"Listening to Syria" by David Lesch - Syria Comment

“Listening to Syria” by David Lesch

David Lesch with President Bashar al-Asad

David Lesch with President Bashar al-Asad

Listening to Syria”
by David W. Lesch
Written for Forward
Published by Syria Commentwith the permission of Sami Moubayed

Having met with Syrian President Bashar al-Asad on a regular basis over the last five years, most recently on October 19, I have personally seen how he has grown into the position, and he is now brimming with a confidence bred by weathering a number of storms and experiencing some success. Yet only in the last month has the Bush administration begun to explore high-level diplomatic contacts with Syria after years of trying to isolate Damascus. Even this seems to have come to an abrupt end with the US raid against purported militants across the Iraqi border in Syria.on October 26, perhaps, as some have suggested, a parting shot by the Bush administration (or elements within seeking to derail the tentative US-Syrian dialogue established by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, those “elements” usually meaning Vice President Cheney’s office).

For a lengthy period I seemed to be the only American talking to President Asad; as such, Washington often called on me to share my impression and analysis of him and Syrian policies.  To an array of officials from the State Department, Pentagon, intelligence community, and the Bush administration, I essentially repeated three main themes, all of which were summarily ignored when communicated upward:

 Do not underestimate Asad.  He is genuinely popular in his country and in the region, and one does not survive in Syrian politics as he has without being clever and capable. Like it or not, he will be around for a long time.  Unfortunately, from the beginning, Washington viewed Asad with a disdainful attitude bordering on mockery.  The views expressed by members of Congress surrounding the passage of sanctions on Syria in 2003-2004 were needlessly condescending.  They emerged not only from ignorance, but also a collective group-think in the post 9/11 and Iraqi invasion environment that made Syria an easy target for Washington officialdom eager to bolster its tough, anti-terrorist credentials.  As a result, Asad was virtually dismissed.  His regime was deemed unacceptable, even irrelevant.  Despite Asad’s clear calls for a better relationship with the US and a resumption of peace talks with Israel, isolation and pressure on Damascus followed.

Do not take on Syria in Lebanon because you will lose.  To me this was a no-brainer.  Syria views Lebanon within its sphere of influence.  It cannot lose it to potential hostile forces, much as the US would not allow Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba.  Simply put, Syria has the knowledge, assets, and willingness to do what it takes to win in Lebanon.  The US does not, and history-as in the 1980s-has shown this to be the case.  Feeling under siege through Lebanon, Syria fought back, and it has such an overwhelming advantage there that it won despite some policy errors of its own.

Do not ignore Syria diplomatically; they are too central to too many problems in the region-and if they are not, they will make themselves central to the solution.  The Bush administration altered the equation on Syria, i.e. traditionally such issues as Syria’s support for Hamas and Hizbullah as well as its relationship with Iran would be dealt with as a result of Syrian-Israeli peace negotiations.  Under Bush, negotiations would not even begin until Syria relented on these and other issues.  Syria was not going to give up what little leverage it had before talks even began-no one in their right mind would willingly do this; on the contrary, it now had every incentive to hold fast and, if possible, build up some leverage to earn a seat at the diplomatic table, in other words, to be taken seriously.  The French, Turks, and even the Israelis have already recognized Syria’s centrality to a multitude of issues in the region.  The US is still hedging.

Bush’s first presidential campaign advocated a humble foreign policy, which means in part having the willingness to listen.  Much of Bush’s foreign policy problems were due to arrogance at the top, that only they, guided by a flawed neo-conservative policy paradigm, had the esoteric insight to frame decision-making.  And access to the top seemed to be predicated on intellectual support for an already existing agenda.  The misguided policy toward Syria-and subsequent missed opportunities-is a prominent case in point.

If “the top” had listened to cogent information percolating upward and from abroad, a lot of mayhem could have been avoided. Despite the US raid in Syria, Damascus will be cautiously assessing the potential new direction emanating from Washington and communicating its position.  Hopefully the new administration has the strength to listen.

David W. Lesch is Professor of Middle East History at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX.  His latest books include The New Lion of Damascus: Bashar al-Asad and Modern Syria (Yale University Press, 2005) and The Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History (Oxford University Press, 2007). 

OIL: Comment sent by Mark on the possible oil find in Latakia:(Thanks for this enlightening summation. A little expertise goes a long way. JL )

A few comments on the post by Joshua “Major Oil Strike in Latakia” and the above quoted SANA article. N.B. I’m an Engineer who has worked for a Major International Oil Company for some 27 years.

“…produced almost one thousand barrel of good oil brand which had surfaced to the as drillings were being made for building pillars in the site.” “Oil started shooting into the air.” Most oil reservoirs buried shallow enough to be reached by foundation piling would be severely biodegraded and contain only immobile heavy oil (a quick Google search reveals http://www.oiltracers.com/oilbiodegradation.html if you want more information about biodegraded oil). Also there would be no reservoir pressure above hydrostatic pressure at such a shallow depth. Thus these reports should be viewed with skepticism. Crude oil would not flow much less shoot into the air. A possible scenario is the piling could have hit a pipeline or underground storage tank. An alternative scenario is the piling could have penetrated an accumulation of leakage/seepage oil (from a pipeline or storage tank).

“Oil … drillingsstarted … on Saturday … Minister … said in a statements … had already finished oil studies of the oil well and the black material discovered in it.” This statement needs to be discounted. Wells actually don’t get drilled that fast and studies actually don’t get done that quick. However the need for a quick political win may be sufficient for a preemptive statement by a Minister.

“Russians are in the process of signing a deal for lots 4 & 5 in the north of Syria, about which expectations are also high” One must calibrate what “high expectations” are. Oilmen are natural optimists, and will say most anything while in the process of striking a deal. The chances of finding an economic sized discovery in an area without an offset oil discovery are not that high. As far as I know the East end of the Mediterranean is not one of the more prospective areas of oil exploration. The simple reason that us oilmen are exploring that area is that most of the prospective basins of the world have already been explored and exploited. This is simply an outcome of the “Hubbert Peak Theory” first presented in 1956.

News Round Up Follows:

David Miliband to visit Syria
By Ian Black
The Guardian, 12 November 2008

Miliband is due in Damascus next week as part of a wider Middle East tour at a time that western diplomatic efforts are focused on how to keep the faltering regional peace process alive…

But Barack Obama has made clear that he will change tack and seek to talk to the Syrians, who are delighted at the prospect. Miliband, in the role of transatlantic bridge-builder, will be encouraging him to do so…

Iraq, Syria to increase security cooperation
The Associated Press, 12 November 2008

Iraq says it will increase border security cooperation with Syria as the two countries seek to overcome tension caused by a recent U.S. commando raid inside Syrian territory launched from Iraq.

Visiting Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari says after a meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad that the two sides have tried to “overcome” the crisis that followed last month’s attack….

Syria’s official news agency says Assad reiterated his wish to strengthen ties with Iraq on all fronts.

Syria to host Iraq security meeting despite U.S. raid
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis
International Herald Tribune, 12 November 2008

The Syrian government will host a U.S.- backed security conference on Iraq as planned later this month, despite a threat to cancel it because of a U.S. raid on Syria in October, diplomats said on Wednesday.

Invitations were issued to countries including the United States, France, Iran, Iraq and its other neighbours shortly before the October 26 U.S. strike, they told Reuters.

“There had been a lot of doubt whether the conference would take place. The United States, Britain and other governments have not yet replied, mainly due to the uncertainty,” one of the diplomats said.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem confirmed after meeting his Iraqi counterpart Hoshiyar Zebariin the Syrian capital on Wednesday that the conference would convene in Damascus on November 22…

The United States pushed for the meeting in 2006 as part of its drive to get Arab countries to engage on Iraq. Syria agreed to host it every year as part of a new policy to defuse tension with the Shi’ite-led government in Baghdad….

Iran test-fires new missile, Israel within reach
By Zahra Hosseinian
Reuters, 12 November 2008

Iran said it test-fired a new generation of surface-to-surface missile on Wednesday and that the Islamic Republic was ready to defend itself against any attacker.

Iran’s latest missile test followed persistent speculation in recent months of possible U.S. or Israeli strikes against its nuclear facilities, which the West suspects form part of a covert atomic weapons program, a charge Tehran denies.

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, like outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush, has not ruled out military action although he has criticized the Bush administration for not pursuing more diplomacy and engagement with Tehran…

Baroud backtracks on cooperation with Syria after March 14 balks
The Daily Star, 13 November 2008

Interior Minister Ziyad Baroud’srecent visit to Syria have raised controversies over the revival of Syria’s security role in Lebanon, which forced the minister to reformulate the outcomes of his visit. Baroud said he did not “call for coordination with Syria that would be similar to what had been experienced.”

“What I meant is that there is a chance to present our demands to Syria … and listen to their views,” Baroud said in an interview on Wednesday.

He stressed the fact that the joint statement issued after his talks in Damascus “referred to a follow-up committee that would not proceed with its assignment unless approved by Cabinet.” The March 14 Forces voiced “strong reservations” on Wednesday over the formation of security cooperation committees between Lebanon and Syria…

Analysts says Fatah al-Islam ‘confessions’ aimed to bully Syria’s foes in Lebanon
By Michael Bluhm
The Daily Star, 13 November 2008

Syria was trying to bully its antagonists in the March 14 coalition by airing on state television “confessions” of alleged Fatah al-Islam members last week linking the group to March 14’s Future Movement, a number of analysts told The Daily Star on Wednesday.

The suspects said in the broadcast that they had carried out a deadly car bombing in Damascus on September 27 and had received money from the Future Movement of parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri. Hariri, who has denied the allegations, asked Arab League chief Amr Moussa on Tuesday to form a fact-finding commission to look into the charges. Fatah al-Islam militants fought the Lebanese Armed Forces for more than three months last summer at the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli…

Syria and Lebanon have recently established formal diplomatic relations, and Damascus might also be wielding the confessions as a tool to force Lebanese officials to give ground on the agendas put forthby their Syrian counterparts, said retired General Elias Hanna, who teaches political science at Notre Dame University.

