Sarkozy in Syria - Syria Comment

Sarkozy in Syria

An Israeli partner is needed
05/09/2008
By Haaretz Editorial

Yesterday's four-way summit in Damascus was one of this region's most important diplomatic events for some time. It is not merely Bashar Assad's newfound standing because of the French attitude to Syria, but a new strategic opportunity.

However, Syria's changed international position is in itself significant. After all, Syria has ridiculed the sanctions imposed on it by Washington, and it is doubtful whether any international player will now seriously demand the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559, passed four years ago, which serves as the basis for the international community's demand that Hezbollah be disarmed.

But this time Israel cannot be angry with the French. After all, it did an about-face as well when it began an indirect dialogue with Syria, which is meant to turn into direct talks at a later stage. In this Israel diverged from the normal framework, under which its relations with the countries in the region are coordinated with the United States. This is even more blatant in the case of Syria, as Israeli lobbying significantly affected American attitudes toward Damascus.

However, beyond the settling of scores between Jerusalem, Washington and Paris, the dialogue with Syria has opened a serious new window of opportunity. Assad claims to have presented a number of practical proposals for continuing negotiations, and has announced that he would like to hold direct talks after the U.S. elections. By this he is openly exhibiting his expectations that the Americans will be partners. No less important is the businesslike tone of his comments about Syrian contacts with Israel. It is encouraging that in addition to the French president, the ruler of Qatar and the prime minister of Turkey – the country that has hosted the indirect talks – have highlighted the negotiations with Israel in their talks in Damascus.

Of course, the concerns and suspicions raised by the opponents of dialogue with Syria should not be ignored. Most importantly, it is important to evaluate the price Israel will have to pay for an agreement with Syria. But there will be time for this when the direct negotiations begin and the Israeli public, which recognizes that Israel will have to withdraw from the Golan Heights, learns what it will get in return.

In the meantime, it seems that if there is an obstacle to the talks, it comes from the Israeli side. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who initiated the dialogue, is about to end his tenure, so the status of the person responsible for the negotiations is unclear. This situation has already broken the talks' continuity. Every effort must be taken to ensure that this break will be short, because it is vital that the meetings keep their momentum.

But removing bureaucratic obstacles slowing the dialogue is not enough. This is the time to demand from Kadima's candidates for prime minister, and from its coalition partners, to take a clear public stance on the results this dialogue might produce. Are they thinking about continuing the process begun by Olmert? Can Israeli citizens expect a future of positive diplomatic results that will end the long war against Syria and its partners in Lebanon? The answer to both these questions needs to be affirmative if the Kadima and Labor candidates want the public's support.

Peres proposes direct talks with Syria
By Guy Dinmore in Cernobbio, Italy
September 5 2008 15:50 | Financial Times

Syria and Israel should hold direct talks in Jerusalem or Damascus, Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, proposed on Friday.

Mr Peres, who holds a largely ceremonial role as president, extended an invitation to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, beside him as they debated the prospects for peace at the annual Ambrosetti conference on the shores of Italy’s Lake Como.

Drawing comparisons with the visit to Jerusalem by Egypt’s Anwar Sadat in 1977, followed by the late King Hussein of Jordan, Mr Peres said that if President Assad visited Israel or invited the Israeli prime minister to Syria then “we shall see a major change”.

Richard Holbrooke, a former senior US diplomat who was moderating the debate, pressed Mr Peres on whether he had formally extended an invitation. Mr Peres indicated that he had made a gesture, although he quoted Mr Assad as expressing the view that negotiations would not take place while the present US administration was in place…..

“We are on the waiting list,” Mr Peres said, alluding to the presence in Damascus this week of Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, and Turkey’s mediating role.

Raed Rafei in Beirut reporting for LA Times Blog writes:

Beyond political statements, the French-Syrian talks had a business dimension.

Sarkozy and Assad signed seven agreements on cooperation in the fields of petroleum, gas, electricity and railways, according to the official Syrian news agency, SANA. The agreements involve big French companies such as Total, the oil multinational, and aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

In an article published recently by the Washington-based Middle East Times, Andrew D. Bishop wrote that economic interests may well be behind France’s overtures toward Syria:

“Sarkozy's kind words and gentle moves toward Damascus are perhaps meant to open doors to fresh markets for France's corporate mammoths. … Assad is seeking to revamp his country's economy, and Sarkozy intends on lending him the hand he needs.”

France’s Total has signed three oil and gas agreements with Syria during the visit of French President Nicolas Sarkozy to the country. (Tehran Times)

Syria in talks to buy Airbus jets
By Andrew England in Damascus and Ben Hall and Peggy Hollinger in Paris
September 3 2008 22:14 | Financial Times

President Nicolas Sarkozy began a two-day visit to Damascus on Wednesday as the French government confirmed that “exploratory discussions” had taken place with Syria over its desire to buy Airbus passenger jets.

Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, is hoping that Mr Sarkozy’s visit – the first by a western leader for several years – will help secure his tentative return to the international fold.

But the preliminary talks about the potential sale of Airbus aircraft to Syrianair will add to sensitivities over Mr Sarkozy’s initiative, particularly in Washington. The US has a trade embargo against Syria and Airbus jets contain many US-made components.

Airbus, in partnership with Northrop Grumman, is still hoping to win a $35bn (€24bn, £20bn) deal to supply air-to-air refuelling tankers to the US airforce and any controversy over potential sales by the company to Syria could bolster supporters of rival bidder Boeing.

An Airbus spokesman said: “We are always in discussion with any potential customer. But there is no proposal and no deal and we cannot comment on any early stage of discussion.”

But a senior French official said: “These are exploratory discussions. One of the elements will be to know, when the moment comes, what will be the position of the US. But we are not at that stage as far as I know.”……….

