News Roundup (23 January 2008) - Syria Comment

News Roundup (23 January 2008)

I hope everyone will continue to post to the letter from Alon Liel,  Chairman of the Israeli-Syrian Peace Society, posted below. It has stimulated very interesting dialogue. Alex will be posting a summary soon.
I begin this news roundup with a short announcement:
Serene Taleb-Agha [serene@hashem.net] has begun a "a list for English-speaking residents of Syria, in particular expatriates from America, Britain, Canada, Australia, South Africa, etc. Dual nationals are welcome. We are here to network and share our experiences living in Syria." Here is the group:http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Anglos-In-Syria/

Hugh Macleod writes: "I wrote an analysis for San Fran Chron on the attack on the US embassy vehicle and how there appears to be a new strand of political violence emerging in Lebanon, that seems more the work of Al-Qaeda style fundies than hit squads taking out anti-Syrian figures . . 

The attack on a U.S. embassy vehicle that killed four people last week represents a dangerous widening of political violence that includes international targets, and shows how al Qaeda-inspired extremists are attempting to push the politically deadlocked country toward civil war, some analysts say.
…..
"Al Qaeda is now unleashed in Lebanon and they are here to stay," said Ahmad Moussali, professor of political science and Islamic studies at the American University of Beirut. "Al Qaeda thrives in civil war and chaos. International players should be very careful in Lebanon."
….
Just last month Gen. Francois Haj, the man tapped to take over Suleiman's role as army chief and head of operations against Fatah Islam, was assassinated by a car bomb. It was the first attack on a high ranking army officer in decades.

Meanwhile, U.N. peacekeepers in southern Lebanon have also been threatened and attacked by Sunni militants.

In a statement aired on Dec. 29, al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden criticized Hezbollah for agreeing to the deployment of the U.N. Interim Forces in Lebanon following the end of the 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah fighters in 2006. Bin Laden said the U.N. soldiers were on a mission to "protect the Jews."

Some analysts said bin Laden's message could have been interpreted as a rallying call by Sunni militants.

"Bin Laden's threats represent a kind of edict, guidelines which are adapted by groups that identify themselves with al Qaeda," said Amal Saad Ghorayeb, an expert on Hezbollah at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut.

Ghorayeb compared the attack on the U.S. embassy vehicle to the Jan. 8 roadside bomb that exploded when two U.N. soldiers drove through Rmaileh, 21 miles south of Beirut, close to the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, a hotbed for Sunni Islamist groups.

"Both were very clumsily planned and were not high value targets. It was an assassination attempt but not along the lines of previous assassinations," said Ghorayeb, referring to a string of well-planned assassinations of anti-Syrian figures in Lebanon since the 2005 killing by an explosion of former prime minister, Rafik Hariri. "It could well be an al Qaeda-inspired attack. There has been a resurgence of sorts. Fatah Islam were always clumsy."

BAGHDAD (AFP) — Syria and Saudi Arabia have reduced the flow of foreign insurgents crossing their borders to fight in Iraq, a US military spokesman said on Sunday.

"Syria and Saudi Arabia have taken a number of steps to reduce the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq," US military spokesman Rear Admiral Gregory Smith told a press conference in Baghdad.

"In early 2007, 110 foreigners were coming into Iraq from Syria every month. That is now reduced to 40 to 50."

Syria has introduced roadblocks and border patrols in a bid to crack down on fighters trying to cross into the war-ravaged country, while Saudi Arabia has tightened requirements for people applying for visas to Syria, Smith said.

Papers Paint New Portrait of Iraq's Foreign Insurgents

90 percent of foreign fighters entering Iraq during the one-year period ending in August came via Syria, a greater proportion than previously believed.

More North Africans were foreign terrorists than previously assessed." Although Saudi Arabia was by far the most common country of origin of foreign fighters, with about 40 percent of the total, a surprising share — 19 percent — came from Libya. Overall, about 40 percent were North African.

Based on information solicited in the longer Islamic State of Iraq forms, the Syrian role in the traffic appeared more that of entrepreneur than ideological partner and seemed to be a source of concern and suspicion for al-Qaeda in Iraq. Entrants were asked for names and descriptions of Syrians they had come into contact with, and were asked how they were treated. Many responded that the Syrians had demanded exorbitant sums of money, often exactly the amount the entrants were carrying.

Sex outside marriage is legal in Syria, lawyer says 

A Syrian rights activist urged couples who live together outside of wedlock – cohabiting – to sign a contract stipulating the rights of both parties.

The prevalence of this living arrangement – found mostly in the capital Damascus – was brought into the open after the state-owned newspaper Al-Thawra ran a story about cohabiting couples in 2006.  Ali told AlArabiya.net that the law does not prohibit sexual relationships between unmarried couples — as long as both are adult and single — and can thus be legally recognized.

Nasrallah's taunt gets under Israel's skin

Hizbullah's leader said on Saturday his party had the remains of Israeli soldiers killed in Lebanon during the 2006 war, saying the dead were left behind "in our villages and fields." "Your army left behind the remains of soldiers in our villages and fields," Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said, addressing the Israeli people during a speech to tens of thousands of Shiites taking part in commemorations marking Ashura.

"They [Israeli army] were so weak on the field that they left behind remains not of one, two or three but a large number of your soldiers," Nasrallah added. "One body is almost complete," Nasrallah said. "What did the [Israeli] army say to the family of these soldiers and what remains did they give them?"

The Hizbullah leader's comments sparked outrage in Israel, which prides itself on doing everything to recover the remains of its soldiers from fields of battle and has in the past freed prisoners in exchange for remains of soldiers and civilians.

Israeli ministers on Sunday cursed Nasrallah as a "sewer rat" for boasting that his group had Israeli body parts. "Nasrallah has crossed all possible boundaries of inhumanity,"  Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's centrist Kadima party said ahead of a weekly Cabinet meeting.

Berri: Syrian-Saudi reconciliation key to Lebanon solution

"When [Arab League Secretary General Amr] Moussa came to see me before going to Damascus and asked me if I have any message for [Syrian President] Bashar Assad, I told him just tell him to reconcile with Saudi Arabia," Berri told The Daily Star in an exclusive interview Saturday.

He added that the rift was "Syria's mistake," the result of comments made by Syrian Vice President Farouk Sharaa, which soured relations. Hopes are high that the upcoming Arab summit in March in Damascus will serve as an ideal platform for a Saudi-Syrian reconciliation.

Berri said that "only the 10+10+10" equal distribution of Cabinet posts between the majority. The plan calls for neither majority nor opposition having the power to hinder the government or monopolize power and gives the president the swing vote in Cabinet as the arbiter.

He said the ruling coalition supported a 14+10+6 formula of seats. Berri said that "only the 10+10+10" equal distribution of Cabinet posts between the majority, the opposition and the president in a new government would meet with the requirements of the three-point Arab plan. The plan calls for neither majority nor opposition having the power to hinder the government or monopolize power and gives the president the swing vote in Cabinet as the arbiter.

The speaker said that the American strategic interests lie in ensuring Israel's security and the continued flow of oil, while everything else is "just details."  

Nasrallah electrifies faithful in Beirut's southern suburbs

Hizbullah's Al-Manar television station said one million people had turned out for the Ashura commemoration, in the Sfeir neighborhood of Beirut's southern suburbs.

The Hizbullah leader has rarely made public appearances since the 2006 war. His last public appearance was at the opening of a book fair in May in the southern suburbs of Beirut.

He also appeared at a massive victory rally in the southern suburbs in September 2006. He told the cheering crowds that his group was ready for a new conflict with Israel. "If Israel launches a new war against Lebanon, we promise them a war that will change the face of the entire region," Nasrallah said. – AFP

The reinvention of Lebanese Shiite history

Among its defects, the most potentially damaging is that Hizbullah threatens the Lebanese Shiite community by seeking to impose its exclusivist version of Shiite history. Shiites have left their imprint on Lebanon's history ever since the Middle Ages, albeit with varying degrees of political involvement. To presume that Lebanese Shiite history only really began when Hizbullah was established is unfair first and foremost to the Shiite community itself.

It is incorrect to say that Shiites were excluded from Lebanese political life.

A friend who attended this conference sent the following summation:

Analyses of the 9/6/07 Israeli strike on a Syrian facility near the Euphrates
Hosted by the Center for National Policy, 1/23/08

David Albright, Institute for Science and International Security

  • The Israelis believe they hit a nuclear reactor
  • Finding nuclear reactors through satellite imaging is very difficult; it is impossible to find nuclear weapons production facilities
  • Syria did not obtain plutonium from North Korea or any other country, but probably received nuclear assistance
  • The alleged Syrian nuclear reactor was not very developed; there is no Syrian fuel fabrication plant or processing plant
  • By attacking Israel showed no confidence in the international community's ability to control countries' nuclear activities
  • There is now a new building on the site; it is probably a warehouse, but it might have been constructed in order to cover up excavation of the remains of the previous building
  • It is unlikely that the new building is nuclear given the speed with which it was constructed

Robin Wright, Washington Post

  • Originally thought that the facility was a Lebanon-bound Iranian arms cache for Hezbollah
  • North Koreans were on the ground at the site and the Israelis attacked at night to avoid collateral damage
  • The U.S. and Israel shared intelligence before the bombing
  • Syria didn't invite the IAEA to inspect the site after the bombing, which makes their innocence suspect
  • After looking at satellite photos from 2001, it is confirmed that construction began under Hafez Al-Assad
  • The secret was held so closely that some of the Assad family members didn't know about the facility
  • In 35 years of reporting, she has never seen a mystery like this

Bonus fact: The Makhloof family (Bashar's mother's family) owns the Dunkin' Donuts franchise in Syria.

Conn Hallinan: Desert Mirage: What Was the Bombing of Syria Really About? Desert Mirage. By CONN HALLINAN. So what was that Sept. 6 Israeli bombing of Syria all about?

Inelligence

President George W. Bush hasn’t accomplished much on his voyage to the Middle East, but he did take the time to inflict another wound on the entire U.S. intelligence community—and on the credibility of anything he might ever again say about the world.

In the latest Newsweek, Michael Hirsh reports that, during a private conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Bush “all but disowned” the agencies’ Dec. 3 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran. A “senior administration official who accompanied Bush” on the trip confided to Hirsh that Bush “told the Israelis that he can’t control what the intelligence community says, but that [the NIE’s] conclusions don’t reflect his own views.” [complete article]

"A Russian advantage that Syria would do well to exploit," By Vitaly Naumkin

Russia's approach to a Syrian-Israeli peace process is very much a function of developments in Russo-Syrian relations. Since the beginning of the 21st century, Russo-Syrian ties have been making good headway in quite a number of fields. Certainly, the traditional character of historical ties between Moscow and Damascus is playing a role. But one should also not ignore the pragmatism inherent in President Vladimir Putin's foreign-policy course, and in particular the promotion of interests of Russian companies in world markets, the Middle East included.

Moscow's decision, taken in early 2005, to write off $9.782 billion or 73 percent of Syria's $13.4 billion debt, the remaining $3.62 billion to be paid off in installments, was a great boost for the development of cooperation.

Naturally, Russo-Syrian relations are not based on economic interests alone, but also security interests. On the one hand, religious extremism and terrorism are significant threats in the region for Russia. Consequently, Moscow is building cooperation with the United States and other global and regional actors. Incidentally, the secular regime in Syria is a reliable partner in this regard.

On the other hand, the way the US is operating in the region, particularly in Iraq, often only provokes fresh outbursts of terrorist activity that require that Moscow follow its own balanced course. In addition, the crisis in the system of arms control, US reliance on forceful means of resolving conflicts and other crisis phenomena in the framework of international relations demand from Russia at least a partial restoration of its military potential lost in the 1990s. In this connection, the possibilities Syria can offer, to Russian ships stationed in the Mediterranean for example, are a weighty argument in favor of developing relations with Damascus.

This in no way implies that Moscow regards everything Syria is doing with unqualified approval. …

In Iran reversal, bureaucrats
triumphed over Cheney team

Senior officials at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the umbrella organization that coordinates the U.S.’s 16 spy agencies and that oversaw the report, say payback wasn’t a factor. They defend the report as a righting of the ship after the Iraq intelligence failures.

Hundreds of officials were involved and thousands of documents were drawn upon in this report, according to the DNI, making it impossible for any official to overly sway it. Intelligence sources were vetted and questioned in ways they weren’t ahead of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Thomas Fingar, 62 years old, is one of the lead architects of the Iran report. A veteran State Department official, Mr. Fingar helped lead the office that argued in 2002 that evidence of Iraq’s nuclear program was faulty. He is now a senior official at the DNI.

Of the backlash against the report, Mr. Fingar says, “A lot of it is just nonsense. The idea that this thing was written by a bunch of nonprofessional renegades or refugees is just silly.” [complete article]

Lebanon Delays $7 Billion Sale of Phone Companies
By Massoud A. Derhally

Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) — Lebanon's government postponed the auction of two mobile-phone companies, at which it hoped to raise $7 billion, because of a political stalemate over the election of a president, said Minister of Telecommunications Marwan Hamadeh.

“We had committed ourselves to this February, but we will not take a decision before a new president and a new government takes over,'' Hamadeh said in an interview from Beirut today. The ruling coalition has agreed to a delay of three months.

The government, which will retain a third of the shares in the two companies, MTC Touch and Alfa, plans to use revenue from the sale to repay part of its debt. Revenue from telecommunications accounts for about 40 percent of the state's income, Hamadeh said.

Sami Moubayed, "Damascus Wearing Make-Up"

A few months ago, I met with one of the organizers of Damascus-Capital of Arab Culture 2008. She wanted my advise on what can be done to promote Damascus. I made several suggestions, including honoring 365-Syrians in 2008. I advised against one thing, however, saying: “Don’t try to promote Damascus as a beautiful city. It is no longer beautiful. Say that it is magical. Say that it is historical. Say that it is great—but it is no longer beautiful!”

God proved me wrong today. Damascus under snow was AMAZING. I have been through winters in London, Paris, Berlin, Cairo, and Beirut. Each of these cities is magical in its own way, and I am no fool. I know that we are not as majestic or organized as London, nor are we clean and proper like Berlin, or charming and romantic like Paris. But from where I stand today, Damascus is more beautiful than “all of the above.”

The Damascenes have not seen so much snow in years. The snow exposed the beauty of Damascus; it covered all the distortions on the streets, the damage done to roads, buildings, and monuments. It almost erased the ugliness of bad planning, and the destruction left behind by mediocre architects.

What I saw today was Damascus 1950—my Damascus. We witnessed its remains in the 1980s both first hand, through bedtime stories from our elders, and via the magical poetry of Nizar Qabbani. We must not forget that there is a rising number of young Syrians around who simply, don’t know ‘that’ Damascus.

I just came back from a cold and enchanting walk in Salhiyah. It reminded me of London. I saw the statue of Yusuf al-Azma, the martyr of Damascus, covered with snow. I saw children in utter joy, with heavy clothing, building a snowman near the Central Bank. They were laughing like crazy. I heard the voice of Fayruz coming out of shops that managed to remain open, despite the blizzard. The Damascenes are rediscovering Fayruz, as she is about to perform at the Opera House on January 28—her first performance, in nearly 30-years. Other Syrians were listening to Um Kalthoum playing on Damascus Radio. She was singing Ruba’yat al-Khayyam, an eternal classic; another reminder of a bygone era.

Fayrouz, Damascus, Um Kalthoum, snow, and roasted chestnuts from one of the peddlers of Damascus. …………..

tishrin park

Comments (216)


Youssef Hanna said:

The rise of El Qaeda in Lebanon owes to a conjunction of:

(1) misery inside the Palestinian camps, where people were forbidden over the past 30 years to access 70 types of professional activity and economically persecuted in all possible ways as a protection for their “right of return” (“7akk el 3awda”),

(2) anarchy inside the palestinian camps, created over 30 years (1976-2005) thru weakening the PLO and simultaneously disallowing the lebanese army from handling security inside the camps,

(3) empowerment of Hizbollah over 25 years (1982-2005, hence at the same time exciting Sunni takfiiris and weakening the ability of the State to face them,

(4) influx of international jihadis as a result of the opening of the syrian iraqi border, followed by a sudden tightening of control and re-orientation to Lebanon of said international jihadis and palestinians of Yarmouk (read the very interesting article downloaded on this site a few days ago),

(5) the sequels of the Hama massacre, pushing extremist islamism to sympathize with El Qaeda, and orientation of these to Lebanon in order to safeguard Syrian public order, create trouble to the Siniora government, and honor undertakings to the US regarding the iraqi border.

Is it still possible to put an end to the extreme dangerosity, for Syria and Lebanon, of the present dictatorship, through democratization of Syria? would the taking of power by the Ikhwaan thru the ballots lead to the contrary to an ascendancy of the Qaeda and other extremist jihaadis? it suspect the Syrian regime deteriorated the social/communautarian/economic tissue to such a degree that the least of evils is to maintain it in power lest State dictatorship be replaced with civil terror.

January 23rd, 2008, 6:09 pm

 

Eric Brunner-Williams said:

There are other actors, less exotic, and less built-in to the “War on Terror” narrative, than “Al Qaeda”, who have the means, and the motive, to target a US asset.

A stand-off munition on a transport axis regularly used by a target really isn’t a lot to go on to infer organizational ability, and origin.

I understand why the event has the label its narrator has provided in a US mass media outlet, but I’d like more caution. However, the US is not neutral in Lebanon.

January 23rd, 2008, 6:44 pm

 

Alex said:

Syrian Economy to Grow at Least 6.5% This Year, Deputy PM Says
2008-01-23 11:05 (New York)

By Massoud A. Derhally
Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) — Syria’s economic growth will probably
accelerate to at least 6.5 percent this year, driven by
infrastructure projects and foreign direct investment, the
country’s deputy prime minister said.
Expansion will quicken from 6.2 percent last year, Deputy
Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Abdallah Dardari said in a
telephone interview from Damascus today.
Foreign direct investment in Syria will increase as much as
4.3 percent to $2.4 billion this year as oil-rich Arab nations put
money into real estate, banking and tourism, ignoring U.S.
sanctions, Dardari said. The Middle East will have a surplus in
trade and services of $327 billion this year, Deutsche Bank AG has
estimated, some of which will be invested within the region.
“We will start to see projects that were licensed
materialize this year and we are also launching a number of large
infrastructure projects, like the development of Damascus Airport,
water pipelines from the Euphrates, and refinery projects,”
Dardari said.
Emaar Properties PJSC, the Middle East’s largest developer,
said in 2005 that will invest $4 billion in real estate projects
in Syria. National Bank of Kuwait, the Gulf state’s biggest lender
by market value, has said it wants to operate a joint venture in
the country.
Qatar National Bank SAQ, the Persian Gulf nation’s largest
lender, also said last year it planned to open a bank in Syria
with three partners.

Tourism

The impact of a potential recession in the U.S. will be
“rather minimal” on Syrian growth because of an increase in
trade with Turkey, India, Malaysia, China and other Arab nations,
Dardari said. The Federal Reserve slashed its key interest rate by
three-quarters of a percentage point yesterday to avert a
recession.
“We have noticed an increase in the inflow of money,” into
tourism, Dardari said. “We project that Gulf money will focus on
that sector.”
The government aims to boost economic growth to 7 percent by
2010 by reducing bureaucracy, easing state controls and attracting
more investors, Dardari has said.
The ruling Baath Party, which came to power in 1963, began
moving toward a market economy in the 1990s, allowing private
banks and insurance companies to operate for the first time. In
January 2007, the country introduced a law that allows foreign
investors to own or rent land and to take profit out of the
country in any currency.

–Editor: Philip Sanders, Chris Kirkham

January 23rd, 2008, 6:59 pm

 

t_desco said:

Kassem Daher and the Jose Padilla case:

Padilla, cohorts get 12 to 17 years

Former Chicago gang member Jose Padilla and two others were sentenced to 12 to 17 years yesterday for running a terrorist support cell that stretched from Florida to Alberta. A fourth alleged member of their group, Canadian Kassem Daher, remains a fugitive.

“All I can tell you is there’s an outstanding indictment for him in the United States,” Dean Boyd, a U.S. Department of Justice spokesman, said of Mr. Daher, who was charged along with the others but never put on trial because he could not be found.

The former Edmonton-area cinema operator, also known as Abu Zurr, is believed to be living in a palatial home in a village in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley and has so far escaped justice because the United States does not have an extradition treaty with Lebanon.

But his name surfaced repeatedly in a Miami courtroom last summer during the trial of his co-accused, Padilla, Adham Hassoun and Kifah Jayyousi, and the evidence included FBI wiretaps that suggested he was intimately involved in the jihadist fundraising and recruiting network. In the recorded calls, Mr. Daher appears to discuss sending recruits to places like Chechnya and raising money at mosques in South America but he tells Jayyousi he cannot openly collect money in Alberta mosques.

“When it comes to mosques, you may cross us out,” he says in a 1995 call. “Not here in Calgary and not in any area … in all of Alberta my kind brother, all the mosques are with the [Muslim] Brothers, my brother.

“You cannot … over here, my brother, in all of Alberta … which is the size of Lebanon, sheikh … we are forbidden to collect a single penny,” he said. “Except from those trustworthy people that we know. My brother …for us … the source is South America.”

In another call, he tells Jayyousi he has been warned that his phone is tapped, but Mr. Daher says he is unconcerned: “Bring it on!” he responds. “Are you listening? … Do you think I’m scared my line is wiretapped?” While waiting on the line, he recites a poem in Arabic: “Here I come, willing to be poor for the sake of God and religion/I shall stay the course with conviction/To march either to victory over the human race/or to God in eternity.”

A suspected follower of the “blink sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman, a radical anti-Western preacher from Egypt, Mr. Daher was once considered a kingpin in Canada’s Islamist extremist network.

He has been linked to Egyptian Mahmoud Jaballah, a Toronto man accused of playing a communications role in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa. Mr. Daher’s followers have even been linked, albeit distantly, to the “Toronto 17” terror plot that led to arrests in 2006.

According to his Canadian immigration file, which Canada provided to the United States. for the trial, Kassem Mohamad Daher was born in Karaoun, Lebanon, in 1965 and later moved to Colombia.

He immigrated to Alberta in 1989 and bought movie theatres in Leduc and Ponoka. Beginning in 1993, the indictment alleges, he became active in a cell that promoted violent jihad in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Somalia and Eritrea.

Mr. Daher returned to Lebanon in the late 1990s, but, according to Lebanese authorities, he helped assemble and arm a group of Islamist fighters that tried to topple the government (the Dinniyeh group; t_d).

The insurgency failed and he was arrested. “I have nothing to do with this,” he told the National Post in a 2002 interview at a prison near Beirut. He has since been released by Lebanon but Mr. Daher and a fifth suspected co-conspirator are still wanted by the United States.
National Post, Canada

January 23rd, 2008, 9:19 pm

 

Enlightened said:

Reports are filtering through here of a major problem on the Gaza/Egyptian border with Hamas destroying the border and over 200,000 people crossing over into Egypt. Most of you will be sleeping through this at the moment.

January 24th, 2008, 12:39 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Husni mubarak has to be careful,a revolution that may spread to egypt,or to arabic countries,causing demonstrations next to egyptian embasies, what is going in Gaza,proved that there is a limit to increase pressure in Pascal barrel,it will explode.Abbas will see trouble in west bank. emergency arab meetings may render arab summit un-needed,Arab leaders may face trouble in their countries,they may not be able to attend.
HA is about to make major mistake,if he take over the airport,or the Harbour, France and USA will intervene.

January 24th, 2008, 4:40 am

 

ausamaa said:

“Arab leaders may face trouble in their countries,they may not be able to attend.”

Would that be Bad News if it happens? Don’t the neo-cons and Israel (and Arab Moderats) want to redraw the map of the Middle East? Not this way perhaps, but it would be a “redrawing” anyway!

Did any of them expect or forsee such a “surge” in Gaza??!!

Watch out King Abdullah of Jordan. He is part of the game, but he is way ahead of his “moderate” Arab pack. He seems much closer to the puls of the street and much smarter in reading the balance of power indicators in the region.

January 24th, 2008, 6:37 am

 

wizart said:

Bill Gates Issues Call
For Kinder Capitalism
Famously Competitive,
Billionaire Now Urges
Business to Aid the Poor
By ROBERT A. GUTH
January 24, 2008

Free enterprise has been good to Bill Gates. But later today, the Microsoft Corp. chairman will call for a revision of capitalism.

In a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the software tycoon plans to call for a “creative capitalism” that uses market forces to address poor-country needs that he feels are being ignored.

Outgoing Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates talks to The Journal’s Rob Guth about his concept of creative capitalism. (Jan. 23, 2008)
“We have to find a way to make the aspects of capitalism that serve wealthier people serve poorer people as well,” Mr. Gates will tell world leaders at the forum, according to a copy of the speech seen by The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Gates isn’t abandoning his belief in capitalism as the best economic system. But in an interview with the Journal last week at his Microsoft office in Redmond, Wash., Mr. Gates said that he has grown impatient with the shortcomings of capitalism. He said he has seen those failings first-hand on trips for Microsoft to places like the South African slum of Soweto, and discussed them with dozens of experts on disease and poverty. He has voraciously read about those failings in books that propose new approaches to narrowing the gap between rich and poor.

In particular, he said, he’s troubled that advances in technology, health care and education tend to help the rich and bypass the poor. “The rate of improvement for the third that is better off is pretty rapid,” he said. “The part that’s unsatisfactory is for the bottom third — two billion of six billion.”

Three weeks ago, on a flight home from a New Zealand vacation, Mr. Gates took out a yellow pad of paper and listed ideas about why capitalism, while so good for so many, is failing much of the world. He refined those thoughts into the speech he will give today at the annual Davos conference of world leaders in business, politics and nonprofit organizations.

Among the fixes he plans to call for: Companies should create businesses that focus on building products and services for the poor. “Such a system would have a twin mission: making profits and also improving lives for those who don’t fully benefit from market forces,” he plans to say.

Mr. Gates’s Davos speech offers some insight into his goals as he prepares to retire in June from full-time work at Microsoft — where he will remain chairman — and focus on his philanthropy, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Mr. Gates sees a role for himself spurring companies into action, he said in the interview. “The idea that you encourage companies to take their innovative thinkers and think about the most needy — even beyond the market opportunities — that’s something that appropriately ought to be done,” he said.

His thoughts on philanthropy are closely heeded because of the business success that made Mr. Gates one of the world’s richest men. His eight-year-old charity is expanding rapidly following the 2006 decision by Warren Buffett to leave his fortune to the foundation. That donation, at the time valued at about $31 billion, increases to some $70 billion the hoard Mr. Gates says will be given away within 50 years of the deaths of him and his wife.

Serving the Poor

But Mr. Gates’s argument for the potential profitability of serving the poor is certain to raise skepticism. “There’s a lot of people at the bottom of the pyramid but the size of the transactions is so small it is not worth it for private business most of the time,” says William Easterly, a New York University professor and former World Bank economist.

Others may point out that poverty became a priority for Mr. Gates only after he’d earned billions building Microsoft into a global giant.

Mr. Gates acknowledges that Microsoft early on was hardly a charity. “We weren’t focused on the needs of the neediest,” he said, “although low-cost personal computing certainly is a tool for drug discovery and things that have had this very pervasive effect, including the rise of the Internet,” he said.

With today’s speech, Mr. Gates adds his high-profile name to the ranks of those who argue that unfettered capitalism can’t solve broad social problems. Muhammad Yunus, the Bangladeshi economist who won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for his work providing small loans to the poor, is traversing the U.S. this month promoting a new book that calls capitalism “half developed” because it focuses only on the profit-oriented side of human nature, not on the satisfaction derived from helping others.

Key to Mr. Gates’s plan will be for businesses to dedicate their top people to poor issues — an approach he feels is more powerful than traditional corporate donations and volunteer work. Governments should set policies and disburse funds to create financial incentives for businesses to improve the lives of the poor, he plans to say today. “If we can spend the early decades of the 21st century finding approaches that meet the needs of the poor in ways that generate profits for business, we will have found a sustainable way to reduce poverty in the world,” Mr. Gates plans to say.

In the interview, Mr. Gates was emphatic that he’s not calling for a fundamental change in how capitalism works. He cited Adam Smith, whose treatise, “The Wealth of Nations,” lays out the rationale for the self-interest that drives capitalism and companies like Microsoft. That shouldn’t change, “one iota,” Mr. Gates said.

But there’s more to Adam Smith, he added. “This was written before ‘Wealth of Nations,'” Mr. Gates said, flipping through a copy of Adam Smith’s 1759 book, “The Theory of Moral Sentiments.” It argues that humans gain pleasure from taking an interest in the “fortunes of others.” Mr. Gates will quote from that book in his speech today.

Talk of “moral sentiments” may seem surprising from a man whose competitive drive is so fierce that it drew legal challenges from antitrust authorities. But Mr. Gates said his thinking about capitalism has been evolving for years. He outlined part of his evolution from software titan to philanthropist in a speech last June to Harvard’s graduating class, recounting how when he left Harvard in 1975 he knew little of the inequities in the world. A range of experiences including trips to Africa and India have helped raise that awareness.

In the Harvard speech, Mr. Gates floated the idea of “creative capitalism.” But at the time he had only a “fuzzy” sense of what he meant. To clarify his thinking, he decided to prepare the Davos speech.

On Jan. 1, following a family vacation, Mr. Gates boarded a commercial flight in Auckland, New Zealand, and during the 21-hour, two-layover journey back to Seattle he started writing his speech.

ON GATES’S BOOKSHELF

“The Theory of Moral Sentiments” — This 1759 book by Scottish philosopher Adam Smith arguing that humans are born with a moral sense and can derive happiness from the “fortunes of others.”
“The White Man’s Burden” — By former World Bank economist William Easterly, this 2006 book lays bare the failings of five decades of international aid.
“The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid” — Michigan University professor C.K. Prahalad made a case in this 2004 book for businesses to view the world’s poor as a viable consumer market.
“The Bottom Billion” — In this 2007 book former World Bank director Paul Collier contends that the gap in living standards is widening between the poorest fifty countries and the rest of the world.

Other books influencing Mr. Gates included “The Mystery of Capital” and “Good Capitalism, Bad Capitalism and the Economics of Growth and Prosperity” and “The Bottom Billion.” This reading helped inform Mr. Gates’s belief that leading companies should find ways to sell to and work with the poorest. “You have people who are inciting companies to say, ‘Look, this is a lot of people,'” Mr. Gates said.

