Syria Fights for Control of Palestine File

Reinoud Leenders, who was International Crisis Group’s man in Lebanon for many years, has written up his opinion of the Lebanon War and how it will effect Hizbullah, “MIT’s Electronic Journal for Middle East Studies soon.

Syria is doing everything to show that there will be no progress on the Palestine front without engagement. It is obstructing Egyptian efforts to take back the Palestine portfolio as this article makes clear.

No Egyptian mediation between Syria and Saudi Arabia (from

Elaph, a pan Arab website, reported in the September 6 issue about the latest developments in the diplomatic row between Saudi Arabia and Syria. The website wrote: “Diplomatic sources in Damascus denied to Elaph the existence of any Egyptian mediation between Syria and Saudi Arabia with the charged atmosphere between the two countries and the media campaigns launched by Syria in the last two days through websites. But the sources considered that it is ‘natural in case there is any dispute and in case the crisis escalated that one of the Arab sides might interfere to calm things down’. The sources considered that ‘Qatar is not qualified to play this role because it doesn’t have good relations with Saudi Arabia while Jordan is not on good terms with Syria so the only candidate for the job is Egypt’.”

The website added: “The sources confirmed that ‘Egypt had already mediated between Syria and Turkey before and Syria and the United States as well as other western countries’. The sources pointed to the unlimited support presented by the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to the young Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad and stressed that it is not hidden from those close to Mubarak that the Egyptian president wants to repeat the successful Syrian experiment in Egypt as he wishes to surrender his position as president to his son Jamal even though he has denied it repeatedly’. In answer to a question about the collapse of the Saudi-Egypt-Syria axis, the sources announced ‘The Saudi-Egypt-Syria axis is frozen now as a result of the dispute, but that doesn’t mean that it collapsed’. They added ‘when things get better and if Syria emerges ‘intact’ from the investigation into the assassination of the ex Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, the three countries will reactivate it’.”

The website continued: “The sources stressed that the latest speech by president Al-Assad caused a deterioration in the Syrian relations with the Arabs and that if not for the speech then relations would have returned to normal with Damascus with the end of the Israeli aggression on Lebanon which stalked up the differences in the last period…” – Elaph, United Kingdom

Syria is also backing up Khalid Mishaal, the Hamas leader living in Damascus, in his efforts to keep Haniyya, the Hamas PM in Palestine, from concluding a deal with Israel without Syrian participation, as this article explains: Syria disrupting Shalit negotiations

At the same time, Syria is insisting to Annan that if it is engaged, it is willing to help as Ibrahim al-Hamidi explains in this al-Hayat article:
Damascus: total commitment to what Annan heard from Al-Asad…

On September 5, the daily Al Hayat reported: “High-level Syrian sources told Al-Hayat yesterday that Damascus “is totally committed” to what President Bashar al-Asad told UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday and that “tangible steps” would be taken in the coming few days “to translate this on the ground”. Annan had announced that President Al-Asad informed him that Syria would take “as soon as possible measures to control the borders” with Lebanon that include increasing the number of, and training, the border guards and increasing the road blocks with the possibility of forming joint patrols with the Lebanese army. Remarks by some Syrian officials after Annan’s announcement raised some questions about the extent of Damascus’ compliance with these “promises”. Al Hayat learned yesterday that Syria “during the past two days held contacts with international parties and foreigners to confirm the commitment to what was agreed upon”.

“The sources asserted that “Syria has not backed down and is committed to what President Al-Asad told Annan” and pointed out that the coming days would see “measures to tighten the border control and stop the smuggling”. Asked about Information Minister Dr Muhsin Bilal’s statement to Al-Hayat last Friday that his country “will not agree to the demarcation of occupied territories”, the sources answered that Damascus “did not promise the UN secretary-general to approve the demarcation of the Shab’a Farms so as to say that it has backed down on this. Annan heard the same words.” But they pointed out that Syria “is open to establishing diplomatic relations with Lebanon in accordance with a sovereign decision by the two countries” and that it “is ready” to receive Prime Minister Fu’ad al-Sanyurah in accordance with the “official invitation” that Qatari Emir Shaykh Hamad Bin-Khalifah conveyed to him. Al Hayat, United Kingdom

Most Lebanese hail Hezbollah chief for war conduct (AFP)
7 September 2006

BEIRUT – A majority of Lebanese believe their country and Hezbollah won the month-long war with Israel and applauded the militant group’s chief Hassan Nasrallah, a poll published on Thursday suggested.

The poll in the English-language Daily Star newspaper said 78.7 percent of respondents thought Nasrallah had demonstrated a good or excellent performance during the war, launched by Israel after Hezbollah staged a cross-border raid and captured two Israeli soldiers on July 12.

The poll showed that 57 percent approved of Hezbollah’s action in snatching the soldiers while 34 percent were against it.

Fifty-nine percent of those questioned said Hezbollah and Lebanon won the war, with some 30 percent saying no one had.

Israel’s stated goals in its offensive were to recover the two captured soldiers and to drive Hezbollah and its weapons out of southern Lebanon. The soldiers are still being held, and the question of Hezbollah’s weapons has not been resolved.

Among politicians’ approval ratings, Nasrallah was followed by parliament speaker Nabih Berri at 71.2 percent and Christian former general Michel Aoun at 58.1 percent. Prime Minister Fuad Siniora came in fourth with only 49.1 percent.

The poll, which surveyed 27,800 Lebanese in August, also said a majority of the people were determined to stay in the country despite the further blow to the economy dealt by Israel’s offensive.

A total of 58.9 percent of respondents said they planned to stay in Lebanon, while 15.3 percent said they intended to leave and 21.5 percent were waiting to see if the situation settles after the August 14 UN-brokered ceasefire.

Lebanon has a population of around four million.

Hariri Trial:
Lebanese law makers seem anxious not to give up control over the Hariri trials to an international body. Although Lebanese Justice Minister Charles Rizk says there is consensus for an international court to be set up to decide on who killed Hariri, he insists it be put to a vote in the Lebanese parliament. This means trouble.

Lebanon seeks clarification of UN Hariri tribunal plan (AFP)
7 September 2006

BEIRUT – Lebanese Justice Minister Charles Rizk said on Thursday a UN proposal to set up an international court to try suspects in the 2005 murder of former premier Rafiq Hariri needed clarification.

Rizk was speaking after a meeting with the UN under secretary general for legal affairs, Nicolas Michel, who was in Beirut to present an outline of the plan, first suggested by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in March.

“We received the proposal, and it needs clarification before the final version” is adopted, the minister told journalists, without elaborating.

Rizk said the idea was for the tribunal to be composed of two chambers.

The first, a trial court, would have a panel of three judges, one of which would be Lebanese. The second, an appeals court, would have five judges, including two Lebanese.

He also said there was a “national consensus” over forming the tribunal.

“This is a working visit. (Michel) will inform us about the procedures to be followed, then I will present a proposal to the government and a decision will be taken. That will be submitted to parliament for a vote.”

Michel Chossudovsky believes preparations are being made for “World War Three.” In his article, The Next Phase of the Middle East War 09/05/06 “GlobalResearch” he argues that “Israel’s war on Lebanon is an integral part of a US sponsored “military roadmap”.

Issa Touma, the inveterate regime wrestler and brave Syrian artist is being hassled by the Baathist authorities in Aleppo yet again. W.J.T. Mitchell writes about Issa’s latest run in: The Continuing Saga of Government Interference with the Arts in Syria

Comments (1)

Joshua Landis said:

Here is comment number two.

September 20th, 2006, 10:46 pm


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