Landis and Yakoubian on Egypt, Syria and Lebanon: Bloggingheads TV

A New Day in the Middle East?
Mona Yacoubian, United States Institute of Peace
Joshua Landis, Univ of Oklahoma, Syria Comment

A New Day in the Middle East?
Play entire video
Recorded: February 1, 2011 Posted: February 2

Game over: The chance for democracy in Egypt is lost
Posted By Robert Springborg

The threat to the military’s control of the Egyptian political system is passing. Millions of demonstrators in the street have not broken the chain of command over which President Mubarak presides. Paradoxically the popular uprising has even ensured that the presidential succession will not only be engineered by the military, but that an officer will succeed Mubarak.


If Egypt comes under leadership hostile to Israel, the official said, “that would be a real game changer” that would upend the regional balance.
Israelis are already worried that Jordan, the other Arab nation with a peace treaty with the Jewish state, would come under growing pressure to abandon the deal. Jordan’s King Abdullah II dismissed his Cabinet on Tuesday after weeks of demonstrations challenging his regime.

Israel’s adversaries in the region, including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, view the massive protests in Egypt and Jordan as a sign of the weakening position of the Jewish state along with that of its American ally.

“As long as the people have a major say in the future [of the Middle East], then you are going to have a minor say, in the United States,” Mr. Assad said in an interview Sunday in Damascus.

Here is a reminder from Zvi Bar’el (again) .. it will show you a main difference between Assad and Mubarak: Assad is perceived to be on his way to be a winner, … Mubarak lost:


“The two elderly leaders, Abdullah at 84 and Mubarak at 80, are seeing the region they used to lead slipping out of their grip and into that of new players – mavericks over whom they have no sway, bright new stars in the Middle Eastern skies. These include Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is half their age; Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is repositioning the former Ottoman Empire into power; and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is blazing like a menacing meteor over the Arab Middle East. The cardinal Middle Eastern conflicts – between Israel and the Palestinians, within the Palestinian Authority, between Syria and Lebanon, between Syria and Israel, the Iraqi conflict, the Iranian threat – they have all changed hands and are now under new management.””…But the change in the Middle East goes deeper than a personnel turnover in the ranks of those running the strategic regional game. A new Middle Eastern regional order is in the making.”

Comments (18)

Observer said:

People can retrieve my comments in the past
1. The regime needs to be uprooted from its very foundation is something that I wrote a few years back and had the ire of Alex as a response. Now the events in Tunis show that the old guard cannot stay.
2. Whoever takes over has an incredibly difficult task to satisfy the minimum requirements of the average citizen.
3. Corruption and nepotism and absolutely archaic economic policies as Ehsani 2 would have will need to be eradicated fully.

February 3rd, 2011, 3:38 pm


majedkhaldoon said:

I expect, Mubarak will leave tonight or tommorrow morning,this put a successfull end to the Egyptian revolution,and will encourage other countries to do the same.
During the discussion between Mona and Joshua,there is no mention about the outcome of STL indictment and its effect on the regime,specially if it faces revolution.that is when I believe,the day of rage will begin.

February 3rd, 2011, 3:44 pm


Ziadsoury said:

Great article —

Observer, I agree with you.
We can have a democratically elected president (could be Bashar) who will have the same policy. I have not been to Syria for a long time and I will not go back until things change. That is the way I have voted and practiced economical boycott.

Norman, you are right. We will not get the Golan until we prove that we are willing to pay the price. This regime has not proven that and it needs to be dismantled.

Alex, we have very smart people in Syria and outside Syria. Israel fears a real democracy anywhere in the middle east. They had the chance to sign just peace treaties with all of the Arab but refused. The tide is turning and I expect their end in the next 50 or so years. I hate to say and see that but they made it impossible to coexist.

AIG, you are correct when you say we need to determine our future and it will happen in the very near future. If not now it will happen in the next 5 years. You need to look at yourself and examine your values. Israel been the obstacle to peace. They have expected that people will not rise up. Nete can not sleep anymore. The Israeli gov wants to dictate who runs Egypt, SA, Leb, Syria, …. Next. It is over.

