"Lebanon's Coming Crisis" by Firas Maksad - Syria Comment

“Lebanon’s Coming Crisis” by Firas Maksad

This cartoon is from Jeha's Nail:

Firas Maksad sees the crisis in Lebanon coming to a head in April-May as the government pushes for a chapter seven UN Security Council resolution mandating the Hariri tribunal prior to French President Jacque Chirac's departure from office in mid-May. Firas Maksad is an analyst with "The Eurasia Group." He wrote this on 4 April 2007. I copy only excerpts:

Saudi Arabia's marginalization of Syria came to an end at the Arab Summit with King Abdullah meeting with President Bashar al Assad twice in 48 hours. Apparently the more hawkish camp led by National Security Advisor Prince Bandar bin Sultan is losing ground to Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal, who is in favor of engaging Syria rather than confronting it in an effort to check Iran's rising influence. Yet while such development bodes well for the chances of a compromise in Beirut, leaks indicate that the discussions on Lebanon did not go beyond generalities and that the differences remain. This is particularly disconcerting given the limited timeframe available for compromise. Lebanon's governing anti-Syrian coalition is expected to push for a chapter seven UN Security Council resolution mandating the Hariri tribunal prior to French President Jacque Chirac's departure from office in mid-May.

Further contributing to the sense of pessimism is information that Syria recently turned down a deal on the tribunal floated by Egypt. The deal reportedly involved limiting the responsibility for Hariri's assassination to former Head of Syrian General Intelligence Bahjat Suleiman in return for Syrian cooperation on Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories and Iraq. If true, this would indicate rising confidence in Damascus and a decision to play for time until Chirac's and then Bush's departure from office. Such a policy would not be unfounded …. Damascus will therefore probably prefer to maintain the defiant tone, preventing the tribunal's passage through the Lebanese parliament, painting its passage by the UN Security Council as an illegitimate foreign plot and eventually rejecting its finding.

The tribunal's possible establishment through the Security Council however will mark a new phase in the Lebanese crisis and could debilitate all branches of government….. The Saudi-Syrian dialogue on Lebanon needs to achieve a substantial breakthrough prior to the end of April; otherwise a new set of negative dynamics will likely come into play.

Asharq Al-Awsat published the results of a Lebanese opinion poll showing that although Aoun has lost support, he iremains the most popular Christian leader. Only half of Lebanon's Sunnis approve of the policies of the March 14 governing coalition. The writer suggests that Lebanon is too unstable to absorb the international tribunal and that the only thing that can save Lebanon is a Taif II and Madrid II. (Thanks Alex)

لبنان: الحل في «مدريد ـ 2» و«طائف ـ 2»

لتبرئة السياسيين اللبنانيين من طريقة تعاملهم مع لبنان، يمكن الادعاء بأن مقولة: «ومن الحب ما قتل» تنطبق عليهم جميعاً من دون استثناء. إذ أن تعاملهم مع «الوطن» لم يسمح ببروز معادلة واحدة يتفق حولها اللبنانيون، كما إن مواقفهم المتشنجة أفرزت قرارات شقت الصف اللبناني، ويدل هذا كله على أن كل مسؤول لبناني إنما يعمل لمصلحته الخاصة وليس لمصلحة وطنه، وعلى هذا تتفق الغالبية من اللبنانيين.

ليس صحيحاً أن كل الشيعة اللبنانيين متفقون على بقاء سلاح «حزب الله» كما انه ليس صحيحاً أن كل اللبنانيين الذين يعارضون توجهات وأهداف «حزب الله» متفقون على ضرورة قيام المحكمة الدولية، وليس هذان الموضوعان فقط موضع خلاف بين اللبنانيين، إنما هما الأبرز، ويأتي بعدهما موضوع العلاقة مع سوريا والوجود الفلسطيني المسلح في المخيمات وخارجها، وانتشار فرق أصولية مسلحة هنا وهناك.

المشاكل الخطيرة التي يعاني منها لبنان هي انعكاس لمشاكل إقليمية معقدة، وخطورتها أنها تغطي على مشاكل وأزمات المواطن اللبناني الذي لم يعد يجد حتى نائباً مجهولاً يهتم بواحد من شؤونه اليومية. كل النواب اللبنانيين ضمن تكتلات سياسية، وكل تكتل «اكبر» من القضايا المعيشية ومشغول «إقليميا»!

يقول لي مصدر لبناني، إن البلد متجه إلى أسوأ مما هو عليه الآن، «إذا لم تكن هناك مدريد ـ2 وطائف ـ2».

و«على أمل» أن يتحقق ذلك، تعيش «الطوائف» اللبنانية حالة من عدم الثقة. وحسب إحصاءات مؤسسة «الدولية للمعلومات»، يلاحظ أن نسبة عالية من أبناء الطائفة المارونية لا تثق بأحد: لا بفرنسا ولا بأميركا ولا بإيران وحكماً لا تثق بسوريا.

ويقول لي جواد عدرا مدير المؤسسة: «تشعر الطائفة المارونية بأنها خُدعت من قبل الجميع، ورغم أن الجنرال ميشال عون لا يزال الرقم واحد في الطائفة المارونية إلا انه خسر من شعبيته لا سيما في الأشهر الثلاثة الماضية بعد مسألة الاعتصام الذي اثر سلباً على الاقتصاد والتجارة في البلد».

أما السنّة، وحسب الإحصاءات، فيقول عدرا: هناك نسبة مرتفعة تقارب ربما 50% ليست مع سعد الحريري، إنما ليست مع أي طرف آخر، قسم منها موزع ما بين عمر كرامي، وسليم الحص ونجيب ميقاتي (رؤساء حكومة سابقون)، والغالبية ليست مع احد».

ونصل إلى الطائفة الشيعية، فأثناء الحرب وبعدها كان هناك شبه إجماع يقارب 80% إلى 90% في تأييد «حزب الله» وبدأ الآن يظهر تراجع في تأييد الشيعة للحزب، واكتُشف ذلك من خلال ارتفاع شعبية نبيه بري رئيس المجلس النيابي ورئيس حركة «أمل» الشيعية، ليس لأن بري تفوق في أمر ما، إنما كي لا يقول الشيعي «انه لا يؤيد حزب الله، يتخذ من نبيه بري غطاء» كما يقول عدرا.

كما يتردد في لبنان أن جماعة «أمل» تبدي انزعاجاً ملحوظاً لأن أفرادها خسروا منازلهم في الحرب الأخيرة إنما لم يحصلوا على تعويضات وزعها «حزب الله».

وحسب الإحصاءات الأخيرة، فان هناك نسبة 42% من الشيعة ترى أن إبقاء سلاح «حزب الله» ضمانة وطنية كي لا تقصف إسرائيل لبنان، و15% مع بقائه حتى إيجاد حل للصراع العربي ـ الإسرائيلي (هؤلاء لا يريدون نزعه) و23% مع بقائه للدفاع عن لبنان بالتنسيق مع الدولة، و11% مع تسليمه بعد تحرير مزارع شبعا والأسرى و5% مع إجراء حوار حول نزعه.

لكن مع الاعتصامات التي دعا إليها «حزب الله» لوحظ انه خسر من وهجه، فبدل أن يقول انه صار أداة تغيير في كل المنطقة، انحصرت مشكلته في ساحات بيروت. والأنظمة التي كان يمكن أن تهددها ظاهرة مثل «حزب الله» مرتاحة الآن. ويُظهر هذا من ناحية أخرى، أن لا كبير واحداً في لبنان، فاللبنانيون كما يبنون بسرعة يدمرون بسرعة أيضا.

وحول نزع سلاح «حزب الله» يقول الدكتور بول سالم مدير «معهد كارنغي للسلام ـ فرع لبنان»، «إن القوة الدفاعية التي يملكها «حزب الله» جيدة لأي دولة وهي جيدة للبنان، لأن قواتنا القتالية محدودة، لكن بعد عام 2000 إثر الانسحاب الإسرائيلي، كان يجب أن يندرج سلاح «حزب الله» تحت إطار الشرعية اللبنانية ويكون قرار الحرب والسلم بيد اللبنانيين الممثلين بدولتهم»..

ويرفض الدكتور سالم تأجيل قيام الدولة اللبنانية بانتظار أن نتأكد أين تقع مزارع شبعا: «عندها ما من دولة في العالم تسير إلى الأمام فكل الدول لديها خلافات مع جيرانها حول بعض تفاصيل الحدود، هناك السعودية والكويت، الكويت والعراق، العراق وإيران وإيران وتركيا وهذا أمر طبيعي ولا يمكن أن تتوقف الحياة السياسية والأمنية لبلد بأكمله لأن هناك مشكلة في الخريطة على ارض معينة، فهذه تُدرس وتعالج بطريقة أخرى»..

ومن سلاح «حزب الله» إلى المحكمة في قضية اغتيال رئيس الوزراء رفيق الحريري..

ويقول لي أحد السياسيين اللبنانيين: «أليس من حدود للبحث عن الحقيقة؟ أنا في بلد لم يجر مصالحة وطنية بعد حرب أودت بحياة 200 ألف إنسان، ونظامي يتفكك ثم يأتون ويطلبون مني أن انشر قوات دولية على الحدود مع سوريا واعقد محكمة دولية، انا لست دولة عظمى». ويقول انه سأل احد الأشخاص: اذا طلبت المحكمة التحقيق مع أمين عام «حزب الله» السيد حسن نصر الله فماذا يحصل؟ فأجابه: «نجري له فيديو ـ كونفرانس»!»!

ان للمحكمة تعقيداتها الإقليمية وقد تكون أصعب من نزع سلاح «حزب الله»، إذ لا حل وسطاً فيها، إما تنعقد أو لا تنعقد. ويقول الدكتور سالم: «إنها ابيض أو اسود ولو أن البعض يقول، إذا عدّلنا هذه المادة أو تلك نصل إلى الحل الوسط.

عملياً ليس هناك من حل وسط، فعندما تنشأ محكمة وتتلقى تقريراً مطولاً فإما ان تصل المعلومات التي يتضمنها التقرير إلى محكمة ذات طابع دولي أو لن تصل»..

ويبدو انه ليس هناك من مخرج لهذه المشكلة. الدكتور سالم «يؤيد قيام المحكمة بالتأكيد» ويضيف، انه في حالة اغتيال رؤساء وزرائنا، وسياسيينا وصحافيينا لا يمكن لدولة تحترم نفسها أو لشعب يحترم نفسه أن يأتي ويقول انه لا يريد التحقيق، لكن يعترف الدكتور سالم بأنها مشكلة، إذ لا يوجد ما يُسمى «قتله قليلاً» والمحكمة ستظهر نتائج قد لا تناسب البعض..

وهذا كما يبدو هو السبب الرئيسي لعدم الوصول إلى تسوية وجرجرة الوضع في لبنان. وإذا كان يمكن إيجاد حل وسط لمشكلة سلاح «حزب الله» بالقول بتأجيل موضوعه مدة سنة، أو إيجاد حل وسط لتشكيل الحكومة عبر التفاوض على عدد وزراء كل طرف، فان لا حل وسطاً للمحكمة. والحل الوحيد إما الغاؤها أو السير بها..

ويقول سالم: «حتى إدخال تعديلات على المواد يعني السير فيها، وليس التعديل هو الحل الوسط، ولا وجود لحكم بـ«السجن قليلاً»، وإذا جرت المحكمة ذات الطابع الدولي وتقدم لها تقرير مطول فالضرر سيصيب الطرف الرافض بغض النظر إذا تم تسليم المتهم لاحقاً للمحكمة أو عدم سجنه، لأن المعلومات الحقيقية ستكشف للرأي العام العالمي، ولا تعود من أهمية للمواقف السياسية». «من هنا، وحتى مع التعديلات فان المحكمة تكون أو لا تكون».

حتى الآن ليس واضحاً ما إذا كان «حزب الله» متخوف مباشرة من المحكمة أو لأن حليفه السوري متخوف منها. إن مصير «حزب الله» مرتبط نوعاً ما بالنظام السوري، خصوصاً أن هناك تحالفاً استراتيجياً بين الطرفين. ولا يريد الحزب وقوع أي أمر يؤذي حليفه. ثم إن أحدا لا يعرف حقيقة ما توصل إليه التحقيق، ويرى الحزب أن المحكمة تقف وراءها الأمم المتحدة التي مقرها نيويورك والاميركيون فاعلون فيها، ويتخوف الحزب من أن يطّلع الأجانب، عبر المحكمة على العديد من الملفات ويقول الدكتور سالم: «انه من دون شك لقيادة «حزب الله» مخاوف عامة من إنشاء محكمة واسعة الصلاحيات وطويلة الأمد. فالمرحلة الأولى ثلاث سنوات والباب مفتوح، وتملك حق التحقيق والسجن وستكون نوعاً من سلطة جديدة في لبنان ولها طابع أجنبي، ولا يرغب «حزب الله»، حسب مفهومه السياسي، في أن يدخل أجهزة استخبارات جديدة عليه».

. فالمرحلة الأولى ثلاث سنوات والباب مفتوح، وتملك حق التحقيق والسجن وستكون نوعاً من سلطة جديدة في لبنان ولها طابع أجنبي، ولا يرغب «حزب الله»، حسب مفهومه السياسي، في أن يدخل أجهزة استخبارات جديدة عليه».

لقد صار معروفاً أن سوريا لا تريد سماع كلمة «المحكمة»، ونجحت حتى الآن في عدم قيامها عبر حلفائها في لبنان. ويمكن تخيل سيناريوهات لإقناع سوريا بقبول المحكمة احدها شبيه بسيناريو ليبيا ولوكربي، بمعنى أن يجري تحقيق ويتم ايجاد مخرج معين ثم تجري عندها فعلا «محكمة سياسية». ويتردد حالياً في لبنان، انه إذا التزمت سوريا بعدم تكرار عمليات الاغتيال، وإذا اختلف الأداء السوري، وتغيرت سياستها في لبنان، وأخذت مناحي ايجابية، وقدمت دمشق وعوداً تمكن مراقبتها لاحقاً، عندها يمكن الاتفاق على القول: إن الاغتيال وقع، وان المسؤول عنه بعض الأشخاص من الذين تجب محاكمتهم، كما حصل في ليبيا حيث يقبع المتهم المقراحي في احد السجون السكوتلاندية، ثم تبدأ مرحلة جديدة من العلاقات، ويتوقف علاج المشاكل بين لبنان وسوريا بالاغتيالات، بل على الطرفين الجلوس حول طاولة الحوار بمساعدة دول صديقة أو مجاورة وإيجاد صيغة لمصلحة سوريا ولبنان من دون قتل وتهديد مع بناء علاقات على اتفاقات جديدة غير تلك التي تمت زمن الهيمنة السورية على لبنان.

محاكمتهم، كما حصل في ليبيا حيث يقبع المتهم المقراحي في احد السجون السكوتلاندية، ثم تبدأ مرحلة جديدة من العلاقات، ويتوقف علاج المشاكل بين لبنان وسوريا بالاغتيالات، بل على الطرفين الجلوس حول طاولة الحوار بمساعدة دول صديقة أو مجاورة وإيجاد صيغة لمصلحة سوريا ولبنان من دون قتل وتهديد مع بناء علاقات على اتفاقات جديدة غير تلك التي تمت زمن الهيمنة السورية على لبنان.

