Paranoia in the Land of Cedars

Lebanon has become a hot house for paranoid hysteria. Ever since Syria's invitation to Annapolis signaled a two degree thaw between Washington and Damascus, a Beirut Spring of strategic extrapolations has begun to sprout jungle-like in the land of Cedars. The Iran NIA served to nourish further the febrile hallucinations of March 14 minds. 

Raghida Dargham of al-Hayat is seeing Shiite Orcs marching to Uncle Sam's drum beat. Yes, in Dargham's considered opinion, Washington has struck a devil's bargain with Iran. And because Iran holds the armies of Middle Eastern Shiites in its sectarian thrall, George Bush can now issue marching orders to its new turbaned legions, who just happen to live atop the region's oil, Dargham darkly notes. The victim of this secret alliance are the jilted Sunnis. In essence, the Shiite crescent has been transmogrified into a living scimitar directed at the heart of the March 14th Movement. After all, why did the neoconservatives decide to overthrow Sunni Saddam and hand Iraq over to the "Iranian" Shiites? Dargham explains her anxieties thusly:

But there is another interesting theory. All of the indications at the time pointed to the pro-Iraq war group – from neoconservatives to those advocating the unleashing of what they called the "Shiite force" – all worked on the basis that the enemy were only Sunnis, who produced terrorism and the 11 September 2001 attack on the US. The basic idea for these people was Iraq, and its president, Saddam Hussein, constituted the "ideal" cover to justify a strike at the country, on the pretext of WMD. They said that the oil-rich Arab lands were inhabited by Arab Shiites, and that the best way to create an oil belt (a "Petrolistan") is to produce chaos in these areas. Then, it would be able to create a Shiite extension of influence in the Arab Gulf for Iran, and via the special Syrian-Israeli relationship, one could link to Israel via Syria and Lebanon.

See the Badger's careful exposition of Dargham's thinking at Missing Links.

Lee Smith, has been insisting at "Now Lebanon" that President Bush is not dumping March 14. In his article, "No deal," Smith writes that, 

Despite rumors and fears, no backroom bargain was cut at the expense of the US's Lebanese allies.

President Bush himself has been pressed into reassuring Washington's allies. Elliot Abrams and NSC chief Hadley arranged for a meeting between Syrian oppositionists living in the US and President Bush himself. Amar Abdulhamid, one of the Syrian contingent, has written about the Meeting. He describes how Bush "spoke passionately in defense of human rights in Syria and worldwide and revealed in-depth knowledge of developments inside Syria."

Hussain Abdul-Hussain is another March 14er, who believes that Lebanon is being sold down the river by Washington. Without evidence, he posits that King Abdullah's trip to Damascus the week before Annapolis was in reality a fireside sale. Syria is getting back the Golan, he insists, but Bashar hasn't "flipped" yet! What does this mean? Stupid American suckers for Syria. Read his article.

The price of being suckers for Syria

Hussain Abdul-Hussain
11 December 2007

Daily Star


Beirut — The question as to whether Damascus can be made to break its alliance with Iran and alter its ways, as Western and Arab governments have sought of late, has confounded all those answering in the affirmative.

When Lebanon's March 14 coalition recently approved the candidacy for president of army commander General Michel Suleiman, the pro-Iranian Hizbullah displayed reluctance in accepting. This suggested a possible crack between Syria and Iran, because Syria had long been viewed as supportive of Suleiman. Yet Syrian-Iranian divergences might really be more a product of Western wishful thinking than anything else.

Diplomats believe that during his recent visit to Damascus three weeks ago, Jordan's King Abdullah relayed to Syrian President Bashar Assad what he described as a "final offer" for Syria to distance itself from Iran. Abdullah's package reportedly included proposals that Syria would regain control of the occupied Golan Heights and would receive international aid, while the international tribunal to try suspects in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri would be scaled down.

In return, Damascus would have to ratify a peace treaty with Israel, cease its intervention in Lebanese affairs, end its ties with Iran, and cut off Iran's proxy groups, particularly Hizbullah and Hamas.

The idea was that if Assad walked in the footsteps of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, he would end his country's isolation and rejoin the international community as a full partner. Alternatively, if Assad refused the offer, he would have to endure more international opprobrium and be abandoned to his alliance with an increasingly isolated Tehran.

The assumptions behind such a scheme jar with what we already know about Syria and its behavior in the past. The Syrian regime has never taken one side or another when asked to do so, and this is particularly true of its relationship with Iran. For example, recently Damascus sent Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad to Annapolis for the conference on Middle East peace. Yet only days earlier, Foreign Minister Walid Moallem had flown to Tehran to explain to the Iranians his country's perspective on the gathering, which Assad had depicted as a likely failure.

Damascus wants to have the cake and eat it too. It wants the Hariri tribunal scaled down and its international isolation ended. At the same time, the Syrian regime wants to maintain its links to Hizbullah, preserve its ties to an Iran that has bought off Syria's debt to Russia, and re-impose its hegemony over Lebanon. No matter how much international aid Syria receives, this would never sweeten Syria's financial pot as did its control over Lebanon before 2005, the year its army withdrew from the country.

The Syrian regime also believes that if the international community is not willing to give Syria all it wants now, it might be willing to do so in the future. Damascus feels it has plenty of time to wait for the balance of power to change in a way that all its demands are eventually answered.

Now that the Annapolis conference is over, the Syrian regime can pretend that it has actually taken Abdullah's offer. However, once the United States sends its ambassador back to Damascus and the international community scales down the Hariri tribunal, Syria would only ask for more. Among these demands is the restoration of its influence over Lebanon. As time goes by, Damascus would find excuses to reestablish its links to Tehran – assuming it severed them at all. In no time, Syria would have reneged on all its commitments, while the regime would have raked in all the benefits the international community had to offer.

Some history might be useful here. After the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in summer 1982, Syrian troops were forced to withdraw from Beirut. Five years later, however, Damascus managed to send its forces back into West Beirut not only to restore civil peace after Amal and Hizbullah had fought a bloody conflict in the capital's southern suburbs, but also supposedly to help release Western hostages. Washington approved the return. Between 1982 and 1987 circumstances had changed, yet the Syrian regime stood its ground and heightened its chances for a comeback. It succeeded.

There is no guarantee this won't happen again. In early 2008 there will be a new administration in Washington and international circumstances will have probably changed. The recent release of a US National Intelligence Estimate on Iran's nuclear program has the potential to substantially alter American calculations in the Middle East, which could offer Syria greater room to maneuver. Nothing guarantees that Damascus won't try to take advantage of the new situation in order to return in some way to Lebanon and take the country back to where it was before the Cedar Revolution. The world should be aware that this is the real Syrian game.

Hussain Abdul-Hussain is a journalist based in Washington. He wrote this commentary for THE DAILY STAR.

Comments (64)

Alex said:

That’s right Joshua. It was “a two degree thaw” in American Syrian relations … no deals signed yet… the start of a trial period that might be a success or a failure. Hadley and Abram’s useful tools … The Lebanese and Syrian “Democracy fighters”, are now being called upon to make President Bush feel guilty for doing a dirty deal with the Syrian dictators… maybe this will counterbalance James Baker and Condy Rice.

The Paranoia of Raghida is not new … she is the own who was depressed when she heard that Mehlis will not name any Syrians in his final (first) report … then when she realized that he actually did name Maher and Asef, she was reporting live to LBC jumping from happiness! .. Alhayat even wrote a special story about how Lebanese viewers noticed Raghida’s joy.

How unprofessional from “a senior Arab journalist”.

As for Ammar, I wrote him this comment on his blog:


I can not blame you for meeting President Bush… everyone, even Syrian officials would love to meet President Bush.

And I have no problem with your asking the president to raise human rights issues with the Syrian officials that the American administration officials will be meeting with in the future. I even talked to you about exactly the same thing last year.

But … your visit was promoted by the National Security Advisor Steven Hadley, and Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams

Nothing good can come out of the efforts promoted by these two … These are the two of the main reasons why we have chaos in the Middle East and hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis … these are the two who keep advising the president not to support the return of the Golan to Syria… because Syria is not a democracy supposedly.

And nothing good will come out of your Neocon-backed activities Ammar. And you are now hinting to good things to come … how wonderful to know that you got more financial support from those wonderful backers …directly or indirectly, through the many “Freedom funds”.

Maybe you think your efforts will overthrow the Syrian regime? … no? .. then how do you think Syria will benefit from your re-energized role? … you will work with Kurdish opposition trained by Mossad agents in northern Iraq to create unrest in Qamishly and Hassakeh? … You will work with Islamists paid by some Saudi Prince to go out of hte mosque on Friday an call for the fall of the Alawite regime?

And I noticed that your fellow democracy fighter Mamoun Homsy, is now representing the good guys in the democratic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He phoned a live LBC show few weeks ago to complain about the shameful acts of the Syrian regime and to apologize to “the kingdom of Saudi Arabia” … he sounded soooo pathetic that even the Lebanese guests on that program were making faces to the producer to ask him to cut Mamoun off.

