Obama’s Speech, Syria’s Central Banker, Aleppo

EHSANI on Obama’s Afghanistan speech:

President Obama made a decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. According to the country’s budget director, each soldier costs just over $1 million a year. The total of 100,000 troops is going to cost the US treasury $106 billion.

Afghanistan’s entire GDP is $12.5 billion. Its population is 31 million. This leaves each Afghan with a yearly income of $400.

This means that each US soldier costs 2500 times the income of the average Afghan. Put another way, an afghan needs to work for 2500 years to make what one US soldier will cost the taxpayer in a year.

I cannot but think that there must be another way to deal with this country.

If the White House is so wary of the Taliban, I am sure that they can convert most of them to Catholicism if they offered each of their members a million dollars a year.

On another note, this surge is supposed to start reversing in July of 2011. Supposedly this will take place after the U.S. soldiers train the Afghan forces. Something tells me that once the US forces start leaving, members of this so-called Afghan forces will be akin to dead men walking. The Taliban boys will be marking on their calendars that 07/2011 date and starting their countdown tonight.

International calling

Adib Mayaleh

Adib Mayaleh, governor of Central Bank of Syria

By Brian Caplen | The Banker, 28 October 2009

Syria’s banking sector has made great strides in the past two decades, but is still dominated by small regional banks. Now the country’s government is looking to major global names to take its economy forward. Writer Brian Caplen

Syria has been steadily liberalising its economy for the past two decades, with much of this effort focused on the banking sector. The time when six state-owned banks dominated the economy is long gone and private banks have become a central feature of the banking scene. Now the government is hoping to attract a major international bank to its shores and is proposing to raise foreign ownership limits and capital requirements to catapult the economy into a new era.

“Syria used to be a state-controlled, Soviet command style economy,” says Adib Mayaleh, governor of Central Bank of Syria (CBS) in an interview at the IMF/World Bank annual meetings in Istanbul last month. “Twenty years ago the Syrian economy started opening up. In the banking sector as little as five years ago there were only state banks. From 2005 we started with private banks, allowing foreign investors 49% stakes.”

Now the plan is to raise the limit to 60% and raise the minimum capital requirements for all banks to $200m, more than double existing amounts, with a three-year grace period for banks to comply.

Big is beautiful

At the moment the banks with foreign participation have mainly regional shareholders from Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan and Lebanon. “We want to attract the major international banks with large capital,” says Mr Mayaleh.

“Under the existing rules we cannot develop the economy as we would like. Our banks are fairly small and we need big international banks with more capacity to build up and support the economy.”

Such a move would give a big push to private banking as, even after the reforms, state-owned banks still account for more than 80% of assets and 75% of deposits.

Mr Mayaleh is an advocate of gradual liberalisation, which, he says, has served Syria well as an alternative to the ‘big bang’ treatment that was tried and proved contentious in formerly state-run economies in eastern Europe. He notes of the IMF’s recent conversion to gradual reform: “It’s [the IMF’s] new idea! I’m glad they joined me.”

He agrees that reforming the banking sector in Syria has been easier than in other sectors where there are labour issues and huge restructuring needs to take place. Private banking was “new” to Syria (private banks had been abolished in 1963) and could be started afresh.

Interest and exchange rates have also been liberalised. In the 10th five-year plan (2005-10), two of the targets listed were “developing the monetary sector and guaranteeing the full independence of the CBS; developing the banking and financial sector as well as financial policies and launching the securities market”. The Damascus Stock Exchange began operating in March with banks dominating in the initial stocks traded.

A simple structure

Mr Mayaleh says that in 2005 there were four pages of instructions concerning interest rates, this has now been reduced to four lines. At one stage Syria had 17 exchange rates but now it has a single rate and taking money in and out of the country has become much easier.

In a policy document called ‘Four Years of Reform in Monetary Policy’, issued by the CBS and covering the period from 2005 to the second quarter of 2009, it says: “CBS has come a long way concerning monetary policy reform, especially in relation to the exchange system and exchange rate policy; it has [used] the political stability in Syria as solid ground for the reform process and as a cornerstone of the stability of both the monetary and the banking sector.”

One negative development for the economy was when the country became a net oil importer in 2006. Revenue from oil used to account for 17% of gross domestic product but this is now down to 4%, with output dropping from a peak of 590,000 barrels a day in 1996 to 385,000 today.