إن لبنان لا يريد شيئاً من سوريا، فيما تبدو سوريا وكأنها تريد كل شيء من لبنان؟

المحكمة استحقاق هزّ لبنان، ولبنان الحالي لا يتحمل كما يبدو محكمة، لكن هل لبنان، كما هو الآن يتناسب مع ما يطمح اللبنانيون في الوصول إليه؟ إن لبنان كشعب وكفكرة ورسالة يتعزز بالمحكمة، لكن لبنان التركيبة الحالية، بصراحة لا يتحمل

A Path to Common Ground By: James A. Baker III | The Washington Post
I wholeheartedly agree with a point Lee Hamilton made in his March 25 op-ed, " A Partnership on Iraq," regarding the need for a unity of effort in Iraq. He is correct that the United States will probably falter unless President Bush and Congress reach a bipartisan consensus in the coming months.

Israel’s Protests Are Said to Stall Gulf Arms Sale
By: David S. Cloud and Helene Cooper
The New York Times

A major arms-sale package that the Bush administration is planning to offer Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf allies to deter Iran has been delayed because of objections from Israel, which says that the advanced weaponry would erode its military advantage over its regional rivals, according to senior United States officials.

Pakistan's Talibanization
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE, UPI Editor at Large 

Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 classic, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," was a vivid portrayal of a split personality. Paired, the two names have come to signify bipolar behavior. As president of Pakistan, to rule a Muslim country of 160 million that is 65 percent illiterate and overwhelmingly anti-American, firmly held contradictory views are the key to survival. For President Pervez Musharraf, America is a force for good. But most Pakistanis now see the Bush administration as evil. As much as Musharraf wanted to help President George W. Bush wipe out the Taliban after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he now concludes these young Muslim fanatics are the lesser of two evils next to the drug-fueled corruption of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's inept "democratic" government. After more than five years in office, and with billions in foreign assistance, Karzai is still struggling with 40 percent unemployment. The U.S. intelligence community recently acquired a Pakistani insider's look at what makes Musharraf tick these days. As much as he wanted U.S. victory in Iraq, he has long since concluded the United States has lost the hand to Iran. To recoup America's loss before he leaves the White House in January 2009, Musharraf believes Bush will strike Iran's nuclear facilities from air and sea. And this, in turn, will unite Sunnis and Shiites in Pakistan against all things American — and provoke a gigantic upheaval throughout the Middle East. With the whole world turning against Israel and the United States, he could not afford to continue his policy of "constructive ambiguity" toward the Bush administration.

Lawrence Wright on al-Qaida
And the winner in Iraq is: the Al-Qaeda jihadists

There is a bitter irony in the fact that the Bush administration resurrected its defeated foe by carrying the war to Iraq. This is a state that bin Laden had never placed on his list of profitable regions in which to wage jihad, simply because he knew it was a Shiite-majority country. His rival and eventual protege, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, took that decision out of bin Laden's hands and forced a shift in Al-Qaeda's strategy.

The lessons I draw from this are that Al-Qaeda is stronger now than at any time since 9/11; that the war in Iraq has given Al-Qaeda a tremendous propaganda victory; that the movement is both vast and nimble; that it will survive the deaths of any particular individuals; and that the prospects for long-term conflict with the US and Europe are almost certain.

Comments (62)


ausamaa said:

What to say ?

April 5th, 2007, 9:08 pm

 

Samir said:

Human rights in Syria; Pelosi’s silence
By Nadim Houry and Radwan Ziadeh
Commentary by
Friday, April 06, 2007

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Damascus this week caused quite a stir. Before she even landed in Syria, the White House was calling her decision a “really bad idea.” Pelosi’s spokesman was quick to defend the visit by saying that the speaker intended to use her trip “to discuss a wide range of security issues affecting the United States and the Middle East.” No one doubts that security is essential in the region. But Pelosi appears to have committed the same mistake as other recent visitors to Damascus, who decided not to raise the issue of Syria’s appalling human rights record.

Pelosi was the most senior American public figure to visit Damascus since Colin Powell visited in 2003 as secretary of state, but she came on the heels of other high-profile visitors. Last weekend, three Republican congressmen, Frank Wolf, Joe Pitts and Robert Aderholt, traveled to Syria to meet with President Bashar Assad. Last month, Javier Solana, the European Union foreign policy chief, also paid a visit. The message from these various visitors has generally been consistent: Syria needs to cooperate on Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, and Iraq.

Pelosi’s visit fits the mold. At a press conference in Damascus, Pelosi told reporters that she had expressed to Assad her concern about Syria’s support for Hizbullah and Hamas, and that they discussed the “issue of fighters slipping across the Syrian border into Iraq.” Pelosi also reportedly passed a message from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert about Israel’s readiness to engage in peace talks, and she raised the issue of three Israeli soldiers abducted by Palestinian militants in Gaza and by Hizbullah in Lebanon. There is no indication, however, that she told Assad or other Syrian officials that Syria needed to improve its human rights record to truly become a positive player in the region.

The Syrian government strictly limits freedom of expression, association, and assembly. Emergency powers, imposed in 1963, remain in effect, and the government bans hundreds of political and human rights activists from traveling. The authorities treat Kurds, Syria’s largest non-Arab minority, as second-class citizens subject to systematic discrimination.

Pelosi’s visit took place at a time when several Syrian political and human rights activists are facing trial for exercising their right to freedom of expression. Former prisoner of conscience Kamal al-Labwani is due back in court on April 10. He was arrested in November 2005, on his return to Syria after several months in Europe and the United States, where he met with officials to call for peaceful democratic reform inside Syria. He is charged with “encouraging foreign aggression against Syria.” Prominent writer Michel Kilo and human rights lawyer Anwar al-Bunni have been detained since May 2006, following their signature of the Beirut-Damascus Declaration, which called for improved relations between Syria and Lebanon.

Many analysts fear that emphasizing human rights concerns will weaken the objective of getting Syria to change its regional behavior. Better not anger Damascus by asking for internal reforms, they argue. But these fears are misplaced. First, US foreign policy behavior has often addressed this “tension” by reflecting both a concern for security cooperation and respect for human rights. Pelosi herself is a staunch advocate of human rights in China at a time when the US and China need to cooperate on many critical security issues, including the rise of North Korea as a nuclear player.

Second, more democratic governance and rule of law in Syria will surely be a more positive influence in the Middle East.

Journalists and commentators will use a lot of ink debating the merits of Pelosi’s visit. But one thing is clear. She missed an opportunity to send a strong message to the Syrian authorities that Washington’s desire to cooperate with Syria does not mean it will turn a blind eye to Syria’s human rights violations. She also missed the opportunity to send a message to Syrians and other Arabs that the US still values respect for human rights.

Nadim Houry is Syria researcher at Human Rights Watch. Radwan Ziadeh is director of the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies. They wrote this commentary for THE DAILY STAR.

April 5th, 2007, 11:13 pm

 

ugarit said:

It’s a good thing that HRW is reminding everyone of human rights violations in Syria; however, when are they going to cover KSA’s violations when a US official is visiting the KSA?

April 6th, 2007, 4:11 am

 

why-discuss said:

What about the human violations and emergency powers and ridiculous referendum in the US second best friend country in the area… Egypt?

April 6th, 2007, 8:26 am

 

Alex said:

Akbar,

Sorry for the late reply to your comments from last post:

Peace with Egypt I believe three things made it a success

1) Strong and respected Israeli prime minister. Begin was as hard line as they get. But he could deliver when needed.

2) relative clarity in Israel regarding Egypt’s worthiness of the “painful concessions”.

3) President carter and his team were ready to put serious pressure on Mr. Begin when he tried to negotiate a bit too much. At some point President Sadat packed his luggage and was ready to leave after Mr. Begin told him that he won’t return the full Sinai. President Carter basically explained to the Israeli delegation the minimum expected from them…

No other president went that far in pressuring Israel, except maybe Bush Sr. and Shamir.

The Hindawi Affair

I don’t know much about the Libya incident, but Hindawi’s story was not consistent at all with Hafez Assad. Akbar, Hafez was simply not the man who would order such a stupid, easy to discover, bomb on El-Al plane terrorist operation!

There are more details to tell you (I knew a lot about it at the time) but there is no need. The above is logical enough I hope.

April 6th, 2007, 12:14 pm

 

Samir said:

Why Discuss and Ugarit you have a valid point .

April 6th, 2007, 12:25 pm

 

youngsyria said:

The Atlantic Monthly | February 1993

Syria: Identity Crisis

Hafez-al Assad has so far prevented the Balkanization of his country, but he can’t last forever

by Robert D. Kaplan

…..

On my first visit to Syria, in the 1970s, a tourist-information official at Damascus airport handed me a map on which not only the Israeli-held Golan Heights but also the Hatay region around the ancient city of Antioch were depicted as part of the country. Wanting to see Antioch, I asked the official about tours there. His reply and apologetic tone gave me pause: “Unfortunately, sir, for the time being it is not possible; maybe in a few months.”

Located at the northeast corner of the Mediterranean Sea, the Hatay is a 2,000-square-mile area where Arabs and Armenians once slightly outnumbered Turks. In July of 1938 the Turkish army moved in, forcing many of the Arabs and Armenians to flee, and preparing the way for the Turkish government to annex the region. The French, who held the mandate for Syria, did not protest, and the occupied population could not. Thinking about this history in terms of the tourist official’s sheepishness has since led me to wonder, How could the Syrians ever acknowledge the 1967 loss of the Golan Heights when they don’t really accept an older loss—one that, unlike the Golan Heights, has long been officially recognized by the world community?

The answer is simply that they can’t. As the example of the Hatay suggests, the loss of the Golan Heights was merely the latest of several territorial truncations that underpin an explosive and unmentionable historical reality: that Syria—whose population, like Lebanon’s, is a hodgepodge of feuding Middle Eastern minorities—has always been more identifiable as a region of the Ottoman Empire than as a nation in the post-Ottoman era. The psychology of Syria’s internal politics, a realm whose violence and austere perversity continue to baffle the West, is bound up in the question of Syria’s national identity. The identity question is important: events inside Syria reverberate throughout the Middle East.

The word “SYRIA” is derived from the Semitic Siryon, which appears in Deuteronomy in reference to Mount Hermon, which straddles the current frontiers of Syria, Lebanon, and Israel. From the early nineteenth century until the end of the First World War, when the Ottoman sultanate collapsed, the region that European travelers called Syria stretched from the Taurus Mountains of Turkey in the north to Egypt and the Arabian Desert in the south, and from the Mediterranean Sea in the west to Mesopotamia in the east. Present-day Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, western Iraq, and southern Turkey were all part of this vast area. Syria was not linked to any specific national sentiment.

What sentiment did exist was pan-Arab. Indeed, the nineteenth-century Syrian cities of Damascus and Beirut, with their secret cultural and political societies, engendered the First World War Arab revolt against the Turks. But the revolt, although it freed Arabia from outside control, only complicated matters for Syria, whose proximity to Europe left it particularly vulnerable to foreign exploitation.

Anglo-French rivalry for spoils resulted in a division of Syria into six zones. A sliver of northern Syria became part of a new Turkish state, which was being carved out of the old Ottoman sultanate by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. (This area was separate from the Hatay, whose annexation would come later.) Syria’s eastern desert became part of a new British mandate: Iraq. Southern Syria, too, was soon controlled by the British, who created two additional territories: a mandate in Palestine and a kingdom in Transjordan, the latter ruled by Britain’s First World War ally Abdullah, a son of the Sharif of Mecca. The French got the territory that was left over, which they in turn subdivided into Lebanon and Syria.

Lebanon’s borders were drawn so as to bring a large population of mainly Sunni Muslims under the domination of Maronite Christians, who were allied with France, spoke French, and though not exactly Catholic had a concordat with the Holy See in Rome. Syria, Lebanon’s neighbor, was a writhing ghost of a would-be nation. Although territory had been cut away on all sides, Syria still contained not only every warring sect and religion and parochial tribal interest but also the headquarters, in Damascus, of the pan-Arabist movement, whose aim was to erase all the borders that the Europeans had just created. Thus, although it was more compact than the sprawling pre-war region called Syria, the new French mandate with that name had even fewer unifying threads. Freya Stark, a British diplomat, said of the French mandate, “I haven’t yet come across one spark of national feeling: it is all sects and hatreds and religions.”

Each of Syria’s sects and religions was—as it largely still is—concentrated in a specific geographical area. In the center was Damascus, which together with the cities of Homs and Hama constituted the heartland of the Sunni Arab majority. In the south was Jabal Druze (“Druze Mountain”), where lived a remote community of heterodox Muslims who were resistant to Damascene rule and had close links across the border with Transjordan. In the north was Aleppo, a cosmopolitan bazaar and trading center containing large numbers of Kurds, Arab Christians, Armenians, Circassians, and Jews, all of whom felt allegiance more to Mosul and Baghdad (both now in Iraq) than to Damascus. And in the west, contiguous to Lebanon, was the mountain stronghold of Latakia, dominated by the Alawites, the most oppressed and recalcitrant of French Syria’s Arab minorities, who were destined to have a dramatic effect on postcolonial Syria.

The Alawites, along with the Druzes and the Isma’ilis (still another Muslim sect in Syria), are remnants of a wave of Shi’ism which swept over the region a thousand years ago. The term “Alawite” means “follower of Ali,” the martyred son-in-law of Mohammed who is venerated by millions of Shi’ites in Iran and elsewhere. Yet the Alawites’ resemblance to the Shi’ites constitutes the least of their heresies in the eyes of Syria’s majority Sunni Arabs; far more serious is the Alawite doctrine’s affinity with Phoenician paganism—and also with Christianity. Alawites celebrate many Christian festivals, including Christmas, Easter, and Palm Sunday, and their religious ceremonies make use of bread and wine.

When the French took control of Syria after the First World War, they were fresh from colonizing experiences in Algeria and Tunisia, which had kindled hostility in them to Sunni Arab nationalism. In an effort to forestall a rise in Arab nationalism, the French granted autonomous status to Alawite-dominated Latakia and to Jabal Druze, making their inhabitants completely independent from the Sunni Arabs in Damascus, and answerable to the French only. The Alawites, the Druzes, and the other minorities also paid lower taxes than the majority Sunnis, while getting larger development subsidies from the French government. What is more, the French encouraged the recruitment of Alawites, Druzes, Kurds, and Circassians into their occupation force, the Troupes Speciales du Levant. (From then on the military became a popular career for poor rural Alawites bent on advancement in Syrian society.) The majority Sunni Arabs, for their part, were severely repressed. The Damascus region was treated as occupied territory and patrolled by tough Senegalese troops, with help from Alawites, Druzes, and Kurds. The Sunni Arabs felt besieged to a degree they had never experienced under the Ottoman Turks.

Sunni paramilitary groups responded by organizing brawls and uprisings against the French in the streets of Damascus. Arguably, not even British Palestine, with its periodic outbursts of communal violence between Arabs and Jews, was as tense and unstable a place as French Syria, whose two colliding forces—minority self-determination and Sunni pan-Arabism—were encouraged rather than restrained by French rule.

A myth persists about Syria, perpetuated in part by the American media, which seem to lack historical memory, and in part by supporters of Israel, who wish to distinguish starkly between the democracy of the Jewish state and the nondemocracy of Arab states. The myth is that Syria’s Arab inhabitants have experience neither with democracy nor even with the rule of law. This is not true: Syria gave democracy a try, against enormous odds.

