pm


Shai said:

Hasn’t Hezbollah proved that no other armed militia (including the official Lebanese army) can pose a challenge to its well-trained and experienced fighters? So how is KSA/Egypt/USA/Israel going to support anyone on the ground, without bringing in their own troops? And how can they do that? American troops will come in from the sea? From the air? I doubt it. Egyptian/KSA troops? No chance. Israeli troops? Not until bullets start flying our way. So who exactly can threaten Hezbollah’s power? Probably no one. As much as Nasrallah is not exactly my “favorite kind a guy”, I do respect him for playing it rather smart. At least for now… Though HA has miscalculated in the past as well.

May 11th, 2008, 7:43 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Hizballah broke the unwritten rules that it will not use its weapons to influence internal Lebanese politics. Why are you ignoring this? They crossed the fine line that allowed them legitimacy in Lebanon and now all of Lebanon will pay a heavy price. And for what? For the fact that Syria has grown impatient about stopping the tribunal and has asked Hizballah to raise the stakes. Extreme brinkmanship is a very very dangerous game.

May 11th, 2008, 7:48 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Be my guest. In this age, anyone can read the Sunni blogs and understand what is going on. There are many cries for working with Israel against Hizballah!

By the way, won’t the the Sunni milita first claim that in order to free Shebba farms it will have to free the South?

May 11th, 2008, 7:51 pm


Alex said:


You are missing the point … This blog is called Syria COMMENT … because 95% of the energy (if not more) is in the comments section … it is up to you to come up with good arguments to support your opinions. If you can’t, or you do not want to, then I can not help you.

Each one here has his unique pojt of view. Shai is different from AIG, Qifa Nabki is different from Honest Patriot, and I am different from Majhool.

And sorry if I remind you of the recent opinion poll in Egypt, Lebanon, UAE, Jordan … in which Bachar and Nasrallah becamse the two most popular Arab leaders.

I am really impressed with your defense of Al-Arabyia by the way … “they invited Nasrallah’s stooges” … that easily makes up for all the Shia hate that they ran 24 hours a day.

Here is my personal opinion: They are first rate criminals.

My favorite is New TV, and this week it is also LBC … LBC is doing a fine job so far being balanced and staying away from inflammatory style.

May 11th, 2008, 7:53 pm


Naji said:


I can’t believe you never heard of ANB…!! It is one of the major Lebanese Sat TV channels, but out of London…I think…!! Sami Khiami is often on it…


And, I agree, LBC has been doing a fairly decent job, and so has NewTV…!


Alright…, so Wi’am is a good ol’ fat hustler, but he is a lot funnier and more likable than little hustler Uqab… 😉

May 11th, 2008, 7:54 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

As QN said before what you said is obvious. There was no question that Hizballah was the strongest militia and stronger than even the Lebanese army. What was not clear to many was that they would have no problem using the weapons in the internal Lebanese political dialog.

I don’t get it. You would never support using force in a political disagreement. So why do you support Hizballah’s move?

May 11th, 2008, 7:54 pm


Shai said:


I guess we’ll see in the coming days/weeks how Lebanon as a whole treats this whole thing. But look at Amr Moussa, he’s already almost “begging” Hezbollah to let him broker between them. The Arab League, with all its so-called condemnations of HA, still respects the Sayyed very much, and knows he can stabilize, but also de-stabilize the entire region at will. HA has, for all practical purposes, become a very formidable and respectable party in the region. It is shaping the reality in Lebanon, and in the region. Israel will have to take that into account, just as it will with regards to Hamas.

As for using force in a political disagreement, I think there’s a big difference between using it between nations, and internally. With the latter, you’re right, I wouldn’t support it. Therefore, I’m not condoning what HA did, whatsoever. When I say that Nasrallah is playing it smartly, I’m not referring to the use of violence, but rather that despite the fact that he could have taken over all of Lebanon, he hasn’t, and probably won’t. He is measuring his moves carefully, trying not to overdo it. In any other situation, one would simply call this a coup d’etat, and HA would control Lebanon, overthrowing the current leadership, and establishing its own instead. That’s not happening, and for a reason. If HA miscalculates again, and decides to lob a few Katyushas into Israel in “celebration” of its successes, I will completely support an Israeli retaliatory act. But obviously not a full-blown operation into Lebanon, like in 2006.

May 11th, 2008, 7:54 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wow! Is there anybody wielding a gun and some popularity that you would not run to talk to? How about if the settlers in the West Bank arm themsevles to the hilt, claim they are supported by a million Israelis and start harassing Arab villages? Would you demand the Israeli army take care of them or would you call for negotiations?

May 11th, 2008, 8:00 pm


Alex said:


Do you usually read Zvi Bar’el? if you don’t you should. He is not too left wing, don’ worry.

I often disagree with him, but he is one of my favorite journalists. Partly because he understands how to read the signals.

He just wrote that Israel needs to deal with Hizbollah (politically, not militarily).

As for the rest of what you wrote …

1) the Tribunal can not be stopped anymore … it will go on no matter what the Saudis, Syrians, Israelis, or Americans want. Now it is funded and scheduled to proceed … Syria is not trying to stop what can not be stopped.

But Syria wants the tribunal to not be politicized Mehlis style.

2) Many parties crossed lines .. Hizbollah was not the first to cross them. M14 were the first… they knew what they were getting into. They either made a mistake out of desperation, or they have a long term plan that we will have to wit to see what its new chapters will look like… who knows what new surprises Junblatt has for us.

