Lebanese Skeptical Deal for New Gov. Will Fly - Syria Comment

Lebanese Skeptical Deal for New Gov. Will Fly

Nicholas Blanford writing in the CSM explains that many in Lebanon are skeptical the Lebanon deal announced in Cairo can gain backing from Hizbullah and General Aoun. he writes:

Although the Lebanese opposition, spearheaded by the militant Shiite Hizbullah, has cautiously welcomed the Arab plan, analysts suggest that it could founder as rivals discuss the finer points in the days ahead.

"The devil is in the details and there are plenty of opportunities to derail the plan in the future," says Michael Young, opinion editor of the English-language Daily Star newspaper.

The March 14 coalition, which holds a slim parliamentary majority, gave a more positive reception to the Arab League proposal than did the opposition. Saad Hariri, a top March 14 leader, hailed it as "historic and noble."

The proposal calls for the immediate election of General Suleiman, whose nomination as head of state is supported by both sides; the formation of a national unity government in which Suleiman would hold the balance of power through ministers close to him; and the adoption of a new electoral law.

Under the Lebanese Constitution, a new government is formed after the election of a president. The opposition has blocked Suleiman's election since November, demanding a prior arrangement on the composition of the next government as well as key civil service appointments.

Hizbullah demands enough of a share of the next government to allow it to block any legislation that it deems a threat, such as moves to force the organization to disband its formidable military wing.

Mohammed Raad, who heads Hizbullah's parliamentary bloc, says a final decision on the Arab League proposal would depend on subsequent developments. "We don't want to be pessimistic or block the route to any productive decision, especially in a complicated matter like the Lebanese issue."

Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a Hizbullah expert at the Carnegie Endowment's Middle East Center in Beirut, says the Arab League proposal appeared to be an attempt to "weaken the opposition and corner it. It seems that Hizbullah is not too thrilled about it and I think that the end result will be that the opposition will not agree."

Michel Aoun, Hizbullah's main Christian ally in the opposition who harbors presidential ambitions himself, is also likely to object to the proposal, analysts say. Granting the balance of power in the next cabinet to Suleiman, a Maronite Christian, as all Lebanese heads of state traditionally must be, will significantly weaken Mr. Aoun's political influence.

So why would Syria sign onto a plan that might weaken its Lebanese allies? One reason, analysts say, is the threat of a boycott of the Arab League summit scheduled to be hosted by Damascus in March. The summit is a prestigious annual event attended by Arab heads of state and will boost Syria's credentials in the region.

According to Lebanon's An Nahar newspaper, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem was warned on the sidelines of Sunday's Arab League meeting that Saudi King Abdullah would refuse to attend the March summit if Damascus failed to endorse the Arab League proposal.

"The Syrians want the summit to be a success," says Sami Moubayed, a Syrian political analyst, adding that although the Arab League proposal is "not perfect [for Syria] … it's the closest thing to perfect at this stage."

Still, Mr. Muallem, in Cairo, said that while Syria and Saudi Arabia have agreed to cooperate on Lebanon, Damascus "cannot put pressure on anyone in Lebanon because the solution [to the presidential crisis] should be Lebanese."

Some Lebanese analysts interpret Muallem's comment as an attempt to absolve Damascus of blame should the Lebanese opposition eventually reject the Arab League proposal and continue holding out for a better deal.

Alistair Lyon of Reuters conveys similar skepticism from the Lebanese he interviews:  

Regional antagonists Syria and Saudi Arabia, which support rival Lebanese parties, both said they backed the plan agreed in Cairo, but politicians and analysts said this was only a start.

"I'm not holding my breath," said Oussama Safa, director of the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, citing previous broken promises. "The problems are much more complicated than the Syrians just saying 'ok, we let the Arab declaration pass'."

Syria did not want to be seen to be putting spokes in the wheels ahead of an Arab summit in Damascus in March, but would not push its allies in Lebanon towards compromise, he argued.

Hezbollah, the armed Shi'ite political party backed by Iran as well as Syria, has reacted cautiously to the Arab plan and has not dropped its demand for opposition veto power in cabinet.

"I don't think the opposition can backtrack on that," said Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, visiting scholar at Beirut's Carnegie Middle East Center, noting that Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah had said the veto was vital to thwart U.S. designs on Lebanon.

STRATEGIC CONTEST

"We're not really talking about numbers for a political sharing, but about strategic issues that have become even more important for Hezbollah, Syria and Iran," she said.

"It's a question of Lebanon's political orientation, its identity, and of Hezbollah's weapons above all else."

Lebanon's fate often seems linked to a wider conflict that pits Syria and Iran against Washington and its Arab allies. Each side accuses the other of blocking a deal among the Lebanese.

Saad-Ghorayeb said Syria had limited leverage over Hezbollah and none over Christian opposition leader Michel Aoun. It would not risk an opposition split by pushing hard for the Arab plan.

Aoun, a former army chief who once fought Syrian troops in Lebanon, is now allied with Hezbollah and Amal, a pro-Syrian Shi'ite party whose leader Nabih Berri is parliament speaker.

Aoun says he still opposes Syrian influence in Lebanon, but shares the determination of his Shi'ite partners to prevent the U.S.- and Saudi-backed Sunni, Druze and Christian bloc led by wealthy businessman Saad al-Hariri from monopolising power.

Berri has called an assembly session for Saturday for its 12th attempt to elect a president, but another postponement is inevitable unless a surprise political deal emerges beforehand.

Lebanon's political stalemate has lasted more than a year. The presidency barely functioned even before pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud left office on Nov. 23. The government limps on although its foes say it is illegitimate. Parliament has not met.

"This crisis has had devastating consequences on Lebanon," said Ghassan Moukheiber, a moderate member of Aoun's group in parliament. "We must have a president and a cabinet quickly. The country cannot continue at a standstill."

He said the Arab plan was balanced and took account of the concerns of the both sides, but was far from a done deal.

"It's a potential breakthrough because it seems to have taken care of the regional elements affecting or hindering the presidential election," Moukheiber told Reuters. "But it still needs to be ironed out by local actors, particularly Aoun, who would not be subject to direct influence from Syria or Iran."

Ghassan Tueni, publisher of the an-Nahar newspaper and an MP in the anti-Syrian majority, also voiced optimism that the Arab plan would eventually work because it had regional support, with Iran and Qatar encouraging the Syrians to accept it.

"But there are some difficulties," he cautioned. "Hezbollah was not party to the agreement and they are reluctant to admit that Syria can commit them to it, so they are trying to restate their exigencies, which I don't think will be acceptable."

Comments (123)


t_desco said:

Fatah al-Islam chief warns attacks on Lebanon army

The leader of the Fatah al-Islam group threatened attacks against the Lebanese army after it crushed its militants in battles at a refugee camp in northern Lebanon last year.

“This was only the beginning,” a speaker identified as Shaker al-Abssi said in an audio recording posted on a Web site used by al Qaeda and other Islamist groups. “The mill of war has started to grind in the Levant between the infidels and the believers,” he added.

If authenticated, the recording would be the first public evidence that Abssi survived the fierce battles that ended a 15-week battle and killed more than 400 people. The speaker said he wished he died alongside his fellow fighters in the camp. …
Reuters

January 7th, 2008, 9:31 pm

 

Nicolas92200 said:

Gen Aoun seems happy with the plan

http://www.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/CFD4DEDD-92FB-45CD-9A6F-38EEEDF84851.htm

“God created astronomers to make economists sound serious”….replace “economist” with “political commentators”…

January 7th, 2008, 10:15 pm

 

GG said:

Predictable! Is this an early indication that the anti-Syrian-pro-Syrian-pro-US-Anti-US-pro-anyone who pays M14 clowns will get their orders to scupper this Arab League plan too? Is someone keeping a tab on this or are we relying on M14’s groupies to claim amnesia, while denouncing the opposition for rejecting the plan and accusing it of being influenced by Syria and Iran.

I particularly liked the part where Bush says, “My position has been that the March 14th coalition, if it had mustered a majority plus one, 50 percent plus one, should be allowed to go forward with the selection of the president,”

Someone should put him out of his misery and let him know that the “March 14 coalition” is so unpopular that it can’t even muster up 50 let alone the plus one. But then again the US has never been one for caring about popular support, after all it’s main allies in the region are Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Egypt.

Bush calls for isolating Syria over its role in ‘thwarting’ vote
By Agence France Presse (AFP)
Compiled by Daily Star staff
Tuesday, January 08, 2008

US President George W. Bush Friday laid blame on Syria for the stalemate that has prevented Lebanon from choosing a new president, saying Damascus was “thwarting the will of the Lebanese people.” In an interview with international media, Bush said that on his trip next week to the Middle East he would seek to remind other leaders “how important it is for Lebanon to succeed and how important it is for all of us to work to free that government from foreign interference.”

“I am disappointed that the presidency has not been selected, and believe very much that Syrian influence is preventing the selection,” Bush said.

“My position has been that the March 14th coalition, if it had mustered a majority plus one, 50 percent plus one, should be allowed to go forward with the selection of the president,” he said.

“And so there needs to be a clear message to the Syrians from all us that you will continue to be isolated, you will continue to be viewed as a nation that is thwarting the will of the Lebanese people.

“There needs to be a focused voice, and so our efforts diplomatically are to convince others that they must continue to pressure Syria so that the Lebanese process can go forward.”

Bush added that he has been “very impressed” by Lebanese Premier Fouad Siniora “as a man who’s committed to the well-being of all the Lebanese people.”

Bush is scheduled to depart Tuesday for a visit to the region in an attempt to boost Middle East peace talks. He is not scheduled to visit Lebanon on the trip.

In other developments, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem and Ali Larijani, adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, on Friday discussed developments in Lebanon, the official SANA news agency reported.

Larijani expressed “Iran’s support for Syrian efforts to reach a compromise” in Lebanon that would allow the election of a new president there, the agency said. “The key to a solution in Lebanon lies in the hands of Lebanese parties,” he added. – AFP

January 7th, 2008, 10:23 pm

 

t_desco said:

Updated Reuters story (same link):

Fatah al-Islam chief warns of attacks on Lebanon army

The leader of the Fatah al-Islam group threatened attacks against the Lebanese army after it crushed its militants in battles at a refugee camp in northern Lebanon last year.

“Nahr al-Bared camp will stand witness to your shame until the mujahideen tread your (bodies) with their shoes,” a speaker identified as Shaker al-Abssi said in a 58-minute audio recording posted on a Web site used by al Qaeda and other Islamist groups on Monday.

“This was only the beginning … By God you will not live safely,” he said. “The mill of war has started to grind … between the infidels and the believers.”
If authenticated, the recording would be the first public evidence that Abssi survived the 15-week battle in which more than 400 people were killed.

“This is my first speech after the epic of Nahr al-Bared,” said the militant who praised al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden as the “Sheikh (leader) of Mujahideen”. He said there were 140 fighters in the camp.

He said he wished he had died alongside his fellow fighters in the Nahr al-Bared camp and accused the Lebanese army of using banned weapons in the battle that destroyed most of it.

“I think victory, as far as you are concerned, is to please (U.S. President George W.) Bush and the Jews, is he not the god you worship?” said the militant in a message addressed to what he described as the “crusader army” of Lebanon.

He said Washington had promised army chief Michel Suleiman — now the compromise candidate for the Lebanese presidency — to become the head of state if he was able to win the battle.

“America … told the leader of the crusader army: ‘if you want the chair of presidency then you have to bring down the head of Nahr al-Bared’,” he said.

The militant vowed in the undated recording to seek the release of the group’s prisoners and urged Muslims to help the group’s militants. …
Reuters

January 7th, 2008, 11:49 pm

 

Observer said:

The fat lady did not sing. When the fat lady sings, there wil be a President in Lebanon.

January 8th, 2008, 2:05 am

 

Alex said:

I disagree with part of Nicholas Branford’s article:

So why would Syria sign onto a plan that might weaken its Lebanese allies? One reason, analysts say, is the threat of a boycott of the Arab League summit scheduled to be hosted by Damascus in March. The summit is a prestigious annual event attended by Arab heads of state and will boost Syria’s credentials in the region.

According to Lebanon’s An Nahar newspaper, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem was warned on the sidelines of Sunday’s Arab League meeting that Saudi King Abdullah would refuse to attend the March summit if Damascus failed to endorse the Arab League proposal.

Question:

What will Syria get out of the Arab Summit?… really? .. what is worth compromising over Lebanon and risking Syria’s stable relations with its Lebanese Allies for?

“prestige”?

No.

There is a reason why Syria never hosted an Arab summit even though Syria was one of the 6 founding members of the Arab league in 1945. Sudan hosted many summits, Lebanon did, Tunisia did … so there is no inherent prestige in hosting a summit.

