News Round Up (19 April 2010) - Syria Comment

News Round Up (19 April 2010)

The American School in Damascus has been given permission to open again. It was shuttered in reaction to a deadly cross border raid that killed a number of Syrians and was launched by President Bush in his last weeks in power. It’s opening is a direct response to the reappointment of a US ambassador and warming relations. The Scud scare set off by Israel’s President seems to be a tempest in a teapot, designed to shift attention from Israeli’s rejection of Obama’s peace efforts to Hizbullah’s supposed efforts to destroy Israel. It may be successful for about a week, but most reports are now defusing the tension and claiming that Israeli intelligence only suspected the transfer and has no evidence. Read Alistair Lyon’s report from Beirut for Reuters. He makes clear that most experts see no reason for Hizbullah to bulk up with Scuds. They are awkward big missiles that take too long to launch and would be vulnerable to Israeli attack. Hizbullah has already acquired more dexterous and nimble Iranian-made Fateh-110s.

Jihad Yaziji in his estimable “Syria Report” informs us that the average Syrian salary rose 3.6 percent last year to SYP 11,133, or to about $230. Foreign investment should also be made easier with a number of new laws meant to ease the way for industry and capitalism. New labor laws make it easier to terminate employees. A new law on leasing should open up new opportunities, which could be very big as leasing has a major impact on developing economies.

Khaddam – Syria’s long serving ex-Vice-President who left Damascus for Paris in 2005 in order to team up with the Muslim Brotherhood and start an opposition party called the National Salvation Front — is again breaking with his sponsor. This time it is the Hariris, who lent him their 20 million dollar villa in the center of Paris from which he was to rally Syrians. Rafiq Hariri, it should be added, lent Jacques Chirac a 180 square meter duplex on the Quai Voltaire in Paris as recompense for supporting his causes. Khaddam promised that he would bring down the Assads within six months. Needless to say, he failed to deliver; the Hariris now want their house back. Khaddam claims that he was given the villa as compensation for the assets he lost when the Baath party accused him of corruption and requisitioned his numerous properties and beautiful villa by the sea on the outskirts of Tartous.  22 members of Khaddam’s extended family were also forced to leave Syria and their properties.

Leah Caldwell explains why a Syrian shaykh and his wife were arrested after appearing on al-Jazeerah in her article,  Defining the Boundaries of Acceptable Speech in Syria.

Finally Iraq: Syria is trying to develop its friendships among Iraqis to influence the formation of a new government. To this end, a new Iraq policy group has been established. By giving refuge and protection to so many Iraqi groups, Syria will build up influence among them, much as it did among Palestinians. This is another reason why the US needs to engage Syria and get its ambassador to Damascus. Read the article by Phil Sands.

News Round up follows:

Syria guards its role in new Iraq via FLC
By Phil Sands for the National

Syria has set up a new Iraq policy group to ensure its interests are safeguarded and that Iraq remains stable as US troops withdraw, according to officials and analysts in Damascus. They said the move is part of an organised effort by the Syrian authorities to take a positive and active role in Iraqi politics, at a time when intense negotiations to form a new government in Baghdad are under way and with US influence there on the wane.

Saudi Arabia and Iran, two major regional powers bordering Iraq, have been a focal point for talks between competing Iraqi factions since the March 7 elections. Damascus, a crucial player in regional politics, is keen not to be overshadowed by Tehran and Riyadh.

“The Syrian government has taken a decision since the [Iraq] election to be involved in the establishment of the Iraqi government,” said a Syrian official, on condition of anonymity.

He compared Syria’s potential standing in Iraq to its position in Lebanon. …..

Critics accuse Damascus of playing both sides, stoking hard-line Islamist sentiment to oppose the US presence next door while trying to suppress the same trends at home.

As part of a diplomatic re-engagement with Syria, launched by the Obama administration, a series of US delegations have held talks with their counterparts in Damascus on the issue of Iraqi security, hoping to enlist them in stabilisation efforts. The Syrian government’s decision to set up a new Iraq policy forum is, in part, a response to that, according to the Syrian official.

“Our role in Iraq is not simply coming from a Syrian perspective, it is also a reflection of western and American requests,” he said. “The Americans and the Europeans have asked for our help to fix the situation in Iraq and to pave the way for a US withdrawal. ….Now Iran is involved in Iraq, so are Saudi Arabia and Syria. The time of America trying to put Iraq into its pocket is now over.”

The 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent regional developments, particularly the assassination of Rafik Hariri, a former Lebanese prime minister, two years later, placed huge pressures on the Syrian president, Bashar Assad. For a time there was even talk of a Washington-enforced regime change in Syria.

These hostile conditions gave Damascus every incentive to work against the Americans in Iraq, and to centre its strategic policy on the goal of having US troops withdrawn……

Damascus can also argue it is the only outside party able to access all strands of Iraqi opinion, with close links to radical Shiites, radical Sunnis and the various shades in between.

There are unconfirmed reports in Syria that the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al Maliki, has given assurances that a personal rift between him and Mr Assad would be patched up were he to be re-elected. Relations between Baghdad and Damascus have been frozen since Mr al Maliki accused Syria of harbouring the insurgents behind a string of bombings last year……….

Negotiations are ongoing and have involved heavy regional shuttle diplomacy.

“This time the Iraqi government is being formed with a view to its place in the region,” the Syrian official said. “It is being formed in part in Tehran, in Riyadh and Damascus. But it is surely not being formed in the White House.”

Scud missiles would be odd choice for Hezbollah
By Alistair Lyon, Special Correspondent

BEIRUT, April 18 (Reuters) – Long-range Scud missiles, which Israel has accused Syria of sending to Hezbollah in Lebanon, seem unlikely weapons of choice for a nimble guerrilla outfit, although they might pack a psychological punch.

“Hezbollah need to float like butterflies, sting like bees. They don’t need something that lumbers along like an ox,” British defence analyst Charles Heyman said…..

The Scud scare fits into the wider context of a decades-old conflict pitting Israel against Syria, which seeks the return of the Golan Heights occupied in the 1967 war, argued Joshua Landis, a Syria specialist at the University of Oklahoma…..

Uzi Rubin, a founder of Israel’s Arrow anti-missile programme and now a private consultant to the Defence Ministry, voiced surprise at reports of Scuds reaching Hezbollah.

“This is a nonsense move. What do they need Scuds for?” he asked.

“They already have the (Iranian-made) Fateh-110, which has a similar range and, being a solid-fuel rocket, is far less cumbersome. Okay, so Scuds weigh a tonne while the Fateh-110 is half a tonne. Nothing to stop them firing two Fateh-110s.”

The guerrillas rained mostly short-range Katyusha rockets on northern Israel during a 2006 war in which nearly 1,200 people, mainly civilians, were killed in Lebanon. Hezbollah killed 158 Israelis, 43 of them civilians hit by rocket attacks.

Israel failed to stop the Katyusha strikes, but analysts say it swiftly knocked out Hezbollah’s larger missiles.

“Early in the Lebanon campaign, the Israelis were able to target and destroy Hezbollah’s intermediate and medium-range missiles,” Beaver said. “It’s hard to hide a Scud. It requires an erector launcher, refuelling trucks, a panoply of equipment.”

Heyman said Scuds would be easy meat for Israel’s military. “Within three or four minutes of a launch, the whole area would be an inferno of high explosives from counter-battery fire.”….

Syria Enacts Business Friendly Labour Law (Syria Report by Jihad Yaziji)
The Syrian President enacted on April 12 a new, modern and business-friendly labour law that eases constraints on employers but also provides clearer guidelines on the rights of employees.

Economy: Syria’s Average Monthly Salary at SYP 11,133 (Syria Report by Jihad Yaziji)
The average salary in Syria have risen 3.6 percent last year to SYP 11,133, according to a recent survey by the Central Bureau of Statistics.

Khaddam Seized Hariri’s House in Paris.. Nazek Hariri Goes to the French Court to Kick him Out
Jouhina.News,

A dispute occurred between Nazek Hariri, the widow of the late Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri, and Abdulhalim Khaddam, the ex-Vice President of Syria, after Mrs. Hariri asked him to leave her Palace in Paris, the electronic daily “Al-Intikad” reported. Hariri’s family gave Khaddam this house as a “temporary” residence till his ‘heroic’ coming back home with the help of Bush’s administration achieved, the thing never happened.

The newspaper according to French and Arabic sources in Paris confirmed that Hariri family who bought the palace for 20 million Euro from Onassis, the well-known Greek billionaire, hosted Khaddam temporarily for free but Khaddam is refusing to leave it.

Khaddam claims that Hariri family gave him this palace in exchange for the properties he lost in Syria. He claims also that there was an agreement between him, Hariri family and ex President Chirac where he was paid $7 millions in exchange for part of his properties on the Syrian coast, and he was promised more, according to al-Intikad.

Close sources confirm that Khaddam is now paying for his deeds especially after the recent reconciliation between Syria and Saudi Arabia which makes Syria and Hariri closer ending up with a visit by Hariri to Damascus. Sources also confirm that since Sarkozy became the President of France in 2007 the French authorities restrict Khaddam’s movements and prevent him from appearing on media and bar him from political activities.

Syria’s periodicals and online news sites are flourishing
Sami Moubayed in Gulf News
April 2010

The Syrian sheikh in his fateful TV appearance

Defining the Boundaries of Acceptable Speech in Syria
The Syrian sheikh in his fateful TV appearance
By Leah Caldwell

It is unlikely that observers of the Arabic-language media were shocked by the arrest of Syrian religious figure Sheikh Abdul Rahman Kuki at the hands of the Syrian security apparatus on October 22, 2009 (1). Yet upon analysis, Kuki’s case provides unique insight into the contours of acceptable discourse in Bashar al-Assad’s Syria, even when the statements occur outside of its borders.

