News Round Up (6 November 2009)

The Rise and Rise of Turkey
By PATRICK SEALE in New York Times
Op-Ed Contributor, November 4, 2009

It is generally accepted that America’s destruction of Iraq overturned the balance of power in the Gulf, opening the way for the Islamic Republic of Iran to emerge as a major regional power, able to challenge the dominance of Sunni Arab states and pose as a rival to both Israel and the United States.

Its influence has spread to Iraq itself — now under Shiite leadership — and beyond to Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and even perhaps to Zaidi rebels in northern Yemen fighting the central government in Sana‘a, a development that has aroused understandable anxiety in Saudi Arabia.

However, the Iraq war has had another important consequence that is also attracting serious notice. America’s failure in Iraq — and its equal failure to tame Israel’s excesses — has encouraged Turkey to emerge from its pro-American straitjacket and assert itself as a powerful independent actor at the heart of a vast region that extends from the Middle East to the Balkans, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

The Turks like to say that whereas Iran and Israel are revisionist powers, arousing anxiety and even fear by their expansionism and their challenge to existing power structures, Turkey is a stabilizing power, intent on spreading peace and security far and wide.

Turkey is extending its influence by diplomacy rather than force. It is also forging economic ties with its neighbors, and has offered to mediate in several persistent regional conflicts. It has, however, not hesitated to use force to quell the guerrillas of the PKK, a rebel movement fighting for Kurdish independence.

But even here, Turkey is now using a softer approach. The rebels have been offered an amnesty and Turkey’s influential foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has this past week paid a visit — the first of its kind — to the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq. There is even talk of Turkey opening a consulate in Erbil.

In recent years, Turkey’s diplomacy has scored many successes, winning great popularity in the Arab world and strengthening Turkey’s hand in its bid to join the European Union. Some people would go so far as to argue that there is no future for Turkey without the E.U., and no future for the E.U. without Turkey.

Turkey’s dynamic multi-directional foreign policy started to take shape when the Justice and Development party, or AKP, came to power in 2002 under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Abdullah Gul, now president of the Turkish Republic. These men are rightly considered to be conservative and moderately Islamic — their wives wear headscarves — but they are careful to stress that they have no ambition to create an Islamic state. Turkey’s population may be largely Muslim, but the state itself is secular, democratic, capitalist and close to both the West and the Arab and Muslim world. Indeed, Turkey sees itself as a bridge, vital to both.

Ahmet Davutoglu is credited with providing the theoretical framework for Turkey’s new foreign policy. He was Mr. Erdogan’s principal adviser before being promoted foreign minister.

Two visits in October illustrate Turkey’s activisim. Prime Minister Erdogan, accompanied by nine ministers and an Airbus full of businessmen, visited Baghdad, where he held a session with the Iraq government and signed no fewer than 48 memoranda in the fields of commerce, energy, water, security, the environment and so forth.

At much the same time, Foreign Minister Davutoglu was in Aleppo, where he signed agreements with Syria’s foreign minister, Walid al-Muallim, of which perhaps the most important was the removal of visas, allowing for a free flow of people across their common border.

Turkey also broke new ground in October by signing two protocols with Armenia, providing for the restoration of diplomatic relations and the opening of the border between them. Not surprisingly, Turkey’s ally Azerbaijan has strongly objected to this development, since it is locked in conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian-populated pocket of Azerbaijan occupied by Armenian forces.

Indeed, Turkey’s protocols with Armenia are unlikely to be fully implemented until Armenia withdraws from at least some of the districts surrounding Karabakh — but, at the very least, a historic start has been made toward Turkish-Armenian reconciliation.

From the Arab point of view, the most dramatic development has undoubtedly been the cooling of Turkey’s relations with Israel. The relationship has been damaged by the outrage felt by many Turks at Israel’s cruel oppression of the Palestinians, which reached its peak with the Gaza War.

Even before the assault on Gaza, Prime Minister Erdogan — a strong supporter of the Palestine cause — did not hesitate to describe some of Israel’s brutal actions as “state terrorism.” A total breach between the two countries is unlikely, but relations are unlikely to recover their earlier warmth so long as Israel’s hard-line prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, remain in power.

Underpinning Turkey’s diplomacy is its central role as an energy hub linking oil and gas producers in Russia and Central Asia with energy-hungry markets in Europe.

One way and another, a resurgent Turkey is rewriting the rules of the power game in the Middle East in a positive and non-confrontational manner. This is one of the few bright spots in a turbulent and highly inflammable Middle East.

TEHRAN, Nov. 2 (UPI) — The governments of Iran and Turkey announced a $2 billion joint venture to establish a crude oil refinery in northern Iran for possible exports to Europe. Also, the Turkish government announced plans recently to invest as much as $4 billion to develop the South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf.

A NATO Without Turkey?

….Nearly a decade after Islamists took the reins of power in Ankara, the central question is no longer whether Turkey should be integrated into Europe’s economic and political structure, but rather whether Turkey should remain a part of the Western defense structure….. Ankara is increasingly pursuing illiberal policies at home, for instance by attacking independent media, while aligning itself with militant, anti-western Middle East regimes abroad. …. it would appear that the West is losing Turkey. Should this occur, it would constitute the most dramatic development in the region since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.

YNET news

Ya’alon also spoke about Turkey, and said Israel was keeping track of its policies with concern. “Their tendency is to look eastward, to Iran and Syria. This necessitates an analysis of the situation on our part,” he said.”

“Did Egypt just “sell out Lebanon?” And if so, for what? by Kifa Nabki

Al-Sharq al-Awsat: “Israel working with Al Qaeda against Hizbullah
Haaretz (original in A-Sharq al-Awsat,) Via FLC

” A senior Lebanese defense source said Friday that militants allied with Al-Qaida are working in collaboration with Israel against Hezbollah, A-Sharq al-Awsat reported on Friday.  According to the official, the Lebanon-based Al-Fatah al-Islam fired a Katyusha rocket at northern Israel last month precisely so that the finger of responsibility could be pointed at Hezbollah. This is not the first claim from within Lebanon regarding collaboration. Lebanese President Michel Suleiman last month suggested that Israel had arranged for collaborators in his country to fire Katyusha rockets at the Galilee earlier this week, in a bid to keep tensions high in the area.

According to the Lebanese newspaper A-Sapir (yup…), Israel’s declarations that it would not cease its intelligence activities on Lebanese territories validate Suleiman’s accusations. A panel of inquiry established by the Lebanese Army found that the rockets, fired from Houla in southern Lebanon, were launched from the home of the village’s mayor. The mayor was not present in his home, according to the panel, and has no connection to the rocket.”

Israel seizes ship with alleged Hezbollah-bound arms
By Richard Boudreaux in LATimes

Israel’s navy intercepts a vessel off Cyprus that it says contained 300 tons of weapons being smuggled by Iran to Syria, bound for Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. Iran and Syria deny the charge.

Haaretz: Report: U.S. stopped Israel from attacking ‘Hezbollah

The United States informed Israel of a ship carrying tons of weapons allegedly en route from Iran to Hezbollah, but vetoed Israel’s plans to attack, the A-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported on Friday.

The cargo did not include rocket launchers or advanced weaponry that would alter the balance of power with Israel. Nonetheless, the army said, the rockets that were seized are the equivalent of about 10 percent of Hezbollah’s existing stock, and could have been used for weeks of intensive shelling of northern Israel.

Saudi Jets Bomb Rebels in Yemen

Saudi Arabia sent fighter jets and artillery bombardments across the border into northern Yemen on Thursday in a military incursion apparently aimed at helping its troubled southern neighbor control an escalating Shi’ite rebellion, Arab diplomats and the rebels said.

Exxon-Shell Consortium Signs Deal to Help Boost Output at Iraqi Oil Field

Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell signed a deal with the Iraqi Oil Ministry on Thursday to develop a major field, marking the first foray by a U.S.-led consortium into Iraq’s promising but uncertain oil industry.

People’s Daily: “Made in China” further booms in Damascus

China Mall, a store specializing in goods from China in Bab Tourna district, looks like other stores in Damascus, except for its Chinese slogan “Sheng Yi Xing Long” which means “good business.”     However, this store, along with the increasing …

Syria launches its first electricity privatization tender
Daily Star, 3 November 2009, by Khaled Yacoub Oweis of Reuters

DAMASCUS: An Arab-Finnish consortium is well placed to win Syria’s first private power concession and help solve big electricity shortages, a senior executive in the group said on Monday. The Syrian state, which has been controlled by the ruling Baath Party since 1963, is seeking private sector investment after decades of Soviet style policies to overhaul the rundown infrastructure and boost electricity output that falls one third short of demand.
“Syria, out of necessity, not luxury, is moving to private-public partnerships because they don’t have sufficient money to finance infrastructure,” Mahmoud al-Khoshman, chief executive officer of Marafeq, a venture between Syria’s Cham Holding and the Kuwaiti conglomerate Al-Kharafi.