When you host a summit (like last year’s summit in Riyadh or even this year’s annapolis conference) you end up paying for it … Syria never cared enough for the “prestige” of Arab Summit or any other forms of prestige.

Syria accepted the Lebanon deal because Syria did not find in it anything that compromises Syria’s long term interests in Lebanon and because Syria believes it is good for Lebanon … at least for now… until the American administration leaves everyone alone.

January 8th, 2008, 4:26 am

 

ausamaa said:

The Perhaps Plan!!!!!

Again, and in the absence of comments from the Bush Admin, I have to repeat what I posted yesterday that all this analysis (except for Reuter’s Alistair Lyon’s article) is way off the mark!

Why do all have to wait until 27 Jan for Amer Mousa to review the results of his efforts before an Arab League meeting? It was made to sound as a done deal in Cairo. Right? Syria and Saudi both agreed and HA and Harriri -as if anyone really thought of him then-, and Siniora were telephoned by the “meeting of Four” in Mousa’s house, and all gave their blessings!

Or, are the Arab Ministers afraid of the reaction of a Spolier who was not present at the meeting? Who seems to have been the real Spoiler and instigator since day one? Are they “hoping” to try to sell him the deal when he visits the area soon? Like telling him: come on, forget the 1559 and 1701 stuff, that is all we could get you right now, dont be too greedy! Those UNSC resolutions and HA were the real issues, not Aoun, Sulieman or the Sunni or Maronite positions, or the 10 or 6 or 14 ministers after all. Were they not? And this new Arab plan does not provide a real platform for implementing them.

Will Bush tolerate another defeat in Lebanon “disguised” as an Arab Plan? Can he be convinced during his trip to swallow his bride and endorse such a plan in the name of “understanding” and “accepting” realities as seen by his “moderate” allies in the area?

Maybe. Maybe not.

January 8th, 2008, 5:08 am

 

why-discuss said:

Alex

so there is no inherent prestige in hosting a summit.

But there is a potential humiliation and an international recognition of Saudi and Egypt rifts with Syria and of Syria’s isolation in the arab world. The threat of boycott is sufficiently strong on Syria’s honor to accept to press its allies in lebanon for a compromise.
After then summit, all may change again….

January 8th, 2008, 8:32 am

 

t_desco said:

Two rockets from Lebanon slam into Israel

Two rockets slammed into northern Israel from neighbouring Lebanon overnight, police said on Tuesday, the first such incident in nearly seven months that underscored cross-border tensions on the eve of US President George W. Bush’s tour of the region.

“Two 107-mm Katyusha rockets were fired overnight into northern Israel,” Avi Edri, a spokesman for the Israeli northern district police, told AFP.

One of the rockets hit a house in the border town of Shlomi, damaging a balcony, while the second one crashed on to the street nearby, police said. There were no reports of injuries.

The firings were not reported until hours later because the residents of the town thought the noise from the explosions was thunder, Shlomi mayor Gabi Naama told army radio.

“The rockets fell around 2 am (midnight GMT) and were fired from southern Lebanon,” he said. “In the begining residents thought the explosions were thunder.”

In Lebanon, a government security source said it currently had no information concerning the rockets.

An official with the Hezbollah militia — with which Israel fought a 34-day war in July-August 2006 — said the group “had no information on this subject.”…
AFP

January 8th, 2008, 10:22 am

 

offended said:

Ausamma,
Bush’s coming big to the ME.
I mean look at his convoy: 3000 secret service agents. 250 national security advisors. 400 state department officials. 100 humvees for transport and protection. Endless number of commercial jets. 75 masseurs, 5 chefs and 183 shrinks.

Democracy promotion must be having good orgasms right now.

January 8th, 2008, 11:47 am

 

t_desco said:

Haaretz: Roadside bomb hits UN peacekeeping vehicle south of Beirut (Reuters)

Bomb wounds Spanish peacekeepers in Lebanon-source

At least three Spanish peacekeepers were wounded when a roadside bomb hit their vehicle on a highway south of Lebanon’s capital, a security source said on Tuesday.

There was no immediate word from the U.N. peacekeeping force about the blast in Rmaileh village.
Reuters

Interesting in this context:

” “Our message to the crusaders is to expect the worst. This battle was only the beginning and we will prevail,” said the message attributed to Fatah al-Islam’s Palestinian chief Shaker al-Abssi.”
AFP

(my emphasis)

Now remember how bin Laden called the UN troops in southern Lebanon in his most recent message.

January 8th, 2008, 1:18 pm

 

norman said:

Two rockets from Lebanon slam into Israel – police UPDATE
01.08.08, 8:08 AM ET

JERUSALEM (Thomson Financial) – Two rockets slammed into northern Israel from neighbouring Lebanon, police reported today, in an attack underscoring cross-border tensions ahead of US President George W. Bush’s visit.

‘Two 107-mm Katyusha rockets were fired overnight into northern Israel,’ Avi Edri, a spokesman for the Israeli northern district police, told AFP.

One of the missiles hit a house in the border town of Shlomi, causing some damage, while the second crashed onto the street nearby, police said. There were no reports of injuries.

The attack overnight was the first such incident in nearly seven months and came a day before Bush is due to arrive for a landmark visit aimed at bolstering revived Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

The Israeli army, which had initially said an old rocket had exploded in the area, confirmed the incident.

The firings were not reported until hours later because the residents of the town thought the noise from the explosions was thunder, Shlomi mayor Gabi Naama told army radio.

‘The rockets fell around 2 am and were fired from southern Lebanon,’ he said. ‘In the beginning residents thought the explosions were thunder.’

In Lebanon, a government security source said it currently had no information concerning the rockets.

An official with the Hezbollah militia — with which Israel fought a 34-day war in July-August 2006 — said the group ‘had no information on this subject.’

Hezbollah fired some 4,000 rockets into Israel during that conflict.

The UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon (UNIFIL), which is monitoring the ceasefire between the two sides, said its specialists were examining the incident.

‘UNIFIL is in the process of ascertaining the facts. We have our team on the ground. In the meantime, we cannot confirm or deny this report,’ spokeswoman Yasmina Buziane told AFP.

The last time rockets were fired into northern Israel from Lebanon was on June 17, 2007, when two projectiles hit an industrial zone in the border town of Kiryat Shmona without causing casualties.

The Israeli army early today released into UNIFIL custody a Lebanese shepherd whom they arrested the previous day, Lebanese police said. The army had said that the man had been detained after crossing into Israeli territory.

Also today, the leader of an Al-Qaeda inspired militia warned that a deadly 15-week battle that it fought with Lebanese troops last year was only the beginning.

‘Our message to the crusaders is to expect the worst. This battle was only the beginning and we will prevail,’ said the audio message attributed to Fatah al-Islam’s Palestinian chief Shaker al-Abssi.

The message also said that the group aimed to ‘hoist the banner of Islam in the Levant’, singling out Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Jordan.

tf.TFN-Europe_newsdesk@thomson.com

jag/ejb

January 8th, 2008, 1:45 pm

 

Shual said:

Time for a silly post.

“The IDF said that the reason the rocket fire went unnoticed was because the detection system on the northern border was not always operational.” [JPost] + “The Israeli army early today released into UNIFIL custody a Lebanese shepherd whom they arrested the previous day, Lebanese police said. The army had said that the man had been detained after crossing into Israeli territory.”

“Shepherd-detection-system online, Sir!”
In front of the visit of Pres Bush and his traumatized FM Condi Rice Israeli experts raised the question of a potential peaceful wave of Lebanese shepherds trying to infiltrate through the Northern border to reach Mrs. Rice. Mrs. Rice has recently shown some affinity for sheep in front of the Saban-Forum: “How do you like my farm?” I [Rice] said, “Well, Prime Minister [Ariel Sharon], actually, I’m kind of a city girl,” and he said, “Oh, we can fix that,” and he took me around, he introduced me to his sheep. And I called him about something a while later. It was actually, I think, the last time we spoke and I said, “How are your sheep?” He said, “Well, actually, they miss you.” A so far unknown terro… organisation called the “Peacnik-Shepherds of Libanon” [PSL] published a stern message on Sunday, announcing that they will “hoist the banner of Sheep in Israel”. On Monday, Israeli security agents successfully avoided a confrontation of the first waive of shepherd-activists of the PSL with Rice and detained an activists who wanted to reach Condi Rice in Jerusalem and influence her with the power of dozens of sheep in order to make her miss Lebanese sheep too.

News agencies report that the state of mental health of Mrs. Rice has shown some signs of damage after the action, citing her that the “US does not consider it legitimate for Israel to build homes in some neighborhoods of the capital which are located beyond the Green Line” [JPost]. Other experts say that this position has nothing to do with “Sheep” and its only the regular “lietongue effect” of Rice in front of visits in Jerusalem. [Shual, ShualNews, Jerushualem]

January 8th, 2008, 2:21 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

OK folks, let’s look a bit at recent developments:

1- A solution to the Lebanese crisis appears imminent, with very strong backing (more than any other previous approach)
2- All of a sudden, out of the blue, the UN in south Lebanon is attacked, rockets are launched into Israel, Absi purportedly raises his voice and accuses Suleiman of doing America’s bidding in order to become President.

I don’t know about you, but I, along with many who see things through a certain lens (we all have our own lens, everyone!), it seems extremely suspicious to have such timing for the disruptive events. It seems that someone who was forced into acquiescing to the agreement is now finding “creative” ways to cause disruptions that would foil it. You probably know whom I suspect. I just find it very very strange of a coincidence and see the dirty hands of secret services everywhere. Maybe it’s paranoia: I’ll admit to that option to spare some the accusation. I certainly don’t see how in the world it could be KSA or similar who cause the disruptions or finance it (another, in my opinion demented, accusation by some).

Also, I find it ironic and again suspicious that Absi’s accusations of Suleiman ring similar to M8’s accusaitons of Siniora and M14: that they are doing America’s bidding. [How in the world can anyone buy either accusation? and not know it’s a transparent tactic to deflect M8’s doing Syria/Iran’s bidding?]… No need to respond to this last sentence, I’ll grant that at least half the bloggers here find it stupid. Let’s just agreed to disagree.

Finally, from the post on another news item, a quick answer to my “sparring partner” GG:
GG said -“HP, my “middle aged” sparring partner, (…), Smile and the whole world smiles with ; cry and you must be a relative of Sanioura.”
GG, I’m not sure I understood this last sentence (the other part of your post is understood and I’m OK with it, respecting your opinion and view of the news and analysis). It’s probably a refernce to when Prime Minister Siniora became a bit emotional with a tear streaming down his cheek. I saw M14 with Siniora in the lead welcome the Arab League brokered principles of the solution. Anyway, probably not an exciting topic worth sparring about, the news have moved beyond it and we now have a very dangerous risk with Absi and the attacks on the UN and the launching of rockets into Israel. The saboteurs are relentless.

Peace

January 8th, 2008, 2:33 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Honest Patriot said:

“it seems extremely suspicious to have such timing for the disruptive events.

Such timing by Absi or whomever seems verrrry perfect! High publicity and all. What exactly is your problem with it?

As to your next paragraph: :It seems that someone who was forced into acquiescing to the agreement is now finding “creative” ways to cause disruptions that would foil it”

Here, rest assured, Syria -if that is who you intend to finger- is very content with the successful implementation of the Cairo Arab Plan.

And if such acts were not the acts of Sunni Takferies, then they must be the acts of some one else who failed in achieving his Objectives in Lebanon since 2005 would be the much more likely suspect! Can you guess who that invisible “some one” may be?

January 8th, 2008, 3:38 pm

 

t_desco said:

HONEST PATRIOT,

don’t forget to include Osama bin Laden and Azzam the American in your great conspiracy. It’s all Syria’s fault, you know…

January 8th, 2008, 3:39 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

HP

Syria has far more subtle and effective ways to derail progress in Lebanon. No one (including Israel, Hizbullah, M14, etc.) is going to let a couple of Katyushas danger a deal that everyone is currently happy with.

If Absi had anything to do with the Syrians at one point (which I do not discount, but neither accept until proof is available) then it would appear that he’s been cut loose for the time being.

If the deal goes smoothly and Suleiman grows up to be the president the Syrians hope he will, look for a triumphant Lebanese Army victory over the remains of Absi’s gang in the months ahead. This will bring the wagon full circle, tie up all the loose ends, and confirm many suspicions that Syria has not really missed a beat in Lebanon for the past year.

But enough conspiracies…

January 8th, 2008, 3:56 pm

 

Alex said:

HP,

You asked me two days ago:

“Now (to keep things interesting), the zinger question:
Is it in anyone’s interest to foil this agreement ? if so, who ? and why ?”

and I answered you:

“The ones you might want to worry about are the smaller parties … the fanatic small parties or groups … whatever they believe in, their role disappears when there is an agreement in Lebanon .. they will oppose any agreement, then they will find a reason why they want to oppose it.”