Sheikh Kuki had recently appeared on the Al Jazeera program al-Ittijah al-Muakis (The Opposite Direction), where he had a vitriolic exchange with his Egyptian debate partner on a highly contentious issue: the proposed banning of the niqab by the late Sheikh of al-Azhar. Mohamed Tantawi. Human rights groups and Al Jazeera have asserted that the content of this debate led to the Syrian government’s arraigning of Kuki in a Damascus criminal court on the following charges: undermining the authority of the state; insulting the president of the republic; and inciting sectarianism (2) (3)…..

Sheikh Kuki kicks off the debate by reading from a prepared statement in which he commends all Muslims who wear the hijab and niqab for their refusal to abandon their “religion, dignity, and principles” by cooperating with the “Zionist-American” proposal coming from the “so-called” Shaykh of al-Azhar. If this seems ruthless, the invective only intensifies throughout the debate as both parties (and the moderator) succeed in instigating each other.

Sheikh Kuki further attacks the Sheikh of al-Azhar on a personal level and then asks: “What is the field of [the sheikh’s] battle? . . . The field of his battle is Islam and his first enemy is the hijab, chastity, and the niqab. Has the sheikh launched a battle or any statements against the Jews? Never. Against corruption? Never. Against prostitution and drunkenness? Against depravity? Against tight jeans?”…

yet what follows in the remainder of the debate suggests that Kuki’s tirade against the Sheikh of al-Azhar was not the primary catalyst for the Syrian government’s reaction…..

Leah Caldwell is completing her Master’s in Middle Eastern Studies with a focus on Syrian media at the University of Texas at Austin. She writes on Arab media issues. The exchange on Al Jazeera is available on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZzYPgjor5E&feature=player_embedded

A Difficult Balance: The French Relationship with Syria
By Dalia Haidar in Syria Today

When French President Nicolas Sarkozy warmly greeted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in front of the international media in Paris in July 2008, Syria’s international isolation was in many ways at an end. Change regarding Syria had been in the air – in the preceding 18 months Damascus had hosted a number of international delegates including former EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana and US Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. But the particularly friendly and public welcome Assad received from Sarkozy, coming in the wake of Syrian efforts to end a political crisis in Lebanon which saw armed factions do battle in the streets of Beirut, marked a definitive milestone in a rapid transformation of Syria’s regional and international standing.

The change in policy from Paris, which was criticised in some European and US political circles, opened the door to a new phase in Franco-Syrian ties. It also marked the end of a cold period between Damascus and Paris following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a close friend of then serving French President Jacques Chirac. Chirac held Syria responsible for the murder, a charge Damascus has always denied.

Two months after Assad’s visit to France, Sarkozy made his first trip to Syria, participating in a four-way mini summit with the leaders of Syria, Turkey and Qatar which addressed the indirect peace negotiations taking place between Syria and Israel at the time. The latest visit came in February when French Prime Minister Francois Fillon touched down in Damascus, signing a bundle of economic agreements during his stay.

“We are trying to match the different positive dynamics,” Eric Chevallier, French ambassador to Syria, told Syria Today. “Today, we believe that we have really entered a new phase in our relationship, one that can be positive for both sides.”…

“I don’t see the underpinning of the French-Syrian relationship at the political level,” Peter Harling, project director of Iraq, Lebanon and Syria at the International Crisis Group, said. “There are strong historical and economic components, as well as a personal one, but a sustainable friendship can only be built on political common ground. Beyond becoming a visible player, France still lacks a clear strategic vision for the region. Syria remains somewhat cautious as a result.”….

The most tangible results of renewed Franco-Syrian ties have been in the economic arena. In mid-2008, French energy firm Total extended its Production Sharing Agreement in Syria until 2021. In November last year, French building materials group Lafarge announced it had secured the financing needed to proceed with a SYP 27.6bn (USD 600m) cement factory – the largest in the country – complete with the biggest cement compressor in the world. The French development bank AFD also recently established an office in Damascus, while Fillon departed the country after signing 11 cooperation agreements aimed at bolstering ties in agriculture, civil aviation, culture and administrative cooperation. According to the French Embassy in Damascus, the volume of trade between both countries exceeded SYP 46bn (USD 1bn) last year, shared equally by both sides. It is a figure which could skyrocket, at least in the short term, if Paris ever decides to fill a Syrian order for as many as 14 French-manufactured Airbus aircraft.

But even on the economic front, many Syrians question the strength of the relationship. Detractors point to the fact that Damascus has not been able to secure the delivery of any Airbus aircraft. US sanctions have held up the sale of the aircraft due to the fact that 10 percent of their components are made in America. Pushing ahead with the sale is certain to raise the ire of the US and potentially jeopardise future US civilian and military contracts with the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) which manufactures Airbus aircraft.

“The Syrians expected France would raise the issue with officials at the highest political levels in the US, which is not what happened initially,” Harling said.

France, however, argues its options are limited.

“What are our options?” Chevallier said. “We could break the rules, but if we do that we will not only enter into a legal battle with the US, but we will not be able to secure the necessary components we need to build the planes.”

Muhammad Khatami, a former president of Iran, has apparently been banned from leaving the country. Mr Khatami was planning to attend a conference on nuclear disarmament in Japan but was prevented from leaving Iran, say his aides.

An Empire Decomposed: American Foreign Relations In the Early 21st Century
Remarks to the Foreign Affairs Retirees of Northern Virginia
Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr., USFS (Ret.)
Arlington, Virginia, 24 March 2010

Dual loyalty or a conflict of interest? (Foreign Policy)

Stephen Walt and Robert Satloff disagree about the potential problems of high-level officials having strong allegiances to foreign countries, Israel in particular.

Obama’s Pressure on Israel Spurs a Jewish Group for Sarah Palin
By Special to the Sun | April 15, 2010
This, from the undead New York Sun. Several unnamed “journalists and academics” have formed the new group.

NEW YORK — President Obama’s recent demarche designed to increase pressure on Israel is having one immediate impact in the Jewish community — it is hastening the formation of an organization called Jewish Americans for Sarah Palin.

Plans for the new group are set to be announced on Sunday by a Philadelphia-based journalist and activist named Binyamin Korn, a former executive director of the Zionist Organization of America. The announcement is unlikely to make big news, as the group is embryonic, with an advisory committee of several journalists and academics.

Its aim, however, is to take advantage of the growing alarm within the Jewish community at what Mr. Korn, in an interview this week with the New York Sun, called an “escalation of rhetoric” criticizing the Jewish state. The group also hopes to counter suggestions — by, among others, such opposite figures as the widely read Atlantic magazine blogger Jeffrey Goldberg and the left-of-center, anti-Israel publication Counterpunch — that Mrs. Palin’s support for Israel is animated by “end of days” theology that believes an in-gathering in Israel will precede the apocalypse and the destruction of the Jews.

Mr. Korn dismisses such talk, saying that there is “a wide range of views about religion within the Jewish Community and an even wider range of views about religion in the Christian community” and that “whatever motives Governor Palin may have or may be imputed to her are entirely within the mainstream of American discourse . . .” He said his group was encouraged by a defense of Mrs. Palin in an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal by the most famous neo-conservative, Norman Podhoretz, who wrote that he would “rather be ruled by the Tea Party than by the Democratic Party” and “would rather have Sarah Palin sitting in the Oval Office than Barack Obama.”

What Jewish Americans for Sarah Palin is saying, Mr. Korn said, “is that the most articulate person in the public arena today in opposition to the Obama administration’s shift in policies against Israel is Sarah Palin.” He called her “very direct,” particularly on the controversy of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, on terrorism policies, and on the emerging Obama doctrine.

Mr. Korn said his organization, which has not yet been incorporated, has had “no contact with Governor Palin or her campaign” and has no relation to her political action committee, known as SarahPAC. “We would be gratified if Governor Palin considers this a contribution to her efforts to influence American life,” Mr. Korn said. “We hope that she will feel we are supporting her, even though she is clearly not a candidate for any office at this time.”


EXCLUSIVE: AIPAC CUTOUT, THE STORY OF THE WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY

By M.J. Rosenberg – for TPM, April 11, 2010

I already wrote once about Bob Satloff and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. It is, and always has been, an extension of AIPAC, created by AIPAC. Stephen Walt takes on the issue of it’s ersatz independence here

In my piece yesterday, I pointed out that I was in the room when the plan for WINEP was first drawn up. I was working at AIPAC and it was Steve Rosen who cleverly came up with the idea for an AIPAC controlled think-tank that would put forth the AIPAC line but in a way that would disguise its connections.There was no question that WINEP was to be AIPAC’s cutout. It was funded by AIPAC donors, staffed by AIPAC employees, and located one door away, down the hall, from AIPAC Headquarters (no more. It has its own digs). It would also hire all kinds of people not identified with Israel as a cover and would encourage them to write whatever they liked on matters not related to Israel. “Say what you want on Morocco, kid.” But on Israel, never deviate more than a degree or two.

So why does it matter?

It matters because the media has totally fallen for this sleight of hand and WINEP spokespersons appear (especially on PBS) as if WINEP was not part of the Israel lobby. ….

WINEP is the voice of AIPAC. Satloff is a predictable neocon. Just label these people correctly. Put Satloff on, but up opposite Jeremy Ben Ami of J Street (not the State Department).

