Obama Trapped in Bush’s Lebanon War

Obama spoke out about the Special Tribunal for Lebanon today as a new phase has started. The proceedings of the STL are now in the hands of an international group of professional judges. The role of regional politics is presumably over, but of course the political implications will only grow. Purported leaks about those indicted again remind us how political it is. Some reports are indicating that the indictments will accuse Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei of ordering the assassination and that it was carried out in cooperation with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah. Paul Salem says that if this is the case, it will mean war.

Paul Salem writes from Lebanon:

If the indictments indeed go in this direction, the crisis will engulf the country and the region. Iran and Syria will effectively interpret this as a declaration of war, in which case they would abandon any talk of a unity government in Lebanon and urge Hezbollah to launch a full takeover of state institutions.

If the indictments prove to be more limited, however, there would be a better chance of hammering out an agreement and putting together a coalition government.

In this crisis where issues of justice, stability and security coincide, and where a complex knot of sectarian, political, regional and international interests intersect, there is a strong chance the situation will get worse before it gets better. A solution appears a long ways away.

Judge Daniel Fransen of Belgium, who receives the indictments will take six to ten weeks to decide how to proceed before making them public. In the meantime we can expect more leaks and rising tensions.

When the neoconservatives of the Bush administration established the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in 2005, a number of them argued that it would serve as a ticking time bomb that would go off in the distant future and would ensure that whatever administration came after Bush would be forced to continue fighting his war. They were right. The STL means Obama must fight Bush’s war in Lebanon, despite his attempt to bury it in the name of dialogue with Syria and Iran and settling the Arab-Israeli conflict.

President Bush is partially to blame for Hariri’s assassination and the present round of endemic civil strife in Lebanon. When he decided to ripe up the agreement on Lebanon that his father had hammered out in 1990 with Syria, he blew oxygen on the embers of the long Civil War that had never been settled but only dampened. When George W Bush proclaimed that the Syrian military was an “occupation force” and not a “positive presence” in Lebanon, the battle lines were drawn. The US had declared war on Hizbullah, Syria, and Iran.  When Bush teamed up with French President Chirac to convince Rafiq Hariri to choose sides in their battle and to back UN resolutions demanding Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon, Hariri could no longer play the man in the middle. He became a combatant in a war that he did not chose and could not win.  He became its most famous victim.

The STL is tasked with bringing his killers to justice. They can indict and accuse, but of course, they cannot bring his killers to justice. The investigators first accused Syria of the crime, then they jettisoned their claims against Syria as the story of the “false witnesses” and trumped up evidence was revealed; it then turned to accusing Hizbullah. Now it seems, Iran will be placed in the cross-hairs. It is not clear how this drama will play out. The Tribunal has been badly damaged by the false witnesses, Hariri tape, and unprofessional behavior all around. All the same, much of the world remains convinced that Syria, Iran, and Hizbullah are the authors of the crime. Will Turkey and Saudi Arabia side with the United States? Will the United States become isolated on the issue as Middle Eastern countries tire of endless conflict, which the US has neither the military power or diplomatic authority to resolve?

The Lebanon crisis has always been a hostage to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Now that the US has abandoned any realistic attempt to push through a two-state solution and will support Israel as it dislodges what remains of Palestinian authority in Jerusalem and the West Bank, much of the Muslim World will not side with America on Lebanon. Those who do, will be seen to be siding with Israel. This is the Saudi and Egyptian dilemma.

If the Tunisian uprising brings increasing democracy to the Middle East, it will not be good for America’s brand of justice or American policies in the region. Just as Turkey has moved away from the US and Israel in response to popular will, so will other Middle Eastern regimes should they become more responsive to their people. In the meantime, President Obama finds himself trapped in a Lebanese civil war that President Bush reignited and that he cannot win. The Lebanese state will remain inoperative. Obama will have to spend his time shoring up “moderate” Arab regimes to fight against the “radical” ones that support “resistance” and the Palestinian struggle. This is not where US policy should be – especially as Israel turns ever more to the radical right, violating international law in its rollback of Palestinian rights.

[End Landis analysis]

Obama’s Misguided Lebanon Policy: While in Lebanon or Tunisia, Iraq or Egypt, President Obama‘s policies have deepened the suffering of the people there, notes Abbas J. Ali.


President Barack Obama welcomed Monday’s indictment for the 2005 murder of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri as key to ending an “era of impunity” but urged calm amid rising tensions. “I welcome the announcement by the Office of the Prosecutor for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon today that he has filed an indictment relating to the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others,” Obama said in a statement. “This action represents an important step toward ending the era of impunity for murder in Lebanon, and achieving justice for the Lebanese people.

This is the judge who will decide if the indictments handed in today are sufficient to start calling in suspects and witnesses. 6-10 weeks he needs to make that decision Judge Daniel Fransen (Belgium), Pre-Trial Judge

Judge Daniel Fransen (Belgium), Pre-Trial Judge After working as a defence lawyer at the Brussels Bar from 1989 to 1993 and subsequently as a lawyer in the public service at the Société Régionale du Port de Bruxelles (1994 to 1995), Judge Fransen entered the judiciary, where he served as an investigating judge at the Brussels District Court for more than ten years. He dealt with serious and organised financial and economic crime before specialising in international humanitarian law and terrorism cases. Until his appointment as Pre-Trial Judge of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Judge Fransen was also the dean of the investigating judges specialised in terrorism in Belgium (2006 to 2009). He has also participated in many international conferences and written several publications on terrorism.

According to the Statute, proceedings in absentia may be instituted under three sets of circumstances, namely, when the accused: i) has expressly and in writing waived his right to be present; ii) has not been handed over to the Tribunal by the State authorities concerned; or iii) has absconded or cannot be found.

If, after “reasonable attempts” the accused cannot be located and served with an indictment, the President of the Tribunal can, after consulting the Pre-Trial Judge, decide to advertise the indictment, in part or in its entirety, in an effort to inform the accused of the need to appear before the Tribunal [Rule 76(E)]. The advertisement shall invite any person with information as to the whereabouts of the accused to communicate that information to the Tribunal [Rule 76bis].

there will not be “A” local judge. Once the pre trial judge accepts the validity of the indictments, the actual trial chamber will take over (three judges: one Lebanese and two international, plus two alternate judges, one Lebanese and one international).

Judge Antonio Cassese (Italy), President of the chamber Judge Ralph Riachy (Lebanon), Vice-President of the chamber
Thirty calendar days following such an advertisement, the Tribunal can proceed to conduct a trial in absentia, i.e. with the accused absent. In such a case, a lawyer would be assigned to represent the interests of the accused [Rule 105bis]. Also, if a trial does take place in absentia but an accused is located afterwards, that person would be entitled to a new trial [Rule 109].

[Erdogan and Assad] meeting in Damascus

“affirmed their care to find a solution to this crisis based on the … Syrian-Saudi efforts to achieve harmony between the Lebanese,” an official Syrian statement said after Monday’s talks, referring to earlier failed efforts by Saudi Arabia and Syria to forge a deal. Erdogan also said Iran’s foreign minister would visit Turkey on Monday after the Turkish prime minister discussed the issue at the weekend with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Nasrallah said on Sunday that Hezbollah would fight efforts to tarnish its image. “We will not allow our reputation and our honor to be touched.” He said leaders from several countries had intervened to demand Hariri be picked again to form the next government, but defended the decision to bring down the last one…”

Iran Cuts Subsidies, as Syria has only begun to Do

The subsidy cuts, which the International Monetary Fund says have amounted to  $4,000 a year for the average Iranian family, began in earnest last month when the rationed  price of gasoline jumped to about $1.44 a gallon from just 38 cents.  With a ration of only 16 gallons a month at the subsidized rate, most  motorists buy the bulk of their fuel now at the even higher market rate  of $2.64 per gallon, significantly more than the $1.80 that people pay  in nearby Dubai.

In recent weeks, subsidies have also been reduced on flour, water and  diesel. But the spike in prices has not provoked the angry protests that followed the introduction of fuel rationing in 2007. The price of bread has tripled, on average, the government says; water, which used to be  practically free, now costs between 10 cents and 85 cents per cubic  meter, based on a sliding scale under which consumers pay a higher rate  the more they use.
The government says these are just the first steps in what it calls an  “economic transformation plan” that will also include banking reform,  sweeping changes in Iran’s tax and customs system, and ever more  privatization of state-owned industries.

Syria Announces USD 575 million in New Social Support Measures

In the last 4 days, the Syrian Government has announced in two separate measures that it was disbursing a total of SYP 27 billion in additional funding to help its civil servants and the neediest parts of its population, while the Ministry of Electricity has announced that it had no plans to raise the heavily subsidized electricity prices.

Ehsani Writes: “The Welfare payments are not a response to Tunisia.

600,000 families will visit local post offices. They will qualify to receive: 1- syp 3500 ($75.3) a month. 2- syp 2500 ($53.7) a month 3- syp 1000 ($21.5) a month. 4- syp 500 ($10.75) a month The total allocation for this program can reach up to syp 12 billion ($258 million). The Hasake region is expected to see the largest families who qualify. The money will be paid every four months. This way the family will get 4 months of the above allocation upfront 3 times a year. Presumably, the 600,000 is what the government considers to live below the poverty line where the head of the family is largely unemployed. While many will view this as a response to the Tunisia situation, I can confirm that the welfare payment was already in the planning stage several months ago. It has to be viewed as part of the government’s attempt to continue to lift the extremely expensive energy subsidies with more announcements to come in April. We are likely to see a 53% increase in the price of fuel oil. I would have personally thought that the program should have been announced at the same time as the government communicates its substantial fuel price increase. The latter will hit industry (and especially textiles) very hard while the welfare program covers only 12% of the population or (600,00 families) (Sent to me by email)

Tunisia’s Jasmine revolution has been keenly watched in Syria,
by Ian Black – The Guardian

Tunisia’s Jasmine revolution has been keenly watched in Syria, one of the most repressive of the Arab regimes, though the chances of a re-run of Tunis in Damascus are slim. Syria’s benchmark experience for dealing with serious unrest remains the Hama events of 1982, when the security forces killed thousands in crushing an uprising by the Muslim Brotherhood. Syrian Islamists are largely behind bars or in exile, and liberal and democratic activists neutralised by surveillance and repression.

