Saudi Arabia’s New Peace Proposal?

Risk-taking in Riyadh

As the Forward went to press this week, reports from a senior Israeli journalist currently in Riyadh — those words themselves bespeak a revolution in Arab-Israeli relations — indicate that Saudi Arabia is preparing to roll out an elaborate new peace proposal. Formulated in the course of secret talks with Israeli and American officials, the new proposal reportedly is meant to fill the gaps that Israel finds most worrisome in the existing Saudi peace plan.

The main Saudi plan, first floated in 2002, promises Israel diplomatic relations and permanent peace with all 22 Arab states in return for withdrawal to the 1967 borders, establishment of a Palestinian state and honoring the Palestinian refugees’ “right of return.” Israel, after initially ignoring the plan, has lately taken to calling it “positive,” but rejects the idea of taking in a flood of Palestinian refugees. Israelis also worry about the apparent all-or-nothing nature of the plan; they want to talk it through, haggle over precise borders and build in reliable guarantees of their own security.

Those are the objections that the reputed new Saudi proposals are meant to answer. According to reporter Orly Azoulay, the Washington correspondent of Yediot Aharonot, who was in Riyadh to cover this week’s Arab League summit, the Saudis are developing on a plan to establish joint Israeli-Arab working groups that would negotiate the various specific elements and timing of the overall peace plan. The working groups would include representatives of the diplomatic Quartet — the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia — and would operate under the auspices of an international conference to be convened by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

In a separate report, Yediot stated that the Saudis had reached an agreement in secret talks with Washington and Jerusalem on a refugee deal that would give Palestinians a choice between financial compensation in the countries where they now live or applying for resettlement in the new Palestinian state.

The newspaper reported that the new proposals were to be aired only in the most general terms at this week’s Riyadh summit, where the original Saudi plan was to be revived. The plan won unanimous approval when it was first presented to the Arab League in 2002, but reportedly faces bitter opposition this time from Syria and Libya. Other states are likely to seek a middle ground in order to preserve the semblance of consensus, which could spell trouble for the Saudi efforts to move toward Israel.

Israel faces its own minefields. The government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was elected on a promise to seek a settlement, and public opinion favors a deal. It’s not clear, though, that Israelis are prepared for the magnitude of the sacrifice that will be demanded of them. Reaching a deal will require leadership and courage, and both of those commodities are in short supply in Jerusalem right now. Olmert’s political career hangs by a dozen fraying threads, and his main challenges come from the right.

This is a fragile moment, fraught with opportunity and danger. Opponents of any Israeli compromise will dredge up every argument in the book to discredit the Saudis and the rest of the Arab states. They’ll question the viability of the plan and the wisdom of Israeli security experts who favor it. Friends of Israel, seeking only to protect the Jewish state from its enemies, may be tempted to join the fray by picking up the warnings and repeating them loudly, thinking they’re building pressure for a better deal.

But that’s the wrong response. The Saudi plan contains risks for Israel, but those are risks that Israelis are capable of navigating. The greatest danger right now is that a genuine opportunity for peace will be lost. The Saudis are taking an enormous risk in exposing themselves to hardliners as Israel’s advocates. They need encouragement, not abuse.

Comments (74)

Innocent_Criminal said:

does anyone have any details on why is Syria and Libya opposing the Arab peace proposal?

March 30th, 2007, 10:27 am


Alex said:

Jihad el-Khazen, ex editor of both Asharq alawasat and Alhayat, complained that the Israelis are trying to call the Arab peace plan the “Saudi” peace plan. He feels that this process will probably lead to nowhere because Israel is simply not going to accept any reasonable compromise, and therefore it is not good for the Saudis to be uniquely identified (on the Arab side) with this peace process.

I think the arrangement between Syria and Saudi Arabia is: This year Saudi Arabia will be the pilot. Syria will be the co-pilot instead of the typical obstructionist who would have normally said a year from now when everything fails “see? we told you that you will fail”.

The Saudis might have told Bashar that if by next year’s summit in Damascus Israel and the United States are still not ont he same page with the Arabs’ peace initiative, then Saudi Arabia will be willing to give Syria the pilot’s seat and support the Syrians as they modify directions.

But I am not sure this agreement will hold until next year.

Asharq al-Awsat, has not had a single anti-Syria article for a month now… ususally you can find a few per week. Today, all the opinion pieces ignored the summit … bizarre for a Saudi newspaper.

Asharq’s reaction might be an indication of the difficulties and confusion of those who went all the way in their harsh criticism of Syria. As Saudi Arabia officially embraces Syria, their attack dogs will have to go through a transition period.

will Jumblatt remain committed to his promise to assassinate Bashar?

March 30th, 2007, 10:58 am


ausamaa said:

That Arabs are agreeable to peace with Israel is nothing new. Is Israel agreeable to peace with Arabs?

If this Arab Peace Plan is not good, what alternative can Israel put forward? Does Israel have any sort of a Peace Proposal with the Arabs no matter how vague or general it may be? I for one, will take it!

No matter what it is! Just define it and we will take it! A Peace Plan, not a piecemeal approach to delay and evade giving an answer to the inevitable question! What is Israel’s Peace Plan? What does Israel “ultimately” want with dotted i’s and crossed t’s?

March 30th, 2007, 11:06 am


Alex said:

wow! … Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi plus a number of American congressmen are visiting Syria for two days, April 3rd.

Of course in public they will surely ask Syria to respect the sovereignty of Lebanon, and to stop supporting terror … etc.

But so far it looks like both the Democrats, and the Saudis have abandoned President Bush’s Middle East policies. Is this for real?

And the Syrian ambassador to Washington in his article lat month practically said “we have zero hope from this president”… not the typical Syrian position, no matter how frustrated they were with previous American presidents. For example, I don’t think the Syrian ambassador to Washington in the 80’s announced such a boycott of President Reagan at the time the Reagan administration confronted or ignored Syria.

But can the American president function with everyone abandoning him? Or will the president slowly adopt Baker’s recommendations? Or will he be obliged to escalate things (with Iran?) and create a crisis that forces his Saudi allies and the Democrats to rally behind the president again?

Bush will not accept to be treated like Lahhoud. He is too powerful to be ignored. I hope he takes the quiet way out.

March 30th, 2007, 11:19 am


Alex said:


The Israelis are willing to withdraw from 80% to 90% of the west bank. They are still not sure if Syria is worth “painful concessions”. Olmert is very eager to sit wnd talk peace with the Saudis and the Qataris … but he did not menton Syria.

I don’t get the sense there is much maturity from Mr. Olmert (Akbar, I’m waiting for your comments, I know). Olmert still wants the prize (talking with the rich Arabs) without paying the price.

Very few Israelis are willing to return East Jerusalem, and wo accept the right of return of Palestinians refugees.

The Saudis are not willing to compromise on Jerusalem .. not politically correct in the region (Syria will be rather vocal if the Saudis forgot East Jerusalem)… and the Wahabi Saudis will surely not be pleased either.

So where do we expect tobe a year from now?

I’m afraid the Israelis might need to launch some regional war to create more favorable conditions.

Either that, or we just go back to no war-no peace.

March 30th, 2007, 11:28 am


Akbar Palace said:

Innocent Criminal asks:

“does anyone have any details on why is Syria and Libya opposing the Arab peace proposal?”

I think because it allows Israel to exist for a short time longer.