Comments (62)


bondo said:

didnt know the american sch had closed. taught there for a while

April 20th, 2010, 12:28 am

 

norman said:

BONDO,

That ( The close closure )took place after the US attack inside Syria that killed many civilians ,

April 20th, 2010, 1:39 am

 

Amir in Tel Aviv said:

“…The annual BBC worldwide poll started in 2005. Nearly 30,000 people were polled between November 2009 and February 2010 in 28 countries. The poll surveyed if people had a positive view or a negative view of a country without asking for a reason or justification for the answers collected by the pollsters”.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/160410bbcwspoll.pdf

13% of Turks have “mainly positive” view on Iran. 54% mainly negative.
If you thought that a grand northern pan-Islamic alliance forges, then think twice.
.

April 20th, 2010, 2:31 am

 

Hassan said:

Tabler does it again. See the piece below in which the rising Syria analyst examines the consequences of Syria’s nuclear ambitions.

___________________________________________
How to React to a Reactor
By Andrew J. Tabler
ForeignAffairs.com
April 19, 2010
In his confirmation hearing in March, Robert S. Ford, the U.S. ambassador-designate to Syria, listed five issues that will be at the core of the Obama administration’s engagement with Damascus. Four were familiar: the United States wants Syria to prevent jihadi fighters from entering Iraq, end its support for Hezbollah, return to peace talks with Israel, and respect human rights at home.

But the fifth issue was a new one: Ford argued that Washington should insist that Syria end its foot-dragging on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s investigation into its nuclear activities. For nearly two years, Syria has refused to cooperate with the IAEA’s probe of a suspected nuclear reactor that was destroyed by Israel in September 2007. Now the IAEA may request a rare “special inspection” of Syrian sites, making the country’s nuclear defiance the international community’s main point of contention with Damascus — eclipsing even the investigation into Syrian officials’ involvement in the assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri.

Indeed, the international community cannot afford to let Syria’s proliferation attempts go unaddressed, since the violations threaten the global nonproliferation regime and may be evidence of a wider nuclear program. Even more, the IAEA’s investigation could provide Washington much needed leverage in its increasingly trying diplomatic engagement with Damascus.

The story of Syria’s nuclear program has been quietly building for more than two and a half years. On September 6, 2007, Israeli jets took part in Operation Orchard, bombing a nondescript building at a site in eastern Syria called Al-Kibar, near the city of Deir ez-Zor. In April 2008, U.S. intelligence authorities released a video showing that the building had hid construction of a graphite-cooled nuclear reactor similar to North Korea’s reactor at Yongbyon, which produces plutonium for the country’s nuclear weapons. The video contained satellite photographs of the site, still shots of the reactor under construction, and a photograph of the directors of North Korea’s and Syria’s nuclear programs standing arm in arm.

In June 2008, Syria allowed the IAEA to access the Al Kibar site, but inspectors were unable to examine the reactor ruins because Syria had cleared the site of wreckage, buried what remained, and constructed a new building on top. Nevertheless, they found particles of chemically processed uranium of a type Syria had not declared to the IAEA. Satellite photos of the site and the list of parts Syria had procured for its construction posed additional questions. Syria soon cut off cooperation with the IAEA investigation, denying further visits to Al Kibar and three associated sites.

Separately, IAEA inspectors found other unexplained uranium particles during a routine inspection of Syria’s miniature neutron source reactor, a research reactor outside Damascus that had been declared to the IAEA. Syrian authorities twice tried to explain the presence of these particles, but IAEA inspectors found their explanations inadequate, believing instead that they raised concerns about possible links to the particles found at Al Kibar. Although Syria allowed IAEA inspectors to return to the research reactor this month, it continues to spurn IAEA requests to visit Al Kibar, citing national “sovereignty.” (A report written by Gregory L. Schulte, who was U.S. Ambassador to the IAEA from 2005 to 2009, lays out the IAEA’s investigation, Syria’s defiance, and the resulting policy recommendations. Schulte also contributed to this article.)

The IAEA’s latest report on the Syria investigation was the first released by the new IAEA director-general, Yukiya Amano, who took office in July 2009. It was blunt and forthright, clearly restating that the destroyed facility had all the characteristics of a nuclear reactor and openly questioning whether Syria’s declarations were correct and complete.

The Syrian government denies that the Al Kibar facility housed a nuclear reactor. At first, it claimed that the uranium particles found at the site came from the bombs Israel had used to destroy it, an explanation the IAEA dismissed as having a “low probability.” Then, at a recent IAEA Board of Governors’ meeting, Syrian Ambassador Bassam Sabbagh claimed that Israeli planes sprinkled the particles over the site — an equally specious explanation that cannot account for the particles found at the research reactor outside Damascus. Glyn Davies, the current U.S. ambassador to the IAEA, described Syria’s latest assertion as “desperate.” Other ambassadors have shared his disdain: in a three-page statement, the European Union — Syria’s largest Western donor — said it was “essential” that Syria clarify its response and provide “access to all locations and documentation.”

Even though Syria’s covert reactor no longer exists, there are a number of reasons why the country’s nuclear program should remain at the top of the U.S. policy agenda in Syria. First, a strong IAEA is important at a time when the international community is confronting the nuclear ambitions of Syria’s ally, Iran. Allowing Syria to rebuff IAEA inspectors would undermine the global proliferation regime — a particularly dangerous possibility given that Iran’s nuclear violations risk sparking a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. By getting to the bottom of Syria’s clandestine program, the world’s nuclear watchdog can show that it has regained its clout.

Second, the particles found at the research reactor, plus Syria’s refusal to allow the IAEA access to three other suspect sites, suggest the existence of a larger program. Particularly troubling is the apparent involvement of North Korea, a notorious nuclear violator and weapons proliferator. Reports of Iran’s involvement are equally worrisome. The IAEA has an obligation to ensure that there are no other undeclared activities in Syria, and the world has an interest in breaking up further multinational proliferation ventures, whether they traffic in missiles or nuclear weapons technology.

Third, although the precise motives behind Syria’s nuclear activities are unknown, a primary impetus was likely the Assad regime’s obsession with obtaining a deterrent against Israel. Syria’s nuclear program was the capstone of one of the Middle East’s most active chemical and biological weapons programs. This program, together with Syria’s extensive surface-to-surface missile capabilities, is a major source of potential contention and conflict between Syria and Israel. Any future U.S.-negotiated peace treaty between Syria and Israel may need to include a deal — similar to the one that convinced Libya to end its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions — for Syria to divulge its nuclear pursuits. Indeed, only a peace treaty with Israel may persuade Damascus that coming clean is in its strategic interest.

U.S. engagement with Syria has already been fraught with difficulty. After a February 25 meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, President Bashar al-Assad mocked the United States’ goals of creating tension between Tehran and Damascus — just days after U.S. Under Secretary of State William Burns visited Damascus to pursue that agenda. To make matters worse, new reports suggest that Syria has been supplying sophisticated weapons — including missiles capable of carrying nuclear and chemical payloads — to Hezbollah. And last but not least, U.S. efforts to foster even indirect negotiations between Syria and Israel have yet to yield results.

Regardless of whether talks between Syria and Israel resume any time soon, if Damascus were to come clean on its nuclear program, the revelation would be a major confidence-building measure that would significantly improve strained U.S.-Syrian relations. The IAEA investigation provides an opportunity for the United States and its Western and regional allies to gain some leverage in getting Syria to make concessions on central issues. To date, the engagement strategies of the United States, France, and the Arab Gulf states have been uncoordinated and conflicting, but all these countries have an interest in convincing Syria to admit its nuclear activities and to lure Damascus to the peace table and away from Tehran. Windows of opportunity to apply pressure — as well as a way out for Syria — will arise with every regular IAEA report.

Realistically, Assad is unlikely to move unless the IAEA orders a special inspection of Al Kibar and other sites. Syria’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA, which outlines the country’s obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, allows special inspections “if the Agency considers that information made available by Syria . . . is not adequate for the Agency to fulfill its responsibilities.” As its latest report documented, the IAEA has now reached that point. If Syria refuses to allow inspections, the IAEA Board of Governors can decide that the action is “essential and urgent.” If Syria refuses again, it can find Syria in noncompliance and report the country to the UN Security Council.

There is no doubt that Assad wants the IAEA investigation — like the Hariri tribunal — to fall off the international agenda. If the IAEA refers the matter to the UN Security Council, it would be an embarrassment that would set back Assad’s desire for closer trade and commercial ties with the West. It could even lead to sanctions.

Meanwhile, quiet engagement by the United States, coordinated with permanent members of the Security Council could show Assad a way out through full cooperation with the IAEA. Should Syria seize that opportunity, two major benefits would result: the role of North Korea and any involvement by Iran would be exposed, and the IAEA would prove that it cannot be stymied by uncooperative countries. If Syria balks, referring this issue to the Security Council would maintain the integrity of the nonproliferation regime while providing a source of leverage for the broader agenda of fostering Syrian-Israeli peace. Whatever the outcome, one thing will be clear: Syria’s nuclear aspirations will not go unnoticed.

Andrew J. Tabler is a Next Generation fellow in the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute.

April 20th, 2010, 3:07 pm

 

why-discuss said:

What is the use of the present IAEA?
Most countries who gave signed the NPT in hope of getting support to develop nuclear energy knowledge are regretting they had.
The NPT has become a political mean, as any country that do not comply with the intrusive IAEA visits ends up in the Security Council. Had they know that, I am sure no one would have signed this treaty!
Smart countries like Israel, India, Pakistan did not sign it and are not bothered.. and they are the ones who are a threat to the region. ( Has the USA signed it? if so is the IAEA allowed on USA sites?? )
The IAEA in its present structure, acting like a double standard agent/police of big powers is loosing its credibility, already seriously harmed by the Iraq fiasco!
It is time it is restructured and the NPT imposed and not optional, or cancelled!

April 20th, 2010, 3:34 pm

 

Ford prefect said:

“Andrew J. Tabler is a Next Generation fellow in the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute.

