Seymour Hersh: “We may never find out who ordered Hariri assassination”

Seymour Hersh was interviewed by Ghassan Ben Jeddo on Al-Jazeera Sunday evening. Here is the rough translation from Arabic sent to me by Alex:

1)       American intelligence sources told him that Lebanese AND middle Eastern parties opposed to Syria misled the Unites States and France with false evidence (or manufactured evidence) designed to implicate Syria in the Killing.

2)       His sources at the UN tell him there is no evidence against Syria yet. That the Hariri killing was very carefully planned and executed, and that we might never find out who ordered that assassination.

3)       Prince Bandar is very ambitious … Seymour is not sure if the Prince wants to be the next King, but the prince has significant influence worldwide and is spending a lot of money to help this administration finance Anti Syria operations in Lebanon and elsewhere. Prince Bandar’s main American contact is Vice President Cheney… their meetings last long hours.

4)       Sunni “moderate” Arab states indeed asked the United States to attack (not invade) Iran.

5)       Prince Bandar is coordinating with the Americans to attack  تهاجم)) Syria and Iran (not sure Attack was the English word .. I heard the Arabic translation:  His purpose of the Iran visit was to isolate Syria.

6)       Some in Israel want to work with Nasrallah, instead of trying to finish him.

7)       The US is financing the Seniora government and its allies through Bandar money .. and through 9 billion dollars that was taken from Iraq. Samir Jeajea is getting some of that money.

8)       Jeajea was invited to Washington for meetings with the Bush administration, but there was too much opposition to that visit. It was canceled.

9)       There will be an American Syrian rapprochement … but only after 2009 (Hersh said it with certainty)

10)   The Bush administration is not hoping for a regime change in Syria.

Jim Lobe in his Tough Week for Bush's Middle East Strategy, quotes my analysis of the Arab League summit.

"King Abdullah has come to the conclusion that only Arab unity can restore the regional balance of power [that has been] so skewed in Iran's favor by the destruction of Saddam's Arabist regime," wrote Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at University of Oklahoma, on his blog. "To do this, Saudi Arabia must reach an accommodation with Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas; it cannot destroy them, as the U.S. recommends."

Beirut's French language newspaper, L'Orient-Le Jour, picked up the same quote in its editorial: Les tensions avec Ryad mettent Washington en difficulté au Proche-Orient (Thanks Nur)

"Selon Joshua Landis, un expert du Center of Peace Studies de l'Université de l'Oklahoma, en qualifiant d'« illégitime » la présence de troupes américaines en Irak, le roi Abdallah s'est posé comme le champion d'un nouveau panarabisme, destiné à contenir la montée de l'influence de l'Iran dans la région. Le roi est déjà parvenu à la conclusion que le plan du président George W. Bush en Irak était voué à l'échec et cherche à éloigner la Syrie de l'Iran pour ramener le régime de Damas dans le giron arabe, explique cet expert. « Le roi Abdallah a annoncé qu'il cherchait à adopter une nouvelle politique irakienne, une politique destinée à une nouvelle phase postaméricaine en Irak et une politique qui doit être coordonnée avec la Syrie », ajoute-t-il, rappelant que le souverain saoudien a eu deux entretiens avec le président syrien Bachar el-Assad en marge du sommet de Ryad."

Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, met with Bush last May to press Saudi concerns. "We have two nightmares," Saud told the president, according to Turki. "One is that Iran will develop a nuclear bomb, and the other is that America will take military action to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb." (This quote is from Christopher Dickey's excellent article in Newsweek: "How the Saudi king, disillusioned with Bush, is trying to save the Arabs.")

Jim Lobe also quotes retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, a vocal supporter of the strategy who had previously been upbeat about the military situation.

McCaffrey just returned from a visit to both Afghanistan and Iraq, where he met with top U.S. diplomats and military and intelligence officials. He wrote that the Iraqi population "is in despair" and expressed consternation at the resilience of both the insurgents and the militias.

"Although we have arrested 120,000 insurgents (hold 27,000) and killed some huge number of enemy combatants (perhaps 20,000 plus) – the armed insurgents, militias and al Qaeda in Iraq without fail apparently regenerate both leadership cadres and foot soldiers. Their sophistication, numbers, and lethality go up – not down – as they incur these staggering battle losses," he wrote, adding that they are "in some ways more capable of independent operations" than the Iraqi army. He also warned that the U.S. military was "in a position of strategic peril" as a result of its Iraq intervention.

Anthony Shadid is excellent as ever in this article:
Driven by War to a No Man's Land in Jourdan
Lives of Palestinian Refugees From Iraq Reflect Six Decades of Dispossession

Comments (83)

annie said:

I have never believed Syria did it; it was too catastrophic for the country. A qui le crime profite-t-il ? Not Syria.

April 2nd, 2007, 8:30 am


MSK said:

Dear Josh,

what are Hersh’s sources? Anyone of us – you, I, Alex, FordPrefect, MajedKhaldoun, etc. – could come up with a long list of “facts” that state the exact opposite of what Hersh alleges and would be as plausible.

He is believed based on previous work, i.e. “if Seymour says it, then it’s true”. But at the very least his latest article(s) on the Middle East showed that this is no longer the case. Put differently: he’s great on U.S. issues but horribly (and, if always believed, dangerously) inept at Middle East issues.

He might be right. He might be wrong. He also really doesn’t matter.


April 2nd, 2007, 9:55 am


Akbar Palace said:

Professor Josh –

Instead of another Seymour Hersh opinion piece, I thought I’d help out and offer you and your weblog a bit of news you may have overlooked:

“Olmert calls for regional summit with Arab leaders

By News Agencies

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday invited Arab leaders to a regional peace conference, saying that he would look there for an exchange of views about solving the Mideast conflict.

Speaking at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is the current head of the European Union, he said, “I would even take advantage of this important opportunity to be with the EU president to invite all Arab heads of state, including the king of Saudi Arabia, to a meeting.””

Aren’t you excited? How many peace-loving Arab leaders like Bashar Assad do you think will attend?


The terrorist kidnapping “bug” continues (for peace of course):,7340,L-3384106,00.html

April 2nd, 2007, 10:43 am


idaf said:

MSK said: “He might be right. He might be wrong. He also really doesn’t matter”.

Well, the same goes for each and everyone of the M14 bunch of warlords and politicians. I’m sure Hersh has more accurate “informed sources” than all the journalists and politicians in Lebanon (specially in your beloved Al-Mustaqbal). History has proven this so far for him. Let me remind you of few of the many of Hersh’s scoops that proved to be accurate over the last 4 decades:

-The My Lai massacre in Vietnam
-Mordechai Vanunu and Israel’s nuclear arsenal
-The make-up of Iraq’s WMDs lies.
-The Abu Ghraib prison stories.
-The pre-planned war on Lebanon this summer.

He was the first journalist who reported the true story of the war on Lebanon last summer. Let me quote the following from his article back then (remember that this came out when Junblat, Mubarak and the 2 Abdullas where blaming HA and Syria). Eventually, Mr. Olmert and the rest if his top military staff have attested to the accuracy of Hersh’s sources (which of course you still doubt). Give it few months and I bet all of his informed sources will prove accurate again. Here’s the quote:

“Earlier this summer, before the Hezbollah kidnappings, the U.S. government consultant said, several Israeli officials visited Washington, separately, “to get a green light for the bombing operation and to find out how much the United States would bear.” The consultant added, “Israel began with Cheney. It wanted to be sure that it had his support and the support of his office and the Middle East desk of the National Security Council.” After that, “persuading Bush was never a problem, and Condi Rice was on board,” the consultant said.

The initial plan, as outlined by the Israelis, called for a major bombing campaign in response to the next Hezbollah provocation, according to the Middle East expert with knowledge of U.S. and Israeli thinking. Israel believed that, by targeting Lebanon’s infrastructure, including highways, fuel depots, and even the civilian runways at the main Beirut airport, it could persuade Lebanon’s large Christian and Sunni populations to turn against Hezbollah, according to the former senior intelligence official…” (S. Hersh, The New Yorker, August 2006)

April 2nd, 2007, 12:33 pm


Ali said:


Really??? All the evidence points towards Syria and it’s Lebanese lap Dog Lahoud. Nasrallah, Berri and the rest of the Syrian cronies are trying everthing they can to stop the court, but they will fail.

Your wife’s cousin Bashar will be put in jail if not hung soon enough.

April 2nd, 2007, 12:43 pm


Akbar Palace said:

IDAF continues the vast conspiracy theories on Professor Josh’s Syrian “Peace” blog:

-Mordechai Vanunu and Israel’s nuclear arsenal

Every new about Israel’s nuclear arsenal decades before Vanunu.

-The make-up of Iraq’s WMDs lies.

No one has proved Bush and Cheney knew that there were no WMD in Iraq before Saddam’s Regime change. Not the UN, not UNSCOM, not the 16 countries (including Syria) who vote for UNSC 1441, nor the democrats who voted for military action. Your claim of “lies” is actually a lie.

-The Abu Ghraib prison stories.

Underwear and mud wrestling is now a greater concern to Arabs than head chopping Iraqi insurgents who use children as bait and Palestinian “security forces” who target Palestinian children.

No surprise here.

-The pre-planned war on Lebanon this summer.

What country doesn’t plan for war when they have an enemy with 30,000 katyushas at her doorstep, and I’ll show you a country that no longer exists.

What insight!

April 2nd, 2007, 12:52 pm


Another_someone said:

“His sources at the UN tell him there is no evidence against Syria yet.”

What does this mean? Evidence against the country of Syria? The Syrian People? The Syrian Government? The Syrian Flag?

In this crime individuals are accountable, so this statement is amateurish at best.

April 2nd, 2007, 1:55 pm


nader said:

I am very surprised that despite all Mr Hersh sources, and resources he could not find out that no prince from the royal family of Saudi Arabia can be King or in the goverment ( Note Bandar has been in the deplomatic roam since he retired as an air force pilot and the new position he enjoys now was engineered to please the Americans who were not pleased at his departure) unless he is born out of a Saudi mother.Prince Bandar mother was a black slave woman most likely from Somalia or Sudan. The story of his father ( Prince SULTAN ) denial is very well known in KSA,and he would have been a nobody had it not been for his late uncle King Faisal who was irked by Sultan refusal to recognize Bandar as his son,he ( FAISAL) took bander under his wing and brought him up as a royal prince,and to puplicly accord bandar his dues he gave him his daughter to wed.

April 2nd, 2007, 2:04 pm


idaf said:

AP.. What conspiracy theories?! I’m simply quoting a Jewish journalist from Chicago who reported on Israel’s nuclear arsenal when everyone else (including Israel) was denying it and calling him names! If that makes me a conspiracy theorist, then what does it make of Hersh.. a “self hating Jew” in your view?!

As for the Iraq WMDs, I suggest you read this book: “Scott Ritter: Iraq Confidential: The Untold Story of the Intelligence Conspiracy to Undermine the UN and Overthrow Saddam Hussein” (Hardcover), Nation Books, ISBN 1-56025-852-7. ….
Yup, you guessed it, it was written by Hersh himself. Read it and tell me if you still think that my claim of the WMD lies was “a lie”.

AP, I just listed some facts that Hersh reported on years or months before they were established as facts to the rest of us. You are missing my whole point in your post. Of course you can pathetically justify the war on Lebanon or even Abu Ghraib torture and rape as “underwear and mud wrestling”, but that does not change the fact that Hersh was the one that brought it to the public domain by his excellent investigative reporting time and time again (which was my point on his credibility).

I know that his acts of exposing warmongers, rapists and criminals for what they are or shedding some light on acts by your beloved Zionists and Neo-cons might be interpreted as a crime in your book; in my book, it’s simply called “journalism”.. and this is the what won him the Pulitzer prize. One more FYI AP: here’s a quote by Hersh on the Abu Ghraib “mud wrestling” photos: “[Hersh] said he had seen all the Abu Ghraib pictures. He said, “You haven’t begun to see evil…” then trailed off. He said, “horrible things done to children and women prisoners, as the cameras run.”. He then described criminal acts of torture that you see only in some horror Hollywood movies… “underwear and mud wrestling” indeed.. how pathetic!