Agriculture is an important sector but as Mr Mayaleh says it is highly dependent on climatic conditions. Tourism, by contrast, he describes as “the new oil” with visitors increasingly attracted to Syria’s historic sites. “In Syria you can see the history of the world, we have great treasures,” he says.

According to a Dow Jones newswire report, Syria plans to raise money on the international and local markets for infrastructure and energy projects. In conjunction with the European Investment Bank, $2bn will be raised externally, says the report.

Aleppo, Syria: my kind of town

Head to the Syrian city of Aleppo for exoticism, medieval shopping malls and deep-fried falafel, says Gail Simmons.
By Gail Simmons
01 Dec 2009

From the old Orient Express terminus to the Whirling Dervishes who perform in some of the city’s restaurants it’s still possible to recapture that oriental romance Photo: GETTY

Why Aleppo?

An alluring mix of medieval and modern, Aleppo, in Syria, vies with the capital, Damascus, as the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city and is home to Arabs, Kurds, Albanians, Circassians and many others. Syria is officially a secular country and is tolerant of all religions – reflected in Aleppo’s ethnic and religious make-up, which includes a sizeable Christian population.

What do you miss most when you’re away?

The exoticism of the city, from the old Orient Express terminus to the Whirling Dervishes who perform in some of the city’s restaurants. Aleppo, like most cities, is surrounded by high-rise sprawl, but it’s still possible to recapture that oriental romance in the old town.

What’s the first thing you do when you return?

Take a hammam (Turkish bath) in the medieval Hammam Yalbouga, Syria’s grandest bathhouse, where you are stripped, steamed, pummelled and scrubbed by burly attendants.

Where is the best place to stay?

One of the converted Ottoman houses in the old city. I like the Mandaloun Hotel (00963 21 228 3008; www.mandalounhotel.com; doubles from £58), with simple yet comfortable rooms set around a covered courtyard. Or splash out at the exquisite Mansouriya Palace (363 2000; www.mansouriya.com; doubles from £208), tucked away in the old city. With nine individually themed suites, it’s Aleppo’s best boutique hotel.

Where would you meet you’re friends for a drink?

I like fresh mint blended with ice and lemonade at a pavement café beside the Citadel as the sun goes down. Or for a proper drink, the Baron Hotel (211 0880), an early 20th-century time warp in the European quarter, where Agatha Christie and T E Lawrence stayed (you can still see the latter’s bill).

Where is your favourite place for lunch?

Any of the old city’s falafel stalls. You can watch the falafel being mixed and deep-fried, then eat it warm served with hummus and salad and wrapped in pitta bread.

And for dinner?

The best restaurant in Aleppo, and one of the finest in Syria, is Sissi House (212 4362; www.sissihouse.com) The old, wood-beamed building is set around a covered courtyard in the Christian quarter and serves some of the best food – and wine – in Syria.

Where would you send a first-time visitor?

To the Citadel. On a hill surrounded by a now empty moat and reached by a huge arched ramp, this medieval Arab fortress dominates the city. Inside you can explore the streets, mosque, Ayyubid Palace, bath complex and terrifying dungeon. It’s a city within a city and, along with Krak des Chevaliers, one of the great castles of the Middle East.

What would you tell them to avoid?

Talking politics with locals.

Public transport or taxi?

The ubiquitous yellow taxis are cheap and plentiful, with meters so you can see how much your journey costs if your Arabic isn’t up to much.

Handbag or moneybelt?

Syria is one of the world’s safest countries, with virtually no petty crime, so a handbag is fine.

What should I take home?

Aleppo soap is world famous. It’s made from olive oil and bay leaf, its recipe virtually unchanged for two millennia, and still handmade in the city. It’s reputed to have medicinal properties, too.

And if I’ve only time for one shop?

Don’t think shop, think souk. Aleppo has the longest covered souk in the Middle East, a stone-vaulted labyrinth where you can get lost among the stalls selling Aleppo soap and everything else under the sun. It’s like a vast, medieval shopping mall.

* Gail Simmons is a journalist and travel writer specialising in the Middle East (www.travelscribe.co.uk)

Comments (9)

Akbar Palace said:

Ehsani said:

The Taliban boys will be marking on their calendars that 07/2011 date and starting their countdown tonight.

I hate to say it, but perhaps Obama should borrow from GWB’s playbook and NOT declare an end date. Just a thought.

