News Round UP (23 May 2010) Kerry in Damascus

John Kerry in Damascus … Again

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is in Syria this weekend, his second trip there in just two months.

From Kerry spokesman Frederick Jones:

“Senator Kerry traveled to Syria this weekend. This is his third trip to Damascus since becoming Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in January 2009, and his fifth trip to Damascus as a senator. Chairman Kerry planned to speak with President Assad about a range of issues critical to the stability of the region. Senator Kerry has consistently said that while the United States has serious, long-standing disagreements with Syria, in particular its support for Hezbollah and other terrorist groups, Syria can play a critical role in bringing peace and stability if it makes the strategic decision to do so. Since becoming Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Kerry has emerged as one of the primary American interlocutors with the Syrian government.”

A Tale of Two Trilateral Meetings
By Ahmed Salkini

A momentous trilateral meeting took place in Istanbul on May 9th that brought together Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. Syria’s detractors in the US were conspicuously silent regarding this trilateral meeting while going to great pains dissecting the significance and implications of the one held several months ago between Presidents Assad and Ahmadinejad, alongside Hezbollah’s Secretary General. The reason for this silence is simple. …The underlying theme was a vision for peace, stability, and security in the region.

Among several topics, they agreed that Iraq’s sovereignty must be maintained, and that its future government should espouse a unified Iraq. The three leaders also discussed Gaza and the ongoing, brutal Israeli blockade, as well as the failure of the international community to meet its responsibilities and pledges to the besieged people of Gaza. However, the most significant outcome of this meeting was Syria reaffirming its commitment to renewing indirect peace talks with Israel, while Turkey reaffirmed its own role as mediator…

Yet, the current government in Israel, without equivocation, inexorably rejects these international demands. Their president declared this week from Moscow that a peace agreement with Syria will not include returning the Golan, as his foreign minister echoed: “Syria must be made to understand that it has to relinquish its demand for the Golan Heights.”…. [A paragraph from James Denselow’s article, copied below, was accidentally included here when I initially published. It was not written by the author of this article — Joshua Landis]

CORRECTION:  A Russian head of state visited Syria in 1967

Saïd Sukkar [] wrote me

Dear Joshua Landis

In your Article headed “Will failure to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict mean a new Cold War in the Middle East” you said “President Dmitry Medvedev visited Syria on Monday, the first ever visit by a Russian or Soviet head of state.” This, I am afraid, is not an accurate Statement.

In late June, early July 1967, ex Syrian President, Shukri Quwatli, passed away in Lebanon and the Lebanese Government accorded him the full honours of a Head of State Funeral all the way to the Syrian Borders. Syria took over from the Borders BUT Syria’s sitting Head of State at the time, Nureddin Atassi, did not attend Quwatli’s funeral because he was at the Airport receiving Soviet President Podgorny.  See this article:

Lebanon and Syria Agree to Back Hizbollah
By: Phil Sands | The National

Syria and Lebanon have agreed they will present a united front of opposition to Israel and support for Hizbollah, when the Lebanese prime minister, Saad Hariri, travels to Washington next week.

Rebuilding the ‘box’ around Syria
U.S. diplomatic overtures haven’t worked; it’s time to get tougher again with Damascus.
Firas Maksad
May 18, 2010

When the Obama administration came to power, it began to dismantle the diplomatic “box” that had been built around Syria, a box meant to isolate it for its destabilizing behavior in Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian territories. Administration officials argued that the international will to pressure Syria no longer existed and that an attempt at distancing it from Iran was worthwhile. The United States’ gentler approach has included sending senior officials to Damascus, refraining from public criticism of President Bashar Assad and his government, and nominating a U.S. ambassador to Syria for the first time in five years. But such engagement has proved its limits, and it’s time to put the box back together…………

Addendum: In today’s LA Times, Ahmed Salkini, the spokesman for the embassy of Syria published this response to Maksad:


Re “Rebuilding the Syria ‘box,’ ” Opinion, May 18

The most surprising element of Firas Maksad’s commentary was not the message it conveyed but the logic of the argument.

