News Round Up (27 Sept. 2007)

Why Did Israel Attack Syria?
By Jonathan Cook, 09/27/07, "ICH"

Nazareth — Israel's air strike on northern Syria earlier this month should be understood in the context of events unfolding since its assault last summer on neighboring Lebanon.

From the leaks so far, it seems that more than half a dozen Israeli warplanes violated Syrian airspace to drop munitions on a site close to the border with Turkey. We also know from the US media that the raid occurred in close coordination with the White House. But what was the purpose and significance of the attack?

It is worth recalling that, in the wake of Israel's month-long war against Lebanon a year ago, a prominent American neoconservative, Meyrav Wurmser, wife of Vice-President Dick Cheney's recently departed Middle East adviser, explained that the war had dragged on because the White House delayed in imposing a ceasefire. The neocons, she said, wanted to give Israel the time and space to expand the attack to Damascus.

The reasoning was simple: before an attack on Iran could be countenanced, Hizbullah in Lebanon had to be destroyed and Syria at the very least cowed. The plan was to isolate Tehran on these two other hostile fronts before going in for the kill.

But faced with constant rocket fire from Hizbullah last summer, Israel's public and military nerves frayed at the first hurdle. Instead Israel and the US were forced to settle for a Security Council resolution rather than a decisive military victory.

The immediate fallout of the failed attack was an apparent waning of neocon influence. The group's program of "creative destruction" in the Middle East — the encouragement of regional civil war and the partition of large states that threaten Israel — was at risk of being shunted aside…..

Hizbullah: If Israel attacks Syria, we'll respond , Roee Nahmias, 9.27.07, 22:32 / Israel News,

Senior members of Lebanese, Palestinian organizations vow to stand by Damascus if Jewish state launches war. 'Doors will be open which have not been open before. Israel will pay a heavy price,' they warn.


"If Israel dares to make an adventurous move against Syria, it will pay a heavy price," a member of Hizbulla's political council warned Thursday.

In an interview with the Nazareth-based Kul al-Arab newspaper scheduled to be published on Friday, Dr Ahmad Malli warned Israel against considering an attack on Syria, saying that the Lebanese organization would respond to such an offensive with full force.

"I believe that things have changed," Malli explained. "The times when everyone was afraid of the Israeli threats are over. The Zionist entity knows more than anyone that the price of such adventurousness would be heavy, and the Israelis know the price more than anyone.

"Since 2006 we have begun a new stage in the Arab-Israeli conflict and have demonstrated this during the Israeli aggression in July (the Second Lebanon War). If anyone wants to make an adventurous move, it will baer responsibility for this aggression."

Asked whether he was referring to aggression both against Lebanon and against Syria, Malli replied, "We are all in one Middle East."

Ahmad Jibril, secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, also warned Thursday that if Israel attacked Syria or Hizbullah his organization would also respond.

In an interview with the al-Hadat newspaper, which is published in Arabic in the Galilee city of Tamra, Jibril warned that Israel planned to invade Syria in coordination with Arab countries. The interview is scheduled to be published Friday.

According to Jibril, if such an attack takes place, Iran and Hizbullah will stand by Damascus and respond in full force.

"I believe that the Israelis and the Americans will carry out attacks against Syria as soon as possible, in other words in the near future. I do not reject the possibility that the Israeli aircraft will attack us – the Palestinians in Syria.

"I also do not reject the possibility that they will attack the Palestinian headquarters in Damascus. We, the Palestinians in Syria, will not stand idly by. We will be at the front posts. I also believe that Hizbullah will take part in this war," he said.

Jibril added that Israel's plan was to isolate Syria from Iran and the rest of its allies, after identifying it as the weakest link.

"I stress that the plan to isolate Syria will not go by easily," he declared. "I am certain that this war will last for months and will open doors which have not been opened in the past."

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met with her Syrian counterpart Walid Moallem in New York on Wednesday, Arab-Israeli newspaper al-Sinara reported on Thursday. Livni's entourage in New York denied the report.

According to the report, which was based on a senior Arab sources the meeting came after Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani surprised Livni with a proposal that she convene with the Syrian FM at the UN headquarters in New York.

