Landis in the News 2007

11 December 2007
US Officials To Meet With Arch Foes – Iran and Syria

Joshua Landis, a leading Syria expert, who publishes “Syria Comment” was quoted in a recent article saying, ” Syria is key to the peace process. If you keep the door closed on Syria, many people believe the peace process can go nowhere.” Syrians he said are willing to do a deal, despite Iran’s objections….

11 December 2007
Is the Syria-Iran Alliance Beginning to Crack?

Joshua Landis, a Syria specialist at the University of Oklahoma, said this week that the leadership crisis in Lebanon may have been one reason Syria chose….

4 December 2007
Landis: Syria Key to Middle East Peace Process
By Bernard Gwertzman, Council on Foreign Relations

Joshua Landis, a leading Syria expert, who publishes “Syria Comment,” says Syria’s surprise attendance at last week’s Annapolis peace conference came after ….

3 December 2007
Is the U.S. now ready for talks with Syria?
By Nicholas Blanford, Christian Science Monitor

“Syria is being brought back in, including by Washington, and Syria is trying to dress itself up and get on Israel’s dance card” to get the Golan Heights back, says Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, and author of the widely read “Syria Comment” blog….

28 November 2007
Deal signals a thaw in US-Syrian relations
By Globe and Mail

Joshua Landis, co-director of the Centre for Peace Studies at the University of Oklahoma and a Syria expert, said that the sudden acceptance by all sides of … Syria upbeat on chance to reopen Golan issue

28 November 2007
Syria upbeat on chance to reopen Golan issue
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Reuters

Joshua Landis, a Syria specialist at the University of Oklahoma, said Syria had shown flexibility by attending the Annapolis conference.

“Syria has shown it is not as ideological as some in the U.S. administration (who initially opposed inviting it to Annapolis) had thought. Syria has sent a message to its Hamas allies that it is willing to bargain (with the United States),” Landis said.

26 November 2007
Explaining why Syria is going to Annapolis
By BBC World Service

Syria has accepted an invitation by the USA to attend the Middle East conference in Annapolis. Syria said it would only take part if the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights was discussed. So why the change? Joshua Landis is the director of the Centre for Peace Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

18 October 2007
Syrian envoy decries lack of diplomacy
By James S. Tyree,

AP Video Syrian ambassador Imad Moustapha (right), joins a panel discussion Wednesday with University of Oklahoma faculty Josh Landis

17 October 2007
Rights Groups Fly By Ever Darker Night
By Ali Gharib, IPS

“They never had any legal NGOs [non-government organisations]”, commented Joshua Landis, the co-director of the University of Oklahoma’s Centre for Peace Studies and author of the widely regarded Syria Comment blog. “You can fly by night, which can get you into trouble.”

26 September 2007
Syria: internal politics after the re-election of Bashar Assad
By Lorenzo Nannetti, Equilibri

Certainly, as is confirmed by Joshua Landis, analyst and expert in Syrian affairs that “Syrians have still not completely accepted this regime.”…

20 September 2007
Israel’s Syria Incursion
By Sol Salbe, Scoop

Of course, even if Olmert´s does not tell the Knesset anything the fact remains that without any proof of provocation this remains an aggressive violation of another country´s air space. Larry Derfner touched on the subject in a Jerusalem Post column (reproduced in Josh Landis Blog):

“For once, Israelis seem to believe that Syria is telling the truth – that Israeli jets invaded Syria’s airspace last Thursday… “The reason Israelis believe the Syrian story is because if it wasn’t true, Israel would deny it. Why would Israel deny it? Because countries aren’t supposed to fly their jets into another country’s airspace without permission. It’s considered an invasion. An act of aggression. It gives the invaded country a causus belli – a justification to strike back.

22 September 2007
Shots in the dark over Syria’s skies
By Sami Moubayed, Asia Times

Joshua Landis, a professor at Oklahoma University who is an expert on Syrian affairs and runs, said: “Bolton represents the crowd that is very distressed that the US has declared defeat in North Korea by trusting the North Koreans. They would like to scuttle that agreement.”