May 11th, 2008, 8:05 pm


Shai said:


No, there are very few political parties in the Middle East I would refuse to talk to. In future peace negotiations with Lebanon, you will see Hezbollah representatives. Same for Hamas with the Palestinians. This may not have been the reality had we made peace with the Arabs twenty years ago. If armed settlers in the West Bank truly DID represent a million Israelis, they too would have to be recognized, and talked to. They would count for some 20 seats in Knesset – I think any government in Israel would have to negotiate with this group, no matter how extreme it may be. But I haven’t called for recognition of just “anybody wielding a gun and some popularity”. Hezbollah and Hamas don’t exactly fit that description… By the way, a recent poll showed most Israelis (64% I believe) are FOR talking to Hamas about a Hudna. I’m not the only person willing to negotiate with the Devil.

May 11th, 2008, 8:08 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

There is only one way to deal with Hizballah. Let them understand that if they hit Israel, Israel will hit back DISPROPORTIONALLY (remember that we are a “criminal state”, so they really have no excuses anymore). But as long as they do nothing against Israel, Israel will not attack them. The old rules of the game are gone. These are the new rules. We have nothing to talk to Hizballah about. They know the rules and they can decide if they want to attack Israel or not.

Asad thinks he can influence the tribunal using Hizballah arms and pushed Hizballah to act. He will pay a heavy price for this. The only thing that will keep the Leabanese Sunnis down is a Syrian occupation of Lebanon. Let’s see Asad go for that.

Hizballah was the FIRST to cross the unwritten rule in Lebanon that weapons should not be used as part of the internal debate.

May 11th, 2008, 8:15 pm


Alex said:

Alright AIG,

I see today you are again in the mood to state your own opinions as “facts”.

Shai just reminded you that 57% of Israelis want their government ot negotiate with Hamas.

The sunnies in Lebanon are of different types. We will see how they will react to

1) President Michel Sleiman (that they wanted)

2) No more Hizbollah or opposition presence in Beirut’s non-shia areas

3) A new national unity government in which M14 still has a majority and in which the prime minister is the most respected Sunni politician in Lebanon, Salim el-Hoss

I’m not sure this is how things will go .. only God knows, but I am saying it is one possibility.

Sounds good.

May 11th, 2008, 8:17 pm


norman said:

Israel is happy today as it took Hezbollah 30 days to defeat it , While the Saudi supported Hariri people did not last more than hours.

May 11th, 2008, 8:19 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Your logic would have led Abraham Lincoln to negotiate with the Confederates instead of going to war. Your logic would make it smart for the extreme right in Israel to arm like Hizballah in order to make sure that settlements could never be dismantled.

What people believe in counts. You have to stand for your principles. There are people that you need to fight and not negotiate with.

As for the poll you mention, I think it is quite dubious and the question asked was misleading. The next elections will prove to you that there is not a majority of Israelis willing to talk to Hamas.

May 11th, 2008, 8:20 pm


Shai said:

Norman, people in Israel aren’t happy… they’re concerned. They’re starting to refer to Lebanon as “Hezbollah-land”. That’s not good news. For any of us.

May 11th, 2008, 8:23 pm


Naji said:

So AIG turns out to be Saudi after all…!!? I knew it…!! I never made a distinction between Saudi and Israeli anyway…! If you go back to all my comments, you will notice that I ALWAYS wrote Zionism/Saudism in referring to the ultimate menace of tribalism as manifested in the 21st century…

May 11th, 2008, 8:25 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

All your talk about finding solutions by dialog are nothing but hot air. But what can one expect from a Bathist that believes that Asad has the right to rule Syria by force? It is funny to see the Mice of the Golan trying to remarket themselves as the Lions of Beirut.

May 11th, 2008, 8:29 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Norman and Naji,
Does your cynicism know no limit? Look at how happy you are as Syrians that Hizballah fought Israel at the expense of Lebanon for 30 days while the Syrians are frightened to retaliate for the September 6th attack against the nuclear reactor. Look at how happy you are that Hizballah terrorized the residents of Beirut’s Sunni neighborhoods. Really, what is wrong with you guys?

May 11th, 2008, 8:33 pm


tony said:

ISn’t the best thing just a breakup of Lebanon between Shia and the rest? Or even between C, Shia, and Sunni?

May 11th, 2008, 8:36 pm


Shai said:


As long as a particular party is threatening my existence, I will fight it. Of course if tens of thousands of West Bank settlers armed themselves to the teeth, threatened to overtake Israel in non-democratic fashion, and was supported by a million Israelis in doing so, I’d support sending in the IDF. It would, in essence, be Israel’s own civil war. Funny you should mention Lincoln and the Confederate Army. I’ve often used the similarity, claiming that Israel’s “Slavery” is the Occupation, and that I have no doubt many of the settlers are preparing their own “Jefferson Davis”. To them, they’d rather see civil war, than give up on Biblical Israel. I hope we never come to that. In the meantime, I will continue to fight Hamas, and HA, if they shoot at me. But if they don’t, and if they are willing to negotiate, I’d be the first to show up at the table. I don’t know what some believe negotiations are supposed to be about, or with whom. But in my view, they are about reaching a common language and common interests with an enemy, not with a friend. And an enemy, unfortunately, often continues to be such, until the very last minute when the agreement is signed. Not a minute earlier.

May 11th, 2008, 8:39 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

And what would you do if the settlers instead of fighting other Israelis started taking over Arab villages in the West Bank? Since they are not shooting at you would you negotiate with them or send the IDF to stop them?