Patrick Seale, a British specialist, chronicles the postwar period in The Struggle for Syria. In July of 1947, soon after achieving full independence, and with France’s divisive influence still strong, Syria held elections. The results were predictable for a country that had been created out of several rival political communities. The National Party, led by Shukri al-Quwatli, got more votes than any other group, but was able to form only a minority government. The majority of the ballots went to various independents representing sectarian interests. Beneath the surface the reality was even worse. “I look around me,” wrote Habib Kahaleh, in Memoirs of a Deputy, “and see only a bundle of contradictions.” Israel’s humiliation of Arab armies in its 1948 War of Independence further weakened the democratically elected government. When the Syrian chief of staff, General Husni al-Za’im, staged a coup d’etat on March 30, 1949—the first of many military takeovers in the postcolonial Arab world—crowds danced in the streets of Damascus.

Za’im, like many Syrian leaders who were to follow him, was exhibitionistic and extravagant, and lacked a coherent strategy for reconciling the various local nationalisms of what used to be French Syria. He was soon overthrown and summarily executed. The next military regime held new national elections, but the vote was just as fractured as it had been in 1947, and this democratic experiment, too, collapsed into anarchy. The chaos ended in December of 1949, when Colonel Adib al-Shishakli seized power. It was the third coup of the year.

Shishakli’s ability to restore order caused foreign observers to hail him as the Arab world’s Ataturk, who would mold Syria into a nation on the Turkish model. But it was not to be. Shishakli publicly lamented in 1953 that Syria was merely “the current official name for that country which lies within the artificial frontiers drawn up by imperialism.” Unfortunately for him, he was right. In 1954 Shishakli was overthrown. Once again the dislodging force came from various sectarian elements within and outside the military.

Meanwhile, an ideological solution to Syria’s contradictions began to emerge. Ba’athism, from Ba’ath, Arabic for “renaissance,” was started by two Syrian Arabs, one Christian and one Muslim. The movement appealed to a brand of patriotism both radical and secular, and sought to replace religion with socialism. Whether Ba’athism was capable of smoothing over sectarian divisions was tested in the fall of 1954, a few months after Shishakli’s overthrow, when free parliamentary elections were held. The results corroborated earlier evidence that Western democracy was not necessarily the solution for the ills of Arab societies. Although the largest number of parliamentary seats again went to the tribal and sectarian independents, the biggest gains relative to the 1949 ballot were registered by the Ba’ath Party, which advocated a communist-style economic program and a pro-Soviet foreign policy.

Syria teetered on, with Egypt, Iraq, the Soviet Union, and the United States all interfering in its internal affairs. In January of 1958 the Syrians gave up. A delegation flew to Cairo and begged Egypt’s leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser, to annex Syria as part of a new union, the United Arab Republic. Shukri al-Quwatli, the Syrian President, reportedly complained thus to Nasser about the Syrian people: “Half claim the vocation of leader, a quarter believe they are prophets, and at least ten percent take themselves for gods.”

The United Arab Republic collapsed in 1961, partly because non-Sunni Syrians increasingly resented the rule of Egypt’s own Sunni Arabs. In 1963 the Ba’ath Party finally came to power in Damascus in a military coup. But more significant than its ideology was the ethnic makeup of the corps of officers now in control: because of the assiduous French recruitment of minorities—especially Alawites—into the Troupes Speciales du Levant, the Alawites had, without anyone’s noticing, gradually taken over the military from within. Though Alawites constituted just 12 percent of the Syrian population, they now dominated the corps of young officers.

Another coup followed in 1966. But the coup of 1970, which brought an Alawite air-force officer, Hafez al-Assad, to power, was what finally ended the instability that had reigned in Syria since the advent of independence.

Assad has now remained in power for twenty-two years. Considering that Damascus saw twenty-one changes of government in the twenty-four years preceding his coup, Assad’s permanence is impressive. It is still more impressive when one realizes that he belongs to Syria’s most-hated ethnic group—the group that has historically been suspected by other Syrians of sympathizing with the French, the Christians, and even the Jews. Daniel Pipes, a Middle East historian, writes in Greater Syria, “An Alawi ruling Syria is like an untouchable becoming maharajah in India or a Jew becoming tsar in Russia—an unprecedented development shocking to the majority population which had monopolized power for so many centuries.”

One rarely stated reason for the longevity of Assad’s regime—which also applies to other Arab dictators who arose around the same time, like Muammar Qaddafi, in Libya, and Saddam Hussein, in Iraq—is his use of state-of-the-art electronic surveillance techniques and Soviet-bloc security advisers: powerful, sometimes lethal tools that had not been available to earlier dictators. (American diplomats familiar with Syria in the 1950s describe it as a charming banana republic, where the government’s attempts at surveillance had an amateurish, comic-opera quality to them.) Assad’s extraordinary skill as a leader is another reason why he has survived. For example, by patient trial and error over the past seventeen years, he has won for himself the role of de facto military overlord in Lebanon, thus effectively undoing the French crime of separating Lebanon from the Syrian motherland.

However, Assad’s leadership ability notwithstanding, historical evidence suggests that the Assad era, like the rule of communists in Eastern Europe, is more a historical intermission than an indication of enduring national unity.

The city of Hama, a traditional bastion of Sunni Arab strength, is a case in point. In 1964 a revolt in Hama almost toppled the then current Ba’athist regime, top-heavy with Alawites. Finally, in February of 1982, the Sunni Arab Muslim Brotherhood took control of the city and murdered its Alawite-appointed officials. Sunni renegades had earlier massacred Alawite soldiers in Aleppo. The roots of this violence lay in age-old ethnic distrust, aggravated by Assad’s support during the late 1970s of Maronite Christian militias in Lebanon, which Sunnis in Syria saw as yet another Alawite-Christian conspiracy against them. Assad reacted by sending 12,000 Alawite soldiers into Hama. They massacred as many as 30,000 Sunni Arab civilians and leveled much of the town. Hama in 1982 was proof that beneath the carapace of Assad’s stable rule lay a seething region that was no closer to nationhood than it had been after the Turks left, or after the French left.

Assad, though only in his early sixties, has often been reported to be in ill health. However long he survives, Syria faces a day of reckoning when his control over the country weakens. Though the American media occupy themselves with Assad’s current shift toward moderation—Syria’s participation in the peace talks, its more civilized attitude toward Syrian Jews, and its seeming abstinence from anti-Western terrorism—the question remains: Given Syria’s history up to this moment, do any of these policy changes really matter? Syria, it is to be remembered, is part of the same world as Yugoslavia: a former Ottoman territory that has yet to come to terms with the problems of post-Ottoman boundaries.

Future scenarios for Syria resemble those predicted for Yugoslavia during the Cold War years. From the standpoint of the present, the scenarios always seem implausible. But from the standpoint of historical process and precedent, they seem inevitable.

Syria will not remain the same. It could become bigger or smaller, but the chance that any territorial solution will prove truly workable is slim indeed. Some Middle East specialists mutter about the possibility that a future Alawite state will be carved out of Syria. Based in mountainous Latakia, it would be a refuge for Alawites after Assad passes from the scene and Muslim fundamentalists—Sunnis, that is—take over the government. This state would be supported not only by Lebanese Maronites but also by the Israeli Secret Service, which would see no contradiction in aiding former members of Assad’s regime against a Sunni Arab government in Damascus. Some Syrians, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, look forward to the collapse of both Israel and Jordan and their reintegration into Syria, as they waited in the 1940s for the incorporation into Syria of the autonomous states in Latakia and Jabal Druze. Should Assad’s death lead to chaos in Damascus, it is not out of the question that the region of Jabal Druze would break away from Syria and amalgamate itself with Jordan. Because Lebanon’s current stability rests upon Syrian military domination there, a weakening of government institutions in Syria could result in a renewal of the Lebanese civil war.

What Syria deep down yearns for—what would assuage its insoluble contradictions—is to duplicate the process now under way in the Balkans. That is, it wishes to repeal the political results of the twentieth century—in Syria’s case, the border arrangements made by Great Britain and France after the First World War. In the Balkans, of course, “repeal” means the fragmentation of a larger whole into its constituent parts, and that fragmentation is proceeding apace. In Syria it means the opposite: the reconstitution of the whole out of its constituent parts. Indeed, Syria wishes to return to a world where, as Daniel Pipes says, it could be subsumed into an even larger whole and become “a region that exists outside politics.” This, after all, is what lies behind its calls for “Arab unity.” And nothing of the sort will happen.

For the moment, then, Assad staves off the future. It is Assad, not Saddam Hussein or any other ruler, who defines the era in which the Middle East now lives. And Assad’s passing may herald more chaos than a chaotic region has seen in decades.

April 6th, 2007, 4:44 pm

 

ausamaa said:

“Future scenarios for Syria resemble those predicted for Yugoslavia during the Cold War years. From the standpoint of the present, the scenarios always seem implausible. But from the standpoint of historical process and precedent, they seem inevitable.” Atlantic Monthly, Fred Kaplan, 1993

Well, 17 years later, the scenarios still seems implusible. Actually, very implusible! But if Fred Kaplan insists, we Shall wait a bit longer to see if it becomes more “plausible”- like 25 more Years??

April 6th, 2007, 8:00 pm

 

Atassi said:

Has he got away with it? Syria

7 April 2007
The Economist
English
(c) The Economist Newspaper Limited, London 2007.

The survival of Syria’s President Bashar Assad

President Bashar Assad seems to have won a new lease on political life

FOR a country painted by many as an international pariah, Syria is looking remarkably spruce. New cars jam the streets of its ancient capital, Damascus, whose once-dowdy shop windows now bulge with fancy goods, and where the price of prime property has doubled in the past two years. The economy, which grew lamely at less than 2% a year from 1999-2004, last year swelled by 5%. Energy consumption, a clearer indicator of economic activity, surged by 16 %, says a minister.

Syria’s leaders, long shunned by fellow Arabs as well as Westerners, seem suddenly back in fashion, too. President Bashar Assad’s relations with the governments of neighbouring Turkey and Iraq have warmed. He has strengthened Syria’s long-standing alliance with Iran, yet seems also to have reconciled with the region’s rival heavyweight, Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah greeted him in person last week at the airport of Riyadh, the Saudi capital, on his arrival for an Arab summit whose next venue is to be Syria. Javier Solana, the European Union’s foreign-affairs head, had soothing words for Mr Assad on a recent visit. This week, defying President Bush’s ban on high-level contacts, two American congressional delegations, one led by Nancy Pelosi, the top-ranking Democrat, took the road to Damascus.

Mr Assad may even get back into the swim of Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy, from which he has been largely excluded, thanks in part to his backing of Hamas’s exiled leader, Khaled Meshal, whose haven is Damascus. The resuscitated Arab League peace plan of 2002 includes a demand that Syria be given back the Golan Heights in return for peace with Israel. And there is talk within the newly-formed Arab Quartet of moderate states (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) that Syria should be included, partly to detach it from its ally, Iran.

Not so long ago, things looked very different. America’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 added, alongside Israel’s, another big, unfriendly army next door. Citing Syrian meddling in Iraq and Lebanon and accusing it of sponsoring terrorism here and there, the Americans imposed sanctions, withdrew their ambassador, threatened “hot pursuit” of alleged terrorists who sought sanctuary on Syrian soil, and began funding Syria’s exiled opposition. The EU declined to ratify a free-trade agreement reached in 2004, leaving Syria the only Mediterranean state without privileged access to European markets.

Lebanon, long a reliable fief, erupted in a popular anti-Syrian revolt after the killing of its five-times prime minister, Rafik Hariri, in February 2005, forcing Syrian troops into a humiliating retreat. Worse yet, Lebanon’s newly elected government lobbied the UN to investigate and try Mr Hariri’s murderers; accumulating evidence pointed to Syrian complicity.

Things were not much better at home. Shrinking oil reserves, said experts, would drain Syria’s main source of revenue. The loss of Iraq as a lucrative trade partner, and of relatively rich Lebanon as a sponge for Syrian unemployment, would speed a slide into bankruptcy. Mr Assad, a political novice who succeeded his feared but respected father on his death in 2000, looked ever weaker, as promised reforms failed to materialise, defectors deserted the ruling Baath party and a rising opposition chorus spoke of its impending overthrow.

The turnaround is not quite complete. Unemployment, corruption and poverty still hamper the economy. Mr Assad is still mistrusted by many of his neighbours, loathed by many politically-conscious Syrians and still risks being fingered for Mr Hariri’s murder. But on a range of issues, his patience, stubbornness and absolute intolerance of dissent may be paying off.

He owes his new lease on political life to the incompetence or fatigue of his enemies, to clever diplomatic footwork and to lucky circumstances. Last year’s war in Lebanon, for instance, looked as if it would seal the doom of Mr Assad’s main ally there, Hizbullah. Instead, the Shia militia emerged battered but politically strengthened. Mr Assad gained from popular Arab perceptions that he had justly backed the right horse, while his Lebanese allies were emboldened to try to corner the pro-Western government in Beirut into dropping its demand for an international tribunal to bring Mr Hariri’s killers to book.

Opposition to the American-led invasion of Iraq has brought dividends too. Partly due to Syria’s encouragement of the Sunni insurgency at the outset (since tempered by controls on the passage of jihadists), America has burned its fingers badly and lost its enthusiasm to foment regime change elsewhere. Though Iraq’s sectarian turmoil could spill over into multi-sectarian Syria, it also carries opportunities for Mr Assad.

Appalled by the mess next door, few Syrians now doubt that their own secular dictatorship is preferable to the anarchy of supposedly democratic Iraq. Yet Syria’s belated recognition of Iraq’s government, skilfully portrayed as a graceful bow to American pressure, has brought big rewards. Syria is fast regaining its traditional role as the gateway to rich Mesopotamia. Iraq bought some 400,000 tonnes of Syrian farm produce last year. Near Qamishli, in the north-east, a queue of Syrian lorries heading for Iraq stretches 30km (19 miles). Even the influx of 1m Iraqi refugees brings some benefits: a boom in Syrian property, plus a surge in consumer demand.

The potential gains from Iraq are even greater. Large natural-gas fields lie just across the border in Iraq: the easiest export route for Iraqi oil is through Syrian ports. Iraqi officials already speak of enlarging existing pipelines, while Syria is expanding its refining capacity in anticipation. Meanwhile, even as high world prices have maintained Syria’s income despite shrinking energy exports, new discoveries of gas and oil—most recently, by British-based Gulfsands Petroleum—look set to slow the predicted decline in reserves.

But perhaps the greatest satisfaction for Mr Assad is the likelihood of his outlasting his enemies. France’s President Jacques Chirac, whose pursuit of justice over the killing of Hariri, his close friend, took on the tone of a personal vendetta, will soon be gone. So too will Tony Blair. And Mr Assad could well be in power after George Bush has bowed out too

April 6th, 2007, 8:02 pm

 

ausamaa said:

And now the Economist.

Yeh.. so it seems; Assad will still be around after Bush leaves! Gosh, What can we do?!

April 6th, 2007, 8:14 pm

 

youngsyria said:

Alarabiya is presenting a program on syria “eye on syria” every day.. I don’t know what are they talking about but it seems about culture and others things.

I think Saudis what to fix the damage they have done to Syria’s image in the media. thing are going well with saudis?!

April 6th, 2007, 8:29 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Syria would sure be much better off withOUT Al Arbiya Eyes on it. I hope Al Arabiya eyes are not Blue.