Sarkozy warns Iran it risks Israeli attack
http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSL446781520080904?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews
By Francois Murphy and Emmanuel Jarry
Reuters, September 4, 2008

DAMASCUS (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy warned Iran on Thursday it was taking a dangerous gamble in seeking to develop nuclear weapons because one day its arch-foe Israel could strike.

Western powers accuse Iran of seeking the atom bomb under the cover of a civilian nuclear program but Tehran denies the charge, insisting it only wants to master atomic technology in order to generate electricity.

The United States and Israel have not ruled out military action if the dispute cannot be settled through diplomacy.

"Iran is taking a major risk in continuing the process to obtain a military nuclear capacity," Sarkozy told a meeting in Damascus with the leaders of Syria, Turkey and Qatar.

"One day, whatever the Israeli government, we could find one morning that Israel has struck," Sarkozy added.

"The question is not whether it would be legitimate, whether it would be intelligent. What will we do at that moment? It would be a catastrophe. We must avoid that catastrophe," Sarkozy told the meeting in comments broadcast on television.

Speculation about a possible attack on Iran's nuclear facilities has risen since Israel staged an air force exercise in June which was reported to be a simulation of a strike against Iran…

The Lebanese ruling majority accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of interfering in Lebanese internal affairs and not recognizing Lebanon's sovereignty, local press Naharnet reported Friday. (China)

A statement issued by the ruling majority on Thursday night said Assad has no right to ask the Lebanese president to send Lebanese army units to northern Lebanon, and such a request is an "interference in Lebanese internal affairs, and result from non-recognition of Lebanon's sovereignty and independence."

The statement also said such an request is "an insult to Lebanese president."

Assad Thursday said at a press conference that he had told the Lebanese president during the latter's visit to Damascus to send more troops to northern Lebanon to stop clashes between Sunnis and Alawites in Tripoli and some villages of Akkar province.

During the past three months, clashes between the two sects in northern Lebanon have left more than 23 people killed and hundred others wounded.

'Commandos nearly exposed in Syria'
By DAVID HOROVITZ
Jerusalem Post, September 5, 2008

Aware that some members of both the American and the Israel intelligence community were not entirely convinced that President Bashar Assad was building a nuclear facility in the summer of 2007, Israel in mid-August sent 12 members of the Sayeret Matkal commando unit into Syria in two helicopters to collect soil samples outside the nuclear site. But the commandos' mission was almost exposed when a Syrian patrol drove past the landing site where the helicopters were parked.

This is one of the dramatic revelations contained in a new book by Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman that is being published next week in the US…………

Tripoli – US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice met with her Libyan counterpart on Friday after she arrived here on a landmark visit to discuss ways to boost cooperation between the two countries.

Rice and Libyan Foreign Minister Abdul Rahman Shulqum expressed satisfaction over improving bilateral relations. They discussed economic cooperation between the two countries, especially in the oil sector. "We tackled several important issues during the meeting, like Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, US-Syrian relations and Syria's role in the Arab world," Shulqum told the official JANA news agency.

Shulqum said Rice commented "on the progress of the relations between our countries and that presence of a deep political dialogue." During her five-hour visit, Rice is scheduled to meet Libyan President Moamer Gaddafi before she holds a press conference.

She has also been invited to visit the house where the Libyan leader's adopted daughter died in a US air raid on Tripoli in 1986.

Comments (58)


George Y. Krikorian said:

Only 3 are smiling

ساركوزي بعد القمة الرباعية في دمشق:
الأميركيون يعرفون أننا هنا وبماذا نتكلم وعما نتكلم
الأسد يطلب من سليمان أن يتصدى الجيش لـ”التطرف الذي تدعمه دول”
ويؤكد موافقة الرئيس اللبناني على الانضمام
إلى المفاوضات في مرحلتها المباشرة

(the picture in question)

من اليسار الرئيس الفرنسي نيكولا ساركوزي والرئيس السوري بشار الاسد وأمير قطر الشيخ حمد بن خليفة آل ثاني ورئيس الوزراء التركي رجب طيب أردوغان بعد المؤتمر الصحافي المشترك الذي أعقب القمة الرباعية في دمشق أمس. (رويترز)

A very interesting and funny picture in An-Nahar Lebanese Arabic daily paper of Friday September 5, 2008 featuring the shake hands session between Syrian Assad, French Sarkozy, Qatari Al-Thani and Turkish Erdogan, following their last Thursday quadripartite summit in Damascus/Syria: just study the smiles.

Erdogan (petrified) looks like he is kind of reluctant to shake hands with Sarkozy. He is most probably thinking: Are you going to let Turkey in the European Union one day following what we are doing here, especially regarding the non-direct talks between Israel and Syria?

September 5th, 2008, 11:54 pm

 

Ras Beirut said:

Intersting discussions the last few days about the Damascus summit, which was followed by throwing a bit of cold water on the indirect talks due to israeli internal bureaucracy change in personnel.

Some hail it as a brilliant act by Assad as proof that he broke the back of the US isolation due to his suppernatural political accumen, just because Sarkozy showed up in town (never mind what Sarkozy’s true motivations are), while at the same time Assad says that only the US can guarantee the success of results and should sponsor the talks, and that he will only have direct talks after Bush leaves and a new admin is in place willing to go along, etc….

Add to the complexity of the situation, is that all of a sudden Syria takes the position of:

Hey Israel, give me the Golan back and we’ll have peace on that front, but I still want to keep the right to support resistance on the other fronts and be able to transfer arms from Iran to HA and Hammas and keep other fronts active (just because Sarkozy came to town and we’re very important now), and we can have the cake and eat it too.

Then the likes of AIG come along and say not too fast folks. First off, we shouldn’t be talking to you in the first place since you’re no democracy, but since we are, the only way this can work out (since we’re giving up prime time real eastate here) is for you to completely give up on HA, Hammas & Iran. Basically, can’t have the cake and eat it too, just because Sarkozy stayed overnight.

