“Israel, Don’t Undermine Beirut,” by Joshua Landis with Help from David Schenker

Landis Comment: David Schenker advises Israel to stop its talks with Syria, lest it undermine the Cedar Revolution. He argues that talking to Syria undermines Saad Hariri's March 14 coalition. Somehow, he believes that with US and Israeli support, the March 14 coalition can disarm Hizbullah. Presumably, this will help bring regime change to Syria and eventually spearhead a democratic revolution in the Middle East. This is a lovely notion and one that the Neocons have been pushing for the last decade. But it is not a dream that most Israelis share, and for good reason. Events of the last few years have demonstrated that such reveries produce nightmares.

Israelis must appreciate that only diplomacy can resolve their Hizbullah problem. The other alternatives have failed. Military might failed to destroy Hizbullah in 2006. Gobs of money failed to transform the Lebanese army or the March 14th coalition into instruments for disarming Hizbullah. Diplomacy is the third and remaining way forward. That is what Hizbullah's occupation of West Beirut with the close cooperation of the Lebanese army taught us. It is what Doha is all about. (Somehow Schenker holds to the belief that more money for the Lebanese Army will convince it to turn against Hizbullah. Nothing indicates this. President and Chief of Staff Michel Suleiman has stated many times that he will not use the army against Hizbullah or any Lebanese party for that mater.)

Claiming that Hizbullah wants to conquer Lebanon's other sects or rule over them in some sort of "Hizbullahstan" has no merit. It is simply fear mongering. The vice president of the Higher Shiite Council, Sheikh Abdel- Amir Qabalan, said on Monday that Lebanese Shiites were not in favor of Iran-style "rule of the jurisprudent." "Shiites don't want to change the regime in Lebanon, and we also don't favor a rule of the jurisprudent in Lebanon," Qabalan said. "We hide nothing from the Lebanese, we love Iran, but the rule of the jurisprudent cannot be applied in Lebanon." Nasrallah has reiterated the same thing many times and for many years now. The Grand Sunni Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani has accepted these reassurances in calling for "erasing the painful scars and failures of the past." Even Jumblat's Druze forces are signing peace agreements with Amal, the Shiite party that is its closest neighbor. Assad has unequivocally said that Syria can and will stop arming Hizbullah if Israel returns the Golan. It will help transform the regional security equation as soon as Israel signs a peace to return occupied territory.

Israel is testing this possibility. It should be. It is its only remaining option short of going back to war, which would be lunacy and most likely fail.

The Doha agreement, of which Syria and Hizbullah were architects, should go a long way to reassuring Israelis that Hizbullah is willing to move toward accommodation and eventual decommissioning, as did the IRA, if it is met half way. Lebanon's Shiites will want a larger share of constitutional power in Lebanon. Syria wants the Golan and to ensure that its allies gain a share of authority in Lebanon. The Doha agreement has already fulfilled most of these demands. The result is that Lebanon is once again moving forward and has a much brighter future than it did only weeks ago.

Israel wants peace with its Arab neighbors. This is achievable with hard diplomacy. Israel will not get it through war. It has invaded Lebanon three times and failed to bring peace to its north. Assad is offering peace for land. Far from being repugnant to Israelis and American Jews, this should bring hope.

Israel, Don't Undermine Beirut
By David Schenker
Jerusalem Post
June 2, 2008 

Developments in Lebanon are being viewed with great concern in Israel. In the aftermath of Hizbullah's recent military and ostensible political victories, many Israelis are saying that Beirut has gone the way of Gaza. Lebanon is now "Hizbullahstan" — just like Gaza, only worse.

This assessment is alarmist, defeatist, and premature. ….

Developments in Lebanon are being viewed with great concern in Israel. In the aftermath of Hizbullah's recent military and ostensible political victories, many Israelis are saying that Beirut has gone the way of Gaza. Lebanon is now "Hizbullahstan" — just like Gaza, only worse.

While Washington has sided with the government of Lebanon against Hizbullah, it would be unseemly if not counterproductive for Israel — technically still at war with its neighbor — to publicly pick favorites in local Lebanese politics. Nevertheless, given its pro-Western stance, it's difficult to understand Israel's ambivalence toward the disposition of the Saniora government and the Cedar Revolution vis-a-vis Hizbullah.