“To the consumer we will ensure one thing – reliability, There will be electricity when they need it,” said Khoshman, referring to the 240 megawatt project in Nassserieh, northeast of the Syrian capital.
Marafeq bid for the project several months ago as a consortium with Finnish engineering company Wartsila, whose role Khoshman said would include a turn key contract for the design, construction and commissioning of the 200 million euro plant.

Electricity Minister Ahmad al-Kayali said Marafeq and Terna Energy of Greece qualified as last stage bidders. The project is Syria’s first power privatization deal in decades, but officials avoid referring to it as so, with the government struggling to shed the legacy of a command economy that has transformed Syria, a once-open country, into an anomaly among more prosperous neighbors.

Under the 25-year build, own and operate deal, the Syrian government would provide fuel free of charge to run the power plant, buy and distribute the electricity. Syria at present produces around 7,000 megawatts of electricity, compared with a 10,000 megawatt demand. Power cuts for five hours a day in Damascus are common.

“What is stopping the Syrians primarily is the lack of knowledge about how to structure this project. The process has to go proper,” said Khoshman, adding international banks would not otherwise finance it.

Khoshman, a Jordanian, said Marafeq was seeking 100 million euros ($147.7 million) in loans for the power plant from Europe, including DEG, a division of Germany’s government controlled banking group KfW, and 45 million euros from six Syrian banks. Syrian businessmen founded Cham Holding, which has a $365 million capital, in 2006 as Syria relaxed restrictions on private investment.

The main player in the group is 40-year-old tycoon Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of President Bashar Assad under specific US sanctions for suspected corruption. Makhlouf denies any wrong doing. The sanctions, which were first imposed in 2004, have also helped to undermine the ability of Western banks to deal with Syria.

Basam al-Qadi: Honor Killing in Syria
October 29, 2009

.. It was a sad and somber day, in which a Syrian court has decided that a man who killed his sister is a hero just for having committed murder in the name of honor (he was sentenced to only two and half years, which meant his immediate release because this is exactly the time he spent in custody awaiting trial. The subject has shown no remorse at any time). Hundreds of women are killed each year under this pretext, while the Syrian government keeps a silent accomplice to such barbarous crimes.

Thousands of women are killed in Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Morocco, Libya and other countries where governments do not move to address one of the main reasons being: Protect life its citizens.
Tens of thousands of women are killed worldwide every year in so-called “honor crimes”, reflecting at least the deterioration of the human being and feeling. This happens before the eyes of the world without producing reactions beyond symbolic sentences.

It is time to end these vile crimes. We live in the XXI century and it is time to reject insignificant actions and convictions soft on murderers in the name of honor. It is time to implement deterrent punishments to those who commit, encourage or support such killings. Therefore, by October 29 as World Day of Solidarity with Victims of Crimes of Honor, a day to emphasize that such crimes will not go to the dark side of history if we join together to fight these murders without wavering. We call on the United Nations, human rights associations and women’s rights, all political forces and parties that uphold social justice, and all media of all kinds to establish that day in their diaries as a way of confronting the defenders of these crimes and thus establish it as an added tool against the killing of women in the name of honor. ”

US blocks ‘Syria torture’ lawsuit
Posted: 03 Nov 2009

US blocks ‘Syria torture’ lawsuit Al Jazeera, November 3, 2009 A US federal appeals court has ruled that a Canadian man cannot sue the US after he was held at a New York airport and then transferred to Syria, where he alleges he was tortured. Maher Arar, a Syrian-born software engineer, was detained by US authorities during a […]

MEMRI: In an op-ed titled “Silence That Chatterbox Ambassador!” in the pro-Syrian daily Al-Safir of November 2, 2009, the paper’s owner, Talal Salman, accused U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Michele Sison of interfering in Lebanon’s affairs, inciting civil war in the country, and making provocative statements. Also in the article, Salman attacked March 14 Forces leaders, saying that they were taking orders and dictates directly from Sison and that she was forbidding them to include Hizbullah in the new government that has yet to be formed. Read article

Haaretz: Lieberman blames Assad for stalled Israel-Syria peace, 2009-11-01

Der Spiegel: How Israel Destroyed Syria’s Al Kibar Nuclear (For a backgrounder on who Erich Follath is read this interesting post: Time to Think: Erich Follath, “der Spiegel´s”secret chief and a very good friend of the Mossad.

“Through the cracks,” The Drought in Syria, which is causing mass migration and exploitation of those who have lost their livelihoods. By Sarah Birke in the The National.

Syria submits to Interpol arrest warrant against Siddiq…” [Translation thanks to]

On November 5, the Saudi-owned London-based Asharq al-Awsat daily carried the following article by its correspondent in Damascus Souad Jrouss: “Syrian lawyer Hussam Eddin Habash expected the United Arab Emirates to surrender Mohammad Zuheir al-Siddiq to Damascus, the Syrian witness in the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005, after the Interpol office in Damascus received an arrest warrant from the proper Syrian military judicial authorities.

“Al-Habash who is head of the “Arab legal committee for the defense of Syria” was quoted by Asharq al-Awsat as saying: “After a complaint was filed before the Syrian courts against Siddiq for having committed a number of crimes, the martial judge special adviser Abdul Razzaq al-Homsi issued an arrest warrant against him. The warrant accused Siddiq of committing acts and taking positions which were not approved by the Syrian government, thus endangering the lives of Syrian citizens, of spreading lies and openly calling for an invasion against Syria and giving false testimony before the international investigation commission.” …

Syria warns UN credibility at stake
Nov 04, 2009 (Xinhua via COMTEX)

Syria said here Wednesday that with Israel’s continued refusal to comply with United Nations resolutions, as well as recommendations from the report by UN fact- finding missions on Gaza conflict, puts the “credibility of the UN at stake.”

Global Voices: Syria: The Best or the Worst Article Ever?

One of many billboards in Syria featuring President Bashar al-Assad (photo by jilliancyork) Syrian bloggers frequently decry travel writing about their country – often it’s too stereotypical, sometimes downright false. And for a country considered …

IEE CN: Deploys iseemail(TM) Blackberry-Like Service with MTN Sy

iseemedia Inc., a leading provider of Blackberry-like services to the mass mobile phone market today announced that it has begun deployment of iseemail(TM) with Syria’s leading mobile network operator, MTN, with more than 3.5 million subscribers. The commercial launch is expected to be completed next month. “We are excited about the opportunity to introduce our Blackberry-like email service in Syria,” said Anthony DeCristofaro, President and CEO, iseemedia. “After extensive testing and promotion with select Nokia phones, we believe we have the optimum push email service in a market where consumers and business users alike are clamoring for mobile email. We expect to attract at least 100,000 regular subscribers in a short period of time.”….. iseemail(TM) eliminates the need for expensive data plans or high-end phones to receive emails and rich attachments on the go. The iseemail(TM) platform enables operators the opportunity to promote mobile email as a mass market solution as it provides full email functionality on nearly 100% of available devices……

Half of Greek Households Pay No Income Tax, Business Group Says
2009-11-04 By Maria Petrakis

Nov. 4 (Bloomberg) — More than half of Greek households declare incomes of less than 12,000 euros ($17,800) a year and pay no income tax, leaving 2 percent of families to pay about a third of the country’s personal-income tax. The 54 percent of families who fall under the tax-free threshold make an average of 6,000 euros a year, according to a study of 2007 tax declarations released today by the Federation
of Greek Industries. Of 5.5 million tax declarations filed, 3 million didn’t pay any tax. Tax evasion in Greece is estimated at 30 billion euros annually,…

Comments (48)

why-discuss said:

Forces of Fortune
The Rise of the New Muslim Middle Class and What It Will Mean for Our World

Vali R. Nasr, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies


Renowned Middle East expert Vali Nasr’s bestselling The Shia Revival profoundly transformed the debate about the Iraq War by unveiling how the Sunni-Shia rift was driving the insurgency. Now, in Forces of Fortune, Nasr presents a paradigm-changing revelation that will transform the understanding of the Muslim world at large. He reveals that there is a vital but unseen rising force in the Islamic world—a new business-minded middle class—that is building a vibrant new Muslim world economy and that holds the key to winning the cold war against Iran and extremists.

“A must read.”
—Senator John F. Kerry

His groundbreaking analysis will utterly rewrite the wisdom about how the West can best contend with the threat of Islamic extremism, as well as about what we can expect from the Muslim world in the future. The great battle for the soul of Iran, the Arab world, Pakistan, and the entire region will be fought not over religion, Nasr reveals, but over business and capitalism.