April 2nd, 2007, 2:37 pm


Atassi said:

Saudi official says Arabs expect Israel to withdraw from their land before normal relations
Associated Press Writer

2 April 2007
Associated Press Newswires
(c) 2007. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) – Israel should withdraw from Arab territory and allow the creation of a Palestinian state before Arabs recognize it, a Saudi official said Monday — the first Saudi statement on the issue since Israel’s prime minister publicly invited Arab leaders to discuss their ideas for peace with him.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert specifically called on Saudi Arabia Sunday to take the lead, the first time Israel has made such a request of the Saudis, who maintain a state of war with Israel but are pushing for a peace deal.

Asked about Olmert’s call, the Saudi official told The Associated Press that Israel should accept the 2002 Arab peace initiative and launch negotiations with Palestinians and Syria leading to a return of their lands and the creation of a Palestinian sttate. “Then normalization of ties can begin,” he said.

At a summit in Saudi Arabia last week, the Arab League renewed its commitment to the peace initiative, which was initially proposed by Saudi Arabia. Olmert welcomed the decision but said Israel did not accept all parts of the plan.

He said that if King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia were to invite him, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and moderate Arab leaders to a meeting “to present Saudi Arabia’s ideas before us, we will come to hear them and be glad to offer our ideas.”

Egypt’s assistant foreign minister for Arab affairs, Hani Khallaf, was quoted as saying Monday that the the Arab side cannot negotiate on behalf of the Palestinians. The Jordanian government did not make any immediate comments.

Syria had no immediate comment to the latest Israeli offer. At a meeting with Olmert on Sunday, the Israeli premier asked U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to take a message to Syrian President Bashar Assad that if Syria stops its support for terrorism, Israel would be interested in making peace.

In a March 22 interview with French television, Assad said seeking peace with Israel is a “firm principle,” but stressed that the return of the Golan Heights, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war, was a Syrian right that would not be compromised.

“The land must be returned in full. Any other details are subject to negotiations but land is not. It is Syrian land,” he said.

Israel occupies Syria’s Golan Heights and the disputed Chebaa Farms, where the borders of Lebanon, Syria and Israel meet, as well as areas in the West Bank.

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, responding in Beirut to a question on Olmert’s call, said the Arab peace initiative was “based on the very principle of land-for-peace. And this is something that Israel has to understand.”

Saniora said Israel’s use of military force and launching wars on Lebanon and Arab countries did not bring it peace.

“Therefore, I think it’s about time for the Israelis to realize that eventually it is important to establish real peace in the region and accept the Arab peace initiative in its entirety,” Saniora said.

Almost every Israeli prime minister has called for peace talks with moderate Arab leaders over the years, but the only multinational forum was the 1991 Madrid conference, which was followed by secret Israeli-Palestinian contacts and a series of interim peace accords.

April 2nd, 2007, 2:44 pm


Bachir said:


the killers will escape once again, unfotunately, and if the investigation comittee will get into some fruitful results, compromises and compromises(common to the third world countries) will hinder any progress in identifying and punishing all criminal hands in Lebanon(lebanese, syrian, israel and other hands)

April 2nd, 2007, 4:09 pm


Akbar Palace said:

“I’m simply quoting a Jewish journalist from Chicago who reported on Israel’s nuclear arsenal when everyone else (including Israel) was denying it and calling him names!”

Everyone knew Israel had some sort of nuclear capapbility years before Seymour Hersh’s article. I have to hand it to Sy, he sure knows how to repackage news, make it juicy for the hungry anti-American and anti-Israel crowd, and cash in…

Great. Well Clinton was impeached for lying. Maybe the democrats (who are just dying to impeach Bush) will actually impeach Bush. I wonder why they haven’t suceeded so far? Lack of proof?

“I know that his acts of exposing warmongers, rapists and criminals for what they are … He then described criminal acts of torture that you see only in some horror Hollywood movies… “underwear and mud wrestling” indeed.. how pathetic!”

BTW – How many Arab prisoners died at Abu Ghraib?

While I am terribly sorry for the actions by some in our military, Sy Hersh and most of the Arab world should maybe, once in their lifetime, look at the abuses in the Arab world and report on that.

Or is that too much to ask?

“Saudi official says Arabs expect Israel to withdraw from their land before normal relations”

LOL – Like withdrawing from Lebanon and Gaza. I bet the Israelis are stupid enough to even go through with it.

April 2nd, 2007, 4:50 pm


Samir said:

Hersh has showed his weakness when the subject is Lebanon and Syria,he only summarized what we have read from charles ayyoub of a diyar since 2005,written in accordance with the syrian regime and the iranians.

April 2nd, 2007, 5:11 pm


Atassi said:

Olmert denies Syrian war rumours
Abraham Rabinovich, Jerusalem
3 April 2007
The Australian

ISRAELI Prime Minister Ehud Olmert attempted to scotch rumours of war sweeping the Middle East yesterday, citing reports emanating from Damascus and Tehran of a US plan to attack Iran in co-ordination with an Israeli attack on Syria and on Hezbollah in Lebanon.

“This is a plan we don’t know of. It is an unfounded rumour,” Mr Olmert said.

“We have no intention to attack the Syrians; we prefer to make peace with the Syrians.”

Since last year’s war in Lebanon, Israeli troops have been training intensively in large formations on the Golan Heights to correct the deficiencies revealed in that clash. The Golan, captured from Syria in the Six Day War, is sparsely settled and offers large areas suitable for such training.

Mr Olmert alluded to the possibility that the Syrians might take these exercises as preparations for an attack on Syria and expressed concern that a Syrian miscalculation of Israeli intentions could lead to war.

“It is a fact that the (Israeli) army is carrying out very intensive training and it will continue doing so as part of its annual plans,” he said.

There was always concern, he added, that when one side prepared for war, the other presumed an imminent attack “and the situation goes into a spin”.

Mr Olmert asked the visiting Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, to pass a message to Syrian President Bashar Assad when she meets him today as the head of a group of congressional Democrats touring the Middle East.

Three US Republican members of Congress met Mr Assad in Damascus at the weekend in a rare encounter between Syria and the US.

Mr Assad has made several public bids for peace talks with Israel in the past year and warned that Israel’s refusal to engage in dialogue would leave Syria no option but war. Israel has in general rebuffed him, saying that Syria must first prove its readiness for peace by severing its ties with Hezbollah and forcing headquarters of militant Palestinian organisations out of Damascus.

There have been suggestions from sources close to Mr Olmert that Israel might be prepared to pursue talks with Syria, but that the US is opposed to that because of its anger with Damascus over its failure to prevent the flow of reinforcements across its border to the Iraqi insurgency.

Israeli military intelligence chief General Amos Yadlin told the cabinet at the weekend that Israel was closely monitoring preparations being made by Iran, Syria and Hezbollah for a possible war this northern summer that they believed would be initiated by the US, with Israel joining in. Though none of the parties is interested in war, he warned there was a danger one could break out because of miscalculations, as had happened with the Six Day War.

Speaking at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday, Mr Olmert invited Arab leaders to a regional peace conference to discuss their ideas for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict.

“I would take advantage of this important opportunity of being here in Jerusalem with the president of the European Union to invite to a meeting all Arab heads of state including, of course, the king of Saudi Arabia, whom I regard as an important leader, in order to engage in dialogue,” Mr Olmert said.

While praising the “revolutionary” nature of the Arab peace proposal, Mr Olmert has made clear that Israel could never accept the plan’s call for the right of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel.

In an interview with Time magazine, Mr Olmert said that if he had an opportunity to meet with King Abdullah “he would be very surprised to hear what I have to say”.

He declined to elaborate.

April 2nd, 2007, 5:57 pm


Alex said:

Akbar habibi,

We discussed the Lebanon and Gaza withdrawals before … you can not withdraw without an agreement with the corresponding Arab state or authority whose land is occupied by Israel.

The Lebanon withdrawal at the time was clearly portrayed by Mr. Barak at the time as his brilliant move to take away from Syria its Lebanon card.

So instead of him getting cold feet and trying to outsmart Hafez Assad, he could have respected his agreements that he reached with Clinton and Hafez at the time .. we would not have had all this mess now. Not even the Iraq war if you ask me.

And I would have loved to feel more optimistic about Mr. Olmert’s statement, but you know with his single digit popularity, can he deliver?

Besides, you know very well that he is only interested in sitting down with the Rich Arab kings and Emirs to normalize relations, to look into establishing economic ties, and to see what they can do to pay the huge cost of an eventual settlement during which Palestinian refugees will be compensated and settled in Arab countries.

Akbar, I look for maturity. Israeli leaders (since Rabin) have been mostly a set of spoiled children whose parents (the United States and others) did not teach them that life is about give and take.

April 2nd, 2007, 6:05 pm


Atassi said:

Abou Al’Abed= Seymour Hers 🙂
Abou Al’Abed passes by a beautiful young lady who was stranded on the road with a flat tire. The perfect gentleman he is known to be, Abou Al’Abed immediately stops his car and offers the lady his services. While changing her tire, Abou Al’Abed learns that the lady works at the Scientific Academy for the Study of Human Genitals.
Abou Al’Abed curiously asks the lady what their studies have revealed that people don’t know already. She tells him, to his surprise, that the tallest penises are those
of Italians, and the largest in diameter size are those of Iranians. The lady thanks Abou Al’Abed after he had fixed her tire, and asks him for his name…

His answer was: **Antonio Rafsanjani!*

April 2nd, 2007, 6:10 pm


Joshua said:

MSK, Good to have you back. You are right. We do not know Hersh’s sources yet. We will have to wait for the article, and even then, it is not clear that he will detail them.

As Idaf writes, Hersh has gotten a few stories right and is no hack reporter.

The story is worth blogging because it goes to the heart of the Syro-Lebanese dispute.

Also, I lend some credence to Hersh’s claim that the UN investigation may never amass enough evidence to convict high level Syrians in the crime. Recently the UN asked the investigators to continue for another year, but I don’t believe Brammertz has committed to leading it. On the contrary, he indicated he wanted to step down, which is not a good sign that he is confident in the process or proof.

So far the investigation has spent over two years trying to collect evidence that is more than circumstantial. If it has found any, it certainly hasn’t leaked it, which is quite surprising, considering that just about every other aspect of the investigation has been prone to leaks.

Other indications that the investigation does not have strong evidence to prosecute Syrians is that the UN has made no move to take the court out of Lebanese jurisdiction and place it under chapter 7 and a UN resolution.

This is what ABC news wrote recently:

“The opposition says Siniora’s attempt to send the bill to parliament was timed to show Ban that constitutional channels are closed and that the court will have to be set up by other means, such as an enforceable U.N. Security Council resolution.”

But Ban insisted:

“I again urge the leaders of Lebanon to engage in dialogue for the purpose of promoting national reconciliation,” Ban told reporters after talks with parliament speaker Nabih Berri.”

“He also urged politicians to make progress toward creating a U.N.-backed tribunal to try suspects in the assassination of ex-premier Rafik al-Hariri. The court is one of the key issues dividing Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s government from the opposition led by the Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah group. ”

“I welcome Lebanese national consensus on the tribunal but stress the importance of moving forward on this issue,” Ban said. “I urged the parties to find a quick solution to this issue while respecting Lebanon’s constitutional procedures.”

The UN does not seem eager to take over the court and it is not clear that Siniora has constitutional means to force the issue. The latest suggestion that the government majority may convene parliament without the Speaker Nabih Berri’s approval is widely considered a none starter. Hizbullah has clearly stated that it will not countenance such a move.

As for evidence that Lebanese government sources have tried to infiltrate questionable material into the investigation, this seems incontestable.

We had the Hussam Hussam evidence, which was recanted. Same with Sadiiq. Brammertz had to throw out much of the original report’s conclusions based on the narrative supplied by these two unreliable sources. That is why the most recent reports have been considerably vaguer than the original reports.

Also, recent government attempts to claim Fatah al-Islam was a Syrian agent, responsible for the bus bombings near Geagea’s home town, suggest that Lebanese intelligence is not professional. Not only had Syria placed Fatah al-Islam’s leader in jail for two years prior, but when it found out he was planning something else, they issued a warrant for his arrest in January of this year. Yet some in Lebanon want to include the bus attacks in the UNIIC.

All of this suggests that Hersh may be onto something and that UN officials are not eager to get a trial underway.