The Syrian military and security services are dominated by the ruling Alawite minority, which would see a sectarian or clan interest in defending the presidency and the state against the Sunni majority, especially after the lessons of Iraq’s internecine struggle and communal fissures in Lebanon next door. “The fear of civil war based on religious affiliation is the greatest legitimiser or bulwark of authoritarianism in Syria,” commented Syria watcher Joshua Landis. It is relatively easy for the state to change direction, since critical comment is unlikely. On Sunday the government raised a heating oil subsidy it had previously cut – an apparent response to economically-driven unrest in neighbouring Jordan, Tunisia and elsewhere. On Monday the government announced a plan to help 420,000 impoverished families. Official Syrian comment has been confined to lecturing Tunisia sternly on the perils of relying on fair-weather foreign allies. Events there, said the pro-government daily al-Watan, were “a lesson that no Arab regime should ignore, especially those following Tunisia’s political approach of relying on ‘friends’ to protect them.” Ian Black

First US ambassador to Syria in 5 years arrives to take up post …
The Canadian Press

“Intelligence sharing is the most promising overlap in US-Syrian relations,” said Joshua Landis, an American professor and Syria expert. …

US Ambassador to Lebanon Summoned Amid Tension

Beirut (AP) — An official in Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry says the U.S. ambassador has been summoned over accusations that she is interfering with the ountry’s political process. The official said Monday that the foreign minister asked Ambassador Maura Connelly to clarify the circumstances behind her visit this weekend with lawmaker Nicolas Fattouch.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly. Connelly did not take questions as she left the Foreign Ministry on Monday.

Fattouch is seen as a key “undecided” lawmaker as Lebanon’s rival political factions scramble to form a new government.

Roger Cohen: The Arab Gdansk 2011-01-17

Last month, after a visit to Beirut, I wrote a column called “The captive Arab mind” about the psychological cost of repression in the region: the reflex of blaming others, the perception of conspiracies everywhere and the paralyzing fear of acting or thinking for oneself. Tunis can be Act One in the liberation of the Arab mind.

That will also require the West to cast aside tired thinking. You can’t be a little bit democratic any more than you can be a little bit pregnant. Holding free elections in Tunisia requires the lifting of the ban on Islamist parties. Dealing with the Middle East as it is — rather than indulging in the “Green Zone politics” of imaginary worlds — demands recognition that facile terrorist designations for broad movements like Hezbollah are self-defeating and inadequate. Peace in Northern Ireland would have been impossible if Sinn Fein’s links to violent resistance had proved an impassable barrier to negotiations with it. Western double-standards in the supposed interest of Arab stability have proved a recipe for radicalization. The West should honor Tunisian bravery with some of its own. Dynasties rusting on their thrones are not the answer to Arab disquiet. Nor is democracy a one-way street. It is about give-and-take, not irreversible power grabs. Political Islam betrayed its liberating banner in Tehran by replacing secular repression — the shah’s — with theocratic. Iran has proved more dynamic than its Arab neighbors because the Islamic Republic has at times felt obliged to reflect the “republic” in its name — but only under an unelected supreme leader. Islamist parties must commit to democracy rather than exploit democracy for despotic ends.

Nine years separated Walentynowicz’s firing from the fall of the Berlin Wall. Bouazizi’s suicide proclaimed that the shelf life of Arab despots can be no longer than that. Little Tunisia is a clarion call for a regional awakening.

Comments (83)

Syrian Nationalist Party said:

“…..Syria Announces USD 575 million in New Social Support Measures…..”

A drop in the bucket… will have no material effect on poor Syrians suffering and their feeling toward the Baath regime. Why not the Baath regime open up the country, let people run their life, remove emergency law and free these poor people to do what they want to help themselves economically. In five years they will be giving the Government 575 billion instead of taking this mediocre government handout given whenever the regime felt threatened. Look at Israeli, they now surpassed oil producing Saudi Arabia in GDP, they are surrounded by enemies and they are not living under Emergency Decree.

January 18th, 2011, 11:03 am


Observer said:

Well I listened to the Hariri tapes.
One there is no denial that the conversation did take place.
Two he sounded incredibly stupid
Three the tribunal workings has become a soap opera
Four what they could not destroy by force of arms they are trying to do by political assassination
Five this tribunal as Rami Khouri pointed out in the Daily Star is very much an ode to old colonialist rhethoric that is out of touch with reality.
By the way the French Foreing Minister was offering security assisstance to Tunisia, once again harking back to the days of interventtion.
The caravan is moving the dogs are barking. Eclipse is coming slowly and surely.

January 18th, 2011, 2:58 pm


Averroes said:

Dr. Landis,

The ticking time bomb is nothing but the boiling sectarian hatred that has been fueled by the crime, and by all events since then.

Realities in Lebanon are unique, and people see things through the prism of their tribal/sectarian prisms and there is no changing that any time soon.

Hariri will continue to use the only weapons he has: his Sunni sect, and his money. The real question in my mind is what his Saudi operators are going to do. There are two powerful factors in Saudi Arabia, and both have tremendous influence on what Hariri does.

King Abdulla has a good understanding with Assad of what a sectarian explosion could do to the whole region, and I believe he is trying to curb it. King Abdulla has frozen major Hariri assets in Saudi Arabia which has resulted in Hariri having to sell some of his businesses in the country (he sold MedNet, the second largest medical insurance company in the kingdom). Also, Saudi Oger is being squeezed.

The other faction, the Sudairi faction are the Saudi Neocons. Their main figues are pr. Bandar, Sultan, and the whole bunch. This faction is very powerful. Probably more powerful than the king. Asharq Alawsat and Al-Arabia are tools of this faction. This faction have long decided that their “sell” is to satisfy and assist with the most extreme of US policies world wide. They see the US as their guarantor, and will not change that. This faction wants to push the Lebanese to a civil war.

Neither NATO, the EU, or anyone else is going to go into Lebanon to arrest HA members. This whole STL this is aimed at politically assassinating HA in Lebanon and the Arab World, as Observer said above. The Bandar faction want to see this happen, because if it did happen, it will take great pressure off of Israel and ripen the circumstances for a large war in which HA will have (they think) little or no support from the Arab population.

I cannot tell you how much money this faction has spent in recent years to aggravate and inflame sectarian tensions in the region, but I can safely say it is in the billions of Dollars. The number of media channels (TV, internet, etc) dedicated to teaching hatred is in the hundreds, ALL of which are funded by this Saudi faction. These streams provide thousands of fresh air hours every day, and they are having an effect. Such a campaign (if allowed) would have an effect anywhere, and no country, culture, or people is immune to it.

This is the real danger of this reckless policy that the Neocons and their Saudi culprits have been playing for years.

There is a chance that the Abdulla faction will be able to pull the plug on Hariri. Without his money, 90% of those around him in Lebanon will find something else to do. That chance, in my opinion, is slim.

So, expect more and more agitation in the following weeks, plus more and more humiliating exposures like the Hariri tapes.

Without a new civil war in Lebanon, the chance of Israel winning any military adventure in Lebanon is not very good.

January 18th, 2011, 4:55 pm


Vedat The Turk said:

Though Dr Landis is usually spot on when it comes to his analysis, his latest postings are unfortunately way off the mark.

The indictments by the STL will just be a new means to pressure Hezbollah, Syria and Iran.

It will force the issue of Hezbollah status vis-a-vis the Lebanese government onto the international stage. Nasrallah’s claims of being a resistance force to Israeli occupation will ring hollow to much of the international community. It will instead be seen as a destabilizing paramilitary force that has a long history of terrorism.

The end results will eventually be more international trade sanctions against the group and its sponsors. If Hezbollah were silly enough to take over the government it would simply result in sanctions being placed onto the Lebanese state. After a period of time the Lebanese people would see the group as more of liability than anything else.

Dr Landis and other can say what they want about STL creation weakening American influence in Lebanon but in reality it has had the complete opposite effect. Instead of it being the US vs. Hezbollah it will now be the International Community vs. Hezbollah.

January 18th, 2011, 7:15 pm


Ziad said:

Vedat #4

your comments sound oracular, lacking any justification or proof. They seem like a wishful thinking and are not convincing.

PS: Are you really \”the Turk\”?

January 18th, 2011, 10:01 pm


Joshua said:

Vedat, I beg to differ. I agree that Washington is counting on your logic shoring up its position in Lebanon and the region, but I do not think that the Muslim world will abandon resistance all the same. You are correct that Hizbullah has not fought Israel in 4 years, which is a long time, but that could change.

Most importantly, nothing is going to dismantle Hizbullah and Lebanon cannot work without it. The US can hurt Lebanon in the name of Justice. It can prevent it from forming a government, but it cannot resolve its factional problems – only accommodating Hizbullah’s interests can do that. That is why the Arab countries negotiated the Doha Agreement in 2008. I believe it is why they will eventually do something similar over this STL crisis. If you disagree with this scenario, what resolution do you foresee? American arresting Hizbullah’s leadership? Bombing Iran? Israel destroying Hizbullah? The Arab countries agreeing to send troops to Lebanon to take on Hizb? I don’t see these as likely outcomes.

Here are a few quotes to back up my argument.

“… Speaking to a small group of journalists on his way to Beirut, Davutoğlu said that Hezbollah — which brought down Saad al-Hariri’s government, and Iran, which has close links to the Shiite group, had to be involved in the efforts to find a solution to the crisis. “We will definitely meet with Hezbollah representatives. As a political party and a group with very strong support within Lebanese society, Hezbollah is one of the most essential elements of this process,” Davutoğlu said earlier in the day, while speaking to reporters before departing for Beirut…..