Plus the AIG of the world is no shy to point out to Syria that their econ system is very weak, that the only pressure they are exerting is on someone’s else front, thus they are afraid to have their own front and it is a sign of weakness not accumen at all, and it is a sign of weakness. That’s why AIG talks about Peace vs Golan. AIG is saying that israel is not afraid of syria, and his proof is for all to see, in that syria can only have others mess with israel, while syria never dares to do it from its own front.

Don’t agree with AIG values at all, as it is against my nature, but he does bring up to light the positions of some israeli views, that I think the syrian side should take into consideration in these on/off negotiations.

September 6th, 2008, 4:48 am

 

Alex said:

Ras Beirut,

We do take AIG’s views into consideration… 70% of Israel is against returning the Golan to Syria.

Despite the unfavorable odds, we decided to be optimistic anyway 😉

By the way …. Assad (and his “regime”) are brilliant not because Sarkozy came to Damascus … but because they messed up almost all the Neocon plans for the Middle East.

The “resistance” group of Iran, Syria, Hizbollah and Hamas is really based on Hafez Assad’s strategies and tactics …

September 6th, 2008, 5:15 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Ras Beirut,
Thanks for the implicit support, but let me ask you: Which of my values you do not agree with?

Or is this just another one of those Lebanese reflexes like the one that forces Saniora always to say that Lebanon will be the last to sign a peace agreement with Israel?

September 6th, 2008, 5:25 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Thank you for admitting by the way that Asad is behind Hamas strategy and tactics. And you still wonder why Syria is viewed as a terrorist state?

September 6th, 2008, 5:27 am

 

Alex said:

Assad is behind the part of Hamas strategy that is coordinated with the “resistance” group.

Not ALL Hamas strategies.

September 6th, 2008, 5:31 am

 

Ras Beirut said:

Alex,

I hear you. But all of your suuccessful plans in disrupting the neocons plans will never get you back the Golan. The AIG of the world know about your disrupting plans and are willing to live with it and its danger. They’re willing to pay the minimal price, while they’re enjoying a good ski weekend in Golan.

They don’t even care if the EU has its summit meeting in Damascus for that matter, since they’re still enjoying their skiing run.

Bottom line, Syria has to make a clear choice in my opinion, and can’t have it both ways and self claim that it’s very shrewed. Rhetoric can barely work on a captive audience, but not a shrewed opponent.

September 6th, 2008, 5:39 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Yeah right. Plausible deniability in action. Take credit for the parts that look good and deny the parts Assad supports but look bad and then ask for “proof”. From where Asad is sitting it does look like everybody else is a fool. He probably does not understand why no one else is as ruthless as him.

But frankly, until I see the first Airbus actually sold to Syria, I would say that Syria has achieved nothing and the sanctions are holding strong. I said that regarding the Turks buying the Syrian cellcom company and indeed the deal did not materialize. Even your so called new found friends, Turkey, are part of the sanctions as of now.

September 6th, 2008, 5:41 am

 
 

Alex said:

AIG,

You are getting seriously boring. Sorry. I will not continue.

Ras Beirut,

To be honest, the Golan is nowhere as significant as stopping the Neocons.

If we get the Golan by next year … great!.

If we don’t, and there is a good chance that we won’t … then we’ll survive … and try again and again.

During the 90’s there was no drama … Syria was not involved in any serious conflict against the United States … President Clinton visited Damascus twice … and we still did not get the Golan. But we had good economic growth and good relations with America, and its Arab puppets (Egypt and Saudi Arabia).

We’ll see.

Many things are cyclical … In the Middle East, years of conflicts are usually followed by years of peace talks.

Life goes on.

September 6th, 2008, 5:52 am

 

Ras Beirut said:

AIG,

Values & morality for me are the foundation of the human spirit. Reading many of your posts just gives me the impression of someone who doesn’t care about the humanity of his opponent, just because he has the military upper hand. This position of self perceived material power gets into his head and makes him cold, uncarring, callous and irrational in the long run. There have been lots of powerfull empires in history who fell flat on their face eventually because of their vanity and intoxication of power.

My reading of you is that you project such a position in your posts, without any effort to try to work with your opponent to reach a workable solution that will astisfy the minimal needs of both of you.

September 6th, 2008, 5:59 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

When a regime is not accountable to its people and holds all the lucrative companies in a country, it has all the time in the world. Why should Asad care if Syria falls even more behind other nations? He doesn’t, as he only cares about staying in power and keeping his billions.

But this time things are different. The demographics of Syria, coupled with economic hardship and more religious leaning will explode in Asad’s face. I do not know if this will take 5, 10 or 20 years, but it is surely coming.

September 6th, 2008, 6:04 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Ras Beirut,

My only opponent is the Syrian regime and they are a bunch of ruthless killers and should be treated in such a way. The Syrian people are not my enemy.

I have said more than once that once Syria becomes democratic I am for giving it the Golan as a sign of goodwill. My minimal needs are a democracy in Syria because that is the need of the Syrian people and because that is the only way for a true peace to happen. So basically you got me all wrong.

September 6th, 2008, 6:11 am

 

Alex said:

That’s right. Assad does not care about Syria.

Thanks God we have the authentic character AIG who loves Syria so much he is here again lecturing us with 10+ comments each day.

AIG … Relax.

Enough for today.

September 6th, 2008, 6:17 am

 

offended said:

I started wondering how the Sayeret Matkal could have flown through the air defense detection lines of Syria without getting pinged. They could have flown low. But the other possibility is that they could have flown from Kurdistan of Iraq.

Of course, such stories are brainchild of some fantasist who likes us to implicitly assume that the samples collected from the site turned out to be highly active isotopes.

September 6th, 2008, 8:56 am

 

offended said:

AIG’s comments are antilolz.