Supporters of the Lebanese government have long claimed that Israel is actively protecting the Assad regime in Syria and, in the process, undercutting the Saniora government. The recent announcement of the resumption of Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations in Turkey — coming so closely on the heels of the Syrian-backed Hizbullah military offensive — has been yet another blow to the morale and survivability of the March 14 coalition.

In Beirut, it's widely feared that an Israeli-Syria deal would come at the expense of Lebanon. This view has merit: ….

Although it is a bitter pill for peacemakers in the Jewish state to swallow, by trucking with Syria now, Israel risks inadvertently contributing to the eventual establishment of Hizbullahstan on its northern border.

Ziad Haidar in Damascus writes for the LA Times Site:

SYRIA: Former U.S. diplomat's 'mission improbable' — healing rift

Nobody protested my talk at the American Cultural Center, nobody broke up my meetings, nothing was canceled, and the turnout of people was always more than we expected," said Shearer, who teaches public diplomacy at Occidental in Los Angeles.

In a lengthy interview with the Los Angeles Times, Shearer said he wasn't sure why Syria allowed his visit. Only three years ago, after the imposition of U.S. sanctions on Syria. Damascus stopped permitting American-sponsored cultural activities, boycotted U.S. Embassy receptions and neglected demands for entry visas.

But relations between the two countries appear to warming. The U.S. Embassy in Damascus sponsored a well-attended jazz concert a few weeks ago and gave permission for Shearer's goodwill tour, paid for by the American government.

During his visit he spoke his mind about the Bush administration, to which he's hostile, and the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Among his speaking engagements was the government-sponsored Syrian Public Relations Assn. and the Syrian Young Entrepreneurs Assn., where he told the aspiring businesspeople that their government needs to give them freer Internet access, let their country join the World Trade Organization and increase relations with the outside world.

U.S. Opens Site For Processing Iraqi Refugees
Baghdad Office to Aid Those Seeking to Settle in America
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, June 4, 2008; Page A12

BAGHDAD, June 3 — The U.S. government has opened its first permanent office here for Iraqi refugees seeking to settle in the United States, responding to criticism that the Bush administration has failed to help thousands of Iraqis whose lives are in danger because of their work with American organizations.

The office, which began interviewing applicants May 10, has already finished processing 80 embassy employees for departure, and the first two arrived in the United States this week, according to Ambassador James B. Foley, who is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's senior coordinator for Iraqi refugees. Foley, in an interview in Washington, said that 1,141 refugees were settled in the United States in May and that he believes the administration will reach its goal of 12,000 for this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

The Baghdad refugee processing office, located in the capital's heavily fortified, will make it possible for Iraqis who cannot travel outside the country to apply for resettlement. Iraqis have complained for years that they could not reach offices in Syria, Jordan and Egypt because of cost or visa restrictions.

"The whole goal is to provide greater access to people who are in trouble or in threat based on their association with the U.S.," said an American official in Baghdad, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she was not allowed to speak publicly. ….

Dory Chamoun is the sole surviving son of former Lebanese President Camille Chamoun, who founded the National Liberal Party, one of Lebanon's right-wing Christian groups. As president during Lebanon's first civil war in 1958 Chamoun asked for U.S. intervention, and U.S. Marines were dispatched to quell the unrest.

Claude Salhani: What is your perception of the current situation in the Middle East?

Dory Chamoun: The situation in the Middle East is not going to remain as it is. There is a peace process going on between Syria and Israel, which is on track. How to achieve it remains the question. It is a fact that the Golan Heights is to be divided. Israel wants part of the Golan Heights. This is something the old [former President Hafez] Assad refused.

Now, to achieve that part; they will not be able to achieve it through peace, because Mr. Assad who represents a minority regime cannot say, 'okay, I will give what my father did not give.'

There will be a mock-up war between Syria and Israel. And at the same time Israel will take the advantage to beat up Hezbollah. This time they will fight in the Bekaa Valley. This is a scenario that I see unfolding…..

Cutting off Hamas is just not the answer
By Mohamad Bazzi
June 4, 2008: Chicago Tribune

Nur al-Cubicle writes:

Syria stole the headlines at today’s BBC News site for the 6,014-seat Damascus Gate restaurant ->The scale and decor are reminiscent of a Hollywood epic film set.

Syria may already boast some of the world's best food, but now it can also claim the world's largest restaurant.

