News Round UP (29 April 2008)


New York Times – NEW DELHI — The Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, arrived here for a dinner meeting with government officials on Tuesday, but he was expected to sign no path-breaking bilateral deals, nor iron out the kinks in a proposed 1,600-mile-long natural gas pipeline. Instead, he brought the Indian government a strange boon: a chance to show that it is willing to buck pressure from the White House and shake hands with a man Washington reviles.

“It is good for the government to be seen taking a stand that the U.S. may not like,” observed Lalit Mansingh, a former Indian ambassador to Washington.

In fact, for energy-hungry India, good relations with Iran are important for at least three reasons. It is the second largest supplier of oil to India, after Saudi Arabia, and a potential source of natural gas in the future; it wields influence in Afghanistan, which India increasingly considers critical to regional stability; and it commands loyalty from India’s substantial community of Shiite Muslims.

Iran’s new thrust into India and Sri Lanka comes as it is increasingly isolated by the United States and Europe.

Iranian Foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki, who attended university in the southern Indian city of Bangalore, is credited with driving this “Look East” strategy.

Bilateral trade between Iran and India, the bulk of which is oil and gas-related products, increased 55 percent in the last fiscal year to $9.3 billion, according to figures from the Indian government. That amount is about a third of India-United States trade.

In February, the Confederation of Indian Industries, the country’s largest business group, took a delegation of 10 companies to Iran to discuss possible business partnerships, said one executive who went on the trip but did not want his name used because he did not want to comment on government matters.

With increased diplomatic pressure from the West on Iran, the executive said, “this is the right time for Indian companies to step in.”

Indian companies have had difficulties signing deals with their Iranian counterparts because international banking restrictions make it difficult to get a valid bank guarantee known as a “letter of credit” from an Iranian company, he said. But some Indian banks are finding ways around international banking rules, by putting these letters of credit in different currencies, he said.

A breakthrough on the pipeline project, the executive added, would encourage greater business opportunities for Indian companies.

India for its part must figure out how to balance its broader relationships in the Middle East. Its second largest defense partner, after Russia, is Israel, and its largest source of oil, to the tune of 25 million metric tons last year, is Saudi Arabia. From Iran, it bought nearly 15 million metric tons during the same period, followed by about 13 million each from Iraq and Nigeria. India imports roughly three-fourths of its oil from abroad. 

Bashar and Olmert: The First Test
Eyal Zisser
Dayan Center
April 29, 2008 

Bashar al-Asad's confirmation, in an interview to the Qatari daily al-Watan, that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had given him a commitment to return the entire Golan Heights to Syria has one meaning: Syrian-Israeli peace negotiations are warming up. For the first time since the failure of the Clinton-Hafiz al-Asad Geneva summit of March 2000, there is a real chance for the resumption of peace negotiations between Israel and Syria, and perhaps even for a breakthrough.

As the results of the 2006 Lebanon War gradually became clear to both sides, the Israeli and Syrian leaderships began exchanging messages expressing interest in restarting the long-stalled peace negotiations. Yet, up until recently, they produced no results. In fact, imbedded in these exchanges was a fear of the consequences of resuming negotiations, reflecting the lack of genuine political will to move ahead, not to mention an unwillingness to pay the price which would be entailed by a peace agreement.

Over the years, Syria's unwavering precondition for the resumption of the peace process was an Israeli commitment to full withdrawal from the Golan Heights, to the 4 June 1967 lines.  Israel's difficulty in accepting this demand was at the root of the failure of the Syrian-Israeli negotiations conducted with Hafiz al-Asad by the Barak government in 1999-2000. Since then, no Israeli prime minister has been ready to commit himself to full withdrawal before Syria clarified what it intended to offer Israel as a quid pro quo.

Now, however, it seems that Prime Minister Olmert is prepared to comply with the Syrian demand.  In this, he is following in the footsteps of Yitzhak Rabin, who tendered a similar commitment (the Rabin deposit) in August 1993, when he made it clear to the Syrians that in return for a peace agreement acceptable to Israel, he would be ready to withdraw to the 4 June 1967 lines. All subsequent prime ministers expressed their readiness to accept Rabin’s commitment. Yet at the moment of truth, each of them got cold feet, refusing to take the political risk entailed in acceding to a Syrian return to the Galilee shoreline.

For Olmert, accepting the Rabin deposit is the inevitable outcome of pursuing a peace deal with Syria. It has long been clear to Israeli leaders that neither Hafiz al-Asad, nor his son and successor Bashar, would follow in the footsteps of Egypt’s Anwar al-Sadat and undertake dramatic public initiatives and symbolic gestures on behalf of Arab-Israeli peace. Hence, it would be up to Israel to make the requisite initial gestures towards Damascus in order to pave the way to an agreement.

This raises the question of why Bashar chose to disclose the Olmert commitment, delivered to him by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. There are several possible answers. The Syrians may have feared that the existence of a secret Turkish channel between Syria and Israel would be leaked to the Israeli media, and thus preferred to be the first to make it public, in order not to find themselves on the defensive. More likely, the Syrians may have wanted to test Olmert's seriousness, to check whether the message delivered to them was reliable, and whether Olmert would be capable of weathering the inevitable criticism from portions of the Israeli public. The fact that the Israeli Prime Minister's Office declined to deny the news of the commitment has been understood as a tacit confirmation of its veracity. Syria, incidentally, was not worried about the embarrassment it might cause Olmert. Supporting an Israeli prime minister in the difficult challenge he may be expected to face among his own public has never been on Syria’s agenda.

Olmert and Bashar have successfully passed their first joint test. Olmert dared to do what no other Israeli prime minister in the last decade had done, and Bashar reacted relatively positively, praising Olmert for his efforts to advance peace.

Nonetheless, a word of caution is in order. Notwithstanding the fact that Jimmy Carter concluded his recent visit to Damascus by declaring that 85% of the problems between Israel and Syria had already been settled during the previous rounds of the peace negotiations, the picture is far more opaque. First, all understandings reached between Syria and Israel in the past have been left unwritten, and are hence given to interpretation. Second, the current reality on the ground and the overall regional configuration have changed substantially in the last eight years. For example, earlier Syrian-Israeli understandings regarding Hizballah were reached at a time when the organization had only a few thousand rockets of limited range. Now, however, the organization has in its possession tens of thousands of advanced rockets that can reach as far as Israel’s nuclear reactor in Dimona, in southern Israel. In addition, Syria’s primary regional ally, Iran, and their Palestinian joint client, Hamas – both of whom embody a hard-line, rejectionist position towards Israel – have far more weight then they had in 2000. Finally, achieving real progress in the Israeli-Syrian peace process will require active American participation. So far, the US has not reacted officially to the latest Olmert-Bashar exchange. However, it concurrently revealed information regarding the Israeli attack in northern Syria in September 2007 against a nuclear facility under construction with North Korean assistance. To be sure, the revelation was not designed as a response to the incipient resumption of Syrian-Israeli negotiations. Nevertheless, it served as another reminder of the low point that Syrian-American relations have reached in recent years, and the lack of any readiness in the Bush administration to change its attitude towards Syria.

In conclusion, much water will flow through the River Jordan and into the Sea of Galilee before the Syrians are allowed to wade into them. Nonetheless, it seems clear that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has taken the first plunge.

U.S. Was 'Clueless' on Counterinsurgency
BY ELI LAKE – Staff Reporter of the Sun
April 29, 2008

WASHINGTON — Paul Wolfowitz, in his first public remarks on the Iraq war in years, said the American government was "pretty much clueless on counterinsurgency" in the first year of the war.

The former deputy secretary of defense said yesterday that the force sent to Iraq was adequate for fighting Saddam Hussein's military, citing the speed with which American troops toppled the regime. But Mr. Wolfowitz said no one in the Bush administration anticipated that Saddam would order his security services to wage an insurgency after their formal defeat on the battlefield.

Mr. Wolfowitz's remarks came at a forum for a new book, "War and Decision," by the former no. 3 official at the Pentagon, Douglas Feith. In the book, Mr. Feith argues that America's greatest mistake in the war was establishing a coalition provisional authority instead of installing a group of Iraqi exiles in an interim government until elections could be held….

SYRIA: More questions about alleged nuclear site
LA Times Blog — Borzou Daragahi in Amman, Jordan

Professor William Beeman at the University of Minnesota passed along a note today from "a colleague with a U.S. security clearance" about the mysterious Syrian site targeted in a Sept. 6 Israeli airstrike.

The note raises more questions about the evidence shown last week by U.S. intelligence officials to lawmakers in the House and Senate. 

The author of the note pinpoints irregularities about the photographs. Beeman's source alleges that the CIA "enhanced" some of the images. For example he cites this image: ….


—- Original Message From: DAVID KIM (BANK OF TOKYO-MITSUB) At: 4/29 8:13:19 Plutonium on the Euphrates — II April 29, 2008; Page A12 We finally know what Israel bombed in the Syrian desert on September 6 last year, and it isn't pretty. After seven months of silence, the Bush Administration confirmed last week that the target was a nuclear reactor being built with the aid of North Korea.

The prospect of nuclear technology in the hands of another terrorism-sponsoring state is scary enough. Worse is the notion that Syria's reactor is no big deal.

That's the interpretation being shopped in Washington by anonymous Administration officials, presumably at State, who have been quoted as saying the CIA has "little confidence" that the goal was to build a bomb.

The no-big-deal thesis expounded by the President's men directly contradicts their boss. After briefing Congress behind closed doors, the White House put out a statement expressing "confidence" that "this reactor was not intended for peaceful activities." CIA Director Michael Hayden said yesterday an operational reactor could have produced enough plutonium to make one or two nuclear bombs.

This is article about permanent bases in the ME and especially in Iraq

Damascus think tank chief handles Syrian talks on Israel
Ha'aretz, Israel
Yoav Stern

The Syrian official in charge of the Turkish-mediated contacts with Israel is Samir Taqi, head of a Damascus-based research institute, Israeli officials told Haaretz Monday. The officials said Taqi was very close to decision-makers in Damascus and enjoyed the confidence of the Turkish government. People who know Taqi personally said Monday they believed he was very well-connected to the Syrian intelligence services.

Taqi served for years as an adviser to the previous Syrian president, Hafez Assad. In recent years he received the official title of adviser to the prime minister, and heads the Center of Oriental Studies, a political think tank.

Prior to taking up his advisory posts, Taqi, who is a Christian, was a cardiac surgeon, who studied medicine in London. In recent years he has has frequently met with journalists and academics to discuss political issues.

