Syria Wants Clear US Commitment to Exit Iraq

So long as President Bush believes that the US is winning in Iraq, there will be no rapprochement with Syria. Syria's price will be too high. Syria is asking the US to make a clear statement about leaving Iraq. In other words, Syria is saying that if Bush will admit defeat in Iraq, Syria will help. And, by the way, Syria wants an expanded Lebanese cabinet, an end to the Hariri investigation, the Golan up to the water, and an independent Palestinian state in all the occupied territories. Thank You. 

President Bush in Vietnam

"President George W. Bush said Friday that the American experience in Vietnam contained lessons for the war in Iraq. Chief among them, he said, was that "we'll succeed unless we quit."

"The Maliki government is going to make it unless the coalition leaves before they have a chance to make it," he said of Iraq's prime minister. "And that's why I assured the prime minister we'll get the job done."

Nir Rosen's anatomy of a civil war. [Excellent: Gives a real sense of who Muqtada al-Sadr is.]

No posts for a few days: I will be leaving to Boston to attend the Middle East Studies Association Conference tomorrow, which will keep me from posting for. I will be speaking with Andrew Tabler on Syria's relations with the US Saturday evening at the Syrian Studies Association meeting at 7:00 pm. On Monday I will speak with Juan Cole, Asad Abu Khalil, Helena Cobban and Abu Aardvark on blogging: "Is it good for your career?"

In the article, Baker Met Syrian Envoys to Urge Cooperation Against Iraq Unrest By Janine Zacharia, Nov. 17, Syria's Ambassador to the US, Imad Mustapha explains what influence Syria has in Iraq that can be used to help the US. He explains that Syria can help bring the Sunnis and Muqtada al-Sadr toward a deal. In exchange, "We are just telling them there should be a very clear announcement about, a commitment for, withdrawal,'' Moustapha said. Here is a bit of the article.

Syria believes it can play an important role in restoring stability because many Iraqis, particularly the Sunnis, “have started looking at Syria as someone who can protect their interests,'' Moustapha said in the interview. He also cited Syria's close ties with anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada al- Sadr, who he said frequently travels to Damascus, once for a two-week stay.

“Most of these guys feel disenfranchised today in Iraq, so we can have some leverage on them,'' he said…

Withdrawal Sought

Syrian officials told the Iraq Study Group that the U.S. needs to announce a readiness to withdraw troops if Iraq is to be stabilized.

“We are just telling them there should be a very clear announcement about, a commitment for, withdrawal,'' Moustapha said. “As long as certain Iraqis believe you are not planning to withdraw, they will continue to fight against you.''

Baker's spokesman, John Williams, while calling the Syrian account generally correct, noted that Baker “never asked'' the Syrians for help in advance of the 1991 war, and only explained to them why it would be in their interest to get involved.

U.S. engagement with Syria and Iran — an idea that is gaining traction among Democrats, in particular — is emerging as a possible element of the Iraq Study Group's recommendations. Such a proposal might set up a conflict with the Bush administration, which has shown little openness to engage in dialogue with the Syrian leadership…

“The last time the Syrians engaged with the Americans it was substantial, it was solid and we delivered,'' Moustapha said.

No `Revolution'

U.S. policy makers accuse Syria of meddling in Lebanon and sheltering Palestinian terrorists.

“I don't think we should expect a revolution in the administration,'' said Dennis Ross, who served as special Middle East envoy under President Bill Clinton. “They are six years in power. There is a certain set of attitudes. There is a certain approach.''

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reflected that skepticism in comments to reporters en route to Vietnam on Nov. 14. “There's no indication that Syria wishes to be a stabilizing force,'' Rice said.

Here is a bit of Nadim Shehadi's article in Chatham House's "The World Today," which I received in PDF. Namid adds in an email:

I have always been in favour of engagement with Syria and Iran and think it is absurd to ask the neighbours 'not to interfere'. This should have happened before, now may be the wrong time. Iran and Syria feel too strong and victorious after this summer's fiasco and this will be perceived by them as capitulation. 


After a test run in Lebanon, the choice for the US is between capitulation via Syria or escalation via Iran. October, 2006


If the choice [of the US] is capitulation, then Syria could play a pivotal role. There is already talk of re-engaging Syria, the only state in the region that holds all the strings. Damascus hosts the political leadership of Hamas, led by Khaled Meshaal who is seen to be more in control of the issue of the captive soldier in Gaza. It has good relations and a strategic alliance with Iran, influence over Hizbollah, and links with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar. Syria also has influence in Iraq and could cause problems there.

Capitulation can come in various forms. US President George Bush and French President Jacques Chirac have been threatening Syria for the past three years, putting pressure on, getting it out of Lebanon, imposing sanctions, isolating it, calling for regime change and supporting the opposition.

If after all this, they cannot stomach the possibility of grovelling to Damascus asking for favours, they can always do it by proxy under the cover of an Arab initiative. This would be made up of Qatar and Saudi Arabia with their cheque books and Egyptian diplomacy. Syria would reap the benefits. This would be capitulation light but capitulation nonetheless, and it would be costly.

Syria will extract a very high price which may involve it regaining power in Lebanon, concessions over the Hariri investigation, changes of policy on the Iranian nuclear issue, Iraq, Palestine, the Golan Heights, an end to its isolation and lots of economic incentives. 

A deal with Syria for the sake of stability would also be costly if it is seen as a complete reversal of declared US policy and the collapse of its more recent justification of the Iraq invasion and the regional democratisation agenda. If the west went through all this to end up making a deal with another President Assad to resolve problems that he helped create, it might as well have done a deal with Saddam or Osama Bin Ladin in the first place. The US has heavily invested in this project and it would not be as easy to ‘redeploy’ or cut and run as it did in 1983. Iraq has already cost well over $200 billion. 

Israel would be more in favour of capitulation than the US.

It never took the US democratisation agenda seriously and wouldbe more comfortable dealing with a reliable dictator than thecomplexities of democratic neighbours. Both Syria and Israel have shown some enthusiasm for the resumption of bilateral talks and there is a significant lobby in the US calling for that. The more important dilemma from the Israeli perspective is that capitulation may allow Iran to continue developing its nuclear capacity and become a more serious problem in ten to fifteen Years. 


If it is too difficult for Israel to admit defeat by Hizbollah andtoo awkward for the US and its allies to grovel to Damascus,knowing how high the price is going to be, then the second choiceis escalation. Escalation is essentially going to be with Iran. Escalation light with Syria will not do, the two countries signed adefence pact before the hostilities, so an attack on Syria isconsidered to be an attack on Iran. The threat of sanctions is not credible and would have to be diluted to be politically feasible. Iran’s complex and deep-rooted relations with China, Russia, India, Turkey, Central Asia and most of the Arab world would render such actions all but ineffective. Sanctions or the attempt at sanctions would only gain time.

A military escalation or attack on Iran would be the only option, but this also has very serious consequences. It is possible that such a confrontation would cause a transatlantic rift similar to the one over the Iraq invasion. It would endanger Gulf security and as a result energy supplies would be at risk, Tehran has already indicated that the Strait of Hormuz would be threatened. Iran can also cause a lot of trouble in Central Asia and all these factors are of great concern to both Russia and China. Escalation can quickly acquire global dimensions and get out of hand. 

The collision can still be avoided with greater European intervention, resolving the outstanding border issues between Syria, Lebanon and Israel and making a serious move on the Israeli-Palestinian question. Washington has lost much of its credibility as an honest broker and it is time for Europe to provide a new direction.

Comments (108)

Nur al-Cubicle said:

“”President George W. Bush said Friday that the American experience in Vietnam contained lessons for the war in Iraq. Chief among them, he said, was that “we’ll succeed unless we quit.”

Sweet Jeebus! And he said this in Hanoi, under the bust of Ho Chi Minh???? What a laughingstock performance. The US quit because the endgame was war with China, among other compelling reasons. Hello? George, deposit a quarter to connect to reality!

Ha, and Peter Pace just requested another $130 billion. It will be interesting to see how the Democratic Congress reacts. For certain, they’ll wimp out and pay up because they don’t want to be soft of terrorism. Cretins.

November 17th, 2006, 11:02 pm


t_desco said:

A Statement from the Mujahideen in Lebanon to the Sunni Muslim People
SITE Institute

Previously unknown group warns of ‘Shiite death squads’ preparing to attack Sunni Muslims in Lebanon

The Jerusalem Post currently has the same AP story under the headline “Iranian group (sic) warns Lebanese Sunnis“. 😀

November 17th, 2006, 11:25 pm


t_desco said:

More details:

A Statement from the Mujahideen in Lebanon to the Sunni Muslim People
SITE Institute

Previously unknown group warns of ‘Shiite death squads’ preparing to attack Sunni Muslims in Lebanon

The Jerusalem Post currently has the same AP story under the headline “Iranian group (sic) warns Lebanese Sunnis“. 😀

November 17th, 2006, 11:28 pm


ivanka said:

I doubt that Syria asks so much. By the way so much isn’t really a lot. It is asking for renormalization of relations. Something like saying let’s go back to acting like under Clinton when we were doing great together. That really isn’t asking a lot.

There are some absurd things in the articles posted here :

Syria wants concessions on Iran’s nuclear program?

>Syria isn’t Iran’s daddy.

Syria wants to regain influece in Lebanon?

>Well if you call regaining influence the fact that Lebanon should not be used to destabilize Syria then good. But that is all the “influence” they want now. Syria CAN NOT and they know it influence Lebanon anymore.

On Iraq, just the same. Syria doesn’t want to rule Iraq it just wants to be sure that the Amercans will not finish with Iraq and then it will be Syria’s turn.

Syria is asking for a lot really : Please don’t work for regime change. That is such an unjustified and exagerrated demand don’t you think so…

November 17th, 2006, 11:47 pm


Al-Syasy said:

Our analysis must be built upon the fact that Syria and Iran are U.S. allies, and that the confrontation is between great powers, the united states and the europeans, small powers can’t be considered as decision makers. Actually they recieve their orders from the great powers.

In Lebanon the struggle is between the U.S. and England+France. Both sides have their agents, U.S. has Aoun and Hizb Ullahh and Berri, France has the 14th of March powers. The American influence in Lebanon was reduced by the europeans when they succeeded in getting Syrian army out of Lebanon and bringing their own soldiers.

November 18th, 2006, 1:47 am


youngSyria said:

I think Al-Syasy is a bit confused… hizballah is not US allay (remember marine operation back in the 80’s). although it never claim that its strategy is against US,their relation was not that good in 90’s due to israeli influence.

struggle to control Lebanon is not limited to US, England and France anyway.notice that somehow US and Israel have the same interests in Lebanon so they would side same teams, and again hizballah and Israel in the same team doesn’t make sense.

November 18th, 2006, 10:23 am


Dubai Jazz said:

Al Syasy, “Hezbollah is the US proxy in Lebanon”?!
too much for a conspiracy theory don’t you think?