U.S. withdraw from urban areas and decrease in violence

US Navy and US Coast Guard personnel stand guard onboard Al Basrah Oil Terminal in July 2009.The withdrawal of U.S. forces began at the end of June, with 38 bases to be handed over to Iraqi forces. On June 29, 2009, U.S. forces withdrew from Baghdad. On November 30, 2009, Iraqi Interior Ministry officials reported that the civilian death toll in Iraq fell to its lowest level in November since the 2003 invasion.[252]


December 2nd, 2009, 1:59 pm


jo6pac said:

It would be cheap and almost no lives lost if we (US) just dropped bails of $100 bills out the back of a plane. US dollar is sliding down so fast but still it would help family in the country. This just insane as is the 900+ base around the world.

Now the country’s government is looking to major global names to take its economy forward. Writer Brian Caplen

The above is a be careful what you wish for, the FM needs to get out more to see what’s happening around the world in the $ world.

December 2nd, 2009, 11:23 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

I think President Obama in his speech is saying he wants to end the war in Afganstan,even if this means it is a war where there is no winning hope, HE IS SENDING MESSAGE TO THE GENERALS,you have one year to turn things around, nobody believes USA will win this war in one year,but to back away from listening to the generals have negative diolomatic effect and republicans may criticise him,he acted defensively.
50 billions is not too much for america,the troops in Iraq will decrease by 90,000 by august,2010,saving 90 billion,he will not increase tax,he can cut down in foreign aid, why do we have to aid Israel with billions of dollars, Netan is not listening to Obama.
I wish sometime in the future we discuss American foreign aid., I think once Americans know the truth,they will vote against Aid.
America sacrificed too much for Israel.sept 11 Iraq war and Afganstan war all done because of Israel.
Israel is the cause of all evil in the middle east.

December 3rd, 2009, 2:14 am


Observer said:

This article by Pepe Escobar is worth printing in full. Before that some stats:
There are currently 60 000 US troops in Afghanistan and 68 000 contractors. The US forces were dropped by 16% in Iraq while the contractors were increased by 52%. The level of violence in Iraq dropped after Baghdad become 90% Shia and after Iran intervened to calm down tensions.
The US is in deep shit and this President turned out to be the Barack Hussein Bush I am the establishment guy through and through.

Vietnam-lite is unveiled
By Pepe Escobar

The United States is in the midst of the most serious unemployment crisis since the Great Depression, and US President Barack Obama is following George W Bush in lavishing trillions of dollars on a few big banks. American taxpayers got nothing. Now, they get the cherry in the cheesecake; Obama escalating his war in Afghanistan. A Vietnam-lite – with a tentative expiry date, July 2011, for the start of a withdrawal.

The much-hyped Obama speech on Tuesday night at West Point – edited by the president himself up to the last minute – was a

clever rehash of the white man’s burden, sketching a progressive narrative for US national security clad in the glorious robes of “the noble struggle for freedom”.

On a more pedestrian level, history does repeat itself – as farce. With Obama’s surge-lite, US plus North Atlantic Treaty Organization occupation troops in Afghanistan will reach in the first half of 2010 the level of the Soviet occupation at its peak in the first half of the 1980s. And all this formidable firepower to fight no more than 25,000 Afghan Taliban – with only 3,000 fully weaponized.

Each soldier of the new Obama surge (a word he did not pronounce in his speech except when he referred to a “civilian surge”) will cost US$1 million – though the Pentagon insists it is only half a million.

Real men go to Riyadh
Obama still says Afghanistan is a “war of necessity” – because of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Wrong. The Bush administration had planned to attack Afghanistan even before 9/11. See Get Osama! Now! Or else … Asia Times Online, August 30, 2001.)

“War of necessity” is a polite remix of the same old neo-conservative “war on terror”; blame it on the “towelheads” and exploit public ignorance and fear. That’s how al-Qaeda was equated with the Taliban and how Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11, according to the neo-con gang.

For all his lofty rhetoric, Obama is still pulling a Bush, not making any distinction between al-Qaeda – an Arab jihadi outfit whose objective is a global caliphate – and the Taliban – indigenous Afghans who want an Islamic emirate in Afghanistan but would have no qualms in doing business with the US, as they did during the Bill Clinton years when the US badly wanted to build a trans-Afghan gas pipeline. On top of it, Obama cannot admit that the “Pak” neo-Taliban now exist because of the US occupation of “Af”.

