Landis at CFR in NYC

I will be in NYC from Wednesday to Saturday for a conference at the Council on Foreign Relations, discussing Lebanon and Syria.

I have been asked to answer three questions:

1. Can renewed Civil War in Lebanon be averted?

2. Is an independent Lebanon possible?

3. Can Syria be "flipped."

Let me know what you think before Friday?

Comments (161)

Nur al-Cubicle said:

I’ll be back later…just wanted to say that Sarkozy spent the whole day Tuesday in Washington trying to convince Bush to stop pushing for the unconstitutional election of the Lebanese president by absolute majority and to accept a compromise candidate to be elected legally by a 2/3 majority.

Even Cardinal Sfeir has declared that electing a president by absolute majority would be wrong.

November 7th, 2007, 5:14 am


mo said:

what do they mean by flipped???

November 7th, 2007, 5:19 am


Morgan said:

Mo- see the David Brooks article further down the page
“America’s friends in the region will try to flip Syria out of the Iranian orbit by offering it the re-conquest of Lebanon.”
Would a renewal of influence over Lebanon offer be sufficient, given how easily Syria was removed last time? I doubt it.
Getting Syria out of the Iranian orbit would mean getting them to give up their most powerful bargaining item- the chess equivalent of a Queen sacrifice. You don’t do that unless you are really desperate, or you see a certain win as a result. Syria’s not desperate, so Condi would have to put something really serious on the table, like the Golan. All the way to the riverbank. Can’t see that happening myself …

November 7th, 2007, 7:07 am


omar said:

Hey Josh:

I live in Lebanon, purebred Lebanese, and know quite a lot of people, which should give some credence for what I’m about to say.

1. Civil War? I suppose if the question were phrased “Is civil war about to happen in Lebanon?” my answer would be: war no, strife yes.

Not that I was old enough to remember how people felt in the 1970s, but from what I understand, the tension that existed back then between people just simply doesn’t exist anymore. The so-called ‘deep split’ in the country (between the 14ers and the 8ers) is really relegated to the vast minority which motivated to action by tribal loyalties more than anything else. Granted, those few people are all you need to cause strife. You’ll probably see some chaos on the streets…but I doubt you’ll get a full-blown civil war (remember Black Thursday).

2. Independent in which sense? Any student of political science will tell you that postindustrial governments are never truly ‘independent’ but are rather one among many influencers of a pluralistic society. Free from Syrian influence you ask? Not as long as Syrian relevence depends on its abitlity to control (self-generated) chaos.

3. Yes it can, but it might ‘flip out’ in the process. Syria, Iraq, even KSA to some extent, are all tribal societies with local loyalties that transcend the number of years a person spends studying engineering. Add poverty to the equation, and frankly, it’s no wonder Iraq fell out of control. As much as I dislike Syria, removing the regime will definitely cause the country to flip out of control. Already Bashar has been sidelined within the country and it’s the old-guard running the show. Perhaps a series of targeted assasinations against these ‘rogue elements’ to bolster Bashar would be a good solution?

My two cents…

November 7th, 2007, 7:43 am


Youssef Hanna said:


You may not wish to provide the questioner with the combined response he maybe expects/invites: “as Lebanon is on the path of renewed civil war and unfit for independence, Syria shd be flipped away from Iran, and given back the keys of Beirut”.

Is Syrian regime dictatorship the way to ward organically chasmed Lebanon of civil war (and simultaneously achieve regional peace)?

The other way of putting the question is: was Irak organically chasmed / structurally unfit for independence, thus promised to an unavoidable civil war, in such a manner that the previous dictatorship was necessary to rein it and govern it against itself, lest its devils wake up and burn it to ashes? or is it, all to the contrary, the Baathi dictatorship itself that nurtured, through brutal repression and delayed development, accumulated frustrations and poverty, the devils that were later freed from the Baathi bottle by the US invasion and opened the civil war?

I agree, Syria & Lebanon shd follow the same route if they r to fulfil a joint ambition; i shamefully adopt the motto coined by the Syrian regime and echoed by the Lebanese puppet government of then: wi7dat el massaar i wal massiir (United Path, United Destiny)

I adopt it, but only to reverse it: if we long the day when Syria and Lebanon can consensually constitute together the nucleus of a future Arab Union, then conquering Napoleonic and Hitlerian dictatorships failed in unifying Europe, an ambition that democracies instead built together through free and consensual agreement.

Joshua, tell them: It is democracy that shd be helped florish in Syria, not dictatorship helped return to Lebanon.

With my thanks for friendly and democratically associating us to your thinking,

November 7th, 2007, 8:19 am


Alex said:

1. Can renewed Civil War in Lebanon be averted?

Yes .. with difficulty.

A solution for Lebanon can only be a part of a comprehensive “deal” mainly with Syria, but involving Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Untied States.

Although the Syrians and Americans don’t seem to be ready to sit and talk, mediators, like France and Russia can manage to convince America and Saudi Arabia to accept someone who is friendly to Syria .. not “pro” Syria, but a friend.

a “deal” sounds like a dirty thing to do .. but it is not. Syria talks on behalf of half of the Lebanese … a deal with Syria will not be at the expense of those Lebanese … it will be a deal with the Lebanese opposition through Syria.

Lebanon’s decision making process rarely works by itself without external sponsorship. Syria and France did most of that in the past .. Saudi Arabia and the United States are in charge lately… and they are certainly not doing a good job.

This time we are hearing the Syrians and the Europeans saying that they want to leave it up to the Lebanese themselves to make that decision … sounds good but it is not doable. The Lebanese do not know how to reach a compromise. Why? because they don’t really understand who is more powerful and who can force the weaker others to accept his wishes … many Lebanese leaders this week are sounding like they made up their minds and they will not accept to compromise! … how will they decide? … by convincing one of the two sides that they are not the more powerful side after all. How do you do that peacefully?

Through outside interference… when there is a will in Washington to act in a constructive way.

2. Is an independent Lebanon possible?

Not the way it is now. Either they accept a Syrian/Saudi (or American) co-management or they reform their complex political system towards a real democracy (one-man one vote).

3. Can Syria be “flipped.”

No .. Syria does not easily betray its faithful allies … never did. study the past.

But Syria AND IRAN can be flipped.

Ahmadinejad is in power only as long as the neocons are in power. As soon as a friendly administration replaces the current one, Iran and Syria and Hizbollah will all be eager to reciprocate. Ahmadinejad will resign and a very civilized Iranian president will replace him. That will be the end of the theatrics which have been getting on the nerves of the Americans and Israelis.

I imagine the Iranian Nuclear program could be limited to peaceful applications if a wider deal between the Untied States and Iran is reached.

To conclude:

America has three options

1) Burn the whole region… start with a strike on Iran or another Lebanon war

2) Ask James Baker to take over foreign policy… he knows what to do.

3) live with a temp non-solution in Lebanon until the next administration in Washington takes over.

Option 2 is not compatible with this stubborn and dogmatic administration.

I am hoping for option number 3 … if we are lucky

November 7th, 2007, 8:26 am


Joe M. said:

In some ways i agree with alex, in others i disagree. below are my immediate thoughts.

1. Can renewed Civil War in Lebanon be averted?
I think there is a very low chance of a civil war. It costs very little to puff your feathers, but an actual war has major costs. Plus, i can’t seen any conceivable way to end a war if it starts and is truly sectarian in nature. Maybe by census, but there are too many barriers to that.

But more importantly, there is no one to fight. maybe Jumblatt’s faction and the Geagea forces are building up for a fight, but there simply is not a Shia enemy to fight. Hizbullah is too mature to sustain a war with an internal opponent. During the war of the camps, hizbullah tried hard to stop the fighting. and most of the fighting was because they were battling for turf. But it’s not a matter of real estate today. so I can’t see much possibility of an actual civil war breaking out. Now, there might be some very limited clashes here and there (like the few people dying in the protests a couple months back), but a war is a much much bigger project. and there is momentum to puff up your power (for the reasons alex talked about, in terms of compromise), but not for an actual fight.

2. Is an independent Lebanon possible?
I agree with alex. it is only possible with a new census and a one-man-one-vote system that has credibility. Also, the institutions have to strengthen considerably. Hizbullah will have to take power in the short term, because otherwise they will not integrate their forces into the army. without that, there will just be too much incentive for outside powers to manipulate internal divisions. so, is an independent lebanon possible? not really.

3. Can Syria be “flipped.”
The premise of this question is mistaken. Syria is not in need of being flipped. Actually, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi, Fatah and the Khalegies need to be flipped. Syria has the proper policies. This is evidence by it’s support of the popular movements in the region, like Hamas and Hizbullah. If syria was “flipped” it would be anti-democratic and destructive to the region. So, again, the premise was wrong and the flipping needs to go the other way. If Bush was flipped (and dropped out of a window), that would be best. but i will not hold my breath for that.

November 7th, 2007, 9:06 am


Abhinav said:

I think the most important element that must be discussed, and which is central to all three questions, is – What does the Bush administration really want?

All the internal forces within Lebanon are well acquainted with each others’ strengths and weaknesses and would be able to reconcile – if they are not made pawns in a larger regional escalation between the US and Iran/Syria. The Lebanese civil war, for example, was remarkably different from 1975-1978, from 1979-1981, and from 1982-1990, due largely to the level and intensity of foreign involvement in the domestic crises.

To pretend that the Lebanese or Syrians are independent players in a scenario in which the US is completely benign is, well, a fraud.

– Abhinav

November 7th, 2007, 9:38 am


Youssef Hanna said:


Abandoning an alliance when circumstances change and in the light of the State’s moving interests is the very sign of independence. Dogs r faithfull, States r not. Syria’s present inability to “betray” could be not the manifestation of a moral penchant for faithfulness, but the more prosaic sign that it lost its maneuvering leeway.

Far from a sentimentalist approach of “never betraying good friends”, the late Hafez Syria always pragmatically managed, not at all to be “flipped” like a coin, but to stay mobile in alliances, contrary to its present ossified stance.

If this ossification spares Lebanon a Syrian regime’s “friend” for President, then the international tribunal will put an end to three decades of assassinations that drew most of their nocivity from the impossibility to catch and judge the murderer, i.e from that the cop and the murderer were seemingly one and the same.

Restored faith in the State is the basis for independence, or Lebanon will stay open to foreign interference like Irak, weakened by the divorce between the population and the State, was invaded in 3 weeks.

Overcoming sectarian divides will then come very naturally but as a result of maturity and evolution, not hastiness and revolution.

Will the international tribunal, and the march towards the construction of the State generally, be halted by civil war?

Hezballa may wish to avoid an unwinnable strife, or the dream of governing Lebanon with Sunnis, the dream of an Islamic government some day, the dream that Xstians, West’s Trojan Horses, will be sidelined or forced to emigrate to the West, will fade away for some generations. An armed feud between Sunnis’ Xstians and Shias’ Xstians as a substitute for the direct confrontation may spill over, and will be hopefully avoided/contained for that reason.

Obviously the international community shd work on reducing the risk, through helping to the election of a President, hopefully by consensus, and failing which through constitutional means.

November 7th, 2007, 10:00 am


a Duoist said:

‘Flip’ Syria? Why bother? Syria only holds interest for as long as Iran can avoid provoking ‘pre-emption.’ The clock in Damascus keeps Tehran time; ‘pre-emption’ in Iran will cost Syria dearly.

And if Kurdistan is able to get an American military base in the general area of the Iraqi/Syrian/Turkish border, say by mid-2009 (partition talks can legally begin in mid-2008), what is Syria to do? Unleash Hezbollah? Invade Lebanon? Attack Israel? Anything Syria does to realize ‘Greater Syria’ will attract the attention of a battle-hardened, thoroughly experienced, American military, closely allied with Turkey, Iraq, Israel and Jordan.

‘Flip’ Syria? Ask the new president of France if he thinks anyone should bother about Syria. M. Sarkozy just might offer: Taking care of Tehran takes care of Damascus, and the Iranians seemed determined to provoke pre-emption, dooming Syria’s ambitions.

November 7th, 2007, 10:41 am


ausamaa said:

The answers to the CFR Riddles:

1- There are no real prospects for a Lebanese Civil War. Cry Wolf? Lots of it going on, but the Wolf is not going to come out of its hole. There is continuous threats of course (which can escalate, and has escelated, to the levele of limited incidents) by the pro-US forces and the “moderats”, the aim of most of it to create a “scare”, but most of the Lebanese posssible/probable combtants lack the WILL and the MEANS. The Balannce of Power internally is so tilted to one side only. Real MILITARY cability belongs to Hizbullah alone and you can not create an opposing army of mercenaries no matter how much money you manage to pour in. Some are acting as the US mouthpiece, but would they spill their blood for the sake of an untrusted neo-con gambit? Hell, who in his right mind would want to go against the wide coalition of Hizbullah, Amal, Marada, Nasserits, SSNP, Comunists, and non-Hariri Sunnies (Aount not counted)? With the Palestinians who are the second Military Force would of course eventually find themselves in this anti-US camp. A small of the low probaility such an internal military strife can be found ii the acceptance of the Eorupean countries to increase their number in Lebanon by thousands following the July War. They know what they are getting into, and if they thought then that a real possibility of Civil or Other war exsist, you would not see them still lounging there untill now).

2- Is an independent Lebanon possible? Of course, it has been and it still can, and it will continue. But Lebanon does not exist in a vaccume, and given historical, social, political and economic factors, a certain degree of strong Syrian influence there has to be expected and lived with.

3- Can Syria be flipped? A simple NO.! Wether “flipped” means Crushed, Bought or Slinced.

a-Through Forign Pressure:
Based simply on past experience, be it the State’s perception of its strength, its past defiance and resistance to extreme threats, both forigne and brotherly,(which at times represented CLEAR and PRESENT Danger) or be it the Syrian People’s demonstrated understanding of those threats and their willingliness to Support the government during tough times. Same position from the 1967 war, through 1973, through the Iran-Iraq war untill no. If the “flipped” is in reference to Syria’s alliances and allies, forget it. You just dont understand Syria. The Regime has overwhelmongly proven to be too Consistant in its vision and approach, and strong enough to Hold to it in the face of all.
b-Through instigating internal strife:
The regime has both the military and the political poewer. No grass root opposition exists. The Syrian people see the regime as “livable” with despite the many shortcomings.
c-Through an Israeli Strike:
If this was possible, Israel would have done it since day one. Or day two or day three, or day hundred. Let us stop kidding ourselves that Israel can “destroy” the regime but is afraid of what might come in its place! This is pure B.S. It would have tried if it though it could acceptably win. Israel simply does not want any “strong” Syria period. Israel knows that the enemy of Israel is the Syrian people, and the Arab not only the Leadeship. Show me an Arab “Population” that does not identify Israel as an ENEMY? Why does Israel strongly object and try to stiffle any attempt to Arm even Saudi Arabia? Israel knows the enemy is the Arabs not only some of the Arab governments.

Can Syria be Changed or Modified through a dialouge that gurantees its Syrian and its “wider” Arab interests? Perhaps, or rather a strong yes. Like any other country in the world. But are the intentions of those who want to “flip” Syria run in the interest of Syria or do they run against those interests? If the “intentions” were good, the word “filpped” would not have come to mind as an appropriate choice of words!

Finally, isnt too late in the game today to ask if Syria can be flipped???? How long have we been at it????


November 7th, 2007, 11:09 am


fadal said:

1. Can renewed Civil War in Lebanon be averted?

No. because in the first place there will be no civil war at all. syria will not stand the pressure and HA will not be able to fight normal civilians in Lebanon. a new president will be elected according to the terms of France and USA rather than syria and Iran.
2. Is an independent Lebanon possible?
of course. when syria stops acting like a guardian of lebanon and stop giving lessons about freedom and occupation. is that possible? sure when the syrian elite feels the chair under them not safe, they are ready to do so at what ever cost.
3. Can Syria be “flipped.”
100% sure. “see history” and “under the table deals”. they handed Oujlan to turkey after a militery threat. they closed Hams offices in Damscus. they handed hundred of iraqis to USA in iraq. but with iran, it is not that easy because their partner is the one who has the power to do so. this time they are the weak side. yet they have the potentials to do so as long as it does not affect their public image as the “last castle of arabism, “steadfastnessism”, “defencefisim””.

November 7th, 2007, 12:18 pm


5 said:

WIll Hezbollah tolerate the Koleit military base and deep encroachment in Baabda without resistance?

November 7th, 2007, 1:46 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Hello Josh,
Few questions can have simple binary answers. Yours are among them:

1. NO
2. NO
3. NO

I can give you the names of several good restaurants in the Big Apple to spend the extra time!!

November 7th, 2007, 1:47 pm


JimR said:

1) Maybe isolated incidents or clashes can’t be averted – but who on the Hariri-Junblatt side would be foolish enough to start a civil war that the “anti-Syrians” would decisively lose? Hizballah for its part is looking for a major if not hegemonic voice in existing institutions, which is not the same thing as looking to lay them waste via all-out civil war.

2) No. Breathing room through an international understanding, maybe. But the Lebanese system is so riddled with mutual mistrust and lines of international patronage it’s hard to imagine a truly independent country emerging in the absence of fundamental democratic restructuring (census, redistribution of parliamentary seats by place of residence, separation of citizenship from sect).

3) Offer Syria the pre-1967 armistice lines along the Golan and Sea of Galilee, and anything is possible. If less than that is on offer, no flip is likely.

My two cents’ worth.

November 7th, 2007, 2:06 pm


Innocent_Criminal said:

1) A war can only ignite if one or both parties believe they can gain something from it. At the moment and for the foreseeable March 14 camp cannot match Hizbullah’s fire power. Their only possibility is to fight them through a hired army such as the US/Israel which is not really an option from a political stand point or from a practical one seeing the failure of Israel misadventure last year. Hizbullah on the other hand would lose all sympathy and support if it’s military wing attacks their own country men. So that’s a no.

2) While foreign political interference in Lebanese affairs has often been a curse. It’s ironically also been a key factor in the country’s existence. Since its creation, Lebanon has thrived on foreign support & influence. Whether it came in the form of French patronage, American regional interests, financial support from the Gulf or the battles fought on its land between her neighbors Israel and Syria. The question should not be whether Lebanon can be completely independent because that’s extremely difficult for your average country and impossible in Lebanon’s case. Instead we should ask whether the foreign players can find a comprised deal in Lebanon that can allow its citizen to live in relative stability. While the later seems difficult at the moment it’s still IMHO very possible.

3) Possible? yes. Plausible with the current situation? HELL NO. But this is where I disagree with arguments such Alex’s. Loyalties faithfulness to allies doesn’t mean jack if a countries interests shift somewhere else. In politics you can flip someone against their own mother, let alone away from another country. It’s just a matter of whether the concerned parties (i.e. US, EU, Saudi) are willing to pay the price for Syria’s 180 degree turn. And at the moment, the concerned parties a) are not willing to pay the price b) believe that having Syria on their side would mean much anyways, so why bother.

November 7th, 2007, 2:51 pm


Nur al-Cubicle said:

1. Can renewed Civil War in Lebanon be averted?
That is up to Lebanon’s 30 somethings.
Those old dogs, Jumblatt, Aoun, Geagea, Berry, etc. are old
and creaky. Compare them to the young and dynamic

2. Is an independent Lebanon possible?
Lebanon may not be even a country, but an agglomeration
of competing religious-ethnic factions with hundreds of thousands
of disenfranchised Palestinians. There is a chance for unity,
hence independence, but not on the traditional bases.
Think beyond the box, as they say.

As a footnote, Cardinal Sfeir and Mufti Rashid Kabbani are using
all their power to counter plans by the US for Lebanon.
I noticed that after Cardina Sfeir met with Pope Ratzinger last summer,
visits by US Ambassador Jeffry Feltman dropped off dramatically.
Hmm. This was during the period that the Pope refused to see
Condi Rice, on so-called urgent business.

3. Can Syria be “flipped.”
I would say no. because the fippers are not serious.
And after all, Syria has to stay in the Near East, the US
is just visiting.

November 7th, 2007, 2:59 pm


ausamaa said:


Excellent point;”A war can only ignite if one or both parties believe they can gain something from it”,

However, on the Flipped thing, I think Syria is too ideological and far-sighted as to be “flipped” at a certain price. That is flipped in terms of switching Strategic Alliances. This is not a Sadat thing.
But if the “flipping price” is withdrawl from Golan and Sheba’a, an acceptable Palestinian State and statisfactory resolution to the refugees issue, and a stable, non-aggressive and non-US dominated Iraq, then yes, most definitly Syria will “FLIPP”.

But having thought about the whole subject again, I would like to suggest to Josh a question that he can put forward to the CFR Conference:

Can the current neo-con “regime” in DC be Flipped?!

