How the Lebanese Delegation was Blindsided at Annapolis - Syria Comment

How the Lebanese Delegation was Blindsided at Annapolis

According to good sources, the Lebanese government was blindsided at Annapolis with the candidacy of Michel Suleiman as President 

As officials began to arrive at Annapolis and started circulating, E.U, and then Egyptian officials began to approach their Lebanese counterparts. “Congratulations on your new president,” they were informed.

The jaws of the Lebanese delegates dropped. It was the first any of them had heard of such news.

The Lebanese made their way to Secretary of State Rice to find out the truth of this breaking news. Secretary Rice played coy, claiming that the deal was the doing of the French and Egyptians. It was not clear to what extent she was on top of the latest deal making.

Kouchner is primary target of Lebanese contempt. They blame him for pulling the rug out from under them and fixing the deal behind their backs. It was their way of getting the Syrians to Annapolis. Egypt helped swing the deal. They had been in favor of Michel Suleiman from the start. The Saudis had fallen into line begrudgingly.

Faysal Miqdad, the Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister, was by all accounts very quite and subdued at the Annapolis meeting. He did not demand attention, but rather watched the proceedings with an air of satisfaction and anticipation. One reporter told me that the Syrian delegation was jubilant after it was over.

As one Lebanese said, “The French screwed us because they brought Syria to Annapolis. They decided the President of Lebanon without March 14.” 

When asked what is wrong with Suleiman. I was told. “He is an unknown person to March 14.”

The Fouad Seniora government had wanted, in order of preference, the president to be

  1. Nassib Lahoud
  2. Butros Harb
  3. Khoury 

Evidently, Saad Hariri had not been so much asked as told by the French that Michel Suleiman was to be given the go ahead to become president.

He caved to the French pressure because he has been faced with growing complaints from the Christians that the Sunnis are taking too much power. Hariri has been accused of hurting the Christians by allowing the presidency to remain weak. They are worried that Hariri will allow it to remain vacant now that Lahoud has gone.

The March 14 position of insisting that the president be elected by the parliament based on a vote from 50% of the deputies plus-one collapsed when Cardinal Sfeir announced that he would not accept this.

SO HOW DO WE EXPLAIN THIS? 

Why would France want Syria at Annapolis so much? Why would Washington allow itself to be dragged along? What about Saudi Arabia and Israeli?

— 

At this point I enter into the land of speculation. The above part of this story seems fairly well sourced and I trust it.

What follows is what some well placed Lebanese believe. I do not believe that the US can or will attack Iran, but many Lebanese do. It is how they explain what happened at Annapolis. This is what was told to me. The anxiety that Lebanon will be cut loose and sold down the river by the US and France is palpable.

"It is all about Iran," my informant explained to me.

The Lebanese feel certain that the US is planning to hit Iran this summer. 

France and Israel do not want the Assad regime to fall. They do not want Syria to get sucked into a conflict. If Iran is going to get hit, they do not want the radicals to be able to move. This means getting Syria safely off the Iran ship before it goes down. Syria had to be "flipped," no matter the price.

Kind Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called Bashar al-Assad to warn him that “this was his last chance” and that he had to find a safe port to weather the storm. “You have to move over to the Arab camp now.” The Saudis went along with the Michel Suleiman request begrudgingly. 

Turkey also played an important role in bringing the Syrians on board. P.M. Erdoghan called Bashar four times.

One Lebanese said, “When you hear Israeli P.M. Olmert saying such nice things to the Palestinians it is to shut them up so that should Iran get hit, the Middle East does not blow up. It is not because he wants to be nice to Palestinians.” 

“This is what the French have done.” I was told. “The hit on Iran is going to come at the expense of March 14. This is the only reason the French and Egyptians are doing this. They feel certain that Iran is going to get hit.”

“This is to get Syria out of Iran’s orbit. Israel does not want Bashar to fall. They pushed to get Assad to Annapolis. They do not want anything to lead to war with Syria or the toppling of the regime, which would only multiply chaos in the region. France shares Israel's concern about Syria. The Sarkozy presidency is with Israel. It is different now than it was under Chirac when Lebanon was a primary concern for France and Hariri had a good understanding with the president."

When I asked if the Michel Suleiman would become President and if his candidacy could get through the steps needed. I was told: 

"Iran wants a “faragh” or vacuum in Lebanon. Any president will be bad for Iran, because he will act as a restraint on Hizbullah. Thus, acting on Iran's orders, Hizbullah will not let a president be elected.”  

There is another explanation for the story of Annapolis and why the Syrians have been brought in from the cold by the Israelis and France. It is that the French have lost confidence in the March 14th government and believe that a compromise president for Lebanon, even at the price of amending the constitution, is better than enduring with no president at all. Israel does not feel that it can make a deal with the divided Palestinians and prefers to see what headway is possible with Syria, which is a state and has a leader who is in control, can deliver, and says he wants a deal. 

[I will be in Chicago over the weekend, giving a talk Sunday at 12:30 at the Syrian-American Congress with Samir 'Aita. It will be held at the South West Marriot Hotel in Burr Ridge.]

Comments (231)


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

How about applying Occam’s razor?
The Syrians came because they did not want to be the only Arab country not there and even more isolated.

And as for the Lebanese president, check the Aounist blogs. There is no chance Aoun will accept Suleiman as president for 6 years. March 14 proposed Suleiman to buy time and complicate the relationship between Aoun and Hizballah.

December 1st, 2007, 3:20 am

 

why-discuss said:

I do not agree that US wants to attack Iran. The US wants to weaken it by isolating it so it could be able to deal with it politically in a position of strength.
The wind has changed for Iran. Except for Iraq, its influence seems to have decreased in arab countries.
Hezbollah is neutralized as they will be no war with Israel for a while. In the Lebanese crisis, Hezbollah had to choose between lebanese nationalism and the role of client to Iran, they choose to be lebanese before all.
Hamas ( another circumstancial ally of Iran) is been ostracized and sanctionned by Israel without much complaints whether from arabs or Europeans.
Like Hezbollah, Syria had a choice to appear as a Iran’s client or as arab nationalist. It preferred to go to Annapolis to join the arab family.
The lebanese crisis lost its momentun after Annapolis where it became clear that Syria could be tamed and included in a large deal between arabs and isrealis. Syria went to Annapolis despite Hamas and Hezbollah objections (and Iran’s). In Lebanon, the M14’s wishes for an elusive pro-US president became less relevant and a moderately pro-syrian and popular president less of a threat, in the contrary…
With such developmemts, Iran apparently is loosing most of its cards in the region, except for Iraq.
The US has now more leverage to pressure Iran politically about Iraq and the nuclear issue, especially after the failure of the european-Iranians negociations.

December 1st, 2007, 3:34 am

 

norman said:

Well researched and done ,
Syria should keep it’s sight on the prise , The Golan Heights and the solution to the Palestinian problem , All else is negotiable but Syria should never abandon it’s friends for any reason , it can bring them along for a complete peace .

December 1st, 2007, 3:37 am

 

Thomas said:

Research? More Landis fiction!

December 1st, 2007, 4:11 am

 

Enlightened said:

Josh said: “At this point I enter into the land of speculation. ”

During the Nahr el Bared confrontation I speculated that this whole episode seemed to push forward the candidacy of Suleiman as the President, it all seems a bit too contrived now don’t you think!

December 1st, 2007, 4:27 am

 

why-discuss said:

Lebanon’s soap opera continues…
The M14, who obviously lost the presidency battle, are trying to make it look like a victory by attributing to the opposition all kind of reluctance in approving Sleiman. Even Jumblatt is becoming suave as he is observing the wind turning and finding out who is the new powerful foreign influence to hang on to..

Sfeir is furious because he was pressured by politically debutant Kouchner to prepare a presidency list under pressure that was again totally ignored.
He openly vented his humiliation and anger toward the opposition and Berry…

December 1st, 2007, 5:36 am

 

MSK said:

Dear Josh,

And this is what I heard from my own sources withing the March 14 coalition:

Deciding to agree on Suleiman was a pre-emptive strike against March 8, and particularly Aoun. Suleiman had been proposed by March 8 in Summer, and rejected by March 14.

After Lahoud left Ba’bda without a new president elected, Aoun went into high gear again. By now accepting a constitutional amendment to allow Suleiman become president, March 14 has kicked the ball again over to March 8.

If Aoun rejects Suleiman, he will confirm what all his detractors have been saying for years – that he is only interested in himself becoming president and nothing else, even if Lebanon goes down.

If Hizbollah rejects Aoun, they will look like in Summer they were insincere (a.k.a. lying) and are now preferring a dangerous vacuum to an agreement with March 14 on Hizbollah’s own terms.

If Syria rejects Aoun = see “If Hizbollah rejects Aoun …” above.

At this point, nobody knows if Suleiman is pro- or anti- anything.

And the opposition DOES seem to have been caught by surprise and needs to now figure out how they will respond – which doesn’t look good for them, as they seem to prevaricating on their own proposal now.

As for the foreign powers having pressured March 14 … maybe yes, maybe no. My sources said that the “we accept Suleiman” move by March 14 was actually done in order to avoid pressure from outside.

That the Lebanese delegation @ Annapolis was surprised is not surprising – the deal was done by the Big 4 while the delegation was in Annapolis & everyone learned about it through the media.

–MSK*

PS: Josh, maybe we can have your source fight my source & then we’ll see who wins. 😉

December 1st, 2007, 6:45 am

 

Alex said:

MSK,

Yes, I heard this analysis yesterday on LBC (some show at 10pm eastern time)… Hisham Melhem was on the panel from Washington.

I would say that time will tell … I am assuming that Hizbollah will show enough resistance to the election of General Sleiman until Michel Aoun calls Nasrallah to thank him for his support and his sincerity.

As for Syria … please understand that Syria does not accept or reject anyone … Syria only repeats “we will accept anyone that all the Lebanese accept”

Obviously they have their favorite candidate … Michel Suleiman, then Michel Aoun … but no one heard them say it in any meeting with any mediator.

So there is no fear that Aoun will find out that Syria said they do not want him.

December 1st, 2007, 8:16 am

 

GG said:

I’ve read so much on this website and newspapers all touting this deal made by Syria, France and the USA to elect Michel Suleiman to the presidency; sometimes we get other actors thrown in: now Egypt, now Turkey. The news is all speculative and owes more to “well placed sources” (in Middle East lingo, “no one in particular”) and Western journalists who need their labels in order to understand the world.

What is this with conspiracy theories? And Josh, don’t you think that as an academic you should be more rational. You posit your theories (which as I’ve said rely more on you hopes and dreams), but the BIG question which you never answer is: how does Syria benefit by having Michel Suleiman as president? All it does is screw over March 14, but has no other material benefit. So I’m going to state some facts which you should be aware of:

1) Syria will never drop Iran regardless of what the US offers. Iran gives it relevance and it benefits economically from the relationship.

2) Hizbullah is a Syrian ally to the extent that weapons pass through the latter to get to the former. When Hafez Assad was alive the Party of God was a tool through which Syria could annoy Israel, and he regularly ordered his army to strike the party when it got out of line.

3) Under Bashar the relationship changed. His association with “the resistance” gave him credibility, but he has no influence over the party whatsoever. If Syria had any influence over Hizbullah it would have succeeded in persuading it to drop Michel Aoun, as it has been trying to do under pressure from France and Saudi Arabia.

4) Other than a free meal and board what has Syria gained from attending Annapolis? Zero! The jewel in its crown (or should I say Israel’s crown), the Golan Heights, wasn’t even on the agenda, and it doesn’t matter what the French promised Syria because Israel will NEVER give up the Golan and the US will never force it to.

5) Having Michel Suleiman as president will not benefit Syria at all other than not be a foe, which is the position of all the candidates. In fact it would have been more to Syria’s benefit to have Butros Harb as the next president; after all he was their next choice after Emile Lahoud’s term finished, had their occupation continued.

Once again, at the risk of sounding desperate, can you tell me how Syria benefits?

December 1st, 2007, 11:17 am

 

GG said:

MSK,

Tell your “source” in March 14 to put a gun to his head and pull the trigger. The guy is obviously as delusional as you.

His logic: M14 proposed Michel Suleiman to back Aoun into a corner, but Aoun proposed Suleiman in the summer and has accepted his candidature again? Where’s the corner? M14 are the one’s squirming because Houri says “yes”, but Jisr says “no”. And “we’ll never agree to amending the constitution” Geagea says he can now amend it, but Sanioura would rather cut his arm off than amend it. Wasn’t the in-fighting supposed to be by the opposition? Good plan M14! Where did it go wrong! Bunch of fools. If they really new what they were doing they’d be dangerous.

December 1st, 2007, 11:28 am

 

GG said:

MSK,

Latest update: Sanioura has now forgone the offer of cutting his arm off and is willing to “seriously” consider amending the constitution. Tune in … No doubt chopping his leg off may be another option soon.

December 1st, 2007, 12:08 pm

 

Innocent_Criminal said:

very interesting post. couple of comments from my side

Josh – The Americans & Israel would hit Iran to prevent it from becoming nuclear. And if anyone is capable of pulling off such an operation its them. But I am not sure the americans are willing to pay the price in the current political environment. And there is question on whether a limited strike would be 100% effective.

Anotherisraeliguy – You might not be too familiar with Syrian politics so here is a tip: Syrians would never, let me say this clearer, would NEVERRRRRR stick its neck out like that if they were not certain they are getting something back in return. They didnt go to Annopolis for the Golan, they knew the israelis are not serious about peace. But the Americans and Saudis offered them a solution to a more immediate problem which is Lebanon.

MSK – “At this point, nobody knows if Suleiman is pro- or anti- anything” I disagree, the man was promoted to army chief in 1998, you think the syrians would have promoted an anti-syrian to such a sensitive position? cause i certainly dont. Yes things have changed now but there is clearly a history of good relations with Suleiman

GG – Dude, whats with all the anger? Suleiman was placed as army chief during syrian presence in lebanon for a reason, they like him. And lets ignore the fact that he is on good terms with damascus for a minute. You answered your own question when you said “how does Syria benefit by having Michel Suleiman as president? All it does is screw over March 14” because last time i checked screwing your foes is a pretty sweet deal. And he is sure a hell of a lot better option to them than nassib lahoud or any march 14 candidate.

December 1st, 2007, 12:15 pm

 

MSK said:

Dear Alex,

That you & I differ on the Syrian regime isn’t new. I would actually be surprised if the Syrian regime were to be the only power in the region that isn’t trying to influence the Lebanese presidential election …

Dear IC,

Yes, in 1998 that was true. But then … in 1998 Michel Aoun was the biggest anti-Syrian Lebanese, Hariri Sr. / Jumblatt / Gemayel were in a deal with Syria etc.

Things can change.

Right now, I highly doubt that anyone can really say they know what Michel Suleiman is going to do should he become President of Lebanon.

–MSK*

December 1st, 2007, 1:09 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

I would discount “well-placed Lebanese sources.” I think GG is right about this.

The Lebanese, God bless ’em, are often guilty of believing that their grandmothers’ kitchens are the center of the universe, and every deal made at their expense or behest must have implications involving very large land masses.

To be honest, I don’t see any clear-cut “winners” or “losers”, on all the various fronts that people have been talking about over the past couple of weeks. The opposition kinda “won” with Suleiman, but now they have to figure out how to deal with Aoun. M14 kinda “lost” with Suleiman, but at least they averted landing Aoun, and anyway Suleiman seems like a good fit for the times. Syria kinda “won” but the tribunal is still on course, and that could be used as a political weapon against it in the future.

I vote for us to stop talking about who “won” and “lost”. If only Middle Eastern politics were so simple.

December 1st, 2007, 2:01 pm

 

Offended said:

Do you guys remember when Michael Young left a mocking comment, accusing Josh of ignorance with regards to the Lebanese affairs. That was when Josh predicted the rise of M. Suleiman following the incidents of Nahr Al Bared…

‘Score’ this round for Josh!

December 1st, 2007, 2:46 pm

 

Offended said:

Junblat: let’s concede our defeat.

December 1st, 2007, 2:55 pm

 

Offended said:

Suleiman will only accept a full term presidency!

December 1st, 2007, 2:57 pm

 

GG said:

Innocent_Criminal,

I’m not angry at all (as you should be able to tell from the tone of my comment); I’m simply astonished at some of the twaddle that people come up with when all you have to do is listen to Geagea on LBC and Hariri’s jokers on Mustaqbal. It beggars belief! Anyone with an ounce of common sense can see that M14 are in disarray. This is not directed at MSK, but I would be insulted if a friend / source fed me nonsense thinking I was stupid enough to believe it.

Finally! Thank you for re-iterating my point. All it does is screw over March 14, nothing else; so Syria has achieved nothing. What was Josh trying to demonstrate by the paragraphs of claims that Syria was sitting pretty? By the way, Butros Harb and Nassib Lahoud are also on good terms with Syria, as is Michael “Syria leaves Lebanon over my dead body” Daher. Now if he was elected I would become a fully paid-up, card carrying member of the conspiracy cult.

Qifa Nabki,

Thank you too. Finally, someone else sharing reality with me; however, I do think your point that “The opposition kinda “won” with Suleiman, but now they have to figure out how to deal with Aoun. M14 kinda “lost” with Suleiman, but at least they averted landing Aoun,…” is a little too simplistic.

True Hizbullah’s ideal candidate is not Aoun, but things seem to be a lot more complicated than just “dealing” with him. If you take a trip to Dahiya and other Hizballah strongholds you’ll notice a large and growing support for Aoun. Moreover, at Mousa Sadr’s remembrance day celebrations a couple of months ago, organised by AMAL, there were almost as many FPM flags as there were AMAL flags. How easily can Hizbullah drop him, especially when Hassan Nassrallah has actively nurtured a “my word is my bond” reputation? BTW these are my observations, not informed sources.

Second, an article in As Safir newspaper today claimed that Hariri has two options. First, accept Suleiman as president and a non-M14 PM, or accept Aoun as president and Hariri becomes PM. A recent piece by Sami Moubayed (“Bringing down the Republic” http://www.mideastviews.com/) would indicate that Hariri’s dilemma is not as easily resolved as you claim.

December 1st, 2007, 3:52 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Syria describes Annapolis conference as defeat for Palestinians

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/12/01/africa/ME-GEN-Syria-Mideast-Summit.php

Why did Syria go and help orchestrate this defeat?

December 1st, 2007, 4:03 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Aoun is gradually proving to be an egomaniac who thinks he alone has the solution for Lebanon. Chock it up to being (a) a General and (b) “Lebanese.” The saddest truth is how every possible regional conflict plays onto the Lebanese scene and influences all the current leaders (often dictating their positions) instead of having them all be led by the one and only interest that should matter: that of the Lebanese people and of Lebanon as a country.

All pundits, including on this post, have a good time analyzing which country influences which Lebanese politician. Ghassan Tueini of the An-Nahar (true) Lebanese newspaper has the solution in his 6-point plan including abolition of confessionalism and the estbablishment of bicameral government. When will Lebanese citizens develop enough lucidity to see that the interest of everyone of them lies in internal unity and complete disassociation from any foreign influence. Hey, am I not allow to dream ?

December 1st, 2007, 4:06 pm

 

why-discuss said:

When Sleiman declared that Nahr El bared conflict had nothing to do with Syria and that is was sunni extremists, he was shunned by Hariri and the M14 group. He appeared to have lost the chances his victory and heroism of the army brought him. Later he bitterly complained of the lack of military ressources and most of all by the indifference of Siniora governemnent to recognize in an official way (ceremony or other) the achievement of the army.
Did we forget that? Siniora and Hariri were obviously making him pay the price of his non anti-syrian declaration.
Now having to choose among the three Michels, the least problematic is Sleiman. The M14 is going to praise Nahr el Bared victory and the unity of the army. This move is also certainly an attempt to neutralize Aoun and embarass hezbollah, but Nasrallah is a pragmatic man, he respected Aoun and is allowing him to get out of that situation with dignity, by declaring that Hezbollah relies on Aoun’s decision. Aoun must find a new role to play after Sleiman’s election. He has declared his support for Sleiman, but once he gets some promises from Sleiman and Hariri about his new role, as key minister in the new governemnt he will fully back Sleiman.
Would the M14 accept Aoun as a minister and drink the poison to the end?

December 1st, 2007, 4:32 pm

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

When a Constitution contains a provision forbidding something, there is usually a concrete historical and practical reason. As Lebanon’s Constitution forbids the chief of the army from becoming President, what are the dangers of Sleiman assuming the presidency?

Meanwhile the Opposition is on strike today, business in downtown Beirut is dead.

December 1st, 2007, 5:01 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

before the Lebanese elect a president, they must know what he stands for, he must answer some questions .The Lebanese must not throw themself to the unknown.

December 1st, 2007, 5:14 pm

 

Bashmann said:

Josh,

I find myself agreeing with you, the US will not hit Iran, but Israel will.

GG,

You are right on. The regime in Damascus is up to their neck with Iranian investments and regional relevance and Hizbullah has become the rebelious child of Damascus. Many think the leverage by Damascus on Hizbullah is still significant, however I doubt this is the case at all.

AIG,

As GG mentioned, they went to Annapolis for the “free meal and board”. But in reality, Bashar is so far off the mark when it comes to returning the Golan Heights; he makes his father looks like a hero. At least in the final days of the late Asad, we almost made a deal with Israel. Today, I find your views to be more realistic than most esteemed analysts on this blog, Israel has no incentive whatever to giving the Golan back to Syria. And for those who think the US can influence Israel in this regard, I only say; keep dreaming.

Cheers

December 1st, 2007, 5:28 pm

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

I just wanted to mention the press photo of Sarkozy greeting Olmert during his visit to Israel. Sarkozy fell into Olmert’s arms like a prodigal son and almost in tears. It was disturbing. He fell into his right arms…didn’t shake hands, no manly embrace, completely without the dignity of head of state.
As to Kouchner, the fellow is a loose cannon.

When a pair like this is calling the shots and imposing their pick on Lebanon it does not bode well. In fact, the quartet of Olmert, Bush, Sarkozy and Kouchner calling the shots is very unsettling. Wither Lebanon?

December 1st, 2007, 5:50 pm

 

annie said:

Nur al-Cubicle, Sarkozy has no class; he walked straight out of Le Café du Commerce. He does not have what it takes to represent France.

December 1st, 2007, 6:20 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

To me, this story is all speculation, no hard evidence to back it up.

December 1st, 2007, 6:48 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

Bashmann said:
Israel has no incentive whatsoever to giving the Golan back to Syria. And for those who think the US can influence Israel in this regard, I only say; keep dreaming

Count me Bashmann in your column on this statement.

December 1st, 2007, 7:15 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Josh,

I agree! I do not think that the US or anyone else for that matter wants to, or can safely, attack Iran. But to say -as your Lebanese source explains- that Lebanon was the price paid by the US to Syria to make hitting Iran next summer possible is a rediculous proposition. What is Lebanon compared to Iran in terms of Starategic value? And does anyone think that the Syrian “regime” is naieve enough to play along in such a suspicious Bush-based scenario? And for what end?

While it is still too early to say with a degree of certainity, yet I believe that the whole thing was cooked up like this so that Syria and Iran (combined and not de-coupled) can provide the US with a higher degree of comfort and peace of mind during the coming hectic election season in the US. Whatever is left of Bush & Co. do not want fireworks (in Lebanon, Iraq or Occupied Palestine) that can further erode the Republican presence on Capitol Hill. At the same time, it seems that an appraisal of the situation on the ground in all three troubled areas; Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq, indicated that any “seriously aggressive” moves by either Israel or the Bush Administration may not come out as clear winners should push come to shove. Especially with a defiant Turkey, a confused Egypt, and a terrified GCC. Add to this a growingly nervous and anxcious Russia and a dollar-gulping China and a Europe that is tired of seeing its southern flank being uselessly and unproductively pushed closer and closer to the brink.

And mind you, its “habitual” for Reason and a for Sence of Realisem to down on departing Us Administrations. We hope this the case this time.

December 1st, 2007, 7:26 pm

 

Yann said:

“21:52 Hezbollah to support army commander Michel Suleiman for Lebanese president (AP)”

December 1st, 2007, 8:28 pm

 

trustquest said:

Hi Josh,

It seems that you have upset the same people who you think you are defending:

http://ya-ashrafe-nnas.blogspot.com/2007/12/plagiarism-all-over.html

And she has harsh words for you!
Do you have a reply?

December 1st, 2007, 8:40 pm

 

MNA said:

Michelle Suleiman was brought to the Chief of Army position by Syria and was also maintained in this position for 9 years. After Naher al-bared fighting, he acknowledged Syria’s support to the Lebanese army knowing that, after all, it was only Syria and not the Lebanese government or the west that supported it with fuel, spare parts, equipments, and maintenance. Let’s face it; he is pro-Syria, which does not necessarily make him a syrian puppet. His election is definitely a win for Syria; I would even venture to say that had Syria still been in Lebanon, he would have been the next President after Lahood.

As for Hezbollah, those who say that it is the rebellious child of Syria could not be more wrong, Nasrallah is a very smart and pragmatic individual, he is perfectly aware of the importance of Syria’s support to his group. Iran’s support is extremely important, but without Syria, this support, financial or military, would not find its way to him. Nasrallah needs the strategic depth that Syria provides to his group. Syria was the only Arab state that backed it and still backing it, without this support, Hezbollah would not have any Arab umbrella, and Let’s not forget that during and after the summer war of 2006, both Israel and the US were stating that most of Hezbollah’s missiles were Syrian made, and the very effective Russian anti-tanks came from the Syrian army depot and not from Iran. Few months back, Hezbollah announced that during the war, Syria gave him the decision and timing of it entering the war. It also played a host country to more than 300,000 of al-dha7ye residents who fled the war. Since the war of 2006, Israeli, American, western, and Arab intelligences have been talking about Hezbollah intensified rearmament, where do you think this is coming from or thru? It certainly did not come from Israel or the sea or fell off the sky. Certainly Hezbollah can not do without this support; Syria’s support is a life line to Hezbollah.

Hamas and other Palestinian factions are in the same ship as Hezbollah. Iran’s support is very important, but they can’t fight Israel from Tehran. Syria has been a strong supporter, an ally and a base for the longest time. Just recently, Hamas and other Palestinian factions had to choose between upsetting Syria by attending the Anti-Annapolis conference that Iran was calling for or upsetting Iran by refusing to participate; they chose the later.

As for its participation at the Annapolis meeting, Syria is sending messages to all concerned, and to its allies before its enemies. The message to Hezbollah and Palestinian factions is this; Syria still independent in its decisions and policies and a key player and don’t forget that your big brother and true ally is Syria and not Iran. The message to Iran is: don’t act as if Syria is a satellite state of yours and talk over Syria’s head to Saudi Arabia, EU etc… about Lebanon and other regional concerns and give concessions so to gain leverage in your nuclear standoff; Syria can at any time greatly diminish any influence that you have in Palestine and Lebanon or greatly intensify it. Syria wants Iran to compromise on Iraq and stop its exclusive support to the Shiites on the account of Sunnis and baathists and stop encouraging the idea of federalization. Syria believes in the Arab entity of Iraq as well as its sovereignty and unity. The message to its rivals and enemies, including Arab states is: although Syria is in alliance with Iran, It is definitely not a satellite state of Iran. Syria is only interested in Iran’s support to the Palestinian cause (Lebanon and Golan Heights) and not in its influence over the entire area or in its nuclear ambitions; Syria is the only regional power that is capable of limiting Iranians influence in the region thru limiting its influence in Lebanon and Palestine and if you don’t address Syria’s regional interests and concerns in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, and Israel, Syria will have no choice but to work even closer with Iran. By participating, Syria appeared flexible and a party with whom you can do business with. It definitely distanced itself from the Iranian nuclear issue and showed the Americans, Israelis and the so called “moderate Arabs” on one hand and Iran on the other hand, the importance of Syria to both.

What did Syria benefit from attending the Annapolis meeting? We still don’t have the full picture, but based on what we know so far, It seems that it has managed to break the isolation with some Arab and European governments, It lowered tension with the US and gave the state dept in the US more fuel to combat the neocons concerning policy toward Syria, and finally the nomination and possible election of Michelle Suleiman in Lebanon. What did Syria loose? Not clear…

Will Syria ever get back the Golan Heights from Israel?? It all depends on the following:
1- How serious Iran is regarding its nuclear, regional and Iraqi ambitions
2- How serious the US and allies are about stopping these ambitions
3- How Iran on one hand and the US and its allies on the other hand view the importance of Syria being neutral or in either camp.

Whatever senario turns out to be, I believe Syria will not abandon its allies, but will work to include them in any peace arrangement

December 1st, 2007, 8:52 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG and IG

More Israeli chiefs of intelligence wanting to finish the conflict with Syria NOW… and they believe it is doable… and they believe it is doable while knowing exactly (exactly) what Syria wants and expects from the deal.

After Dichter and Halevy, here is Danny Yatom

Yatom, a former chief of Israel’s Mossad spy agency, said the government should drop a series of preconditions and start talks with Syria immediately.