February 3rd, 2011, 4:04 pm


Shami said:

If the corrupt dictator doesnt die of natural cause ,a generalized uprising against this regime is the most likely end scenario but it needs a crime from bashar’s gang that will push the people spontaneously in the street ,for example ,if something bad happens to the homsian girl, Tal al Malouhi

February 3rd, 2011, 4:48 pm


ATASSI said:

From Suhair Atassi FACEBOOK page

البارحة 2 شباط 2011 تهجّموا علينا في “اعتصام إضاءة الشموع من سوريا لعيون أحرار مصر”.. اعتصامنا السلمي كان البارحة في في ساحة باب توما في تمام الساعة السادسة مساءً..

من بدأ بالتهجّم علينا في الشارع في ساحة باب توما عرّف عن نفسه بأنه بلطجي.. وطلب منا هو ومن معه من “البلطجية” أن “ننقلع” إلى بيوتنا أو أن نذهب إلى مصر إذا أردنا التضامن معهم..

كانوا أضعافنا.. بدأوا بعملية استفزاز واضحة..

كنا قد استغربنا البارحة بالذات عدم وجود الشرطة كما كانت الحال كل يوم في كل اعتصام..

واستغربنا أيضاً وجود عناصر الأمن من دون كاميرات الفيديو التي كانوا يأتون بها من أجل تصويرنا طيلة الاعتصام..

البارحة عندما رفعت الكاميرا للتصوير أدار “البلطجية” ظهورهم للكاميرا.. ومع ذلك التقطت بعض الصور.. قبل أن يهجموا على الكاميرا ويهددوا بكسرها..

امرأتان مع “البلطجية/ات”… انتقلوا ومن معهم من مرحلة التهديد إلى الشتائم وتوجيه أرذل الكلمات لنا..

وسرعان ما بدأوا بالضرب..

خلعت إحدى الامرأتين “قشاط” البنطال وركضت وراء الصبايا لتنهال عليهن بالضرب وهي تشتم بكلمات لا يمكنني ذكرها…

نحن نركض.. وهم يركضون ويضربون ويشتمون.. والشرطة حيث مخفر الشرطة في نفس ساحة باب توما.. الشرطة تتفرّج..

ذهبنا إلى الشرطة.. وقلنا أننا نريد أن نتقدم بشكوى… كانوا يتفرجون..

دخل البعض منا إلى قسم الشرطة.. أخذوا هوياتنا..

سألونا نحن: “من هم؟؟”.. أجبناهم أنهم كانوا يشاهدون كل شيء وهم يعرفون من هم.. بالتأكيد يعرفون من هم..

وكنا قد انتبهنا أنه عندما حاول شرطي الاقتراب مما يحصل قال له أحدهم: “نحن أمن.. ابتعد”.. فابتعد…

عندها قلت أننا نريد أن نقدم شكوى من شقّين: الشق الأول أن عناصر الأمن أرسل “زعران” من أجل التعرّض لنا في الشارع وإنهاء الاعتصام السلمي التضامني بهذه الطريقة.. والشق الثاني أن الشرطة تفرّجت وصمتت..

صاروا يغيبون ويعودون.. يغيبون ويعودون..

ثم طلبوا من البقية الخروج من الغرفة على أساس أنهم يريدون الحديث معي وأخذ إفادتي..

وبعد مرور بعض الوقت (تقريباً نصف ساعة وربما أقل) دخل رجل بملابس مدنية ومعه اثنين آخرين.. رفض التعريف عن نفسه.. وأغلق عليّ باب الغرفة.. وبدأ بالشتائم.. سمعت كلمات بعمري لم أسمع بها..

اتهمني بأن لي “مواقع مخترقة من إسرائيل”.. وأنني “حشرة” و”جرثومة” وأعمل ضد البلد..

تهجّم عليّ لأنني كنت أجيبه على كل كلمة.. هجم على وجهي ووضع رجله فوق الطاولة.. وعندما تهجّم على وجهي بيده ضربتها.. فقام بصفعي صفعة قوية على خدي الأيسر.. واستمر بالشتائم بل وزاد بها…

تحدث مع أحدهم.. قال له: “سيدي.. وقحة كتير..”… أقفل الخط.. فتح الشنطة بعنف وأخذ منها الموبايل والكاميرا.. قال أنني موقوفة.. وأخرج الموبايل والكاميرا إلى خارج الغرفة..