To a degree, Mr. Gates’s speech is an answer to critics of rich-country efforts to help the poor. One perennial critic is Mr. Easterly, the New York University professor, whose 2006 book, “The White Man’s Burden,” found little evidence of benefit from the $2.3 trillion given in foreign aid over the past five decades.

Mr. Gates said he hated the book. His feelings surfaced in January 2007 during a Davos panel discussion with Mr. Easterly, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and then-World Bank chief Paul Wolfowitz. To a packed room of Davos attendees, Mr. Easterly noted that all the aid given to Africa over the years has failed to stimulate economic growth on the continent. Mr. Gates, his voice rising, snapped back that there are measures of success other than economic growth — such as rising literacy rates or lives saved through smallpox vaccines. “I don’t promise that when a kid lives it will cause a GNP increase,” he quipped. “I think life has value.”

Brushing off Mr. Gates’s comments, Mr. Easterly responds, “The vested interests in aid are so powerful they resist change and they ignore criticism. It is so good to try to help the poor but there is this feeling that [philanthropists] should be immune from criticism.”

Belief in Technology

A core belief of Mr. Gates is that technology can erase problems that seem intractable. That belief was deepened, Mr. Gates says, by his study of Julian Simon, a now-deceased business professor who argued that increases in wealth and technology would offset shortages in energy, food and other global resources.

Pacing in his office last week, Mr. Gates retold the story of a famous $10,000 wager between Mr. Simon and Paul Ehrlich, a Stanford University professor who predicted that human population growth would outstrip the earth’s resources. Mr. Simon bet that even as a growing population increased demand for metals such as tin and copper, the price of those metals would fall within the decade ending in 1990. Mr. Simon won the bet. “He cremated the guy,” says Mr. Gates. Mr. Ehrlich’s administrator at Stanford University said he was out of the country and couldn’t comment on the wager.

“In the coming decades we will have astonishing new abilities to diagnose illness, heal disease, educate the world’s children, create opportunities for the poor and harness the world’s brightest minds to solve our most difficult problems,” he will say.

Describing himself as an “impatient optimist,” Mr. Gates said he will ask each of his Davos listeners to take up a “creative capitalism” project in the coming year.

And he vows to keep prodding them. “I definitely see, once I’m full time at the foundation, reaching out to various industries — going to cellphone companies, banks and more pharma companies — and talking about how…they can do these things,” he said.

January 24th, 2008, 11:18 am

 
 
 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

The last excuse that Gaza is still occupied by Israel has gone out the window. Israel does not control anymore directly or indirectly the Egypt-Gaza border and the Palestinians are free to move in and out of Egypt as they please. From now, the situation in Gaza is solely the responsibility of Gazans and the Arab world. I am sure that from now and on, Gaza will be proseperous.

Hospitals? Go to El-Arish.
Exports? Through Cairo.
You want to work or study? Go to Egypt.
You want to smuggle weapons from Egypt? Be my guest but don’t complain about the results.

Good riddance and bye-bye Gaza. You will not be missed. And thank you Hamas for making the Egyptian-Gaza border a thing of the past.

January 24th, 2008, 3:51 pm

 

AmericanGuy said:

The ‘Syrian nuclear facility’ was a right-wing Israeli scam, and there is one large reason why; the ‘Israeli intelligence’ was stovepiped directly to Dick Cheney, who refused to let *any* of the *official* US intelligence agencies vet it. Now, why would they do that? hmmmm….Niger yellowcake anyone?

January 24th, 2008, 5:26 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

It sure was since the Israeli defense minister is from the left wing Israeli Labor party and the attack would not have gone forward without his consent and full knowledge of the facts. Thank you for proving you are a know nothing propogandist.

January 24th, 2008, 6:04 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

AIG,

A follow-up question on Zionism and secularity:
Will you go as far as to suggest that when the Zionist movement chose where to establish a homeland, it was not influenced by the religious significance of the historical Palestine for the Jews?

January 24th, 2008, 6:43 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Seeking,
It was influenced, but it did seriously consider Uganda as a temporary alternative. There was a big fight about this within the fledgling Zionist movement.
See: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Zionism/Uganda.html

Herzl was very practical and he knew that the best way to get the colonial powers to grant a state to Jews as to ask for Palestine. This made a lot of sense as it pandered to the Christian belief in the Old Testament. Also, this was at the expense of the Ottomans so it was easier for Britain and others to support. Another important practical consideration was that it would be easier to get Jews excited about a homeland in Palestine rather than anywhere else. The Zionists were only a small part of the Jewish people in the beginning of the 20th century and they were trying to sell people their idea.

But even given all the above, Herzl was willing to seriously explore the Ugandan alternative. The bottom line is that Zionism is a secular movement that was willing to explore any location for the Jewish state but that for many practical reasons had to focus in the end on Palestine.

January 24th, 2008, 7:03 pm

 

T said:

Wizart,

Thanks alot for your post- excellent. Gates should also be reading “Casinos on Crack”. That book about world markets addicted to articially low interest rates.

Not a thing causing the crash was remedied w/ the latest Fed cut- US mortgage collapse, trade imbalance, national debt, dead dollar, war debt, outsourced tax base- yet this latest feel-good high has “saved” the stock market? Wasnt it just this kind of cutting by Fed that has been the cause of some of the American problems? Isnt this just delaying the crash and stoking it and inflation?
Would really like your opinion on this. (Maybe we can meet up on an economics blog to discuss this as it is not really a SC topic per se and I dont want to violate SC rules of engagement.)

Americanguy,

I note you substitute asterisks for apostrophes in your posts. Do you have keyboard problems? I can certainly sympathize. How will you solve this glitch?

January 24th, 2008, 7:48 pm

 

Alex said:

I forgot to mention Facebook is now freely accessible in Syria.

Heard it from few friends this week. But I did not read anything about the news online.

Can anyone confirm or deny?

January 24th, 2008, 9:54 pm

 
 

EHSANI2 said:

T,

Since you seem to think that the Fed made the wrong decision by cutting its FF rate, are you suggesting that they should have raised it instead? Would that have made you happier?

The Fed is cutting the rates because it has to. Indeed, its mistake has been that it did not cut fast enough up to this point.

The U.S. economy has and will continue to face challenging times for a while. The Federal Reserve will do its part by dropping its overnight rate to help engineer a steep yield curve. It is that funding in the overnight and lending in the higher rate on longer maturities that will allow the banking system to make money and shore up capital. The Fed will cut further and will hold the rate down for as long as it takes the banking system to stand back on its feet.

No policy action is free of unintended consequences. The low FF rate will pressure the Dollar lower. It will also raise the price of some commodities in Dollar terms. But, this is the price to pay when you have to bail out a falling leveraged asset (housing). It is the deflation from the latter that you have to worry about and it is precisely this that is causing the Fed to slash its rate.

I think that you ought to congratulate the Fed for finally waking up.

January 24th, 2008, 11:28 pm

 

alle said:

ALEX — I don’t use Facebook myself, but I just tried to access the site from a Damascus Internet cafe, and had no problem doing so.

January 25th, 2008, 12:52 am

 

T said:

No gov intervention and truly let the market take its course. No more leveraging/bailing it out. If not that, then the banks and the Fed should be regulated by Congressional legislation, like all the other casinos. (In the case of the Fed- a FIRST audit since 1913 would be long overdue.)

The yrs of too-low interest created the subprime bubble to begin with. Now more of the same will cure it? And housing bubble was engineered to ‘cure’ the tech bubble…

Which means we may continue to be sustained mostly by the “Islamofascist threat” bubble.

But all of these policies/products need some genuine oversight, since we wont let the market do it. (Alex- I realize this topic is not an SC theme, but am responding to Wizart. I promise not to continue on w/ it here).

January 25th, 2008, 1:31 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

lowering the FF rate is good, but more important is stop the Iraq war that is costing the US 300 billion dollar a year,a war that took too long,a war that Bush start only for Israel, a country that may last few years, but will go ,at the end.
to save the banks people will pay for it(inflation)(lower dollar value) , where we did not have anything to do with it,I would rather see some banks fail, why should the goverment bail private institutions?next we will bail General motor ,or microsoft.let citi bank go bancrupt, we are not communist.what is worst is some arab countries loosing money,bailing american bank, where their money will be frozen at the drop of the hat.

January 25th, 2008, 3:01 am

 

norman said:

In the time of economic slow down and rising risk of recession , economic 101 is to increase liquidity by decreasing interest rate , tax cut or tax rebate to increase the availability of money that people have to spend and increase government spending in spite of risk of federal budget deficit and inflation , fighting recession is first priority.

January 25th, 2008, 3:46 am

 

t_desco said:

Beirut blast kills intelligence officer

An explosion in a Beirut suburb killed a Lebanese intelligence officer and his driver Friday, sources with the Lebanese Internal Security Forces told CNN.

A Lebanese TV station reported 10 people in total were killed by the explosion, although this has not been confirmed by CNN.

Killed in the explosion was Capt. Wissam Eid, the sources said. …
CNN

Capt. Wissam Eid had been targeted before:

“Gen. Rifi’s investigators have also come under attack. Last summer, one of his top detectives working on the case, Capt. Wissam Eid, was in the bathroom of his home in a Beirut suburb when a knock came at his front door. When he answered, a grenade exploded, seriously injuring his hands, though Capt. Eid survived.

Shortly after the attack, the ISF’s chief investigator on the case, Lt. Col. Samir Shehade, and his staff issued an arrest warrant for an Arab man suspected of involvement in the Hariri murder and two other attacks on anti-Syrian officials. Days before police were to make the arrest, the suspect fled to Syria, after getting word that his fiancée had been arrested.

On Sept. 5, a few days after the suspect had fled, Col. Shehade’s caravan was winding its way along a mountain road toward ISF headquarters from his home, when a remote-controlled fragmentation bomb exploded. The blast instantly killed four of the detective’s bodyguards, and seriously injured Col. Shehade.”
How Beirut Police Fingered Syria in Hariri Assassination, Jay Solomon, WSJ, March 20, 2007

January 25th, 2008, 9:36 am

 

MSK said:

Dear T_Desco,

It was quite a massive explosion. We felt the building shake & the plume was bigger than the one of the Francois el-Hajj assassination. Other than Capt. Wissam Eid, a high-ranking judge may also have been killed, possibly having been the initial target … but we’ll have to wait a few more hours to get info on that.

Wissam Eid is said to have headed the Ain Alaq investigation – what was his connection (if any) to the Hariri investigation? Did he have, other than Ain Alaq, anything to do with investigating Fatah al-Islam & other Islamists?

–MSK*

January 25th, 2008, 9:50 am

 

offended said:

Dear T_Desco, on a side note, has the allegations of a Syrian attempt to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Beirut ever been investigated?

MSK, you take care of yourself will ya? ; )

January 25th, 2008, 10:18 am

 

offended said:

From Tayyar.org:

“Earlier informations about a judge being targeted in this attack are incorrect”

January 25th, 2008, 10:26 am

 

t_desco said:

Dear MSK,

Amani Soliman said on Al-Jazeera Int. that he was involved in the investigation of the bank robberies by Fatah al-Islam that led to the Tripoli apartment siege. Rula Amin said that he was injured in Nahr al-Bared. Of course, it is always a good idea to wait for confirmation…

OFFENDED, I suspect that it is simply part of the Fatah al-Islam investigation (see for example “Lebanon arrests 30 militants who allegedly plotted to attack Arab, European ambassadors “).

January 25th, 2008, 10:46 am

 

t_desco said:

Rula Amin on Al-Jazeera Int. (my transcript):

“Now what we have is more information about Captain Wissam Eid. He was a Sunni from Tripoli who was very active and had a very active role in the anti-terrorism unit in the Internal Security Forces. He was involved in cracking and pursuing the Fatah al-Islam militants in Tripoli. He also … had a very active and a strong role in the investigation of the killing of the late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and he helped out the international committee that was investigating that crime.”

January 25th, 2008, 11:19 am

 

MSK said:

Dear T_Desco,

And I was already worried there wouldn’t be enough possible reasons …

Yalla, so it could’ve been the Hariri assassins, the Nahr al-Barid faction, the Syrians (to keep destabilizing Lebanon), other groups (to keep making Syria look bad), or maybe it was someone completely different.

I just hope the politicians and respective media outlets come up with new ideas – their predictability (regardless if it’s M8, M14, pro-/anti-Syria, Syria itself, foreign media) is becoming exceedingly boring.

–MSK*

January 25th, 2008, 12:27 pm

 

T said:

Could bombing be a message TO Syria (and targeting it) for the mtg of Palestinian radicals being held in the last few days in Damascus? After all, we know anything of this nature has consistently been- and will continue to be- automatically blamed on Syria.

Jan 24th 2008 As Safir:
Lebanon: Fatah Al Islam is the Mossad
In his interview on assafir today, Lebanon Army Commander Michel Suleiman said the following:

Israel is seeking various ways to target the army to get through the Lebanese resistance, the organization (Fatah Al Islam) is an extension of the Israeli Mossad.

Libyan government newspaper Alshames [no link allowed] hinted yesterday about the coordination between Al Qaeda and Israel and asked the following questions:

If you look in the map, you can see a circle and Al Qada operates in all directions at the center of the circle is Israel where there is not a single operation record it from Al Qaeda.

Yet another question:

….In logistics capacity terms Al Qaeda proved it is capable of reaching into the United States, their intelligence can even infiltrate the Pentagon.

The Israelis are always talking about the potential dangers but never talk about possible Al Qaeda threat.
——————————————————–
And a bit more background on Al Qaeda in general from the BBC, shedding light on motives and methods. The info on Bin Laden/Bhutto is noteworthy. Why hasnt the Bhutto assassination garnered the same US crusade as Hariri to find her killers?

See at TIME CODE 4:00-6:30

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIO8B6fpFSQ

BBC Frost over the World – Benazir Bhutto – 02 Nov 07

January 25th, 2008, 12:35 pm

 

MSK said:

T-

“Fatah al-Islam = Mossad” — Hahahahahahaha!!! That is prizeless, and in Al-Safir, no less!

Thanks – we here in Beirut really needed that kind of humor today.

🙂

–MSK*

January 25th, 2008, 12:40 pm

 

T said:

Dig the humor on the BBC as well, friend. Its priceless… As well as the fact that the CIA closed down their Bin Laden search unit over 2 years ago. (NYT July 3, 06).
Oh, and the FBI also took OBL off its Most Wanted list because “it had no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.” –Rex Tomb, Chief of Investigative PR for the FBI.

VP Dick Cheney also said the same thing on FOX news.

Speaking of FOX news– yesterday, Pres bush said OBL “may not be captured during his time in office.” Now THAT is funny, right?

January 25th, 2008, 12:42 pm

 

T said:

Unfortunately, either the “Islamofascist terrorists” or those “crazy arab anti-semites” have been spreading conspiracy theories about Israel/Mossad again. And that is not funny. Or maybe it was a bunch of “self-hating Jews”?

Haaretz on 12/22/02 published this item and it was also included in the official US government authorized 911 Commission Report: (web address has since disappeared, as has any followup on this information)

http://ww~.haare~./hasen/objects/pagesfPrintArtic1eEn.jhtmI?jtemNo=77744
____ ___ U~ae~t’t ~j~-i~-

Odigo says workers were warned of attack
Odigo, the instant messaging service, says that two of its workers
received messages two hours before the Twin Towers attack on
September 11 predicting the attack would happen, and the company has been cooperating with Israeli and American law enforcement, including the FBI, in trying to find the original sender of the message predicting the attack.

Micha Macover, CEO of the company, said the two workers received the messages and immediately after the tenor attack informed the company’s management, which immediately contacted the Israeli security services, which brought in the FBI.

“I have no idea why the message was sent to these two workers, who don’t know the sender. It may just have been someone who was joking and turned out they accidentally got it right. And I don’t know if our information was useful in any of the arrests the FBI has made,” said Macover. Odigo is a U.S.-based company whose headquarters are in New York, with offices in Herzliya.

As an instant messaging service, Odigo users are not limited to
sending messages only to people on their “buddy” list, as is the case with ICQ, the other well-known Israeli instant messaging application.

Odigo usually zealously protects the privacy of its registered users, said Macover, but in this case the company took the initiative to provide the law enforcement services with the originating Internet Presence address of the message, so the FBI could track down the Internet Service Provider, and the actual sender of the original message.
By Yuval Dror

/hasen/objects/pagesIPrintArticleEn.jhtml?itemNo~77744
close window
I of I ~2~7:47 PM

January 25th, 2008, 1:56 pm

 

norman said:

الحريري يتهم سورية بالاغتيال

اتهم رئيس كتلة “المستقبل” النيابية البنانية سعد الحريري سورية بالوقوف وراء عملية الاغتيال التي استهدفت صباح اليوم نقيب فرع المعلومات في قوى الأمن الداخلي وسام عيد.

January 25th, 2008, 2:29 pm

 

Observer said:

Nice reading today about Iran and Gaza

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/JA26Ak03.html

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/JA26Ak01.html

question for Ehsani: why should the Fed intervene to save people and bankers that made incredibly stupid mistakes and where is the fault of Greenspan when he allowed the housing bubble to develop as he called it a little “froth”.

Not only is this move not sufficient to shore up the economy, it will not be long lasting just as the rebates coming in the spring will not change anything this year.

January 25th, 2008, 3:47 pm

 

t_desco said:

“Eid, 31, a Sunni Muslim native of the northern town of Deir Ammar, headed the technical department at the police intelligence branch that was founded after the 2005 assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri by a powerful bomb explosion.

Police sources told Naharnet Eid was instrumental in the ongoing investigations into the serial killings that targeted anti-Syrian figures in Lebanon as well as the spate of bombings that targeted civilians in the past two years.

The sources said Eid, a communications and computer engineer, played a “vital role” in dismantling terrorist networks involved in the Feb. 13 2007 twin bus bombings in Ein Alaq, east of Beirut, as well as the Fatah al-Islam terrorist network that fought the Lebanese Army in the northern Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared.

“He was a prime target for the terrorists and forces behind them,” one ranking security source told Naharnet, noting that Eid survived a hand grenade attack at his residence in south Beirut in Feb. 2006 and was wounded in north Lebanon while chasing terrorists last summer.”
Naharnet

January 25th, 2008, 4:21 pm

 

norman said:

Observer,

This is the job of the FED,

In the time of economic slow down and rising risk of recession , economic 101 is to increase liquidity by decreasing interest rate , tax cut or tax rebate to increase the availability of money that people have to spend and increase government spending in spite of risk of federal budget deficit and inflation , fighting recession is first priority.

January 25th, 2008, 4:24 pm

 

Sami D said:

Noteworthy article by As’ad Abukhalil. –Sami D.

PS. The Damascus snow photo up top is from many years ago, (taken by Ayman Haykal I think) not of the recent snow fall.

بوش في أحضان ملوك العرب

http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/61421 أسعد أبو خليل *

سَجَدوا له، واحداً واحداً. أميراً أميراً، وملكاً ملكاً، وشيخاً شيخاً.
هبّ شيوخ الزيت الأسود للقاء المحبوب الأميركي كمن يهرع لموعد غرامي. تحرّقت قلوبهم شوقاً للقاء. رأيناهم ورأينا «الرؤوس المطأطأة إلى الأرض قياماً بواجبات السجود» (على ما قال الأخطل الصغير). يسبّحون بحمده ليلاً ونهاراً، وشفاعته هو فقط تُجدى من قبلهم. حتى الملك الذي لا يصلّي إلا من على كرسي مذهّب ومرصّع، هرَع إلى المطار كالملهوف. سارع إلى أسفل درج الطائرة، لم يصدّق ما رأته عيناه. بوش بلحمه وشحمه وعجرفته يطأ أرض المملكة. آه لو أنه اصطحب معه جيوشه الجرّارة. أبدى الملك «المُنتخب ديموقراطياً» ـ إذ إن كل حلفاء أميركا في المنطقة «منتخبون ديموقراطياً» ـ حماسة غير معهودة. كاد أن يقفز قفزاً في أرض المطار. ترنّحت الأرض تحت قدميه. قمّة النجم عندهم موطئ قدم المُفدّى. لا ندري ماذا دار بينهما من حديث، لعلّ ملوك النفط العربي وأمراءه صدحوا له: بالروح، بالدم، نفديك يا بوش (هل هناك أبشع من هذا الهتاف، بالمناسبة؟). بدا الحوار حميميّاً بين الاثنين. هل عرض خادم العائلة المالكة أن يحظى بشرف تلميع حذائه؟ أو هل حثّه على شنّ مزيد من الحروب؟ أو هل استجدى منه فتاوى لتعميمها في وسائل الإعلام العربية؟
عقمت النساء بعد ولادة بوش، هم قالوا له. ما رأوا مثله من نظير. شرفٌ وأيّ شرف أن يزورهم سيّدُهم. أتى ليلقي التحية، وليصدر الأوامر. هو أمَر: طَبِّعوا مع إسرائيل، وخَفِّضوا أسعار النفط، وأَظهروا مخافة من إيران. الأوامر كانت واضحة، لا لبس فيها. هؤلاء الملوك والامراء والشيوخ ـ صار عندنا في لبنان شيوخ أيضاً بفضل آل من «يحسب أن ماله أخلده»، يا للفخر ـ كان يُقال لهم: العراق خطر عليكم، فيجيبون بصوت واحد: العراق خطرٌ علينا. اليوم يُقال لهم: إيران خطرٌ عليكم. يجيبون بصوت واحد: إيران خطرٌ علينا، ويزيدون من عندهم أن إسرائيل وترساناتها من أسلحة الدمار الشامل برد وسلام.
الإعلام السعودي كاد أن يطير فرحاً. زَغرَدوا وهَلّلوا وكبّروا. المذيعة في قناة «العربية» نجوى قاسم (خرّيجة المدرسة الحريرية في الإعلام)، لم تتمالك نفسها. كرّرت للجمهور اسم طائرة بوش بالإنكليزية أكثر من مرّة، ودعت المشاهدين (لا المشاهِدات ـ المرأة عورة بنظر هؤلاء) إلى انتظار انطفاء محرّك الطائرة المقدّسة. طائرة من السماء هي، ولا كالطائرات. حَملها رفّ من الملائكة إلى أرض المملكة. معبودهم وطأ الأرض، فزادت قداستها وعظُمت جلالتها. لو تسنّى لملوك العرب وأمرائهم، لرافقوا بوش على بساط الريح، ولأطعموه المنّ والسلوى أثناء الرحلة. مشهد ولا كالمشاهد. ملوك وأمراء نفط العرب بدوا كما ألفناهم، صغاراً صغاراً. فرحوا إذ إنّ إلههم المعبود أتى في آخر أيام ولايته ليزف لهم نبأ إعلان بيعهم أسلحة. نثروا الأرز والزعفران والرياحين فوق رأسه. فعلوا أكثر من ذلك لتكريمه. نثروا أشلاء أطفال فلسطين ولبنان والعراق أمامه زيادة في التكريم. هذه يد طفل من غزة، وتلك يد طفلة من قانا، وهذا رأس طفل قضى في مخيم جنين، وذاك طفل محترق من العراق. مشى الضيف الموقر فوقهم. قهقه المضيف. فعلوا المستحيل لإسعاده.
أولاد زايد (من السلالة الشخبوطية ـ وكان ياسين الحافظ مصرّاً على تسمية الحقبة السعودية بالحقبة الشخبوطية للتدليل على إيغالها في الرجعية، وإن لاحظنا أن حازم صاغية استعان بالحافظ أخيراً لتسويغ سياسة تأييد الحريري والسعودية، مثلما استعان يساري سابق آخر بكارل ماركس لتسويغ سياسة تأييد أمين الجميل وسمير جعجع. لكن اليساري السابق الأخير يستعين بمن يتوافر ـ حتى بيوحنا فم الذهب الذي كتب له ابتهالات دينية في جريدة «السفير» من دون أن يذكر للقراء والقارئات أن يوحنا كتب من أخبث ما كُتب في اليهود كيهود وقد وجدت فيه النازية خير معين. لكنّ اليمين العربي يتسامح مع معاداة السامية من الغرب، ويتبرّم من معاداة الصهيونية من الشرق) أخذوه إلى خيمة، وعرضوا صقورهم عليه. أحاطوه كالحرّاس الشخصيين. عزّزوا التعميمات النمطية عن العرب، وكأنّ هؤلاء (أو القذافي) فعلاً يعيشون في الخيم (ذكرت حاشية في تقرير 11 أيلول الأميركي الرسمي أن أحد أمراء الإمارات كان يصطاد مع بن لادن في التسعينيات).
أثنى بوش على تجربة دبي. ولمَ لا؟ تجربة مدينة قائمة على هرميّة من التسلسل الطبقي الفظ، والإثنيّة والعرقيّة العنصرية، بالإضافة إلى اقتصاد يفتح الذراعين والساقين أمام غزو الشركات المتعددة الجنسية. تقرأ كتاب محمد بن راشد (الذي تلقّى مديحاً من دانييل بايبس لأنّ فلسطين لا ترد على شفاهه)، وتتبين خططهم: رأسمالية متوحشة وسياحة خدمات ودعارة ـ كم سعى رفيق الحريري لتطبيقها في لبنان. نموذج دبي هو الراجح، لا نموذج الديموقراطية، وخصوصاً بعدما اكتشفوا أن الديموقراطية لا ترجّح كفة أمثال سلام فيّاض (حاز الأخير نحو 1% من الأصوات في الانتخابات التشريعية الأخيرة، ويريدون تنصيبه زعيماً على فلسطين مع الدحلان) وأياد علاوي وأحمد الشلبي. نموذج دبي أفيون الجيل العربي الجديد. عليك أن تخلع ثوب الثورة، أو حتى ثوب التعاطف مع شعب فلسطين، قبل أن تدخل تلك الجنة الاصطناعية.
يا أدعياء التُّقى والورع، هل تخدعون إلا أنفسكم في ادعاءاتكم؟ «يواقيتُ الصِّلات أعلق» بقلبكم من مواقيت الصلاة، على ما قال الحريري في المقامة الصنعانية، ثم تفرضون علينا أكثر العقائد الدينية تزمّتاً ومحافظة وانغلاقاً ومعاداة للمرأة. أنتم الذين عاديتم وحاربتم التنوير والانفتاح والاشتراكية والعدل الطبقي والجنسي بين الناس. أنتم الذين فرضتم علينا تعصّباً وأصولية لم تكن موجودة قبلكم، أو كانت في طريق الزوال. أنتم الذين دربتم ومولتم وسلحتم الظلاميّين لمحاربة عبد الناصر والشيوعية. أنتم الذين أنجبتم بن لادن، ولا تختلفون معه حتى اليوم إلا على السياسة الخارجية. يا ناشري التعصب المذهبي بيننا، ألا تشعرون بفقدان الشرعية؟ ماذا تكونون من دون ثرواتكم ونفطكم؟ هل تصدقون تلك المدائح التي تُكتب فيكم؟ قِبلتُكم في ملاهي مدن الغرب ونواديها، لا في الجزيرة
العربية.
ماذا فعلتم بنا يا ملوك النفط وأمراءه، ماذا فعلتم بنا؟ إذا كانت مصر هبة النيل، فأنتم هبة المتسعمِر. والتين والزيتون ما اندلعت ثورة في العالم الثالث إلا وحاربتموها بالمال وبالوسائل السرية بالاتفاق مع المستعمر الغربي، من ظفار، إلى فلسطين، إلى لبنان، إلى بوليساريو، إلى اليمن. أنتم عالة على قضايا شعوبكم، ولكنكم لم تكترثوا يوماً لآراء شعوبكم. ما اتصلت حركة تحررية بكم إلا واتسخت. نقرأ اليوم في ما يُنشر من وثائق السياسة الخارجية الأميركية ونتبيّن مدى تأثيركم على حركة فتح بالنيابة عن أميركا،
والأخيرة بالنيابة عن إسرائيل.
كم شوّهتم من صورة العربي في العالم نتيجة مسلككم وسعيكم الدائم وراء اللذّة. أنتم الذين تعرفكم ملاهي الغرب ومواخيره أكثر من كثبان الرمل في بلادكم. أبحتم بلادكم ومقدساتكم للاستعمار، وحوّلتم النفط إلى ألعوبة بأيدي الغرب، تزيد من خيراته وازدهاره، وتزيد من فقرنا وبؤسنا. نفط العرب للغرب، لا للعرب. حتى تموركم لا تملكونها.
تشترون سلاحاً فقط من أجل ملء خزائن الغرب بثرواتكم. وعندما تتهدّد عروشكم من الخارج لا تطلقون رصاصة، بل تستجدون كالأطفال مساعدة الحكومات الغربية المشغولة بمصالحها الاقتصادية. ساركوزي عندما يزوركم لا يمثل قيم الثورة الفرنسية، بل شركات النفط والحنين الاستعماري الدفين. أنتم أقوياء وجبابرة أمام شعوبكم المقهورة، لكن فرائصكم ترتعد أمام حكّام الغرب. ترقصون أمامهم بالسيف. ملك البحرين أهدى الرئيس المُفدّى القادم من وراء البحار سيفاً
مذهباً. يا أمراء النفط العربي وملوكه، فلينضب نفطكم، فلينضب نفطنا. لم تسخّروه إلا لغايات المستعمر القديم والمتجدد، وسعياً وراء لذات تحرّمها كل الأديان وتحرّمون حتى المُباح منها، في الوقت الذي تبتكرون فيه وسائل للذّة لم تعرفها إلا مخادعكم. تحرّمون العشق بين الناس وتحللون لأنفسكم عشق الجماد والحيوان. ارحلوا عنا، فأنتم لقوم سوانا «أمْيَلُ». حرّروا عبيدكم وجواريكم وعودوا إلى الصحارى مع نياقكم، أنتم الذين لم تأخذوا من البدواة إلا النواقص والذكورية. ارحلوا عنا وعودوا إلى قرون أقرب إلى مزاجكم وفكركم وتعصّبكم.
إن كان نفطكم سينضب فستسمعون ـ وسيُطرب الرأي العام العربي لسماع ـ الآراء الحقيقية لأبواقكم في الصحافة والسياسة في لبنان. عندها فقط، سيستفيق الليبراليون العرب الوهابيّون المنتشرون في الصحافة العربية إلى خروق حقوق الإنسان في ممالك القهر. عندها فقط ستستفظعون طقوس قطع الرؤوس الدوري في الساحات العامة، ورجم العشاق من الجنسين. عندها فقط سيصارحكم هؤلاء وسيلاحظون أن ملككم لا يتوافق مع أي من مفاهيم العصر والحداثة التي تملأ الصحافة هذه الأيام. ارحلوا عنا ودعوا شعوبكم تختط طريقها من دونكم ومن دون وكالتكم عن الاستعمار الذي نصّبكم وأبقاكم في الحكم بالرغم من إرادة شعوبكم. لوّثتم بيئتنا الطبيعية والسياسية والأخلاقية. عودوا إلى الصحراء وأريحونا، إذ جثمتم ثقيلاً فوق صدورنا. ما عدنا قادرين على التنفّس بوجودكم. أما اكتفيتم بقهر شعوبكم وقمعها؟ ألا تشبعون من اضطهاد مواطنيكم، ومواطني كل الدول العربية، يا حلفاء الطغاة في كل العالم. لم يجد عيدي أمين وجعفر النميري ملاذاً إلا عندكم، يا حلفاء موبوتو وفرانكو.
يا ملوك النفط وأمراءه، لو يتسنى لي أن أُسمعكم ما يقوله فيكم وعنكم العربي والغربي. آه لو كان بقدرتي أن أسجّل لكم أحاديث الشرق والغرب عنكم. لو نضب نفطكم لعلمتم مدى احتقار العالم لكم، يا رموز التعصب والرجعية وتعدّد الزوجات. ما أبعدكم عن «نور العقل» كما كان ابن العربي يسميه. ما أبعدكم. أثقلتم علينا وضيّقتم (وأحصيتم) علينا أنفاسنا. ما حللتم بنفوذكم على بلد ألا أفسدتموه بأموالكم وجعلتموه أكثر تعصّباً وتزمّتاً وضيقاً وسلطويّة وقهراً. تمارسون القمع والاستثناء والإبعاد الديني والمذهبي وتعظون شعب لبنان حول التعايش، أنتم الذين لا تصدّرون إلا النفط وفتاوى ابن باز. لو كان للعربي العادي أن يصل إليكم بعد نضوب النفط، لسمعتم منه (وخصوصاً منها) عن عمق مأساتنا بسببكم. كنتم خير عون لكل أعداء العرب والمسلمين، وأتاح لكم النفط أن تنطقوا باسم العرب والمسلمين. كم طالت غيبوبتنا وغيبوبتكم: غيبوبتنا من جراء سطوتكم المتأتية عن نفطكم وثرواتكم، وغيبوبتكم لأن الحق والحقيقة بعيدتان عنكم. لو نضب نفطكم لعلمتم آراء الناس وحتى بعض العلماء في فتاوى ابن باز في حكم التصوير وفي دوران الشمس، وفي الصلاة في الفضاء. لو أن هذا النفط سينضب قريباً لربما اندلعت ثورات أو انتفاضات في كل منابع النفط، ولتخلصت الثورة الفلسطينية مما علق بجسمها من أوساخ منكم.
ماذا نقول فيكم، ونحن لن نستودعكم إذا رحلتم. سيستودعكم من تلقى عطاياكم وعطايا صدام ومدحه، إلى أن توقفت. أنتم قوم إذا عاهدوا كذبوا، وإن عقدوا تخلّفوا، بالإذن من المهلهل. لن نشتاق إلى نفطكم، ولن يبقى من عروشكم وقصوركم إلا ما بقي في ذاكرتكم. أنتم الذين استنزفتم الجيش المصري في حرب اليمن، ودعمتم الحركات اليمينية حول العالم خدمة لعيون رونالد ريغان. يا ملوك العرب وأمراءهم. ابتعدوا عنا، فما نشرتم بيننا إلا الزهري والسعال والقيح. لو أن الحطيئة ما زال حيّاً، لعرف كيف يتعامل معكم. برحيلكم، سيعود إلى الجزيرة بريقها. كانت مكة قبلكم مدينة للجدل والنقاش الفكري والفلسفي والفقهي (والعشق والشعر) وحوّلتموها إلى مركز للتزمّت والانغلاق والتعصّب. أعيدوا يا ملوك العرب وأمراءهم جزيرة العرب إلى العرب، وأطلقوا سراح مواطنيكم. الربع الخالي يناديكم.
* أستاذ العلوم السياسيّة في جامعة كاليفورنيا
(موقعه على الإنترنت: angryarab.blogspot.com)

عدد الجمعة ٢٥ كانون الثاني ٢٠٠٨

January 25th, 2008, 6:17 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Observer;
Ehsani works at bank, he is going to support this move, the question would the goverment help us when we make financial mistake? the answer no,
the fed action is prolonging the agony,throws it to the next president,who will look bad, Mr. Bernanki must be thrown out of office as soon as we get new president.