In particular, Syria might be trying to push the Lebanese to sign off on the resurrection of joint security committees, a fixture during the Syrian military’s presence in Lebanon from 1976 until 2005, said Shafik Masri, professor of constitutional law. Lebanese Interior Minister Ziyad Baroudvisited Damascus on Monday and agreed there only that Syrian proposals for security cooperation would require Cabinet approval. In any case, airing the confessions represented a clear breach of security and judicial protocol, Masri added…

Strike anywhere at al-Qaida
By Paul Cruickshank
The Guardian, 12 November 2008

On Monday, the New York Times revealed that in the spring of 2004, Donald Rumsfeld, then the US secretary of defence, signed a secret order providing the US military with a mandate and fast-track approvals mechanism to launch raids against al-Qaida terrorists in countries outside the “conflict zones” of Iraq and Afghanistan. The order, it was reported, identified more than a dozen countries where al-Qaida operatives were present, including Syria, Yemen, Somalia and two close allies in the “war on terrorism”, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The disclosures by senior American officials came in the wake of two controversialraids by US special forces in South Waziristan in Pakistan in September and in Syria in October, which reportedly targeted al-Qaida-linked militants orchestrating attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq respectively. Both the Pakistani and Syrian governments condemned the raids, stated that innocents had been killed, and accused the US of violating the UN charter.

What should be made of the revelations? Some Bush critics will no doubt argue that the administration that brought you extraordinary rendition, secret CIA detention and enhanced interrogation techniques has once again, in its finaldays, been unmasked as pursuing a clandestine programme that not only flouts international treaties but is also deeply counterproductive to winning the war for hearts and minds in the Muslim world. The more sardonic critics may ask why Britain was not also included on the “hit list”. According to MI5, 2,000 British residents actively support al-Qaida, and 30 major plots are being hatched at any one time…

Official: 8th century church discovered in Syria
By ALBERT AJI – 1 hour ago

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Archaeologists in central Syria have unearthed the remnants of an 8th century church, an antiquities official said Thursday.

A Syrian-Polish archaeological team recently discovered the church in the ancient city of Palmyra, said Walid al-Assaad, the head of the Palmyra Antiquities and Museums Department. He did not say specifically when the church was discovered or the exact date the church was built.

He said the church is the fourth and largest discovered so far in Palmyra — an ancient trade center that is now an archaeological treasure trove.

Comments (62)


Akbar Palace said:

Just my perception, but the opening article (by David W. Lesch) reads like an advertisement found in the back of “Popular Mechanics” magazine…

Anyone agree?

November 13th, 2008, 5:50 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

AP
No, very few would agree. It sounded like the writing of someone unwilling to accept propaganda and trying to fact find, on the ground, on their own.

November 13th, 2008, 6:09 pm

 

Saghir said:

I actually think that it is a refreshingly simple and factual article. His three points are on the mark. They summarize the issues very well.

November 13th, 2008, 6:10 pm

 

AIG said:

I actually agree with Lesch’s points but would come to totally different conclusions:

1. Do not underestimate Asad. Absolutely true. The man is a ruthless murderer like his father and will stop at nothing to remain in power. As we have learned from the case of Zimbabwe, people like that can even stay in power when the state under them completely disintegrates because of their foolish policies.

2. Do not take on Syria in Lebanon because you will lose. Absolutely true. The US has no chance against Syria in Lebanon and should not even fight that battle. The US as a democracy just cannot do what it takes to beat Syria in Lebanon. And if it tries anyway, it will mostly hurt the civillian Lebanese population and then lose. My American friends, take this from an Israeli who knows what he is talking about. The only people that can beat Syria in Lebanon are the Lebanese just as the only people that could beat the Russians in afghanistan were the afghanis. Only the strategy that worked there will work in Lebanon.

3. Do not ignore Syria diplomatically. Absolutely true. The economic pressure on Syria is working because of Bashar’s mistake of promissing a better economy. He is slowly realizing that he cannot have both resistance and significant economic growth at the same time. The current worldwide turndown is an excellent opportunity to drive this point home especially with Iran and Russia feeling economic pain. The diplomatic and economic pressure on Syria must continue.

November 13th, 2008, 7:23 pm

 
 

guillaume said:

AIG,
If the regime is bad why should the syrian people pay the price?
Economic pressure means punishing the people ,not the regime.

November 13th, 2008, 8:04 pm

 

Rick said:

Having read few recent articles posted on this blog, I was ashamed to find out that such material is published right here in the US. After ledarning that the author of this blog is an American academic, I was completely shocked. How could America produce such fake academics who unashamedly cater to the interests of dictators?

November 13th, 2008, 8:28 pm

 

Nour said:

Could you please point to us where and when Bashar al-Assad ruthlessly murdered people? I can most definitely point to where every “Israeli” leader brutally massacred innocent people. And can assuredly point out to where George Bush cold bloodedly murdered people.

November 13th, 2008, 8:50 pm

 

AIG said:

Nour,
Asad 1 murdered and imprisoned anybody who stood in his way to power. In Hama he murdered thousands of Syrian. And the list if very long.
Asad 2 ruthelessly murdered people in Lebanon in order to maintain syria’s power there. He recently murdered prisoners in a government prison and will not even let their relative know if they are alive. He imprisons anybody who is speaks against his regime. And the list goes on.

Bush and Israeli leaders at least have to answer to the law and to a free press. Asad is not accountable to anything. He makes the laws, he decides what the press write, he censors the internet. If you cannot see the difference, I feel sorry for you.

November 13th, 2008, 9:04 pm

 

alloushi said:

AIG,

i am still laughing at your conclusions. i do not know how some people get taken by the charm of the syrian leadership. there should be a secret of some sort..the food maybe?

can Prof Lesch explain to us how did he manage to get to this conclusion> “He is genuinely popular in his country and in the region, and one does not survive in Syrian politics as he has without being clever and capable.” how did you manage to measure that? did you ask people? what people and where and how? is it an issue of cleverness or something else? I will try to read your book may be i will get an asnwer to that….

November 13th, 2008, 9:10 pm

 

Nour said:

AIG,

When did Bashar al-Assad ruthlessly murder people in Lebanon? To what event are you referring? If you’re referring to the Hariri assassination, the evidence of Syrian involvement has been flimsy at best, and now the investigation seems to be leading to another conclusion, namely that a salafi extremist group was behind it. Regarding the Saydnaya prison riot, you really have no clue what went on there. This was a prison riot, similar to ones that take place in just about every country in the world. The security forces there responded and their response may have been overly forceful and violent, but to use this incident to prove that Assad is a ruthless murderer is laughable at best.

Now, with respect to the accountability of Bush and of “Israeli” leaders, please don’t make me laugh. Since when was an American president held accountable for the deaths of thousands and tens of thousands in other countries caused by direct US attacks. And do you seriously believe that “Israeli” leaders can ever be held accountable for killing innocent Palestinians and Lebanese? But again, don’t let facts get in the way of your fantastical arguments.

November 13th, 2008, 9:31 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Asad 2 ruthelessly murdered people in Lebanon in order to maintain syria’s power there.

AIG do you have any proof or only relying on US/Israeli propaganda?

Do you see those IDF “mistakes” where children, women, UN inspectors and journalists are killed as crimes authorized by Olmert? By the way an IDF soldier got 21 days military jail for yawning during Rabin’s memorial. How much do those guys get who shoot Palestinian children? Zero I suppose.

AIG if Sudan’s president must face International Criminal Court Israel’s leaders should face the same. As you know Sudan’s president is only “defending” his country like your regime says. By the way AIG did you know that the ship now held by Somali pirates full of Soviet weapons from Ukraine with destination to Dafur rebels is owned by Israeli Vadim Alperin (source BBC).

November 13th, 2008, 9:41 pm

 

ATASSI said:

it’s FACT that Bashar Assad is and has been ruthless dictator “ but much milder than his father the tyrant” , It’s funny that Nour and others try to defend him and try to induce us to believe that he is a first-class caring dictator!!

November 13th, 2008, 10:34 pm

 

Observer said:

There are two main descriptions of the situation one based on the foreign policy of the country to protect its interests and one that pertains to the legitimacy of the regime.
As a US citizen, I remain against the foreign policy of my country in the ME which continues to support an empirial presence in the region and is guided by the military industrial complex and the close relation with the Israeli Lobby. I believe that the US has always lost when it did not promote the best that it has: equal justice under the law, the rule of law, open debate, transparency, separation of power, free informaiton, and outsanding education and a justice system that tries to solve social issues.

The system and the regime in the US is legitimate but with a rotten foreign policy that is immoral and oppressive.

Likewise, Syria has managed an outstanding foreign policy with subtelity, perseverance, and luck. Nevertheless I do not think the regime enjoys full legitimacy and even though the president is popular his regime is not.

In contrast to other states in the region which lack both legitimacy and popularity such as the exclusive state of Zionist aspirations gone wild, Syria has a popular following, has proven to be a source of stability, has clearly and shrewedly defended its interests, has allied itself with Iran and Turkey without losing independence.

Israel is loathed by the majority of the region, despite and I would say because of the treaties with Egypt and Jordan, and is not legitimate until it gives the Palestinians their right of return the same way any Jewish person can return and claim citizenshiph immediately. It pursues a policy of apartheid and it aggressively conquers territory and resources using the most brutal methods with vindictiveness and savagery.

Perhaps Syria can play hard ball and deport about 500 000 Iraqis back to Iraq in the next few days as a measure of its stabilizing effort. We americans are of short term memory.