Last year, the Turks welcomed Taqi's visit to northern Cyprus at the head of an unofficial Syrian delegation, when he met with with the foreign minister of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. His act aroused the ire of Greek Cypriots, who oppose recognition of the Turkish part of the island as an independent state, which only Ankara recognizes.

Haaretz has learned that Taqi was the bearer of Israel's main message to Syrian President Bashar Assad more than a week ago, following his visit to Ankara. Taqi's principal contact in Ankara is Ahmet Davutoglu, a close associate of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Report: Assad demands Israeli guarantee on Golan pullout Ha'aretz

Comments (131)

SimoHurtta said:

Jerusalem Post is showing this picture frequently on their frontpage. An aerial view of the site of Syria’s alleged reactor. By moving the cursor on the picture on JP’s front page there appears the the text Photo:AP.

That picture doesn’t resemble any of those pictures in the CIA slideshow or those presented before. The JP “site candidate” seems much heavier build. Maybe there was “an other nuclear site”, though looks more like a part from an oil production plant. Indeed that JP’s picture looks much more “dangerous” than the silly looking building in the middle of nowhere. So for propaganda purposes the usage of that picture is “understandable” but is ethical for real journalists?

I tried to “hunt” this AP picture using Google, but I could not find an other sources using that same picture. Well the search “photo “AP” Syrian site” produced 441.000 references and I checked about 20 links. 🙂


Zenobia, my fellow part Finn, Zenobia’s grandmother was a Finn, take it easy. If you use sharp language against others be prepared to take “counter punches”. Nothing more complex and also no need to escalate this further. Let’s call now the “situation” even.

April 30th, 2008, 12:37 am


Rowan Berkeley said:

The JPost picture link is wrong, because I just clicked it, and got a picture of some suburban bungalows, with no industrial plant of any sort.

Of all the newspaper articles Joshua has put in this round-up, I just want to react immediately to this : “The fact that the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office declined to deny the news of the commitment has been understood as a tacit confirmation of its veracity.” Anyone who makes this sort of inference is being played, whether the journalist (Zisser) himself or the reader. This is like judo, at least on the Israeli side. I am not condemning them for this, it’s how they work. If their interlocutor assumes something without any explicit pledge, it just becomes rhetorical, psychological, and diplomatic wiggle room for Israel. Remember, Israel almost always gains from prevarication.

On the actual content, let me remind you that the deal-breaker last time round was the tiny strip on the eastern shore of the Lake which Israel insisted it couldn’t let go of for fear of its being used as an artillery emplacement (remember how Israel used to send armored tractors out so that Syrian artillery would shell them?

Kaveh Afrasiabi has a little update on the Iran to India pipeline, here:

April 30th, 2008, 2:24 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Israel also used to sent Israeli soldiers to be shot not just armored tractors. Imagine that.

The “piece” of land you talk about would compromise Israel’s main source of water and would add immensely to the risk Israel would need to take for peace with a dictator. That the Syrians insisted on it shows how much they really wanted peace especially since it is not part of Syria.

I don’t ideologically agree with Zisser but he is a well respected and very well connected Israeli journalist. Your arrogance to presume to know more than him what Israel’s Prime Minister office is thinking is breath taking. Zisser who knows the ins and outs of Israeli politics and has been covering it for years is being played, but you know better.

Basically, all your commentary is of this caliber. You know very little but easily jump to unsubstantiated conclusions.

April 30th, 2008, 2:40 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Does this mean March 14 are going to elect a president with a regular majority if needed? This is going to be interesting.

April 30th, 2008, 2:54 am


Nur al-Cubicle said:

Oh look, another idiot! –>Israeli Vice-Premier Shaoul Mofaz: “If Israel abandons the Golan Heights, the Iranians will come and take it over.” Let me qualify that by saying he is a self-serving idiot.

April 30th, 2008, 2:56 am


Enlightened said:


I might be mistaken (but im not) Eyal Zisser is a Professor and works at The Moshe Dayan Center and not merely a Journalist!

A Link for some of his articles;

April 30th, 2008, 3:04 am


Rowan Berkeley said:

So you admit that hanging onto the eastern bank of the lake is still in the small print, “AIG”? You’re easily provoked into giving away the issue at hand.

April 30th, 2008, 3:18 am


Alex said:

And I thought by linking that Spinal Tap video clip everything was going to be fine.

It felt very strange … I just went through all the comments on this post … deleting everyone’s comment … except AIG’s

April 30th, 2008, 3:49 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

What exactly are you talking about? This is a major issue and that you think it is an excuse or small print shows that perhaps you don’t have a firm grasp of what this is all about.

April 30th, 2008, 3:54 am


Alex said:

AIG said:

“Your arrogance to presume to know more than him what Israel’s Prime Minister office is thinking is breath taking. Zisser who knows the ins and outs of Israeli politics and has been covering it for years is being played, but you know better.

Basically, all your commentary is of this caliber. You know very little but easily jump to unsubstantiated conclusions.

April 30th, 2008, 2:40 am ”

Rules are coming … but I emailed you those rules last month if you remember.

One of those rules was: Spare us your negative judgments, no one appointed you a judge here.

“Basically, all your commentary is of this caliber. You know very little but easily jump to unsubstantiated conclusions.”

In my personal opinion, Rowan’s conclusions are just fine. But no one needs me and needs you to rate Rowan’s, or any one else’s, conclusions.

After what happened when I went to dinner earlier today, I will be banning more often.

And this applies also to T, Z, W, … please do not refer again to the “situation” you took part in.

April 30th, 2008, 4:01 am


Enlightened said:

YA Alex:

Mabrouk on your censorship! You must have sighed a huge amount, but lets not get carried away, leopards don’t change their spots! I feel another banning coming!

April 30th, 2008, 4:05 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

What is the difference between a negative judgement and a negative opinion? I think there is little difference. So if I have a negative opinion about something, I am not allowed to voice it? Why is it not ok to argue that someone’s opinion is wrong and unsubstantiated?

For example, you judge Bibi all the time. Not that I have a problem with that, but what is the difference?

April 30th, 2008, 4:09 am


Rowan Berkeley said:

Look, I’m baffled. Who is Alex, whose blog is he talking about?

April 30th, 2008, 4:15 am


Alex said:


You can say “I disagree” … very simple and very accurate .. you disagree … it would be a fact, and you are allowed to use it because you know that you disagree.

But when you say things like “Basically, all your commentary is of this caliber. You know very little but easily jump to unsubstantiated conclusions.”

Then you are 1) JUDGING the caliber of 2) ALL and 3) HIS commentary.

How qualified are you to judge the caliber of everyone’s opinion?

I hope you will understand. You protested earlier that Rowan criticized Eyal Zisser even though he is not as qualified as Eyal … you said it was “arrogant” to do so.

Until we can certify you as being more qualified than Rowan, it is equally arrogant of you to judge ALL his commentary as being of low caliber.

As for my “judging” Bibi all the time, I don’t call him Stupid or evil … I simply repeat the same logic that I used above: I don’t respect Bibi’s tactics in discussing the complex issues in the different conflicts Israel has … Bibi often relies on discrediting his opponents … they are terrorists, their opinions are ridiculous, they are hypocrites …

Unfortunately I was never the one interviewing him .. because I would have asked him how qualified he is to call others terrorists and hypocrites.

And Bibi is a politician … you are always criticizing Arab politicians here. I did not stop you from calling Bashar a dictator all the time. Bibi and Bashar are both not here.

But Rowan is here. You need to try a bit harder to disagree instead of issuing judgments.

April 30th, 2008, 4:22 am


Alex said:


Your question is not easy to answer : )

But for some reason, at some point, I started to moderate this blog.

My real site is the one you see if you click on my “ALEX” name.

I hope that answers your question.

Now, in exchange, I would like to know what is Naqniq and Niqnak?

I love the name of your blog.

April 30th, 2008, 4:27 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:


Ok, let me rephrase and tell me if this is ok:
I disagree with all of Rowan’s commentary because in my opinon it shows he has very little knowledge and in my opinoin he always jumps to unsubstantiated conclusions that are not based on any argument.

April 30th, 2008, 4:33 am


T said:


You neednt scold me – and never put me in the same category with Z whose comments were absolutely outrageous, abusive and uncalled for. (And who has also had her posts banned on other websites). What happened here was inexcusable and illegal- and will be handled at a far higher level than this blog.

Feel free to delete my comments and/or ban them.
But trust me. This is not over.

April 30th, 2008, 4:36 am


Zenobia said:

You really should have come by a couple of years ago… for months there were far far worse periodic mudslings and verbal offenses going on, albeit between Lebanese and Syrian players having it out with each other.. quite personally.

“(And who has also had her posts banned on other websites).” hmm. Erroneous claim I think, since the only other blogs i have written on are Creative Syria and here, and a long time ago- on Amarji Heretic’s blog. That’s it. So, you must be imagining things… or you have me confused with some other ‘Zenobia’ poster out in the cyber-sphere…

AIG, nice re-frame.

April 30th, 2008, 4:47 am


Alex said:


That was perfect. No problem at all.


I did not say anywhere that Zenobia’s comments were equivalent to yours. I just asked all of you to please not continue to discuss it here. I hope you agree that other readers do not need to be involved.

You can write to me if you want, or if you can’t find my email and want me to write to you, I will be happy to.

April 30th, 2008, 4:47 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex can erase every single post by anyone of us. It is completely legal. This blog is not public property. He can ban any one of us. That is perfectly legal too.

If you are not happy with this blog, open another of your own. Given his ideology, Alex has done a pretty good job of being even handed.

April 30th, 2008, 4:47 am


Rowan Berkeley said:

Ok, Alex, thank you very much. You are not, I take it Joshua Landis, but I assume he does read these threads too, correct?

Anyway, with Niqnaq, the story is as follows, briefly. Naqniq was my first wordpress blog, and it ran fine until I got a bit too free with my own insults – I think I described John Loftus as a fascist – and I woke up one morning and found it had been suspended. So, I started “Niqnaq, son of Naqniq” and since then I have tried to be cautious about using the f word.

The actual name, naqniq, is my transliteration of the hebrew word for salami sausage. There was a song by Teapacks (Tippex, spelled wrong to avoid lawsuits), one of the three or four songs they put forward to a public poll in Israel as to which song should be nominated to the Eurovision Song Contest, in the end another song was voted for, called “Push the Button.” I can’t find the lyrics but here is the song:

April 30th, 2008, 4:51 am


Shual said:

Again, Shual has the feeling that something is wrong with his mouse.

