Syrian-Israeli Peace Made Easy by Cobban

Helena Cobban has an excellent short summary of Syrian-Israeli peace negotiations.

Rumyal (Yossi) writes: Helena Cobban has a good post summarizing the history of Syrian-Israeli peace negotiations. She doesn’t mention the indirect negotiations mediated with Abe Suliman and Alon Liel, but otherwise it looks pretty complete.

This summary requires a bit of discussion. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s been almost two decades now since we have sat down at the table and started talking about peace. And guess what, there was almost never anything unbridgeable in the positions, certainty not after Oslo in 93, when the Syrians started viewing themselves as free to sign their own bi-lateral agreement with Israel, separate from the Palestinians.

So… why don’t we have peace with Syria? That’s because I and the rest of the citizens of Israel are a bunch of certified DUMMIES. A herd of catatonic meat-eating sheep. In almost all the negotiations with Syria, negotiations broke down due to political expediency calculations from our joker-of-a-leader de-jour. The only one who wasn’t a joker, and was dead serious—was also seriously dead, literally, because of that. I’m talking about Yitzhak Rabin of course…..

An article in the Arabic Economic News, a Syrian economic magazine, gives the following breakdown of the top 1000 industrialists: 75% are in Damascus, 10% in Aleppo, and 5% each in Latakia, Homs and Tartus.

مجلة سورية تطلق قائمة أبرز 20 صناعي في سورية بينهم ثلاث سيدات
الاخبار الاقتصادية

وتوزع شيوخ كار الصناعة 2009 على المحافظات وفقا للنسب التالية 75 % دمشق، 10 % حلب، 5 % اللاذقية، 5% طرطوس، 5% حمص.

Boston Globe: Syrian dissident receives rare acquittal
2009-06-17 by Khaled Yacoub Oweis
A Syrian court issued on Wednesday a rare acquittal in a political case, finding dissident Walid al-Bunni not guilty of “weakening the morale of the nation.” Syrian dissident receives rare acquittal

Faysal Miqdad: “Syria’s relations with the next Lebanese government will be based on two key issues, he said, ‘The first is the way this government deals with Syria and its view of Lebanese- Syrian relations. The second is the way it deals with Hezbollah’s arms, which Syria sees as a necessity to Lebanon in the face of the Israeli occupation.'”

Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren said:

“When the prime minister and the government uses the word ‘state’ now, it has to attach a number of caveats to it, so it’ll be understood that what we’re talking about here is not a state in the classical sense, as is widely understood, but a state that will have some — some — substantive restrictions on its powers,”

Carter in Gaza, NYTimes

Earlier, touring the site of the American International School, a private institution in Gaza that was bombed by the Israelis during the war, Mr. Carter said, “I have to hold back tears when I see the deliberate destruction that has been wreaked against your people.” He added that he felt partly responsible because the school had been “deliberately destroyed by bombs from F-16s made in my country.”

“Tragically, the international community largely ignores the cries for help, while the citizens of Gaza are treated more like animals than human beings,” he said.

In a related development on Tuesday, two Israeli groups that advocate for Palestinians, HaMoked and Gisha, revealed a new Israeli procedure that makes it impossible for Gaza residents to move to the West Bank in all but the most exceptional of cases. For example, the groups said, under the policy, chronically ill patients, orphans and elderly invalids will not be able to receive care from their closest relatives living in the West Bank if they have any relatives in Gaza capable of caring for them.

Carter is becoming a huge problem and a growing concern for Obama,” a Washington Middle East hand said. “They are very pissed with him.” (Laura Rosen in the Cable at Foreign Policy)

Living in Exile: Young Iraqi refugees in Syria

This black ops, green beret soldier

has come to the realization that the doctrine of brute military force against foreign citizens in faraway lands is not a winning strategy in the long term. …

After watching the U.S. try and fail for years to put down insurgencies in both countries, Gen. McChrystal said he believes that to win in Afghanistan, “You’re going to have to convince people, not kill them.