And Farid Ghadry who met him earlier this year went to Israel the week after and in off-the-record remarks to some Israeli journalist he was more excited that Mamoun Homsy is supporting him than he was about visitng Israel.

I am sure Syria is proud of the three of you!

Ammar … the comments you are getting here are the polite version of how most of these people feel … it is much worse than what you think. By now you only a champion of the angry and negative and revengful ones.

When there is no decent or constructive role to play … don’t play any role. Really, thanks for your intentions but no thanks for the results of your smart Washington alliances.

I expressed the same opinion to you when you joined the NSF at the time.

You still think that it is ok to be alligned with and to work with the devil as long as you both share the same goal… you worked with the brotherhood and Khaddam and now with Hadley and Abrams .. and homsy (and Ghadry indirectly)

December 11th, 2007, 7:28 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


Could you explain to me, or point me to where you have previously explained, what it means to play “a decent and constructive role?”

I am not challenging you because I don’t think that this is a valid category; I actually do. I simply want to understand what you think this means (in detail).

And feel free to define this role positively because I already know what you don’t think it means, as you have made your feelings clear about the Syrian opposition.

Thank you.

December 11th, 2007, 7:59 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Dr. Landis,

I agree that paranoia is rampant among M14ers in Beirut these days, and most of it is unjustified.

What I find more interesting than the paranoia, however, is the amount of time that it is taking for the opposition to push Suleiman through. Many people have suggested, with the air of confident off-the-cuffness, that this is really just a stalling tactic while Syria and Iran work out the back-room negotiations (would that I were a fly on the wall of that back-room). But how do we know that this is true? What are the possible scenarios? If all the delays are truly a destablizing tactic or a play for time, then what is Syria hoping to gain from them?

My feeling is that Syria is not quite ready to do business in Lebanon yet under the new rules. This is mostly because nobody knows yet what the new rules will be. Syria left Lebanon ignominiously in 2005, and the past two years have hardly been uneventful: Syria has been besieged by the international community, sometimes threatening to collapse under the pressure; there was the Hizbullah-Israel war, the standoff with Iran, and let us not forget Iraq. There has been virtually no stability in Lebanon for the Syrians to work out what the new arrangement will be, which brings us to the present.

Syria is, at the moment, embarking upon a new kind of journey in Lebanon. The M14ers may not have gotten all that they wanted from the West, but let’s be honest: what they got, over the past couple of years, was pretty staggering. March 14 was not only responsible for the departure of the Syrian army and (the threat of) the tribunal, but this movement also gave birth to a new form of political participation in Lebanon, and therefore the Middle East. Syria has to contend with these new realities now in Lebanon, and I think that the political horizon is a lot closer than it used to be, which means that the territory that lies beyond it is that much more vast.

December 11th, 2007, 8:17 pm


Alex said:

Qifa Nabki

Few months ago I was on Rime Allaf’s blog. Everyone challenged me to say anything in support of “the Syrian opposition” .. the ones in jail. I said that I am obviously against putting political activists in jail in general (I am Canadian afterall), but some of those in jail are idiots or are follish or … even worse.

Everyone was furious as they thought that I made an outrageous comment.

I had problems mainly with

Mamoun Homsy
Anwar Bunni

Anwar Bunni is a good man. He is a courageous man. But his support for working with Ghadry, for a Syrian civil war if necessary to reach decmocray, or asking for Americann help (in 2005 definition of US “help”) … I admire his good intentions, but I don’t admire his destructive ideas.

Mamoun Homsy … you need to hear a recording of his phone conversation to LBC to understand how unattractive a character he is. Not to mention his meeting with Ghadry and now with Hadley and Abrams.

Then you have Ghadry .. Khaddam, the real brotherhood (not the western polished leaders) … the angry and revengtful oppositionists (Ammar) …

So … many of the best known opposition leaders are not worth any support simply because Hadely and Abrams want us to believe they are “democracy fighters”.

But sadly, the good ones, like Kilo and Dalileh are in jail in Syria. It is a shame that the regime did not manage to find a way to give these impressive people a good role to play in Syria.

Now to answer your question (i did not yet, I know):

A decent and constructive role today is a role that recognizes the limitations … the Syrian regime is not going to be threatened by old fashined opposition statements or burning cars in Qamishli. The only thing we get out of these is more closing of websites and arresting some opposition activists inside Syria in anticipation of such planned opposition activities by Abrams’ tools.

Look at Sami Moubayed … Rime Allaf … Hind Kabawat … these are some of the smart Syrian reformers who managed to find ways to play their own positive roles without taking money from Abrams and Prince Bandar and without being quiet about what’s wrong in Syria.

By the way, for those of you who did not know:

Hind Kabawat, 2007 Women’s Peace Initiative awardee
Ms. Kabawat, a Christian from Syria, works behind the scenes to bring together key members of the country’s diplomatic and religious circles. She has led a variety of public diplomacy efforts in Syria to promote interfaith tolerance and cooperation, modernization and reform, and educational innovation in conflict resolution and diplomacy education. Ms. Kabawat is a practicing attorney who serves as an adviser to many national and international firms and NGOs. She is a senior research associate in Public Diplomacy at the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University.

December 11th, 2007, 8:42 pm


Observer said:

The paranoia that prevails in the ME is clearly and surely related to the fragmentation of the societies in those countries along sectarian and tribal lines ( I use the term tribal in the large context to include clans and families in power ). The intense paranoia comes from the fact that there is no political maturity in the region in the sense that the winner usually will crush the opposing side and destroy it completely or almost completely. Each sect now sees its fortunes change in the context of being pawns in the regional power struggle and this is especially so in Lebanon where not a single political group except HA has a full program of political thought and action. When the Sunnis lose a round, they blame the US for a machiavellian policy in the region regardless of its basis in fact and they NEVER blame their leaders for the fiasco they are in. Accepting blame is near impossible as this usually means the physical end of the leader. Of all the sects in the region the ones that were most adaptable and capable of achieving their goals were the Alawites and the Shia. They have known when to retreat when to decieve when to confront and when to compromise and this is because they were not hampered by ideology and the sense of superiority that is so destructive to the Sunnis and the Christians of Lebanon. Both had the haughty attitude that they were the holders of the true faith and the real civilization and confused their ability to converse in two or three languages with their political acumen. The Sunnis of Lebanon have lost this round because their leaders are and were stupid and stubborn and as usual put their fate in the hands of outsiders be it Egypt KSA or the US. Contrast that with the other sects that have used all of their alliances but ultimately relied on their own rank and file to keep the situation under their control. Now, the Lebanon has shifted back to full control under Syria as it showed that nothing can get done without its consent. Neither France nor the US cares one bit about the Sunnis of Lebanon and they were sacrificied at the altar of the big oil picture in the region.
One old joke used to say that there is no difference between the SUnnis and Big Ben as neither advances one second nor retreats one second.
Now I am of Sunni background but I see it as it is. If all the Sunnis could muster as their leaders are Hariri and Fatfat then God help them.

December 11th, 2007, 8:52 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I see you are very good at criticizing people who try to do something constructive while not willing to criticize the source of the problems which is the Syrian regime.

One of the main reasons why the Americans were successful in their war of independence against the British is French support. When you fight an entrenched regime, you need all the help you can get, including outside help. Syrians had 60 years to get rid of the Ba’ath on their own. Nothing going there. Outside help is crucial in getting to democracy in Syria.

Finally you have people in Washington that are for democracy and not the status quo and you make them to be evil. Sorry, reading your exchange with Ammar has convinved me even more that you are a regime mouth piece.

December 11th, 2007, 9:22 pm


Alex said:


I’m sorry but do you really think I worry about what you think of me?

You are an enemy of Syria … your negative opinion of me is just fine.

I’m sorry if I am not a fan of your Hadley and Abrams … the democracy promoters.

December 11th, 2007, 10:26 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

You say:
“But sadly, the good ones, like Kilo and Dalileh are in jail in Syria. It is a shame that the regime did not manage to find a way to give these impressive people a good role to play in Syria.”

Would you sign a petition requesting freedom for Kilo and Dalileh? Do you believe they should be freed immediately?
Would you support Canadian pressure to free Kilo and Dalileh?
Would you support US pressure to free them?
Would you support UN pressure to free them?
Would you support any foreign pressure to free them?
If you answer no to all the above, how would you get them free or would you just wait for Bashar to be nice?

If the regime does not allow the “good” opposition to function, isn’t it a clear indication that the opposition needs to assume another form? Do you just accept that since Kilo and Dalileh are in jail, no other opposition is worth supporting?

Do you view any opposition that receives funds from foreign sources as “bad”? If Kilo received an anonymous $100M donation from a foreign source, would you be against him?

