Syrian Media – The Challenge and the Need to Act - Syria Comment

Syrian Media – The Challenge and the Need to Act

Joshua will be away this week. I will be posting a series of contributions from our readers. Alex

 

Syrian Media – The Challenge and the Need to Act 

by Averroes

With the latest events in Lebanon, Saudi channel Alarabiya is again doing what it does best, inflaming Arab public opinion against Shiites, Syria, and the Lebanese Opposition,  and it is doing so using the most recklessly sectarian language imaginable. The words Shiite, Sunni, Ta’ifi (sectarian,) and Alawite, are being repeated at an alarming rate on this and similar “Moderate Arab” media outlets, in reference to the political situations in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. In spite of the fact that the two sides of the power struggle in Lebanon have Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, and Druze, Alarabiya and other similar media outlets are adamant on painting everything with the ugly sectarian color.

sunnishia.jpg

Giving politics a religious and sectarian angle is like taking a shot in the arm. It immediately gives the side evoking it a false sense of power, endurance, and meaning. It drives young kids to the streets shouting slogans over a thousand years old, as if echoes of the ancient bloody struggle that once took place in the region. Schoolmates suddenly find themselves standing opposite each other, shouting their lungs out with utter, incomprehensible hatred toward one another. And just like a shot in the arm would eventually devastate you, so would sectarian violence were it to be unleashed. Since the invasion of Iraq, Saudi owned and sponsored media outlets have been busy handing out free loaded needles to anyone with a TV set. Today’s news on Alarabiya and Asharq Alawsat is but a small sample of that, although it has upped the doses to desperately insane levels.

With that media provoking such destructive forces upon Syria, the Levant, and the Arab world in general, the question is where is the answer to that? Where is the media alternative provided by the secular interests in the region in today’s media spectrum in the Middle East? Where is the ‘Say-NO-To-Drugs’ campaign to the drug dealer handing out the deadly substance to the children and the youth of the region? It might be good time to take a small step back and look at the state of the Syrian media.  

It’s no news that official Syrian media has always been, shall we say, less than adequate. However, it has perhaps never seen more miserable times than the weeks and months that immediately followed the assassination of Rafiq Hariri on March 14th, 2005. I think Syrian TV was showing a pre-recorded program about tourism in Palmyra when the explosion took place in Beirut. Within seconds, major news networks had interrupted their normal coverage and converged on to the event. Within minutes, Al-Jazeerah, Alarabiya, LBC, NTV, BBC, CNN, NBC, and of course Al-Mustaqbal (Hariri’s own network) had placed teams on location with reporters and live feed from the site of the horrific explosion. Syrian TV, on the other hand, continued showing its crude, humdrum program of Western tourists happily riding camels in Palmyra, followed by a program about hand crafts in Hamidiyeh market, probably followed by the age-old Arduna el-Khadraa’ (Our Green Land, a weekly farming program that has had the same title and format for over thirty years.) Regular programming continued for the rest of the day as if nothing had happened. The explosion and Hariri’s assassination appeared as one of the day’s events on the evening news, and that was about it. By that time, however, most Arab news networks had already launched an unprecedented media war against Syria. That war continues today, albeit at lower effect. After more than three years, Syrian official media is still unable to muster a viable defence.   

It wasn’t the first time that a TV station has acted in this deer-freezing-in-middle-of-the-road type of response. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1989, for instance, Saudi TV did not mention the momentous event for another three days. Saudi authorities were so shaken by the invasion, that they did not know what to do for three whole days. But that was in 1989, and they’ve learned quite a few lessons since then. In fact, the Saudis have moved from a position where they were being blackmailed by just about anyone who ran a printing press in the nineteen sixties, to a position today where they rule the Arab media space almost unchallenged. It is necessary to shed some light on that network in order to understand the impact it has had on Syrian and Lebanese societies, and on the Syrian regime. An observation of how the closely tied pack is orchestrated reveals unmistakable patterns, as we will see.

At what we might term as First Layer media are the higher end media outlets like Asharq Alawsat and Alarabiya TV. These can be characterized by their professional-looking styles and especially their subtle approach. Alarabiya, probably best described as the Saudi replica of Fox News, employs the latest trends in mass-media marketing technologies. The methods here are slick and highly polished, where great attention is taken to promoting certain pro-Saudi,  pro-US, anti-Resistance terminology and nomenclature. A key characteristic of this layer is the highly selective news coverage and the extremely biased “opinion” forums and commentary. Abdlrahman Al-Rashed, is probably the most fitting journalist to represent this layer. As careful with his words as a shrewd layer, he manages to get his daily sectarian tainted anti-Syria, anti-Lebanese Opposition message through loud and clear.

Take a look at this article, dated May 3rd, 2007, discussing the fighting at the Palestinian camp Nahr el-Bared in Lebanon. It might be a little old, but it is quite fitting to illustrate his methods.

قبل معارك نهر البارد كانت مشكلة سورية، وكذلك القوى المؤيدة لها، محصورة في دائرة النزاع اللبناني لكن بعد ان صارت الجماعات الإرهابية الدولية طرفا حقيقيا في الأزمة، سواء بالاستخدام أو بالتأييد، فإننا سنرى تبدلا في القضية اللبنانية. لن تجد هذه القوى المتورطة من يساندها دوليا لأن الجميع في حال حرب مع الجماعات المتطرفة، سواء كانوا روسا أو صينيين أو أوروبيين.
Before the fighting at Nahr el-Bared, Syria’s problems, as well as the problems of its allies were limited to the conflict in Lebanon. But now that international terrorist groups have become a real side in the conflict, whether by [direct] use or by support, we’re going to see a change in the Lebanese issue. These forces will not find anyone to support them internationally because everyone is at war with the extremist groups, including the Russians, the Chinese, and the Europeans.

Note the crafty wording as he goes on to warn Syria of its imminent loss of its allies and of looming world prosecution, due to its alleged use of the extremist groups at Nahr el-Bared; groups that in fact, happened to be Wahabi Salafis with 300 Saudi nationals in their ranks. As Syria’s allies did not conform to his ultimatum, he later makes a rather desperate accusation that it “was actually Syria, more than anyone else in the world, that has defeated the US in Iraq,” in his article titled Syria, Sleeping with the Fundamentalists dated May 26th, 2008, in which he goes:

لا أحد يجهل أن تسمين وتربية الحركات الأصولية في منطقتنا، شيعية كانت أم سنية، نتيجته فوضى مدمرة. معاركها محتومة بحكم طبيعتها الدينية، والشواهد أمامنا عديدة من المغرب الى السعودية. وما زاد في حيرة الكثيرين، قدرة دمشق على استخدام هذه الحركات الأكثر تطرفا في العالم، من أجل مواجهة الأميركيين في العراق، أو التحكم في لبنان، أو إدارة الصراع في الأراضي الفلسطينية المحتلة.
No one is ignorant to the fact that the raising and fattening of fundamentalist groups in our region, be those Shiite or Sunni, inevitably leads to devastating chaos. With imminent fighting due to its religious nature [sic], and we do in fact have many examples in front of us from Morocco to Saudi Arabia. But what’s really surprising, is the ability Damascus has to use the most extremist of groups in the world, in order to fight the Americans in Iraq, or to control Lebanon, or to manage the struggle in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Lest you got carried away reading this convoluted peace, this is a Saudi journalist, preaching the secular Syrians about the malice of raising and nourishing terrorist and extremist religious groups. He was writing that article while his country’s National Security Advisor, prince Bandar, according to the Guardian here and here, was making it very clear to British officials, that his country would “cut off intelligence on terrorists if investigations into him and his family was not stopped.” The British took Bandar’s statements so seriously, that “Investigators said they were given to understand there would be "another 7/7" and the loss of ‘British lives on British streets’ if they carried on delving into the payments.” If that is not a clear “use of terrorism” to arm twist a Western nation, then I don’t know what is.

In the last few days, you could not listen to Alarabiya for one minute without hearing sectarian language from their anchors or their almost completely single-sided guest array. The examples are too many to mention, and yet, this is Abdelrahman Al-Rashed; the top-brass journalist of the Saudi media industry, who is marketed as a liberal and is (by-far) the most professional of Saudi journalists. He now leads the MBC ensemble including Alarabiya TV station, constituting with Asharq Alawsat the most competent and most respectful of media institutions that the Saudis have (Wish el-Basta). It’s all steeply downhill from here.

Second layer outlets such as Alarabiya online and Elaph web site are targeted at different recipient sectors and thus use different tools and tactics. As an example, both use sexually appealing reports and imagery on a regular basis to attract more traffic. Visit the sites any time and you are guaranteed to find content that’s specifically tailored to the perceived whims of their intended audience. The subject of choice at Alarabiya at the time of this writing is an investigation of whether or not women’s public baths in Damascus are actually a cover for clandestine Lesbian relationships, and another on the First Arab Movie on Lesbian Love. Now that they have your attention (note the number of replies to the subject) – and keeping to our discussion of their position vis-à-vis Syria, you’re very likely to find much harsher articles and extremely cruel reader comments targeted at Syria and the Lebanese Opposition. Here, one can expect to find the odd Ikhwani (members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood movement,) typically living in Saudi Arabia or working for some Saudi sponsored “Islamic” organization somewhere. You’re also likely to find the March 14 variety, and just about anyone who has something bad to say about the Syrian regime, the Lebanese Opposition, or Iran. The job of the editors at these sites seems limited to clipping out not just attacks on Saudi Arabia, but also any counter arguments that might attempt to point out the political nature of the conflicts. Elaph, having lower readership than Alarabiya, takes the liberty of editing your comments for you before posting them. The combination of targeted marketing techniques, the abundance of essayists, and the uneven handedness in editing makes a potent combination. Reading hundreds of notoriously sectarian comments on a daily basis has also taken its toll on the collective Syrian psyche.

Third layer channels, which have still a different readership, sink even lower. The Kuwaiti newpaper Alseyassah, described by the notoriously anti-Syria columnist Michael Young as bring “close to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia”, has made a career of repeatedly quoting “extremely intimate and reliable sources” inside Syria for fantastic “news.” Its news about Syria usually targets the Syrian economy, the availability of goods in Syrian markets, and often Bashar’s direct inner circle. In the past few years, headlines have read “Six months, and it’ll be all over in Syria,” and “Bashar has a nervous breakdown in anticipation of a similar fate as that of Saddam” and “Syrians hording in the streets for food, in anticipation of an imminent American strike”. Leachate from this shabby and tasteless publication ironically feeds a large number of seemingly more restrained outlets. Lebanese March 14 newspapers and sympathizers including Khaddam’s site, regularly quote Alseyassah for “news”. Almost a hundred percent of Alseyassah’s reports have been refuted as bogus and totally unfounded. In fact, this layer of media is so outrageous, that it has repelled many Syrians away from their initial sympathizing with the March 14th movement. The comedy show La yumall on Al-Mustaqbal has made a career of mocking the Syrian accent, the supposed Syrian demeanour, and even their depiction of a Syrian’s physical features (the actor always put on very heavy eye browses and talks in ridiculously exaggerated Syrian dialect.) Having said that, Alseyassah and similar outlets continue to take their position in today’s spectrum of Arab media.

In today’s Asharq Alawsat, Al-Rashed writes “Today, 200 million Arabs see him [Nasrallah] fighting the Sunni enemy. I repeat: The Sunni Enemy, the Sunni Enemy, the Sunni Enemy.” He totally ignores and does not report that both sides of the conflict have followers of all sects within their ranks. The kind of hatred he and his media empire are  unleashing is resulting in Sunnis killing Sunnis, as Hariri’s thugs butchered up to 15 fellow Lebanese of the Syrian Socialist National Party (SSNP) in Halaba, Lebanon. Most of the victims were actually Sunnis. In order to promote the failing March 14 group, this man and his government do not mind to set Lebanon on fire.

Storm Rocks the Ship

So there we have it. A media empire spanning literally hundreds of publications and satellite TV stations, and covering interlacing and overlapping sectors of the Arab public audience, and one that’s not only there to promote Saudi Arabia’s interests, but is also on the offensive against Syria and the Lebanese Opposition. An excellent source of information about the Saudi media can be found in Paul Cochrane’s article Saudi Arabia’s Media Influence.

Here, we're looking at a very important question. What proportion of a newspaper's, or a TV station's job is to report news and events, and what proportion is it to manufacture public opinion. How do you distinguish between press that's run and funded by a country's governing elite, and propaganda? Why does everyone seem to agree that Saddam's media was propaganda, but not Fox News or its Arabic replica Alarabiya? These are big questions that I'm not going to attempt to answer here. But I think it's fair to say that the media is an extension of language, law, religion, politics, and other fields of human endeavour that still have no scientific or precise definitions. The use of modern media is an extension of the use of spoken, scripted, and printed word that we have been using for millennia, only now it's orders of magnitude louder. Modern media is an interactive, dynamic process that receives inputs from its domains of operation (society, policy makers, history, interest groups) but also projects output onto that domain with an intention of achieving varying degrees of influence.

With that in mind, let us try to examine what influence the Saudi owned, sponsored, or inspired media outlets may be trying to achieve. To start with, there are a number of very important domestic objects. Read Andrew Hammond's Saudi Arabia Media Empire: Keepiong the Masses at Home for a review of some of the most important objectives of Saudi Arabian media network. However, following 9/11 and the extreme pressure and embarrassment that the Saudis were subjected to, radical measures had to be taken. Where the American TV station Al-Hurra (the Free) has failed miserably, Al-Rashed's MBC channels and Alarabiya has had much better success in promoting the US administration’s views. When the MBC ensemble was first announced, the Arab audience was promised something spectacular. The ads ran for weeks "now, you will watch what they get to watch! and see what they get to see!" 'They' in the ad, meant the Americans! The Arab recipient of this message was supposed to be taken with awe and gratitude, that now he or she would see American shows just as the average American does.