“Since 9/11, I have watched as America tried to first put out this fire with a hammer, and it doesn’t work,” he said last week at his home at Fort McNair in Washington. “Decapitation strategies don’t work.”…

Arabic bloggers

are predominately young and male. The highest proportion of female bloggers is found in the Egyptian youth sub-cluster, while the Syrian and Muslim Brotherhood clusters have the highest concentration of males…..

The one political issue that clearly concerns bloggers across the Arab world is Palestine, and in particular the situation in Gaza (Israel’s December 2008/January 2009 military action occurred during the study). Other popular topics include religion (more in personal than political terms) and human rights (more common than criticism of western culture and values). Terrorism and the US are not major topics. When discussing terrorism, Arab bloggers are overwhelmingly critical of terrorists. When the US is discussed, it is nearly always critically…..

NSA gathering e-mail in America

The agency’s monitoring of domestic e-mail messages, in particular, has posed longstanding legal and logistical difficulties, the officials said.

Since April, when it was disclosed that the intercepts of some private communications of Americans went beyond legal limits in late 2008 and early 2009, several Congressional committees have been investigating. Those inquiries have led to concerns in Congress about the agency’s ability to collect and read domestic e-mail messages of Americans on a widespread basis, officials said. Supporting that conclusion is the account of a former N.S.A. analyst who, in a series of interviews, described being trained in 2005 for a program in which the agency routinely examined large volumes of Americans’ e-mail messages without court warrants. Two intelligence officials confirmed that the program was still in operation.

Comments (27)

Shai said:

JAD where are you? We’re going to space! And if not us, then our children:

June 17th, 2009, 6:20 pm


t_desco said:

The “election will be decided in a few districts and polls are meaningless with so many people coming back to Lebanon.”


June 17th, 2009, 7:52 pm


Akbar Palace said:

After reviewing Helena Cobban’s website and a few of her articles, I suggest a small change to the title:

Instead of “Syrian-Israeli Peace Made Easy” (sure), how about:

1.) “Syrian-Israeli Peace for Israeli Dummies” (in conjuction with the yellow background and the triangular faced illustration)


2.) “Syrian-Israeli Peace Made Easy for people who aren’t Israeli”


3.) “Syrian-Israeli Peace Made Easy for people who never expect Arab reciprocity/responsibility for anything”

Take your choice.

June 17th, 2009, 8:07 pm


Majhool said:


Speaking of girls. Watch this, its amazing, fit for a promo to visit syria.

Hope no one else is watching

June 17th, 2009, 10:12 pm


majid said:

خلال لقاء كلينتون وليبرمان بواشنطن
الاستيطان يجدد الخلاف الأميركي الإسرائيلي

كلينتون (يمين) وجدت نفسها بمواجهة تعنت ليبرمان حول موضوع الاستيطان (الفرنسية)

وجدت وزيرة الخارجية الأميركية هيلاري كلينتون نفسها على خلاف مباشر مع نظيرها الإسرائيلي أفيغدور ليبرمان حول قضية تجميد بناء مستوطنات جديدة في الضفة الغربية، فبينما أكدت هي ضرورة تجميد المستوطنات أكد هو رفض بلاده ذلك.

وجاءت تلك المواجهة خلال مؤتمر صحفي مشترك للوزيرين في واشنطن مساء الأربعاء حيث أكدت كلينتون معارضتها لأي مستوطنات جديدة في الضفة الغربية، وقالت إن رؤية الرئيس باراك أوباما للسلام في المنطقة تقضي بتجميد النشاط الاستيطاني باعتبار ذلك مسألة “مهمة وضرورية”.

لكن كلينتون قالت إن المبعوث الأميركي للشرق الأوسط جورج ميتشل سيجري مزيدا من النقاشات حول “المخاوف المهمة” المتعلقة بقضية الاستيطان في المحادثات المقبلة مع إسرائيل.

وبدوره قال ليبرمان إن لدى إسرائيل تفاهمات مع الإدارة الأميركية السابقة حول موضوع الاستيطان، وإنها لذلك لن تقبل برؤية الإدارة الحالية حول التجميد التام له، كما أنها ستسمح بالنمو الطبيعي للمستوطنات.

