Israeli Strike on Syria: A Message for Syria? ... A Message for Iran? - Syria Comment

Israeli Strike on Syria: A Message for Syria? … A Message for Iran?

Posted by Alex

Addendum: See Gideon Lichfield's new blog, http://fugitivepeace.com, for good analysis of both the Sunday Times and Newsweek articles copied below. He is the Jerusalem correspondent for the Economist.

Israelis ‘blew apart Syrian nuclear cache’
Secret raid on Korean shipment

THE SUNDAY TIMES 

Uzi Mahnaimi in Tel Aviv, Sarah Baxter in Washington and Michael Sheridan

IT was just after midnight when the 69th Squadron of Israeli F15Is crossed the Syrian coast-line. On the ground, Syria’s formidable air defences went dead. An audacious raid on a Syrian target 50 miles from the Iraqi border was under way.

At a rendezvous point on the ground, a Shaldag air force commando team was waiting to direct their laser beams at the target for the approaching jets. The team had arrived a day earlier, taking up position near a large underground depot. Soon the bunkers were in flames.

Ten days after the jets reached home, their mission was the focus of intense speculation this weekend amid claims that Israel believed it had destroyed a cache of nuclear materials from North Korea.

The Israeli government was not saying. “The security sources and IDF [Israeli Defence Forces] soldiers are demonstrating unusual courage,” said Ehud Olmert, the prime minister. “We naturally cannot always show the public our cards.”

The Syrians were also keeping mum. “I cannot reveal the details,” said Farouk al-Sharaa, the vice-president. “All I can say is the military and political echelon is looking into a series of responses as we speak. Results are forthcoming.” The official story that the target comprised weapons destined for Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi’ite group, appeared to be crumbling in the face of widespread scepticism.

Andrew Semmel, a senior US State Department official, said Syria might have obtained nuclear equipment from “secret suppliers”, and added that there were a “number of foreign technicians” in the country.

Asked if they could be North Korean, he replied: “There are North Korean people there. There’s no question about that.” He said a network run by AQ Khan, the disgraced creator of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, could be involved.

But why would nuclear material be in Syria? Known to have chemical weapons, was it seeking to bolster its arsenal with something even more deadly?

Alternatively, could it be hiding equipment for North Korea, enabling Kim Jong-il to pretend to be giving up his nuclear programme in exchange for economic aid? Or was the material bound for Iran, as some authorities in America suggest?

According to Israeli sources, preparations for the attack had been going on since late spring, when Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad, presented Olmert with evidence that Syria was seeking to buy a nuclear device from North Korea.

The Israeli spy chief apparently feared such a device could eventually be installed on North-Korean-made Scud-C missiles.

“This was supposed to be a devastating Syrian surprise for Israel,” said an Israeli source. “We’ve known for a long time that Syria has deadly chemical warheads on its Scuds, but Israel can’t live with a nuclear warhead.”

An expert on the Middle East, who has spoken to Israeli participants in the raid, told yesterday’s Washington Post that the timing of the raid on September 6 appeared to be linked to the arrival three days earlier of a ship carrying North Korean material labelled as cement but suspected of concealing nuclear equipment.

The target was identified as a northern Syrian facility that purported to be an agricultural research centre on the Euphrates river. Israel had been monitoring it for some time, concerned that it was being used to extract uranium from phosphates.

According to an Israeli air force source, the Israeli satellite Ofek 7, launched in June, was diverted from Iran to Syria. It sent out high-quality images of a northeastern area every 90 minutes, making it easy for air force specialists to spot the facility.

Early in the summer Ehud Barak, the defence minister, had given the order to double Israeli forces on its Golan Heights border with Syria in anticipation of possible retaliation by Damascus in the event of air strikes.

Sergei Kirpichenko, the Russian ambassador to Syria, warned President Bashar al-Assad last month that Israel was planning an attack, but suggested the target was the Golan Heights.

Israeli military intelligence sources claim Syrian special forces moved towards the Israeli outpost of Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights. Tension rose, but nobody knew why.

At this point, Barak feared events could spiral out of control. The decision was taken to reduce the number of Israeli troops on the Golan Heights and tell Damascus the tension was over. Syria relaxed its guard shortly before the Israeli Defence Forces struck.

Only three Israeli cabinet ministers are said to have been in the know – Olmert, Barak and Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister. America was also consulted. According to Israeli sources, American air force codes were given to the Israeli air force attaché in Washington to ensure Israel’s F15Is would not mistakenly attack their US counterparts.

Once the mission was under way, Israel imposed draconian military censorship and no news of the operation emerged until Syria complained that Israeli aircraft had violated its airspace. Syria claimed its air defences had engaged the planes, forcing them to drop fuel tanks to lighten their loads as they fled.

But intelligence sources suggested it was a highly successful Israeli raid on nuclear material supplied by North Korea.

Washington was rife with speculation last week about the precise nature of the operation. One source said the air strikes were a diversion for a daring Israeli commando raid, in which nuclear materials were intercepted en route to Iran and hauled to Israel. Others claimed they were destroyed in the attack.

There is no doubt, however, that North Korea is accused of nuclear cooperation with Syria, helped by AQ Khan’s network. John Bolton, who was undersecretary for arms control at the State Department, told the United Nations in 2004 the Pakistani nuclear scientist had “several other” customers besides Iran, Libya and North Korea.

Some of his evidence came from the CIA, which had reported to Congress that it viewed “Syrian nuclear intentions with growing concern”.

“I’ve been worried for some time about North Korea and Iran outsourcing their nuclear programmes,” Bolton said last week. Syria, he added, was a member of a “junior axis of evil”, with a well-established ambition to develop weapons of mass destruction.

The links between Syria and North Korea date back to the rule of Kim Il-sung and President Hafez al-Assad in the last century. In recent months, their sons have quietly ordered an increase in military and technical cooperation.

Foreign diplomats who follow North Korean affairs are taking note. There were reports of Syrian passengers on flights from Beijing to Pyongyang and sightings of Middle Eastern businessmen from sources who watch the trains from North Korea to China.

On August 14, Rim Kyong Man, the North Korean foreign trade minister, was in Syria to sign a protocol on “cooperation in trade and science and technology”. No details were released, but it caught Israel’s attention.

Syria possesses between 60 and 120 Scud-C missiles, which it has bought from North Korea over the past 15 years. Diplomats believe North Korean engineers have been working on extending their 300-mile range. It means they can be used in the deserts of northeastern Syria – the area of the Israeli strike.

The triangular relationship between North Korea, Syria and Iran continues to perplex intelligence analysts. Syria served as a conduit for the transport to Iran of an estimated £50m of missile components and technology sent by sea from North Korea. The same route may be in use for nuclear equipment.

But North Korea is at a sensitive stage of negotiations to end its nuclear programme in exchange for security guarantees and aid, leading some diplomats to cast doubt on the likelihood that Kim would cross America’s “red line” forbidding the proliferation of nuclear materials.

Christopher Hill, the State Department official representing America in the talks, said on Friday he could not confirm “intelligence-type things”, but the reports underscored the need “to make sure the North Koreans get out of the nuclear business”.

By its actions, Israel showed it is not interested in waiting for diplomacy to work where nuclear weapons are at stake.

As a bonus, the Israelis proved they could penetrate the Syrian air defence system, which is stronger than the one protecting Iranian nuclear sites.

This weekend President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran sent Ali Akbar Mehrabian, his nephew, to Syria to assess the damage. The new “axis of evil” may have lost one of its spokes.

 

Israel’s Syria Raid: A Message for Iran
Israel sends Iran a signal with a stealth raid into Syria.
By Dan Ephron and Mark Hosenball
Newsweek

Sept. 24, 2007 issue – Few things motivate arab spokesmen more than the chance to condemn Israel. Yet they were subdued when Israeli warplanes flew deep into Syrian airspace earlier this month. The Arab League called the incursion "unacceptable," but most Mideast governments kept quiet. Their lack of support for Damascus has much to do with Syria's close relationship to Iran, whose rising power they fear. But some Israeli officials and analysts are reading it optimistically, perhaps dangerously so. "You can learn something from it as to how the Arab world might react to an Israeli or American attack against strategic targets in Iran," says Yossi Alpher, a former Israeli intelligence official.

Whatever the Israeli planes were doing in Syria, Iran's nuclear program—which Tehran says is peaceful—couldn't help but loom over their mission. "It's a tacit reminder to Europe and to Washington that if they don't take a tougher action against Iran, Israel may have to do it alone," says Avner Cohen, a nuclear expert and a senior fellow at the United States Institute for Peace. Details of the Israeli operation remain hazy. Syria's ambassador to the United States told NEWSWEEK the Israeli warplanes dropped munitions in the open desert near Dayr az Zawr before fleeing; he promised his country would retaliate in a manner and at a time of its choosing. "Israel will not be permitted to do whatever it does without paying a price," says Imad Moustapha. But the unparalleled censorship Israel clamped on the operation has fueled speculation that the target could have been a missile factory or nuclear technology from North Korea. (Some U.S. intelligence sources say the latter claim is shaky.) The story of the Israeli operation appears to have begun with aerial photographs shot from a spy plane or satellite. A former U.S. official, who asked for anonymity to discuss sensitive matters, told NEWSWEEK that Israel showed the images of a site in northern Syria to a very small group of officials in Washington last month, suggesting it was part of a nuclear project underway with North Korean involvement. Bush administration neocons have long contended that Damascus was trying to buy nuclear material and that Pyongyang, alleged to have been selling missiles to Syria and Iran since the 1990s, could be a potential supplier. When North Korea issued an unusually loud condemnation of Israel last week, hard-liners like former U.N. ambassador John Bolton read it as possible evidence of Pyongyang's involvement in the matter.