With a deft combination of historical narrative and eye-opening contemporary on-the-ground reporting from his constant trips to the region, Nasr takes us behind the news, so dominated by the struggle against extremists and the Taliban, to introduce a Muslim world we’ve not seen; a Muslim world in which the balance of power is being reshaped by an upwardly mobile middle class of entrepreneurs, investors, professionals, and avid consumers—who can tip the scales away from extremist belligerence. His insights into the true situations in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the crucial bright spots of Dubai and Turkey provide a whole new way of thinking about the troubles and prospects in the region.

Drawing on his in-depth knowledge of the Muslim world’s tortured history, he offers a powerful reassessment of why both extremism and anti-Americanism took hold in the region—not because of an inevitable “clash of cultures” or the nature of Islam, but because of the failure of this kind of authentic middle class to develop in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, largely due to the insidious effects first of colonialism and then of top-down dictatorial regimes, often supported by the West. He then shows that the devoutly Islamic yet highly modern Muslims of what he calls the “critical middle”—in Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, and the stealth force behind the extraordinary growth of aggressively capitalist Dubai—are finally the middle class the region has desperately needed. They are building a whole new economy—as the middle classes did in both India and China—and their distinctive blending of Islam and capitalism is the key to bringing about lasting reform and to defeating fundamentalism. They are people in the region the West can and must do business with.

Forces of Fortune offers a transformative understanding of the Muslim world and its possible future that is sure to spark lively debate and to play a vital role in bringing about a sea change in thinking about the conflict with Islam.

November 6th, 2009, 6:34 pm


Shami said:

Ankara se veut un pôle de “stabilité régionale”(Interview with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu)

November 7th, 2009, 7:22 pm


jad said:

Syria launches its first electricity privatization tender
This is not a very good news when we build another fossil fuel dependent power generators, beside, when Cham Holding in it that means another monopoly as usual, so no way any other green energy businessman would even think of doing any power project in Syria anymore, it’s done for a while.

Basam al-Qadi: Honor Killing in Syria
That is a great initiative and it needs every possible support from any Syrian who cares for empower our silent half of the society, our Syrian women.

“Through the cracks,” The Drought in Syria
This article shows once again that our water shortage and drought problem is mainly mismanagement and wrong untested rules. Since they know the problems why don’t they do something about it instead of keeping the situation getting worst? What are they waiting for? Maybe will hear another private watering system by Cham Holding to make it even with electricity and telecommunications.

November 7th, 2009, 7:43 pm


Shami said:

A very touching account from Hala Gorani on her ancestors ,her city Aleppo and her country.

Assaad Gorani ,grandfather of Hala,writer of the Syrian liberal pre Baath constitution.

November 7th, 2009, 7:47 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

Is the turkish iranian rivalry ,is it over?
and Is Erdogan powerful enough to ignore the military,or does he now, control the military?I am talking about this major and very bold strategy.

November 7th, 2009, 8:51 pm


jad said:

Again about the electricity privatization tender article;
Doesn’t the government have any advisor on energy to write a report about the important of finding ways to advance this sector and integrate it with smart industry. It will bring more money and benefits to Syria?
Is Syria that ‘brain’ empty today not to have someone to tell someone that instead of building a fuel power plant they’d better think of building a factory of solar panels and wind energy turbine and use them on some kind of original Syrian renewable energy plant and at the same time export the product worldwide or at least regionally?
Those are smart industries Syria needs not another fuel sucking plants.
They don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just build one and sell it:

Actually I read a report about this subject but NOBODY READS

November 7th, 2009, 9:56 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

I agree with you 100%. It is so unreasonable to invest these days in
fossil fuels power plants, when Syria has so much unused dessert land,
that could be easily used for solar and wind clean energy.
and this “…so no way any other green energy businessman would even think of doing any power project in Syria anymore, it’s done for a while”… I couldn’t agree more !
So sad.

November 7th, 2009, 10:34 pm


Off The Wall said:

حدثنا الحارث ابن مسافر, حديثا ابكى منا القلوب واحزن منا الضمائر. وكان التقانا وعلى وجهه ابتسامة, ما لبثت أن حل مكانها تذمر تبعته جها مه. فقال ينقل لنا حال اهلنا من العرب, وفي صوته حزن و فيه كرب:

ساحدثكم عن قوم اختلط عليهم أمر الحداثة, فأصبحت جمهورياتهم رغم ندرتها تنقل بالوراثة. و اخطأت اماراتهم وممالكهم فهم ا لتواصل, فصارت مرتعا للتوكل والتواكل . وساءت فيهم حال العلم والمعرفة , فعادو ا الى عصر الظلام ينهلون من ادبه و علومه بالمغرفة. فاصبح علمهم حصرا على تفاصيل الحجاب, وتفننوا في فصل انثي الحمائم عن ذكر الغراب. وابدعوا قوانين حماية الذمم, واهمها تحريم القول بما يوهن في نظر اولي الامر نفسية الامم. فاصبح قول الحق عندهم نميمه, وصارت الغيرة على ا لبلد بغير اذ ن مسبق أسوة بالجريمه . فهاجر من شبابهم من استطاع , ومن لم يستطع التزم الصمت ثم أطاع . ومنهم من استبدل الجهد بالغلو في ا لعبادة, فاستعاض بالتوكل عن عزم الاراده. أو تشدد في تفسير أمر السلف, متناسيا ان من امرهم ما خا لف أو تخلف أو اختلف. فانكرو ا من دينهم ماتيسر , واكثروا في تعسير مالم يعسر. فأصبحوا يسمو ن امهاتهم بالمنكوحات والموطوءات, فكأنهم أرادوا وأدهن واخواتهم وبناتهم و هن على قيد الحياة. ولولا أن بعضهم لم تمت فيه النخوة أو الحياء ,لصارالامر امرا وقانونا وبلاء .

وهز الحارث راسه يمنة ثم يسره , فسألناه مادهاك وهذه الحسره . فقال دعوني اكمل قبل انقطاع مقالي,وقبل أن يسبق جوابي استسألي. فالقوم من محيطهم الي خليجهم يشكون تفحل الفساد , وتحكم الرشوة في أمر العباد.غنيهم يتهرب من دفع الضرائب, . وفقيرهم يدفعها دون نقص فيا للعجائب . اما ثريهم فهو أكثرالناس تشكيا مما يسميه خوه, ناكرا انه هو من جعلها وسيلة لمصاحبة السلطان وذي القوه. طا لبا من الدولة خدمة خطته , متناسيا حقا لها مازال في جعبته. يتهم اهل بلده بالتخلف لانهم لايعرفو ن الوقوف في الطابور , وهو من الباب الخلفي له حق العبور. يتم له من امره مايشاء , وهو اكثر الحريصين لهذه التركيبة بالبقاء. فان حا ول بعض المخلصين ايجاد الدواء , كان اول من نعتهم بالسذاجة والغباء . قوم يمر بهم العصر مرور الكرام , وهم يزيدون دفن رؤسهم في رمل النعام .ومحاموهم يتسابقون لتبرير خصا صة رؤيتهم لحقوق الا نسان , مدعين تراثا ليس له في اصو لنا من مكان. فيا عجبي , ويا حسرتي , ويا ندمي,و اعجب العجب اني ابكي دمعا وليس دمي .

وهنا خفنا على صا حبنا مغبة الغم , فاسكتنا ه عنوة وعلى اللبيب الفهم.

November 8th, 2009, 12:59 am


jad said:

The new ‘revision’ of the personal status law, this government insists on f****** us all, Enjoy!