ورغم ذلك أبدى ليبرمان استعداد حكومة رئيس الوزراء بنيامين نتنياهو لإجراء محادثات “مباشرة وفورية مع الفلسطينيين”.

وقد ردت كلينتون على موضوع “وجود تفاهمات” بالقول إن تاريخ الإدارة الأميركية السابقة لا يتضمن أي “اتفاقات غير رسمية أو شفهية واجبة التنفيذ”.

وقال مسؤولون إسرائيليون في وقت سابق إن نتنياهو سيجتمع مع ميتشل في أوروبا الأسبوع المقبل في محاولة للتوصل إلى اتفاق حول الموضوع.

وكان ميتشل صرح الثلاثاء -تعليقا على لقاءاته مع مسؤولين إسرائيليين وغيرهم- بأن هناك عددا من التعريفات لمفهوم “النمو الطبيعي” الذي تتحدث عنه إسرائيل، وقال “نحن نحاول الوصول إلى اتفاق وتفاهم يساعدنا في تحريك العملية إلى الأمام”.

المصدر: الجزيرة + وكالات

June 17th, 2009, 11:09 pm


t_desco said:

Why I smiled: Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said that all their internal pre-election opinion polls proved correct with the exception of those for the few disputed electoral districts where a large number of expatriates voted which the polling could not take into account…

June 18th, 2009, 5:56 am


t_desco said:

Robin Vincent on leaks.

Obviously, the exact wording would be extremely important, because he seems to confirm, at least indirectly, that some information was indeed leaked to the press. That would mean that some reports were true.

It’s also funny, given that he himself talked to Le Monde.

Security forces arrest sender of explosives parcel

Security services in Baalbek arrested on Tuesday a man wanted for sending a booby-trapped parcel to the General Security headquarters in Beirut’s district of Sodco. The man identified as M.H.H was arrested after a police chase. Last Friday a booby-trapped parcel was discovered at the Directorate General of General Security. Police experts said the parcel contained between 150 to 200 grams of explosives and T.N.T, a timer and a cell phone. The parcel did not blow up due to a technical problem, police said. Interior Minister Ziyad Baroud paid a visit to the Directorate General of General Security and met with Brigadier General Wafiq Jezzini.
(The Daily Star, June 18, 2009)

M.H.H. = Mahdi al-Hajj Hassan?

Was he released as part of the Hariri amnesty?

Robert Baer on how to spot the signs of a true revolution in Iran:

“But I have yet to see any pictures from south Tehran, where the poor live. Or from other Iranian slums.”

And on what would stand in its way:

“We should never forget that Iran’s spiritual leader, Ayatullah Khameinei, along with Ahmadinejad, have the full, if undeclared, backing of both the Revolutionary Guards and the army, and they are not afraid to use those resources to back up their mandate.”

June 18th, 2009, 9:20 am


Akbar Palace said:

Once again, the do-nothing IAEA in action:

VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran wants the ability to build nuclear weapons to gain the reputation of a major power in the Middle East, the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said in a BBC interview broadcast on Wednesday.

June 18th, 2009, 11:35 am


norman said:

ElBaradei lashes out at Israel over bombed site in Syria (Roundup)
Middle East News
Jun 18, 2009, 12:16 GMT

Vienna – International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei clashed with Israel Thursday over the country’s lack of cooperation in uncovering the truth about an alleged nuclear reactor

in Syria.

Israel bombed the suspected al-Kibar nuclear site in 2007 without first informing the IAEA. The nuclear agency has repeatedly called on Israel to share intelligence information, while Israel has urged the IAEA to step up its efforts.

‘We would appreciate that you would stop preaching to us,’ Director General ElBaradei told Israeli ambassador Israel Michaeli at a meeting of the IAEA’s governing board, according to a participant.

His comments were sparked by Michaeli’s call on the director general ‘to avoid political bias in dealing with Syria’s file,’ according to the text of the Israeli diplomat’s statement.