If a trial does get underway and we discover that there is no good evidence implicating Syria, the result would be very embarrassing for the UN. This is the first time that an effort has been made to establish an independent international court that is not attached to the Hague to try such a crime. Most European powers objected to this precedent when it was first imposed, because they saw it as a move that eroded international norms and conventions. Many interpreted it as a US attempt to strong arm the UN and establish an system of “independent” international courts that Washington could better control and which it could ensure would never be turned against itself. For these reasons, I would not be surprise if many UN officials are urging Ban not to let the UN take the lead in the trial. Perhaps this is why Ban told Siniora that establishing a tribunal would depend on the Lebanese coming to a consensus and following their own constitutional laws. This way the Lebanese would bear much of the responsibility for any future trial and not only the UN.

April 2nd, 2007, 6:14 pm


Samir said:

The only powerfull card left in the hand of the syrian regime ,is the Israeli unwilling to see a regime change in damascus..and this is normal ,the israelis fear to face a free syrian people not a minority tyrannical regime,weak in front of them and strong toward the syrian people.

April 2nd, 2007, 6:15 pm


Alex said:

IC, please ban Atassi!…

: )

Regarding the Hariri investigation, SH said that he is currently working on a new article that will expose, as usual, some interesting unknown facts.

Ghassan ben Jeddo tried hard to ask him to mention any small etail from his new article, but Hersh told him “I work for the NewYorker, not Al-Jazeera”

April 2nd, 2007, 6:17 pm


Alex said:

Regarding Hersh’s sources, Ben Jeddo said at he beginning of the interview: “as usual, when we ask Mr. Hersh about his sources, he says, I can’t tell you, but you can just wait and with time you will find out if I was right or not”

He sounded convinced and confident of everything he wrote, or will write.

April 2nd, 2007, 6:26 pm


idaf said:

According to Dardari, Iraqi refugees are costing Syria 1 Billion USD a year. This is a very conservative estimate IMHO: I know that many refugees are supporting themselves, but that’s olny 830 USD per refugee for a whole year (including free schooling, health care..etc.).
In Syria, Syrian Deputy Prime Minister for economic affairs Abdullah Al Dardari complained about increasing numbers of Iraqi refugees, saying the situation is negatively affecting the country’s economy and resources. Al Dardari revealed that Syria needs at least one billion dollars annually to deal with Iraqi refugees. The Syrian official said that Syria’s economy is currently suffering from inflation due to the presence of more than one million 200 thousand Iraqis in the country in addition to 75,000 Iraqi students enlisted in Syrian schools for free.”

April 2nd, 2007, 6:31 pm


G said:

As for evidence that Lebanese government sources have tried to infiltrate questionable material into the investigation, this seems incontestable.

You are really something… The Lebanese government?! It was SYRIA who planted Hussam Hussam to try and derail the investigation.

You are truly repugnant.

April 2nd, 2007, 6:41 pm


Atassi said:

We can say; the Assad’s are innocent until proven Guilty… But, Can we admit a great deal of damages has been done to the regime!! In the mean time I would not expect a concrete verdict against the top echelons of the Syrian regime any time soon. The Hariri’s knew this fact too. But they are playing the game as required. They are letting the Saudi represent them to get the best settlements of the Syrian regime…

April 2nd, 2007, 6:44 pm


Alex said:

Ok G, how about Saddiq?

April 2nd, 2007, 6:46 pm


Syrian said:

Yeah Josh. And you should know that it was Syria that forced Mehlis to step down; also, you should know that the reason the results of the latest reports are vague because Bashar threatened Brammetz and the moukhabarat have been following him ever since he took this assignment. And Ban is only repeating what the Syrians are telling him to do.

And it was the Syrians who told the US to sign a deal with North Korea, and it is the Syrians who are preventing the deployment of African forces in Darfur. It was the Syrians who told the Ethiopians to invade Somalia…..

April 2nd, 2007, 7:04 pm


Munif said:

when Hariri was assassinated, the question that comes to mind is ” who did it?”. In reality the question should have been “who is going to be blamed for it?”. Extension after extension of the investigation has done two things: at the beginning it put pressure on Syria as everyone blamed it and Syrian troops left Lebanon in disgrace. Lately, it is beginning to lose credibility as the Brammertz reports only lead to further extension of the investigation and in the meantime, events on the ground increase the ability of the Syrian regime to maneouver and consolidate its position. In the meantime, the protagonists wait it out in Lebanon with the hope that the EU, US, UN, quartet, France,etc… may come to the rescue. Even Merkel can do now. The reality is that the US has lost in Iraq, and the question is who is going to fill the vaccum even for a short period of time. Israel lost credibility after the war with HA; Britain has just finished climibing down with Iran; and KSA is desperately trying to control the outcome. Now this makes the US a dangerous power as it will lash out and may very well provoke a crisis to attack Iran. Therefore, the article by Sy Hersch is not without merit in its conclusion notwithstanding all the ojections raised by the honorable commentators on this site. Dr. Landis any thoughts on this?

April 2nd, 2007, 7:08 pm


ausamaa said:

The Siniora crowd want to get the International Tribunal approverd/adopted under chapter 7 of the Security Council. Great. But does such an act, in the abscence of Full Constitutional Transparency (thru proper constitutional channels) by the Lebanese, not be Sufficient Cause for anyone in the future to Dispute the Legality of such a SC approval/adoption of the Intl Tribunal and hence render the whole case open to dispute once again!?

And what to do then? Run to the Hague for a dispute ruling 10 or 15 years from today?

Are the Feb 14 crowd stupid enough as to not consider this possibility and to keep threatening with a chapter 7 implementation??

What sort of “truth” are they after ?!

April 2nd, 2007, 7:54 pm


K said:

If the Asad regime were innocent, why the hysterical opposition to the tribunal? Clear your name in court, Ba’thist thugs!

April 2nd, 2007, 9:57 pm


Joshua said:

G. You write: “It was SYRIA who planted Hussam Hussam to try and derail the investigation.”

There is no evidence for this interpretation of Hussam’s testimony.

We do know that Hussam had worked for Syrian intelligence and had lived in Beirut for many years under cover as a Kurdish hairdresser. He was engaged to a Lebanese girl and had become comfortable in Lebanon, although he didn’t seem to have much money.

Do we know that he was a Syrian plant? No, we don’t. It is quite plausible that he was free lancing.

He testified to the Lebanese that he was privy to all the highest meetings between Asef Shawqat, the head of Syrian security, and other directors of the plot, giving dates and times for their meetings. He explained how the white van was rigged up and came across the border. In fact he spun a seamless story that explained the entire plot – a story that Mehlis accepted hook, line and sinker, and which he made integral to his first report that mentioned all the Syrian names.

When Hussam was released from Lebanese custody he turned up in Damascus and recanted on national TV, giving an equally seamless story of how he was apprehended by Lebanese officials and told to implicate Syria and fed the story by them that ended up in Mehlis’ report. He claimed to have been offered lots of money and a new identity by Hariri people.

I think we have to accept that neither testimony was credible.

What makes us come to the conclusion that he was not a Syrian plant from the beginning?

Even after his Damascus recantation, Mehlis claimed that Hussam lied only in Syria and that his Lebanon testimony remained credible. Mehlis did not believe he was a plant. The Lebanese press claimed that Hussam was forced to return to Damascus because the Syrians were holding his family under the knife. This also runs contrary to your plant theory, because if he were a plant, Mehlis and Lebanese officials would have discarded his Lebanon testimony after he turned up in Damascus. They did not. Perhaps they refused to discard it because the initial Mehlis report relied so heavily on it, forcing them to cling to his Lebanon testimony. But if this was the reason Mehlis refused to admit that he was a plant, it does not speak well for Mehlis’ professionalism. It is important to note that Brammertz has thrown out Hussam’s testimony.

The Hussam Hussam story awaits a good investigative reporter as does the Mehlis investigation more generally.

I do not want to suggest that Syria did not participate in, or order, the Hariri murder. Clearly, Brammertz implies that he believes Syria was behind it somehow.

All the same, the actual evidence proving a Syrian hand seems quite circumstantial at this point. As of yet, there is no evidence suggesting that Hussam was a plant and not just trying to spin a line to gain money, a passport, or release from custody. At most, we can say that all his testimony was unreliable.

April 2nd, 2007, 10:08 pm


ausamaa said:

As a sovreign state, Syria has a hundred reasons to oppose the Tibunal. Why does the US exempts itself and refuses to accept to abide by the rulings of the International Court of Justice?

But in this case Syria is not requiered to approve or disapprove the Tribunal? Such a thing is requested from Lebanon only and that is where it is stagnating.

And the whole ARAB LEAGUE said that it supports the Intl Tribunal if it was approved and adpoted through the “proper constitutional Lebanese procedures”. So is the ARAB LEAGUE opposing the Tribunal???? If the Siniora crowd think so, let them Take it up with the ARAB LEAGUE!

Go fight the Arab League then!

April 2nd, 2007, 10:15 pm


ausamaa said:

Ehude OLmert wants to protect the reputation of Foreign Leaders! That is a man who Protects HIS Friends (whomever they may be!!):

From Haaretz:

“The prime minister’s interpretation of the concept of “state security” appears to have broader significance than the pure military sense. The best guess is that the prime minister is making use of references to foreign leaders, with access to the government’s decisions during the war, under this category. It is also possible that he revealed to the committee matters that he had promised to foreign leaders to keep secret. If this is the problem, then it is clear that the prime minister will face a delicate situation when the transcripts are released.”

Well, but he may have to tell all when the knive gets too close to his neck.

Pray “those friends”, Pray! Ehud is saving you until the very end! Unlike Bolton!

April 2nd, 2007, 10:24 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Professor Josh states:

“We do not know Hersh’s sources yet. We will have to wait for the article, and even then, it is not clear that he will detail them.

The story is worth blogging because it goes to the heart of the Syro-Lebanese dispute.”


“Yes, the story is “worth” blogging because it may not implicate Syria.”

Professor Josh,

Thank you for your factual insight.

And, BTW, a “Hag Pesah Sameah” to all the Syrian Jews out there. Wherever they are!

April 2nd, 2007, 10:29 pm


ausamaa said:

Palestinian Women and Children are killed in “self defence” for God’s sake!
Please, do not mix things up!!!!!!

April 2nd, 2007, 10:36 pm


Alex said:

Joshua, Aussama

You are both far from the truth.

It does not matter if the Arab League adopted Syria’s position on the international tribunal, it does not matter if Mehlis also did not want to believe that Hussam Hussam was a Syrian agent… The truth is actually crystal clear: Anything THEY WISH is “the truth”.

K, I am still waiting for your definition of “Criminal thugs” and “tyrants” and “corrupt” … and how you objectively rate Syria’s and Lebanon’s politicians as well as the rest of the Middle Eastern leaders on that scale.

April 3rd, 2007, 12:21 am


Habib said:

Its amazing how Seymour Hersh was with Assad at the time of the bombing. He’s become apart of the story that he’s reporting on, and yet remains impartial.

April 3rd, 2007, 1:15 am


norman said:

I do not think that it matters if Syria killed Harreri or not , the whole investigation is to keep the presure on Syria untill it surrenders and stops supporting the Palestinians , Iraqies and the Lebanese resistence , they have to wait for along time as Syria will not be a traiter country as for Egypt and Jordon.

April 3rd, 2007, 1:40 am


K said:


We can play the ranking game, as an academic exercise. We can agree on various critera for tyranny. We can rate the regimes on: level of domestic repression, a social scale from liberal to Islamic fanatic, level of popular support, sectarianism/abuse of minorities, degree of subservience to foreign powers, corruption, regional role, numbers killed, captured, tortured domestically and abroad.

But my priority is real life, not the academic exercise. All the Arab regimes are more or less tyrannical (Lebanon is a stark exception; and far behind Lebanon for #2 is Palestine), but not all intrude on my existence equally. I focus my attack on Syria because Syria is on a killing spree in my country.

Syria has destroyed my father’s childhood home in Ashrafieh, and my mother’s, twice each, during Syrian artillery blitzkriegs against civilian East Beirut. Syria holds hundreds of my countrymen (of every sect) in underground torture dungeons. Syria has bombed, in my own short lifetime, most every spot in Beirut that I frequent and hold dear. Syria has killed off young journalists, ministers and members of parliament, and innocent bystanders by the dozen. Some I opposed, some I had mixed feelings about, but Syria had no right to blot them out.

Because I’m a nerd, I’ll play ranking games with you, then I’ll get back to my real life obligation to resist a Syrian reign of terror back home, at all costs. I believe the best way is for the Syrian people to rise up against their tyrannical regime. I have faith they’ll come up with something more humane, less repressive of minorities, secular to some extent, respectful of Lebanese sovereignty, and abandon their murderous foreign policy and quest for regional hegemony. We’ll wait and see what alternative they come up with, and decide our relationship with them accordingly. Meantime, only one country in the world is bombing my neighborhood in Lebanon, and it ain’t Israel, shocking as that might be to many Arabs. See why I pick on Syria?