Taking pains to distance his new policy from the Vietnam trauma, Obama stressed, “Unlike Vietnam, the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan.” Wrong. If the official narrative of 9/11 holds, the hijackers were trained in Western Europe and perfected their skills in the US.

And even while he still emphasizes the drive to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat” al-Qaeda and deny it a “safe haven”, Obama is fully contradicting his own national security advisor, General James Jones, who has admitted that there are fewer than 100 al-Qaeda jihadis in Afghanistan.

The myth of al-Qaeda has to be exposed. How could al-Qaeda pull off 9/11 but be incapable of mounting a single significant attack inside Saudi Arabia? That’s because al-Qaeda is essentially a thinly disguised brigade of Saudi intelligence. The US wants to win “the war on terror”? Why not send special forces to Saudi Arabia instead of Afghanistan and knock the Wahhabis – the root of it all – out of power?

Obama could at least have noticed what notorious Afghan mujahid, former Saudi protege, former Central Intelligence Agency darling and current American public enemy, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, told al-Jazeera. He stressed, “The Taliban government came to an end in Afghanistan due to the wrong strategy of al-Qaeda.”

This is a graphic illustration of the current, total split between al-Qaeda and the Taliban, both “Af” and “Pak”. The Afghan Taliban, starting with their historical leader, Mullah Omar, have learned from their big mistake – and are not allowing al-Qaeda Arabs to fester inside Afghanistan. Equally, the rise of neo-Talibanistan on both sides of the border does not necessarily translate into a “safe haven” for al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda jihadis are harbored by a handful of selected, paid-up tribals which the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence, if it really wanted, could pinpoint in a flash.

Obama also bought in the Pentagon premise that America can re-colonize Afghanistan with counter-insurgency.

In General David “I’m always positioning myself to 2012” Petraeus’ own counter-insurgency doctrine, the proportion of soldiers to natives must be 20 or 25 per 1,000 Afghans. Petraeus and General Stanley McChrystal have now got 30,000 more. Inevitably the generals – just like in Vietnam, whether Obama likes it or not – will ask for a lot more till they get what they really want; at least 660,000 soldiers, plus all the extras. At present the US has about 70,000 troops in Afghanistan.

That would imply the reinstatement of the draft in the US. And that’s trillions of dollars more the US does not have and will have to borrow … from China.

And what would that buy in the end? The mighty Soviet red army used every single counter-insurgency trick in the book during the 1980s. They killed a million Afghans. They turned five million into refugees. They lost 15,000 soldiers. They virtually bankrupted the Soviet Union. They gave up. And they left.

What about the new great game?
So why is the US still in Afghanistan? Facing the camera, as if addressing “the Afghan people”, the president said, “we have no interest in occupying your country”. But he could not possibly tell it like it really is to American prime-time TV viewers.

For corporate America, Afghanistan means nothing; it’s the fifth-poorest country in the world, tribal and definitely not a consumer society. But for US Big Oil and the Pentagon, Afghanistan has a lot of mojo.

For Big Oil, the holy grail is access to Turkmenistan natural gas from the Caspian Sea – Pipelineistan at the heart of the new great game in Eurasia, avoiding both Russia and Iran. But there’s no way to build the hugely strategic TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) pipeline – crossing Helmand province, and then Pakistan’s Balochistan province – with Afghanistan mired in chaos, thanks to the pitiful performance of the US/NATO occupation.

There’s a hand in surveying/controlling the $4 billion-a-year drug trade, directly and indirectly. Since the beginning of the US/NATO occupation, Afghanistan became a de facto narco-state, producing 92% of the world’s heroin under a bunch of transnational narco-terrorist cartels.

And there’s the full spectrum dominance Pentagon agenda – Afghanistan as part of the worldwide US empire of bases, monitoring strategic competitors China and Russia at their doorstep.

Obama simply ignored that there is an ultra-high-stakes new great game in Eurasia going on. So because of all that Obama did not say at West Point, Americans are being sold a “war of necessity” draining a trillion dollars that could be used to reduce unemployment and really help the US economy.

We also know how to surge
The Taliban will inevitably come up with their own, finely tuned, counter-surge. Even surge-less, and up against tons of Petraeus’ counter-insurgency schemes, they recently captured Nuristan province. And remember Obama’s summer surge in Helmand province? Well, Helmand is still the opium capital of the world.