The answer to “this” question would most certainly be of extreme interst not to the Middle East people, but to the whole WORLD.

November 7th, 2007, 3:24 pm


Observer said:

As I said before, leaving Lebanon was good for Syria and for the ruling elite. They are decided to “Lebanize Damascus”, but they will insist that a friendly regime is in Lebanon for after all they are afraid of being outflanked by an Israeli friendly regime that would trheaten Damascus from the West. Remember the Israeli army is not that far from Damascus. The regime does not have the option of flipping away from Iran, as it is helping for the first time to achieve strategic parity with Israel specifically by helping Syria develop a deterrent force in an asymetric warfare strategy. The Syrians will not have the Air Force that can fly unimpeded over Israel but they will have all the rocketery to make Israel pay dearly for any attack. The Iraninas are building the Syrian arms industry and they are advising and training the special forces and the largely infantry army of Syria to combat in an asymetric way the superior Israeli army to a standstill. In my opinion, time is on their side and they will opt to have both the alliance with Iran and the influence in Lebanon restored. That does not mean going back to the thuggish way they did things. Many of the old guard have been restored as the younger ones have found themselves overtaken by events and some of the comments that Bashar made were unfortunate. They will have their allies in Lebanon do the bidding. Now some in the Lebanese scene have played their card to the full too quickly and have squarely put their fate in the hands of the US France alliance (specifically Jumblatt). He will be the one to spark a civil war if the prospects of Syria’s influence re asserts itself as he has everything to lose having put himself in a corner. When the attempt to crush HA failed, all bets are now off on whether Syria and Iran’s influence can be curbed. Had the war successed then the Geaga Jumblatt axis would have asked and gotten a war with Syria one way or the other to topple the regime. Several questions I have for Dr. Landis: in this dance who is wagging the dog, the Lebanense factions or the US France alliance? With the chaos in Iraq the current leadership in Syria is very popular do you think that it is conceivable that the “oppostion” has any chance of success? Political Civil war is already a fact in Lebanon, who do you think will be the culprit in carrying it through to an armed Civil war; the fundamentalist Islamist militants or the Jumblatt Geaga forces or both? If Syria is not flipped which is not about to happen in my opinion, will it then be whacked?

November 7th, 2007, 3:25 pm


IsraeliGuy said:

Sounds like an interesting conference, Josh.
However, some of these questions will probably have to wait for a while.

The Middle East is currently in an intermediate phase.
Everybody’s waiting for the Iranian nuclear issue to be resolved.

Most likely, this issue will be resolved by a military conflict.

Is it gonna be a small, pinpointed, surgical US strike? Perhaps an Israeli one?
Is it going to be (or evolve to) a regional war?
Is it going to be World War III?

Nobody here knows at this point, but the aftermath of this issue will carry a tremendous influence on the questions Josh raised.

‘Flipping’ Syria today may not be the same as ‘flipping’ it the day after the Iranian nuclear program issue will no longer be an issue.

November 7th, 2007, 3:40 pm


ausamaa said:

Josh, sorry here, but I beleive ALL Questions concerning the VIABILITY of the EXISTANCE of multi-ethnic countries in the region such as Lebanon and Iraq, is a very “bad-intentioned” one because it mostly aims to promot and justify the existance of the ISRAEL: a country which is based on a single Ethnic/Religious group.

Actually, promoting, highlighting and encouraging ethnic and religous strife in the region is a very dirty tool that is usually employed by Israel to serve its own reason de tour, and so as not to make Israel stand out as the Black sheep in the community of Nations. That is what Clean Break and its Creative Instability aims to achieve in the long run rather and not merely having Israel as the Strongest Power in the region. Israel needs justifications and replicas of its Queer Nature.

So again, another question to pose to the CFR Conference will be:

Can Israel in its current un-natural form continue to exist?

November 7th, 2007, 3:46 pm


Bashmann said:

Dr. Landis,

1-Can renewed Civil War in Lebanon be averted?

Yes. For the reason many have neglected to mention. The Lebanese people have matured beyond a renewed civil war. I placed a wager with a my friend of mine two years ago when Syria pulled-out of Lebanon that a civil war will never again happen in Lebanon. We have been at it for two years and the wager will expire in one more year. I’m still sticking to my guns. Hizballah the biggest factor in starting an arm conflict will not risk its current weak Lebanese public perception and start one. In fact as others have mentioned here it has shown great restrain in the past and tried to avoid many escalations.
The M14 forces will certainly not be the one to start any war knowing fully they can lose militarily.

Aversion of a civil war starts with consensus of all parties involved and the consensus among the parties involved and on the ground in Lebanon, NOT AGAIN. The outside perception might be to the contrary but listen closely to statements of all Lebanese politicians and you can extract such fact. The barking might be loud but its all about attention and posture.
It’s not who is more powerful that will count at the end as Alex suggested, as both sides know taking control of the country militarily have been eliminated from the equation, it’s who can show leadership and pragmatism that will bring all the parties to the table. Aoun currently seems to qualify for such mission. Europeans countries, preferably neutral, led by the UN should be encouraged and highly recommended to get involved directly in hands-on brokering of a deal.

2-Is an independent Lebanon possible?

Yes, and should be the number one priority of the West in helping Lebanon to establish one. As the American project for the new Middle-East seems to take a few setbacks in Iraq, The West-Bank, and Gaza, Lebanon can be the first true success story in the end. However, the emphasis should be on the Ta’if agreement which looks like the starting point for getting an overall consensus among the parties.

3-Can Syria be “flipped.”

No. As Youssef suggested, it’s the inability of the regime to wiggle itself out of the Iranian sphere. The Iranian investments into Syria have surpassed the point of no return and Syria will be orbiting that moon for the near future. Due to the lack of his long term political visions, Bashar have simply went past the honeymoon period with Iran.

Any consideration for “flipping” would have to entail a full return of the Golan Heights which is highly unlikely as Israel seem to be content with the current weak conditions of the Syrian regime and have no incentive for taking on the rightwing settlers movement in Israel.


November 7th, 2007, 3:56 pm


Ford Prefect said:

IC and Ausamaa,
I think both of you made excellent points, but civil wars usually do not start out of a master plan conceived by some head figures. Civil wars happen when a society reaches a tipping point of some sort. Once a civil wart starts, it will be impossible for any Hariri, Berri, and others to have much say in it. They just get dragged into it like everyone else. And of course there are rarely any clear winners in such a chaos.

Scientist have analyzed and debated elements that spark civil wars for years. There is no conclusive evidence as to what are the leading indicators for a civil war outbreak. The civil society in Iraq was one of the most mature in the Arab world with education levels amongst the highest.

Bashmann has indicated that The Lebanese people have reached a stage of maturity that makes civil war implausible. I think that is true, but that level of maturity (in terms of human development factors) is, ironically, much higher than the level of maturity of the Lebanese national identity. Consequently, dangers of a civil war are not necessarily small.

AnotherIsraeliGuy has a very interesting thought: Events in the Middle East are tied to the Iranian nuclear issue. This is so true, but only for as long as the Bush administration is in power. Iran’s nuclear hopes can only be accommodated through diplomacy, transparency, and recognition (Arabs included) of the Iranian legitimate rights in the pursuing peaceful nuclear developments.

It is clear that Iran is being radicalized by a radical US. Military strikes will only make the issue worse. Both parties in the US are against any reckless military steps. If Cheney keeps falling asleep ( during important cabinet meetings like he did as California was burning, we might be very lucky in averting another huge disaster.

Speaking of California fires, the official White House broadcast news outfit, Fox News, is now reporting that information obtained from an Al Qaeda operative (who happened to enjoy water boarding a lot) point to a direct Al Qaeda involvement in burning down California. We as American, Fox is telling us, must always be scared and trust our security and safety to Mr. Sleeping Beauty.

November 7th, 2007, 4:56 pm


Alex said:


You are lucky to have more knowledgeable and unbiased Syria experts here than anyone else attending the CFR panel.

Do you take requests? : )

1) Can you check with Lee Feinstein if Hillary is still committed to appointing her husband as her envoy to the Middle East?

2) And on the Iranian Challenge .. can you ask the panelists:

– How will Israel retaliate in case Iran ever decided to send its long range missiles with nuclear heads on them?

– What are the chances those missiles will not fall on the Arabs instead?

– Basically: How “crazy” are the Iranians? … knowing that Israel would probably retaliate by destroying Tehran, if not all Iranian cities … will Khamenei decide to commit suicide? … why? … can the Israelis provide a psycho analysis of the decision makers in Iran that supports the “crazy and suicidal” hypothesis?

Remember that Ahmadinejad is not a decision maker when it comes to using nuclear weapons. So using him to prove the Iranians are crazy is not a valid argument.

If the Iranians are crazy enough to start a nuclear war with Israel … wouldn’t they have been crazy enough to do smaller things … like using their great influence on Syria to attack Israel after the Israeli strike on the box building? .. wouldn’t they have asked Hizbollah to remove Seniora from power? … Hizbolah can, in one day, take Beirut… why didn’t the crazy and evil Iranians ask their Hizbollah puppets to do that? … why didn’t they arm the Saudi Shiites to create problems to the Saudi Sunnis? .. why are those crazy Iranians so cautious in real life… as opposed to the “Iranian threat” hypothesis that some in Washington an Tel Aviv want us to believe.

So … please .. ask them .. what is this Iranian nuclear threat in reality? … why is it more scary than the Pakistani nuclear threat … with Pakistan’s bomb likely to be in the hands of a fundamentalist Islamic replacement to the secular current leadership… at least in Iran, the regime’s head is not barely surviving assassination attempts every couple of months.

It seems that, as my friend Israeliguy insists, the Iranian threat is something the Israelis and some Americans will take care of one way or the other.

But it seems … like I insist … that there is no real threat .. and therefore it would be criminal to start a regional war simply because “they” want to hit Iran.

The question is … why is Ahmadinejad daring them all the time? getting on their nerves? … trying to make Iran look like a trouble maker … do the Iranians want the US to make the mistake and start a conventional war with Iran? … going back to Innocnet Criminal’s Lebanon civil war point .. war will start when one or both sides believe they will win it … I am quite sure Iran does not want to start a nuclear war … can we conclude from Ahmadinejad’s confrontational statements that at least a part of the Iranian leadership would like to push the United States to start a conventional war against Iran?

In that case .. what would be the wise thing to do? do what Ahmadinejad would like you to do?

November 7th, 2007, 5:01 pm


Mohamad Maleki said:

Some times I wonder if Landis is another Valerie Plame Wilson!, an “imbedded” academic.
but here goes my 2¢
1. Can renewed Civil War in Lebanon be averted?
It will not happen. People are tired and will not be enticed into it by Sa’ad Hariri and Waleed Jumblat.

2. Is an independent Lebanon possible?
It is possible, they just have to define what they mean by Lebanon. Is it Pre 1920 or after 1920?

3. Can Syria be “flipped.”
The question is can it be tamed like Egypt and Gulf states? Can it be Americanized? Can it become like Jordan, a puppet, more than it already is?
of course, for the right price everything is for sale.

November 7th, 2007, 5:19 pm


EDB said:

1) A civil war between what factions? I think it holds true that one side is willing to fight but cannot (Jumblatt and Geagea, but they don’t stand a chance) and the other side could fight but is unwilling (Hezbollah.) But it remains to be seen, if the Jumblattian scorched earth policy prevails and a m14 president is elected by simple majority (if they can even muster that 50 + 1 percentage of parliamentarians. It would seem that support for the US-backed coalition was undermined by Rice’s expressed refusal to back a consensus candidate. This does not make the radicals in M14 look good.)
But civil strife– yes.
2) No Lebanon can never be independent, at least not in its current manifestation. With the sectarian system in tact, the zuama will always be vying for favors and increased power through foreign meddling. That hasn’t changed and it won’t without systemic change to the power-sharing system and a secularization of the state that will still make sense as demographic realities change. Only something drastic like the military being strengthened as a secular institution and then declaring a coup to enforce the phasing out of the sectarian system promised in the Taef Accords would save Lebanon. I don’t see it happening
3) No idea what flipping Syria would entail, and who would do the flipping? I don’t think the US has a good record of flipping any regime or state in the region. The US has ostensibly already lost Lebanon. Syria is willing to cooperate with Israel over the Golan but not without it. But if the US attacks Iran and wipes out the regime there, perhaps Syria will “Flip”. I don’t foresee that being a desirable result though. Please elaborate in next post what flipping entails in your mind.

November 7th, 2007, 5:22 pm


GPC said:

(1) On CIVIL war: Modern Lebanese History schisms were along Christian-Muslim lines. This is NOT TRUE today.

Schism is along Shia’a-Sunni line: Some sunnis are willing but they are INCAPABLE, whereas the Shia’as are very capable but UNWILLING

November 7th, 2007, 5:42 pm


Ford Prefect said:

GPC, I wish the lines of schism can be delineated as easily as you put it: Christians vs. Muslims or Sunnis vs. Shias.

Lebanon follows the laws of catalytic randomness and unintended consequences. Those of us old enough do remember the Muslim-on-Muslim and Christian-on-Christian battles.

To this date, no one can figure out why people in Lebanon fought they way they did for over 15 years . And to this date, it seems like most Lebanese have not learned the lesson of: Don’t reach out to regional powers to advance your own narrow agenda.

November 7th, 2007, 5:56 pm


Alex said:

Few points regarding the Civil war issue:

Civil wars are never logical … they could start when everything else fails and when a solution MUST be found. If there was no deadline for electing a new president, the Lebanese could have managed with their current crippled system of government for another year at least until this Administration is out of office. But we have a deadline this month … a decision has to be taken. If France and Syria and Saudi Arabia are claiming they will not interfere … the Americans are not going to allow a compromise … But Syria will not allow a M14 president. So who decides the outcome and how?

Jumblatt and Geagea have armed fighters … will they simply sit quietly as their M14 coalition is marginalized more and more? … will the neocons enourage them to behave in a responsible way?

If any violence starts it will be started by these two parties… but it wont quickly turn into a full civil war.

Perhaps the only good news is that this time it is not about Christians vs Muslims.

But there are many divisions in Lebanon … how secular? how friendly to Syria? … how dependent on Saudi Arabia and its Lebanese agents? … How clean or corrupt? … Aoun would really like to investigate who gave Lebanon its tens of billions of debt… that means investigating the Hariris and Jumblatts among many other powerful Lebanese figures (and Syrians too).

I have no confidence in the ability of the Lebanese politicians to reach a compromise without outside pressure. With outside pressure going in many conflicting directions … compromise would be highly unlikely.
I think the following two possibilities are the more likely ones:

1) France convinced the Americans to accept a compromise president.
2) The Americnas insist on a M14 anti-Syria candidate who will disarm Hizbollah.

In both cases I see a big role for army leader Michel Suleiman to play.

The Christians want a strong president. Not a weak compromise… Michel Suleiman will not allow a leadership vacuum.

If everyone wants a solution, it is Michel Suleiman… but do they all really want a solution?

November 7th, 2007, 6:11 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

if there is civil war in lebanon,there will be foreign intervention.because HA is strongest,HA will not risk war,that will be followed by USA intervenes.
Syria will not flip unless there is war in the region.there will be bloodshed,then.

November 7th, 2007, 8:13 pm


ausamaa said:


You ask:but do they all really want a solution?

With the exception of few numerically and practically unrepresentative Personalities, I believe most of those Lebanese Zou’amas see the danger of not reaching a solution in Lebanon. But,…and it is a big BUT, are they allowed to reach such a solution by Field Marshal Feltman? Aint some of them up to their necks in the loosing Bet-on-Bush gambit that they can not go back and reach a compromise with thier patriots? All they can do now is either they (1)say no to Feltman and risk perhaps disappearing someway or the other, or (2)they risk going along with Feltman to the end and activate Plan B which includes choices ranging from becoming covert double agents to relocating outside Lebanon.

Anyway, by the look of things today, it seems that Bush and the neo-cons have now succeeded in losing the third Front being Lebanon, after loosing the first and second fronts of Afghanistan and Iraq.

November 7th, 2007, 8:15 pm


jbello said:

A few things.
With regard to the questions, I like what Ausamaa has to say. It’s time the big planners look at their own contributions to the world’s problems and stop trying to manipulate the other players to their whim. It looks to me like Lebanon isn’t likely to have a civil war and could well become independent if the US would free their proxies so that they would have to compromise like everyone else. It seemed like a sad reflection to see Hariri in the US state that the US is helping Lebanon to be democratic and the US is going to make sure the new president is from March 14th. A real tribute to democracy, don’t you think.
The neocons aren’t willing to pay the price to ‘flip’ Syria and it’s just as well because Syria is strengthening it’s local alliances, not just with Iran, but with Turkey and Iraq, in response to western pressure and that is the road to a better future for everyone in the region.
Regarding Iran:
It seems to me that Ahmadinejad’s irritating statements are somewhat eggagerated, but his main point is one that most Arabs on the street would agree with, though their governments are too cowed to say it. Basically, Israel’s treatment of the indigenous Palestinians is a crime, western support of that crime makes us complicit. So who are the barbarians in this scenario? Maybe someone who would bomb a whole country because their spokesperson is annoying and refuses to let go of an inconvenient truth.
If any of you has read Rushdie’s inflammatory novel “Satanic Verses” think of Ahmadinejad as Saladin Chamcha and Bush as Gabreel Farishta. The picture is actually very amusing, though I am certain neither of them would find it so.

November 7th, 2007, 8:31 pm


EHSANI2 said:


I am planning to host Josh in the big Apple. Hopefully, my list of restaurants will cut the grade and be up to your standard.

November 7th, 2007, 8:33 pm


Majhool said:

Alex & Co,

But what if the scenario did not include a civil war? What if it looked like the following?

• Failure to elect a compromise president
• Two governments, with the pro-Syrian one predominantly present in the south.
• An Israeli lengthy invasion of South Lebanon on HA concurrently with a Preemptive yet limited strike on Iran.
• American troupes and bases in M14 areas.
• Diplomatic isolation of the pro-Syria government in the south basically turning it like Gaza.

November 7th, 2007, 9:51 pm


Ford Prefect said:

No standard can top yours! But again, you really can’t go wrong in the Big Apple, can you? (Hint: Consider Asia de Cuba on Maddison.)

November 7th, 2007, 10:04 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Very plausible scenario and it is believable. I hope not, but I think you are underscoring a likely possibility here.

November 7th, 2007, 10:06 pm


EHSANI2 said:


Asia D. Cuba are next door neighbors. We have to see what the Professor prefers

November 7th, 2007, 10:44 pm


Alex said:

No Majhool,

This is not a sustainable scenario … if it gets to that point then a regional war will follow… Iraq will be on fire … much more than it is now.

November 7th, 2007, 11:33 pm


Majhool said:


What do you mean by a regional war? Syria will not declare war if Israel hit HA and HA only.

Also, the US and Israel could carry out an attack on the pro-syrian goverment without attacking Iran.

As for Iran, the US can carry out a limited stike and stop there. Iran will be faced with two options.

– Strike the gulf states/Israel, I doubt they will ever do that ( the US will nuke them if they do)

or stike in Iraq, which is most likely to happen. so what? it will get bloodier? The US can live with that.

November 8th, 2007, 12:45 am


majedkhaldoun said:

Majhool said;
“the US will nuke them if they do)”

a statement like this, is too big, think about the true consequences, in Israel and american troops in Iraq and the Gulf.

November 8th, 2007, 1:09 am


norman said:

The only solution i see is for Aoun to be president , Aoun is not pro=Syria , He was never pro Syria , he just thinks that Syria is out of Lebanon and there is no reason to fight Syria any more , Germany and the US became friends after world war two , Syria does not want to dominate Lebanon , actually Syrians got better after leaving Lebanon as they found their real self worth , about having two presidents , That is possible but I see Hezbollah , Aoun Frangia, Arsalan and Kara-mi with Aoun as president controlling most of Lebanon while Harreri , Gaaga and Jumblat controlling the cities only , The west will not come to help Lebanon , they did not do that in 1976 and will not do that now , Lebanon has no oil to fight for and be worth American or French lives ,
Syria , Iran , Hamas and Hezbollah can flipped for the right price and that is , The Golan Heights and an honorable solution that the Palestinians can live with and with that , Israel and the US and the west and the Arabs will live happily ever after and the fanatics will be in retreat and demise. Any takers for a better mideast.?.

November 8th, 2007, 1:47 am


Majhool said:


Flip your statement and you will get your answer. basically the Iranians may be forced not retaliate and not hit the gulf/Israel.

If they do, the consequences will hurt them more than anyone else. What make more sense, is that if they get hit they will moblize their proxies in Iraq and Lebanon no more no less.