صدور مشروع قانون الأحوال الشخصية السوري الجديد… عودة إلى القديم ما عدا ؟

المحامي ميشال شماس – كلنا شركاء
07/ 11/ 2009

بعد الاعتراضات الواسعة والرافضة لمشروع قانون الأحوال الشخصية الجديد الذي أعدته لجنة سرية بتاريخ 5/4/2009 بموجب قرار للسيد رئيس مجلس الوزراء السوري بتاريخ 7/6/2007، ورقم /2437، خرجت علينا من جديد تلك اللجنة السرية بمشروع جديد هذه المرة، مشروعاً يختلف كلياً عن المشروع السابق الذي شكل خطوة هائلة إلى الوراء وتراجعاً حتى عن قانون الأحوال الشخصية النافذ حالياً ولقي اعتراضات وانتقادات كثيرة وأثار ضجة كبيرة في أوساط واسعة من السوريين والسوريات.
وبعد الاطلاع على النسخة الجديدة من المشروع المذكور التي تم توزيعها منذ يومين على الجهات المختصة بما فيها ممثلي الطوائف المسيحية، تبين أن هذه النسخة الجديدة هي صورة طبق الأصل عن قانون الأحوال الشخصية النافذ حالياً مع بعض التعديلات. وإضافات جديدة لم تكن واردة سابقاً. وقد احتوى المشروع على 318 مادة أي بزيادة /8/ مواد عن القانون الحالي . والمواد الجديدة وردت في المشروع بنسخته الجديدة في الباب الخامس تحت عنوان “كفالة الصغير والتكافل الأسري” من المادة 162 وحتى المادة 169 ، وعرفت المادة 162 كفالة الصغير بأنها ” هي الإلزام برعاية طفل وحمايته وتربيته والإنفاق عليه كما يفعل الأب مع ولده ولايترتب عليها حق النسب ولا في الإرث). وكفالة الصغير تشبه إلى حد بعيد موضوع التبني، وهذا أمر إيجابي ولا شك.
أما بالنسبة إلى التعديلات التي وردت في المشروع ، فإنها لا تختلف في جوهرها على ما هو منصوص في القانون الحالي. وأهم تلك التعديلات هو حذف كلمة نكاح واستبدالها بكلمة زواج إلا أن كلمة موطوءة ترد في أكثر من مكان في المشروع. كما تم رفع سن الزواج بالنسبة للمراهق والمراهقة في المادة 18 من المشروع “-إذا ادعى المراهق البلوغ بعد إكمال السابعة عشر أو المراهقة بعد إكمالها الخامسة عشر وطلباً الزواج يأذن به القاضي إذا تبين له صدق دعواهما واحتمال جسميهما”. وهو تعديل جيد إذا ما قورن بنص المادة 18 من القانون الحالي التي نصت :” -إذا ادعى المراهق البلوغ بعد إكمال الخامسة عشرة أو المراهقة بعد إكمالها الثالثة عشرة وطلباً الزواج يأذن به القاضي إذا تبين له صدق دعواهما واحتمال جسميهما.” وإن كنا نفضل إلى إلغاء هذه المادة نهائياً وتحديد سن الزواج للفتى والفتاة بسن 18.
وحافظ المشروع الجديد على التمييز بين الرجل والمرأة لمصلحة الزوج فعل سبيل المثال في المادة /4/ المتعلقة بالخطبة فإن المرأة تلزم بإعادة المهر أو مثله سواء كان العدول منها أو من الخاطب. والمادة 27 التي تنتقص من أهلية المرأة بقيت كماهي “إذا زوجت الكبيرة نفسها من غير موافقة الولي فإن كان الزوج كفؤاً لزم العقد وإلا فللولي طلب فسخ النكاح” وكذلك المادة 14 التي تمثل قمة الانتقاص من أهلية المرأة حين جعل شهادة الرجل تعادل شهادة امرأتين في المادة 12/خلافاً لأحكام المادة 25/3 ” المواطنوان متساوون أمام القانون” .
وكذلك في المادة 73 التي نصت :”يسقط حق الزوجة في النفقة إذا عملت خارج البيت دون إذن زوجها، ويعد سكوته بعد علمه بعملها في أثناء الخطبة إذناً لها في العمل لا يسقط حقها في النفقة”.وذلك خلافاً مع ما نص عليه الدستور وخاصة المادة 36 التي تقول بأن العمل حق لكل مواطن وواجب عليه. أما المادة 37 فقد شكلت إهانة بالغة للمرأة عندما أبقى المشروع على تعدد الزوجات “لا يجوز للرجل أن يتزوج المرأة الخامسة حتى يطلق إحدى زوجاته الأربع وتنقضي عدتها”.
وحافظ المشروع أيضاً على منع زواج المسلمة بغير المسلم خلافاً لما نص عليه الدستور السورية في المادة 35 منه التي ضمنت حرية المعتقد والعقيدة،ومع كافة المواثيق والمعاهدات الدولية التي وقعت عليها سوريا.
واعتبر المشروع في المادة 313 منه أن ” كل ما لم يرد نص في هذا القانون يرجع فيه إلى القول الأرجح في المذهب الحنفي .والتي ينظمها كتاب الأحكام الشرعية في الأحوال الشخصية على مذهب الأمام أبي حنيفة النعمان لمحمد قدري باشا الملحق في قانون الأحوال الشخصية السوري والذي يتضمن فيما يتضمن أحكام اللعان والظهار التي تعيد المجتمع إلى عصور الانحطاط .
أما فيما يختص بالطوائف المسيحية فقد نص مشروع القانون في المادة 316 بصراحة على انه لايجوز تعدد الزوجات، ونصفي المادة 318 منه على إلغاء القانون رقم /10/ الخاص بطائفة السريان الأرثوذكس، والقانون رقم /23/ الخاص بطائفة الروم الأرثوذكس، والقانون/31/ الخاص بطائفة الروم الكاثوليك. والسؤال الذي يطرح نفسه أن تلك الطوائف التي ألغيت قوانينها الخاصة على أي قانون سترجع؟ المرجح أنها ستعود إلى القوانين الكنسية التي كانت سائدة أيام الاحتلال العثماني لبلادنا.
باختصار المشروع الجديد لم يخرج عن الإطار العامّ للقانون الحالي، وبقيت أحكامه تدور في فلك النظرة الإسلامية للمجتمع، وكيفية بناء العلاقات بين أبنائه، فاللجنة التي أعدت هذا المشروع لم تحاول مجرّد محاولة، مواكبة التطوّر الكبير الذي طرأ على المجتمع وبنيته وخصائصه منذ خمسينات القرن الماضي وحتى اليوم. بل حافظت بأمانة على كل المساوئ التي يقوم عليها القانون الحالي، وتجاهلت الاتفاقيات الدولية، التي وقعت عليها سوريا بدءا من الإعلان العالمي لحقوق الإنسان، ومروراً باتفاقية حقوق الطفل، وليس انتهاء باتفاقية مناهضة كافة أشكال العنف ضد المرأة (سيداو).كما تجاهلت الدستور السوري، واعتمدت معيار الانتماء الطائفي” بصفته الانتماء الأسمى، بديلاً عن الانتماء للوطن، وبقيت المرأة في نظر معدي هذا المشروع مجرد وعاء إنجاب وتقديم المتعة للرجل ، كما بقيت بنظرهم رهناً بما يفعله الرجل ابتدءا بأبيها وأخيها وانتهاءً بتبعيتها “للنائب الشرعي”، أنهم لايريدون الاعتراف بحقوق المرأة ككيان خاص مستقل، إلا وفقاً لمشيئة الرجل.

November 8th, 2009, 1:14 am


norman said:

Hay Jad , Good evening ,
So what is next , do they represent it to the house of representative for discussion and modification to be compatible with Syria’s commitments to the international norm and law , would they conduct hearing on the new law from legal minds and religious and social leaders.

I just hope that they do not push to the president for signature without discussion .

November 8th, 2009, 4:41 am


Shai said:

Amir, Akbar, and others…

Why is it that former-Likud hawks, such as Shaul Mofaz (former head of the IDF), are able to wake up and smell the roses, while other doves, like Ehud Barak, can’t? I’m a little confused about who you support… Is it Ehud Barak, or Shaul Mofaz?

Kadima MK Shaul Mofaz: “If Hamas is elected and chooses to negotiate – Israel must conduct dialogue with any group that changes its behavior.”

Senior Hamas figure al-Masri: “This is a very important step, but we are interested in its translation from talk into action.”,7340,L-3801873,00.html

November 8th, 2009, 1:20 pm


Nicolas92200 said:

On the power subject, actually, in parallel to the conventional IPP, the government is also launching a wind power IPP project too. The issue with renewable power is that the cost per MW is high; yes, granted, taking into account the cost of fuel over the longer run would make things similar, however, the initial capex is large, and you would up spending substantially higher to obtain much lower generation capacity.

My understanding the IFC is going to advise the Syrian government, this is unfortunate given their quite poor track record. It would have made much more sense to bring on board one of the major banks that have led and closed a number of such projects in the region.

There was a recent conference held in Damascus on the subject of PPPs, and it was interesting as there was a session where the public was invited to quiz the ministers, including D-PM Dardai,, MoF Hussain and the “working team” (ministers of power, oil, etc).

The openness of the debate was impressive, at one point a journalist asked the minister of electricity why the power project was awarded to a group linked to Makhlouf and what message will this send to the investor community? The minister bypassed the question saying nothing was agreed yet and all have a fair chance.

Also, Dardari, was asked why an international advisor would be chosen and not a local, and he answered by saying that (i) no one was qualified locally and (ii) nationalism (wataniyeh) is not by choosing low quality local over good quality external, it is more about delivering the right service locally (very interesting remark). – again all this was in an open public Q&A session.

Dardari noted that the PPP initiative has full political support and they are determined to push this through in the power, oil & gas and construction/infrastructure sectors. They are also intent on recruiting an internationally experienced and qualified Syrian to head the PPP department and be able to negotiate with the lenders and developers.