After consluting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Livni agreed to the meeting, which ended up lasting for over an hour.

During thier meeting the two reportedly discussed tensions that have built up between the two countries, and the need to calm things down.

Syria said ready to cede disputed area to UN

Hariri, Fox News: “It was not enough to get rid of Saddam, Bashar should have been removed too”

Nabih Berri sitting and smiling with Hariri who just called for Bashar to be removed.

Saudi brothers dump on Syria as well, underscoring Syria's isolation from Arab governments. If you read the comment section of the article, you will notice that few Saudis support al-Rashid's diatribe against Syria even though Syria is an ally of Iran.

Alex writes about Rashid's article:

Abdel Rahman Al-rashed (director of Saudi satellite TV Al-Arabia, and former editor of Asharq al-Awsat) wrote again today accusing the Syrians of being evil (more or less).. blaming them for everything, including Barak’s “cold feet” 1999 reversal of the Golan deal.

Read the readers’ comments … even the typical anti-Syria readers of Asharq found Al-Rashed’s article to be outrageous.

Alrashed is suggesting that the Syrians be invited to the peace conference but they should be kept is a separate room … otherwise they can spoil the conference.

As if without Farouk Shara in that good-guys’ room everything will go smoothly and Israel will give the Saudis everything the Palestinians always wanted and more.

Al-Rashed’s great idea reminds me of his friend Mamoun Fandi’s other invention: in 2005 he wrote an opinion piece in Asharq al-Awsat suggested the following:

“Syria is now in real trouble. What can be done to save Syrian people from paying the price of their governments wrong decisions? The solution is a meeting between all Arab countries including Syria, on the condition that Syria listens without being allowed a single one of its long disdainful speeches. The aim of such a meeting would be to give Syria a political cover to use in coming out of its current bottleneck. It would also present Syria with a frame to preserve its dignity as it withdraws from the pack of policies that reflect a state of obstinacy. Without such rapid Syrian withdrawal and without a similarly rapid Arab political involvement we will watch Syria move confidently towards hell with the speed of light. A group of foolish Arabs will remain applauding Syria as it heads to the bottom of the rank of Arab nationalism. I also hope that Syria will not imagine that this scenario will take many years to be executed, or that the Bush regime may have departed before the effects fully impact Syria.”

That warning was in 2005. We’ll see what Al-Sharq’s writers will be writing when the Bush administration has indeed departed.

The prelude to a break down of the state, Lebanon’s Farmers harvest a massive marijuana crop this year, the largest since the civil war ended.  

Saudi Religious Police Attacked by Girls
Monday 24 September 2007
By Sultan al-Kholaif
Dammam, Asharq Al-Awsat-

Members of Khobar's Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice were the victims of an attack by two Saudi females, Asharq Al-Awsat can reveal.
According to the head of the commission in Khobar, two girls pepper sprayed members of the commission after they had tried to offer them advice.
Head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in the Eastern province Dr. Mohamed bin Marshood al-Marshood, told Asharq Al Awsat that two of the Commission's employees were verbally insulted and attacked by two inappropriately-dressed females, in the old market in Prince Bandar street, an area usually crowded with shoppers during the month of Ramadan.
According to Dr. Al-Marshood, the two commission members approached the girls in order to "politely" advise and guide them regarding their inappropriate clothing.
Consequently, the two girls started verbally abusing the commission members, which then lead to one of the girls pepper-spraying them in the face as the other girl filmed the incident on her mobile phone, while continuing to hurl insults at them.
The Eastern Province's head of the commission also revealed that with the help of the police his two employees were able to control the situation.
The two females were then escorted to the police station where they apologized for the attack, were cautioned and then released.
Report Says Hussein Was Open To Exile Before 2003 Invasion
He Is Said to Have Sought $1 Billion and Information on Arms
(By Karen DeYoung and Michael Abramowitz, The Washington Post)

Comments (13)

Kamal said:

This is precisely why Hizballa must be disarmed.

Most of Lebanon works night and day to take Lebanon OUT of the battlefield between the warring giants around us. And here you have the other side of Lebanon INSISTING on martyring Lebanon for the sake of an Israeli-Syrian conflict.

