Syria Unlikely to go to Attend Peace Conference - Syria Comment

Syria Unlikely to go to Attend Peace Conference

Ian Black Middle East editor, 25 September 2007, The Guardian

Syria is expected to rebuff an invitation from the US to attend a grand Middle East peace conference later this year because it does not believe that either the Bush administration or Israel wants to reach a comprehensive regional settlement.

President Bashar al-Assad has made no comment on Sunday's call by Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state. But diplomats said yesterday that the Syrian foreign minister, Walid al-Mouallem, will decline the offer when he holds talks at the UN this week – unless he receives ironclad assurances that the event will be more substantial than currently appears likely….

Khaled Yacoub Oweis of Reuters, writes Syria plays down peace chance after Israel raid:

An Israeli raid on Syria has all but finished off chances for resuming peace talks between the two foes, Syrian officials said on Monday.

In the first clear reaction to the Sept 6. Israeli air strike, officials told Reuters Syria was wary of retaliating against Israel given the military superiority of the Jewish state and because of lack of Arab support.

Another reason was Damascus's changing relationship with Russia, an ally during the Communist era.

The officials were dismissive about any new peace talks, which collapsed in 2000 over the scope of an Israeli pullout from the Golan Heights, a 1,750 square km (676 square mile) plateau which the Jewish state captured from Syria in 1967.

"After this raid, you can forget about peace. It is no secret that our forces have been on alert for some time, but Syria will not be the first to start a war," said one of the Syrian officials, who asked not to be named.

"Arab states have not exactly rallied in our support. As for peace, the international picture could start changing late next year with a new administration in Washington," another official said.

Even Moscow, a strong backer of Syria in the days of the Soviet Union, did not directly condemn the Israeli action, in which Syria says planes bombed an empty area after air defence systems confronted them. Israel has not disclosed the target.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Sultanov advised Syrian officials not to go after Israel at the United Nations beyond a protest letter, according to a diplomat familiar with Sultanov's recent meetings in Damascus.

Comments (76)


FOOBARD said:

well, i guess that says it all. the syrian government has convened in response to israel’s airstrike and has summed up its position — (1) israel has military superiority, (2) syria has no regional support, and (3) the ussr no longer exists. are things in Damascus really that bad??? did i read that correctly, or does the asad regime deserve the biggest “no fucking duh!” you’ve ever heard? under what presumptions were they operating prior to this late epiphane?

September 25th, 2007, 3:57 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Foobard,

Cheer up. Funding and arming terrorists will eventually get Syria to where she needs to be.

September 25th, 2007, 4:52 am

 

Ghassan said:

Funny that the Syrian regime is willing to meet with Israel secretly but not openly!!! Israel wants the Syrian Asad regime to survive at the same time Israel wants Syria to “modify” its behavior.

September 25th, 2007, 5:30 am

 

Alex said:

“The Assad regime” does not talk that way … since when do you hear them saying: “you know, we are weak … we are useless .. we were wrong all along … no one loves us …”

September 25th, 2007, 6:33 am

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Alex, I hope that Syria won’t ‘get cold feet’ and attend the peace conference. 😉

Do you think they’ll come?

September 25th, 2007, 6:55 am

 
 

Enlightened said:

Alex said:

““The Assad regime” does not talk that way … since when do you hear them saying: “you know, we are weak … we are useless .. we were wrong all along … no one loves us …”

You forgot two important points….should have read

““The Assad regime” does not talk that way … since when do you hear them saying: “you know, we are weak … we are useless .. we were wrong all along … no one loves us, Israel bombed us, everybody thinks we killed the Lebanese Politicians, we are responsible for global warming!

sorry that was three points

September 25th, 2007, 6:57 am

 

Alex said:

So you want the proud Syrian’s answer? : )

The only interesting part is the timing … this whole invitation to the conference was scheduled way in advance … just before the Lebanese elections … along with the Israeli war threats … and the moderate Arabs not supporting Syria ….. etc.

So Syria is supposed to weigh its expected outcomes this way:

If we play along, if we let America’s candidate for Lebanese president win, if we let America and Saudi Arabia keep Lebanon all for themselves >> then we get to “go to the conference”! … we get to find out the taste of Sarkozy’s mysterious carrot of “if Syria helps us in Lebanon then French Syrian relations will improve in a spectacular way” … and if we are lucky, we get a visit from Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister to Damascus! … No, that’s actually to much to hope for … maybe our foreign minister will get an invitation to visit Saudi Arabia.

I have an answer for you, but first I would like to see your understanding of “the Syrian regime” … will they go?

September 25th, 2007, 7:12 am

 

Alex said:

Enlightened!

Good morning? .. good afternoon?

What time is it in Australia?

September 25th, 2007, 7:16 am

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Well, my understanding of the Syrian regime is incomparable to yours.
Obviously, you can anticipate their moves much better than me.

No doubt about that.

Let me be frank: I honestly don’t know.
On one hand, I’m almost tempted to say “no, they won’t show up.”

But on the other, if they don’t show up, they can easily create a domino effect that will probably prevent the conference from even taking place and they will take the fallout for that.

By doing that, they’ll also give Olmert a precious PR gift, not to mention Bush.

September 25th, 2007, 7:28 am

 

Alex said:

Not bad for an Israeliguy : )

Actually I am not always good in reading their short term or their tactical moves. Sometimes they would move in the opposite direction for a while knowing they will reverse it later.

But in regard to the conference, I agree with you. On the one hand they would like to spend this year being as accommodating as possible.

But on the other hand the others (America, Israel, Saudi Arabia) are creating conditions that make it difficult for the Syrians to attend conferences and play along in general … When Israel sends its planes over Syria, when Saudi Arabia announces it is canceling at planned trip by Syria’s foreign minister … Syria is pushed to do something macho in order to prove it is not weak.

But that is exactly what Syria does not want to do.

Yet, the Lebanese “elections” will be difficult … even if Syria does not interfere … Aoun wants to be president, he is not going to listen to Syrian wishes for him to retire early.

Syria might send a foreign minister to the conference to avoid being blamed for its failure. He is Mr. polite and nice.

But they might not go. And they might do what prime minister Shamir did in Madrid … after realizing that president Bush Sr. was not going to back off this Madrid idea, prime minister Shamir accepted to attend only to ensure the conference fails.