That was the undertaking of the TV network that’s owned by the very country that bans women from driving. The country that in 2007 had the highest world-wide number of executions per capita, and the country whose state-backed and state-paid religious police are so stringent about girls coming in contact with boys that they’d rather let them burn than have firemen rescue them. Do you get that? This is a country that spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year to bring Friends to its public, while simultaneously spending equally enormous amounts of money jailing that public, for sitting at a public café with a woman. Are you confused? You shouldn’t be. Control and mass manipulation is what they’re after in both cases. By showing non-stop, around the clock Hollywood hits (fully translated and quite new too,) exclusively American children’s cartoons, in addition to Oprah, Dr. Phil, and American Idol, Al-Rashed and Co. have created a very attractive packaging that attracts millions of Arab viewers. Unfortunately, it has been using the attractive packaging to try and destabilize the Syrian regime and its allies by spreading sectarian hatred and inflammation throughout the region. Similar dynamics – in message and packaging – can be shown for the other media outlets mentioned earlier, most of which are Saudi sponsored in one way or another.

Although these are clearly the tactics of desperation from a bad loser, messages sent by this media empire do find ears, unfortunately. The most serious damage caused by the onslaught with respect to Syria can probably be divided into two main parts: Syrian (as well as Lebanese and Arab) public opinion, and Western research institutions and decision makers.

In the weeks and months that followed Hariri's assassination in 2005, the above-described media peaked in the toll it took on the Syrian public opinion. With lack of adequate Syrian response, the Syrian public was pinned to reports by Alarabiya, Almustaqbal, and many others, relentlessly attacking the Syrian regime and spreading rumours of an imminent US invasion of Damascus. It was so stressful on the Syrian public that at one point, the Syrian Lira lost about 20% of its value, the lowest point it had reached in over 15 years. Although it did adjust back after intervention from the Central Bank of Syria, many investments had already been scared away. People stopped spending, were genuinely worried and braced for the worst. With utter irresponsibility, these networks continued to gush wave after wave of sectarian frenzy, recklessly pouring gasoline on the worst fears of Syrian, Lebanese, and Arab masses everywhere.

Lebanon in particular has been hardest hit by the sectarian angle the Saudis excel at, although a common consensus not to drift into another civil war has been stronger than Al-Rashed and Co. Nonetheless, the billions of dollars spent have been successful in feeding deep mistrust and fear along every possible differentiation line that exists in the region, be that sectarian, ethnic, religious, or national. Fear is a force to reckon with. It can build irrational worlds in the minds of targeted groups and individuals, derailing life plans and causing people to make desolate, uninformed decisions. Fear can also manifest itself as a potent recruiting tool, reaping a constant supply of confused and desperate people, ripe and ready for manipulation.

Another implication of Syria’s absence on the media front, is that others get to set what is said about it in the international media.

 

Tomorrow: Part II The Syrian Response – Shy and Feeble

Comments (171)


Qifa Nabki said:

Wow! Excellent work!

May 15th, 2008, 7:41 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Money can not buy public opinion and Moderate Arab media has failed miserably despite the tremendous amounts spent. Al Manar, NEW TV and Al Jazeera will win hands-down any credibility or popularity contest against Future, Arabia, LBC and Al Hurra.

AS to LBC and Future in particular, in Lebanon, or among the expat Lebanese they may be watched in accordance to political affiliation, but as far as Arabs are concerned, they may watch the popular Super Star and Star Academy shows, but they go to other Channels for News and Analysis.

Recent Polls are a living proof of this.

The Arab street in its majority has not been hijacked by the MOderate Arab Media. Support for Syria and the Lebanese Opposition, Hizbullah in particular, is still growing despite all the monies spent. For example, if one listens to responses by street Arabs to question posed by even the BBC is overwhelmingly anti Moderate and pro Syria and Hizbullah. The comments left by visitors to al Jazzera and many tough replies make it through (the restrictive) Elaph site are also an indication of the above.

And yes, the Syrian Media effort needs something to be done about it, but I beleive that Syrian media has been more concerned with the Home front for many reasons including its limited resources. Here, Private Channels will definitly do a better job than the official media channels which by nature have to take many angles into a consideration.

Syria’s Foreign Policy and Financial and Economic reform and change are far ahead of Syria’s Information and Public Relations performance.

May 15th, 2008, 7:58 pm

 

Alex said:

Qifa Nabki,

You are a fast reader!

Averroes

You did an excellent job and I agree with most of what you wrote.

But I would like to say that in one instance, AlArabyia was not THAT bad … because President Bush needs Iraq to be calm in order to one day claim victory (or partial success at least) AlArabiya actually runs ads everyday (very slick ads) that call for religious tolerance among the Iraqis.

But of course, becasue in Lebanon the Saudis and Americans will not accept any solution that does not maintain their current control over the Lebanese government, AlArabyia switched to a totally sectarian tone in Lebanon … while running those Iraqi tolerance ads!

So … Al-Arabyia would like to be a force for liberal and modern change … but they can’t help being the tribal minds that tey are … They are taking revenge from Syria and the Shia at the expense of the Lebanese people.

May 15th, 2008, 8:01 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I find this hilarious. Most Arab media has been spewing antisemitic and anti-Israel lies for decades and now when they have turned on each other you are complaining. You get a fair and balanced media by challenging every lie and abnormal behavior, not just those you don’t like. Israel has Al-Jazeera and Al-ARabiya offices. How about letting the Israeli press report freely from Arab countries?

May 15th, 2008, 8:08 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

I’ve been suggesting this very idea for quite some time… talk about a CBM, eh?

May 15th, 2008, 8:17 pm

 

Shami said:

Hezbollah,badr,sadr militias and other followers of the iranian regime are a shia version of qaida and must be fought by the people of the region.
There is few more sectarian than nasrallah in Lebanon.

May 15th, 2008, 8:18 pm

 

Averroes said:

Alex,
Many thanks are due for your help on this article.

QN,
Thank you. Your valuable addition to the discussion is always a pleasure.

Ausamaa,
I agree that a private network would be a better approach than a state-funded one.

ANOTHERISRAELIGUY,
I’m sure you’re finding the killing and chaos hilarious. What more could you hope for? Arabs hating and killing each other will be too busy to find time for you. You should thank the Saudis for the help they’re extending to you.

May 15th, 2008, 8:29 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

The true Lion of Beirut:
http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/1765.htm

In sharp contrast to the Mice of the Golan

May 15th, 2008, 8:36 pm

 

ghat Albird said:

Just read the below on Press TV:

Former Saudi Ambassador to the US Prince Bandar bin Sultan asked Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert to move against Hezbollah.

Saudi’s Prince Bandar bin Sultan has formally requested Olmert to deploy the Zionist regime’s troops along its border with Lebanon to threaten Hezbollah if the latter did not stop attacking government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Filkka – Israel website revealed Wednesday.

Bandar bin Sultan arrived in the Occupied Territories in his private plane directly from Jeddah airport to Lod Airport in Tel Aviv.

Bin Sultan asked Olmert to do what is necessary to support PM Siniora, offering to bear all the financial costs of any Israeli war against Hezbollah.

Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert who is under investigation in a bribe case, said that he could not do so now, assuring his guest that he could not wage a war on behalf of Saudi Arabia, but he will discuss the issue with the Israeli officials in order to carry out military maneuvers in the south of Lebanon.

He possibly wanted to visit with his old cowboy boots/jeans and Dallas Cowboys devotee who also flew in to do some Celebrating in Tel Aviv.

May 15th, 2008, 8:38 pm

 

Averroes said:

So called Shami,

Just because you and the Saudis say that does not make it a fact. Badr and Sadr are very different from HA, and are in fact quite different from each other.

HA did not even topple the Siniora government, which he could have done easily. It is the Hariri gang that think they can buy Lebanon with Saudi money.

May 15th, 2008, 8:40 pm

 

Mr. President said:

it makes you wonder about our Sunni history/religious books/ Quran interpretation books,… written during the last centuries. How many sultans, kings,… (like the current Saudi sultans) directed, financed and influenced the writing of these material for political reasons and sectarian wars. thanks God we have the Internet now days. why stop there? In fact, I ask the same question about Jewish and Christian “sent-from-God” teaching like the Promise land, the Chosen People,… .

May 15th, 2008, 8:41 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

Almustaqbal is open again. If Syria wanted it closed, it would have been still closed. The anti Syria Annahar was never closed when the Syrian army was in Lebanon for decades.

But more importantly …

1) Arab people voted Bashar their favorite Arab head of state (after Nasralah, who is not a head of state)

2) Abdel Rahman Rashid himself (in one of the links above) said: More than anyone else, Syria defeated the United States in Iraq.

I understand your (And AIPAC’s) frustration with Syria … you would like the Syrian Lion to act like some foolish Saddam Hussein who kept making one obvious mistake after another …. which would allow you (or your friends in Washington) to destroy Syria next, so that Israel would be completely unchallenged in the Middle East.

May 15th, 2008, 8:45 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Averroes,
Following your last comment, all your so called “academic objectivity” goes out the window. You are just another hack for a cause.

What do you make of the Press TV report ghat Albird posts? Is it news or propoganda of the lowest kind?

May 15th, 2008, 8:45 pm

 

Shai said:

Ghat Albird,

I think bin Sultan is giving a speech at the 60th-Celebrations in Jerusalem… 🙂

Not a chance, with everything going on in Israel right now (3,500 high-level guests from all over the world for the President’s (Peres) Conference), I doubt a Saudi prince would take a chance and “slip” into Ben-Gurion Airport with his Saudi-marked private jet. There are certain things that cannot go untold in Israel, and such a visit is one. If anything, these meetings would probably occur in Aqaba, or in Amman. Although, King Hussein was apparently driven around Tel-Aviv dressed as someone else on a few occasions by Moshe Dayan long before making peace with us… so who knows.

May 15th, 2008, 8:49 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
In Iraq, Syria showed its utter disregard for human life by funding and sending suicide bombers. Are you really proud of that?

And I will give you one. You have found the best excuse for the Mouse of the Golan. He is really a lion and very strong because if he would have done something he would have been beaten badly. But of course, it is ok for Lebanon to resist because it is ok for them to suffer. That is not what lions say, it is what cowards say. Making others suffer for your goals is ultra low.

May 15th, 2008, 8:51 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
There is really no need to explain that to ghat Albird. He was showing how low the Iranian media can go.

May 15th, 2008, 8:52 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

Oh I see. But some here may make the same mistake I did, and take this “scoop” seriously.

May 15th, 2008, 8:57 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Here is an example of a balanced view on Al-Jazeera:
http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/1770.htm

I am sure Averroes that you will find nothing wrong with it.

May 15th, 2008, 8:59 pm

 

Averroes said:

ANOTHERISRAELIGUY,

I did not quite understand why my “academic objectivity” goes out the window. Would you care to explain please.

And on the Filkka Israel information, did you see me refer to it in the article? Why the hell are you putting words in my mouth?

And on Ibrahim Alloush statement. I can find you equally sick stuff on Israeli site. The article is complaining about such angles, not endorsing them. I think you have not read it.

May 15th, 2008, 9:07 pm

 

Alex said:

Shai,

There is propaganda from both sides. I know which outlets to ignore. But the reason I am very often alarmed about the Saudi media is … they are 100 times more lethal than the tiny Champress and other unreliable “pro Syria” outlets.

But Prince Bandar loves to show his public relations skills. So I would not be surprised if he tried to charm the Israelis with a surprise visit on their 60th anniversary.

And while you are here, I will translate to you the headline that appeared in Asharq Alawsat yesterday on top of that photo that they described as “a crying “Sunni father whose son was killed by Hezbollah” … and the large title said “Lebanon is burning and Syria is negotiating with Israel”

Few years ago (in 2005) their headlines and opinion pieces where more like “Hardline old-fashioned Baathists of Damascus will lead their country to destruction just like the other hardline Baathist Saddam destroyed Iraq”

So there you have it … AIG types of freedom and democracy advocates from AIPAC, and Saudi “moderate liberal media” are among the biggest enemies of peace in the Middle East.

Why? .. because both think that just because President Bush and his lovely VP Dick Cheney promised Israel and Saudi Arabia to be the only regional powers, they think it was actually going to happen! .. but they both need to get Syria out of the way.

May 15th, 2008, 9:08 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Averroes,

Sure, you write:
“HA did not even topple the Siniora government, which he could have done easily. It is the Hariri gang that think they can buy Lebanon with Saudi money.”

It shows that you believe FM is a gang and not a political party and also that they do not believe in democracy and want to buy Lebanon. That is far from an objective view of Hariri and his party and shows your hatred of him and Saudi Arabia therefore putting in question your whole objectivity about quality of the Saudi sponsored media.

You want to do serious work and not be a hack? Show how the middle east press (all of it) treated the subject of Israel and how it now treates other Arab countries. You will find that the Arab media practiced on Israel and it is just using the same despicable methods on Arab countries.

I agree with you that the Saudi view is biased, but your view is biased because you do not acknowledge that most of the media including Al-Jazeera is biased and hate mongering.

May 15th, 2008, 9:23 pm

 

Shami said:

Averroes ,i’m not sure that you have read Averroes’s works,you would have another stance towards nasrallah and such;you said bandar ?Who visited the green zone in occupied Iraq?Who received weapons from Israel during their war against an arab country?Who allowed Hakim to visit Wolfowitz before Iraq invasion ?

and you say that nasrallah is different from his master?
http://www.dailymotion.com/relevance/search/iran%2Bfaqih/video/x4hvxq_nasrallah-wilayat-al-fakih_events

May 15th, 2008, 9:29 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Syria is a third world country. What are you talking about when you say “regional power”? Syria produces little or no science or technology, it produces very few knowledge products and 85% of its population would be considered poor by western standards.

This is not a race for power. That race is over. You yourself admitted it when you said that Syria is afraid to respond to Israel. This is a race to stop Syria from supporting terrorism and destabilizing Lebanon.

May 15th, 2008, 9:30 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

That is the way YOU want to define that race. I would like to define differently.

And same applies to the way you define power.

And same applies to the way you perceive military power.

I know you are very proud of your well equipped Israeli army. I will not remind you of its miserable failure in summer 2006 when it was defeated by few thousand Hizbollah fighters.

If your country’s power is measured by its ability to kill more Arabs, then you should continue to be happy with your Israeli superiority and absolute power.

Some of us are more satisfied with our country’s wisdom… at the end of the day … it is more than a match for your, and your friends’ powerful armies.

And don’t worry about Syria’s economy … and know how much you love us and care about us, but … we’ll manage.

May 15th, 2008, 9:46 pm

 

Averroes said:

Shami,

Oh, so now you can judge what I’ve read as well. The main theme of the article is to resist the sectarian manipulation that the Saudis are doing.