December 11th, 2007, 10:28 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

You shouldn’t be worried about what I think, you should be worried about what fair minded people think. And yes I am an enemy of the Syrian regime, but so are most readers of this blog who would be delighted to see Asad gone and replaced peacefully by a Canadian like system. That is why it is reasonable to ask why you are trying to stop opposition to the regime and why you are supporting it.

December 11th, 2007, 10:32 pm


Alex said:


I am for all kind of pressure to free Michek Kilo and Aref Dalileh.

There is a group on Facebook for freeing Michel Kilo … I am on it.

When he was arrested, I spent hours calling journalists who iterviewed him to find ways to help him. Some of those who write pro-democracy articles told me they are too busy to try to help.

We discussed the topic of Syrian opposition taking money from outside here. As usual, I gave Ammar the top spot to tell his opinion.

December 11th, 2007, 10:56 pm


SimoHurtta said:

Finally you have people in Washington that are for democracy and not the status quo and you make them to be evil. Sorry, reading your exchange with Ammar has convinved me even more that you are a regime mouth piece.

Come-on AIG George Bush’s regime is pro-democracy as little as Ariel Sharon was a peaceful liberal. If we take Iraq as an example USA first planed that pro-consul Bremmer would be in power for five years. When things begun to go wrong and no WMDs were found, the democracy option came on the table. Even the top officials (former) now admit that the war was because of oil. By the way the oil belongs from moral point of view to Iraqis, not to Israelis or Americans.

Also the historical evidence that USA doesn’t help creating democracies is clear. What USA (regime) has liked and likes most are dictators who let US companies buy the natural resources with laughable prices and exploit the local people. By the way do you AIG know where USA uses half of it foreign aid?

Shouldn’t you AIG worry about those thousands “bargaining” chips in your jails, with out trial of course. Also supporting Palestine to be created on the 1967 borders + compensations for the stolen property would increase your voice here as a “true democrat”. Now its sounds like Göbbels lecturing about democracy.

December 11th, 2007, 11:14 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Perhaps you should tie Alex to his word. Instead of advocating anything in Syria, how about starting a campaign to free Kilo and others? It will not be viewed as acting against Asad but in favor of the prisoners and will unite all expats.
I think it would be a great idea. How about starting with a sitin in front of the Syrian embassy in washington until Kilo and others are released? I am sure even Alex will come.

December 11th, 2007, 11:30 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

What are you trying to do, convince people that democracy is NOT good for Syria since the US supports it? Then why do you support democracy in Finland?

Why are you accepting an oppressive regime in Syria, because I support it???

Or is your argument that because you think Israel is not a democracy Syria shouldn’t be one either? Or that Syrians will only implement democracy when Mother Theresa asks them but until then should have a dictator?

Your whole position does not make sense. Do you or do you not support democracy (Finnish style, not American or Israeli) in Syria? If not why not? And if yes, what exactly are you arguing with me about?

December 12th, 2007, 12:05 am


Ford Prefect said:

You mentioned that (… readers of this blog who would be delighted to see Asad gone and replaced peacefully by a Canadian like system.)

Yes, I am one of those readers who agree with this statement. I applaud your intention as well.

But please note that if when you “replace” authoritarian regimes it is empirically proven that democracy does not necessarily be the default outcome. As a matter of historical facts, violence and mayhem is the most likely outcome.

Democracy needs its well-established institutions to be able to defend itself from the tyrany of the elites.

All I am trying to say that is its easier said than done. Nevertheless, your thoughts are exactly what we are yearning for.

December 12th, 2007, 12:32 am


Ford Prefect said:

Here is some historical information about Elliot Abrams mentioned by Alex above:

“Elliott Abrams — Pleaded guilty October 7, 1991, to two misdemeanor charges of withholding information from Congress about secret government efforts to support the Nicaraguan contra rebels during a ban on such aid. U.S. District Chief Judge Aubrey E. Robinson, Jr., sentenced Abrams November 15, 1991, to two years probation and 100 hours community service. Abrams was pardoned December 24, 1992.”

This convicted liar, who escaped felony charges by agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors (upon the advise of his counsel), is now advising the Administration about peace and democracy in the Middle East. This would have been very comical if it wasn’t too recklessly dangerous.

December 12th, 2007, 12:46 am


Enlightened said:


Why has Ammar suddenly re appeared after a 12 month hiatus? I was beginning to believe that he was threatened indirectly or directly about his activities (I think someone told me that his mother is a very prominent actress in Syria? is this correct?)

Let me get to the point on this however. I think your criticism of him (indirectly) is not valid,he is a noble person with a noble cause, many of us would like to have courage of Ammar AbdulHamid, but some of us are only half men (Assad Pun) or not men at all to do what he does. But criticism of who he associates has some merit , but I wont delve into this. Last year there were some exchanges on his web site between you and him. I remember them, I told you once it is very hard to walk in someone else shoes, if the roles were reversed, and you were Ammar do you honestly think your criticism is valid?

You must remember Alex there are some rubicons that some of us are prepared to cross, you and I and some others on this site have not crossed them yet, but for Ammar that was several years ago when he was interrogated by Mr Shawkat himself, then he chose exile!
Its not an easy path to walk but some are walking it!

December 12th, 2007, 1:10 am


Akbar Palace said:

AIG asks Sim:

Why are you accepting an oppressive regime in Syria, because I support it???

All oppressive regimes in the Middle East are considered heavenly utopian societies by those who have to wake up in the morning and read about a Jewish State on the world wide web.

Imagine the trauma AIG.

December 12th, 2007, 1:21 am


norman said:

Enlighted one ,
Can you tell me the contributions that Ammar gave to Syria , he only called for the invasion of Syria and violent overthrow of the Syrian government no matter how many people die , he only stopped because he saw that the US was too involved in Iraq to seek another venture ,
I do not think he did anything for Syria , and until the opposition in Syria move from criticizing the government to showing the government how to improve the lives of the people by example , like charitable work, they have no future there because they are just a bunch of self promoting individuals.

December 12th, 2007, 3:08 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Ford Perfect,
It is never easy to attain freedom. There are good and bad examples about democracy building in countries without a democratic history.

Some good examples include Japan, Slovenia, the Baltic States.

Your argument is something like the following:
1) First let us build democratic institutions
2) Then let’s get democracy

It is a good argument but it puts you at the mercy of the dictator. All he has to do to stay in power is block 1.

If you are not willing to risk any turmoil, you will be stuck with Asad forever. It is unlikely in any case that the Alawites will accept the status of just another minority in Syria without resisting. The Syrians will have to decide when they have had enough. Most Israelis and Americans are unfortunately quite happy with Asad in power.

December 12th, 2007, 3:11 am


Enlightened said:

Norman please provide links and statements from Ammar:

“he only called for the invasion of Syria and violent overthrow of the Syrian government no matter how many people die , he only stopped because he saw that the US was too involved in Iraq to seek another venture”

Because Norman I would be quite bewildered with shock, if they came from him!

The point is Norman, and this includes you, there are many on this site who would tear down anybody, that is working for democratization in the Mid East.

Where do you stand on this Norman, tell me do you want your country ruled by a dictatorship for ever?

December 12th, 2007, 3:23 am


Alex said:


I would like to tell you that the regime will not harm Ammar’s mom. She is very much respected by everyone in Syria (maybe not hte fanatics). And no one will hurt Ammar in Washington DC … I hope you agree.

So what exactly is courageous about working with the most evil of the evil neocons?

Ammar’s courage is only in his conscious. I am sure he believes he is doing all of this for the sake of Democracy.

His subconscious is more about revenge.

While very few here dare to criticize political prisoners, I am “courageous” enough to do that. We need to be honest about it … there is no shortage of regime critics… it is “good” to criticize dictators .. but it is a shame if you dare to criticize “our prisoners of conscious”

Let me explain:

Would a man decide to change his wife and fall in love with another woman who is uglier, les intelligent, less honest, poorer, and less educated than his current wife? … you know that divorce is a costly and painful process … the alternative wife needs to be perceived as a major upgrade for anyone to dump his current wife and tolerate the painfull proicess that comes with that change/upgrade.

Ghadry, Homsy, and Khaddam are not an upgrade .. they are a downgrade.

We need to get “better” … much better opposition in order for the Syrian people to dream about an upgrade and take a risk for it.

This “I am courageous” is not going to be attractive enough.

Becasue the anti-Syrian regime forces can effectively influence both the English and Arabic media … they (the administration, Israel, and Saudi Arabia) spoiled the Syrian opposition figures … they never criticize them (excet Khaddam) … no matter what mistakes they makre, they are sill heroes … democracy fighters.

That’s why many of them are still immature children.

Basically … I totally disagree with you on this one. The Syrian opposition failed miserably … they need to change .. they need honest feedback not automatic support.

December 12th, 2007, 3:31 am


norman said:

Enlighted one ,

Look at Ammar site and read what he said in the last two years .

