News Round Up (28 April 2008)

Gulf Times: TURKEY is “really hopeful” that Syria and Israel will soon sign a peace deal that will ultimately “change the course of history”, Turkish Ambassador Mithat Rende told Gulf Times yesterday.

He said Turkish leaders had been fervently pursuing a proposal to make lasting peace between Israel and Syria by following the path of “quiet diplomacy”. The proposal includes a deal wherein Israel will return to Syria the Golan Heights occupied in the Six-Day War of 1967. In return, Damascus and Tel Aviv will sign a peace treaty, it is learnt.

According to the ambassador, Turkish leaders have made many trips to Damascus carrying fresh proposals and new ideas. “We have made it clear that it is not in any-body's interest that Syria is isolated or alienated. The talks are being held at the highest levels, since the matter is of grave concern and the decisions have far-reaching consequences.”

Asked about the reasons for the high optimism in Turkish circles, the ambassador said Turkey “is considered a honest broker, who maintains equidistant between the two parties. We also have been consistent in our policies.” Rende said peace efforts and development should go hand in hand. “Durable peace is possible only with a change in the standard of living of the people. A poor population has a fertile mind, suitable for indoctrination by militant groups,” the envoy opined.

Don’t Be Afraid of Peace With Syria
by Haaretz, Editorial

There seems to be a need to repeat, over and over, this basic fact: Nothing contributes to Israel’s security more than a peace accord. Before the protests of solidarity with the Golan Heights begin, it should be emphasized that withdrawal from the Golan in exchange for peace is endorsed not only by bleeding hearts, but by distinctly security-minded figures. …

Peace is not a commodity in high demand when the border is quiet, but peace with Syria might open up the possibility of regional peace by changing the balance of interests in the area. Access the full article>>

North Koreans May Have Died in Israel Attack on Syria, NHK Says

By Tak Kumakura

April 28 (Bloomberg) — Ten North Koreans may have been killed in an Israeli air strike on Syria in September, NHK reported on its Web site, citing unidentified South Korean intelligence officials.

The 10 people, whose remains were cremated and returned to North Korea in October, had been helping with the construction of a nuclear reactor in Syria, Japan's public broadcaster said. Some North Koreans probably survived the air attack, NHK said. The U.S. government last week accused North Korea of helping Syria build a secret nuclear reactor capable of producing plutonium.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tak Kumakura in Tokyo at


Fareed Zakaria in Newsweek, here:  (Thanks FLC)

"…. The neoconservative vision within the speech (McCain's) is essentially an affirmation of ideology. Not only does it declare war on Russia and China, it places the United States in active opposition to all nondemocracies. It proposes a League of Democracies, which would presumably play the role that the United Nations now does, except that all nondemocracies would be cast outside the pale……

"……McCain appears to think that he can magically unite the two main strands in the Republican foreign-policy establishment. But he can't. This is not about personalities but about two philosophically divergent views of international affairs. Put together, they will produce infighting and incoherence. We have seen this movie before. We have watched an American president unable to choose between his ideologically driven vice president and his pragmatic secretary of State—and the result was the catastrophe of George W. Bush's first term. Twenty-five years earlier, we watched another president who believed that he could encompass the entire spectrum of foreign policy. He, too, gave speeches that were drafted by advisers with divergent world views: in that case, Cyrus Vance and Zbigniew Brzezinski. It led to the paralyzing internal battles of the Carter years. Does John McCain want to try this experiment one more time?"
Bahrain to name a Jewish woman as its ambassador to Washington: Bahrain has nominated a Female, Jewish member of the Council to be Ambassador to Washington. Her grandfather Abraham Nonoo served as a member of the Manama Municipal Council in 1934   (…. way back before there was any oil wealth in the Persian Gulf).
The Syrian fundraiser recently held at the Mandarin Hotel in Washington DC collected a total of $700,000. $70,000 or 10% of the total came from the Syrian Jewish organization.
One participant wrote: It was the first event of its kind in the US. Syrians from all over the US attended. They were overwhelmingly secular and came from all denominations, including Jews getting together at a fabulous place all in black tie and the women were beautiful.
The Future of U.S.-Syrian Relations