Further, I did not make the accusations you’re being defensive about. But if you say you’re going to have a public opinion, then the view you hold of the world should be consistent, and thus you should care when the picture you’re painting is full of holes.

May 15th, 2008, 9:47 pm

 

Observer said:

The last week had one coup pre empted and another coup reversed.

The first is the attempt to paint Iran as the instigator of all of Iraq’s troubles when in fact it is not.

The second is the HA action on the ground to reverse the coup by the Siniora and Jumbaltt coalition with Hariri being put as cannon fodder.

The KSA in its hysterical response to all of this has added insult to injury in its blunder. When the prince talks of threatening Iran with dire poor relations with the Arab and Muslim world, he does not know what he is talking about.

The fact that Algeria and Qatar joined the Arab league delegation and had gone on record as showing that they rather favor the resistance and did not espouse the Saudi position means that KSA is rather in the minority in the GCC.

The fact that Jordan has remained on the side lines and that Egypt has remained irrelevant as ever, is also telling.

If the KSA thinks that it can buy loyalty then they better think again:
Others can also poor money
When it comes to fighting, those with an ideology will always trump those with monetary interest
When it comes to alliances, interests trump loyalty

When Hariri says that this was a HA coup to bring Syria and Iran to dominate Lebanon with an Israeli cover he is clearly so stupid that he could not repeat the instructions given to him in a coherent manner.

As the post above shows; the propaganda is to paint the others as full of perfidy and sectarian hatred, of showing them conspiring behind a facade of resistance to rule with Israel over Lebanon, of having an unholy alliance with a non arab country. Well you can mount such a propaganda by weaving several different stories but Hariri the stupid could not separate them and therefore came out with his most outrageous statement.

As for Al Rashed, he talks of a Sunni foe to HA and the Iranian regime; this is because the Saudi National Guard cannot even wipe its nose and cannot mount any action except to keep the royal family in place. He would love to see someone else in the Sunni world do the fighting.

Such a shrill response from the Sauds is telling for it shows that they have lost it, they are usually reserved, act rather than talk, and know very well the limits of what they can do. Such a reaction is an indication that they feel the regime is being threatened directly. Their intelligence services must be either in the dark, which is my take, or they are fully aware of how teneous the situation is.

Another possibility is that there is a huge rift between the factions within the family with some wanting to side fully with the US agenda and invite Israel to hit Iran and even protect them and others asking for a divorce from the US. I believe the former are being given a chance to show that the US can deliver and if not they will be removed.

May 15th, 2008, 9:51 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Ok Alex, I’m game, how do you define power?

Wizdom? The Asads are wise because they were not able to provide good education, economic development, good universities, science etc.? Is that why they are “wise”? Or are they “wise” because they put bloggers in prison?

How has their “wizdom” got you the Golan back? How did it prevent Israel from bombing the “wise” syrian nuclear site?

May 15th, 2008, 9:55 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

I will suggest to you to read Joshua’s widely quoted piece he wrote for the first discussion topic on Creative Syria’s Think Tank:

http://www.creativesyria.com/discussion/thinktank.php?TopicID=28

May 15th, 2008, 10:00 pm

 

Averroes said:

Observer,

I agree that the KSA is losing and panicing. The problem is they would bring down the house with them by using the sectarian language they are using. There must be a countering pressure against that kind of lethal mass brain washing.

May 15th, 2008, 10:04 pm

 

Shami said:

Averroes more than that ,nasrallah is even takfiri.Recorded from an iranian regime tv.
http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=qy8oKEhPIPc&feature=related

May 15th, 2008, 10:06 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Are you joking? Landis counts Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza as related to Israel in his truly ridiculous commentary. They are Israel’s enemies and we have to take care of them? When it comes to security of its population Israel has also done much better than Syria. Interstingly, Landis forgets to count the Syrians that died in the wars with Israel. Furthermore, I would add that since Syria views Lebanon as part of Syria, the Lebanese death should be counted against Asad.

Asad has nothing to be proud of.

May 15th, 2008, 10:10 pm

 

Averroes said:

Shami,

I had a look at the You Tube link. Is that what you have against Nasrallah? There are many enlighted Muslim scholars that say similar things. He was discussing Islamic history in a religious context. Are you saying that the prophet’s companions are beyond any criticism?

And .. before you draw and shoot. I am not Shiite and have no problem criticizing many of the Shiite’s beliefs. This is in fact exactly why your point is irrelevant. We’re talking politics, not religion. My problem is when people try to harvest the deeply rooted religious feelings to reap cheap political gains.

May 15th, 2008, 10:19 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

Let’s compare Apples to Apples … I will wait until

1) Israel declares that it recognizes Palestinian sovereignty over the whole West Bank and Jerusalem.

2) and untl the day when it is completely politically NOT correct for a majority of Israeli people to say that they want to continue forcing the Palestinians to be occupied by Israel.

Then I will accept to start a comparison with between Syria and Israel.

And I will remind you again to calm down. Your objection to Joshua’s “ridiculous commentary” is back to your Mini-Netanyahu tactics. Joshua (and I) do not call your opinions ridiculous, and I expect the same from you.

May 15th, 2008, 10:28 pm

 

norman said:

It is clear that the plan of the West is divided the Arabs and Muslims into Sunni, Shea and other group and make them fight each other to keep them busy from attacking the West and the US as happened on 9/11/2001.

The sad thing is that the KSA Egypt and Jordon are in on the plan as probably were told , You cooperate or you will be blamed for 9/11/2001 because of your Wahhabi teaching ,

They are palning to stir wars between the Arabs and the Muslims.

The question is : Will they be successful , I hope not .

Any thoughts?.

May 15th, 2008, 10:29 pm

 

Shami said:

Averroes ,this is not true ,which sunni scholar said that abi sufian was kafir ?of course it’s allowed to criticize the califs and sahabis because they are not infaillibles but here nasrallah is not doing criticism of abi sufian but it’s clear takfir of abi sufian.After he reverted to Islam,he became one of the best companions of the prophet and one of the heroes of the battles of Taef and Yarmuk in which he lost his eyes.

May 15th, 2008, 10:36 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
You do not have to accept any comparison with Israel, which won’t stop me from continuing making them.

But you were going to tell me how you measure power and why you think under your measure Syria is more powerful than Israel. So how do you measure power?

May 15th, 2008, 10:38 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Norman,
It was an American plan to make Arabs fight each other? It was a Syrian plan. They sent the suicide bombers into Iraq.

Who armed Hizballah? Syria and Iran.

Who killed 20,000 Sunni? Asad.

May 15th, 2008, 10:40 pm

 

Averroes said:

Norman,

I agree, but Arab have only themselves to blame. When you’re weak and have no immunity, you automatically draw predators.

However, I refer you to the metaphor of drugs. The losing Saudis are using their drug of choice to paint the whole scene with a sectarian color. They are getting a lot of people hooked on it, but if they don’t succeed, then they will have used it up and will be totally exposed.

They are advocating a Sunni/Shiite war in Lebanon. You can see that they’re increasingly desperate in the doses they’re administering.

May 15th, 2008, 10:44 pm

 

Averroes said:

Ya Shami,

Why did you assume I was referring to classical “Sunni” religious scholars. There are many historians that are not bound by the narrow definitions of classical schools.

Plus, the terms you are using are fundamentalist terms. Takfiri and all that. I hope you know that Mo3awiya had Ali and his family cursed from atop mosques for over 40 years, until Omar bin Abdelaziz banned it. By your token, Mo3awia was a takfiri and is thus not a Muslim (man Kaffar Musliman faqad Kafar).

But again, these are exactly the religious differences that we should NOT be bringing into play with this conflict.

Ya shami, why can’t you see that the Opposition has Christians, Druze, and Sunnis on their side, in addition to the Shiites. The March 14th also have the whole spectrum with them inclusing Shiites. I’m content with describing the conflict as a political one. Why invoke the sectarian twist to it?

Did you see the videos from the Halaba killings the Hariri thugs carried out? These young men lying on the ground bleeding to death we SUNNI muslims ya Shami. This is the kind of destructive energy that Saudi tactics will bring to Shaam ya Shami, if they have their way.

May 15th, 2008, 10:54 pm

 

Averroes said:

AIG,

Interesting logic. Syria took in Iraqi, Lebanese and Palestinian refugees like no other country did, and most of the suicide bombers in Iraq are Saudis or with Wahabi ideologies, and most were aimed at Shitte communities. Why? to stir up sectarian violence and keep the Iraqis busy so as to lessen the pressure on the US forces.

May 15th, 2008, 11:03 pm

 

Shami said:

Averroes ,Mo3awiya had problems with Ali but it was a dispute never Mo3awia had said that Ali was kafir and Ali nevr said that Mo3awiya was kafir .And even this story of cursing Ali is not sure ,how would that be possible if his son Hasan had accepted Mo3awiya califate?

Btw ,Mo3awiya was one of the most tolerant and most effective rulers in all history and Syrians(and even spanish christians and jews) are proud of their Ummayad heritage.

So stop your takiya and change your nickname.

May 15th, 2008, 11:03 pm

 

abraham said:

Alex, 12/39 comments are from AIG, and almost all of them either inflammatory, accusatory, irrelevant or a combination of all three. Can you please start deleting the messages from the “hack for a cause” please?

May 15th, 2008, 11:06 pm

 

Oliver MacDous said:

Do not respond to AIG he is there only to direct the discussion towards the virtues of the chosen people and the sick ideology of zionism.

May 15th, 2008, 11:20 pm

 

Alex said:

Abraham,

You are right, but I start with warnings.

AIG … your “Who killed 20,000 Sunni? Asad.” is an example of why AIPAC and the Saudis will probably fail … both of them are by now reduced to trying to make Syria’s Sunnis start a civil war against the secular regime.

You see … Arabs are sick of what they witnessed in Iraq the past few years … those who are in the mood to start a civil war are a small minority. The rest are either satisfied, or at least barely tolerant of the system in Syria.

As for your question about power … in the long run, power is wisdom. You can win a couple of battles with military power (Israel) … you can try to gain influence with your economic power (Saudi Arabia) … but at the end, all of that can perish if you don’t have wisdom.

May 15th, 2008, 11:26 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Aussamaa;
you know that I believe ssnp is wrong in many ways, they believe in violence against their own people, I also has no respect for Walid Junblat, but to attack fellow citizen whether he is sunni or christian,by guns,canons etc. is dead wrong, Alex was right in calling this a savage attack, he(Hasan) will not be trusted anymore, Sunni and christians has the right to obtain arms, and this will leads to an open war,in the future, whoever gave him this advise was poking the fire. This is what Bush wants,a fight between Shiite ans Sunni.
believe me ,lack of wisdom will destroy power.

May 15th, 2008, 11:30 pm

 

Averroes said:

Shami,

Are you calling my discussion a Takiya? Is that the best you can come up with to dodge the issue? That’s too lazy of an answer by you, sir. I raised some important questions and you just … ran away.

Takiya for those who do not know, is an accusation than many throw at the Batini (non Sunni) groups of Islam. It means saying pleasing things but hiding the rotten truth, or something along those lines.

Taqiyya was practiced by oppressed people of every religion and sect, when they feared for their lives for voicing their opinion. You need to distance yourself from the terminology enough to be able to know what it means.

When you use it to discredit my argument ya shami, it means that you are making a statement that your opponent is lying no matter what he says, so there is really no sense in talking to you any further while you say that.

For the record, I believe that both sides of the Sunni/Shiite divide have to reconcile with history, logic, and each other. I shun the idolization of the A’immah of the Shiites as hardly as I do the Sahaba with the Sunnis. How’s that for Taqiyya?

You have no argument, and you are on a different wavelength. It is people like you that Al-Rashed and Co. prey on. My article is that they’re doing a good job and they should be countered because it is too dangerous.

May 15th, 2008, 11:40 pm

 

Alex said:

Shami,

Averroes is a Sunni Muslim married to a Sunni Muslim. He prays, he does not drink, he does not eat pork, he fasts in Ramadan …

Ok?

May 15th, 2008, 11:46 pm

 

Averroes said:

Abraham and Oliver MacDous (nice name by the way),

I agree, let’s try to keep to the subject, shall we? The article has a second half tomorrow, and I would like for us to discuss the danger that the Saudi tactics pose.

What are your thoughts?

May 15th, 2008, 11:50 pm

 

Averroes said:

Alex,

I don’t pray as well as I used to, but again, that’s totally besides the point.

May 16th, 2008, 12:02 am

 

trustquest said:

The subject of the media war in the region is very important and I wished the article was not presented as one side against the other to be called objective. Yet I do agree on the superiority of the rich oil countries media and their foremost rule and place in media giant world, at the same time it reflects bad on other countries or the opposing powers if they did not catch up. The media war will continue and a regime like the Syrian regime whom trapped himself in either silence or old fashioned backward media in an effort to keep his strangle on population and intellects creativity is waiting for his death if he does not move into this age and do open market for media.

May 16th, 2008, 12:03 am

 

Majhool said:

yes the Syrian media is incompetent and the same applies to almost everything the Syrian regime controls (Universities, Companies, etc..). Logically the conclusion should be something like: the regime sucks and must reform itself or be changed. Unfortunately this post is pure Anti-Saudi post with objectivity thrown out of the window.

FYI, Lebanon is a confessional system by the constitution. It’s not a crime to refer to communities as such (Unlike in Syria), but that’s another issue.

I believe it’s a cheap shot to include the comment section on the article. Aljazeera has tons of salafi extremist’s comments about Iraq that are even more outrageous that those posted.

Aljazeera broadcast has been biased to HA and Syria big-time.

May 16th, 2008, 12:07 am

 

Averroes said:

TRUSTQUEST,

Wait until tomorrow to see the second half of the article. It was too long to put in one day.

May 16th, 2008, 12:12 am

 

norman said:

Averroes,

Thanks for your response ,I am afraid that there are many people like SHAMI , and are lead by the religious fervor , not knowing that the conflict is between the people who want to be followers like the Saudis , Egyptians and the Jordanians and the people who want to be leaders and liberators of the Arab masses and these are Syria , Hezbollah and Hamas ,

I remember in the seventies when Syria and Iraq were planing a union only to see the saudis leading the move to have the Gulf consul to counter that union.