November 18th, 2006, 11:59 am


t_desco said:

For the record (somehow I was unable to post this yesterday):

A Statement from the Mujahideen in Lebanon to the Sunni Muslim People
SITE Institute

Previously unknown group warns of ‘Shiite death squads’ preparing to attack Sunni Muslims in Lebanon

The Jerusalem Post currently has the same AP story under the headline “Iranian group (sic) warns Lebanese Sunnis“. (!)

Some more details on Mehlis’ and Lehmann’s controversial “style of investigation”, according to Gen. Sayyed’s lawyer, Akram Azouri: Al-Manar.

November 18th, 2006, 2:15 pm


t_desco said:

More complexity:

“A good profile of the Zarqawi of Lebanon (and the cleric of Hariri Inc)” (As’ad AbuKhalil): Al-Akhbar

November 18th, 2006, 4:20 pm


Innocent_Criminal said:

Hey guys,

BBC world called me again. I will be part of their show Have Your Say. Buthaina Sha3aban will be their guest. Their show airs tomorrow Sunday 19th at 14:05 GMT. The topic will be the dialogue with Iran and Syria. my messege will be a modification of i made on the subject on Syria comment.

How this will develop is far from certain. We have too many inflated egos that would only compromise if their face were saved. What the UK is offering Iran is nothing new. They are just re-introducing the EU offer that was already snubbed by Tehran last year. Blair is only appearing more pragmatic but the obstacles are very much still there.

If the Iran track is not going to develop I doubt Tehran would allow the Syrian one to develop on its own. And since it’s almost impossible for the west to offer a weaker Syria what they didn’t offer a stronger one (i.e. all of the Golan, plus a free pass out of the Hariri trial once or if the finger will point at Syria) there wont be enough incentives for Syria to break from Iran, cut its ties with Hamas & Hizbullah. In short, the west is trying to accomplish their goals on the cheap. Which might explain the latest American declarations that Syria is off the dialogue table for now while the Iranian track is under consideration. But without appeasing Syria Iran will never be truly isolated strategically and very little can be done to force them to consider ceasing their nuclear program excluding a full scale regional war.

November 18th, 2006, 5:02 pm


Alex said:

Tarek, looking forward to listening to what you and Dr. Shaaban will say. Please post the link here when it is online.

I think I am not necessarily as pessimistic as you are today. This is not the first time, we have been through the cycle before:

1) at some point, the Americans realize they need to do business with Syria.

2) They call the “Syria experts” for consultations and ask them “what does Syria want in return”

3) Those experts (ex-ambassadors to Syria for example, denis Ross, Henry Kissinger) all say the same thing: “The Syrians are very tough negotiators. we have to learn how to bargain as if we were in an old Damascus souq”

So, we start with an American opening position which usually sounds like what an alert American tourist would make as a counter offer to the Damascene merchant’s asking price for a beautiful Syrian rug.

I totally agree with your second point though, about the obstacles of personal egos, presidents Bush and Chirac for example. Syria understands the difficulty and will probably manage to politely play any public role the Americans need in order to not feel any discomfort in talking to the Syrians.

All they will need from the Americans in return is to ask their Saudi and Lebanese allies to relax their never ending passionate opinion pieces in Saudi owned media about how stupid and how backward the Syrians are (for having opposed teh Iraq war, for having stuck to Hizbollah and Hamas ..)

And finally, regarding the Hariri investigation, I don’t think you will see anything dramatic in the final report. There will be a mention of possible links to some Syrian figures in Lebanon. Nothing linked to Damascus. If you see the Syrians trying hard to avoid the international court, it is because, guilty or innocent, being involved in such a trial for few years is time and energy consuming. And it can be used as a pressure tactic against the Syrians during any peace negotiations.

November 18th, 2006, 6:53 pm


Charles G. Coutinho, Ph. D. said:

One is tempted to respond by the above articles and comments by making reference to ‘Capitulationist Fantasies’. Meaning, that three years ago, Persia was seen as the next scalp
for the Bush regime’s policy of ‘overthrow’, both unpopular and weak. Now it is seen as the next regional hegemon. Similarly, two years ago, the regime in Damascus, was seen by many intelligent commentators as being dangerously unstable, and after the defection of Abdel Halim Khaddam, in a ‘pre-revolutionary’ stage. Now, as per both
Shehadi’s analysis and the Zecharia’s article, Syria is seen as possessing all the levers of power in the region, and, able to ask for all it wants, with the expectation of getting it…

Just as the analysis of two or three years ago, was unduly optimistic (or pessimistic…depends upon how you look at things), similarly the idea that Syria and Persia are now in the driver’s seat, seems both unbalanced and unlikely. Both countries of course have accumulated some prestige coming out of the Lebanon war of the Summer just past, and, both, especially Persia, have benefited from both the overthrow of Baathist Iraq, and the subsequent American quagmire there. However, neither of these regimes are in actuality, either truly strong, nor able to in fact control events in Iraq, or in the case of Syria, Gaza or Lebanon. Both regimies have serious economic problems, which in the case of Persia, even the high price of oil has not alleviated. And, neither of them, possess a first class military (see: Global,, Jane’s Defence Weekly or CSIS’s Anthony Cordesman). And it is highly doubtful that Persia, could close the Straits of Hormuz, if it wanted to. And, notwithstanding Ambassador’s Moustapha’s comments, it is doubtful that Damascus controls or has much influence with the warring parties in the sectarian conflict in Iraq. Sunnis basically look at Syria as being run by heretical Alawites, and, as Nir Rosen’s article shows, not even Muqtada has ‘direct control of his militia’, much less Syria. The same can be said of Persia. Although the latter probably has much more influence, control, is something it does not have, however much it would like to.

To sum up, the USA, will not cave in to either Syria or Persia, because: a) the USA, in defeat never admits ‘defeat’ and just walks away. It just continues the struggle by other means: sanctions, covert operations, and military containment. That it what it did with the PRC in 1949-1971, Vietnam from 1975-1994, and of course Persia from 1979 to the present. The same would be true, if (a very big if indeed) the USA were to withdraw from Iraq. If it were to do so, it would certainly not agree to do it, while essentially handing over various gifts to either Syria or Persia. And, this would be true for anyone who occupies the White House in the future: Mme. Clinton, Messers. Biden, McCain,et. al. To expect anything else, shows an abysmal ignorance of American diplomatic history of the last half century.

November 18th, 2006, 7:54 pm


Al-Syasy said:

1-I’m not talking about theories,I said “fact”.
2-Hizbullah is an American agent and not an ally.

Hizbullah’s support is coming from where? It’s coming from Iran via Syria.And if Syria and Iran are U.S. allies then Hizbullah is assisting the American politics.


Ahmadinajad acused which country of trying to assassinate him in Ahwaz?

Who is delaying the U.N. sanctions against Iran and gave Iran “weeks” to stop the program?

Was Saddam an American agent? and if he was not, then who helped Iran in the war against him?

Syria and Lebanon:

which country is the master of the Ta’ef agreement which allowed the Syrian army to control Lebanon?

which countries are following the investigation in the Hariri assassination? and who ordered the Syrian troops to get out of Lebanon?


who delayed the U.N. decision of cease fire at the time when the Israeli Generals were asking for pullout?


as for the operation against the marines in the 80’s 1-it was conducted against both the american and the french troops 2- the politics before dismantling of the USSR differs from the politics after that in the 90’s.

hint: the politics of U.S. in Lebanon is against the Israeli politics.

November 18th, 2006, 9:21 pm


qunfuz said:

Charles – the country you refer to as Persia is commonly known as Iran.

November 19th, 2006, 3:45 am


Alison Chevaiko said:

That is great Innocent Criminal, is it another radio talk show or will it be on BBC TV wondering??

You may not know that but Dr. Landis opinion is well respected in Moscow, his blog is well received and read by news reporters and I been told by officials in the Foreign Ministry as well. This blog forum about Syria is a valuable resource for sure.

November 19th, 2006, 4:13 am


youngSyria said:

Dear Al-Syasy ,
you said “the politics of U.S. in Lebanon is against the Israeli politics.” can you explain more?

for Iran ,I think sanctions are delayed because west is still hoping to solve this diplomatically, sanctions will stop the diplomatic effort and will render no benefits (ex. North Korea).

As for Ta’ef agreement , its just US-Syria-Saudi deal ,It doesn’t mean that Syria is US agent.

Israeli generals are professionals,they see things on ground from different prospectives.US was delaying ceasefire to give Israeli politicians time to achieve political goal through military.

Was Saddam an American agent? that was popular among arabs for some time!!

who ordered the Syrian troops to get out of Lebanon? come on…

November 19th, 2006, 7:38 am


Dubai Jazz said:

“Ahmadinajad acused which country of trying to assassinate him in Ahwaz?”

November 19th, 2006, 8:40 am


ivanka said:

Walid Moallem is visiting Iraq today?!?!?!?!?! Al Jazeera says.

All consipracy theories about Iran being an ally of the US, because it was an enemy of Saddam, are both wrong and sectarian.

November 19th, 2006, 1:20 pm


t_desco said:

Seymour Hersh:

CIA analysis finds no Iranian nuclear weapons drive: report
19 November 2006

WASHINGTON – A classified draft CIA assessment has found no firm evidence of a secret drive by Iran to develop nuclear weapons, as alleged by the White House, a top US investigative reporter said on Saturday.

Seymour Hersh, writing in an article for the November 27 issue of the magazine The New Yorker released in advance, reported on whether the administration of Republican President George W. Bush was more, or less, inclined to attack Iran after Democrats won control of Congress last week.

A month before the November 7 legislative elections, Hersh wrote, Vice President Dick Cheney attended a national-security discussion that touched on the impact of Democratic victory in both chambers on Iran policy.

If the Democrats won on November 7th, the vice president said, that victory would not stop the administration from pursuing a military option with Iran,” Hersh wrote, citing a source familiar with the discussion.

Cheney said the White House would circumvent any legislative restrictions “and thus stop Congress from getting in its way,” he said.

The Democratic victory unleashed a surge of calls for the Bush administration to begin direct talks with Iran.

But the administration’s planning of a military option was made ”far more complicated” in recent months by a highly classified draft assessment by the Central Intelligence Agency “challenging the White House’s assumptions about how close Iran might be to building a nuclear bomb,” he wrote.

“The CIA found no conclusive evidence, as yet, of a secret Iranian nuclear-weapons program running parallel to the civilian operations that Iran has declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency,” Hersh wrote, adding the CIA had declined to comment on that story.

A current senior intelligence official confirmed the existence of the CIA analysis and said the White House had been hostile to it, he wrote.

Cheney and his aides had discounted the assessment, the official said.

“They’re not looking for a smoking gun,” the official was quoted as saying, referring to specific intelligence about Iranian nuclear planning.

“They’re looking for the degree of comfort level they think they need to accomplish the mission.”