April 6th, 2007, 9:41 pm

 

MSK said:

For the (apparently) not-quite-internet-savvy commenters, here the respective HRW pages on KSA & Egypt:

http://www.hrw.org/doc?t=mideast&c=egypt
http://www.hrw.org/doc?t=mideast&c=saudia

On that Robert Kaplan article, anyone who writes a phrase like “the mountain stronghold of Latakia” has immediately failed the basic “Is this worth reading?” test. Also, do feel free to peruse http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_D._Kaplan. Enjoy …

And … Arnaud de Borchgrave??? Who’s gonna be quoted next, Dick Cheney?

Brilliant cartoon, though …

–MSK

April 6th, 2007, 10:08 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

We all know who is Robert Kaplan, just to remind you, he is a jew who served in the Isreali army, in 1967, who ,just like Isreal, support dividing Syria, but will Syria divide, the answer very clear: never.
George Bush said ;if we pull out of Iraq the terrorist will follow us, this is a LIE, Iraqis did not follow england after British troops pulled out of Iraq, and Syrians did not follow France after France pulled out of Syria, nor the Algerians took revenge from France. The real problem for USA is that they made a mistake in Iraq, it is obvious that one day they have to pull out,any pull out is a defeat, whoever stay in Iraq after American pull out will be weak goverment, Iraq can not be divided for reasons I mentioned before, so Iraq will find it necessary to unite with Syria, and that what america is afraid of.
Bashar Asad may outlast not only Bush,Blair,and Chiraq, but also Mubarak,and Abdullah of KSA, that will prepare him for more power, Bashar inherited one important thing from his father,Hafez, it is good luck, yes better be lucky than smart.

April 6th, 2007, 10:31 pm

 

ugarit said:

MSK said: “For the (apparently) not-quite-internet-savvy commenters, here the respective HRW pages on KSA & Egypt:”

You missed the point. The HRW statement on Syria was in a Lebanese newspaper while HRW’s statements on KSA and Egypt were on HRW’s webpage. In addition, HRW’s statements on the KSA is several months old. Would the Daily Star publish a commentary, by HRW, on KSA’s human rights violations on the days that an American official is visiting the KSA? No. Because they would not dare. Why? Because of KSA’s influence of the “main stream” media in Lebanon.

April 6th, 2007, 10:40 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

I forgot to say something about Lebanon, yes a major crisis is coming, the solution is either divide Lebanon, leaving the south to Nasrallah and Berri,the rest will be north Lebanon, include Sidon, and Beirut, this will not be acceptable to USA, the other choice is military coup(take over)which is most likely.
yes Syria made a mistake by eliminating Hariri,but revenge,not court is the answer, it is the arabic tradition ,revenge ,follow the rule, the tooth for the tooth, and an eye for an eye.

April 6th, 2007, 10:43 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Dear Atassi,

Thank you for highlighting the fine article by “The Economist”.

“On a range of issues, his patience, stubbornness and absolute intolerance of dissent may be paying off. He owes his new lease on political life to the incompetence or fatigue of his enemies, to clever diplomatic footwork and to lucky circumstances.”

The above quote says it all. What a brilliant summary.

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aptwF4_uHWZA

April 6th, 2007, 11:04 pm

 

MSK said:

Ugarit,

that wasn’t the point you made in your first remark. You didn’t even so much as mention the Daily Star:

“It’s a good thing that HRW is reminding everyone of human rights violations in Syria; however, when are they going to cover KSA’s violations when a US official is visiting the KSA?”

Btw, HRW is sending out its pieces to everyone and anyone who does (and in many cases even doesn’t) want to get them.

As for your comment about the Saudi influence on the Daily Star, I’ll ask them next time I’m in town. OR I could just suggest that you actually read the articles in the DS – there are plenty of ones highly critical of KSA. Of course, that might just get in the way of your black/white picture you have of the MidEast …

On that note: what do YOU think/say about the CONTENT of the DS article? I mean, other than “but other countries are even worse!” …

–MSK

April 7th, 2007, 9:23 am

 

ugarit said:

MSK quotes Ugarit “when are they going to cover KSA’s violations WHEN [my emphasis] a US official is visiting the KSA”

Reread the above quote. That’s my point and that was stated in my first posting. DS was the source of the content and I thought you would have also noticed that!

HRW’s content is good. As I said in my first posting! Please send us a link of DS’ article(s)/commentary on KSA’s human rights violations when and only WHEN a US official is visiting KSA. I may be wrong but I couldn’t see any. Why are they writing about Syria WHEN a US official is visiting Syria and not the KSA?

HRW’s commentary is very important and it should appear in the DS. I’m pretty sure that HRW would have had a commentary ready, on KSA’s human rights violations, and have it published at the DS but I can’t find it.

April 7th, 2007, 2:28 pm

 

Alex said:

New York Times takes a much different approach to the visit than the Washington Post.

April 7, 2007
Editorial
The Real Fumble in Damascus

There is at least one point on which we and the critics of Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Damascus can agree: It is the White House, not the speaker of the House, that should be taking the diplomatic lead. But the Bush administration has far more appetite for scoring political points than figuring out whether talking to Syria might help contain the bloodletting in Iraq or revive efforts to negotiate peace.

So long as Mr. Bush continues to shun high-level discussions with this troublesome but strategically located neighbor of Israel, Lebanon and Iraq, such Congressional visits can serve the useful purpose of spurring a much needed examination of the administration’s failed policies.

Ms. Pelosi and the five Democrats and one Republican who accompanied her are scarcely the first to raise such questions during the three years that Mr. Bush has instructed his top envoys — and reportedly Israel as well — to avoid negotiations with Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad. Plenty of other Republicans and Democrats have been taking similar trips and offering similar advice. They were ignored, but spared the White House’s ridicule.

In the administration’s perverse view, the only legitimate time for negotiations would be after the most contentious and difficult issues — Syria’s support for Hamas and Hezbollah, its meddling in Lebanon and open border with Iraq — have already been resolved. Thus, what ought to be the main agenda points for diplomatic discussions have been turned into a set of preconditions designed to ensure that no discussions ever take place. As the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, Congressional representatives of both parties, this page, and many others have pointed out, Washington should be eager to raise just those issues, along with the possibility of a land-for-peace deal with Israel, directly with Syrian leaders.

By initiating such talks, the administration would give itself a chance of driving a wedge between Syria and Iran. That could strengthen Washington’s efforts to restrain Iran’s growing influence over Iraq. Further isolating Iran might also persuade Tehran that the price of its nuclear ambitions is too high.

Israel also has more to gain from talking directly with Syria. If it wanted to, Damascus could curb arms supplies to Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon and agree to a just peace on the Golan frontier. And if Syria chose not to take these necessary steps, it would get the blame it deserved. Right now, Syria is getting a free ride by offering unconditional talks which it knows that Israel, in deference to the Bush administration, must refuse.

Ms. Pelosi did not help matters by claiming in Damascus that Israel was ready to talk — an assertion that Israeli officials were quick to deny. Her job is to spur the Bush administration to pursue active diplomacy, not to attempt to conduct that diplomacy herself. The more she hews to the careful path, the more useful her efforts will be.

April 7th, 2007, 3:16 pm

 

Alex said:

MSK,

The main problem with the Daily Star is Michael young. You would not notice it, but the rest of us do nitice when there is an arrogant racist trying his best to convince the Americans to maintain their negativity towards our country.

The Daily Star did publish a number of good articles by Rami Khoury, David Ignatius, Mona Eltahawy … the latter specifically criticizing Mubarak’s human rights abuses.

But Ugarit’s point, in general, is about the obvious obsession with Syria’s human rights record…. president bush and the state department, president Chirac, and especially the wonderful Saudi owned press … always mentioning how disturbed they are because the Syrian regime has political prisoners.

You tell us, MSK, what are the numbers the past 7 years since Bashar came to power, and how do those numbers compare to Egypt and KSA?

April 7th, 2007, 3:45 pm

 

Atassi said:

Ehsani,
Indeed its brilliant summary, I am sometime amazed by how lucky the Assad’s are, I would be foolish and deceiving myself if I didn’t to give them the credit the remarkable survival so far.

My sincere wishes of a safe and happy holiday to the Christian’s commentators and readers of the SyrianComment board.

April 7th, 2007, 3:54 pm

 

youngsyria said:

regarding Robert Kaplan article, i have have to say I know very little about syria history.. I usually find general bulls*** articles about 1900-60s .. articles telling syria history as if you are watching arab TV in the 80s. so, his article was a bit deep for me.. talking about syria’s sects and how they allied themselves, talking about that fake useless democracy of the 50’s. his article gave me the impression that syrians without dictatorship are sectarian like Lebanese today ( so lebanese ARE NOT a special case).

so, I think this jew who served in Israeli army is much more credible to me than romantic syrian who sees history events with one eye.

as I said, I know little about syria’s history, so if you have much better sources ,please post it .

April 7th, 2007, 5:17 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Yeh, Fred Kaplan article is detailed but the interpretations of the Sectarian alliances and all that stuff is a bit exaggerated. The Syrian 1925 uprising by The Druze of Jebel Al Arab and Sultan Al Attrash against the French was not even mentioned. The nationalistic stands by many Kurds were not mentioned, the fact that George Antonious, a Christian, was one of the most vocal and instrumental Arab Nationlists was not mentioned also. The nature, role and composition of the SSNP was not highlited. They pick out the Trees, take a seperate Photo of each, and reassemble the photos to make the Forest look somewhat DIFFERENT.

Whatever was there in the article maybe correct factually and historically but it is USED in a somewhat CREATIVE context to arrive at selective explanations and positions. Their end game is to highlight and to promote the Ethnic, Sectarian and Religious angle as opposed to the Nationalistic one. Very smart and very self-serving. Both to the Israelis and to the British and Frensh Colonialists. This way they justify the existance of an Ethnic/Religious state “ISAREL” while justifying their colonialist agenda which requires a negation of the fact that a developed PEOPLE who constitute a NATION live in the ARAB WORLD (as compared to the mushy, rubbery and Undefined MIDDLE EAST or the NEAR EAST which they prefere).

April 7th, 2007, 7:09 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

“talking about that fake useless democracy of the 50’s.”
No it was not fake and useless, it was the best time Syria went through, it was when people had dignity,and freedom, that is when we worked hard to unite with Egypt,when people in Iraq ,Libya and Yemen got rid of their kings, when Algeria kicked france out,when Lebanese revolted against american marines, I wish that time come back again

April 7th, 2007, 7:13 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Meanwhile in Lebanon…

Waleed Junblate is now intensifying his attacks on the Lebanese Army (General Michle Suliman).

It is a given that the 14 Feb group do not like the Army, but the true reason for Junblat’s current wave of attacks on the Arny is his realization that the Michle Suliman may be heading to become the President of Lebanon. Either through normal elections or, through the establishment of a military government after a deasdlock, or more through the Army carrying a Coup to “put things in order” and to put an end to this Zombi show which is taking place at the moment.

We shall see other 14 Feb group members following in his tracks soon.

And it seems that the “dream” of having a UN Security Council imposing an International Tribunal under chapter 7 is dead in its tracks. Russia and China are not very supportive, nietheris Egypt as declared by its FM, nor is Saudi as appeared in the Arab Summit resolution. Actually, niether is the Bush Admin it seems who does not want to up the ante while it solicits everybody’s cooperation in Iraq.

It seems that SEEING The WRITING ON THE WALL is a “talent” yet to be aquiered by the 14 Feb group. Among their other missing “talents” of course!

April 7th, 2007, 8:37 pm

 

youngsyria said:

“No it was not fake and useless, it was the best time Syria went through, it was when people had dignity,and freedom,”

if it wasn’t, then how do you explain all that instability in that period of time? what about the 24 president in 24 yeas? can anybody give me a much better interpretation(article)?

do you think leaders fall from sky? dont they come from people? dont they represent them?

April 7th, 2007, 11:32 pm

 

Zenobia said:

Patrick Seale’s The Struggle for Syria is all about that post war time period (1945-1958). (but that is a book not an article)

April 8th, 2007, 12:08 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

yes we did have several goverments, but that was because of the endless conspiracies against us, invasion of Egypt in 1956, Baghdad pact, marines landing in Lebanon,just to mention few.
If you do not know the syrian history, I suggest that you read it first,I am sure Joshua will help you.

April 8th, 2007, 1:25 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

russia said they have intelligence that america will hit Iran april 6th, it passed, nothing happen,now some people talking about a war in june, between I sreal and HA

April 8th, 2007, 3:33 am

 

trustquest said:

Smart analysis by Kaplan showing that history can be read in several ways. This does not mean right or wrong, his analysis highlight the deep desire of population for larger leverage of independence from the central government to get their fair share from the state. Along 500 years of Ottoman rules in larger Syria, the central government in Istanbul or its proxies in Damascus and Aleppo did not serve the population at large, it controlled them only. Neither short lived colonist nor following independent state could solve this problem of a fragmented population even if this population consists of majority of Arab decent. Living in that part of the world and participating in the social communicate with all sorts of communities can confirm this point.
In my view, the creeping of globalization across the boarders and across the communities is another slap in the face to central governing. The future is a promising chaos to central governing in many parts of the Middle East and may be the world.

April 8th, 2007, 12:43 pm

 

idaf said:

A few posts ago, there was a heated discussion on this blog on a Seymour Hersh’s interview in Al-Jazeera (summarized by Alex).
Here’s the official transcript just posted on Al-Jazeera’s website of Hersh’s interview. Here’s the audio if you can’t read Arabic but understand it. I pasted the parts on Syria & Lebanon below:

On Hariri:
غسان بن جدو: مقالتك الأخيرة “إعادة توجيه” كانت مثيرة جدا ولعلك سمعت بأنها أثارت جدلا واسعا هنا في منطقتنا العربية خاصة وأنك تحدثت بشكل يعني معلومات كبيرة أولا سؤال تقني إذا صح التعبير، سيد هيرش نحن سمعنا بأن حوالي 40% مما كنت تريد أن تكتبه لم تستطع أن تكتبه هل ما وصل من معلومات صحيح أم لا يعني أنت كتبت مقالتك ومعلوماتك ولكن لديك 40% أخرى لم تستطع أن تكتبها؟

سيمور هيرش: المرء لا يكتب أبدا بالكم الذي يود لو يستطيع كتابته ولكن هناك الكثير مما أريد كتابته حول مقتل الحريري والتحقيقات وبعض حالات السجن للعسكريين الموجودين الآن في السجون في بيروت سوف أكتب المزيد عن هذه القضية ولكن على المرء أولا هناك تقرير جديد سوف يجد طريقه إلى النشر من قبل برميتس السويسري وعلينا أن ننتظر ذلك التقرير أولا فإن المكسب الكبير من الذي جناه الأميركيون والفرنسيون هو أن السوريين فعلوا هذه الفعلة وربما سوريا قد فعلت ذلك فعلا لكن لا توجد أدلة تثبت ذلك ميليس لم يثبت في تقريره وأنا أعلم من الأوساط الخاصة أن في داخل الأمم المتحدة قيمته جدا والانتقادات ضد التقرير الأولي تزداد أسبوعا بعد أسبوع والكل ينتظر تقريره الجديد وأنا على نفس القناعة لا علم لدي من فعل ماذا ولو أن التحقيق عندما يتم الانتهاء منه ربما سيكون الوقت مناسبا لأكثر من المزيد لك، أنا أعلم وقد قيل لي عن أشياء كثيرة خاصة نحن حصلنا على معلومات استخبارية في الولايات المتحدة من بعض الحلفاء والتي تبين إنها مضللة جدا بعد حادث الاغتيال لكن أي صحفي إذا كان صحفيا جيدا لديه المزيد مما يكتب أكثر مما يكتب حقيقة.