The writer claims that “engagement [with Syria] has proved its limits” and that “it’s time to put the box back.” Yet he fails to explain the logic behind replacing what he perceives as a “limited” policy with one proved to have failed. Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman is among many officials and politicians to declare that isolating Syria undermined America’s own efforts to further its goals in the region.

Syria is committed to renewing indirect peace talks through Turkish mediation, while Israel rejects them. This is a time for stepped-up American diplomacy to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the region that would include Maksad’s own Lebanon.

This is what a sincere “advocate for Lebanon” would promote.

Ahmed Salkini, Washington

How Western Engagement Thwarts Israeli-Syrian Peace
Commentary Magazine, 2010-05-20

Syrian President Bashar Assad’s candid interview this week with Lebanon’s As-Safir paper ought to be studied by anyone who still believes in either the possibility of Israeli-Syrian peace or the utility of Western engagement with Syria. …

President Assad’s interview with As-Safir has been translated by Nick Noe. See here. Also read Qifa Nabki’s commentary on it.

FACING A CROWD: A Palestinian woman whose house has been occupied by Jewish settlers argued with Israelis who came to celebrate Jerusalem Day in the mainly Arab neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, Wednesday. (Ahmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)


Syria News Quotes Dardari that the next economic five year plan for Syria forcasts that economic growth will readh 8% and unemployment with reach 4% if 130 billion dollars are invested, 77 billion of which is to come from the private sector.

“كما تطمح الخطة القادمة إلى تحقيق معدل نمو يصل إلى 8٪ ومعدل بطالة 4٪ وذلك مع إنفاق 130 مليار دولار 77 ملياراً منها يجب أن يأتي من القطاع الخاص.

Syria Economy to Grow 5% in 2010, Bank Governor Says
By Massoud A. Derhally and Alaa Shahine

May 21 (Bloomberg) — Syria’s economy will grow 5 percent this year, the governor of the country’s central bank said. “Growth will come from the finance, services and tourism industries,” Syrian Central Bank Governor Adib Mayaleh said in an interview late yesterday at a conference in Beirut. Inflation probably will fall to 3 percent this year from 4 percent in 2009 and more than 15 percent in 2008, Mayaleh said. …

Syria’s economic growth will rise to 5 percent in 2010 from 4 percent last year, the International Monetary Fund said in a forecast on its website. The current account deficit is expected to narrow to 4 percent this year from 4.5 percent in 2009 and inflation will reach 5 percent in 2010, the IMF said.

Syria earned about $5.2 billion in revenue from 6.1 million tourists last year, when 12 percent more visitors arrived than in 2008, SANA news agency said last month, citing Tourism Minister Saadallah Agha al-Qalaa.

47% of Syrian state employees have only completed primary school. (This figure has been being cast around from a recent study, but it doesn’t actually mean much if one doesn’t know what they are employed to do. See the following article in Arabic.

47 بالمئة من موظفي سورية بشهادة إعدادية
طباعة أرسل لصديق
موقع مصادر
20/ 05/ 2010

أكدت دراسة ان نحو 47.5 بالمئة من الموظفين في سورية يحملون شهادة التعليم الإعدادي أو أقل.

Guardian (GB): Russia shows US how to deal with Syria
by James Denselow in the Guardian, 2010-05-19

While the US remains unwilling or unable to reach out to Damascus, the Russians have no such worries, prompting concern that the first visit of a Russian leader to Syria since 1917 could trigger a new Middle Eastern cold war ….