(my emphasis)

BTW, Have Your Say is about to start on BBC World. 🙂

November 19th, 2006, 1:58 pm


t_desco said:

Is a damaged Administration less likely to attack Iran, or more?
The New Yorker

November 19th, 2006, 5:09 pm


ausamaa said:

Finaly, things are calming down. Strategically, at least. Thanks God.

Having said this, I think Syrai’s concerns -or negotiating points- now are seven:

1- The size and the duration period of the remaining US forces is Iraq after a major withdrawl and the timing of the same (negotiable based on the outcome of the below maybe, the rrational is not accepting US presence, but keeping the US involvement at a level which can be used to motivate action/pressure against Israel).
2- Curbed US/Israeli involvement in Lebanon being a “Syrian” sphere of influence
3- How would things be calmed down in the West Bank And Gaza
4- Is it not time to start “examining” the other options, such an area-wide peace conference? (Why delay and wait? Are more disasters needed? Syria would be saying at a negotiating table somewhere at sometime in the mid-future).
5- Preparing for countering Israeli counter measures to foil the above which may include a consolidation of its relationship with Iran.
6- The Syrian negotiator may look at his counter part and ask: And where exactly are we “all” now in “your war against terror”???
6- A relaxation on the Economic and Civil internal front to suplement the above.

What a world???

November 19th, 2006, 5:30 pm


Innocent_Criminal said:

the link is up on a temp basis here

you need to forward to to 40:44.

and yes i am in Dubai, i came 2 days ago to surprise my parents on their 30th anniversery. and i dont miss the amsterdam weather 😀

November 19th, 2006, 5:38 pm


Al-Syasy said:

youngSyria,for the American politics in the middle-east they think that Iran must appear as a super power (everybody knows that the nuclear issue in Iran is nonsense, and Iran needs years to develop it’s nuclear ability) to control the big oil field in the middle east, Rice refered to this as “the new middle east” controled by sheiits. Iran now controls Iraq,Syria and will control Lebanon if the european agents 14th of march could do nothing to stop Hizbullah’s popularity, which was created by the U.S. when they sent the Israelis to the war trap. The american knows that the Israelis will lose the war and hizbullah will get out more powerful to get rid of the weapon issue, which Israel and the europeans urged the 14th of march to stress on.
If Hizbullah was deprived of his weapons then the U.S will lose it’s control in Lebanon. Israel looks at the matter as a security matter and that Hizbullah must be deprived of his weapons.
(Israel losing the war also opens the way for washington to revive the peace process between israel and Syria).

The country which controls the UN security council, and obtained an immediate sanctions against the British agent SADDAM HUSSEIN to take Iraq from england, is the United States.

europeans are trying to obtain a security counsil resolution, but Bush said “We’ll give the Iranians “weeks””. The Americans who control the security council don’t whant europe to interfere with Iranian issue.

For the Ta’ef agreement you said U.S., which is true, the united states agreed to let Syrian troops (their allies) to occupy Lebanon and get rid of the European influence in Lebanon. They succeded till the assassination of Hariri,which the Europeans found as their chance to get back to the middle east. when mehlis report reached Kofi Annan, the Syrian names were erased from the report. who erased the Syrian officilas’ names? the Americans of course. When America saw the uprising in lebanon against the syrians, Americans ordered the syrian troops to get out and to leave their agent Lahoud to rule,so as not to give the european the chance to change the leader.

Jazz, there were two attempts of assassinating Ahmadinajad in the Ahwaz region (Arab region). Iran accused england of trying to kill the president and inflame that district against the government.

Ivanka, Saddam was the powerful british agent in the middle east, the U.S. wanted It’s ally Iran to undermine his power so as to get rid of him. they didn’t succeed in that war but succeeded in the kuwaity war. ( Kuwait was a U.S. ally and now a U.S. base + qatar.

Hint: politics is not what you see or hear, politics is what u read between the lines.

November 19th, 2006, 8:15 pm


ausamaa said:


You are right, politics is what u read between the lines! SO, please go do that before getting to some of the conclusions you seem to be breaching to many as it appeared above. Starting from Saddam being a British Agent ending by the US using Syria to counter European(??) influence in Lebanon.

DR. Charles, PH.D.

A super Power looking for a failing mideast policy exit strategy seems to be the name of the game today. And it is not a mistake to accept that you have f..up. And the US can -and did- accept and addmite to defeats in the past. Remember that helicopter taking off the US Embassy in Saigon…??? So let us not over do the US power thing. If the whole few years have shown abything, they have shown that “power” has more limits than we thought.

November 19th, 2006, 8:48 pm


Al-Syasy said:

AUSAMAA, i agree completely with your last paragraph, America is not only failing but also falling as a super power. But this political vacuum must be filled, no?

November 19th, 2006, 9:09 pm


aussamaa said:


U R Right, but why “assume” that there is a “vacuum” that must be filled up “by force” and not Countries to cooperate with. Anyway, I do not think the US is either capable or the preferred “vacuum filler” in the Middle East. Neither geographically, nor economically, militarily, popularly or morally. Maybe the US will do a better job filling its next-door vacuums. We are grown up. We are doing a bad job in many areas maybe, but who has died and left the US a king in this area. Has the US not learned from the Turks, the Brits, the French, the Israelies and the Russians yet?????

Or, if we want to put it in a different manner; has the US recent administrations and the policies they have followed given the world a very encouraging example to follow? Or Trust???

November 20th, 2006, 11:30 am


ausamaa said:


Maybe U R Right, but why “assume” that there is a “vaccum” that must be filled up by force and not Countries to cooperate with. Anyway, I do not think the US is either capable or the preferred “vaccum filler” in the Middle East. Niether geographically, nor economically, militarilly, popularliy or morally. Maybe the US will do a bettere job filling its next-door vaccums. We are grown up. We are doing a bad job in many areas maybe, but who died and left the US a king in this area. Has the US not learned from the Turks, the Brits, the Frensh, and the Russians yet?????

November 20th, 2006, 11:32 am


Dubai Jazz said:

For the sake of fairness Mr. Aussama, and with all due respect to what you have suggested, the US did somehow set a role model for a modern state (needless to say a superpower)
I would agree with you that the American foreign policies’ moral trajectory is not that bright. However, I wouldn’t allow my detestation for the American hegemony to distract me from the fact that the American system (if you may call it) is a superb one, in terms of education, economy, freedom…etc…

November 20th, 2006, 11:53 am


youngSyria said:

I wonder why US will let Iran grow this big (controlling Arab oil + relatively good conventional arsenal + future nuclear weapons = regional superpower ),any possible attack on iran right now would have a tremendous effect on world economy, so imagine what will happen when you add the above.
you would say there is no need for attack because iran is US agent/allay. but naturally when you have all this power that iran has(or will), you will grow greedy .
and why Europe is just looking at US ,doing all what they want,without doing anything .why didn’t they tell Saddam not to attack Kuwait?

I have herd the thing you are saying before(btw I don’t think its completely wrong)…usually Arabists or any of those who got 60’s mentality..when you start to think like that you can explain anything according to your mentality(just like religion)…its like watching the matrix movie.
but this is life ,people analyze and give there opinions and back it with evidences(from the world around them )

November 20th, 2006, 12:10 pm


youngSyria said:

CIA report (iran is not seeking nukes) + media campains + some spices = lets talk to iran .
isn’t it like this? or its too early to say?

November 20th, 2006, 12:17 pm


AL-Syasy said:

One of my comments included some links to evidences showing the relation between Iran and U.S. and Israel…..I cannot find it!! maybe erased?!!

November 20th, 2006, 2:47 pm


AL-Syasy said:

As I said before,my links here were erased,when i say something in politics i must show a good evidence to support my analysis.Im not talking theories or ideas, there are more and more evidences showing up about the relation between Iran and the U.S. and I can say that Iran is more important to the U.S. than Israel.

YoungSyria when you compare my ideas to religion (u mean i can say whatever i think), u must differenciate between Islam and other relogions. Islam is a religion that must be built on proofs and not theories like judaism and christianity.

November 20th, 2006, 3:27 pm


t_desco said:

In this new interview, Gen. Aoun again sounds very reasonable (perhaps due to his unique position in the Lebanese political field):

Aoun: We have to break the circle of fear

A: … We managed to get Hezbollah to limit their demands to purely Lebanese issues. They stopped talking about Jerusalem, a global Middle East solution … we got them to focus on purely Lebanese issues, such as the Shebaa Farms, an area I know very well having served there as a young lieutenant. Yes, the Farms belong to Lebanon.

As soon as the (Lebanese) territory (occupied by Israel) is liberated, Hezbollah’s weapons should become defensive weapons and become integrated in a defensive strategy under Lebanese Army command. And from the moment the Shebaa Farms are returned to Lebanese sovereignty, Hezbollah’s weapons would no longer be used against Israel.

A: We have to break the circle of fear in which we live in today. If there is no exchange of trust, we remain wary of one another and it offers a permanent source of conflict. One of the first questions I asked Hezbollah was “Tell me your fears? Tell me about your fears? …

They said that they lived first for about 15 years under Palestinian control and suffered a lot. Then came the Israeli occupation. The Lebanese army and government were unable to offer security. We (Hezbollah) succeeded through our resistance to liberate a part of our territory. All solutions should take into account all those fears.

Q: Some people say your attitude towards Syria has changed. They accuse you of shifting policy from anti-Syrian to pro-Syrian. How do you reply to that?

A: My attitude has not changed. I always said if the Syrians leave Lebanon we would try to have very good relations with Syria. And I have no links with Syria. There will be no return to (Syrian) tutelage. There should be full diplomatic relations and exchanges of ambassadors. …

November 20th, 2006, 4:21 pm


Chris said:

What a great pic, huh? George W. Bush posing under a large bust of Ho Chi Min. Bravo, advance team.

November 20th, 2006, 4:47 pm


AL-Syasy said:


Aoun and Beri and Lahoud and Hizbullah are on the same side, Syrian side (American agents).

14th of March are on the Saudi side (British agents).

November 20th, 2006, 4:56 pm



Al Syasy, it appears that the Saudi-Uk diplomatic ties are going through a traumatic times, because of a British probe into a money fraud implicating some Saudi royal family members.

November 20th, 2006, 5:09 pm


youngSyria said:

there is no religion built on proof,only science, all religions around the world are built on belief.
(no offense)

November 20th, 2006, 5:53 pm


AL-Syasy said:

Dubai Jazz:

The connection between a super power and agents in other countries is very deep and complicat. But in general the ties between the Saudi familly and england cant be harm easily. Its a historic tie started with Lorance of Arabia and the creation of a stete i mean the British gave this clan -AL Saud – a farm and they named it Saudi Arabia on a condition to protect the British interests in the region.

November 20th, 2006, 5:56 pm


ivanka said:

Syria has made an initiative towards Iraq. Iran followed with a bigger initiative right after it, calling for a tripartite summit. It is the first time Iran and Syria are so clearly acting and not reacting to the US situation in Iraq.

November 20th, 2006, 10:34 pm


Ehsani2 said:

It is not surprising to see the level of criticism that has been directed at the U.S. Administration’s handling of the Iraq war.