Next Generation? I wonder if this “next generation” of AIPAC and Sarah Palin’s mouthpiece (aka WINEP) analysts is the 3G, 4G, or the MaxiPad version. Can’t wait for the SurePad version of such hapless analysts to emerge.

April 20th, 2010, 5:19 pm

 

Hassan said:

Ford,

Was there something offensive about Tabler’s analysis? Your choice to dismiss Tabler as some type of “MaxiPad” version of an analyst is a bit baffling. I do not see the connection between women’s menstrual products and Syria’s nuclear program. Moreover, rather than dismissing him we ought to seriously consider his reportage and the implications of Syria’s nuclear ambitions for the security of people in the region.

April 20th, 2010, 6:12 pm

 

jgupta said:

Happy Independence day to Israel. May she continue to live in peace with Syria, her northern neighbor, for years to come.

April 20th, 2010, 6:23 pm

 

offended said:

Hassan said,

” I do not see the connection between women’s menstrual products and Syria’s nuclear program. ”

The iTampon was mentioned in reference to Andrew Tabler’s PMSing analysis, not to the ‘Syrian Nuclear Program’…

April 20th, 2010, 6:40 pm

 

Hassan said:

The childish references to the monthly cycle of a woman are a bit out of place, not to mention sexist. Concerns about the proliferation of scuds and nuclear matériel can’t be reduced to mere histrionics.

In recent weeks a number of analysts have raised concerns about Syria’s exports of scud missiles ( see the following link for brief lists of some the recent discussion by policy analysts in the US http://www.theatlanticwire.com/opinions/view/opinion/Syrian-Missile-Crisis-Is-War-Coming-3245 ). We now have the new US Ambassador raising concerns about Syria’s nuclear project and lack of cooperation with the IAEA. The idea that a proliferator, now of scuds, may also be engaged in the illicit production of nuclear matériel is raising concerns about Syria.

Thankfully the journal “Foreign Affairs” has made this piece of analysis and reportage by Tabler the lead article on their website. As a result it is the most viewed article on the page.

April 20th, 2010, 6:57 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

Dear Hassan,
There was nothing offensive in Tabler’s oh-so-timely piece posted above. But the analogies you posted in your comment were not mine – I was referring to product generations from Apple, with some potential of upcoming product names. However, I like your way of thinking and how you linked them to hygienic products. In fact, I am going to use your analogies from now on when describing hypocrites and AIPAC cronies.

Back to the topic of Mr. Tabler and similar hired guns at WINEP, AIE, AIPAC, and Dancing with Stars. As you might already know, Mr. Tabler spent about 7 years in Syria studying the country inside and out. In addition, Mr. Tabler was the co-founder and the Editor-in-Chief of Syria Today – the first English glossy magazine produced and printed in Syria.

So I searched the archives of Syria Today to find how Mr. Tabler spent a good portion of his career exposing Syrian nuclear ambitions. Oops, no, shocker, it’s not there! He never mentioned a word of it. In fact, he was keen and nice to Syria back then. Maybe it was because he wasn’t employed by WINEP back then? Now I am getting really perplexed.

Next, in digging further, I found these interesting quotations from Mr. Tabler when he was not on the payroll of the war-hungry WINEP:
In January 2008:

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2008/0111/p04s01-wome.html
“Sanctions on Syria haven’t worked. Officially, trade has gone up between the two countries and the Syrian market is full of American goods,” says Andrew Tabler, who authored a trade study for the Stanley Foundation.

And in May 2008:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2742/is_389/ai_n25428148/
“US trade sanctions have not decreased US exports to Syria, but have backfired in terms of public diplomacy and opened the door for Iran and other states to capitalise on Syria’s growing economic opportunities,” Andrew Tabler, a former fellow at the Washington-based Institute of Current World Affairs, said. “”Recalibrating trade sanctions would be one of the first intelligent things the US has done on Syria in a long time. It would allow the US to use its private sector to engage Syrians and become involved and to learn a little bit from the process.”

Uh oh, isn’t interesting how a change in employer can change the soul of the “next generation” analyst?

Nuclear Syria? Somehow, WINEP and their cronies of brain-clogged ideologues can’t just get enough juice out of that turnip. Bouncing between scud missiles to Hezbollah, a Syrian nuclear reactor in the eastern part of the country, and the murder of Hariri these neocon-trained next-generators just can’t even get a McDonald’s cashier to listen to them anymore. There appears to be a serious famine of innovative ideas up there. What a sorry state they are in.

Again, thanks for the analogy to hygienic products, Hassan; I really like the way you think.

April 20th, 2010, 7:21 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

offended: I like your analogy too! I am stealing it 😉

April 20th, 2010, 7:25 pm

 

jgupta said:

Is there much discussion in the Syrian press about Syria arming Hezbollah and the possibility that in the event Hezbollah launches rockets and missiles against Israel, especially ones delivered by and through Syria, Israel may retaliate against Syria and, in the event of protracted hostilities, Israel may strike at roads and other transit points in Syria to cut off the supply of armaments to Lebanon?
Obviously, the Syrian rulers have their own calculations about the benefits of supplying Hezbollah and the risks that entails, in each case to themselves and their subjects. Similarly, the benefits and risks to the Syrian people are somewhat different and in different proportion. Is that something that is discussed openly and publicly in Syria?

April 20th, 2010, 7:27 pm

 

Hassan said:

Ford,

While Tabler was employed at Syria Today he had to maintain good relations with the regime. Of course, there is no freedom of the press in Syria. So, it is certainly understandable that Tabler did not write about Syria’s nuclear program, an extremely sensitive issue, while publishing news in Damascus.

Something tells me that you may not have been as dismissive of his work when he was in Syria.

More importantly though you are not challenging the substance of what he has written. Mere ad hominem attacks are pathetic.

April 20th, 2010, 7:38 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

Hassan,
The argument that Mr. Tabler was silent because he was employed in Syria and then he found Jesus and spoke up when left the country underscores the credibility issue of anything and everything he writes. If I were you arguing, I wouldn’t bring it up at all.

In short, Tabler is a hired mouthpiece of the highest bidder. Fine, as long this premise is established, he is entitled to his way of earning a living. And I will fight for his right to speak any which way he wants.

Also, that little bird who told you that I was not dismissive of his work while in Syria never asked me. So, I am not sure where from little miss birdie got her information.

Back to the serious subject of nuclear Syria. I have no information about whether Syria is going nuke or not. But if it did, I’m certainly not going to be convinced by information coming from Tabler and neither should you.

What I know are these facts:
1. Andrew Tabler is a hired gun.

2. IAEA is a political organization wrapped in a UN flag who is seemingly not bothered by any enriched, weapon-grade uranium in Israel (not to mention the big B itself). Oops, forgot that Israel is ok, it is a democracy and democracies are allowed to have nukes. But what about Pakistan? Ummm, ok, never mind, skip that line of thoughts.

3. The timing of the allegations coming from Peres and AIPAC cronies is curiously funny: right after the Israel’s not-so-funny confrontation with the White House.
And yes, I am challenging the context, the substance, the tempo, the payload, and the author of that article.

Attacks are pathetic, indeed. They are designed to be that way.

And some of us here and elsewhere will stand up to all intellectually-challenged hypocrites everywhere who are viciously attacking Syria. We are just fed up with lies, double-standards, and pure ignorance.

April 20th, 2010, 8:07 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

JGUPTA said:

Is there much discussion in the Syrian press about Syria arming Hezbollah and the possibility that in the event Hezbollah launches rockets and missiles

JGUPTA If you were a Syrian and in Syria would you be discussing along with the press arming Hezballah or discussing how many cluster bombs and other military hardware Israel was getting curtesy of the American taxpayer?

But then you may, if you are an Israeli or someone sympathetic to Israelis and their democracy your interests may lie in siding with the US’s only ally in the world.

Fortunately any information you may get or want to get about Hezballah and their scuds is from the zionist controlled media not only in the US but around the world.

If you are really, really interested in learning, “the benefits and risks to the Syrian people…[and whether]…. that is discussed openly and publicly in Syria your best bet to learn what you seem to be dying to know is to read israeli and US media.

April 20th, 2010, 8:27 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

FORDPREFECT
Thanks to Hassan’s creative interpretation of your comment, we now have a new classification of neo-cons. Where would someone like Daniel Pipee, Horrowitz, or the torture lawyer Harvard professor fit?

Also
Each Party shall in exercising its national sovereignty have the right to withdraw from the Treaty if it decides that extraordinary events, related to the subject matter of this Treaty, have jeopardized the supreme interests of its country. It shall give notice of such withdrawal to all other Parties to the Treaty and to the United Nations Security Council three months in advance. Such notice shall include a statement of the extraordinary events it regards as having jeopardized its supreme interests.”

NPT, Article X, Paragraph 1

However, those who signed the treaty hoping to get something had the rug pulled from under their feet when a resolution was passed in 2009 that made the consequences of withdrawal very very bad and perhaps worst than staying under the intrusive (mostly applied to Brown countries) IAEA monitoring regime. I will find the information and post it when I can.

April 20th, 2010, 8:44 pm

 

jgupta said:

@Ghat Albird:
I have no idea what you are trying to say or whether you tried to answer my question or not.

Perhaps the fault is mine for not making my question clearer so I will try again. Here in the U.S., we have open discussions about our government’s policies and people debate whether or not the government’s policy is sound or not and whether politicians should be re-elected when they enact policies we think are unsound. To use the not-middle east for example, there has been lots of debate about our recent health care bill and its consequences. And the discussions are not just idle chatter. the debate has meaning as it is a near certainty that the party currently in power, the Democrats, and therefore the President will be punished heavily at the next election for enacting legislation the people appear to be unhappy with. When I read the English language versions of the Israeli press, I see the same things – debates over whether or not a particular policy is good or not and whether the risks outweigh the rewards. For example, the Israeli people debate whether or not the government’s policy on expanding housing in Jerusalem is a good or a bad idea and those debates take place in public and are covered by and discussed in the various newspapers. What I asked is whether similar discussions take place in Syria over your ruler’s policy of arming Hezbollah. In other words, do you discuss the policy? Do you debate it? Do people consider the benefits and the harms of your government’s decisions.