We all want democratic change in Syria but we want more mature electorate who will not vote for people depending on their religion but on their ideas and ethics .

December 12th, 2007, 3:51 am


Qifa Nabki said:

Well spoken, ya Alex.

Now, if you’ll just sign here, we will elect you president of the new opposition group in exile, hereby entitled:

United Party of Gentle Reform Advocates for Democracy in Exile (UPGRADE)


December 12th, 2007, 3:59 am


Enlightened said:


Ammars response to Alex on Site:

“Yes, I expected regime collapse at one point, and yes I joined the NSF, but the first thing I did there was to introduce a bill of rights, meant to help the different communities in Syria reach an understanding of sorts. That’s my angle, and that’s my main concern, and it still is. I never hid my misgivings about joining the NSF, just as I never hid my disdain for the Assads, or the nature of my work with Tharwa or my desire to work for nonviolent change from inside. What I was protesting above in reference to your comment was the fact that you connected me to designs that I have nothing with, regardless of whether they are real or imaginary.”

Answers your question on his motives for violence, please norman dont go there again.


“I would like to tell you that the regime will not harm Ammar’s mom. She is very much respected by everyone in Syria (maybe not hte fanatics). And no one will hurt Ammar in Washington DC … I hope you agree.”

Alex, this is disturbing, lets forget about Ammars mum, but these are your words here:

” No one will hurt Ammar in Washington DC” Does this mean that as long as he is there then he is safe? But if he steps out or goes to Syria, what then? You know for a fact that he was interrogated and hounded out of Syria fearing for his safety and the safety of his family! Why? Because he loves freedom and democracy. No one should be hounded into exile for his political beliefs! NO ONE

You know Ammar much much more than I do! I wont comment on his need for revenge, I am not professionally accredited to psycho analyse anyone, but your criticism of him is unfair, considering his often stated aim of NON VIOLENT DEMOCRATIC CHANGE!

Point Taken about trading in the wife for an uglier version, I have only known one person to do this, and decorum forbids me to tell you his reasons(LOL)

We have discussed before the Opposition and the need for credible and much better opposition before, we are in agreement here, but consider this valid point, opposition is opposition no matter how good or bad, because we need alternatives, and to consider alternatives, and have the potential to allow a freedom of choice. WE do not have this. Even in Israel, there are good and bad parties but they abide by their democratic rules, free elections, free choices, Even US Backward Arabs deserve this choice. Do you agree that it is our right, or not?

“Basically … I totally disagree with you on this one. THe Syrian opposition failed miserably … they need to change .. they need honest feedback not automatic support.”

They are miserable i will give you that, but this is the first time in a long time that some opposition exists. No one should have undeserving support without being held accountable? Is the regime accountable to the people? Can the people throw the regime out in Syrias current fixed voting system?

“they need honest feedback not automatic support.” We as patriotic citizens should demand this not only of Syria’s opposition , but also of its current government, this is honest feedback! ( This is the difference Alex, that sometimes we see here that your comments are too often skewed diplomatically favouring the current status quo in favour of the ruling regime). That is your choice, I have enough respect that you are allowed that choice,I respect your freedom to make that choice! Your lack of respect in attributing to Ammar some non sensical backing by the neo cons goes a bit too far!

Some how I honestly opine, I can see no future for the Arab masses until we tell our rulers that we have had enough!

December 12th, 2007, 4:21 am


Nour said:

Ammars response to Alex on Site:

“Yes, I expected regime collapse at one point, and yes I joined the NSF, but the first thing I did there was to introduce a bill of rights, meant to help the different communities in Syria reach an understanding of sorts. That’s my angle, and that’s my main concern, and it still is. I never hid my misgivings about joining the NSF, just as I never hid my disdain for the Assads, or the nature of my work with Tharwa or my desire to work for nonviolent change from inside. What I was protesting above in reference to your comment was the fact that you connected me to designs that I have nothing with, regardless of whether they are real or imaginary.”

Unfortunately for Ammar, when he associates himself and clearly collaborates with individuals with known specific designs, then he is indeed connected to those designs, whether he likes it or not. It is clear as daylight that figures such as Abrams and Hadley have the utter destruction and submission of Syria on their agenda, regardless of the fact that they disguise such intentions with the cloak of “democracy”. Therefore, when Ammar sits at a table with those people and applauds and commends them, then his credibility is most definitely put in question and his attempt to disconnect himself from the plans and designs of the neo-con terrorists is fruitless.

December 12th, 2007, 4:33 am


Enlightened said:

Yes Nour I am sure that Ammar is being offered a seat in the Neo con Office as we speak!

December 12th, 2007, 4:35 am


Alex said:

Qifa Nabki,

Your new party’s name sounds about right : ) .. but I will never join any party.


1) I think it is obvious that I do support their right to act as opposition leaders … please look at the Think Tank and Creative Forum … I not only invited many opposition supporters (including Ammar) but I picked the best that I could find. I wanted them to succeed in what they are doing.

Do you have any reason to think that I am against their right to speak and to oppose the regime?

2) Balance … is one reason why I am mostly an opposition critic .. as I said above .. there is no shortage of regime critics on these blogs (where I participate) … we are not inside Syria here .. so let’s talk about the kind of materials that people outside Syria are exposed to … I hope you would agree with me that CNN, FOX, London Times, Daily Mirror … etc are mostly not fans of the Syrian regime … same as most people leaving comments on Syria blogs. So… don’t worry about the Syrian opposition’s lack of support where I happen to participate … there is no lack of support here.

3) My support for the Syrian regime is mostly (all?) related to their exceptional performance at the regional level … please do not accuse me of supporting the authoritarian nature of the regime. I am simply focused on the regional picture where most of the action is taking place for now … and that’s where I am convinced that we badly need to let Syria play its role.

Internal politics are good and bad (and terrible) …

December 12th, 2007, 4:54 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Norman is at least honest when he says:
“We all want democratic change in Syria but we want more mature electorate who will not vote for people depending on their religion but on their ideas and ethics . ”

You can smell the fear through the internet. Norman is scared of the Sunnis rising to power.

I think Alex has a similar problem. For him an Asad regime is better than a democratically elected Sunni government. But of course, he can’t say it because it is not “politically correct” and he doesn’t want to make his hypocrisy public. So Alex wants to keep the status quo until he is confident the Syrians “will not vote for people depending on their religion”. This will take generations as the Lebanese example shows. Therefore, for all practical purposes, Alex is against democracy in Syria.

This is a legitimate position to hold (if you are in Syria and not enjoying the fruits of democracy in Canada and are willing to pay the price of living under an oppresive regime). What is not legitimate is to hide your true position and undermine the opposition as if you really want change.

December 12th, 2007, 5:10 am


Alex said:


The “sunni” fear part is imported from your Israeli mentality … I do not side with Geagea in Lebanon against Nasralla, do I?

Funny how all the fanatic anti-regime commentators here the past few years eventually start attacking me becasue I am a minority, or a Christian.

Did you ever notice how much I like Turkey? .. Sunni turkey.

There are stupid Sunnis and wise Sunnis .. there are stupid Christians and wise Christians, and there are stupid Jews and wise Jews… I’m sorry if it is difficult for you to realize that religion is not an issue for me.

December 12th, 2007, 5:28 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

How many times did you say that you do not support religious parties or countries based on religion? Quite a few times. You like secular Turkey but dislike very much Saudi Arabia (yes they are Sunni). And you gave Lebanon several times as a bad example of people voting along sectarian lines and that you fear this might happen in Syria.

In the case of the Sunnis, you don’t have a problem with their religion per se, you have a problem with them being in power which is a very likely outcome of democracy in Syria. After all, they are the majority. It is just not an outcome you are willing to accept. Probably because you fear for the Christian minority but there may be other issues I am not aware of.

So why don’t we deal frankly with the issues?

December 12th, 2007, 5:42 am


Enlightened said:


No one can accuse you of losing your balance (must be all the Wax onn Wax off lessons you got in Karate Kid lol)

“My support for the Syrian regime is mostly (all?) related to their exceptional performance at the regional level … please do not accuse me of supporting the authoritarian nature of the regime.”

Ok now we know where you stand, on this issue

Point 2: Yes Syria has not received favourable press coverage in the last few years, why? Its simple it is using its only card as a spoiler in the ME, to get the Golan back and its the only card in the deck available to it.

But lets say for the sake of balance, and impartiality is Syria better off strategically than it was under Hafez? The answer is no. Economically, a little better off, The security services are not as stiflying, regionally? Thats a point we can argue till the cows come home, militarily it is weaker than it was under Hafez! ( I am not clamoring for a return to his rule)


“Do you have any reason to think that I am against their right to speak and to oppose the regime?” No you are too smart for that and that would categorically put you in the reigme corner.


AIG; Please dont play the sectarian card, this does not sit well with any of us here.