January 8th, 2008, 4:57 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

“The ones you might want to worry about are the smaller parties … the fanatic small parties or groups …

Speaking of which, has anyone heard anything from Jumblatt and Geagea?

January 8th, 2008, 5:07 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Ja’ja is hectecly busy accusing Syria (but without naming her) of the Katyoushas and linking the incident to the other twenty or so assasinations that rocked Lebanon in the past two years. He sounded hot and agitated and you can not really blame him. Who do you expect him to take out his frustration on? KSA, Harriri, the so-far-silent Bush Admin, Egypt? The guy is understandably in a very confused and desperate state; he stands to lose the most whatever happens in Lebanon. Cairo Plan or not.

Add this to his loss of control of the LBC station, and there you have it.

January 8th, 2008, 5:54 pm

 

Observer said:

This is from atimes by Sami Moubayed. Once again if his analysis is correct it shows how incompetent the Sunnis are in the entire ME.
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/JA09Ak02.html

January 8th, 2008, 6:57 pm

 

Alex said:

why-discuss said:

Alex

so there is no inherent prestige in hosting a summit.

But there is a potential humiliation and an international recognition of Saudi and Egypt rifts with Syria and of Syria’s isolation in the arab world. The threat of boycott is sufficiently strong on Syria’s honor to accept to press its allies in lebanon for a compromise.
After then summit, all may change again….

Why discuss,

Syria went through few years of “humiliation” without altering any of its strategic decisions… they were fully aware of the consequences of putting Kilo in jail at a time when they really did not need to give international journalists any extra reason to give the Syrian regime more bad reviews.

They really don’t care… they have become quite insensitive to the way western governments or journalists portray them. As I said earlier … PR pressure tactics were used against Hafez as early as 1977 .. by now it became almost useless.

The only exceptions were at the peak of the Hindawi affair and the Hariri investigations Mehlis days… those were very difficult times for the regime.

But when it comes to Saudi participation in an Arab summit? … no problem at all.

Having said that … Syria would like to see the Damascus summit take place and end up being a success for Syria.

January 8th, 2008, 6:57 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

OK, y’all, your comments and responses are well taken, particularly Alex’s reminder. So, if we agree with your interpretations, the real test of good intentions by Syria and true statesmanship by HA is to rally around the Cairo agreement, join hands with the Lebanese government to effect this agreement promptly (primo), and, (secondo) to work jointly to
a- condemn all the pronouncements, and
b- root out any remnants of the Absi brigades
At the same, time, should (a) above happen, it will be the responsibility of all in M14 and of the Lebanese government to work with the opposition to effect (b), and to stop any hints and accusations (which hints I’m obviously guilty of in my post above, albeit in a subtle way and without belonging to M14).

I’m watching, reading, and listening to event developments…

Peace (I hope!)

January 8th, 2008, 7:14 pm

 

GG said:

Observer,

I would disagree with the Sami Moubayed statement that “The Hariri-led parliamentary majority would still hold the post of prime minister.”

The plan calls for a “national Unity” government. My understanding of this is no Hariri, no Saniora. The only other candidate that most likely fits the role is Safadi, and he’s demonstrated that he doesn’t blindly follow US (M14) directives. I refer to his interview on New TV when he was asked for his thoughts on Michel Aoun nominating him for PM position.

January 8th, 2008, 7:46 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

I believe the major sticking point of agreeing on the distribution of the cabinet seats has not been resolved yet. The Arab League plan does not specify a 10-10-10 division. Therefore, it is premature to speak of a done deal.

January 8th, 2008, 8:30 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

The plan simply calls for an immediate agreement on the formation of a national unity government in Lebanon, constructed in such a way as to deny either faction the right to impose their policies on the other side. So, the devil is in the details.

January 8th, 2008, 9:07 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

All excellent comments and analysis above, but at the end of the day, no deal in Lebanon can be reached until Syria gets assurances from KSA that the new Lebanese government will be a friendly one. This circus will go on until either one side capitulates or Cheney’s term in the White house is over – whichever comes first.

January 8th, 2008, 10:16 pm

 
 

Fares said:

I Love you Alex!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

“Syria went through few years of “humiliation” without altering any of its strategic decisions… they were fully aware of the consequences of putting Kilo in jail at a time when they really did not need to give international journalists any extra reason to give the Syrian regime more bad reviews.

They really don’t care… they have become quite insensitive to the way western governments or journalists portray them. As I said earlier … PR pressure tactics were used against Hafez as early as 1977 .. by now it became almost useless.

The only exceptions were at the peak of the Hindawi affair and the Hariri investigations Mehlis days… those were very difficult times for the regime.

But when it comes to Saudi participation in an Arab summit? … no problem at all.

Having said that … Syria would like to see the Damascus summit take place and end up being a success for Syria. “”””””””

and ALEX WHAT do you stand to gain from supporting such a terrorist regime?????????and justifying, condoning or not caring about anything bad they do!!!!!!!!! I wish you lived in Syria one day so you can stop applauding Syria like a little parrot without being aware of the consequences…shame on YOU

January 8th, 2008, 11:44 pm

 

Fares said:

What really I don’t get is HOW CAN YOU PLACE ARRESTING KILO AS SYRIA NOT GIVING UP THEIR STRATEGIC INTERESTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! you are so full of it.

YOU ARE A RIGHT WING BAATHIST who is taking Syria and Lebanon on the Iraqi path with your idiot philosophies…also I want to know how did you get this negativity about Saudi Arabia!!!!! they helped end the civil war in Lebanon that Syria kept fueling!!!! it is too bad that your antiwar attitudes come only when it suits Syria’s interests.

BTW Syria in the following comments mean the REGIME “tithana fih”…

January 8th, 2008, 11:53 pm

 

Nour said:

Fares,

You criticize Alex for allegedly supporting a “terrorist” regime, and you follow it up with your defense of Saudi Arabia, which is arguably the single most repressive regime in the world. What’s more absurd, is your argument that Saudi Arabia helped end the Lebanese civil war, when it is Syria that physically ended that conflict. What exactly did Saudi Arabia do? Syria lost thousands of troops in Lebanon. How many Saudis do you think the Kingdom is willing to sacrifice for Lebanon? Please be rational in your debates. While no one argues that Syria is ruled by a repressive dictatorship, the idea of regime change is not a simple one as most so-called “opposition” figures and groups like to contend. While this matter should be approached rationally and reasonably, you are basing your position on your deep hatred for the regime, rather than on your love for your country. In other words, you are interested in vengence against a regime, rather than in building a modern, advanced state based on social equality and the rule of law.

January 9th, 2008, 12:48 am

 

norman said:

Nour,

WOW you are so right.

January 9th, 2008, 12:55 am

 

Alex said:

Fares,

I will admit that I should have tried a bit harder to explain what I was trying to say. I should have known you will read it and interpret it in the same way you always do.

So, I guess I need to restate my weekly statement that you and the other automatic regime haters force me to repeat so frequently:

While I think that the regime is doing a superb job at the regional level, their lack of respect for the rights of political activists (the decent ones, like Michel Kilo) is very disappointing.

Thanks to Nour I don’t have to answer you why I am not a big fan of Saudi Arabia. But unlike you, I limit my criticism to certain areas, and certain individuals in “the Saudi regime”. For example I always liked Prince Saud alfaisal and Prince Turki alFaisal. I think they are both quite decent (for mideast politicians at least).

Fares … we have done this discussion many times the past two years. Enough, please.

January 9th, 2008, 2:37 am

 

Ford Prefect said:

Alex,
March on dude and never mind racism and bigotry dressed as democracy and modernity.

Better be called Syrian supporter than a Saudi/Cheney supporter where women get 6 months jail term and 200 lashes just for being raped.

January 9th, 2008, 3:37 am

 

norman said:

Alex,
Clinton won NH.

January 9th, 2008, 3:39 am

 

Ford Prefect said:

Thanks Norman! NH news is very exciting for this Syrian patriot. GO CLINTON 😉

January 9th, 2008, 3:41 am

 

Alex said:

Mabrouk FP : )

I just listened to the new Senator Clinton and she sounds good … more authentic.

Hopefully it will be Clinton/Obama who will replace Bush/Cheney

January 9th, 2008, 4:28 am

 

Fares said:

While I don’t admire Saudi Arabia internal politics, I think they refrain from making troubles here and there…anyway let’s not compare both regimes and let’s just stick to Syrian politics…your admiration for the trouble maker Syria in the region is ridiculous, not to mention that the Regime loves to mix internal repression with its foreign policies…look at the accusations that they throw at people and jail them on!!!! so they invite other people to link the criticism to both!!! so you can’t admire and be dissapointed at the same time!!!

Nour while you don’t know me…you can’t say I hate deeply the regime and I am driven by vengeance…I am driven by my observations and by the negative role that the regime manipulate the country and the region for!!! I DON”T BELIEVE PEOPLE SHOULD BE ARRESTED BASED ON WHAT THEY THINK OR SAY…

plus who are you to distribute licences of patriotism and love of country!!!! unless you consider Assad is the country!!!! did I say Alex does not love Syria???

and Syria lost many soldiers in Lebanon: please they got so much money from there and destroyed the country in the process…just ask the officers who robbed Lebanon’s furniture and cars during the war!!! being posted to Lebanon was like a reward!!!! and my cousin did serve there and he was a witness…the War on Aoun was like a joke and the stupid guy was an agent from the beginning and so was every war lord that was at one point or another allied with Syria: just like the US keep shifting their alliances in Iraq (they are also sacrificing their soldiers in Iraq), the Syrian peace in Lebanon meant total domination and that is when it happened and they started to stir trouble again once they got kicked out.

HOW COME SYRIANS LOVE SA when they get money from them but they bash them as soon as they see the cash flow stop.

January 9th, 2008, 4:43 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

The great Syrian patriots see democracy at work in NH and are delighted. But of course, this is not fit for Syria. Nothing can change in Syria. Bashar is the given, all the world needs to change around him.

Kilo and other dissidents in jail? A minor point to be dismissed in Bashar’s otherwise perfect regional record. No independent papers allowed in Syria, that is understandable. Who needs them anyway? But the NY Times not printing a certain article or is perceived by you not to be objective, that is a reason for a crusade. That is huge wrong that can’t stand.

Where is your sense of perspective? Where is your judgement? Why are you accepting in Syria stuff 1/100th of which you would not accept in Canada and the US? Why are you fighters for freedom and justice in the US and Canada and are appeasers of oppressive dictators in Syria? Why do you go raving mad when you think the NY Times is not objective but have no problem with the fact that there is zero freedom of press in Syria?

There is something fundamentally wrong with the Syrian regime apologists on this forum, but I cannot explain it. If anyone can explain to me this wrapped thinking I would be very thankful.

January 9th, 2008, 5:05 am

 

Alex said:

Fares said:
“HOW COME SYRIANS LOVE SA when they get money from them but they bash them as soon as they see the cash flow stop. ”

Did anyone of us bash Saudi Arabia before 2005?

From 2000 to 2005 (When SA supposedly hated the Syrian regime after Hariri was killed), Do you know how much money Saudi Arabia gave Syria? … almost nothing.

The past two years Qatar, Kuwait, and UAE invested over ten billions in Syria … and they did not ask for any political concessions from Syria in return.

The Saudis who are running out of ways to spend the 900 billions in oil money the past six years recently decided to spend Thirteen billion dollars on one skyscraper (the mile high ultimate show off project).

No one asked for their money. They have been extremely stingy with Syria for a long time and that did not bother anyone here.

But the problem is that they do not understand Syria and Lebanon … yet Mr. Cheney wanted (still wants?!) to assign them as CEOs of the fertile crescent.

January 9th, 2008, 5:15 am

 

norman said:

It is simple ,
The KSA intention over the last three years was ( Under the direction of the US and Israel ) was and is to starve Syria into submission , They do not know that Syria and the Syrians do not submit to anybody and Especially the KSA.

January 9th, 2008, 5:26 am

 

ausamaa said:

AIG,

Of course you can not explain it, we call it Love of our country, and support for our country in times of trouble. Especially when trouble is aimed at Hurting the Country and its people comuflaged as seeking to demecrotize and liberate the Syrian people in the same manner that Iraq was liberated and democratized. We can sense and feel what the real intentions of Syria’s adversaries are, and we beleive that we must stand up to them first because they represent an existential threat to Syria as a country and as a geo-political power, not as a regime.

If any of those adversaries really cared about the Syrians or the Arabs and really wanted us to develope politically and socially , your little cuddly Israel amd its IDF would not have been placed in our middest.

So we know what they want and we know how to respond.

Got it now?