عاد وهدّد تهديده الأخير بأن “أنوقّع من اللحظة وبأي وقت أن يأتي أحدهم ليقتلني وأنا أقف في الشارع ليريح الوطن من جرثومة مثلي”.. ثم غادر هو ومن معه…

بعد قليل.. فتحوا الباب.. طلبوا مني الخروج.. شاهدت علامات الأسف في عيون أحد ضباط الشرطة ولكنه مغلوبٌ على أمره..

التقيت بالأصدقاء.. أتى رئيس قسم الشرطة.. أعاد إلينا الهويات وأعاد إلي الموبايل والكاميرا بعد أن مسحوا منها الصور..

كلمة واحدة قلتها وأنا أخرج.. يا لبؤس الشرطة “الني في خدمة الشعب”.. أتينا إليها لنشتكي على اعتداء تعرّضنا له في الشارع، وكانت النتيجة أن يتمّ الاعتداء عليّ بالضرب والشتم والتهديد بالقتل داخل مخفر الشرطة!!!!

يا بلدنا يا بلد!!!!!!!!

سهير الأتاسي!/notes/suhair-atassi/hmat-aldyar-lykm-slam-abt-an-tdhl-alnfws-alkram/10150097212914787

February 3rd, 2011, 5:08 pm


Shami said:

Mubarak doesnt want the end of Ben Ali but whatever ,the egyptian people have overcome the era of the family regime, the one party system and the emergency law.

February 3rd, 2011, 5:16 pm


AIG said:


The Israeli government knows it cannot dictate who will rule the Arab countries and I agree with you that change is inevitable, but the road to a true democracy will be long and in the case of Syria I fear very bloody.

Real democratic regimes in Arab countries will be a boon to Israel and the middle east. However, to get there there we would probably need to pass a long period of Islamist rule in quite a few Arab countries, especially Egypt and Syria. I think that these Islamic countries will be just as weak as the current dictatorships, if not weaker, and therefore Israel has nothing to fear.

February 3rd, 2011, 5:18 pm


Jad said:

What is the point of Suhair story?! Don’t we all know that our police and security service personels are not from Geneva!
Did you get a permission to protest?
What are you protesting for?
I’m sorry that you had to deal with those thugs called Amn, but you got what you are truly asking for, Confrontation.

February 3rd, 2011, 5:22 pm


Friend in America said:

The following conversation was reported in an American newspaper this morning. A 26 year old protester in Cairo told the reporter he met a 58 year old Mubarak supporter yesterday on the bridge over the square where the 2 sides were confronting each other.
supporter: why are you here? Why are you not at work?
protester: I am fed up with no opportunities for me.
supporter: do you have a job?
protester: yes
supporter: how much do you earn?
protester: 300 E pounds ($51 USD) a month
supporter: you have enough.
protester: Do I? If I asked your daughter to marry me and then asked for your permission, would you let me marry your daughter?
supporter: no. You are too poor
protester: that is why I am here.

February 3rd, 2011, 5:37 pm


Averroes said:

Suhair’s story is unfortunate for sure. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: the tools the regime has are limited, crude, and primitive, and they need not be so. We can do much better.

I trust president Assad, and I also like him a lot. I think he’s earned a lot of credit in the last few years.

A major area that I think he needs to address is human resource development. This includes the security officers as well. These people should be trained on how to handle situations like the one above. The vast majority of them do not get this kind of training and act and react in raw, crude ways that end up causing a lot of damage.

Protestors also have a share of the blame, in my opinion. Many protestors come from upper middle class families and they dress, look, and act in significantly different ways that the average Syrian citizen on the streets. They approach the ‘amn people with an attitude of disgust, they look down on them, and they make sure they know that they despise them. This also does not need to be so, as it will inevitably aggravate the security personnel and will cause unnecessary friction.