In the past, Israel has demanded as a precondition for talks that the Syrian government withdraw support for militant groups, including the Palestinian factions Hamas and Islamic Jihad and the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah.

In exchange for peace, Syria wants Israel to return all of the Golan Heights, a plateau captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. Yatom said that in March 2000, then-U.S. President Bill Clinton proposed to Syria, with Israel’s backing, that Israel withdraw to the 1967 borders, except for a very slight modification in the northeastern part of the Sea of Galilee.

Barak was prime minister at the time, and Yatom his top aide and senior negotiator with Syria.

Yatom suggested that negotiations with Syria and the Palestinians be conducted simultaneously, but said it would be easier to reach a deal with Damascus.

“Between us and Syria, there’s only the issue of a border, and we were very close in March 2000,” he said. “The negotiations with Syria, if resumed, will also accelerate the negotiations with the Palestinians.”

December 1st, 2007, 9:03 pm

 

MSK said:

Nur-

Business in downtown Beirut has been dead for a year now. It’s got nothing to do with the opposition’s “strike” today.

If you come to Beirut, I’ll show you around and then you can see for yourself. If you don’t want to come over, I can send you a map with the areas marked. It’s really not that difficult to understand …

–MSK*

December 1st, 2007, 9:10 pm

 

Alex said:

MNA

I agree with all the points you made.

I think when it comes to relations with Iran, Syria does not take chances. Going to Annapolis was not a surprise or a serious disappointment to Iran. It was always a possibility and they knew it.

December 1st, 2007, 9:31 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
1) Danny Yatom is for a flip as part of the deal.
2) This is nothing new. He has been saying the same thing since 1999 so it is not “more” people saying the same.

He can have his say, but many others disagree with him. Many people understand that the “realist” position is a long term loss for Israel because it does not contribute to democracy in the middle east. It results in sham peace deals with dictators just as the Israeli-Egyptian peace deal is supported by few people inside Egypt. Why repeat a farce? Once the Syrians have a democracy, they can decide if they really want peace with Israel or not.

By the way, Olmert just said that talks with Syria are unlikely:
http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/getstory?openform&6D7076C527A8D973C22573A400592269

December 1st, 2007, 9:40 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

The fact he has been saying the same thing since 1999 does not negate the fact that your smartest and most cautious and most experienced and least corrupt leaders are for peace with Syria in exchange for the Golan Heights…. these are not 18-year old peace activists with flower T-shirts.

I understand it when you disagree with me, a Syrian Canadian, about the situation and mood in Israel.

But I asked you before to try to explain to me what makes you believe you are more qualified to analyze the situation better than Dichter, Helevy and Yaotm?

Are you

1) Smarter?
2) more experienced?
3) more open minded?
4) more cautious about Israel’s future?
5) More knowledgeable about what went on behind closed doors during the past few years of messages exchanged between Syria and Israel through the Turkish mediators?

What makes all these people make “the mistake” of wanting to make a Golan for peace deal with Syria now?

December 1st, 2007, 9:54 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex.
How did you come up with the following gem:
“your smartest and most cautious and most experienced and least corrupt leaders are for peace with Syria in exchange for the Golan Heights…. ”

That is just not true. Some of them are, some of them are not. You have the problem of taking into account just evidence that suits your point of view.

For example, Shaul Mofaz who is currently transport minister and for years has been the defense minister before that (until the recent election in Israel) and was before that chief of staff of the IDF is firmly against such a move. And I can give you a huge list of such people. Mofaz knows the most about all that has happened in the Syrian tracks since Sharon is in a comma.

So when I hear what Yatom, Dichter and Halevy say and compare to what Mofaz and tens of other experts and generals have to say, I understand the complexities of the situation but can make up my own mind. That is how democracies work. In the end, it is the “realist” view that seeks short term gains versus the long term view that requires a fundamental change in the middle east for peace to occur: the democratization of Arab countries.

I am firmly in the latter camp as are most Israelis that don’t want fake peace. But it is not because of wishful thinking or ignoring of evidence. It is because we participate in the Israeli public debate about this and make an informed decision.

December 1st, 2007, 10:27 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

Yatom’s view is not new.
In fact, here’s an article he published in Haaretz just a couple of months ago:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/770552.html

Here’s a quote from the article – do you agree with his position?

“True, the Golan is a strategic asset, and relinquishing it is not without risk; but the courageous step of renewing negotiations with Syria carries major strategic possibilities as well – avoiding a war with Syria, eliminating Hezbollah, ending Syrian support for terrorist organizations, isolating Iran, stabilizing the cease-fire in Lebanon, reinforcing Israel’s strategic position in the Middle East, and diverting resources for domestic needs.”

As you see, even Yatom supports peace with Syria only in the context of a full Syrian flip – just like any other meaningful Israeli official who supports the move.

Other than Israeli Arabs and the tiny block of the far left (that’s 28% of Israelis, together), nobody else here supports the thin formula of ‘peace for the Golan’.

Not even Yatom, as you can see.

December 1st, 2007, 11:13 pm

 

GG said:

Josh,

I’ve had a week off work so I’ve had a chance to post a couple of comments on your site. I’m back to work on Monday and will undoubtedly be visiting less. So here’s one before I leave: Michel Suleiman will NOT be the next president! I have no “well placed source,” but you’re an intelligent man and I think you’ll be able to work out how I came to this conclusion.

I may be wrong, but I’m quite convinced of it (and not because Carlos Edde threatened to resign from M14). So I’ll be back later this month to either congratulate you on your analysis, or to hear what you told your source after he fed you false information.

BTW I wouldn’t pay any attention to Michael Young. Every article he’s written in the run up to the election point to a man obsessed with Michel Aoun – in an unhealthy way.

December 1st, 2007, 11:19 pm

 

Observer said:

I have said this before
1, Syria does not care too much about the return of the Golan. A peace with Israel even with full return of the Golan would make Syria into an irrelevant country with an oligarchy that has no mandate to carry anything
2. Syria is not afraid of the tribunal. The investigation was and is being used to pressure Syria into a corner. The regime has leanrd to live and act despite the “menace” of the investigation. France, Israel, the US after the debacle in Iraq do not wish to have a regime change in Syria, yet they do want a weak and pliant regime. They have learned that removing the regime of Saddam means that the US forces have to be the “lid” that keeps the place from exploding and that it is much easier for others such as Iran to exert control when there is “controlled chaos”
3. Syria slowly and surely caused complete disarray with the March 14 group and their leader Harrir who has received “instructions” on how to proceed from Kouchner, Rice, Bandar, and Mubarak and turned up to be nothing more than a good looking stupid playboy who cannot think beyond his nose as we say in French.
4. Syria went to Annapolis to make sure that if there is any real progress it would not be excluded yet it sent a hard liner deputy to make sure that if it fails it can clearly say: I told you so.
5. Israel and the current US administration are bent on hitting Iran and they do not know how to do it. Annapolis was supposed to be the smoke screen and the cover for the plan to allow the Arabs to accuse Iran of being the spoiler of the Arab peace initiative and therefore to agree to its attack.
6. The Shia in Iraq have won this round in the civil war in the sense that they used the US to battle the Sunnis and marginalize them even further. The attempt by the Sunnis to turn the tables by cooperating with the US for now will turn out to be a mistake for the troops will come down and the Shia then will marginalize them even further if not outright massacre them. Then the nightmare of the KSA will start anew as they will have no other recourse to counter the Shia except through their Wahhabi jihadists and you know they just arrested 208 of them.
7, Iran keeps acquiring more cards in its hands for it knows full well that Syria will never trust the Israeli US French initiative. As we say in Damascus ” even the donkey learns from repetition”. These promises started in 1916 with the Anglo French call for an Arab revolt for full independence when Mrrs. Sykes and Picot were busy carving up the turkey. They know that Syria cannot afford to let go of its alliance with Iran. It did so when Saddam attacked Iran in 80 and now it is doing so as well to make sure KSA and Jordan/Israel with or without the US do not put it in a corner.
8, I do not think that Syria would have liked Aoun as he is a loose cannon.

I agree with Nur as to the French. Sarko le premier as the French now call him has set himself the task of changing the culture of France. Well DeGaule once said about trying that: “le peuple vomira sa vache avant de changer”, He also has the illusion that the WASP culture in the US which holds everthing French with disdain will be easily overcome. He is in for a big set of surprises: a small country like Syria can put him in his place, the US will completely ignore him, Israel will use him and spit him out, and most importantly the French will clip his wings soon enough.
Now, I read today in the Daily Star that the Lebanese banks have been downgraded to B credit worthiness by the S&P and that the Lebanese bankers are furious about it. This means that the monies will start flowing out of the country and I expect that Lebanon will default on its debt and would make Argentina look like a picnic; unless of course the KSA is willing to bail it out.

December 2nd, 2007, 12:09 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

Regardless of whether some want to admit it or not, Syria’s leadership has scored a massive win. The invitation to Annapolis and the admission of the world powers that the next President of Lebanon will not be from March 14th is a massive double strike for Damascus. Being invited to Annapolis is a big deal because it marked the official end of Syria’s isolation. France, Turkey, Saudi and, yes even the King of Jordan, all worked the phones and made the personal visits to Damascus before Annapolis saw the day of light. Damascus was courted by all the key players but for the U.S. This is because the White House did not want to admit defeat so publicly. It also did not want to be accused by its March 14th friends that they did the unthinkable and that is to cut a deal with the Syrians. Instead, Steven Hadley and Filtman continued to sing the same song while Feysal Mikdad was shaking hands at the conference on American soil. The U.S. continues its nothing-has-changed-with-Syria tape but even a 5 year old can tell that a lot has changed.

This brings us back to Damascus. Not only did it win but it is back to being the most courted girl in the neighborhood. Iran wants it to stay in its camp. Ditto for Hezbollah that depends on Damascus as the gateway to its main sponsor in Tehran. While Syria will not drop this long alliance just yet if ever, it has done just enough to tease the rest of the world about that possibility. Damascus is now in the brilliant position of asking for a price from both camps. Given the stakes, it is indeed the case that both are willing to meet its demands. Lebanon’s President was the first salvo. It is unlikely to be the last.

Bashar has earned his stripes. He has established his manhood and some. Hafez can be heard from his grave saying…. Bravo son. You are now officially a lion.

December 2nd, 2007, 12:19 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Ehsani I am going to save this comment of yours,I think we will discuss it again and again, I do not agree with some of it.

December 2nd, 2007, 1:13 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

لكن وجود ستة علماء فيزياء متخصصين في الفيزياء النووية على متنالطائرة أثار تساؤلات عن احتمال كون الطائرة أسقطت بشكل ما للقضاء على العلماء الذين كانوا متوجهين من اسطنبول الى اسبارطة لحضور مؤتمر عن ابحاث الفيزياء النووية في تركيا.

وبين هؤلاء العالمة انغين أريك التي اشتهرت بأبحاثها عن بدائل اليورانيوم كمصدر للطاقة. وهي عضو في المركز الأوروبي للأبحاث الفيزيائية في جنيف، وتعمل ضمن فريق كارلو روبيا الحائز على جائزة نوبل في العلوم لاكتشافه مادة توريوم المشعة التي قد تكون في المستقبل بديلاً من اليورانيوم كوقود نووي.

وكانت اريك كشفت أن تركيا تضم حوالي 75 في المئة من مخزون العالم من هذه المادة المهمة والاستراتيجية. وقالت في دراسة حديثه لها إن في تركيا 800 ألف طن من مادة التوريوم المشعة من أصل مليون وسبعين ألف طن هي حجم الاحتياط العالمي من هذه المادة، وإن قيمة المخزون التركي تتجاوز 120 ترليون دولار.

وهي المسؤولة عن معهد لأبحاث الفيزياء النووية في تركيا، وتعتبر أهم عالمة فيزياء في تركيا. لكن رئيس الوزراء التركي رجب طيب اردوغان رفض التعليق على احتمال استهداف العلماء في هذا الحادث، وأكد ضرورة الانتظار حتى ظهور نتائج التحقيق، والتأكد من السبب الحقيقي وراء سقوط الطائرة بهذا الشكل المفاجئ .

يذكر أن 46 عالما في الفيزياء النووية قتلوا في حادث سقوط طائرة العام 2002 فوق إيران، خلال رحلة من اوكرانيا الى اصفهان. وسقطت طائرتهم بعد تزودها الوقود من مطار ترابزون التركي حيث توقفت لفترة قبل ان تكمل رحلتها شرقاً وتسقط فوق الأراضي الإيرانية لأسباب غامضة لم تكشف حتى الآن.

December 2nd, 2007, 1:24 am

 
 

Alex said:

AIG, IG

Look … I know that many smart Israelis do not subscribe to the point of view of Dichter, Halevy and Yatom. When I asked AIG about the difference in personality between him and them I had something specific in mind. We have in Syria (and in Egypt, and elsewhere in the Arab world) the same types of schools.

I will not get into that : )

By the way, I am sure that when negotiations start, it is easy to bridge the gap between Syria’s position and Yatom’s. Yatom’s conditions are more for your internal consumption … they are not obstacles.

December 2nd, 2007, 1:46 am

 

Alex said:

WOW .. look what we have today!

News!

Israelis hit Syrian ‘nuclear bomb plant’

ISRAEL’S top-secret air raid on Syria in September destroyed a bomb factory assembling warheads fuelled by North Korean plutonium, a leading Israeli nuclear expert has told The Sunday Times.

Professor Uzi Even of Tel Aviv University was one of the founders of the Israeli nuclear reactor at Dimona, the source of the Jewish state’s undeclared nuclear arsenal.

“I suspect that it was a plant for processing plutonium, namely, a factory for assembling the bomb,” he said. “I think the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] transferred to Syria weapons-grade plutonium in raw form, that is nuggets of easily transported metal in protective cans. I think the shaping and casting of the plutonium was supposed to be in Syria.”

All governments concerned – even the regime in Damascus – have tried to maintain complete secrecy about the raid.

December 2nd, 2007, 1:59 am

 

norman said:

Ehsani,
I am proud of you , you gave the credit when it was due,

Saul in his way to Damascus was stricken blind and the lord appeared to him asking him not to abuse his people in Syria , he became christian and took the name of Paul ,and spread Christianity among the non Jews.
President bush still has a chance to save his soul ,history can be repeated.

December 2nd, 2007, 2:15 am

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Alex, you may argue that Yatom’s conditions are for our internal consumption, but as you see, other than the Israeli Arabs and the tiny far left – nobody is actually ‘consuming’ it : )

You see, Israelis are not following baseless and false promises, as you can see in the polls.
On the contrary.

The days where you had around 40% support for a peace deal with Syria are nothing but a piece of history.
And even in the “good old days” there was never a majority for the Syrian formula.

Most Israelis know that flipping Syria is wishful thinking and therefor they’re not impressed by these rosy visions.

If Israelis won’t get credible proof, if the Syrians themselves won’t come and say loud and clear that they’re willing to flip – you’ll never see anything which resembles a majority in the polls.

You may see minor ups and downs here and there, but you won’t see a meaningful change in the Israeli public opinion, unless Syria will change its policies.

I just wonder why you always avoid confronting the real issue, why you bring these figures but never address their core vision, which is ‘peace for flip’.

You embrace the peace (and the Golan) part of their ideas, but you’re not addressing the 2nd half of their formula – ending Syria’s alliances with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas.

So let me ask you in a clear way: when Dichter, Halevy and Yatom present a formula of peace for a full Syrian flip – do you support it in its entirety?

December 2nd, 2007, 2:27 am

 

norman said:

Aig,Alex ,
There is no chance to flip Syria , If Israel wants peace with Syria only to continue it’s murder of the Palestinians then there will never be peace , On the other hands if Israel wants through peace with Syria to have a chance for full peace with Syria , Lebanon , the Palestinians and Iran which will secure Israel’s presence in the Mideast and the safety of it’s people and economic success ,
I wonder if they are smart enough to see the beyond the horizon.

December 2nd, 2007, 2:57 am

 

why-discuss said:

Observer

I agree with you in most of your points, except the one about Iran acquiring more cards. I think Iran is loosing many cards: Hezbollah is neutralized and is now getting into politics, there will be no war with Israel soon. Hamas is squeezed in total indifference of the arabs and the western world. The nuclear issue is starting to harm Iran economically, and is creating more tensions internally. Lebanon seems settled with a pro-syrian president that will tame Hezbollah quietly and let Syria have some influences in the geopolitical game. Iraq is gradually getting closer to US by signing a long term accord, despite the internal rifts. Syria is flirting with Condie. I think Iran is loosing its cards.

December 2nd, 2007, 3:04 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Yes, it is very interesting news. The Sunday Times is not a reliable newspaper for you?

It is your usual custom of ignoring news that doesn’t fit with your theory. The truth of the matter is that Syria and Israel are much closer to war than to peace as the article demonstrates. I guess the IDF did not believe that Syria would not retaliate. They didn’t realize how weak Syria is and what a paper tiger Iran is.

In the coming months, as the North Koreans revel their nuclear program, we will know much more.

December 2nd, 2007, 3:38 am

 

ugarit said:

“Syria describes Annapolis conference as defeat for Palestinians” — because the puppet called Abbas is not palestine.

December 2nd, 2007, 4:05 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

MajedKhaldoun,

What is it about my comment that you don’t agree with?

December 2nd, 2007, 4:57 am

 

Alex said:

Israeiguy,

So let me ask you in a clear way: when Dichter, Halevy and Yatom present a formula of peace for a full Syrian flip – do you support it in its entirety?

I support starting the negotiations … President Clinton (Bill) said it should take 35 minutes to finish the deal between Israel and Syria … I am not that optimistic, but … I know that it is not as complicated as you want it to be.

As for flipping Syria … we discussed it last time … there is no inherent value for iIsrael in “flipping Syria” .. you can’t tell your grand children that Israel returned the Golan to Syria in exchange for “flipping Syria” … flipping Syria (the way you understand it) is a catalyst for desired change to Israel’s advantage. If that change is good for Israel without being bad for the Palestinians of any other people, then Syria will be more than happy to help. If that change is meant to weaken Palestinians or Lebanese people so that Israel can kill them … It won’t happen.

When the process starts … everything will be on the table. Israel and the United States can promote their vision for the Middle East and Syria will be happy to try to accommodate any positive elements… if we fail, then we know that there is no way to be good neighbors.

But I am hopeful that a majority of people are “good” and that they will support “good” outcomes when there is no spin and distortion by those who are more interested in violence and hostilities.

December 2nd, 2007, 6:00 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Ehsani
My friend, do you really think Israel or US has anything to give Syria? Is Israel will give back the Golan Heights?,no,,or do you think US will cancel the tribunal,the most they may do is delay it only, do you think that Iran needs to court Syria?if Syria sever its alliance with Iran,Syria will loose friends and gain friends,the situation will be worst for Syria,the whole point is to destroy HA,if Syria fell in that trick,Syria will loose.
the election of president in Lebanon is not a done deal, vacancy is a good situation for HA,they will prolong it,is general Suleiman is pro Syria?, he was appointed at a time Gazy Kanaan was in power,he may not be pro Syria,notice the meeting between Geagea,Jumayel and Suleiman,there is nothing to indicate that they will change the contitution, Tueni and others are against it, and HA is against it, but even if they approved it Seniora has to accept it and that is embarrassing to HA.
the real reason Syria was invited to Annapolis,is KSA would not have attended the meeting,and this will make the meeting a failure,
nothing more.
we have seen that Israel refused to commit itself to a deadline,this meeting is a failure.

December 2nd, 2007, 6:08 am

 

Alex said:

AIG,

When it comes to covering the news of the Middle East .. the Sunday Times is … is … I am too polite to say it.

Of course it USED TO BE good before the neutral saint purchased it in a very benign move … the guy loves supporting free press. Of course a democracy lover like you would respect him.

Here are the newspapers owned by your friend Mr. Murdoch in the UK and the USA:

United Kingdom

The Sun
News of the World
The Times
Sunday Times

United States

New York Post
The Wall Street Journal

December 2nd, 2007, 6:13 am

 

Alex said:

Majed,

I partially agree with your pessimistic views. But Ehsani is on the right track. Syria is not there yet … things could still become much worse. But I can tell you that the Syrians are very calm and confident. I am happy they are publicly not acting arrogant… they could easily start celebrating. But with the amount of certainty out there, I would not celebrate anything yet.

Suleiman is “pro Syria” … he is not a puppet. Not at all. But he loves Syria and he wants to have SPECIAL relations with Syria .. not like Seniora’s “of course we should have “good” relations with Syria … just like all our other neighbors”

Hizbollah will approve him and embrace him … as soon as Aoun tells them that he won’t be upset at them for doing so.

What you are seeing now is .. more negotiations … they still have a lot to decide on … we know he will not try to disarm Hizbollah but what else will he stand for? … who will be the prime minister? …

Those are the real challenges.

We’ll see.

December 2nd, 2007, 6:22 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

Dear Majedkhaldoun,

I do not disagree with what you said. Like you, I still believe that the tribunal could present enormous problems for Damascus. Some think that it will be a dud. I will reserve my judgment till the evidence and the final report is unsealed in the court. If Damascus is implicated through devastatingly pointed evidence, all bets are off. Again, all we can do is wait now.

My earlier comment dealt with the latest round in the chess game. You have to give this round to Damascus. March 14th lost resoundingly.

I do agree that KSA wanted Syria to be at the conference and hence the pressure. But, why did Syria come and handed KSA the gift if she did not get something in return? Damascus’s comeback will not a dramatic one step process. It will take several hard rounds before it stands on its feet. I believe that winning this round was the begining of that process.

December 2nd, 2007, 2:05 pm

 

Observer said:

I agree with Ehsani’s analysis and estimation of the situation now.
Why-discuss: although Syria may have shown significant independence from Teheran in going to Annapolis I can assure you that the projects being built in Syria and the very close cooperation they are having in the military sphere is substantial. It would make the old soviet union look like a pygmy when it was selling Syria weapons and sending technicians. I would not be surprised that the real faction in power in Iran (khamenei and not ahmedinejad) has helped the Syrian strategy. Family members that visited Iran on both official and non official visits told me that this is the most solid country in this entire part of the world and that they are nearly self sufficient in most everything. Trains run on time there: can you imagine that in the ME.

December 2nd, 2007, 2:07 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

EHSANI,

Your post exemplifies what I find so interesting about the comments on this blog, many of them by people who are clearly very intelligent, and knowledgeable about Middle Eastern affairs.

Your analysis is brimming with pathos; you sound like a tear-filled grandmother waving her hankie at the returning war-weary young men of her village, who stand silhouetted against rising sun. Damscus is “the most courted girl in the neighborhood” … “in a brilliant position”… “a massive win”? Bashar “has established his manhood and [become]… a lion”???

This is just silly.

We grumble and moan for months about Syria’s isolation, seeing it as the source of all the problems with its economy, its human rights record, its belligerent dealings with Lebanon, etc. And then, when the isolation seems to be coming to a close, we start crowing about what a stud Bashar is for having withstood it?

I don’t think leaders like Hafez and Bashar deserve adulation. Maybe begruding respect, the occasional compliment about wisdom or realism, but certainly not the french kiss of an endorsement that you’ve given above.

December 2nd, 2007, 2:46 pm

 

Alex said:

Qifa Nabki,

I’m sure Ehsani will answer you too but until then, I can tell you that his last comment was accompanied with a smile, not tears of happiness. I’ll explain.

You know that my friend Ehsani has been a tough critic of the regime, and he has been mostly pessimistic about Bashar’s ability to stand up to all the powerful men and countries which he decided to not join in their Iraq and other controversial plans for the Middle East.

Ehsani always used dramatic language if you remember, in warning against the unsurmountable obstacles that Bashar will not be able to overcome. I used to joke with him about his black and white way of seeing things … that Bashar is not in an easy situation but I think he has a good chance to “win” at the end … etc.

So this comment is Ehsani’s way of saying “I guess you were right” … but the poetic language (switching from Black to White) was partially tongue-in-cheek … Joshua, George Ajjan, Ford Prefect, and I area among those who appreciated the humor in his last statement.

December 2nd, 2007, 3:54 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Dear Alex,

I think that our differences stem from one critical issue.

You feel that the issues of Syrian alliances with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas are just minor ‘technical details’, that can be sorted out or brushed away relatively easily in negotiations – while leaving these alliances mostly intact.

On the other hand, Israelis see them as real core issues.
Without addressing them in a genuine and satisfactory way, which will convince not only the Israeli leadership, but also the Israeli public opinion – a deal can’t be struck.

As I said before, we’re living in a different reality than the one we had in the 90’s.
Back then, Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas were relatively marginal issues in the context of a Syrian-Israeli peace.

This is no longer the case.
Today, these issues will be the ‘make or break’ foundations for any peace deal.

You may claim that there’s no inherent value for Israel in “flipping Syria” and I may claim that Syria doesn’t need the Golan, because it has enough land – but it doesn’t matter.

If Israel will not address the issues which are important to Syria in a satisfactory way and if Syria will not address the issues which are important to Israel in a satisfactory way – there won’t be a deal.

By the way… you’re right about one issue.
Flipping Syria is indeed a catalyst for desired change to Israel’s advantage.

In practice, we already have peace with Syria.
The border is quiet and there’s no fighting between the sides for a long time.

So if a peace agreement is signed tomorrow, the most significant changes we’ll see (compared to the current situation) will be:

* A formal paper
* 2 embassies: one in Israel, one in Syria

Therefor, the only real benefit that Israel can get from such a deal is if it draws a new Middle Eastern reality.

All the Israeli figures that you quote, present the same logic: “we’ll give the Golan and in return we’ll get a new geopolitical Middle East reality”.

None of these figures is willing to sign a deal with Syria, unless its alliances with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas are part of the goods that Syria will deliver.

If you’re asking me, I don’t think that Syria will do so and therefor, the chances for such a deal are less than minimal.

December 2nd, 2007, 4:14 pm

 

Bashmannv said:

Ehsani,

Hold your horses my friend, its not over ’till the fat lady sings.

In politics things change fast and today we are witnessing Syria being put up for sale to the highest bidder by the cub of the late lion you mentioned. The “the most courted girl in the neighborhood” you speak of is committing adultery and soon will be trialed for its sins. What you see as a success might be the doom of this regime. Bashar simply opened all his cards on this poker table and now is more vulnerable than ever before.

Qifa Nabki,

I salute you my friend, you just need to see the humor in Ehsani’s post as Alex indicated.

Alex,

Don’t throw that winning party yet, more to come and soon.

Cheers.

December 2nd, 2007, 4:25 pm

 
 

Global Voices Online » Syria: Lebanese Blindsided at Annapolis said:

[…] “According to good sources, the Lebanese government was blindsided at Annapolis with the candidacy of Michel Suleiman as President,” reports Joshua Landis in Syria Comment. Share This […]

December 2nd, 2007, 4:51 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

December 2nd, 2007, 4:56 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Alex,

Thanks for the peek behind the scenes. I haven’t yet acquired enough frequent flier points on SyriaComment for the all-access pass, so Ehsani, sorry if I misread your post.

December 2nd, 2007, 4:59 pm

 

Alex said:

Abraham, please try to not go there. We don’t want to start another round of Jews/Arabs. I’m sure Akbar Palace is already preparing for you a few links about Arabs and money scandals.

Israeliguy,

But I am fully aware of the degree to which Iran, Hizbollah and Hams are perceived as threats in Israel. I am not saying that these are issues that can be negotiated away by our smart Syrian negotiators.

I am saying that the end result, that Israel needs to see is … achievable through cooperation and mediation, not through boycotting these parties .. Syria will surely reduce (or stop) all military cooperation with any of those three (if any existed now). It will remain a friend of all though … because this is good for you in Israel and good for us in Syria.
If this is not “good” for Israelis .. please explain to me how do you plan to benefit from flipping Syria? … send the IDF to kill Nasrallah and all his fighters? … take revenge and teach them a lesson?

Iran is … 90 million people … sitting next door to us … we do not want to become friends with Israel only to become an enemy of Iran and all the Shiites who sympathize with Iran .. all the Lebanese and Iraqi shiites … you want Syria to become their enemy? .. is this part of your reward for peace?

December 2nd, 2007, 5:06 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

December 2nd, 2007, 5:13 pm

 
 

Qifa Nabki said:

One more thing on Suleiman… The terms ‘consensus’ and ‘compromise’ candidate have been bandied around so much over the past few months that people have become extremely cynical about them, to the point that we are predisposed to analyzing the outcome of the standoff as a clear-cut win/lose situation. God forbid that Suleiman actually represent a compromise, much less a consensus.

However, based on my own discussions with family and friends in Beirut, I would tentatively suggest that there is a palpable sense of relief by people on both sides of the political divide. The Lebanese are cautious optimistic, for the first time in a year. Suleiman is an ambiguous character… ambiguous in a good way. He hasn’t slung any mud at anyone, he hasn’t called for the end of foreign interference on his way to a meeting with an ambassador, he has the respect of a very large segement of the population… In other words, he looks (and more importantly, smells) pretty clean. In short, he may well be a pretty decent compromise.