In that case Farouk Shara is the man they would send : )

Finally, about reading Syrian signals before conferences, I just remembered Henry Kissinger discussing in detail with Hafez Assad his planned Mideast conference in 1975. Assad seemed to be unusually easy in approving Kissinger’s ideas for location, pre-conference announcements, items on agenda …etc.

Kissinger then asked Hafez Assad;” Usually your answers to my questions are not this easy. Is there any question I forgot to ask you?

“You did not ask me if I am going to attend”

Are you?

No.

September 25th, 2007, 8:13 am

 

IsraeliGuy said:

LOL! That was funny 🙂

Where are the good old days of the lion from Damascus?

We really appreciated the man here.

September 25th, 2007, 8:24 am

 

Alex said:

: )

I think Hafez needed to use humor to keep Henry awake during those 6-hour sessions.

They just announced that they are delaying the Lebanese parliament session to Oct 23.

No elections today.

September 25th, 2007, 8:43 am

 

IsraeliGuy said:

I’m sure Henry misses those 6 hours sessions (no irony here).
I bet Assad Sr. was quite an intellectual challenge for him and vice versa.

Boy, if only I could be a fly on the wall in one of these sessions…

September 25th, 2007, 8:55 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Since the editors here enjoy a lifetime of picking anti-Israel articles from liberal Israelis, I thought I could return the favor and link to an anti-Baathist Syrian:

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3452353,00.html

Israeliguy said to Alex:

Well, my understanding of the Syrian regime is incomparable to yours. Obviously, you can anticipate their moves much better than me.

Israeliguy,

I’ll bet you 100 “shakh” no Syrian government official will attend this peace conference. Game?

September 25th, 2007, 10:48 am

 

idaf said:

So many parties would gain from Syria not attending, Syria will not be one of them. This late US invitation (and the Israeli nod) gives another possible motive for the Israeli raid few weeks ago: It had put Syria in a position where the US would seem to have done its side of the job by inviting Syria, but Syria the “spoiler” did not show up. The Israeli “raid” put Syria in a position where it can’t easily attend this conference.

If Syria does not show up, the neo-cons will have a field day.

I think that the second part of Alex’s interesting list of scenarios above will take place.. Farouk Al-Sharaa will go there and give one of his powerful speeches (remember the Madrid one?) that will make sure that Syria will appear as powerful (and disobedient) as possible. This would regain some popularity points in the Arab street.

This would be the Syrian alternative to not showing up!

September 25th, 2007, 12:06 pm

 

pam53 said:

Interesting article Akbar , but I doubt Farid Ghandi has ever set foot in Syria since he was a tot. Things are difficult at the moment and all the incertainty doesnt make it easier, but the Syrians actually are suspitious of the “opposition” and go for the devil they know,wasn,t it the same Farid who was pushing for violent regime change? I,m sure all his family are all safe and sound in America , and I,m sure it wouldn,t be in anyones best interests not for the Israelis or the Syrians to listen to this person, he has his own interests at heart and doesn,t give a toss for either country!

September 25th, 2007, 12:09 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Akbar Palace, sorry, I’m not betting.
I’m a poor loser 😉

IDAF, if I was in Assad’s shoes, I’d send Farouk Al-Sharaa’s chauffeur, just to piss everybody off.

September 25th, 2007, 12:20 pm

 

norman said:

Syria will attend.
That is only playing hard to get .
syria never refused a peace initiative , they just wat a better deal for them and the Palestinians and the Lebanese.

September 25th, 2007, 1:04 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Norman, can you define better deal components that Syria would be interested in?
What do they look for?

September 25th, 2007, 1:13 pm

 
 

norman said:

باراك يأمل في التوصل إلى سلام بين سورية وإسرائيل

September 25th, 2007, 1:29 pm

 

why-discuss said:

We don’t know yet is Saudi Arabian will attend? They want their plan to be discussed, and Israel will not accept that anyway, so they may just send someone to show they are not boycotting it.
Do you really think that conference will bring anything new? I would be pleasantly surprised if the failure-prone Bush administration could ever do anything productive. It looks more to me that in their last months in the White House, Bush-Condie tandem are just trying to make an desesperate attempt to show a conciliatory image of the US after their war-mongering campaigns, the mess they have in Iraq, the crisis in Lebanon, and the failure or controlling Iran’s growing power in the region.
The date of the conference has been floating and no official invitations sent yet.
If it is ever held, Syria will probably accept the invitation and would just send an observer.. much more effective response that not attending!

September 25th, 2007, 1:33 pm

 

ausamaa said:

1- What Peace Conference are we talking about? Have you ever seen a thief returning what he has stolen willingly. On a bargaining table sponsored by his Patron and Controller?

2- And if Syria is not attanding (if it does not attend in the end), then what Peace are they going to be discussing? Peace between the Bahrain Defence Force and Israel? Between Abbas and Olmert? Between the UK and Oman?

3- BTW, is KSA really attending anyway especially if Syria chooses to stay away? They can not act that publically cospiratorial. Or can they?

4- However, I am more than confident that we will have Peace after this conference. How long after? Go back to para 1.

Huh….!

September 25th, 2007, 2:25 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

if Syria is invited they will go,the conference will only discuss palastinean issues,it will fail,just like Madrid conference,what USA want is delay,postpone forever, any solution.

September 25th, 2007, 3:42 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

مجلس الشيوخ الأمريكي يستعد للتصويت على قرار لتقسيم العراق

September 25th, 2007, 3:48 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Pam53 said:

Interesting article Akbar , but I doubt Farid Ghandi has ever set foot in Syria since he was a tot.

Considering what would happen to him if he returned to Syria, I guess I can’t blame him.

Isn’t the Syrian governmnet confident enough that they’re the best people to rule the country? And what does one do when the people want change and the mind-controllers-for-life disagree for life?

Anyway, it’s always a breath of fresh air when I hear Arabs talking about freedom and the futility of promoting violence. It gives me a sudden urge to visit my local madrassa and sell flowers.

September 25th, 2007, 4:40 pm

 

Murphy said:

As I said on another thread, I think it is highly unlikely that Syria will attend. They know that it will just be a photo-op for Condi and Abu Mazen, and attendance will ruin their street cred as the last hold-out in the Arab world. Sure, they might score a few points with the US by going, but given that in the past Syria did make conciliatory gestures to the US and got the ‘axis of evil’ in return, I don’t see how the Syrians are that naive – much less that desperate – to think they will get anything substantial by showing up.