The Hamas goal is to obliterate the state of Israel. Israel’s goal should be to obliterate Hamas. When Hamas changes its goals and shows by its actions that it is sincere, I will rethink my position

May 11th, 2008, 8:45 pm


Alex said:


I think you are trying hard to get on people’s nerves.

Take it easy. state your opinions without adding “does your cynicism have no limit” and without putting words in Naji’s mouth .. he did not support “Hizbolah’s terrorizing of Beirut’s Sunni neighborhoods.”. he tolerated the violence hoping it will lead to the breakthrough that Lebanon needs.

Naji, Offended (and Enlightened when you wake up in few hours) … no joking with AIG today please. It does not seem like a good day for sarcasm.

May 11th, 2008, 8:47 pm


Majhool said:

This is completely false and intellectually dishonest post.
I don’t know the mechanics of how “Syria Comment” managed to plunge into this state of affairs but one thing is clear: the content as well as the emphasis of posted articles follow closely the Agenda of the moderator whom I admire his persistence and smooth convening powers, if only the thugs who are controlling the ME today, would learn to practice the same tactics instead of using brute force similar to what HA has managed to do in Beirut, it would be great.

May 11th, 2008, 8:51 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

The bottom line is that both Norman and Naji as Syrians supported violence against Lebanese.

May 11th, 2008, 8:54 pm


Shai said:


There’s no need for “what if”. Some West Bank settlers ARE in fact taking over Palestinian lands, illegally. By law, our IDF should go in there, and remove them. How much “success” does it have? 10%, 20%, 100%? Or maybe zero percent? Any illegal activity within a nation should be handled by the law-enforcement agencies including, if need be, an army (normally it should be the police). Did you know that in recent days the army recalled most of the weapons held by West Bank settlers? Even officers amongst them had to return their guns. (This was published in the media, so I don’t view this as disclosing anything that could hurt someone). Why do you think the army did this? Because the guns needed re-oiling, or exactly because the army feared having to one day disarm them by force?

Look, you should know me by now. I’m no “pacifist”. I don’t think that ANY conflict should be resolved by negotiation. If I was with the Allies, I wouldn’t negotiate with Hitler, I’d only fight him. But if Hezbollah and Hamas have gotten so strong, that they are in fact supported by a huge number of their populations, I cannot ignore that. I cannot hope to truly defeat them (in the absolute sense). I can, and will, continue to fight them at the battlefront. And if they harm me, I will harm them back. But while fighting, I will also be ready at any moment, to negotiate, if I felt there was something to talk about. The poll I mentioned wasn’t dubious, it was taken by all three major newspapers. Most Israelis, hearing Hamas’s offer for a 10-15 year Hudna, were willing to negotiate with it. If you ask me, I’d say much more should be required of Hamas (such as actual recognition of Israel, in its charter). But I’m willing to reach that at the table, and not through the barrel of a gun. I cannot force my enemy to first morph into “my type of enemy”, and then to negotiate with him. That’s living in a fantasy-land, not in reality.

May 11th, 2008, 9:03 pm


idaf said:

The stupidity/inflammatory award in all of Al-Arabiya’s coverage in the last 3 days goes to the 1 hour presented by Rima Maktabi 2 days ago about the future Lebanon.

They had a huge set of screens aligned with the fragmented map of Lebanon displayed and she was standing in front of it as a weather anchor discussing “how Lebanon will look in the future”. You guessed it. It had Sunni-1, Sunni-2, Shiaa-1, Shiaa-2, Druze-1, Druze-2 Lebanon(s).

It was a sad moment (I can list at least 10 other equally stupid/disturbing stories from al-Arabiya in the last 3 days). This channel has officially earned the title of “Fox News of the Arab World” by now.

May 11th, 2008, 9:06 pm


Alex said:


Do you know how many innocent Syrian workers in Lebanon were killed by M14 supporters? .. did you notice the story of Hariri’s militia men who slaughtered supporters of the Syrian Social nationalist party and cut them into pieces?

Do you remember how many innocent Palestinians Israel killed int he occupied territories? … how about the 1500 Lebanese killed by Israel during its invasion of Lebanon? .. how many did the “savage” Hizbollah kill this week? comparable to Israel’s savagery?

Junblatt’s supporters killed two Hizbollah soldiers just like HA killed 2 Israeli soldiers which you found in 2006 a good enough excuse to invade Lebanon and kill 1500 Lebanese …

If and when Nasrallah retaliates by killing 1500 Druze people like Israel retaliated, then I will reach a point where I consider them both (Israelis and HA) to be savage criminals. For now though … Spare us your attempts to make Naji and Norman look like insensitive Baathists.

May 11th, 2008, 9:07 pm


Shai said:

Alex, AIG,

I think we should take this opportunity and do what Naji often suggests, namely…. chill…! Yalla, from the wonderful ME, I bid you all a good night. Lyla Tov yedidi.

May 11th, 2008, 9:13 pm


Alex said:


I asked AIG three times today to chill. But today it seems he wants to play the honorable Knight defending … the Sunnis.

May 11th, 2008, 9:15 pm


Shai said:

Sounds like a Monty Python episode… but with a little less humor… 🙂

May 11th, 2008, 9:18 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

[deleted by admin]

AIG … you are still trying Netanyahu tricks.

May 11th, 2008, 9:27 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I will defend anyone who is committed to playing the democracy game fairly. This means accountability, freedom of speech and never using violence as a way to solve political disagreements.

The opposition should have waited patiently for the next elections. That is what you do in a democratic country when you don’t have a majority.