Martin S. Indyk, April 24, 2008, Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

The Future of U.S.-Syrian RelationsTestifying before the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Martin Indyk argued the current policy of isolating Syria has had mixed results. He believes that the next U.S. president should consider a different approach that could foster a more productive relationship allowing mutual goals to be realized in the troubled region. Read More

Comments (23)


Rowan Berkeley said:

Your newsweek link is wrong, it should be

April 29th, 2008, 9:40 am


Akbar Palace said:

Here’s an article stating that the non-existent Syrian nuclear facility could have produced nuclear weapons grade material in under 2 years.

I guess Sy Hersh was wrong again.

April 29th, 2008, 10:55 am


Akbar Palace said:

Alex –

I can find hundreds of posts and articles here on your website claiming the bombing of the Syrian nuclear reactor was a “neocon/Zionist” hoax. Hundreds!

So my question to you is, “How can so many people be so wrong?”:

ausamaa said:

“Bolton Defends Against Absence of Syrian Nuclear Evidence”! So, there is NO EVIDENCE after all yet…typical Bolton!Fooled us again. But what a dissappointment; I thought we were already on our way to become a Nuclear Power like Israel!

Alex said:


You would think that some stories are impossible to believe … but when reporters need to write a story and they don’t have access to real facts to write about, they are left to Bolton and friends who are relying on volume instead of quality in their bogus plots … all leading to perceptions of “something big happened in that raid”

: )

September 26th, 2007, 9:55 pm

I suppose Jonathan Cook can now answer his own questions:

Why, equally, would North Korea undermine its hard-won disarmament deal with the US? And why, if Syria were covertly engaging in nuclear mischief, did it alert the world to the fact by revealing the Israeli air strike?

April 29th, 2008, 11:54 am


Rowan Berkeley said:

I don’t trust Larissa, but I trust Phil Giraldi – though he is not exactly a pillar of morality:

April 29th, 2008, 12:06 pm


wizart said:

Thanks for the Newsweek correction Rowan, John appears to be a nut in the waiting! I sure hope he doesn’t make it to election as he wants to antagonize China and Russia because they’re not Democratic “like US!”

His plans for Iran would probably be much worse..

April 29th, 2008, 12:30 pm


wizart said:

Iranian minister advises aspiring writers self-censorship is best path to publication
By Agence France Presse (AFP)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

TEHRAN: Iran’s culture minister on Monday urged writers to self-censor their books if they want to be published in the Islamic Republic, which strictly vets literature and other arts.

“This is what we ask publishers and writers: ‘You are aware of the vetting code, so censor pages which are likely to create a dispute,'” conservative Minister Mohammad Hossein Safar Harandi told a news conference.

He said publications should be in line with the system’s “religious, moral and national” sensitivities and warned writers against graphic descriptions of relationships or sex.

“It is a clear violation of the law to give an excessive portrayal of a man and woman’s private relationships,” said Safar Harandi, “… and subject our youth and adults to descriptions of intercourse. Or, if anyone makes fun of religion, be it Islam or Christianity. We should not allow opposition to God to be reflected in the media.”

The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance must approve all publications in Iran, and publishers have complained of tighter censorship since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005.

Safar Harandi was commenting on a recent letter by Tehran Publishers’ Association, which accused his ministry of employing a prolonged and arbitrary vetting process.

“The publishers complained about the lack of a clear law to define the red lines, revoking of publication permits and books being lost when submitted for screening,” ISNA news agency said. “It has been frequently seen that an issue which has resulted in a book being banned,” the letter said, “is abundant in another one that is published.”

Iranian publishers depend on state-subsidized paper for their books, which hardly top 5,000 copies in a first edition in most cases.

In the past two years, several new titles and reprints have been banned, including the latest novel by celebrated Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “Memories of My Melancholy Whores.”

