Landis and Badran Debate Syria on “Radio Times” with Marty Moss-Coane

Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane, WHYY (Philadelphia's NPR Station.) Monday, September 10

50 minutes
Should the US seek better relations with Syria? Some Middle East analysts say Syria is in a key position to help the US on both Iraq and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Other say, Syria can't be trusted and diplomatic isolation is the more prudent approach. We'll debate this with JOSHUA LANDIS, an assistant professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Oklahoma University and TONY BADRAN a research fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Listen to this show via Real Audio | mp3

Comments (17)

Samo said:

Tony Badran’s sole purpose in life is to rant against Syria. Even amongst the most dogmatic of pundits, not many measure up to him in their hate and sheer inability to be objective and fair.

September 10th, 2007, 7:35 pm


Alex said:


مشان الله روح كمل شهادتك الدكتوراه و انسى سوريا و لبنان

You’ll need it next year when there is no more Neocon money to hire you to badmouth Syria everywhere. You do sound like a paid PR agent for neocon ideology… not very fashionable these days.

And it would help you a lot if you can mature enough to be able to say “I was wrong” like Joshua did when he neutralized your well researched quotes of his older opinions about Syrian role in some of the violent incidents in Lebanon.

September 10th, 2007, 7:48 pm


Tony Khabbaz said:

I am very much anti-Syrian regime but I must say you wiped his ass in this debate. This guy Tony Badran seems to have serious mental issues. He is way too biased. I think no decent university will give him tenure. He speaks like a lobbyist ot a propagandist and is definitely not an academic.

September 10th, 2007, 8:26 pm


Alex said:


Try senior Arab journalist, Raghida Dergham from Alhayat LBC

This week she attended a luncheon in NYC which focused on ways to talk to Syria. As Israeli and American experts tried to explain how it is impossible to do anything in the Middle East without Syria, and how Syria is really not that bad a player, Raghida was nervous, bitter and frequently raising her hands to say ” AS a Lebanese I object” .. or “as a Lebanese, I am deeply offended”

September 10th, 2007, 8:47 pm


Alex said:

Time Magazine concentrates on the Iran bombing exercise hypothesis.

Why Did Israeli Planes Enter Syria?

But northern Syria is a long way from the traditional Arab-Israeli frontline, suggesting that the mission was of sufficient importance to endanger air crews and risk a serious escalation of tensions with Damascus. Mohammed Raad, a senior Hizballah official, suggested that the overflight was an attempt to “identify an aggressive aerial passage” for an air strike against Iran. Analysts long have pondered the potential flight routes Israeli bombers would take in the event of a decision to target Iran’s nuclear sites. Given the limitations of aircraft range, one option would be flying directly across Jordan and/or Saudi Arabia and through U.S.-patrolled Iraqi skies. Neither the Saudis and Jordanians would shed tears if Iran’s nuclear capability was destroyed in an air strike, but they could not afford to be seen as having granted the Israelis safe passage though their skies.

An alternative would be to follow the Turkish-Syrian border eastward to Iraqi Kurdistan, and then on to Iran. According to John Pike of, the many technical and political factors in play make it difficult to predict which route the Israelis might choose. “At this level of technical detail, one starts to get thinking about what sort of weapons would be carried, and what sort of drag this imposes and how that affects combat range,” Pike told TIME.

Even if it were not related to a bombing route, the purpose of Israel’s unusual air mission last week may yet be related to Iran. In August, Syria reportedly received from Russia the first batch of 50 Pantsyr S1E short-range air defense systems, part of an alleged sale worth almost $1 billion. The deal is said to have been financed by Iran, which reportedly will receive from Syria some of the Pantsyr units and deploy them to protect its nuclear facilities. The recently developed Pantsyr, which its Russian manufacturers claim is immune to jamming, includes surface-to-air missiles and 30mm gatling guns, providing complete defensive coverage for a range of 11 to 12 miles and 6 miles in altitude. Pantsyr batteries could pose a serious challenge to either an Israeli or a U.S. air strike on Iran. So were the Israeli aircraft playing a perilous game of chicken to assess the capabilities of the Pantsyr system in response to their countermeasures? Some in Syria believe so.

“There seems to be a consensus here that the Israelis were testing Syrian air defense systems,” Andrew Tabler, Damascus-based editor of Syria Today, told TIME.

Whatever their purpose, the overflights appear to have dashed hopes of cooling Israeli-Syrian tensions. Having absorbed the lessons of Israel’s failure to crush Hizballah during last summer’s month-long war, Syria has been building up its military capabilities in recent months, purchasing advanced anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles. Veteran Hizballah instructors have been helping train crack Syrian commando units in guerrilla warfare, according to Lebanese intelligence sources. Syria’s growing military confidence has been further bolstered by defense agreements with Iran. Some Israelis worry that Syria, sidelined by the U.S. and Washington’s Arab allies in regional peacemaking efforts, could launch a lightning strike against Israel in order to push to the top of the diplomatic agenda its ongoing quest to recover territory captured by Israel in 1967.

Hizballah, meanwhile, has spent the past year frenetically restocking its war-depleted arsenal, preparing new lines of defense and recruiting and training hundreds of eager volunteers in anticipation of a second round with Israel. Commentators in Lebanon and Syria believe that Israel’s need to restore its battered military deterrence has heightened the prospect of an attack on Syria. Writing in Monday’s Syrian state-run Tishreen newspaper, Ezzieddine Darwish said that the Israeli government is seeking to provoke a war with Syria to “wash away the shame of Israel’s defeat in Lebanon”. Indeed, many Lebanese, Syrians and Israelis are no longer asking if a war will happen, only when and how.