May 11th, 2008, 9:29 pm


Alex said:

رسالة مفتوحة الى سعد الحريري وفؤاد السنيورة
نسخة للطباعة

ان موقفكم السياسي المعادي لمواقف الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي هو من صلب العمل السياسي وحق الاختلاف في لبنان.

وقد تدعون ان من حقكم الرد على ما تسمونه اعتداءات من قبل القوميين على ثكنة تلفزيون المستقبل ، بالرغم من نفي قيادة الحزب، فهذا جزء من الجدل السياسي والازمة المستجدة في البلاد.

أما ان يقوم مناصروكم ومجرموكم بمهاجمة مراكز الحزب في كافة المناطق، وقتل العديد من الشباب والتنكيل بهم وتقطيع أطرافهم، وملاحقة الجرحى وقتلهم في المستشفيات، فهذا ما يتجاوز الصراع السياسي وحتى العسكري، الى الاجرام الموصوف والبربرية الهوجاء.

وقد سبق لسعد الحريري بأن أهدر دماء القوميين يوم اتهمهم بتفجير عين علق قبل اي تحقيق، ومن دون أن يعتذر لاحقاً.

إننا نحملكما شخصياً، المسؤولية المباشرة عن هذه المجزرة الجديدة البربرية في حلبا، ونطالبكما بالإعتذار عنها وتسليم القتلة المعروفين منا بالاسماء فوراً، وإلا فالايام بيننا و بينكم، بغض النظر عن أي تسوية سياسية في البلاد، ويمكنكم أن تسألوا رياض الصلح وبشير الجميل، الذين نفذ بهما حكم الشعب قوميون عاديون وبدون الحاجة الى أي قرار من مركز الحزب.

بيروت في 11 أيار 2008

مجموعة الشهيدين محمد سليم وحبيب كيروز

May 11th, 2008, 9:39 pm


offended said:

Where is Bondo? I do miss him at such times.

May 11th, 2008, 9:43 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

[delted by admin]

AIG .. enough playing the honorable man.

May 11th, 2008, 9:45 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

My point is very simple. Either you accept that rules of democracy which state that all political disagreements are dealt with by debate or elections or you don’t.

Do Norman and Naji accept these rules? From their posts it seems they don’t but let’s hear from them.

May 11th, 2008, 9:48 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Let me save you some time. Israel is the worst country in the world and is like the Nazis. Now, how does this justify what Hizballah did?

May 11th, 2008, 9:49 pm


offended said:

عبور البارجة USS COLE قناة السويس باتجاه المياه الإقليمية اللبنانية (AFP)

USS COLE battleship cross Swis channel towards the Lebanese territorial waters. (AFP)


May 11th, 2008, 9:49 pm


offended said:

what’s the deal? does your skin feel itchy or something? I am adviced by Alex not to talk to you today and I think it’s a good idea.

Do not address me unless I invite you to, understood?

May 11th, 2008, 9:55 pm


Naji said:


So, exactly what is the USS Cole going to do… give Jumblatt a lift to Haifa…??!

May 11th, 2008, 9:58 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I will address you or anybody I feel like it. If you don’t want to respond, don’t. That is your right, but you have no right to tell others who to address or not. Got it?

May 11th, 2008, 9:59 pm


offended said:

Naji, it’s possible. They can decide the destination en route. Jeddah sounds good as well. I heard Sheikh Sa’d Harriri (a half Iraqi) has got a nice residence there.

May 11th, 2008, 10:03 pm


Naji said:

Honestly, I don’t know anymore what is more insulting :…Having the Saudies pretend to defend the Sunnies, or the Israelies…?!! These are tough times for the Sunnies, indeed…!

May 11th, 2008, 10:04 pm


Alex said:


You just accused me of ALWAYS exercising my right to delete your comments.

Do you remember the date the last time I deleted one of your comments?

Read these rules again:


– Personal attacks against other contributors;

– Provocations designed to derail discussions away from substantive debate into dead-end arguments.

Now move to discussing issues if you don’t mind. You have a right to criticize others, but when I notice that you are wroking hard to pick a fight, I will start deletng your comments.

The past month i had no problem with you. Today, you are really aggressive… and I don’t ant to spend the rest of the night discussing your right to play like an honorable prince of democracy who is fighting the shameful Norman and Naji.

Move to discussing the real issues. Leave Norman and Naji alone.

May 11th, 2008, 10:07 pm


offended said:

this is what we call in Aleppo: sermayeh 3atee’a

May 11th, 2008, 10:12 pm


EHSANI2 said:

Dear Bashmann,

You claim that Josh is not objective when it comes to his analysis or reporting on Syria.

Has Josh ever claimed that his analysis is “objective”?

Why are you holding him to this standard when the world’s leading news outlets are not exactly “objective” themselves?

I read the Wall Street Journal daily. I am very aware however that the editor is anything but objective. Neither are the editors of the New York Times.

As readers, we must all be aware of the inevitable “leanings” of those who write.

The great thing about blogs like SC is that you can instantly take the writer to task for leaning too far in one direction or another if you so feel.

An example was your observation that the cement factory investment is backed by Firas Tlas. I would venture into saying that Josh may not have known this fact. I sincerely doubt that Josh omitted mentioning it on purpose (this is my personal opinion of course).

Josh’s analysis of the situation in the region has been more right than wrong. Just because what he says is not what you or I want to hear all the rime does not justify attacking his “objectivity”.

Habibi Offended,

These are cool shoes. How is Dubai?

May 11th, 2008, 10:20 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I think the Sunnis had it more tough when someone killed 20,000 of them.