غسان بن جدو: الأميركيون يقولون إن بعض حلفاؤهم ضللوهم فيما يتعلق باغتيال الراحل رفيق الحريري أليس كذلك؟

سيمور هيرش: هناك أدلة أنا لم أكتب هذا أنت تسألني عن شيء لم أكتب عنه بعد وكصحفي علي أن أقول إن الإجابة أن هناك أناس في الشرق الأوسط أرادوا كثيرا من واشنطن أن تلقي باللائمة على سوريا وأنتجوا فورا أدلة لكنهم غيروها لاحقا لكن على أية حال الحقيقة تبقى هي أن كل من فرنسا وواشنطن ولأسباب سياسية كانوا مسرعين جدا وحريصين جدا على اتهام سوريا وأقنعوا العالم، قوة أميركا رغم كل الانتقادات أميركا تبقى قوية للغاية فيما يخص وضع أجندة معينة فكثيرون مازالوا يعتقدون إن بشار الأسد كان ضالعا بشكل مباشر رغم أنه لا توجد أدلة على ذلك على الإطلاق ولا توجد أدلة تثبت ذلك والحقيقة إن العملية كانت مخططة بشكل دقيق للغاية عملية اغتيال الحريري ومعقدة ودقيقة للغاية ربما لن تثبت هذه هي إحدى جوانب الاغتيالات السياسية.

غسان بن جدو: طبعا أنا أؤكد لك سيد هيرش بأن مقالتك المقبلة سنقرأها بشغف نحن جميعا وهذا يشجعني على أن أسألك التالي بما أنك ستكتب عن قضية الحريري رحمه الله وعن الضباط الأربعة الموقوفين هنا في لبنان هل تستطيع أن تقول لنا الآن معلومة واحدة مما ستكتبه لاحقا وسنقرأه بشغف؟

سيمور هيرش: لا أنا أعمل لمجلة أنا لا أعمل للجزيرة.

On Hizballah and Hasan Nasrallah:
..
..
سيمور هيرش: وأنا عملت مع الأمير بندر من السعودية والذي قد يمثل آراء الملك أو لا يمثلها لا أدري لكن مسألة معقدة لكن بندر يساعدنا لاستهداف نصر الله وإيران وسوريا
..
ما يخص نصر الله أنا أعتقد أنا التقيته عدة مرات وكنت أتحدث معه عن العراق دوما وكان دوما يقول لي بحكمة كبيرة ماذا سيحدث منذ بداية الحرب الأميركية هناك في العام 2003 إذا لاشك في أنه رجل يمتلك مواهب نادرة في الذكاء أعتقد أنه ربما القائد الأهم في الشرق الأوسط على الإطلاق وأتمنى لو أن صحفيين زملاء الصحفيين في أميركا يهتمون به بالقدر الكافي فخطاباته لا تحظى باهتمام كبير في أميركا وكثير من الأميركيين لا يعلمون الشيء الكثير عنه وحتى داخل إسرائيل هناك بعض الإسرائيليين الذين يريدون شن الحرب من جديد لأنهم خسروا على يد حزب الله لكن هناك إسرائيليون آخرون وأنا هذا أعلمه من مصادر مباشرة يعتقدون أن نصر الله هو شخص يمكن التعامل معه،
..
أعتقد أن الزملاء الأميركيين لو أنهم علموا المزيد منه واستمعوا إلى خطاباته لكان أمرا نافعا ولكن كما ترون فإن حكومتي غاضبة نانسي كلوزس غاضبة من زعيمة الأغلبية لأنها ذهبت إلى دمشق تخيل أنها ذهبت لمقابلة نصر الله ماذا سيحدث؟ سوف يكفرونها ويخرجونها من دائرة الإيمان في الكنيسة.

غسان بن جدو: عفوا فقط قلت سيد حسن نصر الله هو أهم قائد في الشرق الأوسط هل تقصد أنه قائد شعبي أم هو حتى أهم من الحكام العرب؟

سيمور هيرش: إنه كما قلت في وقت سابق إن الحكام العرب يتحدثون إلى الأميركيين ويقدمون تصريحات كبيرة لكن في الشارع على مستوى الشارع ستجد ليس فقط أن نصر الله هو الذي يحظى بشعبية كبيرة كنت مؤخرا في القاهرة وفي وأوساط الشعب هناك ولع واهتمام كبير في أوساط السنة بنصر الله والشخص الآخر هو أحمدي نجاد والذي يعتبر في أميركا الرئيس يصفه بأنه هتلر جديد لكنه لا ينظر إليها بهذه الطريقة، القادة في العالم العربي أمثال عبد الله ومبارك يتحدثون إلى الأميركان ويقدمون على عقد صفقات مع بندر لكن الشارع يتجه باتجاه آخر ولم يعد واضحا مَن الذي يمثل الأمور تتغير في الشرق الأوسط وهو أمر نحو الأحسن وجزء من هذا التغيير هو هذه الشبكة هنا لأن لها تأثير كبير والأخبار تصل الشخص العادي في الشارع.
..
أنا أصدق نصر الله عندما يقول إنه اللبنانيين أولا وإحدى أولى الأسئلة التي طرحتها عليه في ديسمبر عندما إلتقيته هل أنت لبناني أو أم أنت قائم أو زعيم مجموعة المقاومة؟ قال أنا لبنانيا أولا المقاومة تأتي لأننا مضطرون لذلك، أنا لبناني وأريد أن أعمل ضمن النظام اللبناني هذه مهمتي ورسالتي أنا ولدت هنا وأعيش هنا هذا بلدي أنا لست عضوا دائما في المقاومة وأقاوم دائما وأنا لست مسيطرا على الإيرانيين ولا السوريين بالطبع هم حلفاء كبار لنا لكن هذا ما يقوله ويستحق الإنصات له.

On Prince Bandar:
غسان بن جدو: أنا لاحظت أكثر من مرة سيد هيرش والجميع ربما لاحظ أكثر من مرة بأنك تذكر السعودية وتذكر الأمير بندر بن سلطان وكأن الأمير بندر بن سلطان صاحب السطوة الكبيرة، صاحب القول الكبير هنا وهو المنسق الحقيقة مع الإدارة الأميركية وحتى قلت في مقالتك إن التحول تتحدث عن التحول في السياسة الأميركية نقل العلاقات السعودية الإسرائيلية إلى مستوى استراتيجي إيجابي خصوصا وأن البلدين يصنفان إيران خطر على وجودهما وتوضح أن تل أبيب والرياض خاضت مباحثات مباشرة زادت من اشتراك السعوديين في المحادثات العربية الإسرائيلية وخصوصا أنهم يرون أن الاستقرار في الأراضي الفلسطينية يخفف من التدخل الإيراني المؤثر في المنطقة، طبعا أنت تتحدث هنا أولا المحادثات السعودية الإسرائيلية مَن قام بهذه المحادثات؟

سيمور هيرش: لا شك في أن الأمير بندر لديه علاقة خاصة قوية بتشيني وأنا أعلم أنه جاء إلى واشنطن وإحدى الأسباب التي جعلت السفير السابق التركي الذي غادر عائدا إلى وطنه وبحالة غضب شديد وقد كتبت عن ذلك فقد كان غاضبا جدا من بندر الذي هو مستشار أمن قومي يأتي من السعودية إلى واشنطن لا يتحدث إلى السفير ولا يفعل أي شيء معه ثم يدخل في مأدبة غذاء لمدة ساعات مع تشيني لا أدري هل أن بندر يلتقي الرئيس بهذه الطريقة أم لا المرء لا يعلم لكن بالتأكيد يلتقي تشيني وفي لقاءات خاصة وكما تعلمون هناك تقارير كتبت وتقارير نقلتها الصحافة الإسرائيلية بأن بندر في الأسبوعيين الماضيين فقط التقى رئيس الوزراء أولمرت في الأردن وأن إذ أن هناك لقاء خطير مع الموساد وبندر كان لاعبا مهما لم ينقل هذا في صحافة الغرب لكن نقل إلى هذا بشكل خاص مستقل، أفهم أن بندر هو وسيط وكما تعلمون فلبندر تاريخ فيما يسمى في قضية إيران كونترا فضيحة إيران كونترا بندر يقدم هذا المال والكثير من المال بإمكانه أن يأتي بالمال وما كتبته في هذا المقال والذي أثار الكثير من الجدل كما قلت إن بعض أموال بندر الآن يستخدمها الأميركيون لتمويل عمليات سرية تحت الأرض في أميركا، القانون يقول لو أن هناك عملية سرية يجب أن يستخدم فيها المال التي بأموال من الخزينة العامة وبعلم الكونغرس هذه الإدارة تقوم بعملية خداع تلتف حول هذه القضية تستخدم أموالا تأتي من بندر وأيضا أموال من عراق عثرنا عليها في العراق سواء كانت أموال صدام أو أموال وزارت أو أموال نفط اختفت تذكرون قصة اختفاء تسعة مليارات دولار يستخدمون هذه الأموال لتمويل هذه العمليات هذا على الأقل يتناقض مع روح القانون إن لم يكن نصه.
غسان بن جدو: معذرة فقط أنا سأعود إليكم لكن أود أن أكمل في هذه المسألة، لا شك بأن الأمير بندر بن سلطان سيد هيرش رجل له ثقل كبير يعني لا نتحدث عن شخصية عادية لكن ألا تعتقد بأنه أولا هناك مبالغة وربما حتى تجني على الرجل؟ مبالغة أولا لأنه الآن موجود في المملكة العربية السعودية هو ليس سفيرا في واشنطن ربما لديه هامش أكبر من الحرية موجود في المملكة العربية السعودية ومن ثم لا يستطيع أن يتصرف بمفرده، بالتأكيد إن هناك مملكة هناك قيادة هناك إدارة عامة ربما هذا فيه مبالغه في الكلام عن السيد بندر بن سلطان، ثانياً ربما يكون هناك حتى اتهام باطل أو هذا الرجل تتحدث الآن عن اتصالاته مع إسرائيل وتمويل صفقات سرية، مفيد أن أذكرك هنا سيد هيرش بأن السيد بندر بن سلطان هو الذي أدار مفاوضات ومحادثات مع إيران، هو الذي ذهب إلى إيران والتقى لارجاني نظيره هناك في طهران هو الذي يسعى إلى تسوية الأمور وتهدئتها في لبنان من أجل حل حالة المشكلة بين المعارضة والسلطة حتى فيما يتعلق بالسعودية في القمة الأخيرة لم تتحدث باسمها دعت إلى مبادرة السلام مبادرة سلام عربية وحتى كلمة الملك أثارت استياء لدى الرئيس بوش وعندما قال إن القوات الأميركية محتلة في العراق ألا يتناقض هذا الأمر مع الكلام الذي تثيرونه؟
سيمور هيرش: هناك الكثير من الحقائق في العالم هناك الحقيقة التي رأيتها في القمة العربية وكلنا سمعنا ما قال الملك عبد الله عن الوجود الأميركي في العراق وبالمناسبة السياسة الرسمية للإدارة ولا جديد في ذلك لكن إذا ما نظرت بتمعن لرأيت أن هناك مفاوضات مع الإيرانيين من خلال لارجاني وغير ذلك والهدف كما فهمته والهدف من مفاوضات من بندر سواء كان يمثل المملكة أو لا أعتقد أننا لا ندري لأننا ننظر من الخارج وهو يقوم بعمل لربما طرف ما لا يحظى بمباركة كاملة على سبيل المثال أنا أسمع أنه تصالح مع ترك ويريد من ترك أن يكون وزيرا للخارجية لأن هناك مصالح تلعب دوره لذلك أرى أن لبندر دور وتأثير وجهوده في إيران ربما ترمي إلى فصل الإيرانيين وليس فقط عن سوريا وهذا هو الأهم وأنا أعلم أنه كثيرون يعتقدون أن الهدف كان في أخر لقاء بين أحمدي نجاد وعبد الله فهمي أن اللقاء في الرياض لم ينتهي بشكل يدل على الانشراح والفرح وأعتقد أن هدفه في التفاوض مع حزب الله كان الطلب من حزب الله أن يفعل شيئا لم يكن مستعدا لفعله من حيث حل الأزمة ونصر الله لم يقبل بما طلب منه وأيضا الشروط بصراحة كانت قريبة من شروط حكومة السنيورة والعرض الأميركي إذا ليس واضح من أن المفاوضات حقيقة أنه قام بالزيارة وأجرى مفاوضات يعني إن هناك تغيرا كبيرا في السياسة كان يستطيع أن يتحد بالنيابة عن الموقف الأميركي أو على الأقل الموقف السني وسنرى، أنا أكتب ما أكتب استنادا إلى اعتبارات جادة وخطيرة وأعتقد أن بندر لديه طموحات هل يريد أن يكون ملكا أو لا؟ لا أدري ربما هذا مستحيل لكن لديه طموحات بالتأكيد وله تأثير عظيم وأيضا لديه علاقة خاصة بالولايات المتحدة هذا كله في النهاية يصب في رسم صورة مثيرة لاهتمامه.
On Lebanon & Syria:
غسان بن جدو: معلش أنا أود أن أقتحم بكم إلى ملف آخر فيما يتعلق بالملف السوري والملف اللبناني في المقالة الأخيرة سيد هيرش تحدثت عن أن أولا قلت إن الولايات المتحدة الأميركية كانت جزء مما سمي بثورة الأرز في لبنان وقد دعمتها ماليا وتقول الآن أيضا بأن الولايات المتحدة الأميركية تقدم دعما سريا، أنت وصفتها بأنها دعم سري لحكومة الرئيس فؤاد السنيورة وتوزع أموال وهذه الأموال حتى يتم توزيعها إلى بعض الجماعات التي وصفتها بأنها سنية متطرفة أو متشددة وأكثر من ذلك تحدث عن أن قائد القوات اللبنانية الدكتور سمير جعجع هو نفسه له علاقات مع هذه الجماعات أوضح لنا هذه النقطة نريد أن نناقشك فيها.