He clicks but his monitors shows

April 30th, 2008, 4:52 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Naknik in Hebrew is not salami sausage. It is a general term for sausage. If you want to say salami sausage in Hebrew you would say, “naknik salami”. You really should start checking your facts.

April 30th, 2008, 5:03 am


Alex said:


Joshua receives an email every time a comment is posted. He reads almost all comments, but not in real time. He is a good friend of mine and I enjoy (most of the time) moderating the comments section, so I don’t mind …

So the Hebrew word for sausage is Naqniq! … I have not used that word for over ten years … in Arabic it is practically the same “naqaniq” .. I think.


Your mouse will be fine soon : )

April 30th, 2008, 5:03 am


Zenobia said:

lol. sorry about the mouse.

April 30th, 2008, 5:03 am


T said:


I emailed you and Alex with a full copy of the series of posts but have not gotten a reply. That you let this harrassment continue even after the prior string of abusive harrassment and profanity is also noted.

Thanks for your attention to this matter.

April 30th, 2008, 5:13 am


Zenobia said:

You think he didn’t seeeeee them. He’s the one that deleted the plethora…. He is supposed to do that, and I asked him to do it too.

btw, Rowan’s comment just disappeared… about the knick knacks and such…. that go into a sausage…

April 30th, 2008, 5:17 am


Nur al-Cubicle said:

Gee this is a replay of the the old list-serve days when the trolls used to post 100 times a day and members would scream “Moderator!”. (One think about list-serves, if you _loved_ the topic there would be 50 trolls who hated it and would, of course, subscribe like a certain A… Whew, the trolls on alt_Noam_Chomsky…!!!). Then things would devolve into ad-hominem attacks and the moderator would read the riot act. But it never kept the trolls from posting. On one list the moderator spoofed the troll and then the moderator was booted.

Alex, take it from me, don’t bother issuing threats and rules. The trolls love it!

April 30th, 2008, 5:22 am


Rowan Berkeley said:

In the song, Tippex are referring to the “salami-slicing” tactic in negotiations, whereby one party is forced to slice off piece after piece of its own substance to appease the other. They are claiming propagandistically that this is what Israel is being required to do (file under “plucky little Israel”). However, the song is a good example of how Israeli pop music has harnessed a genuinely local style of music, via sefardi singers and guitarists, but made it cruder and made the rhythms more mechanical and driving.

I prefer to transliterate the qof as a ‘q’ and the kaf as a ‘k’. I also would prefer to transliterate long ‘i’ as ‘i’ rather than ‘ee’ and long ‘u’ as ‘u’ rather than ‘oo’ but maybe that’s just me.

yes, Zenobia, I just had to rewrite this after accidentally deleting it – I think. I was talking about how in english “knick-knacks” are jumbled up momentos that have nothing in common except that one doesn’t throw them away but puts them on a shelf somewhere. The French equivalent is “bric-a-brac”.

April 30th, 2008, 5:27 am


Alex said:


I replied to your email.

Nur … we have no trolls here : )

Everyone is allowed to be human sometimes.

April 30th, 2008, 6:05 am


Alex said:

Top Syrian emissary: Israel peace won’t cut our Iran ties
By Yoav Stern and Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondents
Tags: Israel, Golan Heights, Turkey

Syria will not sever ties with Iran and Hezbollah even as part of a possible peace agreement with Israel, a senior Syrian analyst who is handling the government’s contacts as it relates to the peace process said on Tuesday.

“It would be naive to think Syria will neglect or abandon its strategic alliances that do not stem from the Arab-Israeli conflict,” the analyst, Dr. Samir Taqi, said in an interview with Al-Manar television.

When asked why Syria elected to trumpet messages from Israel and relayed by Turkey of Jerusalem’s willingness to cede the Golan Heights in exchange for peace, Taqi replied that the intent behind the media campaign was “to solidify the right” of Syria to the strategic plateau it lost as a result of the Six-Day War.

As such, Taqi sought to emphasize that he is personally not involved in the recent developments, but is rather providing commentary on the matter.

April 30th, 2008, 6:14 am


Alex said:

Alright, before I go to sleep, I have to show Rowan that the great artists of Greater Syria (ya3ni the Lebanese brothers) are more than a match for that super Israeli band he linked above:

April 30th, 2008, 6:27 am


Rowan Berkeley said:

I can see why you thought of that one – the rhythm is identical and the chord sequence is pretty similar. We mustn’t turn this into a video juke box, of course, but Tippex are not in my opinion a particularly good band. In Israel as elsewhere, you can take it that selection for the Eurovision Song Contest is NOT a recommendation.

The Israel musicians I really like tend not to form close-knit commercial bands so much, or tend to do more independent work anyway, and this is because the idea of a band is itself a packaging and marketing concept in most cases. The only Israeli ‘band’ I have much time for is Hadag Nachash, as you will see if you look at the ‘music videos’ on my blog, but the individual musicians I admire most all belonged to the same band, which started out as a group of israeli self-exiles in Amsterdam in 1980, then broke up and occasionally stages reunions. Its four members were Berry Sakharof, Rami Fortis, Malka Spigel, and Samy Birnbach. Not to put too fine a point on it, all four are tortured souls. This perhaps will allow you to forgive them for being israelis and even to some extent zionists – at least, as far as I know, none of them has ever said flat out that they are ANTI-zionists. I don’t know how you embedded the video above, but I would ask you to watch this one, because it is honest, and sad. The ending (which is on the original audio track as well as the video) is obviously quite deliberate:

I have one more good reason for recommending this. Herzlian zionism deliberately provokes the hatred of the non-Jewish world in almost every way possible, so as to be able to point to this hatred as the reason for the necessity of its own existence, “anti-Semitism” being according to Herzl an intrinsic, eternal, unalterable fact of human existence. It is almost impossible for a Jewish Israeli to completely overcome this conditioning, but occasionally he or she can express some of the real anguish underneath it. The name of the song, “Ir Miqlat” is usually translated as “city of refuge,” such a city being appointed in the Jewish Bible as a place to which murderers can go to escape punishment.

April 30th, 2008, 6:49 am


Naji said:

New Traffic Regulations in Syria
On May 01, 2008, the Syrian government will begin enforcement of new traffic regulations which were announced in January, 2008. Many of these regulations are designed to increase road safety for both vehicles and pedestrians, and call for fines and a “point system” for violations. The following is a partial summary. The full text in Arabic can be found at:

Traffic Fines
Fines ranging from 500 to 10,000 Syrian lira (SYP) will be imposed for infractions such as:
• Children riding in the front seat or in the driver’s lap
• Tossing rubbish from vehicles while driving
• Playing loud music while driving through neighborhoods at night
• Failing to use directional signals when turning
• Reckless speed and changing of lanes
• Transporting items exceeding the body of the vehicle in a dangerous manner
• Using cellular phones (mobile phones) while driving
• Having a license plate with illegible numbers
• Allowing unlicensed drivers to drive the vehicle
• Passing other vehicles on corners, uphill slopes, tunnel, bridges and crossroads
• Driving without a valid insurance contract
• Not using safety belts in the front seat
• Not keeping a first aid (medical) kit in the vehicle
• Not keeping a fire extinguisher in the vehicle
• Driving with an expired license
Pedestrians may be fined 200 SYP for “jay-walking” — crossing the street not in the designated location or against the light.

Point System
In addition to fines, a “point system” has been developed to track repeat offenders. Each infraction carries a certain number of points, based on the severity of the infraction and the judgment of the official issuing the citation. The maximum number of points is sixteen (16). When someone reaches 16 points, the following rules apply:
• First instance of 16 points: suspension of driving license for three months
• Second instance of 16 points: suspension of driving license for six months and requirement to take a driving course
• Third instance of 16 points: suspension of driving license for nine months and requirement to take a driving course
• Fourth instance of 16 points: cancellation of driving privileges, requirement to take a driving course and a new examination will be required to get a new driving license. Also, a new license cannot be obtained in less than one year.

Additional Penalties
The following additional penalties have also been enacted:
• The “black box” speed governors are mandatory for public transport, small and large trucks.
• If someone is killed because a driver is violating the new traffic laws, that driver will be imprisoned for between three months and one year; will be fined between 50,000 and 100,000 Syrian lira; and will be banned from driving for two years.
• If a driver leaves the scene of an accident, speeds more than 40 km per hour over the designated speed limit, or drives without vehicle plates visible, that driver will be imprisoned for between one and three months; will be fined 25,000 Syrian lira; will have the vehicle seized by authorities; and will be given 16 points (see “Point System” above).
• If a driver leaves a vehicle parked on railway lines, allows materials to fall from a vehicle on public roads, or fails to have appropriate documents for Special Vehicles, that driver will be imprisoned for between ten days and seven months; will be fined 15,000 Syrian lira; will have the vehicle seized by authorities; and will be given eight points (see “Point System” above).

April 30th, 2008, 8:14 am


MSK said:

Ya Alex,

Sometimes a spade … is just a spade. 😉

Syria nuke disclosure: why now?

Many commentators have wondered why the Bush adminstration chose last Thursday, of all days, to disclose the intelligence community’s findings on North Korea’s nuclear collaboration with Syria. Well, Glenn Kessler and Robin Wright of the Washington Post have an answer:

Key lawmakers nonetheless made it clear that unless the intelligence about Syria was described to them in detail, they would block funding for the deal and oppose a key waiver of a law preventing U.S. aid to a country that detonates a nuclear weapon.

Officials said the timing of the administration’s disclosure was also influenced by a provision of the U.S. law governing state sponsors of terrorism, a list that has long included North Korea. Under the proposed nuclear disarmament deal, Washington has agreed to remove North Korea from the list, but the law requires that it first demonstrate that North Korea has not assisted another country on the list for at least six months. The intelligence presented this week indicated that North Korea helped Syria in removing equipment from the site through early October, meaning the six-month window only recently closed.

Far more often than they get credit for, U.S. officials do things that seem mysterious to outsiders when in reality they’re just following the law. In this case, the aim was ostensibly to move North Korea off the list of state sponsors of terrorism so that a deal could go forward. The irony is that with this disclosure, Republican lawmakers may be much less inclined to give North Korea a pass, and even leading establishment figures want the Bush administration to teach Kim Jong Il a lesson. What seems especially damning is the intelligence showing that North Korea has been dealing with the Syrians all along while pretending to negotiate in good faith.