The 6,014-seat Damascus Gate has taken the accolade from a Bangkok eatery serving a mere 5,000 diners. During the busy summer months up to 1,800 staff are employed in the 54,000 sq-m dining area and 2,500 sq-m kitchen. The open air area complete with waterfalls, fountains and replicas of archaeological ruins for the summer, and there are separate themed sections for Chinese and Indian cuisine.

Another coup…Bashar Assad has been invited to Paris on 13 July (in time for the Bastille Day celebration, too, I might add) by President Sarkozy to attend a Mediterranean summit.

Solana describes Doha agreement as incomplete
Daily Star, Thursday, June 05, 2008

The EU leader welcomed the election of Lebanese President Michel Sleiman and the appointment of incumbent Premier Fouad Siniora, but added that while the EU supported Siniora in the formation of the Lebanese cabinet, optimism around Siniora's ability to form a government peacefully has "begun to wane."

Thanks to GPC at "friday-lunch-club"

According to this story, the US sent word to Lebanon via Asst. Sec of Defense Adelman that it wants 'veto power' in the appointment of the NEW commander of the LAF ….In AsSafir, here

ولعل خير تأكيد على اهتمام العالم بالحكومة، هو اهتمام السفارات العربية والأجنبية بالتشكيلات المطروحة، أسماء وحقائب، ولكنه لم يصل الى الحد الذي بلغه الأميركيون، حيث طلبت إدارتهم رسميا وعبر مساعد وزير الدفاع الأميركي اريك أدلمان وقبله عبر قائد المنطقة العسكرية الوسطى في الجيش الأميركي ديفيد بترايوس، ومن خلال قنوات أخرى أيضا، تثبيت الياس المر في وزارة الدفاع، وأن تكون لواشنطن كلمتها في ما يخص قائد الجيش اللبناني الجديد، بما في ذلك حق استخدام «الفيتو»، وذلك ربطا ببرنامج التزامات أميركية طويل المدى تجاه عملية تسليح الجيش اللبناني وتدريبه وتجهيزه

Comments (32)

Qifa Nabki said:

Dear Joshua

Thanks for your commentary; makes good sense.

How optimistic are you about the peace negotiations? It’s a little hard to read the situation, through all the spin. On the one hand, you’ve got people saying that there will be war any minute. On the other, you’ve got peace negotiations nearing completion “in a matter of weeks.”

Do you have any insider information (that you’d be willing to share with the entire world)?


Furthermore, what is your assessment of Syria’s future in the near-mid term following a peace deal? Say 3-7 years? Do you think it will try to reclaim a powerful position of influence and authority in Lebanon, or will the regime be content as long as no one else is trying to set up a base for regime change across the border? What about reforms, opening up economically, etc.?

I know everything depends on outside factors, but do you have a sense for what Bashar’s strategy is? (I think I asked you a version of this question a few days ago… feel free to point me in the direction of your answer, if you already responded.)

Cheers, QN

June 5th, 2008, 12:07 am


Nidal said:


Excellent commentary about Schenker’s article. This notion of a Hizbullahstan is completely ludicrous, and sounds more like made-up propaganda. However, I do think that these people who talk about such fantasies believe in what they are saying. That’s the sad thing about it. And unless the reasonable people begin to have much more influence in Israeli and US administrations, hope may not turn into accomplishments. I truly wish it doesn’t come to that.

June 5th, 2008, 12:09 am


Alex said:

WSJ(6/5) Column:

US Sens Kerry, Hagel: Time To Talk To Syria
2008-06-04 20:48 (New York)

(Editor’s Note: Mr. Kerry, a Democrat, is a U.S. senator from Massachusetts.
Mr. Hagel, a Republican, is a U.S. senator from Nebraska.)

After Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1991, President George H.W. Bush did the improbable and convinced Syrian President Hafez Assad to join an American-led coalition against a fellow Baathist regime.

Today, these leaders’ sons have another chance for a diplomatic breakthrough that could redefine the strategic landscape in the Middle East.

The recent announcement of peace negotiations between Israel and Syria through Turkey, and the agreement between the Lebanese factions in Qatar — both apparently without meaningful U.S. involvement — should serve as a wake-up call that our policy of nonengagement has isolated us more than the Syrians. These developments also help create new opportunities and increased leverage that we can only exploit through substantive dialogue with Syria.

Syria’s leaders have always made cold calculations in the name of self-preservation, and history shows that intensive diplomacy can pay off.