January 25th, 2008, 6:26 pm

 

Observer said:

How to make Iraqi orphans and then how to make their life even worse
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/fisk/robert-fisk-a-lesson-in-how-to-create-iraqi-orphans-and-then-how-to-make-life-worse-for-them-773166.html
Majed
My concern is that a double standard of “help” is applied when the citizens of a country make bad business decisions. No interest rate cut or bail out or tax rebates were sent to the Argentinians when their financial world collapsed.

I am not an economist, but the issue is that a significant proportion of the new economy is driven by financial transactions, financial gimmicks and instruments to generate fictious wealth.

All of the wealth that disappeared was predicated on the huge assumption that house prices will continue to grow, the creation of the subprime mortgage not only allowed people to buy houses they cannot afford, but allowed others to refinance their mortgages and take on additional debt with the value of the house as a collateral. Well the Bubble burst and now we are left with huge debt and banks refusing to lend each other afraid that there are still more skeletons in the closets of bad debt managment.

Imagine if the what happened at Societe Generale was in an Indian or a Pakistani bank: the media would have had a feeding frenzy about how unreliable the checks are in these inferior countries and would have a boost to billions going to European and American banks touted as solid institutions. There is no monopoly on human intelligence to any one group, as there is none with regard to organization of labor. Likewise, there is no monopoly on human stupidity and greed.

Now, I believe that many in the West are seeing the writing on the wall and that is the end of total hegemony and complete freedom from world market turmoils.

As I said before as the use of conventional shock and awe seems to have not impressed anyone on the long run, they are left with the nuclear option to remain the top dog. In the latest NATO paper by five former chiefs of staff, they argued that the use of nuclear power is justified to prevent the use of WMD. I alluded to this in a previous post. Now they see that the interconnectedness of the world economy will make this very unlikely indeed.

However, we have ideologues and unstable politicians, and the neo cons are down but not out and are still playing behind the scenes. I would not be surprised if this administration would fabricate or use a Gulf of Tonkin incident to box in after Feb 5th primaries either nominee into agreeing on a policy of confrontation with Iran and therefore force the same policies with regard to Iran and Iraq.

January 25th, 2008, 6:55 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

This is not a SC topic. I apologize to those who have no interest in US economic matters.

Question for Ehsani: why should the Fed intervene to save people and bankers that made incredibly stupid mistakes and where is the fault of Greenspan when he allowed the housing bubble to develop as he called it a little “froth”.

On June 25th 2004, Greenspan sanctioned the last of his cuts, which started in January 2001. On that day, he reduced the rate to 1.00%. Days before that cut, investors debated whether the cut would be a deeper 0.50 to 0.75%. As you recall, the economic risk at the time was deflation as manifested by the core deflator (Fed’s preferred inflation measure) approaching 1.0%. Following the NASDAQ collapse and Sep 11th, the Fed decided not to take a chance. Risk management dictated that they do everything they can to avoid a deflationary spiral similar to what Japan experienced since 1990. The Greenspan Fed not only lowered its rate to 1.0% but it also announced that it would keep its rate low “for a considerable period”.

That was simple enough to understand for American borrowers and lenders. What followed was a housing finance orgy. Lending standards were lowered if not eliminated. You had a pulse you have a loan was my observation to all my friends. Securitization meant that the loans that were made were packaged and sold. The critical assumption was that house prices in the U.S. have never fallen on a national level. Once you build this into the mortgage models, it was easy to feel confident about the future viability of the business. Add to the mix the lack of oversight over the mortgage brokerage industry and you can start to imagine a disaster in waiting. As house prices rose, people borrowed more and the lenders were more than willing to oblige as they saw their collateral double and treble in price. Trees don’t grow to the moon. Niether do home prices. Once affordability goes to an extreme, new buyers become tougher to find. The Fed’s holding of the rate at 1.00% and the subsequent slow pace of tightening was a major policy error. What started as fighting against the risk of deflation ended up creating an asset bubble that will soon come apart and present the same Fed with cleaning up the mess that they helped create.

The last tightening of the Fed was on June 29th 2006 when it took its rate to 5.25% (a 4.25% rise over two years). Borrowers of adjustable rates never thought that their rate would climb this much when their own central bank was promising that the low rate would be there for a considerable period. The rate rise and the dizzying house price increases were akin to a game of musical chairs, which suddenly heard the music, stop.

The new Fed chairman was busy establishing his inflation fighting credentials when the housing market was already seeing its first crack in late 2006. Instead of forecasting and planning the bursting of the bubble, the Fed continued to send signals that all was fine and that the housing market was simply “correcting”. The correction turned into a Tsunami starting in August 2007. As house prices stopped rising and were by then starting to fall in many areas, the system was starting to come apart.

The Fed was caught like a deer staring in a headlight. Throughout the latter part of 2007, it has cut its rate slowly and reluctantly. It was worried about an inflation rate hovering around its preferred upper limit of 2% and about being perceived of bailing out investors.
This was another major policy error. When such a leveraged asset starts declining, the worry ought to shift about its “deflationary” impact. The Fed’s dual mandate is to maximize growth without inflation. The implications on growth stemming from a falling housing market should have been their first priority.
Every policy action has unintended consequences. Some investors may be bailed out. The Dollar may suffer. Some commodities may rise in price. But, none of the above should deter the Fed from doing all it can to stop the economy from entering a recession. House prices are already falling. A recession would cause job losses and more houses on the market for sale driving prices even lower. The consumer will retrench further. This will cause a deeper recession and a faster drop in home prices and sales. This vicious circle must be stopped and the only way to stop it is a substantive cut in rates by the Fed.

Greenspan cut the rate to 1.00% in 2004 fearing a deflationary force that never materialized. This new Fed must guard against the very same deflationary forces now. Just because it was a false alarm in 2004 does not mean that the country be as lucky this time. Central banking is a risk management exercise. Making sure the worst possible outcome is avoided must be the top priority. The Fed will continue to drop its rate until it is assured that a recession is avoided at all costs. This includes being perceived as bailing out some investors or having to live with a lower value for the Dollar for few years to come.

January 25th, 2008, 7:15 pm

 

idaf said:

Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman on Friday telephoned Syrian President Bashar Assad and the Syrian military command, it was officially reported.

The state-run National News Agency (NNA), which carried the short report, did not disclose further details pertaining to nature of the discussion between Suleiman, Assad and the Syrian military command.

It also did not identify the Syrian military commanders contacted by Suleiman.

The report, however, said Suleiman received later Secretary General of the higher Lebanese-Syrian council Nasri Khoury.

The Suleiman-Khoury talks, according to NNA, covered “the general situation in the country, Lebanese-Syrian relations and a review of the context of the two (telephone) calls, during which Gen. Suleiman stressed on persistence of brotherly contacts and coordination between the two sisterly states and armies.”

http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/0/C9376FBB40BE6DA2C22573DB004D9F62?OpenDocument

January 25th, 2008, 7:39 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

“The following is the latter part of my above comment. It was omitted by mistake.”

The Fed was caught like a deer staring in a headlight. Throughout the latter part of 2007, it has cut its rate slowly and reluctantly. It was worried about an inflation rate hovering around its preferred upper limit of 2% and about being perceived of bailing out investors.

This was another major policy error. When such a leveraged asset starts declining, the worry ought to shift about its “deflationary” impact. The Fed’s dual mandate is to maximize growth without inflation. The implications on growth stemming from a falling housing market should have been their first priority. Every policy action has unintended consequences. Some investors may be bailed out. The Dollar may suffer. Some commodities may rise in price. But, none of the above should deter the Fed from doing all it can to stop the economy from entering a recession. House prices are already falling. A recession would cause job losses and more houses on the market for sale driving prices even lower. The consumer will retrench further. This will cause a deeper recession and a faster drop in home prices and sales. This vicious circle must be stopped and the only way to stop it is a substantive cut in rates by the Fed.

Greenspan cut the rate to 1.00% in 2004 fearing a deflationary force that never materialized. This new Fed must guard against the very same deflationary forces now. Just because it was a false alarm in 2004 does not mean that the country can take a risk this time. Central banking is a risk management exercise. Making sure the worst possible outcome is avoided must be the top priority. The Fed will continue to drop its rate until it is assured that a recession is avoided at all costs. A lower Dollar may be a price to pay in the interim. Once investors are convinced that the Fed has done enough to avoid a recession, the Dollar will soon reverse course. As to the Fed bailing out investors and banks, the truth is that a recession hurts everyone and especially the lower income families that are the first to be impacted. When banks lose, they retrench and tighten lending standards on everyone and especially on the people that need it the most. A credit crunch is what we have in place right now. The Fed must make sure it stops. The only policy tool it has is to drop its rate as fast and as much as it can.

January 25th, 2008, 7:48 pm

 

t_desco said:

“Furthermore, Western intelligence sources tell TIME that Al-Saadi Nahed, a Saudi extremist and veteran of the insurgency in Iraq, has been appointed “emir” for al-Qaeda in Lebanon. Nahed, who, according to intelligence sources, arrived in Lebanon earlier this month, has replaced Fahd al-Mughamis, who was arrested last June in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley along with other members of his cell while plotting to carry out bombings. Last month, an indictment against Mughamis stated that he was al-Qaeda’s coordinator for Lebanon, Jordan and Syria and that his cell had been trained by Esbat al-Ansar, a jihadist faction based in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in south Lebanon.”
Was Al-Qaeda Behind Beirut Bombing?, Nicholas Blanford, TIME

January 25th, 2008, 7:56 pm

 

idaf said:

Ya MSK,

You said.. “Fatah al-Islam = Mossad — Hahahahahahaha!!! That is prizeless, and in Al-Safir, no less!”

Dear MSK,
Why do you find the possibility of AlQaida-influenced cells being infiltrated by Mossad “prizeless”?! I don’t remember you finding the similar allegation that the Syrian mukhabarat was controlling/infiltrating Fath-el-Islam or other terrorist organizations “prizeless”! These allegations were thrown in the M14 media for months during the Nahr el-Bared battles. Similar allegations were thrown to the media by figures in the US administration and military about “Syrian controlled (or infiltrated)” foreign fighters in Iraq. Why are those acceptable?

Why is possible that the Syrian Mukhabarat control these elements but it is “prizeless” if a similar allegation is put forward by the media about the Mossad (despite the fact that much of what such groups have been doing in Lebanon is to Israel benefit)?! Is the Mossad (or any other intelligence system) less capable than the Mukhabart in manipulating such militants to its benefit?!

January 25th, 2008, 9:11 pm

 
 

majedkhaldoun said:

the truth is that a recession hurts everyone and especially the lower income families that are the first to be impacted.

the truth is the lower dollar will increase the prices this will hurt the lower income families, the answer is less goverment spendings,on war , entitlements and pork belly projects.

January 25th, 2008, 10:10 pm

 

t_desco said:

“In February 2006, a hand grenade was thrown at Eid’s home. He was not at home at the time and escaped injury. Eid was also involved in the standoff with Fatah al-Islam militants along Mitain Street in Tripoli in May 2007.”
The Daily Star

(my emphasis)

It seems that both Amani Soliman (Eid involved in Tripoli apartment siege) and Rula Amin (Eid injured in Nahr al-Bared) were right.

The question if he was in his bathroom (Jay Solomon/WSJ) or not at home (Hani Bathish/The Daily Star) when the first attack happened is of no significance.

January 25th, 2008, 10:32 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

IDAF said:

Dear MSK,
Why do you find the possibility of AlQaida-influenced cells being infiltrated by Mossad “prizeless”?! I don’t remember you finding the similar allegation that the Syrian mukhabarat was controlling/infiltrating Fath-el-Islam or other terrorist organizations “prizeless”!

Ya IDAF,

I’m going to jump in on this one.

Let’s set aside a few givens.

(1) Nobody knows for certain who is controlling Fatah al-Islam/al-Qaeda/Jund al-Sham, ila akhirihi, if anybody at all. It could be Syria, it could be Saad al-Hariri, it could be Israel, it could be Lynne Cheney. We don’t know. Fine.

(2) There is such a thing, as so many of my fellow Arabs like to remind us, as a “false flag” operation. Fine.

These two preliminary rules amount to a double-edged sword of epistemological futility: (a) we cannot be certain of anything since there is no concrete proof; (b) such proof as exists could always be ironically twisted (preferably with a sardonic smile and eyebrow raise as pefected by many of my older male relatives) to render it utterly unreliable.

Bravo. Why don’t we shut down SyriaComment and go back to surfing news websites in miserable, frustrated solitude?

Or… we could be honest with each other and debate things openly and rationally.

If you can tell me how it makes sense that the Mossad is funding a bunch of depraved Salafis to systematically eliminate a pro-Western government, UNIFIL troops, and American embassy employees, then I promise I will listen and consider what you say carefully…

January 25th, 2008, 10:50 pm

 

idaf said:

Qifa Nabki,

Thank you for your response.

Before I do, do you promise that you will not shrug my hypothesis off as “another conspiracy theory” or “another brainwashed Arab/Syrian” and then walk away from the discussion while bomarding me with sarcastic remarks? – A commonly used tactic by many of your fellow M14ers who would not accept anyone challenging the sacred “facts” they listen to daily on Future TV and co.

And for the record, I totally agree with your “givens” above.

January 25th, 2008, 11:11 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Idaf,

Not only will I not shrug off your hypothesis, etc. I will consider it very carefully.

And by the way, I am not a M14er. Or M8er. I am a Lebanoner. I mean, Lebanese.

Yalla, tafaddal.

January 25th, 2008, 11:14 pm

 

Alex said:

I was going to write something, but then I reached the part with “a double-edged sword of epistemological futility”

With my Syrian/Canadian Engineer’s vocabulary, I decided to stay out of this one.

QN, you have my email. Help me with that part please.

By the way, for those of you who don’t know, both Qifa Nabki and IDAF are working with the top Ivy league Universities and are both exceptionally talented.

Yalla tfaddalou.

January 26th, 2008, 6:19 am

 

wizart said:

T, Ehsani2, Observer

Thanks for your comments. I appreciate your interest.

Similar senarios may take place around the housing markets in the Middle East including Syria where prices have skyrocketed as well so topics like these on economic policy are dead on in my opinion.

I did not mean to infer that the U.S system or their central banker were misguided although it’s very difficult to perfectly manage the world’s biggest economy despite the monthly statistics.

For instance, US bankers were worried about oil and food induced inflation in their reluctance to lower rates sooner especially that their decisions take almost a year to fully be reflected in the economy so I would be reluctant to second guess their decision because as critics we usually have the advantage of hindsight.

January 26th, 2008, 8:15 am

 

t_desco said:

Version No. 3:

“Security officials said Eid had been wounded in the May 2007 raid against Fatah al Islam members that sparked the three-month battle against the group in a Palestinian refugee camp of northern Lebanon.

He escaped an assassination attempt about a year ago when a booby trap was placed near his residence in an eastern Beirut suburb, the security officials said.”
Los Angeles Times

January 26th, 2008, 9:03 am

 

t_desco said:

Going full circle

As-Safir reports that Wissam Eid (like Samir Shehade*) was involved in the investigation of the al-Qa’ida-linked “cell of 13” headed by Hassan Nabaa/Khaled Taha and to which Ahmed Abu Adass was connected, possibly linking the Hariri case to the Fatah al-Islam/al-Qa’ida/Dinniyeh group investigations.

The February 2006 attempt on his life may have been related to the arrest of the cell.

* Regarding Samir Shehade:

I noticed that Al-Jazeera has edited the article to which I had originally linked, so here is the article in full, “for the record”:

Lebanon blast wounds security officer

Tuesday 05 September 2006, 14:11 Makka Time, 11:11 GMT

At least two people have been killed and six others, including a senior Lebanese intelligence officer, wounded by a blast near the southern city of Sidon in an apparent assassination attempt, Aljazeera reports.

A remote-controlled bomb exploded on Tuesday as a two-vehicle convoy carrying Lieutenant-Colonel Samir Shehade, from the interior ministry’s intelligence branch, passed through the area, Aljazeera’s correspondent Bushra Abdul Samad said.

Associated Press said the explosion killed killed four aides and bodyguards of Shehada.

Shehade was involved in the arrest in August last year of four pro-Syrian Lebanese generals in Lebanon.

The four were arrested on suspicion of involvement in al-Hariri assassination.
Security officials said Shehade was critically injured by the bomb when it went off near his car in the village of Rimaila while his convoy was travelling on a road between two bridges.

Shehada, who lives in Sidon, might have been heading towards Beirut, where he works as deputy head of the information division at the Lebanese internal security forces, Aljazeera said.

The information division was involved in the arrest 13 al-Qaeda-linked suspects, Aljazeera’s correspondent said.

She said Shehade had been taken to Hammud hospital in Sidon, and quoted hospital officials as saying that his condition was stable.

Shehade was among the officers involved in Lebanon’s investigation in the February 2005 assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister.

The explosion came 10 days before Serge Brammertz, the UN chief investigator, is due to submit a report to the UN security council updating his findings into the death of al-Hariri.
No group has acknowledged carrying out the attack.”

(my emphasis)

January 26th, 2008, 12:42 pm

 

MSK said:

Dear IDAF,

I only worked at/with elite European, Arab and state-owned Californian universities and lack any Ivy-League connections (although I do know what “a double-edged sword of epistemological futility” is …), but I will attempt my best (I swear!) to answer your question.

Of course the Mossad is capable of infiltrating a group like Fatah al-Islam. It’s not as easy as for an Arab secret service, but it’s doable. And I would even assume that the Mossad has been working on infiltrating Islamist groups – in the Middle East and outside the region. The Mossad’s job is to protect Israel, and any Islamist group is, per definitionem (Alex – I can give you a translation if you want), a potential threat to Israel.

However, in this particular case – Al-Safir citing Suleiman to have said that “Fatah al Islam is an extension of the Mossad” and the latter is using the former to target the Lebanese resistance through the Army sounds too much like a (stereo)typical Al-Safir “argument”: Everything, from higher fuel prices to Islamist terror is Israel’s fault.

I mean, if the Mossad can infiltrate a group like Fatah al-Islam to the extent that it can actually manipulate its actions, then I wonder why it hasn’t been able to do the same with, oh I don’t know … Hamas? Hizbullah? the Iranian government?

There are many plausible explanations given for how Fatah al-Islam may have been / may be connected to the Syrian secret service, some of which were posted on this very blog. I am not saying that it was/is, but that it’s plausible. The moment I read comparable articles/research about Fatah al-Islam’s connection to the Mossad, I’ll stop laughing about instinctual, knee-jerk “The Israelis done it!” articles in Al-Safir.

Btw, M14’s instinctual, knee-jerk “The Syrians did it!” is as silly, but they still have a way to go before they match the outrageousness of their opponents. Right now they’re just boring. Oh, and they’re not posted here on this blog. 😉

–MSK*

January 26th, 2008, 2:42 pm

 

t_desco said:

Detlev Mehlis and Michael Young, talking about

Justice for Lebanon
WSJ

“Now, Mr. Mehlis is making the rather serious charge that Mr. Brammertz may not have done much (!) while working on the Hariri case.”

“”I haven’t seen a word in his reports during the past two years confirming that he has moved forward” (sic)…”

LOL

January 26th, 2008, 4:56 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

T_Desco,

What is the target of your LOL?

Do you agree, or feel that Mehlis is politically motivated?

I think that the interview makes some important points, particularly with regard to the significance of the Tribunal, on a regional level.

I hate to use the word “epistemological” twice in one post, but this is really what lies at the heart of its long-term significance, in my opinion. True, there will be political repercussions if the Tribunal implicates Syria, or another party. But I think that the longer-term importance of the trial will be the weakening of the “unsolvable-crime” expectation and mentality that pervades Arab political culture.

January 26th, 2008, 5:28 pm

 

Alex said:

QN

If Brammertz was the one making that point, I would be respectful. But Mehlis is a crook. I join T-Desco in his LOL.

Did you notice how Mehlis said in this interview with Michael Young that he HAD TO take those two unreliable witnesses … like, he is so easy going… even though Saddiq looked like, and talked like a crook, Mehlis liked his testimony and he based his first report on it.

Thanks god for the professional Brammertz who helped undo the damage that Mehlis did to the credibility of the UN after the neocon-led current US administration did the same to the credibility of the United States… hopefully the next administration will have a Brammertz-like approach that will remind the world of what the United States stands for.

January 26th, 2008, 5:53 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

MSK said: “…if the Mossad can infiltrate a group like Fatah al-Islam to the extent that it can actually manipulate its actions, then I wonder why it hasn’t been able to do the same with, oh I don’t know … Hamas? Hizbullah? the Iranian government?”

EXACTLY! It flies against any reason, logic, or rational analysis that the Mossad would have the ability to manipulate Fatah-al-Islam to that extent and yet fail miserably (as proven in the 2006 war) in having sufficient intelligence on the capabilities and planned tactics of Hizbillah.

Hizbollah is a much better organized entity than Hamas and other Palestinian rejectionist groups. The Mossad may well have had some success in infiltrating those groups, but in that case, the lack of cohesion and organization gets in the way of the effectiveness of the Mossad’s infiltration (if indeed it happened).

While it is true that the knee-jerk 100% predictable M14’s immediate claims that “Syria did it” are often unproven (and may be unprovable), the history of how the Syrian secret service has operated over the last several decades – particularly in Lebanon (but also in Syria) – their motivation, and the benefit they might eventually get (by making the Lebanese government fall constitutionally when enough ministers are killed), that history and the derived benefit from the assassinations clearly lead any sensible investigator to place Syrian intelligence services in the suspects camp.

I guess we’re still waiting — and most of us stand in solidarity with QN’s pledge to listen and think — for IDAF’s analysis of a plausible set of arguments implicating the Mossad.

Yalla, leysh ma tfaddalto ba3d ? ‘la’hweh 3annar

January 26th, 2008, 5:55 pm

 

t_desco said:

Qifa Nabki,

the UN investigation has made significant progress under Brammertz. If Mehlis was really unable to understand his reports, that would certainly explain a lot… 😀

Just one example:

Mehlis: “”I haven’t seen a word in his reports during the past two years confirming that he has moved forward”.

Brammertz: “35. … In particular, progress has been made in establishing the identity of the individual who is believed to have disappeared with Abu Adass on January 16, 2005.” (Brammertz VII, §35).

January 26th, 2008, 7:42 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

T_desco,

I’ve just only discovered your analysis of Brammertz V on SC. I’ve been reading it for the past hour (!), so I now understand your LOL.

Have you provided a similar analysis of Brammertz IX yet? If so, would you remind me of the URL. For some reason, SC’s search field doesn’t allow me to search the archive.

January 26th, 2008, 7:48 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Patrick Seale has a commentary on “The struggle for Lebanon”. Some relevant bits are pasted below…

It does not look as if the long-running Lebanese crisis will be resolved any day soon. The main reason is that the election of a Lebanese President is not a purely Lebanese affair. Numerous external powers want a say. To arrive at a consensus between them is no easy task. It will almost certainly need more time.

However, in the Lebanese context, the most important of these external actors is Syria, because Syria views developments in Lebanon as a matter of life and death. Rightly or wrongly, Syria feels it needs to exercise veto powers over the choice of a Lebanese President.

A key problem would seem to be that Syria has lost confidence in General Michel Suleiman, the Lebanese army commander who, it was hoped, would be a President acceptable to all sides.

General Suleiman developed close ties with Syria in the 1990s when the Lebanese army was being rebuilt with Syrian help after the civil war. Last year, when Lebanon was battling a violent Islamic faction entrenched in the Palestinian camp of Nahr al-Barid in northern Lebanon, Syria supplied the Lebanese army with much-needed ammunition.

In a word, General Suleiman’s candidacy for the presidency of Lebanon was seen as a concession to Syria. But that was last year. Syria seems no longer to trust him, believing that he has moved into the Saudi/US camp. Another Damascus rumour is that the General paid a recent secret visit to Saudi Arabia, when he is said to have given pledges about his future alignment.

What does Syria want in Lebanon? This question is being asked in every local and foreign capital. It is best to begin by attempting to define what it does not want. It does not want to send its own army back into Lebanon, where it was for 29 years from 1976 to 2005. But nor can it tolerate a hostile, provocative government in Beirut, which would poison Syria’s life on a daily basis.

Syria wants a guarantee that whatever ruling establishment emerges in Lebanon, whatever President is elected and government formed, will recognize and respect Syria’s vital interests — be they political, economic or strategic. That is the bottom line for Syria’s consent to a Lebanese settlement.

Syria seems to have three immediate preoccupations. The first concerns the international tribunal set up to try the men who killed Rafiq al-Hariri, Lebanon’s former Prime Minister, on 14 February 2005.

A second Syrian preoccupation is that a hostile regime in Lebanon might, with international support, seek to disarm Hizbullah… A third major Syrian preoccupation is of an even more radical shift in the regional balance. Its fear is that if the anti-Syrian 14 March coalition consolidates its position in Lebanon, it may be tempted, or pressured, into concluding a separate peace with Israel…

Syria is therefore demanding that Syria and its Lebanese neighbour be joined together, not in any formal political sense, but in a single geo-strategic space, able to confront external enemies.

I ask the more thoughtful Syrian commentators on this blog: how do you measure the efficacy of this strategy, in terms of what is best for Syria and not necessarily the regime?

I can give you one Lebanese’s perspective on this question, which is that we are simply tired of being a Syrian card that is waved menacingly in Israel’s direction. You can say all you like about the despicability of some M14 leaders and we can agree or disagree, but ultimately the people are tired. Maybe you cannot understand this because Syria is not on the front line with Israel, by virtue of its convenient Lebanese “card.” You don’t have to endure the daily Israeli fighter jet fly-overs, the everpresent possibility that you may be collateral damage in an assassination attempt while walking on the Corniche, the systematic destruction of infrastructure that goes hand in hand with confronting Israel with a brave “national resistance”…

Maybe some more Lebanese would be willing to play along with this vision of a “single geo-strategic space” if we sensed that Damascus actually had a viable and logical strategy beyond the perpetuation of its regime.

January 26th, 2008, 8:33 pm

 

Alex said:

QN,

I’ll give you a more detailed answer later, but you can start by realizing what many Lebanese do not want to believe:

1) Syria is not only using Lebanon (it is) … you NEED Syria big time… you used Syria in the past many times (like Syria being the only country that supplied the army with most of the ammunition it needed to fight in Nahr el-bared .. while the others talked for ever about their support for Lebanon)

2) History and geography and family ties are not minor details… they are always going to mean that Lebanon and Syria will have “special” relations.