September 28th, 2007, 12:02 am


idaf said:


HA is not insisting on “martyring Lebanon” for anyone’s sake. It’s just pre-empting any attack on one of its patrons so itself won’t be weakened. I’m sure after such announcements the Israeli military guys would think hard before launching any attack on Syria. They know that HA can deliver on its promise.

Again, this a Lebanese tradition, not just limited to HA’s. Few weeks ago I was in Beirut and I was astonished to find huge banners covering the Sunni neighborhoods (Manara, Qraytem and others) threatening that Lebanese Sunnis “will attack” anyone that dares to insult Saudi Arabia! If you remember, that was the time when Al-Sharaa reportedly said that the Saudis policies are becoming useless in the region.

The huge banners had statements such as “We will defend Saudi with our blood”, “Saudi is our red line”, “we are ready to fight for Saudi Arabia” and similar slogans. Given the different media sources indicating that M14 fractions are getting armed and trained by their current patrons and given the violent response at the beginning of the opposition’s movements earlier this year, one should take these threats seriously.

In Lebanon, each and every sectarian group has 2 key references that define its identity: A local Zaiim and an external patron. The external patron provides services and would require paybacks later. This tradition is definitely NOT limited to Hizballa as many Lebanese would like us to believe. Its rampant in the Lebanese sectarian system, HA is a relative newcomer to this tradition, compared with other Lebanese fractions. Fixing this Lebanese local problem requires a lot more than disarming Hizballah.

September 28th, 2007, 12:58 am


ausamaa said:

Saudi, a Return to REASON !!

الفيصــل: لا ســلام بـلا ســوريا
أكدت السعودية، أمس، أنه «لا جدوى» من مؤتمر السلام الدولي، الذي دعا الرئيس الأميركي جورج بوش إلى عقده في الخريف، من دون مشاركة دمشق، في وقت لا يزال فيه التوتر يخيم على هضبة الجولان المحتلة، حيث حلقت طائرات إسرائيلية، للمرة الثالثة في غضون أسبوع، استجابة لإنذار خاطئ عن اقتراب طائرات سورية من الحدود.
وقال وزير الخارجية السعودي الأمير سعود الفيصل، للصحافيين في نيويورك أول من أمس، إن «مشاركة سوريا أساسية»، مشيراً إلى أن «المؤتمر سيكون عديم الجدوى إذا لم تحضر». وأضاف «هناك مقولة قديمة أن لا حرب من دون مصر ولا سلام من دون سوريا».
ولم يحسم الفيصل مشاركة السعودية في المؤتمر المقرّر في تشرين الثاني المقبل. وقال إن «حضور الفلسطينيين وسوريا ولبنان في المؤتمر أساسي»، فيما مشاركة بلاده «ليست المسألة الأكثر أهمية»، موضحاً أن «المملكة تنتظر رؤية شاملة للوضع قبل البحث في المشاركة أو عدمها».
في هذا الوقت، أفاد مصدر عسكري إسرائيلي بأن مقاتلات إسرائيلية انطلقت أمس، للمرة الثالثة في خلال أسبوع، إثر إنذار خاطئ جديد على الحدود مع سوريا. وأُطلق الإنذار بعدما حلقت مروحيات سورية فوق الأراضي السورية قبل أن تعود أدراجها. وأضاف المصدر نفسه «إنه تدبير روتيني. الطائرات عادت إلى قاعدتها عندما تبين أن التحليق لا ينطوي على نية عدائية».
وكانت الطائرات الإسرائيلية قد استنفرت في 22 أيلول إثر اختفاء جسم طائر كان يحلّق في الأجواء السورية من على شاشات الرادار. وكانت طيور مهاجرة عند الحدود مع سوريا قد دفعت سلاح الجو الإسرائيلي إلى الاستنفار وإرسال مقاتلاته إلى المكان لاستكشاف الأمر.
ورغم ذلك، رأى نائب وزير الدفاع الإسرائيلي ماتان فيلناي «إن التوتر يتراجع، لأنه من الواضح أن أياً من الطرفين لا مصلحة له في الحرب».
إلى ذلك، نفى وزير الخارجية السوري وليد المعلم، في تصريح لقناة «الجزيرة» الفضائية القطرية، تقارير صحافية إسرائيلية أفادت بأنه التقى نظيرته الإسرائيلية تسيبي ليفني على هامش اجتماعات الجمعية العامة للأمم المتحدة في نيويورك بوساطة قطرية.
وكانت صحيفة «الصنارة» العربية الصادرة في إسرائيل قد قالت إن أمير قطر حمد بن خليفة آل ثاني، الذي التقى ليفني في مقر إقامته، اقترح عليها عقد لقاء مع المعلم، وإنه بعث بوزير خارجيته حمد بن جاسم بن جبر على الفور لإحضار الوزير السوري.
(الأخبار، ا ف ب، رويترز، يو بي آي، ا ب)