“That is possible but I see Hezbollah , Aoun Frangia, Arsalan and Kara-mi with Aoun as president controlling most of Lebanon while Harreri , Gaaga and Jumblat controlling the cities only ”

You need to revisit your geography. Arsalan shares Jumblats geographics and he is no match to him in the mountain side.

Gaaga center of power is actually Bcharri and the northen monutains of Lebanon.

Frangieh base is Zgarta, which is very close to Tripoli and not quite in the mountain side. His influence will be strong if the north was to his side, this is not the case anymore with Sunnis siding with Hariri in Trablus, Krmai support is at all time low.

The Sunnis flip completely changes the equation.

Aoun will find him self stuck in a sea of Sunnis and Maronites (that don’t support them)

The shia however will have a continous gerography in Baalbak and the south.

The US and Israel can turn both the south and Ballbak into another Gaza. Easy…

The USSR is no loger there to support syria and its allies in a long war.

Aoun, will not be able to secure weppons from Saddam (saddam is dead)

November 8th, 2007, 4:27 am


Kamal said:

“…Although rival political camps regularly trade accusations that the other side is arming and forming militias, little evidence has emerged of wide-scale paramilitary training. Most of the weapons training appears to be ad hoc, involving small groups of friends.

The exception is Hizbullah, which does not disguise the fact that it has undergone a large-scale recruitment and training program since the end of last year’s 34-day war with Israel. However, Hizbullah’s leaders say the role of the military wing is to defend Lebanon from Israeli aggression, not fight fellow Lebanese…”

K: If they are arming their allies, as the article alleges, that is even scarier than Hizballa training for conflict, because Hizballa is a disciplined professional army accountable to a vast popular base, while their allies like the SSNP, Lebanese Ba’th, the PFLP-GC and others, are pure gangs/death squads under the control of Syrian Intelligence, and have no popular support whatsoever to restrain them.

November 8th, 2007, 4:58 am


Innocent_Criminal said:


sorry but you seem to contradict yourself. first you said Syria is to ideological then you stated the price at which it can be flipped (which i have already mentioned is too high).

BTW i would definitely add significant control of Lebanon to that list of yours. its far more important than refugee rights & fair Palestinian settlements. that type of talk is reserved for school text books. I am not saying the Syrian government wouldn’t love to see these things happening, its just not as vital as its own well-being.

November 8th, 2007, 6:59 am


ausamaa said:


Yeeeeeh, I sure do contradict myself when I say that Syria is too ideological to change and that it can be “flipped” if the price was right. What you missed Mr. Sharp-eye is that the Price I “qouted” for Syria to “flipp” was the REALIZATION of its Rights, Rollo and of the ARAB RIGHTS which is what the “too ideological” Syria wants “ideologically”.

You missed the whole point Buddy!!!!

If it makes you happy, you can add total control of the Universe by Syria to that list. But, no, to Syria, the Palestinian and Iraqi issues are more important than the Lebanses issue to Syria. Lebanon is normally a small managable headach maybe, Palestine, and Iraq now are Existential issues.

November 8th, 2007, 9:07 am


Innocent_Criminal said:

huh? what’s your problem? i wasn’t insulting you so why are you getting all defensive. i’ll make sure not to disagree with you again.

November 8th, 2007, 9:25 am


ausamaa said:


Ya habibi who said you insulted me? You said I “seem” to contradict myself and I explained why I do not think that I contradicted my self. If I preceived my response as defensive, I assure you that I did not feel that your comment was offensive. Looking again at my response, you may have considered my “Sharp-eye” phrase a bit out of line. My appologies in that case, but please do not take it at face value. And please disagree with me all the time, I may learn something from it boss.

BTW guys, notice how IG and AIG totally disregarded my earlier comment about the queer nature of the ISRAELI State. That is what I like about them sometimes. They are soooo cute, selective and smart…in what to respond to and what not to respond to. I hope they always chose to only “watch” what appears on Syria Comment than trying to paint all Syrian things in an Israeli light. It is just a waste of time and counter productive if they ask my opinion. By doing so (watching only), they will actually do Israel a better service; 1)they will not galvanize many commentators against them for the BS points they try to make, and 2) maybe they will concentrate their energies on trying to better “understand” Syrian things rather than to merely “expose” the devilish Syrian people which is a stupid thing for an Israeli to do on a site of this nature and audiance. Unless their job description says different!

November 8th, 2007, 11:29 am


Akbar Palace said:

IsraeliGuy said:

‘Flipping’ Syria today may not be the same as ‘flipping’ it the day after the Iranian nuclear program issue will no longer be an issue.

I always find it amusing (and sad) that when the thugs who “lead” the Middle East beat their chests, start wars, and call for violence; in the end, they get humiliated and beaten.

Ausamma said,

Can Israel in its current un-natural form continue to exist?

And the Arab street continues to support these kooks because they’ve been brainwashed by the Arab media and they don’t know any better.

Anyone interested in making a bet? When will Paris, France meet the next Middle East-planned “foreign policy” decision (aka terrorist operation)?

November 8th, 2007, 11:46 am


Ford Prefect said:

As if lunatic Pat Robertson, marrying-man Giulliani, or even Sarkozy really matter in today’s Middle East politics.

November 8th, 2007, 12:59 pm


idaf said:

Syrian ambassador would advise not going to U.S. peace meeting
By SCOTT LINDLAW Associated Press Writer

SAN FRANCISCO—Syria’s ambassador to the United States belittled a Mideast peace conference that the Bush administration is trying to organize as a “waste,” saying Wednesday that he would counsel his country against attending it.
“We don’t seriously believe that this is a peace conference that will lead to anywhere,” Ambassador Imad Moustapha said at a Commonwealth Club public affairs forum in San Francisco.

Moustapha said no proposals had been circulated beforehand to lay the groundwork for progress at the gathering in Annapolis, Md., raising questions about how serious Washington is about the conference.

“Forgive us if we deduce that this is only about a photo opportunity and about people in Washington, D.C. telling their electorate, ‘Look, don’t accuse us of only starting wars, we’re working for peace in the Middle East,'” the ambassador said.

Syria has said it would attend only if discussions included the return of the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed. The position has been rejected by Israel, even though a peace deal involving a return of the Golan was close in the 1990s.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said the administration wants Syria to participate, but that the conference must focus on the Palestinians and not Syria’s grievances. The United States has set high expectations for the summit, saying it hopes to launch full peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians after a seven-year lull.
Moustapha said foreclosing the possibility of talking about the Golan Heights at the gathering was “preposterous, but this is exactly what the U.S. administration has said.”

“And we are supposed to just come attend, be bemused, enjoy our time and leave?” he said. “Personally, if my government will ask my opinion, I will say it will be a waste of money, buying those expensive airline tickets and reservations in hotels, just to come attend this event in Maryland and then go back to Syria.”

The Bush administration has revealed little publicly about the conference, such as precise dates, and invitations have not gone out yet.

On Wednesday, Moustapha also rejected as “absolutely, absolutely untrue” allegations that a military installation struck by Israeli warplanes in September housed a nuclear site.

Syria has never sought nuclear technology, nor does it intend to do so “in the foreseeable future,” he said.

In a reference to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, he added sarcastically: “We do not plan to allow our enemies, and they are formidable enemies, to use such a pretext to bring freedom, democracy and prosperity to Syria in a way similar to what has happened in Iraq.”

Moustapha evaded a question about why satellite imagery showed the bombed site had been wiped clean shortly after the attack. Some analysts have suggested the hasty cleanup was intended to hide possible nuclear facilities exposed by the bombing.

Instead, the ambassador accused the news media of repeating administration claims that the site was a nuclear installation, just as critics say the news media unquestioningly repeated administration claims of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq five years earlier.

Syrian-U.S. relations have been icy the past few years, particularly after the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, an attack which many blamed on Damascus. The U.S. pulled out its ambassador to Syria and clamped a diplomatic boycott on the country, accusing it of destabilizing Lebanon, sending insurgents to Iraq and supporting the militant anti-Israel groups Hezbollah and Hamas.

Moustapha said his country plans to wait out the current U.S. administration before trying to repair tattered relations.

“We have resigned ourselves to the fact that we just have wait until the end of the second term of this administration before we can start a serious re-engagement with the United States of America,” he said. “We are so bitterly disappointed with U.S. policies in the Middle East.”

November 8th, 2007, 1:46 pm


norman said:

‘We should consider talking to Syria’

——————————————————————————– staff and AP , THE JERUSALEM POST Nov. 8, 2007


Israel should seriously consider opening negotiations with Syria, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in closed discussions recently.

Barak, Army Radio reported Thursday, said that Syria’s participation in the upcoming Annapolis peace summit could lead to direct talks between the countries.

According to the defense minister, such a scenario would also serve to sever Syrian President Bahsar Assad’s ties with Iran.

Meanwhile, Syria’s ambassador to the United States belittled the Annapolis peace conference that the Bush administration is trying to organize as a “waste,” saying that he would counsel his country against attending it.

“We don’t seriously believe that this is a peace conference that will lead to anywhere,” Ambassador Imad Moustapha said at a public affairs forum in San Francisco on Wednesday.

No proposals had been circulated beforehand to lay the groundwork for progress at the gathering in Annapolis, Maryland, Moustapha said, raising questions about how serious Washington is about the conference.

“Forgive us if we deduce that this is only about a photo opportunity and about people in Washington, D.C., telling their electorate, ‘Look, don’t accuse us of only starting wars; we’re working for peace in the Middle East,”‘ the ambassador said.

Syria has said it would attend only if discussions included the return of the Golan Heights. The position has been rejected by Israel, even though a peace deal involving a return of the Golan was reportedly close in the 1990s.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said that the administration wants Syria to participate, but that the conference must focus on the Palestinians and not Syria’s grievances.

The United States has set high expectations for the summit, saying it hopes to launch full peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians after a seven-year lull.

Moustapha said foreclosing the possibility of talking about the Golan Heights at the gathering was “preposterous, but this is exactly what the US administration has said.”

“And we are supposed to just come attend, be bemused, enjoy our time and leave?” he said. “Personally, if my government will ask my opinion, I will say it will be a waste of money, buying those expensive airline tickets and reservations in hotels, just to come attend this event in Maryland and then go back to Syria.”



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November 8th, 2007, 1:49 pm


SimoHurtta said:

I always find it amusing (and sad) that when the thugs who “lead” the Middle East beat their chests, start wars, and call for violence; in the end, they get humiliated and beaten.

Akbar didn’t Israelis “choose” Olmert as the most corrupt minister? 69 percent of Israelis think that government is corrupt. Are 69 percent of Israelis wrong?

An other poll:

Sderot Conference, Sapir College’s fifth annual social resilience survey shows public has little faith in public, governmental systems; 73% are embraced by public corruption, 75% are concerned about ongoing Palestinian conflict.

Seems Akbar that Israelis have little trust in their own thugs. Maybe you should remember that next time you critizize other “thugs”. The only difference is that Israelis have a change to vote thugs to Knesset. Is the problem in Israel Akbar that only thugs go to politics? Or don’t Israeli voters like honest politicians? Sad, isn’t it Akbar.

By the way who is being suspected to start war by Washington officials? Answer the Tel Aviv thugs.

November 8th, 2007, 2:16 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

you said Aoun will not get weapons because Saddam is dead, Aoun will get weapons from HA(under conditions), also Aoun won the election, last one.
If USA nuke Iran, HA will attack Israel, who will loose one million Israeli, this is sure to happen, it is a suicidal attack, USA will not take that risk on Israel.

November 8th, 2007, 2:33 pm


anotherisraeliguy said:

You are the master of the two wrongs make a right argument but still cannot even get it right. Don’t you sense that you are contradicting yourself when you quote Israeli papers critisizing the government or polling Israelis that want change? Isn’t it clear to you that Israelis are displeased with olmert and he will lose the next elections?

Isn’t it beautiful how democracy works? When will the Arabs learn?

November 8th, 2007, 3:41 pm


Ford Prefect said:

So how do democracies allow themselves to occupy land and treat its occupants as subhumans?

November 8th, 2007, 4:04 pm


Youssef Hanna said:

They r overwhelmingly Sunni; they do not have a federated system à la libanaise; they follow the simple one-man-one-vote system.

Though Hamas won legislative elections, the PLO refused to bow to the democratic rule.

Tension rose.

Hamas received assistance from Syria and Iran, while the PLO enjoyed the support of the U.S.

Both Parties dug their feet and bickered on constitutional subtleties.

During months though, both Parties repeatedly claimed that civil order was a red line

…until the line broke and internal violence erupted.

Can civil war in Lebanon be averted?

November 8th, 2007, 5:06 pm


anotherisraeliguy said:

Are you now also regressing to ridiculous arguments? What is your point? That police states are better than democracies? Where would you choose to live?

Democracies are not perfect and make mistakes. They make far less mistakes than tyrants. Israel is in a 60 year war with the Arabs. I understand you don’t like the results so far. When we get to peace, things will be different. Until then, you can choose to live not in a democracy if you really think they are good for the Arabs.

Let me tell you a secret. The ONLY reason the Arabs are weak relative to Israel is because they are not living in democracies. If you want to win, you know what to do.

November 8th, 2007, 7:25 pm


ausamaa said:

But the Arabs who are “weak relative to Israel” need the Israeli DANGER out of the way before they can really move towards democracy and progress. Remember that Pyramid about human needs? Security and Safty rank near the wide bottom, close to food and shelter! Unless the Arabs (all three hundred millions of them) can be somewhat convinced that Israel represents no danger to them!!!

And dont we love the kindness of ANOTHERISRAELIGUY who is devulging to us Arabs the secrets of how we can WIN against Israel?! However, I think that Hizbullah and the Palestinians are better positioned to give the other Arabs real advice on how to win against Israel in its current form.

November 8th, 2007, 8:13 pm


Seeking the Truth said:


Don’t you really prefer the Arabs to remain weak relative to Israel! I guess you believe they will never follow the democratic route following your advice.

November 8th, 2007, 9:24 pm


why-discuss said:


If I have to choose between a corrupted democracy and an enlightened dictatorship with less freedom of expression to write lies in newspapers, I think i would prefer the dictatorship! So keep your corrupted and proud of itself democracy for yourself!

November 8th, 2007, 10:13 pm


IsraeliGuy said:

AIG, did you read the interview with Nonie Darwish on the Jerusalem Post, a couple of weeks ago?
I seriously advise you to read it.

One of the best (and most honest) Arab born thinkers I ever read.
It’s good to meet an Arab who is not afraid to say the truth.

She was born in Cairo, and in the early 1950s moved with her family to Egyptian-occupied Gaza, where her father, Lt.-Gen. Mustafa Hafez, was appointed by president Gamal Abdel Nasser to command Egyptian army intelligence.

Hafez founded Palestinian fedayeen units to launch terrorist raids across Israel’s southern border. Between 1951 and 1956, the fedayeen killed some 400 Israelis. In July 1956, when Nonie was eight, her father became the IDF’s first targeted assassination. He was immediately recognized as a shahid – a martyr for jihad.

Read it here:

November 8th, 2007, 10:26 pm


anotherisraeliguy said:

I believe that once the Arabs are made strong by democracy, it will be much easier to make peace in the middle east.

November 9th, 2007, 2:49 am


Akbar Palace said:

IsraelGuy said:

One of the best (and most honest) Arab born thinkers I ever read.
It’s good to meet an Arab who is not afraid to say the truth.

I suppose she isn’t applying to be Co-director of the
Centre of Peace Studies at the University of Oklahoma. I’m guessing she would be disqualified immediately for her views.

November 9th, 2007, 2:49 am


ausamaa said:


I guess you are right; a Good Arab, is a Dead Arab!!

November 9th, 2007, 4:11 am


Observer said:

Some definitions for the simple minded: 1. Democracy: mob rule where the majority will always crush the minority no matter what.
2. Democracy: the people decide through representatives on issues of the day, while the representatives sell themselves to the highest bidder.
3. Democracy: a system where the apparatus of the goverment is used to insure the best infrastructure for a capitalist economy and free markets. 4. Democracy: a diluted form of a Republic where the ability to vote and hold office depends on one’s wealth and ownership. 5. Democracy: one man/woman one vote for candidates that are sanitized by corporate media debating non issues for mass consumption.
I do believe that it is the best system around. I am a firm believer of Republicanism rather than simple Democracy. I am firm believer of the separation of powers. I am firm believer in the establishment of militia and the abolition of a standing armed forces. I am firm believer in independent and generous funding of public knowledge as to insure information access. I am a firm believer that the CIA should be abolished and that the Federal authotiry should be a referree among people. I am a firm believer that the authority should protect people from each other and should not be in the business of protecting someone from him/herself. I have several questions: would signing a peace with Israel stop requests for Syria to democratize? Did Jordan and Egypt move to democracies after a peace was signed? If democratic rule where to break out in those two countries would the peace treaty stay in its present form? If elections are held today who in all likelihood would win: secularists, Islamists, ethnocentrics? If peace treaty is signed who controls borders, water resources, travel, free flow of people and ideas, trade, commerce, education, and complete de nuclearization of the region let alone demilitarization?

November 9th, 2007, 7:38 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Observer states:

Some definitions for the simple minded: 1. Democracy: mob rule where the majority will always crush the minority no matter what.


What about this definition:

Democracy: That which the “Arab street” both scorns and yearns for.

Tell the truth, am I right?

Addressing your points:

1. Democracy: mob rule where the majority will always crush the minority no matter what.

“Crush”? Please give examples.

2. Democracy: the people decide through representatives on issues of the day, while the representatives sell themselves to the highest bidder.

Each vote is in the hands of the voter. And all representatives are elected for a finite amount of time. Senators, Congressmen, local government and presidents have to be better than their opponents.

3. Democracy: a system where the apparatus of the goverment is used to insure the best infrastructure for a capitalist economy and free markets.

All democracies have different forms of capitalism. Most are quite socialist where the government has a direct impact on the economy.

4. Democracy: a diluted form of a Republic where the ability to vote and hold office depends on one’s wealth and ownership.

The ability to vote in my country has NOTHING to do with one’s wealth and ownership. Poor people can vote just as easily and Bill Gates. In terms of holding office, one must be able to speak and communicate effectively. Perhaps, in that respect, most who hold office are successful both in terms of education and their financial well-being.

5. Democracy: one man/woman one vote for candidates that are sanitized by corporate media debating non issues for mass consumption.

Yes, “non-issues” like a forged letter supposedly from GWB’s commanding officer in the Alabama air national guard. The “corporate media” here in the US apparently has a liberal streak.

I do believe that it is the best system around.

You don’t say?

I am a firm believer of Republicanism rather than simple Democracy.

Great. Start a democracy somewhere in the Middle East. Win a prize.

I am firm believer of the separation of powers.

Me too.

I am firm believer in the establishment of militia and the abolition of a standing armed forces.

Every country must be able to defend themselves.

I am firm believer in independent and generous funding of public knowledge as to insure information access.

Free public libraries, Library of Congress, without the need for censorship is great.

I am a firm believer that the CIA should be abolished and that the Federal authotiry should be a referree among people.

Considering their budget, I tend to agree. They haven’t been getting the job done.

I am a firm believer that the authority should protect people from each other and should not be in the business of protecting someone from him/herself.

I agree.

I have several questions: would signing a peace with Israel stop requests for Syria to democratize?

Probably. Why, are you worried about Syria democratizing?

Did Jordan and Egypt move to democracies after a peace was signed?


If democratic rule where to break out in those two countries would the peace treaty stay in its present form?

I hope so, but there are no guarantees in life. Certainly, what ever government would take over, would be obligated to live up to their signed peace treaty.

If elections are held today who in all likelihood would win: secularists, Islamists, ethnocentrics?

Where? Eygpt and Jordan? Probably Islamists, but I’m not sure.

If peace treaty is signed who controls borders, water resources, travel, free flow of people and ideas, trade, commerce, education, and complete de nuclearization of the region let alone demilitarization?

We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

November 9th, 2007, 8:29 pm


Syrian said:

You should tell the folks at CFR that sadly your website is currently infested with Lebanese Mukhabarat and Israeli agents, I am sure though the folks at CFR wouldn’t mind that terribly! LOL


1: Yes, if CFR elements and the current US government stops favoring a team over the other in Lebanon
2: It is only possible on paper 🙂
3: Syria can be flipped but not by force like in Iraq, Syrians are not Iraqies and they will not just bow down with welcoming arms, the only way is by offering Assad something substantial which will in turn make him change his policies.