Ausamma asks:

“If this Arab Peace Plan is not good, what alternative can Israel put forward? Does Israel have any sort of a Peace Proposal with the Arabs no matter how vague or general it may be? I for one, will take it!”

I think Camp David 2000 and Taba were the closest Israel came to making peace with the Palestinians.
It wasn’t vague, it was actually pretty detailed (unlike this Saudi “plan”).

“What does Israel “ultimately” want with dotted i’s and crossed t’s?”

Real peace. Not qassams, and not Katyushas.

“But so far it looks like both the Democrats, and the Saudis have abandoned President Bush’s Middle East policies. Is this for real?”

And when the democrats were in power, there still wasn’t peace. But that’s OK, it will always be Israel and America’s fault for not achieving peace. Right Alex?

March 30th, 2007, 11:49 am


Joshua said:

Why is Syria resisting the Saudi Plan?

I would suggest that the Syrians want to go first. The US and Israeli strategy is to claim that the time is not right to reopen the Syrian-Israel track. Instead, they insist that the Palestinian track must be pursued first and only when that bears fruit, can the Syrian track be resumed.

This strategy is a “do nothing” strategy. There is very little prospect for movement on the Palestinian track because the two sides are so far apart on the issue of borders and both governments are weak.

The Syrian track could be resolved relatively quickly and easily. As Olmert said, “Every one knows what the price would be.”

Syria wants the Saudis to back a Syria first strategy, which they cannot and will not do.

Effectively, the Syrians have been cut out of the process and will see no dividends from it. This, I would suggest, is why the Syrians do not cheer.

March 30th, 2007, 12:28 pm


Alex said:

Yes and No Akbar, I tend to believe that those who feel they are too powerful to compromise are to blame. It so happens that it is indeed Israel and the Untied States for now, and for the past few decades.

But I do remember that when Arabs were cvonvinced Israel was weak (50’s) they wanted to send the Jews back to the countries they came from.

That’s why a balance of power is the best thing for peace. No one side should be able to bully the other.

Fair enough?

March 30th, 2007, 1:09 pm


Atassi said:

I would speculate that KSA had no real incentive in the past to lead any serious peace process with Israel, since the real troubles and threats to the core well being of kingdom has moved next door “ Iraq, Iran” and the visible weakness\ failed policies of the US Administration with regards to Iraq and the promised state of Palestine. The Saudi had no choice but to jump in high gears and get involved. With regard to Syria, I still think, the Saudi’s still have some rifts with Assad; they don’t trust his intentions or his regime. Do they feel by engaging the Syrian regime in any near term peace process, it will lead to the empowerment of the regime? Yes…they think “NOT too fast Assad”!!

March 30th, 2007, 2:01 pm


Matthew said:

Alex: Your observation about being too powerful to compromise has been demonstrated by the failure of Neo-Conservative foreign policy. Many positive things are happening in the ME. And they motivated by American weakness, not strength. Now that US influence is in decline, we are actually seeing more positive offers from Arab nations and Israel. I think we can conduct the funeral oration for Feith/Perle/Wurmser/Cheney’s worldview today.

March 30th, 2007, 2:05 pm


Atassi said:

Please stop blaming the disastrous outcome of the failed progressive Arab regimes on the Hashemite and neo-cons… it’s about time for the Syrians peoples to wake-up , take responsibility and at least try to do something about this miserable state they are in … “It’s all but total failures “.

March 30th, 2007, 2:47 pm


Atassi said:

ANALYSIS-Long, bumpy road ahead for Arab peace initiative
By Lin Noueihed
30 March 2007

Reuters News
(c) 2007 Reuters Limited

DUBAI, March 30 (Reuters) – The United States has welcomed the Arab peace plan, and Israel has hailed a “revolutionary change” in the Arab position, but it is still hard to find anyone who believe peace is about to break out in the conflict at the heart of the violent instability of the Middle East.

Arabs revived at an Arab summit on Thursday their 2002 offer to the Jewish state of normal ties with Arab countries in return for full withdrawal from land it occupied in 1967, a “just solution” for Palestinian refugees and a Palestinian state.

Israel rejected the plan in 2002 but Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the Riyadh summit was “serious” and he was ready to talk peace with Saudi Arabia and other U.S. allies. The U.N. chief showed up to back the plan, and Washington, which is trying to revive the peace process, said it was “very positive.”

Analysts said it was a good step, when measured against the usual Arab inaction, but there was a long way to go and a lot of creative diplomacy needed to bring about historic compromises that have eluded generations of statesmen and peace brokers.

“I think there will be a concerted effort to make this work … but it will come up against the same obstacles as previous efforts, namely whether Israel is willing to withdraw to 1967 boundaries or not,” said Mouin Rabbani, Amman-based senior analyst at the International Crisis Group.

“At present, I don’t think there is any real evidence this U.S. administration is one that will enforce the principle of full peace for full withdrawal.”

Analysts also cast doubt on Olmert’s ability to muster public support for any dramatic peace moves, given that backing for his government has plummetted since last year’s inconclusive Lebanon war.


The U.S. administration has shown little interest in advancing Middle East peace through much of George W. Bush’s presidency, but has recently made renewed efforts.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has regularly toured the Middle East, and recently secured agreement on regular meetings between Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Washington says the Arabs should use the opportunity to engage Israel.

This time, however, Arabs are trying to make their own opportunities. Whereas in 2002, the Arabs did little to market their plan, this time, they have set up a committee led by U.S.-ally Saudi Arabia to follow it up, possibly paving the way for Arab states that have no ties to Israel to open up channels.

Israel has acknowledged the potential for talks with Saudi Arabia, but analysts and diplomats say the kingdom, home to Islam’s holiest shrines and already under attack from al Qaeda for its pro-Western policies, will have to tread carefully. Direct meetings with Israel are unlikely soon.

While Israel has long called for talks on the terms of peace, for Arab League countries, only three of which have full diplomatic ties with Israel, just talking comes with a price.

Israel has objections to most of the key elements of the Arab plan, including the proposed return to de facto frontiers that existed before the 1967 war, the right of return for Palestinians displaced with the creation of Israel in 1948 and the fate of Arab East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel in 1967.

Those are issues Sunni-led Arab states feel they cannot give up. But U.S. failure to pacify Iraq and the spread of Shi’ite Muslim Iran’s influence in Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian territories has damaged American prestige in the Arab world.

Few Arabs believe this U.S. administration, which is close to Israel and faces strong opposition at home, has either the will or the ability to resolve the historic conflict.

“We have an international quartet of the United States, United Nations, Russia and the EU and that didn’t go anywhere,” said Rime Allaf, at Chatham House think-tank in London.

“The fact that they (Arabs) relaunched this initiative without any significant changes means that they do not expect much … The Israelis have rejected this before so I don’t think it is going to go very far.”


Israel’s response aside, Arabs themselves are not all agreed on the principles the Arab peace initiative endorses.

Hamas, the Islamist group heading the Palestinian government, is uneasy about the plan’s failure to explicitly endorse the refugees’ right to return to homes lost after the creation of Israel.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal agreed in pre-summit meetings with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah not to openly oppose the initiative but politicians who attended the summit say the right of return was a bone of contention for Palestinians.

Several Damascus-based Palestinian groups who oppose the Palestinian peace accords with Israel also condemned the plan.