Secretary of State James Baker made over a dozen trips to Syria before Operation Desert Storm, and remember President Assad’s price: U.S. support for Syrian dialogue with Israel. The ultimate challenge — moving Syria away from its marriage of convenience with Iran — will certainly not happen overnight. But it’s telling that Iran lobbied Syria not to negotiate with Israel and that Syria decided to proceed regardless.

To support Israel and isolate Iran, President George W. Bush should offer direct support for the Israeli-Syrian initiative. Promoting peace between our ally and its neighbors has always been a bipartisan cornerstone of our foreign policy. Syria views peace talks with Israel as part of a broader rapprochement with America, and its strong desire for U.S. involvement can work to our advantage. We know that high level, direct talks will require a sustained and credible American role, just as they did in 2000, when President Bill Clinton met repeatedly with Mr. Assad in bringing Syria and Israel to the brink of a deal. With so much at stake, it’s in our interests to come to the table again.

The agreement by the Lebanese parties provides another opening. Syria must respect Lebanon’s sovereignty and end its deadly meddling. But the fact that Syria’s ally, Hezbollah, secured much of the political power it sought should remove Syria’s excuse for failing to open an embassy, normalize relations, and finally demarcate the border with Lebanon. Hezbollah must eventually be disarmed, as United Nations Resolutions 1559 and 1701 require, but its agreement not to use force internally could be used to push Syria to shut off the supply of weapons.

Dialogue can open the door for greater cooperation on Iraq. Top Syrian officials have argued that Syria shares America’s interest in a stable, secular Iraq and does not want a strongly pro-Iranian regime in Baghdad. Our partnership with Sunni tribes against al Qaeda may have further aligned our interests. As U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker has noted, Islamic extremists also threaten Syria.

While Syria must crack down on the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad claims positive steps have not been rewarded. We should test whether offering tangible benefits brings better results, starting with providing more humanitarian assistance for the nearly 1.5 million Iraqi refugees Syria has absorbed.

The U.N. tribunal investigating the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which may soon issue indictments, is also creating pressure on the regime. If government officials are implicated, Syria could face increased international sanctions. The tribunal’s pursuit of justice must never be a bargaining chip, but it adds an incentive to improve relations that we should capitalize on.

Tough economic times in Syria also create leverage. Although domestic oil production accounts for 60%-70% of the country’s exports, Syria became a net oil importer in 2007. With a growing population, greater integration into the global economy and an easing of sanctions could be powerful incentives.

Make no mistake: Cooperation with Syria rests not on shared values, but on shared interests. Syria’s pursuit of a suspected nuclear program underscores why any agreement must be verified. While many doubt Syria’s intentions, we have real leverage and some inducements that have more value to Syria than cost to us. There is no guarantee of an agreement, but the potential payoff is huge, and our current policy is failing.

Israel’s government has concluded that, rather than rewarding bad behavior, dialogue with Syria is the best hope for changing it. As Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, “the chance overrides the risk, and with this hope I am going for a new path.” We should do the same before the opportunity slips away.

June 5th, 2008, 1:02 am


norman said:

It is time for Israel to work for its own interest and seek peace with Syria, No matter who is in the white house.

June 5th, 2008, 2:51 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I am pretty sure that the whole discussion with Syria right now is to try prevent a regional war when the US/Israel attack Iran. This kind of war is not in the interest of Israel, Syria or Lebanon. It seems that in this sense diplomacy is working. Both Syria and Hizballah are indicating that they will not attack Israel in the case that the US/Israel attack Iran.

June 5th, 2008, 3:43 am


Mazen said:

Dr. Landis, Alex, Nidal, QN,

I’m afraid AIG is probably right, and that we can always count on Israeli leadership to be that of a bunch of power lunatics. It does look like the AIPack gang are again going to leverage American blood to do their dirty business for them.

AIG is typical of their mentality of forcing their way through life, stepping on everything that stands in the way without any regard to anything but power. Their definition of security comes from their perceived ability to hurt others. If the other can hurt them back, then they just don’t feel right in the head.

Attacking Iran, if does take place, will be the single deadliest mistake Israel makes in all its existence.

You would think that they’re smart, but they just can’t hold back the lust much longer. I think it will happen.

The best time for it (from the administration’s point of view) would be right after the summer break, just in time for the elections.