عدد الجمعة ٢٨ أيلول

September 28th, 2007, 1:12 am


ina said:

jonathan cook knows nothing. he speculates over speculation. why dont you post the article by a reporter who actually did his job- HE WENT there HIMSELF. Cook is one more mediocre speculator bloviating/regurging stuff already second-hand from dozens of others.

September 28th, 2007, 1:47 am


Nur al-Cubicle said:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is on an official visit to Damascus.

And it is evident that in Lebanon, there is a deal between Berri and Hariri on the Presidential election.

September 28th, 2007, 1:49 am


IsraeliGuy said:

Israeli reporter and commentator Ron Ben-Yishai continues his journey in Syria…,7340,L-3454168,00.html

September 28th, 2007, 6:13 am


Alex said:

Here is the Deir ezzore bridge he was on.

If the Syrian authorities can interview the Rabi he talked to and the Rabi does not deny it, then I will believe the story.

The rest could be easily made up.

Which Israeli newspaper was it last year during the Lebanon war that downloaded photos from Imad Moustapha’s blog and used them to claim that they interviewed him?

September 28th, 2007, 7:36 am


ausamaa said:

Yaani who cares if he went to Syria or not, or if he had visited Dair Azzour or Homs. But if he can do that and act in tghe manner he described, this means one of two things:

1- If an Israeli journalist could roam around in the manner he described, then Syria and Syrians are not living in such miserable state of fear and horror under the “regime”. The security man did not ask even for his passport as a foriegner.

2- Considering the mentioned visit with The Rabbai in Damascuse (whome he met at the Synagoge, not at a prison similar to the prisons were tens of elected Palestinian Parliment members languish in Israel), and Alex’s remark about that, then, maybe, just maybe, he was sent as a Journalist with a ,duel-passport of course, to be COUGHT as a spy, so that the STORY can be REVIVED and given more additional credence which it did not manage to attain over the past two weeks. Hence attempting to accomplish an inflamatory aspect related to the Great Deair Azour Raid.

BTW, has the raid really “failed” in the objective of restoring Israrlies confidence in their own military and political echolon (even in their statements) so that they have “ventured” into visiting enemy land to find out the truth of what had -or had not- happened somewhere on their own?

Are the Israelies involving the wining Bush/neo-cons team in their actions? With similar military, PR, and political results? Had many people on that side lost their nerves and started acting rashly and incoherently?

September 28th, 2007, 10:06 am


offended said:

So now after two days of the great article of the great writer and TV channel’s manager Abd Al Rahman al Rashed, calling Syria an obtrusive regime and an obstacle in the way of peace making, we get Ahmad Abu Al Ghait saying that neither Egypt nor Saudi Arabia have received invitations to the peace ‘conference’ yet!

Hello Abd Al Rahman! waky waky!… there isn’t a peace conference yet, it is all a red-herring technique by your American masters…

September 28th, 2007, 10:07 am


ausamaa said:

BTW, Where the heck is Al Syasah and Ahmad Al Jarralah? Arnt we all missing his informed bits and deep insights? Some one told him to shut up? Checks did not arrive in time? His bosses lost as to what to tell him to write as they are sort of confused themselves?