But current and former U.S. intelligence officials, willing to speak only if they were not named, say they've seen no credible evidence yet of nuclear ties between North Korea and Syria, whether before or since the Israeli operation. David Albright, a former weapons inspector in Iraq, says allegations raised by Bolton prompted the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect Syria's small nuclear research reactor and other sites in 2003. He says the agency found the claims to be "unsubstantiated." Even Bolton, who served as the State Department's under secretary for arms control and international security, acknowledged to NEWSWEEK that while in government, he never saw proof North Korea was sharing nuclear technology with Syria.

For Israel, the possibility of a nuclear-armed adversary might have been enough to warrant the operation. Officially in a state of war with Syria—and Iran—Israel has vowed to let neither country obtain nukes (though Israel itself is believed to have built at least 200 nuclear bombs in its secret Dimona plant). Earlier this year, according to a well-placed Israeli source, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asked President Bush for assurances that if economic and political sanctions failed to get Iran to shut down its nuclear facilities, Bush would order the U.S. military to destroy them before he leaves office. Bush has yet to provide the assurances, according to the source, who refused to be quoted because he is not authorized to speak for the government. The source says the Israeli government believes the Iranians will reach the point of no return in their nuclear-enrichment program sometime next year.

U.S. intelligence agencies, by contrast, believe Iran is still two to eight years away from mastering the technology to build a bomb. Some officials warn that attacking Iran would mire U.S. forces in another messy war and might prove ineffective, since the Iranian facilities are believed to be scattered across the country and buried deep underground. Still, from Israel's perspective, there might never be a more supportive White House. "It makes sense that if Israel has to do it alone, it would want to do it on Bush's watch and not wait to see what the political attitude of the next administration will be," says Alpher. That Arab states, and the world, will look away next time might be too much to assume.

With Jeffrey Bartholet in Washington

 

Comments (67)


Solomon2 said:

Bottom line: we still don’t really know what happened. The Israeli silence isn’t totally surprising, because Israel was also mum about the successful attack upon Osirak until after the Iraqis acknowledged it.

But maybe, if it was entirely up to the Syrians, it would have been wisest to sweep everything under the rug. If Syria acknowledges it was a Hezbollah-related target, then it is saying that it is ignoring UNSC 1701, which will further isolate the regime. Yet if it acknowledges, even obliquely, that it was a WMD target that was destroyed, then Syria’s head is out a yard, for the West can remove its head more easily now than it removed Saddam’s four years ago for lesser offenses. If Syria attacks Israel, it will be repulsed without the support of the other Arab States, more so now than Lebanon a year ago.

Yet it seems to late to backtrack now, and I imagine Hezbollah and Iran now have a partial say in Syrian affairs. It seems very complex, so it is no wonder that the Syrians are floundering about, threatening yet impotent and therefore feeling frustrated.

Mr. Landis, does that mean the Syrians now realize that, by agreeing to become a satellite of terror-supporting regimes, they have lost the ability to shape events as they used to and will now see Syria shaped by its neighbors instead?

September 16th, 2007, 2:51 am

 

Alex said:

Every country lost some of its ability to shape events … because new players showed up at the scene in the middle east: Iran and the United states are the new players.

Egypt, Syria and Israel, often had to make way for the direct involvement of Iran and the United States … the 90’s balance of powers was modified the past few years.

There is also the more visible Saudi role. This administration has been trying hard to give the Saudis a leading role in everything.

But Syria is still very much a main player. Most European envoys who complain that the Syrians are not “cooperating” also mention that Syria is key to solving all the problems from Iraq to Lebanon to Palestine.

September 16th, 2007, 3:21 am

 

ugarit said:

I believe that the main reason for the Israeli incursion into Syria is to create “facts” on the ground about so-called nuclear prolifiration issues and how the US and Israel are preventing this in the ME. In addition, future “journalists” can draw upon this event for reference. The stage is being set for the propaganda war. Americans are being fooled again.

September 16th, 2007, 3:33 am

 

Solomon2 said:

Ugarit, pardon me, but I don’t understand what you think “Americans are being fooled” about. Besides, how can it be a propaganda event if the West is being mum about what exactly happened? By all appearances, Syria was given the opportunity to stay quiet and avoid embarassment.

September 16th, 2007, 3:38 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Solomon2 states:

Mr. Landis, does that mean the Syrians now realize that, by agreeing to become a satellite of terror-supporting regimes, they have lost the ability to shape events as they used to and will now see Syria shaped by its neighbors instead?

Solomon2,

Before you get too full of yourself and whatever the IDF accomplished these past few weeks, just remember, the Syrians have more friends than you think.

Like the majority party in the US Congress. A powerful group of angry Liberals dedicated to the LOSS of our War on Terror and War in Iraq. Becasue if we lose this war, they figure, they’ve “won”.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,264334,00.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/30/AR2007073001380.html

BTW – Syria IS a “terror supporting regime”. Not some innocent “satellite”.

September 16th, 2007, 3:57 am

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

Syria was given the opportunity to stay quiet and avoid embarassment

So that’s why the F-15 fuel tanks were jettisoned in Turkey. So Syria would have the opportunity to stay quiet. Yeah, right.

September 16th, 2007, 4:26 am

 

Jamal said:

Whether accusations about Syria having weapons alliances with Korea and Iran are truth or disinformation, the bottom line is very disturbing. The people of Syria are being put at enormous risk and kept trapped in a rusting train that’s running out of railroad. Why? What’s the prize?

Assad is acting like a low IQ, irrational teenager who drags his entire family into the firing line because he chooses to run wild with nasty thugs. His family is doomed to cop major damage when his buddies inevitably get shot down, suddenly sober up or take their losing game elsewhere.

Let’s remember while it’s OK for Assad and his circle of thugs to swagger around trashing options and opportunities, the 20 million people they “lead” at gunpoint have none.

September 16th, 2007, 5:31 am

 

Richard Silverstein said:

the Syrians have more friends than you think.

Like the majority party in the US Congress. A powerful group of angry Liberals dedicated to the LOSS of our War on Terror and War in Iraq. Becasue if we lose this war, they figure, they’ve “won”.

Josh: Nice to know the wingnuts read you too. Too bad though, they don’t come hear to learn anything, but instead to spout their fevered blather. Do they really think anyone in their right mind believes a word they say or write??

September 16th, 2007, 7:23 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

Records on North Korean ship docked in Syria were altered

It is rather astonishing that a relative small coastal ship packed with nuclear material manages to pass UN naval checks around North Korea and manages to go undetected around the world. Then uses over one month to go from Port Said to Tripoli in Lebanon. Why would a nuclear transport stop in Tripoli? And finally from Tripoli to Tartous Port. The sips name is Al Hamad, which is a rather strange name for a North Korean ship. On the other hand there is an UAE based company, Al Hamad Contracting Company, which has participated in major building projects. The likelihood that in the ship was really cement is considerably greater than nuclear items.

Naturally Al Hamad ship can be under North Korean flag, but has it ever been in North Korea? Most ships under Panama flag have never been in Panama.

Like the majority party in the US Congress. A powerful group of angry Liberals dedicated to the LOSS of our War on Terror and War in Iraq. Becasue if we lose this war, they figure, they’ve “won”.

Doesn’t Akbar Defeat mean that the other side won. Claiming that the other side in Iraq is simply “terrorist” is a sign of ultimate self-deception. All the polls in Iraq show clearly that the majority of Iraqis want US out. Even Alan Greenspan claims Iraq war was really for oil. Not for demomocracy or WMD’s. Eventually Iraqis will kick US permanently out and there is very little USA can do to make Iraqis to became a vassal state.

If WE loose this war? Who we and what war? Most of the western world is extremely reluctantly and with minimum assets participating in the Bush’s “War to Create More Terror”. This war has been a total political and military fiasco for USA.

September 16th, 2007, 9:17 am

 

t_desco said:

Also, if the ship really was in Tripoli before going to Tartus, doesn’t that mean that UNIFIL could have searched it? Why run such a risk with a supposedly “nuclear” cargo?

Was Israeli raid a dry run for attack on Iran?

Peter Beaumont
Sunday September 16, 2007

Far from being a minor incursion, the Israeli overflight of Syrian airspace through its ally, Turkey, was a far more major affair involving as many as eight aircraft, including Israel’s most ultra-modern F-15s and F-16s equipped with Maverick missiles and 500lb bombs. Flying among the Israeli fighters at great height, The Observer can reveal, was an ELINT – an electronic intelligence gathering aircraft.

What was becoming clear by this weekend amid much scepticism, largely from sources connected with the administration of President George Bush, was the nature of the allegation, if not the facts.

In a series of piecemeal leaks from US officials that gave the impression of being co-ordinated, a narrative was laid out that combined nuclear skulduggery and the surviving members of the ‘axis of evil’: Iran, North Korea and Syria.

It also combined a series of neoconservative foreign policy concerns: that North Korea was not being properly monitored in the deal struck for its nuclear disarmament and was off-loading its material to Iran and Syria, both of which in turn were helping to rearm Hizbollah.

Underlying all the accusations was a suggestion that recalled the bogus intelligence claims that led to the war against Iraq: that the three countries might be collaborating to supply an unconventional weapon to Hizbollah.

But despite the heavy inference, no official so far has offered an outright accusation. Instead they have hedged their claims in ifs and buts, assiduously avoiding the term ‘weapons of mass destruction’.

There has also been deep scepticism about the claims from other officials and former officials familiar with both Syria and North Korea. They have pointed out that an almost bankrupt Syria has neither the economic nor the industrial base to support the kind of nuclear programme described, adding that Syria has long rejected going down the nuclear route.