If I would not be defending the Sunnis and instead would be dancing on their grave, you would call me an hypocrite. But the Sunnis in Lebanon with all their dislike of Israel were making a sincere attempt at changing the culture of Lebanon from that of the gun to that of politics. Yes, they used dirty political tricks and made many mistakes, but they didn’t hold a gun to anyone’s head. That was a major step forward.

You know how the Syrians controlled Walid Jumbalatt? They killed his father Kamal and told him the same fate awaited him if he didn’t play ball with them. Now, were these the tactics the Sunnis and March 14 were using? No, but this is what Hizballah is trying to reinstate.

May 11th, 2008, 10:33 pm


EHSANI2 said:


For an Israeli to lament the use of guns is a little hard to sell. I know, I know they are for defensive purposes in your case. Not so, when it comes to HA.

Israel has amassed its arsenal to act as a deterrence against its regional enemies. What makes it different in HA’s case?

The massive gains of HA on the ground must have convinced its adversaries that it is them that has made the mistake and not the other way around.

May 11th, 2008, 10:48 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

The point is not defense or offense. The point is that Israel and Lebanon are different entitites that are officially at war. But Hizballah is not at war with the Sunnis of Lebanon, or is it?

I understand Hizballah using its arms against Israel, but why would you condone Hizballah the political party using weapons to enforce its opinions in an INTERNAL Lebanese debate?

The difference therefore is simple. Arms are legitimate to be used against external forces but not against internal political rivals. That is the difference between democracies and dictatorships and the difference between parties that support democracy and those that don’t. Read the Lebanese blogs, Hizballah lost much of its legitimacy because it has used its weapons against other Lebanese and not against Israel.

May 11th, 2008, 10:56 pm


Alex said:

Today’s editorial from Al-sharr al-Awsat.

حزب الله.. ما أقبحها من صورة

صحيح أن الصورة تساوي ألف كلمة.. وتفضح الزيف، وتكشف الخداع. ففي خطاب ما بعد الانقلاب على لبنان، وتركيبته، ادعى حسن نصر الله أن ملايين الدولارات صرفت من أجل تشويه صورته، وصورة حزبه الإلهي، إلا أن أفعال الحزب هي التي فضحت كذب سلاح المقاومة، وزيف حرص حسن نصر الله على لبنان ووحدة تركيبته.

فكم هي فظيعة الصور التي بثتها وكالات الأنباء العالمية لمسلحي حزب الله، وقوات «أمل»، أول من أمس، وهم يطأون بأقدامهم، ويحرقون، صور الشهيد رفيق الحريري ليضعوا بدلا عنها صورة الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد.

ولا يقل عنها بشاعة إلا صور اللبنانيين التابعين للموالاة وهم مكبلون ومعصوبو الأعين أمام كاميرات قناة «المنار» المروجة لسموم إيران وحزب الله وهم يستجوبون في صور تظهرهم وكأنهم أسرى إسرائيليون وقعوا في يد حسن نصر الله، لا لبنانيون يجمعهم وطن واحد أهم ضمان له هو حق العيش للجميع.

تلك الصور فضحت الكثير، وستبقى راسخة في الأذهان عمرا من الزمن، ولن تمحوها حروب حزب الله الافتعالية، حيث أظهرت اللقطات صورا طائفية عدوانية مقيتة من رجال ايران وسورية الذين طويلا ما حاضرونا بالوطنية، وهاجموا خصومهم بالعمالة.

حين كان يقال إن حزب الله إيراني ـ سوري، وإن زعيم «أمل» نبيه بري ليس محايدا، بل تابع لسورية، كان محللو الخراب يخرجون علينا منظرين، ومشوهين للحقائق، مثلما كان يخرج لنا حسن نصر الله على مدى العامين المنصرمين مقسما بالله، وقاطعا أغلظ الايمان بأن سلاحه لن يرتد على الداخل، فهذه الصور فضحت لنا الزيف، وما يريده حزب الله للبنان.

فأي معارضة تلك التي تعلن انتصارها برفع صورة زعيم بلد آخر في عاصمتها، وأي معارضة تلك التي تعلق صور مرشد إيران على الجدران في الشوارع، وتحتفل بصور مراجع حزب الله و«أمل» في الأحياء السنية اللبنانية؟ هل بعد هذه العمالة عمالة؟

يتهم حسن نصر الله، وأعوانه وموظفوه، في وسائل الإعلام المحسوبة على إيران وسورية، النواب المنتخبين من قبل الشعب اللبناني بالعمالة فقط لأنهم يرفضون مشروعه الإيراني، ويرفضون الوصاية، وإعادة الاحتلال السوري للبنان.

رفيق الحريري، الذي داس رجال إيران وسورية صوره، لم يحتل بيروت ويحرقها، بل عمّرها، ولم يجتمع مع اسرائيلي في الخفاء، ولم يفاوض، مستغلا تشويش أزيز المدافع، وغبار القتال، حتى لا يرى أو يسمع أحد. كما لم يفاوض إسرائيل، لا عن طريق وسيط تركي ولا غيره من الدول العربية، ويعتبر رقبة حسن نصر الله ورقة في ملف المفاوضات، بل كان ضمانا لحماية لبنان، وسلاح المقاومة المزعومة، لبنان الذي يحتله حزب الله اليوم.

تلك الصور القبيحة التي شاهدها العالم أجمع، يجب أن تكون الجرس لمن لم يفق في عالمنا العربي، حيث ان تلك الصور تعكس ملامح الدولة الإيرانية المراد زراعتها في العالم العرب

May 11th, 2008, 10:56 pm


EHSANI2 said:


Whether I condone or support the use of arms by HA is irrelevant. The fact is that this entity is well aware that only by being armed can it further its cause. You as well as many many Lebanese clearly have a problem with this. I understand that.