September 6th, 2008, 9:00 am

 

Leo said:

If I were Harari Jr. I would try and end the sectarian violence north of Lebanon instead of going after those with solutions. A message to Harari, never criticize a positive request no matter who it comes from, even your enemies.

To AIG, Israel returning the Golan heights back to Syria would be a positive step for both countries. Syria would have no business supporting minor groups who would then not serve its purpose. Israel would become more stable and Syria would be more free. There has to be cause for reaction and giving land back is the initiation of the cause for peace.

September 6th, 2008, 9:13 am

 
 

Alex said:

Shai,

Asharq has been promoting the idea that Syria, which “fooled” many Arabs, has benn coordinating all along with Israel it’s actions.

They keep coming up with headlines and opinion pieces that give the impression that a deal between Syria and Israel is almost here.

So, I wouldn’t necessarily be excited if I read about some good news there.

Why do they do that? … Because of the famous opinion poll that showed nasrallah and Bashar as the two most popular Arab leaders among the Arabs living in the “moderate Arab states”.

Ashaq wants to tell Bashar’s fans: Dont be stupid … He is fake… There is no resistance… He is secretly working with Israel and is seeking an alliance with the US … Just we are allied with the US.

September 6th, 2008, 2:13 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Leo said:

To AIG, Israel returning the Golan heights back to Syria would be a positive step for both countries.

Leo,

That’s what they said about Gaza. So “they” were wrong.

Returning land is not a “positive step” when it invites more terrorism.

Maybe you can think of something else.

September 6th, 2008, 4:10 pm

 

Alex said:

Akbar,

Returning land unilaterally, in order to settle conflicts according to Israel’s wishes and limitations, like Prime minister Sharon wanted to do, is not going to end the conflict.

It only works when your enemies are about to collapse, which is what r. Sharon was thinking at the time of Gaza pullout .. through them a bone and they will take it and shut up.

What works is negotiated COMPREHENSIVE peace … what Syria has been waiting for before signing that peace treaty with Israel.

When Israel realizes that comprehensive peace is in Israel’s advantage too, then you will get the right rewards for “returning lands”

I wrote this a hundred times, I would be happy to get you to make a comment on it for once : )

September 6th, 2008, 5:20 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Since COMPREHENSIVE peace involves the right of return for Palestinians or a one state solution, there cannot be a COMPREHENSIVE peace. You keep belaboring this point without ever explaining what you would do about the right of return. COMPREHENSIVE peace is just a code word for no Israel and it will never be in Israel’s advantage.

There will only be peace when most Arabs accept a Jewish state in the middle east and or when Israel ceases to exist. We will just have to wait patiently and see what happens first.

September 6th, 2008, 5:28 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

Comprehensive peace is the return to the 67 borders, nothing more and nothing less.

Right of return is a challenge, I agree. I know that Nour and Wassim here will not accept anything less than a one-state solution, but the rest of us will be happy with a symbolic, limited right of return … maybe up to 250,000 Palestinians out of the millions outside Palestine.

Same for Jerusalem … Arab areas in East Jerusalem can be expanded to the east to make it a nice new capital to the Palestinian state. I can see Dubai’s Emaar developer building a beautiful new district to the East that makes it hard to resist.

September 6th, 2008, 5:37 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

If Dubai architects build the new E. Jerusalem, I might adopt it as my new capital as well… 🙂 You know, officially, I’m also a Palestinian… My father was born here in the early 40’s, and on his birth certificate is says “Palestine”!

September 6th, 2008, 5:44 pm

 

Alex said:

Shai,

Wait for the UME .. you can call Damascus your Capital : )

I hope Dubai’s developers will be interested in East Jerusalem. I wouldn’t be surprised in the richest Arab business people will all want to own impressive luxury houses in Palestinian East Jerusalem.

In the 90’s when the Palestinian authority got funds from Europe and the rich Arab states, they built some of the ugliest “modern” buildings in the Middle East. I hope to see classier designs in the next few years inshallah.

September 6th, 2008, 5:51 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex, I understand your natural skepticism towards Saudi-owned media (if I were in your shoes, I’d feel the same). So what do we know about the truthfulness (or not) of the American participation in the next round, to take place in two weeks time? Any confirmation anywhere? I know Israel said it knows of no such “American”. But it’s only natural the PM’s office won’t confirm before Syria does, so as not to embarrass her prematurely. Have you heard any more about this?

September 6th, 2008, 6:00 pm

 

Alex said:

Shai,

What is there to embarrass the Syrians??!

Bashar is accused of using the talks in order to get what he really wants … talks with the Americans.

He says all the time that the talks will only succeed if there is American sponsorship.

If Israel denied the news, then there has to be a reason for that denial .. other than the “not to embarrass the Syrians”

Can you find any other reason?

September 6th, 2008, 7:18 pm

 

Alex said:

Quotes from Palin. If they are accurate … God help us!

Can anyone confirm the accurac of these quotes?

On Alaskans serving overseas in Iraq:

Well, God bless them, and I mean God and Jesus because without Jesus we’d be Muslims too or Jewish, which would be a little better because of the superior Israeli Air Force.

On oil exploration and drilling in the ANWR:

God made dinosaurs 4,000 years ago as ultimately flawed creatures, lizards of Satan really, so when they died and became petroleum products we, made in his perfect image, could use them in our pickup trucks, snow machines and fishing boats.

September 6th, 2008, 7:22 pm

 

offended said:

Did anybody mention Dubai’s architects?