January 9th, 2008, 5:26 am

 

Alex said:

AIG,

You are a Netanyahu supporter… you will never be able to understand us Syrians. You read and try to find proof that you are always right, and we are either weird, or suspect or “hallucinating” or anti-Semitic

You seem to be shocked that I am more interested in regional successes and not interested enough in internal disappointments.

Let me show you something … I suggest you try to observe as much quantitative or qualitative data from the two links below

Check the frequency (dates of occurrences) of the bad news in each link:

1) Syrian regime’s sins

2) Your friends’ sins

For now, I am not fighting for democracy anywhere in the Middle East.

I am “fighting” for minimizing violence in the Middle East and trying to avoid more Iraq-like disasters from those who are trying to “help” Syria and Lebanon. I am “fighting” for going back to seeking win-win solutions rather than “defeat the bad guys” solutions.

You want me and the other Syrians to start criticizing the Syrian regime? … give us a calm neighborhood in the Middle East, stop trying to weaken and isolate Syria, and give Syria back its Golan.

Then our priorities will change. For now you know very well our priorities.

January 9th, 2008, 5:42 am

 

offended said:

How did Ron Paul do?

January 9th, 2008, 5:53 am

 

Shual said:

“we believe that we must stand up to them first”

I think that this is a wrong priority. I even think that if you focus first on Bush and not on yourself that he definitely has won.

PS: “your little cuddly Israel amd its IDF would not have been placed in our middest” Well, its very hard to see a “construktive position” of Syria in such words. Germanies left-wings risk their heads with pumping billions into the “Abdullah al-Dardari”-connection and this is not the accepted way to pay that back, dear Ausamaa.

January 9th, 2008, 6:23 am

 

Shual said:

Ron Paul, 5th with 7.6%

January 9th, 2008, 6:25 am

 

Alex said:

ووصف زيباري علاقة بلاده الحالية بالجانب السوري بالجيدة، قائلا إن هناك زيارات متبادلة وخطوات اتخذتها السلطات السورية أدت إلى منع تسلل (المقاتلين) الأجانب..«انخفض عدد المتسللين إلى أقل من النصف، بعدما اتخذت سورية إجراءات في المناطق الحدودية وفى المطارات والتشدد مع القادمين إليها، والتحقيق في أسباب القدوم والهوية والدوافع وعندما لا تقتنع السلطات السورية بحجج هؤلاء يتم إعادتهم إلى بلدانهم خاصة في دول شمال أفريقيا وإلى دول الخليج ودول عربية أخرى». وقال زيباري «إضافة للتواصل السياسي والبرامج الاقتصادية والتجارية بين العراق وسورية، نفكر سوياً في تشغيل خط أنبوب للنفط إلى الموانئ السورية، من كركوك إلى بانيــاس، واستخدام حقل الغاز الموجود على الحدود مع سورية بعد تخصيص الاتحاد الأوروبي ميزانية جيدة لإجراء دراسة جدوى لتشغيل هذا الحقل الذي سوف تستفيد منه ســورية عبر موانئها بنقـــل الغــاز العراقي إلى موانئ البحر المتوسط».

January 9th, 2008, 7:39 am

 

ausamaa said:

SHAUL,

I think it us Arabs and Syrians who are better positioned to decide what our priorities Are.

Your prioritie are protecting your interests, ours are the same. But it is us who can of determining what Arab intersts are rather than trusting the West to advise us on the matter. We just have too many bad experiences with that starting from Napoleon who was the first to insist on seperating Egypt from the Levant, going through the infamous Sykes-Picot agreement and the Belfore Decleration, and the …., and the…, .. should I recount the full list??

Eroupe had a “Jewish” poroblem, and because we allowed ourselves to be fooled into trusting the West, and because we were also incapable of standing up to the West then, we now have an Israel problem. But unlike Europe, we think that there is other and more human ways of solving this problem and co-existing with Jews, than forcing a new people on top of an existing one as Europe did. And please, do not tell me it was all Hitler’s work alone and that the rest were “inoncent” bystanders.

Anymore remarks about German financial aid to Syria, or to the Palestinian refugees perhaps while we are at it???

January 9th, 2008, 8:43 am

 

why-discuss said:

Sarkozy:
“Elle (La France) veut la faire en mettant tout en œuvre pour que le Liban voie son indépendance garantie, pour qu’il redevienne ce pays symbole de la diversité qu’il fut tout au long de son histoire. » Sortant du texte écrit de son intervention, Nicolas Sarkozy a ajouté qu’Israël est également un symbole de diversité…

Israel, a symbol of diversity?? Sarkozy is in love and does not know what he is talking about, except when he talks about signing lucrative contracts like his predecessors did shamelessly with Saddam’s Iraq. A promising future for France’s foreign policy.

January 9th, 2008, 8:47 am

 

ausamaa said:

Never mind Saddam’s Iraq; last month Sarkozy was soliciting financial “aid” from a more democratic leader: Muammar Kaddafi.

Money really works, does it not..

January 9th, 2008, 8:52 am

 

why-discuss said:

The M14 are so excited about the Arab leagues’s new proposal that it looks suspicious. They probably know that the Arab League has proved to be vague and useless in following up on any arab made accord? The Taef accord? The supposed withdrawal of syrian troops from Lebanon after a certain number of years? The deadly Cairo Accord, still not rescinted, even after Nahr Al Bared?
No wonder the opposition wants more long term garantees than these accords that end up on the shelves and are only evoked when needed.
In view of the numerous flips of the majority when a deal was about to written, who can trust another one?

January 9th, 2008, 8:56 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Dr. Landis,

How about a Syria Comment feature on which presidential candidate will likely be “best” for Syria, and the region as a whole?

January 9th, 2008, 1:52 pm

 

Shual said:

Dear Ausamaa,

a third of the arab world can not read […]. TOP-Priority. One can argue between several ways to change that, one can critizize undermining actions [like Israel blocks paper for Gaza], but if the arab world does not understand that only the arab world can teach the arab world things like “reading” the arab world will not change. And if you think that occasions like Saddam or Mubarak are ONLY a product of Western Imperialism you will not avoid the next Saddam. And I am sorry, but if the arab world thinks that they were cheated they should first claim that at the ones that were responsible: Their leaders, cause their leaders in their villas don’t appear as if they were cheated. “Cheated” and buying half of the WallStreet. My god, “we” CHEATED them! And Syria? Well, they took russian weapons to take part in the biiig cold war, cause the russians cheated them! They were cheated to choose the loosers site and now they are sitting in the pit of history and blame the winner. [And as you know, Germany was a divided country in that times. I can tell you millions of stories about that.] I hope theres more to estimate than that.

“But unlike Europe, we think that there is other and more human ways of solving this problem and co-existing with Jews”. Well, if that is rigth, you should not react on the same level of wrong accusations and propaganda from an “Israeli”. [One of my best friends is a Syrian Christian living in Germany, cause the Syrians “more human ways” politly forced his family to leave the nice country. He is now an arab problem in Europe, …]

PS: “Anymore remarks about German financial aid to Syria, or to the Palestinian refugees perhaps while we are at it???” Funny, you mix Syria with Palestinians in Lebanon. Did the Great Syria improved their situation after the civil war and do they live now as equal residents there? Yes? Or No? And why do people like Sari Nusseibeh think that the Syrian policy regarding Palestinian refugees meants to get rid of them and thats why figures like the angel of peace and of the “more human ways of solving this problem” Meshal can act as the true defenders of Palestinian interests in Syria? [And Meshal can drink clean water of german aid, too. This is some kind of disturbing.]

January 9th, 2008, 3:01 pm

 

Joshua said:

Qifa Nabki,

Why don’t you write a short post putting forward your best and worst candidates and I will chime in in the comment section? It would be a fun debate.

I am writing syllabuses and getting ready for students to return.

January 9th, 2008, 3:11 pm

 

t_desco said:

FORD PREFECT,

what do Syrian patriots think about this:

HRC on Jerusalem

It seems that Hillary Clinton has a position paper on Israel and Israel-related issues coming out that says she “believes that Israel’s right to exist in safety as a Jewish state, with defensible borders and an undivided Jerusalem as its capital, …”
Matthew Yglesias (September 19, 2007)

(my emphasis)

January 9th, 2008, 3:40 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Mr. Fox,

It seems this time you are also wailing in the ruins of the Arab world. Do you think they are listening?

I cannot read German, so would it be fair to characterize you as a left wing German that is supportive of the Palestinian cause?

January 9th, 2008, 4:27 pm

 

Habib said:

syllabi

January 9th, 2008, 4:32 pm

 

Shual said:

Mr. AnotherIsraeliGuy [from New Jersey in Israel?]

“It seems this time you are also wailing in the ruins of the Arab world. Do you think they are listening?” — They can belive what they want. I am not their dad. The way Alex wrote you was understandable. Ausamaas not and it was straining my german roots, so… Nothing to get excited.

“I cannot read German, so would it be fair to characterize you as a left wing German that is supportive of the Palestinian cause?” No. I am independent and supportive of both causes as long they are based on “International Law”.

January 9th, 2008, 4:52 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Mr. Fox,

How is what Alex wrote understandable, just as you or me are not their dad, neither is Alex. Let the Syrian people decide their destiny and do not leave it in the hands of Asad. Don’t you think?

And in the end, it is actions that count, and the results of Ausama’s and Alex’s actions are the same, they just allow a dictator to stay in power. As an analogy in German history, Alex is playing the part of the Catholic Party (German Centre Party)in Hitler’s coalition (before the Pope agreed to disband it). His intentions may be good, but in the end, he is playing into the hands of a dictator.

January 9th, 2008, 5:10 pm

 

Alex said:

T-Desco, Qifa Nabki

According to this panel of Israeli experts, Guiliani, clinton and MacCain get high enough grades (7+) as candidates who are “good for Israel”.

Obama is still feared. Huckabee, Edwards are not good.

Can we reverse the above scale and automatically obtain the scores for candidates who are good for Syria? .. Obama, Huckabee or Edwards?

Not necessarily.

Although Guiliani (top score for Israel) is probably among the worst for Syria and the Middle East… and the whole world.

America plays a huge role in the Middle East … what happens in the Middle East depends to a large extent on what approach America decides to take. In 2000 and 2004 Americans elected a president who refuses to talk to the people he does not like or does not consider to be significant … Syria and Iran and Hizbollah.

This year I don’t care much who is the person elected, I just hope the new president will be able to talk to, instead of boycott in the hope of destroying, the countries he/she does not like.

If we get a Guiliani … four more years of the same mentality, then there is a good chance there will be war in the Middle East.

The good news is that Guiliani seems to be almost finished.

The bad news is that … he could still end up being the next powerful Vice President.

Do we know who the lovely Abrams and Hadley are voting for? : )

January 9th, 2008, 5:10 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Dr. Landis,

I am grading exams and preparing for the spring semester… so I scarcely have any more time. 🙂

But I’ll see what I can do.

January 9th, 2008, 5:13 pm

 

Alex said:

ok, then, if both Joshua and Qifa are too busy, then I will have to write that piece.

To make it spicey enough, I decided to use this title:

“Obama announces he is quitting”

January 9th, 2008, 5:22 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Alex,

I don’t think that’s spicy enough.

Try:

“Obama Drops Out, Plans to Convert to Islam”

January 9th, 2008, 5:51 pm

 

norman said:

they said he is Muslem.his midle name is Husain.

January 9th, 2008, 6:05 pm

 

Joshua said:

Dear Habib,

The common plural form syllabi is sometimes considered a hypercorrection, as we do not know that syllabus is a second-declension Latin noun, simply because there are not enough classical uses of the term to definitively discern its declension. If, as the vast majority of Latin nouns ending in “-us”, “syllabus” belongs to the second-declension, the plural would be syllabi; if fourth, the plural would again be syllabus. For this reason, syllabi, syllabus, and syllabuses are all commonly accepted. However, the word syllabus originally comes from a mis-transliteration by Cicero, who mis-copied the word σιττύβας (accusative plural of σιττύβα, meaning label or title page) as syllabos, making any Latin-ized plural form technically incorrect.

Or,

The Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition – the official dictionary of the AP – lists both “syllabuses” and “syllabi” as plural forms of “syllabus.”

But “syllabuses” is listed first.

And, even more importantly, the AP Stylebook, the arbiter of style for most newspapers, says “syllabuses” is THE plural form papers should use.

What is the correct plural of “Safari,” an Arabic loan word through Swahili — “Safariin”? Or “Safaris”?

English has a wonderful way of absorbing foreign words and Anglicising them. Latin and Greek loan words retained their foreign plurals because English speakers studied Latin and Greek. Even though I studied 4 years of Latin in high school, I am terrible at Latin plurals and remembering which of the five declensions a noun is originally from.