As I also said before, I think the really interesting question is if the Saudis will attend. Right now it appears unlikely. They also, stand to lose credibility at home by being mere photo-fodder at a conference designed not to create, but to postpone, a solution. I doubt they will go, but if they do, it would be a significant move in the direction of further appeasement of the US/Israel.

BTW Isn’t Farid Ghadri actually Lebanese?

September 25th, 2007, 4:51 pm

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

Qatar is not going either

September 25th, 2007, 6:23 pm

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

Ha, Bush is sending his wife to Lebanon in October to raise breast cancer awareness…is this really the time for politically correct do-gooding? What about a Gaza Strip Fun Run?

September 25th, 2007, 6:33 pm

 

Murphy said:

“What about a Gaza Strip Fun Run?”

Well, it’s no more absurd than the recent “Surf dudes for Peace”.

September 25th, 2007, 6:39 pm

 

ehsani2 said:

Qatar is not going because its Emir does not support the negotiations. However, the Emir did meet the Israeli Foreign minister in NY today. The meeting supposedly saw the Israeli official stress the importance of strengthening the ties between Arab countries and Israel on the basis of “staged normalization”. Officials from Jordan, Mauritania and Oman also met with Livni.

September 25th, 2007, 6:53 pm

 

Murphy said:

It’s disheartening – if not at all surprising – to hear of ‘leaders’ from Arab states meeting with Livni. Israel has done absolutely nothing to deserve normalisation – “staged” or otherwise (that must be another one for the Zio-lexicon, right up there with ‘targeted assassinations” and “confirming the kill”). Also, just a week ago that same Livni whom Arab ‘leaders’ are clamouring to meet, announced that her country had no qualms about reducing 1.5 million people to a state of medieval subsistence.

I might say who gives a toss about Mauritania, or Oman or Qatar for that matter. But it’s all pretty depressing.

September 25th, 2007, 7:03 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Wow, nobody thinks the Syrians will go.

I’ll give you the Lebanese perspective.

News item #1: (Earlier this summer) The alleged secret negotiations between Israel and Syria are reportedly 85% complete.

News item #2: (A couple of months ago) Bashar states publicly during his state of teh union that Syria wants peace, it wants the Golan, and it is willing to compromise on issues of water and security.

News item #3: (Couple of weeks ago) Berri sends a letter to the U.S. Embassy, asking the Americans about what kind of Lebanese president they’re looking for.

News item #4: (Two days later) Berri announces his initiative, whereby Hizbullah calls off its sit-in, the national unity demands, and in return the Lebanese “agree” on a “consensus” candidate.

Translation: The U.S. decided to finally throw Damascus a bone, give them their candidate for the top job (as long as it’s not Aoun), and in return they show up for the peace conference and play nice. Everybody wins.

Kind of.

September 25th, 2007, 8:59 pm

 

Friend in America said:

Here is some background:
After the U.S. Congressional elections last fall pressure mounted for an all neighbor conference for furthering peace in Iraq (some say to take the pressure off so Malaki can purt an effective government together). The Bush administration changed its negative position and took diplomatic steps to hold such a conference. It has has occupied half of Condelessa Rice’s time this year, or close to half.

Then followed a string of Democrat legislators traveling to Syria. President Assad was very accomodating and hosted each for lunch at which time he would say Syria welcomed peace in Iraq (with no hint as to which type of peace). So the legislators in their naievite went back to Washington and announced the Syrians were willing to participate in a peace conference and their visits played a constructive role.
After 6 months of diplomatic discussions between the U.S. and France and other capitals Damascus thought the “train was going too fast” and diplomatically announced for it to participate the conference should include return of Golan Heights and the others replied not likley.
All of the several organizing countries thought having an agreement on one very difficult middle east problem dependent on an agreemnt of another even more difficult just dimmed the prospects too much for each and therefore there should be 2 conferences. Condelessa telephoned President Assad this week to personally invite him to a single agenda conference; Assad declined. Now we have public confirmation.
Syria is playing its strongest card. It thinks without Syria’s participation a peace conference for Iraq will not result in peace.
In this post air strike period Syrian pride and honor also plays a role as some of the above comments have stated. For the organizers of the peace conference the timing could not be worse. I estimate the peace conference will be postponed for another 3 to 6 months.

There are some internal and external fallouts;
– for public consumption in Syria, this rejection shows Syria will stand up to Europe and the U.S.
– for the leadership in Damascus, it means Syria can continue its preparations for a military response to the air strikes.
– For France, it is off the hook in promising substantial financial support to Syria for going along with the conference and cooperating in its outcome.
– For Iran, Great! we have Syria right where we want it – dependent on us and we can influence, if not set, its foreign policy.
– For the Congressional Democrats in the U.S. who pushed Bush so very hard on including Syria, it is very embarrassing, and they will have to respond to news reporters questions ‘wasn’t Bush right all along – that the Syrians are not serious about negotations on iraq?’ Were they fooled by President Assad? That will be the discussion in the U.S. It has the potential of derailing the Democrat campaigh for the Presidency in 2008,
My view is it is quite understandable why Syria declined to attend – ‘what’s in it for us?’ That is a short term view. Syria’s foreign polcy has been short term for years.

September 25th, 2007, 9:11 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

I really enjoyed reading Friend in America’s analysis.
Some good insights.

September 25th, 2007, 9:21 pm

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

If you like Kevin Smith, you’ll like War Nerd’s take on Lebanon:

http://www.exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=12776&IBLOCK_ID=35

And I have a comment on this failure of a peace conference foretold.

I have been following the drama in Somalia. Saudi and Qatar very strongly urged the US not to interview there through proxy Ethiopia and we all know what happened. Also, these two states were prepared to buy most residential and service buildings in Gaza from the Israelis, which they instead preferred to raze. These are reasons enough not to show up.

It seems that the US and Israel don’t have the slightest interest in any “peace” or in making any progress toward a Palestinian state. Perhaps they only wanted a forum for Hamas bashing.

September 25th, 2007, 9:32 pm

 

idaf said:

Friend in America said: “Syria’s foreign policy has been short term for years”.