When Aoun finally gets around to accepting this, then Suleiman may even aspire to be a consensus candidate.

December 2nd, 2007, 5:37 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

December 2nd, 2007, 5:41 pm

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

Actually, Abraham raises an issue that I’ve been pondering for years. Back in 1980, when living in Texas, suddenly the fundy mega-churches came into a lot of money and turned exceedingly pro-Israel, way beyond the pale. As part of the generalized craziness, they organized music tape burnings (back in the 8-track days…I remember Ozzie Osburn as being among the fingered) and announced that Menachem Begin himself would attend one of these events. At the time, Israel was also involved with arms to the Contras and to far-right elements in El Salvador (I think Noam Chomsky addresses this in one of his books).

I cannot prove it, but I believe that the billions in US money going to Israel is turned around and sent back to lavish cash on entities and politicians supporting Israeli right-wing policies.

Take it easy, AIG. You’re not on the receiving end of this corruption.

December 2nd, 2007, 5:52 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Dear Qifa Nabki (love the name),

Your comment was great. I think that it is worth repeating before I reply to it.

EHSANI:

“You sound like a tear-filled grandmother waving her hankie at the returning war-weary young men of her village, who stand silhouetted against rising sun. Damascus is “the most courted girl in the neighborhood” … “in a brilliant position”… “A massive win”? Bashar “has established his manhood and [become]… a lion”??? We grumble and moan for months about Syria’s isolation, seeing it as the source of all the problems with its economy, its human rights record, its belligerent dealings with Lebanon, etc. And then, when the isolation seems to be coming to a close, we start crowing about what a stud Bashar is for having withstood it? I don’t think leaders like Hafez and Bashar deserve adulation. Maybe begruding respect, the occasional compliment about wisdom or realism, but certainly not the french kiss of an endorsement that you’ve given above.”

Dear Alex knows very well the many criticisms that I have against the Damascus leadership. You picked on its way of handling the economy, human rights and Lebanon. Those who are readers of SC can testify to how much I agree with you and more. Those who are expecting an improvement in human rights in particular are likely to be severely disappointed. People like me who have long argued that Syria’s economic policies need a total revamp are as likely to be disappointed but not quiet as much as the human rights advocates. Things are “improving” on the economic front. The speed of the changes though is at a snail speed. It is still akin to giving a cancer patient 2 Advils in the hope that he/she will get better soon.

My accolades (if I sounded that way) are directed at Bashar’s survival skills, patience and focus. Hate him or love him, he has established his credentials as a Middle Eastern leader. To succeed as a Middle Eastern leader, having a stellar human rights record is not a prerequisite. Niether is having a brilliant economy or a respect for your weaker neighbors. Scandinavia this isn’t.

Survival, longevity and focus are the name of the game and the metric by which ALL Middle Eastern leaders are judged.

Those of us who live in the west are bewildered as to why our own society cannot make the transition to democracy, accountability and the rule of law. This is not exclusive to our region of course. Russia’s Putin is a perfect example judging by his speech last week.

Let us for a moment put ourselves in Bashar’s shoes. Yielding power is easier said than done. In a tribal and religious societies like ours, losing power is most likely going to be associated with losing your life and that of your tribe. Every step in the direction of democracy is seen as a step towards that slippery slope that will end in your losing the leadership. Bashar is no fool. He is fully aware that behind the clapping and the “Bil-Roh-Bil-Damm Nafdika-Ya-Bashar” a significant percentage of his populace will jump at the first slippage by his security services. Human rights are not a priority in such an atmosphere. Winning the Nobel Prize in this department is not exactly the goal here. Survival is. Based on this metric, my hat is off to Bashar. This is why I think that Hafez is congratulating his son from his grave for proving that he has passed his first (and very tough) test as a lion. I say that he passed his test rather than his final exam because I don’t think that Damascus is totally out of the woods yet. As I said to Majedkhaldoun earlier, the tribunal still looms ahead. “IF” that report fails to offer the killer punch, the lion would have passed his final exam.

December 2nd, 2007, 5:52 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Observer

Iran is heavily involved economically with Syria, because Syria is been snubbed by KSA, the US and Europe and that it represent a good entry to the arab world market, with cars etc..In foreign policy and investements, Iran is much strong. Technologically they are much more developped that any arab country. They have solid institutions and a compelx political system of check and balance. It appears that Iran is self sufficient and fairly solid politically, but the internal economical situation despite the oil revenue is very bad, inflation is very high and unemployement too. The country is ravaged by the very wide spread of drugs (Opium and worse) that you find more easily than wine around the corner, the social situation is getting worse every day. Prostitution is on the rise. I got that from a friend on mine who was there several times. I tell you this from personal contacts not with oficials, but with common people, middle class, taxi drivers, students that the iranians are very unhappy with the way they country is going. Would this affect the schedule of the train?, i don’t think so, because Iranians are hard working people with a sense of ethic of work, but the traffic jams in all large cities, the petrol restrictions, are not making the country pleasant to live. The only countries where an iranian can go easily is Turkey, Iraq and Syria. All other countries present heavy restrictions in issuing visas. Most young people want to leave to Europe and the US. That is not what I call a healthy country.

December 2nd, 2007, 6:10 pm

 

Bashmann said:

Ehsani,

Hold your horses my friend, its not over ’till the fat lady sings.

In politics things change fast and today we are witnessing Syria being put up for sale to the highest bidder by the cub of the late lion you mentioned. The “the most courted girl in the neighborhood” you speak of is committing adultery and soon will be trialed for its sins. What you see as a success might be the doom of this regime. Bashar simply opened all his cards on this poker table and now is more vulnerable than ever before.

Qifa Nabki,

I salute you my friend, you just need to see the humor in Ehsani’s post as Alex indicated.

Alex,

Don’t throw that winning party yet, more to come and soon.

Cheers.

December 2nd, 2007, 6:14 pm

 

Alex said:

Bashmann,

Of course there is no final victory … and many things can go wrong … but the one you portray as an idiot (Bashar) won a big battle my friend. Lebanon is one of three battles he wanted to win … it was the first one. He won his first battle… and he is doing well on the other fronts.

The regime’s situation is much more promising than the way you want to see things.

You know why he won it? … because he was on the side of good … Syria’s candidate, Michel Sleiman, is the best thing that can happen to Lebanon under the current circumstances … exactly as Qif Nabki explained. While President Bush was issuing useless directives designed to scare any one from supporting Aoun and to instead accept his M14 candidates for president … while his ambassador in Beirut was meeting everyday with every Lebanese MP or religious or business leader and having the audacity to warn Syria against interfering in Lebanon … Bashar stopped mentioning Lebanon in public … his allies were right this time … they did not need his heavy involvement … Aoun and Nasrallah and Salim Hoss knew what to do.

You want to compare Bashar’s public positions on Lebanon lately to that of his strongest critics? … listen to this speech by Mr. Jumblatt (last part of the video clip) … and tell me if Bashar won or not.

December 2nd, 2007, 6:32 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ehsani,

Well spoken; if this is the basis of the kudos, then I would absolutely agree.

Your helpful thought experiment about placing oneself in Bashar’s shoes actually goes a long way to explaining Alex’s Braudelian mindset, and the source of disagreement between him, Bashmann, and AIG on the efficacy of opposition parties.

To Alex (it would appear), a very gradual process toward democratization over the course of 10-15 years is the only way forward. The iron fist that holds the reins of power must relax so slowly that the horse must not be allowed to even sense that it is being unbridled, lest its refractory nature get the better of it.

Anyway, I’m glad to see that now Syria is being figured as the pretty girl … for a while the discourse on SC was all about how Lebanon was the pretty wife to Syria’s patient and forgiving husband, who would one day realize the error of her ways and return to the happy marital bed of conjugal federalism.

If Syria is now the pretty girl, what is Lebanon?

December 2nd, 2007, 6:36 pm

 

Alex said:

The younger pretty girl I hope : )

December 2nd, 2007, 6:41 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Bashman,

The Old Lady is singing here, somewhat shyly, but loud and clear. But please do let us know when her voice reaches you in the far away galaxy you seem to be living in. Actually, the song was “performed” by the Feb 14 corner-stone Amin Al Gemayyel announcing their acceptance to “ammend the constitution” in order to elect General Michle Sulaiman to become Lebanon’s next President. Mabrouk to Lebanon.

As to: “don’t throw that winning party yet, more to come and soon”, I can only say at the risk of repeating myself for the hundrerdth time: Hope Springs Eternal! Keep looking out for those Israeli or US fighters heading to bomb Damascus International Airport to topple the “regime” or to “de-couple” it from its allies. Look hard and long enough, throw in some well-intentioned prayers for good measure, and those long-awaited fighters may appeare on the horizon somehow. If they don’t, keep looking anyway!

December 2nd, 2007, 7:17 pm

 

Alex said:

Qifa Nabki

My Braudelian perspective on change and political reform in Syria is the inevitable result of recognizing the existing structures.

1) An authoritarian regime that is firmly in control.

2) A regime that is bound to succeed in its regional struggle against Syria’s many adversaries who were clearly heading in the wrong direction. This success will translate to more popularity at home for the regime.

3) Syria’s regional role was eventually going to be recognized again by those who tried to marginalize it. The regime will be “rewarded” with the task of managing or co-managing the many regional conflict areas. The regime will be needed. They will stop trying to change the regime by force.

4) The very few decent Syrian opposition figures were in jail, the ones who were outside Syria are mostly a bunch of crooks or unprofessionals. None of them is remotely close to being effective in a good way in the process of democratization .. they made the regime look great in comparison.

5) The chief promoter of “democracy” had no knowledge or sensitivity to the needs and fears of the Syrian people. From his “Sharon is a man of peace” to his “crusade” … he was bound to make himself, and his cause, undesirable… that messenger was not going to deliver the message.

The 10 years cycle could be shorter .. if the outsiders get smarter, less confrontational, and wiser. For now they are a major reason why we will not have faster political reforms in Syria.

December 2nd, 2007, 7:18 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
How disappointing. You tell us again that it is not Asad that is mostly responsible for the delay of democracy in Syria, it is the outsiders that are mostly to blame for lack of progress.

I stand amazed at your audacity and your belief in the stupidity of people.

December 2nd, 2007, 7:27 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

You will continue to have difficulties understanding me as long as you can not see shades of Gray.

I said “The 10 years cycle could be shorter .. if the outsiders get smarter, less confrontational, and wiser. For now they are a major reason why we will not have faster political reforms in Syria”

Do you know what “a major reason” means? .. do you know what it DOES NOT mean?

Instead of deciding that I am trying to fool the readers of this blog. Why don’t you go back and prove me wrong? … which part of what I said is wrong?

Before you start .. please read every word I typed .. each word has a meaning … if I say “most” then I mean “most”. If I say “one of the reasons” then I mean “one of the reasons” … do not maximize my statements.

By the way … since you “stand amazed” at my “audacity” and my “belief in the stupidity of people.” … did you notice that until now I really tried to control myself from reminding you about your confident prediction/threat a week ago that Syria will lose in Lebanon … that it won’t get its man to be the president.

December 2nd, 2007, 7:35 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
The part that outsiders are a major reason for lack of democracy in Syria is dead wrong. As Ehsani and others explained, for Bashar it is all about staying in power, he will NEVER agree to democracy without serious pressure, internal or external.

You really think Syria won in Lebanon? I will wait to see the package deal, president + government + government policy. If the government does not subscribe anymore to 1701 and 1509, Syria won. If no, Syria has achieved nothing. Since you are the expert, when do you think the president and new government will be in place?

December 2nd, 2007, 7:42 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Now let us watch how Siniora will portray General Sulieman’s election as a Victory to the Feb 14 gang, same as he tried to portraye the July 2006 war as a Victory for Israel.

Like many said here once and again; let us wait and see.

Can “they” see now??!!

December 2nd, 2007, 7:51 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Alex,

I think it is wise to be Braudelian when it comes to analyzing Middle Eastern politics in general and Syrian politics in particular. However, this approach does have the potential to cloud your judgment at times, if I may be so bold.

It is one thing to believe that:

(a) Isolating Syria will cause more harm than good.

(b) Syria can play a positive role in the region, by ‘managing’ conflict areas (as euphemistically hollow as this sounds to a Lebanese person).

(c) The Americans, Europeans, and moderate Arab regimes have clearly headed in the wrong direction with respect to Iraq, the peace process, Iran, Hizbullah/Hamas, etc.

(d) Bush is an idiot.

(e) Jumblatt & co. are irresponsible.

While we can agree on all of the above, I wouldn’t assume that it is then a logical step to the conclusion that the Syrian regime is going to save the day.

Sometimes it sounds like you are portraying Bashar (and of course Hafez before him) as some kind of Gandalf the Grey, an ancient and honorable figure whose wise insight into the order of the world somehow eclipses all others’, and who ploughs ever forward, withstanding the vicissitudes of time, always steady, always there, always true.

There’s a reason that a large proportion of the Lebanese have very bitter feelings about Syria (as you have yourself identified on many occasions), and it’s not because of CNN. Conservative estimates place the level of embezzlement by the Syrian regime in Lebanon during the Hariri years at around $15-20 billion, i.e. 1/3 – 1/2 of the public debt. It is hard for me to palate this legacy, along with all the assassinations and intimidations over the years (whether or not you believe that Hariri belongs in this group), as part of some irreprochable and wise strategy.

.

December 2nd, 2007, 7:54 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG … Ehsani explained that the regime will oppose political change, and I added that the regime is solidly in command in Syria.

But that does not negate the other calim I made … that there is another major reason why we will not have democracy soon in Syria … the failed approach of democracy promoters… they mixed a number of incompatible goals with their goal to democratize the rab world … helping Israel, interest of American Oil and defense corporations …

Both are major reasons.

I understand you have no tolerance to such ambiguity … you insist on seeing only one evil side… and that I have the audacity to see more thatn one.

December 2nd, 2007, 7:54 pm

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

Here’s an interesting news item. Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Feyçal Mekdad is in Tehran, where he affirmed the two countries’ ties. Wow, he just got off the plane from Annapolis and made a beeline for Tehran.

December 2nd, 2007, 8:02 pm

 

Alex said:

Qifa Nabki,

To be honest, I do think that Hafez was unique among Middle East leaders in understanding the area he lived in. He was exceptional.

Bashar is not on the level of his father. But he is also my favorite among all the other leaders today … King Abdullah of Jordan (a Monaco Gambling addict) … The Israeli politicians (not their Intelligence community leaders) … the Lebanese M14 leaders … the Saudis who are lost between being westernized and being wahabi … Prince Bandar who messed up everthing he touched in the Middle East… Iranian president? .. Iraqi prime minister? …

Bashar is not Hafez .. but he is the calmest and wisest today.

Of course .. I can make AIG like me even more by telling him that I think Nasrallah is an exceptional leader.

Finally … assuming Syria took 15 billions out of Lebanon the past 15 years … a billion a year … How does that compare to America’s charges that the Arab countries indirectly paid for liberating Kuwait and the current Iraq war? … Syria at least stopped the Civil war and allowed hariri 15 years of stability to rebuild the country.

This billion dollars per year (or two billions if you want to believe the exaggerated accounts) that Syria supposedly benefited from Lebanon was nothing compared to the cost of 50,000 soldiers ending the civil war for decades … the amount of money that Lebaon saved by outsourcing the army and intelligence services to the cheaper Syrian army was probably few billions per year.

Add to that the few hundred millions per year of subsidized il and electricity supplied from Syria to Lebanon …

And the 13,000 Syrian soldiers who died in Lebanon to end the civil war and to try (unsuccessfully) to fight the invading Israeli army in 1981 …

There were many Syrian mistakes in Lebanon .. corruption by Syrian officers … large posters of Hafez in the Beirut airport … but these are not THAT bad really… compare to the two million Iraqis who died since the us started its sanctions … and try to remember the positive things as well please … the way Syrian people opened their homes and hosted hundreds of thousands of Lebanese refugees during the recent Israeli invasion of Lebanon …

December 2nd, 2007, 8:13 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Alex said: “Iran is … 90 million people … sitting next door to us … we do not want to become friends with Israel only to become an enemy of Iran and all the Shiites who sympathize with Iran .. all the Lebanese and Iraqi shiites … you want Syria to become their enemy? .. is this part of your reward for peace?”

Alex, you present a reasonable Syrian consideration but Syria won’t be able to eat the cake and leave it whole.

Syria will have to make a hard choice and to prioritize what is more important to her: the current alliances or the Golan.

The only scenario in which Israel will give Syria the Golan (something that I’m against), is if Syria will undergo a sex change operation, ditch its previous identity (the current alliances) and transform to a new country with new policies (AKA a moderate Arab country).

All the ex Mossad guys that you quoted, want Syria to undergo this sex change operation and claim it can be achieved through a deal on the Golan.

If you take the Syrian sex change element out of their formula – they will never vote for a thin deal (‘peace for the Golan’ only), because the sex change is the pillar on which they build their case.

Personally, I think they’re deluding themselves and as you can see, the Israeli public opinion is not buying their merchandise either.

December 2nd, 2007, 8:13 pm

 

Alex said:

Tehran (dpa) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday delivered
through an envoy a special message to his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad on why Syria attended the past week’s Middle East peace
conference in Annapolis.
State news agency IRNA reported that visiting Syrian Deputy Foreign
Minister Fayssal Mekdad, who came to Tehran to justify Syria’s
attendance in Annapolis, delivered to Ahmadinejad the message,
contents of which were not disclosed by IRNA.
Terming Assad as “an important personality in the Islamic and
Arabic world,” the Iranian president said “the enemies could not
harm traditional ties between Iran and Syria.

December 2nd, 2007, 8:14 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

The trip to Tehran is surely more a message for the U.S. than an assuagement of Iranian tempers.

Still, I think Bashar may be put into a corner in the future, particularly if the next U.S. administration is more sympathetic to dialogue with Syria but just as intransigent about Iran. It could make things difficult …

December 2nd, 2007, 8:15 pm

 

MSK said:

Ya Alex,

Riyadh Salameh (head of Central Bank) would make a much, much better president. And the constitution wouldn’t even have to be changed …

–MSK*

December 2nd, 2007, 8:15 pm

 

Alex said:

IG,

I will not pursue discussing the sex change option for Syria : )

But … remember waht Helevy was really saying: He wanted to gain Iran as a friend of Israel again .. make Iran another Turkey … Syria wants to help in this process after peace .. why can;t you be attracted to this win/win option? … look at LEbanon .. Syria’s candidate won because he is good for LEbanon and most of the Lebanese people can see it … I believe Israelis will also be able to see goodness when they see it.

December 2nd, 2007, 8:18 pm

 

Alex said:

MSK,

I agree .. except that the Christians wanted a “strong” president .. Salameh is … not.

The constitution will be changed. When there is a will …

December 2nd, 2007, 8:22 pm

 

ausamaa said:

MSK,

Yeh, sure, Riyadh Salameh may be a better or a worse choice than General Michele Suliman.

But the Lebanese Opposition prefered General Michle Sulieman!

P.S.

I like rubbing things in!!!!!!

December 2nd, 2007, 8:25 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Alex,

I now see the light.

Bring them back!! Where are those maroon-bereted soldiers, dutifully patrolling our highways and mountain roads? Where are the mukhabarat guys in flowery shirts who glanced at our passports in Beirut airport as we arrived from overseas? Where are the friendly men who came round to the casino every night after closing time to collect protection money?

Send them back, walla. And tell them to turn on the electricity again from Damascus, since our power plants are in sore shape since the Hizbullah/Israel war last year. We could use a little subsidized oil.

😉

December 2nd, 2007, 8:29 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Are we talking about the same guys who spilled thier blood to prevent the defeat of Lebanon’s Christian forces at the hands of Jumblat Sr. and his allies in 1975? The same ones who paid in lives and blood to disarm the Lebanese thugs and the Lebanese militias who ruled Lebanon during the Lebanese civil war? Are we talking about the same guys during whose “occupation” of Lebanon Beirut was rebuilt to resemble a normal city again?

Well, if so, then rest assured, they don’t want to go back. But please, ask the Lebanese politicians and the “world community” to stop calling on them so often to help you stabilize Lebanon, the Mother of all Lands.

December 2nd, 2007, 8:48 pm

 

Alex said:

Qifa Nabki : )

Walla I understand .. that’s why I mentioned the oversized posters of Hafez in the Beirut Airport.

Don’t worry .. there is no going back to Syrian troops in Lebanon. But I just wanted to say that Syria’s ability to stabilize Lebanon was admirable … despite the shiny moukhabarat shirts : )

Effective and not costly at all.

How would you have liked to be asked to pay for the cost of the US army’s 15 years of peace keeping in Lebanon? … yu wouldn’t have some extra 5 trillion dollars on the side, do you?

By the way .. intelligence agents always raise their own expenses in foreign countries … from drugs, casinos … you name it. This is not a Syrian intelligence exclusive.

December 2nd, 2007, 8:50 pm

 

Bashmann said:

Dear Alex,

Since you still have confidence in me “personally”, I’m willing to reciprocate; here is one for you and for all those Syria loving comrades who are still sitting on the fence;

Syria can also be The Land of the Free

Pursuing immediate democratic reforms in Syria seems to be a task that is left to few courageous and diverse numbers of Syrian ex-patriots who have made it their goal to see that a new democratic government is established in the country.

Yet today we are witnessing the transformation of the Arab Middle-East from Tyrannical Authoritarianism to what is now termed as An Upgraded Arab Authoritarianism. A condition where current kings and Presidents have adopted as means to counter the efforts of the West in democratizing the region and led by the United States and its European partners and supported by Arab democrats to bring about political reforms in the Arab world.

However, despite the well organized and systematic approach of the regime in Syria to counter any opposition movements inside or outside the borders, few voices have begun to make their mark on the opposition stage and seem to be steadily gaining in popularity. Syrian opposition members from all over the world have gathered this past September in Berlin for the General Conference of the National Salvation Front in Syria. A group lead by former Syrian Vice President Abdulhalim Khaddam and the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood branch in Syria Ali Saderddin Albayanooni. The Conference participants discussed the nature of the oppressive regime in Damascus and ways to bring about a peaceful change in open forum and issued their vision for the Future of a Democratic Syria.

Yet, many other Syrians inside and outside the country seem to be sitting on the fence awaiting the outcome of the work of those brave ones who have chosen to sacrifice their personal security and voiced out their opposition to the regime despite its well known ruthless retribution against them or members of their families.

Here, one must ask why the people of Syria don’t respond to those calling for democratic reforms. Have the Syrian people become accustomed to dictatorship and tyranny as a way of life? Or do Syrians value freedom and democracy less than other people around the globe?

We can understand the reluctance on the part of the people in Syria to challenge authority and demand immediate reforms to their government as solely based on fear of persecution from the well established machination of oppression by the government. But this only explains the lack of viable home-grown opposition groups inside the country. What about the rest of Syrians abroad especially those living in the West? Why do we find them less eager to participate in political activities which if not change can bring about the foundation for a change? There are many talented and qualified individuals living in the West that can form the nucleus for the birth of a movement that can trigger or inspire change within the country. Yet we find those individuals unwilling as much for fear of reprisal by the government on their family members inside the country. A legitimate concern, yet it does not stop at this. When approached by members of opposition groups abroad for anonyms help to the opposition, Syrians living outside the country have shown an incredible sense of abstention to political participation in the affairs of their country. A unique condition which plaques most Arabs living outside their respective countries. How do we explain this passive attitude towards political action among Syrians abroad? What are the causes for such self-restraint?

Every Syrian and every Arab for that matter living abroad have shown profound understanding to the problem of authoritarianism and dictatorship in the Arab world, yet many choose to rationalize their indisposition to a simple answer, it makes no difference if I get involved or not, nothing will change in our country, a prevalent attitude among the majority of Syrians.
A belief that such a futile struggle in bringing about a democratic change to their beloved Syria is doomed to failure.

Have Syrians been terrorized beyond repair to the point of complete surrender? Have we Syrians forgotten our sense of pride and free spirits that we have succumbed to the point of unconditional submission?

In his famous speech “I’ve been to the mountain top” on April 3rd 1968, the great civil rights leader and advocate of non-violence Martin Luther King Jr. said, “In the human rights revolution, if something isn’t done and done in a hurry to bring the colored peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty, long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed”. And he continues, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself”.

I venture to say the same as Mr. King and take it one more step up. Let us be brave and walk together to the mountain top for there we will see the promised land of freedom from tyranny and despotism. Let us unite, for where there is unity a strength is found and fear is defeated. Let us embrace our pride as free Syrians working together to cleanse our country from monocracy and totalitarianism. Let us remember that Syria is the land of the free and the home of the brave and let us show the world that we are the mariners of our vessels and the captains of our ships.

Cheers

December 2nd, 2007, 8:57 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ausamaa,

The chip on your shoulder is very subtle… I don’t think it will pose any problem for you at the border. Just tell them you’re coming in to stabilize Lebanon and they’ll wave you through.

By the way, would anyone else like to explain what is taking the opposition so long to say ‘yes’ to Suleiman?

M14 is going out of their way to publicize the fact that they are approving him, even going so far as to admit that this represents a reversal of an earlier position, which is rather strange behavior for the “losing” side.

Shouldn’t the “winners” be gloating?

December 2nd, 2007, 9:00 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
When there is a Syrian regime that holds all the cards, saying that outside forces are a reason is ridiculous. If the regime decided tomorrow to implement more democratic measures, can it do it? Yes. Can an outside force do it? No. Therefore, the Syrian regime is the only reason there is no democracy in Syria. Your “ambiguity” amounts to trying to put blame on other people than the regime.

If the US or anyone promotes democracy badly, how can that be a reason for lack of democracy? Freedom is something that is naturally wanted by most people and does not have to be promoted.

December 2nd, 2007, 9:01 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

The trip to Iran is just brilliant. Which country can fly to US soil to attend a peace conference and have its leader referred to as ” an important personality in the Islamic and Arabic world”? If this is not enough, Iran warns the rest of the world that the “enemies could not harm traditional ties between Iran and Syria”. In other words, flipping Syria will not be easy. It will take a lot more than a mere invitation to Annapolis. Damascus is indeed the hot girl in the neighborhood. Iran claims that it is her real boy friend. Those who want to flip this girl better come up with something real good. Speaking of brilliant marketing. Fortune 500 company chiefs would love to position their own products this cleverly.

The word democracy and its lack thereof in Syria is so often mentioned here that one feels obliged to comment on.

Who ever said that Bashar is either democratic or, more importantly, striving to be one? It is not like he made it a campaign promise and he did not deliver.

Sitting on our warm living rooms and typing away the merits of democracy is fine and dandy. Delivery and execution is another.
Why on earth would Bashar start democracy unilaterally? Why would he sign his own will?

Let us get serious. The man is no fool. That slippery road will not be travelled on no matter how fancy it sounds to those of us living in such an environment.

December 2nd, 2007, 9:06 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

I love it. Ehsani exposes the hidden underside of global geopolitics as a complicated web of relations bearing a striking resemblance to… high school.

Damascus is the hot girl in the neighborhood, and Tehran is her hunky but strange boyfriend. A lanky Washingtonian type has been making eyes at her, but every time he tries a pickup line, he fails miserably. All the while, Damascus seems to be passing notes to the fiery and tempestuous Dahiya, who everyone secretly wants to bed but won’t admit it.

December 2nd, 2007, 9:16 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

EHSANI2,
“Starting democracy in a country like the Syria of today is akin to signing your own death sentence. Wake up people. ”

How can that be true if 65% of the people support the regime? Just asking. 🙂

December 2nd, 2007, 9:21 pm

 

Bashmann said:

Qifa Nabki,

Ausamma is not worth the trouble of typing the few words to answer him. Ignoring would be the most effective way of shutting up the regime’s stooges.

Cheers

December 2nd, 2007, 9:23 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Qifa Nabki,

Geopolitics = High school . Love it too.

The U.S. will never admit in public that it dumped March 14th. My sympathies to Those who believe this claim.

This is a major new turnaround in the region and particularly for Syria. I would like to offer similar sympathies to those who also don’t believe that much has changed yet.

Syria won this round. Hate it or love it, one must at least admit this obvious fact.

AIG,

Whether it is 65%, 75% or 95%, I would like to make it simple for you. There is no democracy in Syria anytime soon (feel free to define the word soon). In the meantime, I would encourage you to look for a new passion.

December 2nd, 2007, 9:48 pm

 

Bashmann said:

Ehsani,

Your hopelessness is fatal. Keep up the faith my good friend.

Cheers

December 2nd, 2007, 9:59 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

One ought to be prepared for round two of this battle. Now that March 14th lost the first round, Saad Hariri is likely to see the fast train going after his supremacy of the parliamentary majority. One should not be surprised if his foes go after him now with more determination. Talk about a Safadi/Miqati replacement is already making the round. If I were Jumblat, I would be looking to use the real estate downturn in the U.S. to buy a retirement home in Kansas.