I know that you responded to my post, but I can’t understand from your post what is your answer to the question.

April 20th, 2010, 8:48 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

I would think that where ever there are human beings there will always be discussions.

Let me be specific as much as possible.

Do you think and or beleive that Israelis PUBLIcly discuss the number and whether they should and or should not have over 200 nuclear missiles?

Or in the case of your US does the public get an apportunity to discuss how many cluster bombs or missiles are delivered to Israel every year?

Discussions about health plans and/or stealing other peoples lands as the Israelis have been and are doing cannot be compared to discussions as for example how many helicopters does Israel have. Do you not think so?

But then maybe you are trying to shmoze the Israelis as well as be cute in suggesting that Syrians never discuss anything like the Israelis.

In conclusion lets just say that what the Syrians discuss or not discuss is none of your f#.k**g business. What you really should be discussing in the US is how long will 300 million Americans continue to be controlled by zionists and the Israeli lobby. which already has cost the American taxpayer $ 3.4 TRILLION DOLLARS

April 20th, 2010, 10:09 pm

 

jgupta said:

@Ghat Al Bird:

You said:
“I would think that where ever there are human beings there will always be discussions.”
I was asking whether there are public discussions among Syrians about the consequences to Syrian policy. In particular the likelihood of consequences to Syrians of Syria arming Hezbollah, such as the possibility that Israel retaliates against Syria if those weapons are used against Israel. Your answer may or may not have been intended to responsive. Are there public discussions in Syria on this topic? Are they behind closed doors, in secret, or is it something you can read about in the newspaper or discuss in a cafe?

You said:
” Do you think and or beleive that Israelis PUBLIcly discuss the number and whether they should and or should not have over 200 nuclear missiles?

Or in the case of your US does the public get an apportunity to discuss how many cluster bombs or missiles are delivered to Israel every year?”

I think the answer to both those questions is yes. I don’t know if the specific numbers of missiles or bombs are discussed, but both topics are discussed in public and fairly freely. Certainly, nuclear policy is discussed in Israel and US arms sales to Israel is discussed in the US.

You said:
“Discussions about health plans and/or stealing other peoples lands as the Israelis have been and are doing cannot be compared to discussions as for example how many helicopters does Israel have. Do you not think so?”
I don’t understand this point at all.

or this one: “But then maybe you are trying to shmoze the Israelis as well as be cute in suggesting that Syrians never discuss anything like the Israelis.”
This is a website about Syria and Syrian policy and offers me the benefit of reading Syrians expressing their own views and opinions. It seems natural that if I to know what amount of discussion Syrians have about their own policies and how they think about what is happening around them, I would ask it here.

You said: “In conclusion lets just say that what the Syrians discuss or not discuss is none of your f#.k**g business. What you really should be discussing in the US is how long will 300 million Americans continue to be controlled by zionists and the Israeli lobby. which already has cost the American taxpayer $ 3.4 TRILLION DOLLARS”

I appreciate your desire to decide what is or isn’t my business to ask about and what I should or shouldn’t be discussing instead of what you don’t want me to ask. but that is not your role. I will ask what I choose and you may answer or not as you like. I don’t control you nor you me.

I asked a question because I wanted to know the answer. But if you think the level of discussion about a topic in Syria is none of my “f#.k**g business” so be it. That is, in itself, an answer.

April 20th, 2010, 10:43 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Similarly, the benefits and risks to the Syrian people are somewhat different and in different proportion. Is that something that is discussed openly and publicly in Syria?

JGUPTA,

As you may have noticed, we try not to criticize Syria too much on this website/forum. Sensitivities are running high, and, well, we just try to keep are critcism focused on the usual neighboring “apartheid state”.

So to answer your question, NOTHING is discussed “openly and publically” in Syria except how great a leader President-for-Life Dr. Bashar is, the weather, the Evil Joos, and the best place to buy bread (but not necessarily in that order);)

April 20th, 2010, 11:47 pm

 

norman said:

jgupta,

The answer is yes they discuss arming Hezbollah and they think that the Syrian government is not doing enough , they actually want Syria to retaliate if Israel attacks Syria with massive missile strike against the Israeli air force bases, Israel should understand that war will not cause only Syrian loses but Israeli ones too ,It might be even a long term war that will keep the Israeli army on full alert with the reserve in uniforms for years to come and if the US could not win decisively in Iraq with all the money they spent , i am sure that Israel will go bankrupt in few months ,

April 21st, 2010, 1:49 am

 

Husam said:

Norman, Ghat, others:

I hypothesize Akbar Palace is JGUPTA or/and Hassn. The choice of names, the analogy, the style, the tone are one. I think it is plausible that from time to time s/he (AP aka PPP: Paid-Propaganda-Parrot) reincarnates into other characters 🙂 S/he indulges in mirror-like gratification since no one seems to agree with him/her/it. Don’t waste too much valuable time with critics that are themselves hypocrites.

Sure the U.S. and Israel have broader discussion than Syria. But the theatrics are all too fimiliar. The Left and Right have the same masters and endgame. So, anyone advocating Israel or the US to be the ideal free & open platform has yet to come out of the spinning cotton candy machine.

April 21st, 2010, 2:53 am

 

Hassan said:

“In conclusion lets just say that what the Syrians discuss or not discuss is none of your f#.k**g business.”

It is odd to assert that the opinions and topics discussed by Syrians are irrelevant to a blog on the politics of Syria. Well perhaps in Assad’s Syria the opinions of average citizens don’t matter.

Given that very few of the people on this blog are actually in Syria (it is an English language blog while a fifth of the country cannot read and write in Arabic let alone English) it would seem that what Syrians discuss on the street is a mystery to most here. It would be helpful to know. I imagine even the Syrians (expats) on this blog are wondering what is being discussed in Syria.

April 21st, 2010, 3:43 am

 

jgupta said:

@Husam:
You wrote
“Norman, Ghat, others:

I hypothesize Akbar Palace is JGUPTA or/and Hassn. The choice of names, the analogy, the style, the tone are one. I think it is plausible that from time to time s/he (AP aka PPP: Paid-Propaganda-Parrot) reincarnates into other ”
Your hypothesis is wrong. I am not Akbar Palace or Hassn[sic] or anyone else who has ever posted on this site.

@Norman:
You wrote:

jgupta,

The answer is yes they discuss arming Hezbollah and they think that the Syrian government is not doing enough , they actually want Syria to retaliate if Israel attacks Syria with massive missile strike against the Israeli air force bases, Israel should understand that war will not cause only Syrian loses but Israeli ones too ,It might be even a long term war that will keep the Israeli army on full alert with the reserve in uniforms for years to come and if the US could not win decisively in Iraq with all the money they spent , i am sure that Israel will go bankrupt in few months ,”
That is interesting. You seem to be saying that the Syrian people like the idea of arming Hezbollah and hope of Israel retaliates against not just Lebanon, but against Syria also so that Syria can strike back hard at Israel. In that case, why not just attack Israel yourselves at the time and place of your own choosing? And why drag the non-Hezbollah Lebanese into this, since, undoubtedly, many of them will die? I understand the idea of using a proxy like Hezbollah in Lebanon so that you can inflict harm on Israel with minimal damage to yourself, but you seem to say that Syria wants to engage Israel and is only using Hezbollah to get things started. If that is your goal, why bother with Hezbollah? Just start a war.

I am curious if others posting here with knowledge of the Syrian people consider Norman’s view to be representative of commonly held opinion in Syria. Are many Syrians hoping for an armed confrontation between Syria and Israel, or at least willing to be drawn into one through Hezbollah?

April 21st, 2010, 2:22 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

Hassan,
Once again, you are not going to get away with twisted and manufactured “facts” most fit for a rally of Sarah Palin (with an opening clown act by Glenn Beck).

To start, you appear to yet again have a very selective memory. There are cures for this unfortunate condition, one of which is to read Syria Comment and other publications besides Fox News and AIPAC’s rags. Had you done so, you would have come out with the following:

1. I am not sure where you picked up an assertion that the opinions of Syrians are irrelevant to this blog. I am hoping that you didn’t arrive at this conclusion from the opinion of one commentator, did you?

2. Syrians do discuss matters openly regarding Israel, the Palestinians, and the legitimate right of people to resist of occupation. They talk about war and peace. They talk about justice and human rights. In case you have been asleep since 1967, these topics are precisely what people in Syria talk about – day in and day out.

3. There was another piece of misinformation you threw out in your comment that you must have picked up from a Tea Party rally with a bunch of social security recipients who are complaining about taxes. For the record, Syria does not have 20%, or a fifth as you said, of its population that cannot read or write Arabic. According to our own Department of State, the literacy rate in Syria today is 90.8% and illiteracy is 9.2%. (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3580.htm). Spewing half-baked, hate-filled facts is better left to to characters like Daniel “Sewage” Pipes or Fuad-less Ajami across campuses and delusional think tanks.

4. What Syrians discuss on the streets in Syria might be a mystery to you and several people who decided to wear blindfolds, but it is certainly not a mystery to us on this blog – expats or not. I frequently post from Syria, as do many, many others. We published front articles from many Syrians living across that beautiful land. We are in touch with and feeling the pulse of the streets of Syria from Aleppo to Quneitara and from Reqqa to Banyas. You just, unfortunately, happened to have no clue.