Now I know some of the most rabid Zionists will respond violently to my comment but if they wish to disagree perhaps they would have enough pride to refuse any US assistance provided them through tax payers like me, from monies to the X radar to cluster bombs to F 16/

November 13th, 2008, 11:18 pm

 

norman said:

Assad and Obama: a new beginning
By Elias Samo
Commentary by
Friday, November 14, 2008

Listen to the Article – Powered by

Like many countries, Syria is pleased with the passing of the Bush administration and the victory of the “globalist” Barack Obama. For Syria, which has been on the receiving end of President George W. Bush’s misconceived policies, the outcome of the elections was a blessing. For the past eight years – a dark period in Syrian-American relations – Washington used every conceivable means to break or bend the Syrian system, including economic embargo and political pressure. President Bashar Assad extended his hand in friendship to Washington, but President Bush chose to ignore the positive signs and increased the pressure and demands, actually dictates, on Damascus.

The problem was largely caused by Bush and the “old guard” around him who invoked their personal animosity toward Assad. This did not serve American interests. However, despite all the American threats, political pressure and economic embargo, the leadership in Damascus is confident and secure, surrounded by a sea of instability, thanks partly to Washington. To the east, the Americans are bogged down in a fragmented Iraq, to the west is a chaotic Lebanon and to the south the divided Palestinians and the contentious Israelis are deadlocked. Syria has a finger in each of these pies and Damascus can be either peacemaker or spoiler. Additionally, relations with Europe are improving: Damascus can barely keep up with the stream of official European visitors.

Obama’s victory provides both Washington and Damascus an opportunity to put aside the past and make a fresh start. Obama would do well to learn from Bush’s mistakes in dealing with Syrian leaders: They might appear as ideologues but they can be pragmatists, and they respond to quid pro quos, not dictates.

But what is the true meaning of Obama’s victory? Is it a victory for multiracialism and a declaration of the demise of “waspism?” Or is it a temporary phenomenon, a fluke caused by the failure of “Bushism” and the convergence of several adverse factors, including an ailing US economy, the ineffective war on terrorism, a murky Iraq and an ever-growing global anti-American sentiment?

For Obama’s victory to truly represent an American social revolution it must not be a one-time event. Therefore Obama will have one eye on his present policies and another on the presidential elections of 2012, preceded by the 2010 congressional elections. This imperative will surely influence his vision and policies, particularly in the Middle East. Americans who voted for McCain, particularly the neoconservatives, evangelicals and Christian and Jewish Zionists, will pressure Obama to maintain Bush’s anti-Syrian policies.

To these and others in the region who question the wisdom of Washington engaging Syria, the answer is: If Washington wants to continue its “war on terrorism,” seeks an honorable withdrawal from Iraq, hopes for a united and stable Lebanon and supports a comprehensive Arab-Israel settlement, Obama will find Syria – with the proper incentives – a strong and effective partner. With good intentions, Syrian-American relations could become a win-win game where the interests of both converge.

These relations fall under two headings: normalization and the Syrian-Israeli peace track. As for Syrian-American relations, the ball is in the American court; what are needed are confidence-building measures. One hopes that once the Obama administration is in place a new American ambassador will be assigned to the embassy in Damascus, vacant since 2005, with a mandate to seriously engage the Syrian leadership.

The US must start by settling the controversy caused by the recent bloody American helicopter raid on a small Syrian border village that precipitated the closure of the American Cultural Center and the American school in Damascus, and follow with serious discussion of the contentious issues separating the two sides. Of priority are removing Syria’s name from Washington’s “State Sponsors of Terrorism List,” reducing the economic embargo measures imposed in 2004 and finding ways to cooperate on regional issues of mutual interest.

As for the peace track, the Syrian leadership has always underlined the importance of the American role for successful Syrian-Israeli negotiations. Only Washington can nudge both sides to narrow the gaps separating them, assist in security arrangements and provide the funds needed to implement a peace treaty. However, since the actual negotiations will be carried out by the two adversaries, the outcome of the February 10, 2009, Israeli elections is as important as Obama’s victory.

What Obama could do is put aside Bush’s aversion to the Syrian-Israeli negotiations and use his influence to encourage the Israeli government to seriously resume talks with Syria, with the understanding that each side’s minimum requirements for peace are met. For Syria, this means a total, non-negotiable withdrawal from the occupied Golan. However, with Netanyahu’s position of a “definite no,” Livni’s position of a “definite maybe” and Labor’s diminished role, in addition to regional and international pressure for a Palestinian-Israeli deal, a Syrian-Israeli deal, so near yet so far, is liable to be put on the waiting list to the detriment of both countries.

Finally, Syria will not be high on Obama’s agenda. He will certainly not rush to Damascus, but nor should he pamper the anti-Syria forces. Instead, he should seriously listen to the advice of many knowledgeable and honorable Americans who have called on Washington to engage Syria.

Elias Samo is a professor of international relations at American and Syrian universities. This commentary first appeared at bitterlemons-international.org, an online newsletter.

November 13th, 2008, 11:27 pm

 

Alex said:

مسيحيو سورية «هدية» إلى عون
حسان حيدر الحياة – 13/11/08//

تخوض سورية الانتخابات اللبنانية بكل تفاصيلها، وفي وقت مبكر، ربما لأن الانتخابات عندها «لا تشفي الغليل»، فمجلس الشعب يكاد يُعين تعييناً، والسوريون يعرفون اسماء نوابهم حتى قبل ان يذهبوا الى صناديق الاقتراع. وهي اكتسبت الخبرة الانتخابية عندما كانت تمارس سلطة الوصاية على لبنان واللبنانيين، فشكلت اللوائح وفرضت التحالفات وروجت للأزلام والمحاسيب، حتى ان رئيس الوزراء الراحل رفيق الحريري سمّى بعض من ادرجوا على لوائحه «وديعة سورية».

اما المرشح «الفافوري» لدى السوريين هذه الايام فهو النائب ميشال عون، وهم يحارون كيف يدبرون له الحلفاء والمناصرين والجمهور والجوائز. سخّروا لخدمته لاعبهم الاساسي «حزب الله» وسائر الكومبارس. ولأن في دمشق نظاماً «علمانياً» لا يفرق بين المسيحيين والمسلمين، كونه يتصرف بهم جميعا على قدم المساواة، فقد قرر «اهداء» مسيحيي سورية الى عون، وجعلهم جمهورا بديلا له، بعدما عجز عن فرض نفسه زعيماً أوحد للمسيحيين في لبنان.

وتفيد الانباء الواردة من العاصمة السورية ومن مصادر عون بأنه سيلقى استقبالا رسمياً حاشداً في دمشق وستقام له مهرجانات في مناطق مسيحية وسيفتتح كنيسة مارونية ممولة من الحكومة السورية، وانه قد يعود الى لبنان ومعه «مفقودون» مسيحيون لم تعترف سورية رسمياً بوجودهم لديها، كما لم تعدْ حتى الرئيس ميشال سليمان بإعادتهم عندما ناقش ملفهم مع القيادة السورية. وكل هذا استعداداً للانتخابات، بعدما ثبت ان زعامة عون المفترضة لقسم من المسيحيين في تراجع، ذلك انها ظهرت عندما كان معارضاً للسلوك السوري في لبنان ولتدخل دمشق في تفاصيل الداخل اللبناني، وهو واقع لم يتغير على رغم خروج القوات النظامية السورية.

ويفسر الدعم السوري لعون سبب تراجع احتمالات المصالحة المسيحية، وفرض الحليف الآخر لسورية سليمان فرنجية سلسلة شروط تعجيزية امامها، كما يفسر سبب تعلق «حزب الله» المفاجئ باللعبة الديموقراطية في لبنان وتمسكه بإجراء الانتخابات في موعدها، على ما اكد امينه العام في خطابه الأخير، محذرا من تأجيلها او تعطيلها. لكن الاصرار على الانتخابات يعني القبول بنتائجها، فكيف يمكن ضمان ذلك بعدما رفضت المعارضة التي يقودها الحزب اياه ويشارك فيها عون، حكم الاكثرية الشرعي، وشلّت العمل الحكومي والنيابي وجرّت البلاد الى حافة حرب أهلية للحصول على حق التعطيل؟ كما ان الاصرار على الانتخابات يعني القبول بأن الدولة ومؤسساتها هي المسؤولة الوحيدة عن اللبنانيين وشأنهم السياسي والأمني، وهو ما لا يظهر في الدعوة الى ابقاء السلاح في يد «حزب الله» الى ان يتحول شعب لبنان كله الى ميليشيا، بحسب استراتيجية عون الدفاعية، ويحصل الجيش اللبناني على قوة طيران تضاهي سلاح الجو الاسرائيلي، بحسب نصرالله!

وفي المقابل، اجتاز عون بنجاح «معمودية النار» السورية بدفاعه المستمر عن دمشق وتبني مواقفها والإمحاء في سياساتها وتقديمه الولاء للسيد الاقليمي الآخر، ايران. لكن الغريب انه في وقت تقرر دمشق تشجيع مسيحييها على التواصل السياسي مع اشقائهم اللبنانيين وتلغي بقرار منها الحواجز بينهم خدمة لعون، توجه في الوقت نفسه اتهامات للسُنة اللبنانيين بمحاولة «تجاوز الحدود» وتحشد القوات قبالة مناطقهم وتفبرك لهم اتهامات أمنية مثلما ظهر في الشريط التلفزيوني السوري.

November 13th, 2008, 11:48 pm

 
 

jad said:

Dear Alex,
Shouldn’t we get offended by Hassan zft article?
When are these people going to stop using religion and terrible messages to justify their points?
It’s a disgusting sectarian article on every level.

P.S. I liked the article talking about the similarities between Obama and Rafik Hariri in the same issue of Al Hayat…that was fun to read!!