And while Arab states agreed to revive the plan unchanged, any alterations that come through future talks would have to be reapproved and that could unravel the united Arab front Saudi Arabia wants to lead, analysts say. After all, Israel has always preferred to negotiate with Arab states individually and previous peace talks have shown that the devil is in the detail.

Syria, whose Golan Heights was seized by Israel in the 1967 war, has already held peace talks with Israel. They broke down in 2000 at an advanced stage despite ostensible agreement on some of the biggest issues.

The issue of Palestinian refugees is a complex and emotive one involving not only Israel and the refugees themselves, but the host countries and the Palestinian Authority.

Gerald Steinberg, head of the conflict management programme at Israel’s Bar Ilan university said the Arab plan could prove important if Saudi Arabia is serious, but the Palestinians were in no position to compromise on refugees or Jerusalem.

“These are basic identity issues and it is not a matter of simply drawing a line and saying we will trade off some metres here and some metres there,” he said.

“The engagement of identity issues has not begun in the last 60 years, it is not going to happen overnight no matter how good this initiative is.” (Additional reporting by Jonathan Saul in Jerusalem)

March 30th, 2007, 3:10 pm


Atassi said:

Arab proposal is ‘revolutionary change’, says Israel

30 March 2007

Guardian Unlimited

Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, welcomed progress made at Arab League meeting and believes there is a ‘real chance’ of peace within five years

Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, today welcomed a land-for-peace deal offered by Arab states as a “revolutionary change”, but warned that his country remained deeply sceptical about aspects of the plan.

Members of the Arab League meeting in Saudi Arabia agreed yesterday to a unified proposal offering Israel recognition and security in exchange for a return to 1967 borders and a “just solution” to the issue of Palestinian refugees.

This plan shows Arab states now realise they “may have been wrong to think that Israel is the world’s greatest problem”, Mr Olmert told the Haaretz daily in one of a round of newspaper interviews. As such, it was a “revolutionary change in outlook”, he remarked.

He told another paper, Yediot Ahronot, that there was now “a real chance that within five years Israel will be able to reach a comprehensive peace deal with its enemies.”

Mr Olmert added: “Things are happening that haven’t happened in the past, and they’re ripening. We have to know how to take advantage of this opportunity.”

However, he insisted that Israel could not accept the return of millions of Palestinian refugees into what is now Israel, something his country has long insisted would fundamentally threaten the state.

Mr Olmert told the Jerusalem Post that it was “out of the question” that the refugees should come back, saying: “I’ll never accept a solution that is based on their return to Israel, any number.”

Arab leaders meeting in Riyadh officially presented their proposal as a one-off approach that could not be haggled over.

However, this formal position masks the possibility of movement through “working groups” mandated by the summit. These will pursue talks with the US, Russia, EU and UN, and, later, meetings with Israelis and Palestinians – if Israel agrees.

Saudi Arabia, and Syria, for example, could back the process without breaking taboos by talking directly to the Israelis. The UN is expected to play a key role after the secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, went to Riyadh to underline the global importance of resolving the world’s most intractable conflict.

In another interview, with the Maariv newspaper, Mr Olmert made it clear he viewed the Saudi-led peace deal as a basis for further negotiations, not an end in itself.

“The Saudi initiative is not a detailed plan. It’s what’s called a ‘state of mind’,” he said.

The declaration from the Riyadh summit, reviving a plan first proposed in 2002, calls for “a just and comprehensive peace”, and says Israel should surrender the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and Golan Heights, all conquered in the six days war in June 1967.

The messages for the Israeli government were not overwhelmingly positive. Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, responded with a blunt “no we would not”, when asked if his country would take part in any talks with Israel.

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, called on Israel not to miss the chance to end its 58-year-old conflict with the Arabs, speaking of the “sincerity of the Palestinian will in extending the hand of peace to the Israeli people” but warning of new violence if the offer were spurned.

Ismail Haniyeh, the Palestinian prime minister and leader of Hamas, sat behind President Abbas as he spoke in a vast conference hall, a reminder that Israel’s government refuses to deal with its Palestinian counterpart because the Islamist movement refuses to recognise Israel.

Mr Haniyeh had made clear he would not accept any dilution of the demand for a “just solution” for Palestinian refugees affected by the 1948 and 1967 wars. But he agreed not to oppose a plan endorsed by the 22-member Arab League. Only Libya boycotted the summit.

March 30th, 2007, 3:14 pm


Munif said:

I have been an observer of this site for some time.
My points are as follows:
1. I think that this was a nice performance for domestic audience consumption.
2. No Arab regime has any “strategy” per se. Even the Saudi peace plan is not a true strategy for peace; total recognition for total withdrawal is without substance if it does not spell in more detail water resources managment, freedom of travel, re-unification of families, joint ventures, financial and banking systems, tariffs and trade, and security issues to name a few.
3. Labeling the occupation of Iraq illegal is a significant 180 degree change as the monarch wished Bush well when he announced the invasion of Iraq in 2003, but the real target is not the illegal occupation but the unspoken idea that the illegal occupation has spawned an illegitimate regime.
4. There is no doubt that the peace initiative is an effort to cover the hide of the Arab regimes as they plot with the present administration for the attack on Iran. Today’s op-ed in the NYT seems to show the Europeans resigned to a nuclear Iran, which leaves the US and Israel as the only two willing to try an attack. The Arabs feel very nervous about this without showing their population some movement on the Palestine question.
5. The war in Washington about the war in Iraq is an attempt on the parts of the Democrats to forestall an aggression on Iran that will leave the next President not only with an Iraq quagmire but with a conflict with Iran.
6. The emphasis on Arabism is an indication that the mantle of the defender of muslims has shifted to Iran as they and their allies have stood up to Israel with Hamas and Hizbullah and have supported Syria and the new regime in Iraq. It has not gone unnoticed in Ryiadh that more than 3 million pilgrimes went to Karbala last year, more than the muslims who go to Mecca. It is an indication that the idea that the only legitimate islam is sunni islam is no longer tenable and indicates a retreat on the part of the KSA.
7. Israel has no interest in discussing peace with the Arab League or with the collective Arabs but wants to deal one on one so as to maximize concessions. The process has already made Egypt irrelevant in Arab affairs and put Jordan as a vassal state dependent for its survival on the good will of the Zinosit agenda.
8. Once again the only country that is not showing any sign of panick is Iran; the latest incident with the Brits puts them in a position of being both the victims of Western machinations and at the same time admired for standing up for their principles. By choosing the Brits they have done so at a time when Blair is most vulnerable and on his way out and therefore unable to accomplish much. The Brits were utterly shocked to see that their European colleagues were lukewarm to come to their aid in this delicate mattter and have come to realize how much their alliance with the US has harmed their moral standing in the world.

March 30th, 2007, 4:03 pm


Gibran said:

Dear Observer,
Your being an observer is perhaps better than being a speaker. The only True Islam is Sunni Islam and the rest is either hypocrisy or non-relevant, regardless of how you blow up your numbers. Have you ever heard of the saying: You shall never be harmed due to the multitudes of the doomed?

March 30th, 2007, 4:17 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Professor Josh says:

“Effectively, the Syrians have been cut out of the process and will see no dividends from it.”

Once again the peace-loving Syrian warlords have been “cut out of the process” to make peace with their Zionist partners.

If only we could find who was responsible for this dastardly act! They should pay a heavy price!