Speaking before the talks with Davutoğlu, Salehi said a solution should come from within the region and opposed the involvement of “foreign actors.” He did not mention any non-regional country, but said actors in the region such as Syria and Saudi Arabia could also be involved in Turkish-Iranian efforts to help stability in Lebanon. “We see no benefit in foreign actors getting involved in this,” Salehi said. Speaking on Tuesday, Davutoğlu appeared to back Salehi’s call for a regional solution and said Iran would be part of efforts for a settlement. He said Salehi had told him during their talks on Monday that Iran was ready to contribute to Lebanon’s stability and support every Turkish effort to that effect. “Our consultations with Iran will continue. No actor should be left out of this process, otherwise there will be polarization both within Lebanon and on a regional and international scale,” said Davutoğlu……..

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Monday that he has received a written invitation from French President Nicolas Sarkozy to attend an international meeting on Lebanon and has instructed his staff to respond in the affirmative to the invitation. Erdoğan said seven countries have been invited and that no date has been set for the meeting yet. Iran is not among the countries invited….”

Obama thanked Mubarak for Egyptian support of the tribunal, ” and achieve justice for the Lebanese people,” the White House said…”

Elliott Abrams on Lebanon: ‘the atmosphere is rife with trouble’

Anthony Shadid in the NYTImes: “The confrontation here is the latest sign of a shifting map of the Middle East, where longtime stalwarts like Saudi Arabia and Egypt have further receded in influence, and emerging powers like Turkey, Iran and even the tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar have decisively emerged in just a matter of a few years. It is yet another episode in which the United States has watched — seemingly helplessly — as events in places like Tunisia, Lebanon and even Iraq unfold unexpectedly and beyond its ability to control. The jockeying might be a glimpse of a post-American Middle East, where the United States’ allies and foes, brought together in the interests of stability, plot foreign policies that intersect in initiatives the United States must grudgingly accept.”

January 18th, 2011, 10:53 pm


Vedat The Turk said:

Thanks for your inputs Josh. They are always appreciated. Though I sometimes may not agree with your analysis I always find your comments to be insightful.

I agree with you that the scenarios you described are all highly unlikely. If truth be told the US has very little leverage in Lebanon and Hezbollah is far too strong to be taken on directly. But this misses the point. The real threat from the STL to Hezbollah is not military force but rather the threat of international economic sanctions.

Sanctions are a funny thing in that they take very little inertia to impose and a great deal to remove. They are a slow death whose impact only becomes stronger with time. At first they are just an inconvenience but given enough time they begin to tax the resources of the state and split the populous. Before you know it, they begin to seriously impede a countries economic growth. Just look at Iran as an example.

The scenario I envision is that nothing will significantly change on the ground in Lebanon after the indictments are handed down. Hezbollah will continue to function as it has in the past.

Soon after however, the US and its allies will use the indictments to begin to quietly round up the necessary votes to impose sanctions on Hezbollah either at the UN or conversely with the EU. I suspect very few countries in either of those venues will try and stop them. Why would they? Hezbollah has no clout with these groups and is considered a pariah entity by much of the states that comprise these bodies. If anyone can think of a government (besides a small handful like Syria, Iran Venezuela) that would come to its defense within the UN or EU please chime in.

Once these sanctions are in place the net effect will be that foreign investment will significantly decrease and people who do invest in the country will get the much feared “cease and desist” letters the US Commerce Department likes to send out. Over time the financial regulating agencies within the UN and EU will only toughen them and before you know it Hezbollah will be in the same plight that Syria or Iran finds themselves in. The thing that will be different this time is that instead of just Hezbollah these sanctions will also be placed on the Lebanese government entities that Hezbollah controls. If Hezbollah were to ever take over the government then it would simply be imposed on the entire state. This may not sound like a big deal but it will be a crushing vice on the Lebanese economy. It’s not hard to see how such sanctions could make the Lebanese people would become to despise the troubles the group has brought upon the country.

To summarize: The US may be severely weakened in the region but its arsenal of weapons is not limited to mere military force. Indeed its most lethal instruments of power are its economic / diplomatic influence to impose sanctions. The STL has allowed the US the opportunity to now utilize these non-military tools. It will cost the US relatively little to impose such a punishment on Hezbollah and once imposed it will further advance America’s objectives of containing / weakening the group.

January 19th, 2011, 12:50 am


why-discuss said:

Vedat The Turk

Are the “Lethal economic sanctions’ really effective in Iran, despite Hillary Clinton’s at nausea repetition? Many countries are suffering from the world economical crisis. I see no proof of Iran or Syria been worse than others: Tunisia, Egypt, who are the friends of the USA.

The politically-based use of economical sanctions by the US had now allowed China and other emerging powers to gain the confidence of middle eastern countries and make the US a less ‘threatening’ country. Iran has opened the door to an economical shift towards Asia. The best proof is the progressive erosion of the dollar, the gold and oil price and more over the surprising intervention of China to save the European economies, traditionally saved by the USA.
Like Iran and others, the middle east will gradually turn to Asia for is goods and for its currencies, thus impacting the US supremacy even further.

Secondly, you seem to believe that Hezbollah will let itself cornered in sanctions? Do you think its main ally Iran will let this happen. Iran has shown its resilience after 25 years of sanctions. Together with Israel it is an example of successful resistance to international pressure. Hezbollah is from the same vein.

January 19th, 2011, 3:34 am


Beirut Spring: Joshua Landis: Syria and Iran Killed Hariri But George W. Bush Is To Blame. said:

[…] there another way to interpret the following paragraph from the famous Syrian apologist? President Bush is partially to blame for Hariri’s assassination and the present round of endemic […]

January 19th, 2011, 5:33 am


anonymous said:

‘’If the Tunisian uprising brings increasing democracy to the Middle East, it will not be good for America’s brand of justice or American policies in the region. Just as Turkey has moved away from the US and Israel in response to popular will, so will other Middle Eastern regimes should they become more responsive to their people.’’

How can this above statement be passed on for comment?

Mr. Landis,

Your above statement would indicate that you really don’t care for the progress of Syria or the Arab people, but rather a supporter of the status quo. As we all know, the status quo in the Middle East is not sustainable; even when trying to wrap the acceptance of the status quo in the form of what is ‘good’ and ‘not good’ for American policies in the region. This administration, along with future administrations has turned the page in supporting non-democratic regimes whose counties have become fertile ground for extremists. This is more harmful to American security than it is harmful to American policies. And when American security is at stake, American policies are changed.

I would present to you Turkey’s continued aid in supporting NATO operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Of course, Turkey is a NATO member. Turkey’s military also has a deep and long history with their counterparts in the U.S. and is recipient of a substantial amount of military hardware which is all built in the United States. Which means American jobs.

By using Turkey’s recent shift in focus from Europe to its immediate neighbours is fear mongering. Don’t forget, Turkey still is a democracy and can easily vote a more western inclined individual who could re-invigorate bilateral relations.

I guess you’re true colors have shown.

January 19th, 2011, 8:00 am


EHSANI2 said:

Vedat The Turk,

The STL will only indict individuals and not countries or parties. Were HA members to be indicted, they may not show up to court. They will be tried in absentia. Let us say that they get convicted. An arrest warrent will be issued. The most likely scenario is that they will still not show up. The Lebanese State has to find them. Chapter 7 can invite the use of force or the economic sanctions that you have alluded to. But, who will lose from such sanctions? Is it HA? I would argue that it is Mr. Hariri and his supporters who stand to lose the most from the economic hardship that Lebanon may suffer from the sanctions. More pointedly, HA would not exactly lose sleep over the tanking of the share prices of “Solidere”.

January 19th, 2011, 8:14 am


norman said:


I do not think that the problem is HA or it’s members , but what will happen if they Indict KHamieni , the spiritual leader of Iran , Iran will not surrender him , what will happen , will the US and the world go to war against Iran ,Is that what the West is waiting for to attack Iran ?, I wonder .

January 19th, 2011, 8:19 am


Observer said:

Here is a nice description of Lebanon in 1870:
This was in a snippet of a book by William M. Thompson describing Lebanon in his 1870 book The Land and the Book

“Lebanon has about 400,000 inhabitants, gathered into more than six hundred towns, villages and hamlets…The various religions and sects live together, and practice their conflicting superstitions in close proximity, but the people do not coalesce into one homogeneous community, nor do they regard each other with fraternal feelings. The Sunnites excommunicate the Shiites – both hate the Druse, and all three detest the Nusairiyeh. The Maronites have no particular love for anybody and, in turn, are disliked by all. The Greeks cannot endure the Greek Catholics; all despise the Jews.

And the same remarks apply to the minor divisions of this land. There is no common bond of union. Society has no continuous strata underlying it, which can be opened and worked for the general benefit of all, but an endles s number of dislocated fragments, faults, and dikes, by which the masses are tilted up in hopeless confusion, and lie at every conceivable angle of antagonism to each other. The omnific Spirit that brooded over primeval chaos can alone bring order out of such confusion, and reduce these conflicting elements into peace and concord.

No other country in the world, I presume, has such a multiplicity of antagonistic races; and herein lies the greatest obstacle to any general and permanent amelioration and improvement of their condition, character, and prospects. They can never form one united people, never combine for any important religious or political purpose; and will therefore remain weak, incapable of self-government, and exposed to the invasions and oppressions of foreigners. Thus it has been, is now, and must long continue to be a people divided, meted out, and trodden down.”

Nothing really changed since 1870, sad. Funny… where else could an 1870 piece be so contemporary in 2010?

I do not think that Obama is stuck with Bush’s legacy, he simply does not have any other policy than Israel first. He is an Israeli firster and has genuflected to the AIPAC and its amen corner in congress. HA and Syria have understood that no matter what they do they will remain the dog that needs to be beaten.

Case in point, the US administration with a straight face is going to teach China about human rights at a time when we continue policies that are not compatible with our professed concern for human rights; especially as we built a surveillance state without oversight since 9/11

January 19th, 2011, 9:13 am


idit said:

There are some unconfirmed reports about four suicide car bombs that exploded in Aleppo two days ago.