20 September 2007
War Fears Rise On Syria Border
By Stewart Ain and Larry Cohler Esses, The Jewish Week

A poll released Tuesday by Yediot Achronot, Israel’s biggest-selling paper, showed that a plurality of the Israeli public — 32 percent — consider war with Syria now more likely. Only 13 percent believed Israel’s operation had decreased the odds for war.

But that pessimism is not shared by many other Middle East experts. In fact, University of Oklahoma Syria specialist Joshua Landis says everything he knows about Syria tells him war remains highly unlikely.

“Syria would be devastated in a war,” he said. “Assad’s legitimacy rests on two things: stability and security. If Syria engaged in any adventure with Israel, [its] economic growth would be wiped out and Bashar would fail on his two claims to popularity.”

19 September 2007
Neocons Tie N. Korea to Israeli Strike on Syria
By Khody Akhavi, International Press Service

“Bolton represents the crowd that is very distressed that the U.S. has declared defeat in North Korea by trusting the North Koreans. They would like to scuttle that agreement,” wrote Syria expert Josh Landis, on his widely-read blog,”While doing it, anything they can dredge up to boost the notion of weapons transfers between Korea and Syria and Iran will be icing on the cake. Israeli planes were trying to get the goods,” he wrote.

“Bolton represents the crowd that is very distressed that the U.S. has declared defeat in North Korea by trusting the North Koreans. They would like to scuttle that agreement,” wrote Syria expert Josh Landis, on his widely-read blog,

“While doing it, anything they can dredge up to boost the notion of weapons transfers between Korea and Syria and Iran will be icing on the cake. Israeli planes were trying to get the goods,” he wrote.

17 September 2007
Jordan, Syria Reach Their Limit of Iraqi Refugees
By Mark McKinnon, The Globe and Mail

Though Syria’s security apparatus is similar to Mr. Hussein’s old regime in Iraq – which for all its horrors kept a lid on sectarian violence – Joshua Landis, a Syria expert and part-time resident of Damascus who teaches at the University of Oklahoma, said that there already have been incidents suggesting that might not last, including tit-for-tat kidnappings and at least one gunfight in which a number of Syrian policemen were killed.

13 September 2007
Did Israel Destroy Iranian-Syrian Missile Production Facilities?
By Safa Haeri, Iran Press Service

“North Korea may be cooperating with Syria on some sort of nuclear facility in Syria, according to new intelligence the United States has gathered over the past six months, sources said. The evidence, said to come primarily from Israel, includes dramatic satellite imagery that led some U.S. officials to believe that the facility could be used to produce material for nuclear weapons”, Joshua Landis, the author of the interesting blog “Syria Comment”, reported on Thursday

13 September 2007
Among Arab nations, an atmosphere on edge
By Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times

“Syria has reached a decisive moment in its regional politics,” said Joshua Landis, co-director of the Center of Peace Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “As it becomes clear that the U.S. must begin withdrawing from Iraq . . . Syria must decide what policy it will pursue toward a post-American Iraq. Will it side with Iran in supporting a Shiite government or will it side with Saudi Arabia in supporting the Sunni opposition?”….

7 September 2007
Piecing Together What’s Just Happened between Israel and Syria
By Daniel Levy,

Today, Josh Landis has a fascinating post on his well-respected Syria Comment blog entitled “Is Israel Looking for Korean Weapons in Syria?”. Landis reminds us that less than a week ago, John Bolton was writing in the Wall Street Journal against the current diplomatic efforts with North Korea, and raised the claim that Syria may be providing “safe havens for North Korea’s nuclear weapons development, or may have already participated with or benefited from it.”

6 September 2007
Killing civilians in Afghanistan
By Jon Wiener, KPFK – Pacifica Radio Los Angeles

Listen here.(Go to 4:30 minutes into the broadcast.)