Works of one of Iran’s greatest contemporary writers, Sadegh Hedayat, have also been banned, including his widely acclaimed “Blind Owl” and several short story collections. – AFP

April 29th, 2008, 1:03 pm


abraham said:

The photos the US presented as its “evidence” of a Syrian nuclear facility were doctored:

Gee, I wonder why the scholars and experts in photographic trickery over at Little Goy Facists haven’t picked up on this yet?

April 29th, 2008, 3:30 pm


Friend in America said:

Fareed Zakaria is an outstanding analysist of international political affairs. His analysis of Senator McCain’s speech is very perceptive. While many of us would like clarity from McCain’s campaign advisors on foreign policy concepts, from now until sometime in October political reality requires some homage to those Republican leaders who are ideologically driven. I think, and hope, that his appointments, if elected, will show the realists in charge.

Incidentally, one of the strangest twists is the “touchstone” for international affairs policy in neoconservatism was expressed by President Carter’s Ambassador to the United Nations in which she advocated cordial relations with all countries regardless of political structure. Those in the present administration who advance a policy of democracy and firm, even outright hostile, positions with international opponents have been labeled neocons and ridiculed on some blog sites. But their policies are totally inconsistent with the founding neoconservative philosophy in international relations. This is what McCain is trying to straddle.
Zakaria writes combining both in a foreign policy will create self defeating inconsistencies. I agree. If you think you have things figured out, wait for tomorrow.

April 29th, 2008, 3:42 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Incidentally, one of the strangest twists is the “touchstone” for international affairs policy in neoconservatism was expressed by President Carter’s Ambassador to the United Nations in which she advocated cordial relations with all countries regardless of political structure.

Friend in America –

I find it amusing that one of the US’s worst presidents has anything to say about “cordial relations with all countries”.

I recall Jimmah “going it alone” when he ordered our MILITARY to rescue our hostages from the grips of the terrorists who took over our embassy. Jimmah wasn’t negotiating much in those days.

Fareed Zakaria flutters in the wind depending on the direction. He was once pro-regime change:

Abraham –

Are you saying the Israelis didn’t destroy a nuclear reactor? Surprise us this time!

April 29th, 2008, 4:20 pm


ausamaa said:

Now the Japanese media is joining the party.

“The 10 people, whose remains were cremated and returned to North Korea in October,”

Why would the remains be cremated first, then returned to North Korea? Why not cremate them there, in North Korea?

April 29th, 2008, 4:29 pm


abraham said:

Akbar Pal-ass, shouldn’t you be flying around in the night sky with a full moon as your backdrop?

If I didn’t perceive you to be someone who would believe anything the US and Israeli governments told you, I might be obliged to engage in a discussion with you. [deleted by admin]

April 29th, 2008, 4:47 pm


Rowan Berkeley said:

I find “Friend In America” pretty unreal. His posts have what we call a “boiler-plate” quality, as in certain sorts of official communiqué.

April 29th, 2008, 6:17 pm


norman said:

Print | Close this window

Bush breaks silence on suspected Syria-N.Korea link
Tue Apr 29, 2008 2:11pm EDT
By Matt Spetalnick

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President George W. Bush said on Tuesday he released U.S. intelligence about suspected North Korea-Syria nuclear collusion to put pressure on Pyongyang and send a message to Iran that it could not hide its own nuclear program.

Bush broke months of silence on the matter after his administration went public last week with accusations that Syria had been building a secret nuclear reactor with North Korean help when the facility was bombed by Israeli warplanes last September.

He said the disclosure, including photos and other information the CIA insisted showed the facility’s potential for nuclear weapons purposes, was meant to “advance certain policy objectives.”

“One would be to the North Koreans, to make it abundantly clear that we may know more about you than you think,” Bush told a news conference in the White House Rose Garden.

Syria has denied it was building a reactor and instead accused Washington of involvement in the air attack by Israel, a staunch U.S. ally widely believed to have the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal.