Alex states:

“That’s why a balance of power is the best thing for peace. No one side should be able to bully the other.

Fair enough?”

Yes, well there weren’t too many people hoping for a “balance of power” when Germany was taking over Europe. Except for maybe Haj Amin al-Husseini.

I suppose it all depends on whose power is in the balance.

As far as Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, Iran, al-Queda, Iraqi insurgents and the Taliban is concerned, they have far too much power. As the war in Lebanon last summer has shown.

That’s why a “balance of power” will bring more misery, not more peace.

Imad Makhloof sas:

“Washington and its neocon artists needs to understand that unlike Americans, Arabs are very well educated nowadays and will not fall for these kind of Jewish conspired and dictated scams.”

Yes, Arabs are very well educated today. Educated in conspiracy theories, denial, intolerance, and anti-semitism. The recognition of Israel suddenly brings a failing grade from the clerics that run the schools of higher education.

“I think we can conduct the funeral oration for Feith/Perle/Wurmser/Cheney’s worldview today.”

And when the funeral is over, the violence will undoubtedly continue.

March 30th, 2007, 4:45 pm


Gibran said:

It is time for you Alex to stop whinig about Syria’s fortunes (or misforfotunes depending on how you look at it) and read Tony’s translation into English of Elias Harfouch Al-Hayat article. You know where Tony’s site is, don’t you?

March 30th, 2007, 5:23 pm


John Kilian said:

I see the US changing strategy from the original neo-con vision of constructive chaos to a model of engagement of incumbents that achieves progress without destabilizing the status quo. Recent events in Iraq include a willingness to accept former Baathists into the fold, as well as creating alliances with sheiks, espesially in Anbar province, in order to defend Iraqi society against al-Queda.

A similar approach to Syria, formerly considered untouchable, might be in the offing. The Bush administration may realize that there are worse case scenarios than having to deal with the current regime in Syria.

March 30th, 2007, 5:30 pm


ausamaa said:

Arab proposal is ‘revolutionary change’, says Israel. Gaurdian!

Ok, let us take this claim at face value and ask: HOW does Isreal intend to respond this Revolutionary Change?

March 30th, 2007, 5:32 pm


ausamaa said:


Israel will respond Very Positively to this Revolutionary Change by asking for ANOTHER Revolutionary Change!

It is like trying to sell a car to a guy who can not decide wether he wants to drive, to walk, or to continue riding the free limo called America!

What would you do if you were in his place?

March 30th, 2007, 5:37 pm


Joshua said:

Mustapha and G. raise important criticisms of my interpretation of the Arab summit in the comment section of the last post. I am copying my reply here.

Mustapha, to suggest that Syria and Saudi Arabia are on the same page or that the many bitter words and conflicting interests that divide them are forgotten is wrong, but to argue that the summit rhetoric means nothing, as is my understanding of your interesting post, is to whistle past the graveyard.

I think a shift is going on, which will require SA to be more solicitous of Damascus’s interests.

The reason for this is that the balance of power has turned in favor of the vision that I outlined this summer and which G quotes above. Iran has made inroads into the Arab world, extending its influence in Damascus, Lebanon, and Palestine. Russia is defending Iran. Turkey is taking a cautious “wait and see” stand and refusing to join the US bandwagon. So far Iran’s influence is mostly military. It is far from achieving the sort of oil axis vision.

This is a threat to Saudi Arabia. Abdullah has two options. One is to join more closely with the US in the attempt to defeat Iran and break up the emerging possibility that Iran will consolidate its gains and build the kind of oil axis I outlined this summer, which I believe Iranians do dream of and which also attracts Syria.

The other option is to use diplomacy to defeat it. This means trying to rebuild “Arab solidarity” and to prove to Syria and others that they will prosper more by following SA and not Iran. For Syria this would have to mean improving its chances of getting back the Golan, which now look dim. Iran has invested a lot of money in Syria, but it is chump change to what Saudi Arabia could invest and the kind of positive influence that SA could play in helping Syria achieve the economic growth figures it wants in the coming years. Also, Arab nationalism still holds much public appeal in Syria. Many are not comfortable with Syria’s close embrace of Iran. If SA makes an effort to woo Syria, the government would have to respond in kind, as we saw at the summit.

In short, I do not think that the two scenarios outlined – Shiite or Sunni axis, if you will – are exclusive. Syria would like to be the man in the middle, wooed by both sides and able to negotiate from a position of strength. This seems rather rudimentary to me.

The Saudi summit was a small step, which makes the prospect of Syria becoming the man in the middle more likely.

Best, Joshua

March 30th, 2007, 5:51 pm


G said:

And I’m copying my response to your ridiculous response here. I wonder who’s whistling past the graveyard:

G said: (March 30th, 2007, 6:02 pm / #) Edit

The man in the middle!? Saudi held and is holding direct talks with Iran, without any need for Syria. In fact, everyone’s doing that. Syria is superfluous. It’s small fish. Iran controls Hizballah. Iran and Saudi Arabia are fighting over Hamas. Saudi Arabia and Iran don’t need Syria to be “middle man.” That’s just Syrian fantasy, which you are selling as well.

March 30th, 2007, 6:11 pm


Alex said:

You know Joshua, there is so much information you can read between the lines: The way Michael Young spent 50 hours following up with you about your post last month, the rudeness and bad manners of almost all the March14 Lebanese who post here .. and mostly the way there is one thing in common in all the opinion they express: No way will we accept that Syria is significant!

Dear G, Gibran, and Moustapha …

If they don’t teach you proper manners in your wonderful country, if you don’t know how to debate those who differ with you without insulting them personally and accusing them of stupidity or of being paid agents, then try to learn from us Syrians here… you have come to the right place to learn.

Although you have succedded sometimes to drag us down to your level, this is limited to dealing with you since this is the only language you unerstand… We can still argue more as grownups with Akbar Palace (a Zionist supporter supposedly).

And, sorry if things are not going your way the past two years. Looks like Syria is doing much better… despite all the bitterness and negativity coming from the rude ones.

Until then, keep coming here hoping to score points by being rude to Dr. Landis and by trying to attack his integrity and create the impression that he is a paid regime supporter or agent …

In the mean time, this remains the most successful Syria or Lebanon blog read and respected by most interested Journalists and experts.

And oh, I forgot that one of you wanted me to go check that other fine Lebanese blog .. I just did. The average number of comments there is about 3 or 5 per post … could that be because that blogger is a bitter extremist who only attracts people of his extreme views? Try to be rude to him in his comments section the way you are constantly rude to Joshua and see how he will treat you … before he bans you completely.

Here we have over 100 comments per post. Including your frequently rude comments.

March 30th, 2007, 6:46 pm


Joshua said:

G. I agree that Iran and Saudi Arabia are bigger fish than Syria. There is no dispute about that. Is Syria irrelevant or not in the middle of it all? I don’t think the evidence supports this intriguing interpretation, although it has been advanced by a number of officials in the Bush administration.

Does Iran control Hizb? I don’t see evidence of this. Iran is its major arms supplier, but the only way those arms get to Hizb is through Syria. Syria is in the middle.

With Hamas, Syria is also in the middle. Mashaal’s home in Damascus suggests this. The many trips by PLO and Hamas leaders to Damascus in the months leading up to the Mecca agreement also suggest it.