KSA rule in the Arab world was always to put a damper on Arab unity and independence ,

May 16th, 2008, 12:52 am

 

Majhool said:

Norman said: “the people who want to be leaders and liberators of the Arab masses and these are Syria , Hezbollah and Hamas”

This is scary: Salafi(Hamas), Dicatorship(Syria), and wilayet el Fakih (HA and Iran) are now leaders and liberators

El 3ama malla Liberation! what’s even scarier is that this “fine” statment comes from Norman ( a secualr syrian)

May 16th, 2008, 1:00 am

 

Averroes said:

Majhool said:

“Unfortunately this post is pure Anti-Saudi post with objectivity thrown out of the window.”

What are you complaining about, Majhool. Unlike Al-arabiya, here you get your comments posted even if they the hosts don’t like them. I have tried many many times to post comments on Al-Arabiya but they just would not post them.

The arguments here are not “pure anti-Saudi.” I am building a case against their irresponsible use of sectarian and religious feelings of people, of their attempt to manipulate people to shed their blood, in order for their agenda to be advanced.

You are welcome to put your argument forward for discussion. If you have no argument, you do not have to stay. There is at least a 100:1 more pro-Saudi sites out there, and you can wallow around in them to your heart’s content.

And, you seem so sorry that in Syria people cannot refer to others using their sects, religions, and races as in Lebanon. Try doing that in any Western country and see how you’ll end up in jail in a heartbeat. You are not allowed to even ask about the race, religion, or national origin of job applicants, let alone divide the country on sectarian and racial lines. Is this what you are missing?

And if you love Saudi Arabia so much, try doing that in Saudi itself. Try talking about the Shiites in the Eastern Province or Aseer. Balaash. Try referring to the areas in Saudi using their historical names: Najd and Hijaaz and see what happens to you.

May 16th, 2008, 1:03 am

 

Averroes said:

Norman,

It takes a lot to change people’s minds. You need to prove your argument time and time and time again. Not only that, you also need to counter the other arguments, and you need to put your commitment and your money where your mouth is as well.

In the article, I have tried to put forward the reason I think the Saudi media is so potent and dangerous. Shami, Majhool, and many others seem to be interested at getting their revenge more than anything else.

Yet, they are our brothers and sisters, and must accommodate their fears. In the article I say this:

“Fear is a force to reckon with. It can build irrational worlds in the minds of targeted groups and individuals, derailing life plans and causing people to make desolate, uninformed decisions. Fear can also manifest itself as a potent recruiting tool, reaping a constant supply of confused and desperate people, ripe and ready for manipulation.”

Read the second half tomorrow.

May 16th, 2008, 1:13 am

 

norman said:

Thank you , I will , Look at this from the Huffing ton post,

http://www.nif.org/webcast/

May 16th, 2008, 1:28 am

 

He Waged War With a Felafel in His Hand said:

AVVEROES: (Nice Name did you know his backround was Jewish?)

I am waiting for the second half of the article. Your first piece was well written.

Arab media, well lets see there is only one word that is apt in description in the English language and that is PATHETIC.

Facts:

The majority of Arab media is state owned and are mouth pieces of the Regime they serve or in power.

Independent media ( a laughable term ) is usually owned by a political party or group ( hysterically laughable in Western terms). Usually these forms of media are invariably biased and lack any form of independent ethics in relation to ethical journalism.

Most of the media in Syria is still following the fifties and sixties formats, outdated and drab and are voices of the government. Stations that are being planned will be invariably be owned by Regime wealthy supporters who will get licences that will not be open to competition.

Independent media in the Middle East is a pipe dream, because it does not serve those in power to allow it to happen and are propoganda tools. Control information and you control minds and behaviour.

Any way I offer you a Felafel! ( while I await your follow up article)

May 16th, 2008, 2:01 am

 

Majhool said:

Shami said: Hezbollah,badr,sadr militias and other followers of the iranian regime are a shia version of qaida

Shami is absolutely correct.

AIG,

Note that with regard to “Arab people voted Bashar their favorite Arab head of state (after Nasralah, who is not a head of state” that Syrians were not included in this vote. and just FYI, many Syrians appreciate KSA. I know I don’t but that’s a different issue.

Averroes Said:

Unlike Al-arabiya, here you get your comments posted even if they the hosts don’t like them. I have tried many many times to post comments on Al-Arabiya but they just would not post them

First, the fact that Arabiya does not post your comments is outrageous. The same applies to all of those who cannot post at Syrian sites.

You said “I am building a case against their irresponsible use of sectarian and religious feelings of people, of their attempt to manipulate people to shed their blood”

I believe we are all against the use of religious feelings to advance political agendas. However in reality religious feelings are used today by all regional players

1) HA is an Islamic SHIA party, isn’t it? it’s supported by an Islamic republic right?
2) Arabs sympathize with Palestinians because they are arabs and Muslim, right?
3) Jerusalem is important because it’s the 2nd holiest of places for Muslims, right?
4) Sunnis are excluded from ruling Syria because they are sunnis, right?
5) Future TV speaks for the Sunni community, right?
6) Manar TV speaks for the Shia Community, right? they show Karbala etc..etc….

All is the above is very unfortunate. But I like to be objective, all the players use religion not only Saudis. Just go to youtube.com and you would see terrible sectarian clips made by HA supporters.

what’s burning the region is this game that all the players are playing “Syria, Iran, KSA”. That’s why I am totally in favor for the Syrians to lose once and for all the Lebanese card. I am Syrian national and do not want the Lebanese to be burned for the sake of maintaining this card.

you said: “Shami, Majhool, and many others seem to be interested at getting their revenge more than anything else”

This is news to me, please enlighten me, when did I ask for revenge? and revenge from who? and for what crime they committed? I am puzzled!!!

May 16th, 2008, 2:18 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

good clip:

May 16th, 2008, 2:21 am

 

Averroes said:

Mr. Falafel (for lack of a shorter name)

Averroes was an Arab with possibly a Berber heritage in him. However, even if he were Jewish, it would not make me admire him less. Or more 😉

There is actually very, very few truly independent, so I full heartedly agree that the “independent media” is a laughable term, Anywhere.

And, thank you for your Falafel. I’m actually enjoying a Sabra Hummus, after having tried two dozen brands.

May 16th, 2008, 2:26 am

 

Majhool said:

Averroes

Sabra Hummos? I am eating the stuff right now, Long live Costco

May 16th, 2008, 2:41 am

 

JustOneAmerican said:

QN,

That is a great clip.

May 16th, 2008, 2:46 am

 

He Waged War With a Felafel in His Hand said:

Averroes said:

Mr. Falafel (for lack of a shorter name)

Averroes was an Arab with possibly a Berber heritage in him. However, even if he were Jewish, it would not make me admire him less. Or more 😉

————————-

I wholeheartedly agree!

Sabra Hummus? (prickly pear Hummus?)

Sabra is the word that is described to a native born Israeli LOL (prickly pear if Iam correct)

May 16th, 2008, 2:56 am

 

SHAMI said:

Falafel
Averroes is the latinized name of Ibn Roshd , the famous muslim andalusian philosopher,commentator of Aristotle’s works and through his works were rediscovered most of Aristotle’s philosophy in pre renaissance Europe.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Averroes
The jewish andalusian philosopher was Moussa Ibn Maymoun or Maimonide born in the same city(cordoba) and era(12th century) than Averroes.
On this wonderful site you can read some of his famous books and his answer to Imam Al Ghazali attack on philosophy.
http://www.muslimphilosophy.com/ir/

May 16th, 2008, 3:05 am

 

Majhool said:

BTW, Sabra Hummus is made in Israel thank you AIG

May 16th, 2008, 3:13 am

 

Alex said:

http://www.asharqalawsat.com/details.asp?section=4&article=470941&issueno=10762

الشارع العوني مرتاح لـ«انتصار» حليفه في شوارع بيروت ويعتبره نصرا مزدوجا للمعارضة ولـ«رؤية» العماد عون

أحد منظريه انتقد استغلال «رموز الوصاية السورية» لما حققه «حزب الله»
بيروت: ثائر عباس
نجت المناطق ذات الغالبية المسيحية من شرارات المواجهات التي اندلعت في بيروت وامتدت الى معظم المناطق اللبنانية، لكنها لم تنج تماما من «الرعب» الذي تملك كثيرين من اللبنانيين وهم يرون السلاح ينتشر في الشوارع، رغم التفاوت في حجم الرعب، خصوصا من قبل فريق «التيار الوطني الحر» الذي رأى في ما حصل «انتصارا مزدوجا»: الاول للمعارضة، والثاني لرؤية قائده النائب ميشال عون في التفاهم مع «حزب الله».

وأتى وقع سلاح «حزب الله» في الشارع المسيحي متفاوتا بين التيــــارات المسيحية المختلفة، ففيما تأثر الشارع المؤيد لفريق الاكثــــرية والشارع المحايد سلبا بما جرى، كان فريق رئيس تكتل «التغيــير والاصلاح» النائب ميشال عون مرتاحا لـ«صوابية» قرار التفاهم الذي تحول تحالفا مع الحزب والذي ساهم في ابعاد المواجهات عن الساحة المسيحية. وفيما امتنع عون عن الاجابة عن اسئلة «الشرق الاوسط»، قال ناشط في التيار: «إن المسيحيين اصيبوا باحباط كبير نتيجة التحالف الرباعي الذي حصل في العام 2005 بين القوى الاسلامية الاساسية (»حزب الله» وحركة «امل» و»تيار المستقبل» والحزب التقدمي الاشتراكي) وفقد الامل في الحصول على حقوقه. أما الان فقد عاد الامل، اذ نعود الى الدولة مع الشيعة، أو نخرج معا».

النائب عباس هاشم، عضو كتلة عون رأى أن ما حصل «أعطى صدقية أكبر لعون لأن ما كان يحذر منه منذ أكثر من سنتين وقعنا فيه» مشيرا الى ان ما حصل «اراح الشارع المسيحي، الذي لاحظ ولأول مرة وجود قيادة تحسن قراءة التطورات في سبيل تلافي الاسوأ». وقال: «البيئة (المسيحية) كانت سعيدة أو لامبالية. والقسم الحيادي الذي يميل وفق التطــــورات، رجع ليتصلب اكثر بموقف مؤيد للعماد عون ورفض لما يمكن ان يساهم في اعادة البلبلة أو الفوضى الى الشارع المسيحي ما انعكس ايجابا على جمهور العماد عون وسلبا على ممانعي حالة عون داخل البيئة المسيحية».

ويعترف هاشم بوجود «ألم واشمئزاز من الواقع»، لكنه اشار في المقابل الى «تقدير كبير لمواقف عون وسياساته».

ويتحدث مدير البرامج الاذاعية في تلفزيون «أو. تي. في» جان عزيز التابعة للتيار العوني بـ«صفته الشخصية والمهنية» عن رؤيته لما حصل في بيروت خلال الاسبوع الماضي، مشددا على ان كلامه «ليس رسالة من طرف الى طرف». ويقول انه لاحظ «استغلالا من قبل بعض الجهات التي كانت موجودة خلال فترة الوصاية السورية لتحرك حزب الله من أجل معاودة الظهور على حساب الحزب وحلفائه، خصوصا مع اتهام هذه الجهات ببعض التجاوزات التي حصلت في بيروت وبعض المناطق». ويضيف: «إن ما قام به حزب الله مفهوم ومنفصل عن اي اتهامات كان فريق السلطة يوجهها له عن محاولته اعادة الوصاية السورية وخدمة النظام في سورية».

وينفي عزيز وجود «نقزة» في الشارع المسيحي المعارض نتيجة ما جرى، مشيرا الى ان «الشارع المسيحي التابع لمسيحيي الحريري (14اذار) كان منخرطا في المعركة نفسيا واعلاميا، وبالتالي تأثر أكثر بما جرى. أما الحياديون فتأثير هذه الظاهرة يكون سلبيا لديهم» مشيرا، في المقابل، الى انه لمس «وجود ارتياح مسيحي لتوجيه صفعة الى (النائبين) وليد جنبلاط وسعد الحريري. وبالتالي كان هؤلاء يعيشون بين حساب السلبيات والايجابيات». وشدد على ان الخوف لم يكن موجودا «بدليل استمرار العمل على وتيرته في المناطق ذات الغالبية المسيحية خلال المواجهات».

أما مدير الاخبار في اذاعة «صوت الغد» التابعة للتيار حبيب يونس فقد لاحظ وجود «ارتياح عام» في الشارع المسيحي المعارض، معتبرا ان ما جرى أظهر «صوابية مواقف العماد عون وصحة رؤيته» مشيرا الى «ان ما حصل اثبت للمسيحيين ان ورقة التفاهم (مع الحزب) كانت خيارا صحيحا لو مشى فيه الجميع لما وصلنا الى هنا». ورأى ان الشارع المسيحي كان محصنا هذه المرة ضد حملة الشائعات والافتراء التي وجهت اليه. وأكد يونس ان الشارع المسيحي بشقيه، المعارض والموالي، كان مطمئنا حيال تجنيب مناطقه المواجهات نتيجة ورقة التفاهم، فكان غير العونيين واثقين من ان شارعا فيه عوني واحد هو شارع محمي». وخلافا لعزيز، لم ير يونس «الا صورة واحدة رفعت لبشار الاسد» معتبرا ان حملة شائعات كبيرة بثت في هذا الاطار. وقال: «نحن لم نرها، لأننا اصبحنا نمتلك حصانة ضد التحريف والتشويه».

May 16th, 2008, 3:25 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

A note of caution for those who dare to mediate among Lebanese politicians

By The Daily Star
Friday, May 16, 2008
Editorial

Senior representatives of feuding Lebanese political parties are scheduled to begin talks on resolving their power struggle in Doha today, and the venue could not be more appropriate: Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese have effectively been made economic refugees by the political crisis in their homeland, and Qatar has been a prime destination for these talented but exasperated people. This should remind principals and mediators alike of the urgency surrounding their mission – and that what really matters is improving the lot of the average Lebanese, not satisfying the whims of the bigshots.