سيمور هيرش: هذا أمر مثير للاهتمام أن تقول ذلك أنا لا أستطيع أن أقول إن المال.. بالمناسبة المال الذي أتحدث عنه لم يأت من خزينة الدولة هذا مال من بندر من السعوديين أو من العراق مال من تحت الطاولة تم نقله عبر قنوات إلى لبنان بالتأكيد دعما لثورة الأرز وأيضا هناك أقوال من المؤسسة الاستخبارية دعما لهذه الثورة كما كان نفس الدعم للثورة في أوكرانيا ونحن أصابعنا داخلة في عدة طبخات فنحن يمكن أن تقول إنكم تشركون أنفسكم في الكثير من الأمور، على أية حال هذا نشاط حسب علمي لم يؤخذ به رأي كما كان ينبغي دعم ثورة الأرز هذه والمال يذهب ولكن كما قلت لا توجد إيصالات عند قبض هذه أموال القذرة وانتهت في النهاية وجدت طريقها إلى بعض المجموعات الجهادية، حصلوا على أموال ربما كان مصدرها مال أميركي بهذه الطريقة وهي قبل ثلاث سنوات هذه المجموعات كان ارتباطات بالقاعدة وفي أفغانستان وكنا سوف نلقي القبض عليهم حينذاك، الآن ندير ظهرنا وهي تزداد قوة ومنذ أن كتبت المقال أرى أن بعض الصحف البريطانية والأميركية بدأت تكتب عن تزايد النمو الجهادي في أوساط المجموعات السنية المناهضة لحزب الله ونصر الله في لبنان جعجع ليس فقط لاعبا ولكن ربما تعلمون أو لا تعلمون كان من المفترض أن يأتوا إلى واشنطن، وليد جنبلاط جاء وإلياس المر وزير الدفاع جاء والتقى بلقاءات كبيرة مع الـ (CIA) وغيرهم جعجع كان من المفترض أن يأتي وقد تلقيت مكالمة من صديق لي يعمل في المؤسسات الاستخبارية، قال لي هيرش أنا لا أصدق كل ما تكتب هذا شخص كان قد خدم في لبنان لصالح الأميركيين في مجال الاستخبارات، قبل عدة سنوات قال لي لو أن جعجع جاء لمقابلة الرئيس سأصدق كل ما تقول لكن كان هناك انتقادات كبيرة في وزارة الخارجية وأيضا في ربما ذهب إلى فرنسا والتقى شيراك لكنه في النهاية لم يأت إلى واشنطن رغم أن هناك ترتيبات كانت قد وضعت لكن كان هناك من المقاومة يكفي لكي يقرر الرئيس عدم مجيئه لذا لا أرى أن هناك شكا في أن هناك دورا مباشرا، هذا محزن قول حقيقة لكن ما أعرفه أن الطائفية تزداد وتتسع داخل لبنان الآن تطرح أسئلة لم تكن تطرحها من قبل إذا ما انتقلت إلى مكان الناس يسألونك تنتقل إلى أوساط الشيعة والسنة الناس يريدون أن يعرفوا هل أنت شيوعي أو سني، هذا تطور جديد في لبنان وهو تطور سيئ أنا أسمع هذا من مصادر غير مباشرة مصادر وسيط لكن أعلم أن هناك توتر متصاعدا والناس يسألون أسئلة لم يكن يسألونها من قبل وتعلم أن بلدان وبوتقة عظيمة تنصهر فيها جميع الأطراف والأطياف وهذا لم يعد قائما، أنا أصدق نصر الله عندما يقول إنه اللبنانيين أولا وإحدى أولى الأسئلة التي طرحتها عليه في ديسمبر عندما إلتقيته هل أنت لبناني أو أم أنت قائم أو زعيم مجموعة المقاومة؟ قال أنا لبنانيا أولا المقاومة تأتي لأننا مضطرون لذلك، أنا لبناني وأريد أن أعمل ضمن النظام اللبناني هذه مهمتي ورسالتي أنا ولدت هنا وأعيش هنا هذا بلدي أنا لست عضوا دائما في المقاومة وأقاوم دائما وأنا لست مسيطرا على الإيرانيين ولا السوريين بالطبع هم حلفاء كبار لنا لكن هذا ما يقوله ويستحق الإنصات له.

غسان بن جدو: هل تعتقد بأن حسب ما توفر لديك بأن إسرائيل يمكن أن تشن حربا أخرى على حزب الله وعلى لبنان؟

سيمور هيرش: هناك قائد جديد حل محل اسمه غابي أشكينازي وهو كان قائدا للجبهة الشمالية من قبل، أعتقد أنه يمكن أن تؤدى بشكل أفضل وقلت أن الكثير من الإسرائيليين يقولون الإجابة أنا لا أعلم لا أحد يعلم.

غسان بن جدو: هل هناك تؤكد بأن هناك من العرب أو من اللبنانيين مَن دفعوا أميركا إلى إسرائيل تضرب حزب الله؟

سيمور هيرش: هذا أنا اعتقدت دوما أن بعض الناس اعتقدت دائما وقد سألت هذا السؤال من وليد جنبلاط قال لا أبداً، أعتقد أن الأشهر التي سبقت نعلم أن رئيس الوزراء أولمرت قد اعترف الآن حسب صحيفة هآرتس قبل شهر إن التخطيط للحرب على لبنان بدأ قبل أربعة أشهر في مارس أزار وفي الوقت الذي بدأ به التخطيط بعض المقربين من سعد الحريري وجنبلاط كانوا في واشنطن.

غسان بن جدو: هل إن أميركا يمكن أن تتجه نحو تطبيع علاقاتها مع سوريا رغم كل ما يحصل أم ستتجه أكثر نحو الضغط وإسقاط النظام؟

سيمور هيرش: في 2009 ربما هذا سيحدث لو كنا أحياء حينذاك ليس الآن ليس مع هذه المجموعة لا تطبيع الآن فقط الرئيس القادم ربما.

غسان بن جدو: وإسقاط النظام؟

سيمور هيرش: لا أعتقد، أعتقد أن الخطة ترمي هم يودون عمل ذلك لكن لا سبيل إلى ذلك.

April 8th, 2007, 12:57 pm

 

idaf said:

According to the Qatari newspaper Al-Watan, both Prince Bandar Bin Sultan and Prince Saud Al-Faisal will be visiting Syria TOGETHER next week, to form a “political coordination committee with Syria” to follow up on the “Syrian-Saudi agreement” that was accomplished in the Arab summit last month on Lebanon!!!

If that’s correct, then I would love to see how Michael Young and co will spin this. Here’s the online source I found:

الأميران سعود الفيصل وبندر بن سلطان يزوران سورية الأسبوع المقبل

ذكرت صحيفة الوطن القطرية أن الأمير سعود الفيصل وزير الخارجية السعودي ،سيزور دمشق الأسبوع القادم، برفقة الأمير بندر بن سلطان “لتشكيل لجنة تنسيق سياسية مع سوريا لمتابعة تنفيذ التوافق السوري – السعودي الذي شهدته قمة الرياض مؤخرا لدعم الحلول المطروحة للأزمة اللبنانية”.

April 8th, 2007, 1:21 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Prince Saud Al Faisal and Prince Bandar together; how much more assurance does Syria need? To do what????

April 8th, 2007, 1:39 pm

 

MSK said:

Ugarit & Alex,

I absolutely agree on the DS focussing more on Syria than on, say, Egypt and/or KSA. Partially that’s poiltical bias (incl. Michael Young) but partially that’s also owing to the fact that Syria happens to be Lebanon’s neighber & wanna-be Big Brother, whereas Egypt & KSA are a bit further away.

My gripe with Ugarit’s comment here (and a lot of Alex’ in the past) was and remains that, instead of actually adressing the content of the article itself, you deflate the issue by pointing at problems in other places, i.e. “so there are HR violations in Syria but what about Egypt/KSA/Israel/USA?” In the region this is known as the “But whoza riiiil terrrrorrrist???” answer, epitomized by the late Abu Ammar. (Although Jibril Rajoub does a good impersonation.)

Yes, the DS & other papers are highlighting Syria’s problems more so than they do Egypt’s or KSA’s or the US’. We (well, at least everyone who reads SyriaComment) all know about that. I really don’t see a point in repeating that, ESPECIALLY if & when it is done INSTEAD of actually adressing a Syrian issue that should be discussed.

Syria has massive HR violations. That’s a FACT. They’re bad & wrong REGARDLESS of what’s going on in any other place on Earth. See, crimes aren’t relative. It’s not like if you commit one but someone else commits a bigger one, that yours is then automatically fine and/or doesn’t need to be dealt with until that other person’s bigger crime has been.

So do go ahead and keep complaining about the DS’ bias. (Btw – have you ever tried to actually do something about it? Have you written letters to the editor? Have you tried to start a public awareness campaign? Anything at all?) In the meantime others will try to better the HR situation in Syria …

–MSK

April 8th, 2007, 4:43 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

what I hear from republican leaders,now a day, is more verbal attacks on syrian goverment, it is suddenly much more worse,much more intense,and the choice of words are more hostile.

April 8th, 2007, 4:43 pm

 

ausamaa said:

“Republican Leaders”???? Does the phrase still apply during the current Bush Admin?

April 8th, 2007, 5:03 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Syria has massive HR violations. That’s a FACT. They’re bad & wrong REGARDLESS of what’s going on in any other place on Earth. See, crimes aren’t relative. It’s not like if you commit one but someone else commits a bigger one, that yours is then automatically fine and/or doesn’t need to be dealt with until that other person’s bigger crime has been.

Of course all same kind of crimes are “relative”.

Actually countries which claim to be a democracies and constantly blame other for human rights violations have very little credibility in complaining about the HR situation if they make same kind of crimes. Can a paedophile, drunken priest speak to the congregation about morality? Well he can if nobody knows about his crimes, but not any more when these are publicly known. After Guantanamo Bay, Abu Grahib, secret prisons around the world, torture, kidnapping people around the world and the general behaviour in Iraq US politician have very little moral ground for their HR critics. Nobody takes it seriously.

If we compare the treatment of Palestinians in Israel and Kurds in Syria, there is no question which have a better situation. Also when we compare the amount of political prisoners, Israel leads the competion in the worse sence. So if a American politician goes to Israel doesn’t rise up the HR situation as clearly as he/she would do in Syria, it is obvious that HR violations are used only as a political attack weapon, without no real “worry” about the human rights.

If the Daily Stars article had only described the HR situation in Syria, there would be no reason for “critics”. But when the writers demanded actions from Pelosi, critics is understandable. Why should Pelosi criticize only Syria, but not with the same way Israel and other Arab countries which have same or worse HR violations record as Syria? Is the HR critics related the the diplomatic relations and alliance level? Seems to be.

April 8th, 2007, 9:58 pm

 

Alex said:

MSK,

I am sorry, but everything is indeed relative. You have to put things into their context. Why? to be realistic about your expectations… why do you want to talk about human right violations in Syria? or Egypt or KSA … you think you will change anything? It is enough that Presidents Chirac and Bush are genuinely saddened exclusively at the situation of Syrian political prisoners and have been trying to overthrow the regime unsuccessfully for years.

I would not put my energy into a losing cause. Asking for zero political prisoners in Syria or Egypt or KSA is a waste of time at this point. Did you ever write or care about he Bahrini bloggers in jail? the Tunisian blogger killed by the authorities?

Before you shake your head in amazement at my lack of compassion, I have actually spent about 5 to 10 hours the week Kilo was arrested trying to find PRACTICAL helpers for his case. And I did contact a very decent senior Syrian official twice. I realized it will not go anywhere… so I dropped it… I don’t need to convince anyone that I care about human rights by writing about it everywhere. It is like giving money to charity and announcing it to everyone.

Instead, I strongly believe that the Middle East will be a much better place when the West realizes that Syria is the Arab power they need to coordinate with in that area of the world. You and I joke about it and I pretend it is because I am one of these guys, but if there is anything that motivates me it is knowing how many more lives could have been, or could be saved in the future if only they stop their foolish campaign against Syria.

You care more about the dozens of political prisoners in Syria, I care more about the tens of thousands of lives that could have been saved and that will be saved in the future if the right decisions are taken… especially because nothing could be done about what you want to focus on for the coming few years.

When Chirac cries for a Syrian dissident in Jail or for Lebanese politician assassinated a part of the games played in the Middle East, then he goes to Israel asking them to attack Syria in their war on Lebanon last year … if we have to discuss moral deficiencies then lets start, and concentrate on the very big offenders … when the damage ratio is 100,000 to 1 … you can’t call it “so what if someone else committed a “bigger” crime”.

Let’s be reasonable.

April 8th, 2007, 11:15 pm

 

norman said:

الايكونوميست: سورية تتغلب على الضغوط بذكاء وصبر وثبات الرئيس الاسد

April 9th, 2007, 1:14 am

 

Alex said:

Today, Abdul Rahman El-Rashed is not mentioning Syria by name, although he put alal the blame on Syria’s a;;ies exclusively

سخرية الديموقراطية في لبنان

توجد دول تفاخر بأنها ديموقراطية، وأخرى تقر بأنها ليست كذلك، وأنت لا تحكم إلا على من احتكم الى الصندوق الانتخابي. ولبنان ظل دائما يتمسك بصورته الديموقراطية حتى في أسوأ أوقاته وحروبه، لكن لم يهشم أحد المعاني الديموقراطية كما فعل البعض في لبنان اليوم. لقد شوهوها وجعلوها محل سخرية الجميع. فالرئيس الذي فرض بقاءه بالقوة يعير الحكومة الشرعية ويشكك فيها. ورئيس البرلمان، الذي يفترض ان يكون الحامي الأول للديموقراطية، هو من يقوم بدور الشرطي السيئ فيمنع النواب من الاجتماع. والمعارضة الديموقراطية تطالب بإلغاء الحكومة تعسفا لأنها لا تملك النصاب القانوني لإسقاطها، ثم ترسل أولادها لمحاصرة مقر الحكومة بدل الاحتكام الى القانون.

بذلك ُضم البرلمان اللبناني الى صف البرلمانات العربية محل السخرية. لقد أراد البعض ان يسخر من اللبنانيين، ومن ديموقراطيتهم، فنجح بجعلها مهزلة علانية ولسان حاله يقول، هذه هي ديموقراطيتكم التي تفاخرون بها، رئيس ليس برئيس، ومعارضة منتخبة تمارس التهديد بدل التصويت، وبرلماني ضد البرلمان. نواب الشعب اللبناني لم يستطيعوا ان يعقدوا جلسة لأن رئيس المجلس لا يريد الدعوة الى الاجتماع، ويصر على إبقاء باب المجلس موصدا. حالة غريبة في تاريخ البرلمانات في العالم كله، أن يمنع رئيس البرلمان البرلمانيين من الاجتماع، ولا أحد يستطيع فعل شيء ضده. فقد اعتدنا على ان يقوم العسكر، أو الاجهزة الامنية، بمنع الحركة الديموقراطية، لا رئيس النواب الذي يفترض انه حامي العمل الديموقراطي، وممثل ممثلي الشعب لا قامعهم.

وأغرب من هذا كله ان يخرج أستاذ جامعة، وسياسي متمرس، كالدكتور سليم الحص ليقول إن الحكومة غير شرعية لأن قطاعا واسعا من الشعب لا يعترف بها. هكذا؟ ومتى صارت الحكومات تلغى فقط لأن أحدا يعتقد أن لا شعبية لها؟ ومؤسف ان يختتم رجل محترم كالحص حياته السياسية ليلعب دور المبرر للفوضى، يبرر الآن الدعوة لإسقاط الحكومة بصفة غير قانونية. فامتناع المعارضة عن المشاركة في الحكومة عمل قانوني لكنه لا يكفي لإسقاط الحكومة، حتى لو قال الحص إنه يعتقد ان هناك قطاعا شعبيا غير راض عليها. كما ان محاولة سد المنافذ والتضييق على الوزراء لا يعدو كونه عملا بلطجيا سيبقى سبة في جبين المعارضة، وكذلك منع رئيس البرلمان زملائه البرلمانيين من ممارسة حقهم النيابي.

لن يقال غدا ان هناك معركة سياسية بين الاغلبية والأقلية، فهذا ديدن العمل السياسي، لكن يقال لقد شوه التعبير الديموقراطي ووظف بعض الساسة كعرائس في مسرح هزلي، وسخر من المجتمع كله، ومن تجربته الديموقراطية؛ ففي لبنان 18 طائفة ولا يوجد من خيار سوى حماية الممارسة الديموقراطية حتى للذين يختلفون مع نتائجها، لأنها الحامي الوحيد من التنازع في الشارع.

April 9th, 2007, 3:03 am

 

ugarit said:

Youngsyria said “talking about that fake useless democracy of the 50’s”

As far as I know it was the first free election in the Arab world. It wasn’t perfect, however. But neither are western democracies.

April 9th, 2007, 12:11 pm

 
 

Alex said:

“Chief among the recommendations is that bloggers consider banning anonymous comments left by visitors to their pages and be able to delete threatening or libelous comments without facing cries of censorship.”