This has been a busy month so far for the Syrians. The US Congress blocked Obama’s attempt to appoint Robert Ford as ambassador following reports of Syrian Scud missiles being transferred to Hezbollah, and on 3 May Washington renewed economic and …

… Yet, crucial to understanding the situation today, is how in 1970 Assad played upon the ideas of Syria’s “strategic importance” to make simultaneous overtures to the US and the Soviets. In the words of historian Eberhard Kienle, he succeeded “in inducing them to outbid each other”. Such a dual strategy was reflected by Assad signing an agreement on economic co-operation with the Soviets while pursuing a western-orientated policy of infitah (economic opening up).

Today, Assad the younger is once again reaching out in all directions to pursue what he sees as Syria’s interest. This pragmatism should be acknowledged by an institutionally obstinate US that must by now realise that its policy of non-engagement has simply brought it no reward over the past six years, whether it is in weakening Syria’s relations with Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran or improving the country’s human rights record.

Syrian-Russian relations, which go beyond arms deals to a range of trade and cultural ties, are not a challenge to the US but rather should be a prompt to Washington to accept that almost a decade of policies have failed and that a new course must be adopted.

majedkhaldoun writes in the comment section:

Israelis are horrified that Russia is selling Syria a few MIG 29 fighters, but lets not forget that Iraq had 13 of them, in 1991, five of which were shot down by F15s and eight of which were flown to Iran, where they remain. Israel is negotiating with the US for F35 stealth fighters which are much more advanced than the F15s or F16s that are already superior to MIGs.

Bilal Saab in Janes Weekly

….The risks of the use of force are far greater today than they were in 2006. Hizbullah, according to Israel’s own intelligence estimates, is much better armed today and more widely dispersed than it was in 2006, and its secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah has vowed to hit deep inside Israeli territory. Unlike in 2006, the balance of terror caused by Hizbullah heavily weighs in Israel’s strategic thinking today. Moreover, Hizbullah’s patrons, Syria and Iran, have publicly stated that they would intervene militarily in the event of an Israeli attack.

Therefore, unlike in 2006 when Hizbullah was practically alone on the battlefield, Israel may have to potentially prepare for a multi-front war if it decides to engage Hizbullah militarily, with Syria to its north east, Hizbullah to its north, Iran by air and sea, and possibly Hamas from the Gaza Strip. Lacking strategic depth, Israel will be very careful to avoid such a scenario, especially at a time when its relationship with its most important ally, the United States, is going through a difficult period…..

Gary Sick writes about Washington’s response to the Brazil-Turkish brokered deal for Iran:

Well, that didn’t take long. In my previous note (yesterday, below) I wondered if we were smart enough to declare victory and take yes as an answer from Tehran. Today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced that a new package of sanctions against Iran had been approved by the major powers and would be sent to the UN Security Council later in the day.

In case anyone overlooked the significance of this action, which followed by one day the announcement by Brazil and Turkey of the successful conclusion of their negotiations with Iran, she added: “I think this announcement is as convincing an answer to the efforts undertaken in Tehran over the last few days as any we could provide.”

Take that, Tehran! But it turns out that this lifted middle finger was not limited to Iran. Only hours before Clinton’s announcement, the foreign minister of Turkey held his own press conference. Obviously unaware of what was about to happen, he described in some detail not only the tortuous negotiation process with Iran, but his perception that he was acting directly on behalf of the United States.

Prince Turki’s speech to diplomats in Riyadh seems to be almost screened out of US media. Here is a report in extenso from:

Agence France Presse: “RIYADH (AFP) – An “inept” United States cannot fix Afghanistan’s problems and should simply focus on “chasing the terrorists” there, former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal said on Saturday. The ex-ambassador to the United States also challenged Washington to produce results in just-started Middle East peace talks, and accused US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of undermining efforts to make the region nuclear-free.