As an aside, I owe Kessler an apology for this post and this one questioning his early reporting on the Syrian nuclear site. It turns out Kessler’s reporting was spot-on and appropriately caveated, and continues to be invaluable. His biography of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is excellent, too.


April 30th, 2008, 8:33 am


SimoHurtta said:

Huh, huh. This is getting absurd. Now the comments are full of irrelevant jokes and youTube joke / music videos. During the time when the Finnish sun doesn’t shine as Shai would “say”, several comments including mine “disappeared”. Should it have been better to discuss once to the end this “insult” issue so we do not have to return to it every second day?

Is this really along the “new rules”? Well then there is something very wrong with new rules. Now we obviously must focus 90% of our energy to watch that our language is “kosher”, so it doesn’t insult extremely bad behaving people who might again get a bad day.

Everyone is allowed to be human sometimes.

So does it mean that you Alex let some people to scream, swear and insult. Others not. As my fellow “part Finn” would say LOL Alex.


Rowan stop using that Zionist word. It insults me very much, not all people are Zionists. 🙂

AIG stop analysing and criticising Rowan, he might get upset and have a bad day. 🙂

As we can see it is easy to to be a moral “police” and make of the discussion a complete farce, which seems to be in the interest of some. You only pick on one word and make it as an “insult issue”. So let’s speak about sausages and link music videos. That is much more important than Syrian nuclear “reactors” or other irrelevant events in Middle East.

come-on. if some people can’t behave like adults, must we all sink on the level of immature “teenagers” (no insult to teenagers – lol).

notice my new modern image – lol.

April 30th, 2008, 8:56 am


Rowan Berkeley said:

How many music videos does it take for the blog to be “full of music videos”? More than one?

April 30th, 2008, 9:14 am


Shai said:


I’m impressed… Maybe the sun is “shining” once again in Finland! 😉

April 30th, 2008, 9:34 am


offended said:

Indians and Iranians do get along pretty easily in real life. It bound to happen in politics as well.

On another note: a plan to bring Israeli clothes brand to Dubai have been scrapped.

Plans to open clothing chain dropped
By Abbas Al Lawati, Staff Reporter
Published: April 30, 2008, 10:21
Dubai: The UAE-based family business that was in talks to bring an Israeli clothing chain to Dubai dropped plans to do so after the story surfaced in the Israeli media, the chain’s owner told Gulf News.
In a phone interview from Tel Aviv in June last year, Avi Malka, CEO and Chairman of ML, a plus-size clothing chain, confirmed Israeli media reports that a UAE business family was interested in bringing the Israeli chain to Dubai, but said that it backed out in fear of arousing controversy at home.

Also, earlier news of Lev Leviev opening two jewelry shops in Dubai have been denied:
Israeli jeweller has no trade licence to open shop in Dubai
By Abbas Al Lawati, Staff Reporter
Published: April 30, 2008, 00:14
Dubai: No trade licence has been granted to open Israeli jewellery store Leviev in Dubai contrary to claims by Leviev and its agent in Dubai, said a top official at the Department of Economic Development.
Eisa Mikel, a spokesperson for The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East (Adalah), a Jewish-Palestinian advocacy group leading the campaign against Leviev, told Gulf News that Lev Leviev profits directly from the building of colonies on Palestinian land in the West Bank, where his companies are active in at least four colonies.

I have no idea what’s going on. Maybe the recent hostilities in Gaza made the rulers change their minds.

April 30th, 2008, 9:40 am


SimoHurtta said:

rowan look at the comments in News Round Up (27 April 2008) and count the amount of youTube links. more than one – lol. the trend of youTube links has fast increased lately. i am not against those videos, but have you considered also some these videos could insult some people or be not in line with their musical taste? respect is the keyword rowan.

Seriously speaking Rowan, my point was not the video. It was that adults can and must tolerate other peoples opinions with out overreacting and grabbing to all possible “anti-Semitic” issues (meaning in general anti-Something). Otherwise discussions and debates are impossible. I suppose that you Rowan as an learned and verbal individual can without problems handle AIG’s counter comments as above.

I have enjoyed reading your blog, many interesting topics.

April 30th, 2008, 9:54 am


Rowan Berkeley said:

ah, well, I don’t see that mere links are such a bad thing. What I said myself was that we mustn’t turn it into a “video juke box,” by which I meant, embedding videos of all our favourite songs.

I really was trying to make a serious point with “Ir Miqlat,” anyway. Now you have given me a chance to expand upon it : despite being neither Jewish by birth nor attracted by religious conversion to Judaism, I find work like Berry Sakharof’s extremely moving, and I wish I could find some way of inserting myself into the Jewish world, because I feel that I understand what people like him are trying to say and believe it or not I would like to help. How can I put this : I would like to help them work their way out of the hell they live in. To start with, I would like to be in that hell with them. Doubtless this sentiment of mine, which I always find hard to express accurately, will be rejected furiously by some of them, who will regard it as patronising, but love is funny stuff, and sometimes it drags you in the most difficult directions. One good thing about my feelings, anyway, is that anyone who accuses me of “anti-Semitism” is very easily exposed as an ideological fraud (and this happens, actually, rather a lot).

April 30th, 2008, 10:08 am


ausamaa said:

So Alex, are we going to spend the next seven months like this?

April 30th, 2008, 11:08 am


Akbar Palace said:

MSK* –

Are you agreeing that Israel destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor? Most of the participants here do not even agree that this happened.

Rowan Berkeley said:

Herzlian zionism deliberately provokes the hatred of the non-Jewish world in almost every way possible, so as to be able to point to this hatred as the reason for the necessity of its own existence, “anti-Semitism” being according to Herzl an intrinsic, eternal, unalterable fact of human existence.

Where do you get your data? The I know the “non-Jewish world” here in the US does not “hate” Israel or Zionism. And most countries around the world have very good relations with Israel. Perhaps you should just speak for yourself.

April 30th, 2008, 11:09 am


Rowan Berkeley said:

I’m sorry I can’t provide you with a complete course of study, Akbar, but I think the collection of Hannah Arendt’s WW2 and immediately post-WW2 essays and newspaper articles published last year by Schocken might be a bit of an eye-opener for you.

after thought – and, of course, Herzl’s diaries.

April 30th, 2008, 11:25 am


ausamaa said:

AP says: “non-Jewish world”!!!

I love this. So now we can have discussions in terms of “Jewish” and “non-Jewish” Worlds! And then you complain about an “anti-semitisem” that YOU are helping to promote.

You should be ashamed of yourself…

April 30th, 2008, 12:18 pm


Rowan Berkeley said:

really? I don’t see the problem in my phraseology. I think you are projecting some psychological complex of your own, if that doesn’t sound too Freudian.

by the way, ‘Ausamaa’ sounds like an unusual name for someone with your sensibilities.

April 30th, 2008, 12:34 pm


ausamaa said:

Yeh, have you noticed!

April 30th, 2008, 12:47 pm


Naji said:

I just jumped in and have not read the rest of the comments, but if Ausamaa was shaming somebody, I would bet it was that Akbar kh*r*, not you…!!

April 30th, 2008, 1:03 pm


MSK said:


All I know is that the Israeli airforce destroyed a cube-shaped building in northeastern Syria.

I’m not an expert in nuke technology so from the sat images I cannot deduce anything.

As for the Israeli & US assertions – maybe they’re right, maybe they’re wrong. Could it be a Powell-UN-type framing? – Sure. Could it be that there actually was a reactor-being-built? – Sure.

What seems to be clear is that, whatever it was, is wasn’t a dairy factory or anything else civilian, ’cause otherwise Syria wouldn’t’ve erased it & built a different building on top of it – it would’ve invited the world press to see the bombed-out milk tanks …

So it was some sort of building that was related to Syrian security concerns. That’s not overly much.

Now, I think that the IAEA should be strengthened, and hence Israel should’ve passed info to the IAEA instead of just bombing something upon what may not be much more than a hunch.

On the other hand, IF there actually had been a nuclear facility under construction, there’s also always the danger of this scenario: Israel alerts the IAEA – the info leaks – Syria quickly destroys all evidence – the IAEA does an inspection – nothing’s being found – Syria builds its nuclear facility somewhere else.

As for the “Syria would never attempt a nuke program because it’s illogical” – I don’t buy it.


April 30th, 2008, 1:06 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Someone is worried that he’s being left out in the cold… Damage control, please!