With the White House becoming such an easy and convenient target, it has become very easy to avoid blaming the people of our region for our predicament.

As the article below makes it clear, our ugly and deep hatred of each other has slipped under the radar screen of most commentators:

November 20th, 2006, 11:05 pm


Nur al-Cubicle said:

Just perusing a ME timeline at a British site. Syria and Iran are long-time allies. This nonsense about prying Syria away from an ally to side with the US is fanatasy unicorn hunting.

November 21st, 2006, 2:20 am


Nur al-Cubicle said:

Just perusing a ME timeline at a British site. Syria and Iran are long-time allies. This nonsense about prying Syria away from an ally to side with the US is fantasy unicorn hunting.

November 21st, 2006, 2:20 am


Charles G. Coutinho, Ph. D. said:

My dear ‘Dubai Jazz’, just a bit of historical background: one, the British did not, repeat not, back Ibn Saud circa 1915-1918 aka at the time of the Arab Revolt. In fact they were closer to the Hashimites, but, they chose not to get involved in the conflict between the latter and Ibn Saud. Which the Saud did in fact win; two, the history of Saudi Arabia and the UK since, has been one of a recurring periods of tensions, with those of
more tranquil times. Nota Bene: ARAMACO, the company which first exploited Saudi oil, was a purely American outfit, no British involvement. The UK for the period from 1918-1958, was much
closer to the Hashimites in Jordan (then called Trans-Jordan), and, Iraq, than say Saudi Arabia.
And, even after the overthrow of the Monarchy in
Iraq, the British were never as close to the Saudis, than to say the Gulf States or Oman. The USA, has been probably the closest outside power to the Saudis, since 1945. Definitely not the UK.

November 21st, 2006, 8:35 am


Al-Syasy said:

Mr. CHARLES can u please remind us of the Sykes-Picot agreement? i mean between which countries? and was the U.S. included at that time?

Thank you

November 21st, 2006, 11:11 am


Al-Syasy said:

Young Syria:

if a religion is not built on proof then then dont follow that religion. If we talk about Islam :- 1-If anyone could write a one similar verse of the qoran then the whole islam religion will fall down- 1400 years no one could do it.

2- If no one could do it (we r sure that many people tried to do so) untill know then it was not written by a human.

3- If it was not written by a human then it must be written by a super power (call it what u like).

4- this super power has three options a)created himself b)created by other power c)must exist

5- a) nothing can be a creator and creature at the same time. b) then he is a creature and not a creator c)a super power created everything and sent that book ( Quraan) to us. (this is correct)

6- the person who brings that book must have connections with that super power, then he is a messenger.

This is a proof that there is a super power,Mohamad is his massenger and the quraan is his book.

November 21st, 2006, 11:22 am


Al-Syasy said:


for this reason Ramsfeld was fired. the studying Iraq committe headed by James Baker found out that the only solution is to activate the Syrian and Iranian roll in Iraq. Ramsfeld rewfused to let Iran and Syria have a big roll in that oil field (Iraq), his strategy was a failure and the republicans lost their popularity.

November 21st, 2006, 11:27 am


Dubai Jazz said:

Dear Charles; I’ve never suggested that Saudi-British ties are that great, I was somehow responding to Al Syasy’s claims that Saudi Arabian royal family is a British ‘agent’ in the ME, while Syria and Iran are American agents.
Now that sounds very bizarre to me, as I know for sure how much influence the Americans have over the Saudis (and vice versa?) it is more than enough for to watch ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ to realize it, but of course, you must always balance that movie with the bias factor of Michael Moore.

November 21st, 2006, 12:02 pm


simohurtta said:

Ehsani2 USA and White House hardly can escape the responsibility of that what happens now in Iraq. Like Colin Powell said: If you occupy a country you own it. Let’s imagine that China in future would invade USA. The Chinese Army and proconsul would as their first job after a short shock and awe therapy dismantle the civil administration, police force and military. And make a “law” that all members of elephant and donkey parties can’t serve in the “new” USA. Naturally a new constitution, which would provide each ethnic and religious group a “fair” share of power in the new USA, would finalize a total chaos and would most certainly lead to a full civil war. It would be no wonder that hundreds of power hungry extremists groups would emerge in weeks. The Sioux and Apache people would see a chance to get back some land. The Latino militants would say that now it is my turn to use your swimming pool and you can clean it. The Wall Mart workers would instantly socialize the property of their employer.Etc.

Even we in ethnically and religiously “simple” Finland had one of Europe’s bloodiest civil wars (compared to the size of the population) when the Imperial Russia collapsed in 1917. My Grandmother was then 18 years old and had to flee when the Red Army supporters were collecting the wealthier people for executions and prisoner camps. She also lost a brother in the fights. Finns are not Muslims; they are protestant Christians who were perfectly capable to do those same things to each other we see now happen in Iraq. It is not only Muslims, who can have civil wars and fight against the occupying power. The fighters, who destroyed Russian trains, attacked, killed and terrorized Russian military and civilians are not in our history called terrorists. They are called freedom fighters.

I see that any country, even ethnically less complex than Iraq, would face the same problems, if they are pushed to “democracy” in the “skilled” way USA did in Iraq. Seining White House as “an easy target” and blaming local people or your own religion for the chaos is rather “odd”. If the right circumstances are created, all societies collapse. In Rwanda the people on both sides were Christians and in former Yugoslavia Christians also fought against each other not only against Muslims.

November 21st, 2006, 12:11 pm


youngSyria said:

I really don’t want to discuss religion because any believer would have two option at the end

1)becomes angry.
2)says its a matter of belief.

so lets pretend that nothing happened, you go to heaven and I go to hell. Its ok with me..really 🙂


all I want is to do what I want and to live as I want, AND NO TO BE TREATED AS EVIL THING BY BELIEVERS.
when I left syria 4 years ago , I was able to do this (partially ).I think the situation is much worse right now……and future is looking bad.
more poverty and ignorance will lead to more “belief” and “terrorism” (physical and intellectual)

November 21st, 2006, 12:37 pm


ivanka said:

EHSANI I always agree with what you write on economy. I share the same view as you on this subject. I always DISagree when you attack Arabs like this. Just remember the Ottoman empire didn’t have a single religion war for 500 years. Only when western powers started meddling in its affairs did civil wars become a middle eastern phenomenon.

There is a civil war in Iraq not because Iraqis hate each other but because there is struggle for power between political representatives of sects. The Sunnis do not want to lose their Saddam era position, they also see themselves as part of a more secular Iraq not a SCIRI style Iraq. So this is purely political. The Shias hate Saddam and his people for what they did to them and they also want better relations with Iran. I don’t see where hating each other comes in.

November 21st, 2006, 12:42 pm


ivanka said:


I will put it like this. You mischaracterize and underestimate the relations of Syria to Sunni resistance groups in Iraq. Just go to one of their websites, if you read arabic, and you will see they certainly do not consider the Syrian regime heretic. It is practically the only Arab regime they do not attack. The reasons are very simple to understand.

The problem the US has is that they have no friends in Iraq right now. The powerful parties in Iraq are the Sunni resistance/insurgency, Sadr and above all SCIRI. All these people are friends of either Iran or Syria or both. They are all not friends of the US. (rather enemies)

So the Americans can not count on anyone and their army is failing. In fact for 3 years they have been unable to stop a Sunni insurgency, now just imagine SCIRI calling for war against the US to help Iran.

The option of training the “Iraqi” military is a joke. This military as well as the police are completely infiltrated by Shia militias. It is just a wing of those militias, effectively.

So here is the US situation : Army doesn’t work. Political process doesn’t work. Rebuilding is a joke since it is all stolen by one Iraqi party. The only two states capable of approaching Iraqi players are Iran and Syria.

Iran’s control over Iraq:

Listen to any Iraqi analyst and they would tell you this: The Pasdaran rule southern Iraq. Not only in a security kind of way but even on an administrative level. Now that is a lot more territory than the US rules.

The most powerful man in Iraq is Sistani. Sistani is Iranian. Now remember if it weren’t for him there would not have been elections in America’s “free” “Iraq”.

Finally, I really don’t think Imad Mostapha would go ahead and tell James Baker Syria had control over some Sunni groups if that weren’t true. First of all, Baker allreay knows the answer from American intelligence work. Also that would be a very big lie. I think if he wanted to lie, eing a Diplomat, he would do better.

Finally finally, never count on western sources to understand ME society. Especially not to understand Iraq. They do not know anything.

November 21st, 2006, 1:14 pm


Innocent_Criminal said:

Pierre Gemayel has just been killed. Poor guy, sacraficed for political gains.

November 21st, 2006, 2:21 pm


Alex said:

Poor young man.

It is becoming … useless. Is this supposed to be who this time?

1) HA? to bring down the government?
2) Syria? becasue they are always the enemy of Lebanon?
3) The Hariri majority because they are desperate?
4) Alqaeeda?

Hariri already accused Syria …

November 21st, 2006, 2:35 pm


Innocent_Criminal said:

I would have accepted the NOTION that Hariri & co was killed by the Syrians out of stupidity, desperation etc. But there is no one that stupid as to kill their own interests. Within 2 days, HA was planning to go to the streets and begin bringing down the government which is in favor of both the Syrians and HA so why would either kill any hope of that happening?

Now that Pierre has been killed all the street protests will be postponed if not cancelled and though direct negotiations won’t resume; back-alley deals will be the way forward and compromises will be made on both sides. So I don’t think it would be a crazy conspiracy theory if someone from the March 14 or their backers arranged this lamb’s sacrifice for their political gains. Lets not forget that Pierre is of no serious threats to Syria, the Kata’b are much weaker than they were 20 years ago and there are much juicier targets if they were really out to get some government officials. This whole thing just stinks!!!

November 21st, 2006, 2:59 pm


norman said:

Jumblat predicted last week that cabinet minsters will be assasinated ,does he have anything to do with it ,apparently only christian leaders are being killed ,can sombody explain that.

November 21st, 2006, 3:21 pm


Charles G. Coutinho, Ph. D. said:

Dear Al-Syasy:

Apologies for the mischaracterization!

Dubai Jazz:

The Sykes-Picot Treaty, was an agreement, between
Sir Mark Sykes (UK Rep) and Georges Picot (French
Rep), signed in 1916, during the middle of the Great War [World War I], dividing the Levant and most of the Near East. France getting future Syria, and Palestine, UK getting a good portion of the future Iraq, and Jordan. USA, not being in the war at that time, was not a part of the agreement. The agreement was subsequently overtaken by events.


As per Imad Mostapha’s statement: well I do believe one of the oldest definition in the English language (early 17th century) is that of a ‘man who lies for his country’. Enough said.
I do not deny that Syria has some ties with the
some of the Sunni insurgency, I am only saying that they do not ‘control’ it. Even Persia [Iran], does not control, but, has great influence over, the Shiite militias, political parties, et cetera. The real issue is that the
political problems, violence, mayhem, et cetera,
in Iraq is predominately internal. What is known in diplomatic history, as der Primat der Innenpolitik [the primacy of internal policy].