November 9th, 2007, 9:00 pm


Ford Prefect said:

While discussions are going on amongst people who really have something important to say, we have the genius Akbar Palace hurling personal insults thinking that he and his masters (or is it mattresses) with the stench of Daniel Pipes and the bigotry of Pat Robertson are really cute and funny. Spare us the laughs, Akbar, please. They would have been funny had they not been so stupid and unprefossional.

November 9th, 2007, 9:19 pm


norman said:

Lebanon Retains Christian-Muslim Power Sharing
(Because of intense interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, NPR makes available free transcripts of its coverage. View related web coverage or listen to the audio for this story)

Morning Edition: November 9, 2007

During Lebanon’s wars stretching back to the 1970s, waves of Lebanese fled their country, many of them heading to the United States. And that’s affected all of Lebanon’s often-feuding religious groups. Christians used to represent about one half of Lebanon’s population. Now Christians are an ever smaller minority, but they still have as much political power as the growing Muslim majority.

The most visible sign of Christian power is the presidency. It’s always held by a member of Lebanon’s unique Maronite Christian community. As parliament struggles to meet a deadline this month to select a new president, Christians and many Muslims support keeping the old outdated power-sharing arrangement.

NPR’s Peter Kenyon reports from Beirut in this final installment of a three-part series on the Christians of Lebanon.

PETER KENYON: In Lebanon these days, it seems there are some questions people would rather not know the answer to. For example, how many Christians are living in Lebanon today, or for that matter, how many Sunni or Shiite Muslims? In many countries, this would be basic public information, but here there hasn’t been an official census since 1932.

One man who studies the issue carefully is Jawad Adra, a research consultant and managing partner of Information International in Beirut. One of his recent surveys found 30 percent of Lebanese youth responding that they would like to leave Lebanon. Those numbers represent people of all religions, but because of their low birth rate and other factors, Christians are feeling the impact of emigration more severely than Muslims.

Adra says Lebanon’s studied silence about its population isn’t surprising when you consider the political pressures that might come into play if the census were conducted.

Mr. JAWAD ADRA (Research Consultant): Because Lebanon, when it was first established in the 1920s, it was really established as a Christian, particularly Maronite faith. This was the raison d’être of Lebanon. So they all had some kind of an agreement that Lebanon is Christian. The Muslims agreed and went along with this. And they all said, okay, let’s not find out.

KENYON: Even without official numbers, though, Adra says the trends are clear for anyone who cares to find out. Barring some major unforeseen demographic shift, Adra says Christians, who were the majority here for much of the last century, may well become a tiny minority before the next century begins.

Mr. ADRA: We did a study which shows that perhaps 75 years from now there will be almost maybe six percent Marionite left in Lebanon, because they are an aging community. You know, when you look at the fertility rate and so on, you will find out that it is higher among the Sunni and the Shiite than it is among the Christians.

KENYON: In other words, the gap between the Muslim and Christian populations in Lebanon will not only grow, it will accelerate over time.

Mr. JEROME SHAHIN(ph) (Economist): (Through translator) We are at the moment at a very, very difficult stage; in fact, one of the worst stages in history that we’ve been.

KENYON: For economist Jerome Shahin, who’s been studying demographic issues for some 20 years, the coming domination of Lebanon’s population by Muslims raises troubling questions, the primary one being can Lebanon’s unique power-sharing political arrangement survive?

Mr. SHAHIN: (Through translator) Lebanon, in fact, is the only country in the Arab world where the Christians and the Muslims are approximately equal. So it’s a laboratory for coexistence for the rest of the Arab world.

KENYON: Professor Samir Khalaf at the American University in Beirut says while disputes in Lebanon tend to be over power and influence, not theology, there is an atmosphere of unease among Lebanese Christians today as they watch the increasing Islamification of the Arab world around them.

Dr. SAMIR KHALAF (American University, Beirut): And they look around and they see what has happened to Copts in Egypt, what happened to Armenians in Turkey, what is happening to Christians in Palestine, and Christians in Syria, and Christians in Iraq. And the numbers are staggering. And essentially they say, you know, are we next?

KENYON: Historian Kamal Salibi says the genius of Lebanon’s awkward, maddening and frequently dysfunctional system of government is that it compels Lebanon’s 18 confessions to cooperate, enforcing that cooperation by simply collapsing whenever one side grows too powerful.

In that light, Salibi says, it’s clear that Lebanese Christians are needed not because they have some special gift for coexistence; there’s more than enough blood on Christian hands to debunk that myth. It’s just that they have to play their political role, whether or not their population justifies it, to keep the system clattering along.

Mr. KAMAL SALIBI (Historian): It’s not that the Christians are bastions of freedom. What’s important about the Christians is simply their presence; their presence, real or imagined, will serve the purpose, to hearten other people in Lebanon who want to lead a civic, secular life. So for this reason you find the Muslims in Lebanon running after the Christians, begging them not to emigrate.

KENYON: There are many Muslims, however, who don’t feel any special need to maintain the polite fiction that Christians are half the population. The Shiite community, for instance, has long felt undervalued in Lebanon, even though unofficial estimates suggest the Shiites are the largest single group in the country.

In the cool, leafy hills of Mount Lebanon, Greek Catholic Bishop George Khodr offers another caution. Lebanon’s Christians shouldn’t expect foreign benefactors to come rushing in to save them as they did in earlier centuries.

These days, he says, the need for petroleum tends to overwhelm issues such as human rights or religious freedom.

Bishop GEORGE KHODR (Greek Catholic): (Unintelligible) in politics (unintelligible) Muslim.

(Soundbite of prayer)

KENYON: But with Lebanon facing its latest political crisis, a standoff over naming a new president with a November deadline looming, a number of Muslim clerics recently made the trip up into the hills above the capital to show solidarity with Maronite Christians. The Muslims prayed in one room at the main Maronite Church complex while the Christian service went on upstairs.

(Soundbite of service)

KENYON: Afterwards, Ibrahim Shamseddine, the son of a highly respected Shiite cleric, agreed that the event was largely symbolic, but added that in some ways Lebanon itself is symbolic – an example to other Arab states of the possibility of Christian and Muslim coexistence that should not be allowed to fade from the scene.

Mr. IBRAHIM SHAMSEDDINE: Believe me, I assure you, I assure everybody, on a very Machiavellian basis even, put religion apart. It’s for our sake and benefit as Muslims to have the Christians here, strong as partner, as decision makers with us. We build together. We lose and win together. We live together. We raise our children together. This is not just poetry; this is real fact of life. This is the way it should be, and this is the way we’re going to work to have it maintained in this way.

KENYON: These voices are not often heard in Beirut these days. They’re drowned out by the politicians and foreign envoys pressing for advantage as the current presidential crisis comes to a head. But for many Lebanese the name of the next president is less important than knowing if their country will remain that rare thing in the modern Arab world, a place where Christians and Muslims govern together.

Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Beirut.

MONTAGNE: And you can hear the first two parts of this series on Christians in Lebanon at

November 9th, 2007, 10:56 pm


Syrian to bone said:

1. Can renewed Civil War in Lebanon be averted?

Let it happen…it would not be resolved if you do not blow off the baloon!!

2. Is an independent Lebanon possible?

Yes…under the Syrian Constitution!

3. Can Syria be “flipped.”

Who can flip Syria? no one could before and no one can ever.

November 10th, 2007, 12:37 am


Honest Patriot said:

1. Can renewed Civil War in Lebanon be averted?

Yes. The condition is to have Syria and Iran truly scared of negative consequences involving their regimes. Come on, Professor! We all know that Walid Jumblatt speaks the truth and has (finally) seen the light. What is truly amazing, is how truly honest and erudite people, such as yourself, can live with themselves without revealing explicitly the murderous nature of these two regimes.

Well, and another condition is to instill a true civic sense in the Lebanese, who, alas, are all too often selfish and undisciplined. In that vein, they can all learn a whole lot from Hizbollah. Yes, that’s me saying that. Take Hizbollah, the way they percolate the truly best brains to the top of their organization, the way they are disciplined, faithful, and caring, then take away the silly and dangerous religious fanaticism that they are unnecessarily clinging to, and you have the formula for a successful Lebanon. Let all the Lebanese learn from the members of Hizbollah the good they are and the good they do. Then “flip” Hizbollah, not Syria, so it is really faithful to Lebanon and not to Iran and Syria. Eliminate confessionalism in Lebanon. Separate Church (or Mosque) and state. Build neutrality, independence, and non-alignment to any foreign cause in a permanent way in the constitution, and you got yourself what Lebanon should really be, the Switzerland of the Middle East. Maybe I’m dreaming, but hey, it IS possible. Start by making Lebanon truly independent.

2. Is an independent Lebanon possible?

See question 1. Same answer.

3. Can Syria be “flipped.”

See question 1. Same answer.

November 10th, 2007, 12:52 am


norman said:

عون يحصل علي دعم الحريري لانتخابه رئيساً توافقياً

November 10th, 2007, 2:13 am


Thomas said:

Ford Perfect, you make another of your brilliant points. Why do democracies such as Israel treat the natives of occupied lands as subhumans? I assume you are referencing the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank. Well you are right that the Israeli’s don’t treat the Palestinians and in many cases as sub-humans. The problem for the Arabs, however, is that they don’t treat the Palestinians much better. The Palestinians are at the low end of the Arab food chain (one step above the Syrians). I don’t see any of the Arab countries doing anything real tangible to assist in the plight of Palestinians. All the Palestinians get are a tokenistic few bread crumbs from their Arab benefactors in neighboring countries. The Arab states’ irresponsibility in this matter is masked by the opportunistic criticism of Israel. Why don’t you quit treating the Palestinians as subhuman yourself by going and building a house for a Palestinian or giving him/her a job.

November 10th, 2007, 4:28 am


majedkhaldoun said:

I suspect,the parliment , in Lebanon will meet on tueseday,I got the feeling that Aoun gave strong assurance to Saad Harriri, that the tribunal will go ahaed, and Aoun will support it strongly, this,later will upset HA leaders,and berri, there will be trick, when Aoun name is suggested, the christians will vote first against Aoun,the Shiite members will come back to vote yes, then Harriri group will vote.
Aoun is not a syrian follower , he is strong,independent,and cunning,he care about becoming president.
Seniora will have rest,and the prime minister,probably will be Majdalani,or someone close to Hariri,strong believer with the tribunal, possibly his name is already agreed upon,Syria will be happy to see Seniora leaves,but will be upset of the next PM,as much as they are upset with Seniora.

November 10th, 2007, 4:45 am


why-discuss said:


There is an article in the L’Orient le Jour that is usually pro-14 mars group explaining the shock the 14 march got at the result of Sarkhozy-Bush and the rapprochement with Syria. Emile Khoury , the journalst, has been hammering continuously that France and the US will threatened Bashar and support a 14 march candidate, he now says the 14 mars loyalist group is in total dissaray.
Yet they hate so much and they are so afraid of Aoun, that it would be a too bitter poison to drink if they have to accept him as a president. Unless Hariri comes to his senses and favors Aoun, I think it would be a miracle is he is elected.

L’arrangement Bush-Sarkozy sème localement une certaine confusion
L’article d’Émile KHOURY

Le sommet Bush-Sarkozy ? La majorité doit sûrement en grincer des dents, persiflent des députés de l’opposition. En expliquant que, désormais, les Américains se rangent à l’avis des Français qui militent pour un président libanais consensuel équidistant de tous. Ce qui élimine les candidats du 14 Mars. D’autant plus ulcérés, selon ces bons amis d’en face, que de toute évidence un tel président dit d’entente doit avoir nécessairement l’aval de Damas.
La déception des loyalistes est d’autant plus marquée, rajoutent ces parlementaires, qu’ils n’attendaient de la rencontre de Washington qu’un résultat : une sorte d’ultimatum sévère adressé à la Syrie. Au sujet de la nécessité de ne pas tenter de faire torpiller le quorum des deux tiers, mais tout au contraire d’aider à le garantir. En prenant soin, en outre, de ne pas s’immiscer pour fausser ou dénaturer une compétition, un scrutin qui doivent rester libres. Parce que tout parachutage, même bien intentionné, est condamnable en termes de vraie démocratie. Ce qui implique du même coup que la Syrie ne doit intervenir ni pour favoriser un choix qui lui serait agréable ni pour barrer la route aux indépendantistes.
Dans le même esprit, poursuivent les opposants, les majoritaires souhaitaient qu’Américains et Français, réunis au sommet, somment clairement Damas de changer totalement de comportement par rapport au pouvoir libanais. En lui signifiant ensemble, de manière comminatoire, que ce dossier n’est pas négociable. Or, relèvent les sources contestataires citées, en délivrant carte blanche à Sarkozy, Bush cesse implicitement de rejeter tout dialogue avec le régime syrien, avec qui Paris traite régulièrement du Liban. Dès lors, ces députés ne sont pas loin de considérer que maintenant, c’est au 14 Mars que Français et Américains demandent de modifier son attitude vis-à-vis des Syriens …. !/b>

November 10th, 2007, 7:01 am


ausamaa said:

The Feb 14 crowd and their regional and international supporters would not digest Aoun no matter what. A “compromise” candidate is a huge enough insult as it is allready. Let them digest this first before jumping to Aoun. Welch was threatening to put Aoun on the sanctions list few days ago, does that seem like Harriri will even think of him as a candidate?

And please do not discount the Aoun-Hizbullah understanding as a mere tactical or superficial one.

November 10th, 2007, 9:13 am


Observer said:

AP: you made my points. I happen to live in the oldest Democracy in the world and my tax dollars go to support your armed forces, the same armed forces that received air lifts in 73 and satellite pictures and emergency bombs in 2006. You have no clue what a democracy is: a secular non sectarian system where the rights and responsibilities of the citizen do not depend on your race, gender, origion, religion, sexual orientation, etc… and where the church and the state are separate. The seizure of the media by corporations is the first nail in the coffin of democracy and the second is the establishment of a standing army. The second amendement permits the citizens to carry arms precisely because King George used his standing army to subdue the colonists. Once a standing army is formed, no amount of citizen resistance is possible. Once a standing army is formed, the interests involved in keeping it result in undermining of democratic institutions. Every company involved in the armed industry has at least one plant or the component of a plant in each of the 50 states tø insure that no senator dares oppose a weapon system proposal. You know full well that the vast majority of the people of the ME and especially in those Arab countries that have signed a “peace” treaty with Israel, deeply dislike Israel and the Israelis and would want nothing to do with you and your shining democracy. You know full well that the “peace” treaty signed is between Israel and a few potentates and dictators who would not stand a chance in hell of winning a free election. Now, let me send you some good reading: After the Empire by Emmanuel Todd; The Matador’s Cape by Stephen Holmes; the Iron Wall by Avi Shlaim; L’art de reduire les Tetes ( forgot the author’s name); Crisis Capitalism by Naomi Wolf. Such a pity that Zionism cannot evolve and divorce itself from its twin monster Anti-semitism and such a pity to see the Zionisation of political movements around the world. This is what Ernest Renan said about nationalism: ” a myth about a people’s past combined with visceral haterd of the neighbour”.

November 10th, 2007, 1:32 pm


idaf said:

The Spy Who Wants Israel to Talk

By David Ignatius
Washington Post

Sunday, November 11, 2007; Page B07

JERUSALEM — Efraim Halevy, the former head of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, titled his memoirs “Man in the Shadows.” But now that he’s out in the sunlight, the 72-year-old retired spy chief has some surprisingly contrarian things to say about Iran and Syria. The gist of his message is that rather than constantly ratcheting up the rhetoric of confrontation, the United States and Israel should be looking for ways to establish a creative dialogue with these adversaries.

Halevy is a legendary figure in Israel because of his nearly 40 years of service as an intelligence officer, culminating in his years as Mossad’s director from 1998 to 2003. He managed Israel’s secret relationship with Jordan for more than a decade, and he became so close to King Hussein that the two personally negotiated the 1994 agreement paving the way for a peace treaty. So when Halevy talks about the utility of secret diplomacy, he knows whereof he speaks.

Of course, Halevy looks like the fictional master spy George Smiley — thinning hair, wise but weary eyes, the rumpled manner of someone who might have been a professor in another life. And Halevy has the gift of anonymity: You would look right past him in a crowded room, never imagining that he was the man who had conducted daring secret missions. After he appeared here with former CIA director George Tenet at a conference sponsored by the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center, Halevy agreed to sit down for an interview.

Halevy suggests that Israel should stop its jeremiads that Iran poses an existential threat to the Jewish state. The rhetoric is wrong, he contends, and it gets in the way of finding a peaceful solution to the Iranian nuclear problem.

“I believe that Israel is indestructible,” he insists. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may boast that he wants to wipe Israel off the map, but Iran’s ability to consummate this threat is “minimal,” he says. “Israel has a whole arsenal of capabilities to make sure the Iranians don’t achieve their result.” Even if the Iranians did obtain a nuclear weapon, says Halevy, “they are deterrable,” because for the mullahs, survival and perpetuation of the regime is a holy obligation.

“We must be much more sophisticated and nuanced in our policies toward Iran,” Halevy contends. He argues for a combination of increased economic pressure and a diplomatic opening that attempts to speak to Iran’s “national aspirations” and its shared interests with America and the West — and even Israel.

“Iranians, including those in government, know that acceptance of Israel is not just something they have to accept but something that might bring their deliverance,” Halevy maintains.

The former spy chief also argues that Ahmadinejad’s fiery rhetoric masks a deep split within Iran over the country’s future. “I believe that behind their bombastic statements there is a desperate fear that they are going down a path that would have dire consequences,” he says. “They don’t know how to extricate themselves. We have to find creative ways to help them escape from their rhetoric.”

Halevy, who made many secret visits to Iran during the days of the shah, argues that rather than rattling sabers the West should be looking for dialogue with Tehran. “A creative and constructive approach to Iran’s concerns — not the dreams of their fanatic president to effect the demise of Israel — might move them to see that their self-interest would be better served by taking alternative paths.”

Halevy takes a similarly contrarian view about Syria. “Damascus is now ripe for peace negotiation,” he says. He argues that the Syrians are signaling their interest in such a negotiation and that the details of an agreement were worked out during extensive talks in the 1990s. The Syrian track might be a breakthrough, he argues, because an accommodation with Damascus might bring along the rest of the Arab world, lead to a settlement in Lebanon and undermine Syria’s current alliance with Iran.

If the Syrians are serious about a dialogue with Israel, they should send a clear signal, Halevy advises. They should urge Hezbollah to release the Israeli prisoners it is holding or limit the activities of Hamas offices in Damascus. “Do a little,” he urges the Syrians. “Start the ball rolling.”

Halevy has battled for decades for Israel’s security, launching hundreds of secret missions over the years to defend the Jewish state. So he has earned the right to offer iconoclastic advice about his country’s strategic interests. At this delicate moment, he suggests, war talk about Iran is a mistake. “Sensible Iranians are not in short supply,” he confides. The challenge is to find them and to begin a serious conversation.

November 10th, 2007, 1:57 pm


sam said:

Pride is a powerfull force. Especially if your an Arab. But why can’t the western world and it’s leaders admitt that ALL the problems in the mid east can be solved by going through Damascus. When I mean all the the mid east problems, I mean ALL. The price wouldn’t even be bad, it would be practically bottom dollar. Going through Damascus can solve the Lebanon issue, Iraq, Palestine, and would be a good go-between to Iran. Syria is holding the keys to stability with its political connections in all directions. Bush is biggest problem is his pride. He can’t ask for help. especially from the only one’s that can help!!!!!!!

November 10th, 2007, 3:01 pm


norman said:

This where Israel is pushing the US ,

Alarm that rings a bell
Inayat Bunglawala
November 9, 2007 4:32 PM

The news last week that the UK government was sending the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious to the Gulf next spring has raised concerns that this exercise is meant to coincide with plans for a military strike on Iran before the US president, George Bush, leaves office. The UK government insists that the deployment has been “planned for a while” and we should not read anything into their announcement.

As we continue to be spectators to the awful human impact – see Madeleine Bunting’s article on Monday – of the criminally reckless decision to go to war against Iraq – could it be that the US president is really contemplating opening a new front by authorising a bombing campaign against Iran?

With Iraq, we were fed a steady diet of exaggerated claims about its supposed WMD capability. Now with Iran, we are again hearing similar warnings that it is unacceptable that its leaders should be allowed to get their hands on a nuclear weapon which we are told – by many of the same voices that acted as cheerleaders for the war against Iraq – they are bent on acquiring.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph earlier this week, Daniel Hannan, informed us proudly that he was “the only leader writer on [the Telegraph] who argued against the Iraq war”. This presumably is meant to assure us that he is one of their more rational voices. But hold on. He then goes on to add that he is now convinced that we must take action against Iran because he is sure that “the reason the ayatollahs want the bomb is so that they can use it.”