عون: يخطّطون لإحياء التحالف الرباعي

يرفض رئيس التيار الوطني الحر العماد ميشال عون التراجع عن السقف الذي حدّده كمطالب للمعارضة في آخر لقاء جمعه بممثلي فريق الأكثرية النائب سعد الحريري والرئيس أمين الجميّل، برعاية الأمين العام للجامعة العربية عمرو موسى. وهو يقول إن الأمور واضحة أكثر من أي وقت مضى. فحقوق المعارضة بديهية في الحصول على ما يضمن مشاركتها الفعلية في القرار، وهي غير قادرة على أي نوع من المقايضة، ولا فائدة من جلسات الحوار الوطني ما لم تكن ضامنة لكامل حقوق المعارضة، وإلا فستستخدمها السلطة للمزيد من تضييع الوقت وإبقاء الأمور على حالها لناحية الفراغ الرئاسي واستمرار الرئيس فؤاد السنيورة في موقعه.
ولاحظ عون أمام زواره أن ما يجري الآن هو عودة الأطراف الخارجية، صاحبة النفوذ القوي على فريق السلطة، للعمل على شق المعارضة. وبعدما فشلت في إقناع التيار الوطني بالتخلّي عن تحالفاته، تفكّر الآن بإحياء التحالف الرباعي، من زاوية أن في ذلك ما يضمن التجديد للسلطة الحالية وإبعاد التيار الوطني وشخصيات أخرى من المعارضة عن البرلمان والسلطة.
وكشف عون أن فريق السلطة، مدعوماً من دولة عربية كبيرة، ينفق ملايين الدولارات في المناطق المسيحية، تحت عنوان محاصرة التيار الوطني الحر وإضعافه. ويترافق ذلك مع محاولات لتحويل بعض المواقف السياسية، مثل موقف النائب ميشال المر، إلى مناسبة للحديث عن تراجع شعبية التيار ورئيسه. وأعلن أن فريق السلطة وسفارات أجنبية في لبنان وقوى سياسية طلبت من مراكز دراسات إجراء مسح واستطلاع للرأي بعد حركة المر، ليتبيّن أن النتائج جاءت في مصلحة التيار والعماد عون. وأكد عون أنه يثق بقوة بموقف حلفائه في المعارضة، وفي مقدّمهم حزب الله.
بري ــ الحريري
وفي هذا السياق، ذكرت مصادر مطلعة أن النائب وليد جنبلاط أقنع النائب سعد الدين الحريري بضرورة عدم إقفال باب الحوار مع الرئيس نبيه بري، وشجّعه على الاتصال به والاجتماع إليه. ونقلت مصادر في فريق السلطة عن مراجع قيادية أن جنبلاط مقتنع بأن بري لديه القدرة على إعادة الإمساك بدفة الحوار مع فريق 14 آذار، وأن إبعاد العماد عون يتطلب دعماً لدعوة بري الحوارية، كما يمكن إدارة حوار غير مباشر مع حزب الله بواسطة رئيس المجلس.
وبناءً على هذه المداولات ومشاورات جرت مع عواصم خارجية، قالت المصادر القريبة من فريق السلطة إن التوجه الرئيسي هو لاستئناف التواصل بين الحريري وبري، إذا ما تعذّر جمع قادة البلاد على طاولة الحوار، وخصوصاً أن الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصر الله سوف يتغيّب لاعتبارات أمنية، كما أن العماد عون أبلغ جهات عدة أنه سوف ينتدب من يراه مناسباً لتمثيله في هذا الحوار.
وقالت المصادر إن المداولات لا تقف عند مسألة انتخاب رئيس الجمهورية، بل تتعدّاها لتطال مباشرة ملف قانون الانتخابات النيابية، حيث يسود الاعتقاد بإمكان ترتيب صفقة سياسية شبيهة بالتي حصلت في إطار التحالف الرباعي. وكشفت المصادر أن الموقف الذي أطلقه مسؤول العلاقات الدولية في حزب الله نواف الموسوي قبل يومين بشأن النقاش العام، كان يحمل جواباً على رسائل غير مباشرة بالدعوة الى تجديد التحالف الرباعي ولو بصيغ مختلفة. وقال الموسوي إن حزب الله واضح في أن اهتمامه يركز أولاً وأخيراً على مصالح حلفائه في المعارضة، وفي مقدَّم هؤلاء التيار الوطني الحر. وقد تلقى فريق 14 آذار موقف الموسوي على أنه رد سلبي، ما دفع الى تكثيف المشاورات قبل اجتماع أمس في قريطم لاتخاذ القرار بشأن المرحلة المقبلة.
اجتماع قريطم
وفيما اجتمع أركان قوى 14 آذار في قريطم مساء أمس تمهيداً لتحديد موقفها من مبادرة رئيس مجلس النواب نبيه بري، قال مصدر في الموالاة لـ«الأخبار» إنها تؤيّد التوصل الى «إعلان نيات» بشأن «اعتماد القضاء دائرة انتخابية وأن تؤلف حكومة الوحدة الوطنية حسبما تنص المبادرة العربية». وأكد أن رئيس كتلة «المستقبل» سيلتقي بري في أي وقت ليبلغه هذا الموقف.
وبعد الاجتماع صدر عن الأمانة العامة لقوى 14 آذار بيان جاء فيه أن المجتمعين شدّدوا على «ضرورة انتخاب رئيس للجمهورية، باعتباره الأولوية وفقاً للدستور اللبناني والمبادرة العربية والمدخل الوحيد لحل الأزمة التي يعاني منها لبنان». وكرّروا «تمسّكهم بمبدأ الحوار» وأكدوا «أنه لا يجوز ربط انتخاب رئيس الجمهورية بأي شرط من الشروط أو بأي اتفاق مسبّق، حرصاً على الدستور والمؤسسات ومشروع بناء الدولة».
وأضاف البيان أنّ المجتمعين اتفقوا على النقطتين الآتيتين:
1ـــــ التفويض إلى رئيس كتلة المستقبل النيابية النائب سعد الحريري التحاور باسم قوى 14 آذار مع الرئيس نبيه بري لبحث السبل الآيلة إلى ضمان انتخاب رئيس للجمهورية في 13 أيار المقبل.
2ـــــ اعتبار اجتماعات الأمانة العامة لقوى 14 آذار مفتوحة حتى نهاية أزمة رئاسة الجمهورية.

عدد الثلاثاء ٢٩ نيسان ٢٠٠٨

April 30th, 2008, 1:26 pm


Rowan Berkeley said:

“Syria quickly destroys all evidence” … how would it do that? I know this sounds a little self-defeating, but I think it would be hard to destroy anything that big and solid except by nuking it.

April 30th, 2008, 1:28 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

This is priceless.
Rowan says: “I wish I could find some way of inserting myself into the Jewish world”
Then when AP uses the term “Jewish world” in quotations in asking him a question. Ausamma jumps at AP and then Naji explains that it is really AP’s fault for using the term.

April 30th, 2008, 1:40 pm


Shai said:


I think you’re very right and, I must admit, I have learned to also relax some my innate instinct to call “anti-semitic” someone like Bondo who seems to believe nothing positive about all Jews (just as an example). But some here also need to understand that it’s not easy for essentially only 3 Jews to be blasted with rhetoric that, like Wizart suggested, stems mostly from years of frustration and suffering. Though much of it is very clearly justified, it is nonetheless hard to hear, again and again, especially when you personally are vehemently against it, are ashamed of it, and are fighting it “on the ground”. It tends to take away any motivation to engage those same people (not to mention to stay in the blog), who indeed deserve to be heard.

April 30th, 2008, 1:47 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Rowan says about Jews:
“How can I put this : I would like to help them work their way out of the hell they live in.”

That is an anti-semitic statement in my opinion. It is a generalization about Jews and a blatant assumption that something is wrong with most Jews and that they live in a hell unlike “regular” people.

Let’s say I would say: “Arabs are living in hell because they live in dictatorships. My mission is to work them out of this hell into democracy.” Would that be an offensive statement? I am sure it would, and that is why I would not say such thing.

Most Jews and Israelis are happy with their life and we do not need antisemites like Rowan to tell us that we are not and to try to change us. Some Arab bloggers do not understand that working together with antisemites will get them nowhere.

April 30th, 2008, 1:48 pm


norman said:

Israel gets ready to deal
April 30, 2008

IN A MESSAGE to Syria’s President Bashar Assad last week, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert affirmed that Israel would give all the occupied Golan Heights back to Syria in exchange for a comprehensive peace agreement. This move was belated but wise. It could alter the Middle East chessboard for the better, greatly reducing the chances of a disastrous new regional conflagration.

The Israeli gesture to Syria will have meaning only if the two governments follow it up with serious diplomatic engagement. Recent exchanges between the two have been indirect; indeed, a Syrian cabinet minister said the recent Israeli offer was relayed to Assad by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The last full-fledged negotiations between Israel and Syria foundered in 2000 over a dispute about control of the northern shore of Lake Galilee. Since then, the dangers confronting each side have only mounted. Today more than ever, both countries would benefit from a peace accord that resolves disputes over territory and security, finally ending the conflict between them.

Olmert gave the signal that Assad wanted to hear: that Israel was ready to trade all the Golan Heights for peace with Syria. Both sides accept that there will be no Syrian retrieval of the Golan without an agreement on security issues, and no security pact without return of the Golan.

In any talks about security, Israel will want Syria to stop arming the Lebanese Shi’ite militia Hezbollah, stop helping Iran to arm and supervise Hezbollah, and stop harboring leaders of Palestinian militant groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Above all, an Israeli-Syrian peace deal will have to remove Syria from Iran’s sphere of influence. This strategic objective is not unique to Israel. Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the other Arab Gulf states also want Syria to return to the Arab fold.

The Bush administration ought to be striving for the same goal. Until recently, however, President Bush seemed hypnotized by the neoconservative notion that America need not talk to troublemakers, much less bargain with them. Indeed, Israeli officials have hinted that, until recently, the American administration was holding Israel back from making a serious overture to Syria.

Assad has made no secret of his intent to parlay any peace treaty with Israel into a rapprochement with Washington. But last week, he said that peace negotiations with Israel will probably have to wait until there is a new US president.

The rehabilitation of American foreign policy can not come soon enough.

© Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

April 30th, 2008, 2:06 pm


ausamaa said:


Why dont you go do something usefull…instead of boosting: Most Jews and Israelis are happy with their life and we do not need antisemites … blah, blah, blah…

Most Israelies do not know what tomorrow will bring them, and many Jews around the world are worried about the DAMAGE Israel is doing to them and to Judisem.

Do you live in the same world we live in???

April 30th, 2008, 2:08 pm


MSK said:


You said:

“Syria quickly destroys all evidence” … how would it do that? I know this sounds a little self-defeating, but I think it would be hard to destroy anything that big and solid except by nuking it.

Well … I think we all agree that Israel didn’t nuke that building near Deir al-Zor & we also agree that Syria removed the rubble and then built a different building on top of it.

As far as I can tell, there’s no disagreement on that.

So … why, then, do you think that in order to destroy a building of the size of a nuclear facility it would have to be nuked?


April 30th, 2008, 2:13 pm


Rowan Berkeley said:

Because it is not the case that the air attack “destroyed all evidence.” As a matter of fact, one of the USraeli propaganda points is that the Syrians “destroyed all evidence” subsequently to the raid, in a great, revealing, panic-stricken flurry. You’ve got to keep your story straight in this business.

April 30th, 2008, 2:16 pm


MSK said:


All I pointed out was that it doesn’t need a nuke to destroy a building of the size of a nuclear facility & and then drive off the rubble with (dozens) of trucks.

Fahimt aleyya?


April 30th, 2008, 2:29 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I think you are living in a dream world. The ties between the US and Israel have never been stronger. Jews are doing economically very well both in the US and Israel. Economist have shown that there is good correlation between the UN develpment score given to a country and the happiness of its people. Israel ranks 23 in the world.

Yes, Israelis and Jews are happy and proud people. Get used to it.

April 30th, 2008, 2:29 pm


Rowan Berkeley said:

I just made a punk style totally high contrast version of ‘nejad flashing a v-sign, by mistake, cos i never figured out how to use paintbox properly. so accidents can be good.

Now to change the subject, has anyone ever come across the argument that all the genuine Sufis are really Shi’a?

April 30th, 2008, 2:38 pm


CKR said:

Coming late to this thread.

If you find the LA Times blog intriguing, you will find much more analysis of the photos in the CIA video at the WhirledView blog.