June 5th, 2008, 4:44 am


Majhool said:

Josh said “Claiming that Hizbullah wants to conquer Lebanon’s other sects or rule over them in some sort of “Hizbullahstan” has no merit. It is simply fear mongering. The vice president of the Higher Shiite Council, Sheikh Abdel- Amir Qabalan, said on Monday that Lebanese Shiites were not in favor of Iran-style “rule of the jurisprudent.” “Shiites don’t want to change the regime in Lebanon, and we also don’t favor a rule of the jurisprudent in Lebanon,” Qabalan said. “We hide nothing from the Lebanese, we love Iran, but the rule of the jurisprudent cannot be applied in Lebanon”

All the above is true and actually obvious but misses the point. What’s in stake is not the “nature of the Lebanese governing system” instead it’s who controls (or parallelizes) the Lebanese state in favor of Syria/Iran. I say your analysis falls short in objectivity this time.

“The Doha agreement, of which Syria and Hizbullah were architects, should go a long way to reassuring Israelis that Hizbullah is willing to move toward accommodation and eventual decommissioning”

This is very hypothetical, no signs to prove it.

“Lebanon’s Shiites will want a larger share of constitutional power in Lebanon”

I take it Hassan Nasrallah was telling a lie (should I be blocked now?) when he said that HA does not want to amend the Ta’if
(the constitution) plus isn’t just aweful secterian to speak of the sect’s interests? . that aside, more constitutional powers for the Shiites is hardly the issue. M14 would not mind it if HA disarm (something HA would never do)


June 5th, 2008, 5:20 am


Majhool said:


I agree with you. The recent talks are not about peace/Golan. Even Al-jazeera says it

يمكن تصوير استعادة الجولان -وهو هدف لا يستهان إطلاقا بأهميته وضرورة العمل من أجله- وكأنه الثمن المقبول من أجل التخلي عن العنصر الذي يكاد يكون وحيدا، في إطار تميز السياسة السورية عربيا وإقليميا حتى الآن، وهو عنصر الحفاظ على رفض المشروع الصهيوأميركي في المنطقة ومقاومته ودعم من يمارسون هذه المقاومة.

فالتخلي هنا يعني سقوط أهم مرتكزات بقاء النظام السوري نفسه، فليس استقراره ممكنا عبر فرض نفسه بأي ثمن، وهذا ما يدركه الساسة السوريون، أو يرجى أن يكونوا مدركين له

June 5th, 2008, 5:30 am


Naji said:

Syria Planet to be taken down
Submitted by Ayman on Sun, 2008/06/01 – 2:56pm.

We are very sad to inform you that due to the lack of resources, both in terms of server space and man power, Syria Planet will be taken down on June 8th 2008.

We hope that you enjoyed the site. We apologize for having to take it down. This was a very hard decision for us to make.

June 5th, 2008, 6:08 am


ausamaa said:

When Majhool agrees with AIG then we have an argument that NO BODY can dispute. Add QN, AP and HP, and a couple others, then you will have the ULTIMAT Syria Comment Think Tank that will be the envy of all Middle Eastern websits and commentators..

Oh what a day…

June 5th, 2008, 2:53 pm


ausamaa said:


Al Jazeera did NOT say that. It was a part of an article posted 2 days ago on Al Jazeera Opinions and Contributions page by an unknown writer. Maybe you & company should check the Comments section to read Al Jazeera Readers Comments on this Article.

June 5th, 2008, 3:13 pm


Shai said:


I don’t know if it’ll be the “single deadliest mistake Israel makes in all its existence”, but I do agree it will be a great mistake. Israel needs to let other nations, like U.S. and Europe, deal with Iran. We cannot destroy the Iranian nuclear program, not so much because we don’t have enough firepower (let’s assume we do), but because it is doubtful Iran hasn’t learned the lessons of Osirak in 1981. There is no way they don’t have secret installations underground, in mountains, hidden away, known to very few, and that haven’t been exposed yet. There are ways to make sure part of their program stays alive, and if Israel attacks, it will necessarily be “asking for” a massive response, either immediately, or in the near future. And if and when Iran does respond, and if and when Israel responds back, then we will most certainly be at war here in the ME, because I doubt none of her allies (HA, Hamas, at least) will come to her aid. After all, what purpose do HA’s tens of thousands of newly equipped missiles have, other than to resist Israeli offensive action?