The bombing was a ‘clear violation of international law,’ ElBaradei said.

The United States has provided the nuclear agency with intelligence suggesting Syria was close to finishing work on a reactor that was not declared to the IAEA.

Syria has so far only permitted one visit by IAEA inspectors at the bombed site and claims al-Kibar was a conventional military installation.

Israel is widely believed to have nuclear weapons, but has never confirmed it. The country is not part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that limits the global spread of nuclear weapons.

‘You are not even a member of the regime to tell us what to do,’ participants quoted ElBaradei as saying.

At their only visit to al-Kibar, agency experts found particles of man-made uranium which were not part of the nuclear material declared to the IAEA.

In addition, the organization is investigating the origin of additional traces of man-made uranium found at a small scientific reactor in Damascus.

Syria maintains the traces at the bombed site came from Israeli munitions, but the IAEA said in a report in February the probability for such a scenario was low.

However, the Egyptian IAEA chief has been trying to get information from Israel to help exclude such a possibility.

While Michaeli said his country had responded in good faith to the agency’s questions, ElBaradei said the information provided was brief – ‘almost an insult.’

Michaeli also claimed ElBaradei had refused to meet with Israeli officials on this matter.

The United States on Thursday noted that Damascus had ‘chosen to hinder the agency’s efforts’ and called on Syria to cooperate fully ‘without delay,’ said the US statement obtained by the German Press Agency dpa.

Read more:

June 18th, 2009, 12:57 pm


majid said:

How is that for a change?

June 18th, 2009, 7:13 pm


t_desco said:

Using Press TV as a barometer, this (both what was said and that it was reported) could be a promising sign:

President slammed for denigrating rivals

A vocal supporter of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has hit out at him for referring those questioning Friday’s election results as “flotsam and jetsam.”

Habibollah Asgaroladi, a senior member of the Islamic Coalition Party, a leading figure of the Principlist camp, criticized President Ahmadinejad for his recent remarks in a gathering of his supporters on Sunday.

“If we imagine that the preferences of ourselves and of those around us are Right and all others are Wrong, and we look at the others as flotsam and jetsam, whoever has such concept, irrespective of his rank, that person has ceased to be a servant of God, for God has told His servants to have the best dialog with each other,” Asgaroladi said. (…)
(Press TV, 18 Jun 2009)

He was his usual hyper-aggressive self at that rally. As I said, it sounded like a declaration of war.

June 18th, 2009, 8:02 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

what is going on in Iran? It seems to me it belongs to new generation,who want to defend woman rights,which is good thing,in Islam men and woman are equal except in inheritance,In Islam there is no mention of women rights in case of divorce,it was left to the community,other than that,men and women are equal, women rights are twisted by religous leaders who bowed to the rich or strong.
Changes in Iran will reflect on HA,and on Syria,in a negative way,it is another reason why Assad should fear Obama,the syrian people will learn from Lebanon election and election in Iran.It will also reflects on the arab countries other than Syria.
When people revolt,it may start by something small,spark,if the enviroment is ready.

June 19th, 2009, 12:10 am


majid said:

American and zionist plot inside Iran uncovered. Cells exposed with connections to Americans in Iraq. The agents were given instructions on how to plant bombs in polling stations as well as in mosques in order to create chaos in Iran according to this report.

June 19th, 2009, 1:18 am


Shami said:

As usual ,the people are being slaughtered and these human rights teachers are silent.
Majid ,the zionist plot are themselves ,Khomaini ,Khamainei and alike.

June 19th, 2009, 1:22 am


majid said:

Hillary Clinton breaks her elbow soon after meeting with a zionist. She must undergo surgery.

June 19th, 2009, 1:31 am


majedkhaldoun said:

is the fracture in the wrist,or in the elbow,which is worse.

June 19th, 2009, 2:58 am


norman said:

It is interesting how the people who claim to want to fight corruption in Syria seem to side by the corrupt and the thieves in Iran , and that the people who kept telling us that Iran is not a democracy are crying for the death of that democracy.