December 2nd, 2007, 10:31 pm

 

Lysander said:

Looks like while you all were talking about “flipping” Syria, Iran seems to be making a move on the cute Saudi girl across the bay…

(thanx to Arnold Evans at http://mideastreality.blogspot.com/

GCC chief confirms Ahmadinejad to attend Gulf summit

11 hours ago

DOHA (AFP) — The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) confirmed on Sunday that it had invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to attend its summit this week, the first such invitation to the Islamic Republic.

“President Ahmadinejad will be the guest of the summit,” GCC secretary general Abdulrahman al-Atiyah told reporters ahead of the two-day summit which starts on Monday.

“This is the first time that the Islamic Republic of Iran gets invited,” to a GCC summit, he said, but gave no details on how long Ahmadinejad would stay in the Qatari capital which is hosting the meeting.

Ahmadinejad’s senior advisor Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi said last Thursday that the outspoken president would be at the meeting, which will be attended by the heads of state from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Iran has on occasion had rocky ties with GCC member states, most notably in the 1980s when regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia backed Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in its eight-year war against Iran.

But Iran has been seeking to improve ties as it faces increasing international isolation over its nuclear programme, and senior officials have made regular trips to neighbouring countries.

Seems the Americans’ brilliant plan to isolate Iran from its Arab neighbors has taken a bit of a setback.

December 2nd, 2007, 10:38 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

“If the US or anyone promotes democracy badly, how can that be a reason for lack of democracy? Freedom is something that is naturally wanted by most people and does not have to be promoted.”

Have you heard of the American attempt to introduce democracy to Iraq? .. because the 20 million Syrians do not want to end up with an equally “democratic” Syria.

Anyway … if you don’t get the point, don’t bother. I have nothing else to add.

And, for hte last time … try to keep the “redicuous” ratings in your head… believe me .. Netanyahu was not charming or effective … I see you are stuck applying his tricks instead of actually debating ideas. I will remove your comments if you continue your use of “rediculous” or any similar lightweight tactic.

If you can not prove an idea to be rediculous then don’t write anything.

December 2nd, 2007, 10:48 pm

 

Bashmann said:

Ehsani;

While I enjoy all your posts, your last one about Bashar winning a round is premature and can be challenged easily. Here are few ones I can come up with;

If we take the trip to Annapolis by the regime to be a success, then the visit to Iran by the same guy who went to Washington is proof to the contrary. If Syria is confident of its mission why would a visit to Tehran be necessary and comes on the heels of the Annapolis conference? I speculate that Iran has seen signs of dissention among its ranks and now it needed an immediate explanation to the change of heart in Syria, therefore the visit obviously is to assure the great Ahmadinajad that Syria is still on his side. But all in all, Iranian confidence in Bashar has been dealt a blow and the relationship is fractured which can cause Bashar many problems down the road as the confrontation between Iran and the US reaches its climax. Besides, the US has not changed its position a bit when it comes to Syria, so the isolation is still there, France is only interested in the Lebanese affair therefore once that is settled there are no guarantees that the French will not fall back behind the Americans when it comes to Syria. Remember the meeting last month between Bush and Sakozy, a united and strong coalition against Iran which will most likely ‘cause the French to demand more from Syria if relationship between them improves in the future putting Syria again in the hot seat.

As for Lebanon, having Michel Suleiman as a President does not guarantee friendly Lebanon. Lets all remember the M14’s are still the majority in Lebanon and having a President, if he ever gets there, which is friendly to Syria will not change anything, Lahud was Syria’s man and we have had a deadlock in Lebanon for the past two years.
The premise that Syria has won in Lebanon is greatly flawed and does not change the picture a bit when it comes to Syria. The only winner here really is Lebanon.

As for Hezbollah, I see great trouble brewing there, what you call as a win for Damascus, Hezbollah sees it as treason. For decades Hafez Asad kept Naserallah close to his side and always, as Qifa Nabki indicated, made sure he does not get out of line. When Bashar assumed power this relationship changed, Damascus no longer was chaperone of Hezbollah; Naserallah became independent and looked for Iran patronage and support more than anything else. His supposedly reported refusal to take action after the Israeli strike on Syria is a testament to this. Now with his supply line in jeopardy, Naserallah will be the next spoiler to Damascus if they ever think of shutting him down.

Bashar looks to me like walking on a very a thin line between apostasy and repentance, I’m afraid he’ll soon become an irrelevant cat instead of the lion you have described.

Cheers

December 2nd, 2007, 10:54 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Alex to Abraham,

I’m sure Akbar Palace is already preparing for you a few links about Arabs and money scandals.

Shukran Alex, I won’t even bother.

Israeliguy states:

All the ex Mossad guys that you quoted, want Syria to undergo this sex change operation and claim it can be achieved through a deal on the Golan.

Yes, but the military establishment is totally “split” with respect to Assad. Meir Dagan may say Assad is just playing for time, but others think Assad truly wants peace. Israelis have no clear understanding of what Syria really wants.

Should I tell them?

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1178431593760&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

But the Israeli intelligence establishment is split about whether Syrian President Bashar Assad is sincere in his declarations about peace talks with Israel. IDF intelligence says Assad may be on the level and should be put to the test; the Mossad intelligence agency says it’s a Syrian sham to get off the hook.

http://www.isracast.com/Articles/article.aspx?ID=401

Bashmann For President!

December 2nd, 2007, 10:57 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

When it rains it pours:

Syria and Iraq reopened a major border crossing today. This is what the U.S. second in command in Iraq said :

“We have seen a reduction in the amount of foreign fighters entering Iraq. it is probably been a 25% to 30% reduction that we have seen”.

He gave Syria credit for taking steps to limit the flow.

“We think Syria can do a bit more but we are pleased with the fact that they are taking some additional responsibility with their own internal security measures”.

Bashmann,

I respect you opinion. I just sense a different dynamic is in play

December 2nd, 2007, 10:58 pm

 

Alex said:

Bashmann,

Habibi … Syrians do not respect Khaddam … the NSF is a failure .. it is not a group of courageous Syrians .. no. That’s the point I’m trying to make. Aref dalileh is courageous and he ended up in jail in Syria … the Syrian businessmen who meet in Berlin are not courageous. After the meeting they go back to Kansas and Montreal to run their businesses.

Khaddam would sell the country’s role to Saudi Arabia. He already started the process when he was in charge of the Lebanon file.

the Muslim Brotherhood’s leadership in exile improved a lot. I am impressed with some of their recent statements on women’s rights and rights of minorities. But I know enough about the real brotherhood inside Syria and their opinions to be … not impresed. The real brotherhood memebers inside Syria … if we are to have democratic elections … will vote a new hard-line leadership o replace the soft, westernized leadership in exile.

Bottomline … fast change today is not attractive to me. And it is apparently not attractive to a majority of Syrians. If you forget the leaders and their “opposition parties” and look at the Syrian people .. a vast majority is not happy with the corruption or with the chaotic management of Syrian internal affairs … but very few are angry and hurt and bitter at the regime … the regime is not democratic but it is not THAT bad.

I know many syrians who were asked to participate in opposition politics .. they dont because there is some potential risk as you suggested … but equally .. becasue the desired change is not a burning desire … that’s why Syrians are not willing to take that risk… becase things are … not that bad.

December 2nd, 2007, 11:01 pm

 

Bashmann said:

Ehsani,

“Different Dynamic” sure, monumental change, highly unlikely.
One thing for sure, the game gets a lot more intersting ’till we get the tribunal which as you indicated will be the final straw that can break the camel’s back.

Alex,

Ya Habibi, I know all about Khaddam, trust me on this. He’ll be a player sooner or later.

As for the MB, the issue is no opposition is possible without them, wheather we accept them or not, they will be the deciding factor in bringing the regime eventually to change its ways, and you are correct, they are changing rapidly. Absorbing them into the mix of the political arena is much better than exclusion as they still enjoy the widest popular sentiments in the ME.

A change today is the most urgent, is Bashar scores another deal to legitimize his seat which highly unlikely, you can kiss your 10-15 years prediction goodby, democracy or freedom will never see the light in Syria.

Cheers

December 2nd, 2007, 11:35 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Bashmann,

Khalas, just move to Lebanon. We’ll call it part of Greater Syria, and you’ll have more than enough democracy to satisfy your appetite. We have so much bloody democracy, it’s coming out of noses. We’ve got American-style, Saudi-style, stentorian Druze-style, populist-Shi`a style, Frenchified Maronite-style… you name it, we’ve got it.

And with the friendly cost-cutting Syrian army across the border and the helpful mukhabarat agents in Beirut, there’s no danger of democracy getting out of hand.

In fact, why don’t we just move the entire SC comments section to Lebanon, take up residence in the parliament and solve the region’s problems. 😉

December 2nd, 2007, 11:46 pm

 

Bashmann said:

Qifa,

LOL ….Wonderful, I can tell you I would love to live in Lebanon, my mother grew up there, however, I have not gotten over South Florida. Maybe one day ..

Cheers

December 2nd, 2007, 11:56 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Getting Closer To War?

Israel’s channel 2, reported this evening that the IDF is deploying a new Arrow missile battery in Northern Israel, due to ‘concerns over a possible Iranian or Syrian missile attack’.

For those of you who speak Hebrew, here’s a video of the story:
http://www.keshet-tv.com/VideoPage.aspx?MediaID=27544&CatID=375

December 3rd, 2007, 12:02 am

 

Alex said:

Bashmann

I did not say the brotherhood changed .. I said that their few leaders in exile changed. The real brotherood members in Syria are still a scary bunch. I will not respect anyone who for his own personal gains wants to use the brotherhood to overthrow the regime.

Few days later they will overthrow you and and Mr. Khaddam… anyway, he is too old to be there by the time (assuming one day) they overthrow the Syrian regime.

I remember in 1978 when the Iranian intellectuals were happy being allied with the Ayatollah’s when they managed to overthrow the Shah … what happened to the intellectuals?

By the way .. remember how many times Mr. Khaddam threatened and promised to overthrow the regime so far? … I lost count.

December 3rd, 2007, 12:02 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
You make it sound as if the option of the Syrians is either Bashar or Iraq. That is a fallacy. The lesson from Iraq is that democracy needs to implemented in another way, not that democracy is bad. And what is the lesson from Iraq? That the Baathist will induce a civil war? Do you see the iorny in this? Bashar is saying: if there is democracy I will cause chaos. Nice. Another mafia style move.

And you also forget to mention, that Hafez and Bashar were in power way before Iraq and they never moved towards democracy. This is why your arguments do not hold water. Iraq is just a new excuse in a train of excuses that we have heard in the last 40+ years.

December 3rd, 2007, 12:12 am

 

Enlightened said:

Just read a article Interview with Bayanouni here it is! I know it might cause an uproar, but here it is.

Question for Bashmann: What do you think of this, can the NSF be trusted, is it a reformed chameleon, or another trick on their part?

Bayanouni : Syria is just an instrument in Iran’s hand
Sunday, 2 December, 2007 @ 11:09 PM

Beirut / London – The following is an interview with Ali Bayanouni, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria by Arwa Walid of the Ikhwanweb. The interview was conducted in London.
Bayanouni 1129.jpg

During the interview Bayanouni revealed that Syria is just an instrument in Iran’s hand . He went on to say “The Iranian-Syrian coalition is not a coalition of peers. It is a coalition between a strong country that has its own project in the region with a weak regime that lacks legitimacy, does not have a popular basis and it doesn’t have any national project. ”

Ikhwanweb: Weeks ago, you ended the conference of the National Salvation Front. What are its results?. Is there any thing new that the national salvation front has offered. What’s the front expected to do?.

Bayanouni: First: The National Salvation front is a coalition of a group of political powers in the Syrian arena. We- the Muslim Brotherhood group in Syria- adopt the policy of coalitions in order to gather national powers on common understandings. The National Salvation Front has been taking this shape in the past 1 1/2 years. The front’s conference held weeks ago was the second ordinary general conference. This conference is the broadest framework in the front. It was tasked with reviewing the front’s performance and course during the past year and review the performance of the General Secretariat which was elected by the general conference in order to assess this course on the one hand, and to put a future action plan on the other hand. I think that the conference has achieved many of its targets. The work of the front and the performance of the General Secretariat during past year have been reviewed and action plan for the coming stage has been drawn. The concluding statement gave its view about the future of Syria . I believe that the conference has achieved the required target. The most important achievements was that this conference hosted more powers that have recently joined the front and they participated in the general conference, and had seats in the General Secretariat elected in this conference.

Ikhwanweb: In a statement in the Quds Press newspaper, you said that two opposition groups at home joined the General Secretariat?

Bayanouni: This is right. During this round of the conference, two political figures from inside Syria and they represent political blocs or parties inside the country attended it. This is the first time in which political figures from inside country join us after consultations and discussions with them. We have declared their pseudonyms, but their real identities are known only to a very few number of people to protect them inside the country.

Ikhwanweb: Is this a beginning for a new agreement or phase of cooperation between the Syrian opposition inside and outside?

Bayanouni: In fact, we do not distinguish between the opposition inside and outside the country. The opposition in exile is actually an extension of the opposition at home, but tough conditions facing people inside the country do not allow them to give vent to their views. The regime sees a National Salvation Front affiliates inside the country as a red line. It also sees the Muslim Brotherhood as a red line. The ordinary citizen can not declare their support or sympathy to the front or the group, except for some citizens who decide to bear the responsibility and pay the price. Therefore, we are keen to keep identities of these leaders from inside the country not declared. We must admit that both figures’ joining the front with their weight and powers inside the country can be considered an important key development in the work of the National Salvation Front.

Ikhwanweb: Observers say that the Muslim Brotherhood Movement has lost so mush of its credibility due to its coalition with Abdel Halim Khaddam, the former Syrian vice-president. Many people currently see the Muslim Brotherhood and Abdel Halim Khaddam as identical. What is your comment?

Bayanouni: In such coalitions, we are not forming one single party. It is only a coalition between different figures and parties which don’t necessarily have the same ideology. They only agree on common targets. This is on the one hand. On the other hand, it is important to form a coalition with Abdel Halim Khaddam because he has got powers inside the regime. These insider powers are ready to work and participate in the process of moving towards democracy in Syria . It is true that most people did not understand our coalition with one of the pillars of the regime. However, the effect of such a coalition is on the regime, and its effect inside the regime, may give it more positive dimensions. We believe that this coalition will help in accelerating the process of national democratic change in Syria . It isn’t important that this may have a negative effect on the group’s popular support in a way or another, as long as this coalition serves the drive towards democratic change.

Ikhwanweb: Some say that the Syrian opposition is isolated from the Syrian public opinion and people. Is there any credited information about the real public opinion in Syria or it mainly depends on guessing.

Bayanouni: The conditions in Syria do not allow holding polls like democratic states that may allow spaces for a freedom of expression. Knowing the Syrian conditions and the day-to-day suffering facing Syrian citizens in economic social and political levels makes the one be sure that such a citizen is opposing the regime. It is true that the political life in Syria has been blocked throughout more than 40 years, but this actually doesn’t prevent most Syrian citizens from opposing this regime because of the daily all-out suffering.

I think that saying that the opposition is isolated is inaccurate. It is true that it hasn’t managed- until now- to organize all popular opposition powers due to the pressing security situations, but the one can say most Syrian citizens are opposing the regime. As for how the opposition can make use of efforts of these anti-regime, there are difficulties due to the absence of the political life and as a result of the state of fear and intimidation that Syrian citizens experience due to the continuously increasing repressions which further increase whenever the regime’s isolation increases on domestic and foreign levels. It is true that we face difficulties in organizing these opposition powers but they are certainly on the ground and are on the increase.

Ikhwanweb: What is the future of the Syrian opposition inside the country?. Does it have a space to move under rule of Bashar Al-Assad. There are some reports that the Syrian opposition in exile has given nothing to the opposition inside the country. Is there any possible future cooperation with international organizations supporting democracy?

Bayanouni: First: I confirm that the opposition can’t be divided. The opposition in exile is an extension of the opposition inside the country. For example, we are a part of the declaration of Damascus inside the country and we have also participated in the National Salvation Front in exile. Second: The opposition’s ability to express itself inside the country is related- to a great extent- to the barbaric repressions committed by the regime against the freedom of expression. The opposition inside the country needs an Arab and international support to protect it from the tyranny of regime. We think that in a later stage when the grip is tightened on the regime, it won’t be able to carry out any repression or genocide like those it committed in the past. I believe that opposition work is going on and it will one day work and move without any fear of any mass repression like what’s happening nowadays.

As for our cooperation with international organizations, we are actually open to all democratic powers and civil society institutions inside and outside Syria . We try to explain to these powers the status quo in Syria because we think that change is to the benefit of Syria and the Arab world, and it will contribute to stability in the region.

Ikhwanweb: What about the future of the declaration of Damascus as political activists are continuously detained from the Syrian opposition like Anwar Al Bunni and Michael Kilou?.

Bayanouni: The most important feature in the declaration of Damascus was that all powers along the political spectrum joined it. It was expected since the beginning that the ceiling of the movement of the declaration of Damascus will be limited because of the current security situation. However, and despite this rising repression detentions against dozens tens of activists inside Syria , but the declaration of Damascus gained ground and is still issuing statements within these limits. As the declaration of Damascus continues, the Salvation Front continues also and in the near future all these coalitions will close ranks on common targets, and there is a suitable ground for this unity.

Ikhwanweb: Some say that the idea of establishing an interim government as a government in exile is impossible under the current critical situations. What are the hopes pinned on this idea?

Bayanouni: Some peoples thought that the interim government is exile government. The interim government that the National Front referred to is an interim government that fills the vacuum if the regime falls. There should be preparations and consultations with all parties to form it in the coming stage. It isn’t government in exile. It is a government for filling vacuum in case regime is toppled.

Ikhwanweb: Is it possible that change will occur in Syria ?. Will the change take place peacefully or will it be marred by violence?. Or is it still blurred?.

Bayanouni: The strategy of the Syrian opposition in general, and particularly the Salvation Front and the Declaration of Damascus and the Muslim Brotherhood group, is based on a peaceful method of change. We dismiss violence and exert our efforts to rescue the country from any possible chaos. However, in front of the regime’s inflexibility, maintaining same policies, and aggravating repressions, all options are on the table. We don’t want Syria to be Iraqized into a state of chaos. We think that the Syrian people can achieve the process of peaceful change and can end this ordeal and face all obstacles.

Ikhwanweb: Farouk Al-Sharaa described the Saudi role in the region as ‘paralyzed’ while he backs Iran . How do you expect the balance of power in the region will be if a change happens and an interim government takes power in Syria ? What about the Iran-Syria coalition? will the interim government maintain this coalition or will it seek a coalition with neighbouring Arab countries?

Bayanouni: First: Farouk Al-Sharaa’s statements reflect the regime’s confusion and isolation from its Arab context. It has become an instrument in the hand of the Iranian politics. The Iranian-Syrian coalition is not a coalition of peers. It is a coalition between a strong country that has its own project in the region with a weak regime that lacks legitimacy, does not have a popular basis and it doesn’t have any national project. Therefore, we warn against the ongoing policy of being controlled by the Iranian politics. As for our future outlook, we aren’t against forging coalitions with Islamic states, including Iran and others, as long as it is based on common interests, not like the current state. The coalition with Iran in Hafez Assad’s era had to a great extent kind of balance between Iran and Syria because of Hafez Assad’s personality and his political capabilities. At present, with Bashar Al-Assad’s weakness and lack of any political project, the Syrian political stance is unfortunately a part of the Iranian stance. In the future, a priority should be given to cooperation and coalitions with Islamic and Arab countries, coalitions which should be based on mutual interests, and not to be a part of strategies others.

The International Court

Ikhwanweb: Some say that if the regime succumbed to foreign pressures and held a deal with America and initiated the peace process with Israel, the first victims will be the International Court and Hezbollah. Given that the Salvation Front relies on the results of the International Court , what will be the front’s fate if the regime held a deal with America and Israel ?

Bayanouni: First: Our opposition in the Muslim Brotherhood group, the Salvation Front and the Syrian opposition in general is emanating from the Syrian peoples’ suffering and need for change. We do not rely on foreign powers or the International Court . We have been opposing this regime throughout more than thirty years. We opposed it before assassinating Rafik Al-Hariri and before the International Court is formed. The crimes committed by the regime in Lebanon and its wrong policies will certainly help the national opposition because it put the regime in a mess and will add to its Arab and international isolation. We will definitely benefit from the international atmosphere and from the isolation of Arab and international nations when it is convicted in the case of assassinating Al Hariri and in other crimes that it committed. However, our opposition to the regime is not based on these variables. It has started before them. Thus, it will continue till it attains its targets.

Second: It is unlikely that the regime holds a deal at the expense of justice and at the expense of the blood it shed, specially that the investigation into Al Hariri’s assassination has reached an advanced stage with a contribution of a big number of international judges, and that any violation to the results of the investigation or the course of justice will be an international scandal. I do not think that the regime will manage to hold such a deal although it wants to.

Ikhwanweb: Is there any hope that the state of emergency may be canceled under Bashar’s rule?

Bayanouni: I do not think so. All indications show that the more popular and foreign pressures that Bashar Al-Assad is facing, the more he aggravates repressions and tortures based on the state of emergency and he activates law number 49 of the year 1980 stipulating that any one affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood group must be executed. At the beginning of of his era, Bashar spoke in his oath swearing speech about democracy, freedom of speech and respecting views of the other, people got deceived. However, it became later clear to all that his speechs are merely hollow promises and that Bashar Al-Assad’s regime is an extension of his father’s regime and that he can’t be reformed and isn’t qualified for reform. Therefore, all political powers have been calling for change after expecting no near reform or any breakthrough in the Syrian scene under rule of this regime.

Ikhwanweb: What is your opinion about the success of the Justice and Development Party in Turkish elections? Can Syria ‘s Muslim Brotherhood benefit from this experience?

Bayanouni: The experience of the Justice and Development Party in Turkey deserves attention to draw lessons from it. Through solving people’s problems and easing their suffering, this party managed to top all parties by the votes of the Turkish people. This party benefited also from the freedom that Turkish people enjoy under a democratic political regime, based on free and fair elections. This is the key point in the Turkish case, that there are real freedoms and elections. We did not hear that any Turkish party failed in the elections and accused others of election fraud. The issue of rigging elections doesn’t take place in these democratic states. Therefore, the case of Turkey has kind of difference. It has been proved that in case fair and real elections are held in any Muslim country, the Islamic movement will top the political scene. This happened in Turkey , Morocco , and Palestine and in Egypt . This happens in every place that allows even a little space of freedom. Despite its difference, the Turkish experience proves that Islamists- when they try to solve citizens’ problems and ease their concerns, can claim deserved positions in elections held in fair and free atmosphere.

Ikhwanweb: There is a reported defecting of more Syrian officials after Abdel Halim Khaddam. However, nothing of this happened since the latter defected. How do you expect the internal structure of the Syrian regime nowadays and under foreign pressures?

Bayanouni: We have some information confirming that a number of the men of the regime are poised to declare their opposition to the corrupt and tyrant regime. However, the atmosphere in Syria does not allow such declarations, especially after the measures that the regime took against Khaddam after he declared his stance We have relations with a number of these figures of those expected to declare their stances in an advanced stage on the way towards change.

Ikhwanweb: Hamas’ win in the elections caused an international uproar: that Islamists can succeed and assume power even under a critical situation like that in Palestine . Do you think that the Syrian experience if you mange to assume power, any similarity with Hamas?

Bayanouni: Although Hamas represents the Islamic movement in Palestine , but the Palestinian situation is also different due to issues of occupation, resistance, Oslo and corruption. There may be some similarity but there are still many differences. In Syria there is no political life. There is a real Islamic movement in Syria . The one can feel the Islamic awakening but there is no organized political movement inside Syria . Therefore, the situation differs somehow, but the Islamic movement is leading the Syrian opposition and it is leading most political powers in the Arab world. If there is freedom of speech for the voters to express their views, the Islamic political movement will have its normal place in political scene. By the way, we do not seek rule in Syria . We actually want to cooperate with all national sections of the Syrian society to achieve change. We will work after that for a national unity government that includes all political powers to bear the responsibility of reforming the piles of corruption and tyranny.

Ikhwanweb: Don’t you agree that the Syrian opposition in exile didn’t manage to get the required momentum inside hosting countries, like Britain and it not drawing the attention to spreading democracy in Syria?.

Bayanouni: This is right. The activities of the Syrian opposition in exile is still weak. Most of those in exile are in Arab countries whose regimes do not allow opposition activities in their soil. There are limited opposition activities in Europe . This may be due to the fact that few numbers of opposition members return to Syria and have relations with Syria . Therefore, they take into consideration the security concerns.

Human Rights

Ikhwanweb: How far the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood cares for the human rights situation. What is your view about it under Bashar’s rule?

Bayanouni: The MB gives a priority to the human rights and humanitarian situation. Therefore, we insist on underlining the human case and that we can’t initiate a dialogue with the regime unless it first tackles the human rights files. We mean by the human rights files, four files:

1-The file of the political detainees who must be released

2-the second file is of the missing citizens (up to about twenty thousand missing persons who were thrown into Syrian prisons and haven’t been released from them)

3-the third file is of the displaced. They are up to tens of thousands of Syrians who are denied the right to return to their country except through security blackmailing. They must be allowed to return without any blackmail

4-the fourth file is of law number 49 of the year 1980 that stipulates executing any person only for his intellectual or political affiliation to the Muslim Brotherhood group.
These files must be solved ahead of holding any dialogue. We have cooperated with several organizations like Amnesty International, the Syrian Commission for Human Rights in order to exercise pressures on the regime to stop the violations.

Ikhwanweb: Bashar Al Assad gave a political space of freedom at the beginning of his era but he closed this space several months later after opposition inside the country gained a political momentum. Why has Bashar done this?

Bayanouni: I think that Bashar Al-Assad who inherited rule did not have any national project for reform or even any clear reformist directions. He has seemingly uttered some promises after he was sworn in as president. Some people thought that these promises are a prelude for a real reform. These promises were proved to be vacuum after the several months spring of Damascus prompted opposition leaders to stage an open and civilian and peaceful rally, after which they were detained, appeared before a military tribunal that sentenced the to 5-10 years. Dr. Aref Dalila- still serving 10 year sentence- is in prison because he gave a lecture about the economic situation and the prevalent corruption in Syria .

Ikhwanweb: Isn’t it paradoxical that the Muslim Brotherhood is inside and is not inside Syria . How do you work for changing the Syrian regime while you are not inside it? Do you depend on foreign support?.

Bayanouni: Actually, we do not have a typical organizational entity inside Syria so that MB members avoid any possible barbaric repression under a law that sentences to death any one proved to be belonging to our group. We don’t want to burden people with what they can’t endure. There are many MB sympathizers who belong to the Islamic movement at large. The notorious law no. 49 of the year 1980 also prevents people from joining our group inside Syria . We are present inside Syria with our moderate thought as a part of the Islamic movement

December 3rd, 2007, 12:34 am

 

Enlightened said:

Alex I posted an article relating to a interview with Ali Bayounni for everyone to read, please release it, it didnt get posted.

regards

December 3rd, 2007, 12:37 am

 

norman said:

The move now in Lebanon is to have somebody else beside Harreri to lead the Government , the Aoun people feel that as long as the president is not Aoun and not from the opposition then Harreri should not be a prime minster , will see what happens .

December 3rd, 2007, 12:41 am

 

Alex said:

AIG,

My arguments do hold water … your distorted way of seeing my arguments do not hold water.

Let me simplify

1) The Syrian regime is one major reason we do not have democracy
2) The way the United States tried to implement democracy in the worst way was another major reason.

What is so worng in my argument? .. yu are arguing for the first part of my argument and you also admitted the second part is also right “The lesson from Iraq is that democracy needs to implemented in another way”

And to Bashmann I was adding: the “Syrian opposition” in exile are a third major reason for failure to have political reforms … they are not an impressive group… not worth taking any risks to replace the regime with them .. they are a downgrade.

December 3rd, 2007, 12:42 am

 

Alex said:

Enlightened,

Sorry .. now I am not at work or at home … I am usig a portable device … I can not login to admin. I will release it later tonight.

December 3rd, 2007, 12:45 am

 

Enlightened said:

No problems ! It is an interesting interview

December 3rd, 2007, 1:16 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
What is wrong with your argument is the following.
If Iraq would not have happened, would Syria be on its way to democracy? No. Therefore, Iraq is not a major reason.
If Bashar decides to implement democratic reforms, will they happen, even though Iraq happened? Yes. Therefore the regime is the major reason and all the rest are excuses.

Therefore, your argument does not hold water.