In his speech, Obama tried by all means to convey the impression that the Afghan war can be controlled from Washington. It simply can’t.

For all his pledges of “partnership with Pakistan” (mentioned 21 times in the speech) Obama could not possibly admit his surge-lite will destabilize Pakistan even more. Instead, he could turn over the whole war to Pakistan. Unlike the Obama-approved July 2011 date for the (possible) beginning of a withdrawal, subject to “conditions on the ground”, this real exit strategy would have to come up with a fixed timetable for a complete withdrawal attached. That would be the go-ahead for Islamabad to do what neither the Soviets nor the Americans could do – sit down with all the relevant tribal locals and negotiate through a series of jirgas (tribal councils).

Obama bets on what he calls “transition to Afghan responsibility”. That’s a mirage. The Pakistani intelligence establishment – which still regards Afghanistan as its “strategic depth” in the bigger picture of a conflict with India – will never allow it to happen strictly under Afghan terms. That may not be fair to Afghans, but these are the facts on the ground.

Virtually everyone in rural Afghanistan considers – correctly – that President Hamid Karzai is the occupation president. Karzai, who can barely hold on to his throne in Kabul, was imposed in December 2001 on King Zahir Shah by Bush proconsul Zalmay Khalilzad after a heated argument, and recently ratified in an American-style, blatantly stolen election. The American way is not the Afghan way. The tried-and-tested Afghan way for centuries has been the loya jirga – a grand tribal council where everyone joins, debates and a consensus is finally reached.

So the endgame in Afghanistan cannot be much different from a power-sharing coalition, with the Taliban as the strongest party. Why? One just has to examine the history of guerrilla warfare since the 19th century – or take a look back at Vietnam. The guerrillas who are the fiercest fighters against foreigners always prevail. And even with the Taliban sharing power in Kabul, Afghanistan’s powerful neighbors – Pakistan, Iran, China, Russia, India – will make sure there won’t be chaos spilling over across their borders. This is an Asian issue that has to be solved by Asians; that’s the rationale for a solution to be developed inside the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Meanwhile, there’s reality. The full spectrum dominance Pentagon gets what it wanted – for now. Call it the revenge of the generals. Who wins, apart from them? Australian armchair warrior David Kilcullen, an adviser and ghostwriter for Petraeus and McChrystal and who is a demi-god for Washington warmongers. Some light neo-cons – certainly not former vice president Dick Cheney, who’s been blasting Obama’s “weakness”. And overall, all subscribers to the Pentagon concept of the “long war”.

Two weeks before going to Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize, Obama sells his new Vietnam-lite to the world out of a US military academy. George Orwell, we salute you. War is indeed peace.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

December 3rd, 2009, 2:22 am


Alex said:

Bomb hits Iranian bus in Damascus, dozens of casualties


December 3rd, 2009, 8:54 am


Akbar Palace said:


How does an over-inflated tire cause a fire in the rear of a bus?

Are there any pictures showing what happened?

Footage showed the bus badly damaged by what looked like fire. It was carrying Iranian pilgrims visiting the Sayyida Zeinab shrine for Shia Muslims.

He says the bus driver and two petrol station workers died when the tyre blew up as air was being pumped into it.

Are you in Damascus? Did you witness the explosion? Send us your comments, pictures and videos.

Send your pictures and videos to yourpics@bbc.co.uk, text them to 61124 or you have a large file you can upload here.

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December 3rd, 2009, 12:05 pm


Akbar Palace said:

SNP said:

It was sheer diabolic evil when the various Christian Crusaders invaded and occupied the Middle East, Moslem and Jews were slaughtered like cattle. What the con-man managed to do is turn the Jews and Moslems at each other throat while he sat profiting for few decades.

I agree. Countries do not have the right to invade and threaten other countries, plain and simple.

Christians and Christianity is the cause of all evil in the world.

No. Evil is found in all societies and in all religions, including Jewish and Muslim societies. Point an accusing finger at one direction does not address the issue of evil sufficiently.

Poor Israeli Jews suffered as bad if not even worse than Arabs or Moslems and they do to this day.

For sure. However, Jews are severely at risk when Islamofascists (led by the Iranian regime) and their proxies threaten Israel and half of the world’s Jewish population as witnessed by their words and deeds.