Can someone confirm this?

January 19th, 2011, 10:49 am



The Syrian economy has grown and improved since 2004 when the US sanctions were enacted. More foreign banks and foreign companies have established branches and operations in Syria after 2004 than before. The stock market has grown. Many new projects have been initiated. The international isolation of Syria has ended. A new US ambassador arrived this week in Damascus. Even the sanctions against individuals such as Weam Wahab and Rami Makhloof have had no practical effect. The tools you are talking about are toothless and have proven to be worthless. The indictment by the STL, from what we hear, will be against individuals that according to their cell phone records were tracking Hariri and were at the crime scene on Feb 14 2005.
The crisis in Lebanon today is one of confidence. The opposition has no longer confidence in the ability of Hariri Jr to lead or be a partner. The March 14 coalition is stuck behind Hariri Jr.
Lebanon is in uncharted waters. But looking at recent history I am willing to bet that HA will come out from this crisis stronger than before.

January 19th, 2011, 10:54 am


norman said:

Let us ask Shami to where he was .

January 19th, 2011, 11:01 am


Shami said:

Norman eshbak khay ?

January 19th, 2011, 12:15 pm


norman said:

Hey , Sorry Shami , i could not resist , It was a cheep shot from my part .

January 19th, 2011, 12:30 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Professor Josh Trapped in Iran’s Lebanon War

Professor Josh,

Excellent analysis! Just a couple questions:

Are the Saudis also “trapped in Bush’s Lebanon War”?

And, BTW, didn’t the Lebanese government request the STL from the UN?

I don’t recall any “neoconservatives” who “established the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in 2005”. Perhaps you can post a link which counters the one below:


January 19th, 2011, 12:49 pm


Ghat Albird said:

Surprise, surprise!!!!
The main reason israel does not want a separate “Palestenian State”, as well as a “shaky ” Lebanon and a subservient Syria.

Arabs keep out! Israel lays claim to all the resources
by Manlio Dinucci*

For years, various companies have been exploring the hydrocarbon deposits in the Levantine Basin, but only a handful of political and economic leaders were privy to the size of the prize. On 29 December 2010, the Israeli authorities gave Noble Energy Inc. the green light to release the news. The communication, announcing that exploitation was taking off after a political freeze, has been coupled with a diplomatic campaign to allow Tel Aviv to siphon off all the reserves to the detriment of the other coastline states.

18 January 2011

Geographical map of the natural gas and oil reserves location, drawn up by the U.S. Geological Survey. Around 60% of the deposits lie in the waters and territory belonging to Gaza.

U.S.-based Noble Energy Inc. recently announced a massive natural gas field discovery, located 130 kilometers offshore of Haifa [1] and consisting of an estimated 450 billion cubic meters. Resources in the surrounding area should total some 700 billion cubic meters. Exploration and exploitation are overseen by an international consortium composed by the U.S. company Noble Energy Inc., currently the largest shareholder with a 40% stake, plus Israeli enterprises Delek, Avner and Ratio Oil Exploration [2]

This accounts for only a small part of the energy reserves abounding in the Levantine basin, which comprises Israel, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon and their territorial waters. According to U.S. Geological Survey, a U.S. Government agency which has been prospecting in the region for several years, the natural gas deposits in the basin amount to approximately 3 500 billion cubic meters, while the oil reserves have been assessed at 1,7 billion barrels.

The Israeli government, with Washington’s backing, considers it is entitled to all the energy reserves. Israeli national infrastructure minister Uzi Landau declared that the large natural gas fields would not only bring economic benefits to Israeli citizens but could also transform Israel into a gas supplier in the Mediterranean region. However, objected Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament Nabih Berri, Israel is disregarding the fact that, according to the maps, the fields stretch into Lebanese territorial waters. The United Nations Convention stipulates that a coastal state may exploit offshore gas and oil reserves within a zone extending 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) from the shore.

According to the same principle, the reserves belong in great measure also to the Palestinian Authority. From the map drawn up by the U.S. Geological Survey itself, it emerges that the major portion of the gas deposits (around 60%) lie in the waters and territory belonging to Gaza. Exploitation rights were granted by the Palestinian Authority to a consortium formed by British Gas and its partner Consolidated Contractors (based in Athens and owned by two Lebanese families), of which 10% is held by the Palestinian Authority.

Two wells, Gaza Marine-1 and Gaza Marine-2 are ready but not operational. In fact, Tel Aviv has systematically rebuffed all the proposals from the Palestinian Authority and the consortium to export gas to Israel and Egypt. Therefore, the Palestinians possess vast riches which they are unable to exploit.

To seize the totality of the energy reserves – both Palestinian and Lebanese – bathing in the Levantine Basin, Israel has chosen the military option. The Lebanese Foreign Affairs Minister Ali al-Shami recently urged the UN Secretary General to prevent Israel from exploiting the offshore energy reserves located in Lebanese territorial waters. Minister Uzi Landau claimed instead that the reserves are in Israeli waters and warned that his country will not think twice about employing force to protect them. Israel has therefore threatened to attack Lebanon again, like it did in 2006, with the intention this time of impeding it from exploiting its offshore deposits

It is for the same reason that Israel does not accept a Palestinian state. To do so would imply the recognition of Palestinian sovereignty over a large portion of the energy reserves, which Israel wants to grab. It was to this end that the 2008-2009 “Cast Lead Operation” was launched and Gaza has been caught in the clutches of the blockade. Meanwhile, Israeli war ships control the whole of the Levantine Basin – and hence the offshore oil and gas reserves – within the framework of the NATO-sponsored “Mediterranean Dialogue” to “contribute to the security and stability of the region”.

January 19th, 2011, 1:36 pm


Shami said:

This the show of Nasrallah that i prefer the most:

January 19th, 2011, 5:06 pm



Here is Noble Energy’s presentation to analysts and investors showing estimated reserves in the Cyprus A, Leviathan, Tamar and Dalit fields as projected by 3D seismic studies. The area with good prospects (yellow) would fall on both sides of a line stretching west from Ras Naqura, which should be the line marking the territorial waters of Lebanon and Palestine (Israel).
Noble has only drilled Tamar and Dalit (red).
Other studies have projected more hydrocarbon reserves on the north side of the line than to the south. Noble can drill directional and horizontal wells and tap the northern resources and claim that it is from the Tamar and Dalit wells.

January 19th, 2011, 5:09 pm


Veadt The Turk said:

To: EHSANI2 & why-discuss

I agree with most of what Eshani wrote. The indictments will be given and it is highly unlikely that the individuals named will be brought before a court in the near future. The indictment can include groups and other co-conspirators (such as States). They can be tried in absentia or the indictments can remain open until the accused are apprehended. But all of this misses the point. The significance of the indictments will not be that the accused will stand trial. Rather it will be an international court making a formal allegation within the framework of a multi-national body. This is the classic precursor of sanctions. The Europeans will be hard pressed to ignore them because they are strong proponents of such multi-lateral bodies to solve international problems. Also the fact that most of the judges / staff are from the EU should not go unnoticed.

A good analogy to the current crisis is the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie Scotland. Once the indictments were released it became only a matter of time before sanctions followed.

For those who think international sanctions will have no impact on Hezbollah, they are mistaken. To appreciate this point one needs only look to Syria and the effect that unilateral sanctions placed by the US has had on its economy. To this day Damascus has been clamoring to buy commercial aircraft to upgrade its aging fleet. There is not a single country in the world that is willing to sell them the planes they so desperately need. Not the EU, Brazil, Russia or China! The companies that manufacture the planes understand that a single sale to Damascus could easily cause them to be barred from future sales to the much larger US market. There are countless other examples that I could name. Some are well known (TurkCel) others are less so (Koc Holdings).

It should be noted that the US sanctions were only unilateral and did not include the all important EU. When sanctions are imposed by multi-lateral states there effects are far more crippling. Just look at the present day Iranian economy to see the toll they can take over time. Even though Iran is the second largest producer of crude oil within OPEC it still imports 3/4 of its gasoline needs! This is because international sanctions have regressed its ability to refine crude – a basic technology it had once mastered!

Look, I am not saying that the sky will fall atop Hezbollah any time soon over the STL. The group is just far too powerful. However over time they will be severely weakened. Think of it as death by a thousand small paper cuts. If history is any indication, there is not much that Hezbollah can do about it. Yes, a lot of innocent people will be harmed and this is not right. But in the end the Lebanese people will have to determine whether Hezbollah is worth paying such a price and what they plan to do about it.

January 19th, 2011, 5:25 pm


t_desco said:

Regarding the Khamenei rumor: the original source seems to be an article by Kenneth R. Timmerman (“UN: Iran Ordered Rafik Hariri Execution”, Newsmax, 01 Dec 2010 (sic; Israeli media quoted the article but gave a more recent date)).

I always thought that Newsmax was about as credible as Debka (incidentally one of Timmerman’s trusted sources).

The article is quite funny, actually:

“Sources familiar with the investigation tell Newsmax that the United Nations Special Tribunal for Lebanon will accuse Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei of giving the order to murder Hariri, (…)”.

“Syrian President Bashar al-Aassad, and his brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat, the head of Syrian intelligence, also played key roles in the assassination plot, the sources told Newsmax.”

In other words, the Syrian president simply obeys the orders of the Iranian Supreme Leader. Yeah…

Having said that, the Israelis could always go down that route with the (voluntary or involuntary) help of General Ali-Reza Asgari. They (or the Americans) did something similar in the Argentinian case (resulting in the indictment of Rafsanjani). Both cases could be part of the same strategy.

January 19th, 2011, 6:07 pm


William deB. Mills said:

“Era of impunity?”

Was Obama, bless his heart, implying a reference to principle with these words?

That principle would presumably refer to something like “thou shalt not kill” or, more to the point, “thou shall not kill for political purposes.”

Now that’s something over which we can perhaps all come and reason together.

No more political murders: as in Hariri, Iranian nuclear scientists, Mavi Marmara, Hamas official Mahmoud Abu el-Mabhuh.