December 12th, 2007, 6:04 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

It is a real possibility that when Syria becomes democratic, people will vote like in Lebanon or Iraq, along sectarian lines. This is a fear that I believe is hampering support for democracy. It therefore must be discussed. Why bury the head in the sand?

December 12th, 2007, 6:13 am


Syrian said:


Are you opposed to me becoming president of Syria?


I doubt very much that Alex is afraid of sunnis taking power. I think he has a problem with fanatics taking power as I (sunni) do. The problem the Syrians face is that an abrupt change in government, a la Iraq, will lead to a situation similar to what we are witnessing in Iraq. It is not that the Iraqi’s as a population are sectarian as much as it is the 1% sectarians who cause 100% of all the sectarian problems if they are given the opportunity. (1% of Iraq’s population –pre liberation, is nearly 250,000 people. If you have that many people intent on making trouble guess what you will get.

December 12th, 2007, 6:20 am


Alex said:


AIG would love to break Syria in to smaller pieces … one Druze .. one Kurdish .. one Alawite … one Sunni …

December 12th, 2007, 6:32 am


Alex said:

Francois el-Hajj was killed in the Lebanon blast … he was supposed to become the next commander of the Lebanese army in case General Sleiman was elected as president.

December 12th, 2007, 6:38 am


Syrian said:


If that happens, do you think I can have my own piece. Its a little plot of land right outside the UOK.

December 12th, 2007, 6:47 am


Alex said:


Ask AIG … I was telling him few days ago that if we go along that road we wil need to go for infinitely small

What’s a UOK? : )

I am listening now to Aljazeera .. there is a freind of General Francoise elhajj who is accusing the Lebanese Forces (Geagea’s) of wanting him dead becasue he fought them in the past and becasue he was a close frined of General Aoun.

December 12th, 2007, 7:16 am


MSK said:

Dear Josh,

I am looking forward to you writing as passionately about/against hysterical politicians/journalists in Syria as you write about Lebanon.

Ya Alex,

When I read your sentences

“But … your visit was promoted by the National Security Advisor Steven Hadley, and Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams

Nothing good can come out of the efforts promoted by these two … These are the two of the main reasons why we have chaos in the Middle East and hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis … these are the two who keep advising the president not to support the return of the Golan to Syria… because Syria is not a democracy supposedly.”

I was moved to answer you this: Nothing good can come out of dealing with Bashar/Maher al-Asad & Asif Shawkat & Rami Makhlouf & Faruq al-Shara and the rest of the Syrian regime. They are one of the main reasons why Syria is not a democratic state with a healthy civil society and booming economy, why Iraq’s civil war is still going on, why Lebanon was kept internally divided since 1976 until now, why extremists are strong in Palestine, etc.pp.

Does this sound fair to you?

(Just for the record, I despise Hadley & Abrams.)


December 12th, 2007, 7:22 am


Alex said:

No MSK, it does not.

1) The group you listed is not cohesive. For example do you know Farouk Shara? … he is a decent man.

2) Again .. I blame them for many (not all) of the disappointments inside Syria… not outside. That one I insist on : )

3) The names you mentioned are there for now … you realize that probably no onw will be able to remove them for years to come. Not dealing with them was one of the reasons gave us chaos in the Middle East the past few years. You simply can not ignore Syria and whoever is ruling Syria. But Hadley and Abrams?? … I think Ammar could easily ignore them… they will be out in a year … and they are not President Bush.

December 12th, 2007, 8:28 am


t_desco said:

Applying the same brilliant logic the Western media normally uses when anti-Syrian personalities are targeted, can we now say that al-Qa’ida, Israel and the LF collaborated to assassinate General François al-Hajj…?


December 12th, 2007, 10:22 am


Bakri said:

AIG would love to break Syria in to smaller pieces … one Druze .. one Kurdish .. one Alawite … one Sunni …
Alex ,
The kurds may be but this is highly unlikely because it’s related to turkey ,kurds in syria do not live in the mountains as it’s in iraq,turkey and iran and they are concentrated in 3 separated parts on turkish syrian borders,but about 40% of them are now living in syrian cities and many of them are conservative moslems and well integrated in the syrian society ,as for the druzes and alawites ,it’s not possible for them to have their own nations ,because they are small in number ,without geographical outlets and they know that it will be suicidal for them to declare war against syria and btw most of druzes and alawites are true syrian patriots .As for the christians ,even if their percentage has dramatically decreased under the asads they are our eternal neighbors inshallah …Alex ,syria is not lebanon or iraq ,if we forget the regime we dont have followers of foreigner powers in our country and that’s why israel has no better alternative in syria than the asads.

December 12th, 2007, 11:30 am


Alex said:

t_desco said:

Applying the same brilliant logic the Western media normally uses when anti-Syrian personalities are targeted, can we now say that al-Qa’ida, Israel and the LF collaborated to assassinate General François al-Hajj…?


Not that easily t-desco … there are established procedures for such accusations.

You first need a Mehlis-like UN investigator who can find a crazy witness (like Sedeeq) who will implicate personalities from these parties, then a report containing those names should be leaked by mistake to the press, then you need some credible international figures (from France USA) to add legitimacy to the accusation by repeatedly expressing their deep concern after hearing those leaked names …etc.

December 12th, 2007, 2:26 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Your logic is self defeating. If the republicans win the elections, will you advocate waiting for another eight years before talking to the new adminstration?

Again, your true colors show when you take the regime in Syria as the only constant that everyone else has to accept. US policy can change, but the Syrian one can’t. And again you are proud of the instability that the Syrian regime caused and view it as a success:
“Not dealing with them was one of the reasons gave us chaos in the Middle East the past few years.”

And Farouk Shara is a decent person? The man does not have a democratic bone in his body and does not respect the Syrian people.

The correct policy in the US should be not to talk to the Syrian regime at all until it is willing to make democratic reforms. I believe that is the policy that future adminstrations will adopt.

December 12th, 2007, 2:42 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Alex and T_DESCO

If we apply, on the other hand, the brilliant logic used by friends of Syria, then surely such an analysis is too simplistic. It couldn’t possibly have been al-Qa’ida, Israel, or the LF that was responsible because that would make too much sense. No, I’m afraid it has to be Syria again, as this is the only logic that defies explanation.


[seriously though]

What is perhaps most depressing to me is that, as I think I once said on this blog, the political messages sent by assassinations in Lebanon have become so plentiful that they are now a real political “discourse”.

The trouble is that it has become an anonymous discourse. The messages are slowly being emptied of meaning, as they make less and less sense, and as the possibility looms large that many actors are trying to destablize the country.

الله يساعد

December 12th, 2007, 2:55 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

The status quo as it is now is bad for Lebanon. No question about it. The country is deadlocked, people are leaving and the economy is stagnant.

But now, look at the neighbors, Israel and Syria. Israel cannot be more happy with the status quo that has emerged since July 2006 because Hizballah has been neutralized. As Josh pointed out, not one Israeli was harmed by Hizballah since the war and it is unlikely that they will do anything in the future given the new rules of the game.

Syria on the other hand has began to understand that the status quo is weakening it significantly exactly because it takes Hizballah out of the equation. Even with Sleiman as president, the situation would not be one that would enable Hizballah to conduct attacks.

The only good solution for Syria is chaos in Lebanon, and this is what they are trying to cause. If there is no clear authority in Lebanon, Hizballah is more free to attack Israel because the Lebanese army would not interfere and Israel would not be able to realiate against the Lebanese state since it would clearly not be in charge. In addition, the US does not want chaos in Lebanon since it wants it as an example of a successful Arab democracy.

Given the above, it is clear who killed Hajj.

December 12th, 2007, 3:17 pm


Qifa Nabki said:



December 12th, 2007, 3:54 pm


Alex said:

Qifa Nabki,

I actually agree … I don’t think it was Israel : )

The same way I don’t think it was Syria who killed Hariri … but both are possible… and in both cases we will probably never know who killed Hariri or elHajj

As for Raghida Dergham .. she is as neutral as ….champress. I always avoid her columns which are designed to always make the Syrian regime look like thugs, even when they were acting in a constructive way.

One can always use information to make a point to his liking … take what Champress found today for example! … strong indications that M14 killed General elHajj!


ياللغرابة… صدقت السياسة الكويتية لأول مرة.. الصحيفة المقربة من جماعة شباط في لبنان تحدثت في تقرير لها على أن الموالاة ستحاكم العميد فرنسوا الحاج لـ تواطئه مع المعارضة

” السياسة الكويتية ” : الموالاة ستحاكم العميد فرنسوا الحاج ” لتواطئه ” مع المعارضة.