🙂

September 6th, 2008, 7:23 pm

 

Alex said:

Offended,

Why? … do you know any Dubai architects? : )

September 6th, 2008, 7:32 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

Only because Assad said just a day or two ago that direct talks would not take place during this current U.S. administration. So if Israel was to confirm such participation (if it is true) could, in theory, embarrass Assad. That was my point. But it’s pure speculation at the moment…

Offended,

Yeah… I did! 🙂 I’ve often told fellow Israelis that we should learn from Dubai. What they managed to do is unbelievable. And I’m not even talking about the architecture (which of course is known and respected worldwide), I’m also referring to the whole concept of Jebel Ali, serving as the gateway to the East-West, for all these huge international corporations. We in Israel should have created such a thing eons ago, in the vast space in the Negev, or adjacent to Eilat, or even between the port of Ashdod and the town of Ashkelon. And then, we should have invited the architects in Dubai!

September 6th, 2008, 7:32 pm

 

offended said:

Why are you guys picking up on sweet Sarah?

Here’s 8 reasons why Sarah Palin (sp?) is better than Barrack Obama (from the Huffington post):

1. Putting Country First – Her membership in the Alaska Independence Party proves that she’s exactly the kind of leader America needs: the kind that will always put country first — even if that country happens to be The Republic of Alaska. Obama claims he loves America — but has he ever loved it enough to favor seceding from it? It’s called tough love, Senator. Look into it.

2. Independence – Sarah hates indicted Senator Ted Stevens, but raised money for him. She hates the “bridge to nowhere,” but supported it. She wants to shatter Hillary’s glass ceiling, but wears t-shirts touting the size of her boobs. We’re dealing with an innovative politician; one who refuses to be categorized. Obama may call himself the candidate of “change,” but Sarah Pailen’s (sp?) entire political life has been about saying one thing, and then doing another. Now that’s “change we can believe in.”

3. Family Values – This is someone who’s not afraid to preach abstinence for your daughter, even though her own unmarried 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. This is someone who’s not afraid to hop on a plane from Texas to Alaska while she’s in premature labor. This is someone who’s not afraid to hit the campaign trail with a 5-month-old special needs baby. That’s what I call dedication to family. Obama, on the other hand? A Muslim.

4. Intellect – Yes, Sarah recently admitted that she didn’t know exactly what it was the Vice President did. Yes, she wants creationism taught in public schools. Yes, she doesn’t believe global warming is manmade. But I’d like to point out the fact that she wears glasses — and that’s not something dumb people generally do. Obama? No glasses.

5. Military Affairs – As Governor, Pollen (sp?) is authorized to deploy Alaska’s National Guard in times of emergency. And while the Guard’s Adjunct General admits that she plays no role in national defense, and isn’t briefed on military exercises, the fact is — she’s been photographed holding a machine gun, while Obama has yet to wield so much as a .38 for the cameras. When it comes to keeping me safe, that’s all I need to know.

6. Foreign Affairs – While Obama likes to take Middle East tours, meet with Europe’s leaders, and brag about his running mate being the foreign policy voice of the Senate, he can’t hold a candle to Palenn’s (sp?) understanding of today’s complex, dangerous world. Yes, Sarah admitted that she hadn’t paid much attention to the war in Iraq, but she knew enough to rightly call it a “task from God.” Yes, she’s only left North America once in her life, but her experience as a local sportscaster gave her the ability to follow events as they unfold at lightning speed. And as Cindy McCain pointed out, while Barack Obama was sipping lattes in Cambridge Square, Sarah Pinkston (sp?) was staring down the barrel of Putin’s Kalashnikov — a one woman wall keeping America safe from invasion.

7. Restoring America’s Image – Who better than a former beauty queen to add some new luster to America’s battered image? Paylen (sp?) will take a proverbial can of Aqua Net to our nation’s unruly hair, and apply liberal (no pun intended) amounts of blush to Lady Liberty’s cheekbones. In a word, she’ll dazzle the world with her charm and style. Even the most anti-Western extremists will melt when they see the People and Vanity Fair spreads of Sarah warming her fur-lined extremities over burning science textbooks. And how would Obama restore our leadership in the world? The question we should be asking is: why does he only have two children, while Sarah has at least twice that number? What does Senator Obama have against America’s children?

8. Her Soul – In one 15-minute meeting, and one follow-up phone call, John McCain was able to determine that Sarah was more than his running mate — she was his “soul mate.” Not only that, but that she was more qualified to be a heartbeat away from the Oval Office than any Republican on earth. Yes, this is a testament to the power and quickness of McCain’s decision making. But it’s also a testament to the power of Sarah Payton’s (sp?) soul. As a Muslim, it’s not even clear that Obama has a soul.

So is Sarah Pillston (sp?) qualified to be Vice President? To be one bad biopsy away from being the most powerful human being on earth? To lead America back to prominence and prosperity, while keeping us safe from a world of ever-changing threats?

September 6th, 2008, 7:36 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

First, if Palin said those things, indeed God help us all! (especially Muslims and Jews). I heard from someone that she actually spoke of certain books in libraries that needed to be burnt…

Second, has SC finally acquired a new anti-Israeli filter? I’ve never seen this before: “*YOUR COMMENT IS AWAITING MODERATION.*”

September 6th, 2008, 7:36 pm

 

offended said:

Alex, Not that I know of!

*looks around in apprehension*

Seriously, I would love to design for east Jerusalem, but hate to get a building permit from the AIGs!

September 6th, 2008, 7:38 pm

 

Alex said:

Seriously … wouldn’t you?

If they start building it, they better not repeat what they did in the 90’s. If they build a Jerusalem, it should be the most beautiful and “authentic”-looking Jerusalem.

Not the gold-colored glass and marble buildings that they love.

Same wish for Damascus … for God’s sake … the oldest continuously inhabited city on earth deserves very special urban planning and the strictest guidelines on design.