December 3rd, 2007, 1:27 am

 

Observer said:

This was an interesting post. This was truly “hadith al turshan” as people kept mixing politics with policy, morals with actions, intentions with accomplishments. IG and AIG keep talking about democracy when they have in front of them the kind of winner kill all debate that we just witnessed. Aljazeera just announced that Srako le premier just called Bashar; Mekdad went to report to Ahmadinejad; the NYT today showed that the new Iranian negotiator Jalili told Xavier Solana “with me we start from the beginning”. Jalili is actually taking Solana to the Tehran bazaar to show him 5000 years of negotiations that will exhaust the shit out of him. We are in a race to see who is going to outlast the other in the region. Why Discuss I do not think that the regime in Iran gives a rat’s ass about some of the problems that you mentioned; just as the Syrian regime does not give a rat’s ass about whether the babies have diapers or not. Remember 1980’s when life in Syria was put on hold to make a point about who is in charge. They did the same thing in Lebanon surely with the current situation and put on hold the country to remind everyone who is in charge.
To IG and AIG, I feel sorry for you as your leaders have taken you to the dead sea promising water honey and manna. Why did you not choose Uganda or part of Australia or even part of Argentina when the World Zionist Congress in Basel looked into future homeland for the “chosen” people. With that kind of neighborhood I would make sure I have another “nationality” ready. I am somewhat dead certain that you each have one.

December 3rd, 2007, 1:32 am

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Observer, thanks for thinking about me and AIG.
It’s really heartwarming and I appreciate your kindness.

Yes, the neighborhood is tough, but we got used to it over the years.
Many around us have got used to us too, eventually.

Sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t have a 2nd nationality and don’t plan to get one.
I like my life here very much and appreciate my good fortune to live here.

However, if you find the topic of 2nd nationalities interesting, I’m sure you can present questions to this blog’s commentators.

Many of them fled Syria over the years and got a western nationality now.
I’m sure they’ll be happy to assist you.

December 3rd, 2007, 2:01 am

 

Alex said:

AIG,

Sorry .. but again … you are making assumptions and you are rejecting my comments based on YOUR assumptions

Did you again decide to forget when we discussed the same thing in the past and I linked an article that explained to you how Syria used to be a democracy .. until the CIA organized a coup to bring a Pro-American leader? … America is always making the same mistake from those days until today .. they are pushing their own interests on top of Syria’s interests … you dont care to notice it, most Syrians do (not Bashmann of course).

If it all depends on Bashar and America has zero ability to influence the outcome, as you claim … then what was all this noise and chaos we had to go through the past few years as this administration started to prepare Ghadry to replace Bahsar while they worked hard with the Saudis and the French to overthrow the regime?

America CAN help speed up political reforms in Syria … the reason you can not even imagine how is that your brain is full of violence and confrontation and drama and overnight revolutions .. you are not capable of imaginging a positive, calm, gradual approach … an approach that the regime in Damascus can not easily resist or reject.

December 3rd, 2007, 2:17 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Qifa Nabki said:

We’ve got American-style, Saudi-style, stentorian Druze-style, populist-Shi`a style, Frenchified Maronite-style… you name it, we’ve got it.

The only democracies you have in the middle east is Iraq and Israel, no thanks to you, your “leaders”, and your “Professors of Peace”.

December 3rd, 2007, 2:46 am

 

norman said:

Iranian president: enemies can’t damage ties with Syria

http://www.chinaview.cn 2007-12-03 04:36:49 Print

TEHRAN, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday that the country’s foes cannot damage the existing deep relationship between Tehran and Damascus, apparently referring to the United States which invited Syria to attend a Mideast conference several days ago, the official media reported.

“Enemies cannot damage real and firm Tehran-Damascus relations,” Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by the state television in a meeting with visiting Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Mekdad.

Mekdad attended Tuesday’s international conference on Mideast peace in Annapolis, Maryland, during which the Syrian delegation shook hands with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a rare comportment since the two foes have been accusing each other on Iraq security issue.

Tehran has strongly criticized Arab countries attending the meeting as making concessions to the U.S. and Israel over Palestinian issue, though it didn’t directly mention Syria, a firm ally to Iran.

Western Analysts said Syria’s attendance and Iran’s criticism over the meeting indicated there was slight tension between the two friendly countries on the issue.

According to the official IRNA news agency, Ahmadinejad told Mekdad that “all should be vigilant not to provide any chance for the outgoing U.S. president to obtain any concession from Palestinian nation.”

Mekdad, for his part, submitted a written message from Syrian President Bashar Assad and briefed President Ahmadinejad on the Annapolis conference.

Nearly 50 countries and organizations participated the gathering in Annapolis aimed at helping resume the stalled Mideast peace talks. Israeli and Palestinian leaders met and negotiated how to live in peace with each other.

Besides Ahmadinejad, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has urged the Muslim countries to boycott the conference, accusing Washington of trying to save Israel and to hurt the Palestinians.

Editor: Yan Liang

Related Stories

Home World

December 3rd, 2007, 2:50 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Your answer is irrelevant to the argument. You were specifically saying that Iraq was a reason for the delay in democracy. I showed you that it wasn’t, therefore your argument does not hold water. And really, what does some CIA action 60 years bear to the argument? It is a red herring. In the end ONLY the Bashar regime is responsible for lack of democratic change in Syria. TOMORROW they can take actions in that direction but they won’t.

And then you come up with this gem:
“you are not capable of imaginging a positive, calm, gradual approach … an approach that the regime in Damascus can not easily resist or reject”

Well how about you imagine it for me? The Syrian regime can reject anything and has been doing it for over 40 years. You know what, if there is ANYTHING behind these words, why don’t you summarize in one page how the US can make democracy happen in Syria in 10 years? What is the approach Bashar cannot “resist or reject”?

December 3rd, 2007, 3:03 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Observer,
Sorry to disappoint you but I have only one citizenship, an Israeli one, even though I can easily get another.

What Israel has been able to do in the last 60 years is a miracle especially compared to what the Arab states have achieved. And in the next 60 years, the gap is just going to grow unless the Arabs democratize. I am very optimistic about the long term success of Israel. What is important in the world today is knowledge and innovation and Israel is among the world leaders in knowledge creation and innovation.

Frankly, you ain’t seen nothing yet. In 30 years Israel will be the richest country in the world (per capita).

December 3rd, 2007, 3:07 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

someone asked what was the price that Syria got in order to go to Annapolis? here comes the answer, King Abdullah of Jordan said today that he is arranging a meeting of five, Syria,jordan,KSA Egypt and Abbas,in other word rapprochement with KSA Abdullah,and Husni Mubarak,and Assad, practically in the last six monthes, there has been zero relations with Mubarak and KSA and Syria.
the fact that Syria sent Makdad to Tehran,and this quickly, indicate that Iran was very upset with Syria,in my humble opinion, I do not think that Syria can continue good relations with Iran and continue to depend on HA and Hamas, at the same time has close relations with Egypt and KSA, at the same time Syria can not abandone the arab line altogather.remember that when you prevaricate, you loose some power.

on anothr subject in Lebanon there is no way that they can reach an agreement on president without some concessions from someone,or two, Lebanon will continue to be in trouble, if they do not have a strong president, not week one that they are looking for now.solving lebanese problems need decisive acts, not passive position.

I found it strange that someone call for the opposition in Syria and out side to unite then he makes his own party, not join the others.this is for Bashmann

December 3rd, 2007, 3:15 am

 

Habib said:

akbar palace

it is sorry to see you referring to prof. landis in such a manner, as though being a “professor of peace” is terrible.

what criteria do you have to judge…what office do you hold…which title have you won.

this blog, the internet as a whole as andrew keen has keenly pointed out…is a workshop of the amateur. you are not accomplished.

habib

December 3rd, 2007, 3:21 am

 

norman said:

Majed,
Syria did not abandon the Arab line it was the Arabs of KSA, Egypt and Jordon and yes Abbas who abandoned Syria and the Palestinians , Egypt during Sadat and the others recently , Syria is a friend of the countries that stand by Syria’s and the Palestinian interest , and that is so far is Iran , The west and the other Arabs have a chance to show results or shut up for ever and line up behind Syria Hezbollah and Hamas.

December 3rd, 2007, 3:40 am

 
 

Akbar Palace said:

it is sorry to see you referring to prof. landis in such a manner, as though being a “professor of peace” is terrible.

Habib,

I take no great pleasure telling people the “King has no Clothes”. I have nothing against most of the posters here personally, including Professor Josh and Alex. However, I cannot honestly say that their unwavering support for Bashar has anything to do with peace. In fact, it will lead to more years of death and violence; certainly not democracy and freedom for the peoples of the Middle East.

Were Bush and the “neo-cons” right afterall?:

http://rayrobison.typepad.com/ray_robison/files/bothinonetrench_intro_and_ch_1.pdf

December 3rd, 2007, 5:00 am

 

Bashmann said:

Alex,

I thought you don’t like politics or getting involved, and then you try to sneak something like this;

“America is always making the same mistake from those days until today .. they are pushing their own interests on top of Syria’s interests … you dont care to notice it, most Syrians do (not Bashmann of course).”

Cheap shot my dear friend. This is called smearing in most everyone’s book. I would expect it from clowns like Ausamma, but you.!! I’m disappointed my friend.
I will give you the benefit of the doubt this time here and believe you are not putting in question my motives.

We all know America works for its interest, it’s elementary my dear Alex. But in politics there is something called “SHARED” interests that drive all political alliances; just like Iran and Syria remember???

You also say;

“And to Bashmann I was adding: the “Syrian opposition” in exile are a third major reason for failure to have political reforms … they are not an impressive group… not worth taking any risks to replace the regime with them .. they are a downgrade. “

Are you really serious about this statement?!! For you to blame the opposition in exile for the reason for Syria’s lack of political reforms is a farce.

“then what was all this noise and chaos we had to go through the past few years as this administration started to prepare Ghadry to replace Bashar while they worked hard with the Saudis and the French to overthrow the regime?”

Forgive the sarcasim, but have someone put you up to this? Do you really think the Americans were preparing Ghadry or is it part of an overactive imagination at work again? Of course I forgot, it’s the Americans and Zionists that are at the root of our problems.

Nice try Alex, but this will not fly. Our problem is in the Muhajreen palace, next to where I grew up. Its been there for the past 37 years. 🙂

Cheers

December 3rd, 2007, 5:08 am

 

ausamaa said:

Bashmann says: “Ausamma is not worth the trouble of typing the few words to answer him. Ignoring would be the most effective way of shutting up the regime’s stooges.”

What a considerate, polite and insightful statement!

Actually, we should not expect anything milder under the current circumstances and stress some must be facing.

But I would not really advise anyone to follow your “reccomendation” of ignoring the “regime” or its stooges, the Feb 14 gang advised its supporters -local,regional, and international- to do so, and look what they all ended up with.

Double Cheers!!!

December 3rd, 2007, 5:47 am

 

abraham said:

Abraham, please try to not go there. We don’t want to start another round of Jews/Arabs. I’m sure Akbar Palace is already preparing for you a few links about Arabs and money scandals.

Hi Alex.

It was a test. It’s a slightly edited excerpt from an article published in Ha’aretz. I expected AIG to respond but I didn’t count on the possibility of you blocking it. Perhaps I was trying to be too clever.

I wish I could’ve read AIG’s response. I wanted to demonstrate to him that his accusations of “anti-Semitism” (he means anti-Jewish) are mostly hysterical reactions to ordinary language. An article in Ha’aretz by a Jewish author serves this end quite well.

Here’s the original article:

When Jews and political money scandals collide
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/929926.html

December 3rd, 2007, 6:13 am

 

Alex said:

Abraham .. that was funny : )

Sorry I spoiled it. But regardless .. in the future, please try to not use the “J” word unless it is relevant to the discussion… These days the real news are not encouraging for AIG … so if you give him a chance to start arguing that everyone is anti Semitic, he will not disappoint you.

December 3rd, 2007, 7:30 am

 

Alex said:

Bashmann,

Forgive the sarcasim, but have someone put you up to this? Do you really think the Americans were preparing Ghadry or is it part of an overactive imagination at work again? Of course I forgot, it’s the Americans and Zionists that are at the root of our problems.

Nice try Alex, but this will not fly. Our problem is in the Muhajreen palace, next to where I grew up.

I appreciate it if you work a bit harder on the subject before you intend to use sarcasm.

I have a million reference for the way the administration was backing Ghadry to take over in Syria. I guess I will use the most recent one … from THE LATIMES .. this week.

Grooming the next Ahmad Chalabi
Richard Perle is again propping up regime-toppling Mideast dissidents who lack credibility.
By Alan Weisman

November 28, 2007

ON A COLD MORNING last winter, I arrived at the home of Richard Perle outside Washington for a scheduled interview. I was about 10 minutes early, so I chose to shiver a bit on the front porch. Perle, the point man for the neoconservatives’ drive for regime change throughout the Middle East, had agreed to spend time me with for a book I was writing about his life and times. Just then, the front door opened and out stepped Perle and a robust young man who was obviously in a hurry.

“Oh, Alan,” Perle said with some surprise. “I’d like you to meet . . . ” But I already knew who his guest was.

“Yes, sir,” I said, extending my hand. “I recognize you from your photographs.”

My, my, I thought. Mr. Perle is at it again.

The exiting guest was Farid Ghadry, an exiled Syrian dissident who, like Perle, believes it’s past time to replace Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. Ghadry, who heads a Washington-based group called the Syrian Reform Party, hopes to be the man in charge one day in Damascus. When I met him, he had already been granted audiences with David Wurmser, Vice President Dick Cheney’s top Middle East advisor and Perle protege, and with Cheney’s daughter, Elizabeth, who headed the State Department’s Iran-Syria desk from 2005 until last June.

Which brings us back to America’s Middle East wannabe heroes. Take Ghadry, an American-educated Arab with a passion for technology start-ups as well as saving Syria. Unfortunately for Perle, Ghadry is seen in many quarters as a front man for Israel. Not only is he a dues-paying member of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful Israeli lobby in Washington, but a recent column on his website, titled “Why I Admire Israel,” seems to play right into the hands of those who believe the Bush administration’s obsession with regime change in the Middle East is really all about protecting Israel. Did Perle, the savviest of Washington power players, believe that Ghadry’s tub-thumping for Tel Aviv would make him more popular in Syria?

“No,” Perle replied. “I don’t. But he’s his own man. I don’t always understand what he’s doing and why he’s doing it.”

So, in his quest for idealistic dissidents to do in the Middle East what the Walesas and Havels achieved in Eastern Europe, Perle and his acolytes have tapped the discredited Ahmad Chalabi for Iraq, the suspect Amir Abbas Fakhravar for Iran and the allegiance-challenged Fahrid Ghadry for Syria. They’re just not making heroes like they used to.

Alan Weisman is the author of the first biography of Richard Perle, “Prince of Darkness — Richard Perle: The Kingdom, the Power, and the End of Empire in America.”

December 3rd, 2007, 7:43 am

 

Alex said:

Bashmann,

There was no cheap shot my friend .. you deserve it!

It is not about your intentions .. it is about your understanding of Syrian sensitivities. Living in Florida has made you .. different. I read your personal blog and I like very much the things that you stood for … and I am sure you are a good person.

But when it comes to Syrian politics, and Mideast politics .. you are too far… not because you live in beautiful Florida … we all live outside Syria … but because of the type of influences you are exposed to.

December 3rd, 2007, 8:00 am

 

Alex said:

تيمور وليد جنبلاط : على والدي التنحي وسأزور دمشق فهي ضمانة الدروز الكبرى

أجرى المقابلة جيرمين غراتون

أجرى السيد تيمور جنبلاط إبن الزعيم الدرزي وليد جنبلاط والمقيم مع زوجته في قصر فاخر في أحد أرقى الضواحي الباريسية مقابلة مطولة مع الصحافية الفرنسية جيرمين غراتون مراسلة وكالة أخبار مونتريال الكندية في باريس . فيما يلي مقتطفات من المقابلة المطولة نقدمها لكم :

س : سيد تيمور …هل فشل والدك في الحفاظ على زعامة الدروز ؟

ج: أعتقد بأن والدي تورط في مواقف تتعارض ومصلحة من سلموه أمانة مستقبلهم السياسي والوجودي من خلال المعلومات الخاطئة التي قدمها له الأميركيين وبعض العرب وخصوصا ألسيد آليوت إبرامز والأمير سلطان بن عبد العزيز عن الأوضاع المتغيرة في الشرق الأوسط ..نعم أخطأ وليد جنبلاط وعليه الإعتراف بذلك قبل فوات الآوان .

س : هل من الممكن أن تشرح لنا نوعية وماهية تلك المعلومات ولماذا تعتبر أنه تورط ؟ فلطالما تبدلت مواقف السيد وليد السياسية طوال تاريخه في العمل العام .

ج : لقد قدمت له معلومات تتحدث عن أن السعوديين ومعهم بعض العرب تلقوا ضمانات من جورج بوش بأنه سيعمل على قلب النظام السوري في في موعد أقصاه بداية عام الفين وستة ، وكان المطلوب منه تقديم أوراق إعتماد للأميركيين لكي يتم بحسب زعمهم تحييده وما يمثل بين الدروز عن السوريين وحلفائهم في لبنان ، كان والدي يظن بأنه إنما ينقذ زعامته وينقذ الدروز في لبنان من تحمل نتائج تغيير النظام السوري فسارع إلى تلك القفزة الخاطئة في المجهول .

س : ماذا عن الدور السعودي؟

ج: السعوديون تولوا إقناع وليد جنبلاط بصدق الأميركيين وأعطوه ضمانات مالية وأمنية يستعيض بها عن الدعم الإيراني المالي السخي الذي كان يتلقاه سابقا.

س: هل تعتقد بأنه يمكن له مرة أخرى أن يستعيد دوره كحليف لسوريا أو على الأقل كواحد من الزعماء السياسيين اللبنانيين ؟

ج : للأسف ذهب وليد بك بعيدا جدا هذه المرة في لعب دور الدمية الأميركية ، لقد حمل لواء سحق المقاومة اللبنانية وزرع الكراهية في نفوس المسؤولين والشعب السوريين كما أنه يعتبر اليوم الرجل الأكثر كراهية لدى واللبنانيين الموارنةوالشيعة والسنة الموالين للمعارضة ،وأخشى ما أخشاه أن يتم تدفيع الدروز ثمن أخطأ وليد بيك .

س: هل تكلمت معه مؤخرا حول الموضوع ؟؟ هل طلبت منه التنحي للحلول مكانه ؟

ج : طلبت منه أن يفعل ما يراه مناسبا لإنقاذ الدروز لأن الوضع صعب والصفقات الدولية لن تقف على خاطره ولا على خاطر من يمثل وبالتالي قلت له بصراحة أن لبنان عائد ليكون حليف سوريا الأول في العالم العربي والسياسة السورية بكل صراحة هي التي إنتصرت بعد أن علم جورج بوش أن لا قوة في لبنان تسطيع تحويل هذا البلد الجميل إلى ساحة للإنقضاض على سوريا . الأميركيون أنفسهم يسترضون السوريين لتأمين مصالحهم في العراق وفي لبنان لأن البديل خسارة أميركية جديدة .. نعم قلت للسيد وليد جنبلاط أن قراره يجب أن يلحظ رفضا سوريا له وقلت له أني مستعد لتحمل المسؤولية التاريخية برعايته وبوجوده إلى جانبي .

س : لماذا فشل برأيك المشروع الأميركي في لبنان ولماذا سقطت ثورة الأرز ؟

ج: لم يكن مشروع أميركي للبنان بل مشروع أميركي للمنطقة ككل . المأزق الأميركي في العراق ومأزق السيد جورج بوش الداخلي ساهما في تراجع هذا المشروع وفي تفتيت أهدافه الكبرى وتراجعها من نشر الديمقراطية والتنمية الإقتصادية لمحاربة الإرهاب إلى الدور المرتبك والمتعثر للولايات المتحدة في إضطرارها لإستعادة أدوات السياسة الأميركية التقليدية في المنطقة . لقد أظهرت حرب العراق بأن قوة أميركا محدودة فإستعيدت لغة الصفقات وتبادل المصالح . وسوريا لها تاريخ طويل من الحنكة والدهاء في إستغلال المآزق الأميركية في المنطقة . لقد جرب ريغان وشارون عام أثنان وثمانين الإطاحة بدور سوريا الإقليمي فوجد بوش الأب نفسه يستجدي مساهمة سورية في تحرير الكويت مقابل ثمن باهظ دفعه في لبنان والآن يجد الرئيس بوش الأبن نفسه وجها لوجه مع حقيقة أن الثمن الباهظ الذي عليه دفعه لسوريا مقابل تخفيف الضغط السوري على سياسته الشرق أوسطية ،، هل سيكون عليه التسليم بالمطالبة السورية بالجولان والإعتراف بالمصالح السورية في لبنان فقط مقابل خروج أميركي هاديء من العراق ؟؟ أسئلة علينا أن ننتظر لتعرق المدى الذي ستذهب إليه الأمور ولكن سكة تبادل المصالح بدأت وحانت الساعة ليختبر أصحاب الرؤوس الحامية في لبنان معنى يوم الحساب ووالدي منهم للأسف لأن الأميركيين سيلتزمون مصالحهم هم فقط .

س : هل تتوقع تعرضه لسؤ ؟

ج: والدي يعيش مع التهديدات منذ إستلم الأمانة من جدي الزعيم الخالد كمال جنبلاط وهو تعرض لمحاولات إغتيال عديدة ، ليس هذا ما يقلق وليد جنبلاط ويقلقني بل الخطر هو على دور الدروز في المعادلة الآتية لا ريب إلى لبنان ، معادلة الإنتصار السوري السياسي على ثورة الأرز وعلى اركان ثورة الأرز . لقد كان العماد ميشال عون ذكيا جدا حين إتخذ طريق التفاهم مع المقاومة اللبنانية ممثلة بحزب الله بشكل مبكر .

س: هل تتوقع أن يتنازل والدك لك عن الزعامة ؟

ج : لا أتوقع شيئا لا يريده ، وليد جنبلاط أعطى لبنان والدروز ما لم يعطهم أحد ، لقد ناضل طوال حياته لأجل إستقلال لبنان ولأجل حرية اللبنانيين وليس هناك من يجرؤ على الطلب منه أن يتنحى ، كل ما في الأمر أن الظروف تغيرت ولن يكون هناك مكان في المعادلة الجديدة معادلة هاملتون بيكر لأمثال وليد جنبلاط .لقد ذهب بعيدا ولعب دورا ضارا جدا على مستقبل الدروز بسبب الخداع الذي مارسه آليوت إبرامز عليه وبسبب الضغوط التي وضعه هذا الشخص تحت تأثيرها . لقد كان يتباحث معه يوميا في شأن إعتراض لوبيات يهودية على دعمه من قبل الأميركيين وكان يطلب منه يوميا مواقف مضادة لسوريا لحزب الله لكي يبيض صفحته لدى تلك اللوبيات في أميركا . لقد تم خداعه وأنا قلق على الثمن الذي سيدفعه الدروز بسبب ذلك .

س : ما الذي قلب الأوضاع في لبنان ولماذا لم ينتخب تيار ثورة الأرز رئيسا للجمهورية بشكل مباشر ودون الخضوع لضغوط المعارضة وحلفاء سوريا ؟

ج : لقد راهن الأميركيين والسعوديين على تكبيل قوة حزب الله العسكرية والشعبية بالخوف من الصدام السني الشيعي ، أنت تعرفين بأن العالم العربي بمعظمه سني المذهب بينما الشيعة ينحصر وجودهم في لبنان وفي بعض الإمارات الخليجية وفي العراق . لهذا إعتقد ألجميع أن نصرالله لن يستطيع التحرك ضد الأكثرية إذا أنتخبت رئيسا بالنصف زائد واحد كما كان مخططا ولكن خطاب نصرالله الأخير وما تبعه من مناورات في الجبل وعلى مقربة من المختارة زقريطم ومعراب أظهر للأميركيين بأن ما صح في موضوع الحكومة لن يصح في موضوع رئيس الجمهورية كما أن الفرنسيين تلقوا نصيحة من السوريين بأن لا يساهموا بإستفزاز حزب الله لأنه سيقلب الأوضاع في لبنان رأسا على عقب وهم لم يعودوا قادرين على تهدئته إن لم يلتزم أعضاء الأكثرية بالضوابط التي وضعها نصرالله .
س: ولكن التوازن بين القوى الطائفية في لبنان تحقق بالتسليح المكثف للطرفين ؟

ج: ليس من مصلحة أميركا أن تندلع الحرب في لبنان أو أن يسقط كل لبنان في قبضة حزب الله وهو قادر على تحقيق سيطرة كاملة له عبر حلفائه وهذا الأمر شاهده وليد جنبلاط بالعين المجردة ، فبعد خطاب نصرالله قام الألاف من المعارضين في الجبل بمناورة صامتة كانت بمثابة رسالة إلى الحزب التقدمي إلى أن الحرب ستكون في عقر داره وللأسف فإن تصارع السنة والشيعة فسيجد السنة من يقف بجانبهم في العالم العربي وكذلك المسيحييمن سيجدون من يدافع عنهم في العالم الغربي ولكن من سيكترث بالدروز الذين كان النظام العلماني السوري حليفهم وضمانتهم الكبرى طوال عقود ..

س: إذا خسر وليد جنبلاط رهانه على الأميركيين وخسر حنكته في التقلب والتكيف

ج : للأسف علينا الإعتراف بأن الأوضاع صعبة والبازار الأميركي فتحت أبوابه والذكي من يحفظ رأسه حين تتقلب الدول وحين تختلف والأهم أن يحفظ المرء رأسه حين تتفق الدول فوق ملعبه .
س : هل سنراك في دمشق قريبا ؟

ج : أتمنى ذلك وسيسعدني أن يستعيد جبل كمال جنبلاط علاقاته التاريخية الإستراتيجية مع عرين الأسود في الشام ، دمشق مدينة إستراتيجية للدروز وسوريا حليفنا الطبيعي وأتمنى أن أتمكن من تصحيح الأوضاع وتقديم الإعتذار لكل السوريين وخصوصا للرئيس الدكتور بشار الأسد القائد العربي الكبير

December 3rd, 2007, 8:02 am

 

Alex said:

AIG

Alex,

Your answer is irrelevant to the argument. You were specifically saying that Iraq was a reason for the delay in democracy. I showed you that it wasn’t, therefore your argument does not hold water. And really, what does some CIA action 60 years bear to the argument? It is a red herring. In the end ONLY the Bashar regime is responsible for lack of democratic change in Syria. TOMORROW they can take actions in that direction but they won’t.

And then you come up with this gem:
“you are not capable of imaginging a positive, calm, gradual approach … an approach that the regime in Damascus can not easily resist or reject”

You asked me to imagine such an approach … I did. It was in the 100-page link I gave you and you did not read it or did not understand it. I read your comments on it … you missed all the details and picked a couple of lines to convince your self that it was nothing new … that it was my “typical blaming everyone but the Assads”

It is not my fault if you insist to cover your eyes when there is something you hate to read.

December 3rd, 2007, 8:13 am

 

Disaffection said:

akheeran redyu 3alena?

قائد عسكري أمريكي في العراق: نحن سعداء للإجراءات السورية على الحدود

قال مسؤول عسكري أمريكي رفيع في العراق اليوم الاثنين إن الجيش الأمريكي “مسرور” من الإجراءات الأمنية السورية الإضافية على الحدود مع العراق مشيرا إلى تراجع عدد المتسللين من سورية إلى العراق.

December 3rd, 2007, 10:35 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Partial quoting is intellectually dishonest when the full meaning of the post is compromised.
What about the other part of my post with the simple challenge to you?

Unfortunately, you keep hiding behind a vague 100 page manifesto that is very light on details. We would like a one pager that explains what is the strategy the US can employ that will lead to democracy and that the Syrian regime “cannot easily resist or reject”.

Is that too difficult? Why do you keep resisting this simple challenge?

December 3rd, 2007, 11:40 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

Oh, and I am glad to see you approve of taking a self critical and balanced review of Jews in politics and editing out the balance in order to make it clearly antisemitic. You think that is funny?

Hey, why don’t you post back what Abraham posted and let’s discuss whether what he wrote was antisemitic and whether this approach as you say is:
“Abraham .. that was funny : )
Sorry I spoiled it.”

But you know, your approach does not surprise me. Most antisemites do not realize they are antisemites. And it is a sickness that is stongly prevalent in Syrian culture and apparently you are not immune even though you are “educated” and “secular” and “from a good family”.

The extent of antisemitism in Syria: http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/html/final/eng/sib/4_04/as_syria.htm

December 3rd, 2007, 11:50 am

 

ALEX_no said:

Most antisemites do not realize they are antisemites.

Wow! Anti-semitism is so difficult to detect that only the so-called victims can know what it is.

I have a proposal to make, or in fact repeat, as I have said it before. Why not stop replying to ANOTHERISRAELIGUY? Or even ban him, Alex. It is a waste of everyone’s time. He is a very clear case of a troll who is out to disrupt. He may be being paid to do it. Pages and pages are being spent on inane spats, and many useful things about Syria are not being said.

On the other hand the first ISRAELIGUY does have useful insights, which I appreciate.

December 3rd, 2007, 1:50 pm

 

Disaffection said:

AIG, you have just described yourself hands on. its as if you have a mirror in front of you while you type, especially with the bit on “antisemitism”. what else is wrong with syrians, and their culture? please list them. we’re all dieing to have truth revealed before our very eyes by “you”. i dont know about everyone else, but this forum seems to have become monotone ever since you showed up. i might as well sticking to reading Josh’s posts and stop there.