Because so few English speakers study Latin any longer, it is becoming common to anglicize plurals. I am a firm believer in the useful rule of thumb: “When in doubt, use common English.”

January 9th, 2008, 6:07 pm

 

t_desco said:

Alex,

interesting. It seems that even giving a hawkish speech at the Herzliya Conference isn’t enough:

“I cannot talk about the war last summer without referring to the Syrian role in destabilizing area. Syria needs to be held accountable. Syria has recently called for peace talks with Israel. Talk is cheap. Syria needs to go long way to prove it is ready for peace. It can start by not harboring terrorists and ending its nefarious relationship with Iran.”
John Edwards

This position is similar to that of Bush or Olmert. Colin Powell has pointed out how absurd it is: “You can’t negotiate when you tell the other side, ‘ Give us what a negotiation would produce before the negotiations start”.

January 9th, 2008, 6:49 pm

 

Observer said:

The prize is not Lebanon, the big Prize is Iran and the oil fields in Iraq. Mobil and Shell are battling it out for the exploration of a gaz field in Anbar province. This will complicate the passing of an oil law and will make political reconciliation even more dismal. The Sunnis are afraid of renewed violence in Baghdad. The Shia are afraid that the Awakening Councils will grow further and would like to nip them in the bud now rather than later and take over all of Baghdad. The US president is not coming to make peace but to sell a confrontation with Iran to the ever more skeptical and reluctant Arab regimes.Clearly the Iranians are going to either replace the US as the local power broker or they are going to force the next administration to broker a deal with them that takes into account their national interests.
Here is some reading
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/JA10Ak03.html

The Sunnis in Lebanon are going to be sacrificied for an entente between the Syrians, the French, and the Iranians. The French are interested in the Christian community, the Iranians in HA and Syria, and the Sunnis have but the KSA. They are disorganized, have no institutions, no political leaders to speak of ( Hariri the son is just a few “days” older than Bhutto the son ). Hariri’s pronoucement are as varied as the people he meets as he mouths off whatever French or US official tells him to say. Siniora is out, there will be a Sunni prime minister but not necessarily of the Hariri camp. This move is going to split the March 14 furhter, especially if factions see that the office of prime minister may not go to a Hariri protege. Then you will see the rats abandon this ship. What is Jumblatt saying is the big question for you can sense where he stands as he wants to make himself the king maker to no avail.

January 9th, 2008, 7:18 pm

 

Alex said:

T-Desco,

AIPAC knows the difference between a candidate who says the necessary pro-Israeli sounding statement twice a year, and other candidates who are genuinely compatible with AIPAC’s vision.

January 9th, 2008, 7:44 pm

 

offended said:

I think the best for Syria, (and America, as far as I am concerned:)) is Dr Ron Paul; hands down.

He voted against the Iraq war resolution.

He favors the elimination of foreign aid to Israel.

And he speaks the truth about September the eleven.

January 9th, 2008, 8:32 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

AIG,

You seem puzzled by the fact that a number of Syrians on this forum seem to tolerate the lack of democracy in their country.

Suppose that Israel is not made up exclusively (or largely) of Jewish people. Let us assume that Israeli society is made up of Kurds, Sunnis, Shias, Christians and Jews of course.

You are very proud of the fact that the Israel of today is democratic when Syria is not. Let us now try to think of a new Israel that contains the above mix.

The Jews are already in control and elections are looming. The Sunnis or Shias are strong candidates to unseat the Jews at the ballot box and take over the running of the country.

How democratic do you think this Israel would be?

Judging by your passion for democracy, I am sure that you would advocate that the Jews ought to go ahead and let elections proceed at the risk of losing power to say the Sunnis of this new country.

Please do not cite the U.S. or other western nations as an example. Try to answer my question by restricting your argument to your beloved democratic Israel.

Come to think of it, isn’t the two-state solution being advocated precisely to avoid such a dynamic from ever taking place down the line given the current unmistakable demographics on the ground. In other words, Israel simply cannot afford your beloved democracy should that come to fruition, can it?

January 9th, 2008, 8:35 pm

 

GG said:

Alex,

Some reading you may find interesting: http://www.bitterlemons-international.org/inside.php?id=856

Do you think you may have fallen into this trap when it comes interpreting the relationship between Syria and certain members of the Lebanese opposition?

January 9th, 2008, 9:28 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

RON PAUL is the best for Syria,and for USA
I said that before.

January 9th, 2008, 10:15 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

EHSANI2,

I don’t understand your example. The Jews were and are a minority in many countries, that is very common, but unlike the Alawites, they do not take over the countries they are a minority in. Jews that want to be part of the majority come to the Jewish state, Israel and the ways the Jews in Israel solve the problems between them is through liberal democracy.

Are Syrians not a nation state? I thought they were almost all Arabs? If not what are they? Are they a colonialist invention? Do you think the Sunnis and Alawites do not want to live together in one state?

January 9th, 2008, 10:29 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Ron Paul would be the worst president for Syria. For example if a war between Syria and Israel started, he would not work to stop it. He just would not care about what happens in the mideast. It would be a free for all. Like it or not the US is the STABILIZING force in the middle east and without the guarantees and support it provides Israel and the Arabs, the situation will quickly deteriorate into a war.

Just think what would happen to Syria if the US stops supporting Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood will take over. Their first target will be Syria.

January 9th, 2008, 10:37 pm

 

Observer said:

I like EHSANI’s post. Let me remind the readers of the following interesting historical issues: until 1870 when in France and in Germany and Russia the modern nation state was significantly reinforced, the Jewish communities were governed by Rabbinical Laws. These laws were favored by Isabella after the Reconquista because when a Rabbi fined a jew for conducting business on the Sabbath 9/10th of the fine went to the Crown. In Russia, even though the Czar was an anti-semite he nevertheless insisted on the unification of all citizens in relation to the national law of the land. He insisted on the translation of the Talmudic traditions into Russian and on their offensive passages be either removed or changed. Some of these passages for example would require any observant Jew to bless a Jewish cemetery while cursing a non Jewish cemetery. This led to the emancipation of the Jewish individual as he/she became full citizens under the rule of law in a modern state. It is no surprise that the idea of a national jewish homeland as exemplified by the Zionist movement came into being in the same period and was both an emulation of nationalist thinking on the one hand as well as a desire to restore the conditions for the Jews to live within the old exclusive Talmudic laws. Although many a Zionist was deeply secular, yet the idea of a Jewish community where the laws and rules of daily and political life are set is highly reminiscent of the old times when the Jewish community lived by Rabbinical laws. The insistence that Israel is a Jewish state is actually due to the fear of being once again faced with the concept of an allegiance that could be higher than that of the religion and that is the idea of belonging to a national identity where your religious affiliation is either secondary or irrelevant to your national identity. For example, the argument proposed by the French for the banning of the head scarf for girls in public schools is exactly an affirmation of the supermacy of the national identity above that of the religious affiliation. The principles of the Republic trump the religious dogma as it is relegated to your private domain only. It is no wonder that the Jewish community fearful of such emancipation for throughout the millenia one of the aspects of the cohesiveness of the community was due to the Rabbinical laws that governed the life of the individual and the community. This is exactly the same fear about the establishment of a bi-national single state in Palestine and when the PLO proposed the creation of a secular state in all of Palestine, Israel did not even propose to debate the merits of the idea or to negotiate its finer points such the right of return of the Jews, or the non applicability of forcing people to return to Europe; they simply branded it as a call for the destruction of the State of Israel. It does call for the abolition of the exclusivist nature of the state but of course the propangada of anti-semitism and Holocaust revival never permitted such a discussion.
It is instructive to note some of the following historical points as well some concepts for our readers about Eretz Israel.
In 1956 Ben Gurion on the third day of the Suez war declared in the Knesset that the aim of the war was nothing less than the reestablishment of the Kingdom of David and Solomon and that the campaign to take the Sinai was just that. Promptly a majority in the Knesset stood up and sang the national anthem. Now this Kindgom extends into parts of Egypt and into Syria as well.
General Gazit (reserves) once clearly said that the role of the Israeli Defence forces is to the protect the Arab Regimes against Popular Religious and Nationalist Fervor and that the West as well as the Arab Regimes know it very well. This was in the context of depicting Israel as being at the Vanguard of Western Civilization against the ignorant East.
As to what constitutes the land of Isreal, it clearly depends on who you talk to. In one extreme case it encompasses the following: all of Lebanon and all of Syria and parts of Turkey all the way to lake Van and all of the Sinai and parts of Egypt up to Cairo (remember that Begin visited the Pyramids and reminded his delegation that the Jews helped build the pyramids but it was not the time to ask for its possession) as well as all of Jordan and parts of southern Iraq including Kuwait and parts of Saudi Arabia. This follows into the idea of redeemed land. Any redeemed land in Jewish tradition is that which is under the control of Jews, thus the stroke that befell Sharon was deemed as divine punishement for the fact that Israel withdrew from Lebanon and did not “redeem” this land back into Jewish control and possession. The assassin of Rabin as well as the fanatic jew that machine gunned muslims in the city of Hebron were both hailed and praised as heroes of judaism as they were to clean the redeemed land.
AP, AIG, and IG have a poor understanding of democracy. Democracy has many definitions and many forms. One of the democratic forms is the Israelli one but it is basically for a segment of the population only in its full form. This is why the uterus of the Arab woman is so frightening to the Israeli leadership and this the dilemma they face: how can they accept the creation of a two state solution and “unredeem” Jewish land that has been redeemed in 1967 thereby undermining at the core the Jewish basis of Zionist ideology and if the land is to remain “redeemed” then how can you preserve the exclusive Jewish identity of the state in the face of demographic change. If a democratic ideal is to be preserved then a new concept of the nation state will need to be established: one is the American model and here making all of Palestine and Israel into the US 51st state is one example of a solution where your particular affiliiation is inferior to your citizenship. Another example is the Lebanese one where the communities are represented in proportion with set rules to insure that the minority does not suffer crushing majority rule. This is why some people think that Israel hates Lebanon so much as it represents an alternative of true coexistence if the details are hammered out. Israel with its incredibly creative and mature political and intellectual elite will clearly solve any feudal issues the Lebanes model may have.
Now for Syria not being a democracy I agree with Ehsani and would like to remind the reader that the concept of a Syria nation state is very weak. Also, the degree of economic development and of educational level is so weak as to empty the concept of its meaning. Before we ask for democracy we need
1. Bureaucratic freedom; i.e, an end to corruption and an independent judiciary
2. Economic opportunity; i.e, an end to nepotism and a solid financial institutional framework. Once this done we can talk about democracy.

I remember reading a note from AP in which he said that in Israel there is no Israeli that is occupying the house or the orchad or the land of a Palestinian. This is because he considers that this “redeemed” jewish land and therefore the Palestinians did not lose anything as they never owned the land. This is eternal jewish land that has just been redeemed.

January 9th, 2008, 10:50 pm

 

Shami said:

Ehsani ,Israel is not more homogeneous than Syria,20% of israelis are arabs.And Turkey an another democracy ,has more populous minorities than Syria ,20% Alevis and 15% kurds.Syria is not Lebanon nor Iraq …in the pre baath era when Syria was more heterogenous with 17% christians(today 5 %) ,Democracy worked well in Syria… the increase of extremism in the arab world is not only result of the israeli or american policy but mostly as result of more than 40 years of totalitarian and anti democratic regimes that have destroyed the civil society and civicism.So be sure that more years of asad regime will add more difficulties,because by definition the more the society is weak and opprimed the more they feel secure this is a vicious circle.

January 9th, 2008, 10:50 pm

 

offended said:

Just think what would have happened to the Zionist state had there been a president like Ron Paul in 1973.

January 9th, 2008, 10:59 pm

 

Shual said:

AIGfNJ,

“As an analogy” – You are my favorite for this weeks “Ehrenpreis für Volksverdummung” with that. [I think http://dict.leo.org/ will help you.] You will be informed if you are choosen as the winner.

To have a “patriotic position” … I made up my mind [see blog] and even I do not share the “priority”-list [and I gave a quite intresting example how it works without mentioning bad “Zionists and Bushists”, have much fun with the dictionary] I can see no sense in a regime change at this point of the story. If I demand “Reforms” as top-priority from Assad its impossible without “Let the Syrian people decide their destiny” and vice versa.

January 9th, 2008, 11:49 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

AIG,

You said:

“unlike the Alawites, they (Jews) do not take over the countries they are a minority in.”

So the Jews count their numbers and once they see that they have no majority, they refrain from taking over power, right?

Is this why Israel insists on “no right of return”? Is the country afraid that the Jews will one day turn into a minority and hence unilaterally decide to walk away as they “do not take over the countries they are minority in”?

SHAMI,

Turkey functions the way you describe because secularism is the cornerstone of its constitution and its powerful army is entrusted with safeguarding that constitution.