Something about those “side views.”

Why the reactor is not “the same” as the Yongbyon reactor.

The photos of the destruction are not all oriented in the same direction.

And there is a great deal of discussion about the reactor photos at Arms Control Wonk, particularly in this thread and this one.

April 30th, 2008, 2:47 pm


abraham said:

You can’t destroy signatures of plutonium, which would have been detected if there was indeed any of it in this ostensible “nuclear reactor building”. Grainy, doctored photos + forceful exhortations != nuclear reactor. End of story.

As I’ve stated already, people much smarter than anyone on this blog (especially our favorite antagonists) have already demystified and debunked any claims being made by politicians (POLITICIANS, not nuclear experts) that Syria was building a nuclear reactor. End of story.

Those who are committed to zionism will of course argue at the top of their lungs that the pundits who say this was a nuclear facility are correct. They can be as loud as they want, but it will never make them correct. End of story.

Syria, like any signatory to the NPT, has a right to develop nuclear technology. Hell, any nation has the right to do so, whether they are signatories or not. End of story.

By Israeli and American logic, Syria has the right to go blow up Dimona to pre-empt an Israeli nuclear attack. And I hope, by God, they do. But obviously, and unfortunately, that probably won’t happen.

But, when an American or Israeli interest is attacked in the coming months, whether in Israel or in America or abroad, if Syria is in any way implicated (and of course they will be) they will be entirely justified in doing so. The failure of American and Israeli political strategy is the apparentness of their being totally oblivious to the concept of cause and effect. They think that just because they can openly slap someone in the face and not expect immediate retaliation then they should do so wantonly. What they always fail to remember is that revenge is a dish best served cold.

End of story.

April 30th, 2008, 2:52 pm


Shual said:

“punk style”,
Rowan, thats a nice catchword for me to bring in some traditional Syrian hardcore-jungle punkstyle video


“massive welfare from … germany” Germany pays not a cent of welfare to Israel, Mr. Bondo, but some billions to the corrupt powerjunkies of Fatah. Deals, like the submarine-deals always provide Germany with technological innovations. Cooperation with institutes always provide Germany with great impulses for the brains at home.

Investment in profits and a big black hole. Israel and Palestine.

April 30th, 2008, 3:10 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Trying to change the subject are we? You cannot answer my detailed argument so you run away and post completely irrelevant material?

The reason nobody listens to you in the US, is because you can’t make a reasoned argument and back it up. Now, if you REALLY want to change the US, why don’t you try making an argument instead of spouting nonsense?

Let’s maybe start by asking you, should the Zionsit Jews be thrown out of the US? Would that be a good step in making the US better? Could you at least answer this question?

April 30th, 2008, 3:14 pm


Rowan Berkeley said:

hmmh, nice … I never heard of her before, although I have heard of atari teenage riot, I hadn’t checked them out. Interesting use of face masks. I shall watch some of the others on there, and also I shall try and find out a bit about her.

One thing I find the punk aesthetic, or anti-aesthetic, really helps me to do is blow off the pretentious pseudo highbrow ‘progressives’ who really just want to waste our time while the massacres continue indefinitely. There are an awful lot of those in my particular line of investigation, especially novelists, who pose as deep thinkers with tortured souls, but compared with this stuff, almost all novelists are complete frauds. I say this because I just read a completely slimy piece in something called The Atlantic Quarterly Online by Jeffrey Goldberg which is all about David Grossman, Amos Oz, their suffering artistic consciences, and so on. It contains a staggering quote from Amos Oz, who I thought of ten years ago or so as a genuine Leftist, as follows : “I don’t necessarily support Olmert on what he’s doing in Gaza.”

necessarily? what cowards they all are!

April 30th, 2008, 3:25 pm


abraham said:

Oh, really, Shual?,1518,519274,00.html

So then where does the money that Israel gets from Germany go, since it apparently isn’t getting to the Holocaust survivors in Israel? If Israel is such a prosperous nation, how come it can’t provide for its own citizens without extorting money from Germany and the US?

This is especially galling since Israel neglects the 20% of its population that is Arab. You’d think they’d have enough money for its upper caste Jewish citizens.

Where is all the money going, Shual?

April 30th, 2008, 3:31 pm


abraham said:

Rowan, no offense, but zionism and humanity are mutually exclusive. You cannot be of one and call yourself the other. Ilan Pappe, as but one example, is an appropriate role model to which all Israelis should aspire.

April 30th, 2008, 3:40 pm


wizart said:

Nice Poem Bondo although it’s closer to reality than poetry I think.


I think you’re stepping over the line again with fast moving provocations, diversions and useless questions and accusations so you’re obviously still eager to waste everybody’s time and a new guy like Bondo did finally and wisely ignore you although since he’s a newbie he might still gain from your classic propaganda experience.

April 30th, 2008, 3:44 pm


Rowan Berkeley said:

Abraham, I understand what you mean, but I have two points, one theoretical and one practical. The theoretical point is this : woven into the fabric of zionist ideology is a strand of genuine, if misplaced, socialism. It is easier to see this if you are studying zionism historically, because at certain points in history it can still be seen fresh, utopian, misguided perhaps, but genuine.

The second point is the practical one which is hard to explain but boils down to this : because, as I said, herzlian zionism draws its strength precisely from the fact that it causes the rest of the world to hate it, any attempt to attack it head-on will only make it stronger. Therefore, it is necssary to feel one’s way, morally and imaginatively, into its interior : to find those threads of idealism, however misplaced, that are buried within it, and to … um … develop them. I don’t want to sound manipulative here.

April 30th, 2008, 3:48 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

So Abraham,
Obama who is a Zionist is not a human?
How about the US Senate? No humans there?
Most American Jews are animals because they are Zionists, not to mention the Israeli Jews?

Once you dehumanize your enemies, how do you expect peace? I guess you don’t.

April 30th, 2008, 3:49 pm


Shual said:


I have been watching her for years and I am only thrilled by the power of that woman. And any music-style has such woman, especially the arab world has a tremendous potential. “Progressives”??? I don’t know. Especially ATR had some connections to Gille Deleuze and other progressives and I think that special Syrian girl has some very direct poltical points of view in cases like the relationship to friendly neighbours in the south that you can call “progressive”. But for me its more important that the kids learn from them how to express, how to find a style and how to deal with aggressions. Classical items and missions of music that NOT is written to please to emperor or a mass, but to please with uniqueness.

Btw. Abraham, if you don’t mind, Germans choose their allies as they want. And they pay for them what they want. Any further questions?

April 30th, 2008, 3:57 pm


ausamaa said:

YOU should ask yourself that question!

April 30th, 2008, 4:02 pm


Rowan Berkeley said:

shual, I just watched about half a dozen of those Hanin Elias things and they certainly are good, but one of them made me think – in terms of totally unconvincing back-projection, this takes some beating:

April 30th, 2008, 4:17 pm


norman said:

Print | Close this window

U.S. pressures Turkcell to abandon Syria deal
Wed Apr 30, 2008 2:13pm BST
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis

DAMASCUS (Reuters) – The United States is putting pressure on Turkish mobile phone operator Turkcell to abandon a $1 billion takeover of a cellphone company owned by a Syrian tycoon targeted by U.S. sanctions, diplomats and Arab financiers said on Wednesday.

The U.S. Treasury Department is warning American investors in Turkcell TCELL.IS (TKC.N: Quote, Profile, Research), which is listed on the Istanbul and New York bourse, about the company’s plan to buy the leading Syrian operator Syriatel, they told Reuters.

Syriatel is at least 69 percent owned by Rami Makhlouf, the cousin of President Bashar al-Assad. Washington imposed high profile sanctions on Makhlouf in February for alleged involvement in public corruption in Syria as relations between the Damascus government and the United States plummeted.

“The U.S. Treasury communicated indirectly with U.S. investors in Turkcell to reconsider the deal and hinted that there could be legal implications of doing a business transaction involving a huge amount of dollars upfront with Rami Makhlouf,” one of the diplomats following the deal told Reuters.

The sanctions explicitly state no U.S citizen can do business with Makhlouf. Several Turkcell executives have American citizenship and hold shares in the company, industry sources said.

Makhlouf, 39, has denied the U.S. charges, saying he does not have assets in the United States and his businesses that employ thousands of Syrians are legitimate.

“America is serious about making the sanctions against Rami (Makhlouf) stick. The way the Treasury is applying the pressure is through whispering to investors’ ears,” said the diplomat.

Makhlouf, Syria’s most powerful businessman, stands to receive close to an estimated $1 billion in cash if the deal for Turkcell to buy most of his shares goes ahead. The U.S. pressure has contributed to the delay in the deal, the sources said.

Turkcell said this month that “any possible U.S. citizenship” by its management would not affect the talks, despite the sanctions against Makhlouf, which were imposed while the deal was being negotiated.

“We are aware of the situation between the United States and Syria. But since Turkcell is a Turkey-based company and there is no legal restriction on the purchase of Syriatel, the situation does not have any impact on the talks,” Turkcell said.

Sureyya Ciliv, Turkcell’s chief executive officer, said in late February that he had expected to complete talks with Syriatel in a month.

A senior Arab banker said the deal could still be signed after Turkcell negotiated a lower price following the sanctions on Makhlouf.

“The Americans have succeeded in delaying the deal, but it is still on,” the financier said.


Gulf mobile operator Zain (ZAIN.KW: Quote, Profile, Research) has said it was also interested in buying Syriatel. Saad al-Barrak, Zain’s chief executive, last week described competition to acquire Syriatel as strong but he could not be drawn on the status of any talks.

A Turkcell-Syriatel deal would be one of the largest in the region’s telecom sector. The two companies say they have a majority share of the market in their respective countries.

Political stakes are also high. Syria has been rebuilding ties with Turkey strained by Syria’s support for Kurdish separatists a decade ago, and Turkey has been mediating to relaunch peace talks between Israel and Damascus.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was in the Syrian capital on Saturday to open a large Syria-Turkish business forum. Makhlouf has said that a deal with Turkcell would further improve relations with Turkey.

High-level politicians from both countries have been consulted on the takeover, the diplomats said.

“The fate of this deal has strategic ramifications for relations between Syria and Turkey and the American-led drive to isolate Syria,” another diplomat said.

The United States imposed sanctions on Syria in 2004 for supporting anti-U.S. groups in the Middle East. The Treasury Department designated Makhlouf under an expansion of the sanctions announced in an executive order by President George W. Bush on February 13 as “a regime insider whom improperly benefits from and aids the public corruption of Syrian regime officials.”