Others have pointed out that North Korea and Syria in any case have also had a long history of close links – making meaningless the claim that the North Koreans are in Syria.

Whatever the truth of the allegations against Syria – and Israel has a long history of employing complex deceptions in its operations – the message being delivered from Tel Aviv is clear: if Syria’s ally, Iran, comes close to acquiring a nuclear weapon, and the world fails to prevent it, either through diplomatic or military means, then Israel will stop it on its own.

So Operation Orchard can be seen as a dry run, a raid using the same heavily modified long-range aircraft, procured specifically from the US with Iran’s nuclear sites in mind. It reminds both Iran and Syria of the supremacy of its aircraft and appears to be designed to deter Syria from getting involved in the event of a raid on Iran – a reminder, if it were required, that if Israel’s ground forces were humiliated in the second Lebanese war its airforce remains potent, powerful and unchallenged.

The Observer

Fewer Foreigners Crossing Into Iraq From Syria to Fight
Drop Parallels Dip in Al-Qaeda Attacks

By Karen DeYoung
Sunday, September 16, 2007

The number of foreign fighters entering Iraq from Syria has decreased noticeably in recent months, corresponding to a similar decrease in suicide bombings and other attacks by the group al-Qaeda in Iraq, according to U.S. military and intelligence officials.

“There is an early indication of a trend,” said Gen. David H. Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, in an interview. Border crossings from Syria that averaged 80 to 90 a month have fallen to “half or two-thirds of that over the last two or three months,” Petraeus said.

An intelligence official said that “the Syrians do appear to be mounting a crackdown on some of the most hardened terrorists transiting through the country, particularly al-Qaeda-affiliated foreign fighters.” The official, who was not authorized to speak on the record, said there is also evidence that the Syrians have been stopping return crossings by foreign fighters leaving Iraq.

Other administration officials, while confirming the decrease in border crossings, said they are not yet prepared to attribute it to Syrian action, instead citing increased U.S. operations against al-Qaeda inside Iraq and stepped-up cooperation by terrorist “source” countries, such as Saudi Arabia, in prohibiting travel to Damascus. U.S. intelligence has said Saudis form the biggest group of foreigners fighting with al-Qaeda in Iraq. Petraeus also said his command is uncertain of the reason for the decrease, adding that “we’re watching it on the ground.”

Washington Post

September 16th, 2007, 11:41 am

 

dan said:

Wow. The Times actually had an embedded reporter with the Israeli commandos!

September 16th, 2007, 12:38 pm

 

Murphy said:

With reference to Desco’s articles, the Observer has sadly become little more than a British carbon-copy of the NYT, with the same penchant for spinning US wars and apologising for Israel (they have yet to reach the NYT’s fanaticism in the latter, however). Their drumbeating for a possible war on Iran has been particularly shameless over the past year or so. A real pity: I am one of those old enough to remember the days when the Observer was a fine newspaper.

As for the WP dross, is not the headline interesting? No mention of the fact that this ‘statistic’ comes from unamed US military ‘sources’. But this really caught my eye:

“terrorist “source” countries, such as Saudi Arabia, in prohibiting travel to Damascus.”

But not to Halab? But seriously – what the ***? There are direct flights between Jeddah, Riyadh and Damascus most days of the week. Plus, Saudi citizens travelling abroad don’t have to tell anyone what their country of destination is, so even if there were no such flights, it’s not like they couldn’t get to Syria any other way. Or Iraq for that matter – there is that whole issue of a long, mostly undemarcated desert border between KSA and Iraq. But I know, anything to make America’s allies look good, even though it is admitted that they,not Syria, are the ‘source countries’.

September 16th, 2007, 1:37 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Israeli Strike on Syria: A Message for Syria? … A Message for Iran?

It sounds more like a old aged maid looking at herself in the mirror and chanting: Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall!

Or more like being frustrated with not receiving an important message that you have been expecting, so you send yourself a message to your own email account to test if it is still working..

I swear, one more article on the subject, and I will start convincing myself -since many above take this stuff for serious- that the Popeye’s spinach both Bush and Olmert appeare to be eating in public veiw is bigining to really have a positive effect on their “weakened” limbs.

September 16th, 2007, 1:53 pm

 

T said:

A bit of info. I just spent several days in Deir Ez Zor, Syria, and oil company execs said there was NO radiation like there would be if this truly was an Israeli “nuclear strike”. The North Korea story is pure bullsh#t- their words, not mine…

September 16th, 2007, 2:16 pm

 

Cathy H. said:

SimoHurtta raises some good points about the Al Hamad. It may well have been a ship legitimately carrying construction materials for a UAE firm.

Still, if the Al Hamad was behaving legitimately, why were records concerning its Korean registry purged from 3 databases? Most likely the request for change came from a common source. Does anyone have conjectures or further information on this?

September 16th, 2007, 2:18 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

Wow! Another great journalistic winning piece from the London Times – a great fair and balanced news source from Murdoch’s News Corp.

What next are they going to report on, yellow cake mix from Niger to Syria’s confectionery industry?

September 16th, 2007, 2:25 pm

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

And now more baloney [Via the NYT]:

“If I were the Iranians, what I’d be freaked out about is that the other Arab states didn’t protest the airstrike, said George Perkovich, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “The Arab world nonreaction is a signal to Iran, that Arabs aren’t happy with Iran’s power and influence, so if the Israelis want to go and intimidate and violate the airspace of another Arab state that’s an ally of Iran, the other Arab states aren’t going to do anything.”

And now the Arabs are cheerleading the Israelis. That’ a lot to swallow.

September 16th, 2007, 2:30 pm

 

Murphy said:

“And now the Arabs are cheerleading the Israelis. That’ a lot to swallow.”

Well…. not really. Witness the Arab states’ overt condemnations of Hizballah (and tacit support for Israel) last summer.

That said, it’s stretching it somewhat to take the Arab silence over this incident as proof of their enmity towards Iran: the NYT just can’t see things in any other prism, can they? Of course I know that the Syrians are fairly isolated in the Arab world, but given as they did not make too much noise over the affair themselves, is the Arab silence all that strange?

September 16th, 2007, 3:07 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Damascus can put an end to all of this if they call the IAA and CNN and open to both an invitation to visit the site that has been attacked.

September 16th, 2007, 3:33 pm

 

Murphy said:

If by “IAA” you mean the IAEA, then they have already said that the ‘nuclear’ story is nonsense.

“an invitation to visit the site that has been attacked.”

That is assuming that any ‘site’ has indeed been attacked. Plus, those who believe in the hilariously stupid “North Korea” story are going to believe it anyway, just as those who believe Mossad caused 9/11 are going to believe it anyway. Proof or lack of same is not the issue. Logic doesn’t have any effect on such minds.

September 16th, 2007, 4:01 pm

 

Alex said:

“Arab” reaction to this Israeli operation?

So the Israelis supposedly conducted an experiment to find out THE way “Arabs” will react if they do bigger, real operations in Iran or Syria?

Since when do they (Israel and this Administration) care about how Arabs react? … remember President Bush’s “Mr. Sharon is a man of peace”?

There are easier ways to supposedly find out how “the Arabs” will react … translate the opinion pieces of “freedom loving” Arab writers in Saudi owned Asharq al-Awsar for example… or the Kuwaiti “Assyassa” … there is no shortage of Saudi owned newspapers that you can use as “a proof” that Syria is isolated and Iran is considered the top danger among “The Arabs”.

Of course one can try to read, or conduct, opinion polls, but since their results are not going to be predictable, … this administration prefers the other means of estimating Arab public opinion.

Who are “The Arabs”? … Arab rulers like the King of Jordan? He was already consulted I’m sure. Same applies to the other “Arab moderates” … the leaders who do not usually react negatively to anything.

September 16th, 2007, 4:02 pm

 

Murphy said:

“Arab rulers like the King of Jordan? He was already consulted I’m sure.”

I’d say it’s far more likely he was merely informed rather than consulted. Just like Tony Blair on the Iraq war. Remember?

September 16th, 2007, 4:08 pm

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

I recall what the Jerusalem Post was publishing before the invasion of Iraq.

1) Saddam loaded his “WMD” on a ship in the port of Aqabah and sent them sailing around round the Indian ocean in a stealth container ship.

2) Saddam has all his WMD transported into Syria.

3) Saddam purchased yellowcake.

4) Saddam purchased aluminum tubes for uranium processing.

5) Saddam buried uranium processing turbines in a garden.

And mind you, this was only for consumption by the credulous Anglo-Saxon public. We getting another round of same over this raid.

September 16th, 2007, 4:25 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

A few people here have commented about the Arab reaction and I would like to add a few things.

In the past, it was totally “The Arabs” vs. Israel, however, this equation is dead now.
There’s no such thing as “The Arabs” in terms of a unified block with unified goals, strategies and directions.

In recent years, you can see 2 clear ‘teams’, if you will.
The first includes The US, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, parts of Lebanon (Hariri/Siniora and their allies), parts of the Palestinians (Abu Mazen and his allies) and some others.

The second includes Iran, Syria, parts of Lebanon (Hizbollah and their allies), parts of the Palestinians (Hamas and its allies) and maybe some others.

It will be unrealistic to expect an Arab reaction, because the old formations are a thing of the past.
Israel and a few major Arab countries have some shared interests and goals now and they’re working closely together all the time behind the scene.

September 16th, 2007, 4:53 pm

 

Murphy said:

I think your post betrays a lot of wishful thinking, Israeliguy.

Sure, the so-called ‘moderate’ Arab states are secretly working with Israel and have many interests in common with it. That is true, but has been true for many years now. It is just that they are a bit more open about it now than they used to be. “The Arabs’ were NEVER one unified block, strong divisions were always there well before Camp David, and certainly well before this supposed “anti-Iran” alliance which simple minded NYT columnists have wet dreams over.