Hannan goes on to suggest several escalating steps that should be taken against Iran.

Step 1: “Proper” sanctions which would include the seizure of Iranian assets.

Step 2: “Sponsoring internal dissent.”

Step 3: “Armed siege, complete with no-fly zone and targeted air strikes.”

Lest we may think this is all rather mad following the ongoing catastrophe we have helped create in Iraq, Hannan warns us – apparently without the tiniest bit of awareness of any irony – that:

“Iran has never shown much respect for state sovereignty.”

Clearly, having a basic knowledge of 20th century history and certain key events which may have impacted on Iranian attitudes towards the outside world such as the 1953 UK/US-led coup against the democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister Musaddiq, is not quite a prerequisite for being a Telegraph leader writer.

Indeed, following the recent visit of the Saudi King to the UK, the Iranian people may not be entirely remiss in concluding that the UK/US governments – and now Sarkozy’s government in France too – will only be mollified if they are able to replace the current Iranian leadership with a Shah-type despot who will happily squander Iran’s oil earnings by spending it on huge arms purchases from the west. I have no idea whether the Iranians do in fact have a covert programme to acquire a nuclear weapon, but who can blame them if they now believe that acquiring such a capability is essential if they are to maintain their independence as a nation from aggressive and predatory outside powers?

Here in the UK, the government has made very clear its intention to upgrade our own Trident nuclear submarine capability at a staggering projected cost of £20bn.

A 2002 Ministry of Defence report (pdf), The Strategic Defence Review: A New Chapter, concluded that:

“The UK’s nuclear weapons have a continuing use as a means of deterring major strategic military threats, and they have a continuing role in guaranteeing the ultimate security of the UK.”

Can we really be surprised if the Iranians have also concluded likewise?

Furthermore, our own murky role in the recent history of the Middle East is becoming more apparent by the day.

As recent documents have shown, the UK government played a key role in helping Israel to acquire nuclear weapons. Israel’s nuclear capability and its repeated attacks on neighbouring states has surely contributed to the desire of regional countries to also obtain the same. The latest Israeli attack was on Syria just a few weeks ago. Do you recall hearing a single word of condemnation from either London or Washington? Now just imagine if the reverse scenario had occurred and it had been Syria that had bombed facilities in Israel, would the very same US/UK governments have remained so mute?

Back on November 5 2002, the then Israeli premier, Ariel Sharon, told the Times that “the day the United States finishes with Iraq, it should start with Iran”.

Sadly, he may yet get his wish.

November 10th, 2007, 4:03 pm


Alex said:

Where is Israeliguy? : )

I would like to make use of Halevy’s opinions to remind you of your “i disagree with you”s when we debated the same issues

1) I claimed that a just peace agreement with Syria will bring great benefits to Israel, and you said “you are selling Israel used Toyota … we don’t need to have peace with Syria like we used to in the 70’s or 80’s”

2) I claimed that the Iranian threat is really not a threat .. that you are greatly exaggerating it .. that the Iranian regime is not suicidal .. that they know they can not wipe Israel of the map … and you said that the Iranian threat is very serious and that you can not live with it and that you are willing to risk pushing the whole middle east to a destructive war in order to reduce your fears of Iran.

I’m happy that your former Mossad head, agrees with me, not you : )

Remember Avi Dichter, former head of Shin Bet? … he wants peace with Syria and the return of the Golan Heights.

Same in the United states … CIA people want to talk to Syria… big time.

But the politicians in both Israel and the United States are not listening.

November 10th, 2007, 5:03 pm


Ford Prefect said:

I thought the discussion was about Israel as a beacon of democracy in the Middle East and the question posed was “when will the Arabs learn” from it. What you have referred to is irrelevant to that discussion.

But, if you are trying to get me to say that the Arabs suck in their treatment of the Palestinians, then here it is: Arab rulers (including the moderate, democratic ones receiving kudos from the US administration) SUCK in their treatment of their own subjects including the Palestinians. Again: THEY SUCK. If that is the reason Israel is doing it, then it sucks too.

Now, what we need to learn from Israel is how to take some land from others (preferably by force), call it our own (annexing it would be nice), ignore all UN resolutions, build a nice wall around it, have some of our own, most-vicious settlers move in, and call that process “fighting terrorism”. It would be also nice to give the Arab people freedom and democracy while we do that (that will certainly keep them busy).

That what would be needed to answer the question from AnotherIsraeliGuy when he said “When will the Arab learn?”

November 10th, 2007, 5:38 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Obseerver replies:

Such a pity that Zionism cannot evolve and divorce itself from its twin monster Anti-semitism and such a pity to see the Zionisation of political movements around the world.

Zionism didn’t create anti-semitism. It is a haven for those that have endured it. Unfortunately, it is alive and well today in the Arab and Muslim media.

This is what Ernest Renan said about nationalism: ” a myth about a people’s past combined with visceral haterd of the neighbour”.

Nationalism exists today throughout the world. Not only in Israel, but also in Palestine and throughout the Middle East. There is nothing wrong with it.

November 10th, 2007, 5:54 pm


Alex said:


Nationalism could be good … in moderation. But in some societies it could morph into other undesirable phenomena … racism, arrogance, aggression, selfishness.

November 10th, 2007, 6:52 pm


Jamal said:

Go Ford Prefect! Beautifully said.

And thanks, Observer. Keep it coming.

I also really like Alex’s and Ernest Renan’s (via Observer)sharp descriptions of Israeli “nationalism”.

Other places get by with patriotism, but it’s never enough for Israel. Nothing’s ever enough for Israel.

A grudging thanks to AP and AIG for inspiring the others to debate.

November 10th, 2007, 7:53 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Jamal states:

A grudging thanks to AP and AIG for inspiring the others to debate.

A gruding “your welcome”.

Other places get by with patriotism, but it’s never enough for Israel. Nothing’s ever enough for Israel.


I won’t let your “dig” (which is what we do here on Syria Comment) against Israel go unnoticed. What is “never enough” for Israel besides her desire for secure borders.

November 10th, 2007, 8:30 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

the comment by AP is very ridiculous, it doesnot make sense at all.
zionism created anti-zionism.
Arab are semitic, AP is anti semitic, since he is anti arab.

November 10th, 2007, 8:31 pm


SimoHurtta said:

Akbar is this anti-Semitism? Meaning mentioning it.

A Jewish college student who reported swastikas on her dorm door drew some of them herself. Interesting to see what kind of verdict will Sarah Marshak get. I suppose it doesn’t even go to court. But if a Muslim or a Christian would have been doing the same drawing the US court would not be forgiving. The Muslim had landed in jail for years and the Christian would probably had to pay considerable fines and thrown out of the university.

When a Jew makes in secret symbols, which are seen as anti-Semitic, in order to get a reason to complain about anti Semitism, how should it be seen? How organized and widespread is this on US campuses Akbar? Embarrassing when young extremist sisters are arrested making propaganda, isn’t it Akbar. Or do you see that the sister is only “nationalistic” in trying to advocate her cause?

November 10th, 2007, 9:03 pm


Alex said:


Her desire to destroy the whole middle east in order to show that rude Ahmadinejad, who dared to insult Israel, who is the boss.

November 10th, 2007, 9:05 pm


Observer said:

This from Alain Gresh the editor of Le Monde Diplomatique
How to Turn a Region Into a Graveyard

Uncle Sam’s New Backyard


When the US decided that its backyard would in future be a greater Middle East –from Pakistan to Morocco –it imagined that it could rearrange the region to suit itself. The results have been disastrous and will be long-lasting.

The United States undersecretary of state, Nicholas Burns, said this year: “Ten years ago Europe was the epicentre of American foreign policy. This was how things stood from April 1917, when Woodrow Wilson sent one million American troops to the Western Front, through to President Clinton’s intervention in Kosovo in 1999. For the better part of the 20th century, Europe was our primary, vital focus.” But, he added, everything had changed and the Middle East was now, for President George Bush and his successors, “the place that Europe once was for the administrations of the 20th century” .

President Bush had said much the same a while earlier: “The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time. On one side are those who believe in freedom and moderation. On the other side are extremists who kill the innocent, and have declared their intention to destroy our way of life” .

This broader Middle East is an ill-defined area extending from Pakistan, through the Horn of Africa to Morocco. Since 9/11 it has become the main theatre for the deployment of US military power and the decisive, even the sole, battlefield in what the US sees as a global conflict. The region’s oil resources and strategic position, and the presence of Israel, have made it a US priority, particularly since the French and British began to withdraw after 1956. As Philippe Croz-Vincent has pointed out in a subtle analysis of the “American moment”, the Middle East has replaced Latin America as the US backyard (Vertiges de la puissance. Le moment américain au Moyen-Orient, La Découverte, Paris, 2007). But with a major difference: Latin America was never a crucial battlefield in a third world war.

The landscape of the Middle East has been redrawn. This was the objective of Pentagon strategists and the neo-conservatives; but it is doubtful whether the results match their dreams of remodelling the region to secure the lasting hold that the French and British established after the first world war.

Western forces are directly involved in ferocious conflicts across the broader Middle East. Afghanistan has collapsed into chaos, dragging US and Nato troops down with it. It will be hard to heal the wounds in Iraq, where religious and ethnic rivalries and resistance to foreign occupation have caused hundreds of thousands of casualties –more, according to some observers, than the Rwandan genocide.

Lebanon is mired in a silent civil war between Fuad Siniora’s government and the opposition, centred on Hizbullah and Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement; despite a significant UN presence, the war with Israel could resume at any moment. Colonization and repression have accelerated the geographical and social fragmentation of Palestine, and the possibly irreversible collapse of the national movement. Since Ethiopia’s US-backed intervention in December 2006, Somalia has been called the “new front in the war on terror”. Then there are Darfur, the tensions in Pakistan, a “terrorist threat” in North Africa and the possibility of a new confrontation between Syria and Israel.

All these conflicts have been subsumed into a US world view that projects a specific meaning on to them. During and after the cold war, the US (like the Soviet Union) viewed any crisis in the light of the East-West conflict. So the issue in Nicaragua during the 1970s and 1980s was not the Sandinista struggle against a brutal dictatorship in an attempt to build a fairer society, but the danger that the country might become part of an “evil empire” . This cost the people of Nicaragua a decade of war and destruction. The US is indifferent to the problems of the Palestinians, the crisis in Somalia or the sectarian conflict in Lebanon; it is fixated on a global confrontation between good and evil. And this discourse feeds al-Qaida’s vision of a continuing war against Jews and crusaders.

This dichotomy has turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy, which local forces have exploited for their own ends. Somalia’s transitional federal government –corrupt, incompetent warlords –persuaded the White House that international terrorism was at work. The US responded by encouraging Ethiopian military intervention in an attempt to expel the Union of Islamic Courts forces that had seized Mogadishu six months previously . Global preconceptions eclipsed the real internal situation. Christian Ethiopia’s invasion of its Muslim neighbour served only to enhance the credibility of ultra-radical Islamist groups.

Lebanon is a fragile entity that depends upon a subtle sectarian alchemy. By deciding to support one side against the other, the US and France made any internal resolution more difficult. Lebanon has become a battleground where the West and its allies can confront Iran and Syria. And any compromise, however necessary, is in danger of being perceived as a victory for the “forces of evil”.

As they have multiplied, the conflicts have become interrelated. Weapons, combatants and skills move across porous frontiers, sometimes in the wake of hundreds of thousands of refugees driven into exile by the fighting. Over the past two years combat techniques pioneered in Iraq have spread to Afghanistan –the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) against troop transports, and suicide bombings, which were unknown during the Soviet occupation (and which have now also spread to Algeria).

This summer, in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in Lebanon, hundreds of fighters, many of them foreigners who fought in Iraq, held out for more than three months against the Lebanese army. There are thousands of Arab, Pakistani and central Asian combatants now on the loose, all trained in Iraq. Others, trained by the US and Pakistan to resist the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, migrated to terrorist groups in Egypt, Algeria and elsewhere, as well as into al-Qaida. All these wars have encouraged a profitable trade: weapons handed out to the Iraqi security forces are now in the hands of Turkish criminals.

All this, on top of decades of dictatorship and corruption, has helped weaken states in the region. Some, like Afghanistan, have collapsed. The current break-up of Iraq is not due solely to the present conflict. A 13-year embargo (1990-2003) undermined the state and opened the door to Salafist (Sunni) influence, which filtered in along clandestine routes from Jordan with food, medicine, weapons and radical ideas. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and Syria, unable to ignore the instability on their borders, are all directly or indirectly pursuing their own agendas within Iraq. Attempts to rebuild central authority in Lebanon have fizzled out. The Palestinian Authority is dependent upon foreign military and economic aid, and the support of the Israeli government. Areas like Iraqi Kurdistan and Gaza are becoming autonomous and feeding the separatist ambitions of Turkey’s Kurds and the Baluch of Iran and Pakistan.

The unprecedented influence of armed groups makes any negotiation more difficult. They hold the whip hand in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia. Hizbullah dominates Lebanon; Hamas controls Gaza. They have proved formidably effective against the US in Iraq and against Nato in Afghanistan.

In Lebanon, Hizbullah held out for 33 days against the Israelis and changed the rules of the game: for the first time since 1948-49 a significant number of Israeli civilians were forced to abandon their homes. Despite being holed up in Gaza, Hamas is still capable of launching rockets into Israel. (On October 7 a Katyusha-type missile, more accurate and of longer range than the Qassam, was fired from Gaza into Israel.)

Rudimentary, but effective and easily replaceable, munitions (IEDs, Qassam rockets, anti-tank weapons) define the limits of US and Israeli military power.
The late Ze’ev Schiff, military correspondent of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, gave a realistic assessment: “Even if we declare dozens of times that Hamas is under pressure and wants a ceasefire, it will not erase the fact that in the battle for Sderot, Israel has in effect been defeated [it] is experiencing something in Sderot that it has not experienced since the war of independence, if ever: the enemy has silenced an entire city and brought normal life there to a halt” .
The political impasse in Palestine, the fragmentation of states and US military interventions have created a suicidal sense of despair and lend weight to the extremist assertions of al-Qaida.

On August 31, 2006, following the kidnapping in Gaza by an unknown group of two Fox News journalists, the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan published an article on the third generation of Islamist militants emerging in Palestine to challenge Hamas and Islamic Jihad. They were described as having no mass support, rejecting any compromise, refusing to play by the rules of the political game, not targeting just Israelis and not limiting their demands to Palestine. The ability of groups claiming allegiance to al-Qaida to develop in Iraq and Afghanistan, to penetrate the Palestinian camps in Lebanon and establish themselves in North Africa and Somalia demonstrates the pressure that ideological extremism is capable of exerting on fragile borders.

The nationalism that has structured the broader Middle East since 1918 is now under threat from the resurgence of ethnic and religious identity –a process encouraged, consciously or not, by General David Petraeus, the current US commander in Iraq, who led the 101st Airborne Division that captured Mosul in 2003.

One of his first decisions was to create an elected council to represent the city, with separate polls for Kurds, Arabs, Turkmens and Christians. No mention of Iraqis. By reducing the region to a mosaic of minorities, US policy forces everyone to identify with their community, to the detriment of any national or other loyalty. This undermines national cohesion and fosters conflict in Iraq now and possibly in Syria and Iran tomorrow. It encourages outside regional or international parties to intervene, manipulating local factions in pursuit of their own interests. Israel has been particularly guilty of this since the 1980s.

During Bush’s first term, the neocons developed the doctrine of “constructive instability” in the Middle East . As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said while Israel was bombing Lebanon in July 2006: “What we’re seeing here is, in a sense, the growing –the birth pangs of a new Middle East; and whatever we do, we have to be certain that we’re pushing forward to the new Middle East, not going back to the old Middle East.”

The cynicism of her remarks provoked caustic comments at the time, but she was, in a sense, right: since 9/11 we have witnessed the emergence of a new Middle East that bears no resemblance to anything that US politicians might have envisaged, and which has become a major and lasting destabilising factor in the world.

Alain Gresh is editor of Le Monde diplomatique and a specialist on the Middle East

Translated by Donald Hounam

November 10th, 2007, 9:12 pm


IsraeliGuy said:

Alex, this type of internal debate happens all the time in Israel, on any possible issue you could imagine.

On every ex Mossad chief who says X, you’ll find another one who says Y.
On every former IDF chief who says X, you’ll find another one who says Y.

And as you already know – on every former CIA guy who says X, you’ll find another one who says Y.

Halevy says in the interview that “an accommodation with Damascus might bring along the rest of the Arab world, lead to a settlement in Lebanon and undermine Syria’s current alliance with Iran”.

First, the word “might” that he uses is not good enough for me.
It’s like placing a bet on the casino table and the chip is pretty expensive.
No thanks.

Furthermore, I can’t see how an agreement with Syria will lead to a settlement in Lebanon and undermine Syria’s current alliance with Iran.

And how will an agreement “bring the Arab world”?
The Palestinian issue is far more important to the Arab world than the Syrian one.
his view doesn’t make sense to me.

He’s one of those guys that thinks that Syria can be ‘flipped’, I guess : )
The commentators here, don’t seem to agree with him.

Last, today Israel and Syria have a a de facto peace between them – most of the time.
The only real changes that we’re gonna see if a peace agreement will be signed are:

1. We’ll have a formal piece of paper with signatures on it.

2. We’ll have 2 new embassies – one in Tel Aviv and one in Damascus.

That’s basically it.

The major geopolitical changes which Halevy envisions, which “might” happen seem unrealistic to me.

He sounds like a desperate roulette player that shouts “oh, bring me 7, bring me 7 baby…” while the roulette ball is spinning. : )

November 10th, 2007, 9:12 pm


why-discuss said:

Please stop accusing the arabs of been antisemite!
When the whole christian Europe was percecuting the jews, arabs were not. Islam recognizes and respect the Jewish, christians and zoroastrian religions as Religions of the Book. Since the middle age, Christianity has accused the jews of the murder of Jesus and have taught all christians that the jews were bad people and treated them at a low level with all kind of restrictions on work and humiliations. This was never the case in an arab country.

Arabs have become anti-jews since 1948 because the Jews consider a land stolen to them and kept through a cycle of violence as their country. Arabs are anti-Israel, and anti any one who actively supports Israel in its constant agression and despise of the palestinian people.
I think many europeans countries, who do not have the excuse of having been robbed by the jews, are still more anti jews than the arabs even today, of course in private.

November 10th, 2007, 9:21 pm


Alex said:

IG, (and everyone)

I just released your two messages from the spam filter. If one of your messages does not show up, please do not try to post it again… it will go again to the spam folder and the software will be more sure that you are a spammer.

send me or joshua an email to let me know. Unfortunately, this blog receives thousands of spam messages every day .. the anti spam software is getting less tolerant since 99% of the messages we get are really from spammers.

November 10th, 2007, 9:29 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

And by the way, this is what HaLevy recommended Syria do in the article you posted:
If the Syrians are serious about a dialogue with Israel, they should send a clear signal, Halevy advises. They should urge Hezbollah to release the Israeli prisoners it is holding or limit the activities of Hamas offices in Damascus. “Do a little,” he urges the Syrians. “Start the ball rolling.”

So are the Syrians serious? Since you put so much weight in what he says, do you not accept his test for seriousness?

November 10th, 2007, 9:41 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I read that a Finn just murdered people in a school. Aren’t you embarssed that all Finns are murderers? Oh, of course this argument is ridiculous, but you use such argumentation all the time which makes you a racist. You give an example of a Jew or Israeli do something bad and then suggest that this is wide spread and applies to most Jews or Israelis. Very basic racist tactics.

The paragraph below is this tactic put to use by Sim:
“When a Jew makes in secret symbols, which are seen as anti-Semitic, in order to get a reason to complain about anti Semitism, how should it be seen? How organized and widespread is this on US campuses Akbar? Embarrassing when young extremist sisters are arrested making propaganda, isn’t it Akbar. Or do you see that the sister is only “nationalistic” in trying to advocate her cause? ”

Notice the “how organized and widespread is this on US campuses” question? Of course it is not common at all and Sim has no evidence to support this claim but by raising the question he is subtely moving the blame from one Jew to many Jews. Sim is a sophisticated but nevertheless vile racist.

November 10th, 2007, 9:50 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Please explain the Damscus Blood Libel.

Under “Aftermath” please notice that there were pogroms in the Arab world including several in Syria: Aleppo (1850, 1875), Damascus (1840, 1848, 1890)

Now, do you still claim anti-Jewish sentiment in the Arab world was just because of the founding of Israel? Arabs happily bought the idea that Jews kill people for ritual purposes and then proceeded to murder and rape Jews because of this in the 19th century. If this is not racism, I don’t know what is.