It is this fact, which explains the fallacy that
by merely talking to Syria and Persia, the Americans can magically cure the mess that they
made in Iraq. Where it so. Unfortunately this is
merely an illusion. As I note, in my last blog
entry, the case history of such efforts in the last few years, seems to indicate that the likelihood of success in Iraq is not high. Sad but true. That however does not gainsay the need by the USA and the European countries to talk to
both Syria and Persia. Whether or not, Syria could be lured away from its current alliance with
Persia, is as Joshua Landis, said recently in an
interview on the Council on Foreign Relations’ online ‘Daily Brief’, truly impossible to predict
accurately. Still, the effort should definitely be made.

November 21st, 2006, 3:35 pm


Charles G. Coutinho, Ph. D. said:

For Joshua Landis’ readership, I thought I would bring to your collective attention, Michael Young’s opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal:


Murder Update
Don’t let Syria get away with killing Rafik Hariri.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

BEIRUT–The Syrian regime is discovering what a nuisance Rafik Hariri, the late Lebanese prime minister, can be. Last Friday, the U.N. Security Council approved a draft plan for a mixed Lebanese-international court to try those responsible for Hariri’s assassination on Feb. 14, 2005. Damascus, the main suspect in the crime, is palpably anxious. That anxiety played out in Lebanon 10 days ago, when six ministers named by pro-Syrian politicians resigned rather than take part in Beirut’s formal endorsement of the tribunal proposal. The plan was subsequently passed by a reduced Lebanese government, but the full approval process is not over.

Five of the six ministers who resigned were appointed by or affiliated with the two main Shiite parties, Hezbollah and the Amal movement, while the sixth is Lebanese President Emile Lahoud’s man. Their resignations came amid a struggle for power between pro-Syrian groups and the anti-Syrian parliamentary and cabinet majority–dating back to the summer war between Israel and Hezbollah. While some saw the outcome of the conflict as a victory for the militant Shiite group, that was hardly the case. Israel displayed incompetence, but Hezbollah found itself militarily neutralized in its vital space of south Lebanon, at least for now. The Lebanese army and international peacekeepers are deployed in the border area, and Hezbollah cannot impose a new war on its battered Shiite community, which continues to suffer the consequences of Israel’s terrible retribution.

With little room to maneuver in the south, Hezbollah has tried to compensate in Beirut by demanding greater representation in the cabinet. The anti-Syrian majority has resisted this, arguing that the government performed well last summer, making change unnecessary. The real issue, however, is the return of Syrian hegemony. Hezbollah and its allies want enough ministerial seats so they can veto decisions they dislike that go to a cabinet vote. By so doing, they can continue to protect Syria in the Hariri investigation, and also block the majority’s policies that they don’t like. A final U.N. report is due out on Hariri’s killing in the coming months (the chief investigator, Serge Brammertz, has until mid-2007 to publish his findings), and Hezbollah fears that any accusation against Syria might also be turned against itself.

All this has significant repercussions for the U.S., particularly after the Democratic midterm elections victory. Syria never accepted its forced withdrawal from Lebanon last year, and has worked tirelessly since then to reimpose its writ here. Now there is new hope in Damascus: Influential American voices are suddenly suggesting a reversal of course toward Iraq’s neighbors. It was music to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s ears to hear James Baker, the Republican co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group, advocating dialogue with Syria and Iran in an interview last month: “I don’t think you restrict your conversations to your friends.” The Iraq Study Group’s report, expected in the coming weeks, will possibly include such an invitation. Syria’s Lebanese foes fear they will pay if the U.S. and Damascus cut a deal.
If so, it wouldn’t be the first time for Mr. Baker. In 1990, he was a leading light in President George H.W. Bush’s administration, which ceded Lebanon to Syria in exchange for President Hafez Assad’s agreement to be part of the international coalition against Iraq. An inveterate “realist,” Mr. Baker is not likely to balk at negotiating with Mr. Assad if it means the U.S. can buy some peace of mind as it transforms its presence in Iraq. His proposal is unpopular at the White House, and last week Mr. Bush made that known to Mr. Baker and his colleagues. However, because of his electoral defeat, the president, pressed by a Congress avidly searching for new ideas, might find less latitude to ignore Syria down the road.

Unless, of course, the U.N. incriminates Syrian officials in the Hariri murder. That Mr. Assad realizes the fatal implications of this connection was evident when British Prime Minister Tony Blair recently sent a senior adviser, Sir Nigel Sheinwald, to Damascus for a chat. The visit, reportedly approved by Washington, aimed to see if Syria could be enticed away from Iran. If The Economist is correct, and the magazine spoke to Mr. Sheinwald upon his return, the Syrian president has four conditions: an end to the Hariri investigation, a guarantee that the U.S. would not undermine his regime, a return of Syrian influence in Lebanon, and the handing back of the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel in 1967. No doubt Mr. Assad would demand much the same from the U.S. if it ran to Damascus to “engage” him on Iraq, assuming the Syrian leader would consider conceding to Washington in a moment of strength what he refused when he was weak.

There seems to be a consensus in the U.S., whether in Congress or in the administration, that there is no going back on upholding Lebanese sovereignty or in finding Hariri’s killers. But it is not clear to many in Washington that asking Syria and Iran for help in Iraq, if that’s what the Iraq Study Group advises, will drastically limit the administration’s ability to deny both countries’ gains in Lebanon. For Syria and Iran, Lebanon is vital in their broader quest for power in the Middle East. They will collect there on whatever is offered to the Americans in Iraq, and the retreating administration already has far fewer means to prevent this.

Mr. Baker and his fellow realists, custodians of stalemate in their own way, want the U.S. to return to its previous approach to the region, where interests defined behavior more than values–particularly democracy. But if engagement with Syria, or even Iran, is on the cards, then the U.S. might have to surrender the one genuine triumph it can point to after Mr. Bush formulated a democratic project for the Middle East: the peaceful, popular overthrow by the Lebanese of Syria’s debilitating domination. The U.S. might also find itself having to relinquish that all-too-rare happening in the region: a vigorous international legal process that promises to punish a state-sponsored crime. Yielding on Lebanon will not advance American interests; it will only damage them more, turning the severe setbacks in Iraq into a full-scale regional rout.

Wherever one stands in the spectrum of U.S. foreign-policy thinking, the Hariri tribunal is a mechanism that should satisfy all. Democracy defenders see in it an institutional means of buttressing Lebanon’s independence from Syria–presuming that U.N. investigators demonstrate Syrian involvement in Hariri’s elimination. Realists will gain a splendid stick with which to force Syrian compliance with American priorities elsewhere in the Middle East, including Iraq. The court’s mandate does not oblige presidents to put in an appearance (though there is no immunity from crime, meaning they can be sentenced in absentia), so Mr. Assad can be destabilized if his involvement is proven, but not necessarily forced from office. It would make him conveniently vulnerable to outside coercion.
That’s why events in Lebanon are so important. Syria’s Lebanese allies are trying to undermine the Hariri investigation from within, and are expected to escalate their efforts very soon, maybe even this week. It makes no sense for the U.S. to hand them more ammunition by prematurely transacting with Mr. Assad before the U.N. completes its task and assigns responsibility for the assassination.

Mr. Young, a Lebanese national, is opinion editor at the Daily Star newspaper in Beirut and a contributing editor at Reason magazine.

November 21st, 2006, 3:46 pm


Al-Syasy said:


If the shiites in Iraq are U.S. enemies why they do not cooperate with the Sunnis and attack the U.S. armies? why do not AL Sistani issue an order of Jihad , if Americans as u said are the enemy.

Hint : U.S. soldiers are not leaving the green region, then who is fighting the insurgency ?!!

Dubai Jazz:

the Americans have influence on their own agents in Saudi Arabia, for example: Fahed was an American agent,Prince Abdullah is a british agent.
the same happened in Jordan, Hussein was a british agent like his father but crown prince Hassan is an American agent, thats why he was replaced before king Husseins death (in his last visit to england) by Abdullah son of Hussein, british one.

Hint: England concentrate on clans to keep its interest, Americans depend on individuals.

Young Syria:

the diffirence between a human and other creatures is the brain linkage. If u dont use it then u ll stay unconfortable in ur life. Till the last decade they used to teach Darwinism in schools, now it is taught only in the third world schools. u know why? because of Cromosomes. Science found out that there is nothing called evolution of creatures, and if one cromosome is less or more the creature will turn to something else. guess the animal who has the nearest cromosoms to us? its the mouse. Now parents r demanding to reinclude the religion lesson as a must in western schools.
U know the highest rate of committing-suicide in which countries? its in the escandanavian countries, the highest income per capita in the world, can u explain it??why do young rich people commit suicide, especially famous people??

Innocent criminal:

Syria now doesnt need any rallies or demonstrations, Syria took the permisssion to solve the Lebanese problem with the acceptance of the Europeans.(relations are being resumed between Syria and The E.U., Lebanon in exchange of Iraq).

November 21st, 2006, 3:48 pm


Al-Syasy said:

Mr. Charles:

As u wrote about the Sykes-Picot agreement, which of the two countries France or England gave the Al-Saud clan this piece of land nowadays called saudi arabia, and who gave the Al-Hashemi clan that piece now called the Hashemite kingdom, and who gave the Jews that part nowadays called palestine and israel??!!

p.s: If they inherited it so please tell us how that happened and from whom??

thank you

November 21st, 2006, 4:07 pm


Charles G. Coutinho, Ph. D. said:

Dear Al-Syasy:

The Sykes-Picot treaty does not mention for the most part Saudi Arabia, and, the Al-Saud family aka Ibn Saud, won by right of conquest, in a series of military campaigns over the elder Hashimite rules, father of Feisel and Abdullah.
The UK gave Iraq to Feisel circa 1921, and, Trans-Jordan in 1923. And, it was the UK who gave the Jewish Diaspora, a ‘Jewish homeland’ in Palestine, with the Balfour Declaration in 1917. A declaration which was not given final form until
1919-1923. Which is when the current borders of
Iraq and Jordan were also settled. The border of
Saudi Arabia not being settled until the late 1920’s.

One point of clarificaion: as per the late King Hussein being a ‘British agent’, this seems to me, to be not entirely accurate. We know for a fact that HRH was on the CIA’s payroll, since the
late 1950’s. Originally of course, like his grandfather before him, he was originally ‘pro-British’ but, as the UK declined, he moved over to the USA. It may be that in his cultural habits, Hussein may have been an anglophile, but that does not make him a ‘British agent’. Anymore than Dean Acheson was one, notwithstanding similar
Anglophile sympathies, and, having a one hundred percent British background. Of course, at the time (late 1940’s), he was accused of being one….

November 21st, 2006, 4:30 pm


Charles G. Coutinho, Ph. D. said:

Nota Bene: the UK gave Trans-Jordan to Abdullah in 1923, as ‘Emir’. Which only became the ‘Kingdom of Jordan’ in 1946. Much to the chagrin of the Arab League, which thought of Abdullah as being merely a British puppet.

