Sami Moubayed Sets the Record Straight

Sami Moubayed at Kalamoon University

Sami Moubayed at Kalamoon University

Sami Moubayed asked Syria Comment to publish this clarification of his opinions and position

Clarification by Sami Moubayed

The Israeli press and several newspapers, wires, and Internet sites, have commented on an article I wrote last Friday for Asia Times Online entitled, “Abu Hussein’s invitation to Damascus.” They mistakenly claimed that my views represent the official stance of the Syrian Government. That is incorrect. My views in no way represent the official positions of the Syrian government but I firmly support its foreign policy, with regard to the Arab Israeli conflict, Syrian-US relations, and most importantly, restoration of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. Additionally, I NEVER said that Syria was willing to work for the disarmament of Hizbullah or Hamas. Anything to that effect was the product of the wild imagination of journalists, editors, and activists who wished to put words in my mouth; words that I never said. What I said was that Syria was willing to find peaceful solutions to the problems of the Middle East, based on international legitimacy and UN Security Council resolutions, which produced the Madrid Peace Conference. Our main goal as Syrians, government and public alike, is to restore the occupied Golan Heights; and this is a reality that everybody must accept, prime on the list being president-elect Barack Obama.

The 10-points mentioned in the article, as requests from Mr. Obama, are my own analysis and interpretation of the future of billateral Syrian-US relations. Being an independent writer, historian, professor, and political analyst, who has worked in the public life of Syria for the past 10-years, I believe I am able to express my own views, which might overlap with those of my government, vis-à-vis regional peace and stability. Any views expressed by Syrian writers are strictly their own. Only views expressed by Syrian officials reflect the official position of the Syrian Government.

Comments (9)

Ghimar said:


If I were you, I would have saved my efforts and energy by not responding to ones attack me with non-sense and hate destructive criticism. If they believe in something they created so called “freedom of expression”, “freedom of openion”, and dialogue spirit, I am sure they would have respected your views regardless if it is associated with government ones, or if it is of your own. Those who take enough time to waste your time are those whom their openion is not heard and trusted, so they attack others to draw attention. (no offense and no one takes it personal, but this is basic code of journalism conduct, no?).

Sami: keep your Syrian spirit up, and argue less with those who are not heard!

November 8th, 2008, 4:25 pm


Muhammad Agha said:

As typical as it is for the Israeli media to look for trouble, and be as creative as making trouble. This attempt was quite a disappointment. To go after the integrity of one of Syria’s finest analysts by claiming that he said or implied what is stated above is simply, silly.

How funny: with all the support and investment and the mastery of lobbying Israel has, one would expect a better reaction to Syria’s steady position in handling world geopolitics.

Sami’s work is one of purpose, background, and a solid track of understanding of revolving events. His words come strong at a time where Syria is at its best in positioning itself before the newly landing American leadership. Hopefully, the Israeli media will better its twists in away that will not only make us laugh, but would get us to actually take it seriously enough to debate.

November 8th, 2008, 5:26 pm


Sarah said:

Its rather funny that Sami Mooubayed is so often misquoted by newspapers in the West. This looks, smells, and feels deliberate to tarnish the name of Syria’s only voice in the West; a young man who speaks for us all. He is a man with dignity who loves his country, and this is clear for anybody who has followed his work in Asia Today and in Forward! Keep the faith Sami; young Syrians are behind you.

November 8th, 2008, 5:35 pm


Alex said:

I guess I need to invite Yoav Stern (haaretz) to write us a brief comment on all the times we complained abut the way he reported what is happening in Syria Comment

1) When he reported on Imad Moustapha’s interview Yoav picked mostly Imad’s statements which sounded like threats. Most commentators on Haaretz online were angry and reacted negatively to Imad’s “threats”

2) When I wrote “flipping peace tracks again”, Yoav quoted the article and described me as someone who in not an official but “close”.

3) When Jihad Makdissi wrote at SC that he is suspicious of current attempts to revive th Arab peace initiative, Yoav wrote that “Syria rejects the Arab peace initiative” (Quoting Jihad)

4) and when Sami was quoted, Yoav considered him representative of Syrian official positions.

I understand up to a point why Yoav reported the above four stories the way he did … it is really not easy to understand what is “Alex”‘s role … and how close is Sami Moubayed to official Syrian circles …etc.

I can easily see how many people would conclude that Sami or Alex or Hind Kabawat or …. are associated with, or are representative of, the Syrian leadership somehow.

I believe it is beneficial for Syria to allow talented writers like Sami to continue to have the freedom to occasionally (or frequently) be critical of Syria’s government or leadership when he wants to … mostly on internal issues I would imagine (corruption, mismanagement ..etc)

Yoav wrote to me explaining each of the above four cases, but I will ask him if he is interested in writing a small post for SC to explain the difficulty of reporting on Syria in an Israeli newspaper.

November 8th, 2008, 8:43 pm


Shai said:


Ha’aretz tries to also be seen as being “objective”, not only a liberal Lefty paper, so it occasionally paints the kind of picture most readers would like to see. It doesn’t want, god-forbid, to have Israelis refer to it as “Syria-sympathizers”. So this could be one reason. The other, is that Yoav Stern simply didn’t get it.

November 8th, 2008, 9:01 pm


Shai said:


For the overwhelming majority of Israelis (including probably most on the Left), anything written by someone in Syria is likely “controlled” by the government. But what can you expect, of a public that learns about Syria via 3rd-hand, Ha’aretz interpretations of Kuwait newspaper interpretations of an interview they had with some Syrian official?

But this brings me back to a discussion we had recently, where some of us raised the urgent need for direct-coverage by journalists of both nations, Syria and Israel. The Syrian leadership must understand that it is the Israeli people that will decide whether we will have peace between us, or not. It isn’t Olmert, or Livni, or Netanyahu. Exchanging journalists for a few days would have a tremendous and long-lasting effect (at least on our side). Please consider this option, and bring it up where and when you can. What is essential, is for Israelis to begin to understand, indeed to learn, about what Syria is, and what Syrian people are like. A re-education is desperately needed, to reverse the 60-year old demonization that has replaced real, honest national discourse. I speak for Israel, but undoubtedly much is due on your side as well.

Sami, many of us who read your articles are always impressed by you. Keep up the terrific writing, and keep updating us on Syria Comment! As one of the exchange journalists, it would be our utmost honor to see you here in Israel!

November 8th, 2008, 9:21 pm


norman said:

Sami, Keep the good work,
As usual Israel and the other Arab countries can not get the fact that there are many Syrians who like and love Syria and what the Syrian government plans for Syria , at least on forign affair , so they call every patriotic Syrian a government agent , they do that on this blog even though , I do not believe any of us is a government agent, to keep their freinds the journalist that badmouth Syria as the only free voices.

November 8th, 2008, 9:31 pm


Sasa said:

Well said Sami.

I was disappointed to see even Andrew Tabler making schoolboy errors in referring to Forward as a pro-regime magazine – and implying that you have some government role.

And this shows he hasn’t even read the article properly: “who he oddly describes as “Abu Hussein” – despite the fact Obama has no son”.


November 9th, 2008, 12:30 am


Alex said:

At least Yoav was kind enough to write to us a detailed explanation of how and why:

November 9th, 2008, 12:46 am


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