November 14th, 2008, 1:18 am

 

norman said:

Hilary Clinton is in the running for secretary of state.

November 14th, 2008, 2:14 am

 

Enlightened said:

1. Akbar Palace said:

Just my perception, but the opening article (by David W. Lesch) reads like an advertisement found in the back of “Popular Mechanics” magazine…

Anyone agree?
———————————————————————-

Sorry Akbar my collection of mechanics magazines date back to when I was 14 years old, and I haven’t seen one since. Feel free to post me one of the latest editions. It would answer one very important question regarding hair styles and how they have progressed since the mid eighties.

Thats far more important, than what a professor of middle east history would have to say? Don’t you agree?

November 14th, 2008, 3:41 am

 

sam said:

If we haven’t learned from the last 6 years, that you can’t have a western style democracy in the middle east, we all have problems. The fact remains, that of all the leaders in the arab world, ally and foe alike, Syrian citizens have it better than all of them. Other than Libnan, what other arab country has women and christans work in the Govt. Let me re-phrase the question, what US arab ally has womens rights? I’m no feminist sympthizer, I’m just making a point. Bashar is a good man, He got dealt a nine of spades, a five of hearts, a jack of spades, and a pair of fours, he may win the world series politics with that hand, because his people love him.I left with 2 choices I’m sure any arab would rather live in Socialist Syria, than Democratic Iraq.

November 14th, 2008, 5:41 am

 

AIG said:

Sam,

Lovely. Given two choices, most people would prefer getting hit in the head with a baseball bat rather than be burned at the stake.

Why do you assume that Arab leaders should be judged by such low standards but get all worked up about Rahm Emanuel’s father? Asad gets a pass and a compliment for killing people and throwing them in jail, and Rahm is sanctioned because of what his father said to an Israeli paper. Why do you judge Bashar with completely different standards that you would judge a US or Israeli politician? Really, where do these double standards come from?

Why did you not judge Rahm relative to Arab leaders and not insist on an apology? Has Bashar apologized for the thousands his father killed in Hama? Do you demand this from him? Of course not, after all killing thousands by his father is not something an Arab needs to apologize for but a Jew must apologize for a politically incorrect statement by his father.

Maybe the Americans cannot see through your BS, but we Israelis can.

November 14th, 2008, 6:01 am

 

AIG said:

Alloushi,
Thanks.
And I totally agree with you. I wish there was a way to find out what people really think of Asad. Unfortunately, there are even expats afraid of posting here because the fear for their families in Syria.

November 14th, 2008, 6:08 am

 

AIG said:

Guillaume,
You ask:
“If the regime is bad why should the syrian people pay the price?
Economic pressure means punishing the people ,not the regime.”

You raise a good point. There is no “good” way to deal with Syria because Bashar is holding the Syrian people hostage. But there is the least bad way. If the Iraq way leads to chaos, what way is left except economic sanctions or to give up to a ruthless mafioso? Hopefully, the syrian people will figure out a way soon to get rid of Asad, but until then, his ability to create problems must be minimized and that means sanctions even though the average Syrian suffers from them also. If you have a better way to deal with Asad, I would be happy to hear about it.

November 14th, 2008, 6:15 am

 

jad said:

Apparently AIG lives in a hole full of BS, this is why his senses are so high that he can see through any tough BS he faces.
Now we understand why your comments always stinks!?..

The good news is that we only have 2 more stinky BS comments from you to read today….

November 14th, 2008, 6:45 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Enlightened said:

Thats far more important, than what a professor of middle east history would have to say?

Enlightened,

I’m sort of getting tired of reading about Dr. Bashar from third parties. All these professors and authors love to explain to me how great Dr. Bashar is. They all read like very strange advertisements: “You need this”, “New and Improved”, “Better than you once thought”, “I have personally seen how he has grown into the position, and he is now brimming with a confidence…”, etc, etc.

Huh?

I usually decide on a political figure by his actions or lack thereof.

November 14th, 2008, 12:02 pm

 

Chris said:

He’s genuinely popular? That wasn’t my sense of things when I was there. I got the feeling that people’s feelings toward Bashar, while varying little, were generally lukewarm. People often described him as a technocrat interested in reform and progress. On the other hand, I heard comments about his religious background, like “he’s not a Muslim” So, popular is not the word I would use. Besides I wonder if David Lesch can speak Syrian amiyya or fusha and therefore really get a feel for how people feel about him.

But yes, of course Syria is better able to affect things in Lebanon. Syria has a very close relationship with the dominant military/militia in Lebanon, Hezbollah.

An aside, what David Lesch said above is very consistent with what’s in his book “The New Lion of Damascus.” He’s a regime hack. In his book he spends half the book laying out the history of Syria and Bashar with apologetics and rationalizations for Syria and Bashar’s behavior of equal length. So, he’ll have a section about an event , say 10 pages, and then there will be an explanation of what happened that justifies or puts in a positive light the baath party and Bashar of about 10 pages. It’s complete with strange parallels between Lesch’s life and Bashar’s life (in the introduction) and a picture of the author with Bashar together.

I remember telling a friend, who was reading it at the same time, that I don’t understand how an academic concerned with his reputation could write such a work of hagiography. He told me that he was relieved at hearing that because he was a little worried about the education system in the US.

November 14th, 2008, 2:17 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG said: “Unfortunately, there are even expats afraid of posting here because the fear for their families in Syria.”

That’s a bit presumptuous of you, AIG, isn’t it?

And if true, isn’t it a bit of a waste for you to be on this blog? If 95% of commentators on this blog disagree with you on a regular basis (the number might be higher, I haven’t checked lately), and if most of these are afraid to post honestly here, why are you here?

And by the way, why would someone calling himself “JAD”, or “OTW”, or even “Naji”, be afraid for his family? Are the Syrians known for high-tech capabilities, deciphering IP-addresses quickly, and getting to the owner’s family in Syria? Have you heard of a case like that lately?

But what the heck – always nice to plant one in there, and see if few notice… like the Brad’s and the Alloushi’s, right? 🙂

November 14th, 2008, 2:28 pm

 

AIG said:

Shai,

Again, you are a blatant liar that jumps to conclusions. What I write is based on facts. Majhool and Naji have expressed fears about posting. In the case of Majhool I am sure that they were sincere. It is not clear if Naji is posting from Syria or not.

It is a fact that many Syrian expats are afraid to cross the regime because what might be done to their families in Syria. This even includes posting anonymously on blogs. If you deny this fact just say so. If any Syrian would like to deny this facy, let he do so. I would be grateful if a Syrian expat can objectively answer this question.

November 14th, 2008, 2:44 pm

 

sam said:

AIG,

I’m not judging him with a different standard. My question was very simple. What US arab ally has womens rights, and a right to practice your religion, whether Muslim, Jew, Or Christian? Saudi Arabia? Egypt? There will never be a democracy in the middle east, so leaders have to be tough in that neighborhood. Just ask all the Isreali dogs that lead your Isreal for the last 60 years.I’m sure they werent band leaders. And for the record, Hafez did everyone a favor, by destroying the brotherhood in Hama. Most of all, and probably unintentional, helped ISrealies. There would be 50K more people out for you destruction, had he not did what he did. And by the way, they were armed to the teeth (muslim brotherhood), unlike unarmed, rock slinging palestinians that get killed daily by a zionist aparthied was killing machine!

November 14th, 2008, 2:52 pm

 

AIG said:

Sam,
Of course you are judging with double standards. Israel is a democracy. You can say till you are red in the face that it isn’t but just like the US is a democracy even though it occupies Iraq, Israel is a democracy even though it controls the West Bank.

But more imporantly, I would like to know why you think there will never be a democracy in Syria. What about Syria makes it such that democracy is impossible?

November 14th, 2008, 2:58 pm

 

sam said:

AIG,

I said a democracy modeled after western democracy. With the ever growing assault by Islamofund, there can never be a democracy until that is defeated. They are the ones that don’t want to seperate Church-State. So how can you expect a leader like Bashar to let his guard down. I’m dreaming of a day when there is democracy in Syria. I will be the first one to move there. And just to comment on if Isreal is a democracy, using the anology of the US occupies Iraq makes no difference. We in the US have equall rights, a black man won the highest office. In Isreal, isreali arabs are treated like 3rd class citzens, thats not democracy. Isreali arabs have no rights. Please explain to me, without a cocky reply how Isreal can even think of comparing itself with the US.

November 14th, 2008, 3:24 pm

 

sam said:

AIG,

one more thing, I agree with the fact the Jews were persecuted for almost all of the known history, and I think that is horrible. Never having a place to call home, until 1948. Which is wonderful, but after so long the Jewish resolve lead to them being the subjugater is just sad.

November 14th, 2008, 3:30 pm

 

AIG said:

Sam,
So a democracy modeled on what model is possible in Syria, if not the western model? What specifically do you have in mind?

By the way, I agree with you that the main problem of the Arab world is getting to grips with fundamentalist Islam. But I didn’t realize that you condone in Syria using methods to fight it that you would never accept in the US. Why is that?

You should check your facts. The average Israeli Arab is 6 to 7 times richer than the average Syrian and has much more rights. There are plenty of Arabs in the Israeli knesset and there is an Arab on the supreme court. Arabs have many newspapers and freedom of speech. If you do not believe me, just come and see. You are spewing propoganda.

November 14th, 2008, 3:33 pm

 

Nour said:

AIG,

The funny thing about your response to Sam’s argument about “Israeli” Arabs is that you never claimed that Arabs are equal in rights to Jews in “Israel.” In other words, you admit that there are no equal rights for all in “Israel,” and thus it should not be classified as a democracy. The rest of your argument is bogus because you are comparing two countries with very different economic levels. This would be equivalent to stating that African Americans under Jim Crow laws did not suffer discrimination because they were much richer on average than black people in Haiti. It’s a nonsensical argument.