Ehsani,

When we asked G and Gibran politely to avoid name calling and personal attacks, they disappeared. And I am sure they are now convinced that it was typical Syrian censorship.

April 9th, 2007, 4:07 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Alex –

(trying html settings)

Carter

No other president went that far in pressuring Israel, except maybe Bush Sr. and Shamir.

Yes, Carter “pressured” Israel soooo much. Please!

Well it seems to me no matter how much you pressure Israel, there isn’t going to be a solution to the Arab-Israel conflict.

The Libya Incident

I don’t know much about the Libya incident…

Then don’t mention it as fact.

Hindawi

… but Hindawi’s story was not consistent at all with Hafez Assad. Akbar, Hafez was simply not the man who would order such a stupid, easy to discover, bomb on El-Al plane terrorist operation!

Again, no proof showing that the Mossad planted the bomb.

Now let’s give a “what-if” situation. Under US laws (state and federal), a police agency can set-up a situation to flush out suspects in many different areas of crime: pornography, hit-men, congressmen/bribes, etc. Law enforcement agencies may set up an identity such as a 14 year old girl, a phony hit man, an rich Arab shiek, etc (respectively).

If a person takes the bait, they are guilty of a serious crime in each case.

If Hindawi placed a bomb in his girlfriend’s pocketbook (no matter who gave him the bomb), he is guilty. Let’s place the guilt where it should be.

There are more details to tell you (I knew a lot about it at the time) but there is no need. The above is logical enough I hope.

Not logical enough to prove Hindawi was not guilty.

April 9th, 2007, 4:33 pm

 

Alex said:

Akbar,

Congrats on the successful html first attempt.

1) Oh yes. Carter did pressure Begin. It was even on video … did you watch PBS’ the 50 year War?

You could hear Zbigniew Brzezinski explain how they had to pressure prime minister Begin when president Sadat packed his bags and decided to leave back to Egypt.

2) Libya Incident … you are right. Not a fact, but a possibility.

3) “Hindawi”

You know that the party that was blamed for that incident was called “Syria”, not “Hindawi”. If Hindawi accepted to give his girlfriend the bomb, it had nothing to do with Hafez Assad ordering it. You surely did not try to convince me that the Mossad did it for the same reasons the FBI sets up some pervert with an online date with a 14 year old girl… unless if it meant a lot for them to expose Hindawi as a person.

It was, and let’s call it a fact, a very successful Mossad operation to frame Syria and make Hafez look like a thug who orders his agents to put bombs on civilian planes.

Syria was boycotted for years. British tabloids headlines read “Syrian murderers get out of our country”

Same reaction in Lebanon after Hariri was murdered.

I am not saying the Mossad surely did it, I was just justifying that the Syrians should be “innocent until proven guilty” in the Hariri murder.

April 9th, 2007, 5:01 pm

 

ausamaa said:

From Haretz:

Israel doesn’t want peace

By Gideon Levy

The moment of truth has arrived, and it has to be said: Israel does not want peace. The arsenal of excuses has run out, and the chorus of Israeli rejection already rings hollow. Until recently, it was still possible to accept the Israeli refrain that “there is no partner” for peace and that “the time isn’t right” to deal with our enemies. Today, the new reality before our eyes leaves no room for doubt and the tired refrain that “Israel supports peace” has been left shattered.

It’s hard to determine when the breaking point occurred. Was it the absolute dismissal of the Saudi initiative? The refusal to acknowledge the Syrian initiative? Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s annual Passover interviews? The revulsion at the statements made by Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, in Damascus, alleging that Israel was ready to renew peace talks with Syria?

Who would have believed it? A high-ranking U.S. official says Israel wants peace talks to resume and instantly her president “severely” denies the veracity of her words. Is Israel even hearing these voices? Are we digesting the significance of these voices for peace? Seven million apathetic Israeli citizens prove that we are not.

Entire generations grew up here weaned on self-deception and doubt about the likelihood of achieving peace with our neighbors. In our younger days, David Ben-Gurion told us that if he were only able to meet with Arab leaders, he would have brought us peace in his time. Israel has demanded direct negotiations as a matter of principle and Israelis have derived great pride from the fact that their daily focus on “peace” has concealed their state’s lofty ambitions. We were told that there was no partner for peace and that the ultimate ambition of the Arabs is to bring about our destruction. We burned the portraits of “the Egyptian tyrant” at our bonfires on Lag Ba’omer, and were convinced that all blame for the lack of peace lied with our enemies.

After that came the occupation, followed by terror, Yassir Arafat, the failed second Camp David Summit and the rise of Hamas to power, and we were sure, always sure, that it was all their fault. In our wildest dreams, we wouldn’t have believed that the day would come when the entire Arab world would extend its hand in peace and Israel would brush away the gesture. It would have been even crazier to imagine that this Israeli refusal would have been blamed on not wanting to enrage domestic public opinion.

The world has been turned upside down and it is Israel that stands at the forefront of refusal. The policy of refusal of a select few, a vanguard of the extreme, has now become the official policy of Jerusalem. In his Passover interviews, Olmert will tell us that, “The Palestinians stand at the crossroads of a historic decision,” but people stopped taking him seriously a long time ago. The historic decision is ours, and we are fleeing from this crossroads and from these initiatives as if from death itself.

Terror, used as the ultimate excuse for Israeli refusal, only helps Olmert keep reciting, ad nauseum, “If they [the Palestinians] don’t change, don’t fight terror and don’t adhere to any of their obligations, then they will never extract themselves from their unending chaos.” As though the Palestinians haven’t taken measures against terrorism, as though Israel is the one to determine what their obligations are, as though Israel isn’t to blame for the unending chaos Palestinians suffer under the occupation.

Israel makes a point of setting prerequisites and believes it has an exclusive right to do so. But, time and time again, Israel avoids the most basic prerequisite for any just peace – an end to the occupation. Of all the questions asked during his Passover interviews, no one bothered to ask Olmert why he didn’t react with excitement to the recent Arab initiatives, without preconditions? The answer: real estate. The real estate of the settlements.

It’s not only Olmert who is dragging his feet. A leading figure in the Labor party said last week that “it will take five to 10 years to recover from the trauma.” Peace is now no more than a threatening wound, with no one still talking about the massive social benefits it would bring in development, security, freedom of movement in the region and by establishing a more just society.

Like a little Switzerland, we are focusing more these days on the dollar exchange rate and on the allegations of embezzlement leveled against the Finance Ministry than on the fateful opportunities fading away before our very eyes.

Not every day and not even in every generation do we encounter an opportunity like this. Although it’s not for sure if the initiatives are completely solid and believable, or if they are based on trickery, no one has stepped up to challenge or acknowledge them. When Olmert is an elderly grandfather, what will he tell his grandchildren? That he turned over every stone in the name of peace? That there was no other choice? What will his grandchildren say?

April 9th, 2007, 5:48 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Back to Nancy Pelosi. This is from the Belgravia Dispatch site with Gregory Djerejian the site author commenting on an article in the WaPo:

April 08, 2007
More Pelosi…

(( WaPo:

HOUSE SPEAKER Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered an excellent demonstration yesterday of why members of Congress should not attempt to supplant the secretary of state when traveling abroad. After a meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Ms. Pelosi announced that she had delivered a message from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that “Israel was ready to engage in peace talks” with Syria. What’s more, she added, Mr. Assad was ready to “resume the peace process” as well. Having announced this seeming diplomatic breakthrough, Ms. Pelosi suggested that her Kissingerian shuttle diplomacy was just getting started. “We expressed our interest in using our good offices in promoting peace between Israel and Syria,” she said.))

My my. It’s almost like we’re in the midst of a constitutional usurpation of authority here of unprecedented proportion. Perhaps our friendly editors at the WaPo might pop a Valium or two, sit down for a couple minutes, and take a deep breath. The ‘Nancy in Damascus’ kerfuffle was quite simple, really. CODELs go through that town with much regularity, and Olmert reportedly asked her to pass on a message to Bashar (that there was no “summer attack” in the works from Israel), as the Israelis were concerned about a possible military miscalculation emitting from Damascus. Pelosi, not schooled by any means in the foreign policy subtleties of the Middle East, overplayed her hand, with intimations of ambitious peace gambits, use of “good offices”, and so on. A rookie foot-fault, not a constitutional catastrophe imperiling the division of powers as among the branches.

Olmert, so weak domestically he makes Bush look like a guy riding a crest of unbridled rah-rah popularity, had to issue a “clarification” to state, for the record, that Israel’s policy position on Syria wasn’t new, that they had to do X and Y before any jaw-jaw might get started in earnest, that Damascus was still part of the “axis of evil” (Israel’s variant, I guess, as ours never included Syria, at least not per Frum’s original hifalutin’ SOTU verbiage). In other words, a rear-end covering exercise, but not a whole-sale repudiation per se of Pelosi and her trip to Syria. Olmert was basically saying: I’m not wimping out vis-a-vis Syria guys, we’re still holding the line. One suspects this wasn’t only to cover his right domestic flank, but (speculation alert) that there may have been some carping from the White House, say Elliot Abrams calling someone in Olmert’s office, along the lines of: c’mon guys, we’re trying to help you, let’s sing from the same song-sheet at least. (In reality, our non-policy regarding the Syrians isn’t helping the Israelis at all, but that’s a story for another day…).

Indeed, Olmert tasked Pelosi with transmiting a message because everyone sane realizes that the time has come to talk directly, at high levels, with the Syrians. This includes sane Israelis, sane Americans, sane Europeans, and sane Syrians. Unfortunately, such sanity doesn’t prevail in the saintly certitudes of the upper reaches of the American Executive Branch, but at least it does now on the Hill Side. Regadless, notice what Olmert’s clarification didn’t say, it didn’t deny that he had asked Pelosi to send on a message, indeed, she also reportedly delivered messages to Damascus stressing the need for them to help gain the release of IDF personnel. In addition, she was accompanied by Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor in Congress, a long-time observer of the Middle East (one who knows well the history of the Baathist regime in Damascus), and who doubtless helped prep her before her meeting with Bashar. So it’s not like she was wildly freelancing, as I said, there were some over-exuberances, but not attempts at off-the-reservation negotiations. (Related, don’t miss this refutation of the WSJ op-ed alleging Pelosi’s trip was a criminal violation of the Logan Act).

Here’s the rub. The real reason that Nancy Pelosi’s visit caused such a stir is that it reminded the world that the White House has no Syria policy. It was another in a long line of the ’emperor has no clothes’ moments. The hysteria about it was mostly a function of it showcasing how dismally we’ve dropped the ball in the Middle East. If we had a Secretary of State worth her salt on such issues, authorized by the President to speak and deal-make with adversaries, things wouldn’t have gotten to the point where former Republicans like myself would actually be cheerleading one of the more underwhelming foreign policy lights on the Hill for calling the Administration’s bluff and traveling to Syria. But, yes, I found myself heartened by Pelosi’s visit, as it signaled that all the policy-making poverty born of ideological certainty just took another beating, as Bush’s stock continues to plummet during his (too long) lame duck coda.

So, in short, she communicated a helpful message of calm from Israel, but as she’s a foreign policy novice, she overplayed her hand. Of course there won’t be any break-through, or major shuttling or such. Of course she’s not Secretary of State, and as House Speaker, she needs to be more careful going forward. But still, the symbolism was important, and netting it all out, I think she did the right thing, and the WaPo’s hysterical over-reaction was rather comical, frankly. Would they rather our ‘no talk, they know what the need to do’ imbecility lead to another war between Israel and one of her neighbors? No, Nancy’s walk-about the Damascus souk hasn’t imperiled the role of the Secretary of State and Executive Branch in some Grand Constitutional Order, and at least it helped cool the regional temperature some.

P.S. Oh, and let’s not let this snippet from the WaPo piece pass unnoticed:

As any diplomat with knowledge of the region could have told Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Assad is a corrupt thug whose overriding priority at the moment is not peace with Israel but heading off U.N. charges that he orchestrated the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri
Memo to the WaPo: Discussions with the Israelis on the Golan are not mutually exclusive with continued progress on the Hariri investigation front, I don’t think. Indeed, “any diplomat with knowledge of the region” would tell you that. I said diplomats now, not think-tank absolutists who call Syria “Syran” and other such claptrap.

Posted by Gregory on Apr 8, 07

April 9th, 2007, 8:56 pm

 

ugarit said:

The special tribunal for Lebanon would be the first international jurisdiction established exclusively to prosecute less serious crimes that are only international because the Security Council decided they should be so. It would be the only international court with the task of enforcing national law, with the addition of provisions excluding capital punishment. This measure emphasises the importance the UN attaches to prosecuting the murder of leading Lebanese figures. It is unlikely that this episode will enhance the image of the UN or of international justice.

Source

April 9th, 2007, 9:42 pm

 

ugarit said:

The special tribunal for Lebanon would be the first international jurisdiction established exclusively to prosecute less serious crimes that are only international because the Security Council decided they should be so. It would be the only international court with the task of enforcing national law, with the addition of provisions excluding capital punishment. This measure emphasises the importance the UN attaches to prosecuting the murder of leading Lebanese figures. It is unlikely that this episode will enhance the image of the UN or of international justice.

April 9th, 2007, 9:43 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

President Anwar Sadat came to feel that the Geneva track peace process was more show than substance, and was not progressing, partly due to disagreements with Syria. He also lacked confidence in America to pressure Israel after a meeting with Carter. His frustration boiled over, and after clandestine preparatory meetings between Egyptian and Israeli officials, unknown even to the Americans, in November 1977 Anwar Sadat became the first Arab leader to visit Israel, thereby implicitly recognizing Israel.

Accompanied by their capable negotiating teams and with their respective interests in mind, both leaders converged on Camp David for thirteen days of tense and dramatic negotiations from September 5-17, 1978. By all accounts, Carter’s relentless drive to achieve peace and his reluctance to allow the two men to leave without reaching an agreement are what played the decisive role in the success of the talks.

13 days of “intense” negotiations and an Egyptians leader who, by himself, decided to address the Israeli Knesset doesn’t compare to 7 YEARS of intense negotiations between Rabin/Barak/Peres/Netanyahu, Clinton and Arafat.

It was a peace of cake in relative terms.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_David_Accords

It was, and let’s call it a fact, a very successful Mossad operation to frame Syria and make Hafez look like a thug who orders his agents to put bombs on civilian planes.

Alex –

You’ve been reading too much baloney from the Palestinian Authority website….
During Hindawi’s subsequent interrogations and trial he described two conflicting stories leading up to the incident. In the first, Hindawi claimed to have arranged the plot with high-ranking officers in Syrian Air Force intelligence a year earlier in Damascus, where he was given Syrian papers and instructions for operating the explosives. He supposedly conducted a training run back in England before returning again to Syria for final details and preparation. As for the explosives themselves, Hindawi said that they were delivered to him in the Royal Garden Hotel in London on April 5, less than two weeks prior to the attempted bombing. This story is supported by the fact that Hindawi first sought refuge in the Syrian embassy after he had learned of the failed bombing, and Syrian officials were in the process of altering his appearance before he fled again, only to surrender to police. Also, British intelligence had previously intercepted Syrian communications with Hindawi’s name, Hindawi was using genuine Syrian documents although he was not Syrian, and Hindawi’s original escape plan involved leaving England with Syrian agents working on Syrian Arab Airlines.