However, if by ‘the Arabs’ we mean the so-called ‘ordinary’ Arabs, then nothing has changed, either in appearance or in reality. Whether they are from Jordan or KSA, Yemen or Syria, the overwhelming majority of Arabs are as opposed to Israel as they ever were, if not more so. For this reason, no Arab govt – however authoritarian they may be – can ever really be an ally of Israel. Still, Israel and the US can at least be happy that they don’t have to deal with Arab democracies, which would demand a far tougher response to Israel than any of the supine dictatorships.

September 16th, 2007, 5:21 pm

 

Alex said:

That’s right Israeli guy .. but … there are few things one should not overlook:

These are the leaders you classified into the two groups, not necessarily the people. Otherwise the King of Saudi Arabia would have visited Jerusalem by now, no?

Even Mubarak does not visit Israel. There are more intense feelings of animosity towards Israel in Egypt than in Syria.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia can not go far in being Israel’s allies.

One needs to differentiate between regime interests, tactics, popular opinion, and national interests… and one needs to remember again and again that “the Arab media” is owned by Saudi princes who are very friendly to the Americans. Next time you read “Syria is isolated”, remember who is making that statement and why they are making it.

It is not at all as simple as you portrayed it.

But one thing is quite predictable:

One perceived “victory” (even a tie will do) by any country or party against Israel or the United States will unify popular opinion in all those countries behind the victorious party or country.

Everyone likes winners…. remember how the “Sunni” and “moderate” people of Egypt surprised everyone when they demonstrated in the streets holding Nasrallah posters last summer? … Nasrallah was the hero of the Arab world.

If Israel can guarantee that its “limited operations” can remain limited, then they will probably be successful operations and “The Arabs” will indeed remain silent like they are now.

But the next operation will make it more difficult to avoid a full scale war. War will not be like a carefully staged demonstration of the superior Israeli air force.

And a “successful” strike on Iran? … how do you think Iran will respond to Israel or the United States destroying its nuclear program?

September 16th, 2007, 5:37 pm

 

ausamaa said:

So, we can not start Celebrating Syria becoming a neuclear power like India, Pakistan, and errrr…. Israel?

How dissapointing to “some”. I mean the the proposed claims that Syria is not going nuclear! Would have more than made up for a dissapointing non-existant WMD in Iraq.

September 16th, 2007, 5:38 pm

 

Solomon2 said:

I mean the the proposed claims that Syria is not going nuclear!

Maybe Syria isn’t. But Iran is, or is trying to create the impression that it is. And if it can set up its nuclear weaponry under control of puppets in Lebanon, Syria, or another state, the mullahs may feel that they can employ these weapons with impunity to establish dominance in the Middle East.

September 16th, 2007, 6:25 pm

 

Murphy said:

“if it can set up its nuclear weaponry under control of puppets in Lebanon, Syria, or another state,”

Now, I’m no expert on nuclear fission, but even I know that you can’t just set up a nuclear weapons capacity and place it – just like that – in the hands of an underground militia in a country with which your country does not even share a border.

In order word, this is sheer lunatic, moronic fantasy. Oh, and by the way, Iran does not actually have any nuclear weapons nor is it -by almost all informed accounts – anywhere close to getting them, even assuming that is their wish.

“the mullahs may feel that they can employ these weapons with impunity to establish dominance in the Middle East.”

Even if the first part of your sentence were not ludicrous, this makes no sense at all as a follow on.

September 16th, 2007, 6:43 pm

 
 

Alex said:

Isn’t this cute?

U.S. signs accord with Jordan backing its nuclear development

U.S. signs accord with Jordan backing its nuclear development
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent and The Associated Press

The United States has signed an accord with Jordan aimed at supporting the peaceful development of the kingdom’s nascent nuclear program, the U.S. Embassy said Sunday.

The agreement comes at a time of heightened tensions over Iran’s controversial nuclear program, which the U.S. suspects is a cover for weapons development – a charge Tehran denies.

Jordan and several other Sunni Arab countries have recently announced plans to develop peaceful nuclear programs.
Advertisement
U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman and Jordanian Minister for Scientific Research Khaled Toukan signed Sunday’s memorandum of understanding on the sidelines of a nuclear energy summit in Vienna.

Under the agreement, the two countries will work together to develop requirements for appropriate power reactors, fuel service arrangements, civilian training, nuclear safety, energy technology and other related areas, the U.S. Embassy said in a statement.

Jordanian King Abdullah II announced his intention to develop a peaceful nuclear program in January, saying alternative energy sources were needed to generate electricity and desalinate water in the kingdom.

Jordan has signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and has long called for a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.

Last month, Toukan said nuclear energy would constitute 30 percent of the energy produced in Jordan by 2030 and convert the kingdom into an energy exporter, based on studies his ministry conducted.

Jordan’s energy czar Khaled al-Shraydeh has said the country possesses the uranium needed to develop the program. The country is estimated to have 80,000 tons of uranium, and its phosphate reserves also contain some 100,000 tons of uranium.

The U.S. said it is working with other nations under the partnership program to encourage use of nuclear energy to meet growing electricity demands and to enhance energy security while promoting nuclear nonproliferation.

September 16th, 2007, 7:01 pm

 

Alex said:

It seems the world is in the mood for another war

French FM: World must ‘prepare for worst’ in face of Iran crisis
By News Agencies

The world must “must prepare for the worst” – including the possibility of war – in light of the Iranian nuclear crisis, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Sunday.

“We have to prepare for the worst, and the worst is war,” Kouchner said in an interview on LCI television and RTL radio.

September 16th, 2007, 7:05 pm

 

bilal said:

Alex,
Hi I couldn’t help laugh when you said in your first comment: “But Syria is still very much a main player”. Please be realistic and compare the position and role of Syria today and 8 years ago. That is before the novel Bashar. Just look at the burial of the late Hafez and who attended and the amount of support Syria had the first day on the job for Bashar. Look at us now and what we have lost. No one can loose so much so fast and then you tell me “But Syria is still very much a main player” Who are you trying to fool?
Thank God the change is getting closer by the day.

September 16th, 2007, 7:22 pm

 

offended said:

The ‘world’ vs. Iran?! ….wow… and who said Kochner is not too ambitious?

September 16th, 2007, 7:28 pm

 

offended said:

Bilal, should you be in power during these 8 years, what would you have done better?

Seriously speaking..

September 16th, 2007, 7:36 pm

 

Alex said:

Bilal,

It depends if you like to look at a photograph of at a movie … When Hafez died we had Clinton. Today we have neocons.

If you want to compare apples to apples, look at the 80’s when the Reagan administration also boycotted Syria, when they invented the Hindawi affair after which Europe joined the Americans in boycotting Syria.

President George Bush Jr. said that his idol is President Reagan. Both of them gave us 8 years of Syria boycott … which translated into 8 years of chaos and wars in the Middle East… just like 2000 to 2007.

After Reagan and George Schultz who decided that they don’t need to talk to Syria because it is finished after the fall of its Soviet allies, came George Bush Sr. and James Baker…. everything changed… they visited Hafez Assad and they considered his backing of the Kuwait war to be essential for its success. Same for Madrid conference.

The same Syria and Syrian leader boycotted for eight Reagan years was welcomed back on stage for a starring role when a wiser American administration took over.

Today, you are looking at the wrong failed regime … The Syrians did not fail.

Just for fun read what the same George Schultz said lately about talking to Syria:

For example, Syria doesn’t at all like the idea of having the Harari murder investigated, and no doubt the Jamail murder and others that they’ve done, or so it seems. But that should be pressed forward. There is a devastating report by a German prosecutor that’s already on file.

Can you believe it? .. he is still living in the days of the Mehlis report! He wants to believe in Mehlis the clown and in his paid witnesses who were discredited later.

And Bilal, I suppose it is useless to remind you for the tenth time that it is not only me who is making this claim, but foreign journalists and diplomats who keep saying that Syria is key to solving the problems of the Middle East.

But since Mr. Khaddam is meeting today with the Muslim brotherhood to tell us that the Syrian regime is a failure and that he is the savior, I understand that you are feeling energized again.

September 16th, 2007, 7:37 pm

 

Tikun Olam-תקון עולם: Make the World a Better Place » Syrian Nuclear Story Part of Neocon Plan to Derail North Korea Nuclear Deal? said:

[…] Thanks to Josh Landis for finding this blog post by Gordon Litchfield, The Economist’s Jerusalem correspondent, which precisely mirrors my own skepticism about the Syrian nuclear story being spread around the world media by U.S. and Israeli hawks. I quote a great deal of his post because it is so precisely on target and these words need to be read not just by my readers but by anyone interested in Mideast peace: The story taking hold is that Israel hit material or equipment for nuclear weapons supplied by North Korea. But something still smells fishy. […]

September 16th, 2007, 7:51 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Murphy and Alex, you both presented similar points and I agree with many of them.

There’s no doubt the ‘Arab Street’ still exists one way or another and it’s very hostile to Israel.

In fact, even after a peace treaty will be signed between Israel and the Arab countries I’m sure it will remain very hostile.

That’s why I used the term “behind the scenes”.
The important element for Israel is the strategic one.
It’s the leaders who control the Arab armies, not ‘The Arab Street’.

Murphy, you’re 100% right about what you said regarding democracies vs. dictatorships and I don’t expect democracies will replace dictatorships in the Arab world anytime soon.

Actually, I was quite surprised by the American push for bringing democracy to the Middle East.
I don’t think it’s in their best interest and I believe that Arab democracies won’t last anyway.

The gap between democratic values and religious Islamic ones can’t be bridged, so I can’t see how Arab countries will turn to be democratic.