Now, with respect to Bashar al-Assad, comparing his rule to our position vis-a-vis Rahm Emanuel is ridiculous. We are merely stating that in the US the same standards should be applied to all groups. Had a relative of an Obama administration member said anything similar about Jews, there would have been an enormous outcry. But somehow, Arab-Americans should just keep quiet when prejudice and racism is directed toward them. What this has to do with Bashar al-Assad’s rule is beyond me. When we judge President Assad we do so taking into perspective the major issues facing the region. No one is saying he is perfect, but your accusations and those of others that he is this ruthless sadistic murdering dictator are simply not consistent with the facts.

Is Syria a dictatorship? Yes, surely it is. Has this form of government led to a lot of woes and miseries for the Syrian people? Absolutely. But the fact of the matter is that, first, the nature of the governments in our region are a direct result of social ailments and diseases that need to be addressed at the core, and second, Bashar al-Assad inherited a dictatorship from his father and so he had to play with the hand he was dealt. Based on what he has done so far, while many criticisms leveled at him are indeed valid, we cannot deny that he has handled the situation well, and Syrians are better off today than they were 10, 15, or 20 years ago. More reforms are coming and you and everyone else will see that if Syria is left alone, it will naturally improve and advance, albeit in a gradual, slow process. However, should outside force or other catalytic intervention be used, the likely outcome is chaos and destruction similar to Iraq that no Syrian wants to go through.

November 14th, 2008, 3:48 pm

 

ATASSI said:

AIG,

I am a Syrian expat, and I am NOT afraid to cross the regime!~
I AM sure No harm will be inflicted on family in Syria. I have been very open, blunt and sometimes harsh “positive way” in criticizing the regime..
Please keep in mind, NO Patriotic SYRIAN will accept to be told or educated by the Israelis on how we should express their national opinion!!!.

November 14th, 2008, 3:59 pm

 

Atassi said:

All,
This video fits and pertain to all the Arab leaders!

http://wakad.net/greet-k-m-action-view-id-2640-code-1225826282.htm

November 14th, 2008, 4:52 pm

 

norman said:

Atassi,

i am proud of you.

November 14th, 2008, 5:23 pm

 

sam said:

I would love to see the kind of democracy that is modeled after Turkey.

As for the true enemies of the world which are the Islamo radicals, whether Syria, Iraq, Afhanistan, ect.ect.ect. they deserve to be dealt with where ever they are.

And my facts my not be as accurate as you would like it be, considering all the hate and propaganda that Isrealies spew. Here is a fact, did you think that all the well off people in Isreal would be in that position if it wasn’t for the hundreds of billions of dollars GIVEN to your people, to continue the aparthied policy by TAKING

November 14th, 2008, 6:15 pm

 

sam said:

I would love to see the kind of democracy that is modeled after Turkey.

As for the true enemies of the world which are the Islamo radicals, whether Syria, Iraq, Afhanistan, ect.ect.ect. they deserve to be dealt with where ever they are.

And my facts my not be as accurate as you would like it be, considering all the hate and propaganda that Isrealies spew. Here is a fact, did you think that all the well off people in Isreal would be in that position if it wasn\’t for the hundreds of billions of dollars GIVEN to your people, to continue the aparthied policy by TAKING taxes from my hard earned paycheck. Mark my word, someday that huge ATM you people call the american taxpayer is going to cut all you OFF.

November 14th, 2008, 6:19 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

Try to find the difference between these two sentences:

Shai said: “That’s a bit presumptuous of you, AIG, isn’t it?”

AIG responded: “Again, you are a blatant liar that jumps to conclusions.”

You see, AIG, your hatred towards your own people can’t even hide behind your choice of words. You hate Expats you think are afraid for their families, and you hate Israelis that disagree with you. When you say to someone “you’re lying”, you’re suggesting the truth is obvious and lies in your domain alone, and that someone else is deliberately trying to hide it. You THINK Naji is afraid of something, and you THINK he is writing from Syria. Why don’t you ask him, since “the truth” is so important to you.

But your statement was not about Syrians in Syria, it was about Syrian Expats living in the West. You said they’re afraid. Yet you’re not explaining why Alex, OTW, JAD, Zenobia, Offended, Norman, and countless others on SC, would be afraid of the Syrian regime hurting their families back in Syria. Are the Syrians trying to discover the real identities of these people, and then hurt their families? Do you think this is taking place?

And if they WERE afraid, even using aliases like “JAD” or “OTW”, how do you explain all the above mentioned criticizing the regime on countless occasions?

And again, if they’re all afraid, why are YOU here, AIG??? I still don’t understand why you’re trying to “sell” your stuff to people that are afraid to tell you the truth? Is it like a code-thing, where they answer you with an untrue statement (out of fear), but deep inside are embedded messages to you, like “… And In General, Kuwaitis Engage English Polish Germans Indians Norwegian Guys.” = A.I.G.K.E.E.P.G.O.I.N.G.!!! Is this what you get out of coming here day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year? I can’t imagine going on a North Korean blog, knowing none of the bloggers can tell me the truth, so all I’m hearing is government propaganda. What kind of a sadist must I be, to keep coming back to this blog full of fearful people, who cannot share the truth with me?

Why ARE you here, AIG? Will we ever hear the truth?

November 14th, 2008, 6:54 pm

 

AIG said:

Shai,
Occasionally, there are objective commentators, like Ehsani and Majhool and now Chris, an American who has actually lived in Syria. I am very interested to read what they write.

It does not matter what I think the Syrian government is doing, it matters what the Syrians think they MAY do. And many expats are afraid. Not all. Attasi isn’t but Majhool is.

And if you think my posts are a waste of time, my advice to you is simply to ignore them. What could be easier than that? Aren’t you really ridiculous if you waste time responding to posts you think are a waste of time? But as we know, asking you for consistency is too much. You are an ideologue, not a thinker.

November 14th, 2008, 7:13 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

You’re a comedia, though not a good one. I’m the ideologue, and YOU are the thinker? Ha! What do you do, then, with your “thinking”? What opinion of yours have you changed in the past, oh, let’s say 10-11 months that I’ve been here? Where have you EVER admitted to possibly being wrong, possibly misunderstanding Syria, or Syrians? Where have you insinuated, in the slightest manner whatsoever, that perhaps there IS away for peace to happen long before you thought? After all, how could it be that consistency is a good thing, if to you it means sticking to your views, relentlessly, no matter what you’re told by others who disagree with you? Jesus, you give me an example of 2 or 3 people that have EVER said the words “AIG, I agree with you”, yet you ignore completely the 20 or 30 or 40 people who, on a regular basis, tell you “AIG, I completely disagree with you.” That’s called “thinking”? Showing the greatest inflexible mind here? If so, then I’m glad not be called a “thinker” in your book. Because I, at least, come here ready to change my mind in an instant. I’m confident enough in myself, to know that I can be wrong. How about you, AIG, are YOU, the great “thinker”, sure you’re right?

What if most of your assumptions are wrong? What if the average Syrian thinks EXACTLY like the average SC commentator? What if most Syrians want peace NOW, not when they can vote freely? What if most Syrians, despite their dreams of democracy one day, still respect and look up to Bashar Assad, like you can’t possibly imagine? What if, in fact, they WANT him to continue ruling Syria, because they fear any alternative would be far worse? And, most importantly, what if peace with Syria is the BEST thing that can now happen to Israel, not the WORST? What if by not making peace, we will be bringing upon ourselves a horrific future, where it might take another couple of decades to return to this same spot again, only tens or hundreds of thousands of dead men, women, and children later? What if your readiness to keep gambling with Israeli lives is the most irresponsible thing you could offer your children (if you have any), or mine?

November 14th, 2008, 7:35 pm

 

AIG said:

Shai,

If cows had wings we would also be in deep trouble.

The fact of the matter is that most Israelis are much closer to my views than to yours. Just wait and see Netanyahu win the elections and then of course according to you he will do exactly the opposite of what he promises.

We have to make our future projections based on the best information we have today. Most Israeli think like me about returning the Golan, so why don’t you examine your assumptions that may lead to much more bloodshed and loss of human life, like in the cases of Lebanon and Gaza? No, you do not think really about human life. You think we should return the golan to Syria because “it is theirs”, you do not even take Israeli interests into your considerations. So what if more Israelis die? It is “not ours”. You are reckless with Israeli lives but cannot even see it.

November 14th, 2008, 7:44 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

No Israeli has ever said we can wait 20-30 years for peace. This is purely your interpretation. No Kadima or Likud member in his right mind would say something like that. Only someone that believes Israel has to wait for Syria to first become a Democracy, with all the time and risks required in the interim period, would say that.

Fortunately, AIG, NO Israeli agrees with you! Not the Likud, not Kadima, not Labor, not Liebermann, not Efi Eitam, not Bibi Netanyahu, not Shas, not Begin (the son, not only the late father), not Sharon, not Olmert, not Tzipi Livni, not Shaul Mofaz (with his peace-for-peace), not Asaf Hefetz, not Dan Meridor, not Bugi (ex-COGS), no one, AIG, not one!!!

Sharansky? That’s ALL you can give me? I’m not even sure about him… You know, if 99.999% of people around me, from my enemies to my friends, from my political allies, to my political rivals, if ALL of them thought I was wrong, I would check myself! There’s a crazy suggestion. Imagine that! 🙂

November 14th, 2008, 7:54 pm

 

AIG said:

Shai,
Again, lies and distortions from you. Where did I say that the Likud is proposing waiting for democracy in Syria?

What I said was that since they are not willing to return the Golan for peace, it is practically the same as saying let’s wait for 20-30 years for peace. You claim no Israeli says that, but in FACT that is exactly what the Likud is saying. No to returning the Golan to Syria means no peace for decades.