Turki said Arab states have given Washington four months to show progress in US-guided Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. “The Arab world has given Obama until September to get things done,” said Turki. “It is not enough to talk the talk. He has to walk the walk. “If he does not succeed… then I (will) ask President Obama to do the morally decent gesture and recognise the Palestinian state that he so ardently wishes to exist. “He can then pack up and leave us in peace and let the Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese negotiate directly with the Israelis. No more platitudes and good wishes and visions, please.” Turki also faulted the US and European approach in trying to halt Iran’s alleged efforts to build a nuclear weapon. “The discussions on Iran’s nuclear ambitions started off on the wrong foot. The carrot and stick approach does not work,” he said. For one, he said, the US and Europe have had double-standards in dealing with Iran on the one hand, and other nuclear countries on the other. “You cannot ask Iran to play on one level while you allow Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea to play on other levels.” Turki said a successful strategy toward Iran requires even-handedness, a “universal nuclear security umbrella” for the countries in the area, and “a good military option” against any regional country which does not cooperate. He said Clinton had undermined efforts to move toward a regional nuclear-free zone, after the UN Security Council’s five permanent members recently expressed support for the idea. “Alas… Clinton then voided the issue of its value by stating that the conditions do not yet exist for establishing the zone,” he said. “Why, then, did she join the other members of the P5 in issuing their statement?” Turki said he hoped Obama “will find the way to correct his secretary of state’s nullification of making our area free of weapons of mass destruction.” Turki also warned of rising violence in Iraq after the pullout of US troops next year, warning both internal and external groups seek to carve up the country. “Imagine what will happen once internal strife and fighting escalates” following the US pullout, he said. Without a UN Security Council effort to protect Iraq’s current borders, the consequence could be “regional conflict on a scale not seen since the Ottoman-Safavid wars of the 17th and 18th centuries,” he warned.

South Lebanon: “…this regional face-off has reached a new balance of mutual deterrence …”
Rami Khouri in Daily Star

“… The Israel-Hizbullah war of summer 2006 was the most violent and destructive incident in the period that followed the withdrawal, and has since triggered significant military and other preparedness measures on both sides of the border. This is perhaps the most militarized and politically confrontational border in the world, with armies from every concerned quarter. Israel and Hizbullah are the main antagonists, but also present in the immediate area or nearby are the Lebanese Army, United Nations peace-keeping troops from many countries, Syria’s armed forces further eastward, and, by proxy, interested state parties in the United States, Iran and Saudi Arabia. ….

Obama Proves He Loves Israel Via FLC

“According to US State Department figures, direct military aid to Israel was $2.55bn in 2009. This is set to increase to $3.15bn in 2018.

A White House spokesman reaffirmed what he called the administration’s “unshakeable commitment” to Israel’s security – adding that Mr Obama recognised the threat posed by missiles and rockets fired by Hamas and Hezbollah.

Middle East and North Africa Region Recovers at a Good Pace
By David Morgan
Thursday, 20 May 2010 00:43

The Middle East and North Africa region is growing out of its downturn at a good speed, says the International Monetary Fund in its latest World Economic Outlook report….

GDP in the countries of the region is projected to grow at 4½ percent in 2010, edging up to 4¾ percent in 2011.

As in other regions, recovery prospects vary substantially across MENA economies.

In the group of oil exporters, the strongest performer is Qatar, where real activity is projected to expand by 18½ percent in 2010, underpinned by continued expansion in natural gas production and large investment expenditures.

In Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, GDP is expected to grow at about 3¾ percent and 3 percent, respectively, this year supported in both cases by sizable government infrastructure investment.

In the United Arab Emirates, growth in 2010 is projected to be subdued at 1¼ percent, with property-related sectors expected to contract further.

In the group of oil importers, Egypt’s GDP is projected to grow 5 percent in 2010 and

5½ percent in 2011, helped by stimulative fiscal and monetary policies. Morocco and Tunisia will continue to grow at rates of 3¼ to 4 percent in 2010 and 4½ to 5 percent in 2011, assuming exports, tourism, remittances, and foreign direct investment continue to improve….