I believe all those who think everyone around will just sit by idly, watching their main supporter get hit every which way, is exercising a good deal of wishful thinking. Perhaps indeed everything that’s going on with Syria and Israel now is in preparation for such an attack, and maybe Syria won’t join in. But HA and Hamas are very different from Syria – they have a lot more to lose if they do nothing.

June 5th, 2008, 3:21 pm


norman said:

David Schenker is a senior fellow and director of the Arab politics program at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Previously, he served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as Levant country director, the Pentagon’s top policy aide on the Arab countries of the Levant. In that capacity, he was responsible for advising the secretary and other senior Pentagon leadership on the military and political affairs of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories. He was awarded the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service in 2005.

Prior to joining the government, Mr. Schenker was a research fellow at The Washington Institute, focusing on Arab governance issues at a time of seminal leadership transition in the Middle East. Fluent in Arabic, he served as the Institute’s in-house expert on Arab politics. In addition, he authored two Institute books: Dancing with Saddam: The Strategic Tango of Jordanian-Iraqi Relations (copublished with Lexington Books, 2003) and Palestinian Democracy and Governance: An Appraisal of the Legislative Council (2001). His writings on Arab affairs have also appeared in a number of prominent scholarly journals and newspapers, including Middle East Quarterly, the Los Angeles Times, and the Jerusalem Post.

Education: M.A., University of Michigan; Certificate, Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA), American University in Cairo; B.A., University of Vermont.

Posts by David Schenker

June 5th, 2008, 3:35 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Ausamaa said:

“then you will have the ULTIMAT Syria Comment Think Tank that will be the envy of all Middle Eastern websits and commentators..”

No Ausamaa, it will be the second best think tank. The ultimate one will be the one that you will lead to provide the true counter-narrative.!

Now THAT is a day to look forward to. 😉

June 5th, 2008, 3:45 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

HA has a lot to lose also, and so does Lebanon. What will they do if the US initiates the attack? Attack Israel? They will lose all the internal support they still have.

We heard the same worries before Israel attacked Iraq. The “middle east will burn” and so on and so forth.

June 5th, 2008, 3:46 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Mazen said:

It does look like the AIPack gang are again going to leverage American blood to do their dirty business for them.

American blood was shed on 9-11 not because of AIPAC, Israel or Senator Joe Lieberman. It was shed due to the unchecked power of the islamic terrorist network.

Thanks to George W. Bush and an additional 4,000 of America’s finest soldiers, the terrorist threat has been curbed considerably. In line with Bush’s plan: “You are either with us, or against us”, there are only a few more targets to deal with, and Israel isn’t one of them.

June 5th, 2008, 4:20 pm


Alex said:

Yes, Akbar .. there are few more “targets” left.

You are such angels.

June 5th, 2008, 5:45 pm


Mazen said:


Typical thinking from someone like you. Keep worshiping your missiles and fighter jets. Let’s see how far that will get you.

June 5th, 2008, 7:35 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Alex, Mazen,

Yes, some targets remain, others have been brought to justice.

I don’t worship missiles and fighter jets, I worship freedom and tolerance, both of which, have no home in the remaining jihadist corners of the Middle East.


June 5th, 2008, 8:19 pm


ausamaa said:

Qifa Nabki,

Maybe you are right. Go back a couple of years and see WHOSE predictions, analysis and expectations proved to be more correct. Mine or your’s and your fellow Syrian-doomesday scenario wishers or preachers.

Wanna know why so? Because, You always wanted to “impose” your hopes and wishes on the “process” which is totally unsientific”, and can be self-gratifying in the short term, but disastrous in the mid and long terms.

My beliefe that Syria would come out on top never wavered, even during the drkest hours when some were waiting for Syria to buckle. And mine was not a spur-of-the moment speculative recation to a single event, nor a random opinion I enjoyed experimenting with. I know what Syria is all about, I beleive in how far it could stand up to pressure, and how it can wither it, look after itself, and come out on top. I know how Strong and Solid Syria is. I know my country. And I never tried to impose my “wishes” on events and waited hopefully for those wishes to come true only to be dissappointed time and again. The enenmeies were clear to me, the will and resources were clearer, I now what our “regiems” priority are, and I knew the limitations of he other. If you jot all thise facts on a peice of paper, then the math is simple. But most of all, I knew my country and I beleived in it.

Unfortunatly, you proved -despite the elequent wordings and the seemingly prudent analysis that you did not fully understand! Not only Syria, but the whole region. Same as many other here, in DC, in Beirut, in Saudi and in Paris…

Go back three years ago and review the past comments here and tell me what you think..