3) Syria’s regime is interested in its survival for sure (like all politicians) … but if any country in the Middle East (besides Israel) has a clear, logical, strategy, it is Syria.

4) Syrians are sick of Lebanese politicians who would sell their loyalty to anything from Israel, Saudi Arabia, Israel, or Bahrain if the King is interested in regional power one day. You know I assume that Israel and KSA and this American administration are not really there because they love Lebanon and they love freedom and hey want to introduce the two to each other.

Patrick used the right word to describe the feeling that most of the Syrian people have about the Lebanese “government” of the past two years … the wonderful members of that government “poisoned” every Syrian’s day, every day … and this is not something that needs a Mehlis investigation to prove.

How do you think the Syrian people read Jumblatt’s attack on Fairouz because she went to sing in Damascus? … Syrians are madly in love with Fairouz, and for Jumblat to try to poison the experience one can not see how Lebanon can win out of this sad behavior.

This is not to say that Syria is a wonderful neighbor, but Syria is the larger neighbor … Lebanon will not be able to sublease and escape to another condo near Sweden. You will need to reach an accommodation with Syria… just like the 90’s, minus the Syrian army and Syrian heavy-handed control of your politics, and minus the excessive corruption of Hariri, Jumblatt, Kanaan, Khaddam, and senior Syrian army officers, and others from both sides.

The rest of Syria’s needs are not that severe for now… do you think Canada was going to be tolerated if it elected a communist Pro-USSR government in the 70’s?

January 26th, 2008, 9:00 pm

 

G said:

the wonderful members of that government “poisoned” every Syrian’s day, every day … and this is not something that needs a Mehlis investigation to prove.

I’d trade you this supposed “poison” for Syrians stopping to “kill” and “bomb” and “murder” every day.

January 26th, 2008, 9:39 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Alex,

Syria is not only using Lebanon (it is) … you NEED Syria big time… you used Syria in the past many times (like Syria being the only country that supplied the army with most of the ammunition it needed to fight in Nahr el-bared .. while the others talked for ever about their support for Lebanon)

Until the UNIIIC has finished its work and we have a proper understanding of who Fatah al-Islam is and who is supporting it, any mention of Syria’s help during the Nahr al-Bared campaign is frankly not going to ring so true to many Lebanese. I’m not saying that I believe Syria is behind the group, but this is not an argument for why Lebanon “needs” Syria. The Americans also sent ammunition, and I seem to recall a huge uproar on SC about that.

In fact, I have not been convinced yet that Lebanon “needs” Syria to provide it with security. We are not living in a Civil War anymore, and our institutions (until the past couple of years) have been growing stronger. How do you know that Syria is not contributing to the al-Qaida-flavored chaos in Lebanon in order to persuade the Lebanese that they “need” Syria back? This is a far less far-fetched “false flag” operation, don’t you think?

History and geography and family ties are not minor details… they are always going to mean that Lebanon and Syria will have “special” relations.

That’s fine, nobody is saying that we can’t have “special relations” … whether they result in the pretty young Lebanese wife returning to her handsome Syrian husband or not. History, geography, etc. is all fine. But this does not mean that the Lebanese should be expected to keep doing Syria’s bidding vis-a-vis Israel. How does this make sense?

3) Syria’s regime is interested in its survival for sure (like all politicians) … but if any country in the Middle East (besides Israel) has a clear, logical, strategy, it is Syria.

If its strategy is so clear and logical, then how do you explain the disparity between the life of an average Syrian and the life of an average Lebanese, in terms of access to fundamental human rights, education, opportunities, etc.? How does strategy translate into positive results that should build confidence in the strategy’s future?

4) Syrians are sick of Lebanese politicians who would sell their loyalty to anything from Israel, Saudi Arabia, Israel, or Bahrain if the King is interested in regional power one day.

You know, I don’t believe in loyalty for loyalty’s sake. I believe in rationality, honesty, and common sense. Maybe this makes me a traitor to past sacrifices, but I simply cannot see the benefit of an “orbit” that features as its leading lights such lovely figures as Meshaal, Ahmadinejad, and Naim Qassem.

do you think Canada was going to be tolerated if it elected a communist Pro-USSR government in the 70’s?

These kinds of comments always bring a smile to my face. 🙂 (see?)

In this scenario, Syria is the lovely progressive United States and Lebanon is a hypothetical communist pro-USSR government. No, of course such a regime would not be tolerated. Now take that conclusion and reverse the actors, and this is what many Lebanese are wondering about Syria, my friend. Why should we tolerate a hostile regime that prizes its own survival over the welfare of its people? Why should we tolerate a militia within our borders that takes orders from a different country?

January 26th, 2008, 9:56 pm

 

idaf said:

Qifa Nabki,

You asked me the following question yesterday: “If you can tell me how it makes sense that the Mossad is funding a bunch of depraved Salafis to systematically eliminate a pro-Western government, UNIFIL troops, and American embassy employees, then I promise I will listen and consider what you say carefully”

I have to warn you that my answer would be long and maybe painful sometimes, but I’ll try to make it fun in a story telling style. I do not claim that the following are facts. This is simply a possible scenario among many. However, this scenario has received very little assessment from many Lebanese, primarily because of political and sectarian reasons.

There are different possible scenarios as you suggested for who (if any) is infiltrating/controlling/influencing Fateh-el-Islam and their clones. I’ll focus on one, while acknowledging that other scenarios are equally possible. But first let me put forward the 5 assumptions I’m basing my arguments on:

1- Considerable amount of evidence gathered in the last 3 years (thanks are due to T_Desco here) suggest that the murders taking place in Lebanon are committed (or at least planned) by several different entities (some of them might be in conflict with each other). This is a cornerstone in my hypothesis. Some of the assassinations that took place in the last 3 years might have been carried out by the Mossad, some by AlQaida groups, some by the Mukhabarat.. etc.

2- “Timing” is one of the key factors in the analyze of these findings. If we want to understand why and who are conducting the assassinations (or at least some of them) then you have to spend a lot of time analyzing the timing of each crime.

3- I don’t agree that whoever is planning the assassinations is necessarily doing this to “eliminate a pro-Western government, UNIFIL troops, and American embassy employees” as you suggest. This is were we largely disagree. If you base your arguments on such an assumption solely then you would be severely limiting your view and sense-making ability.

4- There are several intelligence systems operating in Lebanon freely. These include (but not necessarily limited to) American, Israeli, Syrian, French, Iranian, Saudi among others.

5- Non-Lebanese Non-state actors also operating in Lebanon include several AlQaida-influenced groups such as Jund AlSham, Fateh el-Islam, ‘Usbat el Ansar, Jamaat Al-Nusrah wa el-Jihad fi Bilad elSham among others.

Now to make things a bit interesting, let’s say I’m a senior Israeli intelligence officer managing the Mossad operations in Lebanon since the year 2000. And to add another fun element to the story, let’s say that my operation codename is AIG!

Back then, Israel’s declared objectives for Lebanon were for the Syrian army to leave Lebanon, with the end goal of ending Hizballah as a threat. As the lead Mossad officer on Lebanon, my long term plan would be the following: Weaken the Syrians in Lebanon to be able to destroy Hizbullah’s capacity of threatening Israel. To achieve this end goal, I need to design a plan based on the data I am receiving from my informers inside Lebanon (I have loads of them by the way. Remember that the members of Lahd South Lebanon Army who were on the IDF and Mossad’s payroll for decades were pardoned by the Lebanese courts and many are still on my payroll and are feeding me with precious information).

The information I received in the period 2003-2004 from my informers is strongly indicating the following political atmosphere in Lebanon:
The joint Syro-Lebanese political and commercial patronage network that was in control of both countries economy (but mostly Lebanon) for the last decade (ie. the Hariri-Khaddam network) is weakened by the increasing direct interventions by Bashar in the “Lebanon file”. The Khaddam-Hariri corruption network that span 2 countries was threatened directly and both politicians/businessmen saw their financial interests and political influence diminishing in Syria and Lebanon. This created a bitter taste in the mouths of both figures.

Bottom line, there was a growing rift between the Hariri patronage network and leadership in Syria. As a professional intelligence system, at that stage, my analysis team was planning several scenarios to exploit this promising opportunity to achieve the objectives stated above. By the end of 2004, one of the scenarios put forward by one of senior analysts (codenamed AP for the fun of it!) is to accelerate the withdrawal of Syrian military and cut the supply line of Hizballah through creating a catalyst for an “anti-Syria revolution” a la the anti-Russia “orange revolution” in Ukraine that just started (November 2004) and was successful in vilifying Russia and its role in the Ukraine and bring about the atmosphere for a pro-western government there. In order to achieve this, AP’s plan suggested exploiting the newly formed rift between senior Syrian and Lebanese politicians to topple the pro-Syria government in Lebanon and push the Syrians out. To carry out this scenario, AP’s team suggested a huge shock that can be blamed on Syria (something similar to the 9/11 in 2001 that can influence policy making, blind the media and enable the exploitation of public sentiments). The data gathered by my informers in Beirut suggested that the environment is ripe for successful implementation of such scenario.

As a Mossad senior officer, I have learned a lot from my colleagues operating in Iraq for the past 3 years about AlQaida-esque groups.. How they operate, their ideology(ies), tactics, recruitment methods, etc. But most importantly, the Mossad database is now filled with invaluable information on the hierarchical decision making system in such groups (the “Amir el-jama’a”, loyalty systems, brainwashing mechanisms, messaging systems, communication channels, etc.) The analysts recommendation were that such invaluable information could facilitate influencing these groups in Lebanon. My team’s access to the communication systems in Lebanon has also provided me with enormous amount of information on the activities of such groups operating in the country.

After decades of hands-on experience in Lebanon, and after studying the information gathered about the “Iraqi-Arabs” and “Afghani-Arabs” (specially the ones who operate in Lebanon), my Lebanon-based team now have managed to reach a level of sophistication that enables them to pass messages, commands, weapons, etc. to younger and less experienced members in such Salafi groups. These members would believe that they are receiving orders from an “Amir”. After few tests in Iraq, my team of senior analysts have suggested that this is doable in Lebanon. I ordered the field work to start and my agents in Beirut have located the potential “tools” in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. These elements make excellent candidates because of their economic, religious and educational status. I can now pass an order to some brainwashed and trained Salafi cell member to carry out a ‘Aamalyiah Istishhadyia without him knowing that he would be working for the Mossad. His orders will look as if they were coming from the Amir. All I have to do, is follow the same method of messaging system and communication channel used by his group and give him the necessarily equipment to carry out this order. This is not as complicated as it sounds as these groups are not sophisticated enough in their encoding and encryption systems. The lack of transparent hierarchal order is a plus. The fact that in most underground Salafi groups the junior members do not necessarily meet their commander (or Amir) in these cells makes things even easier. All my agents have to do is to package the message in a convincing religious way and justify the target as an infidel that should be eliminated for the greater good of the Umma and for reestablishing the caliphate in Bilad elSham. Our experience in Iraq has shown that this is easily doable. In many cases, the Salafi member would not even know that he would be carrying out a ‘Aamalyiah Istishhadyia. He would only be driving and transporting “munitions” to another member using a specific road at specific time. Our remote detonation system will do the rest.

The rest is history.

But there is one important follow-up here.. TIMING. Given that in Lebanon, the political landscape is extremely complex, similar operations were needed later whenever the political pendulum was to shift towards Syria and more importantly, towards Hizballah. Here are few examples:

Let’s take the assassination that took place few days ago. Again, the assassination is well timed. 10 days before Serge Brammertz, is due to submit a report to the UN security council updating his findings into the death of Hariri. The previous assassination in September came exactly one week before the date that presidential election was supposed to take place in Lebanon. The opposition had a moderate initiative (the Berri initiative) that seamed to be gaining ground not to our liking. In another example, Jubran Tuaini assassinated 24 hours before the Security Council meeting on Syria to discuss the Mehlis report. Pierre Gemayel was assassinated days before the launch of the mass opposition movement in Beirut. Ghanem was killed 7 days before the presidential elections 2 days after coming back from self imposed exile to Lebanon. François el-Hajj was a test to eliminate a potential army chief that was a supporter of Hizballah. The same scenario will be repeated just before any event that need a sentimental or political nudge. Suddenly we produce an assassination at the right time and the Lebanese politicians and media would do the rest by starting their campaign against Syria and its allies. We have learned from previous experience that the Saudi financed media in Lebanon and beyond will point the finger to Syria as usual without much analysis. whenever needed, this will cause the opposition to get weakened and put on the defensive. Whenever the balance shift away from the M14 group, we do one more operation on our “black list” which usually gives them a political life saving boost to re-launch their sentimental anti-Syria campaign. Of course, sometimes we send our agent directly if necessarily (like the case with Gemayel).

However, we did not conduct all the operations in Lebanon in the last few years. Our intelligence indicate that AlQaida groups (such as Fateh el-Islam) have managed to conduct few successful operations. As we learned from AlQaida’s strategy in Iraq, AlQaida’s strategy in Lebanon are twofold. First, create enough chaos to facilitate recruitment and establish pockets of control. Second, utilize such chaos to weaken “enemies” (mainly Shia/Hizbullah). This strategy has been the one followed by AlQaida in Iraq according to important documents seized in Iraq by the US military which indicated that AlQaida strategy in Iraq include creating a state of chaos as a first phase to establish control, facilitate recruitment and keep the enemies busy (i.e. Shia militias and US military).

Qifa Nabki,
To stay on the objective side, I acknowledge that if you substitute the word “Israel” with “Syria” and “Mossad” with “Mukhabarat” in the above text, it would be similarly a possible scenario. The only thing that makes it less probable by light years, is the fact that most of the events taking place (all the chaos and assassinations) are repeatedly causing damage and weakening Syria and Syria’s allies in Lebanon. Here comes the timing factor. If you objectively study the timing of each and every explosion and assassination attempt in Lebanon, you will notice an amazing trend where the event takes place in an intriguingly precise timing that would cause the most damage possible to Syria and to Syrian allies in Lebanon. This timing factor is the main reason that strongly points the finger to the Mossad. Because of their nature, AlQaida influenced groups have been unknowingly reduced in many cases to valuable tools in the hands of intelligence services, mainly because of the underground operation system and the non-transparent decision making system they follow, that makes it almost impossible for many members in such cells to know exactly where the orders are coming from (unlike the case of other well-organized groups such as Hamas and Hizaballah that have well know line of command). For example, I put the attacks on the American embassy employees and the UNIFIL in the genuine AlQaida operations (not the manipulated ones). However, one should keep an open mind while analyzing some of these operations, for the fact that the attacks on the UNIFIL in many cases may undermine and weaken Hizballah. Again, the timing here should be studied more thoroughly. I haven’t done that for the UNIFIL attacks.

I first intended to write an more “academic” piece, but then thought that this should be more “fun” to read instead. Personally, I strongly believe that such hypothesis should be studied carefully (with all other different theories about what’s taking place in Lebanon).

QN, MSK, and others.. as an advice, please count to 10 before you comment back on this 🙂

January 26th, 2008, 10:09 pm

 

Observer said:

Nice analysis of the Israeli blockade of Gaza by Uri Avnery.
Here is the link
http://counterpunch.org/avnery01272008.html

The essense of his article is that the blockade was a blunder just as the 2006 war was a blunder.

As to what Syria wants:
1. A friendly regime in Lebanon
2. Armed resistance to protect its flank as the Israelis can swoop from Lebanon and attack Damascus
3. Time to consolidate the changes that are being implemented in the economy and the financial system.
Way down the list after these three objectives
complete emasculation of the christians in Lebanon
complete emasculation of the Abbas faction in Fatah.
Someone said the Lebanese are tired of being the place of local and regional rivalries. It is after all the fault of the Lebanese that they accept to be manipulated. Can you imagine for one second that the Swiss would allow the regional politics of Europe occur on their territory? Neither France nor Germany nor Italy would find a single swiss willing to cooperate with such manipulation.

Finally, the Lebanon of the Maronites is gone. It is now the Lebanon of the Shia.

January 26th, 2008, 11:41 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
Have you noticed how the Syrians reject the logic of “might is right” in the Golan but are happy to apply it in Lebanon? After all, you are a “small country” so must do Syria’s bidding.

I cannot help but laugh when I read the exchange you have with Alex. In another 6 months or so, if the Syrians keep holding things up, the Europeans will agree that the old militias will have to armed. The Druze, the LF and Kateb and the ISF will take on Nasrallah with the help of Israel.

[rest of comment removed]

January 26th, 2008, 11:58 pm

 

Umr'uo Al-Qays said:

This message is specifically tailored to Mr. Qifa Nabki. The choice of my name is obviously meant to convey this.
Mr. QN,
You look like a very intelligent person to me. So the gist of my message is don’t waste your time on Syria Comment. As a Lebanese you should be exerting your efforts somewhere else. First of all there is no honor in relative ties or geography. The only highest honor you have is being LEBANESE.
I’ll explain a little bit of a family practice with regards to this issue. We always employed Syrians to do menial tasks in our family business. Our motto was treat him (the Syrian worker) humanely as long as he is looking for his daily bread and not associating himself with political matters until the Syrian army entered Lebanon. At this time we switched to hiring more Lebanese and less Syrians unless they prove beyond any shadow of doubt that they are opposed to their Syrian Government. That worked very well and was even used by a French businessman who established a dairy plant in Lebanon. He even went further and refused to hire any Syrian. His reasoning was the cows he brought from Europe are more intelligent than the regular Syrian. So he refused to entrust his precious cows to the care of the Syrians. I don’t blame him.
So my dear Lebanese QN, save your time and refrain from entering into a futile dialogue with such demagogues of supporters of a police state. Remember the highest honor you have is being LEBANESE, and please try to use your boot instead of your pen when dealing with such morons.
And as a reminder:
Qifa nabki min zikra habibin wa manzili
bi siqt liwa bayna aldakhouli fa hawmali

These words can only be spoken by a prince. So don’t waste them on ignorant crowds.

January 27th, 2008, 12:08 am

 

Alex said:

AIG, I removed the stupid part of your message … if you keep doing it, I will block your IP completely like most people on this blog want me to.

As for the more interesting point you made, “might is right” applies everywhere in my opinion… to various degrees. I did not say Syrian “might” should lead to an occupation of Lebanon, like Israel’s might is leading to an occupation of the Palestinians and the Golan. Besides, you have not been paying attention to when I differed with Norman for example when he proposed that only a war can teach Israel the value of peace. I understand Israel’s might and even if war was useful, I would not support it.

And Syria’s “might” is … mostly natural, not forced … history, geography and family ties … I did not tell QN “you better shut up and allow the Syrian army to enter Lebanon again”.

January 27th, 2008, 1:23 am

 

Alex said:

G,

“I’d trade you this supposed “poison” for Syrians stopping to “kill” and “bomb” and “murder” every day. ”

As I said, facts for facts.

When a single crime is proven to be committed by Syrians, then things will be very different. I’ll remind you for a thousand time of when you and everyone else were so sure the Syrians killed everyone in Anjar’s mass graves … it turns out they wee from Ottoman times.

And you were sure the Hariri bomb was underground (whoch meant that Syrian intelleigence must have allowed that) .. that was proven wrong later.

Try to be patient … if one day a UN investigator proves it was the Syrians, then you can go back to spraying your poison on Damascus again. Until then … it is “revenge” and not “justice”.

Not very civilized, is it.

January 27th, 2008, 1:39 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Idaf,

Thanks for the very methodical analysis. I have counted to ten, but it wasn’t necessary. What you are saying is not so shocking and improbable. Anything is possible… this is why we will have to wait and see.

My single piece of criticism is based on your assumption that the opposition has been substantively “weakened” by each assassination in Lebanon. This is simply not true. How have they been weakened? Has the majority been able to gain any kind of upper hand? Lebanon remains mired in the same swamp we’ve been in for over a year.

As many of the Syrians/opposition folks on this blog started crowing around the time of the Annapolis conference, March 14 suffered a big setback when they were “forced” to accept Suleiman. At that point, if you recall, even Jumblatt shut his mouth and stopped saying negative things about Bashar. Everybody assumed that the West had “sold” M14 down the river. Syria, it seemed, had gotten its way.

But did that lead to stability? No. Did the opposition translate its newfound victory into anything productive and fruitful for the country? No. Did Aoun wake up and remember that Lebanon is bigger than him? No.

We’ll have to wait and see…

January 27th, 2008, 2:58 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG,

The Druze, the LF and Kateb and the ISF will take on Nasrallah with the help of Israel.

If what you say is true, this will be the end of Lebanon.

Imru al-Qays,

7ake bala ta3meh. (Especially from someone with such an eloquent namesake).

January 27th, 2008, 3:02 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Observer,

Can you imagine for one second that the Swiss would allow the regional politics of Europe occur on their territory? Neither France nor Germany nor Italy would find a single swiss willing to cooperate with such manipulation.

It’s amazing that all those MP’s who received death threats back in 2004 when Syria was forcing Lahoud through for an illegal extension didn’t think of this brilliant piece of advice. “Just say no…” I’ll have to keep that one in mind…

January 27th, 2008, 3:12 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Alex,

Our disagreement stems from a single point, which does not emanate from anger or resentment related to the Hariri assassination (on my part) or to the neo-cons’ response (on yours).

These things are peripheral, and they cloud the central points.

Our disagreement stems from a difference in opinion regarding the viability of Syria’s strategy for effectively shepherding the region towards peace.

January 27th, 2008, 3:31 am

 

norman said:

Back to Article Click to Print Thursday, Jan. 24, 2008
Syria: Who Needs Annapolis?
By Andrew Lee Butters/Damascus

Neither rain, nor snow nor sleet from a huge storm the night before could dampen the militancy of the aging all-stars of 60 years of Arab conflict with Israel gathered at a trade union resort hotel outside Damascus on Wednesday. It was the biggest gathering of radical Palestinian factions since the signing of the Oslo Peace Accord in 1993, with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command attending along with the Lebanese Hizballah organization — an all-star cast of organizations branded as terrorist by the U.S.

Beneath portraits of Syrian President Bashar al Assad and his late father, Hafez, one speaker after another called for an end to peace negotiations with Israel, demanded a lifting of the Israeli siege of Gaza, and urged Palestinians and Arabs to unite against Israel. “Zionists are bastards, and will always be bastards,” said Hamas chief Khaled Meshal. “They will never be legitimate.”

With melted snow dripping into the conference hall, decorated in burlap sacking to evoke the inside of a bedouin tent, the setting could hardly have born less resemblence to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, scene of the U.S. sponsored Middle East peace conference last November. That, of course, was the point.

By hosting this belligerent, anti-Annapolis conference, the Assad regime seemed to be symbolically turning its back on the U.S.-led peace effort. For over a year, Damascus had been calling for a resumption of peace negotiations with Israel, not least at the Annapolis meeting itself. But though a brief thaw in U.S.-Syrian relations ensued, the resumption of hard-line posturing seems to suggest that Syria wanted more than the Bush Administration was willing to deliver. Syria’s main beef with Israel is the occupation of the Golan Heights (captured by Israel in 1967), but the Assad regime has long been concerned that the U.S. is trying to isolate or even topple it.

Still, it’s not clear that that Syria’s rejection of Annapolis means it seeks confrontation with Israel. Despite the presence of Meshal and a few other leaders, a look at the graying conference attendees — mostly third-tier political cadres sporting corduroy suits, leather trench coats, and other 70s fashion statements — suggests that the best minds of the resistance are busy elsewhere.

Syria may be betting that after President Bush’s lackluster tour of the Middle East, the Annapolis process will simply die a natural death. Or perhaps Damascus believes it can cut a better deal after Bush leaves office. Already there are whispers in Washington that an incoming Democratic administration might be willing to allow Syria to return to Lebanon — which it occupied until forced out in 2005 — in return for peace with Israel.

In the mean time, of course, Damascus can bask in the accolades of its more militant allies. “Syria is a partner of the resistance in Palestine and Lebanon, and it can get a share of the victories in Palestine in Lebanon,” said Ibrahim Amin Sayeed, chairman of the political council of Hizballah, which gets its weapons from Syria and Iran. “And there are many victories ahead.”

Click to Print Find this article at:
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1706676,00.html
Copyright � 2008 Time Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.Privacy Policy|Add TIME Headlines to your Site|Contact Us|Customer Service

January 27th, 2008, 3:52 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

to Umruo al Qays;
I do not like what you said,frequently we (syrian) proved we are better.

January 27th, 2008, 3:58 am

 

umro'uo al-qays said:

QN,
When you start looking for a real job, and soon you will, we’ll offer a job but it’ll be under the terms outlined in my previous post. You should prove you’re looking for your daily bread and have nothing to do with politics. See you dude.

January 27th, 2008, 4:03 am

 

norman said:

Majed,

I would not worry about what some Lebanese or even french say , Syria and the Syrians are better , The enemies of Syria are frustrated that Syria continue to prosper while others are engulfed in civil war or internal conflicts while Syria is moving toward economic development.

January 27th, 2008, 4:11 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
If Syria coninues hampering any political compromise, why will the militias not eventually rearm? What choice do they have except for giving in completely?

January 27th, 2008, 5:05 am

 

MNA said:

“I can give you one Lebanese’s perspective on this question, which is that we are simply tired of being a Syrian card that is waved menacingly in Israel’s direction. You can say all you like about the despicability of some M14 leaders and we can agree or disagree, but ultimately the people are tired. Maybe you cannot understand this because Syria is not on the front line with Israel, by virtue of its convenient Lebanese “card.” You don’t have to endure the daily Israeli fighter jet fly-overs, the everpresent possibility that you may be collateral damage in an assassination attempt while walking on the Corniche, the systematic destruction of infrastructure that goes hand in hand with confronting Israel with a brave “national resistance”… Maybe some more Lebanese would be willing to play along with this vision of a “single geo-strategic space” if we sensed that Damascus actually had a viable and logical strategy beyond the perpetuation of its regime.”

As long as the Lebanese think with this kind of mentality, the future will be grime. It implies that Lebanon’s problem is with Syria only and that when Syria raises its heavy hand off it, Lebanon will prosper and will be able to live in a vacuum away from all regional conflicts. This thinking is leading to the destruction of Lebanon. There are many colliding players and interests. Syria’s interest in Lebanon always stemmed from the desire to prevent or limit any American or Israeli influence and to have a friendly government in its smaller neighbor, this is not to say that this was the situation in 1990-2005; Syria made mistakes in Lebanon and paid dearly for them, remember that this interest goes back to the 50s and 60s, long before the Golan was captured by Israel and long before the Baath government. The interest of the so called “moderate Arab states” led by Saudi Arabia is to spread their influence in Lebanon, after they have lost influence in Iraq and Palestine, in an effort to put a break on Iran’s influence in the region and to contain the imaginary Shiia crescent. Iran’s interest is to spread its influence in the region to better its position vis-à-vis its enemies. Israel’s interest is to spread its influence, weaken an Arab country, have friendly regimes in a neighboring country with which it can sign a surrender treaty which call for settling the Palestinian refuges in Lebanon, and counter Syria’s and Iran’s interest. The American interest is to control the entire region, and by doing so have to contain the influence of Iran and Syria, and maintain the superiority of Israel in the region. Intentionally or by default, the interest of the “moderate Arab states” converged with those of Israel and the USA, on one side, and the interests of Iran and Syria converged on the other side. Once the Lebanese understand and accept this fact, things will be much clearer, they just have to decide on which side they want to be, the American/ Israeli side or the Iranian/ Syrian side. Unfortunately they can not stand on the sideline!
In the 50s, Syria was in a similar position when it was fought over by Saudi Arabia/ USA and Egypt/USSR. Syria as a small player could not stand on the sideline; it had to make a decision, based on its national interest, and take one side. By doing so, Syria transformed itself from a minor player with countries fighting over to control, to a major player with countries fighting over to have on their side.
Maybe Lebanon has to make a decision!

January 27th, 2008, 5:57 am

 

T said:

AIG,
Are you a partisan for the militias now– What exactly are you getting at????????????????????????????????????????

US-Israel dont need to infiltrate Al Qaeda. They created it. Then used Qaeda/Bin Laden to fight the Soviets. (Please read “Charlie Wilsons War” but do NOT see the hollywood version, it leaves out everything that matters. Also google “Operation Northwoods”) US-Israel-Saudis funded Pakistani ISI (also under Bhutto). By the way, Why has no media picked up on the BBC interview where Bhutto said OBL is dead? That should have sent shock waves round the world.

Proxy “terrorists” have long been used by the US-Mossad to eliminate opponents and do their dirty work. These operations are very well documented in many places by former CIA, DIA agents etc.

Much as Israel complains about Hamas, it was Israel that first funded and supported Hamas in the 1980s under Menachem Begin as a way to create a civil war between Palestinians. Now they fund Fatah against Hamas. Last month a Jewish newspaper in the US wrote about a near- million $$ deposit from top Israeli banks going to the HAMAS Security Forces.

This technique was also used in Iran-Iraq War. US/Israel supported BOTH sides, w/ $$$, weapons, intel etc. Theory-“let them kill each other off and liquidate themselves so we dont have to.” And Arabs were foolish enough to oblige.

Now we have Fath Al Islam… whose end effect will be (it is hoped) to “disarm” the Palestinians in Nahr Bared and someday Hezbollah? Great way to internally implement Res 1559, since Hariri killing and external bombing in 2006 didnt do it. And the disappearing Abssi can be utilized like Zarqawi & OBL.

And in the US? They’re still running Al Qaeda promos geared to terrorize an American audience and zap us into shape if things get unruly… The most absurd one is “Azzam the American” who threatens us with death and destruction. Azzam aka “Adam Gadahn” is a supposed “American convert to Al Qaeda”. He frequently appears in Qaeda MTV-style videos endorsed by Ayman Zawihiri.

But Adam Pearlmen is his REAL name. Adam is the grandson of the late Carl K. Pearlman; a prominent Jewish urologist in Orange County, California. Carl was also a member of the board of directors of the Anti-Defamation League, (ADL) which was caught spying on Americans for Israel in 1993, much as AIPAC has been caught up in the more recent spy scandal. And as always, this has been ignored in the media- and to question the implications of it could get you banished as an anti-semite, or worse.

http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/terrorists/gadahn_a.htm

January 27th, 2008, 6:49 am

 

why-discuss said:

MNA

I agree with you
Lebanon has never solved their internal problem of a awkward and unclear constitution, complicated even more by the Taef accord. Lebanese always thought that ignoring the problem will make it dissapear. They did not take any lesson for the civil war that destroy the city to see it rebuilt a “monte carlo” for gulf tourists. Now they are paying a high price for the wishy washy politics, the dream of many to have Lebanon relocated in Europe or the USA and their ignorance of the realities.
The struggle we see now is the one of identity and belonging. Either Lebanon belongs to the arab world and would have to share its problems and contradictions and deal with it or become another Israel, enclosed in their fence, and selfishly enjoying the financial support of the USA and their allies.