November 21st, 2006, 4:32 pm


ivanka said:


How do you know Syria killed Hariri? And what a silly notion that “Syria” killed him. That’s the first time I ever hear of a country killing a person. You immeiately smell Young’s racism when he says “Syria” killed Hariri. Like yeah let’s go lynch some Syrian workers now that Syria killed Hariri. One of the greatest acheivements of the Cedar revolution (quite an unfitting name) is so many Syrian workers were beaten, killed and abused in Lebanon.

And Oh a guy named “Michael Young” is a Lebanese nationalist. Don’t you find this strange. First of all Young would like Lebanon to become an Israeli protectorate, he is not a nationalist.

Michal Young is cheering a group of fascists who commited many crimes during the war and during the Syrian “occupation” when several of them were put in charge of Lebanon by “Syria”.

November 21st, 2006, 4:51 pm


ivanka said:

On the Iraq subject,

I don’t think anyone ever said Iranian or Syrian intervention would be magical. However Iran and Syria can actually do things while the US can not. When you do not know and do not trust any party in Iraq (the case of the US) you can not do anything except through force. Force is failing.

It would take just for Iran to ask the Shias to give the Sunnis more places in the government for that to immediately take place. For example.

The stakes of the civil war in Iraq are which sect controls which regions. This is something Iran can influence very easily and even bring about a deal. Especially that they themselves are very present on the ground inside Iraq.

About Imad Mostapha I am sure you know what I meant but still wanted to waste my time with a quote. Of course “it’s a diplomat’s job to lie” but not this kind of lie. This is not a lie, it is a promise of commitment by Mostapha. You don’t publicly commit to something you can’t do. (Well, Bush did for instance. But you don’t do that.)

November 21st, 2006, 5:02 pm


ivanka said:

And Der Primat der anything has nothing to do with Iraq. It’s some german word invented in the course of something that happened in Europe probably a few centuries ago, am I right? (You are the PhD here. Tell us about it.)

November 21st, 2006, 5:11 pm


why-discuss said:

The sunni Saudi Arabia or Egypt are not offering to sit with the shia Iran and the Iraqis to come up with some kind of agreement to calm the spirits of both communities and build a balance power in Iraq.
This has been under the divisive influence of the US who has not been willing to share the spoils (and the oil) of Iraq with anyone else and to let arabs and moslems unite as this may pose the most serious threat ever to their regional ally: Israel..
Now, the greed of the USA is costing too many american lives and they must change the course and relunctantly renounce to the monopoly they were wishing to have on Iraq.
Iran is taking on the initiative of a united front of Iraq neighbours. Saudi Arabia should follow and I believe the US will ask the Saudi or Egypt to do that to avoid having only anti-US countries dictating the course in Iraq.
In Lebanon we have seen signs for such initiative in view of the contacts between the Saudi and Iranian ambassadors in Beirut.
Of course, Israel will do all it can to disrupt that: the war on lebanon and the killing of the young and rather weak ministry in beirut are the signs of the growing worry of Israel in case the arab and moslems unite…

November 21st, 2006, 5:30 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

I hope that any investigation about Gemeyel murder is not given to brammertz, because this will delay his report,we the opposition are tired of this delay,we want Brammertz to come out publicly with his report , and we want the court to start as soon as possible.

November 21st, 2006, 6:56 pm


Atassi said:

Imad Mustafa publicly committed that No political prisoner would remain in the “ugly ” Syrian political prison after 2005 !! And I do like Michael young views too. At least he is committed to the Lebanon as a country, NOT to a clan

November 21st, 2006, 7:10 pm


Charles G. Coutinho, Ph. D. said:

Dear Ivanka,

As per the term ‘der primat der Innenpolitik’, yes it is a ‘European’ one, in origin, but only dates to the 20th century. Invented it would seem by a German, Liberal-Social Democratic historian by the name of Eckhart Kehr. The mere fact that the term is of non-Near Eastern origins does not per se, rule out its usefullness as a mode of analysis of contemporary Iraq.

The point that I was making is merely that the origins of the current strife in Iraq are internal in nature. They are not caused by outside powers, other than the USA of course….Powers such as Syria and Persia, may perhaps have assisted and or added to the insurgency and sectarian warfare in the country, but, they are not the catalyst of the same. In this case, the Iraqi people are very much subjects, rather than objects, acting, rather than, being merely acted upon.

Hence, the amount of assistance that outside powers such as Syria or Persia could give the USA, is limited by the above variable. Any such
assistance, can only effect the margins of the trouble, and, by definition cannot act as a salvent on the Iraqi body politic. Of course, the
degree to which either of the two powers mentioned are willing to genuinely ‘assist’ the USA in Iraq is unknowable at present. I actively agree that the USA should talk to both powers, I am just skeptical that such talking (what 19th century diplomats used to call ‘pourparler’), will result in anything concrete in terms of action.

As per Michael Young: the fact that Professor Landis has chosen to feature his writings on this online journal speaks enough for him. I do not see how one can gainsay Young’s credentials as a contributor to the Lebanese public sphere and poltical dialogue in his country by the mere fact that his background is not Arabic and or Lebanese. Using that logic, all peoples of Near Eastern origins should be prevented from contributing, voting et cetera, in all Western countries since by definition they are not integral to either Western Europe or the USA….
That my dear Ivanka is what you logic eventually leads to I am afraid. I rather doubt that Professor Landis would agree with your comments in this regard in the least.

November 21st, 2006, 7:38 pm


t_desco said:

Bizarre stuff:

The Mujahideen in Lebanon Allege Hezbollah and Syrian Intelligence Assassinated Minister Pierre Gemayel; Plan to Frame al-Qaeda

In a message posted to a password-protected forum today, Tuesday, November 21, 2006, the Mujahideen in Lebanon responded to the assassination of Minister Pierre Amin Gemayel in Beirut, an event which occurred only hours earlier. The group claims that Hezbollah, in coordination with Syrian intelligence, is directly responsible for the assassination, and further, that an effort is under way to frame the incident as an al-Qaeda operation.

The statement reads: “The assassination was directly executed by five individuals from Hezbollah. They were divided into two cars and a yellow motorcycle.” The group alleges a false statement was printed prior to the assassination, in the refugee camp Nahr al-Bared, in which al-Qaeda is implicated in the attack. The Mujahideen in Lebanon view the assassination of Minister Gemayel as part of a continued effort on the part of Hezbollah and its Syrian backers to coerce Shia ministers into withdrawal, ultimately facilitating an overthrow of the Lebanese government.

The statement closes, “We are monitoring them,” referring to Syrian-supported Shi’ites in Lebanon.
SITE Institute

How would they know all those details (“a yellow motorcycle”)?

The Mujahideen in Lebanon Threaten that the Shi’ites will not Have an Entity

The Mujahideen in Lebanon threaten that the Shi’ites will not have an “entity” in Lebanon, and increasingly warn the Sunni Muslim people that the “zero-hour” is approaching, in a statement issued today, Monday, November 20, 2006. Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary General of Hezbollah, is stated to be bearing his evil and gathering killers, and will not greet the Sunni with “flowers,” but with curses. The Mujahideen believe that the Nusayri regime in Syria and Iran is gathering parties around Nasrallah and Hezbollah, and to counter, the Sunnis must be prepared to fight. They warn: “The blood will flow like rivers,” and to the Shi’ites: “Prepare your coffins and dig your graves. The hurricanes of the Mujahideen are coming in Lebanon”.

This is the second statement to appear from the Mujahideen in Lebanon, the first having been issued last Friday, November 17 , containing much of the same rhetoric towards the Shi’ites and urging the Sunnis to prepare for fighting.
SITE Institute

November 21st, 2006, 11:28 pm


Al-Syasy said:

FRENCH forein minister (EUROPE) Philippe Douste-Blazy accused Iran and Syria of plotting against the Siniora government.And added that Syria and Iran and Hizbullah (all americans) are the reasons for the crisis in lebanon.


remember that France banned Hizbullah TV station on the 15 of december 2004.

November 22nd, 2006, 12:37 am


Sulayman said:

“Syria is asking the US to make a clear statement about leaving Iraq. In other words, Syria is saying that if Bush will admit defeat in Iraq, Syria will help.”

Nonsense. Everyone in America wants the US to leave eventually, but that doesn’t necessarily mean admitting defeat.

November 22nd, 2006, 2:35 am


why-discuss said:

The murder of Pierre Gemayel, why not Israel?
I am amazed that no one expressed that Israel could be responsible of this murder, creating more chaos in Lebanon and more antagonism toward their worst ennemies, Hezbollah and Syria!!!!!!!!!
How naive is Saad Hariri to accuse Syria, the least beneficiary of this crime.

November 22nd, 2006, 4:28 am


Charles G. Coutinho, Ph. D. said:

Dear Why-Discuss,

Criminal investigations, like International Politics or diplomacy, cannot necessarily be assumed to follow the logic of ‘Qui bono’? ‘To whose advantage was it’? In the case of the Gemayel murder, there are a good number of possible actors: Syrians, Hezbollah, Israelis, et cetera, et cetera. The fact that this is one in a succession of murders of anti-Syrian opposition leaders, does, on the face of it, indicate that the murderers, were ipso facto, carrying out Syrian wishes. No way of knowing the truth at this time, but still, for argument sake, let us assume that there were over a one year’s time, a string of assassinations of Shiite leaders in Lebanon? Would anyone attribute it to Amal? Or to
Berri? To the Persians, or to the Syrians? Not very likely. Well the same logic applies here as well…Until evidence to the contrary emerges. Which it might very well do so at some point.

November 22nd, 2006, 7:21 am


Charles G. Coutinho, Ph. D. said:

For Professor Landis readership, a news flash: another attempted assassination of an Anti-Syrian politician in Lebanon. From the Naharnet News Desk: Lebanon

Gunmen Target Michel Pharaon’s Beirut Office
Gunmen opened fire Tuesday on the office of a minister of state, his office announced, just hours after the assassination of anti-Syrian minister Pierre Gemayel.
“The office of the state minister for parliamentary affairs, Michel Pharaon, in the Ashrafieh neighborhood was the target of gunshots today from gunmen in a white Suzuki car,” it said.

“The security forces cordoned off the area and is carrying out the necessary measures to identify the culprits,” who fled the scene, it said.

Pharaon is a Greek-Catholic Christian MP from the bloc of anti-Syrian parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri.(AFP)

Beirut, 21 Nov 06, 18:49

November 22nd, 2006, 7:29 am


Charles G. Coutinho, Ph. D. said:

From the today’s Financial Times, it would appear that the murder of Gemayel has, dealt a harsh blow to the idea of the USA engaging in talks with
Damascus. Wednesday Nov 22 2006
Beirut murder puts spotlight on Syria
By Roula Khalaf in Beirut, Guy Dinmore in Washington and Dan Dombey in London

Published: November 21 2006 19:16 | Last updated: November 21 2006 19:16

Moves to bring Syria back into the diplomatic fold were dealt a blow on Tuesday by the killing in Beirut of a prominent anti-Syrian Christian government minister.