January 10th, 2008, 12:54 am

 

norman said:

Israel is a Jewish state for the Jews where they have superiority to anybody else , while the US and other western countries are supposed to be countries for all , where Jews , Christians and others have equal rights where Jews can not be discriminated against in housing jobs and anything else ,

That is typical Jewish mentality ,( WHAT IS MINE IS MINE AND WHAT IS YOURS WE SHARE UNTILL IT IS MINE TOO.)

Now i have to wait to be called antisemitic by AIG because he does not like the facts as they are .

January 10th, 2008, 1:33 am

 

Friend in America said:

Ephansi2 – I find your comment at Jan 9, 8:35 PM very interesting and thought provoking. I cannot relate the question to the U.S. because of our size, diversity, and, more important, the continuing inclusiveness of our society. Your comment suggests maybe we on this site of the Atlantic have been too simplistic about democracy in the middle east. Maybe we have not appreciated the complexities of the several societies.
What is troubling, however, is in an authoritarian society how safeguards for groups not in power can be maintained (because they essentially are limitations on the power of the state), how an independent judiciary can be protected from an unhappy government official (another limitation), and what non violent structures can be created for regime change when change is needed?

January 10th, 2008, 2:01 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

“US is the STABILIZING force”
this is far,far ,far from the truth, what we see is USA is tilted toward israel, sometimes it is more radical than Israel.last war when Israel attacked Lebanon they wanted to stop,and USA was pushing them to keep on fighting, destroying more of Lebanon.
lies and deceiving will not convince smart people.

“Just think what would happen to Syria if the US stops supporting Mubarak”
right now the arab masses are convinced that their leaders are bad and they are poppets,and they do what America tell them, if US stop supporting them, then the arab will be free again ,they will rise and get rid of those traitors and the imposed enemies, we will be able to unite and advance,and will get our pride again, then our enemies will fade away with the devil.

January 10th, 2008, 2:11 am

 

norman said:

FIA,
The problem that we see in Iraq comes from the politecal System that the US tried to implement ,
Democracy as we did in Iraq only made the division between the different sects more obvious and violent ,
If we look at the composition of the people of the Mideast , i see similarity to the US , many religions , ethnic groups ,
In the US people Live together because of decentralized government and good legal system where everybody is equal where people can live anywhere they want and without discrimination ,
The Mideast will do a lot better if they adopt the American system of government , I still do not understand why the US tried to push the British or the Israeli systems instead of pushing the best system for diverse nation like the people of the Mideast.

January 10th, 2008, 2:26 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Amr Mousa is in Lebanon, he wants to push for the appointment of Michael Suleiman as president of Lebanon, I wonder why Hariri does not reconcile with M. Aoun, most my Lebanese friend say they like Aoun, and wish he will become the President.

January 10th, 2008, 2:40 am

 

Shami said:

Ehsani:Turkey functions the way you describe because secularism is the cornerstone of its constitution and its powerful army is entrusted with safeguarding that constitution

Ehsani and so is Syria ,no?and this is since 1963…70% or more of the syrian people were born after this date so there must be a problem somewhere ?

January 10th, 2008, 2:45 am

 

Ford Prefect said:

T-Desco,
Sorry for the late reply to your question regarding Senator Clinton. Yes, indeed, Hillary supports “… Israesl’s right to exist in safety as a Jewish state, with defensible borders and an undivided Jerusalem as its capital). And so do I. I find that to be consistent with the thinking of many peace-seeking Syrian patriots. In fact, Israel’s peace and security is part of the overall region’s security and that security is contagious.

Supporting Hillary does not mean however, supporting the reckless and criminal policies of the current administration in the Middle East – which, for example, led Israel to conduct its ill-fated and criminal war against Lebanon in 2004. True Israelis and progressive liberals in the US and around the world never endorsed this reckless endeavor – planned to be executed regardless of HA actions.

Supporting Israel does not mean supporting the warmongers of Israel. Hillary is smart enough to know the difference between the two groups.

Having said so, Hillary is certainly the most qualified candidate to protect the peace and security of the Middle East rather than inflame it. Hillary will advance America’s interests by projecting the true American values of peace and justice. These values can find their match in Israel and the Arab World if a president would ever bother to look.

The days of cowboy diplomacy will be gone forever come next January – thank God.

January 10th, 2008, 3:12 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

EHSANI2,

Can you point to a country in which the Jews are a minority and act like the Alawites in Syria? Was there ever such a country?

The Jews are a nations and have every right to have a Jewish state. I am for example an atheist Jew. I know it is difficult for you to understand but nationhood is a matter of self determination and the Jews in Israel have self determined themselves as a nation. If the right of return is implemented, Israel would not be a Jewish state. All european nations and the US limit immigration. Why do you find what Israel does so strange? If you are part of the Jewish nation you can come to Israel, otherwise you can’t just like in any other nation state.

You didn’t answer any of my questions about what Syria is? Is it a nation or a colonialist invention? Do the Sunnis and the Alawites want to live together?

January 10th, 2008, 4:08 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Mr. Fox,
I wish I knew what you are saying but you are very unclear.

January 10th, 2008, 4:10 am

 

Shual said:

Mr. AIG from New Jersey.

1st: “There is something fundamentally wrong with the Syrian regime apologists on this forum, but I cannot explain it. If anyone can explain to me this wrapped thinking I would be very thankful.” + “I wish I knew what you are saying but you are very unclear.” [January 9th, 2008, 5:05 am + January 10th, 2008, 4:10 am] Start with reading in this blog before sunset. Maybe that will help you.

2nd: You lost the competition. Against http://shual.blogspot.com/2008/01/fundsache_10.html [Click on the link behind “Wahlkampfbeitrag” and you do not need a translation. A judge allowed them to show that on TV.]

3rd: What is unclear? A patriotic position, like “A majority of Israelis want extralegal killings against Qassams” can be understandable, but must not be the rigth view regarding things like international law. If Syrians or “pro-Syrians” think that their major problem is Bush its understandable, but… Or what is unclear?

January 10th, 2008, 6:17 am

 

Alex said:

Eyal Zisser
Middle East Quarterly
Winter 2008

Where is Bashar Headed?

It is difficult to know where Bashar is headed. He is far more likely to model his behavior after Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser than Anwar Sadat. In the 1950s, Nasser refused to join either the East or West blocs. Rather, he sought to maneuver between the two until the Eisenhower administration pushed him into the arms of the Soviet Union with Washington’s demands of absolute commitment to the U.S. line.

Today, Bashar al-Assad is sending a similar message to the George W. Bush administration, namely, that Syria is not prepared to join a U.S. axis and that Washington should not demand it do so. Such a policy might have been possible during the George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations, but it became unacceptable to the White House after 9-11.

Washington should not perceive Bashar al-Assad as totally inflexible, though. His father could change policies when he deemed it necessary, reassessing relations with Washington following the Soviet Union’s collapse and also shifting from a commitment to unending war with Israel to preparedness for peace negotiations. Bashar may be likewise capable of changing policies. Bashar in 2007 is not necessarily the same ruler as Bashar in 2000. His first seven years may have led Bashar to consider adopting his father’s policy to seek dialog with both Washington and Jerusalem. However, it is possible that he has reached the opposite conclusion.

Either way, Bashar is offering Washington a deal that would require the United States to abandon Iraq, leave Lebanon open to Syrian domination, and agree to a return of the Golan Heights to Syria in exchange for a return to the friendly dialog the Syrian regime held during the George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations. In effect, he is proposing to Washington an honorable capitulation. Such an agreement would enable Bashar to immunize Syrian society from the change he fears.

A moment of truth for Bashar came on September 6, 2007, when Israeli aircraft carried out an operational mission in northern Syria. American media reports suggest the strike occurred to disrupt Syrian-North Korean nuclear cooperation Israeli officials refrained from comment in order not to corner Syria or escalate the situation further. The Syrians did not respond militarily to the attack suggesting that, at least at present, Damascus is not interested in or ready for war.

Perhaps Bashar does not feel himself as strong as he did after the 2006 war in Lebanon, or perhaps he realizes the potential cost of war. If this is the case, then Jerusalem successfully called Bashar’s bluff. Assad may believe, though, that he has the advantage of time. Since late 2006, the Bush administration has abandoned its efforts to pressure Syria into compliance with U.S. demands to remove itself from the “axis of evil” with North Korea and Iran; to stop supporting terrorists in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine; and to play a positive role in Iraq and Lebanon But the U.S. quagmire in Iraq has eroded U.S. leverage. No Middle East ruler now believes further U.S. military intervention possible. Bashar may even deepen his alliance with Tehran and Pyongyang. Perhaps if Washington cannot beat Damascus, it will join with it as some Bush administration critics have suggested. This, incidentally, was what the United States did with regard to Nasser and Hafez al-Assad, and it is very possible that Washington will act similarly in the not-so-distant future towards Hafez’s son, Bashar.

January 10th, 2008, 7:50 am

 

ausamaa said:

MEQ: ” This, incidentally, was what the United States did with regard to Nasser and Hafez al-Assad, and it is very possible that Washington will act similarly in the not-so-distant future towards Hafez’s son, Bashar.”

Yeh, we know that.

What else could such a Washington do?

January 10th, 2008, 8:36 am

 

why-discuss said:

Either way, Bashar is offering Washington a deal that would require the United States to abandon Iraq, leave Lebanon open to Syrian domination, and agree to a return of the Golan Heights to Syria in exchange…

What sort of “syrian domination” on Lebanon? Militarily? That is over now. Commercially, we all know Syria and Lebanon complement each other on that and can only benefit from exchanges. Politically, probably yes, as long as the 400,0000 palestinians are still in Lebanon and the lebanese and Syrian occupied land are not returned.
It seems that the writer is convinced that Lebanon will never be able to deal with Syria as it was before the 1975 war. I don’t agree. If the lebanese can find a formula to reflect the demographic changes in the country, they will benefit greatly from the industrial growth that Iran is triggering in the area in terms of nuclear power energy, gaz oleducs, car factories. Nothing like that has come from years of KSA influence on Lebanon. The worst of all is the transformation of Lebanon into a Saudi entertainement country with bars and ‘chic’ restaurants and the eradication of all industrial development and power self sufficiency. Of course, it is easy to put the blame on Syria, but the later Mr Hariri obviously wanted to emulate Dubai and now Lebanon has many Versace shops but they buy electricity from … Syria.

January 10th, 2008, 8:42 am

 

offended said:

AIG,
So here we have two scenarios:
1- Jews, supported by international power players, have mass-immigrated from several spots around the world to Palestine and, protected by the British mandate, they build settlements and train themselves for the promised day. When the time had come, they expel most of the indigenous residents of the land (Palestinian), and they become the majority. Then they build a ‘democracy’, and even after 60 years and through a comprehensive peace settlement, they are not willing to grant (or to give back) the right of return to those refugees, because their numbers are going to change the equation.

2- Now let’s talk about Syria: I don’t understand how you can say that Alawites (who are indigenous to Syria by the way) are the governing minority? I mean what makes you believe they are in control of the state? OKAY, the president is an Alwaite, some of the high ranking security and army officers are Alwaites, apart from that, all critical positions either in the governments are given proportionately to the different communities.

So as far as I am concerned, Syria understands justice better than Israel. And your contention is quite silly as the case with all of your previous arguments in this forum.

January 10th, 2008, 9:54 am

 

offended said:

It was just reported in the news that a 4 years old Palestinian girl is in urgent need for open heart surgery. She’s stuck in Gaza, and since Israel refuses to process her paper work and allow her to have access to the medical help she needs; she’s going to die soon, couple of days if she’s lucky.

She’s 4 years old for heaven sake, why can’t she just be spared the political implications?

January 10th, 2008, 10:03 am

 

ausamaa said:

Honestly, why the heck is Bush conducting this trip to his allies in the Middle East? does he expect to achieve anything other than confuse all of us some more? I just do not see what he expects to achieve. Or what new things he has to say while here appart from creating a first by supporting a “Jewish” State that will backfire in his face sooner or later. Is it to correct his “mission acheived” statement of few years back by assuring his allies that it is a “mission in progress” and not a “mission abandoned” yet.

Is it a “must do” ritual for departing Administrations or somthing?

His most intimate and consistant ally, King Abdullah of Jordan asked him to spare him the “headachs” associated with such a visit. Yet, Bush still does not get it!

When even your weak friends try to avoid your visit, and when your arch enemies are either ignoring your statements about your loosing patience with them or are sending their little boats to taunt your invincibile navy, that should tell you something about what people here think of the effectiveness and credibility of yourself and your policies.