September 6th, 2008, 7:49 pm

 

Shai said:

Offended,

Can you imagine McCain winning, and two months later (god-forbid) dying of old-age? Palin becomes the most powerful woman on earth, with a 17 year-old daughter and son-in-law, and a new grandchild… all running around the marble floors of the White House, while the Secret Babysitting Service tries to keep up. Her first policy change will be to replace all the centuries-old pictures of ex-Presidents, with Moose heads she hunted down and killed during her years in Alaska. Then, she’ll rename the Oval Office, “The Oval Chapel”, and place a huge cross behind her desk. She’ll order the burning of all science books across the nation and, as indicator of things to come, also the nation’s scientists… And then, she’ll amend the Constitution, and make George W. Bush “Supreme Spiritual Leader” of America. On her second week in office, she’ll rest.

September 6th, 2008, 7:53 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Returning land unilaterally, in order to settle conflicts according to Israel’s wishes and limitations, like Prime minister Sharon wanted to do, is not going to end the conflict. Israel.

Alex,

Who are you trying to kid? All Arab governments and jihadist organizations have told Israel (through intermediaries or the media) that first Israel needs to withdraw from “occupied land”. Until such time, they will entertain “peace’.

The fact is, Sharon left Gaza, and the security situation got worse. Israel now has a political weapon against those who want Israel to withdraw from more land. Leo is a good example.

September 6th, 2008, 8:19 pm

 

Alex said:

Akbar,

Maybe you really do not understand what “the Arabs” have been saying.

But I assure Prime minister Sharon understood.

Assad in 2004 told the NY Times “I want to talk to Israel unconditionally” .. Sharon’s response was more or less “stop begging”.

Israel wanted to settle the conflict on its own terms.

Now you know it does not work.

I mean “they” know … you still see it your way I’m sure.

September 6th, 2008, 8:38 pm

 

Leo said:

Akbar said,

That’s what they said about Gaza. So “they” were wrong.

Returning land is not a “positive step” when it invites more terrorism.

Maybe you can think of something else.

Akbar,
Comparing the situation in Golan to Gaza is absurd. What happened in the Palestinian territories was the removal of troops from one area and redeployment in another while the continuation of building settlements and the expansion of existing ones in the occupied territories.
The case of Golan is different. Syria is an independent sovereign nation. When Golan is returned to Syria, Syria would thus have regained its legal lands back and would have no reason to persist in a hostile relation with Israel. It would be a great leap towards peace. After that, there would no reason for Syria to support groups such as Hizbollah and Hamas since there is no occupation to resist. Peace and hostility are not absolute ideas, there is no peace or hostility switch that you can flick on or off. It’s a lengthy process that has to start somewhere and end somewhere else. The question is, are Israelis willing to listen to Peres before he dies or continue to give unjustifiable excuses? The ball is always in the hands of the occupiers. It is your choice to pass the ball and continue play.

September 6th, 2008, 9:15 pm

 

norman said:

‘No US involvement in Syria talks’

Sep. 6, 2008
Herb Keinon , THE JERUSALEM POST
The United States is not sending an envoy to take part in the next round of indirect Israeli-Syrian talks in Turkey, a US embassy official said Saturday night.

The official’s comments came following a report in the London-based Ashark Alawsat that the next round would be supervised by a senior US official. “There are no plans to send a US envoy to the talks,” the official said.

Ashark Alawsat’s report was based on a “European source staying in Tel Aviv.” The paper reported that the unnamed official was in Israel to brief the government on the results of Thursday’s four-way summit in Damascus between French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Syrian President Bashar Assad, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani.

Erdogan said before returning to Turkey on Thursday that the fifth round of talks would be held in Turkey on September 18-19.

Since Israel and Syria started indirect talks earlier in the year, Assad has said on a number of occasions that serious movement could only take place with direct US involvement. Washington’s position has been that Syria has not altered its behavior to an extent that would warrant re-engagement with Damascus..

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s spokesman Mark Regev, when asked whether Jerusalem knew of plans to send a US envoy to the next round of talks, said, “We have no public comment.

State Department deputy spokesman Robert Wood, meanwhile, said at a press briefing in Washington on Friday that he had no knowledge of rumored plans to send Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch to the talks.

“I haven’t heard anything about that at all,” he said.

Asked whether the US would get more involved in the talks now, following the summit in Damascus that included the participation of three of the US’s strategic allies, Wood said, “What we want to see out of the meeting that’s taking place, and – overall – what we’d like to see out of Syria is for it to play a much more productive role in the region. It hasn’t until now. We’d like to see it not meddle in the affairs of the sovereign Government of Lebanon. If Syria is truly interested in a relationship with Israel, it should say that it is and it should work toward an eventual peace with Israel. I think it remains to be seen just how serious Syria is about engaging in peace discussions with Israel.”

This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1220526721576&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
[ Back to the Article ]
Copyright 1995- 2008 The Jerusalem Post – http://www.jpost.com/

September 6th, 2008, 9:17 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

The case of Golan is different. Syria is an independent sovereign nation. … After that, there would no reason for Syria to support groups such as Hizbollah and Hamas since there is no occupation to resist.

Leo –

Like I said, they said the same thing about Gaza and Lebanon. And, BTW, Lebanon is a sovereign nation too.

I guess I don’t trust Hizbollah and Hamas like you do.

September 7th, 2008, 12:26 am

 

norman said:

AP ,

the lesson from Lebanon and Gaza is that Israel responds only to force , That did not work for Israel , you would think that they should try something else like making a deal before leaving , o no that might be too good for Israel , keep dreaming AP , the only way for Israel to survive in the future is a peace treaty with Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinians , that will undermine all haters of Israel and the Jewish people, I hope Israel gets it soon.

September 7th, 2008, 1:43 am

 

Shai said:

AP,

I’m assuming you cannot differentiate between peace and unilateral withdrawals. You think the first should occur once the latter takes place. But in reality, it’s better the other way around, as it happened between Israel and Egypt, and then with Jordan. As far as I recall, there are very few violent incidences between Egypt/Jordan and Israel. In fact, there are none! Continuing to yell “Yes, but look at Gaza… and Lebanon…” while disregarding the differences and more importantly their consequences (i.e. we withdraw, and now “let’s see you act like a good puppy, ok?”), is like telling your kid he shouldn’t have candy because it’s unhealthy, and he keeps saying “but I want it!”.