The assassination of Pierre Gemayel, the 34-year-old minister of industry who hails from one of Lebanon’s most prominent Christian families, plunged a tense and divided country into deeper turmoil. Mr Gemayel was shot in his car in a Beirut suburb.

The killing drew strong condemnation from George W. Bush. Though the US president did not say who he blamed for the killing, Mr Bush said the US supported Lebanese government efforts to “defend their democracy against attempts by Syria, Iran and allies to foment instability and violence”.

The UN Security Council “unequivocally” condemned the assassination, describing Mr Gemayel as a “symbol of the political independence of Lebanon”.

Mr Gemayel’s assassination was part of a cycle of killings that Lebanon’s parliamentary majority, which controls the government, has blamed on Syrian agents. The assassins first struck in February 2005, killing Rafiq Hariri, the former prime minister and a fierce opponent of Syria.

Supporters of Mr Gemayel gathered on Tuesday night at the hospital in the Christian area of Beirut where his body was kept. His funeral was due to be held in Beirut on Thursday morning. Smaller groups burnt tyres at the roads into Christian districts, near what was the front line in Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war.

Saad Hariri, head of the parliamentary majority and son of the murdered former leader, immediately blamed Damascus – a charge that Syria denied.

Damascus condemned the killing as a “heinous terrorist act”. Its embassy in Washington said the murder would undermine international efforts to promote engagement with Syria.

The Gemayel murder came just hours after Syria re-established diplomatic relations with Iraq. A senior US state department official suggested that Mr Gemayel had paid the price for trying to rid Lebanon of Syrian influence. The US stopped short of directly accusing Damascus.

The murder threatens to destabilise a government struggling for unity following the month-long summer conflict between Israel and the Hizbollah militant group. The Shia organisation, backed by Syria and Iran, has been seeking to capitalise on its declared victory against Israel by demanding a greater say in government. Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Hizbollah leader, condemned the Gemayel killing, saying the perpetrators “want to push Lebanon into chaos and a civil war”.

Beirut has been bracing for street demonstrations called by Hizbollah with the announced aim of bringing down the government or forcing new elections.

Lebanon’s anti-Syrian coalition has warned that ministers could be assassinated as a way of bringing down the cabinet. The government has already been undermined by the resignation of six ministers who belonged to Hizbollah and allied parties.

Western governments have been alarmed by the prospect of the collapse of the Lebanese government at a time when thousands of UN peacekeepers are deployed in the country following the ceasefire that ended the war between Hizbollah and Israel.

Anti-Syrian leaders in Beirut also accused political rivals of seeking to derail plans for a special international tribunal to bring Hariri’s killers to justice. Plans for the tribunal were approved by the cabinet last week and are being finalised by the UN.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2006

November 22nd, 2006, 7:47 am


Akbar Palace said:

Al-Syasy said:

“remember that France banned Hizbullah TV station on the 15 of december 2004.”

Oh good. France finally shows some backbone against terrorist propaganda. This really is news.

November 22nd, 2006, 12:00 pm


t_desco said:

How quickly can Pierre Gemayel be replaced as a minister? Does anybody know? Thanks.

November 22nd, 2006, 2:10 pm


Badger said:

Good point. I make the same case at my “missing links” blog.

November 22nd, 2006, 2:13 pm


ausamaa said:

This will depend on both the Opposition’s decision (Hizbullah, Aoun, and the ex sunni leadership primarily in consultation with Syria and Iran now) whether to opt for a continued confrontation or to cool things off, and on HOW the Harri camp -(not Hariri Jr. himself) acts locally, and on how president Bush behaves politically during the coming few days.

1- Bush true to his form, and unhappy with the Syrian moves towards Iraq and the Palestinians, “may” make the mistake of “thinking” that what is happening in Lebanon can be “used” as a face saving formula and start shooting from the hip, pushing for a flare up in Lebanon, and goes back to seeing visions of democracy and regime changes and things(actively encouraged of course by Jordan and Saudi who must have been feeling very margenalized lately)…thus taking us -and especially Lebanon and Iraq- back to square one again.

2- The Other Camp:
On the one hand, the opposition may opt for a Confrontation and does NOT allow this incident to achieve its goal of aborting the moves to bring down the government, hence. NO replacement, NO government. Logic? Enough is enough, and whoever is messing things up in Lebanon will continue to doing it no matter what; so let us cut it off and be finished with it once and for all. No government, US out, new elections at a cost of a high degree of civil unrest.
On the other, I strongly think that Hizbullah, Syria and Iran, will opt to “fully” pull the carpet from under Bush’s feet by deciding to cool things down in Lebanon for a while in order to consolidate gains elsewhere and score points as being a “Calming and Restraining” force in Lebanon, as they are doing in Iraq and Palestine.
Logic? While it will be seen as a Bush decision once again..yet my bet is that the other camp will adopt the “one step backwards,two steps forwards” policy -even at what might now appear as steep cost- and cool things off.

So, a replacement minister within less than a week.

November 22nd, 2006, 3:16 pm


qunfuz said:

Please read my latest posting Gemayel Assassinated

November 22nd, 2006, 3:50 pm


Atassi said:

Joshua was quoted in this one.. Read below
Killing casts doubt on US talks with Syria over Iraq
401 words
23 November 2006
The Australian
2 – All-round First
Copyright 2006 News Ltd. All Rights Reserved

WASHINGTON: Beirut’s latest political murder has dampened hopes of US talks with Syria over the disintegrating security situation in Iraq.

A Bush administration meeting with US foes Damascus and Tehran is expected to be proposed by a US commission, co-chaired by former secretary of state James Baker, that is seeking a new strategy for Iraq.

“It’s going to be much harder” after the killing, said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert and co-director of Peace Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

In the wake of the assassination, US President George W.Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said they would meet in Jordan next week to discuss the security situation in Iraq and the region’s role in helping the strife-torn country.

Mr Bush showed no sign of moderating his tone yesterday to preserve a diplomatic opening to Damascus and Tehran, accusing Syria and Iran of fomenting “instability and violence” in Lebanon, although stopping short of directly blaming them.

Some Western analysts saw the killing as an effort by Syria to prevent the Lebanese Government from endorsing a UN-sanctioned tribunal into the killing of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri last year.

But with many diplomatic signals pointing to a desire by Damascus to go to the table with Washington, why would Syria initiate new tensions?

“I believe the Syrians … know they will be implicated (by the UN tribunal) at a very high level … they have to stop this,” said David Schenker, senior fellow in Arab politics at the Washington Near East Institute.

Mr Schenker said the Syrian outreach to Iran and Iraq in recent days was consistent with past attempts by Damascus to deflect diplomatic pressure, at a time when the screws were tightening on Syria at the UN.

But analysts also suggested the killing could be the work of rogue factions in Syria or its intelligence services, or be score-settling within Lebanon politics.

If the intent of Pierre Gemayel’s killers was to halt the Hariri tribunal, with or without Lebanese support, it will fail, said Brookings Institution analyst Bilal Saab. “Regardless of whether the Americans are going to talk to the Syrians or the Iranians, the international tribunal is a top priority and there is no turning back on that,” he said.

November 22nd, 2006, 4:35 pm


Ehsani2 said:


Constitutionally, The President has to approve the appointment of a new Minister. The Prime Minister is indeed thinking of doing just that in order to put the President under the spot.

November 22nd, 2006, 5:11 pm


ausamaa said:

In any case, I do not think any reasonable sole should expect major political changes from a limited incident such as the assasination/murder of a person of the caliber of Pierre Jemayael. A distraction, a diversion, a delay tactic, maybe. But a turning point or an escape window. No way.

I say this for as usual, we sometimes see the Tree but not the Forest. Or, rather, we see into things what we “wish” to see. Of course depending on “who” the “we” is. So let us not get into high gear and into an overheated analysis as
regards “expected, or wished” changes in the strategic situation and direction in the area on account of this crime.

And Ehsani-2,
President Lahoud’s needed “approval-confirmation” of the replacement can also be seen as an addmitance/acceptance of Siniora and the current “parlimentary majority” of the President’s legitimcy. Would it not?

November 22nd, 2006, 5:23 pm


t_desco said:

Thanks. I asked because some journalists keep repeating that the killing of a certain number of ministers would automatically topple the Lebanese government and I don’t think that this is a realistic scenario.
For example, I don’t see how Lahoud could refuse to appoint a new minister. A refusal would look extremely suspicious under the circumstances.

November 22nd, 2006, 5:55 pm


Ehsani2 said:


Technically, if the Government loses one more Minister then they will lose their constituitional majority. I think that Lahoud will most likely oppose certain names put forth while in the meantime HA will claim that the Government is done.

November 22nd, 2006, 6:14 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

just like Mafia, Don Carleon is active again.

now it is the court approval, by the lebanese parliament,then it will go to Lahoud, can he refuse the Hariri investigation court?this will take few days only,it sounds that he will not sign for the court,then there will be massive demonstrations, and counter demonstrations,most likely is followed by foreign intervention, by then Brammertz report will be public.

November 22nd, 2006, 6:36 pm


t_desco said:

I don’t think that Lahoud has the political capital to do that. Can you imagine the outrage? He would most probably be toppled.

BTW; here is another great example of totally unbiased Mehlis methodology(TM) at work:

Mehlis Points Finger at ‘Pro-Syrian Forces in Lebanon’

Guilty until proven innocent…?

November 22nd, 2006, 6:45 pm


norman said:

T DESCO, Guilty even if you are innocent ,that is their goal.

November 22nd, 2006, 6:55 pm


Ehsani2 said:

The President does not need to sign the document. There is a clause that allows it to be validated through the approval of the Government and Parliament only. The former will follow up soon I am sure. The parliament will be urged to do the same. Once these technicalities are overcome, the international tribunal will offcially commence.
People in the know claim that once it does, it will be offically out of the political arena and the juidiciary will be in charge. Fasten your seat belt in the meantime

November 22nd, 2006, 7:04 pm


t_desco said:

“Nicholas Blanford has a new book on Lebanon. Basically, it compiles the accounts of Hariri family members. But mostly, it is an English language version of the accounts contained in the interviews with `Abdul-Halim Khaddam. And that title!”
As’ad AbuKhalil

To his credit, Blanford freely admits this in the preface (quoted by me here).

November 22nd, 2006, 8:42 pm


Al-Syasy said:

Now we are waiting for the resignation of Berri in the Syrian senario for Sinioras government to lose its constituitional majority.
According to the Bakers committe the U.S. and Europe are obliged to give Syria what it wants to cooperate in Iraq, thats why youll notice that no one will interfere with this assassination or any other assassinations in the near future.This is Syrias chance, it will be a political stupidity from Damascus if it let that chance pass without solving the lebanese case as Syria wishes.

Mr.Akbar Palace :

I understand from ur words that only France is fighting terrorist propaganda ??!!!!!!