September 10th, 2007, 8:54 pm


SimoHurtta said:

23:35 Witnesses say Syria turning Iraqi refugees away at border (Reuters)

Seems that Syria is refusing to operate as USA’s blow-off valve with Iraq. What would USA do if Syria and Iran would totally seal the borders and force the refugees to return and stop the trade? A couple of million pissed off and frightened returning refugees would be a real “surge” for Bush’s boys.

September 10th, 2007, 9:29 pm


Alex said:

Damascus: IAF planes dropped live ammunition on Syria during flyover

By Barak Ravid and Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondents, and the Associated Press

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said Monday that Israel Air Force warplanes dropped live ammunition during an alleged violation of Syrian airspace in the early hours of Thursday.

Muallem, who was addressing a press conference in Ankara along with his Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan, was quoted Monday as accusing Israel of having carried out an intentional and hostile act.

Meanwhile, former MK Azmi Bishara said Monday he believes Israel carried out an operation in Syira. “Without getting carried away in speculation, this was an aerial operation, not an [airspace] violation in order to send a message,” he wrote in an article published on the Syrian Web site Sham-Fares
Bishara wrote that the operation was extremely serious, and that it could become a pretext for certain Lebanese or Syrian officials to go to war.

The Balad chairman added that that Israel’s silence on the issue is unusual. “Israel has wrapped itself in silence and imposed this path on even the most talkative politicians, as the quiet after the storm could become the quiet before the storm,” he wrote.

Bishara listed several potential targets for the operation: arms smuggling, anti-aircraft systems, or missile systems. Alternatively, Bishara wrote, Israel may have been testing Syrian air defenses in order to map out a route for an air strike on Iran

September 10th, 2007, 10:13 pm


Ralph M. Alph said:

Dr. Landis: The only question I have for you is why Tony Badran and the squadrons of his conniving neocon colleagues continue to show up regularly on the media and frame the issues, rather than being vigorously sodomized at least 12 hours a day in a Turkish prison?

September 11th, 2007, 2:43 am


sam said:

There is no way Israel needs to fly over three countries to get to Iran, they will take off from Baghdad with unmarked F-15. for the alternate route to Iran theory, shoot it down. The IAF would have gone over Syria in 1981, if they had the ability. Why is the Isreali govt so queit. That’s really scarey, there using arab skills. I pray it they didn’t do it because of trying to provoke a war, using shot dowm aircraft as pretext. That means war is around the corner, time to bring the family back home, there’s no zaitun anyway this season.

September 11th, 2007, 4:03 am


Leila A. said:

There’s no zaitun this season? Leh ba’a? The crop failed or you’re talking politics? Insha’allah the crop didn’t fail. And where are you?

September 11th, 2007, 5:22 am


Leb Christian said:

Well that was an interesting debate. I have to say though, you didn’t fare very well Josh. Badran exposed your contradictions and your apologetic discourse for Syria.

I think you should be having more of these debates 🙂

September 11th, 2007, 8:32 am


Souha said:

The Bey was able to rant for 25 minutes hardly expressing an opinion. It was really funny when Moss-Coane had to beg him for an opinion when all he wanted to do was “expose” you. Very girl-teen like too with his constant chuckling.

Why do you agree to debate him, Josh? You give him free advertisement.

September 11th, 2007, 9:29 am


Joshua said:

The Zaitoun failed. A leaf mold has spread along the coast. My father-in-law’s orchard has been pretty much wiped out for the last two years. He does it as a past-time and for family consumption so he has not gotten in specialists to spray and treat the trees. I don’t know how easy it is to stop this mold or the prospects for future crops are. Everyone is lamenting.

September 11th, 2007, 1:40 pm


norman said:

Olive treas in spain have the same problem.

September 11th, 2007, 4:06 pm


idaf said:

Leb Christian,

Badran only exposed his lack of objectivity, his poor academic credibility, his bigotry, his bad language and his superiority complex.

On the olive season this year, according to my friend (who is a powerful olive merchant in Idlib) the main cause of the bad season this year was the heavy rain in the wrong reason and the drought during the raining season in the Levant this year! He also attributed the high olive oil prices this year to the fact that a large numbers of Spanish and Italian olive oil merchants and producers bought unprecedented amounts of Syrian olive and oil to repackage it as Spanish/Italian olive oil to meet the demands they have given the bad season in the rest of the Mediterranean as well.

September 11th, 2007, 4:27 pm


Leila A. said:

My late father was upset about the spring rains here in California in 2006 that he said would mess up the olives. Then he died around the time of the harvest and none of us thought about it. Between the Lebanon war, his death and the other deaths in the family I never considered the olive harvest in Cali or anywhere else.

I am sorry about the blight and I hope next year is better insha’allah.

September 12th, 2007, 4:45 am


Antoun said:

Just listened to the debate.

Tony Badran is completely blinded by his hatred of Syria. It’s virtually impossible for him to give an objective or informative analysis on the Middle East. Even if the discussion was about Kuwait, he’d find some way to bring Lebanon and Syria into it.

Also, Badran suffers from a typical right-wing Lebanese disease called “Lebo-centricism”. Everything in the world centres on Lebanon. Lebanon is so great and important that it’s at the heart of this planet. The Iraq war isn’t about Iraq, it’s about Lebanon. The Palestine conflict isn’t about Palestine, it’s about Lebanon. The Golan Heights aren’t about Syria, they’re about Lebanon.

Another key Lebanese symptom he demonstrated was his struggling ability to listen and respect the opponent’s point of view. Lebanese tend not to listen to each other, hence the civil wars and the current paralysis.

How do I know all this? I’m Lebanese.

September 13th, 2007, 11:51 am


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