January 10th, 2008, 10:43 am

 

t_desco said:

Ford Prefect,

please, I have no problem whatsoever with the “Israeli security” part of Clinton’s position paper. Nor has Matthew Yglesias… 😉

It’s the “undivided capital” part that has me worried because she is positioning herself to the right of her husband and I don’t think that this is where the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be found.

See Matthew Yglesias’ comments at the link I gave:

“This is, obviously, a disaster. No division of Jerusalem is fine as an Israeli negotiating posture, but it’s absurd for the President of the United States to make this a baseline commitment.”

January 10th, 2008, 11:10 am

 

t_desco said:

Nabil Rahim arrested in Tripoli!

Lebanon: Fatah Islam suspect arrested in Tripoli

Lebanese troops stormed an apartment Thursday in northern Lebanon, arresting a suspected member of the al-Qaida-inspired Fatah Islam group, security officials said.

Nabil Rahim is believed to be a senior member of Fatah Islam, an extremist group that engaged the Lebanese army in fierce fighting last year in the Nahr el-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in Tripoli, the officials said.

Two Tripoli security officials described the arrest Thursday, on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.

Rahim, a Lebanese citizen, was detained along with his wife, the officials said. The couple had been renting an apartment in the city’s Abu Samra neighborhood, they said.
AP

January 10th, 2008, 11:38 am

 

Sami D said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy wrote:

“The Jews are a nations and have every right to have a Jewish state. I am for example an atheist Jew. I know it is difficult for you to understand but nationhood is a matter of self determination and the Jews in Israel have self determined themselves as a nation.”

By residence statistics, most Jews have decided that their nation is not Israel but the ones they live in. For example, Israel has less Jews than just the US, let alone the combined Jewish diaspora. All Israel succeeded in doing in this regard was to create a nation of Israelis, not of world Jewry.

But supposing what you say is real then if the Jews are a nation they indeed have every right to have a Jewish state. The problem begins when they chose an inhabited land as their exclusive home. At the core of the issue of the Palestinian “right of return” is that basic human rights (Palestinians) trump national rights (Israeli Jews). If a war forced the Palestinians out of their homes (putting aside the deliberate ethnic cleansing by Israeli forces, after all anxious to create a Jewish majority), then they have the right to return to their homes. This is more fundamental right than creating something to be called a “Palestinian state” on small remnant of where Palestinians used to live.

The argument that Israel offers the Palestinians: “sorry, your neighborhood has a different ethnic construct now (thanks, for one, to our deliberate policy of denying you return) and therefore we can’t let you back” is not a good one. The core problem is –factoring in the “Israeli Arabs”– not where the borders of a Palestinian state should like, that there can be either Zionism or human rights, not both.

The term “atheist-Jew” does indeed evoke an overtone of contradiction, if one is to assume, quite naturally, that Jewishness implies a religious affiliation. On the other hand many other contradictions come to mind when we consider the nationalism now Zionism implies by “Jewishness”. For one, a Jew can become atheist and still be Israeli. For another, with more human right content, if a Peruvian converts to Judaism, s/he suddenly has the right to emigrate to Israel and get more rights than the native Palestinians.

AnotherIsraeliGuy wrote:

“Like it or not the US is the STABILIZING force in the middle east and without the guarantees and support it provides Israel and the Arabs, the situation will quickly deteriorate into a war. Just think what would happen to Syria if the US stops supporting Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood will take over. Their first target will be Syria.”

Circularity lies at the center of this argument. Putting aside the effectiveness of the US-Israeli method of massive bombardment, at one level the US might be a stabilizing force against the forces it and Israel directly backed in the region. It supported Islamists in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and Israel supported Hamas in the 80s (as the British supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt over half a century ago). At another level, many of these backward forces were indirectly unleashed by US/Israeli policies of seeking hegemony, which aimed at and largely succeeded in destroying Arab nationalism, installing/backing client dictators from Saudi Arabia to Mubarak, coupled with Israeli oppression of the Palestinians.

On the issue of Israel as a democracy: Israel is at best a democracy for Jews, if the word democracy is also to mean human rights and freedom and not just the pushing of a lever at a polling booth once every few years. One small example is the recent Israeli round of the ongoing campaign to uproot and poison the crops of its Bedouin citizens who even serve in the Israeli army, (used to at least) to develop the land for its favored citizens (Jewish ones).

January 10th, 2008, 3:30 pm

 

Alex said:

This poll of Israeli Jews (not including Israeli Arabs) shows a consistent one third (or less) of Israelis being flexible enough to make any deal that the Arabs can accept (withdrawal to 67 borders)

Poll: Israelis say J’lem an internal affair
elie leshem , THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 9, 2008

A significant majority of Israelis oppose a withdrawal to the 1967 borders, feel that Jerusalem should remain the united capital of the Jewish state and oppose the involvement of Diaspora Jewry in deciding the future of the city, according to a new poll conducted by B’nai Brith on the eve of US President George W. Bush’s visit to Israel.

The pole found that only 26 percent of Israelis support a withdrawal to the 1967 borders, while 66% oppose such a move. 29% favored a divided Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state, while 68 percent declared their support for a united Jerusalem under Israeli rule.

“The strongest support for an undivided Jerusalem was expressed by ultra-orthodox and religious Israelis,” read a statement released by B’nai Brith.

There was also a solid consensus that Jerusalem should be an internal Israeli issue rather than a matter open to the influence of Diaspora Jewry. 56% said the future of the capital should be deliberated exclusively by Israeli Jews.

“The findings clearly demonstrate that Israelis are focused on the peace process as 2008 gets underway. They are looking at what they consider to be key issues. And while these views could change once an agreement is presented to the public, these results show Israelis right now are not comfortable in light of current security issues,” B’nai Brith World Center Director Alan Schneider said.

A substantial majority of respondents, 68%, said that Israel must hold a referendum or new elections before a peace agreement that includes territorial concessions in the West Bank and Jerusalem can be finalized. Only 26% felt that the government was authorized to close such a deal without first receiving the public’s seal of approval.

The 500 people who responded to the survey in Hebrew constituted a representative sample of the Jewish population in Israel. The survey has a 4.5 percent margin of error.

The poll was conducted by Keevoon Research, Strategy & Communications.

January 10th, 2008, 3:46 pm

 

Alex said:

He should perhaps take the fog as a signal from God : )

Bush Says Saw Local Frustration At West Bank Roadblock AFP1-10-08 8:58 AM EST | E-mail Article | Print Article

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AFP)–Heavy fog gave U.S. President George W. Bush a glimpse Thursday of what he called the “frustrations” of daily Palestinian life when he was forced to travel by road to the West Bank.

The winter weather meant the world’s most powerful man had to scrap plans to fly by helicopter to Ramallah and instead he took a motorcade from Jerusalem through one of the West Bank’s numerous Israeli army checkpoints.

His convoy swept through the Beit El checkpoint – where Palestinians can wait for hours – but Bush said the experience gave him a hint of what ordinary Palestinians have to deal with on a daily basis.

“My impression about what it’s like to drive through checkpoints – I can understand why the Palestinians are frustrated,” Bush told a press conference after a reporter asked him about the experience.

January 10th, 2008, 3:49 pm

 

Friend in America said:

Norman – I also do not understand why the officials from America advising on the constitution concurred on the European style. It clearly did not attain desired objectives – it did not pull the country together. It created a climate in which citizens were encouraged to seek their religious/ethnic group identities. Hence it encouraged differences instead of uplifting common interests and needs. It was a disaster for the Iraqi citizens who were nationalists.
I am aware there was an impasse for months over whether the new organization should be centralized or federalized. Then this form of organization for the central government surfaced and the previous disagreement was sublimated.
It did not settle well with the Iraqi delegates to the consitutional convention. But the nationalists had a weak voice. That convention took months to come to a conclusion. I would enjoy participating in a study on how all this came about. Regards.

January 10th, 2008, 4:00 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sami D,

Part of the peace negotiations is determining how to deal with conflicting rights. You think that the Palestinian rights are more fundamental, I disagree. I think you would have had a stronger point had the Arabs and Palestinians accepted the UN partition resolution. Since the right of return will lead in my opinion to a brutal civil war and the trashing of Israel (see Iraq and Lebanon) or to a dictatorship (see other Arab countries), it is against the human rights of both Jews and Palestinians.

Governments elected to 4 year terms cannot have a 100 year perspective. The West allied with the parties that were helping its interests at any point in time. At this point in time, the US is a stabilizing force in the mid-east.

You can have only one consistent view of the Arab regimes. Either you are for change in all of them or you are against change in all of them. Some posters here are for a revolution in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi but they want stability in Syria (which is just jargon that they are ok with a dictator in Syria).

So what do the Arabs want? Can you formulate a reasonable internal plan for reform or not? Or is each Arab going to maintain that the other Arab countries have to democratize but not their own? And isn’t this playing into the hands of the US and Israel?

January 10th, 2008, 4:43 pm

 

Alex said:

Bush urges Israeli occupation end
BBC breaking news graphic

US President George W Bush has said Israel must end occupation of Arab land taken in 1967 so that a viable Palestinian state can be created.

He also urged a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue which would involve paying compensation.

This is thought to be the first time Mr Bush has publicly pressed the Israelis to give up occupied land.

And he called on Arab states to reach out to Israel – a step he said was “long overdue”.

Earlier, Mr Bush said he believed the two sides would be able to sign a peace deal before he leaves office in January 2009.

January 10th, 2008, 4:47 pm

 

Shual said:

Dear Alex, AFPs headline should be: “Funky clown makes jokes about victims of IDF-terror at checkpoints”

“Yes. He’s asking me about the checkpoints I drove through and my impression about what it was like to drive through checkpoints. I can understand why the Palestinians are frustrated driving through checkpoints. I can also understand that until confidence is gained on both sides, why the Israelis would want there to be a sense of security. In other words, they don’t want a state on their border from which attacks would be launched. I can understand that. Any reasonable person can understand that.” … “And so checkpoints create frustrations for people. They create a sense of security for Israel; they create massive frustrations for the Palestinians. You’ll be happy to hear that my motorcade of a mere 45 cars was able to make it through without being stopped. (Laughter.)”

“But I’m not so exactly sure that’s what happens to the average person.”

http://cbs5.com/worldwire/22.0.html?type=national&serviceLevel=a&category=i&filename=Bush-Mideast-Text.xml

January 10th, 2008, 4:50 pm

 

norman said:

French parliamentary delegation affirms good relations with Syria despite spat over Lebanon
A French parliamentary delegation visiting Syria said Thursday that cooperation between Damascus and Paris was ongoing, despite both countries having announced they had suspended talks over the situation in Lebanon. “Political and diplomatic relations witness ups and downs, but French-Syrian friendship is historical,” Jean Luc Reitzer, a member of the three-man delegation, told reporters in Damascus. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem announced last week that his country was suspending talks with France on Lebanon’s political crisis, retaliating for a similar move made earlier by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy had said that France wouldn’t talk with Syria, which wields considerable influence over Lebanon’s Hezbollah-led opposition, until Damascus showed a willingness to let Lebanon elect a new president.

January 10th, 2008, 4:54 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Bush says it outright: Compensation yes, right of return no.

This makes sense.

January 10th, 2008, 4:54 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG said:

“Some posters here are for a revolution in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi but they want stability in Syria (which is just jargon that they are ok with a dictator in Syria”

Again you are twisting our statements in a way that makes us sound stupid and inconsistent.

Read what I wrote in the comments section of Mona Eltahawy’s blog few weeks ago (replying to an American blogger who wanted to reform Saudi Arabia quickly, his way:

But if Wahabis enjoy the support of a significant portion of Saudi society (50%?) … then can you really “exterminate their clerics like rats”?

I prefer a long-term approach… over ten to twenty years perhaps. Gradually limiting Wahabi power .. starting with stopping them from sending money outside the Kingdom to export their ideas.

Carefully sequenced Educational reforms … introduced in a way that does not threaten their existing beliefs and values.

Exactly what I say about Syria … I do not wish chaos to Saudi Arabia no matter how much I criticize them.

January 10th, 2008, 4:58 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

Yes, you personally are consistent that you prefer stability over democracy but most other posters are not. They want revolution in the mid-east but not in their counntry. Your glaring incosistency is that you are saying waht you say from within a liberal democratic society. Let the Syrians decide if they want Bashar or not. If they really want stability they will freely vote for him. If not, you have invented this whole theory about what Syrians want which is incorrect. But Asad unlike you knows that the majority of Syrians would not freely vote for him. That is why he opresses them and denies them freedom of speech.

January 10th, 2008, 5:11 pm

 

norman said:

Bush is the new Saul ,( Paul) ,He should come to Syria next.

January 10th, 2008, 5:33 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

There is no “glaring inconsistency” if you look at the consistency in my opinion:

I am against dramatic, rapid and forced changes to the political system of any country.