The United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency has criticized the United States for waiting until this month to share its intelligence and U.S. lawmakers have also complained about the delay.

A diplomat close to the U.N. nuclear watchdog and outside analysts have said the U.S. disclosure did not amount to proof of an illicit arms program because there was no sign of a reprocessing plant needed to convert spent fuel from the facility into bomb-grade plutonium.

Under a six-nation deal reached with North Korea in September 2005, the poor, communist state committed to abandon all nuclear weapons and programs in return for economic aid and diplomatic benefits.

In return, Washington is to drop two sets of sanctions stemming from Pyongyang’s presence on the U.S. state sponsors of terrorism list and the U.S. Trading With the Enemy Act.

But the agreement has been stalled by Pyongyang’s failure to produce a declaration of its nuclear programs that was due at the end of last year.


Bush said the intelligence had been withheld at first because of a risk of “confrontation” or “retaliation,” an apparent reference to a possible Syrian military response to the Israeli airstrike, but that such concerns had receded.

He acknowledged the disclosure was intended to pressure North Korea to come clean on all of its nuclear activities and said it was also meant to send a tough message to Syria, which the United States has tried to isolate diplomatically.

“And then we have an interest in sending a message to Iran and the world for that matter about just how destabilizing nuclear proliferation would be in the Middle East,” Bush said.

Washington is leading an international campaign against Iran over a nuclear program the West suspects is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. Tehran insists it wants nuclear technology for peaceful civilian purposes.

With 10 months left in office, Bush is making a push to resolve the long-festering dispute over North Korea’s nuclear program to try to forge a foreign policy legacy that encompasses more than the unpopular war in Iraq.

The administration’s release of the intelligence, including briefings with U.S. lawmakers, was widely seen as a bid for support from members of Congress angry about having been kept in the dark about the suspected Syrian-North Korean link.

(Editing by David Alexander and John O’Callaghan)

© Thomson Reuters 2008. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters and its logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Thomson Reuters group of companies around the world. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.

Reuters journalists are subject to the Reuters Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.

April 29th, 2008, 6:38 pm


Seeking the Truth said:

Akbar Palace,

Please remind me of the reason for your interest in this blog. Haven’t you once mentioned some sort of family connection to Syria. Do you support peace talks now between Israel and the Syrian regime?

April 29th, 2008, 6:46 pm


Observer said:

Now I did send a review of the evidence presented against Syria to the Intelligence committee. It came from Juan Cole Blog informed Comment. There is no evidence that is irrefutable at this stage, and it is the same story of a White House leak to the NYT that is then presented on Meet the Press as journalistic evidence of a covert WMD program.
In the meantime, and without fanfare, the SOFA or Status of Forces Agreement is being worked out between the Iraqi goverment and the US and this is one reason why the Mahdi army is being pummeled into submission. It is not only the elections which any shcool boy can manipulate today in Iraq but it is the SOFA that is now a guarantee of the survival of the present regime.
The article here explains well that both Democrats and Republicans are in agreement on this
Today’s NYT science section has a very good article about the Iranian Nuclear program and the fact that the recent photoggraphed visit of the President to the Natanz facility showed many experts the degree of development of the centrifuge program.

I would still say that no one in the West is truly afraid of a nuclear program that is military in Iran for this would be the perfect set up for deterrence and for an arms race that Iran cannot win. It is the technological independence of the country as demonstrated by the nuclear program as well as by the ability to continue to fly the American made F4 and F5 and F14 which require that spare parts be replaced every hundered hours of flight for example.

In the meantime the KSA is still buying aircraft that it cannot use and fly let alone service so long as some Emir buys gold plated toilet fixtures.

April 29th, 2008, 7:47 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Please remind me of the reason for your interest in this blog. Haven’t you once mentioned some sort of family connection to Syria. Do you support peace talks now between Israel and the Syrian regime?