It is good that Saudi is holding talks with Iran just as it has talks with Syria. This will help diffuse tensions in the Middle East. Everyone should be talking to everyone.

Democratic leader Pelosi is headed for Damascus next week. She will also visit Beirut and may travel to SA as well, although this has not been announced.

March 30th, 2007, 6:48 pm


G said:

Are you suggesting that Syria controls Hizballah and not Iran (the ideological, military and financial supporter)?! You don’t see evidence for it!? Are you for real?! And are you suggesting Syria dictates policy to Hamas because Mashaal lives in Damascus!?

And you know better than anyone that the Pelosi visit is internal politics, though it’s hardly surprising that you would spin it the way the regime undoubtedly will.

As for “everyone talking to everyone” it’s hot air. The point is Syria and Saudi are working at cross purposes in Lebanon, and there is no room for compromise, because there’s the international tribunal. I know you’ve been craven in calling for its abolition, but that won’t happen. And Saudi Arabia has no interest in handing Lebanon over to Hizballah as you have been calling for.

March 30th, 2007, 7:15 pm


Atassi said:

Do we see an indication of a rifts between the Bush Administration and the House of Saud? Has the Access to the Saudi been demoted to a lower level.

Rice calls Saudi envoy over Abdullah’s remarks
30 March 2007
Reuters News
(c) 2007 Reuters Limited

WASHINGTON, March 30 (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned Saudi Arabia’s ambassador after Saudi King Abdullah criticized the U.S. presence in Iraq, the State Department said on Friday.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Rice had a “good chat” with Saudi Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir and their conversation would be followed up by other senior U.S. officials. He declined to provide further details.

Abdullah told an Arab summit in Riyadh on Wednesday that Iraq was under “illegitimate foreign occupation” by the United States, which invaded the country four years ago and toppled President Saddam Hussein.

The Bush administration shot back on Thursday, saying it strongly disagreed with Abdullah’s view and that U.S. troops were in Iraq at the Iraqi government’s invitation and under a U.N. mandate.

“We have fundamentally good, sound relations with the Saudi government and with King Abdullah in particular,” McCormack told reporters.

“We all fundamentally share the same goal of a united, whole Iraq as a place for all Iraqis. The Saudi government wants to see a stable Iraq. We all share that goal.”

McCormack said the two countries would join a meeting in the next few weeks at ministerial level to discuss Iraq, a follow-up to a meeting of Iraq’s neighbors in Baghdad on March 10, which was also attended by U.S. foes Syria and Iran.

The ministers’ meeting had been expected to be held in Istanbul, maybe as early as next week, but no date or venue has been announced

March 30th, 2007, 7:18 pm


Gibran said:

A regime apologist like you who supports criminal thugs is the last one to speak of manners. Get lost man. You think you can be taken seriously by just mentioning the word manners? We know manners very well but we use them only with the proper individuals, and you’re not on the list. Here is the truth about your company of like-minded thugs:

“من جانب آخر، اتهم البطريرك الماروني الكاردينال مار نصر الله صفير سوريا بأنها لا تريد المحكمة الدولية، وقال تخشاها لأن الاتهامات موجّهة اليها في شكل أساسي، وذلك وفقا لتعبيره.

وقال نصرالله صفير في حديثه لصحيفة “الرأي العام” الكويتية أن سوريا “خرجت من لبنان ولكن لا تزال موجودة فيه عبر أجهزتها، وعبر الضغوط التي تمارسها مع مَن يرون رأيها ويلتزمون بمواقفها، وهي لم تهضم ما حصل وانها تسعى للعودة الى لبنان”.

وعن موقف مجلس المطارنة الموارنة من المحكمة قال البطريرك صفير: “قلنا وأكدنا أكثر من مرة موقفنا المطالِب بضرورة انشاء مثل هذه المحكمة، لاننا نحتاج الى وقف القتل وتحقيق العدالة”.

March 30th, 2007, 7:21 pm


G said:

Oh did the Stalinist, mind-reading, expansionist, criminal-thug loving, delusional Alex talk again?

I thought I heard stupid ramblings…

Come on Gibran, let’s go to Syria to learn manners. Then we can talk to Alex the same way his beloved mukhabarat talk to every Syrian. We can call him qird haqir wlah.

That’s it…

March 30th, 2007, 7:26 pm


Alex said:


Remind me please what happened to the main dish you promised us Syrians after the appetizer was served through the stunning visit by Mr. Tareq Mitri to Cairo to attend the pre-summit meeting of Arab foreign ministers.


Yes, you might have a chance to compete in the Good Manners competition if you compete with the less educated among the low-ranked Syrian Moukhabarat.

But you have to do better than that here at Syria comment.

And G, and Gibran … I have to praise, again, your synchronized alert presence here in Defending Lebanon against the many Syrian Stalinist regime men.

Very impressive. Your country will thank you.

March 30th, 2007, 7:48 pm


Gibran said:

Why? Are you so hungry Alex? Or can’t you feed yourself? Is drum beating not paying you enough? I wouldn’t be surprised. For such a lousy tune, I wouldn’t hire you for your daily bread? And now you want a full meal with the works?

March 30th, 2007, 8:07 pm


Alex said:


Sorry you did not understand what I was trying to say. I know, with you I need to use pictures to make things simpler. Ok, here we go:

So I was not talking about food. I was talking about being branded “delusional”. So my question to you is:

Look at the pictures and tell me please … who walked out, and who was happy to stay a bit longer? at the summit?

In other words, who was served the promised main dish? and therefore, who was/is delusional here?

March 30th, 2007, 8:13 pm


Gibran said:

You can’t be more delusional and more ridiculous than what you are already. What conclusions you draw from pictures taken out of context? Honeslty, You have to pay me now in order to hire you. You are useless Alex and in need of a lot of training.

March 30th, 2007, 8:19 pm


ausamaa said:

Come on Alex,

Siniora was smiling too, but NO BODY noticed Or cared anymore!

March 30th, 2007, 8:23 pm


Alex said:

While I try to contain my disappointment that you will not hire me, let me help put those pictures into proper context:

So going back to the facts:

1) The Saudi king spent more time in private meetings with Bashar than anyone else

2) They were smiling and happy

3) Mubarak met with Bashar.

4) Syria will host the next summit.

5) Seniora was an observer.

6) Saudi Arabia’s king adopted more and more of Syria’s positions: regarding US occupation of Iraq, refusing to meet with Israelis or to modify the 2002 peace plans …

7) Prince Saud Al-Faisal at the news conference criticized all the Lebanese who are not able to reach an agreement and declared that his country will not be able to help them if they don’t help themselves.

March 30th, 2007, 8:32 pm


Alex said:

Others traveling with Pelosi were Democratic Reps. Keith Ellison (first Muslim congressman) of Minnesota, Henry Waxman and Tom Lantos of California, and Nick Rahall of West Virginia, and Ohio Republican David Hobson.

Lantos is one of those who visited Damascus and delivered list of demands to Bashar, followed by threats a year later from Washington.

Also, the white house is unhappy with the visit:

White House Criticizes Pelosi’s Trip to Syria
ABC News ^ | March 30, 2007 | Jonathan Karl

Posted on 03/30/2007 11:57:25 AM PDT by Max01

White House Criticizes Pelosi’s Trip to Syria March 30, 2007

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl Reports: At today’s White House briefing, Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino strongly criticized Pelosi’s planned visit Syria, saying, “We think it is a really bad idea.”