Comments (19)

Akbar Palace said:

Getting Past Professor Josh’s “Academic” Biases

Obama Proves He Loves Israel Via FLC

A White House spokesman reaffirmed what he called the administration’s “unshakeable commitment” to Israel’s security – adding that Mr Obama recognised the threat posed by missiles and rockets fired by Hamas and Hezbollah.

Professor Josh,

Thank you for adding your own interpretation by titling the linked article “Obama Proves He Loves Israel”. This reflects not just Obama, but the majority of Americans.

I’m just wondering when you’ll be posting articles:

“Bashar Assad Proves He Loves Iran”

He certainly loves Iran more than the Golan, peace and democracy.

May 23rd, 2010, 1:30 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Everyone is focused on the Lebanese and the Syrian borders with Israel, and quite ignore the Gaza situation. To me it looks that the next Israeli move will be ending the Hamas black-emirate in Gaza, before all.
I will not be surprised if now, as we speak, IDF and Egyptian army staffs are planning a joint action, designed to wash hamas away from Gaza.

May 23rd, 2010, 3:30 pm


norman said:

I agree with you as Hamas might be the weakest link and an attack on Hamas might show that Syria and Hezbollah are not able to help ,
Though if that takes place many people would die and might bring some reality to the area, It would be very difficult for Israel to occupy and secure and take responsibility but Abbas might be waiting for that ,

May 23rd, 2010, 5:53 pm


Shai said:


If Israel gets involved in the internal affairs of the Palestinian people, decides to force-crown Mahmoud Abbas by destroying Hamas, it will make the same mistake America made in Iran and elsewhere.

After much blood is spilled (no doubt also on our side), even if Hamas is removed from power in Gaza, Abbas might rule for 5 or 10 years, but he will be looked upon as Iran’s Shah was – a cruel puppet of the West. And his fate might be similar.

In fact, if you worry about an “Islamic Storm”, involving Israel, Egypt, or America in forcing their will upon the Palestinians could bring exactly this eventuality on Gaza and the West Bank, just as it did in Iran.

Israel and America made a mistake. We pushed the Palestinians to hold the region’s first truly free and democratic elections and then, when the results were not to our liking, we didn’t accept them.

If we had, perhaps today Gilad Shalit would be home, and the Hamas-led Palestinian government might have been sitting at the negotiation table with Israel. Instead, we forced a blockade of Gaza and its 1.5 million citizens, then punished it with a huge and painful military strike, and then withdrew only to continue the blockade.

We must decide, whether we want to live in this region as equals, or as conquerors and puppet-masters. What will become of our children’s future, is largely dependent on that decision.

May 23rd, 2010, 6:27 pm


norman said:

Syria is speaking logic,

Syria defies Western pressure over Hezbollah
3:11pm EDT
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis

DAMASCUS (Reuters) – Syria defied Western pressure on Sunday over its support for the militant group Hezbollah and said it will not act as a policeman for the Jewish state to prevent weapons from reaching the Lebanese Shi’ite movement.

“Did Israel ever stop arming itself, did it stop instigating violence or making military maneuvers, why are arms forbidden to Arabs and allowed to Israel?” Foreign Minister Walid Moualem said after meeting his German counterpart Guido Westerwelle.

Citing Israeli occupation of Arab land and the technical state of war between Syria and Israel, Moualem said the Damascus government “will not be a policeman for Israel.”

“Israel is beating the drum of war. In the absence of real peace everything is possible,” he added.

Syria, a country Washington says is critical for Middle East peace, has shown no signs of withdrawing backing for Hezbollah, which is also supported by Iran, although the issue has clouded a rapprochement between Damascus and Washington.

The row intensified when Israeli President Shimon Peres last month accused Syria, which borders Lebanon, of sending long-range Scud missiles to Hezbollah.

Syria said it only gives Hezbollah political backing and that Israel may be using the accusation as a pretext for a military strike.