Actually, Syria is almost the only country in the region (other than Israel) with long term foreign policy planning (check out how they were right on Iraq, betting on the winning horses in Lebanon and Palestine, etc). Actually, the foreign policy planning is so focused on the longer term that the Syrian foreign policy steps almost always seems weird for observers with no historical background in the region, which in most cases eventually prove to be correct: Remember supporting the Iraqi opposition to Saddam for decades? Every other country in the world was pouring praise, money or arms at Saddam at the time. Remember supporting the US in the first Iraq war? Allies like Jordan did not at the time. Remember how Syria’s policy on this Iraq war was right all along (war will lead to chaos), and the list goes on. All these steps looked weird at the time but proved to be the correct moves eventually.

This conference is for PR and PR only. It will not lead to anywhere, everyone knows this and no one has any illusions about it. I hope you don’t.

Qifa Nabki,
Let me break this peice of news to you: Now repeat after me… NOT EVERYTHING SYRIA DOES IS RELATED LEBANON.
Some Lebanese need to grow up, get over their conspiracy theories and understand that the world does not rotate around Lebanon.

September 25th, 2007, 9:33 pm

 

offended said:

right on IDAF, i agree 100%

September 25th, 2007, 9:51 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Here’s how I see it.

I believe that these times are the most challenging for Bashar, since he became the president of Syria.
Actually, it’s far more than just ‘challenging’.
Right now he’s experiencing his first crucial leadership test.

Some key int’l players managed to encircle him and to push him in to a corner.
Not an easy position to be in.

The Americans managed to orchestrate some simultaneous moves on several fronts: Lebanon, the Israeli air raid and the peace conference.

Bashar has some tough decisions to make.
He knows that he can’t win on all fronts.
So what do you do in a situation like this?
You have to prioritize.

You’re choosing your most important front on the expense of painful losses on others.

Here’s what I see as Bashar’s most important front: his home in Syria.
He can’t afford losing a lot of points there.

He can’t afford to look as the Middle East’s joke.
Some already see him this way and it’s very dangerous.
It can cost him his chair.

It’s at times like this, where the most poisonous (domestic) snakes, come out of their holes, trying to collect their prey while it’s weak and vulnerable – and Bashsar knows that.

So I expect his main priority will be to secure his rule, even if he’ll have to play hard ball with everybody else on the planet – whatever it costs.

September 25th, 2007, 9:59 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

IDAF,

No one said the world rotates around Lebanon. But isn’t it striking that easily 50% of the discussions on Syria Comment relate to Syria’s much smaller neighbor?

Certainly not everything that Syria does is related to Lebanon, IDAF, but a great deal is, and the Lebanese issue always seems to factor in somehow. Believe me, we’d prefer that it didn’t.

September 25th, 2007, 10:57 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Israeliguy said:

I believe that these times are the most challenging for Bashar, since he became the president of Syria.

Be’emet! What’s the challenge?

1.) On the international front:

– Continue to entertain the Iranians, arm the terror orgs in Lebanon
– Continue to erase Lebanese moderates and reformers
– Continue to talk peace but “not at any price”

2.) On the peace front:

– this goes against Baathist, Jihadist doctrine
– peace breeds instability

3.) On the domestic front

– Keep the opposition in jail
– plaster lots of posters on building wall
– give MEMRI a lot of interesting articles to translate
– arm the regime to the teeth (WMDs are the most cost effective)

September 26th, 2007, 12:17 am

 

Enlightened said:

Alex;

What Time is it…………….?

Well its the Time of Your Life!

September 26th, 2007, 1:02 am

 

ausamaa said:

AP,

(WMDs are the most cost effective)

Are you talking about the few hundreds of Atomic bombs Israel has?

BTW, has it done you guys any good so far? Or has “arming Israel to the teeth” done Israel any better?

September 26th, 2007, 1:07 am

 

IsraeliGuy said:

*************
“BTW, has it done you guys any good so far? Or has “arming Israel to the teeth” done Israel any better?”
*************

Ausamaa, regarding your question I can divide my comment to 2 parts.

In ‘limited conflicts’ such the ones we have with the Palestinians for decades or like the last Lebanon war, these nukes indeed mean nothing.

The purpose of such weapons, according to Israeli doctrine, is to deter other countries from opening an all out war against it.

What’s the point of opening such a war if even in case of initial impressive achievements and advances, your country will be nuked?

It makes country leaders think 1,000 times before opening such a war.

Actually, since 1973, there was no such war, so I feel this policy is quite successful.

September 26th, 2007, 1:33 am

 

norman said:

MR Israeli ,
Syria will be in the peace conference ,
The most important point for Syria , the Syrian people and MR Bashar Assad is the Golan Heights and until it’s return all bets are off , there will be no peace in Lebanon , Palestine ,Israel and Iraq until the Golan Heights is back in Syrian hands , Israel is smart enough to see that and go the fastest way for peace
with Syria.
It does not matter if Israel has nuclear weapons as i do not believe that the people who suffered in the holocaust will inflict that kind of disaster on others , it will only make Israel over confident and push it toward refusal of a just peace that will make everybody happy and prosper , it all come back to what the personal ownership of people not the collective ownership of the country.

September 26th, 2007, 2:38 am

 

why-discuss said:

Syria is ‘dependent’ on Iran?
Well, what did Syria got from its ‘dependency’ on powerful arab countries ? From KSA, some money to build villas and hotels and sex and alcool craved tourists. They also got cries of treasons when they supported Iran against Saddam Hossein! What the “powerful” and ” USA friendly” KSA has done to help Syria get back the Golan? What KSA and ‘Arab League’ did to help solving the problem of the millions of palestinians residing in Syria? Nothing!
Who will defend Syria if attacked by Israel?
The neighboring arab countries achievements are pathetic, failure after failures! and now Lebanon is sending Syria daily accusations, threats and insults.
With friends like that, who needs ennemies?

It is very clear that the alliance with Iran is the only reliable alliance Syria could hope for. Iran may have failed in many areas, but they stand firmly on their position against injustified accusations. They have helped Hezbollah repulse american-supported Israel in the attempt to neutralize the lebanese resistance. They have a powerful army, strong economical potentials and they are very politically savvy.
The arab street, despite the continuous US-Israel campaign of demonization, is admiring Iran’s strenght in standing against the US failed attempts of hegemony in the area.
Iran is doing what no arab country has never been able to do: Terrify Israel!

September 26th, 2007, 2:39 am

 

Cathy H. said:

There’s a lot of discussion about whether Syria would attend based on perceived benefits.

Here is a thought question: what are the penalties if Syria does not attend?