The Qatari government has already earned our thanks for its willingness to undertake what promises to be a difficult task. It should be forewarned, though, that the interlocutors it has agreed to shepherd are not altogether what they seem. They may act and look civil, and know how to observe niceties, but each brings a common set of flaws (among varying collections of others) to the table: None of them are lily-white, none have not made unrealistic promises to their supporters, and none have produced anything like viable visions of statecraft. The opposition is enamored of slogans built around a “just and strong state,” but it has not informed anyone about how it would erect such an edifice. The ruling coalition has cobbled together what it calls a policy platform, but the document contains nothing but polemical declarations (and not very imaginative ones at that).

If such individuals are to agree on anything, the Qataris will have to avoid the trap that befell previous brokers, who allowed themselves to believe that it was enough to get the Lebanese in the same room. It was not, and that fact has not changed: The participants’ positions are too vague, their mutual distrust too deep, and their agendas too intertwined with those of foreign powers for them to come up with solutions outside a highly structured process. On everything from a new electoral law for the 2009 polls to implementing the Taif Accord that ended the 1975-1990 (yes, that was 18 years ago) Civil War, discussions need to be kept within clearly defined limits, and proposals need to be put in writing. If these conditions are not met, the process will inevitably revert to the mudslinging in which the parties’ respective media outlets have been engaged for longer than anyone cares to remember.

Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, has a reputation for being his own man: His country hosts the nerve center for US combat forces in the entire Middle East, but he is not afraid to tell Washington when and where to get off; he maintains low-level relations with Israel, but has been just as willing to engage with Hamas when other Arab powers have shunned it. To some extent, this maverick streak is a product of the financial muscle provided by Qatar’s extravagant energy wealth, but it would be impossible if the emir were not blessed with a fiercely independent personality and some very clear ideas about where he wants to lead his own people and the region. If he is to accomplish his main challenge – i.e. to save his Lebanese guests from themselves – he will have to remember, at all times and in all situations, that they are nothing like him.

May 16th, 2008, 3:31 am

 

SHAMI said:

Alex ,your spamkiller has killed my last comment.

May 16th, 2008, 4:58 am

 

Naji said:

وداعاً أيّها الطائف
خالد صاغيّة
http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/73911
لم يكن اغتيال الرئيس رفيق الحريري وحده ما خلّف فراغاً في البلاد، لم يملأه أحد. شاحنات الجيش السوري التي عبرت طريق المصنع باتّجاه دمشق تركت هي الأخرى فراغاً، لكن من نوع مختلف. وليس المقصود هنا الفراغ الأمني، بل أساساً الفراغ في إدارة خلافات اللبنانيّين وتقسيم العمل بين طوائفهم. فالنظام السوري الذي فرض سيطرته على البلاد طيلة 15 عاماً، أدّى دوراً تحكيميّاً (وإن غير نزيه) بين الطوائف المتنازعة دون جدوى على وراثة الهيمنة المارونيّة التي انتهت مع الحرب الأهليّة. ولم يكن لاتّفاق الطائف، كما نعرفه، أن ينظّم علاقات اللبنانيين من دون الدور السوري.
انتهت الحقبة السوريّة على المشهد الآتي: طائفة سنّية تحاول بعد اغتيال زعيمها أداء الدور الذي أخطأ الحريري الأب حين لم ينتدب نفسه لأدائه، أي حمْل مشروع سياسي بحجم الوطن كلّه (فضّل آنذاك حمْل مشروع اقتصادي لم يسلم الوطن كلّه من آليّات نهبه المنظّم). وقد سُلّم النائب سعد الدين الحريري زعامة الأكثريّة النيابيّة كدلالة رمزية على الدور القياديّ الجديد للطائفة. أمّا الطائفة الشيعيّة، فاتّخذت وضعاً دفاعياً محاولةً الحفاظ على مكتسبات الحقبة الماضية، وهي التي عرفت سابقاً حرماناً مديداً. وقد زاد حصار سائر الطوائف لها من تقوقعها على نفسها، قبل أن تفتح لها وثيقة التفاهم بين حزب الله والتيار الوطني الحر أفقاً ما لبثت أن استخدمته بعد حرب تمّوز للانتقال إلى وضع هجوميّ. في هذه الأثناء، كانت الطائفة المسيحيّة تبحث عن مُلك ضائع بعدما نزع «الطائف» صلاحيات رئاسة الجمهورية، واستكملت القبضة السورية الحرب على زعمائها. لكنّ ما يشكّل حلماً بالنسبة إلى المسيحيّين، كان الكابوس بعينه للزعامة السنّية الناشئة. استمرّ حصار ميشال عون، إلى أن فتح ثغرات ما لبثت أن تحوّلت أبواباً في مار مخايل. أمّا الطائفة الدرزية الصغيرة، فلم تجد إلا في لعب زعيمها على الحبال، طريقةً في حفظ موقع لها وسط هذه الأمواج الهادرة.
حدث ذلك كلّه على رقعة جغرافيّة صغيرة، لكن في منطقة كثُر فيها اشتعال البراكين. الحُكم بالواسطة لم يعد هوايةً مفضّلة لدى الإدارة الأميركيّة التي حرّكت جيشها باتّجاه الشرق الأوسط الذي أرادت أن تصنع منه شرقاً جديداً، بقوّة الحديد والنار. ثمّة من ركب قطار الأمبراطوريّة، وثمّة من ادّعى الركوب، وثمّة من قرّر المواجهة.
من الصعب اختزال الأزمة اللبنانيّة بالانقسام حول المشروع الأميركي وتعقيداته السوريّة والإيرانيّة. ومن الصعب اختزالها بعلاقات الطوائف. غير أنّ المؤكّد هو أنّ الذهاب إلى الحوار في الدوحة لن يعني الكثير، ما لم يكن واضحاً للجميع أنّ المشهد الإقليمي والدولي الراعي لاتفاق الطائف قد تبدّل كليّاً، وأنّ التعقيدات الطائفيّة الداخليّة تبدّلت هي الأخرى عمّا كانت عليه عشيّة انتهاء الحرب الأهليّة.
لذلك، يمكن لمن يريد أن يتلهّى بالثلاث عشرات والرئيس التوافقي أن يفعل ذلك. لكنّ الأجدى العودة من الدوحة باتّفاق طائف جديد.

عدد الجمعة ١٦ أيار ٢٠٠٨

May 16th, 2008, 5:08 am

 

He Waged War With a Felafel in His Hand said:

Bush: God told me to invade Iraq

President ‘revealed reasons for war in private meeting’

By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
Friday, 7 October 2005

President George Bush has claimed he was told by God to invade Iraq and attack Osama bin Laden’s stronghold of Afghanistan as part of a divine mission to bring peace to the Middle East, security for Israel, and a state for the Palestinians.

The President made the assertion during his first meeting with Palestinian leaders in June 2003, according to a BBC series which will be broadcast this month.

The revelation comes after Mr Bush launched an impassioned attack yesterday in Washington on Islamic militants, likening their ideology to that of Communism, and accusing them of seeking to “enslave whole nations” and set up a radical Islamic empire “that spans from Spain to Indonesia”. In the programmeElusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs, which starts on Monday, the former Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Shaath says Mr Bush told him and Mahmoud Abbas, former prime minister and now Palestinian President: “I’m driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, ‘George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.’ And I did, and then God would tell me, ‘George go and end the tyranny in Iraq,’ and I did.”

And “now again”, Mr Bush is quoted as telling the two, “I feel God’s words coming to me: ‘Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East.’ And by God, I’m gonna do it.”

Mr Abbas remembers how the US President told him he had a “moral and religious obligation” to act. The White House has refused to comment on what it terms a private conversation. But the BBC account is anything but implausible, given how throughout his presidency Mr Bush, a born-again Christian, has never hidden the importance of his faith.

From the outset he has couched the “global war on terror” in quasi-religious terms, as a struggle between good and evil. Al-Qa’ida terrorists are routinely described as evil-doers. For Mr Bush, the invasion of Iraq has always been part of the struggle against terrorism, and he appears to see himself as the executor of the divine will.

He told Bob Woodward – whose 2004 book, Plan of Attack, is the definitive account of the administration’s road to war in Iraq – that after giving the order to invade in March 2003, he walked in the White House garden, praying “that our troops be safe, be protected by the Almighty”. As he went into this critical period, he told Mr Woodward, “I was praying for strength to do the Lord’s will.

“I’m surely not going to justify war based upon God. Understand that. Nevertheless, in my case, I pray that I will be as good a messenger of His will as possible. And then of course, I pray for forgiveness.”

Another telling sign of Mr Bush’s religion was his answer to Mr Woodward’s question on whether he had asked his father – the former president who refused to launch a full-scale invasion of Iraq after driving Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in 1991 – for advice on what to do.

The current President replied that his earthly father was “the wrong father to appeal to for advice … there is a higher father that I appeal to”.

The same sense of mission permeated his speech at the National Endowment of Democracy yesterday. Its main news was Mr Bush’s claim that Western security services had thwarted 10 planned attacks by al-Qa’ida since 11 September 2001, three of them against mainland US.

More striking though was his unrelenting portrayal of radical Islam as a global menace, which only the forces of freedom – led by the US – could repel. It was delivered at a moment when Mr Bush’s domestic approval ratings are at their lowest ebb, in large part because of the war in Iraq, in which 1,950 US troops have died, with no end in sight.

It came amid continuing violence on the ground, nine days before the critical referendum on the new constitution that offers perhaps the last chance of securing a unitary and democratic Iraq. “The militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region” and set up a radical empire stretching from Spain to Indonesia, he said.

The insurgents’ aim was to “enslave whole nations and intimidate the world”. He portrayed Islamic radicals as a single global movement, from the Middle East to Chechnya and Bali and the jungles of the Philippines.

He rejected claims that the US military presence in Iraq was fuelling terrorism: 11 September 2001 occurred long before American troops set foot in Iraq – and Russia’s opposition to the invasion did not stop terrorists carrying out the Beslan atrocity in which 300 children died.

Mr Bush also accused Syria and Iran of supporting radical groups. They “have a long history of collaboration with terrorists and they deserve no patience”. The US, he warned, “makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbour them because they’re equally as guilty of murder”.

“Wars are not won without sacrifice and this war will require more sacrifice, more time and more resolve,” Mr Bush declared. But progress was being made in Iraq, and, he proclaimed: “We will keep our nerve and we will win that victory.”

———————————————————–

Religious sectarianism waged in The Arab Media is a recurring theme in this post. I pondered whether to post this article, and the main reason that I overcame my inhibitions to post it was not related to how I personally feel disdain for religious “types”, whether they be like the mad nutter in Iran or those that bleet religious fervor when demonizing other religious denominations in the Arab media.

Mainly to highlight the blight of religious fervor transcends not only the Arab world, but also is found in the Secular West. “God told me George, get those Palestinians a State, and by God I will” he was quoted.

I tell “Mad George’ sit on a Sabra and Have a Humuss and Felafel sandwich.

May 16th, 2008, 5:11 am

 

Naji said:

مؤتمر الدوحة: هدنة وفرصة للحلّ
ارتياح شعبي وقلق سياسي وتحفّظ أميركي ودعم سوري وفرنسي وحيرة حول الموقف السعودي