November 10th, 2007, 9:57 pm


Alex said:


I understand. Your opinion is shared with most right-wing politicians who want the extremists to re-elect them, mine is shared with retired heads of Intelligence agencies who do not care if anyone will elect them and therefore can tell us about their extensive experience without filtering or reversing their own opinions.

: )

Syria will not be “flipped” .. because Syria is not doing anything wrong. It is wrong to “flip” Syria… it is wrong to tie progress on the peace process to flipping Syria… when Syria proved that it can read the Middle East better than America and all its friends combined, it would be stupid for those blind leaders to try to flip the only player in the area who can see clearly.

This is crazy! … as if they are bargining in a market … we’ll give you the Golan if you give us something big in return … you have to cut relations with Iran!

Why don’t you ask Turkey to cut relations with Iran?? … Syria after peace will reduce its alliance with Iran to the Turkey-Iran type of relations .. friendly, cooperative.

You want Syria to gain Israel as a friend but to turn Iran into an enemy in the process!

You are ridiculing the wiser voices: Helevy’s dealing with Iran in a positive way is smarter and more productive that going to war with Iran.

I will repeat my conclusion: Most Israelis are hooked on the thrill of waiting for the next glorious performance of the IDF … no matter how you try to intellectualize every position you have on each conflict … you are for the option which will allow the IDF to still play a major future role … they are your favorite sports team .. the champions. You will not send them into retirement.

Before you disagree, here is a good example from your comments above:

“an accommodation with Damascus might bring along the rest of the Arab world, lead to a settlement in Lebanon and undermine Syria’s current alliance with Iran”.

First, the word “might” that he uses is not good enough for me.
It’s like placing a bet on the casino table and the chip is pretty expensive.
No thanks.

You are saying that you refuse to start meeting the Syrians and discussion peace, you are going to not accept the same security arrangements that the late Rabin accepted int he 90’s (everything is practically finalized) … you are not going to live with “might”

The last time I checked … everyone else on earth lives with “might” .. only God knows things with certainty. If you use the fact that nothing is guaranteed in advance to reject everything peaceful … then you are intellectualizing … you are not for peace with Syria .. you are much more excited about rading the news of the “successful secret operation” on the mystery box in eastern Syria… there .. you support that operation (which could have led to a serious war) even if you have almost 100% uncertainty … it was a mysterious mission when you first supported it.

SO if the IDF is acting .. you accept 100% uncertainty .. if peace lovers and wise retired Mossad head propose peaceful solutions … you can not accept ANY uncertainty.

November 10th, 2007, 9:57 pm


Alex said:


Yes, I absolutely agree with him on the Syria part too .. Syria is too rigid in that sense .. they absolutely need to do something more to communicate good intentions to the Israeli people.

Not the Hamas thing, because honestly … Egypt send Hamas all their weapons, the rich Arabs send them donations. Asking Syria to close a Hamas office will not change a thing and it will make many Palestinians hate Syria … if you want peace with SYria to succeed before you have finalized a solution with Palestinians, you would try to help Syria to avoid being hated by the Palestinians … it is in Israel’s interest to allow Syria to remain the most trusted country by Hamas .. the elected representative of the Palestinian people.

I know most Israeli people would like to see Hamas kicked out of Damascus. It is a big mistake.

I am not a fan of Hamas by the way, but the same way I dislike Likud and its ways, I understand one does not pick which of his popular enemies he can eliminate by force.

November 10th, 2007, 10:04 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Making peace with tyrants is dishonorable. I am sure you understand this language. That is why most Israelis are against it. HaLevy is a realist in political affairs. Most Israelis are not. We do not want a sham peace based on short term interests. We want a real peace between two democracies, a peace that is really supported by the two peoples.

November 10th, 2007, 10:07 pm


Alex said:


YOU will never have peace between two democracies if you don’t star with the “peace” with whoever is in Syria now.

We’ve been at it for decades now … there is no peace without Syria. In the past, the Middle East was quiet enough to live with this no-peace and no war. But with the Iraq war .. with the fundamentalists creating more challenges every day … you will have to either burn the Middle East (and get burned in the process) or take a chance on the “Syrian dictator”

One last time .. YOU are not morally any better … Syria went half way to accept to sign peace with the most violent country in the Middle East … I don’t think you can complain.

November 10th, 2007, 10:13 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I disagree totally with your future predictions and will take my chances. Since 73 the middle east has not burned and there was not war with Syria. As you said several times, Syria is not stupid to start a war, so why should I be worried? Their inaction to the Israeli raid just showed how weak Syria is.

Where did I claim that I am morally any better than someone else? I will not sign a peace agreement with a tyrant whatever your distorted view of Israel is. It is just against my principles and I find it extermely dishonorable. Tyrants need to be stood up to, not given legitimacy. And yes, standing up to them has a cost, which I am willing to pay and have already paid. Freedom is not cheap.

November 10th, 2007, 10:33 pm


IsraeliGuy said:

Dear Alex,

You’ll have to be extremely naive not to see it as market bargaining.
Of course it is.
Always was, always will be.

Each side has interests, needs, aspirations, dreams, etc.
Each side is willing to give something in order to get something.

Sometimes the maximum one side is willing to give doesn’t meet the minimum of what the other side wants to get and that’s the situation that we’re having.

Such a condition leads to either one of the 3:
1. A continuation of the status quo.
2. A war.
3. A major compromise and / or a major policy change, which leads to an agreement.

Here’s how I see it: if you can’t flip Syria, then a peace agreement is pointless.

We’ll have the continuation of the status quo and the only 2 new changes will be a framed treaty which will be stored at the state archive and 2 embassies.

A very poor deal in my opinion.

Now, don’t get me wrong.
Personally, I don’t think that Syria is ‘flippable’ and I’m not sitting all day long, anxiously waiting for Syria to flip.

I totally understand that it won’t happen.
I’m realistic.

On the other hand, giving the Golan for ‘peace’ with no far reaching geopolitical change in the region regarding Syria, Iran, Hamas and Lebanon seems insane to me.

It’s like paying $1,000,000 cash for a $5 McDonald’s discount coupon.

Regarding the discussions that Rabin held with Syria, I feel that I owe Hafez Al Assad a big hug and a bouquet of roses for not compromising on the last few meters.

Assad Sr. saved Israel big time from a very poor deal.

I have a lot of respect for the late PM Rabin and I really appreciated and respected him, but I feel that he was completely wrong on the Syrian issue.

And a final note on the “might” factor that you seem to comfortably live with.

How will you respond if I’ll give you the following offer: let’s sign a peace agreement for 100 years and we “might” give you the Golan after that period ends.

Now, before answering negatively, please remember that everyone else on earth lives with “might” .. only God knows things with certainty. If you use the fact that nothing is guaranteed in advance to reject everything peaceful … then you are intellectualizing … you are not for peace with Israel.

Do we have a deal? : )
Can I prepare the Champagne bottles?

November 10th, 2007, 11:22 pm


SimoHurtta said:

Notice the “how organized and widespread is this on US campuses” question? Of course it is not common at all and Sim has no evidence to support this claim but by raising the question he is subtely moving the blame from one Jew to many Jews. Sim is a sophisticated but nevertheless vile racist.

AIG it is difficult to believe, that a young woman, especially freshman in the university, would begin to paint Nazi symbols without somebody “remote controlling” her. Normally the one’s who do such things are young men or boys, extremely rarely girls. Also the girl’s deliberate intention to use the anti-Semitic symbols for propaganda reasons shows that it was planned, not a sudden “drunken joke”. We all know how organized the Zionist students in USA are and how eager they are to show the “growing” anti-Semitism in USA. What is the fastest way in showing “growing anti-Semitism”? Naturally creating evidence.

I didn’t blame “many” Jews. I made the perfectly valid question is this organized and a tip of an iceberg.

What comes to the tragic school shooting in Finland. That was an tragic event made by an mentally sick boy which happen sometimes. This was the first such event in this magnitude in Finnish history. The boy had serious problems with his views of mankind. He thought that only a few percent of mankind are superior to others. A person with a serious Ûbermensch fixation. By the way AIG the other guy, Dylan Bennet Klebold, in Columbine school shooting was a Jew (mother is Jewish). Some though rather unreliable sources even say that also the other guy, Eric David Harris, was a Jew.

Should we AIG continue the discussion about this school shooting topic, I think not.

November 10th, 2007, 11:53 pm


Alex said:


On the bargaining question … Don’t worry, I am not exceptionally naive .. and I explained in the past that I studied enough courses in grad business school to know that successful deals are supposed to be attractive to both sides.

The best proof is the failure of your one-way attempts of settling your presence with the Palestinians in Gaza and the Shia Lebanese in south Lebanon. Withdrawing unilaterally does not work for Israel. Withdrawing after a fairly negotiated agreement (without forcing your will on the other party) like the one Kissinger sponsored between Syria and Israel in 1974 has a much higher chance of success.

So basically …. You want to be more cautious than Rabin, Dichter, and Halevy … all of them spent their lives making sure that Israel is safe and secure …

When it comes to the question of peace with Syria .. they are all naive like Alex, huh? : )

Look .. did you ever hear me quoting This gentleman??

In case you forgot who are these people who concluded that peace with Syria is a good deal with Israel, here is what Time magazine said about Avi Dichter:

It’s not as though Ariel Sharon is reluctant to listen to a hard line on security, but it helps when the tough talk comes from someone he trusts. Sharon’s Mr. Security is Avi Dichter, head of the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic spy and security service. (The Mossad handles foreign intelligence.) According to Israeli intelligence officials, he has had a more profound effect on the Prime Minister’s handling of Palestinian terrorists than any other adviser. “He has the Prime Minister’s ear,” says a senior Israeli security official. With 27 years’ service in the Shin Bet, the mild-looking Dichter, who once worked as an undercover, in-flight security guard for El Al, knows how to talk to Sharon, who likes to hear details and facts rather than opinions.

So … prime minister Sharon’s tough guy is also naive and you know how to calculate Israel’s security probabilities much better.

If fliping Syria was in Israel’s best interest I would have told you “leave that to the negotiating table and they can discuss it through give and take” … but it is not good for Israel to flip Syria!! … It is not good for Israel or anyone in the Middle East to try to choke Hamas and try to destroy Iran … you have to talk to them the same way they have to talk to you even though you are their enemy.

And you still did not tell me: why don’t you try to flip Turkey too if it was such a necessary thing for Israel to gain out of peace settlement with Syria?

“flipping Syria” is not a prize for Israel … what do you want to tell your grand children int heir history books? .. we gave Syria the Golan and in exchange .. we flipped them”?

I think this version sound more logical: “We gave the Syrians back their Golan heights after we realized that they are ready for peace with Israel. After we signed a peace treaty with Syria, a treaty with Lebanon followed… and the Arab world started to gradually open up to Israel and to Israelis and to Israeli goods. Opinions in both Israel and the Arab world changed dramatically …. within years the agreement with the Palestinians was also signed to both sides’ satisfaction”

Don’t ask me to guarantee you anything .. ask Avi Dichter, your Mr. security… or ask God.

November 11th, 2007, 12:39 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

You are digging your own hole. There is no evidence that this woman was given orders to do what she did, you are just supposing this and portraying how racist you are. You are casting a shadow on a whole community based on the actions of one person.

As for the shootings, you completely missed my point but were still able to insert additional racist remarks. Oh well.

November 11th, 2007, 1:15 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I would not want to tell my grandchildren that I succumbed to the blackmail of a tyrant and let down the democratic aspirations of the Syrians for 200 years. I will tell them that Israel contained Asad and confronted him and that this gave the Syrians the opportunity to create a democracy on their own and this is why we have peace in the middle east now. That is the only real scenario irregardless of what the realist that are looking for quick political gains say. That is why Netanyahu will be elected and not them.

November 11th, 2007, 1:19 am


IsraeliGuy said:


Rabin, Dichter, and Halevy are good people with experience and opinions which are countered by other good Israelis with experience and quite different opinions – so?

I listen to everybody, give them a fair chance to make their case and then make my own choices.

Are they all naive?
Well, some are indeed naive, some are too optimistic, some formed a wishful thinking attitude, some are not realistic and some are just wrong.

As you see, Halevy talks about peace with Syria as a potential way to ‘flip’ Syria and change the geopolitical reality in a dramatic way.

But you seem to happily adopt the “Let’s make peace with Syria” part and totally reject the Syrian ‘flipping’ part, which Halevy describes.

In other words, you yourself, demonstrate how unrealistic Halevy’s philosophy is – right?

Regarding Turkey, why should we flip it?
They don’t have any territorial demands from us, so basically, Israel and Turkey have what you may define as a ‘Peace for Peace’ relationship.

If Syria is also interested in a ‘Peace for Peace’ solution with Israel, just like with Turkey, then I agree with you.

In such a case Israel shouldn’t demand any flipping from Syria on any front.
After all, ‘Peace for Peace’ is a fair and balanced approach and it’s like an equal barter: you give me peace on your side, I give you peace on mine.

But Syria want much much more – right?
So Israel wants much more too and if you want Israel to make a huge sacrifice, you will have to do the same (big time flipping).

Anything less than that is just a very poor deal.

You seem to describe a process where a peace with Syria will be followed by peace with Lebanon and then… the Arab world.

I’m saying it once again: it’s the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which has more weight in the Arab world and is the (much) more significant one in Arab eyes.

If we have peace tomorrow (the way you want it to be), it still moves Israel nowhere until it resolves its conflict with the Palestinians, which is the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The Syrian-Israeli conflict is just some gravy on the side of the main dish.
Resolving it means nothing in terms of the general Israel – Arab world relationship.

November 11th, 2007, 1:29 am


Alex said:


I understand. You believe Netanyahu and Cheney have the right ideas for peace and democracy int he Middle East.


My last comment today before dinner.

1) “flipping Syria” is not a product you can benefit from. Peace and good relations with the Arab world are. If you are arguing that peace with Syria will not be enough to help the rest of the Arab world feel more at ease having their own relations with Israel (until Palestinian problem is solved), then I will remind you of your own arguments two months ago here that “Israel does not need peace with Syria because the Arab world is gradually opening up to Israel anyway .. Qatar and Saudi Arabia and …and … ”

Decide .. either they are opening up anyway, or they will not open up to you even if you settle with Syria and Lebanon.

a reminder: I always said : peace with syria AND a good progress on the Palestinian track are necessary to start opening up the Arab world to Israel.

2) Flipping Syria is not about “what do I get in exhange for the Golan” … it is about reducing the perceived Hamas, Iran, and Hizbollah threats to Israel … Flipping Syria is only a tool, not objective by itself… you say that SYria is too weak to be a threat to Israel, so you simply want to flip Syria to reduce the real threats, no?

I am saying .. why don’t you try to flip Turkey then? … because Turkey also is a friend of Iran and Hamas.

Except if you believe that flipping Syria has an intrinsic value by itself. Does it?

And finally .. I don’t think you are paying attention to Halevy’s real message … you are only paying attntion to the word “flip”

It is it not obvious to you, please read it again slowly … Halevy does not believe in flipping Syria in order to facilitate attacking Iran of Hizbollah next … he wants to talk to Iran .. to help Iran … and to make Iran a friend of Israel !!!

Basically … he is an enlightened man.

One day you will be there, I know.

I will leave you again with the parts you are missing … especially the way he is telling you the same thig I told you las month .. that hte Iranian regime is more interested in its survival than to commit mutual suicide with Israel

Of course you found my opinion to be not reasonable.

Here are Halevy’s comments, and I will head to a nice Aleppo restaurant we have here in Montreal … Kebab time.

Even if the Iranians did obtain a nuclear weapon, says Halevy, “they are deterrable,” because for the mullahs, survival and perpetuation of the regime is a holy obligation.

“We must be much more sophisticated and nuanced in our policies toward Iran,” Halevy contends. He argues for a combination of increased economic pressure and a diplomatic opening that attempts to speak to Iran’s “national aspirations” and its shared interests with America and the West — and even Israel.

November 11th, 2007, 1:53 am


ausamaa said:

Please wake us all up when you find a way to filpp Syria!!

November 11th, 2007, 4:11 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I don’t know what Chenney’s ideas are, but Netanyahu surely has the right ideas and you will see that most Israelis will back him for prime minister in the next elections. There is the short path to a sham peace that will lead nowhere because it does not solve the underlying problems, and then there is a real peace that can only be made between peoples, and that will only happen when Syria is a democracy.

November 11th, 2007, 4:21 am


ausamaa said:

DEBKA-Net-Weekly: Bush in policy shake-up on key issues

(Read with Caution! The source is the Israeli propaganda-intelligence arm DEBKA files)

November 9, 2007, 6:43 PM (GMT+02:00)

Fourteen months before quitting the White House, US president George W. Bush is rewriting policy on such major issues as the oil and gas markets, the Middle East and a missile shield in E. Europe. Visiting French and German leaders may be the first to know.

The new White House directions were aired and examined for the first time in the current DEBKA-Net-Weekly out on Friday.

November 11th, 2007, 5:01 am


why-discuss said:


The Damascus affair

On February 5, 1840, Franciscan Capuchin friar Father Thomas and his Greek servant were reported missing, never to be seen again. The French consul Ratti Menton presented the case as one of ritual murder of the blood libel type, as the alleged murder occurred before the Jewish Passover. The Turkish governor supported him in this.

I am surprised you keep bringing this sinister affair as a proof of arab antisemitism!!! If you read well, the damas affair was a french, christian, ottoman initiated issue, probably for political reasons. Syria was ruled by the ottoman empire, so your argument is totally false as it does not apply to arabs but to ottomans and europeans..!
It just proves more my points that christians and europeans were inherently anti-semites, not the arabs.
Moslems and jews live in total harmony in Spain until the christian inquisitions and the expulsions of the jews and the arabs from Spain. Come on, stop discharging the european and christian guilt toward the jews on the arabs. I know you hate the idea that arabs dislike Israel because you love your country but don’t invoke reasons like antisemitism that is a pure european attitude of which the jews have suffered beyond some scarce attacks that all minorities are subject to, even today…

November 11th, 2007, 5:36 am


why-discuss said:

AIG and Akbar

Islam and anti-semitism

Read this for your own education and stop calling the arabs anti-semite, call them anti-israel, it is more correct!

November 11th, 2007, 6:18 am


Innocent_Criminal said:


“….and then there is a real peace that can only be made between peoples, and that will only happen when Syria is a democracy.”

you’re way way off the mark here and for mainly 2 reasons.

1. Egypt, Jordan & Israel have enforced their peace treaty relatively well, but all 3 countries are far being real democracies.

2. If there was a real democracy in arab countries such as Jordan, Egypt & Syria then i am sad to say non of these countries would accept a peace treaty with any of the recent Israeli governments. Actually, if the regimes in Jordan and Egypt are replaced by democratic ones that represent the people, then rest assured the peace treaties with Israel would be annulled the next day.

November 11th, 2007, 9:31 am


idaf said:

Israel on alert for Syria airstrike on Dimona

Uzi Mahnaimi, Tel Aviv

THE defensive missile shield around Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor was placed on red alert 30 times last week amid fears of an airstrike by Syria.

A battery of American-made Patriot antiaircraft missiles has been moved to Dimona in the Negev desert following intelligence that a strike may be launched in retaliation for Israel’s bombing of a suspected nuclear site in Syria two months ago.

In a highly unusual move, the officers in charge of the missiles were permitted to talk to Israeli state television about their preparations. “We’re ready to launch the missiles in seconds, once we’re on full alert,” said First Lieutenant Adi, a young female officer who is the deputy commander of the battery.

Tension with Damascus has heightened since September 6 when Israeli fighters destroyed the suspected nuclear installation in northern Syria.

“The fact that the Syrians didn’t launch an immediate strike against Israel doesn’t mean that they won’t retaliate in due course,” said an Israeli defence source. “Dimona is on the top of their list.”

Tension is mounting in Israel. “Every civilian aircraft en route from Cairo to Amman, or from Jeddah to Cairo and vice versa, which deviates even slightly from its route, sets off an alarm and risks a missile being fired,” said the female commander of the Patriot battery.

The unit is authorised to shoot down any aircraft which approaches, civilian or combat.

An Israeli Mirage jet that approached Dimona by mistake was shot down during the Six-Day War in 1967, while a Libyan Boeing 727 which lost its way in a storm in 1973 and approached Dimona was also downed. All 113 on board were killed.

November 11th, 2007, 9:47 am


Shual said:

“following intelligence that a strike may be launched”

October, 19 MP Habash on TV: “Israel should know… that the Dimona nuclear reactor itself is within the range of the weapons of the resistance and of Syria.” [Thank you, Mossad!!!!]