Seeking the Truth,

With the added poignancy of you web name, please indulge me to ask you a question before I answer your questions (which I promise to do).

Do you believe that Israel destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor?

April 29th, 2008, 7:51 pm


abraham said:

No, no one with any sense, let alone intelligence, believes that Israel destroyed a nuclear reactor in Syria. The “evidence” conjured up so far consists merely of stern statements coming from the US government and doctored photographs that show really nothing at all, except for a building, some tarps, and maybe some Korean faces.

You will now try to justify the attack. As far as justification, people much smarter than you have already pointed out the obvious, which is that even if Syria was building a reactor, that in itself does not violate the NPT. Once Syria introduced plutonium into the plant, and if it did so without notifying the IAEA, then it would be in violation of the NPT, to which Syria is a signatory. Interestingly enough, Israel is not a signatory to the NPT. It is among only four nations that are not signatories, the others being India, Pakistan, and North Korea. That’s some interesting company that Israel keeps in regards to nuclear weapons. Additionally interesting is that US allies get a pass for developing nuclear weapons while non-allied nations get the full brunt of UN Security Council resolutions and sanctions.

There is one nuclear power in the Middle East that it is known for a fact to have nuclear weapons, and that country is Israel. This rogue nation attacks its neighbors, destroying property and infrastructure and killing their citizens. It routinely violates their airspace, with Lebanon’s airspace being violated weekly since the supposed cessation of hostilities after the Summer 2006 war in which Israel was routed by Hizballah forces. This rogue nation also occupies the land of three of its neighbors, including Syria and Lebanon, not to mention the wholesale occupation of the Palestinian people and the theft of their land, all in violation of literally dozens of UN Security Council Resolutions. This nation, an ostensible “ally” of the United States, regularly spies on the United States, a country which already gives Israel billions of dollars in foreign aid every year. Some ally.

Do you dispute this? That’s a rhetorical question. I know you will find some utterly ridiculous manner in which to do so. That is what you are paid to do by your handlers.

April 29th, 2008, 8:21 pm


ausamaa said:

With all their use of “probably” and “most likely”, and even “possibley”, I dont even believe that the IAF and the Pentagon knew what they have destroyed there. But… of course there is THE video presentation!!!!


April 29th, 2008, 9:07 pm


Seeking the Truth said:


Yes, from what I’ve read so far from both sides of the argument, and the actions/re- of the various parties involved, I’m inclined to think that this is the case.

April 29th, 2008, 9:13 pm


T said:

Pure nonsense. So advanced that in TWO years Syria can produce nukes? That is farther along than even Iran- who has been laboring 20 years on their debacle and cant get the tech to produce one in another 10. Syria has no Iranian oil money to pay for it all either (unless you take Debka who credited “Iran paid for the Syrian nuclear reactor”.) They are bit more informed than our MSM, because of their on-the-ground regional presence. Lets drag Iran in! (joke)

Why not just come out and say what they were really after? (Because they know only something on the scale of nuclear would justify such a breach of intl law, so they said it WAS?)

Story changes a mile a minute.

April 29th, 2008, 9:16 pm


Shual said:

its rather possible that US-Israeli media were buildt from NKorean origin than some “military facilities” in Syria.

Todays desaster in the JPOST:
“Hamas gunmen on Tuesday stole at least 60 liters of fuel meant for the Gaza power station in order to fill their own vehicles. The fuel was being stored on the Palestinian side of the Nahal Oz fuel terminal.”

It took them several hours and phonecalls an conferences to change it into: “The head of the Palestinian Authority’s gas agency confirmed Tuesday that Hamas gunmen had raided the Palestinian side of the Nahal Oz fuel terminal, stealing at least 60,000 liters of fuel meant for the Gaza power station in order to fill their own vehicles.”

April 29th, 2008, 10:32 pm


Rowan Berkeley said:

I am actually baffled by the question of whether any Gazan factions are blocking fuel from reaching the power plant, or whether this is just Israeli lies.

April 30th, 2008, 2:29 am


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