Here is a summary of some recent events:

–21 Sept Rice and Kouchner meet; state they are aligned with respect to Iran and Lebanon
–22-23 Sept Build up of stories in Anglo-Saxon press detailing both Israel’s incursion into Syria, plus additional information on the state of Syria’s chemical weapons program, including an VX/Sarin accident in July.
–23 Sept– Ahmadinejad arrives in US, saying he is man of peace. US releases further accusations/evidence detailing Irans interference in Iraq.
–23 Sept– Rice holds conference on Sunday a few hours after Ahmadinejad arrives. States that Syria is invited to upcoming MidEast peace talks.
–22/23 Sept– Kouchner holds interview with NYT, stresses sanctions on Iran again via EU.

If Syria does not attend, it will signal that it is staying aligned with Iran. Given events in motion to isolate Iran, what will Syria gain/lose by the continued alliance?

September 26th, 2007, 2:50 am

 

IsraeliGuy said:

*************
“The arab street, despite the continuous US-Israel campaign of demonization, is admiring Iran’s strenght in standing against the US failed attempts of hegemony in the area.
Iran is doing what no arab country has never been able to do: Terrify Israel!”
*************

Why-Discuss, after reading your last sentence, I have 3 words for you: you’re absolutely right.

As an Israeli, I can testify that the Israeli public opinion, media and government are all terrified by the possibility that Iran will have a nuclear bomb.

This is the #1 topic on our agenda.

In fact, the last time the country was that terrified, was in 1980-1981, as the Iraqi nuclear reactor approached becoming operational (“warm”).

The way I see it, there are mainly 2 scenarios.

The first: the Iranian program will NOT be confronted militarily.
I believe that in such a case, Syria will find itself in a very good position.

The second: the Iranian program will be confronted militarily.
In such a case, Syria will find itself in a very bad position.

Do you agree with the general tone of my assessment?

September 26th, 2007, 3:17 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

The purpose of such weapons, according to Israeli doctrine, is to deter other countries from opening an all out war against it.

What’s the point of opening such a war if even in case of initial impressive achievements and advances, your country will be nuked?

It makes country leaders think 1,000 times before opening such a war.

Actually, since 1973, there was no such war, so I feel this policy is quite successful.

Well Israeliguy doesn’t the Israeli doctrine apply also to other countries doctrine “needs”? Would Israeli planes fly in Arab countries airspace like their own if Arab countries had nukes? I doubt that. Would Israel be more willing to sign peace treaties with Arabs including a fair two state solution if Arabs had nukes? I think so.

Israel has not signed Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), Arab countries have, which makes the present strategic situation extremely unbalanced. Israel is an aggressive and unpredictable nuclear power (which it is with its fast increasing long range capacity). So it is not only a strategic threat for Arab countries, it is also a threat to EU, Russia, Iran and Turkish countries. The amount of Israeli nukes and other WMD’s has long ago exceeded the need of an simple defensive deterrent. For that Israel would need 10 nuclear bombs, not several hundreds (more than China) as it has now.

An interesting article in Haaretz Documents show Israel lobbying to import nuclear material to bypass NTP. And these “guys” are blaming Iran, amusing isn’t it.

On the other hand Israeliguy Syria, Egypt etc could say that their doctrine with chemical and bacteriological weapon programs have worked well. Israel has not attacked them since 1973.

On a longer run there is nothing Israel can do to block Arab countries in building nuclear power stations and the research and industries linked to them, so achieving the the Japanese nuclear weapon option (= the ability to create relatively fast nuclear weapons when needed).

September 26th, 2007, 4:00 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

I have question to the Israeli people, do they believe in ARMAGEDDON?, where it is going to occur?, I think it is going to be in palastine.
In Islam we believe God said,to the israeli,if you come back,we will be back too.
I think Ahmadinajad is coming with a message of peace,just like Sharon used to say,while he was killing palastineans, and recently ,foreign minister of France he talk about war,and call this a message of peace, politicians always say the opposite.

September 26th, 2007, 4:49 am

 

Alex said:

Funny to read you discussing Syria’s long term foreign policy.

I just finished reading an opinion piece on Haaretz where they quickly tried to rescue us Syrian commentators here with a useful counter argument:

“Henry Kissinger used to say that Israel has no foreign policy, only internal politics. Listening to our politicians, you often indeed wonder whether any of them has any long-term strategy.”

But seriously, I agree with IDAF. The last two serious strategic deicsions Syria took were

1) In the mid 80’s when the Soviet Union disappeared, following the Egyptian Israeli peace treaty, Syria formally dropped the military option to liberate the Golan. No one noticed the shift because the Reagan administration did not care to make use of Syria’s strategic shift. It was only when James Baker and President Bush Sr. moved into the white house that we started to realize the possibilities… like Syria’s participation int he Kuwait liberation war followed by Syria’s participation in the Madrid conference …etc.

2) In 2004 Syria decided to hedge its alliances by getting closer to Turkey and Iran (everyone forgets Turkey for some reason) … partially at the expense of its relations with America’s favorite Arab allies.

The Saudi owned Arab press likes to see it as a Syrian mistake that demonstrates Bashar’s lack of experience.

It is simply a hedging strategy… Not intended to maximize desirable gains, but to minimize risks of being totally boycotted by America and all its freinds.

Otherwise … Syria stuck to its long term foreign policy. Take a Hafez Assad speech from 1990 and it will apply perfectly well today.

Israeliguy,

You are right that Bashar is facing challenging times. In his speech to the Syrian parliament few months ago he told his audience that he is expecting a very difficult year this year.

But his toughest challenge was in 2003-2005 … that’s when he realized that Chirac, King Abdullah, Mubarak, and Lebanon are now his enemies, not his allies.

Iran, Turkey, Russia, and Hamas + Hizbollah gave him back all the support he needs.

This can be a very annoying year, but unless Israel really decides to attack Syria, Bashar will play along until it is over. He will play along in Iraq, in Palestine, maybe attend the Mideast conference if they insist …

But Lebanon is where Bashar should feel threatened. For even if he decided to not do a thing (he will not of course) the Lebanese opposition will still insist on its agenda … America won’t like it and Syria will be blamed … Sarkozy will feel obliged to support the Americans in punishing Syria for Lebanon’s modified direction.

But there is still a good chance that a compromise can be reached. Hariri wants to be the next prime minister, Syria is not opposed to his candidacy… Syria knows Hariri is popular in Lebanon. But they need him to support a neutral president who can balance his M14 anti-Syria group.