Look … even in Israel, I do not agree with many other Syrians here in my uncertainty about giving the Palestinians the right of return.

On the one hand, logically speaking, I absolutely think that Israelis and Palestinians should live in one country with no difficult-to-define- border between them… no need to find a way to split Jerusalem …

On the other hand, I know that we can not force this solution on the Jews in Israel who are overwhelmingly against such an arrangement… they want Israel to remain a Jewish country.

So … again, I prefer for now a solution that avoids the issue and allow the two people to relax for a decade from the hostilities and to hopefully realize that it is much easier for both of them to trade and live if they leave religion out of it.

January 10th, 2008, 5:36 pm

 

Alex said:

Shual,

He can joke for now, but I hope this trip will really give him an idea of what is really happening in the West Bank.

Until he goes back to Washington where Mr. Cheney will make sure he puts things in their right perspective for him.

January 10th, 2008, 5:43 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
You really don’t understand the relation between the West Bank and Israel. From 67 to 87, till the first intifada, there was a completely open border and trade which was great for everybody. The West Bank and Gaza for the matter grow economically much faster than Syria and the people living there had a quality of life higher than that of Syrians and just as much freedom as the Syrians if not more. Alas, economic growth and violence do not go together.

It is not at all an issue of religion, it is a question of conflicting national interests.

January 10th, 2008, 5:55 pm

 

Sami D said:

AnotherIsaeliGuy

Thanks for your response. You write:

“Part of the peace negotiations is determining how to deal with conflicting rights. You think that the Palestinian rights are more fundamental, I disagree. I think you would have had a stronger point had the Arabs and Palestinians accepted the UN partition resolution. Since the right of return will lead in my opinion to a brutal civil war and the trashing of Israel (see Iraq and Lebanon) or to a dictatorship (see other Arab countries), it is against the human rights of both Jews and Palestinians.”

Please point to where I said/implied that Palestinian rights are more fundamental than Israelis’. What I said was that human rights are more fundamental than national rights, regardless of who’s in question. The human rights of both Israelis and Palestinians are equal, as human beings. Nor does the rejection of partition give Israel a carte blanche to ethnically cleanse and/or deny the return and oppress the remaining Palestinians. What would that reasoning imply should happen to Israel being a leading rejectionist of UN resolutions after all?

Saying/implying that the Palestinians have a tendency to trash other countries, not only ignores the circumstances of what happened to them (by Israel or their hosts), but also implies that Palestinians are by nature hostile and chaotic people that can’t be trusted with having their basic rights. If Palestinians are allowed to return, (many of them might choose not to actually), why would they “trash” Israel, assuming they are given full and equal rights, and not second-class rights of non-Jews?

…. cnt’d

January 10th, 2008, 6:19 pm

 

Sami D said:

… cont’d

AIG wrote

Governments elected to 4 year terms cannot have a 100 year perspective. The West allied with the parties that were helping its interests at any point in time. At this point in time, the US is a stabilizing force in the mid-east.

Not having a 100 year perspective is not the same as okaying the support of regressive and irrational forces on other people’s land, whether the “US/Israel interest” demands it or not. And how about some regard to the interest of those poor countries where the powerful decided to support the backward movements? Nor does the lack of such a long perspective mean that the countries of those leaders who created the Frankenstein beasts bear no responsibility to make reparations and try to genuinely fix the situation (rather than use it to justify further conquest). And certainly bombardment and cluster bombs on countries are not the way to eliminate irrational forces or bring stability; on the contrary, these could only help to strengthen them as we’ve seen. If anything, US violent policies today (not just the past non-100-year-perspective ones), the support for dictators who bring stability (pax Americana is more accurate description) against the will of its people, the ramming down of economic “reforms” (in favor of US/western businesses) the Israeli oppression of Palestinians, are anything but stabilizing.

You can have only one consistent view of the Arab regimes. Either you are for change in all of them or you are against change in all of them. Some posters here are for a revolution in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi but they want stability in Syria (which is just jargon that they are ok with a dictator in Syria). So what do the Arabs want? Can you formulate a reasonable internal plan for reform or not?

I am not sure how this fits as a response with what I wrote. I can’t help but detect on your part a support-for-stability-at-the-expense-of-democracy when the US does it, but not when Syria does it? For what it’s worth I do see that all Arab regimes need to change. Their torture dungeons are an abomination to humanity. But I do see that while all these regimes are dictatorial, some like Syria’s have the support of their people on foreign policy matters. In other words, democratically, a majority of Syrians agree with Syrian government’s foreign policy. The same is not true of other US/Israeli backed Arab dictators, from Abbas to Mubarak, who subordinate their foreign policy to US’s and Israel’s and hence do not support their leaders’ foreign policies.

And while on the topic of regime-change, and for consistency’s sake, I also see the regimes in Israel and the US needing change as well; these are bringing instability and reviving irrational Islamist forces across the region, let alone training torturers and “renditioning” others to be tortured, curtailing of rights at home, all in the name of –what else—security, and of course spreading democracy and freedom abroad.

But I won’t advocate an inhumane bombardment of the US/Israel –which is their method– as a way to change their regime, or the starvation like the US did in Iraq and “the only democracy in the Middle East” is doing in Gaza, just as I don’t for the Arab world. That’s when the complex issue of what’s the best strategy to achieve true democracy, freedom and security in the given circumstances comes into play which is another discussion altogether.

January 10th, 2008, 6:22 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

I thought I just said that we need to give both Israelis and Palestinians (in their new country) ten years of no violence and no conflict so that they rediscover how it is possible to have open borders.

But you came back telling me that I don’t understand, then repeated my point more or less.

Maybe I should ask my programmer to setup one of these to help you understand my weird English .

January 10th, 2008, 6:26 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

Not having democracy in any state for whatever reason, makes it inferior, unable to reach its maximum potential.
AIG, I think you meant to say Alas, economic growth and nonviolence do not go together., didn’t you.

January 10th, 2008, 6:40 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sami D,
What I meant was that all examples in the world and Arab countries show that two nations find it impossible sharing a country. It is not a Palestinian issue. Iraq and Lebanon are examples of sectarian hate in the middle east. Syria is an example in that many people believe that democratization would lead to civil war. Even in Europe Yugoslavia could not stay intact. Even Checoslovakia was broken up and now this is even happening in Belgium where the Wallons and Felmish cannot find a way to live together.

Now imagine the Jews and Palestinians who not only hate each other but the Jews are about 10-20 times richer on average than the Palestinians. There is no chance that such a country can survive. It will quickly descend to civil war and Israel will be trashed. All you need is a small percent of crazies and there are more than enough Jews and Arabs that fit the bill. History has given us tons of examples. Even 50% of the Quebecois want to break from Canada!

I really have no interest in looking back and assigning blame. I think it is a useless effort. If you have any ideas how to democratize the Arab countries, I would be happy to hear that. What would you do with Mubarak and Asad for example? (One “western” dictator and one “free” dictator)

January 10th, 2008, 7:13 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
What you don’t understand is that the conflict is not religious. It is a national conflict. Jews have no problems trading with people of any religion. It is the conflict over the land of Israel that is the problem.

January 10th, 2008, 7:15 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

AIG,

You say: I am for example an atheist Jew.

Can a Jew, Christian or Moslem call himself so and not believe in God!? What does make you a Jew? Do you practice any of the rituals in Judaism?

January 10th, 2008, 9:12 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

What makes me a Jew is that I am part of the Jewish nation and I have tied my future to that of the Jewish people. Zionism at its core is a secular movement. I practice some of the rituals out of respect to my fellow Jews.

I was inclined to do the above because my parents are Jewish but I made the personal decision to continue being part of the Jewish nation.

January 10th, 2008, 9:24 pm

 

Shual said:

“I hope this trip will really give him an idea of what is really happening in the West Bank.”

Dear Alex,
I can only see a repetition of the performance of Rice at the meetings of the Saban-Forum and Annapolis [Same Ghost writer]. Since then we have two levels of “I have an idea what the WestBank looks like”.
1st: Do not “consider every bump in the road to be a barrier” [Rice in Paris] = to downplay the suffering of palestinians by not naming it and replacing it with stuuuuupid jokes like today from Bush. [You’ll be happy to hear that my motorcade of a mere 45 cars was able to make it through without being stopped. (Laughter.)” “But I’m not so exactly sure that’s what happens to the average person.” (no laughter)]
2nd: “I know what its like to hear that you can’t use a certain road or pass through a checkpoint because you are a Palestinian. I know what it is like to feel discriminated against and powerless.” [Rice, Annapolis] + “My impression about what it was like to drive through checkpoints? I can understand why the Palestinians are frustrated driving through checkpoints.” [Bush today]

Why: “Israel-PA conflict must be resolved outside regional context” [Rice, 09.12.07] This quite important change of view to prepare the world for a [potential] war with Iran does not need the former strong messages at Arafat. The importance of the conflict should be downplayed. It needs warm words about those poor “frustrated” Palestinians without naming the reasons for the frustration -Bush is trying to avoid making waves in Israel-. And it needs some kind of “Pull yourselve together now, Pals! We have more important things to do!” = The show was staged for the american people. “Everything is on the rigth track in Palestine.”

80% of the German press: “Bush buries the dream of a Palestinian State” – “Bush deepened the rift between Israel and Palestine” – “Bush comprmises Abbas” – “Bush’s advice to his host Abbas — that he should present the people of Gaza with a vision — was practically grotesque.” – “By pointing out Abbas’ shortcomings in public, Bush has made him even weaker.” – “Bush has managed to bury the Palestinian state before it was even born.”

January 10th, 2008, 10:51 pm

 

norman said:

AIG consider himself Jewish because he is from the Hebrew tribe not because he believes in Judaism , I agree , the Hebrews are the tribe that at one time believed in Judaism , That is not the case after Christianity and Islam and many Hebrews like AIG converted to believe in Christianity and Islam or became atheist , AIG , The Hebrews who converted to Christianity and Islam ( Jesus’ followers where Jewish or Hebrews ) you call them Palestinians Arabs ,They should not be forced out of Holy land which is exactly what you and other Israelis are doing .

January 11th, 2008, 2:37 am

 

T said:

Shual- Thank you for the humor. I agree w/ Orwell- “4 Legs: GOOD! 2 Legs: BAD!” Condi should read it on the kibbutz. Thank you AIG for reining in your manic?????. Now we need to get Fares in line. He went berserk tonite w/ his excessive !!!!!!!
I record the following as some in this discussion mentioned NH elections.
I was in NH for the primary. There seemed to be widespread dislike for Hillary. Her prepoll stats veered wildly from the actual votes. According to some, she bused in supporters from surrounding states, esp NY. MSM said her tears rewon her a defecting women’s vote and clinched the primary due to backlash from being persecuted as a woman. But MSM missed a suspicious incident that was covered all over the media at the state level: some guys came into one of her events holding up an iron with the message-‘stay home, you’re just a housewife.’ Some locals claimed THAT event had a bigger impact. (the woman whose question provoked Hillary’s tears actually voted for Obama).
We attended the private party afterward for Obama. I asked one of his advisors about ME- the Syria/Iran/Lebanon issue, esp the recent standoff between Iran vs US Navy in the Gulf and the London Times NPT article. She didnt know about either, tho she claimed Obama’s specialty was nuke proliferation. They seemed a bit clueless, vague…
I told one advisor of a talk I’d had w/ a NH local about Obama— Race was in play- race in the Jewish sense, not biological (the local’s son was half black)but religious, the “Islamic nation” if you will. This otherwise rational citizen went into a tirade that Obama was “an Islamic infiltrator, he’d spent his childhood in madrassas and his father was a Muslim. He would destroy America, he was very dangerous, it was in Nostradamus etc.” It was quite shocking. But after a lifetime of US media indoctrination on “evil Muslims”, not surprising. (One leader of Giuliani’s NH campaign ranted about “the rise of Muslims” and his Muslim Final solution? “..chase them back to their caves or in other words get rid of them.”) Now who set that example??????????
This religious/madrassa smear against Obama was a big hit in American media several months ago. Despite this, Obama today described his supporters as “the insurgent campaign”!? Pres Bush himself wouldnt dare apply a loaded word like ‘insurgent’ to himself. Like I said-Campaign Clueless. Vote fraud was alleged regarding Ron Paul, when Sutton, NH and other towns were found not to have counted any of his votes. Online voters are agitating for a recount and petitions etc.
In general, candidates opposing Israel and zionist policies in the ME are marginalized or condescended to as much as possible in MSM.
But back to the Syria democracy question-
For those truly interested in Democracy in Syria- like AIG-why not work to have true representation in Leb and Syria beginning w/ democracy’s foundation- a census. From there-one man- one vote. Its the one option I have never seen seriously considered.

January 11th, 2008, 5:30 am

 

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