I agree with President Obama: it is time to end the era of impunity.

January 19th, 2011, 7:14 pm


Averroes said:

Shami @ 21,

You surely know when this “show” was given. It was, if I recall correctly, on the eve of the Syrian forces leaving Lebanon in 2005. A departure that many forces in the region wanted to humiliate Syria and its armed forces with. Nasrallah was saying that not all Lebanese have fish-like attention spans.

I’m glad to learn that you like it, actually.

January 19th, 2011, 11:06 pm


Shami said:

Averr,this slogan was not only used on that occasion .
They are on the same rails

January 20th, 2011, 2:10 am


EHSANI2 said:

Veadt The Turk,

In 23, above you said:

“The indictment can include groups and other co-conspirators (such as States).”

This is an inaccurate statement. The indictment can only serve individuals.

There is no doubt that economic sanctions under this court can harm a country’s economy severely. But, the Lebanese government is largely absent and is likely to remain that way till the indictments are handed down. Who will the court instruct to look for suspects? It is likely that it would be a caretaker government with little, if any, constitutional powers. Even if there was one, what if the Lebanese government cannot find a suspect (skiing in Iran)? Will they punish the whole country with economic sanctions? And if they did that, will the sanctions stay in place till he decides to show up? The Lebanese “people” will soon turn against the court. Their real estate values would have dropped. Their economy would be in tatters. Will people blame HA? Well, that leadership can also claim that they cannot find the suspect. Thinking of it, as soon as the indictments are unsealed, what stops the few suspects from having a car accident while they are driving to dinner? Presumably, if the indicted individuals are no longer, the case is closed.

January 20th, 2011, 8:15 am


Averroes said:

27: That’s hardly news.

January 20th, 2011, 11:28 am


norman said:

Thursday, January 20, 2011 INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Syria’s Assad rocked by four bombings in Aleppo

WASHINGTON — The Syrian opposition reported that the regime of President Bashar Assad has been shaken by four suicide attacks in one day. The opposition said the bombings took place in the northern city of Aleppo on Jan. 17, and at least seven people were killed.

“The car bombs were detonated in the Ashrafiyeh area mostly populated by the Kurds,” the Washington-based Reform Party of Syria said. “The Assad regime has successfully suppressed the information from reaching the outside world.”
RPS said the Syrian opposition has been galvanized by the successful revolt in Tunisia. The statement said Syrians have been stunned by the sudden flight of Tunisian President Zein Al Abidine Bin Ali, who found a haven in Saudi Arabia.


Aleppo, the second largest city in Syria, has long been regarded as a hotbed of unrest. In addition to the Kurds, Aleppo has a large Sunni population with sympathy for Al Qaida.

“Sending military reinforcements to Aleppo is counterproductive to the regime because the majority of the foot soldiers in the Syrian Army are Sunni Muslims,” RPS said. “Turning their guns on Damascus is the last thing Assad can afford in a post-Tunisia atmosphere.”

In a Jan. 19 statement, RPS, regarded as a reliable opposition source, said many people were also injured in the bombing. So far, nobody has claimed responsibility for what was regarded as the worst attack on the Assad regime in at least two years.

“Some experts claim it is the work of the regime itself as a warning shot across the bow against any uprising by the Kurds a la Tunisia,” RPS said.

The Syrian government has not confirmed the attacks. Over the last year, Kurdish unrest has risen in northern Syria, particularly near the borders of Iraq and Turkey.

January 20th, 2011, 2:25 pm


jad said:

The news sounds fishy, how come no one said anything? how could the moukhabarat made everybody to keep quite all these days? Nobody living in that area sent an sms, told a friend or even by mistake said a thing to his neighbour?
very vague piece of news.

January 20th, 2011, 3:41 pm


Vedat The Turk said:

Thanks for your comments Eshani. I always appreciate reading your informed posts.

I stand corrected. You are right the mandate of the Tribunal is only to indict individuals and not groups. However the indictment will include conspiracy charges and its more than likely this is where the prosecutor will name the organizations that the specific individuals belong to. I also agree with you that there may be no government in power in Beirut to apprehend the accused. But these points are really technicalities. I go back to my earlier point that the STL is not really about prosecuting the accused. Rather it will be used as an effective instrument to marginalize and seriously weaken Hezbollah with the implementation of sanctions.

Daniel Bellmare is a former senior federal prosecutor and diplomat. Surely he knows that there is very little chance of apprehending those he indicts. Rather his indictments are part of a much broader scheme to bring Hezbollah against the international community. His actions will permanently label the group as a “terrorist” entity (either directly or though implication). This will eventually lead to the implementation of multilateral sanctions. And once sanctions are implemented it will not matter what happens to the accused. In fact it’s better for the USA if they are never brought to justice.

I also agree with you that they will seriously hurt all Lebanese people over time. But I disagree with you that they will not blame Hezbollah. If given a choice they will probably shun the group in the future because of the difficulties they have brought onto the country. Moreover it will make Hassan Narallah look more like a mere smart orator with catchy cliches than a skilled tactician capable of leading the country.

As an aside: I strongly believe that the indictment and imposition of sanctions on Hezbollah will actually benefit Syria. It’s been my observation that Syria has historically preferred weak coalitions to rule Beirut so that it can maximize its influence over the countries affairs. Hezbollah is no such thing. If anything, it is probably the only group that could stand up to Syria in the even of a disagreement. The indictments would permanently stain the group and sanctions would severely weaken it over time; making there ability to take over the Lebanese government (or even be part of any future government) highly unlikely. In such a scenario they would be much more dependent on the Syrians.

I would love to know others views on this. Specifically, would an indictment of Hezbollah strengthen or weaken Syria’s influence in Lebanon. Also is Hezbollahs take over of the government in Beirut beneficial or detrimental to Damascus?

Thanks for the opportunity to post on your site.

Vedat The Turk

January 20th, 2011, 3:45 pm


EHSANI2 said:

Vedat The Turk,

I have no idea where the notion of Syria and HA/Iran splitting apart comes from. Many sure write about it. But, I think it is more hope and fiction than truth and reality.

January 20th, 2011, 4:04 pm


Vedat The Turk said:


Thanks for the reply.

I realize that the split between Hezbollah and Syria is not a popular one. Indeed Dr Landis has dismissed it as well. But ever time I see how strong Hezbollah has gotten I cannot help but wonder whether Syria does not feel threatened by this. After all this is the Middle East and fissures do happen. It just seems to make sense that Syria would not want anyone in Lebanon to become more powerful than it — and Hezbollah is fast approaching such a strength level. Or could Syria live with an equal power on its Eastern flank? This is a question that deserves debate.

Part of the problem is that the decision making process in both Hezbollah and Syria are closed to the outside world so we really can’t tell how strong the bonds are. It’s like reading Turkish Coffee grinds (the Middle Eastern equivalent of tea leafs 🙂

January 20th, 2011, 4:43 pm


Shami said:

It depends on the evidences that will be shown by Bellemare,if they are strong and against hezbollah-Iran/the syrian regime ,there is no doubt that it will hurt hezbollah and the syrian regime dangerously.
As for hezbollah-iranian regime/syrian regime splitting ,it’s highly unlikely,they are in osmosis,they will stand together till the end.

January 20th, 2011, 6:31 pm


Lebanon crisis a test for the US « The Joe Lake Blog The Joe Lake Blog said:

[…] scholar and expert on Syria Joshua Landis accurately writes that “President Obama finds himself trapped in a Lebanese civil war that President Bush […]

January 21st, 2011, 8:02 am


aboali said:

Some of you will be interested to know that in fact things in Syria aren’t as quiet as they seem. Last night I was told by a civilian employee in the Army at Aleppo, that they have been ordered to leave their cars with army number plates inside the barracks or the car parks of the army institution where they work, as several of them have been set ablaze at night in the last couple of days. There is an increased security presence in Aleppo to try to find those responsible. Indications are that these are the first few signs of some sort of protest against the establishments of power.

January 21st, 2011, 8:24 am


Jad said:

Big news, Jumblat choose Syria and HA-Tayar-Amal side.
KSA, will go crazy now.

January 21st, 2011, 3:43 pm


Norman said:

I am glad that the Syrian government with Dardari leadership on the economy is moving from subsidizing the products to subsidizing the needy people, That should provide saving that should be passed to the government employees in a plan to fight low level corruption, ( Bribery ) .

A question to all of you ,especially Mariam ,
Do you think that the Tunisian revolution has an Islamic color or a communist leftist one and should we expect to see the revolution turning on each other and start eating it’s members with infighting.

January 23rd, 2011, 8:55 am


Norman said:

Dear Joshua,

I do not think that president Obama is trapped, I think he is moving to the right on foreign policy as he did on the economy with his own well , he started his reelection campaign and seeking the approval of the political powers in the US .

I believe that in the state of the union he will will show a significant harder line on Iran ,

January 23rd, 2011, 9:02 am


Norman said:

Dear Joshua,

I do not know if you have the time, but i am interested to know how redistricting work and after a senses how do they assign certain population to districts .

January 23rd, 2011, 9:20 am


norman said:

Syrians will like this,

Print Back to story Syria Generated $8.3 Billion in Revenue From Tourism Last Year
By Lina Ibrahim and Nayla Razzouk – Jan 23, 2011 Syria generated $8.3 billion in tourism revenue last year as the number of visitors increased 40 percent, Tourism Minister Saadallah Agha al- Qalaa said.

Tourism revenue climbed 60 percent in the Arab country, benefiting from cultural and archaeological attractions, he said in a news conference at the Tourism Ministry today. Syria attracted 8.5 million holiday makers, up from 6.09 million the previous year, he said.

Syria is encouraging private industry and foreign investment in its state-dominated economy to provide long-term financing for development and economic reforms amid dwindling oil revenue. The government wants to attract as much as $55 billion in foreign direct investment over the next five years, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Abdallah Dardari said Sept. 24.