ذكرت صحيفة السياسة الكويتية بتاريخ : 26/1/2007م نقلاً عن أوساط في لجنة المتابعة المنبثقة عن قوى الـ 14 من آذار في بيروت أن الشروط الجديدة التي وضعتها قوى ثورة الأرز [ كنتيجة لفشل عملاء سورية وإيران في تحقيق أي من مطالبهم رغم ما قاموا به من تخريب وتدمير للبلاد منذ يوم الثلاثاء الماضي ] ( مظاهرات المعارضة بتاريخ : 23/1/2007م ) باتت تتقدم بنود المبادرة العربية…
وهي ثلاثة شروط يجب تطبيقها قبل البحث في أي مبادرة.
اخلاء ساحة رياض الصلح ومتفرعاتها من محتليها وخيمها فوراً.
تقديم ضباط الجيش اللبناني الذين لم يلتزموا أوامر قيادتهم الثلاثاء الماضي بالنسبة لحياديتهم في ما حصل, إلى التحقيق ومن ثم إلى المحاكمة واتخاذ إجراءات مسلكية بحقهم أقل الطرد من المؤسسة العسكرية, وقد شملت لائحة ” السياسة الكويتية ” الضباط الـ 14 الذين أشارت إليهم وعلى رأسهم العميد الركن فرنسوا الحاج مدير عمليات الجيش. وتتابع الصحيفة المذكورة أن الأوساط الحاكمة في لبنان أكدت أنها بصدد ” استكمال لائحة باسماء ضباط الجيش الذين تجاوزوا أوامر قيادتهم ” في ما سمته الثلاثاء الأسود وادعت ” أنهم قاموا بالاعتداء على مؤيدي الحكومة والدولة في الطرقات والشوارع وحاولوا اغتيال النائب الأسبق فارس سعيد في جبيل فجرحوا /9/ من الشعب, وهذه اللائحة الأولية تتضمن /14/ ضابطاً ” وحسب تسلسل اللائحة التي نسبتها صحيفة ” السياسة الكويتية ” إلى قوى 14 آذار فان الضباط الـ 14 هم :
* – الجنرال فرنسوا الحاج مدير العمليات في الجيش اللبناني.
* – العقيد صالح قيس في قيادة فرقة المغاور وهو حليف لحزب الله.
* – العقيد شامل روكز في قيادة المغاور وحليف لـ ميشيل عون.
* – العقيد جورج شريم من البحرية من حلفاء عون ( متهم حسب ادعائات الصحيفة المذكورة بإصدار أوامر اطلاق النار على فارس سعيد ).
* – العقيد جورج بطرس من اللواء الثاني وحليف لسوريا وعون وكان مركزه الثلاثاء الماضي في منطقة الدورة – نهر الموت.
* – العقيد زهير رمضان من اللواء الثاني خليف حزب الله.
* – العقيد علي حرب من اللواء الثاني حليف حزب الله.
* – العقيد بسام الداوود من اللواء الثالث وهو شقيق فيصل الداوود المناوئ لوليد جنبلاط والمتحالف مع سوريا وعملاها في لبنان.
* – العقيد عبد السلام سمحات من اللواء الرابع وهو من حركة أمل ومقره الحازمية.
* – العقيد علي المولى من اللواء الرابع تابع لحزب الله وموقعه ضبية – نهر الموت.
* – المقدم زياد نصر من اللواء الرابع مؤيد لـ ميشيل عون.
* – المقدم داني خوند من جامعة عون.
* – العقيد شربل فغالي من سلاح الجو مقرب من سوريا وقد أوكلت اليه أخيرا مهمة المساندة في بيروت.
* – العقيد غسان سالم من الاستخبارات العسكرية ومقرب من سوريا وعون.
وأماطت أوساط لجنة المتابعة في قوى /14/ آذار لـ ” السياسة الكويتية ” اللثام من أنها ستقدم أسماء هؤلاء الضباط الـ 14 إلى المحقق العسكري لإستدعائهم إلى التحقيق في تهم تجاوز صلاحياتهم وأوامرهم وانحيازهم العلني وممارسة عمليات قمع واطلاق نار على سياسيين ومواطنين مسالمين بعد ما كانت ارسلت هذه الأسماء إلى ممثلي ثورة الأرز في نيويورك لتسليمها باليد إلى مكتب الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة بان كي مون مرفقة بمذكرة تشرح علاقات هؤلاء الضباط بحزب الله المدرج على لوائح الارهاب الدولية والاجراءات غير القانونية التي مارسوها بحق المواطنين اللبنانيين يوم لاثلاثاء في الثالث والعشرين من كانون الثاني 2007, وتطالب الأمم المتحدة بإعتبارها حلفاء وشركاء لحزب الله وبالتالي معاملتهم دولياً حسب قانون مكافحة الإرهاب الدولي والمطالبة بمحاكمتهم ومنعهم من دخول الدول الغربية العربية…
المسؤول : إن تلك التحقيقات أدت إلى معرفة هؤلاء الضباط وبينهم العميد فرنسوا الحاج مدير العمليات في الجيش اللبناني وهو مقرب من عون والمقدم داني خوند والعقيد شريم وسوف يحالون إلى التحقيق وترفع أسمائهم إلى مجلس الأمن الدولي و الحكومات الغربية لإدراجها على لوائح الإرهاب الدولية ومنعهم من دخول تلك الدول ووضع اليد على موجوداتهم فيها.

December 12th, 2007, 4:28 pm


norman said:

look for Gagaa.

December 12th, 2007, 4:32 pm


Alex said:

And here is more info on Farouk Sharaa’s speech (Arabic):

He is saying that the worst is over for Syria in LEbanon .. the past two years were very difficult … the daily accusations are now over … the Syrian army and security forces will never be back in Lebanon … Syria asked France to allow the Lebanese to take their own decisions, and by now the decision making (to elect the next president) is really (80 to 90%) Lebanese … Syria’s friends and allies in Lebanon are stronger thatn ever .. no one can defeat Syria in Lebganon regardless of how much support from outside they get.

Basically Sharaa is confident that Lebanon is recovering and that Lebanese Syrian relations will be healthy and very special.

Syria seems to be planning on being very active this year .. the Arab Summit to be held in Damascus in March and a possible Palestinian summit in Damascus as well. Sharaa said he expects Syria will be achiving more of its national objectives in the future and that Syria will not be forced to accept any unreasonable demands.

الشرع قدم عرضا سياسيا شاملا امام مؤتمر الجبهة : سوريا وأصدقاؤها أقوى في لبنان الآن ….مشاركتنا في أنابوليس منعت تقسيم العرب لمتشددين ومعتدلين