One can argue that it’s the government’s role to also teach people manners and politeness, and in some way it is. But for sure, almost all of us Syrians are guilty of poor manners on the streets. Let’s at least agree on that. We really need to introduce more gentleness into our ways of communications.

I know of one example of a Syrian doctor/philosopher who in his youth was an Ikhwanji. The guy was (and still is) a very talented narrator and thinker. But he has an ego the size of Antarctica, and he used extremely sharp and degrading language with his police handlers and interrogators. What do you expect? He got payback, and the cycle kept escalating until he fled the country and now lives in Saudi Arabia. He really did not have to (he had nothing serious on him), but such bad manners have indeed led to really bad results. Now he writes viciously against the Syrian regime, and all of it really did not have to happen.

Suhair’s story is one sided, but if you were there on location, I’m willing to bet that her group more than likely were guilty of some of what I described here. The “Amn” guys were of course guilty as well.

I go to Syria and I watch how people talk to one another in so many cases. It does not have to be this way.

February 3rd, 2011, 6:01 pm


Shami said:

anybody whith some morals despise such scum.

It becomes very insulting that “menhebak” people are trying any sort of relativization ,by diminishing the syrian people as a people of thieves ,religious fanatics or agents of imperialism in order to make scum look better.

February 3rd, 2011, 8:59 pm


Majhool said:

AVERROES is asking for a smarter and better qualified oppressors? Very idiotic indeed.

The idiot, already condemned Suheir of arrogance and contempt for the humble. Note the humble has a gun and is denying the lady her rights. Let alone using violence.

Of all the crimes in Syria and all the corruption, AVERROES justifies that this nice lady gets beaten up and learn good learn manners.

How about elections? Maybe then you and others like you will earn some respect.

February 3rd, 2011, 9:04 pm


majedkhaldoon said:

the weather in syria,it is expected to rain,at time heavy, for the next three days,for that do not expect anything.

February 3rd, 2011, 10:05 pm


Norman said:


There are polite people and rude people everywhere and in Syria there are polite people and rude ones as there are in the US , the problem is not dealing with others the way we like to be dealt with, but i agree with you that there is some resentment between the AMN and some of the people who think that they are from (( Good Families )) and are entitled ,

The problem with the Syrian government is that the way they treat people they consider in the opposition gives these people more statue , i would not have heard about any of these people if they were not abused , it is time for the Syrian government to play smart and destroy people’s reputation instead of physically doing so.

February 3rd, 2011, 10:15 pm


Norman said:

Hey Majid,

Doesn’t that mean that GOD loves Bashar Assad,i would think so.

February 3rd, 2011, 10:18 pm


Averroes said:

Your royal highness @ 11:
Thank you for confirming my point. Did not really expect anything better from you anyway.

Majhool @ 12:
You’re calling me an idiot. Thank you for making my point as well, sir. I think if you read my post carefully you will see that I am not condemning Suhair, and I’m not justifying what the police did.

Some people are just so full of hate, it blinds their hearts from listening and their eyes from seeing. Such people in a place of power would be very dangerous indeed.

February 3rd, 2011, 10:37 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Ziadsoury said to AIG:

You need to look at yourself and examine your values. Israel been the obstacle to peace.


What “values” are you referring to? Can you be more specific?

Also, Israel has signed peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt. How is that an “obstacle to peace”? And what if Egypt or Jordan broke their agreements with Israel, who, then would be accused of being an “obstacle to peace”?

Is Israel and “obstacle to peace” because the PA refuses to negotiate and the Syrian government refuses to end their diplomatic ties with Iran?

“Day of Silence”:

February 4th, 2011, 7:33 am


Angelis Dania said:

No doubt, the ‘Amn’ handled that situation extremely poorly to say the least. They accuse Suhair of working for Israeli interests/agendas, but they make the same mistake as some of the Israelis. That is, through their actions they encourage resistance, rebellion and hatred of the regime that they say they are protecting.

If there was really some national security related reason for stopping that protest, then it could have been done in a much smoother way, and without degradation, abuse, and humiliation.

Still, going through the proper channels would have avoided much, though hindsight is 20/20.

February 9th, 2011, 6:19 pm


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