The EU just starting to deny the Jew their rightful ownership to Jerusalem now, why, just to keep the conflict simmering that is all. What Christians did to Arabs (even those that look like one) since September 11 is beyond evil.

The world recognized and still recognizes Israel as a sovereign state since 1948. They also recognize Israel’s pre-67 borders which includes Jerusalem. The world and the EU recognize that the final borders have to be negotiated.

On 9-11-01, “Christians”, Moslems and Jews were all killed by moslem fanatics who were funded and aided by countries, organizations, and individuals who either turned a blind-eye to or out-right supported Islamic fundamentalists like al-Queda. That is the evil you should be discussing in context of what is plaguing the world today.

We pray that Israeli never succumb to the pressure and they use all within the power given to them to fend off the bad guys.

Sarcasm notwithstanding, Israel should not succumb to pressure that is unreasonable. Asking Israel to withdraw from the Golan or the West Bank without an excellent agreement and security guarantees is unreasonable.

Let’s declare Jerusalem the eternal capital of Israel and let’s have the wonderful Jewish nation restore their temple.

Why do you think Israel has not restored the Temple since they have controlled Jerusalem for the past 40 years?

It is an inhumane crime to deny them their rights and continuing the suffering and anguish of these people by the Machiavellian Christians.

Jew’s rights were also denied by Moslem countries, hence the need for an independent Jewish state.

Those who claim Israel is the cause of all evil in the Middle East are evil themselves…

No, just misinformed and brain-washed.

December 3rd, 2009, 12:31 pm


Ghat Albird said:

Comparing Mr. Obama’s (mis) adventures in Afghanistan to Vietnam Lite is somewhat fanciful. Its comical to accept the premise that the US and NATO are in Afghanistan to look for OBL;destroy AlQueda or the Taliban or to prevent further 9/11s.

The sole reason Afghanistan was invaded and presently is occupied is to the facts that “Every war results from the struggle for markets and spheres of
influence.” And the war in Afghanistan is certainly no different. several commentators on the internet make the claim that both the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan were instigated and promoted by Israel and its lobby in the US.

And that the Israelis where determined to use their influence in the United States
to advance their interests and influence in Central Asia while limiting those of
Russia and Iran.

In mineral-rich Turkmenistan, for example a Mossad agent supposedly was very successful in gaining control of that republic’s immense resources of natural gas.

And that as an agent of Israeli intelligence, he heads a network of Mossad-
controlled companies that serve Israeli interests.

He’s beeb described as “a leading miner” of Central Asian gas fields by the
Israeli news media. Given his control of the immense gas resources of
Turkmenistan, considered only second to Russia’s, he along with the Mossad will all profit if and when the U.S.-led coalition are able to “pacify” and control Afghanistan so that the proposed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline could be built allowing the gas of Turkmenistan to be sold to India.

The TAPI pipeline project profits would bring-in billions of dollars every year. And its the projected profits from the TAPI pipeline that is the real reason for the socalled “surge” in Afghanistan.

Thats the view of several European commentators and their politician’s hesitancy in sending any additional military to Afghanistan.

December 3rd, 2009, 10:20 pm


Alex said:

I don’t think one can or should make solid conclusions about the success or failure of authoritarian control in Syria … let us not forget that the very democratic United Stated only managed to admit a few thousand Iraqi refugees of the war it started … could not take more for security reasons.

Well, Syria immediately opened its doors to 1.8 Millions (peak) of Iraqis escaping the bloodshed … 1.2 millions are still there today.

So I suggest we do not over-analyze this once-a-year type of incident (a bomb against some Shia target in Damascus), considering that Syria admitted about a thousand times more refugees and took a thousand times more risk (you probably understand that they did not check the history of each of the 1.8 million Iraqis admitted … Shia, Sunnis, Mandians, Christians, Kurds … with loyalties to God knows who)

And don’t forget that we also have hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees in Syria … remember that Israel has a nice group of Fatah Palestinians spying on major Arab countries (starting with Syria):


Some people just don’t understand the amount of risk that Syria, which usually likes to have everything under tight control, decided to take in order to help save the refugees from Iraq, Palestine, or Lebanon.

Nevertheless, there are 22 millions living in Syria today … They are not exactly living in constant fear. Syria is still the safest country in the region.


December 3rd, 2009, 10:26 pm


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