April 3rd, 2007, 4:18 am


ausamaa said:


And mind you, wasnt your father’s home destroyed by the Phalange/Lebanese Forces war, or the Aoun/Lebanese Forces war??? Were those Syrian soldiers or blood thirsty Lebanese Isolationsts??

If it was not for the Syrian Army back in the seventies, the whole of Beirut and Ashrafiya might have been run-off and destroyed by the Lebanese Kamal Junblat, and a lot of people would have been on the out-bound ships claimed to have been chartered by Kissinger.

Do you remember? I am sure you do. But it is not fashionable to remember such things now!

April 3rd, 2007, 6:12 am


Alex said:



I am not treating this issue as an academic exercise. There are serious implications to the way you, and many other Lebanese feel about Syria.

I’ll start by agreeing with you that obviously Syria did a lot of damage at times. And I understand that your neighborhood got some of that in the 70’s (or 80’s?)

But I also remember that Lebanese Christian leaders Jeajea and Aoun did the most damage to the Christian areas when they fought each other, didn’t they? America’s war in Iraq did a 100 times more damage and killing than Syria did in Lebanon … and Syria managed to stop the civil war and prevent the PLO from controlling Lebanon… unlike the Americans who are failing on top of the endless chaos and killing.

And finally … If you still live in the Middle East you might not realize how essential it is to genuinely believe in the very basic and simple: “Everyone is innocent until proven guilty”… this automatic accusation of Syria for everything is not healthy. You are creating a lot of bitterness in Syria… maybe Syria killed Hariri, maybe not … but the way you are dying to implicate Syria (or what you call “the Syrian regime”) in every crime that took place in Lebanon… it is not more than the typical middle eastern revenge… very backward, and very dangerous … more dangerous than dictatorships… that’s how you got yoru Lebanese civil war going for years, that’s how the Shiites eventually got into the cycle of killing in Iraq, and that’s partly why it will never end between the Palestinians and Israelis.

Your equivalent in Syria would be someone who blames everything on the United States and Israel. It is also not fair, not consistent and not healthy to push for this Black and White way of seeing things… it ends up in hare and in seeking revenge for real, and imaginary reasons.

“democracy” is not everything .. “wisdom”, “fairness”, consistency, forgiveness … all come before democracy. The Syrian regime will change when societies change … Lebanon is not in a better shape than Syria .. you are more democratic, less forgiving and less reasonable, and Lebanese politicians are just as corrupt, if not more, than Syrian politicians.

That’s my opinion of course. I know it is not to your liking, but I just wanted you to know that your neighbor to the east will not go anywhere and that you need to talk to them and find a way to agree on a more pleasant arrangement… the Syrian regime is probably not going anywhere for many many years.. most Syrians like their regime in general, and they certainly like its regional policy which you hate… I know you can easily find many who hate the regime, but that does not make them a majority.

Finally, here is what Ghassan Toueni said yesteday… if you do not agree with a Syrian called “Alex”, then maybe you trust the father of Jibran Toueini a bit more:

ماذا من ذلك كله يجب الاتعاظ به الآن، أو تكريسه؟
اولاً ان الرئيس العتيد يجب ان يكون كالرئيس سركيس وليد توافق يتحلى بالزهد والرؤيوية وبصفات التوافقية، وأخلاقها.
ثانياً ان المطلوب ليس رئيساً يحمل أوزار الحرب، وأوزار اخراج سوريا من لبنان والتحرر من سطوتها، بل على العكس يساعد سوريا على الخروج من عزلتها الدولية من دون بازار على حساب لبنان، ويقدر على مخاطبتها بلغة كانت سرّ الرئيس سركيس، ولو لم تنجح الا بعد حين، اي بعد أكثر من قمة عربية ثم دولية دعا هو اليها، ولم يدخلها من الباب الخلفي، أو باب المطبخ.
واللغة هذه يمكن اختصارها بعبارة واحدة تصلح خاتمة لهذا المقال ولو ترددت كثيراً، ويجب تكرارها بلهجة تفرض فهمها:
ان لبنان لا يمكن ان يُحكم من سوريا، ولكنه الى ذلك لا يمكن ان يُحكم ضدها.
واذا كان لا بد من ايجاز هذه العبارة بالأبلغ منها، وبكل مترتباتها، لقلنا ان الرئيس اللبناني المثالي هو الذي يقدر على ان يبلور “الرسالة اللبنانية” على نحو يحمي لبنان ويفعّل قدراته الاقليمية ورصيده الدولي فلا يظل رهينة الازمات الاقليمية، بل الدولية، وعالة على هذه أو تلك من قواها. مفهوم؟! والسلام.

غسان تويني

April 3rd, 2007, 7:18 am


Pascale said:

No problem with what Ghassan Tueni says, the problem is that syrian regime won’t settle for that or anything that escapes its total control or that of Hizbollah (which is the only thing good enough for them). Even Geagea and Jumblat would settle for someone like Elias Sarkis, with the sense that Ghassan Tueni is refering too and that implies a full respect for Lebanon’s sovereignty. What makes some syrians happy apparently is the name Elias Sarkis, because they see a rather neutral figure even considered as week. Ghassan Tueni knows what he’s talking about, I’m sure he’s not forgetting the Sarkis who was totaly behind Bashir Gemayel and like a father to him, at the same time making his political education to balance his extremism and leading him to be a president not just the head of a militia.
So if you can start agreeing with Ghassan Tueni, fine, then maybe we can get somewhere. But you cannot base your discourse on banalising our suffering on syrian’s hands, on minimizing the harm of its dictatorship, on “how lucky we must feel compared to Irakis” and pretend you’re understanding us in that condescendant way..and expect us to say yes ok let’s forgive and forget, no tribunal, forget about those still in syrian prisons, let’s turn the page and find common ground in (your interpretation of) Tueni’s propositions. That’s too easy. As long as you dont have to budge from your positions and beleives, as long as that regime is safe, as long as we don’t take our desire of real independance from you too seriously, then you’re kind enough to try and help us turn the page like a nice big brother. You don’t understand anything, you don’t feel the depth of our pain.
We know our neighbour from the east is not going anywhere, it’s not a sufficient reason to like him, he has to make an effort to be likeable. Our neighbour from the south doesn’t seem to be going anywhere either, that’s not a good enough reason to go sit in his lap.

April 3rd, 2007, 9:19 am


Ford Prefect said:

I read about Lebanese in Syrian prisons, Lebanese “suffering on syrian’s hands,” and “Syria is on a killing spree in my country.”

Fine, so let’s have a side-by-side comparision between what Syria did and what Israel did in Lebanon. That would be the true pragmatic and non-academic excercise. If Israel was acting in self-defense for the ruthless destruction of Lebanon and its people, can Syria use the same excuse?

April 3rd, 2007, 9:54 am


Rev. Michel Nahas Filho said:

I wonder (Duh!) why every time anything whatsoever is said about Israel, everyone comes up with the “Anti-Semite” or “Conpiracy Theories” cry! As if Arabs were not semites, or such “theories” couldn’t be proved wrong, with facts. The charge about conspiracy is “proved” by default… just don’t go there attitude.
Well, you Americans have to try to change that, yourselves. There are prominent people in the US who tried to come clean, Cockburn, Rep. Moran(MD), Pat Buchanan, George Bush I, Richard Nixon (believe or not), the two scholars who wrote the paper about the Jewish Lobby (later rebuked by Dershowitz), even Marlon Brando at Larry King!

Conspiracy a-side, how can anyone accept an “international tribunal” that will execute justice on the same basis and pradigm as Colin Powell’s Anthrax vial?

Saddam had to leave Kuwait, Israel does not have to leave the territories and the Golan. Does anyone has any doubt that Syria will be condemned, rightly or not?

The rest of the world sees it, most Americans don’t. Freedom of speech is only existent if Israel’s action are not in play.

Well, for me it’s all self inflicted. For this reason, I support Syria’s position, right or wrong. Israel does not have the right of exist (OUTSIDE ITS 67 BORDERS). It’s that simple! Am I anti-semite for this reason, or anti-Zionist? So be it!

I am not middle-eastern, nor American. I feel I represent pretty well the point of view of the rest of the (informed) world. And to my Lebanese friends (and I have many), stop pretending that in Lebanon everyone thinks alike. There is at least half of the Christians, like me, who support Syria, and probably a good chunk of the Sunnis too, not to count all Shiites. Just because one screams louder, it does not mean that they are the majority.

Just my two cents on this issue!

April 3rd, 2007, 10:44 am


Pascale said:

I wish you had kept your two cents Rev. It’s thanks to people like you that we don’t get anywhere. “Supporting Syria right or wrong” !!! why then, and under what criteria do you condemn Israel? tribal affiliation? us and them? Not only do I think that Israel has no right to exist outside 1967 borders, I think it’s a paria state that should never have existed in the first place, and don’t anyone dare scream antisemitism, I condemn sionism not judaism. But I think that based on an idea of right of the existing people, of fairness, not because it’s them against us. In the same sense, Syria has no right to exist outside its borders and Lebanon is not within its borders that’s all.
So until we have divine justice, we will support the kind of justice we can get here on earth and the fact that no country in the world is perfect enough, no justice is perfect enough is no excuse to banalise the issue and “support Syria right or wrong” under the eternal pretext that America is wrong. Enough of that. Enough also of the pretext that Lebanon is full of corrupt politicians, potential of violence, history of this and deny it the right to justice and freedom. We are not meritant enough according to some,well tough! nobody is. We still are entiteled to desire a civilised country where we don’t have neighbours dicating our policies, appointing our leadres and killing those they don’t like.

April 3rd, 2007, 12:14 pm


ausamaa said:

No, of course not. Lebanon is not full of corrupt politicians.

The Chamoun and Franjeieh families were not massacred by Jaja’s Lebanese Forces,

Rashid Karami was not blown out in his hellicopter by Jaja’s Lebanses Forces,

The Palestinan civillians in Sabra, Chatila, and other camps were not killed by those “uncorrupt politicians”,

The Christians and Druze were not slaughtered by Jaja and Junblat sectarian militias,

The Lebanese War of Cancellation which was the most disastrous to the Christian community did not take place between Aoun and Jaja,

No civillian Syrian workers were slaughtered by the thugs of the 14 Feb crowd following Syrian forces withdrawl from Lebanon,

There is no grossly abused and mistreated expat domestic workers in Human and Kind Lebanon,

No, No, those are all unsubstantiated claims. Lebanon and the Lebanese are as clean as pure snow. They love life, singing and talking French and MTV English. They love free economy, liberalisim, and colors. They all are Saints, and Masakeen.

Actually, if we count how many Lebanese were killed by Lebanese, we would not know where to stop.And ALLLLLLL the culprits are still Active public figures untill this day!

No Sir. There is no such a thing as Lebanese Corrupt Politicians. You are damned Right. Poor little beutifull Lebanon is not the first place in the Arab World were people were getting killed based on the religion/sect stated on their ID card, or based on how they pronounced the word Tommato: Banadoura or Bandoura.(“Banadoura” by Lebanese, “Bandoura” by Palestinian Refugees). A missing “a” got you killed then!

Get lost for God’s sake. Go fool someone who does not know your CV. And remeber: Lying is a Sin. It is also a very transparent act that could have major effects on your psych as you tend to start believing your own lies!

Actually, I wish Lebanon was full of Corrupt Polticians “only”. Just “corrupt politicians”! And not crowded by the Arab World’s worst collection of Seasoned Murderrers, Selfish warlords,Thugs and Hustlers dressed in unpaid for Lanvin suits..

April 3rd, 2007, 12:44 pm


K said:

Look at how you guys defend Syria: by pointing to other criminals. Alex wants me to compare Syrian tyranny to other Arab tyrannies. He wants to evaluate the Syrian occupation of Lebanese in light of the US occupation of Iraq. Ausamaa wants a comparison between Syrian destructiveness with that of Christian militias. Food Prefect wants to compare and contrast Syrian and Israeli brutality in Lebanon.

It doesn’t say much for Syrian policies when the standards for comparison you propose are Arab dictatorships, Lebanese militias or American and Israeli occupations!