22 August 2007
Iran and Syria: An Alliance Shaped by Murual Foes
By Deborah Amos, NPR

“Saddam Hussein not only started a war against Iran, he was supporting anti-Syrian elements — the Muslim Brotherhood — here. So both regimes were threatened. They had to come together and be against Saddam Hussein,” says Josh Landis, co-director of the Center for Peace Studies at the University of Oklahoma and assistant professor of Middle Eastern Studies in the School of International and Area Studies.

“It’s a classic balance of power game. When Iraq is strong and threatens both countries, the two neighbors, Syria and Iran, have to come together and protect themselves,” Landis says. The Iran-Syria alliance drifted apart in the 1990s when Saddam was weak, but Landis says that in 2003, Iraq became a threat again.

9 August 2007
Syria To Crackdown Tougher On Web Sites
By Joseph S. Mayton, aliraqi

Cairo, Egypt (AHN) – The Syrian Ministry of Information has promised that a new media law will be “issued soon,” and that it will include clear restrictions on electronic media. According to reports from the country, the new law will continue to restrict the use of the Internet for disseminating information. Already, Damascus has stopped blogspot from being used in the country and plans on making it difficult for users to have comments pages on their blogs.

“It is hard to believe that Syria would want to close down all websites with comment sections. Already all Blogspot blogs have been blocked in Syria. They can still be read through Bloglines or any other RSS feed, but the comment sections are not so easily accessed,” Joshua Landis, Co-director at the Center of Peace Studies, University of Oklahoma, wrote on his blog.

23 July 2007
Analysis: All quiet on the Mideast front?
By Claude Salhani, United Press International

The next few months could be “fateful” for Syria, according to the country’s president, Bashar Assad, as quoted by the usually very well informed Internet blog,

“The situation is likely to get worse before it gets better,” writes Joshua Landis, co-director of the Center for Peace Studies at the University of Oklahoma, publisher of the SyriaComment blog, who is currently visiting Syria. The next few months “will be a waiting game and the hatches have all been battened down,” writes Landis.

2 July 2007
Regional Powerplays and Shifting Sectarian Dynamics in Iraq
By Timothy Brown, Global Politician

Joshua Landis, a leading expert on Syrian affairs, says “Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s recent meeting with Syrian foreign minister, Walid Moualem, at the conference on Iraq held at Sharm-el Sheik has…complicated Saudi Arabia’s efforts to draw Syria away from Iranian influence.” Saudi Arabia…is looking to bring Syria back into an Arab consensus, and to contain Iranian influence in the Arab world by breaking Syria’s isolation and trying to woo it away from Iran. The Harari court stands in the way of that process. Severing the Iran-Syria nexus has vast strategic implications for the region because as Joshua Landis further states that “In order to contain Iran, Saudi Arabia understands that it needs Arab unity, and most important in that Arab unity is Syria, because Iran’s reach into the Arab world is through Syria. Hezbollah is armed through Syria. The arms come largely from Iran, but arms cannot be sent through airports, or by ships, because Israeli intelligence will stop them. Therefore the only way to get arms into Lebanon is over the mountains and through the valleys of the border of Syria.” The Saudi assertion is that continuing to isolate Syria only allows them to side with Iran; however, any Saudi-Syrian talks would be divergent of the policy of its main ally, the United States.

21 June 2007
Smiles in Damascus and Tehran
By Lionel Beehner, Council on Foreign Relations

Iran is seeking a stronger foothold in the Middle East, and as Joshua Landis of the University of Oklahoma points out in this interview with Bernard Gwertzman, “Iran’s reach into the Arab world is through Syria.” The rest of the Arab world—and specifically Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan—is worried by what it perceives as an encroachment of Iranian influence in the region—the so-called Shiite crescent. “[L]ast summer’s war between Israel and Hezbollah showed the reach of Tehran’s influence,” writes CFR’s Vali R. Nasr in TIME. “Iran supported Hezbollah and supplied it with sophisticated weaponry, and not surprisingly basked in the glory of its perceived victory to overshadow the Sunni regimes that had condemned the Shiite movement.” Both regimes are further emboldened, argues Barry Rubin of the Global Research in International Affairs Center, by what they perceive as growing U.S. weakness in the region. “The Syrians and Iranians believe the United States, in [former Ayatollah] Khomeini’s terms, ‘cannot do a damn thing’,” Rubin told Global Politician.