http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/73975

بعيد العاشرة من مساء أمس، خرج رئيس الحكومة القطرية الشيخ حمد بن جاسم برفقة الأمين العام للجامعة العربية عمرو موسى ووزراء خارجية عرب لتناول العشاء في أحد مطاعم بيروت. كانوا ينشدون الراحة ـــــ بحسب موسى ـــــ بعد يومين من التعب المثمر، لكنّهم كانوا يريدون أيضاً إعطاء الانطباع بأنّ بيروت بدأت تستعيد حياتها، بعد إعلان بنود الاتفاق الذي لاقاه الناس بارتياح، ولكن بريبة الخائف من الشيطان الذي يلاحق التفاصيل.
وإذا كان لبنان سيرتاح من زعاماته أياماً قليلة، فإن انشغال الناس بإعادة ترتيب أمورهم اليومية لن يسحب الأنظار عما يفترض تكريسه في مؤتمر الدوحة المرتقب اليوم لناحية المباشرة بخطوات الحل الشامل، وهي النتيجة التي يلتفت الوزراء العرب بعضهم إلى بعض عندما يوجه إليهم السؤال عما إذا كانت مضمونة، وخصوصاً أن الولايات المتحدة عبّرت عن تحفّظها إزاء نجاح الجهود العربية في التوصل الى حل شامل.
وقبل دقائق من بدء المؤتمر الصحافي للمسؤول القطري والأمين العام للجامعة العربية، رنّ هاتف موسى، وكان المتحدّث الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة بان كي مون الذي سأل عمّا يحصل، وأعرب عن دهشته لإنجاز وفد الجامعة الاتفاق. وأبلغه موسى أن رسالة سوف تصله خلال ساعات عن الاتفاق، وهو ما حصل في وقت متأخّر من ليل امس، فيما كان موسى يتحدّث لاحقاً الى وزيري الخارجية السعودي الأمير سعود الفيصل والسوري وليد المعلم ويتبلّغ منهما دعماً قال إنه شعر بجديته للحوار الذي سيبدأ في قطر اليوم، دون أن يخفي موسى قلقه من تعثّر ما. وقال: نحن الآن في مرحلة ثانية من رحلة حلّ أزمة لبنان، وإذا ما توصلنا الى نتائج مقبولة، فإن لبنان سوف ينعم بهدوء طويل.
وبحسب الترتيبات المقررة، فإن 13 زعيماً لبنانياً سوف يسافرون اليوم على متن الطائرة الخاصة لرئيس الوزراء القطري، يرافقهم وزراء خارجية الدول العربية المشاركة في اللجنة، على أن تلحق بهم طائرة أخرى تجمع المرافقين والإعلاميين الذين يستعدّون لقضاء بضعة أيام في العاصمة القطرية في سياق مباحثات تستهدف التوصل الى تفاهم على شكل الحكومة الجديدة وقانون الانتخابات المقبلة، ما يتيح انتخاب العماد ميشال سليمان قريباً جداً، ليتولى هو إدارة الجزء الآخر من الحوار الذي سوف ينحصر عملياً في آلية تحسين وتطوير نظام المشاركة في الحكم والبحث في مستقبل علاقة الدولة مع المقاومة.
وكان حمد بن جاسم وموسى قد أنجزا قرابة الرابعة من فجر أمس مسوّدة اتفاق ينص على التزام جميع الاطراف بعودة البلاد الى ما كانت عليه قبل الخامس من أيار، وإزالة آثار المواجهات التي حصلت، بما في ذلك تراجع الحكومة عن قراريها، والشروع فوراً في حوار مكثّف حول بنود المبادرة العربية. وكان الوفد العربي قد حصل على موافقة قوى المعارضة على هذه الورقة، وعلى موافقة بعض أقطاب فريق 14 آذار، ولا سيما النائب وليد جنبلاط، فيما كان النائب سعد الحريري ومسيحيّو 14 آذار يصرون على إدخال بند آخر يخص السلاح، تراوح بين القول بحاجتهم الى ضمانات بعدم تكرار ما حصل، وبجعل ملف سلاح حزب الله بنداً على طاولة الحوار.
«لكن موازين القوى ونتائج ما حصل» فرضت صياغة البنود بطريقة مختلفة، على ما قال مرجع في الوفد العربي، وأضاف: «ان فريق 14 آذار بدا في وضع صعب للغاية. لا توحده رؤية ولا توجه واحد، وفيما كان جنبلاط مستعداً لإنجاز الاتفاق على الحكومة وقانون الانتخابات في لحظة واحدة، كان الحريري يناقش في إمكان تحسين الموقع التفاوضي، فيما يتصرف مسيحيو 14 آذار بذعر الخائف من خسارة كل شيء». لكن هذا المرجع لفت الى «مفاجأة» ناجمة عن موقف العماد ميشال عون الذي بدا متحفظاً على صياغة الاتفاق، لأنه رفض اعتبار ترشيح العماد ميشال سليمان أمراً محسوماً، كما رفض الإقرار بأن الحكومة المقبلة سوف تكون حكومة مفتوحة المهام. حتى إن المداولات التي أخرت المؤتمر الصحافي لحمد بن جاسم وموسى ركزت على الآتي:
أولاً: تحفظ الرئيس نبيه بري على جعل الحوار قائماً بمشاركة الجامعة العربية، والإصرار على اقتصار حضور الجامعة في الجولة الاولى، ثم يترك الامر للبنانيين فقط.
ثانياً: رفض «القوات اللبنانية» كل المشروع، ثم الموافقة عليه على أساس أنه لن يكون هناك اتفاق من تحت الطاولة.
ثالثاً: تحفظ العماد عون على حسم انتخاب سليمان واقتراحه مناقشة اعتبار الحكومة المقبلة انتقالية تنحصر مهمتها في إجراء انتخابات نيابية.
رابعاً: سعي النائب الحريري الى تقديم بند الحوار حول «علاقة الدولة بالتنظيمات» الى البداية.
وبحسب المداولات، فإن حمد بن جاسم ومعه موسى بذلا أنواعاً مختلفة من الوساطات وقدما الكثير من الضمانات التي أتاحت التوصل الى الاتفاق الذي أعلن. وعندما انتقل الجميع الى قاعة المؤتمر الصحافي، كان الكل في أجواء أن الجولة الاولى في الدوحة قد لا تستمر أكثر من 3 الى 4 أيام، على أن ينتقل بعدها المتحاورون الى بيروت لاستكمال البحث، علماً بأن مسؤولاً بارزاً في اللجنة العربية لم يستبعد أن يظل المتحاورون لوقت مفتوح في الدوحة حتى يتم إنجاز الاتفاق الذي أذاع حمد بن جاسم بنوده كلها (نص الاتفاق ص 7).
وليلاً، عكف المدعوّون الى مؤتمر الحوار على إعداد ملفاتهم وحقائبهم استعداداً للسفر الى الدوحة اليوم، وتردّد أن بعضهم توجه إليها تحت جنح الظلام. وصدرت عن بعضهم مواقف حذرة إزاء إمكان نجاح الحوار، ومن هؤلاء الرئيس أمين الجميّل الذي رأى «أن المدخل إلى أي حل هو التفاهم على معنى كلمة سيادة، وضمان عدم توجيه حزب الله سلاحه إلى الداخل»، مجدِّداً مطالبته بـ«تطمينات بنيوية لا طوباوية». وقال «إن لم يجر البحث في موضوع السلاح وعلاقة حزب الله مع الدولة وسيادتها وسلطتها على كامل الأراضي اللبنانية، نكن قد راوحنا مكاننا ولم نتوصل إلى أي شيء».
بدوره، رأى وزير الاتصالات مروان حمادة أن ما استطاعت اللجنة العربية تحقيقه هو «هدنة بالحد الأدنى ومخرج بالحد الأقصى»، مشيراً إلى أن الهدنة أفضل من ترك الأمور تتطور نحو معارك كاملة في بيروت والجبل. وإذ أكد أن الأفرقاء ليسوا ذاهبين إلى الدوحة لتغيير اتفاق الطائف، شدّد على وجوب عدم الخروج عن هذا الاتفاق.

■ تحفُّظ أميركي

وأعلنت الولايات المتحدة الاميركية بلسان المتحدث باسم خارجيتها شون ماكورماك، تحفظها عن الاتفاق الذي رعته اللجنة الوزارية العربية للخروج من الازمة السياسية في لبنان. ورأى ماكورماك أن الاتفاق «لن يعالج الصعوبات التي لا تحصى لنظام لبنان السياسي خلال فترة أسبوع وفي مجموعة واحدة من المناقشات». وأشار الى استمرار «حزب الله» في طرح «تحدٍّ للشعب اللبناني في المستقبل من ناحية تحقيق ديموقراطية واسعة النطاق وعميقة يستفيد منها كل اللبنانيين».
واتهم ماكروماك حزب الله بأنه «مستعد لقتل اللبنانيين في سبيل جدول أعماله السياسي»، معتبراً أن هذا الحزب «ليس لديه أي أساس غير محاولة توسيع قوته السياسية والعمل خارج النظام السياسي في لبنان»، وأكد أن الحزب «سيبقى تحدياً مستمراً لمن في المجتمع الدولي لديه مصلحة في لبنان أكثر سلاماً ورفاهية وديموقراطية». وقال إن «حزب الله» يمثّل «مشكلة طويلة الامد وانه يتأثر بشكل كبير بقوى خارجية هي ايران وسوريا».
ورحّب وزير الخارجية الفرنسي برنار كوشنير بالاتفاق مكرّراً تأكيد «دعم فرنسا للمؤسسات في لبنان، وخصوصاً الحكومة والجيش اللبناني» الذي كان تحركه «حاسماً لإيجاد الظروف الملائمة لتجاوز الازمة». وأضاف ان «فرنسا تدعو كل الاطراف، داخل لبنان وخارجه، الى بذل كل الجهود الضرورية لتفضي المشاورات الى انتخابات رئاسية وتأليف حكومة وحدة وطنية ووضع قانون جديد للانتخاب بسرعة». ومن جهته قال وزير الخارجية الالماني فرانك فالتر شتاينماير: «أنا مرتاح جداً الى تهدئة الوضع التي ترتسم في لبنان. والاتفاق الذي تم التوصل إليه هو خطوة أولى ليتمكن الجيش وقوى الأمن الداخلي من ضمان الأمن مجدداً في البلاد».
ورحب وزير الخارجية المصري أحمد أبو الغيط بالاتفاق، وقال إنه «أمر جيد وإيجابي أن يتفق السياسيون اللبنانيون على إعادة الأمور إلى ما كانت عليه قبل يوم 5 أيار الجاري وإنهاء المظاهر المسلحة بكل صورها». ونوّه بمضمون هذا الاتفاق، وأكد أن نص الاتفاق «يعكس توازناً يوفر لكل طائفة وفريق سياسي في لبنان الدور الذي يتوقعه بما يحافظ على اتفاق الطائف والدستور اللبناني باعتبارهما ركيزتين أساسيتين للتركيبة الفريدة لهذا البلد العربي الشقيق».
وأكد السفير السعودي في لبنان عبد العزيز خوجة أن السفارة مستمرة بالعمل قدر المستطاع آملاً أن يعود السعوديون إلى لبنان خلال فصل الصيف. وقال إن بلاده تبارك الاتفاق الذي رعته الجامعة العربية آملاً أن يعود لبنان إلى ازدهاره ومجده مؤكداً الجهوزية للمساعدة مشدداً على أن المهم هو الوصول إلى نتائج.

عدد الجمعة ١٦ أيار ٢٠٠٨

May 16th, 2008, 5:16 am

 

ausamaa said:

Qifa Nabki,

I think the Qataries will be able to “buy” some Feb 14 figures, starting with Amin Gemayel and Nayla Mouawad. Marwan Hammedh too perhaps. The Qataries will manage to sway many others who were living in the Saudi shadow untill yesterday. He will be able to provide them not only with Money, but also with Insurence that Syria and the Opposition will let them off the hook. Junblat seems sidelined allready and has asurances that his past sins will be forgiven if he keeps quite.

So in the end you will be left with Harriri and Ja’ja alone. Harriri will keep quite after his shamefull performance o the ground, and Ja’ja will be sidelined as he has agreed to the principle of “not using force to achieve political gain”, which I think that this point was inserted specifically to take care of his ambitions as the fact is that Hizbullah did not use force for political gain but only to defend the resistance. The Harriri and Siniora crowd will also be kept busy answering to Aoun’s questions about were the $52 billions went and how the ublic debt grew to such a level and how they have benifited from all what took place since 1992 and even before.

So, tootoo, tootoo, khilset al hadootoo. Even if Saudi and the US try to torpedo the whole thing, they will not have any tools on the ground to support them except perhaps the “ghosts” who had committed the assasinations and the planted the explosions. Al Qaida remenants can be taken care of by the Army and Hizbullah if they try to do something bad.

That is my humble and simplfied outlook. A new era is shaping up.

May 16th, 2008, 5:27 am

 

Naji said:

On Saudi(FM) media…

إعلام المستقبل يحذر من التيار: “بدن يرجعوكن لورا…”

http://www.tayyar.org/Tayyar/News/PoliticalNews/ar-LB/128553204347767815.htm

إعلام المستقبل الذي عاد بعد انقطاع، عودةً مبروكة، لم يبطل عادته، تزويرًا للحقائق وتشويهًا للوقائع، واجتزاء للأحداث، وتلاعبًا بالتاريخ، وادعاءً للبطولة والنضال. ومِمَّنْ طاوَلَتْهُمْ هذه الحملات مناضِلو التيار الوطني الحر الذين تَرُدُّ باسمهم الزميلة إلسي مفرج، في هذا التقرير…

السي مفرج – صوت الغد
Click Here to Listen

بدن يرجعوكن لورا…
بس مين لي بدو يرجعنا لورا ومين لي عم بحذر من هل الرجعة وعن أيا ورا عم يحكي…
لي عم بيحذر تيار المستقبل عبر كليب بثه تلفزيونو لحظة إعادة البث على الهوا
والتحذير من العودة الى زمن الوصاية السورية لي ما بيتجرئوا طبعاً وما بترتقوا ت تسموا زمن الاحتلال
ووسيلة التحذير صور قمع ل ناضلو ضد الاحتلال ومين غيرن مناضلي التيار الوطني الحر
وتَ تكمل من مين عم بحذر المستقبل من جملة لي عم بحذر منن انه بدن يرجعونا ل ورا، من بيّ النضال ضد الاحتلال من الجنرال ميشال عون.

رح هون وبس،
سرقتونا،
سرقتوا شعبنا،
سرقتوا شعاراتنا،
سرقتوا تواريخنا،
وهلق بدكن تسرقوا وتزوروا ذاكرتنا،
واكتر توصفونا وفوق صورنا نحنا وعم ننقمع منكن انتو ل كنتو بالسلطة ايام الاحتلال انه بدنا نرجع البلد ل ورا ل هل ايام…

ايه، رح حد هون وبس…
سمعناكن وتضامنا معكن وقت لاقفل تلفزيونكن،
هلق صار وقت انتو تسمعونا بعد ما رجعتو على هوا وللاسف ت ترجعو تبثوا سموم واكاذيب وتشوهوا الحقائق التارخية…
هودي لي عم بتاجروا بصورن هني وعم ينقمعوا من الاحتلال السوري هني نحن،
نحن نفسنا لي عم بتحذروا منا بانه بدنا نرد البلد لهل ايام،
نحن ارباب الحرية والسيادة والاستقلال،
وبوقتها كنتوا انتو ايد الجلاد،
انتو ادوات الاحتلال الطيعة،
انتو ارباب الضروري، الشرعي والمؤقت…

يمكن معذورين لان قد ما تفتشوا وحتى لو ارشيفكن ما احترق
قد ما تفتشوا
مش رح تقدرو تلقو صور الكن متل هل الصور
لان بكل بساطة ما عندكن بكل تاريخكن متل هل الصور
لانكن ما بتعرفوا ولا رح تعرفوا معنى النضال
انتو لي ما كان عندك حتى شرف ينزل اسمكن على لائحة الشرف
انتو لي ما تجرأتو تقولو لأ للمحتل قبل ما ينسحب ولا حتى تلبسوا شال المعارضة الاحمر والابيض بوقتها فابتكرتوا الشال الازرق،
وانتوا ل ما استرجيتوا تتحدوا التهديد وضلوا على الهوا

معذورين إذا ما فهمتوا اليوم معنى العصيان المدني
ف لا بتعرفوا طهارة النضال اللاعنفي ولا تضحيات المقاومة المسلحة
لانكن تعودتوا تخضعوا
بس ما في عذر بالعالم بحللكن تسغلوا صور نضالنا ل ما بتفهموا
ت تشوهوا الذاكرة وتحرضوا ضدنا انتوا وعم تتهمونا بأننا بدنا نرجع البلد لورا
واي ورا وقت ل كنا نحن لي عم ننقمع وكنتوا انتوا القامعين،

باسم كل المناضلين لي ظهروا بالكليب لي عم بتسوقوا ضدن باقلكن،
رح هون وبس،
نحن ل مش رح نخليكون ترجعونا ل ورا،
ل لايام الاحتلال ول ايام راعي الاحتلال…

باسم كل مناضلي التيار الوطني الحر ل ظهروا بالصور وانا منن،
مش رح نخليكون ترجعونا ل ورا…

May 16th, 2008, 5:45 am

 

Naji said:

On Saudi(FM) media…

إعلام المستقبل يحذر من التيار: “بدن يرجعوكن لورا…”

http://www.tayyar.org/Tayyar/News/PoliticalNews/ar-LB/128553204347767815.htm

إعلام المستقبل الذي عاد بعد انقطاع، عودةً مبروكة، لم يبطل عادته، تزويرًا للحقائق وتشويهًا للوقائع، واجتزاء للأحداث، وتلاعبًا بالتاريخ، وادعاءً للبطولة والنضال. ومِمَّنْ طاوَلَتْهُمْ هذه الحملات مناضِلو التيار الوطني الحر الذين تَرُدُّ باسمهم الزميلة إلسي مفرج، في هذا التقرير…

السي مفرج – صوت الغد
Click Here to Listen

بدن يرجعوكن لورا…
بس مين لي بدو يرجعنا لورا ومين لي عم بحذر من هل الرجعة وعن أيا ورا عم يحكي…
لي عم بيحذر تيار المستقبل عبر كليب بثه تلفزيونو لحظة إعادة البث على الهوا
والتحذير من العودة الى زمن الوصاية السورية لي ما بيتجرئوا طبعاً وما بترتقوا ت تسموا زمن الاحتلال
ووسيلة التحذير صور قمع ل ناضلو ضد الاحتلال ومين غيرن مناضلي التيار الوطني الحر
وتَ تكمل من مين عم بحذر المستقبل من جملة لي عم بحذر منن انه بدن يرجعونا ل ورا، من بيّ النضال ضد الاحتلال من الجنرال ميشال عون.