So, for the record, so that you don’t have to ask the same question again, as we have better things to do, here are some facts you need to keep handy:

• Syrians utmost concern is their safety from the ruthless, indiscriminate, armed-to the-teeth, trigger-happy, and nuclear killing machine called Israel. You hear the AIPAC-influenced US Congress and media talk about democracy to the people of the Middle East. They have no idea where, in the order of priorities, democracy fits in the hearts and minds of people in Syria.

• Priority One for Syrians is justice and peace. Don’t let AIPAC fool you when they state that Syrians want democracy first. They don’t. What Syrians want first and foremost is an end to the occupation and the barbaric treatment of Palestinians on the occupied territories. The return of the Golan Heights is more important to the average Syrian than casting a vote in an election. We can theorize and try to rationalize this fact until we are blue in the face, but it is what is.

• Hamas and Hezbollah movements are looked at, in case you have not heard, differently in Syria. Syrians call them, and for a good reason, legitimate resistance forces – just like Israelis refer to Stern and Haganah. Again, we can have a long discussion about whether they are justified in what they are doing or not, and whether religious movements are the antithesis of secular Syria but it will fade in comparison to the great injustice perpetuated by Israel on the region since 1948. Need to solve that problem first.

April 21st, 2010, 3:25 pm

 

jgupta said:

@Ford Prefect

Thanks. Your post wasn’t addressed to me, but it addresses my question.

April 21st, 2010, 3:39 pm

 

norman said:

Thanks F P ,
That is exactly what i meant ,

April 21st, 2010, 3:54 pm

 

Idaf said:

Well-said FP.

And I specifically liked this bit: “Daniel “Sewage” Pipes or Fuad-less Ajami” 😀

April 21st, 2010, 4:19 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

What Syrians want first and foremost is an end to the occupation and the barbaric treatment of Palestinians on the occupied territories.

Ford Prefect,

How do you know this, and do you speak for all Syrians?

Thanks,

Pro-AIPAC funded barbarian Zionist, AP

April 21st, 2010, 5:08 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

Akbar,
I do know that Syrians want an end to the occupation and an end to the Palestinian suffering and the barbaric treatment they are facing.

How do I know that? It’s a top state Ba’athist secret that I am not willing to share with you. We Syrians have working on this top secret project for thousands of years.

As if the desire for ending occupation and providing dignity to the Palestinian is not a global human rights value.

How funny, your question exposes, yet again, AIPAC’s ugly teeth in spite of all decent Jewish values.

Thanks,

Pro liberty, anti aggression, anti occupation, anti arrogance, and anti hypocrisy Ford Prefect.

April 21st, 2010, 6:15 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

I do know that Syrians want an end to the occupation…yet again, AIPAC’s ugly teeth in spite of all decent Jewish values

Ford Prefect,

Sorry for the “ugly teeth, and my obvious birth defect when it comes to “decent Jewish Values” (aka “not defending ourselves”).

But my question wasn’t whether or not the Syrians want an “end to the occupation” (although Syria has always been in a state of war with Israel even when there WASN’T an occupation). My question was how YOU know “what Syrians want FIRST and FOREMOST”.

IOW, do you have any polling data to share with us?

April 21st, 2010, 7:04 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

AP.

Writes with the mind set of absolute innocence. Certain Jews cannot conceive bearing any responsibility for their atrocities.They are only victims, only “scapegoats” in an evil and hostile world.

Interesting that Moshe Dayan claimed that Israel must act like a ” mad dog” to intimidate her neighbors. Innocence in an evil world. Fits AP to a T.

April 21st, 2010, 7:08 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Writes with the mind set of absolute innocence.

Ghat,

If Israel was never in a state of war during her 62 year existence, I would agree with you.

Regards (with extra-special, decent Jewish value),

AP

April 21st, 2010, 7:26 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

The UN office in Geneva/UNOG.has announced that Israeli Military Oders are.- In Breach of International Human Rights Laws.

ISRAELI MILITARY ORDERS “IN BREACH OF INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW,” WARNS UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR
19 April 2010
GENEVA – The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Richard Falk, warned Monday that two Israeli Defense Forces Military Orders* may be in breach of the fourth Geneva Convention and violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Mr. Falk noted that “a wide range of violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law could be linked to actions carried out by the Government of Israel under these Orders, with particular gravity in the event that young persons become victims of their application.”

“The Orders appear to enable Israel to detain, prosecute, imprison and/or deport any and all persons present in the West Bank,” noted the Special Rapporteur, basing his concern on Israel’s new definition of the term ‘infiltrator:’ “A person who entered the Area unlawfully following the effective date, or a person who is present in the Area and does not lawfully hold a permit.”

“Even if this open-ended definition is not used to imprison or deport vast numbers of people, it causes unacceptable distress,” the UN independent expert said. Mr. Falk further noted that “it is not at all clear what permit, if any, will satisfy this Order.”

“Illustrative of the potential for cruel abuse,” he said, “is a provision of the Order requiring the person deported to pay the costs of his or her deportation, and suffer confiscations of property if unable to pay.”

Mr. Falk warned that deportations under the two new Orders could take place without judicial review, and that detained persons can be imprisoned for 7 years, unless able to prove that their entry was lawful, in which case they would be imprisoned for 3 years.

The UN Special Rapporteur recalled that Israel is party to the fourth Geneva Convention, which outlines its obligations as the Occupying Power in the West Bank. Article 49 of this Convention states that “individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.”

Mr. Falk also noted that, despite the fact that Israel is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, “the Orders establish a system that allows Israel to deport people without having their right to judicial review properly fulfilled, or possibly not reviewed at all.” He stressed that “the Orders do not even ensure that detainees will be informed in their own language that a deportation order has been issued against them.”

The independent expert, who is mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor the situation of human rights and international humanitarian law in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, also expressed his serious concern regarding “whether a military committee, as the one established by one of the Orders, is the kind of mechanism appropriate to satisfy requirements of judicial review, in the case that detained persons are not deported before having their situation reviewed.”

(*) Israel Defense Forces, Order No. 1650, Order regarding Prevention of Infiltration (Amendment No. 2) (13 October 2009); and Israel Defense Forces, Order No. 1649, Order regarding Security Provisions (Amendment No. 112) (13 October 2009).

In 2008, the UN Human Rights Council designated Richard Falk (United States of America) as the fifth Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. The mandate was originally established in 1993 by the then UN Human Rights Council.

Learn more about the mandate and work of the Special Rapporteur: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/countries/ps/mandate/index.htm
OHCHR Country Page – Israel: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/ILIndex.aspx
OHCHR Country Page – Occupied Palestinian Territories: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/MENARegion/Pages/PSIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Kevin Turner (Tel.: + 41 22 928 9603 / email: kturner@ohchr.org) or write to sropt@ohchr.org.

April 21st, 2010, 9:26 pm

 

Hassan said:

Mr. Prefect:

I’m a bit surprised by the vitriolic nature of your comments given that this is a mere political discussion on a blog.

You wrote:
“1. I am not sure where you picked up an assertion that the opinions of Syrians are irrelevant to this blog. I am hoping that you didn’t arrive at this conclusion from the opinion of one commentator, did you?”

See posts 19 and 24. A fellow blogger who goes by the handle “Ghat Albird wrote: “In conclusion lets just say that what the Syrians discuss or not discuss is none of your f#.k**g business.”

I hope that clarifies things for you.

2. “Syrians do discuss matters openly regarding Israel, the Palestinians, and the legitimate right of people to resist of occupation…”

We know that Syria is a dictatorship run by Bashar al-Assad and his Allawite cronies (Rami Makhlouf & Co.). The range of political discussion in Syria is very narrow. Freedom of the press is virtually non-existent. To say that political matters are discussed openly is simply factually inaccurate. I’m sorry that this is the case, we wish it were not, but we are in fact talking about a very repressive dictatorship.

3. Regarding Syrian literacy rates. Let me remind you that my original comment was meant to indicate that individuals on this blog are, typically, not in Syria therefore a discussion regarding what Syrian talk about about would be informative. Few people in Syria speak English, we know this. Given that fact that a fifth of the population are illiterate in their own language we can surmise that a very significant number can not read English.

You wrote that my figure regarding Syria illiteracy was “Spewing half-baked, hate-filled facts.” I know the social situation in Syria is tragic, the poverty, the repression, the droughts, the dependence on agriculture, the sanctions, but to note such things is not hateful. In fact to recognize such realities is what is needed to demand change.

Rather than engage in personal attacks, what about looking into how I came across the literacy figure that I cited.

Go ahead and simply google “literacy Syria.” The first search result will simply be:

Syria — Literacy (Total Population): 79.6%
According to https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/print/sy.html
___________________________________________

Regarding the rest of your post. I would expect little else from Josh Landis’ blog. It is no coincidence that Syria’s regime is both the most repressive in the Levant and the most radical with respect to Israel. For the repressive dictators, taking a radical approach with respect to Israel will allow them to maintain emergency laws (in Syria since 1963) to restrict civil liberties, brand political opponents as traitors during a time of conflict and blame their shortcomings on the conflict. This is not specific to the Middle East. There seems to be somewhat of regional correlation between the repressiveness of the regime and their radical approach to resolving the conflict with Israel.

April 21st, 2010, 11:56 pm

 

Alex said:

“Hussam”

Please define for us what is dictatorial Syria’s current “radical approach to resolving the conflict with Israel” and what is, in your opinion, a more constructive and reasonable approach that Syria should have taken… will Israeli leaders reverse their promises to their people to not give up the Golan Heights if Syria followed your advice?

And please tell us if “democratic” Israel’s approach to peace with Syria today is radical or reasonable.