January 27th, 2008, 8:31 am

 

wizart said:

Qifa N,

The opposition in Lebanon has not been “weakened” but neither has Israel by the instability in Lebanon. I think what IDAF meant was relative. Otherwise I agree it was probably an assumption.

Syrians for the most part empathize with what you’re going thru and like MNA is saying Syria has seen instability in its past and made costly trade offs which Lebanon is being challenged to make.

The down side of Democracy is that it’s more easily manipulated so it requires more political maturity on the part of the average joe.
I’m not saying Lebanon should seize its many well functioning institutions although I think it has room to mature politically.

January 27th, 2008, 8:53 am

 

Youssef Hanna said:

Brother Syrians,

I appreciate that you disregarded with dignity and self assurance the racist comment that appeared on one of the posts.

I believe in a motto that the SR and their lebanese sycophants used to repeat: wi7dat el massiir, wi7dat el massaar: until democrat Lebanese join hands with democrats of Syria, in human fraternity and arab respect, until democrats of Syria hear their brethren of Lebanon, there is no hope for stability in Lebanon and progress in Syria.

Best regards

January 27th, 2008, 9:13 am

 

Observer said:

while some squabble about trivial issues, here is an excellent summary from Gilad Atzmon about the scandal of bribes and shadow donations to the Labor party by the Zionist lobby in Britain. Clearly, Zionism has successed in recreating a closed Jewish community whereby there is primacy of community belonging over your national identity. With the ever increasing rise of fundamentalist tendencies in all religions not the least of which in the Jewish one, we will have communities in Europe governed by Rabbinical laws and perhaps others governed by Sharia law. Dark ages indeed:

On a different note, I like the comment of Umr Al Qais, for his mind set of utter contempt for the other is truly emblematic of many a Lebanese racist. While he shows superiority to the Syrian laborer, the Syrian intelligence officers in Lebanon were bedding the wifes of most of the politicians in Lebanon who were too happy to oblige their masters. I wonder how many times he had to kiss ass and lick brown to get his family business ( family of course since he cannot establish his own business with Papa to help ) going through both Lebanese and Syrian corruption gauntlets. Lebanese and Syrians have suffered under dictatorship and no one has an exclusivisity to victimhood. Wake up and smell the roses.

January 27th, 2008, 1:39 pm

 

Observer said:

I have argued before that the task of the next US president is going to be to navigate the US in a multi polar world where the US superpower status is diminished: in this sense, South American has already broken free, and China is slowly consolidating its South East Asia policy, Russia has just bought the Serbian oil company thereby consolidating its hold on European energy supply, and this piece from the NYT is worth reading as well
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/magazine/27world-t.html?_r=2&ref=magazine&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

January 27th, 2008, 1:48 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

While he shows superiority to the Syrian laborer, the Syrian intelligence officers in Lebanon were bedding the wifes of most of the politicians in Lebanon who were too happy to oblige their masters. I wonder how many times he had to kiss ass and lick brown to get his family business ( family of course since he cannot establish his own business with Papa to help ) going through both Lebanese and Syrian corruption gauntlets.

Observer, what a way to elevate the debate beyond our “trivial issues”. Notice that you are the only Syrian who bothered engaging… maybe you’re not so immune to triviality as you think.

As for the New York Times piece, don’t tell T about it. It may call into question his thesis that the U.S. press is a mouthpiece for the Pentagon. (There’s another relevant piece on the front page, which exposes the CIA’s attempt to increase its presence in Pakistan).

January 27th, 2008, 1:59 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

[COMMENT DELETED]

January 27th, 2008, 3:29 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

the army fought demonstrators,today,in Lebanon, one of Amal leaders died, I hope this is not a begining of violent period,especially it comes after assassination of second army officer

January 27th, 2008, 4:20 pm

 

Youssef Hanna said:

Alex, Honest Patriot, QN, Majedkhaldoun, Aussaama, Why-Discuss, T, MSK, and all other debaters on SC, i herein put to the vote a request for a 15-day banning of Umrou’el Qays and Observer, for racist comments.

January 27th, 2008, 5:49 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Yousef Hannah;
I agree

January 27th, 2008, 6:33 pm

 

why-discuss said:

“Umr’uo Al-Qays said:

…You look like a very intelligent person to me”

And you sound like you need to go back to school to learn what the word ‘racist’ and ‘superiority complex’ means. How can anyone have such narrow minded and low ethics dare talk about honor?

January 27th, 2008, 6:47 pm

 

Youssef Hanna said:

WHY-DISCUSS,

Your comment is unclear; do you vote for a 15-day ban on Umrou’el Qays and Observer? we intend to have a civilized if heated, high level debate on this site.

January 27th, 2008, 6:56 pm

 

Youssef Hanna said:

Majedkhaldoun,

Warm thanks; time for honest and decent citizens to take their destiny in hand against barbarians.

January 27th, 2008, 6:58 pm

 

offended said:

wo ya reet 15 days ban for AIG kaman iza sama7it ya Alex!

January 27th, 2008, 9:49 pm

 

Alex said:

Youssef,

Umr’uo Al-Qays sound like someone who used to call himself “Gibran”. Gibran was on SC on a daily basis for over a year… he had a whole collection of racist or rude comments.

Instead of banning anyone, let’s change the topic.

Watch this clip … it is a good antidote to the Umr’uo Al-Qays types.

January 27th, 2008, 10:01 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I find the Syrians on this forum very thin skinned. As Israelis and Jews, we get on this forum a steady rate of abuse. But God forbid, somebody would say something bad about Syrians! Just write back that what he says is nonsense. The emotional repsonse is childish. Part of being mature is being able to deal both with warranted and unwarranted criticism.

January 27th, 2008, 10:12 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Alex –

I have to agree with AIG. For example, why is there a link to “Jews” in the thread before this? What does “Jews” have to do with anything we’re discussing? We aren’t discussing Judaism.

I’ve bore the brunt of numerous anti-Jewish comments in the past, and no one was banned. I do recall Alex, that a few anti-Jewish comments were deleted (many months ago), and for that, I appreciate your decision.

I think encouraging opposing points-of-view will enhance your website, and I encourage continued dialogue between the opposing parties. Again, my hope is that a peace between Syria and Israel does eventually take hold. I only pray for the best for the Syrians and the Israelis and the Palestinians. There is no need to fight anymore.

From another Middle-East Peace website:

Wael, you asked:

“In that case Efraim, how many of you here would agree on evacuating post-1967 settlements in the WB, East Jerusalem, and the Golan, establishing a Palestinian state along the 1967 border in exchange for full diplomatic relations with the Arab (and Muslim) world ?”

Wael, pay close attention because here is my answer:

Once the Syrian, Lebanonese, Saudi Arabian and the Palestinian governments individually, not through some international organization be it the UN or the Arab League, formally accept the right of the Jewish people to an independent national existance in the Middle East, Israel will enter into bi-lateral direct negotiations with each of them with the aim of drawing up peace treaties that will settle all outstanding border issues and will establish full diplomatic and economic relations.

That’s the way peace is made between states, Wael. All the rest is propaganda.

January 27th, 2008, 10:26 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

I see… so we should assume that when you and AP kept calling half of us here anti-Semitic whenever there was a criticism to Israel, that was an example of how mature and understanding you are,right?

remember all the times you replied telling us how “outrageous” … how “incredibly hypocrite” we were?

AP,

I absolutely agree that this site would be very boring if the only people commenting here were of one type and had identical opinions. Many people asked me to ban AIG. I did not, but I am removing some parts of his comments which are only meant to derail the discussion. When he accuses me of not caring about Lebanese christians, or when he calls others “idiots” all the time (this week he did that to Shai and then to the Syrians here) …

I never removed your comments for example … I never removed Bachman’s.

January 27th, 2008, 10:29 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Thank you for supporting my point. I am on the record several times saying that I do not want you to remove the antisemitic posts. I am more than happy to point out why they are antisemitic or in many cases hypocritical.

Some criticism of Israel is antisemitic and some is not. I answer to the criticism and when it is outrageous or ridiculous I point it out. Emotional maturity means being able to deal with points of view that you find offensive by showing how stupid these points of view are and not by censoring them.

And as for my comments that you censor, why don’t you just trust the maturity of the readers and leave them? How do you know that they will derail the discussion or bring it to new and previously unexplored areas? If you think what I write is wrong or ridiculous, just write that yourself. I promise not to be offended.

January 27th, 2008, 11:01 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Before we change the subject, I think a response is due to some.

——————————————————
AIG,

I did not say that the militias would not re-arm, only that this would be the end of Lebanon if they did.

MNA said:

As long as the Lebanese think with this kind of mentality, the future will be grim. It implies that Lebanon’s problem is with Syria only and that when Syria raises its heavy hand off it, Lebanon will prosper and will be able to live in a vacuum away from all regional conflicts. This thinking is leading to the destruction of Lebanon.

MNA, the Lebanese do not need to be reminded that we lie at the center of regional conflicts. Nobody imagines that we can extract ourselves from these problems and “prosper” in a vacuum. What I am arguing for is not the alienation of Lebanon from Syria but the opposite: a partnership based on mutual respect and proper delimitation of sovereignty.

Why-Discuss said:

Lebanon has never solved their internal problem of a awkward and unclear constitution, complicated even more by the Taef accord… Now they are paying a high price for the wishy washy politics, the dream of many to have Lebanon relocated in Europe or the USA and their ignorance of the realities.
The struggle we see now is the one of identity and belonging. Either Lebanon belongs to the arab world and would have to share its problems and contradictions and deal with it or become another Israel, enclosed in their fence, and selfishly enjoying the financial support of the USA and their allies.

Why-discuss,

Again I would say that we don’t need Syrians to tell us about the Arab world’s problems, nor do we need to be lectured about problems in our constitution. We are well aware of our problems. Unlike most other Arabs, the Lebanese are not so cynical as to imagine that these problems are not solvable within our lifetimes. This is not because we are smarter or more imaginative; it is simply because our society is more free (and as a result, unstable).

You can call it “wishy-washy”; I have another term: pluralistic. The eighteen sects of Lebanon may present a significant challenge to building a system of equitable political participation, but let me tell you that these eighteen sects look positively monochromatic in comparison to the diversity of political opinions and affiliations in Lebanon. There are Lebanese who believe that Syria and Lebanon should be one nation; there are Lebanese who believe that we are Phoenicians; there are those who think Jews are descended from apes and pigs; there are those who are collaborators with Israel, and those who are the only Arabs ever to defeat Israel on the battlefield.

We don’t need to be told how the Arab world works, and we certainly don’t need to be policed by our brotherly neighbor. What we need is an opportunity to settle our issues peacefully between ourselves. Our society is complex and our problems are complex; but we are also complex and up to the task.

When Syria can demonstrate a positive (as opposed to a self-perpetuating, reactionary) contribution to solving the Mideast problem, then I will reconsider the question of orbits.

January 27th, 2008, 11:07 pm

 

T said:

Well I am guessing that there are those who want to ban me as well regarding my criticism of Israel (or discredit it by declaring it anti-semitic). It is the neocon/OSP, AIPAC unelected elements of a foreign government dragging us into wars for Israel that I am addressing here. These issues have been long censored in the USA, and are in dire need of discussion. This lack of transparency has brought us to the very dangerous brink of WW3 and plans to NUKE Iran- then who? Syria? Sudan? Dont laugh. They are all on the neocon hitlist.

I wish the best for those on this blog who buy the line that US-Israel will “give them democracy.” Time will tell. (like in Jordan, Saudi and Egypt- US-allied moderates/democracies)

As middle east men (“Islamofascists” in our press) neither the US nor Israel will even give most of you a tourist visa, much less democracy. I dont say this to be mean, but factual.

Mr. Hanna,

I am sorry, but I cant agree that anyone here should be banned or censored. Even if things get scrappy and snippy and overheated. Each blogger has the protection of the 4 ink walls of their own respective box and neednt venture out by posting- or enter others’ box by reading THEIR blog post. Detachment is a good thing, or a non-response. People who make “racist” comments should be bound to argue their opinions w/ facts, quotes, supporting sources, material etc. Not just name call. But to sue or censor is something I dont agree with. Those are the techniques used in the USA by certain parties to stop discussion into their illegal conduct.

I think AIG has broached some VERY interesting, excellent topics-whether I agree w/ his viewpoint or not- or his style. He brought up the issue of traitor/treason which started an invaluable thread on the afore-mentioned AIPAC situation. And about the Holocaust. If he thinks 6 million Jews were killed (and I think it may have been 7-8.3 million), I would not ban him as a “Holocaust Denier” or- God forbid- put him in jail. If people are free to believe in UFOs and alien abduction, he is free to be a revisionist.) Furthermore, AIG was very amenable to reform, as per his offensive punctuation problems. He hasnt transgressed with hyperinflated use of ????????? in a very LONG time. All these things speak well for AIG, in my opinion.

If I could vote- I would vote no bans. Soon we could all be banning each other when we disagree- in which case we mirror the March14/March 8 problem.

But this is Joshua’s & Alex’s blog and they are The Deciders here.

January 27th, 2008, 11:14 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

I agree with T except for the “neocon/OSP, AIPAC unelected elements of a foreign government dragging us into wars for Israel” comment.

AIPAC and Israel were not responsible for hijacking 4 commericial aircraft, nor were they responsible for killing 3000 Americans on 9-11, nor did IPAC or Israel destroy 2 of America’s tallest skyscrapers including a wing of the Pentagon.

George W. Bush’s subsequent “War on Terrorism” has worked, and I support the next Republican candidate for president (McCain, Romney or possibly Rudy Giuliani), for continuing this pro-active war. FYI, neither McCain or Romney or Giuliani is Jewish.

January 27th, 2008, 11:25 pm

 

Alex said:

Qifa Nabki,

Syria’s role can be very positive when the moderate arabs + Lebanon’s M14 leaders plus France and USa are not blaming everything exclusively on Syria.

The past few years were not years of international cooperation and understanding and positive contribution to anything .. they were simply “constructive chaos”… Syria was positive in the 90’s and it will be again I hope.

T,… thanks, but this is Joshua’s blog : )

January 27th, 2008, 11:33 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Alex,

I am hopeful but cautious.

A vindication at the hands of the Tribunal will help; a condemnation will make things worse.

January 27th, 2008, 11:41 pm

 

T said:

AP,

Romney, Giuliani and McCain dont have to be- they have loudly declared their adherence to the Likkud line. As I said before, Israel often uses proxies. These candidates wouldnt get to first base if they didnt. (see earlier post about AIPAC’s buying of Congress). Ron Paul has been called a terrorist on national TV for his “lack of support of Israel.”

ICTS- an Israeli owned company comprised of many former Mossad and Shin Bet agents- was in charge of airport security at Boston Logan Airport on 911. Why didnt they apprehend the hijackers before they got on board? Why wasnt this investigated? No one has been prosecuted.

And we dont know who was behind 911, as even VP Cheney himself admitted in an interview on Fox news. Cheney said “no evidence Bin Laden was behind 911” !! No one followed up on that comment either. Outrageous.

If you support the wars for Israel- fight them yourself. Dont use American troops and money to do it. Put your own life on the line- dont send us.

January 27th, 2008, 11:45 pm

 

ugarit said:

“AIPAC and Israel were not responsible for hijacking 4 commericial aircraft, nor were they responsible for killing 3000 Americans on 9-11, nor did IPAC or Israel destroy 2 of America’s tallest skyscrapers including a wing of the Pentagon.”

AIPAC and Israel are responsible for far worse but towards an ethnic group that is purposely reviled and dehumanized. But of course that ethnic group is not european in origin and does not share europe’s major religion. Can you solve the puzzle?

The US is responsible for killing far more than 3000 civilians in Afganistan. The US/Israeli war on Iraq has caused more deaths than all of Saddams massacarses.

So don’t lecture us.

Americans and Jewish lives are not more valuable than the lives of others.

January 27th, 2008, 11:49 pm

 

ugarit said:

Alex:

Did you really mean this “moderate arabs”? I think you meant to say US aligned arabs. Saudi Arabia in no way can be a moderate arab state.

January 27th, 2008, 11:52 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Here are some good examples. When Ugarit says that the Iraq war was a US/Israeli one his position is ridiculous and defies common sense. There were no Israeli soldiers in Iraq.

When T tries to suggest that Israel was behind 9/11 his position is ridiculous. Instead of asking why no one investigated this, why don’t you do it T? It will really make your career. I am sure you will find funding easily for this in the Arab world. What is the big deal, why doesn’t some Arab journalist show us how great investigative journalism is in the Arab world and build a strong case that Israel is responsible for 9/11? Instead of talking, why don’t you actually do something productive?

How can we discuss the real problems if people are not willing to acknowledge them?

January 28th, 2008, 12:06 am

 

ugarit said:

AIG:

You know exactly what I mean. The US invasion was heavily influenced by Israelis and dual nationals. Remember the Zionist/Israeli plans for dismantling Iraq on ethnic and religious lines?

BTW, I’m not saying it is all Israel’s fault. Israel is merely exploiting the US’ self induced paranoias. The US has violated much of the world and would continue to do so with or without Israel. But Iraq is a special case.

Accusing Israel for 911 is absurd, but clearly Israel exploited that event.

BTW, also Brazilians danced in the streets when the Twin Towers were struck.

January 28th, 2008, 12:35 am

 

T said:

Ugarit,

And who controls American ME policy? Its not the Palestinians/bad Arabs. America has suffered great harm from this scheme, to benefit Israel. It is all laid out in the Project for a New American Century, Clean Break etc. There is no mystery there or “allegations”- just a discussion of intent.

In Detective 101, Israelis (or anyone else) being emailed about a massive crime 2 hours BEFORE it happens would constitute proof of involvement. Here, its scarcely acknowledged. Why?

And you are wrong- there were and still are Israeli soldiers in Iraq. That is even documented in DOD papers.

The problem is that there were ever American troops in Iraq to being with, fighting and dying for another country. And more will die for Israel if we nuke Iran. If Syria had responded last Sept and escalated the war regionwide, they’d be dead already.

There is no peace in the region because Israel never negotiates in good faith. It doesnt have to. It can do what it wants because American power backs it up.
But those days are on the way out.

January 28th, 2008, 12:57 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Ugarit,
“The US invasion was heavily influenced by Israelis and dual nationals. Remember the Zionist/Israeli plans for dismantling Iraq on ethnic and religious lines?”

Not really. Which Israelis and dual nationals advocated war in Iraq?

January 28th, 2008, 1:05 am

 

norman said:

Lebanon is breaking,

Syria’s demand for greater Hezbollah representation in Lebanese Cabinet rejected

The Associated Press
Monday, January 28, 2008
CAIRO, Egypt: Arab foreign ministers have rejected Syria’s demand that Hezbollah and its allies have greater representation in Lebanon’s Cabinet, according to delegates at an emergency meeting in Cairo.

Participants at the Arab League meeting late Sunday said the majority of ministers rejected Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem’s request for a new formula for Lebanese politics.

Moallem had pushed for Hezbollah to have 10 ministers in the next Cabinet � or one-third of the seats � which would effectively give the Hezbollah-led opposition veto power.

Two delegates at the meeting confirmed the information, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. They spoke to The Associated Press by telephone while the meeting was still under way.

Only Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel Rahman Shalgam backed the Syrian proposal, the officials said.

Lebanon is embroiled in its worst political crisis since the end of its 1975-90 civil war. Former President Emile Lahoud left office on Nov. 23 without a successor, and parliament has so far failed to elect the army chief to replace him amid bickering between the parliament majority and the opposition.

At a news conference after Sunday’s meeting, Arab League Chief Amr Moussa predicted further violence if Lebanon did not elect a new president by Feb. 11 � a date set by the parliament speaker last week.

Earlier in the day, seven people were killed in Beirut during riots by opposition supporters protesting the government’s rationing of electricity.

“If blood spills over into the streets, chaos will prevail and there will be different positions and many forces will interfere,” Moussa told reporters.

The Arab League chief put particular blame for the crisis on pro-Syrian groups in Lebanon, saying they intentionally held up the elections with new demands.

Moussa also warned that an Arab leadership summit scheduled for March 28 in Damascus might be put off if the Lebanese crisis remained unresolved.

Earlier this month, Arab foreign ministers � including Moallem � agreed unanimously to the so-called Arab plan, which backs Lebanese Army Gen. Michel Suleiman as the politically divided country’s next president. It also calls on Lebanon to form a national unity government and adopt a new election law.

Moussa said Sunday that the Arab plan was the “only solution on the table now,” and that failing to implement it would put Lebanon in jeopardy.

At the close of the foreign ministers’ meeting, participants issued a joint statement calling on all Arab countries to endorse the plan “in letter and spirit” and to continue efforts to implement it, according to a copy of the statement obtained by the AP.

——————————————————————————–
Notes:

——————————————————————————–
Copyright © 2008 The International Herald Tribune | http://www.iht.com

January 28th, 2008, 1:12 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

[because we decided that you would stop changing topics through acting like the champion of the rights of poor Syrians]

January 28th, 2008, 1:16 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
I was not changing subject and was not acting like a champion of anything. I was simply giving an example of a Syrian problem many people give no priority too. 20% illiteracy rate is quite an important problem but posters do not rate it as high as other issues they constantly complain about. That is my only point.

January 28th, 2008, 2:01 am

 

norman said:

It says enough about Mc Cain,

The Huffington Post

Sam Stein
The Huffington Post

2008 campaign, huffpolitics, campaign trail, foreign policy, John McCain, mccain, republican primary, Senator McCain, war, War in Iraq, war policy, warwire
McCain Warns: “There Will Be Other Wars”
January 27, 2008 02:22 PM

——————————————————————————–

The presidential candidate who sang “Bomb bomb Iran” is already looking towards the war after the war in Iraq.

Sen. John McCain told a crowd of supporters on Sunday, “It’s a tough war we’re in. It’s not going to be over right away. There’s going to be other wars.” Offering more of his increasingly bleak “straight talk,” he repeated the claim: “I’m sorry to tell you, there’s going to be other wars. We will never surrender but there will be other wars.”

McCain did not elaborate who the United States would be fighting. But he did warn the crowd to be ready for the ramifications of current and future battles.

“And right now – we’re gonna have a lot of PTSD [post traumatic stress disorder] to treat, my friends,” he said. “We’re gonna have a lot of combat wounds that have to do with these terrible explosive IEDs that inflict such severe wounds. And my friends, it’s gonna be tough, we’re gonna have a lot to do.”

The remarks underscore a growing effort on McCain’s behalf to keep the political discussion centered on foreign affairs (his strong suit) and not the economy (an admitted weakness). They also reflect a take of America’s military policy that is heavily weighted towards combat. Earlier on the campaign trail, McCain posited that U.S. forces could be in Iraq for the next 100 years.

January 28th, 2008, 2:09 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AP:

“The Arab League chief put particular blame for the crisis on pro-Syrian groups in Lebanon, saying they intentionally held up the elections with new demands.”

Well, it’s official. Amr Moussa is an American stooge, desperate to undermine the Syrian regime.

tsk tsk

January 28th, 2008, 2:13 am

 

T said:

Norman,

That is horrifying. It goes back to what I asked earlier: Why, no matter which Dunce becomes President, does US policy in the ME remain the same?

Follow the Power.

January 28th, 2008, 2:29 am

 

T said:

QN,

Maybe you can enlist to fight for Lebanon during the next US-Israeli-backed smashup of your country- part of their “birth pangs” of democracy in the ME. Or use your super-wasta to prove you’re not an “Islamofascist #ig” and get a US visa and go AWOL (and yes those are some of the ugly racist terms used over here- even on Arab Christians)?!
The bombs and the bias fall pretty democratically, anyway.

Or maybe you’ll end up trotting over to Syria like so many others in 2006. If they’ll take you.

January 28th, 2008, 2:36 am

 

norman said:

T,

It is simple , America’s policy in the Mideast is pro Israel, Changing the American president will not change the policy , only the change in Arab attitude will change that and with KSA and Egypt i do not expect that policy to change , The Arabs are their own worse enemies.

January 28th, 2008, 2:39 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

T,

I would respond to you if I could understand you, but I’m afraid you are incoherent.

No doubt it’s my own shortcomings, or perhaps you are speaking in code so as to avoid the U.S. censorship apparatus that is constantly policing our comment boards.

Ahh yes, it must be the latter.

Well, whatever you said, I agree!

January 28th, 2008, 2:46 am

 

T said:

Clueless… No comment.

Norman,

Please dont accept that “Arabs are their own worst enemy” junk. That kind of behavior is universal human condition throughout history.

January 28th, 2008, 2:48 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Romney, Giuliani and McCain dont have to be- they have loudly declared their adherence to the Likkud line. As I said before, Israel often uses proxies.

T –

I’m here to help you. I am not your enemy. I want to make you understand that what you are saying is not only silly, it is wrong.

The United States government decided to go to war against Saddam Hussein while several “checks and balances” were in place. The issue of going to war was argued for years, especially the months after 9-11. It was argued through Bush’s government, his father’s advisors, internationally, at the UN and lastly, within Congress. You should listen to what Hillary Clinton said in the Senate before she voted (“with conviction”) to go to war. Jews, who can be found in both political parties, mostly did NOT favor the war. I myself, was for it. In the end, the decision to go to war was made by the American people and their representatives.

In fact, after the War in Iraq was over a year old, the American people voted GWB back into office, as he defeated John Kerry. If the American people didn’t want this war, GWB would have lost this vote.

T –

If you want to believe Israel and Jews have some kind of supernatural power, you are free to believe that. But if your really want to talk about “proxies”, you only have to look at Lebanon. And the poor lebanese have no vote to make their voices heard.

Ron Paul has been called a terrorist on national TV for his “lack of support of Israel.”

Ron Paul also has no backing from the voters. You will have to address this reality to the American voter, who is 98% gentile.

ICTS- an Israeli owned company comprised of many former Mossad and Shin Bet agents- was in charge of airport security at Boston Logan Airport on 911. Why didnt they apprehend the hijackers before they got on board? Why wasnt this investigated? No one has been prosecuted.

And we dont know who was behind 911, as even VP Cheney himself admitted in an interview on Fox news. Cheney said “no evidence Bin Laden was behind 911″ !! No one followed up on that comment either. Outrageous.

T –

You’re still in denial. What can I do to help you? Please read the 9-11 Commission report. There are no secrets.

http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report.pdf

If you support the wars for Israel- fight them yourself. Dont use American troops and money to do it. Put your own life on the line- dont send us.

I will relay your message to the American people. We will see in less than a year, whether the American people agree with you.

Norman states:

It is simple , America’s policy in the Mideast is pro Israel, Changing the American president will not change the policy , only the change in Arab attitude will change that and with KSA and Egypt i do not expect that policy to change , The Arabs are their own worse enemies.

T –

I’m afraid Norman’s insight is a bit more accurate than yours.

January 28th, 2008, 2:58 am

 

T said:

The 911 Commission Report is about as useful as your Winograd Report. Actually, I would bet Winograd is probably alot more honest because survival usually requires a ruthless pragmatism.

Any investigative body that fails to pursue leads such as an email forewarning of the crime, shortly before that crime happened, has about the same caliber of validity as Mehlis and his nonsense.

January 28th, 2008, 3:08 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

AIG –

With respect to this thread (“proxies”), and recalling the “Farewell George Habash” article by Sami Moubayed that Alex posted before this, I would say that Sami Moubayed was wrong, because the 9-11 hijackers did a better job than George Habash.

Moubayed said:

Hadded wanted an international battleground for the Palestinians, to make the world remember that there existed a people—a people in pain—called Palestinian.

I think the 9-11 hijackers did a better job than George Habash in this regard.

So my point is whether it is George Habash or the 9-11 Hijackers, are the Palestinians better off? Do they have a state? Is the Arab world better off?

I don’t think so. IMHO, it is time to look for another type of leader and another type of hero. One that gets the respect of the Palestinians and also, the rest of the world.

January 28th, 2008, 3:43 am

 

T said:

The 911 hijackers had world-class help, of course they “did a better job” as you put it. It wasnt pulled off by a bunch of lone crazies in Afghan caves.

On America’s ME policy held hostage to another country via dual-loyals and why we dont see change in the Peace Process:

From Former US Senator Paul Findley SD (D):

[The Pentagon and the Department of State] are channels through which flow thousands of messages dealing with the nation’s top secrets each day…

But how secure are the secrets?

The leaks to Israel are fantastic. If I have something I want the secretary of state to know but don’t want Israel to know, I must wait till I have a chance to see him personally.
This declaration came from an ambassador, still on active duty in a top assignment, while he reviewed his long career in numerous posts in the Middle East. Although hardly a household name in the United States, his is one of America’s best-known abroad. Interviewed in the State Department, he spoke deliberately, choosing his words carefully: “It is a fact of life that everyone in authority is reluctant to put anything on paper that concerns Israel if it is to be withheld from Israel’s knowledge,” said the veteran. “Nor do such people even feel free to speak in a crowded room of such things.”

– Paul Findley

January 28th, 2008, 3:57 am

 

Alex said:

Akbar said

“I don’t think so. IMHO, it is time to look for another type of leader and another type of hero. One that gets the respect of the Palestinians and also, the rest of the world.”

Who do you like as a Palestinian leader? since most Palestinians do not want their leader to compromise on their right of return or on their right to east Jerusalem … how can there be a Palestinian leader who is both patriotic enough (to his people) and moderate enough (to America and Israel)?

January 28th, 2008, 4:41 am

 

Youssef Hanna said:

I like the comment of Umr Al Qais, for his mind set of utter contempt for the other is truly emblematic of many a Lebanese racist.
Observer

I in turn like the comment of Observer, for his is truly emblematic of many an SC supporter of the Syrian Regime.

The Umrou’el Qays heinous and despicable discourse helps you barricade against the true call of the other, the call that could otherwise reach deep in your soul and disturb your certainties.

You should not ban Umrou’el Qays indeed; he is necessary; vital; rather ban me.

January 28th, 2008, 7:18 am

 

why-discuss said:

QIFA NABKI said

“We are well aware of our problems. Unlike most other Arabs, the Lebanese are not so cynical as to imagine that these problems are not solvable within our lifetimes. This is not because we are smarter or more imaginative; it is simply because our society is more free (and as a result, unstable).”