رح هون وبس،
سرقتونا،
سرقتوا شعبنا،
سرقتوا شعاراتنا،
سرقتوا تواريخنا،
وهلق بدكن تسرقوا وتزوروا ذاكرتنا،
واكتر توصفونا وفوق صورنا نحنا وعم ننقمع منكن انتو ل كنتو بالسلطة ايام الاحتلال انه بدنا نرجع البلد ل ورا ل هل ايام…

ايه، رح حد هون وبس…
سمعناكن وتضامنا معكن وقت لاقفل تلفزيونكن،
هلق صار وقت انتو تسمعونا بعد ما رجعتو على هوا وللاسف ت ترجعو تبثوا سموم واكاذيب وتشوهوا الحقائق التارخية…
هودي لي عم بتاجروا بصورن هني وعم ينقمعوا من الاحتلال السوري هني نحن،
نحن نفسنا لي عم بتحذروا منا بانه بدنا نرد البلد لهل ايام،
نحن ارباب الحرية والسيادة والاستقلال،
وبوقتها كنتوا انتو ايد الجلاد،
انتو ادوات الاحتلال الطيعة،
انتو ارباب الضروري، الشرعي والمؤقت…

يمكن معذورين لان قد ما تفتشوا وحتى لو ارشيفكن ما احترق
قد ما تفتشوا
مش رح تقدرو تلقو صور الكن متل هل الصور
لان بكل بساطة ما عندكن بكل تاريخكن متل هل الصور
لانكن ما بتعرفوا ولا رح تعرفوا معنى النضال
انتو لي ما كان عندك حتى شرف ينزل اسمكن على لائحة الشرف
انتو لي ما تجرأتو تقولو لأ للمحتل قبل ما ينسحب ولا حتى تلبسوا شال المعارضة الاحمر والابيض بوقتها فابتكرتوا الشال الازرق،
وانتوا ل ما استرجيتوا تتحدوا التهديد وضلوا على الهوا

معذورين إذا ما فهمتوا اليوم معنى العصيان المدني
ف لا بتعرفوا طهارة النضال اللاعنفي ولا تضحيات المقاومة المسلحة
لانكن تعودتوا تخضعوا
بس ما في عذر بالعالم بحللكن تسغلوا صور نضالنا ل ما بتفهموا
ت تشوهوا الذاكرة وتحرضوا ضدنا انتوا وعم تتهمونا بأننا بدنا نرجع البلد لورا
واي ورا وقت ل كنا نحن لي عم ننقمع وكنتوا انتوا القامعين،

باسم كل المناضلين لي ظهروا بالكليب لي عم بتسوقوا ضدن باقلكن،
رح هون وبس،
نحن ل مش رح نخليكون ترجعونا ل ورا،
ل لايام الاحتلال ول ايام راعي الاحتلال…

باسم كل مناضلي التيار الوطني الحر ل ظهروا بالصور وانا منن،
مش رح نخليكون ترجعونا ل ورا…

Elsie vs. Sahar… 🙂

May 16th, 2008, 5:48 am

 

Naji said:

حزب اللّه أمام اختبار بين سنّة لبنان والعرب (2/2)
إبراهيم الأمين
http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/73969

ما يتداوله كثيرون من سنّة لبنان والعرب اليوم إزاء حزب الله ليس أمراً متجاهلاً لدى أقوى تنظيم إسلامي عرفته المنطقة خلال العقود الاخيرة. حتى التعبئة الاضافية التي تعمل عليها الآن مجموعات ترى أنها محقة في التحريض على الحزب ولو مذهبياً، لن تغمض أعين الحزب عن المشهد الشعبي الاكبر في العالم العربي والاسلامي، الذي يتصل بالفضاء الاوسع لحركة الحزب محلياً وإقليمياً، وكل التوتر الذي تعيشه قواعد الحزب نفسه، والنزعة المذهبية الموجودة أيضاً لدى هذا الجمهور،
لا تلغي حقيقة أن حزب الله قد يكون الحزب الاسلامي الوحيد الذي تدربّ ويستمر في التدرب على آليات تتيح له أن يتكيّف أيديولوجياً وسياسياً مع الآخرين. وهي رحلة مستمرة منذ ربع قرن، وقد أثمرت مقاومة الحزب للولايات المتحدة أولاً، ثم لإسرائيل، شعبية غير عادية له في جميع الأوساط، وحتى ما قبل حوادث بيروت الاخيرة، فإن السيد حسن نصر الله كان لا يزال الشخصية الاكثر شعبية في العالم العربي. في مصر والمغرب وفلسطين والخليج… حيث الغالبية السنية.
كل ذلك لا يمنع من القول إن الحزب يفكر الآن في طريقة التعامل مع التطورات الأخيرة التي حصلت. لا يمكن أحداً أن يسقط من عقل الحزب أنه حمى نفسه في تجربة بيروت الأخيرة، وأبعاد ما جرى الاقليمية والدولية، قد لا تبدو ظاهرة للعيان أمام الجمهور، لكنها نتائج هائلة وماثلة أمام أنظار الانظمة والحكومات والأجهزة التي تعمل ليل نهار للتخلص من عبء هذه القوة، وهو العبء الناجم فقط عن دور الحزب في المقاومة ضد إسرائيل، وهي مقاومة باتت في العقد الاخير تتجاوز حدود الحركة الاحتجاجية على الاحتلال، لتلامس حدود النموذج القادر على تولي السلطة، بمعزل عن التقييم السلبي أو الايجابي لهذا النموذج. لكن ذعر الانظمة العربية من تأثير حزب الله خارج لبنان، يخص قدرته على تفعيل الاحتجاج القائم في دول المنطقة وتحويله الى حركات تغيير حقيقية، وخصوصاً إذا كان المدخل هو مقاومة إسرائيل.
لذلك، ومنذ التحرير الكبير عام 2000، كان حزب الله يشعر بأن ثمة من يريد أن يجعله يدفع ثمن مقاومته ما يتجاوز حدود ما هو مفترض من عدوه، ولم يمض وقت طويل حتى بدأت ملامح الفتنة السنية ـــــ الشيعية تلوح في الافق. ولم يمر وقت طويل على اجتياح الولايات المتحدة الاميركية للعراق، حتى كانت هذه الفتنة تشتعل، وبرغم كل الكلام الذي قاله حزب الله عن وجوب مقاومة الاجتياح ثم الاحتلال، فإن الحملة عليه لم تتوقف، وهي انتقلت من حملة تتخصص بها الانظمة المتعاملة مع الولايات المتحدة، لتنتقل الى قوى تفترض نفسها في موقع المواجهة عينها، ولم يكن صدفة أن إحدى قواعد التعبئة التي قام عليها تنظيم القاعدة كانت في رفض الشيعة فكراً وحركة وجمهوراً، وكانت كتابات منظري القاعدة وقادتها ومواقفهم ضد حزب الله تتراوح بين التجاهل لصعوبة تناول قوة مقاومة لأميركا وإسرائيل وبين مهاجمتها باعتبارها تقبل بآليات تعايش مع الأنظمة والحكومات من باب أنها قوة تسعى الى فرض وقائع تخص إيران ولا تخص الشيعة العرب.
في المقابل، كان حزب الله ينتقل تدريجاً من مرحلة تجاهل كل الآخرين، من كل الافكار والعقائد، بمن فيهم الحركات الاسلامية السنية، إلى مرحلة التعرف العملي على الآخر وصولاً الى التفاهم وفق قاعدة مقاومة الاحتلال. وهو احتاج الى سنوات طويلة لبناء قاعدة ثقة بينه وبين قوى المقاومة في فلسطين، بالتوازي مع بناء علاقات وطيدة مع مجموعات خرجت من رحم الاخوان المسلمين، لكنه لم ينجح نهائياً في صياغة أي شكل من أشكال العلاقة مع تنظيم القاعدة. وبرغم كل الكلام الاستخباري عن تعاون خفي بين حزب الله والقاعدة، يعرف العالمون ببواطن الامور، كيف رفض حزب الله بعد حرب تموز 2006 فكرة «وحدة الجهاديتين» التي خرج بها من يعتقد أن القاعدة بعد أحداث 11 أيلول، باتت تحتاج الى تغيير نوعي في توجهاتها، مقابل حاجة حزب الله الى إيجاد قواعد مشتركة أوسع من القائمة حالياً مع الحركات السنية المقاومة للمشروع الاميركي. حتى إن حزب الله قال علناً، إنه لا يريد هذا النوع من المقاربة، وذلك ليس لرفضه التعاون مع حركات من أفكار اخرى، بل لأنه يعتقد بأن هذه المرحلة من حياة المنطقة تحتاج الى تركيز أكبر بوجه الخصوم، وتحتاج الى استراتيجيات تنتفي فيها الافكار الرافضة للآخر. وكان على حزب الله المضي نحو تفاهمات ذات بعد محلي من النوع الذي يوفر له الغطاء المطلوب، وربما لهذه الأسباب وجد السيد حسن نصر الله مساحة للتفاهم مع الرئيس الراحل رفيق الحريري على أمور كثيرة قبل اغتيال الاخير، ثم هو ذهب ولو على مضض الى التفاهم الرباعي الذي قام أصلاً مع تيار «المستقبل» وهو وافق على صياغة تختلف عن أدبياته التقليدية عندما وقّع التفاهم مع التيار الوطني الحر، وهو وجد نفسه قابلاً للاندماج في أطر مع حركات قومية عربية ويسارية ولو كلفه الأمر تنازلات من النوع الذي يصعب على جماعات أيديولوجية القيام به.
وخلال العامين الاخيرين، كان حزب الله يعتقد أنه مستعد للتنازل كثيراً في اللعبة الداخلية مقابل تجنيبه المواجهة المباشرة مع فريق السلطة. وللحقيقة، فهو لم يخشَ يوماً فريق 14 آذار إلا لأنه يتظلل بعباءة السنة في لبنان، ولم يكن يقيم وزناً لكل من يرفع بنفسه فوق أكتاف سعد الحريري وأنصاره، لكن يبدو أن الامر تجاوز حدود اللعبة المحلية، باعتبار أن الحملة المركزة على الحزب جاءت هذه المرة من الخارج، وربما يكون حزب الله وحده في العالم من وحّد بين قيادة المملكة العربية السعودية وتنظيم القاعدة، حتى حصل ما حصل قبل أسبوع.
وبناءً على ذلك، يعرف حزب الله الآن أنه أمام مسؤولية تخص إعادة ترتيب أموره وسط السنة، لا بين سنة لبنان وحدهم، والتفكك الذي برزت ملامحه على تيار «المستقبل» مرشح لأن يتفاعل بقوة وسرعة خلال شهور قليلة، ما يجعل حزب الله أمام سؤال كبير: كيف ومع من سوف يتعامل لاحقاً؟

عدد الجمعة ١٦ أيار ٢٠٠٨

May 16th, 2008, 6:10 am

 

ausamaa said:

So Aoun was not only joking when he said that the USS Cole is coming in for an “evacuation mission”
!!!!