“A Scud missile is as big as this room. How could it be hidden and smuggled with Israeli planes and satellites all over the region?” Moualem asked, adding that cumbersome Scuds were not suited to Hezbollah’s guerrilla tactics.

Hezbollah’s weapons have been a focus of Western diplomacy toward Syria in the last several months. Senator John Kerry, who had raised the issue with President Bashar al-Assad last month, met Assad again in the Syrian capital on Saturday.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner also met Assad earlier.

France had led Western moves to rehabilitate Syria, but Kouchner said on May 2 that Hezbollah’s array of weapons made the situation “dangerous” and that France wants Syria to “guarantee the security” of the Syrian-Lebanese border.

Hezbollah used hundreds of shorter-range rockets against Israeli in a 2006 war that cost Lebanon a heavy civilian toll but failed to neutralize Hezbollah as a fighting force.

Israel said then Hezbollah’s supplies were coming through Syria, but it chose not to widen the war.

The United States has avoided giving a view on whether the Scud transfer happened.

But Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said senior U.S. officials have raised the issue of the suspected transfer of more sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah with Assad who “was making decisions that could mean war or peace for the region.”

A U.S. official said President Barack Obama is likely to raise U.S. concerns about Syria arming Hezbollah when he meets Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri on Monday.

(Editing by Michael Roddy)

May 23rd, 2010, 9:29 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:


It is really a dilemma.
When ever Israel does the opposite of what a conquerer would do, and leaves territory (S. Lebanon 2000, Gaza 2005), the revolutionary-guards move in, and the Arabs say that Israel is weak, just like a spider-web, and that Israel understands only force. So, on one hand they want you to free territory, and on the other hand, when you do free, they use it (practically and rhetorically) against you.

Your solution is to free more. My solution is, first lets solidify our rights in HolyLand, so there’s no discussion about it, and then we can free, but under conditions and with agreements.

May 23rd, 2010, 10:56 pm


Ghat Albird said:

Secrets revealed on Israel offering to sell nuclear bombs that it claims it does not have to South Africa.

May 24th, 2010, 12:42 am


norman said:


Leaving land without agreement is a sign that Israel was pushed out and it is a sign of weakness while leaving land with agreement is a sign of peace loving and neighbourly behavior , any agreement Israel makes should include that no hostile power or people on it’s borders , Israel did not do that with Lebanon or Gaza , you think they learned !? .

May 24th, 2010, 1:29 am


almasri said:

Zionists were chased out, defeated and forced to withdraw by Resistance

قصة الهروب الكبير

مطلع عام 2000، نفذت المقاومة عمليات عدة قتلت فيها خلال أسبوعين سبعة جنود إسرائيليين وجرحت عدداً آخر. وقد كان لهذه العمليات مفاعيل مباشرة على الجمهور الإسرائيلي حيث عبّر 57% منه في استطلاعات الرأي عن تأييدهم لانسحاب أحادي.
إثر ذلك، التقى موفاز بعض قادة الجيش الإسرائيلي، من ضمنهم قائد المنطقة الشمالية، وطلب منهم إعداد خيارات للانسحاب الأحادي من دون اتفاق، وبسرّية قصوى. إلا أنه تبين لاحقاً أن أشكنازي وطواقمه كانوا قد بدأوا يخططون لانسحابٍ أحادي قبل أن يُطلب منهم القيام بذلك.v