Your only consolation would be that you ere not the only one who missed the mark, but many starting with Bush and in Junblat, and Saud Al Faisal.

This is not bragging, this is knowing thy self…and your opponents. To us Syrians, this was very clea from day one. To others, it was something else.

June 5th, 2008, 8:26 pm


Alex said:


I agree with you about almost everyone’s opinion 3 years ago … most used to laugh at you (and me) when we were confident that Syria will prevail. You were even more confident that I was.

It was you, Nour, Naji, offended and IDAF who did not have doubts.

But still … Qifa Nabki has not had such terrible analysis for a long time … a year?

Why does he get on your nerves? : )

Walla he is a good person. I assure you.

June 5th, 2008, 8:34 pm


ausamaa said:


Of course I know he is a good person. Not cursing me at times when I must have gotten on his nerve (mostely intentially than not) is proof enough of what you say. But I guess … I think I take things more cynically and personally than others. It is very hot when you are watching it on TV and I when I am living it here..next door to ground zero.

June 5th, 2008, 8:58 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Ausamaa habibi

You’ve got the wrong guy. Always have. Let me prove it to you.

First of all, I haven’t been around for “a few years”. I haven’t even been around for one year! And yet, from the minute I showed up you’ve seen red. You’ve convinced yourself that I am some kind of neo-con Syria-hating fanatic. I never understood this, given that I try to be balanced with my criticism. Yes I have attacked Bashar in the past, but I’ve also praised him at times (like recently) when I think he is making smart moves. To you, it seems, this kind of approach is disingenuous? Shu bya3rifneh.

I’ve never predicted or called for a “doomsday” scenario for Syria. In one of my earliest posts here, I stated:

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

(b) Syria can play a positive role in the region, by ‘managing’ conflict areas …

(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.

As long as you are convinced that I am a blood-thirsty Trabulsi pro-Hariri militia guy who wants to see Bashar’s head on a stick, you will continue to perceive everything I write as an overt or underhanded attack against Syria. You need to get over it, khayyeh. I don’t see you attacking Ehsani, Joshua, and others even when they say things that you must disagree with. For that matter, why don’t others like Nour, Why-Discuss, Wizart, Alex, Norman, etc. hurl insults at me when we disagree? In the words of GMA, “Rou2 3a sabri” 😉

My primary interest, as I’m sure you know, is Lebanon. I want peace and stability in my country, ya Ausamaa. I want the Lebanese to live with each other and make things better not worse for their kids and grandkids. When Syria plays a positive role in this regard, I will support it. When it plays a negative role, I will criticize it. Ultimately I believe that we are essentially one people divided by historical circumstances, but in order for us to be reunited… many things will have to change, within both countries, and beyond.

In the meantime, please read my most recent comments: I’m actually HAPPY about the direction that Bashar is heading in! I like what I’m seeing, and I’m cautiously optimistic. For me, this doesn’t suggest that Syria has been “right”, in some kind of existential way, all along, only that Bashar has made the right bets and that he has played his cards right to survive and actually improve his political position. More importantly, he seems to be using this improved position to actually move the region toward a very positive new reality, which I support.

As for “knowing thyself”… what can I say? Syria is in a very different position today than it was in 2004. As I said to you, Bashar came out of the tunnel fine, but the landscape is totally different. So it’s not the same “thyself”, ya habibi.

June 5th, 2008, 10:46 pm


Mazen said:


Freedom and tolerance. Like what you practice in Israel against Palestinians, eh? And what you practiced in Southern Lebanon for 25 years. Tolerane as in roads for Jews only, and in cutting food and fuel supplies from Gaza. Please spare me the boring, superficial reply which will remain so even if iterated by the loudest loudspeakers. We know your freedom and tolerance very well, thank you. They are covers for exclusion, racism, apartheid, and state terrorism.

You mentioned the 9/11 atrocity. What did Iraq have to do with that to be “brought to [your] justice”? What does Iran or Syria have to do with that? How low can you be morally to use that atrocity as a point against Syria or Iran, or even Iraq, when you know very well that none had ANYTHING to do with it, and that the groups that carried out the attacks were raised and fed by your two largest allies.

You Akbar, and AIG, and similar mined Israelis are opportunistic power worshipers that have lived, and want to continue to live by the authority of the sword. Look at AIG’s comments, dripping with arrogance based on a brutally simple philosophy: We are stronger, therefore we rule.