Alex, I agree with your ‘Everyone likes winners’ concept.
And regarding how do I think Iran will respond to Israel or the United States destroying its nuclear program, I’m sure it will go out on a war against the US and / or Israel.

However, the other question is what do the US and / or Israel prefer.
To engage a non nuclear Iran (with all the consequences) OR not to engage Iran and face the consequence of a nuclear Iran.

I have no doubt that Iran will be engaged militarily.
I don’t know if it will be the US or Israel who will launch an attack on their sites, but I have no doubt that Israel will not accept a reality of a nuclear Iran, no matter what the results will be.

September 16th, 2007, 7:54 pm

 

bilal said:

Yes but then we were boycotted by the US only. Today we are boycotted by every country except Iran. We had at least Lebanon. KSA, & Egypt. Today we lost them all. Then there was the USSR today Russia is almost in the hand of the US. It is not comparing apple to apple. One last thing, Then we had the experienced Hafez today we have unexperienced Bashar which lead us here

September 16th, 2007, 8:07 pm

 

bilal said:

offended,

The first thing I would calculate my wealth and will find out that I have several billions which will be more than enough for me and my family so I would fight and stop corruption from my own family and then no one dare being corupt. But unfortunately most of Bashar decision were corupt oriented. Look at why he extended the mandate of Lahood.
Then I would trust that the people as really the people liked him at the begening and I would use this to introduce democraty and I have seven years to make a good job that will guarante my reelection by the people.
Then things would be different

September 16th, 2007, 8:15 pm

 

bilal said:

Alex,
One last thing Khaddam is not the only savior. Thank God and despite the brutality of the present regime we still have many saviors. Yes Khaddam is a strong one. The Syrians should back them ALL. How long and how further we have to lose to realize?

September 16th, 2007, 8:26 pm

 

Alex said:

Israeliguy,

I know I first tried to advise you to not feel too optimistic, but … Don’t be too pessimistic either regarding the Arab street. For example, some of us here find you much more reasonable than many other “Arabs” we debate.

Ahmadinejad was elected AFTER Americans elected the Bush administration in 2004 for 4 more long and painful years.

When Americans elected Clinton for president, Iranians elected a moderate man as well.

Wars will not solve any problem.

September 16th, 2007, 8:26 pm

 

Alex said:

Ok Bilal.

In the 80’s Syria had the backing of Saudi Arabia? … you mean that muslim brotherhood had the backing of Saudi Arabia to put bombs in shopping centers and civilian buses and to try to overthrow Hafez and to even kill him (assassination attempt 26 of June 1980).

Or how about King Hussein admitting he went to Israel to warn them that Hafez was planning a war in 1973?

What are you talking about??!

Arab allies are useless if America does not allow them to talk to Syria they do not talk to Syria.

Egypt is perhaps an exception. Mubarak is experienced enough to not swing 180 degrees in his relations with the Syrians.

September 16th, 2007, 8:38 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

That’s why I used the term “behind the scenes”.
The important element for Israel is the strategic one.
It’s the leaders who control the Arab armies, not ‘The Arab Street’.

Do you Israeliguy believe that the big Arab nations want to be dominated in the future decades by a tiny nation like Israel? The so called moderate Arab nations regimes can’t have a to big difference with the street opinion (same as in Israel) otherwise they loose the control power (= support of their armies).

Time is in Arab nations side, they are getting economically and eventually military stronger day after day. This time they do not any more recycle the petro dollar to the west. Now they build their countries and acquire influence by buying western companies. Also the times have changed in the aspect of customers. The West is not any more the only option.

Israel on the other hand has totally missed the vital opportunity to link herself in the area. Now it is much like West Berlin (economically and in “lifestyle”) in the end of 40’s. And the failing regional peace conference will be a new lost opportunity for Israel.

The “alliance” between moderate Arab nations and Israel may in Israeli eyes be seen as strategical but most Arab nations undoubtedly consider it only as a short-term tactical “alliance”. Would in different circumstances Germany and France want to be dominated for 100 years by Denmark? For USA Israel begins to be an every heavier diplomatic burden.

It is rather unbelievable that some nuts are planing new wars. The west is in the middle a credit crisis which is growing like an avalanche, dollar is mildly said in serious difficulties. USA can loose much more than only its military “reputation”. Bankrupt superpowers are not any more superpowers.

Yes but then we were boycotted by the US only. Today we are boycotted by every country except Iran. We had at least Lebanon. KSA, & Egypt. Today we lost them all. Then there was the USSR today Russia is almost in the hand of the US.

Bilal you seem to read different newspapers than I. Russia in hand of USA???? “Watching” Russia 300 kilometres from Russian border I can assure you that is not true. The Russian Bears hibernation period is inexorably over. What comes to Syrian boycott, how is EU boycotting Syria? Trade is made as usual. Most of EU is not in the mood for more sanctions and new wars.

September 16th, 2007, 9:13 pm

 

idaf said:

Imad Moustapha: Israel ‘Will Pay a Price’

Ambassador Imad Moustapha, Syria’s envoy to Washington, gives his account of a mysterious Israeli air raid and discusses whether Syria will retaliate.
By Jeffrey Bartholet
Newsweek

Sept. 14, 2007 – Israel has imposed strict military censorship over news of a recent air strike deep inside Syrian territory. U.S. officials have confirmed that an air strike did take place on Sept. 6 but have not provided further details. Vaguely sourced reports, including accounts of a Syrian-North Korean nuclear program that have yet to be substantiated, are seeping into the media. What do the Syrians have to say about it? NEWSWEEK’s Jeffrey Bartholet sat down with Syria’s ambassador to the United States, Imad Moustapha, to get his version of events.

NEWSWEEK: We’re told the [Israeli] target was in a place called Dayr az Zawr.
Imad Moustapha: No, Dayr az Zawr is a major city; it was not targeted. The Israeli planes threw their ammunition close to Dayr az Zawr, but outside Dayr az Zawr, and then they made a U-turn and threw their reserve fuel tanks. And because they were flying above the Syria-Turkish border, they threw those on the Turkish side of the border. Nothing was damaged.

What were they bombing?
They didn’t bomb anything. Once they were spotted by our defense systems and we started attacking them, they threw their ammunition because this makes them lighter. And they threw their additional fuel tanks, which were not empty by the way, and they made a U-turn and they left. You’ve got to understand, they were flying in the extreme northern part of Syria, on the Syrian-Turkish border.

How many bombs fell and what did they fall on?
They didn’t hit anything. They just fell on wasteland.

So no casualties?
No, nothing.

No physical damage to structures?
No. Just on the ground. And Turkey protested about the two fuel tanks that fell on the Turkish side.

There have been reports, unsubstantiated at present, that what was targeted was some kind of nuclear North Korean-Syrian cooperation project.
Those reports are absolutely, totally, fundamentally ridiculous and untrue. There are no nuclear North Korean-Syrian facilities whatsoever in Syria … We know the game. [After the fall of Baghdad] some were claiming that Saddam’s WMDs were being smuggled to Syria. This is not a new story. Every now and then we hear about nuclear materials being transferred to Syria.

What is the relationship between North Korea and Syria right now? It was noticed that North Korea immediately issued a strong and public denunciation of the Israeli attack, which seemed a bit unusual, given that North Korea is thousands of miles away.
People here can be very selective. The Lebanese government made such an announcement, Turkey made such an announcement, Indonesia made such an announcement. North Korea has very few friends around the world, and we have friendly relations with North Korea.

Do you have trade relations?
Very little actual relations … [The relationship] is real. We’re not denying it. There’s nothing to hide.

Also a trade in missiles, in the past anyway. Scuds.
I’m not privy to military details. I leave that to military experts to discuss. What I am saying is the following: There is nothing sinister. To talk about a Syrian-North Korean nuclear plant is really, really sad, because it reminds me of the sort of stories that used to be fabricated here in the United States before the Iraq war, about Iraq’s WMDs and such things. You would think America has learned its lesson, that it won’t buy such stories anymore. And then you are astonished when you see mainstream [media] outlets publishing such stories. Such short-term memory for the American media.

There was an International Atomic Energy Commission inspection of Syria in 2003 that gave it a clean—
We cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Commission.

There was another unsubstantiated report that the target was a joint Iranian-Syrian missile plant.
And there was a third report that that was a convoy taking arms to Hizbullah. All are ridiculous. In northeastern Syria they’d spot a convoy taking arms to Hizbullah?

The reason some in the media have been speculating, I think, is because Israeli censors are enforcing a strict clampdown and people who know something have suggested that this raid was a big deal, that something was targeted and that what was targeted was hit.
Israel usually is very boastful, very arrogant. Usually when they do something they boast about how spectacular their operation was, how successful they were. This time it’s only linkages here and there by people who claim this and that. Having said this, I’m not belittling the gravity of the Israeli provocation. It has changed dramatically the situation between us. They were sending us messages the last three months that they don’t want to further escalate tensions between Syria and Israel, they do not have plans of hostile intent for Syria. They were saying this publicly, on the record. Then they send their jet fighters into Syrian sovereign airspace. I think this is a very serious provocation.

On that point, Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa told an Italian newspaper that Damascus will retaliate.
Let us be honest with each other. Every action in the world creates a reaction. So for anyone to imagine that Syria will look at what happened and say, ‘Well, let’s just let things pass by’ is unrealistic. But this doesn’t mean that Syria will immediately retaliate in kind, exactly the same way. We have our own national priorities … Syria has been very, very clear about its desire to end the conflict in the Middle East through negotiations and the peaceful approach, based on the land-for-peace principle. We are committed to this. Having said this, until this happens we are in a state of war with Israel. And there are different ways to retaliate. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the same [method].