September 28th, 2007, 10:18 am


Friend in America said:

On Jonathan Cook’s article.
His perceptions are incorrect. First, his statement the air strike was “in close coordination with the White House” just is not true. That is not the way it works, Jonathan. Israel initially was cautioned by the intelligence departments in Washington that verification of its fears was advisable. In went the commandos. Upon the evidence of the equipment they brought back Washington replied it would not object to action taken in self defense. Not quite a go ahead order and certainly not “coordinated.” Israel made the decision, selected the timing, carried out the raid under its command, and takes the responsibility, as it should. No different than it would be with any other country facing the same problem that sought verifcation of its intelligence information.

The air strike was not just a provocation on a political road toward major conflict with Iran, which is the theme in Cook’s article. It was based entirely on military considerations – a perceived threat to Israel’s national security. Was it? Cook’s article suggests no. The evidence so far says yes. When it comes to national defense, the Israeli’s are nobody’s fool.

Once again (i think this is the 4th time i have had to state this on this site), there will be no bombing of the various nuclear sites in Iran. A war inititated by such action will not occur.

September 28th, 2007, 12:50 pm


SimoHurtta said:

It was based entirely on military considerations – a perceived threat to Israel’s national security. Was it? Cook’s article suggests no. The evidence so far says yes. When it comes to national defense, the Israeli’s are nobody’s fool.

Friend in America might I ask what is the evidence which says YES? Is the YES evidence what Bibi said in television or Bolton’s opinions full of conditional verbal formulations. So far the best claimed YES “evidence” is that North Korea condemned the raid, which is a rather strange view remembering the concept of evidence. Is no a proof of yes?

If you Friend in America study closer Israel’s military and political history you soon notice that intentional provocations by Israel are not unknown especially on the northern frontier. Against UN, Lebanon, Syria and lately against peaceful migratory birds.

September 28th, 2007, 5:32 pm


alakid said:

NEWS!!!ABU QAQA is killed today in ALEPPO!!!!
I have found this in an arabic website:
اغتيال محمود قول آغاسي ” أبو القعقاع ” أثناء خروجه من جامع الإيمان في حلب

أطلق مسلح في العشرينيات من عمره النار على خطيب جامع الإيمان، ومدير الثانوية الشرعية في حلب الدكتور ” محمود قول آغاسي ” أثناء خروجه من جامع الإيمان الواقع في حي حلب الجديدة ظهر هذا اليوم .

حيث أسعف إلى مشفى الشهباء ليفارق الحياة متاثراً بجراحه ،و حسب شهود العيان فإن مسلحاً ترجل من سيارة بيك آب ، وأطلق النار على أبي القعقاع فور خروجه من باب الجامع برفقة شخص عراقي فأصابهما إصابات مباشرة ثم لاذ بالفرار قبل أن يتمكن تلاميذ الشيخ من تعقبهما وإلقاء القبض عليهما .
و فور ذيوع نبا إطلاق النار عليه توافد المئات من أنصاره إلى مشفى الشهباء للاطمئنان عليه حيث أخفي خبر وفاته في البداية عنهم .

و أبو القعقاع الذي يبلغ الرابعة والثلاثين من العمر ، ذاع صيته في حلب وشمال سورية في نهاية التسعينيات، حيث استقطب بدعواته الجهادية الشبان المتدينين والمتحمسين ، و أطلق على تلك الجماعة اسم ” غرباء الشام ” وقد اتخذت من جامع “العلاء بن الحضرمي” مقراً لها ، و نظمت عروضاً للقتال القريب في عدد من أحياء حلب ، ووزعت أعداداً كبيرة من الأشرطة، والأقراص المدمجة التي تحوي خطب الشيخ أبي القعقاع ، و الاستعراضات التي كان ينظمها ، ودروسه التي كانت تشدد على وجوب الدفاع عن أرض الإسلام .