Definitely worth following up but still in need of A LOT of work, including communicating, communicating, communicating and communicating.

November 8th, 2009, 2:08 pm


norman said:

No matter what some think of Maklouf , is it possible that his group might be the only Syrian group qualified for the project and isn’t better for a Syrian to head the group than , let us say , Alwaleed Bin Talal or any other non Syria ,we should always remember that he should have the same chance as others , building capital in Syrian group will make them eligible for bigger projects around the area.

November 8th, 2009, 2:28 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

This stupid doctor.major Nidal Hasan, is going to hurt us, I do not know what went into his mind ,he is a psychiatrist, but he is a nut himself

November 8th, 2009, 3:48 pm


jad said:

Hi Norman,
Yes they supposed to put it into discussion in the parliament, the problem is that they didn’t truly study anything about it, how could they produce such a stupid revision for such an important material in only 4months for the first uglier version?
It is another attempt by the prime minister to show that he did something after the embarrassment defeat he got the first time and I believe that it will be the last stroke for this government especially for the prime minister and the minister of justice, both are going to be burned by their own ugly creation, at least that what I hope to see, they deserve to be thrown in jail along their stupid backward ‘secret committee’ for such social and national failure. The debate just started in the Syrian public, will see how it will end.

November 8th, 2009, 6:10 pm


jad said:

Don’r fell for the biased somehow newbie sectarian american media.
The whole incident is nothing different than any other mass shooting the US had, being Christian, Jew, Caucasian, Asian, African or whatever your color or religion is has nothing to do with what Nidal did, more than 30 people before him got postal, what is the different this time?
Just because someone is from a different religion does’t mean that his religion asked him to do it, beside, why to strap his American identity from him with the fact that he is a first generation American and start playing the Palestinian card?
If the Americans don’t really believe in their citizenship being equal why bragging about equality?
Or that liar witness who said that he heard him shouting ‘Allah Akbar’ and they wrote after that sentence that nobody else ‘confirm’ that, how primitive is that?
This incident and how the American media is playing it is a new low and it will get wors and worse year after year.

November 8th, 2009, 6:27 pm


jad said:

Thank you for the great comment.
I agree with the cost issue of renewable energy, however, you also wrote at the end of your sentence that taking time in the account we will get even with money and I add the environment to your equation to make the scale move toward the renewable energy, right?

I also agree with the bank loans issue, however, if the government doesn’t borrow money for infrastructure it will be difficult to built any big project, it is tricky.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of PPP’s because I already worked with a team on a $2b project and regardless that the project was done on budget on time, the technical issue that the developer and the contractors overlooked with the extra ammount of money they charged the government for are enough for me not to fully support another PPP project.

In your last sentence you nailed it:
“Definitely worth following up but still in need of A LOT of work, including communicating, communicating, communicating and communicating.”

About Mr. Makhlouf getting involved in all the projects is something I’m not a big fan for, I don’t mind for anybody to be involved in any project as long as it is fair and not on the expense of others, however, what we are seeing is a monopoly that is not going to bring any good competition in the long run because businessmen (Domestic or international) wont have the courage to bid along him or his companies when they know.
The other issue is that we need to support small projects at the same time as this mega projects Syria needs and if we don’t play it right and show at least the will of doing business fair we loose, as a society.

November 8th, 2009, 6:44 pm


Off The Wall said:

There was a recent conference held in Damascus on the subject of PPPs, and it was interesting as there was a session where the public was invited to quiz the ministers, including D-PM Dardai,, MoF Hussain and the “working team” (ministers of power, oil, etc).

A new development in the right direction, indeed.

November 8th, 2009, 6:47 pm


Off the Wall said:

A lot of articles have been written by muslim and arab americans about the pre-meditated murder in Fort Hood. Most started by accepting guilt, but a few were very interesting. Here is the one I liked the most, it is powerful and to a degree it reflects some of my own opinion

The article can be found on Huffingtonpost. But it is now buried way behind another article written by Kamran Pasha (Hollywood director) that starts by accepting shame

The article is written by Jamal Dajani, it can be found at

Here it is

Jamal Dajani
Senior Director and Producer of Mosaic News, Link TV
Posted: November 6, 2009 01:58 PM

Don’t Ask Me About Hasan

Seven messages and counting on my voice mail from different Bay Area reporters, all wanting to know the Muslim community’s reaction about the recent heinous killings of Nidal Malik Hasan. All wanting to know what had driven a 39-year-old Muslim to go on a killing rampage, murdering 13 people in Fort Hood, Texas. “He had it all,” someone said, “he’s an educated man, he’s a doctor.” Why did he do it?

Apparently, I fit the profile of someone who has these answers: I am a Muslim Palestinian American: I must know what one out of the 1.5 billion Muslims around the globe is thinking at any given time.

“Hey, Jamal…sorry to disturb you so early. But you know the Hasan story is big, and I was wondering if you’re willing to come for an interview and talk about how it feels being a Maahzlem (Muslim) and all,” a television producer says to me on my cell, while I was driving to work.

“How did you feel being a Christian, with Timothy McVeigh and Adolf Hitler being Christians?” I fired back.

Silence… I probably should not have said that, but there it is.

I’m sick and tired of these kinds of questions from media outlets whenever some kooky Muslim decides to commit a random act of violence…or in this case when a GI psychiatrist goes psycho. At the same time, I’m also sick and tired of self-appointed Muslim experts and spokespersons who jump at every miserable opportunity like this one to try to explain Islam.

“Islam is a religion of peace,” they say.

No, it’s not. Not anymore than Christianity is a religion of love. They’re just religions, and what you do with them is all up to the believer. More people have died in the name of religion than in any other catastrophe or plague.

Here is what I know about Hasan:

He was a disgruntled GI who wanted to leave the military for whatever reason: his conscience, his religion, or for personal reasons. He could have left peacefully. He could have quit and paid the price without hurting others, just like Muhammad Ali, who refused the draft to serve in Vietnam but did not feel the need to go on a killing rampage. Instead, he was stripped of his heavyweight title and served time in jail.

Hasan is a coward…not only for committing this heinous act, but for counting on being killed or taking the gun on himself, leaving behind his family and the entire Muslim community to account for his despicable actions.

Read more at:

November 8th, 2009, 7:53 pm


jad said:

Dearest OTW,
I totally agree with what Jamal wrote, I liked his reply about McVeigh and Hitler being Christians or any other people being whatever.
It is sad that some people start to defend their religion in a stupid way as if they are responsible as believers for some wacko does something terrible and it happened that he belongs to the same religion.
Every human being is unique in his way of thinking in his believes and he is solely responsible of his acts, not his religion.

November 8th, 2009, 8:14 pm


norman said:

Jad ,

I agree with you about Nidal Hasan , the problem is that when a Muslim does something bad , he is looked on as an Arab and a Muslim , Lieberman today who is conservative Jew and a radical one for the support of Israel even if it is against American interest said that the attack was a terrorist act and he is going to investigate under the umbrella of the Home land security committee , It is obvious that he wants to use the incident to associate That the US and Israel are on the same side on the war on Terror , i wonder how stupid the American public as i am sure they will believe him , what a jock when Madoff stole billions he was an American thief , not a American Jewish one , and when the rapist of the 13 year old was captured in Switzerland he was an American criminal , not a Jewish American criminal but when Nodal hasan commit his crime , he is an Arab American from Palestinian origin , even though he does not speak or read Arabic ,

We saw on TV recently i New York that recently converted Jews to Islam inciting violence against the US in the name of Islam and no body is investigating their motives , it is clear that they are moles planted by the mosad to create hatred between the American public and the Arabs and Muslims .

November 8th, 2009, 8:24 pm


norman said:

What DR hassan did is similar to what the kids at Columbine did , they went on a rampage for being picked on , one of them was Jewish and the other was christian , i am sure they asked forgiveness before they did what they did , the whole country went on a program to fight bulling at schools , nobody attached the Christian or the Jewish faith,
It is obvious that these acts are used only against Arabs and Muslims.

November 8th, 2009, 8:34 pm


Off The Wall said:

Dear Norman and Jad
The racists in the media can bark as much as they want. But the scale of the tragedy in Fort Hood will eventually prompt the Armed Forces to review its policy regarding all forms of radicalization. The US army has placed high priority on recruiting muslim soldiers and officers. And it is not about to reverse its policy because of glen beck or other fear profiteers. In fact, the top brass will do whatever they can to prevent cowardly acts of reprisals and I will not be surprised to see voices rise up harshly against the fear industry.