8 May 2007
Landis: Rice’s Meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Produced Little
By Bernard Gwertzman, Council on Foreign Relations

Joshua Landis, a leading expert on Syrian affairs, says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s meeting last week with the Syrian foreign minister produced little of substance. He says the chief reason for this is U.S. determination to press Syria to go along with the special tribunal on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005, in which Syria is widely believed to have played a leading role. He says the plans for a tribunal have also complicated Saudi Arabia’s efforts to draw Syria away from Iranian influence.

17 June 2007
Mideast surprise: Changes are astir
By Amr Emam, San Francisco Chronicle

“Countries like Egypt took steps forward,” said Joshua Landis, an assistant professor of history at the University of Oklahoma. “But soon these countries took steps backward.”

4 April 2007
British Marines and Sailors Are on Their Way Home
By Warren Olney, KCRW

Iran today abruptly announced the release of 14 men and one woman captured in disputed waters a week and a half ago. Britain did not concede they trespassed on Iranian waters. Tony Blair said the release was accomplished without confrontation–or negotiation. Was there a deal or did Iran provide a surprise “gift” to the British people, as its president claimed? Was the US involved in a swap for Iranians held in Iraq? Also, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi conducts international diplomacy in Syria. Is she undermining President Bush or is it time for a breakthrough?

2 April 2007
Tough Week for Bush’s Middle East Strategy
By Jim Lobe,

“King Abdullah has come to the conclusion that only Arab unity can restore the regional balance of power [that has been] so skewed in Iran’s favor by the destruction of Saddam’s Arabist regime,” wrote Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at University of Oklahoma, on his blog. “To do this, Saudi Arabia must reach an accommodation with Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas; it cannot destroy them, as the U.S. recommends.”

2 April 2007
Les tensions avec Ryad mettent Washington en
By , L’Orient-Le Jour

“Selon Joshua Landis, un expert du Center of Peace Studies de l’Université de l’Oklahoma, en qualifiant d’« illégitime » la présence de troupes américaines en Irak, le roi Abdallah s’est posé comme le champion d’un nouveau panarabisme, destiné à contenir la montée de l’influence de l’Iran dans la région. Le roi est déjà parvenu à la conclusion que le plan du président George W. Bush en Irak était voué à l’échec et cherche à éloigner la Syrie de l’Iran pour ramener le régime de Damas dans le giron arabe, explique cet expert. « Le roi Abdallah a annoncé qu’il cherchait à adopter une nouvelle politique irakienne, une politique destinée à une nouvelle phase postaméricaine en Irak et une politique qui doit être coordonnée avec la Syrie », ajoute-t-il, rappelant que le souverain saoudien a eu deux entretiens avec le président syrien Bachar el-Assad en marge du sommet de Ryad.”

5 February 2007
Syria, War, and Diplomacy
By Steve Scher, KUOW

Listen Here.

…”Today we’ll talk to Imad Moustapha, the Syrian Ambassador to the United States, and Joshua Landis, a leading Syria expert.”

1 February 2007
Joshua Landis to ‘Al-Seyassa:’ Bush will not Heed Baker and Hamilton’s Advise

Al-Seyassa, Kuwait, (39th Year) Issue No (13736)

(Article in Arabic)

5 January 2007
Outside View: Golan, key to peace
By Claude Salhani, United Press International

… “, Joshua Landis` respected and authoritative blog, reports that the Syrian government-run daily newspaper Ath-Thawra…”

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