وأثناء الحرب الأمريكية على العراق ساهم ” قول آغاسي ” في إرسال المتطوعين للدفاع عن العراق، لكنه فيما بعد أطلق مفهوماً جديداً للجهاد لتمييز جماعته عمن انحرفوا بالجهاد عن أصوله الشرعية، واختلطت أعمالهم بالإرهاب، وباتت تشكل عوناً لمشروع من يقاتلوهم .
وفي هذا العام تم تعيين ” قول آغاسي ” مديراً للثانوية الشرعية بحلب ، وانتقل من جامع العلاء بن الحضرمي للخطبة في جامع الإيمان في حلب الجديدة .
وآخر أقراصه المدمجة التي انتشرت وذاع صيتها ” زفرات بين يدي القائد ” وجه فيها خطابه إلى الرئيس بشارالأسد للقضاء على الفساد منتقداً انتشاره في بنية المجتمع بشدة .
ووجهت الاتهامات لأبي القعقاع بالتورط في محاولة اقتحام مبنى الإذاعة والتلفزيون في دمشق من قبل أربعة أشخاص قتلوا جميعا في اشتباك مع رجال الأمن ،وعثر معهم على خطب، وتسجيلات لأبي القعقاع.

وفي حوار صحفي لاحق نفى أبو القعقاع أي علاقة له بالحادث وقال إن هذه الأحداث “المريرة والإجرامية” هي “مرفوضة بشكل تام وقاطع”.
وتحدى أبو القعقاع ,حينها, أي شخص ” أو جهة تثبت بالأدلة القاطعة أن لي كلمة واحدة قلتها أو كتبتها محرضاً فيها على سلوك غير طرق المقاومة الشرعية والصحيحة،أو أدعو من خلالها ولو بالإشارة إلى أفكار العنف الأعمى ضد أي بلد عربي أو غربي، أو تكفير الغير”.
جدير ذكره أن المنتديات الخاصة بالجهاديين المتطرفين تعج بمواضيع عن أبي القعقاع تتهمه بالتواطؤ على المجاهدين، و تحذر من التعامل معه و تهدر دمه .

and here
وهذا خبر تأكيد مقتله من قناة العبريه
تم قتله بعد خروجه من أحد مساجد حلب
اغتيال رجل دين سوري متهم بإرسال مقاتلين إلى العراق

الحمد لله الذي انعم على المجاهدين بخبر هلاكك الى جهنم الشئؤم يا خائن وبئس المصير إن شاء الله
دمشق- رويترز، العربية.نت
اغتيل الجمعة 28-9-2007 رجل دين سوري يدعى محمود قول آغاسي، والذي كانت تثار الشكوك حول كونه يقوم بتجنيد مقاتلين أجانب للسفر الى العراق لمقاتلة القوات التي تقودها الولايات المتحدة، وقال مساعده أحمد حيدر إن آغاسي تم قتله بالرصاص عقب خروجه من أحد مساجد مدينة حلب بعد صلاة الجمعة.

وكان آغاسي المعروف بـ”أبي القعقاع” قد نفى في وقت سابق لـ”العربية.نت” أية صلة له بتنظيم القاعدة، وشن هجوما عنيفا على هذا التنظيم معتبرا أنه يتناغم من المشروع الأمريكي في المنطقة. وقال “أبو القعقاع” إنه لا تربطه أية علاقة بـ”جند الشام”، وأن مؤسسته “غرباء الشام” تنشط إعلاميا حيث تنشر خطبه الحماسية على أشرطة.

وذكر “أبو القعقاع” وقتها أن “أتباعه” بالآلاف من سوريا ودول عربية أخرى، رغم تحفظه على كلمة “أتباع”، مشيرا إلى أن تنظيمات مغلقة تستخدمها، قائلا “أنا ضد هذه التنظيمات التي تعادينا أصلا كوننا نمثل الإسلام الواعي وننبذ العنف”.

يشار إلى أن “أبا القعقاع” ولد في مدينة حلب السورية عام 1973، ودرس في الثانوية الشرعية بحلب ثم كلية الشريعة بدمشق وحصل على درجتي الماجستير والدكتواره من الجامعة الإسلامية الباكستانية؛ التي مقرها في كراتشي (وتخرج فيها من فرع سوريا).

a video showing singing him without beard:
and here in an Aleppo Mosque:

September 28th, 2007, 7:50 pm


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