As James Zoghbi wrote, it is now less about Hassan and more about his victims. In due time, it will be more about the army procedures and approaches to intercepting fanaticism in the ranks, be it islamic, aryan nation racism, or christian fundamentalism. I have lived long enough in the US and have met and befriended many veterans of all stripes and have become like a family to a few. Yes, a reasonable majority are conservative, but they view such incidents from a more personal prism. They view it as personal betrayal, as it should be, not as a religious war. I am an advocate of peaceful means, and I am no big fan of army life. But there is something to say about brotherhood in arms. And this tragedy will be viewed by a reasonable majority in the armed forces, where it really matters, as a personal issue of betrayal, with or without fear mongers barking or disapproval.

November 8th, 2009, 9:11 pm


Alex said:

Syria shows Israel what constructive self confidence, as opposed to arrogance, looks like:

Syria to Turkey: Keep Israel ties strong to broker peace

Syrian President Bashar Assad earlier Sunday urged Turkey to maintain good relations with Israel, in order to mediate Damascus-Jerusalem peace negotiations.

Assad made the comments in an interview with a Turkish newspaper, a day before the Organization of the Islamic Conference was to meet in Istanbul.

Netanyahu last month said that he did not want Ankara serving as mediator in any future diplomatic negotiations with Syria, in view of the crisis in relations between Israel and Turkey.

The recent tensions began when Turkey decided to ban Israel from an international air force drill on its territory, to protest the war in the Gaza Strip earlier this year.

Not long after, Israel’s ambassador in Ankara, Gabi Levy, officially protested to Turkey’s Foreign Ministry about a drama aired on public television in which actors portrayed Israeli soldiers executing Palestinians.

The tensions became a major issue during a meeting between Netanyahu and his visiting Spanish counterpart, Jose Luis Zapatero. During the meeting, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos told Netanyahu that the Turks “will fall in line” if they serve as mediator between Israel and Syria.

Netanyahu said then that he objects to Turkey resuming its role as mediator and does not see how the country can become “an honest broker” between the two sides.

During Ehud Olmert’s tenure as prime minister, Turkey mediated five rounds of talks between Israeli and Syrian officials. Toward the end of Olmert’s term the two sides were on the verge of resuming direct negotiations.

At the last meeting between Olmert and Erdogan, the Turkish leader called Syrian President Bashar Assad and relayed messages to and from Olmert. But after Operation Cast Lead earlier this year and the freeze in negotiations with Syria, Erdogan said Olmert had stabbed him in the back.

November 8th, 2009, 10:48 pm


norman said:


It seems obvious that Syria does not want to isolate Israel , on the contrary she wants Israel to be included in the Mideast , the question for you and Shai is ,

Is there anybody in Israel who is smart enough to notice , I mean in the leadership. not shai and even Yossi,?.

November 9th, 2009, 12:29 am


Nour said:


This is not constructive self-confidence. If true, this is nothing but a sign of utter weakness and desperation and should not have been said by the President. Why should Syria be begging Turkey to maintain good relations with the cancerous entity to the south, when in fact we should be doing all that is in our power to isolate and fight “Israel.” This can only bring humiliation to Syria as a whole.

November 9th, 2009, 3:37 am


Alex said:


Israel is a country where President Obama gets a negative rating among up to 94% of the people. So, the answer to your question is probably a negative one. Israel only sees its IDF and its toys.


I understand your negativity towards Israel. Shai knows how negative I am too. But I did not give up on a solution based on the Arab peace initiative and on UN resolutions 242, 338 and 497.

I can not confirm the accuracy of that report but I can understand it. Syria decided in 1991 that peace is its strategic choice. Syria feels more comfortable with Turkish mediation (as opposed to American mediation). If Turkey’s ability to maintain good-enough relations with Israel will result in the preservation of Turkey’s role as the mediator of peace between the two enemies, then I do understand why Syria would want that.

Having said that, Turkey will continue to apply pressure on Israel even if its relations with the Jewish state are preserved.

November 9th, 2009, 4:42 am


Yossi said:


On the popular level, peace treaty with Syria in return for the Golan is extremely unpopular. I could translate some of the talkbacks in NRG in response for Asad’s reminder that he’s still game, which he said to Huriyat, but most of them are just too insulting to be reproduced here.

On the other hand, amongst analysts, I don’t believe I have seen one who doesn’t support this deal. There seems to be wide agreement amongst the political/military mouth-pieces of Israel that this is the right thing to do.

I will not be surprised if there is a lot going on right now in back-channels that we don’t know of. Selling it to the public will be much harder compared to the peace treaty with Egypt, or even Oslo.


On the question of Turkey resuming its role as a mediator, I think that’s out of the question by now, Erdogan has went too far with his anti-Israeli remarks. Another mediator will have to be found.

November 9th, 2009, 4:59 am


Nour said:


If you country and nation are under attack, then our job is to defend them and repel the attack by whatever means possible. It’s all fine and dandy to say that you want peace as a strategic choice, but if the aggressor consistently refuses to recognize your rights, continues to change realities on the ground, and continues to consolidate the occupation of more of your land, while doing everything in their power to weaken you, isolate you, and make sure you do not have the ability to develop or advance, then what is the point of continuing to talk about a non-existent “peace” other than to show that you are too weak to do anything about the flagrant violation of your national rights? Why would Syria not want Turkey to sever all relations with “israel?” As far as I am concerned, it would be to our benefit if all nations boycotted “Israel” and isolated it and treated it like the rogue, pariah state that it is. But to beg Turkey to maintain good relations with the very entity raping your land and persecuting your people is beyond comprehension to me.

November 9th, 2009, 5:01 am


Alex said:


Turkey was not going to sever all relations with Israel, and Syria is not begging Turkey not to sever all relations with Israel. Syria is not getting weaker, and Israel is not going to experience much success as long as Netanyahu and his right wing coalition are governing the way they did until now.

I was very disappointed when Syria was talking about its willingness to talk peace to Israel in 2004 and 2005 … at the time Syria was perceived as being very weak and isolated. Today, there is confidence in Syria that Israel will not be able to maintain the state on no peace and no war for long.

Israel will have to talk peace to an equal Syria or Israel will have to wage war on a random country in the Middle East trying again to reestablish respect through its military force.

Both peace and war scenarios are equally likely … Israel will have to decide. Syria will continue to make it clear peace is what it is seeking. If war breaks out, it will not be Syria’s fault… if Israel opts for peace, you can be sure that Syria will not compromise over land or dignity.

November 9th, 2009, 5:25 am


why-discuss said:


I agree with you. It does not fit at all with Bashar al Assad long standing dignity to beg Turkey for anything. He may have said that he would prefer Turkey to be the mediator as it has been during the Olmert era. Bashar has just to be patient as Israel corrupted, ruthless and power-greedy leaders fall one by one.

November 9th, 2009, 5:29 am


Nour said:


I understand all that, and I’m not saying Syria is getting weaker. I’m essentially saying that I find it hard to believe that President Assad would “urge” Turkey to maintain good relations with “israel” because that would be a sign of weakness and it would have been mistake. I believe what Why-Discuss said is probably more likely what happened, which is that Assad expressed his confidence in Turkey’s continued role as an honest mediator.

With respect to peace, I believe that decision is solely in the hands of the usurping entity. They can recognize our people’s national rights and give them back their land, at which point we will have peace, or they can choose to continue to occupy more land and destroy peope’s lives leading to further conflict, which is what they have chosen up until now, and which I believe they will continue to choose for the foreseeable future.

November 9th, 2009, 5:59 am


majedkhaldoun said:

I agree with Nour,and I do not think that Erdogan is happy about Assad statement,there is a major change in Turkish policy,I think it is with blessing from Obama.

November 9th, 2009, 6:07 am


Alex said:

It could be simply the way President Assad answered a question: “The Israelis are saying that they don’t see Turkey as a neutral mediator between them and Syria in the future, do you advise your friends in Turkey to continue escalating their conflict with Israel?”

Another issue to consider … Some have been attacking Erdogan for going too far to try to please his Arab and Muslim friends. President Assad might have been simply implying that Syria did not pressure Erdogan to distance himself from Israel, that it is Erdogan’s own decision.

November 9th, 2009, 6:12 am


norman said:

This summarize Syria’s stand ,

“مقاومة الاحتلال واجب وطني وأخلاقي وشرعي, وهذا لا ينفي رغبتنا الثابتة بتحقيق السلام العادل والشامل”

قال الرئيس بشار الأسد اليوم الاثنين إن “الإرادة السياسية هي الأساس للنهوض بالتعاون بين الدول الإسلامية”.

2009-11-09 13:34:47 التفاصيل

November 9th, 2009, 1:30 pm


trustquest said:

In Syria world we have learned new term coming to town in this post. PPP which is in normal State could mean:
PPP = Public Private Partnership

But Syria is a very different case from the entire world, in the last 30 years it went into a different economic model, where country wealth is not in the State banks, it is in the hands of small group from the regime like Makhloof family.