December 3rd, 2007, 3:07 pm

 

Observer said:

I must have hit a nerve with IG and AIG. I like it even further when AIG says that Israelis will be the richest people on earth. It confirms to me how deeply ingrained is the culture of the “chosen people” is. It also amazes me how wealth seems to be pre occupying the mind to an extent that lends reality to the caricature.

December 3rd, 2007, 3:33 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Disaffection,
Where did I make any generalizations? Not all Syrians are antisemitic but there certainly is a culture of antisemitism in Syria as the link shows.

If you want to ignore the problem or deny it exists that is fine with me.

December 3rd, 2007, 3:35 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Observer,
What can I say, there is a culture that thrives for success in Israel, in many fields, academics, business, technology etc. If you think that is bad and has something to do with a culture of “chosen people” then I feel sorry for you.

December 3rd, 2007, 3:46 pm

 

Innocent_Criminal said:

AIG is not going to get banned just because he is annoying. yes he posts comments more than normal but he hasn’t said anything worth banning for. besides, his arguments only proves counter arguments better. So why shut him up 😉

December 3rd, 2007, 4:19 pm

 

abraham said:

Geez, I and many others suggested that the Annapolis conference was a sham, held specifically to give the impression that the US is playing neutral arbiter, but the US could’ve played along for at least a few weeks before removing all doubt.

The United States has not publicly clarified its position on allowing continued construction in the major settlement blocs despite plans to monitor and judge the legitimacy of such activity following last week’s Annapolis conference.

The ambiguity raises new questions about how the US will operate as referee of road map implementation, as outlined at Annapolis, and how willing it is to enter the fray to decide on one of the most sensitive issues dividing Israelis and Palestinians.

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1195546778153&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

December 3rd, 2007, 4:52 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Frankly, you ain’t seen nothing yet. In 30 years Israel will be the richest country in the world (per capita).

Based on what AIG? If one third of the children go religious schools and a considerable amount of “chosen people” do not participate in the economy, how on earth is that jump possible. Especially when the the amount of these religious extrimists is only growing in numbers and proportionally. The OECD PISA study (to be published tomorrow) doesn’t give hints that Israel has the educational potential for that jump.

Naturally Israel as number one is possible if USA increases its “donations”. But would US taxpayers want to give billions to the richest nation – Haredistan?

By the way AIG, how should those numerous Israeli Arab haters be called? If you can’t discuss without drawing always that anti-Semitism card out, it is better that you stop writing your comments. If you reserve yourself the right to critizize others be prepared also to be criticized without crying always like a little spoiled child – anti-Semitic.

December 3rd, 2007, 5:09 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Observer states:

AIG is not going to get banned just because he is annoying.

Not only is AIG annoying, he’s also right.

It was good enough that Alex deleted an anti-semitic post. But I have to agree with AIG, Alex didn’t need to add, “…that was funny. Sorry I spoiled it.”

Also, I agree with AIG that most anti-semites don’t know they are.

In any case, we can play the “Jew” or “Chosen people” game for a long as anyone here wants. Then, I guess, I won’t have to be so careful myself. If that’s what the owners of the “peace” website Syria Comment wants.

As far a Ha’aretz’s article, it is a typical liberal, left-wing newspaper that can only find fault with Israel, Israelis, and the Israeli government. That is why Ha’aretz will always have fewer subscribers than Yediot and Ma’ariv. But heck, that’s democracy: freedom of speech. It makes you stronger;)

In any case, at least Jack Abramoff was caught a put in jail according to the law. Meanwhile the oil rich sheiks, Kings and thugs that run the Arab world not only SUCK the Arab people dry by several orders of magnitude, they also finance terror organizations that have murdered thousands of innocent Arabs.

But no, Yassir Arafat, Bashar Assad, King Fahd, Saddam Hussein, etc etc are all glorified with posters and banners in the least free corner of the world.

What a swarm of cry-babies.

I just love it when the pot calls the kettle black.

December 3rd, 2007, 5:43 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sim,

If you want to criticize the Haredim without making generalizations, be my guest, but I am way in front of you in that. Your antisemitism usually shows when you generalize, you typically take one example of a Jew or a group of Jews behaving badly and generalize it to all the Jews. And I have said many times, that I don’t mind your antisemitic posts, I will just point out that they are antisemitic and if you find a problem with my posts, you should point it out also.

As for your question. The reason Israel will be the richest country in the world in 30 years are two fold:
1) Innovation and a knowledge society.
2) Positive population growth in all parts of society.

First, look at the recent Economist report: http://a330.g.akamai.net/7/330/25828/20070607172505/graphics.eiu.com/upload/portal/CiscoInnoSmallFile.pdf

You see Israel is currently ranked 10 and is moving up. The statistics are even more in favor of Israel because many patents and innovations by Israelis are done through foreign vehicles. For example, about 50% of Israeli startups are registered as American companies. Also, the per capita numbers are misleading because of Haredim and other sectors that on principle do not participate in the high tech economy.

The second point is that the demographics in Israel are favorable unlike in Europe. Israel is getting older much slower than Europe and this includes the productive parts of the population. Given the two, and given that Israel achieved what it has in a much more difficult environment than most democratic countries, I think that in 30 years Israel per capita will be the richest country in the world.

December 3rd, 2007, 5:57 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

It seems that in Lebanon, young politicians are condemned to follow in the footsteps of their illustrious role models.

December 3rd, 2007, 5:59 pm

 
 

majedkhaldoun said:

CNN International
US: Iran stopped nuclear weapons work

December 3rd, 2007, 7:14 pm

 

norman said:

I thought Iran never intended nuclear weapon .

December 3rd, 2007, 7:35 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

First you complained that I did not remove Abraham’s original comment .. then I removed it … then you write:

“Hey, why don’t you post back what Abraham posted and let’s discuss whether what he wrote was antisemitic”

So I will be clear this time and please read carefully:

Next time you try to derail our discussions here with your favorite tools (Anti Semitic accusations) I will ban you completely.

Sorry. But you are clearly a trouble maker… arrogant, self centered, highly sensitive to your own issues, and exceptionally thick-skinned when you insult everyone after you spin their comments, intentionally or unintentionally.

If you feel that there is a truly anti-Semitic comment that need to be removed send me an email and I will be more than accommodating if there is any reason to believe that it was indeed Anti-Semitic. But I do not want to see a comment from you here everyday accusing everyone of being anti Semitic.

And for everyone else. Please do not make any generalized comments about “Jews” unless there is a very relevant link to our discussion.

December 3rd, 2007, 7:41 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

AIG –

If the Economist took into account some rather innovative factors such as:

– IED manufacturing and service companies

– assembly-line, mobile suicide belt manufacturing

– disposable nuclear research facilities

– TSA-proof burka apparrel for business travelers on the go

– PA missile and tunnel technology

– Hi Quality billboards and posters of your favortie President-for-Life

– Olive wood chess sets in-laid with mother-of-pearl

you’d find many countries in the Middle East on par with many of the countries cited in their (obviously biased) report.

December 3rd, 2007, 8:17 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
I never asked to remove the antisemitic remarks. On the contrary, I have been saying all along that you should leave them. I will point out if I think a post is antisemitic. Why do you have a problem with that?

And remind me when I have accused EVERYONE of being antisemitic, I respond only to specific remarks.

December 3rd, 2007, 8:24 pm

 

Disaffection said:

Bli me AIG, for a split second there i thought you were suggesting that syrians are by far culturally inferior to Israelis. surely i misinterpreted you saying hinting the superiority of Israelis which thrives on success in contrasts with those imbred syrians. i must hallucinating any generalizations on your part. Syrians are good people, only problem is their culture, their work ethic, belief system and frankly their inferiority. i seeeeeee. all of a sudden your position has illuminatingly been clarified. and to think i once thought you were a racist psychopath. i take it aaaaaaall back. 🙂

Norman, i think this will shed some more light on what Majed posted.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A new U.S. intelligence report says Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and it remains on hold, contradicting the Bush administration’s earlier assertion that Tehran was intent on developing a bomb.
http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSWBT00801220071203

not exactly a move advocating more sanctions is it?

December 3rd, 2007, 8:30 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

Just be 100% clear, I don’t think you or Landis are responsible in anyway if people put antisemitic posts in the blog. You can only control what you write.

Why I prefer you leave the antisemitic posts? Because then they can be pointed out and hopefully people will understand why they are antisemitic and will not be repeated. I think it is a good learning process.

December 3rd, 2007, 8:31 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

AIG,

I am yet to address you directly. I guess it is time to start.

Since you have been here, you have had two themes:

1- Syria needs to be democratic otherwise Israel will not give back the Golan
2- Many Syrians are anti-Semitic.

Syrians (like most Arabs and Moslems) do not hold Israel and its policies in high regard. Our history teachers and our own readings of the subject matter make it close to 99% certainty that most of the country’s people share the same feeling. This is the case for Syrian Moslems, Christians, democracy lovers, Baathist apologists, capitalists, socialists and communists. We all realize that Israel and Zionism has nothing to do with the Jewish people at large. We (if I may speak on behalf of my country fellowmen and women) are not ignorant to know the difference. Having said that, to suggest that our views of the Jewish people have not been affected by Israel and its policies in the region is silly. What do you expect? You want Syrians to treat Israeli people like they are Norwegians? If you want to call this anti-Semitic, then be my guest. Frankly, I am sick and tired of you wasting our time here with this nonsense. If you think we are such bigots, then just leave and don’t waste your time with racists.

Now to your Syria is not democratic mantra. This is another silly remark. My 5-year-old daughter knows that. Is Egypt democratic? Israel did not mind doing a deal with that country. Is Jordan democratic? You are proud of your Israel being one. Have you ever considered how homogenous your society is? Were you to have Kurds, Christians, Shias, Sunnis, Armenians and everything in between in your population centers, how democratic do you think you will be? Moreover, a large part of your population came from Western Europe and other countries where democratic institutions were already ingrained in their lives.

Let me again make it easier for you. Syria will not be democratic in our lifetime. You speak like you represent Israel’s leadership and policy makers. Frankly, I could not care less about what you think about whether Israel will or will not give the Golan back. One thing is for sure, the ultimate decision there (I am not hopeful) will depend on many other things which have nothing to do with whether Syria is democratic or not. The Palestinians held their own democratic elections that you should be proud of. How come you did not hand them what they want? Please also spare us this nonesense.

December 3rd, 2007, 8:36 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

EHSANI2,

If you think it is too much to ask Syrians to denounce Tlas’ book that says that Jews murder christians for ritual purposes just let me know. So what if you don’t like Israel? That is not an excuse to accept racism and bigotry in your society in my opinion. If you do not have a problem with it, you should not have a problem when Arabs are mistreated in the West just because they are Arabs. I have problems with both.

I have explained several times that the peace with Egypt and Jordan was done in another era under different circumstances. And is it a real peace? It disrespects the true views of the Egyptians and the Jordanians. Why would I want to force peace on them?

Just for your information, Israel is the most dishomgenous society in the world. We have people from over hundred countries in Israel, including Kurds, Christians, Shias, Sunnis, Armenians.
Take a look at: http://www.brookings.edu/articles/2002/winter_middleeast_litan.aspx

You are right, I represent only myself and whatever is democratically decided in Israel I will accept. But that does not stop me of highlighting what I think is the prevalent mood in Israel. I think for example (and the polls currently show) that Netanyahu will be elected, and his views on this issue are close to mine.

But to a more interesting discussion that I would appreciate your input on:
Let’s assume that there will not be democracy in Syria in the next 50 years. Also let’s assume that Syria will continue treating its economic problems in the same way as “advils to a cancer patient”.

Given the demographics of Syria, the slow growth rates allowed by the oppressive regime, and the fact that in 7-8 years Syria will become a net oil importer, one can only reach the conclusion that Syria is heading towards the abyss.

Something has got to give. Either there will be democratization or there will be out of control riots leading to destabilzation.

What is your opinion about this line of thought?

December 3rd, 2007, 9:08 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Disaffection,

Where did I make generalizations about Syrians? Please provide the quote. I think and have said it many times, that given democracy Syrians would be just as successful or even more successful than Israelis as they have more land.

December 3rd, 2007, 9:11 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy,

Your views, on the whole, make more sense to me than those of your opponents. Keep going at it in a calm manner.

December 3rd, 2007, 9:44 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Is Tlas’s book the metric by which you measure bigotry in our society?

Do you have any writers in your society that have a low regard for the Arab race? If you found one, does it make your whole society racist?

Cut it out, please

December 3rd, 2007, 9:50 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

Netanyahu will probably win, and your views are very similar to his… and you will both do your best to make Arabs and many Europeans and Asians too) hate Israel … and some to even hate Jews.

So bravo for voting for Netanyahu and ensuring that more people will hate you and your country.

Akbar knows that I used to link Haaretz articles here everyday to convince our Syrian readers that Israel has many likable and friendly people, and not only Sharon and Netanyahu types. You come here and succeed in undoing everything positive about your country.

Tlass’s book is stupid. I told you that he mentioned something against Syrian Christians too .. saying “we have to be honest, their loyalty can be questionable” .. but unlike you, Syrian Christians are not paranoid… we know that not everyone is tolerant. Even Christians are not all tolerant … many of them do not like Muslims, or Jews.

If I were to get as paranoid as you are every time I visited an Israeli newspaper’s comments section … I would be complaining night and day about all those who wanted to nuke Damascus .. or to teach “the Arabs” or “the Syrians” a painful lesson they will never wake up to forget.

This is where we need to start in the Middle East before we get safely to your object of obsession “Democracy”.

December 3rd, 2007, 9:51 pm

 

Enlightened said:

Article on Syrian Workers in Lebanon Ya Libnan

Syrian workers are victims of tense Lebanon – Syria relations
Monday, 3 December, 2007 @ 5:41 PM

Beirut – Syrian manual workers in Lebanon, who number several hundred thousand, say they are victims of an unprecedented low in political relations between the two countries
syrian workers.JPG

Radwan was fast asleep when three men broke down the door of his flat. They beat him. They broke one of his ribs. Then two held his arms while the third slashed his head with a knuckleduster. His crime, they told him, was to be a Syrian working in Lebanon.

After Radwan – who like all Syrians interviewed by IRIN gave a false name for fear of retribution – went to the police, the thugs came back. “They told me I had to tell the police I’d lied, or I’d be going back to Syria in a coffin,” he said. He did as he was told.

Syrian workers like Radwan say they are victims of an unprecedented low in relations between Lebanon and Syria, sparked by the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Because Syrian laborers require no visa for Lebanon, estimating their numbers is difficult. Beirut-based economists estimate that about half a million were present before Hariri’s killing, and hundreds of thousands are thought to remain, mostly working in agriculture, construction and other unskilled or manual jobs.
hariri – 2 ann demo 10.jpgAfter Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war, Syria became the power broker of its smaller neighbor and many in Lebanon and abroad blamed Damascus for Hariri’s death.

”They told me I had to tell the police I’d lied, or I’d be going back to Syria in a coffin.”
An ongoing UN inquiry into Hariri’s assassination – which released its ninth report on 29 November – initially found the involvement of senior Syrian and Lebanese security officials in the killing. Syria denies all involvement.

“I came to Lebanon in 1994 and used to like working here. I felt this was a place where people and their rights were respected,” Radwan said. But that changed with Hariri’s killing. “Now my family are always asking me to come home and I plan to go as soon as I can.”

Bearing the brunt of Syria-Lebanon tension

Syria’s impoverished laborers bear the brunt of each period of tension, says Abed, who like Radwan cooks and works as a waiter at a Beirut café.

When the Lebanese police stopped his cousin, a car park attendant and father of two, and started to check his mobile phone, he protested. “They made him put his hands against the wall and beat him up,” Abed says. “He went back to Syria a few months ago but still can’t find any work.”

A Lebanese security spokesman told IRIN all charges were investigated and the Internal Security police force respected human rights. “The Syrian worker is like any foreign citizen in Lebanon and is treated according to the law,” he said.

A wave of “tens” of killings and many more beatings of Syrian workers in Lebanon followed Hariri’s assassination, Amnesty International said at the time, calling for perpetrators to be caught and tried.

But workers and activists say violence continues at a lower ebb. Severe attacks reported against Syrian workers in Lebanon in 2007 included the killing of two men in Damour, near Sidon, in October; a man stabbed to death and another injured in the mountain resort of Aley in July; a man found dead after his skull was smashed in January and a man in his 60s apparently smothered to death in October. The media frequently report the torching of Syrian workers’ tents and shacks.

Impunity

Nadim Houry, Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) Lebanese researcher, said such reports illustrated a pattern of violence.

“It appears some Lebanese take out their frustrations with the Syrian regime on poor Syrian workers,” he said. “I see them as victims of the political conflict.”

Prime Minister Fouad Siniora called on the Lebanese not to attack Syrian workers in May, after receiving a security report on the issue.

“This report drew attention to the fact that every day there are about four incidents against Syrian workers across all areas of Lebanon, most of them involving theft, whether in petrol stations, homes or shops,” his spokesman said.

Similarly other leaders have called on their constituents not to take out their frustrations with the Syrian regime on the poor Syrian workers.

Houry said HRW welcomed Siniora’s call. “But we want to see more high-level official statements saying violence against Syrians and other migrant workers will not be tolerated, and to see concrete measures on a policy level.”

Lebanon had a “problem with impunity”, he said. “The authorities need to investigate promptly and seriously.”

Several legal experts contacted by IRIN said prosecutions were unheard of. “To my knowledge, none of these cases are ever investigated,” said Omar Nashabe, a criminology expert.

“There’s racial discrimination in Lebanon against all people who are different. It’s not only the attacks on Syrian workers: they don’t investigate a maid jumping from a balcony to see whether it was a suicide or induced.” Lebanese police investigations in general were flawed, he said.

No embassy
lebanon region map.jpgSyrians in Lebanon have no embassy to turn to for protection, because Damascus has always argued the two countries are too closely allied to need one, despite the demand of the UN Security Council and the Lebanese government that Syria demarcate its borders and open an embassy with Lebanon.

More than ever, the workers say they are on the alert. Pro-Syrian Lebanese President Emile Lahoud ended his term without a successor on 23 November, leaving a perilous vacuum at the top, which the governing anti-Syrian camp and the Damascus-backed opposition have been unable to agree on filling. Parliament reconvenes on 7 December for another attempted vote.

Fear

Ahmad, a Beirut petrol station attendant who earns just over US$50 a week, said his brother has returned to Syria to avoid the political tension surrounding the election. “Everyone’s afraid we’ll be blamed if things go wrong. But I’ll lose my job if I go back home.”

A Beirut lawyer and legal columnist, who preferred not to be named, said a Syrian who ran a local car park was recently severely beaten by intelligence officers in a room in his office building.

“I tried to persuade him to let me represent him in court, but he refused to report it, he was too afraid,” the lawyer said.

Legal expert Nashabe said the Syrians had nowhere to turn. “They’re beaten up here because they’re seen as being from the regime that also beats them up when they’re the other side of the border,” he said. “They live in a world of enemies.”

Sources: IRIN

December 3rd, 2007, 10:16 pm

 

Disaffection said:

anyway…. things seem to change for the Iranians…
Iran appears “less determined” to develop nuclear weapons than previously thought, US intelligence officials say.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/03_12_07_iran_report.pdf

December 3rd, 2007, 10:19 pm

 

Alex said:

Enlightened

Here is the comment that you tried to post:

Just read a article Interview with Bayanouni here it is! I know it might cause an uproar, but here it is.

Question for Bashmann: What do you think of this, can the NSF be trusted, is it a reformed chameleon, or another trick on their part?

Bayanouni : Syria is just an instrument in Iran’s hand
Sunday, 2 December, 2007 @ 11:09 PM

Beirut / London – The following is an interview with Ali Bayanouni, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria by Arwa Walid of the Ikhwanweb. The interview was conducted in London.
Bayanouni 1129.jpg

During the interview Bayanouni revealed that Syria is just an instrument in Iran’s hand . He went on to say “The Iranian-Syrian coalition is not a coalition of peers. It is a coalition between a strong country that has its own project in the region with a weak regime that lacks legitimacy, does not have a popular basis and it doesn’t have any national project. ”

Ikhwanweb: Weeks ago, you ended the conference of the National Salvation Front. What are its results?. Is there any thing new that the national salvation front has offered. What’s the front expected to do?.

Bayanouni: First: The National Salvation front is a coalition of a group of political powers in the Syrian arena. We- the Muslim Brotherhood group in Syria- adopt the policy of coalitions in order to gather national powers on common understandings. The National Salvation Front has been taking this shape in the past 1 1/2 years. The front’s conference held weeks ago was the second ordinary general conference. This conference is the broadest framework in the front. It was tasked with reviewing the front’s performance and course during the past year and review the performance of the General Secretariat which was elected by the general conference in order to assess this course on the one hand, and to put a future action plan on the other hand. I think that the conference has achieved many of its targets. The work of the front and the performance of the General Secretariat during past year have been reviewed and action plan for the coming stage has been drawn. The concluding statement gave its view about the future of Syria . I believe that the conference has achieved the required target. The most important achievements was that this conference hosted more powers that have recently joined the front and they participated in the general conference, and had seats in the General Secretariat elected in this conference.

Ikhwanweb: In a statement in the Quds Press newspaper, you said that two opposition groups at home joined the General Secretariat?

Bayanouni: This is right. During this round of the conference, two political figures from inside Syria and they represent political blocs or parties inside the country attended it. This is the first time in which political figures from inside country join us after consultations and discussions with them. We have declared their pseudonyms, but their real identities are known only to a very few number of people to protect them inside the country.

Ikhwanweb: Is this a beginning for a new agreement or phase of cooperation between the Syrian opposition inside and outside?

Bayanouni: In fact, we do not distinguish between the opposition inside and outside the country. The opposition in exile is actually an extension of the opposition at home, but tough conditions facing people inside the country do not allow them to give vent to their views. The regime sees a National Salvation Front affiliates inside the country as a red line. It also sees the Muslim Brotherhood as a red line. The ordinary citizen can not declare their support or sympathy to the front or the group, except for some citizens who decide to bear the responsibility and pay the price. Therefore, we are keen to keep identities of these leaders from inside the country not declared. We must admit that both figures’ joining the front with their weight and powers inside the country can be considered an important key development in the work of the National Salvation Front.

Ikhwanweb: Observers say that the Muslim Brotherhood Movement has lost so mush of its credibility due to its coalition with Abdel Halim Khaddam, the former Syrian vice-president. Many people currently see the Muslim Brotherhood and Abdel Halim Khaddam as identical. What is your comment?

Bayanouni: In such coalitions, we are not forming one single party. It is only a coalition between different figures and parties which don’t necessarily have the same ideology. They only agree on common targets. This is on the one hand. On the other hand, it is important to form a coalition with Abdel Halim Khaddam because he has got powers inside the regime. These insider powers are ready to work and participate in the process of moving towards democracy in Syria . It is true that most people did not understand our coalition with one of the pillars of the regime. However, the effect of such a coalition is on the regime, and its effect inside the regime, may give it more positive dimensions. We believe that this coalition will help in accelerating the process of national democratic change in Syria . It isn’t important that this may have a negative effect on the group’s popular support in a way or another, as long as this coalition serves the drive towards democratic change.

Ikhwanweb: Some say that the Syrian opposition is isolated from the Syrian public opinion and people. Is there any credited information about the real public opinion in Syria or it mainly depends on guessing.

Bayanouni: The conditions in Syria do not allow holding polls like democratic states that may allow spaces for a freedom of expression. Knowing the Syrian conditions and the day-to-day suffering facing Syrian citizens in economic social and political levels makes the one be sure that such a citizen is opposing the regime. It is true that the political life in Syria has been blocked throughout more than 40 years, but this actually doesn’t prevent most Syrian citizens from opposing this regime because of the daily all-out suffering.

I think that saying that the opposition is isolated is inaccurate. It is true that it hasn’t managed- until now- to organize all popular opposition powers due to the pressing security situations, but the one can say most Syrian citizens are opposing the regime. As for how the opposition can make use of efforts of these anti-regime, there are difficulties due to the absence of the political life and as a result of the state of fear and intimidation that Syrian citizens experience due to the continuously increasing repressions which further increase whenever the regime’s isolation increases on domestic and foreign levels. It is true that we face difficulties in organizing these opposition powers but they are certainly on the ground and are on the increase.

Ikhwanweb: What is the future of the Syrian opposition inside the country?. Does it have a space to move under rule of Bashar Al-Assad. There are some reports that the Syrian opposition in exile has given nothing to the opposition inside the country. Is there any possible future cooperation with international organizations supporting democracy?

Bayanouni: First: I confirm that the opposition can’t be divided. The opposition in exile is an extension of the opposition inside the country. For example, we are a part of the declaration of Damascus inside the country and we have also participated in the National Salvation Front in exile. Second: The opposition’s ability to express itself inside the country is related- to a great extent- to the barbaric repressions committed by the regime against the freedom of expression. The opposition inside the country needs an Arab and international support to protect it from the tyranny of regime. We think that in a later stage when the grip is tightened on the regime, it won’t be able to carry out any repression or genocide like those it committed in the past. I believe that opposition work is going on and it will one day work and move without any fear of any mass repression like what’s happening nowadays.

As for our cooperation with international organizations, we are actually open to all democratic powers and civil society institutions inside and outside Syria . We try to explain to these powers the status quo in Syria because we think that change is to the benefit of Syria and the Arab world, and it will contribute to stability in the region.

Ikhwanweb: What about the future of the declaration of Damascus as political activists are continuously detained from the Syrian opposition like Anwar Al Bunni and Michael Kilou?.

Bayanouni: The most important feature in the declaration of Damascus was that all powers along the political spectrum joined it. It was expected since the beginning that the ceiling of the movement of the declaration of Damascus will be limited because of the current security situation. However, and despite this rising repression detentions against dozens tens of activists inside Syria , but the declaration of Damascus gained ground and is still issuing statements within these limits. As the declaration of Damascus continues, the Salvation Front continues also and in the near future all these coalitions will close ranks on common targets, and there is a suitable ground for this unity.

Ikhwanweb: Some say that the idea of establishing an interim government as a government in exile is impossible under the current critical situations. What are the hopes pinned on this idea?

Bayanouni: Some peoples thought that the interim government is exile government. The interim government that the National Front referred to is an interim government that fills the vacuum if the regime falls. There should be preparations and consultations with all parties to form it in the coming stage. It isn’t government in exile. It is a government for filling vacuum in case regime is toppled.

Ikhwanweb: Is it possible that change will occur in Syria ?. Will the change take place peacefully or will it be marred by violence?. Or is it still blurred?.

Bayanouni: The strategy of the Syrian opposition in general, and particularly the Salvation Front and the Declaration of Damascus and the Muslim Brotherhood group, is based on a peaceful method of change. We dismiss violence and exert our efforts to rescue the country from any possible chaos. However, in front of the regime’s inflexibility, maintaining same policies, and aggravating repressions, all options are on the table. We don’t want Syria to be Iraqized into a state of chaos. We think that the Syrian people can achieve the process of peaceful change and can end this ordeal and face all obstacles.

Ikhwanweb: Farouk Al-Sharaa described the Saudi role in the region as ‘paralyzed’ while he backs Iran . How do you expect the balance of power in the region will be if a change happens and an interim government takes power in Syria ? What about the Iran-Syria coalition? will the interim government maintain this coalition or will it seek a coalition with neighbouring Arab countries?

Bayanouni: First: Farouk Al-Sharaa’s statements reflect the regime’s confusion and isolation from its Arab context. It has become an instrument in the hand of the Iranian politics. The Iranian-Syrian coalition is not a coalition of peers. It is a coalition between a strong country that has its own project in the region with a weak regime that lacks legitimacy, does not have a popular basis and it doesn’t have any national project. Therefore, we warn against the ongoing policy of being controlled by the Iranian politics. As for our future outlook, we aren’t against forging coalitions with Islamic states, including Iran and others, as long as it is based on common interests, not like the current state. The coalition with Iran in Hafez Assad’s era had to a great extent kind of balance between Iran and Syria because of Hafez Assad’s personality and his political capabilities. At present, with Bashar Al-Assad’s weakness and lack of any political project, the Syrian political stance is unfortunately a part of the Iranian stance. In the future, a priority should be given to cooperation and coalitions with Islamic and Arab countries, coalitions which should be based on mutual interests, and not to be a part of strategies others.

The International Court

Ikhwanweb: Some say that if the regime succumbed to foreign pressures and held a deal with America and initiated the peace process with Israel, the first victims will be the International Court and Hezbollah. Given that the Salvation Front relies on the results of the International Court , what will be the front’s fate if the regime held a deal with America and Israel ?

Bayanouni: First: Our opposition in the Muslim Brotherhood group, the Salvation Front and the Syrian opposition in general is emanating from the Syrian peoples’ suffering and need for change. We do not rely on foreign powers or the International Court . We have been opposing this regime throughout more than thirty years. We opposed it before assassinating Rafik Al-Hariri and before the International Court is formed. The crimes committed by the regime in Lebanon and its wrong policies will certainly help the national opposition because it put the regime in a mess and will add to its Arab and international isolation. We will definitely benefit from the international atmosphere and from the isolation of Arab and international nations when it is convicted in the case of assassinating Al Hariri and in other crimes that it committed. However, our opposition to the regime is not based on these variables. It has started before them. Thus, it will continue till it attains its targets.