Uzi Mahnaimi? Mr. “Revealed: Israel plans nuclear strike on Iran!” Mr. “Israel is working on an “ethnically targeted” biological weapon that would kill or harm Arabs but not Jews!” or Mr. “ISRAEL’s new defence minister Ehud Barak is planning an attack on Gaza within weeks to crush the Hamas militants who have seized power there. [July 07]”

November 11th, 2007, 12:42 pm



THE defensive missile shield around Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor was placed on red alert 30 times last week amid fears of an airstrike by Syria.

So Dimona is surrounded by batteries of missiles (which we all knew). The so-called Box-on-the-Euphrates, north of Deir ez-Zor, never even had a fence around it, and certainly no military installations. Yet Uzi Mahnaimi continues to maintain that the attack on Syria was on a nuclear site!!

November 11th, 2007, 12:52 pm


Observer said:

IG AIG and AP: It amazes me how the world view that you each and collectively have is all about the “chosen people”. It amazes me how deragotary your comments are about non democracies as long as they have not signed a peace treaty. Please remember that Israel is a zionist entity based on exclusivist citizenship and that it has morphed into its only logical evolution: an apartheid state.

November 11th, 2007, 3:15 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

You probably meant to quote:

Which is the more relevant article.
There were many pogroms against Jews in the Arab world in the 19th century. In 2002 Tlas repeated the accusations that Jews murder people and use their blood for religious purpose, and nobody said a word in Syria. There are many other examples. Deal with it. There is no arguing with the fact that that antisemitism is prevalent in the Arab world.

And just to be clear, I NEVER said Isalm was antisemitic. I think Christian Arabs are just as responsible for the antisemitism in the Arab world as Muslim Arabs and that there is nothing inherently antisemitic about Islam.

November 11th, 2007, 3:54 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:


But you prove my point exactly! What is the peace with Egypt and Jordan worth? Not much, because it is a sham. It is a peace a dictator made and to which the peoples never agreed. I do not want such a peace with Syria. As you say, what is the use of such peace if once the tyrants are out of power it will be anulled? It is not a peace at all and Israel should not engage in such artificial negotiations.

November 11th, 2007, 4:02 pm


ausamaa said:


Ahhhhhh, there is antisemitisem in the “semitetic” ARAB WORLD???

I thought that “trick” was reserved execlusively for the poor American and European soles who dare criticize Israel!!!

What do I know! Life is a learning process after all ( of course except for guys who are experts in twisting historical truths to cover up modern-day State crimes)!!!!

November 11th, 2007, 4:06 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I have consistently said that Mubarak is just as bad as Assad. Don’t put words in my mouth. And my deragatory remarks are against the regimes, not the people.

And please don’t “remind” us what Israel is. We know from personal experience. It is you that has a perverted view because you have probably never been to Israel and seen for yourself. Israel is a country at war for 60 years and this has never been used as an excuse not to be democratic unlike in the Arab world where this excuse for some reason convinces many people.

November 11th, 2007, 4:07 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wherever you read “antisemitism” change it to “racism and prejudice against Jews”. That is what I mean and what 99% of people understand by this word.

November 11th, 2007, 4:10 pm


Akbar Palace said:

majedkhaldoun said:

the comment by AP is very ridiculous, it doesnot make sense at all. zionism created anti-zionism.
Arab are semitic, AP is anti semitic, since he is anti arab.


Anti-zionsim is not anti-semitism.;) And since MANY Arab and muslim countries have already accepted and recognized Israel, whatever you and the rejectionists on this forum feel on the about this subject really shows how far behind the times you are.

Also, just a reminder, “anti-semitism”, as defined in the english language, specifically refers to Jews. This is just how the term has evolved over the years. The neocons weren’t part of this “conspiracy”, I assure you. I’ve seen the terms “anti-Jewish” used before and that would be equivalent.

Why-Discuss said:

Please stop accusing the arabs of been antisemite!

Unfortunately, the Arab media and the Arab clergy has created an anti-semitic “Frankenstein” that continues to reject Israel, Jews and tolerance. This type of incitement was supposed to be stopped as part of the Oslo Peace Process with the Palestinians. Of course, it never stopped and it never even slowed down.

It is a phenomenon that is promoted by Arab governments to promote armed struggle against Israel. The last thing these governments want in the region is peace with Israel. That’s the reality Why-Discuss. I think it’s time to catch up to the 21st century habibi.

November 11th, 2007, 4:15 pm


IsraeliGuy said:


First, I hope you had a nice time at the restaurant.
I like Kebab very much too : )

Relationship with the Arab world have 2 main possible dimensions: a strategic one and a commercial/economic one.

Indeed, I said in the past that Israel already formed an alliance with moderate Arab countries, mainly because of common strategic interests.

Israel is constantly cooperating behind the scenes with these countries to the benefit of all sides.

Regarding the other dimension, the commercial one – you’re right, we’re not exporting goods to the Arab world.

The more important dimension, in my eyes, is the strategic one.
The Arab world is not our natural export market anyway.

Our main markets are North America, the EU and Asia, so even if there will a comprehensive peace in the Middle East tomorrow, I don’t think that the Arab world will become a significant importer of Israeli goods and services.

Regarding ‘flipping’ Syria…
Look, as I said, I don’t think that Syria is flippable, under the current Assad regime and I feel that the people that toy with the idea are just wasting their time.

However, in THEIR vision, they see a game plan where Israel makes peace with Syria (and gives the Golan to her) and in return, a new geopolitical reality is being formed.

This new reality includes a radical change in Syrian policy, such as cutting all ties with Iran, Hizbollah and Hamas.

This game plan ‘marketers’ try to show the Israeli public the huge value of peace between Israel and Syria that will justify the huge cost of giving the Golan.

They know that the skinnier option of ‘peace for the Golan’ doesn’t have many takers in Israel, so they try to inflate the value of peace with Syria, in order to boost support for such a move.

Now, as I say, I believe it’s all wild fantasies by these marketers and I don’t think that this game plan is practical.

Helevey himself is such a marketer – here’s what he says in regard to Syria: “The Syrian track might be a breakthrough, he argues, because an accommodation with Damascus might bring along the rest of the Arab world, lead to a settlement in Lebanon and undermine Syria’s current alliance with Iran.”

Halevy practically tells us something like: let’s give the Syrians what they want (the Golan) and in return, we’ll get a “flipped” Syria.

Now, you seem to embrace the first part of his message (peace with Syria), but totally reject the result that Halevy envisions (Syrian flipping).

Bottom line, you’re actually proving Halevy to be 100% wrong in his approach because you’re saying that Syria can’t and won’t be flipped – and I think you’re reading the reality correctly, on this issue.

Regarding why not to flip Turkey – I already answered this question in my previous comment.
Please feel free to read it again and you’ll understand the huge difference between Syria and Turkey.

November 11th, 2007, 4:30 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

AP ;
Arab are semitic people,so anti semitic must mean also anti arab, it is a wrong word to use,and you are as anti arab,you are antisemitic,the definition has to be corrected,you are accusing us of being antisemitic is deceiving,and very dishonest,also when you make a statement,this does not make the statement correct, your prejudice,and onesided opinion,your stubborness,and accusatory personality,is obnoxious and disgusting,you twist the meaning of the words,to satisfy your ego, we have no problem with jew as religion,we have problems with deceiving,the way you use antisemitism,is antizionism.

on other subject
delaying the lebanese election,makes it mandatory to meet on 21-22-23 of november,no further delay should be accepted,next week will be very dangerous week for Lebanon, today, when Nassrallah,God bless him, asks Lahoud to do something,is telling Bashar,that he will not act, he is putting the ball in Lahoud hands, he forgot that Lahoud,has no real power anymore,and Berri is powerless. I see a division in march 8 group, as much as there is division in march 14, this is a very dangerous time.

November 11th, 2007, 4:58 pm


Alex said:


Since I was in Egypt when Sadat signed the Camp David accord, I can tell you how Egyptians perceived that peace treaty that their “dictator” signed without asking them for their opinion.

Please forget for a moment that you do not like my opinions in general and try instead to understand the process from the good example of Egypt’s experiment with peace settlements with Israel.

– Before Sadat went to Israel, most Egyptians hated Israel, their enemy.

– After Sadat’s visit to Israel, there was an intensive P.R. campaign (Egyptian, American, and western in general) to praise Sadat’s new direction … he was turned into a hero .. a wise man … a man of peace.

A majority of the Egyptian people were convinced. I had daily arguments for a year or two with everyone (I was 12 at the time) with professors, salesmen, fellow students, the family doctor, Egyptian diplomats (my father was a UN diplomat) … most of them were convinced that it is in Egypt’s best interests to have peace with Israel… Sadat gave them the impression that Israel and America are so rich that they will make Egypt equally rich! …

Intellectuals were split … the Arab nationalists, the Islamists and the leftists were mostly opposed, the pragmatic ones were convinced.

So the peace agreement was successfully sold to the Egyptians. In 1978-1980 there was a clear majority of Egyptians who approved of peace with Israel… I would say that most Egyptians I spoke to had a more favorable opinion of Israel that they did of Saudi Arabia and the Rich Arabs that Sadat attacked every week for their being close-fisted with Egypt and for sitting in their limousines and “playing with their dirty toes”!

So what happened next? … please tell me why did Israel lose the support of most Egyptians?

November 11th, 2007, 5:05 pm


Alex said:


I think what what I see is a realization on the part of the different Lebanese factions that the decision will be made outside …

For now Sarkozy is confident he found a compromise that is acceptable to Syria and apparently not vetoed by President Bush.

But we’ll see …. it is 50-50 for now… which is better than the chances we had last month.

November 11th, 2007, 5:09 pm


ausamaa said:


Actually, wherever you read “antisemitism” change it to “a fake charge” used by Israelies to intemidate whoever certicizes Israel, AIPACand Israeli Crimes against Arabs and Palestininans. That is what “I” mean and what 99% of people understand by this word.

Hitler has been dead for over 50 years and his type of “threatening and dangerous” antisemitism has been buried with him under the rubble of Nazi Germany. So please, enough crying wolf each time some one holds Israel accopuntable for the crimes it is been committing against the Arabs since his death (and during his life for that matter)! It is a broken record and 99.999% of world knows it and understand why you guys play keep playing it.

November 11th, 2007, 5:15 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Isn’t it obvious what happened? The initial propaganda created a distorted view point of Israel before 78 and propaganda in the opposite direction created another distorted view of Israel after 78.

That is why you cannot have true peace with a police state. People, whether they are Egyptians or Syrians, must have room and freedom of press to create a true opinion of Israel not based on propoganda. There are good and bad things about Israel and these need to be openly discussed in Syria and Egypt without government interferring and allowing the discussion to go only in one direction or another. After this open internal discussion, the Syrian and Egyptian people can weigh their options and decide if they want peace and then vote for political candidates that support peace with Israel.

A peace treaty reached in this way will be a real one and it is the only one acceptable to me.

November 11th, 2007, 5:16 pm


Alex said:

Israeli guy,

1) you are not answering my question: What is the value of “flipping” Syria for Israel? … do you gain anything from Syria’s closing of Hamas’ office in Damascus? .. will Egyptian intelligence and army officers stop selling and smuggling weapons to Hamas? … would Israeli arms traders stop selling weapons to Hamas? would Hamas and similar Palestinian resistance groups cease to be attractive or necessary for the oppressed Palestinian people?

Would Israel be more secure if you flip Syria? … no.

Peace with Syria would offer you more security, not “flipping”… Mr. Rabin was convinced of what Syria can offer Israel. You do not know what he was offered do you?

2) You have a wonderful habit of discounting the value of anything that does not fit your argument … usually Syria gets the lion’s share of discounting, but today it is the value of the Arab world as a market for Israeli goods get discounted to the status of irrelevance.

Of course this low opinion of ht Arab world’s market is only because I suggested that peace with Syria (along with serious progress on the Palestinian track) will make it much easier for the rich Arab states to start trading with Israel.

You do not want peace with Syria .. you do not want to return the Golan Heights. Any argument for a land-for-peace settlement you will discount it… I got that by now.

Even your Israeli heroes who spent their lives gaining experience and wisdom as they defended your country successfully against many threats are now described by you as “marketeers”

Why do you think they believed strongly in peace with SYria?

Are they

1) Naive?
2) not as experienced as you?
3) not as caring about Israel’s well being as you are?
4) not as smart?

No … they simply believe that peace and what will come with that package are more valuable to Israel than keeping the Golan and more valuable than punishing Bashar.

It is the wisdom that one acquires with age and experience … the wisdom to attach less value to “teaching your enemy a lesson” and to “showing them how powerful we are” …

What do you think?

November 11th, 2007, 5:34 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

Alex i agree with you, foreign countries will try to decide things in Lebanon,I said before that there will be foreign intervention,I still have no ideas what Sarkozi have in mind,Sarkozi ideas are not clear to me, what are they?

November 11th, 2007, 5:51 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Your arguments are disingenius at best. You view Bashar as fixed and everybody else needs to change to accomodate this tyrant. History has shown that those that seek short term peace with tyrants are usually mistaken. It is time to stand up for democracy in Syria because that is the only way to a true peace.

And IG is perfectly right about the Arab market. Israel sells already whatever it wants to the Arab world through US and European companies. From my experience it is really very easy.

Let me state clearly (and I think IG will agree), once there there is democracy in Syria Israelis would be happy to give back the Golan for peace. So stop making up excuses that are definitely not true and just show that you are protecting the tyrant Bashar.

November 11th, 2007, 5:51 pm


Alex said:


Perfect answer. Thank you. (your first comments about peace with Egypt)

For the first time I like everything you said.

Yes, Egyptians were offered two distorted views of Israel, an excessively negative view before peace, and an exceptionally promising view after peace.

Israel was not about to turn into a miracle-producing mother Teresa. It was a mistake from Sadat to promise his people things he will not be able to deliver.

But that was in 1978, and that was Sadat.

And here is where you will start not liking my opinion again, but I will say it anyway:

Syrians today have a million other sources for news. They do not have perfect access to any news source, I agree, but they have waaaaay more sources than they need … most American and European sites are available … most Arab sites are available … Syria Comment and Creative Syria are accessible in Syria … all the Satellite TV stations … Israeli Arabic radio, and maybe even Israeli TV? (does anyone know if it is accessible in parts of Syria?)

Many more Syrians read English. They don’t speak it well, but they can read and understand.

It is up to Israel to win or lose Syrians’ support for a peace treaty.

You are very suspicious and you do not listen and you do not believe and you do not want to allow yourself to be influenced an inch away from your held beliefs. So I will not convince you of anything.

But for the good point that you raised, I will say that Israel should expectg that as part of a peace deal with Syria that the Syrian regime will allow Israelis to communicate freely with the Syrian people to be able to debate all the grievances that they might still have against Israel… Some of their arguments will be good and convincing, others will not … Israelis also needs to hear what the Syrians have to say … intelligent communication (like we have on our Syria blogs) is great, despite the difficulties and frequent negativity.

But in general I can tell you the same thing I repeated before … Peace with Syria WILL be adopted by the Syrian people, dictatorship or not, if Israel respects UN 242 by returning the Golan Heights while simultaneously showing a serious intent to reach a fair settlement with the Palestinian people… the Palestinian (and Syrian) part were missing from your peace agreement with Egypt … You annexed the Golan two years later and started to break the bones of Palestinian teens throwing rocks at your occupying soldiers in the West Bank.

The Syrian regime that you do not like, knows what it takes to make an agreement successful. They are saying it all the time … if you want to make peace with Syria in a way that makes Hamsa and the Palestinian resistance more nervous and more hopeless … you will fail…

Yet you still want to Flip Syria.

One last thing … Bashar will never be a Sadat … he will not promise the Syrian people that peace with Israel will make them rich overnight.

November 11th, 2007, 5:58 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

You got it all wrong. If there is support for peace with Israel now in Syria, and this is also Bashar’s position, then let him allow an open debate about it in Syria. Until he does, all you say is propoganda. I can easily be convinced. Just show me actions that go with words.

I don’t want to flip anybody. I want to see a democratic regime in Syria that does what the Syrian people want, nothing less nothing more.

November 11th, 2007, 6:05 pm


Alex said:


I would again ask you to refrain from from showing us how rude you can be.

Instead of saying that my arguments are “disingenuous at best” (and god knows what they are “at worst”), maybe you could have believed that I am motivated partially by the same things that motivate Mr. Rabin, Dichter and Halevy.

You are totally on another wavelength … can you tell me why you think your respected elder security heroes want the same thing I want?

Were they

1) Naive?
2) not as experienced as you?
3) not as caring about Israel’s well being as you are?
4) not as smart as you?
5) going senile?

As for showing you proof that Assad will allow a free debate on Israel … I did not say that I know he will allow it … I am confident he will. And more importantly … YOU have a legitimate concern there and you should demand that Israel must insist on that condition if a peace agreement is to be signed … the debate should start after the rough final solution is shaped in peace negotiations, and before the final agreement is signed … if you find out that the Syrian people are not ready for peace with Israel, then vote against your politicians who want to sign the peace agreement… I will agree with you at that time.

But to reject the whole process until you “see democracy in Syria” is not the part that concerns you as an Israeli … the same way I really dislike religion being part of any government (like Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and … today in Washington) … but I know that it is not my business to change those systems.

November 11th, 2007, 6:07 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

You misrepresent Halevy and other’s positions. What they suggest is a package that you anyway don’t agree to. You are choosing and picking things they say out of context. So stop flogging a dead horse. And yes, leaders make a lot of mistake, at least Israeli ones. I am sure Bashar is flawless.

Ny business is to make sure that there is a true peace between Israelis and Syrians. That can only happen when there is democracy in Syria.

November 11th, 2007, 6:21 pm


Alex said:

Let me try to fine tune your last sentence:

Ny business is to make sure that there is a true peace between Israelis and Syrians. That can only happen when there is democracy in Syria.

Your business is to try to have enough assurances there is a true peace between Israelis and Syrians.

“making sure” is not within your, or anyone’s, compass of attainment. I do not want to stay at war while you wait to “make sure” of anything… because life does not give us this privilege.

Again, I supported your right to ask for open dialog with the Syrian people BEFORE you sign a treaty .. you have the right to know if the Syrian people are ready for peace. If the Syrian regime refuses at that point, then I am the first to be disappointed and I will understand your reluctance to support such an agreement.

And “That can only happen when there is democracy in Syria.” is YOUR ASSUMPTION… you are forcing your assumption on everyone … you are avoiding solutions and coming up with assumptions that make it impossible to have peace … because Bashar is here to stay for many many years to come .. probably.

By the way .. please avoid claiming that I am trying to change everything and keeping Bashar in power… I do not have any influence on who stays in power in Syria or Israel or Iran or Washington. I am simply trying to find workable solutions that are addressing every party’s legitimate concerns while recognizing what I can not change.

So I assume that in a year George Bush will not be here, Israel will still be Israel, Bashar will still be the president of Syria, Iran will still be governed by the same regime (although Ahmadinejad might be convinced to resign after Bush is gone), and Saudi Arabia will still be governed by the same regime.

So I am not changing everything and keeping Bashar in power.

As for Rabin’s package .. I supported it fully. Sorry.

Avi Dichter … He was vague about the “package” … he was mostly clear about the price Israel should pay “the full Golan Heights” … so you do not have enough information about his full package.

Halevy’s mentality is perfect … I did not hear his full package, but the mere fact he said “we need to help Iran achieve its national aspirations” tells me he is on the right track and I like him. I will understand anything he says. By the way … I read every word in his Interview with David Ignatius.

Listen to what he is saying:

“If the Syrians are serious about a dialogue with Israel, they should send a clear signal, Halevy advises. They should urge Hezbollah to release the Israeli prisoners it is holding or limit the activities of Hamas offices in Damascus. “Do a little,” he urges the Syrians. “Start the ball rolling.”

Did you notice the word “limit” ? .. he is not asking for a termination of relations with Hamas … he is asking for a symbolic gesture towards the Israeli people .. and I support him in that respect … at this point Syria should make many symbolic and a couple of concrete gestures to the Israeli people.

November 11th, 2007, 6:35 pm


IsraeliGuy said:


1. About the value of flipping Syria…

Well, as I said, I don’t believe that the ‘strategy’ can work, but those who do, see a lot of value in it.

The west and the moderate Arab countries try to make life more difficult for the extreme elements in the region: Iran, Syria, Hizbollah, Hamas, etc.

The way they see it (and try to persuade us), they can extract Syria from that axis and move it to the camp of the moderates.

They feel that such Syrian flipping is beneficial for the moderate camp, because it makes life much harder for the axis of (the remaining) extremists.

Do I think it’s realistic? no.
It’s just fantasies that people try to sell in order to market a peace deal which includes giving the Golan to Syria.