The Aoun-Ja’ja’ war is one of the lowest point in Lebanese history, causing Christians to emigrate by the thousands. How is this relevant to my campaign against the Ba’th? You are saying Syria is justified in mercilessly bombarding East Beirut, because hey – the East Beirutis also fought each other. Silly.

Many parties played utterly criminal roles in the Lebanese war. Syria and Israel rival each other for #1 criminal. As for who affected me the most over the years: my neighborhoods, my family, sociopolitical forces I support… easy. It’s Syria. That’s historically speaking. But before we get tangled in a dissection of the war years, let’s return to the present.

Who is oppressing me right now? Sorry folks, it’s not Israel this time. It’s Iran and Syria who see Lebanon as a stepping stone for regional ambitions and a weak, defenseless state to bully.


It’s not true that I blame Syria for “everything”. Just for Syrian crimes. I blame Israel for Israeli crimes, Lebanese Christians for their crimes, and so on. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, such as Israel eliminating An-Nahar and LBC journalists to “implicate” Syria. What a joke.

Israel’s crimes are obvious, it’s not Israel’s style to deny them. They happily go after Hamas and Hizballah leaders. When attacked, they don’t hesitate to savagely retaliate against civilians. They don’t expend resources on murdering non-enemies simply to frame others. They have better uses for their death squads, whose mission in Lebanon right now is to eliminate Hizballa – not Hizballa’s domestic opponents!!!

Alex, on the matter of Syria’s killing spree, choose one of the following options:

1) Syria is innocent until proven guilty. This could just as likely be a Zionist conspiracy to create fitna between the brotherly Syrian and Lebanese people.

2) ““…the chaos we witnessed in the Middle East the past few years was the result of Syria’s refusal to give away its regional-role “earnings” that Hafez accumulated for 30 years… Bashar did a lot to make them respect him or to realize his essential role.”

You can’t have it both ways, exonerating Syria from its crimes and simultaneously justifying them as examples of statesmanship.

Finally, you tell me that many Syrians support their regime. This is tragic to me, because this makes them enemies of mine, whereas I’d still like to believe they are allies, or potential allies. So long as Syria is a totalitarian dictatorship, it’s easy for a liberal like myself to assume “the people” are superior to “the regime”, and to hold the people innocent for the crimes of the regime. But, if/when I discover that the people and the regime are one and the same, or the moment the Syrians replace the Ba’th with a democratic regime that still covets Lebanon, my rhetoric of solidarity with the Syrian people will vanish, and my stances will harden.

April 3rd, 2007, 1:28 pm


ausamaa said:

This is about Syria and the Harriri assasination, titled “Bremmertz’s Signals” in the Lebanese AdDiyar newspaper of today/ . The jest of the article is that Syria and Harriri were making up and working out their differences through “new channels” (as opposed to old channels??? which were misrepresenting and manipulating things to their own benifit) and someone did not like for that to succeed, so Harriri was asasinated.

اشارات برامرتس (1)‏

بقلم : زينا الخوري

بنى المحقق الدولي الاول ديتليف ميليس نظريته في جريمة اغتيال الرئيس رفيق الحريري على ‏السياسة. واعتبر السبب المباشر للجريمة، الحوار الحاد الذي جرى بين الضحية والرئيس السوري ‏بشار الاسد في 26 تموز 2004.‏
وانطلقت قضية توقيف الضباط من هذه النقطة بالذات.‏
في التقرير الاخير الذي رفعه المحقق سيرج برامرتس نقرأ كلاما مختلفا. وقد يتناقض مع نظرية ‏ميليس.‏
جاء في الفقرة 62 من تقرير برامرتس :‏
‏«في الفترة التي سبقت مقتل الحريري مباشرة كان، هو وغيره، يقومون بخطوات لتخفيف حدة ‏التوتر على الساحة السياسية. هذه المبادرات قد ادت الى تطوير حوار ديبلوماسي وسياسي ‏بينه وبين شخصيات سورية ولبنانية … هذا الحوار الذي دار في السابق بواسطة فريق سوري ‏لبناني آخر، عزز الادراك الخاطىء للحقيقة، وزاد من تأزيم البيئة السياسية المتوترة».‏
نفهم هنا ان اللجنة اكتشفت ان الرئيس الحريري فتح قنوات جديدة مع سوريا قبل اغتياله ‏بفترة قصيرة. وقد بدأت الامور تسير بشكل جيد، لان «الفريق» الذي عمل وسيطاً سابقاً بين ‏الاثنين نقل معلومات خاطئة «شوهت» الصورة ووترت الاجواء. وهذا «الفريق» «عزز الادراك ‏الخاطىء للحقيقة».‏
وهكذا ان لجنة التحقيق الدولية «تطور صورة مفصلة على الارض وهي مختلفة عن فهم اللجنة ‏السابق للاحداث».‏
وهذا الكلام الجديد، والنوعي، الذي ورد في الفقرة 54 من التقرير، يصبح اكثر وضوحا في ‏الفقرة 63 التي تقول :‏
‏«ان القرار الاولي بقتل الحريري اتخذ قبل محاولات التقرب، وعلى الارجح في بداية كانون ‏الثاني 2005 … كان هناك مساران مع سوريا يسيران في خطين متوازيين. واحد يعمل على ‏تقريب الحريري من السوريين واخر يحضر لاغتياله».‏
هل نفهم ان «الفريق» المنزعج من تحسين العلاقات بين الحريري والسوريين سرع عملية الاغتيال ‏ليمنع وصول المساعي الحميدة الى خواتمها السعيدة؟
ما هو السبب؟ من هي الجهة المتضررة من التقارب؟ وهل هي التي نفذت عملية الاغتيال؟

April 3rd, 2007, 1:57 pm


ausamaa said:


Save your breath, as far as current Lebanese politics are concerned, The regime and the people in Syria seem to have similar thoughts. When Bush says he wants a regime change, we might believe him, when the Feb 14 crowd says this, we do not believe them at all.

Your aim is Syria, Not the regime alone!

This is how many Syrians see it.

April 3rd, 2007, 2:05 pm


K said:


What do you mean, “your aim is Syria”?

April 3rd, 2007, 3:14 pm


Global Voices Online » Blog Archive » Lebanon: Hariri Murder a Mystery said:

[…] American blogger Joshua Landis writes that the perpetrators of the February 14, 2005, Hariri assassination may never be tracked down. “His (Seymour Hersh – an American Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist and author) sources at the UN tell him there is no evidence against Syria yet. That the Hariri killing was very carefully planned and executed, and that we might never find out who ordered that assassination,” writes Landis. Amira Al Hussaini […]

April 3rd, 2007, 4:23 pm


idaf said:

Dear K.. what if they were lying to you in the first place?! Let me elaborate..

You stated that the reason for your animosity against Syria/Syrians/Syrian regime emerged from your family’s suffering of Syrian bombing during the civil war. First, I acknowledge that during several occasions in the civil war, some of the Syrian military operations were indiscriminating between militias and civilian areas. Moreover, I acknowledge that many of Syrian servicemen and security personnel have exploited their positions and abused Lebanese civilians in different manners (as they did and still doing –to a smaller extent today- in Syria, similar to what military men do in Iraq, do in Israel, did in Bosnia, Kosovo, Vietnam, Korea, Germany, Turkey, India, China.. etc.). Many of these incidents you have in your memory have surely shaped your hatred and thirst for revenge from Syria. However, you have to acknowledge that the end goal (and actually the final outcomes) of the Syrian military intervention in Lebanon was ending the fighting between the different warlords and militias and stabilizing Lebanon (for Syria’s interest). Which Syria managed to achieve successfully at the end. The over-handedness and mistakes committed during the war by Syrian elements in Lebanon are regrettable and will stay a shameful stain on Syria’s name for a long while (despite the fact that Syria as a country/people had nothing to do with them). You should not take these mistakes or crimes personally, they weren’t. You should not even take them from a sectarian point of view. They weren’t committed against your family because you were Maronites, Christian, Druze or whatever. During the toughest times in the civil war, the Syrian military had adopted the strategy of “we will forcefully stop any militia attacking any other militia or sect in Lebanon” (this included attacking Christian militias as well as Druze and Shiite militias). During the civil war in Lebanon, the Syrian military was balanced in its over-handedness (however, the militias aligned with Israel might’ve taken harder pouncing for obvious reasons). Every militia (save the Lebanese baath militia maybe) had its share of the Syrian force when it decided to attack some other militia, or kill residents of other sects and neighborhood during some periods of the war. Several years ago, a Lebanese politician best described Syrian intervention in the Lebanese civil war: “we were like siblings fighting and punching each other blind fully, until the mother [Syria] came and slapped each of us on the face until we stopped fighting and sat and talked together”!

My, and most Syrians’ problem with many of the Lebanese people is the sectarian/tribal mindset you have in assessing the Syrian role. Syrian forces did not “bomb your home” because it was your home, or because it was a Christian home. Moreover, it is highly possible that it might not have been a Syrian shell that fell over it. The Lebanese and Palestinian militias were attacking by proxy then and they were switching alliances sometimes twice a day. However, the warlords that emerged from the civil war alive, have created a culture of blaming everything on Syria in front of their constituencies (They needed a scapegoat for not delivering their promises to those constituencies of “obliterating the enemy sect”). In Lebanon which have a intrinsic tribal and sectarian society, a culture of “blaming it on Syria” have been created and was amplified to limitless proportions. Of course, the Syrian security apparatus, being a Middle Eastern one, was happy with this reputation when it was functioning in Lebanon. It just made life easier for them in over there.

Now back to the future.. I’ll repeat what I said before in this blog: there are evidence suggesting that Syria might have committed some of the bombing and crimes in Lebanon. However, there are more evidence suggesting that Syria’s innocent and is being framed. It is this prevalent culture in Lebanon of “everything is Syria’s fault until proven otherwise” is what’s damaging to Lebanon more than to Syria. If I was the head of the Mossad, I would not think twice of exploiting it fully to achieve my goals in Lebanon or score points on Syria. This culture of “blaming it on Syria” has to go for Lebanon’s sake. Of course external powers, Lebanese warlords, politicians and people manipulating the media will not allow this as this culture is there raison d’être.

Unfortunately, in Lebanon, your patriotism is defined by the amount of hate you express or practice against “others”. For some Lebanese, these “others” are Syria/Syrians to other Lebanese it’s Israel, to most Lebanese it’s one or two other sects in Lebanon. From your last post to Ausama, it’s clear that you are blinded with your hate to Syria (which is defining you on the political spectrum of the Lebanese blame culture as a “patriotic Christian”). You are proud of this status. You are even willing to overlook, forgive and justify destruction of your country by Israel because as you put it: you or your sect weren’t the targets. It does not matter that 3000 Lebanese lost their lives last summer and the tens of thousands of devastated lives and destroyed homes. You prefer to keep your mind focused on something that happened 20 years ago or more to your own sect or neighborhood. You have to get revenge for that, even if it takes you a life time. You were fed this culture of hate and revenge since childhood and you’re satisfied with it. It defines you as a patriot which you are proud of in your community.

Lastly K, I apologize if my comments seemed harsh, patronizing or presumptuous. That was not my intention. Please don’t take them personally as they weren’t intended to be that way either. These are my observations based on communicating with the tens of Lebanese friends I have had during my life (from all sects). Most agree with me on this analysis (actually many have made many of these comments about their own society and people).

April 3rd, 2007, 4:25 pm


idaf said:

Ehsani2, what’s your take on this?

Syrian Economy Draws More Foreign Investment
By Hassen al-Shami

In the last seven years, Syria has adopted more open economic policies by implementing reform and restructuring programs appropriate to the country’s economic, social, and social situation. Syria has not adopted ready-made reform programs suggested by the IMF and the World Bank, despite the fact that it has taken advantage of the IMF and the World Bank in the developing countries.

As a result of this economic reform program, Syria has witnessed a comprehensive progress in different sectors, and its revenues have been geographically distributed on all towns and rural areas.

Perhaps what singles out the Syrian experience in reform is that it has borne fruit in a record time – seven years – while experts of similar programs in developing countries estimate the period needed should be between 10 and 15 years. On the other hand, some observers of the economic situation in Syria think that the outcome of the reforms could have been realised in an even shorter time; what caused the delay was the foreign pressure exercised on the nation as a result of its constant Arab nationalist positions.