April 22nd, 2010, 2:16 am

 

Alex said:

Syrian smoking ban takes effect

Syria has become the first Arab state to implement a ban on smoking in public places, such as restaurants and cafes.

The decree also outlaws smoking in educational institutions, health centres, sports halls, cinemas and theatres and on public transport.

Workers must not smoke during meetings and businesses need to provide well-ventilated areas for smokers.

The restrictions include the nargile, or hubble-bubble pipe, which is popular among locals and tourists.

The decree was signed last November by President Bashar al-Assad, a qualified medical doctor.

According to the official news agency SANA, fines for violating the ban range from 500 to 100,000 Syrian pounds (US$11 to $2,169).

Businesses hit

The BBC’s Lina Sinjab in Damascus says the ban has upset many in a country heavily addicted to nicotine.

In one of the city’s traditional cafes, Cafe Rawda, on the first day of the new rules, the inside area was deserted but the outdoor terrace was busy with customers smoking shisha pipes, she reports.

Cafe owner Ismat Kosoros said he feared the ban would take a heavy toll on business.

“There are customers who have been coming here for forty years. And in hot summers, it is hard to have people sitting in courtyard, they need an air-conditioned area,” he said.

But there are members of the younger generation who welcome the decision as good for public health – even if they still smoke themselves – our correspondent reports.

The Syrian government has passed several laws restricting smoking in the last two decades.

A decree in 1996 banned tobacco advertising while a 2006 law outlawed smoking on public transport and in some public places, introducing fines for offenders. Under-18s are not allowed to buy tobacco.

The World Health Organization is unable to provide details on tobacco consumption in Syria, but levels of smoking in public is high across the Arab world, especially among men.

Last year Iraq’s cabinet agreed a draft law outlining similar measures, causing uproar amongst smokers.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8634411.stm

April 22nd, 2010, 2:19 am

 

Hassan said:

Alex,

You asked:
“Please define for us what is dictatorial Syria’s current ‘radical approach to resolving the conflict with Israel’ …”

The radical approach of the Syrian dictatorship to the resolution of the conflict can be evinced by examining its actions and characterizing these actions relative to others, as the term radical is relative. First and for most we have Syria’s support for groups such as Hezbollah (which aims its guns not only at Israel civilians but at Arabs as well), Hamas, PLFP-GC, al-Ahbash, Fatah al-Intifada, and a myriad of others. Support for such unpredictable and radical transnational groups is indicative of a radical approach to the conflict on Syria’s part. For its own part Syria has often referred to itself as within or playing a leading role of a “resistance block.” Radical indeed.

We can also see the radical nature of its approach to the conflict by asking to what degree is Syria interested in making significant compromises in the interests of peace? To say, “I want what I want and I will accept nothing less” would be indicative of a hard-line or radical position. To say, “we are ready to make serious compromises in the interest of peace.” Would be a more moderate position. From what we have heard about Syrian negotiations over the Golan and from what we can gleam from its leaders’ public statements they do not seem interested in making many compromises at all regarding a territorial settlement with Israel.

Relative to Israel’s other neighbors Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon (which has limited territorial disputes with Israel) Syria has taken the more radical approach to the conflict and appears to be far less interested in making peace. Of course, Egypt and Jordan have made peace with Israel. Lebanon nearly did, Syria killed the President.

You asked:
“and what is, in your opinion, a more constructive and reasonable approach that Syria should have taken… will Israeli leaders reverse their promises to their people to not give up the Golan Heights if Syria followed your advice?””

Syria should state at the outset that it is interested in making significant and serious compromises toward concluding a negotiated settlement with Israel. I am sure Israel would be willing to negotiate and compromise over the Golan Heights if Syria were willing to do the same. (The beating heart of Arab nationalism can’t compromise over the Golan)

You asked:
“And please tell us if “democratic” Israel’s approach to peace with Syria today is radical or reasonable.”

Overall, if the choice is simply radical or reasonable I’d have to say reasonable. Not perfect, but reasonable. Sorry, but I’m no Bathi

April 22nd, 2010, 2:57 am

 

almasri said:

“It is no coincidence that Syria’s regime is both the most repressive in the Levant and the most radical with respect to Israel.”

Is the writer a Syrian or an Israeli?

Despite the shameful behavior of the Egyptian government in signing a shameful treaty with the israeli enclave, I never heard an Egyptian making similar comments as the above. Every Egyptian that I know still maintains Israel is our number one enemy. Looks like Syriacomment is full of defenders for an illegal entity which continues to occupy Palestine and exercise ethnic cleansing. Surprisingly these defenders may not necessarily be israelis.

April 22nd, 2010, 3:14 am

 

Alex said:

Almasri

“Hussam” is not Syrian

April 22nd, 2010, 3:20 am

 

Ford Prefect said:

Yes, Alex is correct. No Syrian can be that funny.

April 22nd, 2010, 3:45 am

 

Hassan said:

Just to reiterate, very few people on this blog are Syrian (its an English language blog, Syrians speak Arabic, and Damascus is not as international as say, Beirut).

A few of our commenters are in Canada. I wonder if we are getting a distorted picture by hearing things through the eyes of an exile community.

April 22nd, 2010, 4:09 am

 

Aboud said:

Uh, excuse me Mr “Hassan”, but I’ve been a long time reader of this blog, and I’m a Syrian, posting from Homs. You’re falling into the very common mistake of thinking that the only people who read or care about a blog, are those that participate in the discussions.

But to be frank, unlike blogs such as Techcrunch where the comments sections are displayed prominently, the discussion areas on Syria Comment are easily overlooked. I think it’s safe to say that most visitors from Syria do not delve into that part of this still excellent website.

April 22nd, 2010, 6:53 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Syria should state at the outset that it is interested in making significant and serious compromises toward concluding a negotiated settlement with Israel.

Hassan,

As you know, that will never happen. To date, we still don’t know what “serious compromises” Dr. Bashar has proposed for the Golan, despite what the Baathist cheerleaders and the Israeli defeatists on this website say.

April 22nd, 2010, 10:47 am

 

5 dancing shlomos said:

hassan occupies a cubicle and is paid to distort.

April 22nd, 2010, 12:31 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

In a not too extensive review of comments it becomes rather obvious that the non Israelis, zionists and or just plain jews do not use “jewish” first names in their comments a characteristic not observed by zionists, some jews and others.

Historical commentaries by people of the Jewish faith have followed the line of:-

“We were right, and the whole world was wrong. The Crusades. The blood libels and the Talmud burnings in England and France, leading those nations to expel us for centuries.

The Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition. The ghettos and the Dreyfus case in France. Beilis in Russia and a century’s persecution of Soviet Jewry. The Holocaust. Each time, Europe stood by silently — or actively participated in murdering us — and we alone were right, and the whole world was wrong.”

“Today, once again, we alone are right and the whole world is wrong. The Arabs, the Russians, the Africans, the Vatican proffer their aggregated insights into and accumulated knowledge of the ethics of massacre.”

The one irrefutable present day reality is that Israel has over 200 nuclear bombs, armed by the mightiest military power in the world, controlling the polcies of a nation of 300 odd million; occupying and controlling the lives of millions and their lands; claiming to be peaceloving democratic state that defies international laws; practices apartheid; and daily cries wolf.

Their overall tactics are to systematically create situations were they present themselves as innocent and subject to being destroyed by a few scud missiles.
The one state that has not bought into being bribed, and has maintained a position of neutrality and observed international laws is Syria,

The Israelis are left with posturing that Syria is not a democracy and is arming its neighbor Lebanon. Interesting that Israel’s best and only next door neighbor that is over 6000 miles away takes $16 million dollars a day from its taxpayers to give to Israel 365 days a year.

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

April 22nd, 2010, 12:54 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

hassan occupies a cubicle and is paid to distort.

5 dancing schlomos,

How do you know?

April 22nd, 2010, 12:55 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

Wanna know the real motives for the “Scud” story? Read below.

Meanwhile, AIPAC and its cronies cannot wait for Sarah Palin to enter the White House and bring some fashionable and sexy military outfits to Washington. Meanwhile, they will just enjoy a Tea Party here and there.

http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1164583.html

Netanyahu: There will be no freeze in Jerusalem
By Haaretz Service and The Associated Press
Tags: Barack Obama

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Thursday that Israel does not intend to comply with the American demand that it halt settlement construction in East Jerusalem.

“I am saying one thing. There will be no freeze in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said in an interview with Channel 2 television. “There should be no preconditions to talks.”

Netanyahu’s comments were broadcast on Channel 2 TV shortly after special American envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell arrived in Israel for his first visit in six weeks. Mitchell’s efforts had been on hold due to disagreements over East Jerusalem, the section of the holy city claimed by Israel and the Palestinians.

Although Netanyahu was repeating his long-standing position, the timing of the statement threatened to undermine Mitchell’s latest efforts to restart peace talks. Mark Regev, an Israeli government spokesman, denied earlier reports that Israel had officially rejected an American demand for a settlement freeze in Jerusalem.

There was no immediate U.S. reaction.

Earlier Thursday, The Prime Minister’s Bureau responded to a Wall Street Journal report that Netanyahu’s government had delivered over the weekend its most substantive response yet to the U.S. request.

Obama reportedly made the demand for an East Jerusalem construction freeze, along with other requests, in a tense White House meeting with Netanyahu on March 23.

Obama’s administration had seen been awaiting Netanyahu’s reply, while the latter had deliberated with his top ministers on possible confidence-building measures that would allow a revival of peace talks with the Palestinians.