“People should take a stop back and think about the message it sends and the message it sends to our allies,” Perino added.

Perino said she did not know if anybody in the administration had spoken directly to Pelosi to discourage the trip.

March 30th, 2007, 8:51 pm


ausamaa said:

Alex, Alex, Alex…

Tanneshoun, Nsahunn ba`a! and let us get to the important matter of making sence of this “Royal” size puzzel! And it gonna get Larger and Larger..

From DC to Riyadh to Iran,it is just not adding up anymore!

March 30th, 2007, 8:56 pm


ausamaa said:

Asma will have a field day with Pelosi. Imagine, with Pelosi telling her: Gosh, you speak perfect English! And you could have fooled me, you almost look American!

The reply will come: Oh, and you look so young for a majority leader. How exciting? Do Come on in your honour!

Somebody standing nearby will cross his fingurs and yell: Praise The LORD!

March 30th, 2007, 9:03 pm


Alex said:

Ausamaa it is Friday, I need to enjoy my monthly friendly chat with Gibran and G!

You remember my graph last month?

The best way to calm or reduce the number of conflicts is to start by limiting the extent of competition over who will win those conflicts. To do that, they will have to implement at the regional level (US, Saudi, Iran, and Syria) the same thing they are advocating for the Lebanese onflict .. no winners and no losers… maybe what Syria and Saudi Arabia agreed to during this Arab Summit?

But he problem will remain: most of these conflicts are more naturally handled by Syria (Iraq, Lebanon, and Israel being all Syria’s neighbors) .. when they talk to Syria to see who will handle what crisis .. the Syrians will inevitably end up mentioning that they believe they “can help” in all of the above… which makes them too central and too big for the no winners and no losers suggestion.

March 30th, 2007, 9:07 pm


ausamaa said:


Are every one that sane?? All of a sudden ?? I would like to think: Maybe. But I doubt it.

This time I am definitly gonna be shouting to every one for a while: “I am from Missouri…”

March 30th, 2007, 9:13 pm


Alex said:

Ausamaa, president Bush still has 18 months to go… if conflicts are not contained, they will explode in more than one place during those 18 months.

We can not be certain today of what they are planning, but in my opinion, the Saudis and Syrians agreed to avoid the total loss of control by agreeing to “cooperate”. This started when Bashar helped make Mecca “a success” for the Saudis, and he was rewarded with a Saudi adoption of most of his positions on Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon.

Maybe … maybe agreements will collapse over Lebanon as some there might do something out of bitterness and desperation …

March 30th, 2007, 9:26 pm


ausamaa said:

For once I am not worried about the Lebanon angle. It will resolve itself. Other areas of concern carry immensly more Risks and Opportunities. And Bewilderment!

And hear this: Rice called the Saudi Diplomate to ask for an explanation about the King’s Iraq Occupation remark! Wow. And what was she and Saud al Faisal discussing in Egypt two days before the summit? The weather in Saudi?

Oh… I am just not buying!

And look at what our cousins are saying here (they just cannot sit still for a minute!):

“DEBKAfile Exclusive: US financial sources in Bahrain report American investors in Bahrain advised to pack up business operations and leave

March 30, 2007, 3:56 PM (GMT+02:00)

USS Nimitz nuclear carrier

The advice came from officers with US Central Command 5th Fleet HQ at Manama, who spoke of security tension, a hint at an approaching war with Iran. Arab sources report the positioning of a Patriot anti-missile battery in Bahrain this week; they say occupancy at emirate hotels has soared past 90% due mostly to the influx of US military personnel. They also report Western media crews normally employed in military coverage are arriving in packs.

Thursday, March 29, Gen. Khaled al-‘Absi, Bahrain’s chief of air defense operations disclosed that new alarm networks had been installed and air defense systems upgraded to handle chemical, biological and radioactive attacks.

________ the rest of the story at their website!

March 30th, 2007, 9:41 pm


ausamaa said:

I think Debkafile shares the services of the same “informed” correspondant Al Siyasah newspaper calls upon when needed!

March 30th, 2007, 9:48 pm


G said:

he was rewarded with a Saudi adoption of most of his positions on Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon.

Are you out of your mind!? What was adopted on Lebanon in the final resolution that reflects Bashar’s desires?! The support for Sanyurah’s government? The support of its plan? The support of the tribunal?

Or was it the criticism of the Hizballah demonstrations?

March 30th, 2007, 10:09 pm


Syrian said:

Hey Alex,

Did you get some of that promised dish. I saw pictures and news stories about it and it looks Deeeee licious.

March 30th, 2007, 10:37 pm


Syrian said:

Oh and Alex,

While you were visiting the lebanese blog highlighted and often-quoted around here by some commentors did you notice that most of the posts were pretty much about Syria and Syria bashing and very little that has to do with Lebanon. I think if the NSF or the RPS puts a link to it, no one will know that its not their blog.

March 30th, 2007, 10:48 pm


Alex said:


It was not ALL Syria bashing .. there were quite of few Joshua Landis bashing too.

It is very balanced blog.

And about that Tereq Mitri dish, I guess it was a false alarm Gibran, no?

March 30th, 2007, 11:39 pm


Alex said:


Lantos and Nancy are both strongly pro Israel. It iwll be interesting to see to what extent they will be critical of the Syrians during and after their visit to Damascus.

For sure they will be strong supporters of the stability and sovereignty of Lebanon. But I would watch for the energy they put into Syrian Israeli peace prospects, and Syrian role in helping the US in Iraq.

March 30th, 2007, 11:43 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Hello all Syria lovers,
I miss you guys (and gals!). See, I drop out for a while, and Syria is back on top of the news again with my leader Pelosi visiting Damascus soon (yeah!) Apparently King George and Shooter Cheney are continuing to loose ground to the American people – GO America! While Pelosi is pro Israel (nothing is wrong with that), at least she does not lie to the American people and get people killed needlessly. At least she smart enough to recognize that the safety of America is tied to a safer and more peaceful Middle East.

BTW, did you hear how King George apologized today to America for the horrific treatment of our American wounded soldiers at VA hospitals? He called it “bureaucratic and administrative failures”. Sure! There will be many other humiliating public apologies for this Bush to further underscore his failed presidency. Watch for more ‘apologies’ now that we have true leaders in Congress. No more “Brownie, you are doing a heck of job [in New Orleans]” slap on the face of Americans.

Boy, are there some red faces around the Middle East region today or what?

P.S. AP, a couple of postings back you answered questions I posted to you. I want to say thank you for your candid answers.

March 31st, 2007, 12:15 am


norman said:

Pelosi can do good for the US and Syria by lifting the economic sanctions against Syria and by lifting Syria’s name from countries supporting terror , a move like that will make Syria help the US in Iraq and the democrat will take the cridet .

The new Saudi plan is a first step toward moving the Arab Israeli conflict to the UN security counsel where the US has most influance so a new resolution to supperseed 242 and 338 will come down denying the Palestinians their right of return and indicating minor changes to the borders to accomidate the Israeli setelments ,if Syria to refuse that solution it should be ready for a long war until the surrender of Syria or Israel , the no peace no war status is not axceptable.and draining Syria’s resources.and delaying economic and politecal reforms Syria needs.