What solution has this ‘free society ” brought?
Why would Lebanon needs to ask the arab ministers and the arab league to help solve their problems, after failing to get a ‘divine’ solution from the US and France?
Contrary to you, I observe that lebanese HAVE become much more cynical as the years of continuous and irreversible rifts have decimated the intelligentsia and pushed all the brains outside the country. The political class is weak and cannot deal with the complexity of the geopolitical games in the region. Historically, because of its own pluralistic and often antagonistic currents, since its creation, Lebanon has always needed powerful protectors. When the region was dominated by the western powers, the choice was simple: France and the US. These were the hay days of Lebanon. Now the regional forces have changed, the power obtained by countries with oil have made them active in dispensing their influence to bring Lebanon into a more regional sphere, principally arab and moslem. The struggle is now between the wanabee new masters and their allies against the old masters.
Lebanon’s own effort can only succeed if they have a very powerful group of politicians with a vision and an overhaul of the way the country is lead. Unfortunately it does not look so.

January 28th, 2008, 8:40 am

 

wizart said:

State of the Union in Italy (by Tim Parks)

“It would be hard to imagine a greater sense of lost direction and complete lack of trust on the part of a people than that experienced in Italy now. When the Tangentopoli investigation led to the arrest of so many politicians in 1992, people looked forward to an era of honest government. When the new electoral law came in 1993 they hoped for efficiency. When Mr. Berlusconi took power in 1994 they hoped for dynamism. When the left took power for the first time in 1996 they hoped for reform. Now both Silvio Berlusconi and Romano Prodi have come and gone twice as the system has sunk deeper and deeper into quicksand with all the major structural problems unresolved and none of these hopes realized. Nobody believes in the present electoral law, nobody believes the present parliament could produce a better one, nobody believes that parties or politicians are capable of even passably moral behavior. It is truly hard to find anyone who sees any way out of the dilemma or anything positive ahead.

Here then is an extraordinary situation. We have a country of unspeakable beauty, home of unparalleled art treasures and some of the world’s most beautiful cities (Verona where I live being amongst them), inhabited by a people who are on the whole handsome, industrious, well-educated, lively, talented and sharp. Yet their public life is poisoned by a collective dynamic that has been going on for centuries and centuries, whereby it seems impossible for anyone or any group to make the smallest sacrifice in favor of the general good. The fact that every intelligent Italian appreciates this doesn’t seem to help at all.

“So now Italy lies half-dead, waiting to see who will heal her wounds,” wrote Machiavelli at the end of “The Prince” in 1513. He was talking about foreign invasion, but the blame for that, he said, lay with the inability of the Italians to govern themselves well and work together. “You can see the country is praying God to send someone,” Machiavelli went on, “Word’s can’t express the loving welcome such a savior would get…What doors would be closed to such a man?…What Italian would not bow his knee?”

Indeed. Italy had to wait 350 years before Garibaldi’s Sicilian adventure united the country. And another sixty odd years before Mussolini presented himself as a messiah of unity and national strength. Now, thankfully, even dictatorial solutions are no longer feasible; the international community would not permit them. Utterly exhausted and disenchanted, Italy peers into the dark.”

If the highly educated Italians are frustrated making Democracy work for them why are Lenanese eager to adopt a similar system?

What can they learn from the Italian experience? No foreign help?

January 28th, 2008, 8:41 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Who do you like as a Palestinian leader? since most Palestinians do not want their leader to compromise on their right of return or on their right to east Jerusalem … how can there be a Palestinian leader who is both patriotic enough (to his people) and moderate enough (to America and Israel)?

Alex –

“Most Palestinians” want this and “most Israelis” want that…but it is clear from Camp David 2000 what each side can expect. I’ll leave it at that.

Personally, I always though Saeb Erekat was an affable fellow. Good english, good demeanor, and moderate in tone. He may be a different person when speaking in Arabic though;)

http://www.pmw.org.il/leaders.htm

January 28th, 2008, 12:10 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart,

What you learn from the Italian experience is that “democracy is the worst system except for all the others”.

Fact: People predominantly immigrate to democratic countries rather than to non-democratic countries.

Why is that? People immigrate in order to get a “better life”. Why is life generally better in democracies?

The problem is that by its nature democracy allows dissenting voices that outside forces can exploit. That is what is happening in Lebanon and indeed that is a risk with weak democracies in bad neighborhoods. But the gains of democracy far outweigh the risks.

January 28th, 2008, 3:06 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Hello, it’s already 28 January and I don’t see any updates with the Sunday instigations in Beirut.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/28/world/middleeast/28lebanon.html?scp=3&sq=lebanon&st=nyt
The obvious question to ask is: “who benefits?”
I won’t accuse anyone but will point out that this clearly does not help the Lebanese Government, the Lebanese Army, M14, or the Lebanese people — all of whom want to see peace, order, and a civilized functioning of democratic processes.

January 28th, 2008, 7:35 pm

 

wizart said:

AIG

You’re right if your frame of reference is the U.S which was built on immigrants. In reality when Lebanese look around their block they see yet more and more death in Gaza and Iraq as they are experimenting with Democracy while Syria is hosting their immigrants from these two countries. From a current perspective like this people have been immigrating away from failed democratic experiments in this area and mostly are sick and tired of taking on more risk with no end in sight. America is not the correct yardstick here. It was built by individuals and small business running away from middle age religious institutions while the Middle East is home to three important religions. There’s no convincing proof democracy works in the highly religious Middle East unless you point to your country with its bloody track record.

January 28th, 2008, 7:47 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart,
Democracy works in Israel. Israel’s track record is not bloody because Israel is a democracy, it is bloody because its neighbors are not.

No, there is no proof that democracy can work in the Arab world, but if you believe it can’t, that is a very strong accusation against the Arab world.

January 28th, 2008, 7:57 pm

 

Observer said:

Interesting reading from the Guardian today about Gaza
Liberty, democracy, brutality
David Cronin
January 28, 2008 9:00 AM

http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/david_cronin/2008/01/liberty_democracy_brutality.html

Diplomatic pressure from the European Union has been credited as being partly responsible for how Israel allowed some deliveries of food, medicine and fuel to Gaza over the past few days.

But you would never guess that senior EU officials had been flexing their metaphorical muscles if you saw one particular document distributed to the Brussels press corps.

This was a transcript of a speech given by the European commission’s vice-president, Franco Frattini, during a visit to Israel.

In a week when the UN berated Israel for violating international law by blockading Gaza, it seems extraordinary that Frattini should indulge in some flagrant fawning towards his hosts.

According to his prepared script for a conference entitled Israel at 60: test of endurance, Frattini did not allude once to the blockade imposed on Gaza, even though the UN considers it to be an illegal act of “collective punishment”.

Instead, he insinuated that opponents of Israel in Europe were guilty of antisemitism. “This prejudice, this stance against Israel and Jews, has no place in today’s Europe,” he said.

Read those words again: “This stance against Israel and Jews”.

How can opposition to a country’s government be equated with hostility towards adherents of a religion?

When Frattini was serving as Italy’s foreign minister, there was no shortage of people appalled at the buffoonery of his boss, Silvio Berlusconi. Nobody, though, could seriously have suggested that taking issue with Italy’s then premier was synonymous with an antipathy towards Catholics.

Of course, genuine bias against Jews – or people of any other faith – is deplorable. But European policymakers are not helping to promote tolerance when they accept facile reasoning from the Israeli government.

Depressingly, we have been down this road before.

In 2003, an EU-financed opinion poll found that Europeans regarded Israel as the number one threat to world peace. Rather than examining why that was the case, a number of European politicians made it plain they were embarrassed by the findings.

Also during his visit, Frattini told the Jerusalem Post that Europe “cannot leave Israel alone” in its efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb.

He omitted to mention that if Iran was hoping to join the nuclear club, it would be emulating Israel, which finally confessed in December 2006 to having weapons of mass destruction.

Never shying away from some self-congratulation, Frattini took credit for how Hamas was placed on the EU’s list of proscribed organisations when he chaired the union’s council of foreign ministers in 2003. He claimed, too, that Hamas had provoked “Israel’s armed response” in the Palestinian territories and that “Israel lives and exists according to the same traditions and values as European citizens”.

Whatever one thinks of Hamas, this is clearly hogwash. Anybody who looks seriously at the Middle East conflict would conclude that Palestinian violence is a reaction to the relentless brutality and provocation of Israeli forces. That doesn’t excuse for a second the horrific consequences of suicide bombing. But it does help explain them.

As for the argument about “European values”, I assume these refer to the principles on which the EU is nominally based: “liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law”.

But the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem has calculated that of the 810 Palestinians killed by the occupying forces in Gaza in 2006 and 2007, just 360 belonged to an armed organisation.

By what logic – other than a very twisted one – can Israel’s state-approved slaughter of civilians be considered as proof that it upholds values we are supposed to cherish?

January 28th, 2008, 8:03 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Youssef Hanna, you are right, and I agree. But may be the best policy is to leave him to vent his anger and to expose himself for what he truly is.

I would rather ban AIG and AP. Their contributions are intentionally distracting. While Umrio Al Qaise is an upset person whose expressing his feelings in an ugly manner, AP and AIG are a robot-like mouthpieces for Likud and Nantaniahu. They are not after debating or convincing the “initiated” people on this site, they are only here as a part of the usual official Israeli PR effort to maintain a presence in certain places. And it seems this place have been tagged as an important one for them.

Anyway, who really cares.

January 28th, 2008, 8:49 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

More people care than you think, Ausamaa. The points you are trying to make about AIG and AP are backed up by neither facts nor reason. Go ahead and ask for banning. Great. That’s how problems are solved, right? That’s how the rejectionist philosophy perpetuated the misery of many people in the Middle East. Without necessarily agreeing with AIG or AP (and I quibble with many of their arguments) I’ll be the first to defend their right to voice their opinion and participate in forums like this one. If the editorial policy is going to change, I ask that such change be honestly and clearly articulated so that those of us who believe in the exchange understand to look elsewhere.

January 28th, 2008, 9:34 pm

 

wizart said:

AIG

Facing reality the way it is, not the way we wish it were is what I call responsible leadership which is what’s needed there today. Calling it democratic doesn’t make it so. Democracy is not just a name. It’s not like Coke or Marlboro. It’s more like a state of mind and if people are traumatized by their neighbourly “democractic” behaviour then you effectively put their mind in a state of war regardless of your democratic prescriptions.

January 28th, 2008, 9:36 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Honest Patriot,

Your words show great wisdom. Speaking for myself, I would like to find ways we can live together. Violence and misery is for the birds.

January 28th, 2008, 9:45 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart,
The millions of Syrians who are just looking to make a living are not in a “war mindset”. Is it too much to ask the Syrian government to treat its citizens like Israel treats its citizens, whatever you may call this arrangement? What is wrong with that?

January 28th, 2008, 9:58 pm

 

Seeking The Truth said:

Democracy is a learning process. No one is born with it.
There is no perfect democracy in the world. Remember, It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time, Winston Churchill once commented.

January 28th, 2008, 10:02 pm

 

Nour said:

Honest Patriot,

The question you should be asking is “who were the snipers shooting at the demonstrators?” The allegation that the demonstrations were orchestrated by Iran and Syria in order to undermine the Lebanese government and encourage instability would be less ridiculous were pro-government militias not shooting at demonstrators. The logic used by supporters of the loyalist camp is that “Syria and Iran are provoking us to shoot at Lebanese civilians by telling them to demonstrate.” What kind of nonsense is that? If you want people to take you seriously then how about refraining from killing Lebanese civilians in cold blood, after which you demonstrate the nerve to blame them for getting shot by you?

January 28th, 2008, 10:16 pm

 

Nour said:

AIG,

You are not fooling anybody with your pretentious posturing and your ostensible support of Syrian democracy and the rights and freedom of Syrians. You have put forth every nonsensical argument you can think of in order to justify your policy of destroying other nations (i.e., we just want you to be democratic so let us come in and invade your country, tear apart your social fabric, and disassemble your entire security system.)

Your position is very obvious, regardless of how you choose to disguise it, in that you want a Syria that is subservient to Israel and Israeli interests. I am wondering, with all the time you spend on this forum advocating Syrian democracy, do you find the time to participate in Saudi, Egyptian, or Jordanian forums so that you may enlighten them with your idealistic values of freedom, democracy, and economic prosperity? Please save yourself the effort and stop the charade. The people that truly care about Syrian freedom are those actually doing something about it on the ground. And those very same people do not seek your help or support, and in fact dispise everything that you and your cancerous entity stand for.

January 28th, 2008, 10:23 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

You are not stupid. You think WE ARE stupid.

For the last time: STOP YOUR NONSENSE pretending you care about Syrian democracy.

I do not want any comment anymore from you on this issue. You have been successfully crippling most discussions we had for the past few months with your wonderful sounding crusade.

From now on I will be very clear .. the very next time you attempt to do that trick again I will block you. You will automatically be routed to the spam filter.

Believe me, it will.

January 28th, 2008, 10:34 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
How many times do I have to tell you that I care about Israel’s interests and I believe that it will be served when all countries in the middle east are democracies. Why don’t you address this instead of claiming that I am crusading for Syrian rights or something?

I do not want a Syria subservient to Israel or anybody. Is Denmark subservient? Is Belgium? Why do you always connect democracy to subserviency?

Where did I use a trick on this thread? I am really not aware of it. Point this out to me and I will not repeat it.

Feel free to edit or delete this post as you please, but please understand that I am advocating Israel’s interests and not any Syrian interest as you are blaming me.

January 28th, 2008, 11:09 pm

 

Alex said:

Even if you were advocating Israel’s interests, there is a polite and brief way you can do it… after repeating the same thing a million times I think it became a bit too aggressive.

I don’t think I would last too long on an Israeli blog if I showed up on every single discussion they had the past six months (including on the one where they were celebrating Tel Aviv’s culture week) and I bombarded them again and again with my hypothesis: They have to get rid of their murderous despicable leader Olmert and that if they return all occupied Arab lands it will be good for them… and maybe from time to time remind them, and their admin that they are hypocrites and liars who are borderline racist …

And I would continue to ignore the rules of the blog … like having to register with your proper email (not tttt@tttttt.com) … You know that I am giving you special exception to allow you to continue to post with such an email.

Akbar, and IsraeliGuy, and Shai all gave proper emails.

January 28th, 2008, 11:32 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Nour, I don’t know if/what the investigations have or will unveil the true identity of the snipers in Sunday’s events in Lebanon. I am not accusing anyone nor assuming it’s any particular group’s doing. I just don’t know. On the other hand, regardless of what a given extremist minority in this or the other group is doing, I do maintain that violence like the one that transpired does NOT serve the interests of any of the parties I listed (Lebanese Government, Lebanese people, Lebanese Army, M14). I am deliberately NOT including Hizbillah, nor Aoun, in this list, because, in an objective observation, chaos plays into their hands and allows them to keep piling on the Government accusations of incompetence and pressure to give-in to giving them veto power in the next administration. Again, I am NOT saying Hizbollah or Aoun’s people did it, just that they don’t stand to lose from such events.

January 29th, 2008, 12:30 am

 

Nour said:

Honest Patriot,

It is not that one side has a vested interest in chaos. Rather, it is what does each side have to lose and thus what they are willing to do to keep from losing such. The Hariri clan has an interest in consolidating its grip on power in Lebanon, and is unwilling to compromise on this issue. The support they receive from the US and other western countries is further encouraging them to maintain their belligerent stance. The Opposition, on the other hand, gains nothing by engaging in such actions, as they will immediately be accused of trying to forcefully overthrow the government and the resistance specifically will be accused of using its weapons against fellow Lebanese. I believe this is the objective view of what transpired yesterday.

January 29th, 2008, 12:53 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

I am just getting caught up with the numerous postings in this section (150+ !).

To Qifa Nabki: Well, whether or not you are a very young chap, as I think Alex once led us to believe, I find myself either smiling (agreeably) or nodding my head (in agreement) with almost everything you say, often sparing me having to post a response – which you provide with much more eloquence anyway. Hats off to you. I am so much in admiration that if you were to start a religion I might seriously consider following it — 3an jadd.

To Observer: I think we should forgive you the one grave sin you committed in responding in-kind to Umr’uo Al-Qays. You have certainly contributed many a well-thought analysis to earn you this pass (just this once). To you and to all others on this blog: do not believe for one second that “His Prideness” Umr’uo Al-Qays in any way represents but the tiniest minority of – either ignoramuses or fanatical “stupidases” (my word invention) – in Lebanon. Except for Observer (who deservedly earned the scolding for his response), you have all shown class and wisdom in simply ignoring the racist insult from Mr. Qays.

To IDAF: You spoke and we listened. QN gave such a good response to your well-written theory that all I can do is concur (with QN). I also respect tremendously your admission that the theory works equally well with the substitution you indicate (Mukhabarat for Mossad). OK, I have to be honest… (after all that’s the moniker I chose)… While I agree that unequivocal facts are not yet revealed to make one theory prevail over another, for the life of me and all my (modest) erudition :-), experience, age, wisdom, and granting my rather extensive experience with many a brilliant Israeli (in the U.S.) or Jew, I cannot begin to give the Mossad so much credit as having 1/10th the ability and foresight they would need to have to make your theory work. That’s just a subjective opinion – nothing more – which is not meant to diminish in any way the assessment of your theory on objective grounds. OK, one more, just to reiterate an argument that QN indicated: I don’t agree that the assassinations (except for Hariri’s) and their timing resulted in the weakening of the Opposition. Why, that Opposition seems stronger than ever, is bucking the will of the whole Arab League (except for Syria, of course), and is taking the Liberty to drive Lebanon to the abyss.

To AIG and AP: Israel is NOT a democracy in the same sense the U.S. is a democracy. There is a fundamental issue with the religious identify of the state making it indispensable to effect undemocratic rules (against certain arab citizens and in refusing the returns of people who normally can claim land ownership and belonging to land that is now Israel) just to ensure survival. Iran and Hamas want to argue for an absolute democracy in a single state in Palestine in a way that will simply — in not too long a time — lead to the oppression of the Jewish popoulation there, if not to the creation of yet another Islamic Theocracy. The sooner the extremists in Israel are brought under control, the sooner real negotiations take place (overtly or covertly) with those in the Arab world who seek a true accommodation (first, and peace later) with Israel, the sooner you can stop the clock from ticking towards inevitable disaster in the region. I’m sorry but I don’t buy AIG’s reasoning that it has to take democracy in the Arab world and it has to take 50+ years.

Finally, to ALL on this blog: If you live in the U.S. or in a Western democracy, any defense you voice of undemocratic regimes is weak at best. If you like it so much and believe in it so much, why not go back and enjoy it ? I live in the U.S. and my one mantra which is consistent with my (lucky) choice of a place to live is the Separation of Church/Mosque/Temple and State. If you’re a Christian you’d have to agree, based on Scripture, to “Return to Cesar what belongs to Cesar…” If you’re a Moslem, and want an islamic state, fine, then enjoy the one you have if you’re in one, go join one if you’re not in one, but also accept and concede that there may be others who would want to have similarly a religious state where the religion is NOT Islam. If you’re Jewish, and want a Jewish state, fine, (read the instructions for Moslems and replace Islam with Judaism). However, in all cases, minority rights and Human rights have to supersede whatever religious edicts dictate.

January 29th, 2008, 1:09 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Nour,

The opposition doesn’t need to be accused of trying to forcefully overthrow the government. This is their stated goal. It’s not a secret.

They have made it very clear that they regard this government to be illegal, unconstitutional, and illegitimate. In short, they are trying to replace the existing government. The only ways to do that are (1) to wait for the next parliamentary election, or (2) to bring it down through a show of force. Nobody knows the logic of force better than Hizbullah, as Sayyed Hasan has expressed many times on the subject of Israel.

All this talk of who benefits and who doesn’t is beginning to sound like an echo chamber. Nobody benefits anymore. Everybody is losing.

What is happening in Lebanon is very sad. Both sides are to be condemned, in my opinion, for their sheer selfishness and inhumanity.

In the immortal words of Basmat Watan: “…yan2ibro itif2o yama trikouna.”

January 29th, 2008, 1:13 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Many thanks, HP, for your very kind comments.

I don’t plan to start a religion anytime soon … rabid secularism is more my style. 🙂

January 29th, 2008, 1:20 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Nour,

I understand your post and its logic. However, by the same token that you are accusing the Hariri camp of being intransigent, an equally valid analysis accuses the Opposition to be intransingent in its demand for Veto power in the new government, a Veto that it wants to be able to exercise solo, not in concert with representative of the President. It is this demand that scares many in the pro-government camp into assuming that such power is being insisted on for the purposes of (1) foiling the international tribunal, (2) maintaining Hizbillah as a stand-alone state-within-the-state with capability of engaging Lebanon in war whether or not the true majorit wants it, (3) maintaining such a close alliance with Syria’s strategic interests that these end up hurting Lebanon in order to help Syria regain the Golan.

I am NOT saying I agree, nor that I want to adopt these arguments. I AM saying that this is clearly the thinking in the pro-Government camp, including M14, and also including many independent Lebanese. I also don’t see how Hariri would order such savage techniques as sniping on innocent civilians engaged in a peaceful protest to further his political goals. I understand that this is NOT a fact-based argument, but it just doesn’t make sense to me. Regardless of who’s driving this, whoever is doing it hasn’t the shred of a good intention for the country. Whoever is doing this cares not about Lebanon or its people. Whoever is doing it is, at heart (yes I’m being sarcatic), a terrorist.

January 29th, 2008, 1:21 am

 

Observer said:

I am puzzled that some take offense at my response to Umr Al Qais or whatever his name is.

The history of the Arab people is mainly one of shared experiences good and ugly. Now it is well known that in terms of corruption many a Lebanese politician sold his mother to be in the good graces of the powerful and this is perhaps why some have been so offended by my comment. Some are thin skinned and accuse the commentators of being apologitic for this or that regime. If Lebanon suffered for 29 years then Syria suffered for more than 50 years now of the same regime. I make no apologies for the Syrian regime and none for the various petty factions of Lebanon.

I am not even apologetic for the US regime that imposed sanctions on Iraq leading to the resignation fo the majority of the UN oil for food program staff and not apologetic for the illegal and immoral war on Iraq.

In reality in a democracy it is even more imperative that the citizen take responsibility for the action of its regime or goverment, it is much more difficult in a dictatorship where the protester may be arbitrarily harmed.

It is the citizens of the so called “only democracy” in the ME that should be responsible for the criminal actions of the Gaza blockade and the collective punishment metted on infants and the sick.

There is in my opinion significant evidence as shown in more than one editorial in Haaretz that the Israeli establishment was in favor if not the prime mover for the war against Iraq and is now also the prime mover for the push to wage war on Iran.

No wonder that a majority of Europeans consider Israel to be the greatest threat to world peace in the 2004 survey. It was such a controversial subject that it was almost suppressed.

January 29th, 2008, 1:29 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Observer:

“I am puzzled that some take offense at my response to Umr Al Qais or whatever his name is.”

Come on!

The offense is at this sequence: (a) at the racist “logic” used by “whatever his name is” and (b) your using vulgar explicit references in accusations against Lebanese leaders and “Qais” himself (I think we should replace the Q with a T).

You are way too smart, way too informed, way too intellectually capable to need to resort to such name-calling.

CUT-IT-OUT (I’m shouting this with a smile 🙂 and a wink 😉 )

We like you and respect you. Just apologize and move on. We don’t want to waste any more time on futile vulgarities.

January 29th, 2008, 1:39 am

 
 

norman said:

Observor,
I agree with you , everybody knows that the neocon are the major drive to war with Iran , Israel connection to the neocon can not be denied , many of them are Jewish and their intention is to use the US to advance Israel’s goals no matter how much that will affect the US interest in the Islamic and Arabic worlds . may God help the US and give it’s leaders the wisdom to avoid that disaster.

January 29th, 2008, 1:40 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Walak ya Observer, shoo hayda you put just a link? I know that it’s annoying when folks post a whole lengthy article and it’s better to have the link instead. But in your case, you overestimate how much (or how quickly /efficiently) some of us want to (or can ) read. So… my request is to give a 5-sentence synopsis of the key conclusion, theme, idea, etc., in the articles you point us towards — to help guide us in either giving those a thorough read or a quick scan for the relevant section.

Merci

January 29th, 2008, 1:44 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

what is going on in Lebanon is not an action of HA, who has nothing to do with it, and it is very serious, it is forcing general M Suleiman to appear he is pro M14

January 29th, 2008, 1:49 am

 

Alex said:

Alright, HP wants to see the whole article:

here it is : )

A wonderful day in the neighborhood
By Mark Perry, Bitter Lemons, January 17, 2008

“Good fences make good neighbors,” the American poet Robert Frost once wrote, and he oughta know. The failed farmer turned schoolteacher was a professional Puritan who spent his lifetime not hugging people, though he is now described as one of America’s “most beloved poets”. That is to say: what he wrote is beloved.

Yitzhak Rabin might have celebrated Frost’s sense of New England isolation if he had ever read him. During a conversation that a reporter had with the then-prime minister many years before his death, Rabin profiled the virtues of Syrian President Hafez al-Assad. Rabin described Assad as “a man I can trust”. Why? Rabin gave three reasons: when Assad made an agreement, he kept it, Assad knew how to deal with “his fundamentalists”, and Assad (as Rabin would have it) knew how to stay on his side of “the line”.

Rabin’s praise of Assad should not come as a surprise: the “disengagement agreement” that followed the October 1973 war was never violated by Assad. And it has not been violated after his death. That Syria’s allies in Lebanon might occasionally cross Israel’s northern border does not count–Syria has made no agreement there, as Rabin readily admitted. Rabin, who was never one to shrink from “breaking bones”, also seemingly admired those who knew how to apply force when they thought it necessary. This Assad had done in February 1982, when upward of 10,000 Muslim Brothers were massacred by the Syrian army during an uprising in Hama. Rabin might now be forgiven for his third stipulation: Assad could be expected to stay on his side of the Israeli-Syrian border, so long as both Israel and Syria agreed on where that border would be. Be that as it may, what was not in doubt was whether once having signed an agreement stipulating the course of the border, Syria would keep it and stay on its side of the line.

For Yitzhak Rabin, this minimalist definition of neighborliness was more than a literary conceit, it was the bedrock principle of international comity: neighbors must keep their word, must stay out of each other’s business (if the Syrians want to slaughter their fundamentalists, he implied, well then that’s their affair) and occasionally meet to agree to a border, to set the fence between them. The key of course is not simply to have a fence (as Frost made clear) but to “mend it” together, a supposition still under discussion in the West Bank. Even so, this fundamental and minimalist concept of neighborliness is now viewed as somehow passe (even by the Israel Air Force, as it turns out), as if borders had no purpose at all.

But in the post-9/11 world, the new (and uniquely Christian) dispensation not only dictates that you tear down fences–that you “love your neighbor”–but that you butt into his business and bend him to your will. Nowhere has this been more obvious than in the soured history of US-Syrian relations. The most obvious evidence of this was US President George W. Bush’s latest inflammatory statement on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad: “My patience ran out on President Assad a long time ago,” Bush told reporters on December 20, “and the reason is he houses Hamas, he facilitates Hizballah, suiciders go from his country into Iraq, and he destabilizes Lebanon.”

Of course, it might be useful to remember that, in the wake of 9/11, the US sought, and received, Syrian cooperation in fighting al-Qaeda–even to the point where the Syrian government provided “actionable intelligence” on terrorist operations that, according to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, saved American lives. It should, but cannot, go without mention that at the same moment that this Syrian-American common initiative was being promoted Syria was “housing” Hamas, “facilitating” Hizballah, and “occupying” Lebanon–all stipulations that the American government conveniently overlooked so long as its good neighbor policy included persuading autocratic Arab governments to jail and torture “rendered” Muslims suspected of nefarious activities. In fact, President Bush’s “patience” only “ran out on President Assad” when Syria decided to question America’s decision to invade Iraq, a policy with which Syria disagreed.

“The Bush administration never forgave Syria for its opposition to the war,” Syrian Ambassador to the US Imad Mustapha recently noted. He is right of course: the souring of Syrian-US relations had nothing to do with Hamas, or Hizballah, or Lebanon–and everything to do with Iraq. Israel beware: being demonized is the price that good neighbors pay for disagreeing with American policy.

As US-Syrian relations soured, so too did the prospects for an Israeli-Syrian accommodation along the lines of the one that was nearly agreed to in March of 2000. The situation is not a crisis. And yet Israeli officials concede that while a peace agreement with Syria is eminently possible (and far easier to negotiate than one with the Palestinians), the Israeli government will not talk to the Syrians because the Americans don’t want them to, which is akin to saying that Israeli foreign policy is being decided in Washington. Since that cannot possibly be true (and will be forgotten by the Israeli government just as soon as it is in its interest to do so), Israel must either exert its independence from Washington (Syria has pointed the way), or knuckle under to Washington’s skewed vision of the world where, in the name of promoting democracy and fighting terrorism, borders are crossed, willy-nilly.

Put another way, the question is not whether Israel can set a wall between it and its neighbor to the north (that nearly happened once and it can happen again), but whether it agrees with the idealistic vision of neighborliness propounded by George Bush: that unless your neighbor agrees with you, you must fight him.

January 29th, 2008, 2:08 am

 

Alex said:

From Alhayat today

وكشفت مصادر ديبلوماسية عربية في القاهرة أجواء اجتماع مجلس الجامعة وأسباب تأخر الوزراء في حسم مشروع البيان اللبناني، أو إحداث اختراق يقوي المسعى العربي في لبنان. وقالت المصادر لـ «الحياة» إن «الأجواء كانت تشير الى أن وزير الخارجية السوري وليد المعلم كانت لديه تعليمات واضحة بالتشدد»، وأنه «ظهر للجميع أنه كان يفاوض نيابة عن المعارضة اللبنانية»، و «اهتم بإدراج أمور يصعب الاعتراض عليها في الصياغة لكنها في الواقع اللبناني تسبب مشاكل كبيرة». وأشارت إلى كلمات مثل «التوافق» و «الاتفاق»، وقالت إن هذه كلمات تعد في الوضع اللبناني الحالي عنواناً للمشكلة، لأن حلفاء سورية سيتمسكون بكلمة «التوافق» ويقولون «لا يوجد توافق»، وأوضحت المصادر أن هذا التشدد السوري مدد الوقت.