The new offering of privatization of the electricity, which goes against the grain of the State ideology, is another chapter in the economic change in Syria.

The real meaning for PPP in Syria should be:

PPP = Purloin Public Profusion

November 9th, 2009, 1:55 pm


jad said:

If you are interested in getting an idea of the ‘revision’ of the most advanced status law in the entire universe, check out the Syrian one.

النص الكامل للنسخة المعدلة من لمشروع قانون الأحوال الشخصية الجديد
نساء سورية
صدرت عن “وزارة العدل” نسخة جديدة عن مشروع قانون الأحوال الشخصية الجديد، والذي أثارت نسخته الأولى المجتمع السوري لم تضمنته من تكريسا للطائفية والتمييز والعنف ضد النساء والأطفال، والذي شكل تأسيسا لتدمير الدولة السورية وبداية لمشروع إقامة دويلات الطوائف محلها.

وكانت الحكومة السورية قد اضطرت للتراجع وإعلان رفض النسخة الأولى من المشروع بسبب الجهود الكبيرة التي بذلتها آلاف الشباب والشابات في سورية، والتي أظهرت وجه سورية الحقيقي، وعلى رأسها “مرصد نساء سورية” الذي أطلق الحملة المناهضة لذلك المشروع وعمل بجهد خاص لأجل إسقاطه.

اليوم صدرت النسخة المعدلة من المشروع ذاته، لكن هذه المرة صدرت عن وزارة العدل، دون ذكر للجنة التي شكلته، ولا لقرار تكليفها، وطبعا ما زال مجهولا من هم الذين قاموا بإعداده.

November 9th, 2009, 3:36 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

[removed by admin]

November 9th, 2009, 3:57 pm


Nicolas92200 said:

Ref to post 17,

Thanks Jad,

It is indeed a tough balance between renewable and conventional energies. Hence, the world is playing this dual approach where they continue expanding conventional capacity, as it is more commoditized and has become (relatively) cheaper, while in parallel trying to expand renewable power on a parallel track with the aim of achieving a large portion of their energy requirement from these. For example, Morocco is targeting to achieve 30% of their energy from wind and solar within 10 years (quite ambitious but….). Syria can (and should) work on developing these but the immediate requirement of the population cannot be fulfilled by these and as such the pressing need for developing conventional sources. In Syria it would make sense to consider gas-based solutions given the local reserves and the allocation the country can obtain from the transit via the regional gas pipelines. While coal is an option (there are “green coal” solutions nowadays), it would be an economic challenge as the country would then have to import that fuel. Countries like Oman are building their entire new power generation strategy on coal given lack of access to gas (abit ironic in the Gulf).

Another interesting option is linked to nuclear power sources. After years of being frowned upon a lot of countries are changing attitudes (notably in Europe), and this is picking up in the Middle East. (leaving apart Iran), Abu Dhabi, Egypt, Libya and Jordan are actively seeking nuclear fueled power generation plants. The most interesting for this forum would be the Jordanian one (a 2,000MW plant). A very badly-kept secret is that Jordan actually has substantial uranium reserves (although not pure and as such extraction costs are high). Jordan is openly seeking to develop nuclear power capacity (under the supervision of the major powers – as such cooperation agreements in this respect have been signed recently with the US, Japan, UK and France). The interesting rumors here is that the price Jordan will pay for this is that they will accept to supply/provide/give/share with (you choose) uranium to Israel in return for their blessing on the project. The other rumor (a bit less likely for obvious geo-political reasons) is that Syria would invest alongside Jordan in the nuclear plant and obtain a portion of the power output via a cable link; Syria would also provide the much needed water that the plant needs to run and is not available in Jordan. Although it make economic sense, I personally doubt this would happen without a peace treaty between Israel and Syria being finalized first.

I agree with your point about sponsors running into cost overruns, but again this is where an advisor who has “been there, done that” is really needed and not just a preacher of theories (with all my respect to the IFC who have an important role in such project but not an advisory one). As such, the government would do much better trying to hire the likes of HSBC or BNP who have such experience advising governments on such projects and participating in the financing themselves rather than IFC whose role is more of a catalyst for attracting other lenders.

The idea that Syria needs to communicate is very important, as they need to make everyone aware of their projects (notably the big developers and bankers). This year, very limited projects approached the market in MENA given the financial situation, all these are now in advanced stages of structuring and are going to market next year. This means Syria is going to compete against much more established jurisdictions (like KSA, UAE, etc) for access to credit (guess where the bankers’ priority is going to be). Without a lending benchmark (no sovereign bond or rating yet) and no track record, this will not be an easy sell; not impossible but surely not easy without a really strong partner to hold the Syrians hand and walk them through this.

The debate on Makhlouf is interesting, but 2 point (and then I’ll wrap up). 1- while not much of a fan such concentration of economic power in one hand, we need to recognize that every one of the Arab countries has its own Makhlouf, so yes not a pure force of good but others have survived and done business with these characters on the side so we can either whine or work around, and 2- if Syria is indeed wanting to bring on board international players and financing into the PPP sector, Maklouf will be automatically disqualified as the sanctions would prevent any entity he controls from being part of the structures or Syria would then have to go back to the old arrangements and do everything on its own balance sheet (which beats the purpose of the PPP approach) or only with local resources (technical and financial capacity) that does not exist.

Love to hear back your thoughts.

November 10th, 2009, 8:10 am


Alex said:

Egyptian journalist Yosri Fouda (one of the founders of Aljazeera) has an excellent new TV show.

This Friday (the 13th) on “OnTV” he interviews Martin Indyk and the focus is on Syria

If you can’t see it on satellite TV, look for it the day after it airs on his Facebook page

November 10th, 2009, 11:18 am


Alex said:

Scholars hunt missing pages of ancient Bible
Four-continent search for 196 pages from 1,000-year-old Hebrew Bible

By Matti Friedman
The Associated Press

updated 10:52 a.m. ET, Mon., Sept . 29, 2008

JERUSALEM – A quest is under way on four continents to find the missing pages of one of the world’s most important holy texts, the 1,000-year-old Hebrew Bible known as the Crown of Aleppo.

Crusaders held it for ransom, fire almost destroyed it and it was reputedly smuggled across Mideast borders hidden in a washing machine. But in 1958, when it finally reached Israel, 196 pages were missing — about 40 percent of the total — and for some Old Testament scholars they have become a kind of holy grail.

Researchers representing the manuscript’s custodian in Jerusalem now say they have leads on some of the missing pages and are nearer their goal of making the manuscript whole again.

The Crown, known in English as the Aleppo Codex, may not be as famous as the Dead Sea Scrolls. But to many scholars it is even more important, because it is considered the definitive edition of the Bible for Jewry worldwide.

The key to finding the pages is thought to lie with the insular diaspora of Jews originating in Aleppo, Syria, where the manuscript resided in a synagogue’s iron chest for centuries.

A turning point in its history came three days after the U.N. passed the 1947 resolution to grant Israel statehood, provoking a Syrian mob to burn down the synagogue. Aleppo’s Jews rescued the Codex, but in the ensuing years the 10,000-strong community was uprooted and scattered around the world.

Scholars believe that Aleppo Jews still hold many of the missing pages, while others have fallen into the hands of antiquities dealers. Two fragments have already surfaced: a full page in 1982, and a smaller piece last year that had been carried for decades by a Brooklyn man, Sam Sabbagh, as a good-luck charm. Persistent rumors tell of more waiting to be found.

When the Codex reached Israel 50 years ago it was presented to Izhak Ben-Zvi, the country’s president and a scholar of Jewish communities in the Islamic world. Although the manuscript is housed at the Israel Museum with the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Ben-Zvi Institute founded by the late president remains its legal custodian and is behind the new search.

Past efforts, including some by Israeli diplomats and Mossad secret service agents, came up against a wall of silence in the Aleppo community. The new search has recruited a small group of Aleppo Jews, better able to win the community’s trust, and has yielded information on the whereabouts of specific pieces and on the people who are holding them, said Zvi Zameret, the Ben-Zvi Institute’s director.

“Only someone who believes that this manuscript is one of the foundation stones of the people of Israel, someone whose goal is not to get rich — only such a person can make progress,” he said.

He divulged few details lest he compromise the effort. He would say only that the search is being carried out in North, South and Central America, Israel and England, and that success appeared within reach.

“If there is a possibility, as the rumors say, that there are not only small fragments but also entire sections, that is extremely exciting,” said Adolfo Roitman, the Israel Museum curator in charge of the manuscript. “We’re missing entire books — most of the five Books of Moses, except for a few pages, and we have no Book of Esther, no Book of Daniel.”