September 26th, 2007, 6:28 am

 

IsraeliGuy said:

**************
“Well Israeliguy doesn’t the Israeli doctrine apply also to other countries doctrine “needs”?”
**************

I believe it does – but in my opinion, only to democracies.

The odds that nuclear weapons will be used or trafficked in irresponsible ways by a democracy is very small.

The odds that nuclear weapons will be used or trafficked in irresponsible ways by dictatorships is much much higher.

Therefore, in my opinion, non democratic courtiers should not be allowed to hold nuclear weapons.

**************
“Would Israeli planes fly in Arab countries airspace like their own if Arab countries had nukes? I doubt that. Would Israel be more willing to sign peace treaties with Arabs including a fair two state solution if Arabs had nukes?
**************

Theoretical question yet an interesting one.
It’s not like they don’t have other types of WMD which can cause us devastating damage.

**************
“Israel has not signed Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT)…”
**************

True, but I believe you’re presenting the reality regarding WMD in the Middle East in a pretty selective way.

Israel signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, but didn’t ratify it yet.
Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq did not sign the treaty at all.

On the biological weapons front it’s vice versa: Israel did not sign the Biological Weapons Convention, while Syria, Egypt and UAE signed but didn’t ratify it yet.

In my opinion after the entire Middle East will become democratic and peace will be agreed between Israel and the Arab world, we will be able to get rid of all WMD throughout the region, because we won’t need it anymore.

**************
“So it is not only a strategic threat for Arab countries, it is also a threat to EU, Russia, Iran and Turkish countries.”
**************

I seriously doubt if the EU, Russia and Turkey see us as a threat.

**************
“On the other hand Israeliguy Syria, Egypt etc could say that their doctrine with chemical and bacteriological weapon programs have worked well. Israel has not attacked them since 1973.”
**************

Totally fine with me if they indeed see it this way.
By the way, we have peace with Egypt for a long time now, so in my opinion, that’s the main reason for them not to attack us and vice versa.

September 26th, 2007, 8:29 am

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Here’s something interesting…

Bashar al-Assad of Syria and Kim Jong-il of North Korea “cooperate” in a new web campaign for Panasonic plasma TV in Israel.

Wanna see the ads?

Click on the link below.
It’s an Israeli shopping site.
You’ll see the banner on the left.

If it doesn’t show the Assad ad, refresh a couple of times until it will and you’ll get it.

This ad is all over the Israeli web.

http://www.p1000.co.il/

September 26th, 2007, 9:43 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Ausamma asks:

Are you talking about the few hundreds of Atomic bombs Israel has?

BTW, has it done you guys any good so far? Or has “arming Israel to the teeth” done Israel any better?

WMD include not just nuclear weapons, but also chemical and biological weapons as well.

A number of democracies have WDMs, but they do not threaten to use them against other sovereign nations. And there have been regimes that are not democratic that have threatened to use WMDs against other countries or sell WMD to terrorist organizations.

IMHO, these are the countries that should not have WMD. Iraq, Iran, Syria, and North Korea are a small list of countries that should not have the right to obtain WMD.

Israel’s stockpile of WMD is their “insurance policy”. Israel has never threatened to use the weapons unless the survival of Israel is threatened. Israel has never threatened to “burn half of Iraq” or “wipe Iran or Syria off the map”.

September 26th, 2007, 10:00 am

 

abraham said:

Akbar linked to an article by Farid Ghadry.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHA!

September 26th, 2007, 10:35 am

 

abraham said:

All this talk about Syria being in a corner is silly. The strategy is simple: if the current options are not good and you’re backed into a corner, just wait. Eventually, the situation will change and doors will open where there weren’t any before. Only act when you absolutely have to.

A lot of people commenting here don’t have the first understanding of the Middle East. And less so about Syria.

September 26th, 2007, 10:52 am

 

t_desco said:

This is great news, IMHO:

Syria willing to transfer disputed Shaba Farms to UN custody

By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent

Syria is willing to transfer the Shaba Farms to the custody of the United Nations as part of an effort to resolve the sovereignty dispute over the area, which is currently under Israel’s control.

The new Syrian position was outlined in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon by Spain’s Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos, who visited Damascus last month.

Israeli political sources said Tuesday that Syria’s offer is meant to put pressure on Jerusalem, which opposes any withdrawal from Shaba at this stage.

Moratinos sent the letter to the UN secretary general two weeks ago, after discussing the matter with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus.

In it, Moratinos, who was the European Union’s special envoy to the Middle East before becoming Spain’s foreign minister, wrote that Syria is willing to transfer the area to UN custody even before the international border between it and Lebanon has been fully demarcated. The UN has been engaged in marking the border for the past year.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora said last year that he would also like to see Shaba transferred to UN custody.

The Shaba Farms, situated in the foothills of Har Dov at the point where the borders of Israel, Lebanon and Syria converge, used to be part of the French Mandate in Syria and Lebanon. The border, which followed a 1923 agreement between Britain and France, was never precisely demarcated.

In May 2000, following Israel’s withdrawal from south Lebanon, the UN ruled that Shaba was part of the Golan Heights, and was therefore Syrian rather than Lebanese. It also said that Shaba’s future should be determined in negotiations between Israel and Syria.

However, Lebanon claimed that Shaba was within its sovereign territory, and this provided Hezbollah with a pretext for continuing its military operations against Israel, in order to liberate the “occupied territory.”

Following last year’s Second Lebanon War, the UN began marking the international border between Syria and Lebanon, mainly in order to resolve the dispute over which country actually owns Shaba. Israel’s position has been that there should be no discussion of Shaba’s future until the UN makes a final decision on precisely where this border lies.

“There is no change in Israel’s stance on the matter,” a source in the Prime Minister’s Bureau told Haaretz on Tuesday. “First, the demarcation of the border must be completed.”

Senior Foreign Ministry officials told a Moratinos aide who visited Israel last week that there should be no discussions on Shaba “at our expense.” They also warned that an Israel Defense Forces withdrawal from the area at this time would undermine Israel’s interests and constitute a “prize” for Syria’s ally, Hezbollah.

Israeli sources expressed dissatisfaction Tuesday at the fact that Spain did not officially inform Israel about the Moratinos letter to Ban Ki-moon. Israeli diplomats learned of its content by chance during talks at the UN.