March 31st, 2007, 1:27 am


sam said:

Ford Perfect,

You forgot King George’s statement that “Sharon is a man of peace”.

March 31st, 2007, 3:59 am


Habib said:

What’s up with Jordan’s quiet stature lately. They seem to be under the Kennebunkport table, while the Saudi’s came up for a bit of air…a bit odd idn’t it?

March 31st, 2007, 4:01 am


sam said:

It was a spit in the face to the arabs. It come in the aftermath of the massacre in Jenin. (that the Isrealis covered up, and bulldozed over the evidence, and wouldn’t let in journalist to tell of the horror)

March 31st, 2007, 4:03 am


Zenobia said:

Stalinist? Alex is a stalinist? I had no idea. …..All I know is that I don’t understand that graph…..

March 31st, 2007, 6:26 am


Alex said:

Innocent criminal,

Would you consider the three strikes rule for those who still write comments as if they are still arguing with their teen friends on the streets in Beirut?

Sheikh Mohammad,

You are welcome to participate in our discussions, but please, if you want to question King Abdallah’s motives, there is no need to attack Sunnis, Christians and Jews in the process.

March 31st, 2007, 6:28 am


Alex said:

Asharq alawsat’s editor today barely managed to not ridicule the Syrians like he usually does.

But it seems the fact the Emir of Qatar decided to attend the summit will not stop the daily attacks on him in Asharq Alawsat.

Read the last paragraph:

نحن في حاجة للمصارحة مع النفس، وهذا ما حدث بالرياض، حيث أظهرت الصور قادة يشبهوننا بابتساماتهم، لا قادة متجهمين، ولا زعيما حالما واهما ينظر للسماء مخونا الجميع.

هل حلت كل الملفات؟ بالطبع لا! وإنما تبددت غيمة سوداء. خرجت سوريا من عزلتها، وعلها تحل العقد، وهذا ما سنراه، وقد سمعنا العاهل السعودي يقول إن لبنان «تتحول شوارعه إلى فنادق».

كذلك عقلن السودانيون مواقفهم، ورأينا العراقيين في مكانهم الصحيح، وقيل لهم ما يجب أن يقال. كما تم تفعيل المبادرة العربية، وقبلها العرب، ورحبت بها الخارجية الأميركية، والإسرائيليون منقسمون حولها.

لكن ماذا عن عبارة «احتلال أجنبي غير مشروع» بالعراق وهذا نص كلام العاهل السعودي، ورد الفعل الأميركي؟ تعريف الأمم المتحدة للوجود الأميركي بالعراق أنه احتلال. ولم نسمع عن احتلال بغيض واحتلال حميد.

فبدلا من أن يحتفى بما قاله العاهل السعودي عن لوم القادة لأنفسهم، وهذا ما لم نسمعه من قبل، نسمع اليوم عن من يتحدث عن محاولة سعودية يزعم أنها لتجنب الظهور بمظهر الحليف لواشنطن ليتسنى لها قيادة المنطقة. وهذا كلام غير منطقي، فلا يمكن أن تكون قائدا من دون حلفاء، وعلاقات مميزة مع المجتمع الدولي، على أن تراعي مصالح بلادك، وشعبك، وإلا كانت الكارثة.

وهناك مبالغة في تصوير الأمور، وخير مثال اعتذار الملك عبد الله بن عبد العزيز عن دعوة بوش له لتناول العشاء في أبريل بالبيت الأبيض. صور الأمر على أن السعودية تخشى إيران ولا تريد أن تظهر حليفا لواشنطن. والحقيقة أن إحدى أهم أوراق السعودية في المنطقة حسن علاقاتها مع أميركا وأوروبا، حيث للرياض مصداقية تمنحها دور الوسيط الجاد، وهذا ما قامت به حتى بين واشنطن وبكين، ونتج عنه إطلاق سراح طاقم طائرة أميركية في بداية ولاية بوش الأولى.

تقصيت من مصدر بالرياض عن الاعتذار عن دعوة العشاء فقال لي إن الرد السعودي كان «لا مشكلة لدينا يا فخامة الرئيس نلبي دعوتكم، ولكن ما الذي سنخرج به من هذا اللقاء؟ هل هناك أمر محدد نخرج به للناس ونقول هذه نتيجة الزيارة؟ لا نريدها زيارة فقط للزيارة، بل للخروج بنتائج».

وهذا كلام واقعي، فالعاهل السعودي ليس زعيما يريد الخروج من عزلته بالتقاط صور بالبيت الأبيض، عكس موقف القطريين، حيث علمت من مصدر بواشنطن أنه عندما طلب من القطريين التصويت على العقوبات الأخيرة ضد إيران، كان الرد القطري على لسان مسؤول كبير بالدوحة «تطلبون منا أشياء ونلبيها، لكنكم لا تلبون مطالبنا، فمن أكثر من سنة وأميرنا يريد زيارة واشنطن وانتم ترفضون، وحتى وزير الخارجية زاركم ثلاث مرات مؤخرا ورفض البيت الأبيض استقباله».

March 31st, 2007, 7:09 am


Alex said:

And a last one before I go to sleep,

Moualem said that the American delegation at the Baghdad conference asked the Syrian delegation to continue their produuctive dialogue, but Mr. Ahmad Arnous apologized saying “we are not authorized to disuss other things, but you are most welcome to discuss all the regional problems IN DAMASCUS … PROVIDED YOU CAN RESPECT THE RULES OF POLITE DIALOGUE.

الوزير المعلم : واشنطن طالبت دمشق بفتح حوار معها خلال مشاركتها في مؤتمر دول الجوار في العراق …. قلنا لهم اهلا وكن في دمشق

قال وزير الخارجية السوري وليد المعلم، أمس، إنّ واشنطن طالبت دمشق بفتح حوار معها خلال مشاركتها في مؤتمر دول الجوار في العراق، مضيفاً أنّ الوفد السوري أبلغ الأميركيين بأنّه ليس مخولاً البحث في هذا الموضوع في بغداد بل في دمشق. وأشار المعلم إلى أنّ دمشق أوضحت خلال مشاركتها في المؤتمر موقفها من المسألة العراقية، المستند إلى قرار وزراء الخارجية العرب في القاهرة، موضحاً أنّ هذا الموقف لقي استحساناً لدى الوفد الأميركي المشارك في المؤتمر. وأوضح المعلم أنّ «الوفد الأميركي طالب بفتح حوار مع سوريا فأجاب الوفد السوري بأنه ليس مخولاً له الحوار في بغداد… وإذا كنتم تريدون الحوار فأهلاً وسهلاً بكم في دمشق لبحث كافة المشاكل الموجودة بالمنطقة مع الحفاظ على آداب الحوار».
ونفى المعلم أي تدخل سوري في الشؤون الداخلية للبنان، مشدّداً على اعتبار موضوع المحكمة الدولية الخاصة بجريمة اغتيال الرئيس الشهيد رفيق الحريري «شأناً لبنانياً داخلياً ولا علاقة لسوريا به»، داعياً الأطراف اللبنانيين إلى التوافق على مبدأ المحكمة لمنع تسييسها.
(أ ش أ)

March 31st, 2007, 7:15 am


Innocent_Criminal said:


Gibran is out.

Sheikh Mohammed/ Imad Makhlouf ,

Do NOT post under different names and if you make anymore anti-jewish or any other religious comments you’ll be banned.