ووصفت المصادر النتائج التي توصل إليها الوزراء بأنها «تعبر عن، أو تكرس ازدواجية الدور السوري الذي يسعى الى نص يستطيع ان يتماشى معه على مستوى الحكومات، ثم يعرقله من خلال حلفائه في الداخل». وأسفت المصادر لكون توضيح المبادرة العربية في لبنان أو تفسيرها كما كان مأمولاً لم يحدث ولم يتم التوصل إلى تسمية الطرف المعطل, وأن الإنجاز الوحيد الذي يمكن أن يحسب هو إعطاء موسى مزيداً من الوقت لاستئناف مهماته، والنص على أهمية انتخاب العماد ميشال سليمان في جلسة 11 شباط (فبراير) المقبل. وأكدت المصادر ضرورة الأخذ في الاعتبار أنه حتى عملية انتخاب سليمان يمكن أن يتم إفشالها باعتبار أن المسألة طرحت مجدداً في البيان الصادر عن الاجتماع كصفقة متكاملة، بمعنى انتخاب رئيس وتشكيل حكومة بالتزامن. وأشارت المصادر إلى أن الوفد اللبناني الذي رأسه وزير الخارجية بالوكالة طارق متري ومعه محمد شطح مستشار السنيورة، حاول تحسين النص لكن تلميحات من الجانب السوري مثل أن الوفد يمثل طرفاً واحداً ولا يمثل لبنان ككل، عطلت هذه المحاولات.

ولفتت المصادر إلى واقعة ضبط مراسل «المنار» الفضائية اللبنانية في دمشق والذي كان ضمن الوفد السوري إلى الاجتماع، واستغرب الأمين العام للجامعة وجوده وسط مداولات الوزراء وأرسل أحدهم واستدعاه وسأله عن هويته ونهره، ولم يرد أحد من الوفد السوري، وكانت واقعة رآها كثير من الوفود.

January 29th, 2008, 2:17 am

 

T said:

All,
There may be hope on the horizon for change in the ME-

Bush Hits a Wall in the Mideast

Hoagland in the Washington Post, here “…Bush encountered such pushback from the Saudis and other Gulf Arabs on his Middle East peace tour this month, according to a variety of diplomatic sources. Open skepticism greeted his appeals to “moderate” Arab states to provide the political and financial support that might enable Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to move forward on peace. “We are not going to sink a lot of money into West Bank and Gaza projects that will just be blown up by the Israelis in a few months when things go wrong again,” one Arab leader reportedly said to Bush. The president was also told that Gulf countries want Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to agree in writing to the borders of a Palestinian state before they can fully support the Bush effort.
That is a tall order for Bush to deliver …”

Bush takes orders from Israel- not the other way around, I am afraid. For those who think I was quoting “conspiracy theories”, see snips from a US Congressman ousted by Israel/AIPAC—

U.S. too often follows Israel’s lead
in diplomatic situations
Paul Findley
Iowa City Press-Citizen
October 15, 2007

Congressman Paul Findley represented Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives for 22 years. (Until he was targeted for defeat by pro-Israel Lobby for defying their agenda).

There is an open secret in Washington. I learned it well during my 22-year tenure as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. All members swear to serve the interests of the United States, but there is an unwritten and overwhelming exception: The interests of one small foreign country almost always trump U.S. interests. That nation of course is Israel.

Both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue give priority to Israel over America. Those on Capitol Hill are pre-primed to roar approval for Israeli actions whether right or wrong, instead of at least fussing first and then caving. The White House sometimes puts up a modest and ineffective show of resistance before it follows Israel’s lead.

In 2002, President Bush publicly ordered Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon to end a bloody, destructive rampage through the Palestinian West Bank. He wilted just as publicly when he received curt word from Sharon that Israeli troops would not withdraw and would continue their military operations. A few days later President Bush invited Sharon to the White House where he saluted him as a “man of peace.”

I had similar experiences in the House of Representatives. On several occasions, colleagues told me privately that they admired what I was trying to do in Middle East policy reform but could not risk pro-Israel protest back home by supporting my positions.

The recently released book, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” co-authored by distinguished professors John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard, offers hope for constructive change. It details the damage to U.S. national interests caused by the lobby for Israel. These brave professors render a great service to America, but their theme, expressed in a published study paper a year ago, is already under heavy, vitriolic attack.

They are unjustly accused of anti-Semitism, the ultimate instrument of intimidation employed by the lobby. A common problem: Under pressure, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs withdrew an invitation for the authors to speak about their book. Council president Marshall Bouton explained ruefully that the invitation posed “a political problem” and a need “to protect the institution” from those who would be angry if the authors appeared.

I know what it is like to be targeted in this way. In the last years of my long service in Congress, I spoke out, making many of the points now presented in the Mearsheimer-Walt book. In 1980, my opponent charged me with anti-Semitism, and money poured into his campaign fund from every state in the Union. I prevailed that year but two years later lost by a narrow margin. In 1984, Sen. Charles Percy, then chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and an occasional critic of Israel, was defeated. Leaders of the Israel lobby claimed credit for defeating both Percy and me, claims that strengthened lobby influence in the years that followed.

The result is that Members of Congress today loudly reward Israel as it violates international law and peace agreements, lures America into costly wars, and subjects millions of Palestinians under its rule to apartheid-like conditions because they are not Jewish. —end of snip–

January 29th, 2008, 2:28 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Ya Alex, shoo beyk? I just asked for a 5-sentence synopsis or guide or conclusion, bass. Not the whole article.
Sorry for not being clear… (or was I ?). I think we’re all getting sleepy…
On the other hand, I appreciated T’s posting of the whole article (go figure my enigmatic penchants)… Bonne Nuit…

January 29th, 2008, 2:30 am

 

norman said:

Lebanon is at the brink,

I see no peaceful solution , does any of you?.

Skip to main content, accesskey ‘s’
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Financial Times FT.com
WorldCloseHizbollah criticises Lebanon army over riot deaths as tensions rise
By Ferry Biedermann in Damascus

Published: January 29 2008 02:00 | Last updated: January 29 2008 02:00

Lebanon’s army came in for rare criticism yesterday from the country’s powerful Shia Hizbollah movement, a day after at least seven people died in riots that started as a protest against power cuts.

The deaths in some of the worst civil unrest in the country since the 1975-1990 civil war heightened political tensions that are running high over disagreements on how to fill the vacant presidency. They may deal a fatal blow to the chances of Michel Suleiman, an army commander, becoming the next head of state.

Hizbollah, backed by Syria and Iran, and the de facto leader of the opposition against the western-backed government, has demanded an inquiry into the killing of the protesters, almost all opposition members and Shia.

The movement’s al-Manar television network said: “Soldiers conducted several measures which led to terrifying some residents of Beirut’s southern suburb.”

The riots started on Sunday afternoon when residents of the Shiyah district in south Beirut took to the streets, burning tyres and throwing stones at the army. The clashes spread to other parts of the city and the country after the death of the first protester, a member of the Shia Amal movement, which is a Hizbollah ally.

General Suleiman met Nabih Berri, leader of the Amal movement, yesterday and the two agreed the army would conduct a “swift and serious” investigation.

The government declared a day of mourning yesterday, shutting down universities and schools. The army maintained a high state of alert in the capital as Shia mourners buried their dead.

The ruling anti-Syrian March 14 bloc has blamed the opposition for encouraging clashes and riots with economic pretexts over the last couple of weeks as a way of increasing pressure on the government and the army. The bloc’s leaders also accuse Syria of assassinations in Lebanon since 2005.

The attacks have escalated during the presidential vacuum that started at the end of November, with three bombings in the past two months. The army was targeted for the first time in December with the killing of its chief of operations.

In the southern Shia neighbourhoods of Beirut, people accused the army and pro-government Christian militias of being responsible for Sunday’s killings.

Criticism of the army is rare in Lebanon, especially since the military took on Islamic militants in the Palestinian refugee camp Nahr el-Bared last year.

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January 29th, 2008, 2:48 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Bush did not mention Syria

January 29th, 2008, 3:04 am

 

MNA said:

QN said:
“MNA, the Lebanese do not need to be reminded that we lie at the center of regional conflicts. Nobody imagines that we can extract ourselves from these problems and “prosper” in a vacuum. What I am arguing for is not the alienation of Lebanon from Syria but the opposite: a partnership based on mutual respect and proper delimitation of sovereignty.”

For many who are reading your comment would wonder about the last time Lebanon, since its independence, offered any kind of partnership to Syria. Except for the period when the Syrian military was present in Lebanon, Lebanon (I mean here government and politicians and not the people) has always conspired against Syria. When the words Independence and Sovereignty are uttered in respect to Lebanon, they always mean independence from Syria only, even though, if that means to surrender the country’s sovereignty to another country and have ot run by its ambassador. Many speak of the positive role that Syria can play in Lebanon, but how about the positive role that the US, France and the European Union, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt can play in Lebanon, or positive role means only the support of the M14 group and enabling them to tighten their grip on power. No matter on which side one is, there are fact that no one can dispute; the opposition represents a large portion of the Lebanese society and ignoring it and not giving it its true representation in the government is not positive nor it is just. You need two to tango!! All concerned have to play positive and just role in Lebanon.

January 29th, 2008, 3:37 am

 

ausamaa said:

OK, as concerns future Lebanese possibilities, can we look at it this way: Like in win some, lose some, the Bush Admin is on a phased public policy reversal in the area with the objective of ultimately allowing it it claim some sort of an acheivement before leaving oddice by: 1)being able to maintain a sustainable, stable, strategically undisturbed, and effective presence in Iraq, and 2) to protect Israel’s interests in the face of the many challaenges that face israel (.. which the Bush Admin thinks that the Israelies themselves are not capable of full realiseing). The Bush Lebanon act was a side show employed to distract and confine Syria, a possible target then for an expanded US offensive in the area in the greener days gone by. Confining and or attacking Iran was also a fantasy that proved neither possible nor allowable. So, strike the HIT SYRIA and IRAN options from the list and concentrate on the more important objectives: US presence in Iraq and Israel’s security. What would this call for in the end? I believe it will be to let go of Lebanon as a crucial part of the wished for -and unattainsable- policy. And noting that Bush was practically “led” by KSA into supporting Feb 14 because the Saudies considered an Opposition victory in Lebanon as a slape in their face by Syria, what should we expect now in Lebanon when the Opposition has practically told everyone – and capably so- that there is no going back and that it must be counted in or else, …it may take over on its own?

Any thoughts?

January 29th, 2008, 4:35 am

 

Shual said:

Majedkhaldoun: “Bush did not mention Syria”

“Yet building a prosperous future for our citizens also depends on confronting enemies abroad and advancing liberty in troubled regions of the world. Our foreign policy is based on a clear premise: we trust that people, when given the chance, will choose a future of freedom and peace. In the last seven years, we have witnessed stirring moments in the history of liberty. […] We’ve seen people in Lebanon take to the streets to demand their independence. […] These images of liberty have inspired us. In the past seven years, we’ve also seen images that have sobered us. We have watched throngs of mourners in Lebanon and Pakistan carrying the caskets of beloved leaders taken by the assassin’s hand. […] We are engaged in the defining ideological struggle of the 21st century. The terrorists oppose every principle of humanity and decency that we hold dear. Yet in this war on terror, there is one thing we and our enemies agree on: In the long run, men and women who are free to determine their own destinies will reject terror and refuse to live in tyranny. That is why the terrorists are fighting to deny this choice to people in Lebanon. […] And that is why, for the security of America and the peace of the world, we are spreading the hope of freedom.”

January 29th, 2008, 5:25 am

 

ausamaa said:

“In the long run, men and women who are free to determine their own destinies will reject terror and refuse to live in tyranny”

Right?

Wrong!!!!

Was it not a free and democratic society that elected Hitler and gave birth to the Third Reich?

Was it not and a free and a democratic America that invaded Vietnam and committed the atrocities it committed there and elsewhere?

Was it not a free and democratic France that occupied and colonized so many countries of the world including Syria, Lebanon, Algeria…..etc, etc?

Was it not a free a democratic America that supported the Bush invasion of Iraq under the false claims of Al Qaida links and the WMD issues?

Is it not a free and democratic Israel that subjegates and oppresses and starves the Palestinian People?

Taken at face value, this is an argument that can not stand up to carefull examination and you should know it. Democracy involves the ability to make an “informed choice”. So, obviously, either the principale of such a democracy is totaly wrong, or the practitioners are dump and “uninformed”, or is it that the practitioners and the promoters are fully awrae of What they are doing and accept its practices in the most opportunistic and self-serving manner! Or all three of the above perhaps.

Actually, it seems that your Democracy which is the Government of the people by the people and for the people has major basic flows in practice. Unless it is itended for the benifit of The People of one country only, at the expense of all other Peoples. Which is then not the World’s path to Paradise. Or so has Democracies shown us!

Please, save us the B.S. and let us talk in terms of National Interests, Balance of Power and Historic Processes instead. Your crowd understands those terms much better. So they have demonstrated to the People of the World over and over again.

January 29th, 2008, 6:08 am

 

alle said:

Riyad Seif was arrested yesterday. And this right after the ten from the Damascus Declaration were charged with planning to overthrow the system and such… the regime really seems to be really losing it.

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/29/world/middleeast/29briefs-syria.html?ref=world

January 29th, 2008, 7:01 am

 

T said:

The attack on Iran has not been cancelled, it is just assuming another disguise. Most likely under NATO cover via a bogus Tonkin Gulf hoax. Maybe another Hezbollah “provocation” will be concocted to start the war?

Which leads to Hezbollah issue. They are ruining the economy w/ that tent city which achieves nothing, except to weaken the country to outside takeover.
BAD, BAD, bad tactics. They could have spent the time instead doing a census for a one-man, one-vote election. (And the taunting footage of IDF body parts on TV was also crude, blunt miscalculated diplomacy- not to mention violation of intl law). Ugh!
Their strategists over there seem to be losing it.

January 29th, 2008, 7:54 am

 

why-discuss said:

A test for Michel Sleiman
The recent events in Lebanon and the killing of Hezbollah and Amal supporters will be a test to check Michel Sleiman’s future intentions : If he is able to show impartiality and indict some of his troups or a “third column” then I guess the opposition will be convinced of his integrity. If in the contrary the inquest leads to nothing, then the opposition will do all they can so he does not remain the presidential candidate. The 14 March people are now trapped as some want Michel Sleiman to succeed, yet they dread he will find that some of the 14 Mars people are responsible…

January 29th, 2008, 9:54 am

 

T said:

Why-discuss,
If Sleiman doesnt abide impartially by the law and find the perps- NO MATTER THE OUTCOME- he shouldnt be the President. Do you agree? Only a truly fair, non-aligned actor can save Lebanon now.

January 29th, 2008, 10:43 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

MNA said:

Except for the period when the Syrian military was present in Lebanon, Lebanon (I mean here government and politicians and not the people) has always conspired against Syria. When the words Independence and Sovereignty are uttered in respect to Lebanon, they always mean independence from Syria…

MNA, this comment makes me smile. You manage to equate, completely unironically, “independence from Syria” with “conspiring against Syria”.

This is your problem (and Bashar’s).

God forbid that “when the words Independence and Sovereignty are uttered in Lebanon, they always mean independence from Syria.” For the years that Syria was running Lebanon, did you see other foreign governments worried about their regimes? No.

Anyway, let’s not argue about this; we won’t get anywhere.

I agree with you that it takes two to tango, and I’m beginning to feel that the government should resign because the forces of destabilization will stop at *nothing* to bring about the collapse, so they may as well do it before more people are killed.

January 29th, 2008, 12:20 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

QN, did you think through your “beginning to feel that the government should resign”?

How will that lead to a solution? The laws (whether one agrees with them or not) stipulate that the only way a Government can be forced to step down is through a confidence vote in the parliament. None of the other arguments from the Opposition hold (despite all their pretenses). If the democratic institution of the parliament cannot be used to settle such matters now, then why would they be able to do it in the future? Say the Government steps down, everyone agrees to the 10-10-10 division, Suleiman gets elected, one of the “10” from the Opposition is persuaded to vote for the disarmament of HA, and each of the other 10+10 blocks does the same — under this current parliament. It’s a hypothetical scenario, but assume it for a minute. Then what? You expect HA to lay down its arms and merge into the army? Or, will they take to the streets and start another “civil protest” — code name for the beginning of another bloody civil war?
If the Government gives in now, doesn’t that establish a precedent invalidating the rule of law? So many Lebanese waited patiently and in stride during the years of Syrian control. Now that there is a glimmer of hope for true independence, all of a sudden the rule of law can be ignored? If the Government resigns, the Opposition – and that’s mainly HA because Aoun is nothing but a naive manipulated puppet – will declare full victory and there will be no stopping its eventual control of Lebanon (and turning it into a Theocracy — a belief Nasrallah openly declares as being – in his personal conviction – the key to individual happiness and salvation).

Sad that the persistence of the Opposition is risking to sway you (and others?) into surrender.

I like T’s posts re HA (4 posts up) and his call for the respect of facts as they are unveiled by a thorough investigation, as he says: regardless of the outcome. This is something the greatest majority of Lebanese can (should?) agree with. Unveil the real truth in all the savagery and corruption committed – no matter the outcome. It is then that we can call for reconciliation, mercy for the guilty, and an independent way forward. Maybe what the country needs now is strict military rule forcing the separation of all religious functions from the state, forcing equality, imposing “rabid secularism,” and laying the foundation for a 1-man, 1-vote, democracy with well-developed principles and rules for the protection of minority rights and Human rights. You choose a commander to knight in that role and we’ll all rally around him (or her).

January 29th, 2008, 1:30 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Honest Patriot,

I have actually thought it through; months upon months of political paralysis, after all, leave a lot of time for thinking.

More on this soon…

January 29th, 2008, 2:11 pm

 

Ziad said:

Traditionally secular Damascus rediscovers religion

Damascus – Every morning Fares leaves his house for the nearby mosque to say his dawn prayers. When he returns he expects his wife and two sons to have finished their own prayers and got ready to recite verses from the Koran until it’s time to leave for work and school.

Fares is a civil servant at a government department. His sons are in grades seven and eight. His wife does not go out to work because Fares believes house chores are a woman’s only work.

However, things have not always been the same. Twenty years ago, Fares’s wife was like any modern woman anywhere in the world. She wore jeans, mixed with young men and smoked in the college cafeteria.

Her fiance, now husband, Fares divided his time as a student between intellectual discussions about the dictatorship of the proletariat and women’s empowerment and attending cultural events.

The case of Fares’s family is not an exception. Many of Syria’s leftist intellectuals of the 1970s and 1980s have switched to a traditional way of life with religion at its centre.

Some even overindulge in an exaggerated display of religiosity as they reassess their lives after years of striding away from religion.

The climate of religiosity is re-emerging, especially in Syria’s towns and the countryside, which were previously hubs for young people following Marxism and the secular ideologies of the ruling Baath Party.

Most of these youths are now doctors, engineers and teachers, who have given up leftist ideas because they no longer fit in an increasingly traditional, religious society.

Even Syria’s relatively liberal big cities are seeing a similar trend.

Ali Hasan, a formerly-liberal journalist from Damascus, too is becoming religious.

“I am observing all the Islamic rituals, but without exaggeration. I have given up drinking alcohol when I am with friends,” Hasan says.

His colleague, Omar, goes as far as not attending any occasion at which alcohol might be served or where there is “unnecessary” mingling between ladies and gents.

Alcohol in Damascus is a different story. Since the city’s municipality forced the last city centre tavern, Freddy Bar, to close, the heart of the Syrian capital has dried up.

Syrians now cannot have a drink except in hotels or in a limited number of restaurants that still reluctantly serve alcohol with food.

None of the new gigantic restaurants along the Airport Road serve alcohol.

“The shift to religiosity may have resulted from the fact that the leap into modernity of the past century was not authentic but fabricated,” Syrian novelist Khaled Khalifeh says.

Louay Hussein, a Syrian writer and publisher, thinks that increasing religiosity, including the wearing of the headscarf, separation between the sexes and religious narrow-mindedness, is promoted by influential people in the country.

“Civil and secular people,” Hasan says, “must play a role in spreading enlightenment and pushing principles of equality forward.”

Since the 1970s the Syrian government has encouraged what it describes as “non-politicized moderate Islam” to create a wide popular base and not to be accused of hostility to Islam – the majority religion in Syria.

The government has also encouraged the building of mosques and religious schools teaching the Koran and Islamic theology.

Syrian analysts attribute the so-called Islamic Awakening to hard economic conditions manifesting themselves in rampant unemployment and the widening gap between rich and poor.

But Khalifeh says that what is happening in Syria cannot be separated from the surge of Islamic fundamentalism across the Arab world and elsewhere.

“The collapse of the former Soviet Union,” Khalefeh says, “has given a push to the rise of fundamentalism since Marxism as an alternative political ideology became defunct.”

http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/179255,traditionally-secular-damascus-rediscovers-religion–feature.html

January 29th, 2008, 2:31 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

“In the long run, men and women who are free to determine their own destinies will reject terror and refuse to live in tyranny”

I strongly believe this is true. All Bush is saying that people in general want a free and peaceful life. Yes, democracies have comitted many crimes. But that is not the point. So have all other types of governments. The advantage of democracy is for the people living inside the country and that is why people chose to immigrate to democratic countries.

“The collapse of the former Soviet Union,” Khalefeh says, “has given a push to the rise of fundamentalism since Marxism as an alternative political ideology became defunct.”

This is what I have been arguing all along. If you discredit democracy, you are only left with fundamentalism. Isn’t democracy a better option than political islam? That is the choice confronting the Arab world. As an Israeli I would prefer you choose democracy (for Israel’s interests).

January 29th, 2008, 3:10 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Interesting (brilliant) re-maneuvering by Syria’s Moallem: Now he denies that Suleiman is a consensus candidate!

Link to Naharnet English Post is followed by the post itself, then the link to the article in arabic, then the specific sentence, in arabic, quoting Moallem.

http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/getstory?openform&1EDF950E8E712CC1C22573DF003A6069

Syria Doubts Suleiman’s Nomination as Consensus Candidate
Syria has doubted the nomination of Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman for president, stating that he does not enjoy the backing of all Lebanese factions, an-Nahar’s Rosana Boumounsef wrote Tuesday.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, according to Boumounsef, told Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo last Sunday that “it is not correct” that Suleiman enjoys the unanimous backing of all Lebanese factions.
This, she wrote, was meant to “cast doubt” on Lebanese and Arab backing for Suleiman’s nomination and calls to elect him president.
Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa had warned that he would not return to Beirut to resume his mission had the Arabs failed to “clarify the context of his report,” Boumounsef wrote.
However, she added, Moussa could return to Beirut mainly to work on “preventing an escalation in the security situation.”
Diplomatic sources were quoted as saying Moussa would try to re-arrange a new meeting grouping ex-President Amin Gemayel, MP Michel Aoun and MP Saad Hariri to “consider all controversial issues.”
Boumounsef concluded by asking: “Did the Arab initiative pass away, or is there still hope in repulsing it?”

Beirut, 29 Jan 08, 12:41

http://www.annahar.com/content.php?priority=14&table=makalat&type=makalat&day=Tue

لكن وزير الخارجية السوري رد على هذا التأكيد بالقول ان هذا الكلام غير صحيح، اي ان لا اجماع لبنانيا على انتخاب سليمان ولا اجماع عربيا ايضا، مما يعني التشكيك في اصرار بعضهم من لبنانيين وغير لبنانيين على هذا الانتخاب.

January 29th, 2008, 5:12 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

before the goverment resigns, they will ask for help from arab league,this is useless,and from the west,France and USA, this is why I said in the past,foreign intervention is inevitable. however neither USA nor France may be willing to go for mandate,instead they may increase the sanction against Syria, or activate the tribunal,I would not completely rule out a deal with Syria,in fact it would be the best choice for them.

January 29th, 2008, 5:36 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

It is likely that Suleiman’s candidacy was torpedoed months ago.

While my colleagues here on SC (including Prof. Landis) were debating the finer points of “How the Lebanese delegation was blindsided at Annapolis”, particularly with regard to what appeared to be a force-fed compromise on Suleiman, it seems that the actual party to be caught wrong-footed was the opposition.

This explains the ensuing weeks of double-speak and dithering.

Interestingly enough, nobody put it better than our own AIG:

And as for the Lebanese president, check the Aounist blogs. There is no chance Aoun will accept Suleiman as president for 6 years. March 14 proposed Suleiman to buy time and complicate the relationship between Aoun and Hizballah.

I agree with HP though: Moallem is quite good at this game.

January 29th, 2008, 5:49 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Furthermore, in light of this new piece of information, the assassination of General Francois al-Hajj should be reevaluated.

If the Suleiman option had already been taken off the table by Syria, the Hajj assassination may have been a message to Suleiman not to make any sudden moves.

January 29th, 2008, 5:59 pm

 

Youssef Hanna said:

AIG,

I (partially) subscribe to your view: while a democratic State provides the necessary fora for peaceful arm twisting until compromises are regularly reached, broken, renegociated, the Syrian society’s violence is merely repressed, instead, held in the bottle and hidden, in such a manner that there is no other way for it than to spill over to neighboring countries.

This is done through (i) exporting jihaadis to Iraq and/or Lebanon, (ii) exporting political assassination ops (the importing country is Lebanon), (iii) entertaining durable relations with palestinian Sunni islamists nurtured during the 30 year occupation, and, in vis-à-vis the rival Shiite Hezballah equally empowered during the 30 year occupation, (iv) avoiding effective peace talks with Israel ever since attempts were made, as peace = sooner or later, end of dictatorship.

January 29th, 2008, 6:11 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Honest Patriot,

That is what they call the strength of : “depth”, “persisistance” and “knowledge of the terrain” . Can they beat that?!

Watch out for the Shia’as, and Aoun. They are pratically saying: We have had enough! Al Moualem saying that he is “content” with the Cairo conference results is such a cunning statement that it has to be studied vey carefully.

Lebanon is entering a new phase. You can blame Saudi and 14 Feb for that. It seems that the “patience” of many parties have run out with Saudie and Bush designs… not the other way round!!!

It seems that there is gonna be a Ghalib and Maghloub in Lebanon today… Thanks to “impartial mediation” by the Arab League and the stupidity of the Lion of Naher al Barid conquest, Gen. Michel Suliman, is peanuts when it comes to Who is Who in Lebanon unless he goes back to his “basics”, and quickly. He is playing a game that is way above him. This can be expected and tolerated from the likes of Hariri and Sinorora, but not from a potential “concenus” presidential candidate like him. Can he do the U-Turn again? Easy in Lebanon!

Adios….and back to the “usual”, so much fo Feltman’s assurances and for the millions spent on Saatchi and Saatchi Independence camgains.

The moment of truth, finally!!! They have asked for it; and here it is. Cheers, they have asked for it. Now they have to pay for it. As we say; when you play with the Cat, you have to put up with its scratches.

P.S. Wonder what the “rehabilitated” Saud al Faisal, Jumblat and Ja’ja are thinking tonight!! Call in the IDF?????? The Marines??? The Saudi National Gaurd?!!!!!!!

January 29th, 2008, 11:01 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Another Israeli Guy.

Please Shut up.

A political whore is the last to breach about honor and virginity (democracy and freedom).

Citro…!!!!

January 29th, 2008, 11:25 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Ausamaa,

We can engage in reasoned exchanges and argumentations but the tone and language you’re using with AIG completely undermines what you’re trying to say. It’s not as bad as the one sin committed by Observer, but, hey, let’s go back to civility please.
And, I don’t know if you’re purposely using the “verb” “breach” to mean “preach” — thus mocking many an Arab accent (and I think Not), but this by itself probably causes AIG to chuckle.

Anyway… let’s set all that name calling aside. Please.

As far as Suleiman and the Sunday events in Lebanon, and Aoun and HA, and “Ghaleb” and “Maghloub,” look, we just want the crisis in Lebanon to end so people can get back to work and the country can emerge from this abyss it is pulling itself into. It appears more and more obvious that there are trouble-makers specifically seeking to cause violent conflict. They need to be identified just as thoroughly, just as quickly, as the perpetrators of the Hariri assassination and all the ones that followed it. Let’s get the facts on all of this. Then let’s get back to settling differences through voting and verbal argumentation.

January 29th, 2008, 11:51 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ausamaa,

We’ve been listening to your “today is the day” … “now you’re really gonna get it” … “look out, here it comes!” speeches for months, and we’re still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Al Moualem saying that he is “content” with the Cairo conference results is such a cunning statement that it has to be studied very carefully.

I’m putting on my reading glasses as we speak, and getting out my magnifier. Hmmmm… “content”…. yes, very, VERY deep… and VERY cunning. Well, they just don’t make ’em like old Walid anymore, do they?

He’s got us all fooled, doesn’t he… Cuz, here we were thinking that Syria really wanted to see Suleiman as president, but they really actually didn’t!

What an incredible twist!

January 30th, 2008, 12:03 am

 

MNA said:

Qifa Nabki said:

MNA said:

Except for the period when the Syrian military was present in Lebanon, Lebanon (I mean here government and politicians and not the people) has always conspired against Syria. When the words Independence and Sovereignty are uttered in respect to Lebanon, they always mean independence from Syria…

MNA, this comment makes me smile. You manage to equate, completely unironically, “independence from Syria” with “conspiring against Syria”.

This is your problem (and Bashar’s).

God forbid that “when the words Independence and Sovereignty are uttered in Lebanon, they always mean independence from Syria.” For the years that Syria was running Lebanon, did you see other foreign governments worried about their regimes? No.

Anyway, let’s not argue about this; we won’t get anywhere.

I agree with you that it takes two to tango, and I’m beginning to feel that the government should resign because the forces of destabilization will stop at *nothing* to bring about the collapse, so they may as well do it before more people are killed. ”

I find your reply disappointing on many levels, and I apologize in advance if I misread it. First when I said that consequent Lebanese governments and politicians have conspired against Syria since Lebanon’s independence, I meant independence from the French and not from Syria. Although I strongly disagreed with the Syrian military presence in Lebanon post the Israeli withdrawal from the south, I never considered or called it an occupation. It is disappointing to see that some people have completely forgotten about their independence from France and Israel and the word independence provokes in their mind one thing and one thing only, Syria. Second, when you wrote “this is your problem (and Bashar’s), you used tactics that some on this blog use to discredit people with different opinion by painting them as Syrian government’s supporters. Finally, you only take one point and try to punch a hole in it. You still have not answered my main points. 1- How can you justify relinquishing Lebanon’s sovereignty to other countries; France, USA, Saudi Arabia and Israel, post Syrian army withdrawal? Since I have been reading this blog, I never heard you complaining about Lebanon’s sovereignty being hijacked by those other countries, or is it that some people do not really care about Lebanon’s sovereignty as long as it is not been taken away by Syria. 2- What positive roles can the others play; USA, France, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

On your point of the government resigning, it would not make a difference if a just solution is not reached concerning the representation of a large portion of the Lebanese population and if the government to come later will surrender Lebanon’s sovereignty to the USA, Israel, France and Saudi Arabia.