The letter may contribute to the growing tension between Israel and Spain, initially sparked by a meeting Moratinos held with Hezbollah’s deputy secretary general, Naim Qassem. Following that meeting, a Moratinos visit to Israel that had been scheduled for earlier this month was postponed until October.

UN mapping expert Miklos Pinter, who has been busy delineating the border area near Shaba, visited Israel two weeks ago to meet his Israeli counterparts. Next month, the UN is expected to publish a new report on the situation between Israel and Lebanon, and Pinter’s findings may be included in the document.

Israeli officials are concerned that this report could spark renewed discussion of which country has sovereignty over Shaba Farms.
Haaretz

September 26th, 2007, 10:52 am

 

abraham said:

IsraeliGuy,

Regarding the “Israeli doctrine” (acquisition of nukes as a deterrent), you said:

“I believe it does – but in my opinion, only to democracies.

The odds that nuclear weapons will be used or trafficked in irresponsible ways by a democracy is very small.”

Are you excluding Israel’s transfer of nuke technology to South Africa? Of course, this assumes Israel is a democracy, which it is plainly not.

“The odds that nuclear weapons will be used or trafficked in irresponsible ways by dictatorships is much much higher.”

I agree. Look at the actions of the US currently (yes, I am saying the US is run by a dictator, only he uses a more politically correct term: The Decider).

“Therefore, in my opinion, non democratic courtiers should not be allowed to hold nuclear weapons.”

I agree. You should lobby your country to dispose of its nuclear weapons and sign on to the NPT posthaste.

September 26th, 2007, 11:27 am

 

idaf said:

Akbar said:
“democracies have WDMs, but they do not threaten to use them against other sovereign nations”

Yes Akbar they do not threaten to use them, they actually use them and not just threaten. Does Hiroshima and Nagasaki ring a bell? And by the way that was not an existential threat to the democracy that used WMDs at the time. Moreover, WMDs are being transferred and sold by democracies to non-democracies all the time. For example, Rumsfeld was responsible for selling biological and chemical agents that Saddam, wasn’t he? Saddam was even then encouraged by the US and its allies to use those WMDs against the Iranians to stop the “revolution” from spreading to US allies. Hence almost the only nation in the region that was actually scarred by WMDs (supplied by democracies mind you) was Iran.. and therefore any rational human being would understand why/if Iran wants to obtain WMDs. Can’t say the same about Israel. If you go back further to history, the use of WMDs in 20th century’s wars was almost exclusive to western democracies. Israel (which you claim is a democracy) also regularly uses WMDs. Just a year ago it infested Lebanon with millions of banned cluster bombs that will continue to kill children there for years to come. The same thing with the US in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So yes Akbar you are right the “non-democracies” may threaten to use WMDs, but they would not have the guts to use them, maybe unless their existence is threatened (same way with democracies) BUT it is the powerful democracies that actually produce and obtain WMDs and posses the arrogant self-righteous zeal to justify using them against the inferior non-democratic people and nations.
Your misleading argument is being used by the neo-cons for a while now. Which raises the following question: Are we witnessing the emergence of a form of neo-racism here, where the people living in superior democratic nations have the legitimacy to produce, sell and use WMDs against the inferior people living in non-democratic nations?!

Akbar continues:
“IMHO, these are the countries that should not have WMD: Iraq, Iran, Syria, and North Korea are a small list of countries that should not have the right to obtain WMD.”

But Akbar, I thought Iraq is a democracy now and therefore has already entered the club of the superior race that can obtain (and even use) WMDs!

September 26th, 2007, 12:04 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

********
I believe it does – but in my opinion, only to democracies.

The odds that nuclear weapons will be used or trafficked in irresponsible ways by a democracy is very low.

The odds that nuclear weapons will be used or trafficked in irresponsible ways by dictatorships is much much higher.

Therefore, in my opinion, non democratic courtiers should not be allowed to hold nuclear weapon
********

Well then all the world democratic countries should have nukes. What happens with “democratic” nukes when USA decides the change the democratically elected government to a dictatorship like in Greece and Chile. Would those new directorships have to donate their “democracy bombs” to USA?

On the other hand is Israel a democracy can be disputed. I do not think that a country with such religious basis, political structure and legislation which Israel has is a real democracy. A democracy for religious Jews, but not for others. Haredistan is no democracy. Name one single democracy which has the human rights record of Israel, has thousands of political prisoners, uses constantly torture and human shields in attacks, holds millions under its rule in style which make old slave owners envy, attacks constantly the neighbours etc. Haredistan is a religious directorship.

Come-on all nations have military doctrines. Democracies, the Jewish Homeland and directorships.

***********
I seriously doubt if the EU, Russia and Turkey see us as a threat.
***********

Well then you do not understand anything from politics and military. Why do you think that Israeli planes have threatened the German spy ship just near Israeli coastline? Why do you think that China has UN troops in Lebanon, when it doesn’t have them in other UN operations? Why has Russia listening stations in Syria? Why is Russia building (again) a naval station in Syria? The fact is that these foreign powers are gathering intelligence mainly from Israel and secondarily from Hizbollah etc.

As said before Israel has a military capacity far, far beyond defensive needs. For what reason Israeliguy? That is the relevant point.

************
In my opinion after the entire Middle East will become democratic and peace will be agreed between Israel and the Arab world, we will be able to get rid of all WMD throughout the region, because we won’t need it anymore.
************

Peace and having no WMD’s has nothing to do with democracy. If Israel would like Arab countries get faster democratic it would begin to solve problems instead of creating constantly new ones.

Do you seriously believe that Israel would give up its nukes and other WMD’s? Come-on. Israel’s economy and political position in the world is much build on the continuation of the violence and conflicts. Could you sell your military gadgets and your surveillance tools if you did not have the needed r&d and target shooting area with living targets in Palestine? Would Americans continue to pay your living costs?

PS
Very interesting
Exclusive: Ynet reporter visits site of ‘Syria operation’

September 26th, 2007, 12:17 pm

 

Friend in America said:

IDAF-
Sorry to be late in replying to the fine review of Syria’s foreign policy that you wrote. Perhaps I may have mistaken tactical moves for strategic. I, and hopefully others here, would appreciate a more extensive comment from you. Here is my perspective:

A case can be made that the #1 objective of the leadership in Damascus as self preservation. Not that this is unusual. It becomes the #1 objective for almost all authoritarian governments once the ideology has run thin. Self preservation in foreign affairs requires opportunism and flexibility (authoritarian regimes can apply repression internally but not externally so its foreign policy appears more like moves in a chess game). If so, self preservation results in an endless stream of tactical moves without any apparent consistency in policy.
As an aside, the ruling leadership in the parliaments of democratic countries will also act to preserve its posiiton and on occasions become preoccupied with self preservation. But they have to act out differently. Liberal and some moderate writers currently are accusing the former Republican congressional leadership from 2001 through 2005 as more interested in the preservation of its leadership than adhering to the better qualities of conservative fiscal policy.