It seems to me Syria was involved up to their eyeballs.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindawi_Affair

April 10th, 2007, 2:51 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

the US troops are not going to pull out of iraq,with George Bush as president,but it looks like the demonstrations in Najaf today was huge,chanting get out, you the occupiers,more of these demonstrations are expected,and these will unify the shiite and sunneh against the USA,so far this month 47 soldier died,we should expect a high umber of american death this month, it seems unlikely that honorable withdrawal is possible,anymore.why is it hard for some people to admit they were wrong?what happen to this VIRTUE?

April 10th, 2007, 4:35 am

 

Alex said:

Akbar,

You will have to trust me on this one … I can not link to the video unfortunately .. DURING the 13 days at camp David at some point Mr. Begin told Sadat that he does not intend to return the Sinai!

Sadat packed his luggage and was about to leave … get the DVD please.

As for Mr. Hindawi … have you heard of double agents? .. or is this unheard of in the intelligence community?

From the same Wikipedia link you provided above:

The second story emerged during his trial, when he alleged that he was not working for the Syrians after all, but was being manipulated by Israeli intelligence, which wished to damage and embarrass the Syrian government. While the jury decided against this version of events, French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac later told the Washington Times that he thought it possible Israeli intelligence and anti-Assad Syrians could have been involved in the plot[citation needed]. According to Gordon Thomas’s book Gideon’s Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad, Mossad agents took advantage of Hindawi’s personal troubles with Anne Murphy, tricking him into carrying out a plot he believed was aimed against Israel, all the while planning for the discovery of the explosives before takeoff. Other possibilities have emerged that suggest that certain members of Syrian intelligence first named by Hindawi were Israeli spies themselves, allowing Israel to have prior knowledge of the plot[citation needed]. This would imply that both of Hindawi’s stories held some truth.

April 10th, 2007, 5:42 am

 

ugarit said:

A must read article:

In the nearly empty Lebanese Parliament building these days the gossip is that the Bush administration wants to bargain with Hezbollah to remove it from the ‘T’ list if Hezbollah gives up its objective of liberating Palestine and cancels its opposition to the Bush/Olmert backed Siniora government.

Given this kind of Bush administration offer, many view Hezbollah’s spot on the ‘T list’ as a badge of honor . Yet, respect for international law would suggest that the Bush Administration ought to show their ‘evidence’ or remove Hezbollah from the list.

When pressed in early April, 2007 by a former House Judiciary Committee staffer, one lawyer in the State Department Office of the General Counsel commented, “Its not that Hezbollah is terrorist per say, actually we know they are pretty clean-they are ok- but you must realize that they do associate with shady characters to their East, if you know what I mean.”

http://www.counterpunch.org/lamb04062007.html

April 10th, 2007, 10:55 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

majedkhaldoun said: (April 10th, 2007, 4:35 am / #)

why is it hard for some people to admit they were wrong?what happen to this VIRTUE?

Majedkhaldoun,

I would be happy to admit that George Bush and US Administration was wrong if terrorism didn’t exist in Iraq and Afghanistan where Islamic fundamentalist are trying to take over these two countries and two neighboring terror supporting countries (Iran & Syria) were aiding and abetting them.

Yes, as long as GWB is in office, you can rest assured the US isn’t going to pull out and let this important area of the world fall back to “pre-9-11” bliss*.

All you can hope for, unfortunately, is to wait for the weakest, pro-appeasing liberal democrat to win the 2008 presidential election. But this is not guaranteed. The Republican front-runners understand the importance of staying in Iraq until the terrorists are sufficiently weakened.

*Of course, more people were dying when Saddam was in power, but that gets no airtime in the liberal and Arab media or in the madrassas.

Anyway, we’ll leave you alone to deal with the Frankenstein the terror enablers created once we find an alternative to the gasoline engine.

BTW – Where’s Gibran? He was supposed to entreat our dear friends from the KSA to help keep gasoline prices down. Gibran, do you have a fax number or address where I can send a short note? Please tell the Prince-in-charge with oil policy I’ll put in a good word for him at my synagogue if he can help in some small way.

As for Mr. Hindawi … have you heard of double agents? .. or is this unheard of in the intelligence community?

Yes, and is your theory is also unheard of on Arab conspiracy and anti-semitic websites? I don’t think so;) Again, if there was some damning evidence instead of anti-Israel “gut feelings” I would give you some credit Alex.

Look, Jonathan Pollard ran to the Israeli embassy when he was about to be caught. And he was guilty. However, he wasn’t found guilty of the attempted murder of several hundred people by handing a bomb to an unsuspecting girlfriend.

The British legal system is one of the best in the world. Their investigation into Pan Am 103 and the subway bombings was no less than “surgical”.

April 10th, 2007, 11:12 am

 

idaf said:

INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP – NEW REPORT

Restarting Israeli-Syrian Negotiations

Jerusalem/Damascus/Washington/Brussels, 10 April 2007: Israel should seize the opportunity to renew peace negotiations with Syria while there is a real chance of success, or risk further destabilising the Middle East.

Restarting Israeli-Syrian Negotiations,* the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines prospects for renewing diplomacy between Syria and Israel against the backdrop of regional developments, including the July 2006 Lebanon war and the re-launch of the Arab peace initiative at the 28 March Arab League summit. Although not the region’s costliest, the Israeli-Syrian conflict has prevented broader normalisation of Israel’s relations with the Arab world and has helped maintain regional tension which could degenerate into another armed conflict.

The report examines Israel’s reasons for holding on to the Golan – such as suspicion of Syria’s intentions, the strength of the settler population, the territory’s role as a security-buffer and the appeal it holds for the Israeli people. “But the benefits of peace far outweigh those of continued occupation”, says Nicolas Pelham, Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst in Israel. “Recent regional developments have made an Israeli-Syrian agreement more urgent, more important and more attainable”.

Within weeks of the Lebanon war, Damascus signalled it would resume talks without any precondition and indicated that its regional posture and relationships would change following a peace deal. Israel, however, has conditioned any dialogue on a broad change in Syria’s policy: cutting ties to Hamas, halting assistance to Hizbollah and fundamentally altering its relationship with Iran. What Israel demands could potentially be achieved, but only as part of a final deal, not as a precondition for it.

“Rejecting Syria’s overtures is a mistake which is fast on its way to becoming a missed opportunity”, warns Peter Harling, Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst in Damascus. “The mood in Damascus is turning decidedly sceptical, and the regime is reverting to its more cautious habits. Mirroring Israeli doubts on Syria’s seriousness, officials here are deeply disillusioned with Israel, questioning its ability and readiness to negotiate in earnest”.

If there is scant justification for Israel to put off peace talks, there is even less for the U.S. to oppose them. Quartet members should press for renewed Syrian-Israeli negotiations. While the U.S. and Israel may prefer to give precedence to the Palestinian over the Syrian track, lack of movement on the latter will inevitably hamper the former.

“Israel-Syria peace negotiations would profoundly alter regional atmospherics. A peace deal would fundamentally transform them”, says Robert Malley, Crisis Group’s Middle East Program Director. “This opportunity may not last forever. It should not be wasted”.

Here’s the Executive Summary of the report:
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Abruptly interrupted in 2000, Israeli-Syrian negotiations seem only a distant possibility but a renewal is urgent and would have a real chance of success. The obstacles appear daunting, including a weak Israeli government and a U.S. administration intent on isolating Syria. However, Syria’s President Bashar repeatedly has stated his desire to resume talks, and in recent conversations with Crisis Group in Damascus, senior officials have clarified these could take place without any precondition – thereby removing what had been a principal hindrance. Peace negotiations between Israel and Syria would profoundly alter the regional atmosphere; a peace deal between them would fundamentally transform it. This opportunity may not last long and should not be wasted.

The conflict between Israel and Syria is no longer the costliest – the border has been Israel’s quietest since 1974 – but it is harmful all the same. It has taken the shape of bloody proxy wars, involving Lebanese territory and both Lebanese and Palestinian groups, and the opportunity costs have also been substantial. It has prevented broader normalisation of Israel’s relations with the Arab world and helped maintain regional tension which could degenerate – directly or, once again, through Lebanon – into another armed conflict.

In Israel, a government discredited by its performance in the Lebanon war and tarred by myriad scandals will think long and hard before taking on the powerful settler lobby backed by a public that has grown accustomed to controlling the Golan Heights, sees little incentive to part with it and whose suspicion of the Syrian regime – which has provided rockets to Hizbollah – has grown with the Lebanon war. Contrary to the conventional wisdom of the 1990s, withdrawal from the relatively quiet Golan today likely would trigger stronger public opposition than would withdrawal from a violent and burdensome West Bank.

U.S. hostility to any dialogue with Damascus – with the recent, limited exception of the regional conference on Iraq – is a further significant obstacle. Although Washington denies it, there is every indication it has signalled to Jerusalem its opposition to resumed negotiations with Damascus which, in its view, Syria would use to break out of isolation, cover up greater intrusion in Lebanese affairs and shift focus away from the investigation into former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri’s assassination. As U.S. officials see it, Damascus might like to recover the Golan but desperately wants to recover Lebanon; since that is not something Washington is prepared to concede, there is little to be gained by discussions. Given their highly strained relations with Syria, even leading Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan are said to have privately counselled the U.S. against any move that would relieve pressure on Damascus.

As a result of these domestic and foreign factors, and due to scepticism regarding Syria’s intentions, Israel has conditioned any dialogue on broad, prior change in Syria’s policies: cutting ties to Hamas, halting any assistance to Hizbollah and fundamentally altering its relationship with Iran.

This is a mistake which is fast on its way to becoming a missed opportunity. In March 2007, Crisis Group engaged in a series of high-level discussions in Israel and Syria in order to assess the two parties’ positions and the prospects for renewed talks. While official resistance to negotiations was clear in Israel, it waned rapidly among both senior military and intelligence figures and members of the political establishment who recognised the value of testing Syria’s overtures and the risks entailed in ignoring them. In Syria, appetite for peace talks may have diminished – a function of repeated Israeli rebuffs and of unwillingness to appear to be begging – but persists nonetheless. Most importantly, officials in Damascus provided their clearest indication to date both that they would resume negotiations without any precondition and that the country’s regional posture and relationships with Hamas, Hizbollah and Iran inevitably would change following a peace deal. In other words, what Israel demands could potentially be achieved, but only as part of a final deal, not as preconditions for it.

Even assuming Syria is more interested in the process than the outcome – itself a debatable proposition – the mere fact of Syrians negotiating with Israelis would produce ripple effects in a region where popular opinion is moving away from acceptance of Israel’s right to exist. The onset of a peace process also would affect the behaviour of militant movements close to Syria; Hamas and Hizbollah are not mere tools of Syrian policy but they are adept at reading the regional map and would likely adapt their policies in response to signs of a changing Syrian-Israeli relationship. The same holds for Iran: Syria would be unlikely to break ties with its closest ally for two decades but Tehran would have to adjust its behaviour as it faced the prospect of a peace agreement.

Resuming talks with Syria is all the more imperative given ongoing efforts to revive the Arab (Beirut) peace initiative in the wake of the 28 March 2007 Arab League summit. While both the U.S. and Israel may prefer to give precedence to the Palestinian over the Syrian track, lack of movement on the latter inevitably will hamper the former. Damascus possesses multiple ways of undermining Israeli-Palestinian talks, whether by encouraging Hamas or Islamic Jihad to resort to violence; vocally criticising Palestinian concessions; or, in the event of a peace deal, obstructing the holding of a referendum among Palestinian refugees in Syria. Likewise, unless it makes a deal with Syria, Israel cannot achieve normalisation with the Arab world – a core objective without which its leaders will find it far more difficult to convince their public to endorse historic concessions to the Palestinians.

The outlines of a solution by now are well known. They were put forward in a 2002 Crisis Group report and recently restated in the context of an unofficial peace initiative involving two private Israeli and Syrian citizens. Under such conditions, there is little justification for Israel to put off peace talks – and even less justification for the U.S. to oppose them.

RECOMMENDATIONS

To the Government of Israel:

1. Respond positively to Syria’s unconditional offer to resume peace negotiations.

2. Halt efforts to augment settler presence in the Golan.

3. Facilitate family reunions for Syrian nationals living in the Golan and lift restrictions on visits to Syria by Israeli nationals.

To the Government of Syria:

4. Support Arab League efforts to explain and market its peace initiative to Western and Israeli audiences.

5. Engage in public diplomacy by:

(a) restating clearly that Syria is ready to negotiate without any precondition;

(b) giving select Syrian officials a clear mandate to disseminate both Syria’s version of past negotiations and its current position;

(c) committing to provide information on Israeli soldiers missing in action and return the remains of executed Israeli spy Eli Cohen in the early stages of resumed negotiations; and

(d) facilitating access to Syria for Israeli nationals with relatives or ancestral roots in Syria, including Israelis of Palestinian and Syrian origin.

To the Members of the Quartet (UN, U.S., EU and Russia):

6. Press for renewed Israeli-Syrian negotiations, beginning by holding parallel discussions with both sides.

Jerusalem/Damascus/Washington/Brussels, 10 April 2007

The full report here.

April 10th, 2007, 2:18 pm

 
 

norman said:

IDAF, you beat me to the report.

April 10th, 2007, 3:03 pm

 

ausamaa said:

WRT Int’l Crisis Group report Recommendations, the Requests from “The Government of Syria” is a bit too much to swallow. What is the meaning (intent of inserting such a new gimmick? To draw a NO?!) of “(d) facilitating access to Syria for Israeli nationals with relatives or ancestral roots in Syria, including Israelis of Palestinian and Syrian origin.”? It is not matched by similar clause applying to Israel.

And what about resume negotiations “without conditions”? What is thr reference point for the Negotiations? 242, 338, What exactly?

Is some one “wrongly assuming” that Syria is falling over itself to sit at the table with the Israelies?? then it is a wrong start in my humble opinion!

April 10th, 2007, 3:17 pm

 

Alex said:

Akbar,

It is not anti-Israel and it is not gut-feeling.

April 10th, 2007, 4:17 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

III. SYRIA’S POSITION

A. GENERAL MOOD

Officials in Damascus display a mix of supreme confidence and genuine concern. It is a paradox in appearance only. Convinced that the regional tide is turning against the U.S. in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon, they believe that any American attempt to destabilise the regime has become a thing of the past. Yet, they simultaneously are alarmed that the same regional tide threatens. Sandwiched between civil strife in Iraq and Lebanon and caught in the midst of growing sectarian polarisation, the regime is finding it difficult to manage a series of contradictions.

“Supreme confidence”? Undoubtedly a product of Israel’s “military superiority”, the great world unity in confronting terrorism, and power of the UN.

No, it couldn’t be that. No, it is frankly a product of avoiding conflict. A state-of-mind Neville Chamberlain once made so popular.

Well, if this is any indication, expect Iran to have a seat on the security council within the next 20 years and/or half the world glowing in the dark abiss.

April 10th, 2007, 4:37 pm

 

mike said:

Israel is making the holocost now in gazza
don’t beleive what the israelian ministers says
go to Gazza
if you are really looking for truth
i believe that U.S.A. must look in another mirror
the isralian reflection is going to kill our soldiers
Israel is going to pull us to a new war
why?
today 23 palestinian children had been killed
why?
Israel say’s that this operation is just to stop missles
please show me that missles !!!!!!!!!!!1
i don’t believe Israel
i think it is going to drive us to lose our friends in mideast
if you have another opinion
please visit
http://www.sumood.com
thank you

March 1st, 2008, 8:50 pm

 

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