And that is my take.

June 19th, 2009, 3:19 am


Ford Prefect said:

Norman, I couldn’t have said it any better. Thanks!

June 19th, 2009, 3:52 am


Shami said:

Norman ,all the regime is corrupt in Iran ,Khamainei ,Rafsandjani and co .For example ,Khamainei is corrupt in a sense of religious corruption ,he spends the money of Iran in selfish megalomaniac propaganda, hezbollahi organizations and criminal militias and it costs billions of US dollars/year ,is that a necessity for the country or a necessity for the well being of the country or for his regime survival?.Rafsanjani is a businessman since long time ago.

These nice and brave people are not dying for the sake of Rafsanjani or Musawi,they used this window and regime contradictions in order to advance their claims.

As you can see they are the intellegensia and youth.

June 19th, 2009, 4:09 am


norman said:

It looks like the Rich and the so called (( Good Families )) against the poor and the disadvantage, The Business people against the workers and the farmers,

June 19th, 2009, 4:36 am


Shami said:

Norman ,so why did not you chose the paradise of the worker and weak classes Soviet Union,North Korea,Iran instead of liberal USA ?
Btw ,Norman ,this poverty in Iran is not normal.Iran is lucky in natural wealth …So is also Syria.
Norman ,in which country are you ,arent you the proud republican as you said once?

June 19th, 2009, 4:44 am


majid said:

Amir Taheri asserts that the term Islamic Republic of Iran consists of three misnomers. It is neither Islamic, nor Iranian and nor a Republic:
ويمثل اسم الجمهورية الإسلامية الإيرانية إردافا خلفيا ثلاثيا. فهي ليست إسلامية لأنها تتبنى أيديولوجية غريبة تعتمد على ولاية الفقيه، وهو مفهوم غريب يعارضه 99 في المائة من المسلمين من جميع الطوائف.

كما أنها ليست جمهورية، لأن السلطة يمارسها «المرشد الأعلى»، وليس العامة. وهي ليست إيرانية أيضا لأنها ترفض تاريخ إيران ما قبل الثورة بالإضافة إلى أنها تعتبر مفهوم القومية في حد ذاته ضد الإسلام.

وقد شكلت تلك التناقضات نموذج السياسة الإيرانية منذ عام 1979. وقد حاول العديدون إخفاءها أو التقليل من حجمها؛ ولكنهم جميعا فشلوا.

His full article is here

June 19th, 2009, 5:25 am


norman said:


It was an observation ,

people should be proud and be counted for what they do and give not of what their family name is or what their religion is or what part of the country they come from , You should agree with .at least .

I am proud that i went to the Syrian public school system and achieved what i achieved , plying by the rules and paying taxes , so I ma proud of what i did not only for what my family did ,

we are individuals after all and should stand as individuals .and should be accounted for our deeds not our families legacy.

People like countries tend to talk about their past when they have nothing to show in the present .

June 19th, 2009, 1:32 pm


Majhool said:


The Iranians just want to challenge the authorities to advance their rights, and whether it’s going to be successful or not, it is refreshing.

Let’s not hide behind big banners “rich vs the poor”. “Good families vs God knows who”

I hope you are not one of those bitter people in Syria who approved of those who ruined Syria and mismanaged its resources under the pretext of bitterness of the more affluent.

Social mobility is important, but equally important is to put vengeance behind. If Obama was to think like you do, he would have put white people in concentration camps.

When I read your bitter comments I can’t but imagine you in this video

June 19th, 2009, 10:16 pm


norman said:


you are not worth answering , you are just a racist who thinks that being of your religion or ethnic backgroud is the only requirement to serve in Syria , show us your acheivments and your service to your country then come and show off , untill then keep dreaming of the acheivments of your ancestors.
On the other hand , i do not need to rely on my family for glory.

I can make that glory.You don’t seem to be able to!.

June 20th, 2009, 1:07 am


Majhool said:


Thank you for proving my point.

June 20th, 2009, 1:12 am


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