Second: It is unlikely that the regime holds a deal at the expense of justice and at the expense of the blood it shed, specially that the investigation into Al Hariri’s assassination has reached an advanced stage with a contribution of a big number of international judges, and that any violation to the results of the investigation or the course of justice will be an international scandal. I do not think that the regime will manage to hold such a deal although it wants to.

Ikhwanweb: Is there any hope that the state of emergency may be canceled under Bashar’s rule?

Bayanouni: I do not think so. All indications show that the more popular and foreign pressures that Bashar Al-Assad is facing, the more he aggravates repressions and tortures based on the state of emergency and he activates law number 49 of the year 1980 stipulating that any one affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood group must be executed. At the beginning of of his era, Bashar spoke in his oath swearing speech about democracy, freedom of speech and respecting views of the other, people got deceived. However, it became later clear to all that his speechs are merely hollow promises and that Bashar Al-Assad’s regime is an extension of his father’s regime and that he can’t be reformed and isn’t qualified for reform. Therefore, all political powers have been calling for change after expecting no near reform or any breakthrough in the Syrian scene under rule of this regime.

Ikhwanweb: What is your opinion about the success of the Justice and Development Party in Turkish elections? Can Syria ‘s Muslim Brotherhood benefit from this experience?

Bayanouni: The experience of the Justice and Development Party in Turkey deserves attention to draw lessons from it. Through solving people’s problems and easing their suffering, this party managed to top all parties by the votes of the Turkish people. This party benefited also from the freedom that Turkish people enjoy under a democratic political regime, based on free and fair elections. This is the key point in the Turkish case, that there are real freedoms and elections. We did not hear that any Turkish party failed in the elections and accused others of election fraud. The issue of rigging elections doesn’t take place in these democratic states. Therefore, the case of Turkey has kind of difference. It has been proved that in case fair and real elections are held in any Muslim country, the Islamic movement will top the political scene. This happened in Turkey , Morocco , and Palestine and in Egypt . This happens in every place that allows even a little space of freedom. Despite its difference, the Turkish experience proves that Islamists- when they try to solve citizens’ problems and ease their concerns, can claim deserved positions in elections held in fair and free atmosphere.

Ikhwanweb: There is a reported defecting of more Syrian officials after Abdel Halim Khaddam. However, nothing of this happened since the latter defected. How do you expect the internal structure of the Syrian regime nowadays and under foreign pressures?

Bayanouni: We have some information confirming that a number of the men of the regime are poised to declare their opposition to the corrupt and tyrant regime. However, the atmosphere in Syria does not allow such declarations, especially after the measures that the regime took against Khaddam after he declared his stance We have relations with a number of these figures of those expected to declare their stances in an advanced stage on the way towards change.

Ikhwanweb: Hamas’ win in the elections caused an international uproar: that Islamists can succeed and assume power even under a critical situation like that in Palestine . Do you think that the Syrian experience if you mange to assume power, any similarity with Hamas?

Bayanouni: Although Hamas represents the Islamic movement in Palestine , but the Palestinian situation is also different due to issues of occupation, resistance, Oslo and corruption. There may be some similarity but there are still many differences. In Syria there is no political life. There is a real Islamic movement in Syria . The one can feel the Islamic awakening but there is no organized political movement inside Syria . Therefore, the situation differs somehow, but the Islamic movement is leading the Syrian opposition and it is leading most political powers in the Arab world. If there is freedom of speech for the voters to express their views, the Islamic political movement will have its normal place in political scene. By the way, we do not seek rule in Syria . We actually want to cooperate with all national sections of the Syrian society to achieve change. We will work after that for a national unity government that includes all political powers to bear the responsibility of reforming the piles of corruption and tyranny.

Ikhwanweb: Don’t you agree that the Syrian opposition in exile didn’t manage to get the required momentum inside hosting countries, like Britain and it not drawing the attention to spreading democracy in Syria?.

Bayanouni: This is right. The activities of the Syrian opposition in exile is still weak. Most of those in exile are in Arab countries whose regimes do not allow opposition activities in their soil. There are limited opposition activities in Europe . This may be due to the fact that few numbers of opposition members return to Syria and have relations with Syria . Therefore, they take into consideration the security concerns.

Human Rights

Ikhwanweb: How far the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood cares for the human rights situation. What is your view about it under Bashar’s rule?

Bayanouni: The MB gives a priority to the human rights and humanitarian situation. Therefore, we insist on underlining the human case and that we can’t initiate a dialogue with the regime unless it first tackles the human rights files. We mean by the human rights files, four files:

1-The file of the political detainees who must be released

2-the second file is of the missing citizens (up to about twenty thousand missing persons who were thrown into Syrian prisons and haven’t been released from them)

3-the third file is of the displaced. They are up to tens of thousands of Syrians who are denied the right to return to their country except through security blackmailing. They must be allowed to return without any blackmail

4-the fourth file is of law number 49 of the year 1980 that stipulates executing any person only for his intellectual or political affiliation to the Muslim Brotherhood group.
These files must be solved ahead of holding any dialogue. We have cooperated with several organizations like Amnesty International, the Syrian Commission for Human Rights in order to exercise pressures on the regime to stop the violations.

Ikhwanweb: Bashar Al Assad gave a political space of freedom at the beginning of his era but he closed this space several months later after opposition inside the country gained a political momentum. Why has Bashar done this?

Bayanouni: I think that Bashar Al-Assad who inherited rule did not have any national project for reform or even any clear reformist directions. He has seemingly uttered some promises after he was sworn in as president. Some people thought that these promises are a prelude for a real reform. These promises were proved to be vacuum after the several months spring of Damascus prompted opposition leaders to stage an open and civilian and peaceful rally, after which they were detained, appeared before a military tribunal that sentenced the to 5-10 years. Dr. Aref Dalila- still serving 10 year sentence- is in prison because he gave a lecture about the economic situation and the prevalent corruption in Syria .

Ikhwanweb: Isn’t it paradoxical that the Muslim Brotherhood is inside and is not inside Syria . How do you work for changing the Syrian regime while you are not inside it? Do you depend on foreign support?.

Bayanouni: Actually, we do not have a typical organizational entity inside Syria so that MB members avoid any possible barbaric repression under a law that sentences to death any one proved to be belonging to our group. We don’t want to burden people with what they can’t endure. There are many MB sympathizers who belong to the Islamic movement at large. The notorious law no. 49 of the year 1980 also prevents people from joining our group inside Syria . We are present inside Syria with our moderate thought as a part of the Islamic movement

December 3rd, 2007, 10:34 pm

 

ALEX_No said:

Evidently I can’t make you guys see sense. I read here in order to discover the latest thoughts about what’s happening in Syria. Not pointless responses to ANOTHERISRAELIGUY’s endless ideological propaganda.

Syria is an interesting and developing country. It has had important successes recently, such as at Annapolis, as I think it was EHSANI2 has pointed out.

Who would have thought that Bashar, as nothing else than the second son of Hafiz al-Assad, would have succeeded in the way that he has done? Syria now is not badly placed on the international scene. And I don’t hear too many complaints about the internal situation, though evidently there are many problems.

There are many interesting things to discuss, so why spend time answering the tired-out ideological narrative coming from ANOTHERISRAELIGUY. He is certainly a troll, and may well be being paid to do what he does. My mouse wheel is worn out from skipping his posts.

December 3rd, 2007, 10:41 pm

 

Alex said:

ALEX_NO

You are right … Syria Comment will send you a new mouse : )

December 3rd, 2007, 11:12 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Just out of curiosity, what is MB’s official stance on Hizbullah?

I know that MB-Egypt is very supportive of them. What about the Syrians?

December 3rd, 2007, 11:50 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

SyriaComment readers are not obliged to hear your own grievances with Syria’s ex defense minister or its deputy minister.

Why don’t you write to them directly and voice your concerns?

Why don’t you form your own blog to raise awareness of an issue that is so dear to you?

Spare the hundreds of readers of this forum your personal frustrations. You have made your point. You do not need to repeat yourself over and over again.

December 4th, 2007, 12:05 am

 

Alex said:

AIG

Do you want me to link again the racist quotes by every single Israeli prime minister?

I did twice and I did notice you being outraged at all .. your reply was “you are taking these out of context” … like Shamir calling them cockroaches … or other prime ministers calling them grasshoppers …

Here are your non-racist leaders … all of them:

“We must expel Arabs and take their places.” — David Ben Gurion, 1937, Ben Gurion and the Palestine Arabs, Oxford University Press, 1985.

“There is no such thing as a Palestinian people… It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn’t exist.”– Golda Meir, statement to The Sunday Times, 15 June, 1969.

“Any one who speaks in favor of bringing the Arab refugees back must also say how he expects to take the responsibility for it, if he is interested in the state of Israel. It is better that things are stated clearly and plainly: We shall not let this happen.” — Golda Meir, 1961, in a speech to the Knesset, reported in Ner, October 1961

“This country exists as the fulfillment of a promise made by God Himself. It would be ridiculous to ask it to account for its legitimacy.”– Golda Meir, Le Monde, 15 October 1971

“We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his question, What is to be done with the Palestinian population?’ Ben-Gurion waved his hand in a gesture which said ‘Drive them out!”– Yitzhak Rabin, leaked censored version of Rabin memoirs, published in the New York Times, 23 October 1979.

“[Israel will] create in the course of the next 10 or 20 years conditions which would attract natural and voluntary migration of the refugees from the Gaza Strip and the west Bank to Jordan. To achieve this we have to come to agreement with King Hussein and not with Yasser Arafat.”– Yitzhak Rabin (a “Prince of Peace” by Clinton’s standards), explaining his method of ethnically cleansing the occupied land without stirring a world outcry. (Quoted in David Shipler in the New York Times, 04/04/1983 citing Meir Cohen’s remarks to the Knesset’s foreign affairs and defense committee on March 16.)

“[The Palestinians] are beasts walking on two legs.”– Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, speech to the Knesset, quoted in Amnon Kapeliouk, “Begin and the ‘Beasts,”‘ New Statesman, June 25, 1982.

“The Partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognized …. Jerusalem was and will for ever be our capital. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And for Ever.”– Menachem Begin, the day after the U.N. vote to partition Palestine.

“The past leaders of our movement left us a clear message to keep Eretz Israel from the Sea to the River Jordan for future generations, for the mass aliya (=Jewish immigration), and for the Jewish people, all of whom will be gathered into this country.”– Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir declares at a Tel Aviv memorial service for former Likud leaders, November 1990. Jerusalem Domestic Radio Service.

(The Palestinians) would be crushed like grasshoppers … heads smashed against the boulders and walls.”– Isreali Prime Minister (at the time) Yitzhak Shamir in a speech to Jewish settlers New York Times April 1, 1988

“Israel should have exploited the repression of the demonstrations in China, when world attention focused on that country, to carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the territories.”– Benyamin Netanyahu, then Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, former Prime Minister of Israel, speaking to students at Bar Ilan University, from the Israeli journal Hotam, November 24, 1989.

“The Palestinians are like crocodiles, the more you give them meat, they want more”…. — Ehud Barak, Prime Minister of Israel at the time – August 28, 2000. Reported in the Jerusalem Post August 30, 2000

“If we thought that instead of 200 Palestinian fatalities, 2,000 dead would put an end to the fighting at a stroke, we would use much more force….”– Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, quoted in Associated Press, November 16, 2000.

“It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonialization, or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands.”– Ariel Sharon, Israeli Foreign Minister, addressing a meeting of militants from the extreme right-wing Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998.

“Israel may have the right to put others on trial, but certainly no one has the right to put the Jewish people and the State of Israel on trial.”– Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, 25 March, 2001 quoted in BBC News Online.

December 4th, 2007, 12:15 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Majed .. I followed your advice : )
(your comment included “anti Semitic”)

December 4th, 2007, 12:19 am

 

Observer said:

First:
I agree with Ehsani as the only discourse we hear is about the lack of democracy, transparency, accountability, rule of law, minority rights. This is the stick that Zionists use to beat Syrians and others who have not signed a one sided peace deal with Israel as well as the fig leaf behind which they hide the apartheid and ethnic cleansing policies they have practiced since the 30’s. I have asked IG and AIG to read Shlaim, Pape, and Benny Morris now that Israeli archives have been released and the actual historical record is set straight. I will never forget my good friend M Brezin, a European jew that went to the same university with me when he told me about his visits to Israel since early adolescence. Now this is the son of a Zionist European as his father was not only pro Israel to the hilt but pro Likud. M Brezin invited me to his house and warned me not to get offended at his dad as the huge picture of Begin was in the family room. That was after he invaded Lebanon in 1982. M Brezin told me that one day at a kibbutz, his eyes were opened and his mind changed when the officer indoctrinating the entire population of European jews that go to visit the Holy Land; he told them: we took the land from the natives and threw them out. The kibbutz is sitting on a razed village. M Brezin was stunned and never set foot in Israel again. So how do you deal with this reality; the only way is to project on the other the deep seated feelings that you have and to continue to work on the victimhood complex. Zionism cannot thrive without this essential victimhood. The raison d’etre of Zionism is to create a national jewsih homeland for the jewish people. Now a democracy in a country made up of a multitude of people, creeds, and ethicities works very hard at making the idea of belonging to the nation state primary over the belonging to the particular group. If Israel is truly a democracy it cannot ask to be recognized as a Jewish state. The citizenship mantra and the social and political contract necessitates the primacy of the nation state above one’s local group, therefore, to evolve into a democracy, Israel will have to change or abandon the Zionsit exclusivist project.
Second:
Let us go back to the original raison d’etre of this site and blog. The discussion of politics. The latest NIE is a bombshell that Bush has been sitting on since Wed. It essentially excludes the use of force in the coming year. What does this mean:
a) Annapolis is a fiasco on the Palestinian Israeli side as Olmert has already dampened expectations.
b) Olmert will lose the coalition partners if he makes too big concessions
c) the “moderate” arabs got screwed as Bush did not share this info with them ahead of time
d) the pretext to attack Iran is gone they will have to deal with the regime
e) Ahmadinejad has clearly dominated the GCC meeting with a vision that none of the leaders had. They meet usually to discuss details and avoid big decision making such unpegging the dollar
f) concerted sanctions are out the door as China and Russia will not follow along.
g) Europeans will feel that they were being used to advance the US agenda.
h) Jumblat is eating his words in the interview of his son Timor. In a way the son asking for a change of leadership in the Druze community may well save his father’s life. This last one is the most telling of the reversal of fortunes of the coalition.

December 4th, 2007, 12:42 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

Sim,

If you want to criticize the Haredim without making generalizations, be my guest, but I am way in front of you in that. Your antisemitism usually shows when you generalize, you typically take one example of a Jew or a group of Jews behaving badly and generalize it to all the Jews. And I have said many times, that I don’t mind your antisemitic posts, I will just point out that they are antisemitic and if you find a problem with my posts, you should point it out also.

Well if a 20-30 percent proportion (and growing fast) of a country’s population is “unfounded” generalization so let be. Doesn’t bother me. 🙂

To those your Israeli economy comments. A company registered and operating in USA, even established by an Israeli, do not pay taxes to Israel.

To your patents theory, it is actually not completely true.
#5 Finland: 35.8032 per million people
#16 Israel: 11.7891 per million people

Israel is number 16 and before it are many countries.
More detailed information of patent amounts in different countries.

To your population Israeli growth theory. The amount of Israeli Arabs and religious “non-productive” chosen people is growing fast. The educated chosen ones are moving in thousands yearly abroad and some even changing citizenship.

Those your generalization arguments are most “unfounded”. You are all the time saying that Israel is the home country of the Jews. Not all Jews do not share that idea. So why do you generalize. You should say always some Jews think that Israel is the Jewish home country. Do not generalize AIG. 🙂

PS
AIG you did not answer my question how should the numerous Israeli Arab haters be called? A newsflash header from Haaretz
21:57 Sarkozy: Nothing more closely resembles anti-Semitism than Islamophobia (AP)

December 4th, 2007, 12:46 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

EHSANI,
You asked a question about Tlas, I answered you with much detail. Alex of course erased the post. Why? I don’t know. Perhpas he is uncomfortable with the truth.
I guess he also found on some antisemitic sites quotes taken out of context that he believes are racist. The Begin quote about the two legged beasts is an outright lie.

Then instead of dealing with the facts, you told me to go complain to Tlas and Abu-Satar.

Syrians want to hate Israelis? It is their right. But why did the 50,000 Syrian Jews have to pay the price? Why are there only 10 Jews left in Syria? Why was there a terrible pogrom in Aleppo in 1947 following the partition plan?

And if the Syrians hate Israelis so much, what “peace” is Alex talking about? How can there be peace when there is so much hate?

December 4th, 2007, 12:47 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

What do you want? You would like Syrians to call 1-800-flowers and send Israel’s citizens red roses so that they can prove to you that they actually love and don’t hate Israelis “so much”?

You are just running in a circle man. Just cut it out and take a break.

As oberver said, there is way many more interesting things for us Syrians to discuss than your silly “you-don’t-love-us-but-hate-us”
nonesense.

I am done communicating with you on this topic.

December 4th, 2007, 1:03 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sim,
Boy you don’t read carefully and you really don’t understand what a generalization is.

The rankings created by the Economist take into account patents. And what you showed proves my point exactly. Israeli patents are many times considered American ones because they are written by Israelis working for American companies. Therefore the patent accounting is an understatement of the Israeli patents. There are many more Israeli patents per capita than reported.

The way it works if you want to know, is that Israelis register US companies that have Israeli subsidiaries. Of course these companies pay some tax in the US and some tax in Israel. But the beneficiaries of the income of the companies are Israelis and that is what raises the income per capita.

You of course ignored completely the Economist report because it does not fit your distorted view. The report takes into account all aspects of innovation and Israel came in 10 in the world, and the Economist predicts it will move up, contrary to all your false assertions. But never mind, we will see in 30 years. Israel is on a roll and cannot be stopped.

Just one small example, where do you think by the way the Arabic version of Windows was developed? Hint: http://www.microsoft.com/Israel/rnd/index.html

Click and enjoy yourself.

You know what, another example:
http://www.intel.com/cd/corporate/europe/emea/heb/290083.htm

If you are using Intel’s mobile technology, you may want to reconsider.

December 4th, 2007, 1:11 am

 

Alex said:

AIG,

“Alex of course erased the post. Why? I don’t know. Perhpas he is uncomfortable with the truth.

Will you stop your Netanyahu spin!!!

Is it too difficult to understand???

Do I ever erase Israeliguy’s comments? Akbar’s? … why are you flattering yourself? … I asked everyone to stop discussing Antisemitism .. please.

Or … to discuss something new, let us discuss your leaders’ antisemitism … their racism against Arabs.

I want you to go through the above list of Israeli quotes .. ALL of them … explain which ones are false, which ones are out of contxt (and how?) .. and which ones are sick.

But we had enough of your Tlass book … Tlass AND THE SYRIAN REGIME AND THE SYRIANS are “anti Christian” too if I were to play it Netanyahu style like you continue to do.

Finally … to answer your only legitimate question above:

Syrians will “flip” rather quickly when your leaders start doing the right thing .. I give it a year to two years.

But if we get a Netanyahu spinning and telling us how “ridiculous” we are … then you are right .. you will see more anger and hate and lak of trust from Syria … you and him will turn your potential friends to your haters.

And you continue doing the same thing… it is the only thing you are programmed to do … spin.

December 4th, 2007, 1:17 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

As you wish.

“We must expel Arabs and take their places.” — David Ben Gurion, 1937, Ben Gurion and the Palestine Arabs, Oxford University Press, 1985.

Nothing racist. BG is not saying Arabs are inferior, he is just stating the fact that two nations cannot inahbit the land without war and that the Jews need to win the war to survive.

“There is no such thing as a Palestinian people… It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn’t exist.”– Golda Meir, statement to The Sunday Times, 15 June, 1969.

What is racist about this? The Syrians view Palestine as part of Greater Syria, and Meir is simply parroting this view. If indeed the Palestinians were a nation, why did not Jordan and Egypt grant them a state in the West Bank and Gaza between 48 and 67? It is a valid questions.

“Any one who speaks in favor of bringing the Arab refugees back must also say how he expects to take the responsibility for it, if he is interested in the state of Israel. It is better that things are stated clearly and plainly: We shall not let this happen.” — Golda Meir, 1961, in a speech to the Knesset, reported in Ner, October 1961

Most Israelis are against the right of return because it will bring to the end of Israel through a civil war. What is racist about this statement?

“This country exists as the fulfillment of a promise made by God Himself. It would be ridiculous to ask it to account for its legitimacy.”– Golda Meir, Le Monde, 15 October 1971

What is racist about this statement? Meir beleives in the bible like billions of people worldwide.

“We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his question, What is to be done with the Palestinian population?’ Ben-Gurion waved his hand in a gesture which said ‘Drive them out!”– Yitzhak Rabin, leaked censored version of Rabin memoirs, published in the New York Times, 23 October 1979.

Right, Palestinians were driven of their land during war. They paid a price for rejecting the UN partition. What is racist about this? This often happens in war. You shouldn’t start wars you cannot win. And what choice did Israel have? The war would never have ended if there was not substantial separation between Arabs and Jews. This is also what Benny Morris says.

“[Israel will] create in the course of the next 10 or 20 years conditions which would attract natural and voluntary migration of the refugees from the Gaza Strip and the west Bank to Jordan. To achieve this we have to come to agreement with King Hussein and not with Yasser Arafat.”– Yitzhak Rabin (a “Prince of Peace” by Clinton’s standards), explaining his method of ethnically cleansing the occupied land without stirring a world outcry. (Quoted in David Shipler in the New York Times, 04/04/1983 citing Meir Cohen’s remarks to the Knesset’s foreign affairs and defense committee on March 16.)

Nothing racist. War is fought in many ways.

“[The Palestinians] are beasts walking on two legs.”– Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, speech to the Knesset, quoted in Amnon Kapeliouk, “Begin and the ‘Beasts,”‘ New Statesman, June 25, 1982.

As quoted is racist. This is a fabrication.

“The Partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognized …. Jerusalem was and will for ever be our capital. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And for Ever.”– Menachem Begin, the day after the U.N. vote to partition Palestine.

Yes, Begin said this so what? What is racist about it? He believed that all the area of the British Mandate should be an Israeli state.

“The past leaders of our movement left us a clear message to keep Eretz Israel from the Sea to the River Jordan for future generations, for the mass aliya (=Jewish immigration), and for the Jewish people, all of whom will be gathered into this country.”– Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir declares at a Tel Aviv memorial service for former Likud leaders, November 1990. Jerusalem Domestic Radio Service.

Same belief as Begin. What is racist about it?

(The Palestinians) would be crushed like grasshoppers … heads smashed against the boulders and walls.”– Isreali Prime Minister (at the time) Yitzhak Shamir in a speech to Jewish settlers New York Times April 1, 1988

He is describing a way to fight the Palestinians. He is not calling them grasshoppers. This is equivalent to “throwing the Jews in the sea”. War is not nice.

“Israel should have exploited the repression of the demonstrations in China, when world attention focused on that country, to carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the territories.”– Benyamin Netanyahu, then Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, former Prime Minister of Israel, speaking to students at Bar Ilan University, from the Israeli journal Hotam, November 24, 1989.

It was never confirmed he said this and Netanyahu denies this.

“The Palestinians are like crocodiles, the more you give them meat, they want more”…. — Ehud Barak, Prime Minister of Israel at the time – August 28, 2000. Reported in the Jerusalem Post August 30, 2000

Barak is saying that giving up in the negotiations will only lead to the Palestinians asking for more. He is not making a racist statement.

“If we thought that instead of 200 Palestinian fatalities, 2,000 dead would put an end to the fighting at a stroke, we would use much more force….”– Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, quoted in Associated Press, November 16, 2000.

Makes a lot of sense. The IDF needs to use the right amount of force to bring wars to end as quickly as possible. But since the IDF did not thinking killing Palestinians would help, it didn’t.

“It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonialization, or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands.”– Ariel Sharon, Israeli Foreign Minister, addressing a meeting of militants from the extreme right-wing Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998.

So? If Israel would not have won the war of 1948 there would not be an Israel. What is racist about this statement?

“Israel may have the right to put others on trial, but certainly no one has the right to put the Jewish people and the State of Israel on trial.”– Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, 25 March, 2001 quoted in BBC News Online.

I don’t know what he meant, because the context is not clear. I think he is talking about European countries and if so, I agree with him. What is racist about it?

December 4th, 2007, 1:56 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

thank you Alex

December 4th, 2007, 1:57 am

 

Disaffection said:

i turn around for few minutes and there goes half my comment deleted with a bunch of other peoples comments too. Alex is on a mission. he’s had enough it seems. although i was only being nice to AIG and pointing him to the right direction, showing him the error of his ways, you could say. but what do i know. if only he knew how much hammering he’s being spared.

on the other hand, i had no idea this was going on… seems like a new development which might disappoint some people around here. how come… dealing with teghoghists???? is this tghu?

http://www.thejc.com/home.aspx?ParentId=m11s19&SecId=19&AId=56840&ATypeId=1
Secret ‘diplomatic’ overtures to Hamas
30/11/2007
By Anshel Pfeffer Jerusalem
A diplomatic back-channel is intensifying between Israeli and Muslim religious leaders, including figures identified with Hamas.

The aim of the talks, taking place with the full knowledge of the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships, is to provide a wider consensus at the grassroots for an eventual accord.

While all eyes have been on preparations for this week’s Annapolis summit, talks have continued between senior religious figures on both sides.

Israel has insisted on not talking to Hamas politically until it recognises

Israel and renounces violence, but politicians are aware of the need to engage with Hamas on some level.

There is also a need to supply some degree of support for a possible peace deal within the Palestinian public, especially among the more Islamist elements. While a dialogue between Jewish and Muslim leaders has been taking place for over a decade, a senior Israeli government source told the JC this week that “it has greatly intensified over the past six months and is of a much serious order than in the past”.

The Muslim sources involved confirmed the talks but refused to comment openly.

However, Rabbi Michael Melchior, the senior Israeli participant — a former minister and currently a Labour MK — said: “There are talks at all levels with Muslim leaders, including those who have influence over Hamas.

“We all feel that in the end, the success or failure of the Annapolis summit and subsequent negotiations, is tied to the goodwill of the public on both sides.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud

Abbas needed to gain support also within Islamist circles, he added. “Also, for many Israelis the fact that there is no consensus within the Palestinian people causes widespread scepticism and we are trying to disprove that.”

Rabbi Melchior said that one aim was for a fatwa by senior Islamic clerics to affirm the right of a Jewish state to exist in the region.

Among others, the leadership of Israel’s Islamic Movement and representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt are involved. Both have close political and religious ties with Hamas. As Sunnis, they also have a joint interest in minimising Iranian-Shia influence in the region.

December 4th, 2007, 2:06 am

 

Disaffection said:

wow .. if all that is not racist? then allow me to spare no-ones feelings.

http://www.counterpunch.com/walberg12032007.html

“… Never was there an ethnically coherent Israel, and according to Thomson, neither Jerusalem nor Judah ever shared an identity with Israel before the rule of the Hasmoneans in the Hellenistic period of the 3rd-1st cc BC, coincidentally, when the legends were first written down. Ironically, the Samaritans, scorned by Ezra’s (and today’s) Jews, are the most likely Semitic ancestors of the historical Israel.

Palestine and Syria were first formed into a province under Alexander the Great in fourth c BC with Samaria as capital, and began to develop true cities for the first time. Alexander founded Alexandria as his intellectual and political centre of east Mediterranean territories. Continuing imperial policies of deportation, he transported a portion of Samaria’s population to form the nucleus of what later came to be known as an important Jewish centre of learning, whose scribes would soon begin their work of fashioning their legends into a politically motivated saga of exile and return.

After Alexander died, Palestine reverted to its old role of land- bridge between Egypt and Asia, disputed territory between the Egyptian Ptolemies and the Asian Seleucids. The Romans defeated the Seleucids in 190 BC, prompting the Maccabees to revolt against the harsh Seleucids to assert the political independence of Jerusalem (supported by the Ptolemies and Romans). This revolt came to be identified as the rebirth of Israel (celebrated today as Hanukah), though, again, there was no nation or Maccabean control of Palestine even then, since the Jews were dependent on Rome’s patronage, though this revolt against the Seleucids became the inspiration behind the legends being recorded.