May 11th, 2008, 11:08 pm


Nour said:


Take it easy on AIG. He is obviously getting extremely frutrated witnessing the Bush doctrine falling into pieces right before his eyes. His propaganda and hate campaign won’t change anything. Today the opposition has taken control of the entire Chouf mountains. Jumblatt and Co. have been playing with fire this whole time and were patiently told to cut it out. They refused, of course at the behest of the Bush administration and the neocons in Washington, and are now paying for it. As As’ad Abu Khalil said, you can see the fate of the Bush Doctrine on Jumblatt’s face.

May 11th, 2008, 11:09 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

It is one thing to argue that Hizballah should remain armed to protect Lebanon and another to argue that it is legitimate for them to use the same weapons in the internal Lebanese debate. The two issues should not be confounded.

May 11th, 2008, 11:13 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Thank you for your sympathy.
If you think what is happeneing is good for Lebanon, I will not argue with you. When will you learn to judge things by not how bad they are for Bush, but how good they are for Lebanon?

Of course you are condoning armed action against the Chouf to resolve a political disagreement. Why am I surprised? What you mean by democracy is that your side is allowed to use violence but the other side can’t.

May 11th, 2008, 11:16 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


This is really shameful.

Joshua went to the trouble to write a long and informative post about SYRIA, and the single solitary comment on it has to do with Lebanon.

Meanwhile, these LEBANON-focused posts have comments numbering in the hundreds.

Shame on you! Stop talking about Lebanon! It is totally unexceptional. There is nothing interesting, groundbreaking, or newsworthy taking place there (unless you find short skirts and half-men newsworthy). Shoo!


May 11th, 2008, 11:49 pm


norman said:


What you see in Lebanon is not a war between Sunni and Shaia , It is between the people who are allied with Israel , the US and KSA and the people who want to deter Israel and the US from dominating the Mideast , controling Lebanon is part of that war ,

The opposition and the western backed government have Suni , Shia , Christians and Druz , so can you please stop making look like Sunni and Shia conflict.

May 12th, 2008, 12:42 am


Enlightened said:


I must protest although some comments here are a BIT Biased, there is nothing like the shamefull and hate filled sectarian comments on some sites. It takes only a slight sniff and the wierdos and idiots come out of the closet.

I have been absent for 48 hours here, and spent the afternoon yesterday at my mums (mothers day) family BBQ every one present (She very M14), her brother (my uncle) very pro opposition got into a slanging match, my brother (hate politics) me (thinks both sides are fools) had to calm them down.

I have made a pledge to myself ( some self restraint) that I am not going to comment on the situation until it ends. Its too emotive, and when you get get emotion in the way of having a balanced debate , there can be no reason.

I am only going to say that I am deeply offended (not the commentator here by the thread name) at some of the snide and banal responses by some of the commentators here in the last few days. Until this blows over( and I hope very very soon) I do not wish to add to the commentary.

May 12th, 2008, 1:27 am


Qifa Nabki said:

Enlightened One (to use Ammo Norman’s appellation for you),

Wise words.

May 12th, 2008, 1:51 am


Honest Patriot said:

Enlightened, I shall join you in solidarity. I think the true Lebanese like us are suffering and we will benefit from a lull in the blogging. I thought QN had decided to do that a short while ago but then the addictive ingredient that Josh adds to this system brought him back – and me as the fast follower of QN along. But now I’ll heed the call from down under. For one week at least. I do hope it’s all settled by then (wishful thinking 🙁 ).

May 12th, 2008, 1:55 am


Alex said:

I’m betting 100 Syrian Pounds that HP will not be able to stay away from here a whole week.

May 12th, 2008, 1:57 am


Enlightened said:


My head is in a spin from the garbage I have heard and witnessed personally interacting with people in the last 48 hours, Saturday afternoon I grabbed my wife and asked my uncle ( a mechanic) to accompany us to purchase a new car for my wife.

I got 3 hours of headaches from my uncle (pro opposition) at one point I was tempted to Leave him at the other end of the city for him to find his own way home (my wife asked me to have some patience with him and warned me against what I had in mind, it takes the sanity of your better half to give you a reality check on how to behave sometimes LOL).

Anway the moral of the story is Mrs Enlightened got a brand New Honda Accord Euro ( The winner) , I got a headache (Loser physically and financially) Enlightened Junior ( 1 year and 5 days)
had the last say when he said Daddy and smiled and made me remember what the important things in life where.

My only wish is that when I take enlightened Junior to Lebanon and Syria to see his relatives when he is old enough that we bequeth a world to him that is free from what i have experienced in the last week.


You Tight wad cheapstake make the bet more interesting!

May 12th, 2008, 2:11 am


norman said:

Enlighted one , QN ,HP

Are you guys trying to tell us that you will be absent from S C leaving AIG to represent you and M 14 , I would not do that if i were you, It does not look good ! .

May 12th, 2008, 2:13 am


Bashmann said:


Thanks for the wonderful reply, I always thought of you as one of the sane voices on this blog. Your economic views and analysis brings wonderful insights into the debate on Syria. I sincerely thank you.

Now let’s get back to your comment. My comment on objectivity is only meant to set the record straight when it comes to facts. I do not expect Josh or Alex to be the champions of objectivity. I only want them to honestly acknowledge the facts about the regime in the same manners they acknowledge the facts about its opponents. This of course will never happen as you have mentioned, and I totally agree with you, because each person has a certain leaning towards one side or another.