Some 287 new touristic projects, including 57 hotels and 230 restaurants, worth a total of $401 million opened last year, Agha al-Qalaa said. Another 85 hotels will open this year, he said. Foreign direct investments in Syria reached $2.5 billion in 2010, exceeding expectations, Dardari said Jan. 12.

The country received 4.6 million Arabs, 1.5 million Syrians living abroad and another 2.3 million people from other countries, he said. Tourism investments increased 9 percent in 2010, Agha al-Qalaa said.

Syria’s economy will grow at an average of 5.5 percent to 6 percent over the next five years, according to Dardari. The International Monetary Fund has urged Syria to accelerate its transition to a more open, market-based economy and reduce its dependence on oil.

To contact the reporters on this story: Lina Ibrahim in Dubai at librahim4@bloomberg.net., or Nayla Razzouk in Amman at Nrazzouk2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Maher Chmaytelli at mchmaytelli@bloomberg.net.


January 23rd, 2011, 3:27 pm


Alex said:


More Wikilieaks variants

This time Aljazeera introduces the Palestine Papers!


Introducing The Palestine Papers
Al Jazeera has obtained more than 1,600 internal documents from a decade of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Gregg Carlstrom Last Modified: 23 Jan 2011 15:32 GMT
Over the last several months, Al Jazeera has been given unhindered access to the largest-ever leak of confidential documents related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There are nearly 1,700 files, thousands of pages of diplomatic correspondence detailing the inner workings of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. These documents – memos, e-mails, maps, minutes from private meetings, accounts of high level exchanges, strategy papers and even power point presentations – date from 1999 to 2010.

The material is voluminous and detailed; it provides an unprecedented look inside the continuing negotiations involving high-level American, Israeli, and Palestinian Authority officials.

Al Jazeera will release the documents between January 23-26th, 2011. They will reveal new details about:

the Palestinian Authority’s willingness to concede illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, and to be “creative” about the status of the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount;
the compromises the Palestinian Authority was prepared to make on refugees and the right of return;
details of the PA’s security cooperation with Israel;
and private exchanges between Palestinian and American negotiators in late 2009, when the Goldstone Report was being discussed at the United Nations.
Because of the sensitive nature of these documents, Al Jazeera will not reveal the source(s) or detail how they came into our possession. We have taken great care over an extended period of time to assure ourselves of their authenticity.

We believe this material will prove to be of inestimable value to journalists, scholars, historians, policymakers and the general public.

We know that some of what is presented here will prove controversial, but it is our intention to inform, not harm, to spark debate and reflection – not dampen it. Our readers and viewers will note that we have provided a comments section in which to express opinions. In keeping with our editorial policies, we reserve the right to excise comments that we deem inappropriate, but all civil voices will be heard, all opinions respected.

We present these papers as a service to our viewers and readers as a reflection of our fundamental belief – that public debate and public policies grow, flourish and endure when given air and light.

January 23rd, 2011, 3:41 pm


anonymous said:

Once again another video depicting life in Syria under martial law.


The good news is that the abusing officer has clean, shiny shoes and ironed pants. The band news? Other than the fact this poor kid has been abused and has utterly broken down under threat of more torture, the abusing officer and his 1970s throwback pants won’t be in the next CSI episode.

January 24th, 2011, 4:16 am


Ziad said:

Very disturbing video #44. It makes me feel like throwing up. So many ideas going through my mind after watching this video. As ugly as it is, the poor guy was hit on the face multiple times, more humiliating than painful. He was threaten with electrocution but never touched the electrode. In the world of torture, this probably counts as mild and much less than what is being practiced in American and Israeli jails or in the destinations of external renditions. It is certainly much less than GWB and his gang considered legal. Remember water-boarding and the hanging by the wrists with the arms in the back.
Torture is a crime against humanity. It should be rejected universally and persecuted by a truly non partial international court.

January 24th, 2011, 9:16 am


Shai said:


I wonder about these latest leaks, whether they make sense. Abu Mazen claims Al Jazeera purposely switched between the Israeli and Palestinian positions. It would make sense he’d say that, both if it was true, and if it wasn’t.

But could he and his team have sold their people down the river THAT much? I can’t believe they did. I can see the refugee issue looking something like a symbolic couple thousand returning per year. But I can’t see control over East Jerusalem, or allowing Temple Mount to be under anyone other than the Palestinians (only exception – if the entire Old City is under some joint Judeo-Muslim-Christian body). Why would the PA ever accept Jewish settlements in E. Jerusalem?

For some odd reason, most of us are discounting the possibility that the presentation of some of these leaks can be manipulated. But I can’t imagine any party whatsoever, that doesn’t have a stance on this issue or that. We are reading the interpretation of a journalistic body, that further interpreted the interpretation of others. We are not necessarily reading historical “facts”. More time and opportunity must be given, before Historians can determine the factual basis for these leaks.

January 24th, 2011, 9:36 am


5 dancing shlomos said:

{deleted by admin}


Silence is Complicity: The methodical shooting of boys at work in Gaza by snipers of the Israeli Occupation Force

by Dr. David Halpin, Global Research, January 20, 2011


The deliberate injury of the limbs of 23 boys by high velocity weapons has been logged and described by Defence for Children International – Palestine Branch (DCI-P) since March 2010. (1) Some of the facts have been published in national newspapers. These barbarous acts contravene international and national law but there are no judicial responses. The caring professions see the physical and mental pain of those who suffer and they should be in the vanguard in calling for this great cruelty to cease forthwith. Political leaders have failed to act.

The Geneva Conventions Act 1957, which is of central importance in holding war criminals to account in the jurisdiction of the UK, is being emasculated.


Most of the 1.5 million population of the Gaza strip is impoverished. Half are refugees from Mandate Palestine or their stock. About 50% of the male population is without work. It has been isolated and occupied for decades. A commercial port was being built in 2000 but that was bombed by Israel. The isolation and the hobbling of its commerce was increased by a siege which was started in March 2006 in response to the election of a majority of Hamas members to the legislature. It was further tightened in June 2007 after the Hamas government pre-empted a coup by the Fatah faction that was led in Gaza by Mohammad Dahlan.

The misery was further deepened with ‘Operation Cast Lead’ that was unleashed 27/12/08. This was promised 29/02/08 (2). “The more Qassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, [the Palestinians] will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah (holocaust) because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.” – Matan Vilnai Deputy Defence Minister to Israeli Army Radio. There was a massive bombardment which killed 220 adults and children in the first 15 minutes. This was followed by a full scale invasion. 1400 humans were killed and approximately 5000 injured physically. The minds of very many more were injured too. 4000 homes were totally destroyed, almost all the factories and 40 mosques. The two gleaming science blocks of the Islamic University of Gaza were flattened by very powerful thermobaric bombs, the blasts being heard throughout the 360 square kilometres of the Gaza ‘Strip’. The siege has been even more draconian since. Cement, ballast and steel rods are only let in at about 5% of the rate needed for rebuilding, the pretext being that ‘bunkers’ could be constructed. At the present rate it will take 78 years to rebuild Gaza. (3) Chocolate, writing paper and all manner of things have been blocked. The 1000 tunnels at Rafah have provided a way in for goods but in the face of bombing and roof falls.

The lack of any work and the extreme poverty of the large extended families has drawn the boys and men to scavenge for broken concrete (‘gravel’) in the evacuated Eli Sinai ‘settlement’ and in the industrial zone by the Erez border control post at the northern limit of the ‘Strip’. The factories of the industrial zone have been progressively demolished by Israeli shelling etc. They are seen to the west as one enters Gaza through Erez. A donkey and cart, shovel, pick, sieve, muscles and courage are the tools. The rubble is used to make cement blocks and poured concrete with the cement that is imported largely through the tunnels. Many dozens of men and boys do this work for precious shekels in the shadow of manned watch towers and under ‘drones’ above.

The 23 boys who have been shot between 26/03/10 (Said H) and 23/12/10 (Hatem S) are listed in the table below with skeletal facts. These points are made:-

• In 18 there were single shots and not automatic fire
• The reported range in most cases confirms that the weapon was a sniper’s rifle in the hands of a sniper
• Almost always there were many dozens of other men and boys at work; these victims were picked off
• A leg was the target in most cases. Where the leg was not the target it is likely the sniper was ‘aiming up’ so the flank, elbow etc was hit instead.
• No weapons were being borne by the gravel workers so they posed no threat to the Israeli Occupation Force personnel. Instead they were bending their backs to their menial work within their internment camp
• The histories refer often to the recovery of the injured boy by friends and relatives under fire. This was a feature during ‘Cast Lead’ or instead the paramedics were barred from getting to the victims so they died without care.

The history of the injury and sequel for each boy are linked to in (1). It has been done meticulously and the translation into English is perfect. The pain, and often the terror, felt by the boy as the bullet struck home are vividly recorded. No bullets have been recovered yet so the calibre/type is unknown.

• How many boys will regain full, or nearly full function is difficult to judge without the radiographs being present. Cases 3,4, 5,7,13 and 15 are likely to have joint involvement and thus some lifelong disability.
• In cases 1 and 3 there is nerve injury. If that proves to be an axonotmesis in either, it is possible that a first class repair will not be available in Gaza.
• The fractures are open by definition and no doubt comminuted. Delayed or non-union is possible. Deep infection is a real risk, antibiotic therapy not withstanding. The risk of deep infection relates to a. the possible inclusion of fabric b. the high energy injury causing irregular and wide devitalisation of the tissues c. the probability that these difficult bullet wounds were not laid open and a complete wound toilet performed. One or two of these boys might end with an amputation.
• Almost all the boys have been frightened off or forbidden from gravel work. There are few, if any, other means of earning shekels.

The shooting to wound and kill Palestinians is relentless. DCI-P notes that according to a UN study, between January 2009 and August 2010, at least 22 Palestinian civilians in Gaza have been killed and 146 injured in the arbitrary live fire zone adjacent to the border with Israel and imposed at sea. At least 27 of these civilians were children. It also notes that the targeting of civilians is absolutely prohibited under international law, regardless of circumstances.