اعتبر نائب الرئيس فاروق الشرع، أمس، أن دمشق أقوى في لبنان الآن مما كانت عليه سابقا، مشددا على أن لا عودة للقوات السورية إلى الأراضي اللبنانية، موضحا أن الجميع يطلبون من سوريا التدخل في الموضوع اللبناني، وإن اعتبر أن الأمر منوط باللبنانيين الآن. وفي لقاء سياسي عقده ضمن اجتماعات فروع القيادة المركزية للجبهة الوطنية التقدمية في دمشق، وصف الشرع قائد الجيش اللبناني العماد ميشال سليمان بالرجل الجيد، موضحا انه «مؤيد من قبل سوريا، لكن هناك شكوى أنهم طرحوه للمناورة». وقال الشرع إن «أصدقاء سوريا (في لبنان) الآن هم في وضع أقوى وأصلب من أي وضع آخر، حتى وعندما كانت القوات السورية داخل لبنان. عندما كنا داخل لبنان كنا لا نعرف من هو الكاذب، ومن هو محق فعلا، الحليف والمتملق، من معنا قلبا وقالبا، وهم قوة حقيقية على الأرض، ولا يستطيع أحد في لبنان حتى ولو استعان بقوة خارجية أن يكسب المعركة ضد سوريا». وأضاف الشرع أن السنتين الماضيتين «كانتا صعبتين للغاية، وبلغ التجني فيهما حدا لا يطاق. الآن انتهى ذلك الفصل الأسود من حياة سوريا في لبنان، وهم لا يستطيعون العودة إلى ذلك الصراخ والضجيج، وإلى استثمار مئات ملايين الدولارات لكي يكسبوا انتخابات، وعقد ندوات في التلفزيون، فشلوا هم، وفشل من خلفهم». ورأى الشرع أن «كل الخطــوات التي قمــنا بها تخــدم وحدة لبنان واتفاق الطائف، وتخدم مصالح لبنان الحيوية المتــعلقة بســوريا»، معتبرا أن «العلاقات السورية ـ اللبنانية علاقــات فريــدة من نوعها، ولا يوجد مثيل لها، أي لبناني يعادي ســوريا يعادي نفسه، وأي سوري يعادي لبنان يعادي نفسه، لكن ليس بنفــس الدرجة. هناك مصلحة حقيقية لتكون العلاقات السورية اللبنــانية في أحســن حالاتها ثــقافيا واقتصاديا وأمنيا، ولنذهب للجغرافيا وللتاريخ، فهــناك دروس كثيرة تساعد على ذلك»، مؤكدا أنه لا عودة عسكرية أو أمنية سورية إلى لبنان، موضحا أن «وضعنا الآن أقوى وأفضل، وحتى أخلاقيا أفضل من أن نكون عسكريا ولا نعرف الصديق من الانتهازي. الآن نعرف الصديق من الانتهازي». وعلى المستوى الاستراتيجي، قال الشرع «لبنان ليس خاصرة سوريا فقط في ما يتعلق بإسرائيل، وإنما أيضا في الأمن المتبادل. حتى لو افترضنا جدلا أن المسألة حلت «سوريا ـ إسرائيليا ـ لبنانيا» فأنت لا تستطيع أن تطمئن إذا لم تكن على علاقة جيدة مع لبنان. نحن بحاجة إلى علاقة جيدة مع لبنان، والعكس أيضا».
وحول دور دمشق في لبنان، أوضح الشرع «يطلب منا الجميع الآن أن نتدخل، وأن نضغط على حلفائنا (ميشال) عون ونبيه بري وحزب الله ووئام وهاب وأسامة سعد و(عمر) كرامي وسليمان فرنجية، هؤلاء حلفاء سوريا ولديهم وجهات نظر، ونحن ساهمنا في لبننة الموضوع، أي حدينا من التدخلات الخارجية. هم أصحاب المشكلة ويعرفون ما هي العوائق أمام رئيس الجمهورية». ووصف الشرع العماد سليمان بالرجل الجيد، موضحا أنه «مؤيد من قبل سوريا، لكن هناك شكوى أنهم طرحوه للمناورة، وليسوا على استعداد للبحث في رئيس الحكومة التوافقي والثلث الضامن الذي كان مسار بحث منذ أشهر، من هنا وقفت الحكومة عند هذه النقطة». ورأى نائب الرئيس أن «الحل يجب أن يكون لبنانيا، لا سوريا ولا إيرانيا ولا أميركيا ولا فرنسيا. نحن رحبنا بالمبادرة الفرنسية، وقلنا لهم تفضلوا وتعالوا، وكانت هناك مبادرات عديدة، لكن الآن الحل بيد اللبنانيين بنسبة 80ـ90 في المئة، أما بيد الخارج فمن 10 إلى 20 في المئة. الآن يشعرون أن هناك أزمة، فهناك مأزق تاريخي في لبنان وليس بسيطا، لأنهم اعتادوا على الحلول الخارجية. نحن نأمل أن يحل اللبنانيون القضية بأنفسهم، إن لم يحلوها الآن يحلوها الأسبوع المقبل، ليست نهاية العالم، المهم أن يشعروا أن الحل يجب أن يأتي من داخل لبنان». كما شغل قسم كبير من حديث الشرع اجتماع أنابوليس، الذي وصفه بأنه «جبل ولد فأرا». وقال «سوريا ذهبت، ولم يكن لديها أية أوهام، ولم يطرح موضوع الجولان أبدا، ولكن قلنا إننا لن نذهب إلا إذا وضع الجولان على جدول أعمال أنابوليس، فأرسلت الإدارة الأميركية رسالة في اليوم الأخير عن طريق سفارتها في دمشق بأن المسار السوري سيبحث في اجتماع أنابوليس. قلت ذهبنا من دون أوهام، لكن هناك نتيجة هامة حققتها سوريا. ذهاب سوريا ألغى فكرة تحالف المعتدلين ضد المتشددين. كان هناك محاولة لمحاصرة سوريا وحزب الله وحماس وإيران، ويعتبرون أن النتيجة مكسباً كبيراً للعرب المعتدلين وللمحافظين الجدد في أميركا. لا يجب أن نبالغ في قيمة سوريا، ولكن في هذا المجال كان لها قيمة كبيرة، ألغت فكرة تقسيم العرب إلى معتدلين ومتشددين». وأشار الشرع في حديثه إلى المؤتمر الفلسطيني العام الذي يعقد العام المقبل. وقال «نحن نؤيد الآن دعوة إخوتنا الفلسطينيين من دون استثناء إلى مؤتمر يعقدونه هم متى شاؤوا، ربما يحصل هذا المؤتمر مطلع العام المقبل بحيث لا تتمثل فيه الفصائل الفلسطينية المعروفة كفتح أو حماس أو الجهاد أو غيرها فقط، وإنما ستتمثل فيه كل هيئات المجتمع الموجودة في المغترب والشتات، من كندا إلى أستراليا مرورا بكل الدول كأوروبا والأميركيتين والدول العربية». وأشار الشرع إلى أن تراجع رصيد الولايات المتحدة من الطاقة هو الذي يدفعها للحصول عليها «بكل إمكاناتها، ومهما كلفها الأمر، وبأية وسيلة كانت». وقال «هل يريدون النفط وأن يسلبونا إرادتنا مع سلبه، أم يريدون تعاملا بعقلانــية ومنطق والبحث عن المصالح المتبادلة والمشتركة. إذا كان الأول فهناك حروب قد تبدأ ولا أحد يعرف متى تنتهي، أما إذا اختاروا الثاني عبر الحوار ومبادئ القانون الدولي، وبالتالي سنخطئ إذا لم نغتنم مثل هذه الفرص، ولكنه حسم أنهم «لم يعرضوا الخيار الثاني».
وتابع الشرع «يجب أن تحصد سوريا من الآن فصاعدا المزيد من الإنجازات، ولن تقدّم التنازلات التي كانوا يطالبون بها، ولن يحصلوا على مطالبهم، هم يشعرون الان بالحرج والخجل، هم خسروا المعركة في المواجهة، ولا يستطيعون الاحتفاظ بالمطالب ذاتها حتى الآن. نحن كعرب إجمالاً نقلل من شأننا كثيراً، كل شعوب العالم تعلم أن إسرائيل هزمت في لبنان، وأن أميركا أخفقت في العراق، والكثير من الدول تنجح على أساس سحب قواتها من العراق كإسبانيا وأستراليا وغيرها، نحن كعرب لا نفكر كما يفكر الآخرون، إن المشروع الأميركي الإسرائيلي قد انتهى، وعلينا جميعا تحمل عبء مستقبل هذه المنطقة، وأن نرص الصفوف في القمة العربية المقبلة المقررة في دمشق في آذار المقبل لمواجهة كل التحديات»، موضحا أن «القمة العربية المقبلة ستكون قمة رأب الصدع في العلاقات العربية، والانتقال بها إلى مستوى أفضل».

December 12th, 2007, 4:47 pm


SimoHurtta said:

What are you trying to do, convince people that democracy is NOT good for Syria since the US supports it? Then why do you support democracy in Finland?

Why are you accepting an oppressive regime in Syria, because I support it???

AIG of course I support democracy in Syria and equality, which belongs to democracy, in Israel.

I do not accept oppressive regimes in Syria and Israel. But if I would be asked the question would I like to see in Syria a US imported democracy with Abraham tanks (aided with Merkavas) and run by imported Chalabi type politicians, I would say that the present regime is a better option. Iraq is a good example of that. The only “human right” issue which USA is pressing in Iraq nowadays is the new oil law (and long time bases).

I critizize your constant “democracy rantings” because they are made by a guy who supports occupation, religious and racial discrimination in his own country, not because of the “democracy”. Those your “demands” are now as hypocritical if a Saudi prince would demand Syria to increase woman’s rights and democracy.

The other issue is that I believe that real Syrians know perfectly well their country*s handicaps with democracy, but could I as a foreigner give good advices how to achieve democracy? Nothing else than you AIG can do, speaking with boring axioms on a very simplified level.

December 12th, 2007, 5:11 pm


Alex said:

Where is AIG and his confident trends for the future … and his “Jews=Zionism”

AIG, now I am convinced that you are a mouthpiece for the despicable Likudists masquerading as a democracy lover. Syria should never make peace with Israel unless there is a new regime in Israel.


Survey: U.S. Jews are losing interest in Israel

American Jews are losing interest in Israel, according to figures released Tuesday in the American Jewish Committee 2007 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion. Figures showed that 69 percent of Jewish Americans agreed with the statement “Caring about Israel is a very important part of my being a Jew” in 2007, compared to 74 percent last year and 79 percent in 2005.

The survey illustrated continued opposition to the war in Iraq by U.S. Jews, although a third recognized that increased military activity known as “the surge” had a positive effect. In 2006, 66 percent agreed with the statement that “Iraq will never become a stable democracy.” This year 76 percent maintain this view.

Almost 60 percent of participants expressed deep concern about Iran’s nuclear program, and 7 percent said they were not at all concerned. However, the number of Jews in favor of military action against Iran decreased from 38 percent in 2006 to to 35 percent this year, and the number of opponents grew from 54 percent to 57 percent.

The Annapolis conference did not change the opinions of U.S. Jews regarding the prospect of peace. This year, 55 percent said they did not believe peace is possible, down one percent from 56 percent last year.