As you know Joshua is a respected analyst and has been doing the rounds on news channels and radio stations criticizing harshly this administration’s policies towards Syria. Not that this administration ever formulated a policy towards Syria except to NOT talk to the regime and slap sanction on it. Yet Joshua’s point of view is well known and his sympathy towards Bashar’s regime is documented. I’ve followed his activities on this blog closely and heard most of his interviews. His contention with the Bush administration that they seem to be a bunch of “blockheads” when it comes to Syria and refuse to listen is not new and shared by many in Washington. I have no issues with his views on the administration even when I disagree with them. What I have issues with is his presentation of the Syrian regime. He seems to ignore the history and make-up of this regime when speaking about it. We all know, and I’m talking even the most ardent supporters of this regime on this blog including Alex, Norman, and others, of the repressive nature of this regime, yet Joshua seems to omit or on most occasions limit the discussion of it publicly. While on other occasions, as in this post, he is accusing the media of spinning things while he himself is spinning the news on HA!

Spinning seems to be the choice word of the day, as Lebanon falter under armed thug’s intent on using force to achieve political objectives. The rest of the world is condemning HA actions and Syria Comment is spinning the news in their favor.

I expected Josh as usual to do this on news that relates to Syria but to read this on news concerning HA, its mind boggling to me. HA chose the guns, after it promised never to turn them on Lebanon, to simply reverse the government decision on HA private communication network and re-instate the Airport security chief. Yet Joshua seems to think of this as a provocation by Jumblatt. What more provocation do you want than Naserllahs’ infamous inflammatory speeches? The one he made after his coup d’état is a classic example. He says “We have the right to defend ourselves against anybody and we will cut the hand that tries to disarm Hezbollah”; if this is not a provocation I do not know what is. For anyone to spin the news on HA as the rational party in the conflict is a great travesty to the science of political analysis. This is a party that have simply ran out of its usefulness and must lay down its arms and compete with all other political parties on the Lebanese scene through the civilized forum of the ballot box. It refuses to do so and stages what it calls civil disobedience supported by the power of their armed militia. An insult to civil disobedience indeed.


May 12th, 2008, 2:25 am


Enlightened said:


I am no card carrying member of M14, nor do I have any Harrirri posters up in my house! (lol)


the positive in AIG stating that he is in favour of Democracy ( as am I, QN, and HP) is a good thing.

Over to you AIG the democracy bit is all yours! (ps me handing you my proxy speach card does not entitle you to abuse it). Remember One man one vote, not sectarianism or ethnic tribal based democracy. With a Bi cameral legistlative body.

May 12th, 2008, 2:27 am


norman said:

Enlighted one ,,

I do not mind a democracy build on the System in the US , I do mind democracy built on set a side and quotas , on representative democracy like Iraq, Jordon , Egypt , Israel or even England , with many ethnic groups in the Arab world districts and decentralised government are more appropriate.

( Remember One man one vote, not sectarianism or ethnic tribal based democracy. With a Bicameral legislative body. )

That is my goal for Syria , Lebanon and the rest of the Arab states.

May 12th, 2008, 2:39 am


norman said:


Let me make it clear to you

I was never in the Baath party or any other Syrian party,
I do not know anybody in the Syrian government and i do not need to know anybody in government ,

I look at the things that can be improved in Syria , I tend not to complain about the bad programs that they had for the last 40 years , instead i like to show them how to make things better .

I do not think that any of us should badmouth Syria on the Internet no matter who is in charge in Syria first because that will make us the laughing stock of Syria’s enemies and like a marriage , problems between husband and wife should not be mentioned to the friends and the naihbors if for that marriage to survive ,

What I fear is that your objection to the regime comes only from the fact that Bashar Assad is not Sunni, and that is shameful.

May 12th, 2008, 3:09 am


Alex said:


You continue to imagine that anyone who does nto share your anti regime anti Shia anti Alawite feelings is not objective.

I have written a million times here, and I will repeat it:

The regime is highly corrupt… Syria is very badly managed … economic reforms are going very slowly and too cautiously…. there is no freedom of political expression in Syria.

So .. there is no problem criticizing the regime. And if you go to the Syria Comment categories (above, left), you will find tens of stories about the prisoners of conscious in Syria and about other stories which are mostly negative for the regime (like blocking facebook ..etc)

Ehsani and Qifa Nabki were both asked to become authors on this blog and you know that neither one of them is a “regime supporter” .. so I find it not very convincing on your part to claim that Alex or Joshua are pro-dictatorship. Please let me know how many anti-Syrian regime sites invite and welcome pro-regime authors to post articles (not comments).

To be ready for democracy, it takes more than repeating the neocon slogans. You have to be able to practice it.

But you want us to repeat after you the same tired charges … “thugs” “criminals” … thieves” …

I happen to believe that “the regime” is the best thing out there for the stability of Syria, and on the long run, for the stability of the Middle East.

And I happen to believe that your idols in Saudi Arabia are behind many of the disasters in the Middle East … they are the ones who started the Muslim Brotherhood campaign to overthrow Hafez Assad which led to more moukhabarat power in Syria and to the sad week in Hama and to the sickness in many of you that make you till this day dream of taking revenge from the Alawites… especially those of you who believe you are actually secular.

It is your Saudi friends who started the process that led to all those undesirable outcomes … f they did not need to overthrow Hafez Assad (because he is not Sunni) we would have had much less moukhabarat in Syria (just like pre1977) and no Hama … and … and …

You want to shed light on the negatives of the Syrian regime, I want to shed light on the negatives on the Saudis … they are doing much more damage to the whole Middle East.