You support Halevy’s call for peace but you reject the second part of his strategy.
It’s the 3rd time that you’re choosing to avoid this point that I’ve been making.

Why not just giving an honest answer about this conflict: accepting his call for peace but at the same time rejecting his philosophy regarding flipping Syria?

Don’t worry, I won’t be angry… : )
Just give a straight answer, as you know.

2. About the value of the Arab world as a market for Israeli goods…

Alex, Israel’s natural markets are the ones we already work in: America, Europe and Asia.
These are the natural markets for our products and services and they will remain so.

I’m not saying that the Arab world can’t buy some stuff from Israel – I just feel that the volumes are not going to be even remotely close to the ones we have with America, EU or Asia.

I’m just being realistic and not trying to discount the Arab world.

3. Regarding Israeli heroes…

You seem to pick what you like from their words and totally reject or ignore the parts that you don’t like.
Halevy’s philosophy is a great example.

Plus, on any Israeli hero who says X, there will be another Israeli hero who will say Y – so it’s not like I’m not listening to Israeli heroes.
I do – but to different ones than you : )

4. Regarding your dialogue with AIG here…

Alex, let me ask you this: you (and other commentators here) often say that you can’t do business with the current Bush administration.

Your solution? Waiting for the next administration and seeing if you can have a better dialogue with it.

Honestly? I understand your logic.

Now, if you have the right to ‘take a pause’ and wait until the next American administration will show up, don’t you feel it’s Israel’s equal right to take the same pause, wait for the next Syrian administration – and then try to have a better dialogue with it?

Isn’t this position as legitimate as the Syrian one?

November 11th, 2007, 7:29 pm


ausamaa said:

Well, Yasser Arafat waited for decades untill he found Rabin, before your guys killed him (or killed them both for that matter!), so why can we not wait for the next US Admin, or the next or the next, and the next Israeli prime minister or the next or the next?

We can wait. Can you?

November 11th, 2007, 7:58 pm


Alex said:


I repeat: Halevy’s thoughts are clear … I understand his logic … if he used the word flip” Syria .. he also said “limit” Hamas’ activities … Do you unerstand what he meant by “flip”? .. do you understand what “limit” means instead of “Kick out”?

Tell me which part of his interview I do not like ??? .. tell me, please.

As for your Arab world is not important economically … pardon me if I tell you that I spoke with many Israeli journalists who were very eager to know if Saudi Arabia would be willing to open up economically to Israel without Syrian and Palestinian approval.

But you of course have your own way of discounting everything I propose… your leaders are marketeers and so are these stupid journalists I spoke to I’m sure.

As for your last point, it is a fair question. But I have a good answer for you … and you will disagree of course.

THe differences between waiting for this administration to go and waiting for Assad to go are

1) This administration has one year to go … Assad looks like he is here for another 7 years at least (his term)

2) Assad wants to make peace, and he has shows that he knows how to read the middle east and he knows what makes agreements work or fail…. the American administration does not want peace (they are blocking Israelis who are asking for permission to talk to Syria) and their vision has been a disaster to the Middle East.

You want to wait until the only experienced hard line Arab regime who the hardliners can trust to sign an agreement with the enemy, while we Syrians are simply waiting for the believers in creative Chaos to go.

Having said that, if your purpose is to force a peace agreement to your liking on Syria and you want to wait for Assad to be replaced by another “Arab moderate” … then you are entitled to do so, of course.

Finally, about the value of flipping Syria … you are talking about the probability of success of fipping Syria … and you are concluding that this will not happen. But you did not discuss the value of flipping Syria … My question again, in more direct terms, is:

What would be better for Israel:

1) Syria if flipped to the other camp … to become anti Hizbollah and anti Iran and Anti Iran?

2) Syria becomes another Turkey … friends with everybody, from Israel to Iran… no flipping .. no 180 degree change .. an 80 degree change… almost neutral, a bit more friendly with Iran than Israel.

With Option 1 .. you will still have more desperation in Palestine after Syria betrayed them, you will have discontent in Syria because the Arabists and the Islamists will be outraged at the way the Alawite regime betrayed them, and you will have an even more determined Iran to show everyone that they can not ignore Iran.

With Option 2 … you have the smartest and most experienced and uniquely trusted mediator to allow you to communicate with Hamas (or any Palestinian resistance movement) and Iran and the Lebanese Shiites.

If you want genuine peaceful settlement you would opt for option 2, if you want to continue the failed strategy of pushing those you do not like into the corner (Hamas and Hizbollah, after yo take away their Syrian allies) then you opt for option 1… flipping Syria

Flipping Syria is recipe for more conflicts and a failed peace treaty with the Syrian people and destabilizing Syria.

November 11th, 2007, 8:08 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

What are you going to do if a Republican is elected president? Wait another 8 years? Or if Hillary Clinton gets elected? They will continue the current American line.

Halevy’s argument is basically the following: We should talk to Syria in order to flip it. Your take on it: We should talk to Syria. Thas is disingenious.

Asad does not want peace. He wants to legitimize his regime by talking to the US and Israel. That is completely different.

There is nothing Israel cannot sell the Arabs through US and European companies. In fact, much of the irrigation technology and products that the Saudi’s have, come from Israeli companies.

And in any case, one should not put marginal economical considerations before principles.

We will wait until there is democracy in Syria. There is not much risk for Israel in this. Syria will not start a war and neither will Hizballah after July 2006. As for Hamas, they are sinking daily and anyway Asad will disassociate himself from them soon irregardless of Israel.

November 11th, 2007, 8:31 pm


Nur al-Cubicle said:

On “flipping” Syria.

First, it appears that the visit of Claude Guéant and Jean-David Levitte was actually a major flip by Nicolas Sarkozy, who is now against isolating Syria at all. Bush was taken by surprise. It may ultimately be a fool’s errand, but anything that causes consternation to Bush is good.

A deal seems to have been struck allowing Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir to provide a short list of compromise presidential candidates. Claude Guéant met with Cardinal Sfeir on Friday. But at the end of the Damascus talks, Bashar Al-Assad also darkly warned that if Hariri and Berri could not agree on one of these candidate, Syria “would not be responsible for the consequences”.

This turnaround was influenced by the Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who is essentially countering the Saudi aim to isolate Damascus by plunking down cash on the barrel for 80 Airbus and major contracts for French engineering firms, thus swaying Sarkozy.

And now the anti-Syrian camp in Beirut is disconcerted too.

November 11th, 2007, 8:46 pm


IsraeliGuy said:


1. “Tell me which part of his interview I do not like ??? .. tell me, please.”

Ok, sure – I already gave you the quote, but here it is once again: “The Syrian track might be a breakthrough, he argues, because an accommodation with Damascus might bring along the rest of the Arab world, lead to a settlement in Lebanon and undermine Syria’s current alliance with Iran.”.

He’s saying something like: let’s give Syria what it wants (the Golan) and we’ll get what we want in terms of Lebanon and Iran (that’s the Syrian flipping part).

Now, do you accept his idea in its entirety?
You don’t – right?

2. The Saudi / Arab market…

Again, I don’t discount the Saudi or general Arab market.
Actually, Israel already have sold some products to the Arab world – directly and through mediating companies.

I just feel that for the Israeli economy, the Arab world is less significant than markets such as America, Europe or Asia.

My intention was not to insult you nor the Arab world.
I’m just trying to be realistic in terms of real figures.

My feeling is that these Israeli journalists that you were talking to were more interested in the symbolic element of Israeli products being sold in the Arab world, rather than in the real economic value : )

That’s my hunch, anyway.

3. Wating for the next regime…

When you say about Assad that “he has shows that he knows how to read the middle east” – I’m afraid my opinion is opposite.

I see nothing wrong with a Syrian strategy that says “let’s wait for the next US president” and I see nothing wrong with a paralel Israeli strategy that says “let’s wait for the next Syrian president”.

4. Regarding “What would be better for Israel…”

Well, from your 2 options I think that option #1 is better for Israel, the Arab moderates the US and the west.

Look, let me put it this way: in order to make peace, Syria will have to flip big time and change its policies, alliances and strategy in 180 degrees.

Since I don’t think it will happen anytime soon, I don’t think that we’ll see any movement on that track.

You may see some talks, photo ops and other types of nothing – but without a radical Syrian change, I can’t see anything being passed in the only arena that really counts in Israel: the Israely Knesset.

If you don’t reach a majority there – you don’t have a deal.
I’m pretty sure that it will never pass there without a huge Syrian compromize and a massive direction change.

Therefor, a peace with Syria is very unlikely anytime soon.

November 11th, 2007, 9:03 pm


norman said:

Israel does not want peace , i just wonder how long the Arabs are going to ignore that fact and prepare for a long term war , a war that the US could not Win in Iraq while spending 8 to 10 billion / month, the Arabs can win that war but they need determination and perseverance , at that time Israel will see the light, probably will be too late .

November 11th, 2007, 10:44 pm


Observer said:

1.The meeting between Bush and Sarko and Merkel later all point out to the fact that the closest allies of the US have moved away from confrontation with Iran. They have concluded that at present there is no military solution to this issue and that the best is to have stringent inspections coupled with a lot of “honey”. Syria cannot be flipped as it is moving to acquire its own regional influence in both Iraq and in Lebanon and in Palestine. The Annapolis summit has a small chance of success and this essentially will doom Abbas and his Fatah faction. Today’s NYT stories and the op-ed by Friedman all recognize the failure of the US/West foreign and military policy in the region. Even the moderates are putting the brakes on “democracy” as seen in Jordan and Egypt as well as Tunisia.
2.AIG, I have not visited Israel but I have visited NY many times and I know for a fact that some years ago, in a traffic accident, the “chosen people” made sure that the ambulances came to pick up their fellow “chosen people” ahead of the goyim. This resulted in riots with many citizens of NY marching down shouting the following slogan” this is not Palestine” we will not allow racism to flourish.
Now, have you visited any of the ME countries and if so, can you please tell me which one of them is ready for Jeffersonian democracy. I do not think any of us on this blog are defending the indefensible which is the lack of a basic social contract between the people and the goverment; a very first step on the path to participatory governance. This cannot happen until and unless 80% of the people are literate.
3.Two wrongs do not equate to a right: it is wrong for the regimes to be oppressive and it is wrong for Israel to have expelled Palestinians and to continue to occupy them. Rabin understood the situation very well, he knew two things: Israel is in this part of the world and it is in this part of the world that it will either be accepted or whither away; and he understood as a pioneer zionist who believed in the liberation movement of the Jewish people that a similar movement cannot be eradicated in Palestine. In my huumble opinion he was true to the original zionist ideals. Now my contention is not only with zionism in its current form but also in any exclusivist nationalism as it can be used to perpetuate a holocaust: Turkish vs Armenian, Arab vs Israeli, Israeli vs Arab/Muslim, etc…
Now let me tell you one more thing: the Baath ideology is a mirror image of zionist ideology as it makes Arab identity the center of Islam and claims that the eternal message of Islam is that of the Arab nation. Islam is universal and does not belong to Arabs or anyone else, it belongs to humanity just as Judaism and its great thinkers Spinoza, Maimonides, and many of the 17th-19th century rabis that gave it so much depth and meaning is also universal and belongs to humanity. By God, the Jewish people’s suffering should be felt by all and shared with those of similar fate such as the Gypsies and not made into an exclusivist mantra where we debase it by using it as a tool to attack anyone that dares to criticize the state of Israel.

November 11th, 2007, 11:05 pm


Alex said:


I really don’t know what to say … I answered you twice already, but you do not want to read what I am saying: Halevy used the word flip, and I have no problem with that word coming from him because the rest of what he said in the interview reflects his mentality … which is: we should not fight Iran, we should find out how we can gain Iran back as a friend of Israel through helping them.

I have a problem with your version of “Flip” … which is: let’s get Syria on our side so that we can finish Hamas and Iran and Hizbollah.

Halevy’s flipping of Syria meant “limit Hamas’ activities in Damascus” .. not destroy Hamas.

November 11th, 2007, 11:16 pm


IsraeliGuy said:

Alex, let’s forget Iran for a second and concentrate on what Halevy says about a peace deal between Israel and Syria.

Here’s that specific quote again:

“The Syrian track might be a breakthrough, he argues, because an accommodation with Damascus might bring along the rest of the Arab world, lead to a settlement in Lebanon and undermine Syria’s current alliance with Iran.”

Here are 3 question which relate directly to the above Halevy’s quote:

1. Assuming we’ll have peace with Syria, will the Arab world follow, as Halevy says? And I mean WITHOUT resolving the Palestinian issue that Halevy doesn’t even mention with one word in his suggested formula.

2. Assuming we’ll have peace with Syria, will it automatically lead to a settlement in Lebanon, as Halevy says?

3. Assuming we’ll have peace with Syria, will it undermine Syria’s current alliance with Iran, as Halevy says?

I’ll be glad to get direct answers to each question that leans on Halevy’s analysis.

November 11th, 2007, 11:49 pm


Shual said:


Merkel did not point out anything. Fearing critical words at home, she acted indifferent on everything. On Iran she said ambigous “die nächsten Schritte im Visier haben” [next steps are in sigth -or visor?-, german is a fascinating language] and she avoided to mention strategic concepts. The reason? She has no concepts. She is respected because of her personal history in Washington and thats all. Everybody is pleased with her in Washington cause she is a special appeaser of a necessary discussion: The future role of Germany in the world. She wants to sit out the Bush-era and hopes that she will not get into any trouble. She gave Bush a “proposals” and he said he received “nice ideas”. He needs her vote and thats all she is receiving: The honour to vote for Bush.

Two days before the visit she talked in front of the jewish community of germany, receiving a high price. [“Heute und in Zukunft für die Sicherheit des Staates Israel und für unsere gemeinsamen Werte von Demokratie und Rechtsstaatlichkeit einzutreten.” … “Zum Beispiel indem wir in der Auseinandersetzung um das Nuklearprogramm des Iran nicht auf das Prinzip Hoffnung setzen, sondern auf Entschlossenheit und Geschlossenheit.”] Everybody can read anything he/she wants out of her words. She is famous to be resistant in case of decisions. Clear words about military force beyond a red line, or the other side, the rejection can not be found. “Germany has a special responsibility”-blabla. Germany today is not a poodle that does what Washington wants. Worser. Its like the german soldiers that cross the lebanese coast and want to find some weapon smuggling Hezbollahs and wonder why they never ever catched one: Totally misplaced x00€s. Even the Israels have lost the deligth to fly over the german ships and “attack” them. They had mercy with those misled germans far from home.

The german “NearEastpolicy” once filled hundreds of books with intresting [or shameless] theories. The Merkel-era will only need one clause: The ligths are on, but nobody is home.

November 12th, 2007, 12:16 am


Shual said:

This is a very nice update, cause Abdullah visited Merkel last week and informed her about …. “Saudi Arabia has proposed that countries in the Middle East establish a consortium for enriching uranium as a possible way to defuse the nuclear crisis with Iran. The proposal calls for peaceful nuclear projects by a consortium of Middle Eastern countries including Iran but excluding nuclear enrichment. The actual processing of the material, according to the Saudi proposal, would take place in a neutral country such as Switzerland. The enrichment process would be carried out at an installation to be built by the consortium, and its activities would be monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency.” [Haaretz]

“Nice ideas, Angela”, said Bush.

November 12th, 2007, 12:26 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

You are as usual being too optimistic in your reading of what Halevy says. There are two main attitudes towards Syria in Israel and people fall into one of these categories:
1) The realist that believe that Syria can become like Egypt (pro-western etc.) and therefore the dictator should be dealt with (this is Halevy’s position). They recognize that this will not buy long term peace but accept a short term one based on the relative success of the peace with Egypt.
2) People like Netanyahu that believe that only when there is democracy in the Arab world there will be peace and that short term solutions are useless since they postpone the democratic process and degrade it. People in the middle east rightly ask: If you are for democracy, why are you dealing with tyrants? Yes, this strategy may be more costly for Israel short term, but it will pay huge long term dividends.

There are also fringe opinion but the aboved are shared by 90% of the Jews. So when you interpret any interview, you should keep the above in mind.

November 12th, 2007, 1:19 am


Akbar Palace said:

Norman said,

Israel does not want peace , i just wonder how long the Arabs are going to ignore that fact and prepare for a long term war…


If Israel didn’t want peace, she wouldn’t have returned the Sinai to Eygpt, return land to Jordan, and negotiate with the Palestinians.

That the real “fact” in case you’re wondering;)

November 12th, 2007, 1:57 am


majedkhaldoun said:

tommorrow, the dow jones will start the day with major drop,( hold on to your hat Ehsani), this will scare Bush a lot, he will start talking about taking diplomatic solution with Iran.

November 12th, 2007, 2:50 am


norman said:

Israel made peace with Egypt to get it out of the Palestinian camp , it did the same with Jordon , about talking to the Palestinians it did that only to buy time and increase the settlements in the occupied west Bank and Gaza .

November 12th, 2007, 2:52 am


why-discuss said:


Stop hammering that arabs are antisemite

I think you need psychological assistance!You keep making anyone who is anti-israel an anti-jew. You are really brainwashed to feel threatened as a jew when someone express dislike of Israel. Aroun 70 % of the jews live outside Israel, and a lots of people dislike Israel’s zionist regime and have no problem with jews. Wake up and see the reality, or consult a psychotherapist!!

November 12th, 2007, 2:54 am


Alex said:


Here’s that specific quote again:

“The Syrian track might be a breakthrough, he argues, because an accommodation with Damascus might bring along the rest of the Arab world, lead to a settlement in Lebanon and undermine Syria’s current alliance with Iran.”

Here are 3 question which relate directly to the above Halevy’s quote:

1. Assuming we’ll have peace with Syria, will the Arab world follow, as Halevy says? And I mean WITHOUT resolving the Palestinian issue that Halevy doesn’t even mention with one word in his suggested formula.

2. Assuming we’ll have peace with Syria, will it automatically lead to a settlement in Lebanon, as Halevy says?

3. Assuming we’ll have peace with Syria, will it undermine Syria’s current alliance with Iran, as Halevy says?

I’ll be glad to get direct answers to each question that leans on Halevy’s analysis.


My rough answer is that peace with Syria will facilitate finding solutions for the remaining conflicts…. the Israel/Syria disagreements are behind many of the problems we have today … if not directly, then indirectly.

more specifically

1) The Arab world will follow if you show a more serious will to settle the more complicated and time consuming Palestinian track … The question of right of return can wait … otherwise there will be no solution. But you will need to materialize your leaders’ frequent hints that they are ready for Land for Peace with the Palestinians.

2) In addition to discussing the Golan, they will discuss Lebanon as well (they already did in the past). Lebanon will not be too difficult when Syria,Israel, the United States, France and Saudi Arabia all agree.

3) What do you think Syria will do with its current alliance with Iran after it gets its Golan back? .. try to liberate Palestine??

Syrian relations will remain friendly with Iran … just like Syria’s relations with Turkey. This is good for everyone. The only thing you should worry about is Iran’s influence on Syria and Lebanon (both of which are on your borders) … the short answer is: Syria understands what Israel needs. It will accommodate all your needs … not all your demands.

Iran’s role in Lebanon is not at the expense of the Syrian role. If you do not want Iran to sabotage the Lebanese Israeli part of the comprehensive solution, then try to give my suggestion another chance .. you should not make Syria an enemy of Iran.

Syria will not drop Iran, and they will not drop the Lebanese Shiites (including Hizbollah) .. Hizbollah will turn into a purely political party… maybe they will change their name at that point … who knows.

November 12th, 2007, 6:33 am


IsraeliGuy said:

Alex, you just proved that Halevy’s formula is wrong.

It’s just what I was saying: Halevy is marketing a package that exists nowhere but in his own mind and that’s exactly what I was saying all along.

1. Halevy claims that after signing a deal with Syria, the Arab world follow.


You say that it also depends on the Palestinian track.
Without it, the Arab world will not follow (but that minor issue slipped away from Halevy’s formula).

2. Halevy claims that after signing a deal with Syria will it automatically lead to a settlement in Lebanon.


You say that “Lebanon will not be too difficult”, but you refrain from approving his claim.

3. Halevy claims that after signing a deal with Syria it will undermine Syria’s current alliance with Iran.


You say that even after a peace deal will be signed, Syria and Iran will keep enjoying friendly relationship – so it will not undermine the alliance.

Bottom line: you proved that Halevy’s formula is 100% wrong.
He’s spreading his fantasies, doesn’t back them with anything substantial and tries to inflate the value of a bad deal with substance that doesn’t really exist.

He’s a bad marketer of a bad deal.

November 12th, 2007, 1:52 pm


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