Can you give me a couple of examples?
I’m not a military expert. But anyone who has studied the situation in the Middle East will understand. They want to occupy our territories, and they will pay a price for this.

Tell me about the diplomatic efforts that surrounded this. Did U.S. officials contact you; did you contact U.S. officials?
No, not at all. The United States continues to provide blanket support for Israel, no matter what Israel does. In a way, they have expressed tacit approval. But we have launched an official complaint to the United Nations Security Council. We have informed the Arab League, the Europeans, Russia, China … and we have publicly said that we reserve our right to retaliate in a way we choose.

Have you filed any complaint with Washington?
It would be a waste of time. I don’t think Washington today has a mindset that would allow it to understand how such grave actions can lead to further deterioration in the Middle East.

What is the situation with U.S.-Syrian relations at this point? There was a lot of intelligence cooperation, then there was a long cold spell, and then there seemed to be a little bit of an opening in the winter and spring this year.
Time and again, we have told the United States that we believe in cooperation. We can address the issues, find common ground, brainstorm for creative solutions. But in a way, there is no dialogue today between Syria and the United States. We are not happy about this. We believe we need good relations with the United States. No resolution of the [Arab-Israeli conflict] can take place without the direct, strong involvement of the United States. Having said this, we have a problem in Iraq. It is in our own national interest to help stabilize the situation in Iraq. It’s such a dangerous situation. And we are overrun with over 1.5 million Iraqi refugees. The stakes are very high. Time and again we have told the United States that it is better to stop this propaganda war with us and sit with us and see how we can help toward stabilizing the situation.

The other problem between Syria and the United States is Lebanon.
Are you sure it’s a problem between us and the United States? I think it’s a problem over what Israel wants in the Middle East.

One problem is that many opponents of Syrian policy in Lebanon have been assassinated. [Former prime minister] Rafik Hariri and—
Do you think Rafik Hariri was an opponent of Syria in Lebanon? He was the prime minister of Lebanon when we were in Lebanon. All the people who badmouth us today used to be close allies of the so-called “evil occupation of Syria in Lebanon.” That is preposterous.

There have been a number of people who have been assassinated, including journalists.
Look, listen, these assassinations are terrible crimes. There is a United Nations commission that is investigating this crime … These are serious, grave issues. Of course we say “No, we didn’t do this.” Try to understand. When an assassination takes place, within a minute we are accused of it. Tremendous political damage is inflicted on us. And yet in an extremely stupid way we are supposed to have assassinated one person after another? … Why? Something is illogical about this. Let the U.N. investigation decide who killed these guys.

During the recent tensions, was there a moment when the Syrian government considered military retaliation [against Israel], firing missiles or—
We have not forfeited our right to retaliate. But as I have said, we don’t necessarily have to retaliate in the same way that Israel has attacked. I don’t know exactly the nature of this retaliation. It can happen in various ways, sometimes in asymmetrical ways. What I’m trying to say is the following: We live in a state of war with Israel. This is not the first act of hostility between Syria and Israel … The problem is that sometimes a foolish action can provoke terrible consequences.

There was diplomacy [before the attack], when Israel was sending what were described as “calming” signals. There was tension, then a calming period, then this happened. Can you describe that period prior to the attack?
I can tell you that Israel was creating an atmosphere of brinksmanship in the region. There were unprecedentedly large maneuvers in the occupied Syrian Golan. And of course the Syrians took note of this and were in a high state of preparedness. And then the Israelis, and personally [Prime Minister] Ehud Olmert, sent personal public messages—both publicly and to European officials—in which he said Syria shouldn’t be concerned, Israel doesn’t intend to provoke Syria or attack Syria … Having noted this, Syria is not a gullible country. As long as there is no peace agreement, we have to always be prepared.

Is it possible that Syria will decide that it’s in its national interests not to respond?
That would not serve our national interests. That would be detrimental to our national interests, because it would encourage Israel to repeat the same intrusions and operations. As I have said, every reaction creates a reaction. If Israel calculates that they can do what they want, they’re making a big mistake, just as they made a mistake last summer [in 2006, by waging war against Hizbullah in Lebanon].

So if the headline on this interview was “Syria Will Retaliate,” that would not be inaccurate?
What I have said is that this is a long-term war. States have different approaches to things. What I’m trying to say is that Israel will not be permitted to do whatever it does without paying a price for it.

So Israel will pay a price.
It will. And there will always be a price for everything.

September 16th, 2007, 9:14 pm

 

Jamal said:

As Ehsani said, Moustapha, why not simply invite foreign media to go out there and see for themselves that what you claim is true? Or the UN or some diplomats?

It would make monkeys of the “veil of secrecy” Israelis.

(Now there’s a diplomatically brilliant form of retaliation!)

September 16th, 2007, 9:47 pm

 

ausamaa said:

To Solomom2,

That would be nice, would it not? It will go a long way towards getting little peace-loving Israel out of the lonliness it must be feeling for being -among the other Strange traits it stands out for -the only Nuclear power in the region.

Dont you long for the good ol’ days?

September 16th, 2007, 9:51 pm

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

Bernard Kouchner is a preening flamboyant gasbag. (He’s also calling for a Palestinian state _now_, as if his Doctors without Borders creds would buy him the slightest concession from the Israelis.) Well see if he gets anywhere. Renault is heavily invested in Iran. This reminds me when Reagan forced Fiat/Allis Chalmers to buy back its Libyan-owned shares .

Neo-populist Sarkozy and Gorden Brown are now looking around for a coaltiion of the willing redux to apply harsh sanctions on Tehran. They want Germany on board desperately, but FM Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Economy Minister Peer Steinbrück are having none of it, depite Chancellor Merkel’s preference.

Meanwhile, it is once again open season on Mohamed El Baradei in Washington as Moscow informed the West that it will vote against any new sanctions in the UNSC.

September 16th, 2007, 9:59 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

——————
“Do you Israeliguy believe that the big Arab nations want to be dominated in the future decades by a tiny nation like Israel?”
——————

SimoHurtta, no, I don’t believe that the big Arab nations want to be dominated by Israel, but is it really the case, these days?

Are the big Arab countries being ‘dominated’ by us?
Well, I didn’t notice it…

Yes, we do cooperate with some Arab countries, but these contacts benefit both us and our Arab counterparts, so I can’t see where the ‘domination’ part fits in.

——————
“The so called moderate Arab nations regimes can’t have a to big difference with the street opinion (same as in Israel) otherwise they loose the control power (= support of their armies).”
——————

Well, I’m examining the situation with Egypt.
We have peace with them for almost 30 years and you can see the difference between the Egyptian street and the Egyptian leadership.

We have a pretty long positive experience with Jordan too and it’s not like the Jordanian street is filled with Israel fans.

As I’m saying, since these are not democracies, the important part is the regime.
Naturally, if they were democratic countries, then the Arab street would have a much higher significance.

Anyway, that’s why 99% of the contacts, agreements and alliances are being managed behind the scenes.

Israel cares more about actual results on the strategic level and less about another photo op on some lawn and it keeps the Arab street relatively calm.

September 16th, 2007, 10:54 pm

 

Alex said:

Fat chance for a peace agreement
By Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Prof. Tamar Hermann

The traditional tendency of the Israeli Jewish public to uncritically adopt the decision-makers’ reading of the map concerning relations with Arab states is apparently in a process of change. Even though most of the Israeli Jewish public does not expect peace with Syria in the foreseeable future, a similar majority also thinks that despite the repeated media reports and politicians’ statements about Israeli-Syrian tension, the two countries have not actually been close to war of late. Indeed, many more believe in the possibility that the two countries will open peace negotiations in the foreseeable future, or that relations between them will remain as they are, than in the chances of war breaking out between them.

more …

September 16th, 2007, 11:25 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Alex stated:

When Americans elected Clinton for president, Iranians elected a moderate man as well.

When Americans elected Clinton for president, the World Trade Center was bombed the first time, Saddam Hussein continued to prevent UN inspectors free access to suspected WMD sites, and the 9-11 attackers were learning how to fly commercial jets here in the US using funds wired from the UAE.

Considering that Islamic terrorism isn’t just an Iranian obsession, I’ll take Bush any day over a Clinton.

SimoHurtta said:

“Do you Israeliguy believe that the big Arab nations want to be dominated in the future decades by a tiny nation like Israel?”

Any day Israel survives, the Arabs are being “dominated”. Terrorist dogma re-worded for accuracy.

September 16th, 2007, 11:51 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

SimoHurtta, no, I don’t believe that the big Arab nations want to be dominated by Israel, but is it really the case, these days?

Are the big Arab countries being ‘dominated’ by us?
Well, I didn’t notice it…

Why do you have more nukes than China? Why do you have long range subs with nuclear cruise missiles? You have WMD weapons far past the need of a defensive deterrent. Why do you Israeliguy think that Germany is sending the spy ships on Lebanese waters near Israel? Israeli planes are not frightening them for no reason. Certainly the main target of gathering intelligence for Germany and others in Lebanon is not Hizbollah. It is not only Arab countries which are alerted with the rather uncontrollable behaviour of Israel.

Of course Israel is the dominant military power in the region and it wants to keep its position with all possible means. Don’t you remember your politicians favourite saying we will bomb them to stone age.

Well, I’m examining the situation with Egypt.
We have peace with them for almost 30 years and you can see the difference between the Egyptian street and the Egyptian leadership.
We have a pretty long positive experience with Jordan too and it’s not like the Jordanian street is filled with Israel fans.
As I’m saying, since these are not democracies, the important part is the regime.

Well you have a rather “blue eyed” vision. As we have seen numerous times in the past regime changes happen fast in Middle East. Imagine Egypt’s and Saudi Arabia’s military machines in hand of a less friendly regime.