The order freezes any assets Makhlouf holds under U.S. jurisdiction and forbids American citizens or entities from doing business with him.

(Editing by Richard Hubbard)

© 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 30th, 2008, 4:18 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

My answer is that you are completely wrong and misguided. What is your answer? I am a Zionsit. Am I a human or not?

April 30th, 2008, 4:43 pm


ausamaa said:


Of course you are human. What makes you doubt that? And would you need any such reassurances?

April 30th, 2008, 5:09 pm


Rowan Berkeley said:

I have a simple test for whether you’re human, AIG – if you loved Inbal Perlmuter and Hamechashefot, you’re human. If you didn’t, you aren’t. And if you don’t know who she was, then you may be a zionist, but I doubt if you’re an Israeli. Music, you see – the international language.

April 30th, 2008, 5:10 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Since you wrote that Zionism and humanity cannot go together, how can it be that I am a Zionist and a human? You then complain no one listens to your arguments. The simple reason is that they just don’t make sense.

Thanks for promoting Israeli music. Are Inbal Perlmuter and Hamechashefot living in hell?

April 30th, 2008, 5:15 pm


ausamaa said:


Humans can always commit “un”human acts. So there is no conflict in what I said. You should know! And if I wanted to say something about Zionisem, I would have said that Zionisem and HISTORY can not go together! As you can well see.

BTW, when did I complain to you or to anyone else about not listening to my arguments?

Are you OK? It seems you are mixing me with someone else. But that is OK as I would most certainly agree with any point of view that is opposed to your way of thinking.

April 30th, 2008, 5:26 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Rowan said:

Now to change the subject, has anyone ever come across the argument that all the genuine Sufis are really Shi’a?

Where did you come across this argument?

Sufism has been very strong in Sunni societies, throughout Islamic history.

April 30th, 2008, 5:37 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Of course you would disagree with anything I say and that explains the difference in what Israel was able to accomplish in 60 years relative to what the Arab states have accomplished in democracy, technology and education. But you will never learn.

April 30th, 2008, 5:55 pm


ausamaa said:


OK, now go watch TV or read a newspaper or something.

April 30th, 2008, 6:00 pm


Rowan Berkeley said:

I know, Wizart : it is analogous to saying that all the genuine Christian mystics are really Catholics. A sort of hot potato. Talking of which, that photo of Mahmud Ahmadinejad at Natanz giving the v-sign is playing on my mind. He has a most peculiar grin on his face.

Shual – nice link, thanks. She sounds fun.

April 30th, 2008, 6:02 pm


wizart said:

Sufism is associated with the word “Safa” which means purity in Arabic and the word “wool” which early practitioners perhaps used to wear.
In practice they probably were similar to Zen Buddists with respect to their purity of heart and soul.

Foreign political strategists with interest in Muslim countries excel at capitalizing on the slightest of differences in order to execute a tried and true divide and conquer strategy to grab natural resources.

By the way, does anyone know how many different kinds of Christian denominations there are in the world? I heard there was about 10,000 different kinds according to a book I came across once.

April 30th, 2008, 6:02 pm


Shual said:


you are a great guy with great links and I tell you that in Tel Aviv everything is possible:

My comment says: It looks like he wanted to express how he feels about the situation and nothing more and to go out and show it on the street is not only brave, it seems to me a little braver than following orders, following mainstream, follwing public opinion and hiding in the shelter of the orders, mainstream, public opinion.

[Intresting comment of Goldman: “I do not want this thread – which has been interesting so far – to degenerate into populist (and baseless) Tel Aviv bashing and/or grave counting. I also do not want it to devolve into an argument about the settlements and the religious national version of Zionism – not only because it usually leads nowhere, but especially because it is not germane to the topic.”]

April 30th, 2008, 6:06 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Hi Rowan,

What I mean is, where do you hear that argument being made? Chat boards, online fora, that sort of thing?

My guess is that the attitude indeed stems from modern Salafi religiosity. The ironic thing is that we have fairly good evidence which suggests that even medieval figures like Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, and other ideological godfathers of modern salafism were probably Sufis.

The main intellectual/theological charge leveled against Sufism is typically attached to Ibn Arabi, wahdat al-wujud, pantheism, etc. It is not clear how any of this is really related to Shi’ism.

April 30th, 2008, 6:14 pm


Rowan Berkeley said:

Qifa Nabki ( that’s a difficult name for me to spell!) – ‘ibn Arabi would certainly be a good counter-instance. I really love Arabi, but the english translations are terrible. I have translations of at least parts of the Fusus and the Futuhat, and I can sort of see where the translations get it wrong, but it’s amazing stuff.

AIG – Inbal died in a car crash, and since, as is pretty obvious from everything I have seen and heard of hers, she was an out and out speed freak, it isn’t terribly surprising, and I don’t think people were terribly surprised. But they were certainly saddened – it’s one of the few times I can think of when everybody was equally sad. There is a sweet posthumous tribute to her on youtube which uses the duet she did with Korin Allal, “Kshze Amok.” I would post the link, but I have totally pigged out on music links already today.

All this began because Alex asked me why my blog was called Niqnaq, by the way.

April 30th, 2008, 6:16 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Others have probably already seen this photo essay about the 2006 war. It’s brief, highly worth watching… be warned, some rather graphic imagery (even if blurred by the black and white aesthetic).

April 30th, 2008, 6:17 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Exactly Bondo, and that is why you should move to the East to some Arab country together with Ausamaa and live in your humanitarian wonderland. I recommend Syria. Alex has said that everybody is very happy there.

April 30th, 2008, 6:42 pm


Test123 said:

The blog entry about the CIA photos is absolutely ridiculous. Showing an obvious 3D graphics representation of the building and saying that it is suggested (!) that they were digitally improved. No doubt we’re dealing with real pros with “U.S. security clearance”

April 30th, 2008, 6:43 pm


offended said:

Sufisim, and I know I’ll be controversial saying this, is an enhancement of the personal reflections of Islam, or a powerful spiritual rendition of it. I know there are out there myriads of Wahhabis who will find what I guess said blasphemous; but this is exactly what I liked about Suffis and detest who detest them, they keep to themselves and never disturb anybody. And the little that shows of their religiosity is merely whiffs of ‘noor’ and kindness. An Islamic form of Yoga? Maybe, but there is more to it than that, I think.

QN, while I like Ibn Arabi’s poetry; my favorite (in terms of literary and spiritual savoring) is this one!

April 30th, 2008, 6:54 pm


Shual said:

“Is Inbal living in hell?

This is disturbing me. This is really making me angry.

Former New Jersey Israeli, I don’t like the style of you to talk about dead jewish people. If this jew girl would have been died in the Holocaust, you would be the first to rape her and declare it HOLOCAUST REMEMBERANCE DAY, but cause of shes only a jewish punkof the 90ties you desrese her work.

On Holocaust rememberance day.


April 30th, 2008, 6:56 pm


abraham said:

AIG asked:

Obama who is a Zionist is not a human?


How about the US Senate? No humans there?

Not a one. They’re all whores.

Once you dehumanize your enemies, how do you expect peace?

Hmm, I think that’s a question that you should ask of zionists.

I guess you don’t.

Correct. Which is why any peace overtures that come out of the Israeli government should be dismissed outright. They are nothing but smokescreens to hide the ultimate goal, which is domination and hegemony of the Middle East.

April 30th, 2008, 6:56 pm


offended said:

Yes Bondo, I am inclined to believe that honest Jews are against Zionism. You may find in one of the articles I’ve attached above (earlier today) that a Jewish group stood against allowing Leviev (Israeli Jewelry group) to open stores in the UAE.

But of course, the store being an Israeli brand was not the reason, it was because the same group is invloved in building settlements in the west bank.

April 30th, 2008, 7:07 pm


wizart said:


You should perhaps request this AIG get banned for 10 years this time or until there’s peace in wonderland whichever comes first and please ignore his provocations which is his standard operating procedure here. Whatever you say he will quickly use against you endlessly.

Just my opinion.

April 30th, 2008, 7:07 pm


abraham said:

Shual said:

Intresting comment of Goldman: “I do not want this thread – which has been interesting so far – to degenerate into populist (and baseless) Tel Aviv bashing and/or grave counting. I also do not want it to devolve into an argument about the settlements and the religious national version of Zionism – not only because it usually leads nowhere, but especially because it is not germane to the topic.”

What makes you think this topic is appropriate here? If you want to socialize, please join FaceBook or MySpace. With the exception of AIG, we are trying to have serious political discussions here.

April 30th, 2008, 7:10 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

You missed the point. Rowan said that all Jews are living in hell and his mission is to save them. I therefore asked if Inbal was also in hell? Get it?

April 30th, 2008, 7:11 pm


Shual said:



Next year, please remember the date.

April 30th, 2008, 7:14 pm


abraham said:

AIG, for a supposed former American (BTW, did you rescind your American citizenship when you accepted Israeli citizenship?) you sure have a poor grasp of English. Rowan said nothing of the sort that you accuse him. You are, of course and as always, simply trying to lower the level of discussion here.

What rank are you in the Mossad Keyboard Blog Brigades?

April 30th, 2008, 7:17 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


Yes al-Busiri’s Burda is quite beautiful. I memorized the first 30-odd lines of it once, several years ago, but have since forgotten it.

Lately, my personal favorites have been more along these lines.

April 30th, 2008, 7:21 pm


Shual said:

“we are trying to have serious political discussions here” [Abraham]

“Syria has the right to go blow up Dimona to pre-empt an Israeli nuclear attack. And I hope, by God, they do.” [Abraham]

Topic for you, Mr. Abraham:

Symbolic steps into a brigth future. Do you weigh Ehuds step lower than Ahmanidejads? Because of some money running in another direction?

April 30th, 2008, 7:24 pm


Shual said:

Last post for today.

What rank are you in the Mossad Keyboard Blog Brigades?


[Sorry for that AIG. It is really dirty to compare people with insects, or cancer, or …]

April 30th, 2008, 7:28 pm


abraham said:

Shual, if you could write in English I might be inclined to respond to your inquiries. It would also help if what you wrote actually made sense.

April 30th, 2008, 7:47 pm


Shual said:

Yes Abraham,

AIG is a pug an I am an illiterate. [Maybe the next time Rowan agrees to play the flee-circus.]