May 12th, 2008, 3:09 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

So your idea of democracy is pointing a gun at people’s head? That is why you support what Hizballah did?

[deleted by admin]


This was the last time you will accuse others through your Netanyahu tactics.

Am I clear? .. if I am not, write me an email

other wise, I will ban you for a week starting the next time you tell Norman or Naji or Offended or Enlightened that they support pointing guns to people’s heads ..etc.

May 12th, 2008, 3:14 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

So your idea of democracy is sending armed troops into the neighborhoods of people that don’t agree with you? Is that why you support what Hizballah did?

PS You see Alex, I understand.

May 12th, 2008, 3:26 am


Enlightened said:

ER: (where did I say I support putting guns to peoples heads?)

OK AIG: I revoke my proxy speach card on the grounds you abused it!

May 12th, 2008, 3:30 am


norman said:


For you to talk about pointing the gun is laughable , you are not just pointing the guns at the Palestinians , your are shooting them , you are not even trying to show them that you care about them , so what do we see is killing and more killing Israelis and Palestinians ,

The electoral college in the US is meant to protect small states and to give a chance to candidates from small state to win an election,

Districts are better for Syria , you can start with districts with a majority ethnic group or religious ones but as long as there is anti discrimination laws in housing and employment these district will change their mix , with small districts people will know the people they are voting for and party leaders will not put their friend in power , and with time minorities will have a better chance , look at Iraq , after the new democracy the Christian are running away and there is only one representative in parliment.

Is that a real democracy , I doubt it. minorities will have a better chance if the people know them and vote for them as individuals, look at the US , The Jews who are 3% of the people in the US are about 20% of the house and that could not have been if the US has a representative democracy.

May 12th, 2008, 3:33 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Yes, the usual accusations of Israel instead of explaining your actions and why you support Hizballah violence.

And of course your understanding of democratic systems is straight out of Syrian text books. The electoral college is not meant to give a chance to candidates from small states, it is meant to give small states more say in choosing the the president.

Districts in Syria if they are not gerrymandered will result with very few representatives from minorities until people don’t vote in a sectarian way in Syria and that may take generations.

Which brings us to your fallacy that Jews would be less represented if there was a representative democracy in the US. After all the national lists could contain the same number of Jews and the results would be the same. You just do not understand how the US system works and why Jews are over-represented.

May 12th, 2008, 3:44 am


wizart said:

Mr Israeli Know It All;)

I felt more energy keeping away from you recently! It also occured to me more people are thinking about taking a similar route to peace and health. It includes ignoring most everything you say.

You seem attracted to a lot of the negativity you generate because it gives you a sense of importance. After all, receiving negative regards must feel better for you than receiving no regards at all which is what happens when more and more people choose to either ignore you or ban you altogether for your persistent abuse. IMO.

I cast my vote in support of banning you from Syria comment blog.

May 12th, 2008, 4:18 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Thanks for your support. As usual you contradict yourself by giving me more negative feedback while claiming that this is what I really want and shouldn’t be given. Go figure.

May 12th, 2008, 4:29 am


wizart said:


Humanists are a generous bunch. You’re not the only Israeli who could benefit from reading this blog. I figure your hunger is insatiable and it tends to crowd out other Israelis and countless people from more friendly countries that we often miss thanks to you who might have missed or ignored earlier posts on narcissism.

May 12th, 2008, 6:04 am


offended said:

Habibi Ehsani,
How’s your business partner doing? I gope he’s well. Dubai is cool you know, I’d prefer the emirates towers hotel to the Phenicia hotel at any day!

May 12th, 2008, 9:16 am


Welcome | Project on Middle East Democracy said:

[…] Over at Syria Comment, Joshua Landis provides analysis, and for Nasrallah’s May 8th press conference, click here. Marc Lynch writes on the Egyptian connection at Abu Aardvark. […]

May 12th, 2008, 1:02 pm


JustOneAmerican said:

As a largely disinterested American, I tend to think HA overplayed its hand here. It’s hard to see what HA will gain beyond a return to the status quo – a return paid for by further division and the negative consequences of using the resistance to solve an internal political problem. Such a limited use of force rarely provides lasting benefit, if history is any judge.

May 12th, 2008, 3:20 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Ammo Norman

You said:

“I do not think that any of us should badmouth Syria on the Internet no matter who is in charge in Syria first because that will make us the laughing stock of Syria’s enemies and like a marriage , problems between husband and wife should not be mentioned to the friends and the naihbors if for that marriage to survive.”

I always respect your opinions. But allow me to gently suggest that this is one of the problems that will keep Syria from evolving in the right direction. If intelligent Syrians don’t criticize the regime on a regular basis — not in a vicious way, but in a constructive one — then how can we hope for developments of the kind Alex mentioned?

Also, don’ you think it is slightly unfair to not talk about Syria’s problems so as not to make it a laughing stock, all the while ridiculing Lebanon’s problems over and over, and turning it (and many of its politicians) into a laughing stock?

I would prefer that ALL politicians and regimes be subjected to criticism. But, of course, I understand if you would prefer to not criticize because you have family still in Syria, and that you do not want to put them in difficult positions.

May 12th, 2008, 3:29 pm


Shifting sands in Lebanon | Antony Loewenstein said:

[…] expert Joshua Landis comments on the latest news from Lebanon (and the apparent withdrawal of Hizbollah troops from the streets […]

November 1st, 2008, 5:30 am


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