Moreover, some Syrian economic experts hold that Syria has realised much of its reform programs despite all the obstacles of put in its way by of some EU countries. This situation pushed Syria to diversify its economic relations by directing them towards the east: China, Iran, India, and others, apart from Arab countries, and especially the Gulf States. In fact, trade between Syria and the Gulf States over the last two years has increased by 30-40%, according to Abdullah al-Dardari, the Syrian Vice Prime Minister.

Growth Rate Increase
The Government has announced that these reforms have contributed to the growth of the country’s economy by 5.2% in 2006 against 4.5% in 2005. Syria has allowed the establishment of private banks and insurance companies, and lifted the restrictions on imports, but the public sector is still predominant.

Al-Dardari clarified that it would take some time to train the personnel and set up a market for the treasury bonds following the issue of the new laws, stressing the Government’s intention to reform the Public Treasury and deal with the problem of government subsidy to goods, which constitutes a large proportion of the budget. According to him, the Government still has to deal with the problem of the public sector reform and subsidies in the two years of 2007 and 2008.

But al-Dardari insisted that subsidies would not be cancelled; they would rather be redistributed to assist low-income households, not rich ones. He said that subsidies would be redistributed through payment of cash to all Syrian families – poor ones would get a higher share – as well as by improving free health and education services.

The Failure of Isolation Policy
On the level of Syrian-European relations, Mr al Dardari confirmed that Europe had to open a dialogue with Syria if it wanted to play a positive, constructive role in the Middle East; but added that the EU has fortunately already reached that decision. He told the media the European countries became convinced of the failure of the isolation policy, and have thus ended it. He said that intensive dialogue was being held with separate European countries, and Syria’s bilateral relations with them were developing at the level of technical, economic, and scientific co-operation.

Concerning preparation for joining the World Trade Organisation, a workshop was organised a couple of weeks ago, under the title “Towards achieving harmony between Syrian local laws and the WTO’s rules”. This workshop has confirmed the Syrian Government’s direction to work on facing challenges and answer several requirements, including ensuring the existence of a transparent legal framework in order to benefit from the opportunities available to have access to markets.

Mr al-Dardari affirmed that the tenth 5-year plan is a tool to achieve the best living standard for the Syrian citizens, and that freeing trade is a tool of this 5-year plan aimed at creating a balanced economic and social progress and promoting Syria’s position politically and economically.

He also said that since the implementation of the Great Arab Free Trade Zone, the rate of economic growth rose to 5.1% in 2006, predicting that it would attain 5.6%. He pointed out that the deregulation of trade in early 2005 was accompanied by the increase of non-oil exports from 213 to 327 billion Syrian Pounds. Such a rise has contributed to the decrease of the budget deficit from 78 to 24 billion Syrian Pounds in 2006, despite the decline of the oil imports value.

The Deputy President of Ministers’ Council for Economic Affairs clarified that all that has resulted in the resumption of the budget surplus after it had been in deficit in 2004 and 2005. The trade balance deficit went down from 211 billion Syrian Pounds in 2005 to 189 billion Syrian Pounds in 2006.

Al-Dardari pointed out that the rise of the processed farming exports contributed to the decrease of the overall rate of unemployment according to the indices of the World Labour Organisation. He clarified that the Syrian exports of fruits and vegetables reached 800,000 tons, with a net value of 12 billion Syrian Pounds, and that Syria imported 800,000 tons, with a net value less than 7 billion Syrian Pounds.

The Syrian GNDP is estimated at US $38 billion, and according to economic experts it could attain US $50 billion. Mr Dardari commented by saying, “If the Syrian economy wants to have a regional role after the change of the surrounding circumstances, the Syrian GNDP will have to be equal to that of Jordan and Lebanon together, and this means that our GNDP will attain US $47 billion by 2020, which requires a 7-percent annual growth rate.”

To conclude, we may say that the reform programs adopted by the Syrian Government have achieved a comprehensive economic boom just a few years after their implementation. And seeing that reform was built on durable development, the real fruits are yet to come when Syria takes an advanced economic position among the neighbouring countries and turn into a regional economic centre.

April 3rd, 2007, 4:32 pm


Alex said:

Dear Pascal,

I know exactly who Elias Sarkis was. But since we are not here to discuss him, I will simplify what I like about him:

1) He was a decent honest man, he did not have personal ambitions, neither power nor financial.

2) He was wise, not angry and loud.

Today, you are led by a team of old war lords and corrupt Saudi appointed men, most of whom are not respectable. period.

The more respectable team of Nasrallah, Hoss, and Aoun, are not Syria’s enemies.

You are kidding yourself if you think that what is driving you is the anger for the fate of “hundreds of Lebanese prisoners” in Syria … I don’t see the same anger over what Aoun and Geagea produced … I know some of you acknowledge their mistake, but they forgive Geagea much more easily even though his crimes were much bigger.

You are driven by hate, anger, need for revenge for whatever Syria did wrong in your assessment. You think it is alright to feel that way. It is not. But you are free to participate in driving your beautiful country into the wall… because you need to punish Syria at any cost.

You know, Catholics in the United States did not become hostages to their need for revenge when their hero President Kennedy was assassinated. They understood that politics is a dirty game. Imagine if America’s Catholics had your state of mind.

Dear k,

What you said is reasonable. I understand that you are more genuinely driven by your hopes for a more democratic Middle East, and not only by hate for Syria or the Syrian regime.

But I assure you that there will be no such thing in the Middle East for many years. Not in Syria, not In Egypt, and not in Saudi Arabia.

So what do you do in the mean time? … continue to boycott Syria because it is led by “Bashar the thug”?

I know of some decent senior officials in both Syria and Egypt. They prefer to work within the System rather than to fight it in a losing battle. The System is the whole country … not only the corrupt regime in each country.

As for your total rejection to what sounds like conspiracy theories. Please allow me to make twopoints:

1) Who says it is either Syria of Israel? there could be rifaat Assad who wanted to get Bashar in trouble and make him look like a foolish reckless leader who is not good for Syria or the stability of the Middle East (Arab/European concern). It could have been your wonderful warlords… pure murders who assassinated many other Lebanese politicians in the past for their own reasons. Are they pure saints now?

Or, yes it could have been Israel.

Israel would not do that you say?

1) Israel in the eighties planted a radio transmission device inside Libya that gave the Reagan administration the impression that Libya is planning some Anti America terrorist activities. Result … Reagan bombed Libya.

2) Israel probably did the Hindawi affair trick on Syria in the eighties … Syria was accused of attempting to plant a bomb on an El-Al airplane .. the most heavily guarded El-Al of all airlines!

Syria was boycotted (just like now) as a result of that impression .. until the end of the Reagan years. Here is what Chirac eventually admitted:

French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac later told the Washington Times that he thought it possible Israeli intelligence and anti-Assad Syrians could have been involved in the plot[citation needed]. According to Gordon Thomas’s book Gideon’s Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad, Mossad agents took advantage of Hindawi’s personal troubles with Anne Murphy, tricking him into carrying out a plot he believed was aimed against Israel, all the while planning for the discovery of the explosives before takeoff. Other possibilities have emerged that suggest that certain members of Syrian intelligence first named by Hindawi were Israeli spies themselves, allowing Israel to have prior knowledge of the plot[citation needed]. This would imply that both of Hindawi’s stories held some truth.

April 3rd, 2007, 4:48 pm


idaf said:

This is interesting.. the following story is about the inauguration -later tonight- of the Olympic Stadium in Aleppo by Asad and Turkish PM Erdogan. This story summarizes the status in Syria today, for the following reasons:

1-The “Aleppo Sports City” that’s being inaugurated tonight has been the milking cow for the many corrupt mayors, civil servants and Baath party members in Aleppo for the last 27 years. Billions of dollars have been wasted over the years on this massive project. Government after government and mayor after mayor in Aleppo have been milking it through dubious contracts to make money during their service. Finally after just less than 7 years of Bashar’s rule, it’s finally finished (well, it was rebuilt as the everything had to be destroyed because it was not built according to engineering standards). Many Aleppians I know can’t believe it. Most have seen this unfinished construction monument for years with no progress while they were growing up. It is older than most of the Aleppo’s young population. A common saying in Aleppo over the last 27 years has been: “The famous Aleppo citadel and the sport city are the 2 oldest preserved historical monuments in the city”. I have a friend in Aleppo telling me for the last 15 years now that he will only believe that things are progressing in Syria if this project moves ahead. This will no doubt score Bashar lots of points of trust and popularity in Aleppo. If anything, it proves that corruption is indeed being cracked down upon in their country.

2-The other part of this story is the strong message Bashar is sending to Erdogan and Turkey.. “I would prefer to enjoy a Syria-Turkey football match with you than discuss politics with the Lantos” (btw, Syrian authorities agreed to waive Visa requirements for Turks who want to come to Aleppo to watch the game. More Turkish tourists and businessmen in Aleppo). Bashar has decided to let the American delegation wait for him (maybe Lantos can enjoy shopping in the Hamidie souq meanwhile) and decided to do more important things: watch a friendly football match in another city. In contrast, a leader of any other “moderate” Arab regime would miss his mother’s funeral for a visit by a less important US delegation.


Aleppo, Syria, 3 April (AKI) – Top level teams from Syria and Turkey are set to meet Tuesday on the football field for the first time in over half a century in a match that symbolises closer ties between the two neighbours long strained by Damascus’ offering of sanctuary to Kurdish separatists. Syrian president Basher al-Assad and Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan are scheduled to attend the match between Turkey’s Fenerbahce and Syria’s al-Ittihad in Aleppo. The game will also serve to inaugurate a new stadium in the historic Syrian city.

Fenerbahce players were held up for more than an hour and a half by scores of Syrian fans welcoming them when they arrived at Aleppo’s airport on Monday. The Fenerbahce team handed out pamphlets printed with the greeting “Hello after 56 years” a reference to the last time Turkish and Syrian football teams played against each other at this level.

Tensions between Turkey and Syria almost turned to all out war in 1998 when the fugitive leader of the separatist PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party) Abdullah Ocalan operated from Syria from where his group launched cross border attacks into Turkey.

The relations improved when Syria forced Ocalan to leave in 1998. The Kurdish leader was eventually arrested by Turkish security forces when he left the Greek embassy in Nairobi in February 1999. He is currently imprisoned on Imrali Island in the Turkish Sea of Marmara where he is serving a life sentence.

Top level diplomatic visits between Turkey and Syria resumed in 2003 and the two countries signed a free trade agreement in 2005.

Damascus and Ankara agreed to wave vise requirements for Turkish fans wishing to travel to Syria for Tuesday’s match.

Al-Assad and Erdogan were scheduled to meet during the day before going to the stadium for the match which is set to kick-off at 19.45 local time.

April 3rd, 2007, 5:08 pm


Atassi said:

Alex said “You are driven by hate, anger, need for revenge for whatever Syria did wrong in your assessment. You think it is alright to feel that way. It is not. But you are free to participate in driving your beautiful country into the wall… because you need to punish Syria at any cost”

You can’t deny anyone “Lebanese or Syrian” the feeling of anger for the wrongs done by the “Syrian regime”; they have the right to seek justice’s form the perpetrators.
Now, I can agree with your logic If, “and IF “We hear an apologies form the regime to the Lebanese people for all the mistakes done in the past.

April 3rd, 2007, 5:51 pm


Atassi said:

Pelosi tours Damascus, rebuffing criticism from Bush over Syria visit

Associated Press Newswires

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi toured Damascus on Tuesday, the highest-ranking American politician to visit Syria since relations began to deteriorate four years ago. President Bush criticized the trip, saying it sends mixed signals to President Bashar Assad.

The United States accuses Syria of interfering in Iraq and Lebanon and sponsoring terrorists — charges Syria denies. The Bush administration has resisted calls to open direct talks with Damascus on resolving the countries’ disputes.

Pelosi, D-Calif., is scheduled to meet Assad and other Syrian officials on Wednesday. She made no comment on arrival and headed for the Old City of Damascus where she toured the 8th-century Omayyad Mosque.

Pelosi draped a scarf over her head as she entered the historic mosque and stopped at a tomb inside the mosque said to contain the head of St. John the Baptist. She made the sign of the cross in front of the tomb. About 10 percent of Syria’s 18 million people are Christian.

In the nearby outdoor Bazouriyeh market, she chatted with Syrians, who offered her dates, in front of shops selling olive oil soaps, spices and herbs. At one point, she bought some coconut sweets and looked at Syrian carpets.

In Washington, Bush said visits to Syria by u.S. officials were “counterproductive.”

“A lot of people have gone to see President Assad … and yet we haven’t seen action. He hasn’t responded,” he said at a Rose Garden news conference.