September 7th, 2008, 3:23 am

 

offended said:

Shai, that funny scenario isn’t far fetched. I wonder what McCain was thinking choosing her for a running mate?

Or is he probably counting on the voting power of the desperate house wives?

September 7th, 2008, 5:20 am

 

Shai said:

Offended,

You’re giving McCain too much credit. My thoughts were: “I wonder IF McCain was thinking (when) choosing her for a running mate…”

And she hasn’t stopped attacking Obama since opening her mouth. I think his response should be endless commercial repeats of her beauty pageant answers (“… I would make the world a better place by… burning all those science books I hated back in college… and the professors… and anyone that rejects Christ.”)

I’m just waiting for her to really warm up and show her “true” face. I wouldn’t be surprised if eventually she’ll start referring to Barack as “Mr. Hussein”, just to drive a point… 🙂

September 7th, 2008, 5:47 am

 

Alex said:

SHai

They already assigned a team of foreign policy advisers to train her before she goes on CNN to debate Biden.

Expect her to start talking passionately and with conviction about protecting democratic Lebanon from Syrian hegemony … and many other topics she never heard of before in her life.

It’s OK … George Bush went through the same thing and he was elected president. She won’t necessarily fail to impress 50.1% of the voters.

September 7th, 2008, 3:49 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

AIG

The one state solution is the preferred outcome. It would be the more fair solution. But reaching that point requires decades of confidence building, of assurances, and of soothing the rational and irrational fears permeating both Israel and her Arab neighbors, especially on the notion of Israel’s Jewishness. It may happen, but if things move well, and the countries in the region, including Israel, manage to survive their own politicians and their own extremists, such solution may not be essential as a larger unified ME, of which I and my friend Shai dream, would probably happen before the one state solution. The real problem is that Israel’s policies have continued to make the two state solutions more difficult by the day.

In the meantime, two states solution seems to be the only viable alternative under the current circumstances.

On the right of return, you continue to start with the NO’s, albeit now these nos are coming from the Israeli camp instead of from Khartoum. Needless to say, we have discussed this issue before and we noticed two camps on this site. One camp is not willing to budge at all and the second camp believes thatt here is no viable solution that will allow all of the Palestinians to go back to Israel. Returning to Israel will be an Israeli internal matter with Israel deciding to accept the refugees, or to compensate them. I believe that Israel will agree to compensation but not on individual basis because that will open a can of worms starting at the street level and ending at the supreme court in adjudicating each compensation case. I do not like that, but I have to be a realist. The refugee situation, as has been discussed countless times here, is most problematic in Lebanon, and solving it would be a matter between the Lebanese and their Palestinian brethren with international help when Israel agrees to compensation.

Again, you continue to come back to points that have been already discussed. Don’t you have anything new? It is good to hammer a point you believe in relentlessly but it is also good to be reasonable and to listen instead of just repeating the same argument. By continuously pounding at the negotiation table, you risk breaking it. Is that what you want?

Yet, one must recognize that my opinion or Alex’s or any Syrian on this matter are only relevant in the sense that our countries (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan) are hosts to most of these refugees, and not allowing their return, poses some difficult choices, especially in Lebanon. But the two opinions that matter the most are the Palestinian and the Israelis. The two of you have to solve this issue and from where I stand, but we can not allow both of you to hold the region’s future hostage for ever.

September 7th, 2008, 5:15 pm

 

Shai said:

“…but we can not allow both of you to hold the region’s future hostage for ever.”

Amen to that! Amen and Amen.

September 7th, 2008, 5:33 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Shai
If Palin is not ready to go on the Sunday talk show circuit, how for god’s sake is she ready to assume the vice presidency four months from now.

I would expect a vice presidential nominee to be ready to assume the president’s office on a short notice. (within the hour).

I have a different take on Palins nominations. No matter who wins, she poses more problem to her fan base than their current euphoria lets out. They have rushed to embrace he daughter’s pregnancy and decision to keep the child not realizing how hypocritical that makes them. Over the past few years, their leadership was demonstrating, one after another their moral hypocrisy, and Palin is the latest of these issues. The religious right is now being forced to abandon some of its strongest moral weapons for the sake of this election.

The real risk is when the democrats do not realize that for many, the election is no longer between McCain and Obama, it is now Palin vs Obama. They should hammer her and take off the gloves. What progressives should do now is tow warn the country against the danger of continuing to be mesmerized by pseudo-educated demagogs (i.e., bush, Palin), who were propelled to national stage by fascist interests. I see my country deteriorating into fascism. It scares the crap out of me.

September 7th, 2008, 5:42 pm

 

Shai said:

OTW,

Very good points. But I fear this Palin-thing is a trap for Obama, and I hope he doesn’t take it. The more he attacks or debates Palin’s position, the more Americans will subconsciously feel that he must have “nothing” on McCain’s policy and that, therefore, McCain might be right. Only Biden needs to go against Palin. Obama needs to create the perspective, to clearly define America’s alternative, against which McCain will be measured. Americans need to understand that before Washington will be “amazed” by the Palin spirit, America will be receiving a new boss, in the form of one John McCain. Obama needs to almost ignore Palin, and let his own deputy handle her.

I fear that America has been heading towards fascism, every since 9/11. Even as someone that grew up in the U.S., and once felt it was my true home, I am shocked time and again at how America has changed these past 7-8 years. Fear has taken over, and people are buying into it. They’ve been following almost blindly a man who declared Victory in Iraq, when his troops merely reached downtown Baghdad, and while Saddam and his sons were still to live for another few years, in the same Iraq. America’s extreme right, and ultra-religious, have slowly but surely taken over the nation. I hear one cannot send his child to the Boy Scouts, unless the child is a practicing Christian. No other religions accepted. No gays. Nothing. And Palin is talking of burning science books at libraries. Adolf would be turning in his grave, if he knew what America is becoming… (‘course, Henry Ford wasn’t much of a Jew-lover either…)

September 7th, 2008, 6:14 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Ras Beirut
Welcome, this is the first time I see your posts, and I like your thinking.