So 50% of the people in Israel basically support my position and very few support yours.

November 14th, 2008, 8:39 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

Sorry, you obviously don’t know your own Likud very well. They’re not willing to give back the Golan in return for peace? Really? Please read the following excerpt from the Likud platform, as written in Hebrew in Netanyahu’s own site (netanyahu.org.il): הליכוד מוכן לויתורים תמורת שלום,ויתורים דוגמת זה שעשה מנחם בגין בזמן הסכם השלום עם נשיא מצרים, אנואר סאדאת – ויתור תחת הסדר שלום אמיתי ואמין.

(Translation: “The Likud is ready for concessions in return for peace, concessions of the type made under Menachem Begin in the peace agreement with Egypt’s president, Anwar Sadat – a concession in return for a real and reliable peace agreement.”)

November 14th, 2008, 8:54 pm

 

AIG said:

Shai,

Again lies and distortions. It is clear for all the Likud and Netanyahu have said in the last years that they are against returning the Golan because no peace in which the Golan does not remain in Israeli hands could ever be real and reliable.

There are two examples below. Just let me know how many you want. May I also remind that Mofaz has also recently supported the “peace for peace” initative indicating that about 50% of Kadima is against returning the Golan.
———————–

Netanyahu: Golan is Ours Forever.
Publication: Israel Faxx
Date: Thursday, August 2 2007

You are viewing page 1
By Israel Faxx News Services

Israel will keep the Golan Heights forever, Binyamin Netanyahu said. The Israeli opposition leader made his prediction during a pre-recorded address broadcast at 30th anniversary celebrations for Katzrin, a major Golan town.

“This place will remain part of the State of Israel forever, but it will be much bigger and will continue to be beautiful.” Israel captured the Golan, which has relics of ancient Jewish communities, in the 1967 Six-Day War, and later annexed it in a move not recognized internationally

—————-

Netanyahu: ‘The Golan Will Stay Israeli’
CBNNews.com
May 30, 2008

CBNNews.com – GOLAN HEIGHTS, Israel – Likud chairman and opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu said Thursday that the Golan Heights was and will remain Israeli.

“Whoever settles the Golan Heights secures Israel’s security. Here can be seen the connection that exists between security and peace,” Netanyahu told some 600 Likud supporters at the Eden Springs near Katzrin, the largest city in the Golan.

In recent weeks, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has talked about giving up the Golan Heights in exchange for peace promises from Syria.

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“The way to guard the Golan and Jerusalem is to go to elections now. If we don’t live here, Iranian soldiers will,” Netanyahu said.

“What do you find when you dig in the Golan? Syrian ruins? No. You’ll find dozens of magnificent synagogues and remnants of [Jewish] communities,” he continued.

“The Israeli nation has been connected to the Golan for thousands of years. The Golan was and always will remain Israeli,” Netanyahu said.

“Before we liberated the Golan [from Syria] 41 years ago, they were on the mountain and we were in the valley. They fired on us [Israeli communities in the valley], and one day we put a stop to it,” he reminded the crowd.

“Standing here one can clearly see that the Golan is essential to Israel’s security and deterrence – today more than ever before in light of the rise of Iran and its affiliates,” he said.

“Only a few days ago, Syrian and Iranian defense ministers signed a new defense cooperation pact and still there are those who suggest we hand over the Golan to Syria and Iran,” Netanyahu marveled.

“The region is the single largest buffer zone that is preventing any possibility of an invasion into our small country,” he concluded.

November 14th, 2008, 9:06 pm

 

Shai said:

Dearest AIG,

These articles are of the type “I did not have sexual relations with that woman…” 🙂

What can be clearer, than Netanyahu’s OWN WEBSITE, his OWN PLATFORM, where he SPELLS OUT what Likud will and will not do?

Your Hebrew might be rusty, but mine isn’t. I translated it, word-for-word, for the sake of our non-Hebrew speakers. I challenge you to claim I mistranslated it. There is no interpretation here – it is LOUD AND CLEAR. And it says, in case you already managed to forget, that the Likud is ready for concessions in return for peace, concessions of the type made under Menachem Begin in the peace agreement with Egypt’s president, Anwar Sadat – a concession in return for a real and reliable peace agreement.

Now what on earth do you think Bibi’s own website is referring to? What kind of concession in return for peace, of the type made under Begin? Let’s see… Begin gave back the Sinai, to Egypt. So what could Bibi give back? Hmmm…. Not Lebanon – we’ve already given most of it back. Not Gaza – we’ve given that back too. Not the West Bank – at least not to Abu Mazen (Bibi has an entire section on freezing all talks with Abu Mazen, and how he cannot strike a peace deal with him. Read it in his site as well.) So what concession could Bibi be talking about??? The Golan? NO, says AIG, the newspaper articles say NEVER! Who cares what a clear platform with two sentences on the future-Prime Minister’s own website says. The papers are right, not the platform… Ha! You’re pitiful.

November 14th, 2008, 9:21 pm

 

AIG said:

Shai,
You are hilarious. Should we go over the platforms of the Israeli parties and see if they even support or do a fraction of what they write?

Nobody in Israel reads the platforms. People listen to what the politicians say and promise. Let me go over the netanyahu site and find interesting quotes for you.

What can be clearer than Netanyahu repeating tens of times that the Golan will remain Israeli forever? It just means that he does not believe there can be true peace with Syria if we return the golan and that is perfectly in line with what is written in the platform.

November 14th, 2008, 9:32 pm

 

offended said:

AIG, your position is still ambiguous (to me).

Do you:

1- Not support giving Golan back to Syria, AT ALL. Not now and not when Syria become a Swiss style democracy. And your only choice is peace for peace.

2- Support giving Golan back only after Syria has become a democracy (according to your standards whatever they are)?

Can you please give an answer as simple as 1 or 2 without writing novels? and btw I asked you this question before but you failed to answer.

November 14th, 2008, 9:37 pm

 

AIG said:

Here goes. Here are translations of part of the full entry below.

“Syria is part of the axis of evil. It has already said it will not disengage from Iran (flip).”

“The public that is against withdrawing from the Golan (and here NEtanyahu means himslef and the Likud) and even those that for it are all against the political norms of the olmert government.”

Have fun. I will find more.

התהליך המדיני אינו יכול לשמש עיר מקלט לפוליטיקאים במצוקה
יום חמישי, 22 במאי, 2008

היום ישנה הסכמה רחבה, מימין ומשמאל, שהתהליך המדיני אינו יכול לשמש עיר מקלט לפוליטיקאים במצוקה.
רוב הציבור מבין שראש הממשלה האיץ את השיחות עם סוריה ובחר את העיתוי המדוייק לפרסומן, כדי להסיח את דעת הציבור מחקירותיו.

למר אולמרט, השקוע עד צוואר בחקירות אלה, אין מנדט מוסרי וציבורי לנהל משא ומתן גורלי על עתידה של מדינת ישראל, משום שקיים חשש אמיתי שיעדיף את הישרדותו האישית על פני האינטרס הלאומי.

רק לפני שבועות אחדים סוריה, איראן והחיזבאללה רמסו את הדמוקרטיה השברירית של לבנון. ארצות הברית וכל העולם החופשי גינו את סוריה וביקשו לבודדה.

סוריה היא חלק בלתי נפרד מציר הרשע. היא כבר הודיעה שהיא לא תתנתק מאיראן.

ויתור על רמת הגולן יהפוך את הגולן למוצב איראני קדמי שיאיים על כל מדינת ישראל.

אם נכונים דבריו של שר החוץ הסורי, ואליד מועלם, שמר אולמרט התחייב לרדת מרמת הגולן לשפת הכנרת עוד לפני תחילת המשא ומתן, הרי מדובר בהפקרות מדינית ובטחונית חסרת תקדים.

חוסר אחריות זה מצטרף לכשלון של ניהול מלחמת לבנון השנייה, הכשלון במניעת ההתחמשות המחודשת של החיזבאללה, והכישלון במניעת ירי הקאסמים על תושבי דרום הארץ.

אסור לתת לממשלת קדימה להמשיך את שרשרת הכישלונות שלה.

הציבור הישראלי שתומך בהשארותנו ברמת הגולן, ואפילו אלה המתנגדים לכך, מתאחדים נגד הנורמות השלטוניות הפסולות של מר אולמרט וממשלתו.

לכן, אני קורא לכל המפלגות, מימין ומשמאל, להחזיר את המנדט אל הבוחר ולהסכים על מועד לבחירות חדשות.

מי שיבחר בבחירות אלה יקבל מנדט ברור מהציבור לנהל את ענייני המדינה, מול האתגרים הגדולים בבטחון, בכלכלה, בחינוך ובשלום.

November 14th, 2008, 9:39 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

To make sure I understand you correctly, platforms, or statements made by Benjamin Nentayahu that lay out his party’s plans for what should and shouldn’t be done, on his own website, should not be taken literally. But newspaper articles should. I see. I guess that makes sense… to you… 😉

For your information, I happened to know one of the people who’s running Bibi’s campaign. He sent me to Bibi’s site. Bibi will be bombarding every possible voter citizen in Israel in this upcoming election, much as Obama did, using the internet!!! And guess what link he’ll send everyone he can to go into? You guessed it AIG – his own website – http://www.netanyahu.org.il. He won’t tell hundreds of thousands of voters in Israel to read your newspaper articles, he’ll tell them to read his platform, on his website. And this is where, if you still recall, he says, very clearly, the words I translated up above. This is where he makes his policy regarding concessions for peace, LOUD and CLEAR.