He said Assad had not reined in violent elements of militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah as requested by the international community and had acted to destabilize the democratically elected government of Lebanon.

“Sending delegations doesn’t work. It’s simply been counterproductive,” Bush said.

Pelosi has shrugged off the criticism, pointing out that Republican members of Congress have also visited Syria. During a visit to neighboring Lebanon Monday, she said she considers the visits to be an “excellent idea” and was hopeful of rebuilding lost confidence between Washington and Damascus.

“We have no illusions but we have great hope,” she said.

Syria treated the visit as a diplomatic victory. State-run newspapers published news of Pelosi’s trip on their front pages, with one daily publishing a photograph of Pelosi next to the headline: “Welcome Dialogue.”

But there were some warnings against high expectations.

Syria’s ambassador to the United States, Imad Moustapha, described the visit as a “positive step” but said “it does not necessarily mean that the Bush administration would suddenly change its position” from Syria.

In comments to the state-run Al-Thawra daily published Tuesday, he said the visit should be a “reminder that even though we might disagree on politics, we should remain diplomatically engaged in dialogue to reach some understandings.”

Pelosi is traveling with a delegation of U.S. lawmakers, including the first Muslim member of Congress, Keith Ellison, D-Minn.

In Israel, Pelosi said she would tell Syrian leaders that Israel will talk peace with them only if Syria stops supporting Palestinian militants. She has said she will also talk to the Syrians about Iraq, their role in neighboring Lebanon and their support for Lebanon’s Hezbollah militants.

She accused the White House of singling out her Syria visit for criticism.

“It’s interesting because three of our colleagues, who are all Republicans, were in Syria yesterday and I didn’t hear the White House speaking out about that,” Pelosi said Monday, referring to the Sunday meeting of Reps. Frank Wolf, Joe Pitts and Robert Aderholt with Assad in Damascus.

“I think that it was an excellent idea for them to go,” said Pelosi. “And I think it’s an excellent idea for us to go, as well.”

April 3rd, 2007, 6:07 pm


ausamaa said:


Are you really waiting for such an apology??

For your information, I think Syria gave that apology! When? During Bashar Al Assad famous speach before the Syrian Parliment in 2005 (the “Whatever we do they will say Not Enough” speach). He SAID that things were not good and correct in the relationship between Syria and Lebanon and they have to be corrected. He went on to say (which many people either did not notice, or did not hear or did not want to consider) that -and here take notice please- that WHEN Syria started to correct those things, THEN it was confronted by more ATTACKS. I believe him! Because when he became president, Syria had over 40,000 soldiers in Lebanon, when Syrian forces withdrew, the number was close to 16,000 only! So he WAS attempting to reduce Syrian presence there. Reduced it to 16,000 and more importantly by “pulling out” Hikmat Chihabi, Ghazi Kanaan and Khaddam. Not only that, but he was the FIRST Syrian President to make a State Visit to Lebanon, hence cutting out all historic BS about Syria not recognizing Lebanon as an independent state. And look at what reception and what encouragement he got from certain Lebanese.

But some of our Lebanese brothers refuse to even consider such talk. They want to defeat and conquer and liberate Syria instead..

April 3rd, 2007, 6:27 pm


G said:

[…deleted by blog admin..]

April 3rd, 2007, 6:46 pm


Alex said:


I agree with you but I have some reservations

1) Ausamaa’s points are very valid … many in Lebanon (20? 30%?) do not want anything positive … not yet. They want Syria humiliated for a while. Then they will get their revenge. Before revenge they do not want to settle things peacefully. They call that “justice” …they need punishment, not peace making.

Justice … Another “good” word, like “democracy” and “fight against tyranny” and “free press” (mostly owned by Saudi Arabia) … all the good stuff they use to convince themselves, and convince others that they are on the good side of things.

2) IF the mentality in Lebanon goes back to the calm, positive, constructive one that Ghassan Toueini was asking for, THEN I hope Bahsar would go to Beirut again and inaugurate Syria’s embassy there and state in very clear terms Syria’s recognition of Lebanon… if an apology is needed, it will have to be accompanied by Lebanese recognition of the thousands of Syrian soldiers who died while fighting to stop the Lebanese civil war. I don’t think the relatives of those soldiers will like to see their Syrian Leader apologetic for “Syrian amry’s mistakes” in Lebanon … the corrupt generals and soldiers were not whe real story … successfully stopping the Lebanese civil war was the real story. And maintaining security in Lebanon afterwards.

April 3rd, 2007, 6:48 pm


G said:


April 3rd, 2007, 6:52 pm


Alex said:


I have been called “stupid” by a few Lebanese “geniuses” here. Never by anyone else.

Must be jealousy, or lack of reason… when people need to resort to silly insults, it shows how weak their argument is.

Geagea was in jail for 11 years only because Syria was inforcing “justice” in Lebanon … Was Jumblatt put in Jail? others?

And this silly “(and Syria is implicated in all of them, the reports say)”

Is from the original Mehlis report … no one in the UN takes it into account anymore, I will not accuse you of being stupid for not noticing that Brammertz asked for one more year … because he has nothing.

So basically you want us to put Bahsar in Jail because that will make your angry soul more at peace.

And Syrian soldiers were not running liek mad men shooting at anything that moved. They went there to bully all the militias until they all knew that they can not oppose Syria’s role … When they assign you (the smart one) to stop some civil war int he future you’ll realize what it takes.

April 3rd, 2007, 6:54 pm


EHSANI2 said:


I will respond to your link as soon as my time permits. The issue is too important for me. I would rather offer a proper response to it

April 3rd, 2007, 6:59 pm


G said:

No Alex. But neither you nor Landis have read the Brammertz reports. If you do you know that the main point Brammertz has made is that ALL the crimes are connected, and that the Hariri crime’s motives were political directly linking it to Syria.

But then again, that assumes you actually know what it is you’re bullshitting about.

April 3rd, 2007, 6:59 pm


Alex said:

No, we did read the Brammertz report G,

Go ahead copy here those parts where he talked about the crimes being political and I will show you who knows how to read and who does not.

And the more you continue to insult me the more I know I am making sense. Keep it up.

The point I was saying about the Kennedy assassination is that … the Hariri murder looks like it will never be solved, like most big assassinations. If Catholics went with the “for sure WE KNOW who killed him” … well then …what happens next?

April 3rd, 2007, 7:08 pm


Atassi said:

Thank you for your reply
I think, We are on agreement on many of the points you made,
Please keep in mind, Syria as a state Will Never be humiliated, Syria is more important and much bigger than being associated with individuals, groups and clans. Again, Justice can be achieved on the personal level ONLY, NOT on the state level…
Assuama.. The same apply to your post

April 3rd, 2007, 7:33 pm


Samir said:

Idaf:well, it was rebuilt as the everything had to be destroyed because it was not built according to engineering standards

This is not true and the stadium was 90% finished in 1995 and it was not completly rebuilt.

Idaf:This will no doubt score Bashar lots of points of trust and popularity in Aleppo

Thanks Idaf ,according to you,aussama and alex,Syrians are cheap people,they have no memory and no more dignity…
There is no single aleppine familly which has no one of its son killed,or missing…i think their fate is more important for the aleppines than a stadium.
It must be known that lately a number of rapists and killers of the syrian people were appointed at key posts by bashar…among them the criminals mohamad nasif and walid abaza.

April 3rd, 2007, 8:02 pm


K said:


No offense taken, but you misunderstand me. Alex comes closer to figuring me out.

“You stated that the reason for your animosity against Syria/Syrians/Syrian regime emerged from your family’s suffering of Syrian bombing during the civil war”

That’s not precise. I have animosity against plenty of players in Lebanon, the Mideast and the world, and I do criticize them all (in relevant fora). The topic here is Syria, so you only get to hear my views on Syria. In response to expressing these views, a lot of pro-Syrians have questioned my emphasis on Syria vs other criminals in Lebanon. This is where my personal history comes in.

“we were like siblings fighting and punching each other blind fully, until the mother [Syria] came and slapped each of us on the face until we stopped fighting and sat and talked together”!”

I resent and reject this analogy, it reeks of Ba’thism. But, to go along with it: Syria’s crimes are not limited to military violence in the war-era. The mother continued to abuse her children long after the cessation of outright hostilities.

I appreciate your acknowledgement of Syrian crimes, but I believe you underestimate their extent.

Among them are:

1. Several military invasions, with air/artillery bombardment, killing and destruction

2. 3 decades of occupation. Think Israeli occupation – checkpoints, searches, daily harassment and humiliation

3. Reign of terror: suspension of media freedoms, making a farce of Lebanese politics, arbitrary arrests and disappearances, mukhabarat omnipresence and control, torture, and fear

4. Economic crimes: theft of resources, smuggling, dumping goods, black market, extortion, and racketeering (in collusion with Lebanese figures)

5. Use of Lebanon as a pawn in the struggle against Israel or in support of Iranian regional ambitions

6. Use of Lebanese puppets to paralyse and terrorize Lebanon, in service of Syrian interests

The 2nd paragraph from last is pure shit:

“From your last post to Ausama, it’s clear that you are blinded with your hate to Syria (which is defining you on the political spectrum of the Lebanese blame culture as a “patriotic Christian”). You are proud of this status.”


“You are even willing to overlook, forgive and justify destruction of your country by Israel because as you put it: you or your sect weren’t the targets. It does not matter that 3000 Lebanese lost their lives last summer and the tens of thousands of devastated lives and destroyed homes. ”

I am absolutely not willing to “forgive” Israel for the summer war or its other crimes – never. Syria-Iran share responsibility for the war, that’s the part you’re in denial about.

“You prefer to keep your mind focused on something that happened 20 years ago or more to your own sect or neighborhood. You have to get revenge for that, even if it takes you a life time. You were fed this culture of hate and revenge since childhood and you’re satisfied with it. It defines you as a patriot which you are proud of in your community.”

This is sheer crap. To adequately respond to this unsubstantiated shit, I feel pressured to delve into personal details: where I live, what sect I “belong” to, my views on religion and tribalism, etc. If you want to go down that path, fine, but you go first.


I’m aware of Israel’s record. I’d also add to your list, Zionist agents planted explosives in Jewish targets in Iraq and Egypt in the 50s to terrorize Arab Jews into emigrating to Israel.

That said, I’m sure you know the Syrian regime is behind the recent killing spree (not just Hariri), as do most readers of this blog. You like to play “what if?” games and take the principled stance “innocent til proven guilty”, but you know it’s Bashar. Maybe you feel threatened by Lebanese certainty in blaming Syria; you see it a sign of hatred/prejudice. You want me to demonstrate that I’m reasonable, not just hateful, and reasonable people entertain various theories before settling on a conclusion. If I had time to play, I would, but I know you know who’s behind the killing spree.

April 3rd, 2007, 8:13 pm


Syrian said:


You forget that in order for Syria to accomplish the 6 acts you listed they had to have had Lebanese facilitators. The problem the Lebanese face is that over the 3 decades, all of their leaders were Syrian facilitators at one point or another. You want to be angry, maybe you should direct your anger at your leaders who facilitated the abuse of Lebanese society. The Syrian authorities did what any occupying force does; use the occupation to promote their own interest.

We have a right to be angry with the Syrian government because we are Syrians and when we are abused, it is our own leaders who are doing it to us. It is the Syrian government that practices arbitrary arrests of Syrian citizens and for that we have the right to be angry. Again, I don’t think anyone here condones the suppression of freedom in Syria as legitimate.

You have the right to be angry with the Syrians because of the abuses they practiced in Lebanon, but your anger should be directed at those lebanese leaders who, for decades, continued to facilitate and promote Syria because it promoted their own selfish interest at the expense of the Lebanese at large.

April 3rd, 2007, 8:40 pm


ausamaa said:


You say: I am absolutely not willing to “forgive” Israel for the summer war or its other crimes – never.

Have you done anything about NEVER forgiving Israel apart from attacking Syrians? Honestly; have you??

April 3rd, 2007, 9:55 pm


ausamaa said:


Dont bother! No one expects an answer!

April 3rd, 2007, 9:57 pm


K said:


“… in order for Syria to accomplish the 6 acts you listed they had to have had Lebanese facilitators.”

Too true.

“The problem the Lebanese face is that over the 3 decades, all of their leaders were Syrian facilitators at one point or another.”

Partly true.

“You want to be angry, maybe you should direct your anger at your leaders who facilitated the abuse of Lebanese society.”