These quotations from the available stories convey a little of the poverty, the suffering and the courage:-

• ‘The three of us would wake up every day at around 5:30am and leave to collect gravel. We were not the only ones doing this type of work. Hundreds of youngsters aged between 13 and 22 used to work with us, despite the danger we faced because we were close to the Israeli border.’ Awad W- 3
• The work was exhausting and dangerous. ‘Israeli soldiers would sometimes shoot at us, and sometimes shoot in the air to intimidate us,’ recalls Ibrahim . ‘Sometimes they would shoot at the carts, horses and donkeys we used to move the gravel. But we had to do the work despite the dangers, because we didn’t have any other job to do.’ Ibrahim K- 4
• Mohammad was taught by his neighbours to watch for birds flying away from the watch towers, as this was a sign to start running, as it meant soldiers were climbing into
the towers and the shooting would soon begin. Mohammad M – 6
• ‘They killed our three horses and one donkey in four months, and we had to spend the money we earned on replacing them.’ ….. ‘They were down on their stomachs pointing their rifles towards us, but they didn’t shoot. We got used to such things.’ Mohammad S – 11

January 24th, 2011, 12:35 pm


Shai said:


It’s too early, even for that article’s writer, to thoroughly investigate these leaks, and make historical conclusions that could stand through the scrutiny of time. It will take historians years to draw acceptable conclusions that will make up the formal history our children and theirs will study one day. There’s no doubt that these near two-decades, since Oslo, have been full of missed opportunities. Historians will judge the sides, and determine who was responsible for what.

I met an Arab-Israeli this morning, and we spoke a bit about these leaks. We both agreed that, in essence, it doesn’t really matter. Because if Israel never squeezed the Palestinians that far, they still did everything possible to bring an end to the two-state solution, and if the PA did give up so much, then certainly Israel can be deemed not-serious about peace.

The Palestinians must now force a one-state solution, by declaratively giving up on a two-state one. Israelis must come to recognize that by delaying, and forcing facts on the ground, we have brought the Palestinians full circle around. They’re now back to the whole thing, even if it has to be called “Israel”, “The Jewish State” or, as Abu Mazen suggested, “The Jewish Republic of Israel”.

January 24th, 2011, 12:41 pm


Alex said:

Hi Shai,

You know the 80/20 rule … we can get 80% of the “information” (or knowledge) from these files by going through the first 20% of them.

The rest will be left for students of history. But as an Arab, I can tell you that although I am usually well informed about the peace process and although I had no doubts that they were negotiating over parts of east Jerusalem and the type of symbolic right or return definition, I was still disgusted with them. The bunch of idiots should have quit in 2004 … 2009 at most. It was so clear that there is no more hope in 2009 … Israel’s early concessions (from the 90’s) dried up after the “moral clarity” group took over the leadership of Israel and the US after 2000 …

We had a taste of the silliness and weakness of these negotiators when Dr. Saeb Erakat uttered these words: “Shalom to you in Israel … I know we disappointed you” .. he took responsibility for failures although it is Israel that was not moving an inch on settlements or anything at the time!

January 24th, 2011, 2:28 pm


Shai said:


Abu Mazen and his team bought into Israel’s so-called “Left” (Barak’s interests) who told them what to say, probably employed our best PR-firms to write the script for them. The Obama Administration bought into it the same way. And most also believe Abu Mazen represents the Palestinian people, and can deliver.

The Palestinian track was over the minute Israel and the U.S. rejected the election results of Jan. 2006.

January 24th, 2011, 4:40 pm


Alex said:

I agree Shai … I think they need a new intifada with ZERO violence … They need a new PR adviser … Gandhi

January 24th, 2011, 7:57 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Still Trapped in Professor Josh’s Syria’s Lebanon War


I agree, they need a new PR adviser. I nominate Shai!

BTW – Do you think Post 48 “how jews have fun” may have broken “SC Rules”?

I’d like to know because I was planning a few similar posts as well.

January 24th, 2011, 8:30 pm


Norman said:


It is clear from these papers and from history that the more the Arabs and the Palestinians give Israel and it’s leaders the more they want , after the 1967 war Golda Meier was claiming that Israel only wants peace and be accepted and step by step it looks like the Arabs and the Palestinians gave Israel everything only for Israel to move the goal post, the only way peace can be achieved is by forcing Israel as the Lebanese and the Palestinians of Gaza did ,

The Israeli leaders have no reason to give , nobody is forcing their hand , peace is only an illusion when one side is so much more powerful than the other.

January 24th, 2011, 10:45 pm


Alex said:

Thanks Akbar.

That sentence you referred to was surely offensive and I just removed it. The post deals with facts, doesn’t it?

I did not read the whole post, if there are any generalizations in it please let me know and I will remove.

Everyone, please stick to “Israel, Israeli extremists, the Israeli army, the settlers, …” … leave “the Jews” out of those depressing articles.


I disagree with you … a few months of widespread peaceful protests will do wonders. Much wiser than war.

But during Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, only two or three thousand west bank Palestinians demonstrated. If they want to force the world (the west) to pay attention … tens of thousands will need to demonstrate every day and to make it impossible for the occupation army to handle them.

January 25th, 2011, 12:12 am


Shai said:


I don’t think you can “win” by resisting violently. The two Intifadas produced nothing for the Palestinians. Maybe Alex’s idea of a Gandhi Intifada is better.

However, there’s another way to play ball here, and that’s with Israel’s own rules. Imagine the Palestinians said “You know what, Israelis, it is clear you want more and more territory. So we’ll give it to you. All of it! We don’t want a state of our own. We want our equal rights under your nation, the nation of Israel, from the River to the Sea…”

I can’t imagine a worse nightmare for Lieberman and his like. No Palestinian State, not now, not in the future. Only Israel, over 11 million people, 55% of whom are Arab.

The Palestinians can force us to choose between a democratic 11 million people nation, and a true Apartheid regime. Why negotiate for 20 years over bread crumbs, when you can have it all?!?

Believe me Norman, Lieberman will stand in line on the outskirts of Ramallah, ready to give back Ariel and Ma’ale Adumim, just to have the Palestinians reconsider. Forget armed-resistance (pride) and very bloody wars. The Palestinians can achieve their freedom without a single bullet shot. I’m sure of it.

January 25th, 2011, 12:44 am


Shai said:


Au contraire. I think your policy of settlements, occupation, and containment serve the Palestinians far better than any of my PR could. Your way brings them to a single-state much faster than anything I can conjure. Funny isn’t it. That was their dream all along, and it’s the Liebermans that are going to make it happen.

I guess they haven’t heard of Foresight in Moldova…

January 25th, 2011, 12:55 am


Shai said:


This one’s for you: Thinking about your nomination of (me) as PR man for the Palestinians, I couldn’t resist it. A new phrase, which the Palestinians should start to demand, in place of “Right of Return”…

“Right of Stay”.

January 25th, 2011, 12:58 am


Akbar Palace said:


Thanks. I really appreciate your fairness and tone. But I feel like if I didn’t bring these “little things” up, they wouldn’t get done.


The Palestinian-Israeli peace process has come a long way, especially on the West Bank. I would prefer if it was formalized. If it was formalized, I think it would be better for all concerned.

I think most people realize that the situation in Lebanon is really the main focus in the Arab-Israeli conflict. I think we’re seeing the growing pains of democracy throughout the Arab world. This is good for Israel in the long run.

BTW – I was in Chandler, AZ this past weekend. I was able to see “Golda’s Balcony” at a theatre there. Have you ever seen it?


January 25th, 2011, 8:12 am


norman said:

Alex, Shai,
I hope that you both are right , But i doubt it ,

January 25th, 2011, 9:19 am


5 dancing shlomos said:

the mavi marmara was peaceful. 99% of the palestinians shot are peaceful. those using “violence” are defending their countrymen, themselves.

if terrorist, violent israelis arent jews, what are they?

when a jew becomes an israeli, that new israeli is still a jew and is a terrorist by definition.

the number of jews in the world not supporting israeli jews and their takings and violence (if done politely) is approx .000001%.


best thing for jews to do to be considered human is to leave palestine and take their walls with them.

January 25th, 2011, 11:40 am


5 dancing shlomos said:

there is no limit to the ugly israeli:

Israelis target Macy Gray with racist diatribes AFTER she agrees to play Tel Aviv (and who are the “assholes?”)
01.22.11, By Max Blumenthal


more(from above comment section):

“Three weeks after the publication of a petition calling on Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar to take action against racism spreading within schools and the general public, teachers told Ynet about the harsh reality they are forced to face daily.
In one case, a 12th grade student of a northern Israeli school wrote “Death to the Arabs” on a test in civics class. In another case, a high school student from Tel Aviv stood up during class, and to the horror of his teacher declared that his dream is to volunteer for the Border Guard, “so that I can spray Arabs to death.” His friends welcomed the announcement with applause.
Moreover, civics teachers around the country have been finding graffiti on the walls of their classrooms, bearing slogans ranging from “Kahane was right” to “A good Arab is a dead Arab.” Other statements incite against the ultra-Orthodox sector and against refugees… “

January 25th, 2011, 12:06 pm


Shai said:


No, I haven’t seen “Golda’s Balcony”. During my childhood, I used to think of Golda as one of our heroes. One of our founding mothers.

It was later in life that I learned of the useless, arrogant leader she was. Two thousand Israelis might have been alive today, and many thousands more might not have been handicapped, if it wasn’t for her arrogance and dismissal of the Arabs. The same goes for Moshe Dayan.

January 25th, 2011, 1:19 pm


norman said:

Hey Shai,

You seem to hate the left and blame for all the wars that Israel had,like the Right and think that Netanyahu can make a diffrence ,

Can you please, please, please go and see him and tell him what you write here and shake him up before it is too late .

January 25th, 2011, 2:04 pm


Shai said:

Dear Norman,

I never claimed to be a “Leftist”. Only Akbar seems to think I’m one… 🙂

I don’t hate the Left or the Right. I dislike particular leaders and impotent or corrupt politicians which, unfortunately, there are more than a few such people in Israel’s politics. They exist throughout the political spectrum.