March 31st, 2007, 8:04 am


Syrian said:


Did you ban Gibran? If so, I would like to make a motion to unban him. He is annoying and lots of what he says does not contribute to anything; but we have to learn to work through the noise. Censorship is not what we need here.

We make lots of arguments about respecting others’ opinions but we turn around and we supress the opinion of the stupid!!?

Is it possible for us to accept that no matter how many people you annoy, you are still allowed to voice your view (even if it is dumb and idiotic).

I would not have any problem with deleting or editing hate language as a means of preserving civility in discussion; but to completely suppress speech is unnecessary.

Is this a first step to becoming like the blogs we earlier criticised?

March 31st, 2007, 4:23 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Imad Makhloof said:

“…smart people wised up and start calling it “Conspiracy facts””


“Arabs are very well educated nowadays and will not fall for these kind of Jewish conspired and dictated scams”

Good, then I guess you’ll find most Arabs agreeing with the NIST report:

March 31st, 2007, 4:55 pm


ausamaa said:

Alex, I.C.

Second what Syrian said. Is he banned for a while only as a warning to take the improper words out?

March 31st, 2007, 5:17 pm


Alex said:

Ausamaa, Syrian,

I did not ban Gibran.

I.C. takes care of monitoring the content of comments and making sure there no hate, threats, or dirty language posted.

I was only suggesting to him a three strikes rule, which is common on many forums. I find it fair enough to warn people who lose their temper and start crossing the lines. Three warnings are fair enough …for intelligent people who are sensitive enough.

So yesterday Gibran used sexual insults (to me, and to the Syrian president)… after his endless rude comments and attacks on SC commentators he did not agree with.

I only suggested to give him a first warning for the sexual comment. Not to ban him .. unless he goes for it two more times… then it would be his choice to be banned. He is an adult I assume.

Don’t worry, if you noticed yesterday I actually enjoy getting on his nerves when he starts his silly attacks on me … but yesterday’s street language was not a direction we should allow here. If FOX NEWS does not allow it, we should not allow it… I assure you if we tolerate it, G and Gibran will make it a habit, then some will respond to them with the same language.

So If it up to me, I would consider that Gibran has two more warnings before he should be banned.

Ausamaa, this has nothing to do with banning opinions .. G and Gibran already left a million comments. Did we ever try to limit their ability to express opinions?

March 31st, 2007, 5:53 pm


ausamaa said:

Of course, I know. I have seen more “mature” and “different” opinions here before.
I have not seen those latest Gibran insults anyway!But he could be feeling very bad seeing how things seem to be unraveling for the 14 Feb crowd. Not an execuse for bad language in any case!

March 31st, 2007, 6:10 pm


ausamaa said:


Maybe, but do you not think that Syrian policy makers are aware of those possibilities?

They have played the external policy game well so far!

March 31st, 2007, 6:20 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Imad Makhloof,
I agree with your number 1 above: the US is in Iraq to stay. Not only it is building the largest US Embassy in world, but also a number of vast military bases all over the Iraq (According to the Chicago Tribune, the U.S. is constructing 14 “enduring bases,” to serve as long-term encampments for thousands of American troops).

However, the other two pints in your essay indicate that there are planners, with semi-functioning brains somewhere on the inside of their heads, planning and plotting a grand scheme of “things”. While such a scheme might possible be in the heads of some delusional academics and neo-something or another, such a master plan lacks any “execution” credibility. To execute any plan, you need a leader with some kind of a mandate from his/her constituents (I am talking, of course, of the Western democracies).

Case in point: Let’s take a look at the job approval rating of the leaders who might be capable of executing such a plan: Bush 33%, Blair 28%, Chirac 24%, and Olmert: 23%. (If Olmert gets any lower, he might qualify for margin of error rebate!) These numbers indicate lame duck leaders barely capable of holding a state dinner – let alone a grand plan of re-working the Middle East.

There are no “executable” master plans for the Middle East, in as much as no there were no master plans for the Middle East upon the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Historians now point to the confusion, mistakes, and haphazard approach that characterized the British and the French debacle when they inherited the Middle East. It is no different today than it was 100 years ago – the West is capable of neither controlling nor rearranging the Middle East.

Today, as a result of the colossal failure of the US and Britain in Iraq and the humiliating defeat of the highly-capable Israeli army by 3,000 guerrilla fighters, never in history has been so much overwhelming power and capacity rendered as irrelevant and meaningless. The might of the US, British, NATO, and Israeli military forces have been irreparably marginalized and, in fact, proven to produce undesirable results that none had ever imagined.

The more things change, the more the stay the same. George Bernard Shaw couldn’t have said it better: “ Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history that man can never learn anything from history.”

March 31st, 2007, 9:17 pm


Gibran said:

Hey Guys all/Josh:
First IC must apologize, refrain from banning or unbanning any commenter in the future, repost what he deleted and promise not to touch any future posts.
Second, I don’t abide by any rules.
Third, SC is full of nonsense to the point that it will not cause any loss of sleep to anyone being ‘banned’ from posting.

April 1st, 2007, 4:20 pm


Alex said:


It is very simple. Your Ideas and thoughts and opinions are always welcome.

But your street language willl not be allowed, and if you persist then you will be banned. If I did the same I will be banned. Just like any other blog.

If you feel that personal insults and repeated accusations are the only thing you can contribute then I think we can do without you.

There will be no apology. No need to dramatize things. I did not ask you for an apology for all your insults. I have better things to do.

Basically, we do not want you to turn this blog into a circus.

Joshua will write a post to explain teh rules that will apply to everyone. It is his blog, remember?

April 1st, 2007, 4:49 pm


Gibran said:

The so-called rules of this Alex and IC will not be observed. Else we have no interest in visiting your blog. I still demand an apology from IC, reposting what he deleted and a promise he will not touch any post of any commenter in the future.

April 1st, 2007, 4:55 pm


Innocent_Criminal said:


Keep dreaming, and speaking about yourself in the plural 3rd person reminds me if a certain schizophrenic spammer

April 1st, 2007, 6:12 pm


Syrian said:


How many would be offended if someone stopped visiting this blog?

April 1st, 2007, 6:39 pm


Gibran said:

Your state of mental retardation speaks for itself. Obviously, you can’t find a decent job beside this triviality of SC. So, hang on to it with all your teeth. Who has the time to waste on your likes?

April 1st, 2007, 7:46 pm


Alex said:

Gibran 7abibi,

Simple question, so that we can go back to more intersting issues:

Do you want to continue posting here while respecting our right to express our opinions without having to read your repetitive follow up of accusations and insults? … you know that if you can manage to do so, others will treat you with the same respect in return?

You can still be sarcastic .. minus the accusations.

April 1st, 2007, 7:55 pm


Gibran said:

You, Josh and this retarded IC must observe the following:

First IC must apologize, refrain from banning or unbanning any commenter in the future, repost what he deleted and promise not to touch any future posts.
Second, I don’t abide by any rules.
Third, SC is full of nonsense to the point that it will not cause any loss of sleep to anyone being ‘banned’ from posting.

Otherwise, I have no interest in SC triviality. Period.

April 1st, 2007, 8:08 pm


nemoforone said:

What about the possibility of pulling out of Iraq, letting Iran invade and lose resources fighting their own kind,
and then come in and mop up the dregs?

April 4th, 2007, 4:32 am


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