I am.

“The Syrian authorities did what any occupying force does; use the occupation to promote their own interest.”

Well said.

April 4th, 2007, 12:00 am


K said:


I don’t have to prove myself to you.

The topic on this forum is Syria.

April 4th, 2007, 12:01 am


Alex said:


Ok, so we established that Israeli Intelligence probably orchestrated the Hindawi affair, which was an easily discoverable (a bomb on El-Al airlines) “terrorist” plan against a civilian target. And we established that everyone was sure Syria did it … the Syrian regime looked like stupid thugs .. exactly like the case when the popular Hariri was assassinated… Hindawi, Hariri … both times, “Syria is OBVIOUSLY” the one who ordered the murder.

At the time of Hindawi, I was absolutely sure Syria was not stupid enough to take such an unnecessary risk. But with Hariri, I agree that it is POSSIBLE that Syria (or some peoplein Syria) might have been involved in the decision to terminate him… but it is also highly possible that the others did it, not Syria.

You are still SURE that it was OBVIOULSY Syria behind all the political assassination in Lebanon the past tw years?… fine. Let’s look at another example:

Here is one of the typical popular accusations against Syria the past two years … I don’t doubt that you were, just like most of your M14 Lebanese allies, absolutely CONVINCED of the same things that Lynn Maalouf was convinced of in her Washington Post opinion piece where she wrote:

“In the lush Bekaa Valley, we drove past the quiet town of Majdal Anjar, and I thought of the mass grave uncovered there a few weeks ago. We Lebanese believe that many more such graves wait to be uncovered, as hundreds of families wait to learn the fate of their loved ones, some of whom were undoubtedly abducted or killed by the Syrian army. Right across the street was the Syrian occupation’s official headquarters, where every Lebanese politician once had to pay obeisance.

So far, Syria has offered no public apology for its years of occupation, not even an admission of any wrongdoing”

So Lynn and all of you were SURE those mass graves are another example of the criminal actions of the Syrians in Lebanon… the Washington Post allowed Lynn to express her hate of the evil Syrians… Syria’s reputation gets more and more tarnished .. and then:

Lebanon Mass Grave Said to Be a Cemetery
AP, 7 June 2006

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) – A burial site in eastern Lebanon originally believed to be a mass grave for victims of Syria’s military presence is actually a graveyard dating to the 17th century, a Lebanese prosecutor said in a statement published Wednesday.

So please try to be a bit less certain of everything that you would love to belive is a confirmation to your already held beliefs.

April 4th, 2007, 3:09 am


EHSANI2 said:

Dear Idaf,

Earlier in this thread, you had asked me to comment on an article written by Hassen Al-Shami under the title of “Syrian Economy draws more Foreign Investment”.

Mr. Shami first attempts to convince his readers that Syria’s reform and structuring program has been faster than usual. He then tries to remind us that “Syria has not adopted ready-made reform programs suggested by the IMF and the World Bank, despite the fact that it has taken advantage of the IMF and the World Bank in the developing countries.”

The latter part of the above sentence is too poorly worded for me to make any sense of it. Who is taking advantage of whom?

Clearly, Mr. Dardari is the author’s main source for the story, so let us move to that part:

Mr. Dardari’s first claim is that the growth rate of the “country’s economy” is 5.25% in 2006 against 5.50% in 2005.

The next time someone tells you that the GDP of a country has increased by X%, please remember to ask: Is it in real terms or in nominal terms

Since prices fluctuate (generally they rise), one cannot know for certain whether more or less goods are being produced and sold just by looking at the revenue earned (or income generated). What economists usually do is deflate (correct for inflation) current or nominal income/spending. In effect, they isolate the effect of price fluctuation from measures of income and spending. This allows practitioners to distinguish between real growth in income as opposed to growth arising from price inflation.

In the case of Syria, prices are supposedly rising by close to 9% per annum. This means that to get a “real” growth rate of 5.25%, current or nominal growth must rise by 14.25%. To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Dardari has never specified whether the growth rates he announces are nominal or real (inflation adjusted). Were his 5.25% to be real, I think that it would be very useful for him to supply us with the deflator or price measure that he is using to adjust his numbers.

My next problem with the article concerns the discussion on net trade:

Mr.Dardari supposedly pointed out that the deregulation of trade in early 2005 was accompanied by the increase of non-oil exports from 213 to 327 billion Syrian Pounds. Such a rise has contributed to the decrease of the budget deficit from 78 to 24 billion Syrian Pounds in 2006, despite the decline of the oil imports value.

Surely, the writer must mean the trade deficit and not the budget deficit. Syria’s external trade reporting has always been fraught with difficulties. This is because the country had used multiple exchange rates in its reporting system. Recently, this arcane system has been simplified as the multiple exchange rates gave way to a more uniform rate. Having said this, I am still uncertain whether both exports and imports are subjected to an identical exchange rate.

My final observation on the article concerns the following paragraph:

“The Syrian GNDP is estimated at US $38 billion, and according to economic experts it could attain US $50 billion. Mr Dardari commented by saying, “If the Syrian economy wants to have a regional role after the change of the surrounding circumstances, the Syrian GNDP will have to be equal to that of Jordan and Lebanon together, and this means that our GNDP will attain US $47 billion by 2020, which requires a 7-percent annual growth rate.”

The author clearly gets the “GNDP” notation wrong. There is no such thing as “GNDP” It is either GDP or GNP. My hunch is that he meant to write GNP. Mr. Dardari cleverly avoids the clarification.

GDP v.s. GNP

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measures what is produced inside the country in a year. Gross National Produce (GNP), on the other hand, measures what is produced by the citizens of a country, derived from the resources they own.

The GDP of Syria, for example, includes not only the value of goods and services produced by Syrians but also the contribution by foreign workers and foreign investors in the country.

The GNP of Syria, in contrast, measures the production by Syrians and Syrians only. These Syrians might be working overseas. These Syrians might own properties overseas and are making a decent living from the rent collected. They might also set up businesses abroad and earning considerable profits.

This is the first time that I have heard the figure of $ 38 Billion as being the size of Syria’s GNP. Various international organizations have pegged the size of the country’s GDP at close to $ 23 Billion. Given the numbers of Syrian citizens residing and earning income outside the country, it seems that Mr. Dardari has decided to start using GNP rather than GDP when it comes to measuring the size of the economy. For the record, in a country like the U.S. for example, the difference between the two measures is negligible.

The last problem with this error-filled article is an arithmetic one. If the size of the economy today is $38 billion and if this number grows at 7%, then by the year 2020, it will reach $91.6 billion and not $47 billion as the article suggested.

In conclusion, without publishing the data to support their claim, it is very difficult to verify the numbers cited by the country’s economic policy makers. My comment above dealt with some of those potential difficulties. It is my impression that the country’s fiscal predicament is not healthy. It is clear that Dardari thinks that some of the subsidies will have to go. I think that this is inevitable. Politically, however, it is a very difficult thing to implement. The recent jump in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country has been impressive. The prices of most real estate in the country used to be undervalued when compared to other countries in the region. Clearly, given the recent price increases, this undervaluation has largely disappeared. Moreover, little of this FDI has gone into manufacturing and industrial investments. This has meant that the increased in foreign investments has not been accompanied by a commensurate rise in jobs and incomes. For that to happen, the country must adopt a very strong export strategy that can take advantage of the higher global economic growth, as the country’s present local demand is insufficient. This is what Turkey did under the leadership of the late Turgot Ozal. The recent free trade with Turkey is an excellent first step. Entering the WTO must also be a top priority. Fixing the country’s legal system is one of the prerequisites needed to make this happen of course.

April 4th, 2007, 3:10 am


Samir said:

Ehsani this is a new report on the Turkish economy.
I think that Turkey is a good example for Syria, in Turkey they dont have a familly minority mukhabarati regime but an elected government.

April 4th, 2007, 3:28 am


K said:


It’s funny you bring that up. For you, the mistake in blaming Syria outweighs the existence of actual Syrian-perpetrated mass graves in Lebanon! I don’t blame anyone for assuming that was a Syrian mass grave, given its proximity to Anjar and the actual presence of Syrian mass graves in Lebanon.

Like this one, found around the same time:

“The bodies, identified by DNA tests, were handed over to the men’s families Saturday, concluding a wrenching 15- year search for their whereabouts…

..Of the 10 bodies buried Saturday, 7 were Lebanese Army soldiers led by General Michel Aoun, who fought the last battle of the civil war in 1990 against the Syrian forces that ended up controlling the country until last year. Another 10 bodies found in the mass grave have yet to be identified.”

April 4th, 2007, 4:04 am


Syrian said:


You have indicated that the views you express here are limited to your views on Syria because this is a Syrian forum; however, the implication is that your views are presented out of context. Eventhough this is a Syrian forum, you cannot escape the fact that your views on Syria have to be presented in the context of your overall views. By presenting your views on Syria only we are left,at worst, with the impression that this is the only view that you have. That all else can be exonerated. At best, that Syria has had the predominant role in all Lebanese problems and issues.

At this point I would recall that Hafez Asad did not go into Lebanon because he coveted Lebanon for himself; all historical accounts point to him being coaxed into the Lebanese theater (Kissinger). Once in, he had no choice but to try and make the best of a bad situation and it was a bad situation for Syria.

On the mass grave point, I am sure Lebanon is littered with mass graves (a civil war byproduct) and I’m willing to bet they’re not all Syrian.

April 4th, 2007, 4:21 am


Syrian said:

Ehsani, Idaf,

Here are some href=””>Syria
Growth Figures

April 4th, 2007, 4:30 am


Alex said:


Again, please try to remember the purpose behind our discussion here. It is not that Syria did not kill anyone in Lebanon during the time its worked to stop the Civil war, how could it stop it without using force?.. through diplomacy? .. I don’t think Jumblatt, the Palestinians, and others were willing to stop their murders if Syria did not bully them. So yes, we know, Syria had to fight all the militias in Lebanon before it could stop the civil war … the last one they faught was Michel Aoun … after that the late Rafiq Hariri enjoyed the security needed to rebuild Lebanon… something you would not have had if Syria did not fight Aoun at the time.

Your article in the IHT says nothing in that respect… 7 Aoun soldiers were Killed .. that’s what it said … is this some shocking discovery worth discussing here? … In that case I will maybe find you a similarly irrelevant article that discusses hoe some Druze were killed at the hands of Chrisitan Militias.

Back to our “logical” (hopefully) analysis:

1) The Syrians are not the only ones who might be doing political assassinations in the Middle East. We proved through examples that “others” have a history of doing it, and of trying to implicate the Syrians in the process.

2) Many of the times the M14 Lebanese believed “Syria did it”, like the Anjar mass graves, they were wrong.

Of ourse I can give you many other examples of other stories which turned out to be totally wrong … like after the Hariri assassination whne everyone in the M14 group was sure the bomb was UNDER and not over ground … which obviously implies that Syria might have known about it or allowed it. Now we know that this very popular belief in the M14 camp was also false. The bomb was not underground.

Then there is the Magic pen that Chirac supposedly gave Hariri and Hariri had it on him when he met Bashar .. the M14 newspapers were announcing that Mehlis now had a proof in that recording Pen …

Where is that Pen now?

It does not exist… but it gave many of you enough amunition to continue imagining that FOR SURE Syria killed him. (not “maybe”)


This M14 mentality of: “We have to fight and boycott Bashar the biggest thug in the Middle East” is not reasonable and not useful.

Basing policies on accusations which are based on perceptions of reality that are based on wishes of those who want revenge from Syria at any cost, is a path towards destruction .. of Lebanon most likely.

Looking at the past two years (since the Hariri killing) Given how many times you were wrong in your “I’m sure Syria did all the killings”, I hope you can just let the professionals in the UN team do their job and wait for the results.

And don’t worry … Syria is cooperating with them more than any other country.

April 4th, 2007, 5:56 am


Rantings of a Sandmonkey » I love Seymour Hersh said:

[…] From his latest al jazeerah interview: […]

April 4th, 2007, 11:29 am


SyriaComment » Archives » The Truth about Syria: Will the UN vote for a Tribunal? said:

[…] There is little international will to tie Syria up in a complicated international court process that most believe will ultimately be inconclusive. The UN investigation into the Hariri murder led by Brammertz has provided little beyond circumstantial evidence that Syria was involved. (On this see my earlier posts here and here.) […]

April 12th, 2007, 4:40 pm


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