If Israel can’t deliver anything to calm the tensions and doesn’t want make compromises the “street opinion” will get so furious that even moderate regimes have to change their policy. Imagine the next 40 years of occupation?

Israel cares more about actual results on the strategic level and less about another photo op on some lawn and it keeps the Arab street relatively calm.

Regrettably for Israel it is USA who needs desperately another photo op. US has to deliver some positive signs to to its Arab client regimes. What strategical alternatives are there left for Israel if you do not have a two state solution and really want to join the region in a normal way? The only way is to continue as now, but there are many signs that that line of behaviour is more and more difficult. Let’s imagine five years in the future, when in middle of peak oil situation the Arab countries force the west to choose. What has Israel to offer in such a situation? If US pro-Israelis have to choose between riding on horseback or sitting comfortably in a SUV the answer is clear. They became less pro-Israeli.

September 16th, 2007, 11:59 pm

 

sam said:

You know it’s an absolute shame that no other Arab country condemnd the violation on brotherly Syria. The traitor arab countries not no included (Egypt, Jordan) Where is the unity? Is it going to take another all out war to stop the Zionist from turning us into slaves. Ya Ibe-a shoom! And responding to Bilal, you should be ashamed of yourself. Hafez was never tested with complicated situations. The 73′ war was a conventional war, the Leb civil war was hard, but Syria always new the score, and how much time was on the clock. How can you praise Kaddam? He’s more of a traitor than any March 14 group or any Jordanian or Egyption put togother. The cold hard fact is.. in twenty years from now Bashar will still be Boss, and the Zionist will continue to act aggressivaly, until other Arab nations step up to the plate, and show some solidarity. Arabs can take over the world if we would unite under one banner. Whether be Muslim, Christians if your an arab your a brother.

September 17th, 2007, 12:10 am

 

Solomon2 said:

Ausamaa, what “good ol’ days?” do you mean?

September 17th, 2007, 1:11 am

 

IsraeliGuy said:

SIMOHURTTA, maybe I didn’t understand you.
When you said “want to be dominated” I thought you meant something like ‘want to be ruled by Israel’ or something similar.
My English is ok I guess, but very far from perfect.

Indeed, as you described pretty well, we have an extensive arsenal which indeed includes nukes and other WMD (according to the foreign media).

Why do we need it?
Let me give you the short answer: survival.
We want to deter neighboring regimes from starting a war against us.

If we didn’t have any nuclear weapons, a decision to go out to war against Israel could have been taken much easier.

With the WMD, neighboring leaders must calculate their actions more carefully.
So far, this policy has been proving itself pretty well.

Since 1973, no Arab army initiated an all out war against Israel – only organizations like Hizbollah in Lebanon or the Palestinian groups in the West Bank & Gaza.

The organizations can indeed hurt or ‘scratch’ us, but they don’t pose a risk on our survival as a country.
State armies do pose an existential threat and do have the capability to wipe us off the map, so we need something that will deter them and if it doesn’t, will act as a silver bullet.

You’re right, Israel does want to maintain its position with all means.
Without this edge – the consequences will be clear and I have no desire to bare them.

On the same note, the US has an enormous military, extraordinary arsenal and overwhelming fire power, but you don’t see their neighbors like Canada or Mexico making a fuss and you don’t hear them complaining about the US domination of the region.

Yes, you’re right, regimes can indeed change in the Middle East, but we work with what we have and not with what we don’t have.

By the way, the ‘regime’ in Gaza just changed recently – from pro western Fattah to Islamic Hammas.
Now let me ask you this: in light of this ‘regime change’ in Gaza, do you think that the moderate Arab leaders are working more closely with Israel or the opposite way.

I bet you know the answer.
They’re actually strengthening their alliance with the moderate powers in the area.
They don’t want to see themselves as a new version of Gaza.

*******
“If Israel can’t deliver anything to calm the tensions and doesn’t want make compromises the “street opinion” will get so furious that even moderate regimes have to change their policy. Imagine the next 40 years of occupation?”
*******

Israel is not the delivery boy of calm in the region.
The responsibility to calm the tensions in area lies on the shoulders of many countries and Israel has indeed an equal share – but not more than that.

Calm is a great thing and if everybody want it, everybody will have to chip it and contribute their part.

As for the next 40 years, I’m indeed worried, just as I was 10 and 20 years ago.
As an Israeli, I’m always worried.
It’s part of my DNA, I guess.

Regarding the 2 state solution, I’m for it, but only after all the main Palestinian fractions and groups will genuinely recognize Israel and stop fighting it.

If it will not happen, any agreement will be worthless and I will not vote for it.

September 17th, 2007, 1:11 am

 

ugarit said:

“You know it’s an absolute shame that no other Arab country condemnd the violation on brotherly Syria.”

Most Arab regimes are whores with the US as their pimp.

September 17th, 2007, 1:16 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

Arabs can take over the world if we would unite under “one” banner?

Who is going to lead this united under-one-banner group?

Rather than getting closer to unity under one banner, Arabs seem to be drifting into unilateral nationalistic entities.

Dreaming about taking over the world cannot be accomplished by believing in impractical empty slogans. Taking over the world takes a lot more than calling each other a brother

September 17th, 2007, 1:20 am

 

norman said:

This is interesting and could make many cheer.

مصادر ألمانية: الغارة الإسرائيلية فشلت بسبب الكشف المبكر للدفاعات السورية لها الاخبار السياسية

صحيفة: بارجة استخبارات ألمانية رصدت الخرق الإسرائيلي للأجواء السورية

اعتبرت مصادر استخباراتية وعسكرية ألمانية أن الغارة الإسرائيلية فشلت لأن الدفاعات الأرضية السورية كشفت تسلل المقاتلات في وقت مبكر مما استدعاها إلى العودة على أعقابها.

وقالت مصادر استخبارية وعسكرية ألمانية إن “طائرتين إسرائيليتين اخترقتا المجال الجوي السوري ليلة الخميس، في السادس من الشهر الجاري، إلا أنهما فوجئتا من سرعة كشفهما من قبل الدفاعات الأرضية السورية مما حدا بهما إلى العودة على أعقابهما بسرعة”.

وتتطابق هذه المعلومات مع ما أعلنته المصادر السورية من أن “المقاتلات الحربية لم تقصف أي هدف في سورية، وحال كشفها من قبل الدفاعات السورية ألقت ذخيرتها وخزانات الوقود الإضافية التي على متنها وولت هاربة”.

وقالت أسبوعية “در شبيغل” الألمانية إن “بارجة استخبارات ألمانية تشارك في قوات اليونفيل البحرية العاملة في السواحل اللبنانية رصدت في الليلة التي حلقت فيها المقاتلات الإسرائيلية في الأجواء السورية طائرتين من نوع إف15 إسرائيليتين تخرقان المجال الجوي السوري”.

والتزمت إسرائيل الصمت حيال الإعلان السوري عن الخرق الجوي رافضة تأكيد أو نفي هذه المعلومات مكتفية بالثناء على لسان رئيس وزرائها إيهود أولمرت على العمليات “النوعية” التي يقوم بها الجيش الإسرائيلي بشكل دائم.

وقالت المجلة الألمانية نقلا عن مصدر عسكري إن “الطائرات كانت في طريقها لقصف شحنة سلاح في طريقها من سورية لحزب الله إلا أنها فوجئت من السرعة التي كشفتها الدفاعات الأرضية السورية فاضطرت إلى العودة على أعقابها”.
وتنفي سورية صحة التقارير الصحفية الأمريكية عن استهداف الطيران الإسرائيلي شحنة أسلحة لحزب الله على الأراضي السورية معتبرة أن هذه الاتهامات لا تعدو كونها “ترهات وأكاذيب”.

وكشفت صحيفة “ساندي تايمز” مؤخرا أن “إسرائيل أجرت مشاوات قبل شن الغارة مع الولايات المتحدة، كما وأن واشنطن زودت المقاتلات الإسرائيلية بشيفرات سرية كي لا تتعرض لنيران أمريكية حين تقترب من الحدود التركية أو العراقية”.
وكانت سورية تعهدت برد وصفته بالـ”قاس” على الاختراقات الإسرائيلية للأجواء السورية وبسلسلة ردود قد يكون العسكري أحدها.

سيريانيوز

September 17th, 2007, 1:25 am

 

Bakri said:

In the 80’s Syria had the backing of Saudi Arabia? … you mean that muslim brotherhood had the backing of Saudi Arabia to put bombs in shopping centers and civilian buses and to try to overthrow Hafez and to even kill him (assassination attempt 26 of June 1980).

Alex ,stop repeating these lies…..you know that 99% of the killed syrian civilians were from the hand of the alawite militias and those who raped the children of syria are known.
The saudis gave billions to the alawite regime,specially during the events of the 80’s when the regime received arround one billion us dollars/year.
The brotherhood have at least a popular legitimacy inside Syria what is the legitimacy of the sectarian alawite regime?
You are only allowed to repeat these lies in post asad Syria…and then we will see how the people will judge you… i hope that you will not be a coward in that time in denying your anti syrian people and pro mukhabarat past.And dont give them the excuse that you are canadian citizen.

September 17th, 2007, 7:20 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

SIMOHURTTA, maybe I didn’t understand you.
When you said “want to be dominated” I thought you meant something like ‘want to be ruled by Israel’ or something similar.

If you do not understand what political and military dominance means, that is your problem.

If we didn’t have any nuclear weapons, a decision to go out to war against Israel could have been taken much easier.
With the WMD, neighboring leaders must calculate their actions more carefully.
So far, this policy has been proving itself pretty well.