في ظل الواقع الهش، بادر باراك، مساء العشرين من أيار، إلى عقد جلسة عاجلة للمجلس الوزاري المصغر لمناقشة الانسحاب المزمع من لبنان. قبيل انعقاد الاجتماع، أخذ أشكنازي أحد الوزراء إلى إحدى الزوايا وقال له «يجب الخروج الآن. هذه الليلة تماماً». وأوضح أشكنازي للوزير أن «الحزام الأمني قد ينهار في أي لحظة، والصفقة على حافة الانفجار، وجيش لبنان الجنوبي يدرك الوضع، قد يحدث هذا في كل ثانية وسينهار كل شيء آنذاك مثل برج من أوراق اللعب».
في أثناء الجلسة، أثير اقتراح الخروج فوراً، وأُشير إلى أنه إذا تم الانسحاب في غضون الليل، فسيكون من الممكن القيام بذلك على نحو منظّم، بحيث يصار إلى إجراء استعراض عسكري ونقل المسؤولية ولو بطريقة رمزية الى جيش لبنان الجنوبي والمغادرة مع رأس مرفوع. حظي الاقتراح بتأييد متحمس من الوزيرين حاييم رامون ومتان فيلنائي، فيما عارضه وزير الخارجية دافيد ليفي الذي كان لا يزال يؤمن بجدوى الاتصالات في الأمم المتحدة ويراهن على تحقيق نتائج مثمرة في سفره المزمع المقرر الى نيويورك. تبنّى باراك موقف ليفي بعدم الانسحاب في هذه الأثناء وانتظار ما ستفضي إليه الاتصالات السياسية.

وفي صبيحة 22 أيار 2000، عند الثامنة صباحاً وصل موفاز إلى غرفة الحرب داخل مقر قيادة المنطقة الشمالية، حيث أخذ يشاهد برفقة اشكنازي على شاشة عملاقة صوراً تنقلها طائرات الاستطلاع المسيرة تُظهر كيف أن أفراد حزب الله ينظمون مسيرات ليس بعيداً عن الملالات البيضاء التابعة للأمم المتحدة. تناقش الجنرالان بشأن سبل الرد على هذا التطور، وبعد بحث طويل أحجما عن إصدار الأوامر إلى المروحيات بإطلاق النار على الحشود الشعبية خشية وقوع إصابات مدنية يمكن أن تعقّد الأمور المعقّدة أصلاً. عوضاً عن ذلك، فضّل الجنرالان الاتصال باليونيفيل للطلب إليها منع الحشود من اقتحام حواجز قواتها باتجاه المنطقة المحتلة، وهو الأمر الذي وعدت به قيادة قوات الطوارئ من دون أن تتمكن من تنفيذه على الأرض.
عند الثانية عشرة ظهراً، توجه موفاز وأشكنازي إلى أحد المراكز في القطاع الأوسط للقاء باراك هناك. في الطريق، اتفق الجنرالان على أن ميليشيا لحد ستنهار كلياً خلال يومين أو ثلاثة أيام، واستقر رأياهما بعد التشاور مع القيادات العسكرية المعنية على تقديم توصية لباراك بانسحاب الجيش من الحزام الأمني في أقرب وقت ممكن. وعند الاجتماع بباراك، قدم له أشكنازي التوصية، فسأله الأول ماذا تعني بذلك؟ فأجاب أشكنازي «أنا على استعداد للانسحاب الليلة أو ليلة غد».
لكن باراك كان متردداً، وأجاب: «من المهم أن ننتظر ربما يومين أو ثلاثة أيام، بل أسبوعاً حتى. يجب استنفاد الإجراءات مع الأمم المتحدة للحصول على تفويض منهم رسمياً للانسحاب وفق الـ 425». أما موفاز فأوصى بتنفيذ الانسحاب خلال 24 أو 36 ساعة، فقرر باراك إجراء مشاورات مع المجلس الوزاري الأمني المصغر.
في ليل اليوم نفسه، اتصل رئيس الأركان بقائد المنطقة الشمالية ليطلعه على أن رئيس الوزراء يصدّق على تنفيذ عملية الانسحاب مساء الغد، أي ليلة الثلاثاء الواقع فيه الثالث والعشرون من أيار، فسارع أشكنازي إلى إصدار أوامره للبدء بالعمل من أجل الإعداد لعملية الانسحاب الشامل، على أن تُستكمل فجر الرابع
والعشرين من أيار، وهذا ما حصل.