January 30th, 2008, 12:31 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

MNA said:

How can you justify relinquishing Lebanon’s sovereignty to other countries; France, USA, Saudi Arabia and Israel, post Syrian army withdrawal? Since I have been reading this blog, I never heard you complaining about Lebanon’s sovereignty being hijacked by those other countries, or is it that some people do not really care about Lebanon’s sovereignty as long as it is not been taken away by Syria.

MNA, what is obvious from our exchange is that a sharpening of terms is called for. “Violation of sovereignty” is not a sufficiently precise concept as to distinguish between the different modes of force and influence that foreign powers can apply to a sovereign nation.

When Syria was handed the Lebanon file as compensation for its participation in Gulf War I, it effectively governed Lebanon as a province of Syria. Surely you would agree that this kind of domination represents a far stronger “hijacking” of sovereignty than, say, the current U.S. or French influence?

Nations are bound to have influence upon each other. But, given the recent history of the Lebanese-Syrian relationship, one can be justified in being paranoid about the likely shape of Syria’s future influence.

What positive roles can the others play; USA, France, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

What do you mean? All of these countries have played and continue to play positive roles vis-a-vis the other nations with which they have strong relations. They also, frequently, play negative roles. Syria can play a positive role or a negative role. What is your point, exactly?

On your point of the government resigning, it would not make a difference if a just solution is not reached concerning the representation of a large portion of the Lebanese population

… this is true. There are many structural problems that underlie the current crisis, and they must be solved. But they are not the immediate cause of the crisis, which is to say that the opposition is not waging its campaign because of the structural problems. Rather, they are taking advantage of these problems to fight for political survival. My argument about the resignation is to mitigate the short-term problem (the danger of a civil war) in order to solve the long-term problems, as a nation.

and if the government to come later will surrender Lebanon’s sovereignty to the USA, Israel, France and Saudi Arabia.

On this point, we’ll simply have to agree to disagree. I have criticized M14’s subservience to the American line at times, but as overwhelming as it has been, I still believe that there is a fundamental difference between U.S./French/Israeli/Saudi influence and Syrian influence. This is for two reasons:

1. Democracies have less ability to subjugate other democracies than dictatorships do. (This argument obviously does not apply to the Saudis).

2. The fight in Lebanon does not represent a fight for survival, in the case of the U.S./France/Israel/KSA, whereas as many people have remarked, it is very much a fight for survival in the case of the Syrian regime. Therefore, the stakes are much higher for Damascus, and thus, its hand has to be heavier than the others.

By the way, when I said “This is your problem (and Bashar’s)”, I did not mean to assume that you are a Baathist.

January 30th, 2008, 1:18 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

MNA,

You have many of us confused, yours truly in front of the line: How in the world is the current government “relinquishing Lebanon’s sovereignty to other countries; France, USA, Saudi Arabia and Israel, post Syrian army withdrawal?”

What has any of those countries requested of Lebanon or advocated other than the complete rule of law and the exercise of the existing democratic structure? You call such support relinquishing sovereignty?

They sure as hell have NOT threatened MPs’ life to vote for a particular president (as Syria did for extending Lahoud’s term). They sure as hell have NOT interfered in mining the country’s resources and interfering (for profit) in almost every commercial transaction in the country. They sure as hell have NOT imposed on the government any particular position vis a vis world affairs. And the list goes on.

It seems that Lebanese sovereignty, for you, means submission to Syria, implementation of its foreign policy agenda, and being the punching bag for Israeli reprisals to aggression against them launched from Lebanese territory to keep the annoyance level high in order to pressure them for the return of the Golan.
I’m sorry but as demonstrated on March 14, 2005, the majority of Lebanese are just sick of the exploitation of their country by Syria, not to mention the pillaging that has occurred for 3 decades.

We have to give credit to the propaganda machine of HA and the Lebanese Opposition, for having so effectively campaigned with these slogans against France, the US, KSA, etc., and accusations of the Lebanese Government surrendering to their will that many now believe it. The accusations started with Bashar’s despicable characterization of Siniora as “led slave of a led slave.” It is at that instant that I personally lost any and all respect for Bashar. He has revealed himself to be a manipulative hypocrite. Syria and the Opposition may well regain control in Lebanon. They may well become the “Ghaleb.” Lebanon may effectively disappear as an independent country. But don’t think for one minute that they will fool one iota the many of us who are true patriots and true believers in independence, democracy, separation of religion and state, advancement of the well being of people on the basis of education, freedom of the press, and modern civilization.

January 30th, 2008, 1:34 am

 

MNA said:

This is from Syriastep.com

عبر الرسالة الباريسية:تيمور وليد جنبلاط ينادي الرئيس الأسد

29/01/2008

سيادة الرئيس .

لقد وصل الحال بالعلاقات بين لبنان وسوريا، إلى حد لم تعد معه المعالجات العادية مؤهلة لايجاد حل . لهذا كان لا بد لي من التوجه إليكم مباشرة .

نحن نعرف أنا وعائلتي ، مقدار الأخطاء التي أقدم عليها والدنا . وإذ نعلن بأننا لم نقرها يوما لا أنا ولا أخوتي ، فاننا في نفس الوقت ، نعرف بأنه دفع دفعا للتفوه بها تحت ضغوط وتهديدات شتى . منها ما هو أمني ومنها ما هو سياسي ومنها ما له علاقة بالطبيعة العقلية والنفسية ، لزعيم إعتقد يوما أنه مهما حصل بينه وبين سوريا، إلا أنه بالتاكيد لن يحتاج في أي يوم لوسيط لمصالحتها أو للاعتذار عما بدر منه تجاه قيادتها . وكونه رفض من قبل الوسطاء باسمكم لاكثر من مرة في الفترة الماضية القريبة . فأني لا أجد حلا لهذا الموضوع إلا بأعلاني نفسي جنديا من جنود الأسد . حاضر لتنفيذ اي مهمة تخدم القضايا العربية وعلى رأسها رأب الصدع بين ارباب العروبة في الجبل الأشم وأصل العروبة في دمشق الأسد .

أنا اليوم يا سيادة الرئيس، وبغض النظر عن موقفكم من والدي ، أتقدم من سيادتكم بالسماح لي بزيارتكم في دمشق لأني بالفعل سافرت إليها في الأسبوع الماضي كمواطن لبناني يحب أن يزور سوريا، ولكن سلطات المطار منعتني من الدخول ثم أعادتني على متن نفس الطائرة .

إني يا سيادة الرئيس ، أعلنها بالفم الملآن . الدروز في الجبل لم ولن يكونوا إلا حلفاء لسوريا بغض النظر عن الزعيم الذي يقودهم . أكان وليد جنبلاط أم غيره من آل جنبلاط الذين يمتد تاريخ نضالهم السياسي إلى مئات السنين .

مع خالص إحترامي وتمنياتي لكم بدوام الصحة .

تيمور جنبلاط

26-كانون الثاني

مجلة الرسالة الباريسية

January 30th, 2008, 1:34 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

MNA,

Educate those of us who are not as well informed, please. Who is Timur Joumblatt ? How old is he ? What is the context of this letter ? Why is he is estranged from his father (as one infers from the letter) etc.

Thanks

January 30th, 2008, 1:52 am

 

MNA said:

Honest Patriot said:

“MNA,

Educate those of us who are not as well informed, please. Who is Timur Joumblatt ? How old is he ? What is the context of this letter ? Why is he is estranged from his father (as one infers from the letter) etc.

Thanks”

Your guess is as good as mine, but I know that Timur is the eldest sun of Walid Jumblat. I have read somewhere in the past that the Syrian leadership has expressed before that although it will never reconcile with Walid Jumblat, it has no grievances with Timur, hence, paving the way for Timur to assume al-za3ameh and for reconciliation with the Jumblat followers.

I will reply to your earlier post soon.

January 30th, 2008, 2:30 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

From Daily Star:

“Democratic Gathering leader MP Walid Jumblatt accused the West of abandoning Lebanon, adding that “dictators” like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Syrian President Bashar Assad should be toppled. “The two dictators ought to be overthrown,” Jumblatt said in an interview with the French news daily Le Figaro.

Jumblatt said Syria and Iran want to create a void in the country so they can impose their control over Lebanon. He vowed that while “we might not be able to stop them,” the Lebanese will not give up.

Jumblatt pointed a finger at Hizbullah for involvement in the series of car bomb attacks that have plagued Lebanon recently. “I accuse Hizbullah directly … when you are capable of possessing rockets with a range of 300 kilometers, you own everything,” he told the French paper, adding that Hizbullah assisted Syrian intelligence.

In a separate interview with Russian news agency Novosti, Jumblatt said it was impossible for “democratic Lebanon” to coexist with “Syria’s dictatorship.”

If there were ever a candidate for “false-flag rhetorician of the month”, it would be Walid Bek.

If I didn’t know better (and I admit that I don’t), I’d have to say that, “The Druze chieftain doth protest too much.” How could someone with so much political experience behind him and so much at stake be so stupid as to speak in this way? Does he really believe that the Iranian and Syrian regimes are in any danger of being toppled? I can’t believe that he is that naive.

January 30th, 2008, 3:13 am

 

MNA said:

from Syria-News.com

جنبلاط: العلاقات السورية اللبنانية يجب أن تكون إيجابية ولا بد من حل وسط الاخبار السياسية

قال رئيس كتلة “اللقاء الديمقراطي” النيابية اللبنانية وليد جنبلاط الثلاثاء إن العلاقات السورية اللبنانية يجب أن تكون ايجابية بغض النظر عن المواقف التوترات السياسية القائمة حاليا.

وقال جنبلاط في تصريح لقناة “العربية” السعودية عقب لقائه مع وزير الخارجية الروسي سيرغي لافروف في موسكو إن مباحثاته ركزت على “أهمية انتخاب رئيس للبنان بأقصى سرعة وتجنب الخوض في التفاصيل في الوقت الراهن”، معتبرا أن “علاقات طبيعية مع دمشق وانتخاب رئيس لبناني من شأنه ضمان مستقبل لبنان”.
وأضاف حنبلاط أن ” العلاقات اللبنانية- السورية يجب أن تكون ايجابية بغض النظر عن موقفنا اليوم وبغض النظر عن هذا التوتر .. لا نستطيع أن نبقى في هذه الحالة من التوتر أو في حالة إما هم لا يريدون السماع بلبنان أو نحن ندخل في حالة عداء دائم، لا نستطيع”.

ورأى أنه “لا بد من حل وسط, ولكن الوصول إلى هذا الحل الوسط لا بد من رئيس (للبنان) لكي نخرج إلى الحد الأدنى من المنطق”.
ويأتي هذا الموقف من جنبلاط بعد سنين من العداء, حيث يعد من أكثر الزعماء اللبنانيين عداء لسورية بعد أن كان أكثرهم قربا منها قبل العام 2000.

كما يأتي هذا الموقف بعد أن قال وزير الخارجية وليد المعلم قبل يومين إن “لسورية أصدقاء في لبنان, والأعداء نسامحهم”.

ويشهد لبنان أزمة سياسية حادة منذ ما يزيد عن عام, إلا أنها ازدادت تعقيدا بعد أن دخلت البلاد في فراغ رئاسي منذ شهرين بسبب عدم تمكن الموالاة والمعارضة من التوصل إلى انتخاب رئيس جديد.

يذكر أن جنبلاط كان يتهم سورية بجميع الاغتيالات التي وقت في لبنان خلال السنوات الثلاث الماضية, كما يتهمها باغتيال والده كمال جنبلاط

January 30th, 2008, 4:27 am

 

offended said:

The above two comments are quoting Junblat on two contradictory statements.

Enough said…

January 30th, 2008, 5:31 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

“In the long run, men and women who are free to determine their own destinies will reject terror and refuse to live in tyranny”

I strongly believe this is true. All Bush is saying that people in general want a free and peaceful life. Yes, democracies have comitted many crimes. But that is not the point. So have all other types of governments. The advantage of democracy is for the people living inside the country and that is why people chose to immigrate to democratic countries.

When G. Bush says the first sentence that is amusing. When a militant, secular (what ever that means) Israeli (living naturally in USA) Jew repeats it is even more amusing.

USA’s establishments “democracy and freedom” speeches are meant only for internal “consumption”. Very few outside USA take such speeches seriously. Especially when it is said just after the former US installed dictator Suharto was buried. Suharto meant no freedom or democracy for Indonesians. Well Suharto meant freedom of the burden of controlling their own natural resources in one of the worlds most richest, in natural resources, countries. Suharto also meant that freedom of opinions was a joke when with direct aid of CIA a million were slaughtered. The victims “crime” was that they were democratic, nationalistic or / and leftists in their views and wanted that the national wealth is used for their countries benefit. Not to benefit the indirect colonial power.

Now we can read that US oil companies offer 5 million inflated US dollars to each Iraqi MP who votes for the Oil law. That is real side of “freedom” in US way. This real “democratic and freedom loving” way is not mentioned in politicians speeches.

When a Israeli militant right-wing ûbermensch preaches to “Arabs” about the blessings of democracy, that is as amusing as a SS officer would lecture about human rights. A person who accepts Israeli style of democracy based on one religious groups supremacy doesn’t understand what democracy means. AIG certainly would not like to live in USA or Europe as a “secular” Jew, if USA and European countries would in concrete forms be ruled in the “democratic” style of Israel. The AIG would be here a “Palestinian”.

“Erasing” the crimes of democracies in AIG style by saying that so have the other styles of governments made crimes is simply naive. What would be the difference for the millions of people under Israeli occupation if Israel would be a direct dictatorship instead of a theocratic democracy? It is difficult to imagine could a directorship be more cruel than the “democracy” run by “secular” men with little black hats.

January 30th, 2008, 7:11 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

MNA, thanks to you I have “discovered” Syria-News.com but it does read like a regime mouthpiece from a country with no free press. I’m sorry but I can’t count the news and spin written there as objective or complete.

Offended, the contradiction in the reported Junblat statements may well be due to the distortion or selective quoting in Syria-News.com

SimoHurtta, what is that source you’re quoting for the bribe in Iraq? It has no credibility. Your subsequent rants are also not fact-based and the USA whose foreign policy you love to hate is the one who defeated the Nazis and reconstructed Europe. There is no doubt that you are sincere and passionate about your beliefs and your disdain of AIG. But it all comes across as emotion-based with no facts to back it. When we disagree with AIG we engage him in a rational debate. Your approach leads nowehere and it’s often difficult to understand your writing.

January 30th, 2008, 8:11 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

From Naharnet:

Initial Testimony: Gunshots Came from Shiyah
التحقيقات مستمرة…وإطلاق النار على الجيش مصدره الشياح

http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/getstory?openform&2B748DD127AC2A9DC22573E0002771DA

http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/arabicNewsDesk.nsf/story/3EEAB362684968EAC22573E0002713AD?OpenDocument

Note, in particular:
“Meanwhile, the pro-opposition al-Akhbar newspaper said Hizbullah and Amal movement were waiting for the results of the investigation into Sunday’s riots before announcing their stance regarding their support for consensus presidential candidate army commander Gen. Michel Suleiman.”

Way to base political decisions on principles!
Any group that ties support for a candidate to events that happen ten levels below him in the chain-of-command is so blatantly trying to find excuses and justifications for decisions motivated by other considerations. The sad part is that it’s all for local political consumption by and brainwashing of their followers.

January 30th, 2008, 8:23 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

What say you about the following hypothetical scenario?

Everyone rallies around Aoun as President, with the 14+10+6 formula. Clearly Aoun will have to agree. What about HA and the other members of the Opposition ?

HA would have to clear out tent city and fall in line with Aoun. For his part, Aoun will have no one else to blame and all the power he ever hoped for. Now, will he deliver peace, prosperity, and stability ?

Rather than QN’s suggestion of the Government resigning, I put forth the scenario of rallying around Aoun.

January 30th, 2008, 8:34 am

 

T said:

Who owns the USA?
(Israeli dual-national editor propagates smear against Pres candidate Barack Obama while practicing Democracy)-

ELECTION 2008
Obama aide wants talks with terrorists
Foreign adviser’s ‘anti-Israel policies,’ sympathy for Hamas, raise concerns

Posted: January 29, 2008 By Aaron Klein World net Daily

JERUSALEM – While officials here largely maintain a policy against interfering in U.S. election politics, some Israeli security officials quietly expressed “concern” about an adviser to Sen. Barack Obama who has advocated negotiations with Hamas and providing international assistance to the terrorist group.

The officials noted Robert Malley, a principal Obama foreign policy adviser, has penned numerous opinion articles, many of them co-written with a former adviser to the late Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, petitioning for dialogue with Hamas and blasting Israel for numerous policies he says harm the Palestinian cause.

Malley also previously penned a well-circulated New York Review of Books piece largely blaming Israel for the collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at Camp David in 2000 when Arafat turned down a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and eastern sections of Jerusalem and instead returned to the Middle East to launch an intifada, or terrorist campaign, against the Jewish state.

Malley’s contentions have been strongly refuted by key participants at Camp David, including President Bill Clinton, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and primary U.S. envoy to the Middle East Dennis Ross, all of whom squarely blamed Arafat’s refusal to make peace for the talks’ failure.

“We are noting with concern some of Obama’s picks as advisers, particularly Robert Malley who has expressed sympathy to Hamas and Hezbollah and offered accounts of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that don’t jibe with the facts,” said one security official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official stated he was not authorized to talk to the media about U.S. politics, noting Israeli officials are instructed to “stay out” of American political affairs.

In February 2006, after Hamas won a majority of seats in the Palestinian parliament and amid a U.S. and Israeli attempt to isolate the Hamas-run Palestinian Authority, Malley wrote an op-ed for the Baltimore Sun advocating international aid to the terror group’s newly formed government.

“The Islamists (Hamas) ran on a campaign of effective government and promised to improve Palestinians’ lives; they cannot do that if the international community turns its back,” wrote Malley in a piece entitled, “Making the Best of Hamas’ Victory.”

Malley contended the election of Hamas expressed Palestinian “anger at years of humiliation and loss of self-respect because of Israeli settlement expansion, Arafat’s imprisonment, Israel’s incursions, Western lecturing and, most recently and tellingly, the threat of an aid cut off in the event of an Islamist success.”

Malley said the U.S. should not “discourage third-party unofficial contacts with [Hamas] in an attempt to moderate it.”

Hamas is responsible for scores of deadly shootings, suicide bombings and rocket attacks aimed at Jewish civilian population centers. The past few weeks alone, Hamas militants took credit for firing more than 200 rockets into Israel.

Hamas’ official charter calls for the murder of Jews and destruction of Israel.

Hamas maintained a national unity government with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas until the Palestinian leader dissolved the agreement and deposed the Hamas prime minister last year.

In an op-ed in the Washington Post two weeks ago coauthored by Arafat adviser Hussein Agha, Malley – using could be perceived as anti-Israel language – urged Israel’s negotiating partner Abbas to reunite with Hamas.

“A renewed national compact and the return of Hamas to the political fold would upset Israel’s strategy of perpetuating Palestinian geographic and political division,” wrote Malley.

He further petitioned Israel to hold talks with Hamas.

“An arrangement between Israel and Hamas could advance both sides’ interests,” wrote Malley.

In numerous other op-eds, Malley advocates a policy of engagement with Hamas.

After the breakdown of the Camp David talks, Malley wrote a lengthy New York Times piece that mostly blamed Israel and the U.S. for the breakdown of the negotiations.

Malley was a special assistant to Clinton for Arab-Israeli affairs and was a member of the U.S. peace team during the Camp David negotiations. He currently serves as director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at the International Crisis Group, which is partially funded by billionaire and Obama campaign contributor George Soros, who also serves on the board of the Crisis Group.

Ed Lasky, a contributor to the American Thinker blog, calls Malley a “[Palestinian] propagandist” who, he charged, bends “the truth to serve an agenda that is marked by anti-Israel bias. … Malley’s writings strike me as being akin to propaganda.”

Lasky points out Malley’s father, Simon Malley, was a personal friend of Arafat and wrote in support of numerous struggles against Western countries. Simon Malley founded Afrique Asie, a French magazine that was known for its advocacy for “liberation” struggles throughout the world, including the Palestinian cause.

Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, called Simon Malley a “sympathizer” of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, which, headed by Arafat, carried out numerous terror attacks.

“[Robert] Malley has seemingly followed in his father’s footsteps: He represents the next generation of anti-Israel activism,” wrote Lasky.

Obama spiritual adviser also anti-Israel?

Obama the past few days has taken note of his growing negative image within the pro-Israel and Jewish activist community, reaching out yesterday to a coalition of Jewish and Israeli newspapers.

Obama told Israel’s Haaretz daily there is a “constant virulent campaign” being waged against him, aimed particularly at weakening support among Democrat voters within the Jewish community.

Obama said “false” e-mail campaigns calling him Muslim and accusing him of not pledging allegiance to the U.S. have been especially visible in the Jewish community.

The presidential hopeful urged Haaretz and U.S. Jewish newspapers to use their “megaphone” so people can hear “from the horse’s mouth” that anti-Israel accusations against him are “unfounded.”

Mass e-mail distributions have pointed out Obama’s spiritual adviser, Jeremiah Wright Jr. of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, recently presented Nation of Islam founder Louis Farrakhan with a “Lifetime Achievement” award. Farrakhan has expressed consistent anti-Israel views.

Wright, who reportedly married Obama and baptized his daughters, has called for divestment from Israel and refers to Israel as a “racist” state.”

Obama called Wright’s heralding of Farrahkan a “mistake” but has not spoken out against Wright’s views regarding Israel.

Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick noted in a column last week, “Obama has taken no steps to moderate his church’s anti-Israel invective. Obama’s affiliation with Wright aligns with his choice of financial backers and foreign policy advisers. To varying degrees, all of them exhibit hostility towards Israel and support for appeasing jihadists.”
———-the OUTCOME——
Hillary Clinton Thanks Jewish Legislator for Victory
30 January 08 (IsraelNN.com)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton opened up her victory speech in the Florida primaries Tuesday by thanking a Jewish legislator for helping her win. Florida Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman raised millions of dollars for the Clinton campaign.

She defeated Senator Barack Obama, giving her a big boost in the race following his victory in South Carolina. He has been the victim of a massive e-mail campaign which falsely accused him of being a Muslim who would bring Bin Laden to the White House if he were to win the general elections in November.
——————————————————–
Sibel Edmonds spy update (Turkish translator who accused Israeli dual-nationals of spying on America/ stealing & selling nuke secrets to rogue states.)
Keith Ryan, a US diplomat working in Customs for Homeland Security in Pakistan was assassinated Monday in Islamabad. It is suspected retaliation as he may have been a whistleblower associated with info in London Times investigation on File 203a. His father, Bob Ryan, is a collaegue of one of the reporters covering the story for The Times.
Much more to follow.

January 30th, 2008, 10:01 am

 

MSK said:

SH-

Akhbar al-Khaleej, the source of that “$5 mio for each Iraqi MP’s vote for the new oil law” claim is not a reputable source. It’s on the same level as Kuwait’s Al-Siyasa.

–MSK*

January 30th, 2008, 10:47 am

 

why-discuss said:

QIFA NABKI said
Does he ( Walid Joumblatt) really believe that the Iranian and Syrian regimes are in any danger of being toppled? I can’t believe that he is that naive.
Do you have still illusions about Jumblatt mental sanity?
His head has turned so much that he lost his balance and now utters lots of inflammatory nonsense. The West has finally understood that and dumped him, this is why he went to Russia trying to get a replacement ally. In a few months he will go to Iran.

January 30th, 2008, 10:52 am

 

why-discuss said:

T Said
If Sleiman doesnt abide impartially by the law and find the perps- NO MATTER THE OUTCOME- he shouldnt be the President. Do you agree? Only a truly fair, non-aligned actor can save Lebanon now.

I agree, and I guess this is what Hezbollah and the CPL want to see: finally an impartial and not politically manipulated investigation.
I am anxious to see if Sleiman will be allowed to do that.

January 30th, 2008, 10:58 am

 

T said:

The FBI/CIA is already over in Lebanon trying to help out. Maybe they can get to the bottom of all these killings- like they helped us solve 911.

Why not get outside, disinterested investigators with the tech capability? China? Russia? Norway? Just brainstorming.

January 30th, 2008, 11:10 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

HP:

Your formula is an out-and-out victory for the opposition. In fact, it’s more than they’ve ever asked for!

Under that scheme, they get everything they want: Aoun as president, a blocking veto, and in fact, a majority (10+6)!!

My suggestion (which I should have qualified, and will as soon as I have some time) is geared toward creating a situation where no side can claim a complete victory, which is what the opposition has been calling for anyway.

January 30th, 2008, 2:42 pm

 

alle said:

About Timur Jumblatt, wasn’t there an article exactly like that somewhere about one/two months ago? Where it was said he was kissing up to Damascus, but this was then denied.

Same thing again?

January 30th, 2008, 3:22 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

January 30th, 2008, 4:10 pm

 

Nour said:

Lebanon under its current system can never ever be sovereign, as the various competing sects and sectarian leaders will do anything and collaborate with anyone to preserve and/or improve their sectarian standing and increase their share of the pie. The Lebanese formula has been an utter and complete failure since its very inception. It has never formed an actual viable state, but rather a conglomeration of sects and tribes competing and many times warring with each other. This can never constitute a formula for success.

As for those suggesting that the French/US/Saudi/Israeli influence in Lebanon cannot be compared to Syrian influence are actually correct in their conclusion but completely wrong in their reasoning. The Syrians and Lebanese are joined by a singe interest and a common destiny. They enjoy a single socio-economic life-cycle, such that events on either side of the artificial border will have a tremendous impact on the other side. This is not the case for the other mentioned countries, and thus if Lebanon was to descend into utter chaos they really wouldn’t care much as the effect on them would be very minimal. In addition, to underestimate the level of interference the above-mentioned countries are exercising in Lebanon is dangerously obtuse. It is not normal for ambassadors of foreign nations to summon politicians and leaders, including potential presidential candidates, of their host country into their office to discuss matters of internal politics. They are in fact acting as the rulers and lords of Lebanon giving orders and directing specific political representatives on what to do and say.

Unfortunately, many Lebanese, through years of hate mongering, have grown to despise everything “Syrian” and welcome and embrace control and influence from other nations around the world. This is a truly sad manifestation, as Lebanon will continue to find itself in one disaster after another should it not permanently rid itself of these divisive mentalities.

January 30th, 2008, 4:19 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Nour says:

“(…) joined by a singe interest and a common destiny (…) the artificial border (…)”

Nour, it is not true that Lebanese people “despise everything “Syrian””

However, there is no mistaking your true belief — probably shared by the Syrian regime and their supporters — that Lebanon should be a province of Syria just like Saddam believed that Kuwait should be a province of Iraq.

Lebanon does NOT need Syrian hegemony to survive. It has an entrepreneurial work force, the ability to have the most successful service, financial and tourism industries in the Middle East, and to serve the region and the world as a true non-aligned “Switzerland of the Middle East.”

Until Syria allows true democracy and a free press, you can be proud of the Syrian people, their culture, heritage, accomplishments, but please steer away from “adopting” Lebanon just because it is an adjoining country.

Sure Lebanon has a long way to go to expiate the sins of the past, improve the quality of its leaders, advance the much needed civic sense, bring full accountability for crimes past, achieve true reconciliation, and continue on a solid democratic footing to carve a strong role in the future world economy — despite its small size. But that’s NOT going to happen with the help of the Syrian regime which itself has not only that list to check-off but a much longer list to emerge from before they are eligible for this list.

Similarity of culture does not imply encompassing osmosis. Why, we have much in common with the Israelis too. We all like Hummus and Falafel and for the most part are hot-headed Mediterranean gesturers. Does that mean we should be one with Israel?
Ditto for Palestinians and Israelid.

Sorry, but your logic does not compute. But at least you’re transparent. We can work together. Just don’t count on “eating” Lebanon.

January 30th, 2008, 5:40 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

QN, ok: 15+9+6 with the President having the deciding vote in case of a tie. Where, regardless of who ends up a majority in future elections: 15 -> majority, 9-> President, 6-> minority
Aoun is trusted as far as his intentions for an independent Lebanon. Put him in charge and let him bear the burden of integrating HA into a purely political movement, taking care of the economy, eradicating corruption, etc.

January 30th, 2008, 6:28 pm

 

Nour said:

HP,

The problem with your position is that you interpret all affirmations of the unity of the Lebanese and Syrians to mean support for the Syrian regime and the adoption of its policies. I do not want to merge Lebanon into today’s Syrian Arab Republic, nor have I ever made such a contention. I simply believe that the Lebanese and Syrians share a common identity, which is not reduced to eating Hummus and Falafel as you mockingly state. You know very well that the Lebanese and Syrians share the same culture, common social traditions, and a single national psyche. This does not mean that the current Syrian regime should exercise hegemony over Lebanon, nor should any affirmation of the above-stated reality be construed as meaning as much.

We all know that in the 1980’s there was a plan in effect to divide Lebanon into various sectarian states. Should such a plan have materialized, would those rejecting division and insisting upon the unity of Lebanon be labelled as “regime sympathizers” of one side or the other? Would they be accused of wanting one entity to “eat” the other? This is what is not logical. Lebanon’s interest lies in its connection to its natural environment and to try to deny this connection is futile and cannot possibly serve Lebanon’s interest.

January 30th, 2008, 7:20 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

SH-

Akhbar al-Khaleej, the source of that “$5 mio for each Iraqi MP’s vote for the new oil law” claim is not a reputable source. It’s on the same level as Kuwait’s Al-Siyasa.

–MSK*

No doubt about the credibility of the source MSK. But undoubtedly the American oil companies want desperately the Iraqi oil law, which is extraordinary stupid for Iraqis, to pass. That desire is well documented and US (and European) companies are known to have used frequently bribes. Which makes the story more than believable despite of the source.

What is the sense of Iraq to allow foreign companies to ship most of the income abroad and leave almost nothing to Iraq. Most Arab countries, including US “friends”, use a national oil company to guaranty that the profit sharing is almost fair and that more importantly that the “indirect colony” also gets technological knowledge. But in Iraq that is not wanted. Iraqis want a national oil company to stay in control, but Americans do not allow it. Which raises the question are Iraqis now really free as Bush claims. Well they will soon be free from the burden of controlling their national assets and free to collect the small pieces US oil companies drop for them from the table. There are many kinds of freedom and free people, depends who is holding the speech. Bush claims that Iraqis are now free and AIG claims that Israeli Palestinians are as free as Israeli Jews. But are they?

January 30th, 2008, 8:43 pm

 

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