This policy fact is the same for all countries. Also for Syria, Iran and Egypt. A situation where only one side has nukes is dangerous. As Martin van Creveld — an Israeli military historian at the Hebrew University in Israel — puts it, “Obviously, we don’t want Iran to have nuclear weapons and I don’t know if they’re developing them, but if they’re not developing them, they’re crazy.”

Since 1973, no Arab army initiated an all out war against Israel – only organizations like Hizbollah in Lebanon or the Palestinian groups in the West Bank & Gaza.

With the exception of 1973 Israel has started all the wars. Hizbollah by the way was fighting against Israel in the occupied Lebanon and finally liberated the country. What comes to Palestinian resistance organizations, what should Palestinians do when Israeli Jews steal their land, kill them and make their life miserable? Al people in the world would eventually resist a such racist and cruel occupation as Israel’s. No doubt about that. Even Ehud Barak has publicly said that if he had born as Palestinian he would have joined a resistance organization.

By the way, the ‘regime’ in Gaza just changed recently – from pro western Fattah to Islamic Hammas.
Now let me ask you this: in light of this ‘regime change’ in Gaza, do you think that the moderate Arab leaders are working more closely with Israel or the opposite way.

Fattah pro Western, I seriously doubt that especially now when Olmert has nothing to deliver to Fattah. On the other hand pro western doesn’t mean pro Israeli. Very few Europeans think from the present days Israel as a part of us. As little as they did from the former South Africa.

As an answer to your question: Are the “moderate” Arab leaders realy working closely with Israel? Having a same enemy is not a sign of a long alliance. It is wishful Israeli thinking.

As for the next 40 years, I’m indeed worried, just as I was 10 and 20 years ago.
As an Israeli, I’m always worried.
It’s part of my DNA, I guess.

Taking out your Holocaust card Israeliguy? Well how worried do you think Palestinians are being harassed and killed by military and and bearded religious (not Arabs) nuts for the next 40 years. Israel’s problem are not only Arabs. The biggest threat for Israel is internal. Israel is getting increasingly religious and extreme. The moderates are beginning to move out. Why would thousand of Israelis yearly take German citizenship when it means abandoning Israeli citizenship?

By the way do you Israeliguy have a second passport? Most Israelis have, why?

September 17th, 2007, 8:35 am

 

Alex said:

Bakri you are not making sense, sorry. You would like to accuse me of not telling the truth, but .. which part of my statement was not true??

Did I ever try to deny that most (over 90%) of the innocent victims were killed in Hama at the hands of the security forces?

But you are the one who can not face the facts … even if “the Arab brothers” supplied the brotherhood with money and weapons and pushed them to try to kill the Syrian president and many other civilians, it does not bother you… let them try to overthrow the Syrian president .. it is ok with you.

Bakri, I hate to say it but, you and I do not have the same hopes for Syria … I am for a strong, secular, peaceful Syria. You are for a Syria that is a client for Saudi Arabia.

There are many Syrians who share your aspirations, and there are many Syrians who share my aspirations. Hopefully one day we will have democracy and find out if Syrians want to live in a secular country or a Wahabi country.

You seem to think I have something for minorities or against Sunni Muslims. Wrong. I like the current Islamic Turkish government as you know. I would have voted for them if I could. Despite the fact they are religious, they don’t force their views on their country.

If you are thinking that the Syrian brotherhood is as civilized and open minded as the Turkish AK party, read Mona Eltahawy’s comparison.

And you said that in the 80’s the Arabs were giving Syria one billion per year? … is this before or after they tried to assassinate Hafez Assad? You don’t remember what Syria went through economically, throughout the 80’s.

Only at the end of the 80’s did they start to open up to Syria again … after Reagan left the white house and the much more reasonable president George Bush Sr. and James Baker showed up.

September 17th, 2007, 9:17 am

 

Bakri said:

Alex ,the butchers of the syrian people desrve to be punished or not?Who in the world killed ,tortured ,raped more syrians than the alawite militias of asad ? more than 50 000 syrians were killed ,girls were raped in front of the eyes of their familly members is that not normal to see a brave syrian to try to avenge the killers of its people ?what saudi arabia have to do with that ,the victims are the syrian people not the saudis,the brotherhood leaders were not even allowed to open an office in saudi arabia and dont play the man who ignore this fact ,you know it better than me,syria was one of the most economically helped country in the third world thanks the saudi and khaliji money from the beginning of the 70’s until the 90’s..and this amount was more important between 1979 and 1989…..

And Alex,the brotherhood are not a new party it’s even one of the oldest political organization entity in syria ,and tell us what u know about the brotherhood behavior before asad criminal rule ?,they were amongst the most respectable personalities in syria…and always have respected the laws of the syrian constitution and the opinion of the syrian people.
Alex,btw the extremist wahhabis(not all of them of course) see the brotherhood as bad moslems or even kafirs and there is a huge literature about this antagonism..And i personally dont know one syrian sheikh killed by the regime who was a wahhabi,because they are a small minority amongst the syrian muslims ,the last one was sheikh al khaznawi who was a sufi as were all the important sheikhs killed by the regime.but say it clearly and honestly Alex,wahhabi excuse is false,your hatred are the syrian moslems as whole and what is syria if you remove them so i’m sorry and i hope that i’m wrong but you are automaticaly anti syria because syria doesnt mean makhlouf ,asad and their economical or sectarian partners…

September 17th, 2007, 9:57 am

 

ausamaa said:

Solomon2, I mean the days when Israel thought that it -supported by its staunch “ally” could rule the whole area forever uncontested by the “meek” locals…

September 17th, 2007, 11:09 am

 

Bakri said:

You don’t remember what Syria went through economically, throughout the 80’s…ask yourself in which pockets all this money had fallen…did u forget in that period their mercedes 600 sel and cadillac limousines ?

If not this curse,the gdp/capita of syria today would be at least 4 times higher and not in the bottom of the arab list with yemen and mauretania and this is a conservative estimation.

September 17th, 2007, 11:59 am

 

Solomon2 said:

ausamaa, this is “Syria Comment”. Don’t you think your flame belongs elsewhere?

September 17th, 2007, 1:49 pm

 

Alex said:

Bakri,

Again, you are accusing me of things that are far from my mentality.

“Hate”? … that thing was never a part of my feelings towards anyone. Not even “the Saudis” that I criticize often. I wish them all the best, I just hope they stop interfering in Syrian affairs! they are a bad influence.

You don’t need to tell me about the brotherhood’s early days. I heard all the details from an older relative who attended Moustapha Al-siba3i first speech in Aleppo in 1951. They were more reasonable of course. But they got furious at the regime becasue it is not “Muslim” and they totally lost it when “the regime” protectd the Christians in Lebanon in 1977.

And they always wanted to mix religion and politics. Although I am a strong believer, I am totally opposed to mixing religion and politics … in Syria, Lebanon, or anywhere.

Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iran, and America under this administration are all sources of future trouble … starting from President Bush who is convinced that God spoke to him and therefore his Iraq war is justified (650,000 Iraqis dead?), and ending with the Saudi wahabi activists who want to make Europe Islamic and consider Indians Kuffar (how many died in Saudi privately financed terrorist attacks around the world?… how come most armed activists carry a Saudi nationality?)… Same with Israel where Mr. Shamir kept calling Palestinians cockroaches and when he would retaliate for a dead Innocent Israeli victim of terror with 10 dead Innocent Palestinian civilians. And Iran where their own religious revolution was part of the reason we had the first Iran Iraq war (saddam being the other part) when hundreds of thousands of young Iraqi and Iranians died …

Mixing religion and politics can lead to disaster in the Middle East … remember the civil war in Lebanon?

You are angry at the tens of thousands who died in Syria, I understand … I am also angry at the millions who died because of religion in the Middle East… do you understand? your enemy is “the regime” that killed tens of thousands, my enemy is extremism and fundamentalism (from any religion) that killed millions.

As for Saudi economic help to Syria in the 80’s … again, you are dreaming. The Saudis helped Syria generously after the 1973 war .. until Syria opposed the Camp David accords and interfered in Lebanon on the side of the Christians. The Camp David part upset the Americans and the Christian help upset the Wahabi Saudis. By 1980 Syria was not getting much from the Saudis. And after Hama in 1981 aid practically stopped. Instead Saudis (not officially) were supporting the Syrian brotherhood while they tried to overthrow Hafez Assad by force. Jordan too the lead (and Saddam too) in helping with weapons.

It was only after the Reagan administration was out and George Bush Sr was in that relations between Syria and Saudi Arabia got warm again. There was the Taif agreement in Lebanon which was the result of a productive cooperation between the Syrians and Saudis, then there was the Kuwait war when Syria helped by sending their elite forces to protect the Saudis …etc, but more importantly, the Americans were close to Assad at the time and the Saudis of course follow America (with a small delay usually) … in boycotting Syria or in befriending and helping Syria.

Plot Syrian American and Syrian Saudi relations on a graph … you will see that they move in the same direction.

Finally, you and Bilal keep reminding us that Syrian Islamists are really a group of harmonious and peaceful Sufis who would live and let live .. you are misleading us my friend.

Some Syrian Islamists are indeed peaceful Sufis, but these are not the politically active ones. The politically active ones are the type who are driven by their anger and need for revenge. Your words above can not hide your feelings … I do not want people like you to get anywhere near power in Syria because you will lead us to civil war, even though you think you are above that… remember how the equally secular Bilal commented on consuming Alcohol in public in Syria “Let them go to hell, and they WILL go to hell”?

September 17th, 2007, 4:36 pm

 

idaf Seif said:

Dear Josh,

Not sure if you are aware of the next move of Dr. Imad Moustapha.
The rumor has it that he is on his exit ( aka yanked ) out of Washington, DC.

Rgds

October 6th, 2007, 10:35 pm

 

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