To me, disrupting the shameless neo-cons is much more important than getting the Golan back this year or next. If their plans succeed, the entire world will suffer a fascist empire on unprecedented scale. Theirs is the philosophy that rationalizes torture, murder, and subjugation. They are the true enemies of humanity’s future and of democracy. I never underestimate their ability to come back for they are shameless and they never accept defeat. I will not settle for anything less than international trials of their leaders, pundits, and their pseudo-intellectual racists for crimes against humanity. Neo-conservatism is nothing less than Nazi ideology that replaces the Aryan race with the superiority of the west and of course of the US. Their intellectuals are no more than racist peddlers of fear and hate. They should scare everyone and dismissing them is the biggest mistake any humanist or rationalist can do.

September 7th, 2008, 6:16 pm

 
 

Off the Wall said:

Shai
You are 100% right. What i was referring to in hitting Palin is to be done by Obama’s campaign second or third tier starting with Biden. At the same time, she represents more than simple distraction. She epitomizes, more than even little georgi does, the control of the self righteous, hypocritical, religious rights in the US. America’s fear is misplaced in that regard. The democrat do underestimate the emotional impacts of some one who seems to be down to earth. Just notice the difference in dressing style between the “average” Palin and the elegant Kathleen Sebelius (pants vs skirts). Or even between MacCains own wife (high end suites and dresses) and Palin (T.G. Max suites). It is a message intended to repeat the “can drink bear with” that was perpetrated by Rove on behalf of our current little emperor.
Here is an interesting quote

The chances that Vice President Sarah Palin would have to take over from President John McCain if they were elected could be as high as 40%, since McCain has about a 20% chance of dying in office, and a much higher risk of becoming disabled from a variety of conditions, including a stroke or Alzheimer’s, both diseases which can impair judgment and where the risks increase very rapidly with age, notes Professor John Banzhaf of George Washington University.

So with McCain having 20% chance (again back to statistics 🙂 ), of not completing his first term and higher chance of not completing a second term, Palin stands the chance to become president more than any other VP in our history. While I agree with you on what should Obama’s focus be on, i believe that she should not be ignored. After all, the democrats ignored Dan Quayle at their own peril.

September 7th, 2008, 6:38 pm

 

Shai said:

Yes, Quayle. I remember the Bentsen-Quayle debates (“I knew JFK, I worked with JFK, and believe me Senator, you’re no JFK…”) And then the guy wins!…, and can’t even spell “potato” without an ‘e’ at the end.

You’re right, it is indeed a scary thought, that Palin should become the most powerful person in the world all of a sudden. And this is while her 17 year-old daughter and son-in-law are running around the White House playing peek-a-Christian-boo with her out-of-wedding grandchild. But how much can the Democrats push this issue? Isn’t the absurd working here in Palin’s favor? The more they talk about her, the more “experienced” she becomes?

September 7th, 2008, 6:52 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Shai

I did and did not have time then to read the actual article. Now that I read it, I am happy. I have to agree with Dine’s comment

While Dine agrees that the administration was indeed showing little support for the Israel-Syria negotiations, he claims that major progress has been made.

The progress is in recognizing that there are common interest between America’s Jews and Syria. I believe that Mr. Dine represents many within our own Jewish community who are concerned about the way AIPAC has been embracing Christian fundamentalists who are pretending to be Zionists not for the true interest of Israel, but for the acceleration of their mythical Armageddon. Their support may popularize Israel’s cause among some voters in the US but over the long run, it allies Israel’s interests with a segment of our own society that is, as I have mentioned in earlier posts, becoming militant and quite radical in their social programs. America’s Jews are known to be more progressive on social and economic issues and some of them are finding a strong contradiction between AIPAC’s alliances and their own vision, which I strongly share, of our own social progress, .

Dine’s stance is more than welcomed. He, like any other American has the right to be politically active and he has done so with extreme efficiency. I have no doubt that the current administration is not serious about peace in the middle east for if they were, things would have been rather different over the past eight years. I must also recognize the contributions of the Syrian ambassador to the US, Emad Mustafa. The more I hear and read about him, the more I recognize that Syria has sent a renascence man to Washington.

September 7th, 2008, 7:00 pm

 

Shai said:

I’ve heard Imad Moustapha lectures on the internet, and found myself angrily asking: “THIS is our enemy? And we’ve been wasting decades demonizing Arabs, because they couldn’t accept our Occupation? What a waste!” He’s an amazing guy. I respect him very much.

September 7th, 2008, 7:09 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Shai

But how much can the Democrats push this issue? Isn’t the absurd working here in Palin’s favor? The more they talk about her, the more “experienced” she becomes?

As usual my friend, You are absolutely right. It is our American story ever since Reagan, The Absurd have worked for the wrong side. As long as many of us continue to vote against or real interest for emotional and rather superficial reasons. Yet, i have hope that one day we will recover.

On the eve of conclusion of the Republican Convention, CSPAN replayed some older republican conventions. I was particularly interested in Harold Ford acceptance speech and how much it contradicted the speech given by Reagan at Ford’s invitation. Ford’s speech was more progressive than most speeches made by key democrats. What a shame that the democrats have moved so much to the right that in this election, they are having hard time highlighting the differences between an Obama administration and that of John McCain. I would like to see both parties split into three parties. A middle party, which will take the moderates from both sides and a right wing party and a true left wing party

I have to go now. I will catch up with you later this evening (my time) morning your east Mediterranean time.

September 7th, 2008, 7:26 pm

 
 

Post a comment