Prior to this Maccabean revolt against the Seleucids in 167 BC, religious tolerance was widespread. The Jews were never persecuted because of their religion — rather because of their political aspirations, or because they were in the path of conflicting empires. Their periods of exile are typical of the experience of countless other populations, the fallout of imperial policies. Their traditions, even their monotheism, are derived from the great mix of cultures in the Middle East at the time, and are close to Egyptian, later Hellenised, traditions. Interestingly, the Jewish practices of circumcision and Sabbath derive from Egypt, and even Freud argues that Moses was Egyptian, giving added ammunition to the hypothesis that the Jews are actually the Hyksos.
…”

December 4th, 2007, 2:20 am

 

norman said:

Syria ‘path to peace in the Mid-East’ Font Size: Decrease Increase Print Page: Print December 03, 2007
JERUSALEM: Israel should drop its preconditions and immediately resume peace talks with Syria, a confidant of Israel’s Defence Minister said yesterday.

Labor Party legislator Danny Yatom also told Israel Radio that it would be easier to reach a deal with Syria than with the Palestinians, and that progress with Syria could accelerate Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

“I think the time has come to renew negotiations with Syria,” he said. “After Annapolis, we need to take advantage of the new atmosphere.”

Yatom was reportedly briefed by Defence Minister Ehud Barak after the minister returned from the international Middle East conference held last week in Annapolis, Maryland. The Annapolis conference focused on the Israeli-Palestinian track but Syria also sent a representative, raising hopes it could be persuaded to break its alliance with Iran if talks with Israel were to resume. An Annapolis follow-up conference, tentatively scheduled for Moscow in the northern hemisphere spring, may address the Israeli-Syrian conflict directly.

Yatom, a former chief of Israel’s Mossad spy agency, said the Government should drop a series of preconditions and start talks with Syria immediately. In the past, Israel has demanded the Syrian Government withdraw support for militant groups, including the Palestinian factions Hamas and Islamic Jihad and the Lebanese guerilla group Hezbollah. In exchange for peace, Syria wants Israel to return all of the Golan Heights, a plateau captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.

Yatom suggested negotiations with Syria and the Palestinians be conducted simultaneously, but said it would be easier to reach a deal with Damascus. “Between us

December 4th, 2007, 3:13 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Disaffection,
Whose feelings do you think you are not sparing? This is legitimate historical analysis and is not racist.

It just has no bearing on the situation today. Nationhood comes from self-determination, not from history or anything else.

December 4th, 2007, 3:18 am

 

Enlightened said:

Yawns! At AIG! This is getting tiresome, we were so used to Akbar calling us Jihadists, Anti Semites (lol we are semites!), Racists, Al Qaeda Supporters, Baathist apologists ( I think more towards Josh and Alex), Democracy Haters! Yawns again!

Yawns again

Damn I cant stop this yawning!

Alex in your quotes you forgot my favourite all time quote from Mordechai Gur

“There is no doubt that our victory in the War of Attrition was very important, but did only one conclusion follow from it—to sit and do nothing? That we are strong and if the Arabs want peace, they have to come to us on their knees and accept out terms . .

December 4th, 2007, 4:14 am

 

Majhool said:

Michele Aoun,

December 4th, 2007, 4:29 am

 

offended said:

Glad to be comment # 201

December 4th, 2007, 4:47 am

 

Alex said:

AIG,

Thanks for trying to explain EACH ONE … none of them were repulsive in your opinion.

I want you to imagine the opposite now;

(The Jews) would be crushed like grasshoppers … heads smashed against the boulders and walls.”– Syrian President Bashar Assad in a speech to Hizbollah Fighters

Then Alex would explain to you that the above was not antisemitic … Bashar is describing a way to fight the Jews.

“The Jews are like crocodiles, the more you give them meat, they want more”…. — Nasrallah

Then “Why Discuss” would tell you that this is not Antisemitic at all … Nasrallah was simply saying that giving up in the negotiations will only lead to the Jews asking for more. He is not making a racist statement.. you should not feel that saying “the Jews are like crocodiles” is in anyway hinting to the popular impression that Jews are greedy.

Honestly AIG … how would you have liked it if I defended and explained ALL the above statements f they were directed against the Jews by one of the two Assads?

You were so offended by a book by a half senile Tlass and you were more offended that we were not joining you in being outraged at Tlass. I tried to explain to you that as a Christian I also can complan about Tlass if I was really sensitive .. but you ignored that part and continued to express how hurt you are for being Tlass’s victim.

There was one and only one statement from Bashar and Hafez combined that sounded Antisemitic … when Bashar received the pope and said “the same people who killed Jesus are today killing Palestinian children” … I told you about this statement and I said that it was a big mistake.

If I wanted to explain it, like you did for all the racist comments by all your leaders, I could have easily said something like “Bashar was saddened at the daily photos on the news of Palestinian children killed by Israeli solders who were violently stopping the Intifada”

If you want the Arabs not to hate you after they communicate with you… put yourself in their shoes before you talk.

December 4th, 2007, 4:56 am

 

offended said:

AIG,
Whoever is having you on his payroll, must be deeply disappointed by your performance.

If I were you, actually, if any other gentleman was in your place, I/he wouldn’t show up in this forum after Alex’s comment.

Alex, I know you haven’t done this to score points or anything, but I must admit; it was a nice job !

December 4th, 2007, 4:57 am

 

ausamaa said:

Don’t count on that. They have to stick around to distract and to muddy the waters. Not that the waters are pure and crystal clear, but, the muddier the better for them.

December 4th, 2007, 5:20 am

 

Bashmann said:

Alex,

This Bayanouni’s interview sounds pretty good to me!
I’m not sure what you mean when you say “can the NSF be trusted”.
Why do you think they can’t be??

Not that I’m a fan of the MB’s. As I indicated before, the MB’s wide support and appeal among the Arab/Muslim countries is a fact Arab ruler’s can’t ignore. Unfortunately, they enjoy the widest popular support among any other political group, therefore inclusivness is the only reasonable policy with them. The key is to moderate them. I’m skeptic like yourself when it comes to the MB, but I still believe with enough secularists standing up in the ME we can manage to have the upper hand on them.

Cheers

December 4th, 2007, 6:03 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Did I say that “we will throw the Jews into the sea” is racist?
No, it is a statement of war. We will crush them like grasshoppers means that we will win big. It is bravado and trash talk but not racism. Racism is when you make a generalization about a whole group:
1) Arabs are terrorists
2) Jews like money
3) Syrians aren’t ready for democracy

Nasrallah has said many times that Israel will disappear and be crushed and so have people on this forum. Did I point out that this was antisemitism? No, because it is trash talk and not racism. We are at war after all, and when it happens, both sides will try to crush the other.

And any reasonable person knows that Barack meant exactly what I said. Barack is not a racist and his words should be understood in context. He was talking about making concessions in negotiations.

I am not offended by what Tlas said. YOU should be offended that someone so high in the regime is a blatant racist. You should be offended that Abu-Satar calls Jews sons of apes and pigs.

December 4th, 2007, 6:03 am

 

Alex said:

Bashmann,

When elections start … the MB, and the more fundamentalist elements of the MB can score big … many people can be swayed easily when you scare them by telling them “if you don’t vote for God’s party, you are not a true Muslim” … it works. Look at chain letters … I still get everyday tons of chain letters by email from some of my smartest and most secular friends … one has a picture of Saint Paul .. the other one has some sura from the Quran … many people get scared with religion.

I am against allowing any religious party to run for elections. The brotherhood can form a new party that has a secular name and a mix of brotherhood/secular members … then they might be an acceptable political player… when Syria is ready for that process.

We also need to cam down the Middle East. Elections today, while everyone is still angry at the Americans and Israelis for their treatment of Arabs and Muslims in Iraq and Palestine will produce another Hamas and another Ahmadinejad… those two won the two most recent real elections. Don’t forget that Ahmadinejad beat the relatively moderate Billionaine and Ayatolah .. Rafsanjani.

AIG,

I understand that some of those statements re not antisemitic (Anti Arabs) … but I was showing you how they can easily be used by me or others in this blog to block you from making any comment … we would simply repeat those statements and ask you to express your anger at them almost everyday.

As for Tlass and Abu Satar … I don’t know who this Abu Satar is, but Tlass … I know why he makes those statements (against Jews and Christians) … he is a womanizer … secular … and I think a drinker. He wants to look like a good and religious man. Thats why he thought that those statements are useful.

That’s why I won’t take those statements seriously… think of them as some of the older Baath members who still claim they will liberate all of Palestine.

The grand mufti of Syria, who does not need to pretend he is a good man, has many statements that clearly show his, and Syria’s respect for Judaism.

You asked before: why doesn’t Bashar punish Tlass?? .. imagine Bashar punishing his father’s defense minister for 30 years … how do you think people would react if Bashar did that? given that at the time Mr. Sharon was killing Arabs every day … People woud think that Bashar is so weak and that he is kissing the feet of Israelis so that they would allow him to stay president.

Does Olmert punish the racist minister in his own government?

December 4th, 2007, 6:38 am

 

offended said:

Bayanouni said,
In fact, we do not distinguish between the opposition inside and outside the country.

You are wrong Ali, because while you are able to live in Europe holding conferences and interviews, while you theorize, opine and make ‘progress’ at your own convenience, the very few opposition figures inside are languishing in prisons.

Some of those NSF leaders don’t know that they still have to earn credibility from the people to be able to play politics on the Syrian arena.

December 4th, 2007, 7:06 am

 

ausamaa said:

So now that the Lebanon Campagin is over, and that the Dair Azzor nuclear buncker is forgotten, and as it is becoming clear that Iran will not be attacked, and that the Brammertz thing is on the back burner; It then time for the MB and AL BAYNONI of al other things… as if the guy really means anything qualitatively or quantitively..

Chao all…

December 4th, 2007, 9:58 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Alex states:

Does Olmert punish the racist minister in his own government?

The knesset years ago past laws that prohibit the inclusion of racist political parties into government. This is how Kach was thrown out of government.

More than that, the Israeli/Hebrew media takes pretty good care not to print anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment in newspapers or air them on TV.

So with all due respect and your excuses notwithstanding, the Arab and Muslim media has a loooooooooog way to go if they’re really interested in peace.

http://www.memri.org/antisemitism.html

December 4th, 2007, 12:20 pm

 

norman said:

Web-exclusive comment

Syria and the art of the deal
RAMI KHOURI

Special to Globe and Mail Update

December 4, 2007 at 12:37 AM EST

Almost every conversation I have had with friends and colleagues over the past few weeks on overall issues in the Middle East — Lebanon, the implications of Annapolis, Iraq, Iran and Palestine — has invariably led to a discussion about Syria and a slightly dizzying combination of hypothetical scenarios of its role in the region. The latest milestone on Syria’s road back from its marginalization in recent years was its invitation to, and presence at, the Annapolis meeting.

Typically, the Syrians played hard to get, demanded that the occupied Golan Heights and overall Arab-Israeli peacemaking (not just bilateral Palestinian-Israeli issues) be included on the agenda, and, when these goals were achieved, sent a deputy foreign minister rather than the foreign minister that all other parties sent. The signal sent was vintage Syrian diplomacy: We are willing to play ball, but we also want to play a role in writing the rules of the game, and not merely respond to U.S.-Israeli summonses, dictates and threats.

The Syria’s transformation — from an isolated gangster state in the eyes of many two years ago, to a cog in any Middle Eastern conversation or diplomatic endeavour today — is a reflection of Syria’s policies, but also of the interconnected nature of the region’s many conflicts and tensions. Whether one likes or dislikes Syrian policies — there are valid reasons for both — Damascus is now a player in every single major contentious issue and active conflict in the region, including: Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, the war on terror, Russia’s continuing re-entry into the Middle East and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Its close working ties and medium-intensity alliances with Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah, in particular, give it strategic leverage vis-à-vis Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and Iran.

How Syria plays its cards will determine whether it carves out for itself a major role in the region and propels itself onto the path of sustainable national development, or messes up badly and descends into a suicidal spiral of self-destructive militarism and rejectionism. That Syria was invited to the American party at Annapolis, and attended, is a strong sign that it prefers to engage with the West and reap the benefits of such a move — primarily regime continuity and stability — rather than perpetually play the role of isolated spoiler, Iran’s only Arab state ally and U.S.-designated state supporter of terrorism. Unlike most other Arab governments, it has been prepared to resist and defy American and other Western pressures and threats, including low-key unilateral U.S. sanctions, while repositioning itself in the region to give itself assets and cards to play.

Related Articles
From the archives

Syria comes in from the cold
President Bashar Assad has completed his initial years of learning and consolidating power after succeeding his father seven years ago, and appears to have started playing some of the cards and assets he has accumulated, especially in Iraq and Arab-Israeli peacemaking. On both counts, Syria has legitimate national security concerns, and much to gain from successful diplomacy that lets it manoeuvre into a win-win position of its own self-interest with the strategic goals of the United States, other Western powers, major Arab states and Israel. The era of smashing heads may soon be replaced with a time to make deals.

We will see a more significant focus on the prospects for Syrian-Israeli negotiations when the proposed follow-up to Annapolis convenes in Moscow in early 2008. The big question that comes up in every conversation about Syria these days remains intriguingly unanswered: Would Damascus abandon or significantly play down its alliances with Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah in exchange for a fair peace with Israel, an end to threats by the United States, normalization with the West and major economic development?

Many Lebanese are concerned that Syria wants to regain its dominance over Lebanon through its allies and proxies, and might get Western approval for this in any big regional bargain. Another looming issue is the fate of the United Nations-mandated investigation and tribunal on the assassinations of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others in Lebanon since 2005. Many Lebanese are worried that the U.S.-led West would downgrade the tribunal’s penetration into the upper echelons of the Syrian regime — if the evidence points that way, as many suspect it does — in exchange for Syrian co-operation on other issues where it can deliver, especially Iraq, Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The art and beauty of the negotiated commercial or political deal in Mideast history has always been twofold: the bargaining process itself, and the outcome that must satisfy all sides. Syria, the United States, Lebanon, Israel, Iran, Palestine, Israel, Saudi Arabia, France, Russia and a few others have now embarked on one of the biggest deal-making enterprises in modern Middle East history. To understand and enjoy this spectacle, keep in mind that making a deal in the ancient bazaars of the Middle East — and Damascus has the oldest one around — includes a combination of showmanship, brinksmanship, threats, enticements, resistance, realism, pragmatism, and, above all, patience to wait out the other side.

Rami Khouri, director of the Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut, is editor-at-large of the Beirut-based Daily Star.

Recommend this article? 15 votes

December 4th, 2007, 2:02 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Dear Alex (and blog members),

Racism is a bad thing regardless whether it’s aimed towards Jews, Muslims, Christians or any other religion or ethnic group.

Yes, both Israeli politicians and religious figures have made some nasty racist comments and remarks throughout the years and I condemn these remarks.

Alex, I’m really curious about the list that you provided.

I’m afraid I don’t have the time resources to investigate each and every one of them, but I will try to look for information about at least some of them, both on the English and the Hebrew web.

If I’ll have interesting findings, I’ll post them here.

December 4th, 2007, 2:17 pm

 

Observer said:

It is a pity that IG AIG and AP have successfully turned this blog into a discussion about the umbilicus of the world; Yahweh’s very own preferred and chosen people. This has been the case since the tribes moved to Canaan from Ur. I agree with Ehsani that I will no longer comment back as there is really no dialogue with these people; ” le dialogue des sourds”.
Now the best news is that Olmert is asking for more sanctions on Iran and Barak is essentially refusing to accept the NIE report from Washington. This means that if a strike is to be on Iran it will have to be an Israeli one. THis may be what Cheney wants as he would love to have any justification to hit back. Regime change is not off the agenda as the US is positioning itself to control every oil reserve and all oil routes by force. I would say the Iraq invasion was the first shot in the China-Russia US war of the 21st century. Iran however keeps pulling the rug from undereath Bush and company as it charmed its way at the GCC conference and is surely proposing the replacment of the US as the guarantor of stability in the region. Showing the Arabs that it can stabilize Iraq was a master stroke to dampen their fears of a Shia hegemony. This century in the ME will be marked by the effects of the Iranian revolution that will reverberate for a 100 years. Remember when Chou En Lai was aksed in 1958 about his thoughts of the effect of the French revolution his response was ” it is too early to tell”.
What we have in the world today is the beginning of the redrawing of the maps around the world to undo the colonialist legacy on the ground. The Iraq invasion accelerated the process. What we see in Europe today is the recreation of the Holy Roman Empire (without the Holy) in the form of the EU. The Empire fell to the dictates of the formation of the Nation state and we are witnessing the reverse. Example in point the near breakup of Belgium, the separatits in Catalonia, Basque, and Sicily to name a few and the Lombarid league in Italy. What we are seeing in the GCC meeting is the same baby steps to integrate further and to move slowly into a loose federation. The autocrats in the region have an opportunity and that is to do what Juan Carlos of Spain did after Franco and that is to rise above their petty squabbles and see the big picture and move their countries into the natural alliances that the people of the region share deeply.

December 4th, 2007, 2:18 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Dear Alex,

The quote that really aroused my curiosity, was Menachem Begin’s one.
Begin was not a racist.

In fact, he was a 180 degree opposite from a racist.
That’s why this quote that you brought seemed very weird to me.

I see that you’re basing this quote on Amnon Kapeliouk’s article from June 25, 1982, titled “Begin and the ‘Beasts’”.

Here’s what Wikipedia tells us about the article writer, Kapeliouk:

“Amnon Kapeliouk is a noted (and controversial) Israeli journalist.

Kapeliouk has attained recognition for his reportage on the Sabra and Shatila massacres, and in his famous (and disputed) attribution of the words “beasts walking on two legs” as being applied to Palestians generally by Menachim Begin in a speech to the Knesset.[1]. (Other sources have said that Begin meant to apply the words only to Palestinian terrorists.)”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amnon_Kapeliouk

Ok, so we see where this phrase, which is all over the web by now, is coming from.
Now let’s see if it’s true or not.

Here’s the precise quote, from Begin’s speech – word for word.
The background: constant Katyusha attacks on Israelis from Lebanon, the assassination attempt of an Israeli ambassador and the start of the 1st Lebanon war:

Begin said in his speech in the Knesset:

“I want to declare to all nations: The children of Israel will happily go to school and joyfully return home, just like the children in Washington, in Moscow and in Peking; in Paris and in Rome; in Oslo, in Stockholm and in Copenhagen.

The fate of a million and half a million Jewish children has been different from all the children of the world throughout the generations.

No more.
We will defend our children.

If the hand of any two-footed animal is raised against them, that hand will be cut off, and our children will grow up in joy in the homes of their parents.”

Here’s the entire speech:
http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Foreign%20Relations/Israels%20Foreign%20Relations%20since%201947/1982-1984/7%20Statement%20in%20the%20Knesset%20by%20Prime%20Minister%20Begin

That’s the precise quote and as you can see, not only that Begin is not referring to ‘the Palestinians’, he’s not even referring to Palestinian terrorists.

He’s saying that ANY two-footed animal who will raise his hand on Israeli children (regardless of religion, ethnicity, etc) – his hand will be cut off.

I’m afraid the quote you brought is a fabrication and I find Begin’s remark totally legitimate.

December 4th, 2007, 3:12 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
There is a big difference between saying nothing and promoting the Tlas book until it was a best seller in Syria. Who was buying this book? Why was it so successful in Syria? Could it have been successful without tacit government approval? I don’t think so.

As for Abu-Satar, he is a deputy minister, part of the regime.
For an extensive view of contemporary Syrian antisemitism see:
http://memritv.org/subject/en/296.htm

The clips are interesting. What do you make of them? Are they representative of common Syrian thinking or not?

December 4th, 2007, 3:31 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Dear Alex,

This ‘investigation’ process takes a lot of time, but lets examine another quote.
I searched for information about David Ben Gurion’s quote: “We must expel Arabs and take their places”.

As we can see, you base your quote on Oxford University Press.
I searched their site, but found no reference to this quote.

Then, I went to David Ben-Gurion’s Wikiquote page:
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/David_Ben-Gurion

Here’s THE REAL SOURCED quote: “We do not wish and do not need to expel Arabs and take their places”.

It’s from a letter to his son Amos (5 October 1937), as quoted in ‘Fabricating Israeli History: The ‘New Historians’ (2000) by Efraim Karsh

Wikiquote tells us that “this was extensively quoted as “[We] must expel Arabs and take their places” after appearing in this form in The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949 (1987) by Benny Morris, p. 25.”

Again, you’ve got a (mis)quote which has been proved to be a total fabrication and a lie.

December 4th, 2007, 4:06 pm

 

norman said:

واشنطن ترفع حظر تصدير التكنولوجيا العالية الى سورية..

December 4th, 2007, 4:10 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Dear Alex,

Let’s go to the quote of Golda Meir that you brought.
Here’s ‘your’ quote:

“There is no such thing as a Palestinian people… It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn’t exist.”

Now… let’s read the FULL quote, in its context:

“There were no such thing as Palestinians.
When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian state?

It was either southern Syria before the First World War, and then it was a Palestine including Jordan.
It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golda_Meir

Alex, the full quote is far less ‘sensational’ or even racist and it includes a realistic description of the Palestinians.

They were not an independent country (ever) and back then they didn’t have a Palestinian national identity, as they have today.

When you read the full quote of what Golda Meir actually said, the reader understands that when she says “They did not exist” she means “They did not exist as an independent country or as a cohesive national Palestinian movement”.

Do you agree that there is a significant difference between the very partial and the full text?

The quote is not a total fabrication, but since it’s VERY partial, it’s both misleading and manipulative.

December 4th, 2007, 4:54 pm

 

Alex said:

Israeliguy,

As I said, I am not drawing the same conclusions from each of those quotes.

I remember Prime minister Begin. If I were an Israeli I would have been an admirer. He was a very decent man and a strong leader.

And I know Mr. Barak is ok too.

But I wish I could have anything good to say about Mr. Shamir … his whole life was full of racism and violence against Arabs.

In the PBS documentary (50 years) he said (on camera) that he only accepted to join the Madrid conference to sabotage it …

AIG,

Now you are upset because you made an assumption .. that the regime is …promoting the Tlass book??

Do you KNOW that the regime promoted the book?

Do you think the regime liked Tlass’s book? .. that book had many crazy stories … like Tlas speaking about the girls he met in Vietnam … if anything, this book was an embarrassment for the regime. But no one is going to insult Tlass after his 30 years as defense minister. Tlass is the man you will see in a restaurant sitting with two pretty young women. He is not the ideologue of choice of the regime.

Anyway. this topic is over. From now on, I will start removing any additional comments by anyone. I remind you that if in the future you feel there is anything racist that I should edit or remove, send me an email. No comments here.

December 4th, 2007, 5:38 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Dear Alex,

Let’s examine 2 more quotes that you brought from Golda Meir.

Here’s the first quote:

“Any one who speaks in favor of bringing the Arab refugees back must also say how he expects to take the responsibility for it, if he is interested in the state of Israel. It is better that things are stated clearly and plainly: We shall not let this happen.”

This is not a ‘unique’ Golda position.

Every single Israeli prime minister held the exact same position.
Other than Israeli Arab MKs, all Israeli politicians hold the exact same position.

Even far left Israeli figures, such as Dr. Yossi Beilin (and the other Meretz party members) say that no Israeli government can or will ever agree to that.

Probably 99% of the Israeli Jewish public holds the same position.
So the bottom line… I don’t see how this Golda quote is ‘racist’.

Now to the 2nd quote:

“This country exists as the fulfillment of a promise made by God Himself. It would be ridiculous to ask it to account for its legitimacy.”

Again, I can’t see how this quote can be considered as a racist one.
Anybody who believes in the bible is a racist?
What about the Quran and the New Testament – or does this equation apply only to Jews?

By the way, did you know that 82% of Americans believe in God?
Are they racists?

http://uk.reuters.com/article/lifestyleMolt/idUKN2922875820071129?sp=true

December 4th, 2007, 5:55 pm

 

Alex said:

Israeliguy,

I have seen a longer list of controversial statements by Israeli leaders. I picked a few from that list that sounded racist … and a couple, as you mentioned, that are not racist, but controversial.

Why did I do that? … time : )

I was multitasking.

But .. there is enough racist, violent, or demeaning statements in the remaining ones … the cockroaches and grasshoppers …

The point I wanted to make is obvious.

There are too many racists and fanatics in the Middle East … we should not accept any such comments from either side … and we should not try to defend our side all the time while being exceptionally sensitive to the other side’s racism.

As for the “promise by god” … what do you do if assuming Muslims also claim that God gave them Jerusalem? … why don’t we Christians claim the parts of Palestine where Jesus was born and raised? … why don’t we accept the factual statement that Bashar made in the presence of the Pope that “the same peole who killed Jesus are killng Palestinian children today”?

What if some new religion comes out in the future … its people ar the most powerful… their holy book tells them that the whole Middle EAst is their’s … would they be justified in acquiring the whole area? including Israel?

I am pro-religion … a strong believer in god. But religion needs to stay at home … Religion is dangerous when states are based on one religion at the expense of another … the heavy religious components in Israel, Iran and Saudi Arabia… in addition to the current American administration’s ideological campaign in the Middle East have been destructive …

You know that the zionist Christians, Israel’s current friends, want to convert you to Christianity?

December 4th, 2007, 6:33 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
why don’t we accept the factual statement that Bashar made in the presence of the Pope that “the same peole who killed Jesus are killng Palestinian children today”?

What is factual about this statement?

December 4th, 2007, 6:50 pm

 

Alex said:

It i as factual as “God promised us this land of Israel” … you know that many Christians believe that “Jews killed Jesus”.

My position on both, and on any religion based claims and wars and disagreements, is clear above.

This is what you get when your own religious beliefs are mixed with politics and national aspirations.

And you have on Memri many others from the other side…

December 4th, 2007, 7:11 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

Let’s continue our journey among the racist Israeli quotes that you brought.

The next gem is: “We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his question, What is to be done with the Palestinian population?’ Ben-Gurion waved his hand in a gesture which said ‘Drive them out!”– Yitzhak Rabin, leaked censored version of Rabin memoirs, published in the New York Times, 23 October 1979.

Ok, so now we’re entering the science of interpretation that one person gave to another one’s hand waving.

Did Ben Gurion actually say ‘Drive them out!” ?
Maybe he meant “I don’t care” or “it’s not important right now” – who can tell for sure?

But why lose a golden opportunity for a racist Ben Gurion quote?
And hey, it even includes a stunning exclamation mark… Wow, impressive.

Let’s not let the fact that Ben Gurion never actually said the words “Drive them out!”, ruin this hall of fame quote.

December 4th, 2007, 8:22 pm

 

Alex said:

Israeliguy,

I think now you started to be over defensive … While I agreed completely about the Begin quote, this one probably meant “drive them out”… even if he did not use those exact words.

December 4th, 2007, 8:34 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Ok Alex, what words did he use?

By the way, you said: “I want you to go through the above list of Israeli quotes .. ALL of them … explain which ones are false, which ones are out of contxt (and how?) .. and which ones are sick.”

I’m just doing what you asked for.

December 4th, 2007, 8:47 pm

 

Alex said:

Ig,

By starting you analysis of this quote with “the next gem”, you are highly confident that he did NOT mean it the way it was interpreted …

Why do you have this high confidence? … in general …did he believe in keeping the Palestinians in their homes and not driving them out?

December 4th, 2007, 9:16 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

On the contrary – I’m not confident at all.
In fact, I have no way of knowing what his hand waving actually meant and neither can anybody else.

You may interpret it one way or another, but it’s not something Ben Gurion have actually said.

December 4th, 2007, 9:26 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

Moving on to your next quote.

“[Israel will] create in the course of the next 10 or 20 years conditions which would attract natural and voluntary migration of the refugees from the Gaza Strip and the west Bank to Jordan. To achieve this we have to come to agreement with King Hussein and not with Yasser Arafat.”– Yitzhak Rabin (a “Prince of Peace” by Clinton’s standards), explaining his method of ethnically cleansing the occupied land without stirring a world outcry. (Quoted in David Shipler in the New York Times, 04/04/1983 citing Meir Cohen’s remarks to the Knesset’s foreign affairs and defense committee on March 16.)

Ok, let’s see what we’ve got here.

I see that this quote was taken from a David Shipler’s article who cited Meir Cohen’s remarks to the Knesset’s foreign affairs and defense committee on March 16.

I didn’t understand what it has to do with Yitzhak Rabin, since Cohen and Rabin are 2 different people.
I tried to search for a credible source that will solve the mystery and didn’t find any.

Something looks weird here.

Anyway, the Knesset’s foreign affairs and defense committee’s website has an archive with the meetings protocols.
Unfortunately, the archive lets you dig for protocols between 1999-2007 and not prior to this date range.

I wrote an email to the committee, asking for a copy of the full protocol of the March 16th meeting.

As soon as I’ll get it, I’ll be able to get the full and accurate quote and respond to it.

December 4th, 2007, 9:42 pm

 

Alex said:

IG,

It’s great that you have a website for the Knesset’s different committees.

Until now, Begin’s quote is out of the above list … not the other one though … Ben Gurion’s actions were coherent with the “drive them out” interpretation of the above quote.

December 4th, 2007, 10:04 pm

 

Enlightened said:

Bashmann I posted that original article on the MB, Alex had to release it. got caught in the spam filter.

cheers

December 4th, 2007, 11:17 pm

 

Post a comment