Now, if in reality he’ll do the opposite (as you claim), then that’s misleading the public, isn’t it? The same public that will be getting in the coming days thousands of emails sending them to the site, and to the platform. So is he planning to mislead them here? Maybe… But somehow, I have a funny suspicion, that those on the Right, like you, won’t believe those words, and those in the middle, will. And then, when he wins the election, and makes peace with Syria, and gives back the Golan, people like you won’t be able to call him a “traitor”, because he’ll tell you to look back at his party’s platform… not at your newspaper clippings… 🙂

November 14th, 2008, 9:42 pm

 

AIG said:

From a speech given on Sarkozy’s visit:

We will not return to the 67 lines and we will not leave (go down from) the Golan

the full speech below.

לא נחזור לקווי 67 ולא נרד מרמת הגולן!

—————————————-

נאום לרגל ביקורו של נשיא צרפת, ניקולא סרקוזי
יום שני, 23 ביוני, 2008

אני שמח לברך היום בכנסת ישראל, בירושלים המאוחדת בירת ישראל, את נשיא צרפת ניקולא סרקוזי ואת רעייתו הגב’ קרלה סרקוזי.
אדוני הנשיא, אני יכול לקבוע ללא היסוס: אתה ידיד אמת של ישראל!

כשאתה אומר שאתה מחוייב לביטחוננו – אתה מתכוון לזה. במהלך השנים הורגלנו למנהיגים במערב שבהבל פיהם תומכים בזכותה של ישראל להגנה עצמית, אך ברגעי אמת מגנים אותנו כל פעם שאנו נאלצים לממש זכות זו.

אתה ידיד אמת של ישראל כי הראית שיש לך מצפן מוסרי. לפני חודשים אחדים הצהרת שלא תיפגש עם מי שמסרב להכיר בקיומה של ישראל -הצהרה שמעטים ממנהיגי העולם מוכנים להתחייב לה, ועוד פחות מזה לקיימה.

כשאחמדיניג’אד מכריז באו”ם ובבירות העולם על כוונתו להשמידנו, כמעט שלא קם אף אחד שיתייצב מולו ויאמר לו את המילים הישירות ברוחו של אמיל זולא – .J’accuse אני מאשים! אבל אתה קמת ודחית אותו בתקיפות, ועל כך אנו מצדיעים לך היום!

אדוני הנשיא, אתה ידיד אמת של העם היהודי משום שאתה מוכן להתעמת חזיתית עם האנטישמיות ששוב מרימה ראש בארצך. כפי שאמרת: “המאבק נגד האנטישמיות אינו עניינה של הקהילה היהודית בצרפת, אלא עניינה של הרפובליקה הצרפתית כולה”.

אתה ידיד אמת של ישראל, אדוני, כפי שאתה ידיד אמת של אמריקה. כשאתה מחזק את הקשר בין ארצך לארצות הברית, אתה מחזק את כל הדמוקרטיות. כמו במאבק נגד הנאציזם והקומוניזם, המאבק נגד האסלאם הקיצוני מחייב ברית איתנה של כל מדינות העולם החופשי. כשארה”ב וצרפת מפולגות, ברית זו נחלשת. כשהן עומדות זו בצד זו, כל הדמוקרטיות מתחזקות, כולל ישראל.

האיום הגדול ביותר על העולם החופשי נובע מניסיונה של איראן להתחמש בנשק גרעיני. אנו מעודדים ממדיניותך להתייצב יחד עם ארה”ב כדי למנוע התפתחות זו.

בסופו של דבר, העימות עם איראן ימנע רק אם איראן תבין שהקהילה הבינלאומית נחושה לעשות כל דבר כדי למנוע את התחמשותה של איראן בנשק גרעיני.

אדוני הנשיא, שינית את יחסה של צרפת לישראל, ואת יחסה של ישראל לצרפת – וזאת מבלי לגרוע מיחסי צרפת והעולם הערבי.

בזה חידשת מסורת של יחסים מיוחדים בין צרפת וישראל. בשני העשורים הראשונים לעצמאותנו, זכינו לתמיכתה החיונית של צרפת בביצור כוחנו הלאומי.

שותפות זו צמחה מן המורשת התרבותית וההיסטורית המיוחדת של צרפת. תנועת ההשכלה בצרפת הייתה המנוע העיקרי של תנועת השחרור של יהודי אירופה. בצרפת הביא הדבר להופעת שורה ארוכה של יוצרים, הוגים ואישים יהודיים כמו קמיל פיזרו וז’אק אופנבאך, אנרי ברגסון וריימונד ארון, ליאון בלום ופייר מנדס פרנס – ואינספור יהודים אחרים שתרמו לצרפת מכישרונם וגאוניותם בכל התחומים, כיאה לארץ שהעמידה מתוכה גאון כמו רש”י.

היום מהווים יהודי צרפת את הקהילה היהודית הגדולה באירופה. זוהי קהילה תוססת, חזקה וגאה – גאה בזהותה היהודית, גאה בהישגיה הרבים ובתרומתה לצרפת, וגאה באהבתה למדינת ישראל.

ידידי הנשיא, זכורים לי רגעים מרגשים בהם עמדנו יחד על אותה במה מול אלפי יהודים בצרפת. ראיתי את חיבתך אליהם, וראיתי את חיבתם אליך. אין פלא שרבים מהם תומכים במאמציך לחדש את פניה של צרפת.

ידידי, אני מאחל לך הצלחה ביוזמתך לעשות רפורמות כלכליות ואחרות בארצך. מניסיון אישי, אני יכול לומר לך – זה לא יהיה קל. אך מנהיגות נבחנת ביכולתה לשחות נגד הזרם ולקבל החלטות קשות אך הנחוצה לטובת המדינה, המעז מנצח.

כולנו מאחלים גם להצלחתך ביוזמתך החשובה ליצור מסגרת של שיתוף פעולה בין מדינות הים התיכון, שלישראל מקום טבעי בה.

אין זה אומר שלא יהיו בינינו חילוקי דעות. כפי שאתה נוהג לומר: “חילוקי דעות יכולים להתקיים בין ידידים. אבל ברגעי מבחן, ידידים מתייצבים בשורה אחת זה בצד זה”.

ואכן, ישראלים רבים רואים את הדברים בפרספקטיבה שונה ממה שמצטייר לעיתים בקהילה הבינלאומית. עם ישראל רוצה בשלום בכל מאודו. גם הוכחנו שאנו מוכנים לשלם מחירים עבור השלום. אבל למדנו מניסיון השנים האחרונות להבחין בין שלום אמיתי לשלום מדומה, שטומן בחובו סכנות חמורות.

הנסיגות החד-צדדיות מלבנון וחבל עזה לא קירבו את השלום אלא יצרו בסיסים איראנים בגבולנו, מהם נורו עד היום על יישובינו אלפי טילים.

הביטחונות שקיבלנו מן הקהילה הבינלאומית, כולל החלטת מועצת הביטחון 1701, כשלו לחלוטין במניעת התחמשותם מחדש של החיזבאלה והחמאס.

ואילו אצל הפלשתינאים המתונים יותר אנו מגלים לצערנו אוזלת יד וחוסר נכונות לעשות את הצעדים המינמליים הדרושים לכינון שלום אמת.
הם אינם מוכנים להלחם בטרור, להכיר בישראל כמדינה יהודית ולוותר על הדרישה להציף את ישראל במיליוני פלשתינאים.

כדי שנוכל להתקדם לשלום אמת, כל זה חייב להשתנות. אם למדנו משהו מן ההיסטוריה הרי זה שהשלום מבוסס על עוצמה ולא על חולשה.
עלינו לשמור את הביטחון בידינו ולהיאבק בטרור ללא הפסקה וללא הפוגה. הבטחון הוא התנאי הראשון והבסיסי ביותר לקיום הסדרי שלום.

בצד זה עלינו לקדם שלום כלכלי עם שכנינו – לא כתחליף להסדר מדיני אלא כפרוזדור אליו. צמיחה כלכלית תחזק את המתונים ותחליש את הקיצוניים ע”י יצירת מקומות עבודה, שיפור רמת חייהם וקידום יוזמות כלכליות, תוך בניית עתיד של שגשוג ותקווה. אדוני הנשיא, אנו מקווים שתקדם יוזמות אלה במרץ האופייני לך בתקופת נשיאותך הקרובה של האיחוד האירופי.

ידידים יקרים, הגיע הזמן להגיד לעולם את האמת ההיסטורית בקול ברור וחזק: המכשול האמיתי לשלום היה והינו הסירוב להכיר במדינת ישראל בגבולות כלשהם.

ישראל הותקפה פעם אחר פעם בקווי 67 מיהודה, שומרון, עזה ורמת הגולן, כשלא הייתה אפילו התיישבות אחת בשטחים אלה. וכשנסוגונו עד הסנטימטר האחרון מלבנון ומרצועת עזה, ממשיכים אויבינו לתקוף אותנו מן השטחים הללו.

הם מסבירים שמטרתם היא לשחרר את “כל חלקי פלשתין הכבושה”: את “חיפה הכבושה”, “אשקלון הכבושה”, “יפו הכבושה” וכו’ – כלומר לחסל את מדינת ישראל בקווי 67 המצומקים.

הם אינם רוצים מדינה פלשתינאית בצד ישראל. הם רוצים מדינה פלשתינית במקום ישראל.

על כן עלינו לדרוש הכרה אמיתית בזכותנו לחיות כעם חופשי ובטוח בארצנו. ועלינו לעמוד על גבולות בני הגנה כדי שנוכל לחיות כאן.

לא נחזור לקווי 67 ולא נרד מרמת הגולן!

אין לנו כוונה לחזור ולשלוט בריכוזי האוכלוסייה הפלשתינית, אבל גם לא נחזור לגבולות שלא יאפשרו הגנה על מדינתנו , תוך ויתור חסר אחריות על מחוזות שהם נחלת אבותינו.