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May 24th, 2010, 2:25 am


Shai said:


Whenever we withdrew under agreement, no further violence ensued. Egypt and Jordan are a perfect testimony to this. To suggest that withdrawing from the Golan would be like withdrawing from Gaza or Lebanon is, of course, ludicrous.

I’m not suggesting Israel withdraw from the West Bank unilaterally. That’s an impossibility in any case, so we’re only talking about withdrawing under agreement. But I personally don’t believe in an agreement with just Mahmoud Abbas (and not with Hamas). And that’s why I’m pushing for the Syrian/Lebanese track first. It’s much much less complicated, and can be done tomorrow morning.

As for “solidifying our rights”, I don’t quite know what you mean. If it’s our “right” to be in the West Bank (religious right, historic right, conqueror’s right), then let’s annex it, like we did with the Golan, call it Israel, and give all its citizens equal rights (including voting rights). If it’s NOT our “right” to be in the West Bank, let’s leave it! (there’s a novel idea for you). It really shouldn’t be such a difficult decision. Either we have the right, or we don’t have the right. Right? 🙂

May 24th, 2010, 4:21 am


almasri said:

Australia joins the increasing list of countries that believe Israeli government and diplomats behave like criminals.

Israel orders an Israeli diplomat out of Australia within a week for criminal activities and counterfeiting Australian passport.

May 24th, 2010, 4:48 am


Yossi said:


You’re going to like this one:

فلسطين يهودية للأبد

I agree, but without any claims for exclusivity.

May 24th, 2010, 5:02 am


norman said:


May 24th, 2010, 5:04 pm


Ghat Albird said:

Israeli General says. “IDF ready for total war “any time, any where, with any body anyhow”.,7340,L-3892883,00.html

May 24th, 2010, 9:12 pm


Yossi said:

Feltman Reiterates Support for STL, Says No Regional Solutions ‘at Lebanon’s Expense’

“There can be no lasting solution reached at Lebanon’s expense. As (U.S.) Special Envoy (George) Mitchell confirmed to Prime Minister Hariri during their meeting in Beirut on January 19, the U.S. will not support the forced naturalization of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.”

May 24th, 2010, 9:21 pm


Hassan said:

“Syria News Quotes Dardari that the next economic five year plan for Syria forcasts that economic growth will readh 8% and unemployment with reach 4% if 130 billion dollars are invested, 77 billion of which is to come from the private sector.”

Is this satire? If Dardari is going to simply make up economic forecasts he ought to restrain himself from going into the realm of fantasy. Not that anyone believes economic statistics coming out of the Syrian government. Economic growth will not reach 8%. Dardari says that this is possible “if 130 billion dollars are invested, 77 billion of which is to come from the private sector.” Given that investment is a component of GDP, it would be impossible for a country with an economy of Syria’s size (GDP of $54.35 billion), to achieve that level of investment.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit:
The 2010 budget envisages a significant increase in public investment spending, which the IMF said should be reassessed. In fact, the Syrian government has regularly undershot its investment targets, and the IMF projection for 2010 includes the assumption that actual spending will once more fall short, owing to capacity
constraints. This would leave an overall fiscal deficit of 4.4% of GDP, compared with the budget figure of 6.2%.

May 24th, 2010, 10:47 pm


Akbar Palace said:

I would like to invest in Syrian peace groups and NGOs.

Or at least a pen pal.

May 24th, 2010, 11:40 pm


Ghat Albird said:

Looks like the only way Syria can get $130 billion is tp copy=cat Israel and get a sugar daddy like the US.

To date Israel has taken the American taxpayer for $1.4 trillion dollars and presently is getting # 3 billion a year plus lots of free missiles, helicopters, cluster bombs and other freebis.

Once AKBAR PALACE gets a pen pal in Syria he can show him the Israeli way of getting free dollars. And live in the manner parasites have lived off the USA.

May 25th, 2010, 12:23 am


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