He, like most other scholars involved, has met people who know of people who supposedly have pages. But the leads invariably end with people who refuse to talk.

Each page is priceless, but money wouldn’t be an issue for most Aleppo Jews because anyone trafficking in such holy relics could be banished by the community, Roitman said. Some of the Crown’s pages bear an inscription warning that it “may not be sold.”

Some people might be superstitious about the fragments they hold, or believe they are rightfully the property of Aleppo Jews, not of scholars. Others might simply have no idea of the value of what they own.

The Codex, on 491 parchment pages about 12 inches by 10 inches, was transcribed sometime around 930 A.D. by Shlomo Ben Boya’a, a scribe in Tiberias on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. It was edited by a renowned scholar of the time, Aaron Ben-Asher. Its completion marked the end of a centuries-long process that created the final text of the Hebrew Bible.

It belonged to a Jewish community in Jerusalem until it was seized by the Crusaders who captured and sacked the city in 1099. Ransomed, it made its way to Cairo, where it was used by the 12th-century Jewish philosopher Maimonides, who declared it the most accurate copy of the Old Testament.

The manuscript doesn’t contain passages missing from other versions. Instead, its accuracy is a matter of details like vowel signs and single letters that would only slightly alter pronunciation. But Judaism sanctifies each tiny calligraphic flourish in the Bible as a way of ensuring that communities around the world use precisely the same version of the divine book. That’s why the Codex is considered by some to be the most important Jewish text in existence, and why the missing pieces are so coveted.

“The bottom line is that the whole process of putting together the text of the Bible ended with the Codex,” said Rafael Zer of the Hebrew University Bible Project in Jerusalem, which is using the Codex to create what is meant to be the authoritative text of the Old Testament but can’t properly complete it without the missing pages.

Not enough has been done to find them, laments Hayim Tawil of New York’s Yeshiva University, the author of a forthcoming book on the Crown. “For Jews and for Western civilization this manuscript is equivalent to the Magna Carta,” he said.

How the Codex reached Aleppo in northern Syria is unclear. Some scholars believe it was brought by a descendant of Maimonides in the late 1300s.

There it was guarded as the Jews’ most prized possession and talisman. But on Dec. 2, 1947, the mob burned the synagogue. In the ensuing years, Aleppo Jews would describe rushing to snatch pages from the flames. The missing ones have not been seen since, with two exceptions.

One page from the Book of Chronicles survived in the New York apartment of an Aleppo woman and was handed over by her relatives in 1982. Another fragment recounting the Exodus story of the 10 plagues survived in the wallet of Sabbagh, another Aleppo exile in New York, who laminated it and kept it as a good luck charm. Last year, following Sabbagh’s death, his family brought the fragment to join the rest of the manuscript in Jerusalem.

One of the men who rescued pages from the synagogue was Mourad Faham, who sneaked into the building disguised as a Bedouin and found the bulk of the manuscript on the floor, according to his grandson, Jack Dweck.

A decade later he strapped the manuscript under his robe and crossed the border into Turkey, Dweck said. From there it was wrapped in towels and, according to most versions of the story, bundled into a washing machine to be shipped to Israel.

Dweck, a businessman who lives in New York, home to one of the biggest communities of Aleppo Jews, says he has heard the rumors among his fellow Jews and believes the missing parts exist.

“My guess is that there’s a bigger piece somewhere else, waiting to be found,” he said.

© 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

November 10th, 2009, 2:09 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Today’s Question:

Was Major Nidal Malik Hasan a terrorist? Why or why not?,2933,573547,00.html

November 10th, 2009, 3:59 pm


jad said:

Nicolas, (I like you!)

I wouldn’t call it a tough balance between renewable and conventional energies, I think is it more of what you can afford and what not as a country, my point here is that we need to be smart enough to know what is coming next and be prepared for, as you point out Morocco in your example which make it smart.
If we read the data we have right now, we are almost sure that Syria will become sooner than anticipated an oil importer country in 2014 and we all know what that means on the political level and the national sovereignty, therefore why instead of hitting the wall willingly, by spending all our children and grand children money on huge energy monster, not to slowdown a little and try to balance things by going into phasing down the oil dependent on everything and especially in our energy needs, right?

I support your point about Syria ‘SHOULD’ work on developing those strategies, however, and in your next sentence you saw the population as a negative point while for me I think that instead of being afraid form the crazy population growth we have in Syria we can easily if we want and have the will (we don’t though) use that negative factor into our own benefit by encouraging people to come up with ideas and smart projects, support them in their work and open up special programs (financial and technical) allover the country and go to the smallest village not only in one big city to push people to bring out the best they could, then collect and use their creativity for our nation’s progress. ( I’m dreaming too much 🙂 )
For me renewable energy is the best bet we can make as a nation in facing the not so pleasant future we are going into, data doesn’t lie and we have no choice but to believe in it and work accordingly.
Regarding the nuclear power source, the dearest and greatest ‘Off The Wall’ brought to our attention couple moths ago a great invention that you would like to read about:

The default of Jordan plans is the ‘WATER FACTOR’, we all in this region are water poor countries and fortunately Syria is the richest one between those poor group, however, it has a problem of managing it’s own small wealth and on this issue we must learn from Israel of how to manage our water wealth, starting from recollect the waste water, treat it and reuse it, to desaltation sea water (imho, it has lots of cons, but still one of the choices), monitor and force very conservative use on water in agriculture, and keep doing what we are doing of rationing residential potable water.
I agree with your suggestion of depending on private banks instead of the IFC, but as you wrote we need to have a great advisor on the issue. I hope they can find one in these days, and communicating is the best strategy as you wrote.

In Mr. Makhlouf case, I think you have a strong argument in both your points, yes, in every Arab/Developing/former Soviet Union country you have similar figure so we are on agreement on that and on your second point with International PPP that he will be disqualified, however, you loose this argument when we have local or regional partnership.

Thank you again for the lovely discussion.

November 10th, 2009, 7:17 pm


why-discuss said:

Will Brazil take over the role of Turkey in future negotiations between Israel and the Arab world.
Israel is trying (as usual) to sell weapons and counteract growing iranian investments in Brazil and South America. It sounds that Lula is impermeable to the Israel’s mantra on the threats nuclear Iran poses as he opposed sanctions and swiftly invites Ahmadinejad just after Peres.
After Turkey, will Israel loose another friend?

November 10th, 2009, 9:27 pm


Ghat Albird said:



Need to read the Haaretz link before committing.

November 11th, 2009, 1:46 pm


why-discuss said:


I guess if an practising Jewish soldier in the US army had to go to war against Jews or Israel, he would be as mentally confused as Hassan. He may react the same way. War and injustice distorts the minds. We shouldn’t not be surprised: violence brings violence in many forms and shapes.

November 11th, 2009, 3:20 pm


trustquest said:

Jad, very nice response on 43, what the system in Syria is missing big time is the vision, and this is something you can not buy it, or may be you can if you have trust in your heart in others but the System in Syria work against trust, they do not trust their people, they do not trust the west, neither their allies.
Green energy and sustainable use is not a choice and everyone knows that fossil fuel is still cheaper than renewable energy but many know that things are not going to stay the same and that is why you see China and Germany are very big in on renewable energy and they are investing big because they are aiming for the future.
Also in the US, competition and social ground for different world not build on fossil fuel are on the big move.
Look at those projects with Zero net carbon emission, as a planner you will like it.
Also, look at the sustainable development from

November 11th, 2009, 10:13 pm


Jad said:

Dear Trustquest,
Thank you for the kind words and the links.
I agree with you, in Syria we miss the vision as we miss the will with the know-how element.
The system as a whole wasn’t built in any way to include any citizen in the decision making process. There is always someone who may, and almost always, may not be experienced enough to take the decision yet decisions are taken by that exact person without consulting anyone of those who are going to be affected by his decision.
We can see that person in every aspect of our life and in every business you go to. Starting from the unlicensed teacher who doesn’t have a clue of how to deal with kids, to the university professor who repeats teaching the same subject year after year without any passion to it not even an understanding of what he teaches, to the director at work be it private or government who is full of himself yet he knows nothing about business running basics or any management skills, even the falafel sandwich maker who doesn’t know how not to burn the falafel patty.
Take for example the ‘revised’ ‘Personal Status Law’, how could they finish a law that important in 3 months without even consulting any group into the discussion? How could they, or more correctly how dare they dismiss a world class status law that the Syrian Christian community come with toward their shrinking communities in 2006 after many years of research and studies and replace it with something from the Ottoman times? If that is not a rude and cowardly discrimination against the Syrian Christians by a super failure government what is?
In short we are going nowhere good, we are closer to the bottom than just the surface of enlightenment.

November 12th, 2009, 4:49 am


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