According to the report in the Wall Street Journal, Netanyahu rejected the demand on East Jerusalem, but did agree to other confidence-building measures, such as allowing the opening of PA institutions in the eastern part of the city, transferring additional West Bank territory to Palestinian security control and agreeing to discuss all the core issues of the conflict during proximity talks with the PA, instead of insisting that these issues only be discussed in direct talks.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called the Netanyahu position very
unfortunate and said he hoped the U.S. would be able to convince the Israeli government to give peace a chance by halting settlement construction in East Jerusalem and elsewhere.

MK Oron: Netanyahu is worsening U.S.-Israel rift

Right-wing lawmakers on Thursday praised Netanyahu for refusing the Obama administration’s demands to freeze construction in East Jerusalem, as their leftist rivals expressed fears that the move would worsen tensions between Israel and the United States.

“Netanyahu has said no to the peace process, aggravating the rift with the American administration,” declared Meretz Chairman Haim Oron.

National Religious Party Chairman Daniel Herskovitz, however, lauded Netanyahu for his “appropriate Zionist response” to the ultimatum posed by President Barack Obama at the two leaders’ meeting in Washington last month. “The future of Jerusalem cannot be subjected to an edict,” Herskovitz declared.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, said that even the Americans know that “the true reason the peace process has frozen is due to the weakness and inability of the Palestinian leadership.”

MK Ophir Ekonis declared that Netanyahu’s response to Obama offered “further proof that the Likud is committed to the future of Jerusalem, and expresses a wide national agreement that the Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people.”

Israel, U.S. secretly working to bridge gaps in peace process

Israel and the United States have been conducting behind-the-scenes negotiations in recent days in an effort to find a formula that would bridge their differences over peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and America’s demand that Israel halt construction in East Jerusalem for at least four months.

According to a senior Obama administration official, the top Middle East policy specialist at the White House, Dan Shapiro, arrived in Israel Wednesday on a secret visit. Shapiro’s delegation also included David Hale, who serves as deputy to U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell and is permanently based in Israel.

Neither the White House nor the Prime Minister’s Office have officially announced the talks or even Shapiro’s arrival in Israel. Officially, total silence is being maintained, and the Prime Minister’s Office therefore refused to comment Wednesday.

But a senior Israeli official said talks with American officials have been conducted throughout the past week – by phone, via the Israeli embassy in Washington and with the White House officials who arrived in Israel on Wednesday.

The dialogue between Israel and the Obama administration is to continue next week, when Defense Minister Ehud Barak visits Washington. Barak, who will leave for the U.S. on Sunday, is slated to deliver a speech at a conference sponsored by the American Jewish Committee, at which U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will also speak.

He will also hold meetings with U.S. National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones, Clinton and other senior officials. The talks will deal with the peace process and the effort to bridge the disagreements between the U.S. and Israel, as well as the Iranian nuclear issue and weapons smuggling from Syria to Lebanon.

April 22nd, 2010, 5:25 pm

 

Hassan said:

5 Dancing Shlomos:

Regarding your comment 46. I don’t mean to distort. If you found an inaccuracy in something I wrote don’t hesitate to share. I wrote that Bashar, or the rest of Makhlouf & Co., has not proposed making serious compromises with Israel toward peace. Is that a distortion of the truth? Was my characterization of Syria, the patron of Hezbollah and Hamas, as radical a distortion?

Akbar Palace,

Don’t hold your breath.
Bashar is young and besides, its a new kind of monarchy, the Dynastic Presidencies of the Arab World (Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Yemen). So, The Bathists are an unbending breed. Bashar & Co. is little different. The government of a minority has to hold on tight. The gang from Qardaha knows that they will meet the fate of the gang from Tikrit if the majority rules. Of course, the easiest way to attack the dissenters is to label them traitors. So, they will remain “the beating heart of Arab nationalism.” So, no compromise with Israel.

April 22nd, 2010, 6:09 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

AIPAC, Cronies, and Sarah Palin NewZ

Meanwhile, AIPAC and its cronies cannot wait for Sarah Palin to enter the White House and bring some fashionable and sexy military outfits to Washington. Meanwhile, they will just enjoy a Tea Party here and there.

Ford Prefect,

Just as a reminder, 78% of American Jews voted for the Obama-Biden ticket. Apparently, they favored Obama-Biden well over McCain-Palin.

April 22nd, 2010, 6:12 pm

 

Hassan said:

Akbar Palace

Re your comment 45:

I would have to agree, compromises from Syria won’t come any time soon. The Bathists are an unbending breed. Bashar & Co. is little different. Bashar is young and autocracies seem to have quite a long shelf-life in the Arab world. Even after the young doctor meets his maker we will likely see Bashar jr. Its a new kind of monarchy, the Dynastic Presidencies of the Arabs (Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Yemen). The government of a minority has to hold on tight. The gang from Qardaha knows that they will meet the fate of the gang from Tikrit if majority has a say. Of course, the easiest way to crush the dissenters is to label them traitors. So, they will remain “the beating heart of Arab nationalism.” No compromise with Israel. Not today, or anytime soon.

April 22nd, 2010, 6:24 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

And did you agree with the 78% of them, AP? Was that how you voted too?

April 22nd, 2010, 6:29 pm

 

Alex said:

Akbar

Just as a reminder, Ford Prefect and I never complained about American Jews who, as you reminded us above, voted for Obama and opposed the unnecessary Iraq war.

“AIPAC and its cronies” are those (Christians, Jews, or even some Muslims) who are constantly hungry for new wars so that they can impose their views by force on anyone who disagrees … those that knowingly, or unknowingly, are soldiers for Likud’s greed for the Arab territories … those who are lobbying for more decisions in Washington that will lead to more millionsa dead, just like they did when they worked hard to start the Iraq war.

Read the latest poll by J-street … the majority of American Jews are genuinely pro-peace.

AIPAC represents a minority.

April 22nd, 2010, 6:33 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

Alex, AIPAC represents the rich minority who just can’t get enough of Sarah Failin Palin and Rush Hamburger.

April 22nd, 2010, 6:38 pm

 

Hassan said:

Just to make the discussion of AIPAC a little more nuanced, it is important to note that it is in fact representative of the broader American Jewish community. Rather than dismissively refer to it simply as the extension of some “rich” minority, take a look at the organizational structure. Here it is important to note that on AIPAC’s executive committee sits every member of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Meaning that the President, the most senior representative of, every large Jewish organization in the US forms a critical part of AIPAC’s policy decisions.

Those organizations are:

Ameinu
American Friends of Likud
American Gathering/Federation of Jewish Holocaust Survivors
America-Israel Friendship League
American Israel Public Affairs Committee
American Jewish Committee
American Jewish Congress
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
American Sephardi Federation
American Zionist Movement
Americans for Peace Now
AMIT
Anti-Defamation League
Association of Reform Zionists of America
B’nai B’rith International
Bnai Zion
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
Development Corporation for Israel / State of Israel Bonds
Emunah of America
Friends of Israel Defense Forces
Hadassah, Women’s Zionist Organization of America
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life
Jewish Community Centers Association
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
The Jewish Federations of North America
Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs
Jewish Labor Committee
Jewish National Fund
Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
Jewish War Veterans of the USA
Jewish Women International
MERCAZ USA, Zionist Organization of the Conservative Movement
NA’AMAT USA
NCSJ: Advocates on behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia
National Council of Jewish Women
National Council of Young Israel
ORT America
Rabbinical Assembly
Rabbinical Council of America
Religious Zionists of America
Union for Reform Judaism
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
WIZO
Women’s League for Conservative Judaism
Women of Reform Judaism
Workmen’s Circle
World ORT
World Zionist Executive, US
Zionist Organization of America

April 22nd, 2010, 7:10 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

The US has 6,000,000 (6 million) Jews. AIPAC has 100,000 members. You decide.

April 22nd, 2010, 7:20 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

The sender of this photo claims that it was taken before Ms. Sarah Palin gave a wide ranging speech about American/Israeli foreign policies in the Middle East.

According to the sender the photographer had to request that Ms. Palin take off her Israeli flag lapel pin. She though could keep the American flag pin, When she enquired as to the reason why the photographer told her that the positioning of the Israeli pin flag on her lapel would detract from her claim that she is in support of the “road to peace” and may incite the Iranians to further not only arming themselves,but also Hamas, Huzballah, Syrians Afghans, Iraqis, Pakistanis and others.

As promised Ms. Palin sans lapel flags:-

http://mantiqaltayr.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/sarah.jpg

April 22nd, 2010, 7:30 pm

 

Husam said:

Must see short clips:

Scott Ritter challenges New York Times re: AIPAC confusing the American public:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90teR4VbVWE

CNN interview: Charles Freeman on AIPAC Control of the U.S. Government, explains why he pulls out of intel job:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGisOtV0hGk

Kay Griggs speakes of what she witness at the near east offices of the state departement:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhS6B9U13aY&feature=related

Media control and influence of American Public Opinion – Prof. Robert Jensen – University of Austin Texas:

April 23rd, 2010, 2:27 am

 

norman said:

hey Ghat , i can see now why she is popular ,

April 23rd, 2010, 2:34 am

 

swattie said:

Just a minor note – the average salary you list should be monthly, not yearly. Imagine living on hidashr alf bi sane! Also, 3.6% is only about 2/3 of gdp growth in last year.

April 23rd, 2010, 5:58 am

 

5 dancing shlomos said:

i keep reading this or that poll says american jews favor peace and oppose the iraq war.i think those polls are pulled from a hat and are fake.

i have never come across an american jew who did not support the 1st and 2nd assault against iraq. iraq now is destroyed and controlled so maybe a fewjews will support withdrawing some troops.

i have not come across an american jew who opposes destroying iran.

every jew i have met supports israel and what israel thinks is necessary. always that means destroying arab, muslim countries, groups, individuals, culture.

April 23rd, 2010, 3:12 pm

 

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