September 26th, 2007, 1:07 pm

 
 

why-discuss said:

Isrealiguy

The way I see it, there are mainly 2 scenarios.

The first: the Iranian program will NOT be confronted militarily.
I believe that in such a case, Syria will find itself in a very good position.

The second: the Iranian program will be confronted militarily.
In such a case, Syria will find itself in a very bad position.

Do you agree with the general tone of my assessment?

Yes, with some remarks:
In the first case it also depends on Iran’s level and psychological impact of their retaliation. If they are effective, then Syria comes out even stronger.

In addition there are third and fourth solutions:
– IAEA in december clears Iran from the accusation of WMD, thus nullifying the sanctions OR Iran accepts to stop their uranium production as requested by the UN resolution.
(less desirable by Israel and the US who could decide to strike before).

– The arabs pressures IAEA and the UN to start a campaign to clarify the Dimona nuclear facility in Israel, thus switching the focus on Israel WDM and decreasing pressure on Iran. (Also not desirable for Israel who prefer to play to leave doubts about the WDM , perceived as a deterrent to any major attack)

In december we would know..

September 26th, 2007, 1:35 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

http://transparency.org/news_room/latest_news/press_releases/2007/2007_09_26_cpi_2007_en

A table of 180 countries places Syria at 138 in this study that ranks countries according to the perceptions of the degree of corruption as seen by business people and country analysts. Not surprisingly, the study finds a strong correlation between corruption and poverty. A score below three is an indication that corruption in that country is rampant.

Rather than reforming our corrupt public sector, things seem to be getting worse judging by the country’s latest score.

2007 = 2.4
2006 = 2.9
2005 = 3.4
2004 = 3.4
2003 = 3.4

Syria is tied with Pakistan, Ethiopia, Paraguay and Cameroon.

Scroll to the bottom of the link to access the full table and sources.

September 26th, 2007, 2:14 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Hariri addressing neo-cons via Fox News: “It was not enough to get rid of Saddam, Bashar should have been removed too”

Hariri junior as the next lebanon’s prime minister?
With statements like this one that sounds so much like Bush junior bellicose statements, we are on for more years of conflicts in Lebanon!
His trust in the power of his money and in the US ability to handle the complexity of the area seems naive and dangerous.

September 26th, 2007, 2:28 pm

 

Alex said:

Why-Discuss,

Berri’s deal is to let them (M14) design their own government as they wish, but in return they agree to an independent president … not pro government (anti Syria) and not pro opposition.

There is just over one year left in this government’s time. This is a year of stagnation everywhere in the middle east … at best.

It will probably continue to be a year of stagnation in Lebanon as well … if they are lucky.

By the way, for those who are not paying attention, claims that Syria is closely guiding the Lebanese opposition can perhaps be questioned?… look at Nabih Berri sitting and smiling with Hariri who just called for the American forced removal of Bashar Assad.

And Berri (plus Hizbollah) will accept a Hariri led government … so it is not only the freedom to do superficial things.

September 26th, 2007, 2:51 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Since some of the commentators discussed the corruption of Israeli public officials, it it interesting to note that the Jewish state actually ranks higher than all Arab countries when it comes to their public sector corruption. Set below is the list from the least to the most corrupt in our region:

Israel
Qatar
U.A.E
Bahrain
Jordan
Oman
Kuwait
Tunisia
Turkey
Morocco
Saudi Arabia
Algeria
Lebanon
Egypt
Iran
Libya
Yemen
Syria
Sudan
Iraq

September 26th, 2007, 2:58 pm

 

Alex said:

Ehsani! You traitor to the Arab cause!!

: )

September 26th, 2007, 3:20 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Alex,

In order to improve in life, you have to admit to your shortfalls first. There is no point hiding our heads in the sand. Our country’s position next to most of the African nations pains me.

September 26th, 2007, 3:23 pm

 

Murphy said:

Note that the survey is concerned with ‘perceptions’ of corruption (whatever that is) not corruption itself.

September 26th, 2007, 3:51 pm

 

Alex said:

Ehsani

1) I was joking. Please go ahead and list our shortfalls.
2) as Murphy pointed out above … don’t take these lists literally. Corruption in Syria is obviously nothing to be happy about. But these lists are too digital for my taste… and they are obviously based on perceptions since we don’t have reliable government data on corruption.

For example, the reason those perceptions are getting more negative (2.4 in 2007 instead of 3.4 few years ago) could be simply that now there are more expensive cars in Damascus and more big projects under construction … most people will look at those and say: “those bastards who have the money to buy these things … where did they get it from?”

So this “trend” is a trend in perceptions of corruption, not in actual corruption.

Which is good … that people are more sensitive to corruption.

September 26th, 2007, 4:09 pm

 

JimR said:

Is there now a US-Israeli policy to emasculate the No-Dong missiles?

September 26th, 2007, 4:15 pm

 

Ehsani2 said:

You are right that it is “perceptions” that are being measured.
“Reality” can be even better or worse, no?

You seem to believe that the perceptions are somehow wrong or inaccurate. Surely, you don’t think that corruption is not rampant, do you?

September 26th, 2007, 6:03 pm

 

Alex said:

Corruption is rampant. Corruption is one of the top challenges for Syria as it tries to modernize its economy. I don’t see any serious effort to fight corruption.

But perceptions are perceptions… in 2003 corruption was as bad as it gets. Now few years later, I doubt it got any worse. I think the perception is related to seeing all the investments and luxury that were not there before … it is not that those people did not have money .. they simply had their money hidden in Lebanese bank accounts, and not invested in large projects in the middle of Damascus.

I know many friends who in 2003 were driving their family’s old (1985) Mazdas and Peugeots, but now have Hummers and BMW X5 SUVs… they did not steal any money. But the man on the street believes they did.

September 26th, 2007, 6:11 pm

 

Ehsani2 said:

Alex,

That was good. You are hard core

September 26th, 2007, 6:19 pm

 

Post a comment