נפוליאון היה בין אלה שעמדו על הקשר העמוק בין עם ישראל לארצו.
במסעו בארץ ישראל ב-1799 קרא ליהודים, אותם כינה “היורשים החוקיים” של הארץ, להצטרף לצבאו ו”להחזיר מה שנלקח מכם”. במנשר ששלח להם שכתובתו ירושלים הוא מצטט מדברי הנביא ישעיהו: “ופדויי ה’ ישובון ובאו ציון”.

ובכן, מאז ברוך השם התקיימו דברי הנביא, וחזרנו בהמונינו לציון!

ידידי הנשיא, הפלשתינאים מאמינים שעם ישראל שהתפלל במשך אלפיים שנה לחזור לירושלים יוותר על חלקים מירושלים, לרבות הר הבית.

הם טועים.
זה לא יקרה!

לעולם לא נחלק את ירושלים!

כפי שאיש לא יעלה על דעתו לחלק את פריז מסיבות אתניות או דמוגרפיות, לא ניתן לאיש לחלק את ירושלים.

בירת הנצח של עם ישראל אינה עומדת לחלוקה או למכירה!
ירושלים המאוחדת תחת ריבונות ישראלית היא הערובה היחידה להמשך שמירת חופש הפולחן לבני כל הדתות בעיר – מוסלמים, נוצרים ויהודים.

ידידי הנשיא, אני רוצה לומר לך בנימה אישית: זו לא הפעם הראשונה ששנינו נפגשים כאן בירושלים, ומן הסתם גם לא הפעם האחרונה.

אבל אני שמח במיוחד לקבל אותך כאן כנשיא הרפובליקה הצרפתית.

ועוד יותר אני שמח שכל אדם בישראל יודע היום מה שצפיתי לפני שנים: שכמדינאי תחזיר את צרפת למרכז הבמה העולמית, ושאתה ידיד אמת של מדינת ישראל ושל עם ישראל.

ברוך בואך לירושלים!

November 14th, 2008, 9:44 pm

 

AIG said:

Shai,
To me it is clear that there is no ambiguity. All the quotes above are from the site you sent. They could not be more clear. So, was Bibi lying to Sarkozy?

The platform emphasizes real and reliable peace. It is clear then that Bibi does not believe that returning the Golan will ever bring to a real and reliable peace. That is why there is no contradiction with the platform. Why don’t you ask your likudnik friend this question? I am sure you will get the same answer I am giving you. You just want to hear what you like.

November 14th, 2008, 9:48 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

You’re REALLY weak today my friend… Not that I think your newspaper articles are anything to compare to his official, stated platform on his official website, to be propagated days from now through the internet to hundreds of thousands of Israeli voters… but what the heck, here’s from your last hebrew article:

אם נכונים דבריו של שר החוץ הסורי, ואליד מועלם, שמר אולמרט התחייב לרדת מרמת הגולן לשפת הכנרת עוד לפני תחילת המשא ומתן, הרי מדובר בהפקרות מדינית ובטחונית חסרת תקדים.

(Translation: “If what the Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid Moualem, says is true, that Mr. Olmert has made the commitment to withdraw from the Golan Heights down to the shore of the Kinneret, even before beginning the negotiations, then it is an unprecedented national and security lawlessness…”)

In other words, AIG, the Likud is not saying it won’t withdraw from the Golan, it is saying no one can do so without first negotiating… Gee, that’s reasonable enough, isn’t it?

Yalla, go read the Likud’s own platform, so at least you have time to change your story… 🙂

November 14th, 2008, 9:59 pm

 

AIG said:

Shai,

You have decided to go even lower today than usual. Netanyahu is here trying to convince even the ISraelis that are for returning the Golan that Olmert’s government is irresponsible and that Israel should go for elections.

You really would take anything knowingly out of context just to try making a point.

But let’s not worry. The election is ahead of us and what Netanyahu stands for will become extra clear the months ahead. All your attempts to instill false hope using vagueness are in vain.

November 14th, 2008, 10:04 pm

 

AIG said:

Offended,

I support 2. The explanation follows.

I, contrary to most Likud supporters, am for giving back the Golan as a gesture of goodwill to a democratic Syria. The reason I am for giving a democratic Syria the golan back even though I believe the golan belongs to Israel, is because I believe Israel should reward democracy in Arab countries and take security risks for that because democracy in Arab countries is a long term interest of Israel.

Clear enough for you?

November 14th, 2008, 10:09 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

The opposite, my selective and uninformed friend. I’m no longer trying to “instill false hope”. I’m now going to do so with very substantiated statements, by Netanyahu, on his own official website.

The question now is not whether this is Likud’s platform, because few will disagree with me that it is. No need to interpret newspaper clippings, when clear platform is stated in black and white, on the official future PM’s website.

The real question now, is what does AIG do, when Bibi starts showing Begin images shaking hands with Sadat, in his election campaign? 🙂 (I’m giving you heads up, so you can think about it, and prepare something. Call it comradeship…)

November 14th, 2008, 10:13 pm

 

AIG said:

Shai,
No problem, thanks for the heads up. And I will make sure to post here what Netanyahu says about the Golan, whether it supports my point of view or not. This indeed will be a great opportunity for the Syrians on this blog to see who is selling them BS and who is not. I look forward to an interesting 3 months. Then we will also be able to examine the basis of the formation of any coalition in Israel and what it says about the Golan. You have put yourself in place for a huge fall and you are going to take it. I love opportunites that bring clarity.

November 14th, 2008, 10:24 pm

 

Alia said:

An hour ago, I heard John Ging interviewed on NPR- he said that, although the past 2 months had been calm and without incidents, Israel had not been allowing the UNRWA to fill up its reserves of food and fuel and was allowing only day to day supplies to come in. This, he interpreted, was a calculated move to immediately punish the population should hostilities resume. This, he stated, is illegal and against all war and peace conventions-

BBC NEWS
UN ‘has run out of Gaza food aid’

The UN has no more food to distribute in the Gaza Strip, the head of relief efforts in the area has warned.

John Ging said handouts for 750,000 Gazans would have to be suspended until Saturday at the earliest, and called Gaza’s economic situation “a disaster”.

Israel earlier denied entry to a convoy carrying humanitarian supplies.

It has prevented the transfer of all goods into Gaza for nearly a week, blaming continuing rocket attacks by Palestinian militants.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa) distributes emergency aid to about half of Gaza’s 1.5m population.

“We have run out [of food aid] this evening,” said Mr Ging, Unrwa’s senior official in Gaza.

“Unless the crossing points open… we won’t be able to get that food into Gaza,” he told Reuters news agency.

Access denied

Also on Thursday, Israel refused permission for a group of senior European diplomats to visit the coastal enclave.

It has also prevented journalists, including those from the BBC, from entering the territory.

Limited supplies of fuel were sent over on Tuesday after Gaza’s only power plant ran out of diesel.

Militants say the mortar and rocket fire is their response to what they say is Israeli aggression against Gaza.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev insisted any improvement would be dependent on the Hamas movement which runs the Gaza Strip.

“There’s been a combat situation and it’s very difficult to have unhindered functioning of the border crossings in a situation where shooting is going on,” he said.

On Wednesday, Israeli troops killed four Palestinian militants from the Hamas movement, which has controlled Gaza since it wrested power from the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in June 2007.

Witnesses said fighting broke out on the Gaza border after Israeli armoured vehicles crossed into the territory near Khan Younis.

The army said its soldiers were trying to stop militants plant a bomb near the security fence surrounding the strip.

Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.

Aleem Maqbool reports from a closed crossing into the Gaza Strip.

The Gaza power plant provides most of the electricity used in Gaza City; Israel supplies most of the rest of the territory’s energy needs, but the system is liable to become overloaded and blackouts are common.

Israel occupied Gaza in 1967, but pulled military forces and Jewish settlers out in the summer of 2005.

Access to the territory, which is home to about 1.5m Palestinians, remains under the control of Israel’s military, as does its airspace and territorial waters.

Egypt controls the southern entrance to Gaza at Rafah, and goes along with the policy of isolating the Hamas movement, which Israel and its allies brand a terrorist group.

The current round of clashes and rocket fire began on 5 November when Israeli troops entered Gaza to destroy what Israel said was a tunnel dug by militants to abduct its troops.

One militant died in the gunfight, and a subsequent Israeli air strike on Hamas positions in southern Gaza killed at least five fighters.

Hamas responded with a barrage of rockets fired into Israel. There has been intermittent rocket fire since, causing no Israeli casualties.

A truce between the two sides declared on 19 June had largely held. Both sides have accused the other of violating the truce, but maintain that they remain committed to it.

November 14th, 2008, 10:36 pm

 

Enlightened said:

26. Akbar Palace said:

Enlightened said:

Thats far more important, than what a professor of middle east history would have to say?

Enlightened,

I’m sort of getting tired of reading about Dr. Bashar from third parties. All these professors and authors love to explain to me how great Dr. Bashar is. They all read like very strange advertisements: “You need this”, “New and Improved”, “Better than you once thought”, “I have personally seen how he has grown into the position, and he is now brimming with a confidence…”, etc, etc.

Huh?

I usually decide on a political figure by his actions or lack thereof.
——————————————————————

OK. That is a little bit clearer. Maybe that is their perception of him, because they have met him a few times. I don’t think Akbar this is the real problem that you have with these people. That they have a alternative view of how you would like Bashar to be portrayed. ( mind you I believe that he has some shortcomings) and would like to see more reforms, and openness.etc etc

We know that you would prefer the views of Daniel Pipes, Martin Kramer, Eyal Zisser etc

But unfortunately for you Akbar, these views will not hold sway in the White House for the next 4 years or possible 8. So you will have to get used to “bad infomercials” as you describe them. Heck we had 8 years of your “bad infomercials”

So in the interests of “fairness and Equity” grin and bear it, and take it like a man! Heck we all did ( apart from some whining of course)!

November 14th, 2008, 11:31 pm

 

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