Netanyahu doesn’t need a “shakeup”. He needs courage. And if he doesn’t have it, no one can force it into him. For his sake, and for the sake of Israel and the region, I hope he isn’t as “heroic” as Golda once seemed (arrogant and useless). Because if he is, then indeed another catastrophic war may be brought upon us.

I was hoping Netanyahu would seize the opportunity, and do what no other Israeli PM was capable of doing until now – ending the entire Arab-Israeli conflict. I still think Netanyahu was/is best positioned to do so. But it requires courage I’m not sure he has.

January 25th, 2011, 3:32 pm


Alex said:

Dear Akbar,

I have not been reading every comment here recently, please email Joshua or email me if you feel there is any comment that is racist or violent.

5 dancing shlomos

If Israel is attacked, I agree that probably 99% of Jews around the world would support Israel. But in normal “peace” time, the number of supporters (in the absolute sense) is much lower. For example, 70% of American Jews were against the Iraq war even though Likud led Israel at the time was very much for that war.

AIPAC, the largest and most powerful Jewish lobby in the US is blindly supporting Israeli right wing policies. You can also include them among the bad guys and you are welcome to find and post any article that sheds light on AIPACs often dangerous role.. But Please stay away from targeting “the Jews”.

Norman, Shai,

Look at Egypt today … mass protests work. If a peaceful intifada started in the occupied territories tomorrow, it will be the darling of international media, I don’t believe many media outlets which are “controlled by Israel” can be too biased when they cover non-violent demonstrations. They can ignore a small demonstration, but daily large ones will force everyone to pay attention and to hopefully take action.

Abbasand and Barghouti, not angry Hamas types, have to call for those demonstrations, or any other similar protest.

January 25th, 2011, 4:31 pm


Ghat Albird said:

The solution of a slave descendant on where Palestenians should move to.

Condoleeza Rice on being nice to AIPAC OR being a true red, white and blue American.


January 25th, 2011, 4:55 pm


Off the Wall said:

you can never be repulsed, angered, and disgusted with condalisa rice as much as I am. But the use of phrases like the one you used is totally unacceptable. I do not care how criminal and dishonest she is, but insulting every single African American is something SC should not take lightly.

January 25th, 2011, 7:41 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Two thousand Israelis might have been alive today, and many thousands more might not have been handicapped, if it wasn’t for her arrogance and dismissal of the Arabs.


I’ll agree with you there. “Dismissal of the arabs” can prove lethal.


Thanks again. Good points in 66 as well.


Include me as a “slave descendant”. I think the Palestinians should be afforded citizenship wherever they’re living.

January 25th, 2011, 8:33 pm


Norman said:


Was there a time that Israel left Arab land without force or fear of force in the case of Egypt?, NO

January 25th, 2011, 9:21 pm


Alex said:


Was there a time that the Palestinians tried what Gandhi tried so successfully in India? NO

January 26th, 2011, 12:44 am


WHY said:

Palestinians are fed up with both Fatah and Hamas. They need someone like Mustafa Bargouthi to lead them. Nonviolence in your face resistance movement. This is what we should try. Not passive doing nothing approach of Abbas and neither the paper rockets of Hamas. Syria needs to back up Bargouthi as a replacement for the Palestinian leadership. A charismatic figure who is respected by the whole world.

January 26th, 2011, 2:25 am


Shai said:

Alex, WHY, Norman,

Absolutely. A non-violent resistance will have a far greater audience than a violent one. I think the fact that almost all of Latin America has recognized Palestine, Ireland has upped the status to Embassy, U.K., France, etc., are all testament to this. Public support for the Palestinians looked very different during the First Intifada, and even the second one.

Interestingly enough the Second Intifada, while a violent one, did have an effect in changing public opinion amongst the Jewish Community, especially in the United States.

But a “Palestinian Gandhi” can do far more for the Palestinian people than Izadeen Al-Qassam.

January 26th, 2011, 4:49 am


Akbar Palace said:

Was there a time that Israel left Arab land without force or fear of force in the case of Egypt?


Sure. From 1948 to 1967, Israel occupied no “Arab land”, yet she was at war with every neighboring Arab country.

Maybe you’re not asking the right question. I think a better question is what is prompting Arab countries to slowly recognize the State of Israel?

January 26th, 2011, 7:28 am


Norman said:

Shai, Alex,

Israel killed 1400 Palestinians in 2008_2009 war 1200 of them are civilians ,

I did not see the any outrage from the world, i do not expect it from a hard crack down on any protest in the West bank .


January 26th, 2011, 7:53 am


Shai said:


That’s exactly the point – the world (initially) bought into Israel’s “right of self defense” to attack Gaza in 2008/9, as a response to ongoing Qassam rocket firing against Israeli towns in the South. Massive non-violent protesting, organized in the West Bank, cannot be “cracked down” on with the support of World nations.

January 26th, 2011, 8:06 am


norman said:

Food supply to Gaza was and Israel got away with it, NO ?

January 26th, 2011, 8:13 am


Alex said:


They have to do it right.

Gaza = Hamas

The “international community” decided a few years ago that they will never allow Hamas’ leadership to succeed in governing. They turned a blind eye to Israel’s abuses of human rights whenever they could …

The war on Gaza could not be sustained for more than three weeks … pressure was mounting on those governments to do something to stop Israel from continuing to kill civilians every day.

Same for mass protests … the “world community” and even the Israeli people and the IDF soldiers trying to handle the crowds … they will all be faced with a situation that is not tolerable… especially if it is perfectly non violent and if it is led by someone like Moustapha Barghouti who is respected by members of the same “international community” .. NOT by Hamas leaders … Very few western media journalists or producers want Hamas to win … They already have Hizbollah being seen as a winner, they don’t want Hamas to turn into another “radical Islamist” success story and they will resist helping a Hamas led intifada, even if peaceful.

January 26th, 2011, 11:28 am


norman said:


Hmas got Gaza , all of Gaza, what did Abbas get , yes , nothing with all his cooperation as seen in the release documents .

Conclusion ,,,,,,

January 26th, 2011, 12:03 pm


Alex said:


\”Resistance\” also works …Israelis gave back Gaza and South Lebanon after they faced too much \”resistance\” but if you want to get back the lands that are more valuable to right wing Israelis (Jerusalem, West) it takes much more resistance than what Hamas can produce.


It takes what I suggested … And it has nothing to do with what Mahmood Abbas was doing.

I spoke to Moustapha Barghooti last year here in Montreal about it … He agreed that non violent resistance works but only if persistent and widespread across all the occupied territories.

January 27th, 2011, 12:42 am


Shai said:


I agree with you that History does demonstrate that use of force has worked in different circumstances. However, each case has to be looked at carefully, and does not necessarily indicate that force will always work, or that force is always worth the price you pay.

While it is easy to look back at 1973 and claim that it was the October War that caused Israel to withdraw from the Sinai, don’t forget that it was really Sadat + 1973, in 1977 + Menachem Begin, that led to the eventual withdrawal. Had Sadat not come to Jerusalem on the surprise visit, I’m not sure the 1973 war would have been enough. Had another leader been in place in Israel, other than Begin, I’m not sure he could have passed the withdrawal resolution in Knesset. In short, Egypt and Israel may have still been enemies today, and Israel might have had 100,000 settlers living throughout the Sinai.

The withdrawal from Lebanon is also different. Israel, under Barak, withdrew after 18 years of Occupation, and quite a few years of guerilla warfare. By withdrawing, Barak did not endanger Israeli lives more than they were during those 18 years. The withdrawal, in the eyes of some Israelis, enabled a “legitimacy” to respond to attacks by HA in ways we couldn’t possibly imagine during those 18 years. The Lebanon War in 2006 demonstrates this.

The withdrawal from Gaza, by Sharon, was more due to his recognition (at some point) that the demographic battle is lost. That Israel cannot remain a democratic nation while ruling over another 4 million people. He spoke of this clearly, twice in two elections, and was elected precisely over the agenda to withdraw from Gaza AND the West Bank. He succeeded in completing only the first, not the latter, before falling ill. I have no doubt that if he were still functioning today, the West Bank would have already looked very different. It wasn’t the armed resistance that broke Sharon, it was the Demographic Map that showed, for the first time, that more non-Jews lived under Israeli control than Jews. We could no longer call ourselves “The Jewish Nation”.

But the withdrawal from the West Bank will be very different from Sinai, Lebanon, and Gaza. No Israeli PM, not even Sharon, could withdraw without agreement by other side. Most of the towns and villages in the West Bank are within a few kilometers of Central Israel. If Qassams launched from Gaza threaten 20,000 residents of Sderot, a tiny Southern town in Israel, the same Qassams in the West Bank would threaten 2 or 3 million Israelis. No Israeli leader would take that risk, unless he/she knew that someone on the other side is in control, and can guarantee the safety of Central Israel. It is therefore very different from other withdrawals we’ve made, under agreement, and without.

The battle of the Palestinians is over Rights. Their right to Independence and self determination. Their right to freedom. And it is in this battleground that they must operate. Only there do they have a real chance. I think what we see today with Latin America, Ireland, France, U.K., etc. all prove this point.

January 27th, 2011, 4:43 am


5 dancing shlomos said:

alex at 66:

“For example, 70% of American Jews were against the Iraq war even though Likud led Israel at the time was very much for that war.”

i have yet to meet one. i think that survey was a fraud, an in-joke.

the summer leading up to the ’03 aggression against iraq i was visiting friends in south fl. a condo area with approx 1100 residents of which 80% NE jews(ny, nj, ct, mass). probably most of rest NE cath italians.

i mixed with as many as possible at pool, rec area, tennis, cards, social evenings. not one was against the war. all though saddam h. had to go and that this would be very good for israel. young (students, professionals), middle age business, old and nazi refugees – all were for the war.

my survey is more accurate/honest than that 70% many trot out to show how decent the jews are.

January 27th, 2011, 11:19 am


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