June 6th, 2008, 1:03 am


Enlightened said:


“As long as you are convinced that I am a blood-thirsty Trabulsi pro-Hariri militia guy who wants to see Bashar’s head on a stick, you will continue to perceive everything I write as an overt or underhanded attack against Syria.”


I had a hunch that the thesis you were undertaking was a digression, from your real role : The head of the bloodthirsty Northeners!

In fact while you are in confession mode, can you please explain your role in the Fatah Islam uprising?

On a serious note however since Gardening therapy is not working, while some of us Lebanese have been quoted as having a superiority complex, superior gene complex, Phoenecian DNA (my favourite complex lol) etc etc etc, not withstanding the grandiose cult worship across the border by one person in particular here, Murphy’s Law applies. Otherwise we will start by laying some accusations of complex, across the border, that is the head up the …… complex, where the sun doesn’t shine variety.

June 6th, 2008, 1:42 am


Qifa Nabki said:


I always had you pegged as a bloodthirsty southerner. 🙂

June 6th, 2008, 2:09 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

My philosophy is a little more complex than that. It goes something like this:
1) In the middle east, might means right. Why are Asad, Mubarak etc. etc. in power if not because they are strong and therefore they rule?
2) From the start the Arabs decided to deal with Israel by force and not by international law. They rejected the 47 partition resolution and decided to go to war with Israel.
3) In order to survive Israel has to be stronger than the Arabs.
4) The secret as to why Israel is strong relative to its neighbors is because it is a democracy. So, the Arabs should become democracies and then they would beat the hell out of Israel. But how can the Arabs beat Israel if the regimes are busy fighting and oppressing their own citizens?
5) And until the Arab states become strong by becoming democracies, you will have to get used to Israeli “arrogance”.

If you think might does not make right, then first reform ONE Arab country to reflect this norm. I will be happy to discuss with you a change in my philosophy then.

June 6th, 2008, 2:44 am


Enlightened said:


LOL My parents are from the North!

June 6th, 2008, 2:56 am


Enlightened said:


You are right, maybe you can become a Syrian citizen or Egytptian and run for President and fix our woes!

You can count on my vote!

As long as you promise democracy!

Then reform our education system!

And provide food, and free petrol and gas.

and liberty and free speach.

and if you don’t like this then you can throw us dissenters and whingers all in Jail, on one condition you give me a free get out of jail card if I find myself there!

June 6th, 2008, 3:13 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

The problem is nobody can really run for President in Syria and Egypt and I am sure you believe me when I tell you that I am neither Bashar’s nor Mobuarak’s son. There go my chances…

June 6th, 2008, 3:38 am


Mazen said:


Thank you for being so open about it. Just look at how many of those who lived by mere might and subjication of others ended up. The Shah of Iran, and Saddam being two striking examples.

If the Arabs have democracies yet they as a people are blinded by arrogance and bigotry, you will find me speaking against that, I give you my word on that. If the Arabs yet-to-be democracies make them more powerful than Israel, and they would use that might to kill and maim Jews, the I would be against it. I truly hope that I would not be bragging about my big muscles all day long.

Democracy is a practical system of making decisions and recycling power, not more. It does not guarantee anything else. The Germans elected Hitler in democratic elections. The apartheid system in South Africa was a democracy for the Whites. Israel is a democracy for the Jews. Democracy is a necessary bu NOT sufficient condition. That is why many Arabs are skeptical when people have nothing else to say but democracy this and democracy that.

Democracies have waged terrible wars before. A democratic Arab world is not the guarantee you want for the well being of your children and grandchildren.

What I’m telling you, is that you enjoying a high period in history, due mostly to your enemies being so incompetent, not to you being so superior. Be wise, and don’t get drunk.

But no .. you won’t. Power has gone to your heads and alas, there is no reversing that.

Too bad wallah.

June 6th, 2008, 3:41 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

We are in complete agreement when you say:
“What I’m telling you, is that you enjoying a high period in history, due mostly to your enemies being so incompetent, not to you being so superior.”

So do something about it and become competent. I am quite sure that won’t happen unless the Arab countries become democracies. I will take my chances with democratic Arab states. It is the only guarantee I will ever need. Until then, I will make sure to be stronger than the Arabs but that won’t be hard because they are not democracies.

June 6th, 2008, 3:59 am


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