On the question of whether Israel should be willing to compromise on the status of Jerusalem, 58 percent said no and 36 percent said yes, showing an increase in opponents since 2006. The majority still believed that “The goal of the Arabs is not the return of occupied territories but rather the destruction of Israel”.

Survey results showed that according to U.S. Jews, the war in Iraq is not the most pressing problem facing the U.S., as 23 percent prioritized economy and employment before health care (19 percent) and the war (16 percent). The trend among Jews was markedly different from the priorities of the general population, as a CBS News/New York Times Poll found that 25 percent put Iraq first, while economy and employment got only 12 percent.

In the realm of politics, surveyed Jews expressed significant support for Hillary Clinton as the next president, while Republican voters favored Giuliani.

The number of Jewish Conservatives decreased from 33 percent to 29 percent, showing a drop from 2005. However the figures for this section were seen as inconclusive as they have wavered unpredictably since 2001.

Jews who said they were synagogue members decreased from 53 percent in 2006 to 50 percent this year showing a clear downward trend over the last three years: from 57 percent in 2005, to 53 percent in 2006 to 50 percent this year.

December 12th, 2007, 5:19 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

What intellectual dishonesty!
First, a link to the origin of the full survey:

Second, what info should I change my view of the future on? My view is based on the economic and technological capabilities of Israel and not on the fluctuations of how Jews in America see their Jewishness. Whatever the exact number, a huge percentage of Jews view Israel as important to them.

And now to the intellectual dishonesty part. Why did you ignore the following question in the survey:

14. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? “The goal of the Arabs is not the return of occupied territories but rather the destruction of Israel.”
Agree 82
Disagree 12
Not Sure 6

How does this bode for your theory that you can gain a majority Jewish support for returning the Golan to a non-democracy?

And how about this question that you chose to ignore:

32. Do you think that anti-Semitism in the Muslim world is currently a very serious problem, somewhat of a problem, or not a problem at all?
Very serious problem 68
Somewhat of a problem 30
Not a problem at all 1
Not sure 1

98% of Jews believe there is a problem of antisemitism in the Muslim world. What do you make of that? The problem as ususal is that antisemites in the Muslim world do not even understand that they are antisemites.

December 12th, 2007, 6:31 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

As you live in Finland, you really have nothing to do with the conflict.

I live in a country where no one denies that there is at the very minimum democracy for the Jewish majority and that in many senses it is a very successful one. As my country has a border with Syria, the way the Jews were able to democratize is very relevant to the Syrians. At the very minimum, the Syria can learn from Israel how to provide democracy to its own citizens. I hear your complaints about how we treat our enemies, but I don’t see how this is relevant. Democracy is first and foremost about your own citizens. Once Syria treats 80% of its population the way Israel treats its 20% Arab population, it will be parsecs ahead in democracy from where it is now.

Another reason why I should be part of the conversation and you are deadweight is because I get to vote whether Israel returns the Golan and you don’t. That is why Alex needs to convince Israelis like me to change our minds. This conversation is part of this effort to which my arguments are relevant (because I can make a difference) and what you say is not (because you do not vote in Israel).

So if you are frustrated with Israel write your MP or join Hizballah, your choice. You can also continue venting your frustration on blogs. You can also continue saying inspite of what everybody knows and can easily be found in UN and other reports that Israel is not a democracy. But who cares? The facts on the ground speak for themselves. Israel is a successful and vibrant democracy. And it is a middle eastern democracy and it is a great example for other countries in the middle east.

December 12th, 2007, 6:50 pm


Alex said:


First of all … you are right! … that was indeed “intellectual dishonesty” … I was simply imitating your tactics … you are here non-stop quoting things out of context … selecting the parts that sound like a good backup to your never-ending hypocrisy.

You see how you react to my selective attention to the original story? … you do that non-stop Mr. AIG .. in your black and white world you can only see the parts that reinforce your belief that it is all the fault of the despicable Syrian regime …

But guess what … I did not even discard any parts like you do … maybe you should direct your anger at Haaretz … I copied the whole story … as is.

Finally (before I go back to work)

1) There is indeed a problem with antisemitism in the Muslim world .. and a problem of severe racism in Israel … we need to work on both… the are both interrelated.

2) The 82% of American Jews who believe that the goal of the Arabs is the destruction of the state of Israel is indeed disappointing. But don’t worry about my level of optimism … opinions of American Jews will change with time … most Arabs (or Syrians at least) have accepted the State of Israel. We will have peace between Syria/Lebanon and Israel and it will have a very positive effect on peace prospects between Israel and the Palestinians.

December 12th, 2007, 6:56 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I always provide the full source. Where did I quote anything out of context? That is just a false accusation you are using to cover up what you did.
Let me explain this to you. Haaretz in this case is a secondary source. You need to go to the source it quotes or explain that it is a secondary source. Otherwise you provide a distorted picture.

1) The problems are not related. But feel free to work on them whatever that means. So far I see that you even have problems identifying antisemitism.
2) It will take decades to change the opinions of 82% of the Jews. but take your time. We are not in a hurry.

December 12th, 2007, 7:40 pm


Alex said:

“That is just a false accusation you are using to cover up what you did.”


Why don’t you write a letter to the editors of Haaretz and tell them how distorted was their coverage of that report? … I mean … pleae forgive me if I was not aware of that report or where to find it … as you know, I check Haaretz everyday but I am not checking every single Israeli site everyday.

December 12th, 2007, 8:12 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I was talking about your accusation that I quote things out of context. You wrote:
“you are here non-stop quoting things out of context … selecting the parts that sound like a good backup to your never-ending hypocrisy”

And I stand by my reply:
I always provide the full source. Where did I quote anything out of context? That is just a false accusation you are using to cover up what you did.

Always blaming others are you? It is so simple to find the source of the report from the Haaretz article. No need to go to ALL Israeli or Jewish sites. You are told right away where to go.

December 12th, 2007, 9:27 pm


Syrian said:


Actually Alex did quote the source of the survey when he transcribed the entire Haaretz article.

“according to figures released Tuesday in the American Jewish Committee 2007 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion.”

December 12th, 2007, 9:41 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

My complaint was that he ignored the more interesting questions in the survey that are very pertinent to the discussion.

December 12th, 2007, 10:42 pm


Zenobia said:

Here is my interpretation of the disappointing statistics cited.
as usual based on my personal experiences……

when i talk to the parents of my jewish friends I grew up with (quite a few in Boston Massachusetts environs..) I think they care a great deal about Israel.
but mainly their concern is that Israel’s integrity is rotting out from the inside and that her political policies are an embarrassment. They are quite upset about it.

and, as for so many american jews feeling that arabs in the middle east are motivated by wishing for the destruction of Israel and have prejudices against Jews (‘antisemitism’)…well I think 82% seems unlikely high ( i would question who was being polled). But, if so, maybe these people still have the sentiments of my friends’ parents who blame Israelis for compounding their own problems (being self-destructive) and exacerbating hatred towards their nation.
I have the same feeling right now about America. I wouldn’t be surprised if large swaths of the Arab world are feeling a bit of the ‘death to america’ sentiment…. but now whose fault is that?

December 12th, 2007, 10:51 pm


Enlightened said:

AIG; I dont know how the population will vote, but I am firmly against extremists taking over, as are many others on this site. But I strongly believe that we need democracy , but not the chaos that happened in Iraq.

AIG; Honest question and answer, there are extremists that get voted into the Knessest , the are small in number how do you feel about this , do you think there is a place for extremists in a democracy?

December 12th, 2007, 10:57 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Of course there is room for extremists in democracy as long as:
1) They do not undermine democracy
2) They do not advocate violence or racism

A political party that wants to end democratic elections or not let some part of the population vote should not be allowed to run.

A part that advocates violence and discrimination of any part of the population should not be allowed to run.

These are the rules in Israel. So Kahana’s party was never allowed to run because it wanted to throw out of Israel the Arab Israelis.

Every election, someone usually petitions the Israeli high court to stop Bishara’s party on one side and Lieberman’s party on the other from running but the court rightfully rejects the call since even though the parties or on the extreme they accept the democratic process and do not advocate violence and are not racist.

In most democratic countries there are extremists. The Front National in France and the BNP in the UK come to mind. In the US you had David Duke etc. Too much consensus is bad. The extremists bring issues to the fore that need to discussed and the main stream politicians want to ignore or don’t think are important.

December 12th, 2007, 11:37 pm


Alex said:


Just learn to say “I’m sorry”. Save us both the headache.

I read Haaretz and I assumed there was nothing more I need to read in the whatever original report there was. I assumed haaretz covered all the questions asked… At night I usually have more time to check more sources, but during the day when I spend time on this blog (or Haaretz) it is multitasked with work.

As for accusing you of always quoting things out of context … I was referring to what you do to my statements … you pick one sentence that sounds like I’m a Baathist and then you come back telling me how outrageous it is that this is how I believe …etc.

December 13th, 2007, 12:11 am


Post a comment

Neoprofit AI