November 22nd, 2006, 9:07 pm


Al-Syasy said:

What do u understand from this (first paragraph):

last month warning

November 22nd, 2006, 9:12 pm


Al-Syasy said:

It means that Syria asked for the permission last month and the U.S. gave it the permission to solve the lebanese case, cause they need Syria in Iraq.

Rice is warning the 14 of march powers (Europe) that the time of games in Lebanon has ended, and the situation in Iraq for the U.S. is critical.

November 22nd, 2006, 9:19 pm


Enlightened said:


What do you mean that the assasination is a limited incident? and ” person of the caliber of Pierre Gemayel ” ??????

This incident is not the norms of a civilised society, nor should assasination be a tool of politics, this is barbarity pure and simple. This man was not tainted by his familys past nor by his political peers serving within the government.

Im utterly didgusted by these killings ! The thugs in Damascus just dont seem to learn! I m changing my name to Karfan!

November 22nd, 2006, 9:59 pm


Rancher said:

Amir Taheri at Gulf News explains from a military point of view why Iran coaxed Syria into assassinating Gamayel or else just ordered their agents or Hezbollah to carry it out. Go to my blog for a synopsis. Also Al-Syasy, exactly what did Rice say, I can’t read your link. Dr. Coutinho. Taheri also has something to say about dialog with Iran.

November 22nd, 2006, 10:07 pm


Charles G. Coutinho, Ph. D. said:

What the intention of the killing of Gemayel is something that we do not know as of yet. The possible motive are endless. As per the idea that
the USA has given Damascus carte blanche to do anything that it wants in the Lebanon, I tend to doubt it. As Professor Landis himself says, there are considerable elements in the American Administration (Cheney, Elliott Abrams, Bolton, et cetera), who are resistant to talking with Syria, much less giving them leeway to do what it wants in the Lebanon.

My own guess, is that any momentum towards talks with Syria by the American administration has been seriously dented, for the present. And, while
‘regime change’ is no longer, I think seriously an option, a reapprochment between Washington and Damascus is no longer in prospect either. Except of course, if Assad fils, were to come cap in hand to the Americans, which he will not of course…No reason why he should at this point.

To reiterate, at present the American Administration will see the downfall of the 14th March Cabinet, as being a serious diplomatic defeat, for its proclaimed aims in the region, and will accordingly do all it can to prevent the same.

November 22nd, 2006, 10:18 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Professor Josh,

Where have you been? Some of the most important (and perceived) events related to Syria, and you are nowhere to be found!

We’re anxiously waiting for your Syrian Government apologetics and excuses.

Hopefully the Lebanese will stand up to Syrian and Iranian sponsored terrorists and keep them out of Lebanon.

Let these 2 wonderful states deal with their own problems at home instead of exporting it elsewhere.

November 22nd, 2006, 10:23 pm


Al-Syasy said:

Mr Charles, the names u gave of the american officials who are resisting the talks with Syria are not in a condition even to think after the defeat of the republicans in the Gongress, the policy makers in the U.S now is the old cabinet of the father G. BUSH, and they think that Iran and Syria are allies of the U.S. and must cooperate with the U.S..This is the only way for the republicans to try to win the elections in 2008. Without Iran and Syria the republicans will lose the elections, its a fact.

what do u think is more important for the republicans now? Lebanon or the elections in 2008??

November 22nd, 2006, 10:30 pm


Charles G. Coutinho, Ph. D. said:

Dear Mr. Al-Syasy,

As per your comments. It is true that with the elevation of Mr. Gates to be Defence Secretary, that the realpolitiker element of George H.W. Bush’s team have reemerged. However, does not gainsay the fact that the officials named, have both staying power, and, the power to disrupt and
prevent diplomatic and other movement. Remember one of the secrets and one of the most annoying aspects of government is that the ability to prevent positive action is relatively easy; the ability to act is hard. It will in fact take a positive decision by President Bush himself to override the obstacles put into the path of American-Syrian reapprochment, by those individuals that I mentioned previously. Hopefully, he will do so, but, that is as yet to be determined. Based upon past form however, I am not too hopeful.

As per the Republicans in Congress: well, their ability to win back power in the elections of 2008, depends many variables; American-Syrian relations are rather far down that list. Indeed, I rather doubt that the average Congressman even knows where Syria is, much less the issues between it and the USA. Sad but true.

November 22nd, 2006, 11:05 pm


Charles G. Coutinho, Ph. D. said:

Attached for Professor’s Landis’ readership is an interesting article in the conservative [not neo-conservative though…], realpolitik journal, The National Interest on the politics of the Gemayel murder in the context of American relations with
Syria, and the possibilities of renegotiating that relationship. Read and enjoy:

Events: Syria’s Gemayel Missive
by Alexis Debat and Ghassan Schbley


The assassination of Pierre Gemayel signals that the time has come for the U.S. government and the world community to make hard choices in Lebanon. Gemayel, a minister, rising politician and the scion of a very powerful Christian Maronite family, was assassinated a few hours after the office of Michel Pharaon, state minister for parliamentary affairs, was sprayed with bullets by unknown gunmen. Pharaon is also a Christian legislator and member of the anti-Syrian bloc within the Lebanese parliament, which currently holds a majority of seats. Taken together with the American-sponsored Syrian-Iraqi normalization, these two dramatic events indicate that the regime of Bashir al-Asad is sending the U.S. government and the international community a strong and clear message: choose between Lebanon and Iraq.

Besides its ruthless symbolism, the assassination of Gemayel is a classical move on the part of the Syrian government to further weaken the Lebanese government of Fouad Siniora, a few days after six pro-Syrian ministers (from Hizballah and Amal and allied factions) resigned from the cabinet just before the government was about to discuss a UN resolution supporting an international trial for the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. With Gemayel’s death, the Siniora government is teetering on the verge of collapse. If one more cabinet member either resigns or is killed, it will fall, and with it will collapse Western fantasies that Syrian influence in Lebanon could be erased with the wagging of fingers in Washington, New York and Paris. It seems clear that the assassination attempt on Pharaon was designed to trigger that last resignation to bring the government down.

Make no mistakes: this will happen. We are already and unfortunately in the post-Siniora era in Lebanon, where no doubt Hizballah will do everything it can (including forging an alliance with another Christian leader, Michael Aoun) to gain veto power over the next Lebanese government, and, over the long run, forge a new and broader constitutional order in Lebanon—one where the Shi’a dominate the political scene. As we now know, this kind of earth-shattering shift seldom comes in Lebanon without political violence.

Washington and Paris must first and foremost realize that, even though their aims in Lebanon were noble, their method was extraordinarily naive. Even without troops on the ground, Syria is strong in Lebanon, and will remain so as long as Hizballah reigns supreme over the Shi‘a community. In Lebanon, as in Iraq, we need a new method, emphasizing clear political goals. As Israel now knows, the best weapon against Hizballah is not the F-16 but a new, rejuvenated Amal.

More broadly, Syria has very clearly handed the West, and particularly the United States, a very difficult challenge. For all intents and purposes, the Bush Administration will have to choose between carrying on its noble post-Hariri vendetta, and continue isolating Syria, with great and serious consequences in Iraq, or adopt a more realistic stance and realize that its interests in the stability of Lebanon and—possibly Iraq—fly above and beyond the necessity for justice in Lebanon. Justice versus stability, all over again.

Alexis Debat is a senior fellow at the Nixon Center and a counter-terrorism consultant to ABC News. Ghassan Schbley is a research assistant at the Nixon center.

November 22nd, 2006, 11:21 pm


Al-Syasy said:

They explained what i said before, but without refering to the important issue of the challenge between the U.S. and Europe,they are talking as if Syria is an independent country.

November 22nd, 2006, 11:29 pm


Al-Syasy said:

The new orders included as baker said : “every single issue in the Middle East,”.

what is going in lebanon is one of the new orders, the U.S. changed its politics after the republicans were defeated in the congress.

November 23rd, 2006, 12:24 am


mamali said:

Dear Mr.Landis;
Your contradictory remarks in your latest VOA appearance literally shows that how little of the whole Middle East picture is actually known to you and I personally feel sorry for those whom blindly base their opinions on what you say.

Keep up the good work!
“Joshua Landis, a Syria expert and co-director of the Center for Peace Studies at the University of Oklahoma, says Gemayel’s killing could have been done by Hezbollah itself, acting as a proxy for Syria or Iran. But he does not rule out that an outside group, perhaps from al-Qaida, could be responsible, seeing the killing as a way to derail any possible U.S. effort to seek Syrian and Iranian help in stabilizing Iraq.”

November 23rd, 2006, 12:34 am


Dubai Jazz said:

When troubles happen in Lebanon, there is nobody but Syria to blame, even after 18 months of the Syrian troops withdrawal, the Lebanese 14th of mach bloc is not able to get the security straight.

November 23rd, 2006, 5:16 am


DavidP said:

Allies of the al-Sauds — blog

On that same thread I mentioned at the end of my last post about Pierre Gemayel, I noticed another
comment by Charles Coutinho. He’s right, the al-Saud family won the kingdom by conquest. The British initially backed the Hashemite family, but later came to terms with the al-Sauds. There may have been sheer incompetence on the part of the Hashemites, but also they were weakened because they were seen as having betrayed Islam by fighting against the Ottoman Empire in World War I.

As an example of the Saudi-British alliance, before the days of oil, the kingdom was heavily dependent on revenues from pilgrimages to Mecca. When these were reduced during World War II, it received subsidies from Britain and the US.

This was British ‘sphere of interest’ was later more or less taken over by the US (*). Roosevelt famously met on board ship with the Saudi king during the the war. Any idea, though, that the Americans went behind the back of the British to “steal” their ally is, in my view, way off the mark. The British continued to derive great benefit from their relationship with the Saudi Arabia. In 1985 they signed a large contract for the supply of fighter aircraft and another deal was in the offing earlier this year. The Saudis apparently find it a little less politically sensitive to be supplied by the British rather than the Americans.

* See William L.Cleveland, A History of the Modern Middle East, 1994.

Update: important new evidence has been released today that supports what I say above about the Saudi-British-American relationship. King Ibn Saud refused to agree to the meeting with President Franklin Roosevelt in 1945, unless Churchill was also present. The British PM, however, wrote to the king saying, “I greatly desire that you meet him…”

Incidentally, the contrasting views of Roosevelt and Churchill about the question of Jewish resettlement are surprising, to say the least. ( The Today Programme, 24 Nov)

November 24th, 2006, 12:10 pm


Chuck F said:

Nur al-Cubicle, what’s your problem? The U.S. didn’t withdraw from Vietnam over fears with war with China. What an ignorant statement to make. The U.S. withdrew because it basically gave up. I doubt that if the war was today that Vietnam would be called the victor, and I doun’t believe for a second that the U.S. feared China in any capacity.

Before you attempt to make a profound statement I would advise you to leave your anti-American sentiment out of it, and to get your facts straight.

January 12th, 2007, 9:10 pm


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