Thank god we have you to tell us the secrets of the world like “And I hope, by God, they do blow up Dimona”. Thats a wise sentence and I must admit that I am overmastered by the correct english of it.

April 30th, 2008, 8:00 pm


Friedrich von Hohenstaufen said:

Qifa Nabki is right ,sufism is almost entirely a sunni phenomenon and it was first known amongst the hanbalis but it’s true that sufi thinkers like Suhrawardi and Ibn Arabi had important influence on shia scholars of shiraz.
The city of Hama is an important center of Sufism in Syria ,a place that have seen the union of Western Sufism(Sheikh Maamoun al Fasi al Hamwi ,Sheikh Alwan al Hamwi with Eastern Sufism (Al Kilani sheikhs).
Their shrines and lodges have been razed by the militias of asad in 1982.


April 30th, 2008, 8:07 pm


wizart said:


Nice Zajal (Arabic music video) although it might require some translation for those who might mistake it for a pep rally given by Aoun to a Hizbala brigade celebrating the election of a Sufi for president 😉

April 30th, 2008, 8:07 pm


abraham said:

Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize it was OK to advocate the genocide of Gaza, but not the relatively casualty-free deterrent effect of destroying Israel’s Samspon Option.

Silly me.

April 30th, 2008, 8:09 pm


Akbar Palace said:


On the topic of denial, here’s a statement showing more on the “debated” Syrian nuclear reactor and the assessment that Syria was “on the werge” of producing nuclear weapons:

April 30th, 2008, 8:11 pm


wizart said:

Israelis must be really interested in knowing more about Syria these days just by counting the number of them on this blog this evening.

I think Israelis just love what they can’t have. Every time AIG is banned for a week we get like half a dozen new born baby IGs wanting to discover their next door neighbor. Pretty soon we’ll be receiving Hebrew language sessions in return for the Golan and free religion classes in return for the West Bank.

Why should Syria have a new “reactor” when they can always use the one in Demona and dump the nuke waste somewhere in the Golan since it’s the nicest peace of land in Syria which Israel feels free to use to produce branded nuc-enhanced wine famous for its export potential.

April 30th, 2008, 8:22 pm


Alex said:


I linked that old silly Lebanese song as a joke for our friend QN who is a Lebanese.

But thanks for all the interesting music you recommended today. I enjoyed the first two the most.

Offended, QN

I heard that Sufie comes from … Σοφία” or “Sophia”


What do you think?

April 30th, 2008, 9:23 pm


Friedrich von Hohenstaufen said:

I heard that Sufie comes from … Σοφία” or “Sophia”

Bro Alex,the explanation of wizart is more likely but it’s also true some have seen an impact of neoplatonic litterature on sufism.

April 30th, 2008, 9:57 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Wizart asks:

Why should Syria have a new “reactor”…

I don’t know. I suppose we’ll have to get past the “free Syrian press” in order to get a respectable answer;)

April 30th, 2008, 10:02 pm


Friedrich von Hohenstaufen said:

April 30th, 2008, 10:25 pm


Shual said:

“relatively casualty-free deterrent effect”

You wanted to destroy a reactor, Mr. Abraham and because of the location THIS results in a genocide in Gaza and elsewhere in the region.

April 30th, 2008, 11:00 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


I’m glad that the Lebanese song was joke. I was beginning to question your taste. 😉

As for the word Sufi, the most likely origin is from the word Suuf (wool), as woolen clothes were the traditional garb of mystics and ascetics. The other common explanation (Σοφία) is a folk etymology.

And the other one that Wizart cited ,”Safaa'” (purity) is not correct, because that is a different root altogether (S-f-w, not S-w-f).

PS: Wizart, with respect to zajal, the funny thing is that I’ve actually heard some very interesting zajal praising or criticizing the various political leaders in Lebanon and the current crisis. Haven’t heard any about Aoun yet, but of course about Berri, Nasrallah, Lahoud, Hariri, Saniora, etc.

April 30th, 2008, 11:23 pm


Alex said:


Maybe there are many meanings behind mystic terms and names?

I know of one group of people who believe that Sufi comes from Sophia (representing wisdom) … they would not accept any other explanation.

By the way .. that video clip I posted … I ended up listening to it few times. I started to like it : )

April 30th, 2008, 11:54 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


There can surely be many meanings behind names, especially to modern practitioners. But if the question is: “What is the origin of this word?” then we have to trace it back in the sources. Scholars have done that with this word, and it seems almost certain that it was related to the clothing worn by the early ascetics of the 2nd/8th century. The earliest Sufism was not the theosophical Sufism of later centuries… so it seems unlikely that people would have applied a Greek term connoting philosophical wisdom to them. Much more likely that they were hermits/mystics who sought to distinguish themselves by rejecting the comfortable clothes of the notables.

But etymology is an imprecise science.

May 1st, 2008, 12:11 am


Qifa Nabki said:


You’re right. This issue has been gone over to death, and people are probably sick of it by this point.

Some people share your opinion. Some people believe that Syria was absolutely responsible. Some attach some kind of probability to the various potential parties (Syria, U.S., Israel, al-Qaeda, etc.)

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what people think because arguments could be made either way. We will have to wait and see what the Tribunal turns up, and even then its findings will be questioned and debated for a long time.

May 1st, 2008, 1:01 am


abraham said:


me? i say israel with american complicity and a party in lebanon that has collaborated before with the israelis killed hariri.

That’s pretty much it in a nutshell.


At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what people think because arguments could be made either way.

And at the end of the day it was probably better for Lebanon in the long term. Hariri was steering Lebanon towards the Western sphere, and that would have ultimately caused more upheavel than his assassination.

May 1st, 2008, 1:21 am


Qifa Nabki said:


And at the end of the day it was probably better for Lebanon in the long term. Hariri was steering Lebanon towards the Western sphere, and that would have ultimately caused more upheavel than his assassination.

How so? Which sphere is better for Lebanon in the long term?

May 1st, 2008, 1:50 am


Rowan Berkeley said:

There is an english language ‘ibn Arabi site, and it has a pretty good translation of one of his poems on it:

I marveled at an Ocean without shore,
and at a Shore that did not have an ocean;
And at a Morning Light without darkness,
and at a Night that was without daybreak;
And then a Sphere with no locality
known to either fool or learned scholar;
And at an azure Dome raised over the earth,
circulating ’round its center – Compulsion;
And at a rich Earth without o’er-arching vault
and no specific location, the Secret concealed…

I courted a Secret which existence did not alter;
for it was asked of me: “Has Thought enchanted you? ”
– To which I replied: “I have no power over that;
I counsel you: Be patient with it while you live.
But, truly, if Thought becomes established
in my mind, the embers kindle into flame,
And everything is given up to fire
the like of which was never seen before!”
And it was said to me: “He does not pluck a flower
who calls himself with courtesy ‘Freeborn’.”
“He who woos the belle femme in her boudoir, love-beguiled,
will never deem the bridal-price too high!”

I gave her the dower and was given her in marriage
throughout the night until the break of Dawn –
But other than Myself I did not find. – Rather,
that One whom I married – may his affair be known:
For added to the Sun’s measure of light
are the radiant New Moon and shining Stars;
Like Time, dispraised – though the Prophet (Blessings on him!)
had once declared of your Lord that He is Time.

May 1st, 2008, 2:35 am


Rowan Berkeley said:

AIG, to answer your question, I ought to explain, I am not conventionally religious, and it didn’t even occur to me that when I talked about Israelis living in hell, you would think I meant going to hell in an after-life. I meant a hell right here on earth, which I suppose, from a conventionally religious point of view, is a metaphorical usage of the word, whereas the idea of “going to hell” or “going to heaven” after death is the literal meaning. It just didn’t occur to me that anyone would miss my meaning, of heaven and hell being right here on earth.

Also, having just watched that Berry Sakharof video yet again, I can add, the fact that the land is beautiful – at least, I think so, and obviously he does too – the fact that it inspires yearning – is part of the hell. Two rabbis, following their mission in 1897 to investigate the possibility of building a Jewish state in Palestine, wrote to zionist colleagues in Vienna, “the bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man.”

May 1st, 2008, 4:11 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I understood your meaning perfectly. I am an Arik Einstein and Sholom Artzi type and didn’t realize Inbal was dead.

Alas, your whole view of Israel and Israelis is completely wrong. Israelis on the whole are very happy people.

Oh, and history has no rewind button. When you start wars in which you lose, you can’t complain. The Palestinians had a chance to accept the UN partition of 47 but refused. The land of Israel belongs to Israelis. By law, the Golan is also part of Israel. We realize that others disagree with us and that is why they are our enemies and we will fight them if forced to. If they want to beat us, I recommend they build strong and cohesive societies that are technologically advanced and that they seek strong allies. That is our plan to beat them. Since they prefer to languish under dictators, we in Israel are not worried.

It is really as simple as that. You see, we are simple and happy people.

May 1st, 2008, 5:11 am


Rowan Berkeley said:

funny you should say that. I just posted a remark to one of Glenn Greenwald’s articles at, praising him for his extreme command of irony.

May 1st, 2008, 5:21 am


offended said:

I agree with QN. It comes from Soof (wool) since wearing it was q sign of abstinence at the time.

May 1st, 2008, 9:13 am


abraham said:

AIG’s rambling are increasingly mindless (to be polite).

The war of 1948 never ended. Arabs don’t accept defeat, as there is no such thing. There is just the passage of time. Time is not an ally of Israel.

People don’t choose to live under dictators. They are imposed. In this case, they are imposed by Western hegemons and zionists.

I’m glad to hear Israelis are such happy people. I suppose when you can commit a crime and get away with it then it’s a pleasurable experience.

However, I’m sorry to have to be the one to break the news to you, but they say pay-back is a bitch.

May 1st, 2008, 8:35 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Who imposed Bashar on the Syrians?
Who imposed Nasser on the Egyptians?

May 1st, 2008, 8:48 pm


Rowan Berkeley said:

Bashar’s dad, Hafez, staged his coup against Salah Jadid, who was in the process of aligning himself with the Soviet bloc, so one might suspect CIA involvement just for that reason.

Nasser, if you believe Miles Copeland, was also helped into power by CIA (the aim at that point being to displace the Brits).

May 2nd, 2008, 8:40 am


Rowan Berkeley said:

Did you see this?
The author is a Larouche associate, I think, but the article doesn’t depend on Larouche’s supposedly unique sources.

May 2nd, 2008, 10:27 am


Post a comment

Neoprofit AI Immediate Venture