ماذا ستحمل المروحيّات الأميركيّة إلى السفارة؟
حوصر المطار والمعابر الحدودية فإذا بالأميركيّين يأتون بالمروحيات هذه المرّة محمّلين بالأسرار والمفاجآت

ثائر غندور

«الجيش اللبناني صامد إذا لم يستدرج إلى اشتباك»، كلمات تتواتر على ألسنة العديد من السياسيين والأمنيين، معارضين كانوا أو موالين. فالمؤسسة العسكريّة تقوم بعملية نقل الجنود من مناطق الهدوء إلى المناطق الساخنة، وستضطر إلى إفراغ مناطق معيّنة، إلّا من حضور رمزي، إذا حصل أي اشتباك بينها وبين أحد الأطراف في مناطق أخرى.
هذا بخصوص واقع الجيش الذي يتساءل أحد الضبّاط عن قدرته على التحمّل، دون أن يستطيع تقديم إجابة صريحة. لكن الواقع العسكري الميداني حمل يوم أول من أمس تطوّرين أساسيين: إعلان السفارة الأميركيّة نيّتها استقدام «اللوازم» عبر طائرات مروحية، ووصول مفرزة أمنيّة قطريّة. لا يرى العديد من الأمنيين أي بُعد للمفرزة القطريّة سوى أنها آتية للتنسيق مع القوى الأمنيّة اللبنانيّة من أجل تأمين سلامة الوفد الدبلوماسي العربي. ويؤكّد هؤلاء، أن العادة درجت على مجيء وفد أمني يسبق أي زيارة خارجيّة لتنسيق الإجراءات الأمنيّة ومن سيتولّى سلامة الزائر وأي طرق سيستخدم.
أمّا الإعلان المفاجئ عن الزيارات الجويّة الأميركيّة، «لإيصال البريد إلى السفارة»، كما يقول أحد الموظفين، فإن علامات استفهام تُرسم حول هذا التدبير، رغم أن أحد مسؤولي المعارضة يستخف بما تستطيع فعله هذه الطائرات العموديّة أمام مَن هزم الجيش الاسرائيلي.
لكن هذا المعارض يعرف مثل غيره ما يُمكن أن تقوم به هذه الطائرات، ويشير إلى 420 أردنياً غادروا بيروت مباشرة بعد المعارك. ويتحدّث أحد ضبّاط الجيش عن قيام السفارة الأميركيّة بإخراج مجموعات تتألف كل منها من 12 شخصاً عبر قوارب سريعة من منطقة ضبيّة باتجاه قبرص. ويلفت هذا الضابط إلى أن هذه المنطقة أصبحت مكشوفة، لكون العديد من اللبنانيين باتوا يستخدمونها للسفر إلى قبرص، وبالتالي لم تعد مناسبة لهذه المهمة. ويُضيف أن عمليّة «التهريب» هذه تضم عناصر شبكات التجسّس والتخريب التابعة للاستخبارات الأميركيّة والموساد الإسرائيلي التي كانت منشورة في بيروت الغربيّة.
ويرى الضابط أن الطائرات المروحيّة يُمكنها أن تنقل العشرات من هؤلاء «الجواسيس» المعروفين، الذين تجمّعوا في السفارة الأميركيّة في عوكر، إلى حاملة الطائرات يو أس أس كول أو إلى قبرص.
ويتفق الضابط مع زميل أمني آخر له على أنه يجب أن ننتظر نوع هذه المروحيّات وحجمها لنعرف ماذا يُمكن أن تحمل. كما أنهما لا يريان أي تبرير لقدومها.
ويُقول مصدر رسمي إن الأجواء اللبنانيّة ليست مفتوحة أمام الطائرات العسكريّة من أي نوع، حتى تلك التابعة لقوات اليونيفيل، إذ عليها أن تطلب إذناً من القوات الجويّة اللبنانيّة وتهبط في قواعد الجيش اللبناني الجويّة ويجري تفتيشها في الأمن العام.
لكن بيان السفارة الأميركيّة أُعلن عبر الوكالة الوطنيّة للإعلام قبل علم العديد من المراجع الرسميّة به. وعلمت «الأخبار» لاحقاً أن طلباً رسمياً قُدّم إلى وزارة الدفاع للسماح لهذه الطائرات المروحيّة بالهبوط، دون أن تكون الوزارة قد وافقت على هذا الطلب حتى بعد ظهر أمس. ويتضمّن الطلب الأميركي الإذن بالهبوط المباشر في مركز السفارة في عوكر، «ولذلك سترسل دوريّة من الأمن العام كل مرّة تصل مروحيّة لتفتيشها»، يقول مصدر رسمي.

عدد الخميس ١٥ أيار ٢٠٠٨

May 16th, 2008, 6:19 am

 

Naji said:

ثلاثة أيام ثلاثة أسئلة: ماذا حصل ليل أمس؟ ماذا حصل نهار اليوم؟ ماذا سيحصل بدءاً من صباح الغد؟
http://www.tayyar.org/Tayyar/News/PoliticalNews/ar-LB/128553456445889256.htm
أسئلة ثلاثة حول ايام ثلاثة، هزت لبنان، وسيكتب عنها تاريخُه المعاصر أكثر من مجموعة وموسوعة.
ليل أمس كان بعض اركان الموالاة يؤكد: لا تراجع عن قراري السراي. لا ذهاب الى الحوار. لا قبول بمطالب المعارضة. الحد الأدنى سيكون التأجيل. والحد الأقصى سيكون خطوةً تعيد الكرة الى ملعب قيادة الجيش. فجأة حصل التراجع الكامل. ماذا حصل؟ قيل إن السبب هو واقع الانهيار الكامل في البنية التنظيمية لتيار المستقبل. خصوصاً في معقليه في بيروت والشمال. رغم كل التسويقات الاعلامية والدعائية المعاكسة. وقيل إن السبب هو أيضاً نصيحة سعودية أميركية مزدوجة الى الحريري، بتلقف التسوية فوراً وكيفما كانت. لأن استمرار الأزمة سيؤدي الى خسائر أكبر. وخصوصاً لأن انهيار تيار الحريري سيخلق فراغاً لن يملأه غير التيارات الأصولية الناشئة على جانبيه منذ أعوام.
نهار اليوم، كان الموعد المقرر لإذاعة الاتفاق عند الثالثة والنصف. وكانت مسودة البيان قد وزعت صباحاً. فجأة تأخر الموعد. وقيل إن ملاحظات استجدت، وتحفظات ظهرت في اللحظة الأخيرة. بعد ثلاث ساعات صدر البيان. لتظهر فيه ثلاثة تعديلات: أولاً تبديل شكلي في ترتيب البنود. ثانياً إضافة عبارة تؤكد على أن الحوار حول علاقة الدولة بحزب الله، يكون بعد تشكيل حكومة الوحدة الوطنية، لا بعد انتخاب الرئيس وحسب. ثالثاً، إضافة فقرة ختامية تؤكد على التلازم بين كل بنود الاتفاق واعتبارها رزمة واحدة متساوية في القوة والإلزام.
يبقى السؤال الأخير: ماذا سيحصل بدءاً من الغد. مساء السادس عشر من أيار 2008 يبدأ مؤتمر الدوحة. كل الطرقات سالكة الى هناك. من قلب بيروت ومطارها، الى كل القلوب الملآنة إقليمياً ودولياً.
كل الطرقات سالكة من أجل ضمان اجتياز تلك المسافة القصيرة، بين الاستئثار والاستقلال، بين الشركة والشراكة، بين الطغمة والدولة، وبين العفن والوطن.
قبل أسبوع شبَّه السيد حسن نصرالله محاولة الاغتيال الواقعة في 6 ايار 2008، بجريمة الاغتيال التي وقعت في 14شباط 2005. زلزال اغتيال رفيق الحريري ساهم في تحرير الأرض. فهل يؤدي زلزال الأمس الى تحرر الإنسان والوفاق؟ لنعقد الأصابع ولنتفاءل.

May 16th, 2008, 6:24 am

 

Naji said:

Elsie vs. Sahar… 🙂

إعلام المستقبل الذي عاد بعد انقطاع، عودةً مبروكة، لم يبطل عادته، تزويرًا للحقائق وتشويهًا للوقائع، واجتزاء للأحداث، وتلاعبًا بالتاريخ، وادعاءً للبطولة والنضال. ومِمَّنْ طاوَلَتْهُمْ هذه الحملات مناضِلو التيار الوطني الحر الذين تَرُدُّ باسمهم الزميلة إلسي مفرج، في هذا التقرير…

http://www.tayyar.org/Tayyar/Multimedia/audio/audioplayer.htm?ID=378223

May 16th, 2008, 6:31 am

 

Innocent Criminal said:

Excellent work Alex, i appreciate the time it took you to research this. The syrian media needs a kick in the head because it really couldn’t be any worse. and i am looking forward to you shaming them in the next post.

I am slightly optimistic for a change regarding the Doha summit. because Qatar wouldn’t go out on a limp here to fail. They will invest heavily into making this work and will make sure to put all the blame and shame on a party that ends up spoiling it.

May 16th, 2008, 6:50 am

 

Avi Salam said:

I am almost as saddened by the negative remarks on this blog as I am about the situation in the Middle East.

My grandfather Abraham frequently repeated this advice to me: “My grandson, be sure you chose friends from amongst all faiths, sects, regions, and races of people for this will make it more difficult for you to stereotype and rush to judgment”. He also often started his replies to aggressive opponents with: “No matter what you do or say, I will not hate you.” Why is it so hard for some of the contributors on this blog to keep focusing on constructive matters? Why can’t those negative contributors try to understand what the brave late leader, Yitzhak Rabin, meant when he said: “Enough blood and tears”? Why is it so hard to respectfully keep religion aside, and focus on the common thing: we are all humans in crisis, and we need to restrict ourselves to positive thinking?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We do not need to continue to butcher each other with spins of what had happened in the past. Can we, instead, discuss practical, positive actions to be made, stands/opinions to be expressed?

Going back to the main point of this blog, can we discuss what/how we can share more facts with the audience of Al Arabiah media, to make sure that facts are not altered?

Despite what you may think, I am not an idealist. But I truly believe that with patience and perseverance, the problems in the Middle East can be solved.

May 16th, 2008, 7:54 am

 

wizart said:

Averos,

Good observations. Our sad divide and conquer realities are rooted in religions being used as political tools to project influence.

Ideally, I think Hizballa’s (party of God) military assets should/could ultimately merge into a non-sectarian Lebanese army and government should/could/must represent the interests of all Lebanese including the large number of Lebanese who currently live in the diaspora who’re probably overwelmingly Chritians and Sunni Muslims. (outnumbering residents who were not able to flee the decades long sectarian violence.)

I disagree with the notion that Future TV is an extention of Saudi Media and I’m not accusing anyone of implying that it is although it’s easy to reach that conclusion since Hariry’s money came from his business success there which is erroneously linked quite often to corruption in Lebanon.

The questions you asked (my favorite part) show clearly that biased media is a worldwide problem not confined to the Arab world.

“Here, we’re looking at a very important question. What proportion of a newspaper’s, or a TV station’s job is to report news and events, and what proportion is it to manufacture public opinion. How do you distinguish between press that’s run and funded by a country’s governing elite, and propaganda? Why does everyone seem to agree that Saddam’s media was propaganda, but not Fox News or its Arabic replica Alarabiya? These are big questions that I’m not going to attempt to answer here. But I think it’s fair to say that the media is an extension of language, law, religion, politics, and other fields of human endeavour that still have no scientific or precise definitions. The use of modern media is an extension of the use of spoken, scripted, and printed word that we have been using for millennia, only now it’s orders of magnitude louder. Modern media is an interactive, dynamic process that receives inputs from its domains of operation (society, policy makers, history, interest groups) but also projects output onto that domain with an intention of achieving varying degrees of influence.”

Shami,

I had a similar problem with the filter yesterday and then the post appeared after a few hour delay. It happens quite often.

May 16th, 2008, 8:28 am

 

offended said:

Excellent article Averroes. Awaiting your take on Syria’s feeble response.

A quick observation though, the article where Abd Al Rahman Al Rashid spoke about Syria defeating the US in Iraq is dated 26th May 2007 (not 26th May 2008, unless you have a time machine!)

May 16th, 2008, 9:58 am

 

Naji said:

OTV:
فور انتهاء اعلان نص الاتفاق في فندق فينيسيا اتصل العماد سليمان بالعماد عون شاكراً له جهوده وموافقته لحل الأزمة

May 16th, 2008, 10:43 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

‘Alex’ will never block or delete the Jewish-supremacist racist insults that are continuously posted here by trainee Likud propagandists, since his job is to provide a time-wasting and morale-destroying cul-de-sac for naive readers. That’s why I no longer post here, or even read the blog. Congratulations, ‘Alex’, you seem to be receiving a fresh supply of well-intentioned victims since I left. Fresh Arab blood for you to suck, so to speak.

I must say, some of these trainee propagandists are quite funny – one of them seriously wanted me to agree that Tzipi Livni was pretty. He had been taught, you see, that we goys are hypnotically entranced by the Jewish female.

May 16th, 2008, 10:48 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

He had been taught, you see, that we goys are hypnotically entranced by the Jewish female.

Rowan,

Please stay and continue the fight against Zionist supremacy! We need you to inform our audience and especially our fearless owner, Professor Josh, on the evils of Israeli statehood.

May 16th, 2008, 12:06 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Once again, Alex doesn’t have his facts right:

If your country’s power is measured by its ability to kill more Arabs, then you should continue to be happy with your Israeli superiority and absolute power.

Alex,

Without question, Arabs have killed orders of magnitude more Arabs than Israel could ever dream of.

Despite your belief to the contrary.

May 16th, 2008, 12:39 pm

 

Averroes said:

Majhool,

“The fact that Alarabiya does not post your comment is outrageous”
I hope you will see in the second half of the article to be posted today that I’m not so kind to Syrian sites. But … ‘outrageous’? I did not really get your angle there.

Religion becomes especially dangerous when it is used selectively in an opportunistic way, which is what the Saudis are doing. They pick elements that suite their agenda and give them an Islamic cloak. If I see Syrian TV demonizing any religion, including Jews, I would strongly condemns it. I do not see Syrian or even HA TVs attcking Sunnis for who they are, Majhool. However, the Saudis are doing that. They attack Shiites for who they are. This is very dangerous.

You also said:
“what’s burning the region is this game that all the players are playing “Syria, Iran, KSA”. That’s why I am totally in favor for the Syrians to lose once and for all the Lebanese card. I am Syrian national and do not want the Lebanese to be burned for the sake of maintaining this card.”

So everyone is playing this game, and because you’re a Syrian national that’s why you’d like the Syrians to lose? Strange logic to me, sir.

I don’t know you personally, Majhool, but you and Shami come off as people with Ikhwani backgrounds. Many Ikhwanis are still bitter at the regime and are longing for revenge. This is what I meant.

2, 3

May 16th, 2008, 12:58 pm

 

Averroes said:

Majhool, Falafel,

The Sabra Hummus pack I have says Product of the USA. It has a Rabbi’s stamp on it but I’m fine with that. Is it made in Israel?

May 16th, 2008, 1:00 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Aussama

While I trust the Qataris will be more thorough in the details of the agreement than the Arab Ligue have been, I think we cannot be too reassured as a long as Bush and the neo-cons are around. Do you think the US and Israel will swallow the poison of loosing full control of Lebanon, leaving the arms in Hezbollah’s hands and give a real victory to Hezbollah, Syria and Iran? I think they are just waiting on the corner to take another disruptive action.
The card of the tribunal is starting to stink after Jarallah’s investigation that unraveled the manipulation of the 14 March to hastily implicate Syria in Hariri’s murder. I doubt Bush admin will renounce the Lebanese card, they and Israel have so little left to play with
They’ll wait to see how much Hezbollah gets of the control of Lebanon’s foreign policy and create a shock, if they don’t like it:
Another UN resolution or just another killing of a political figure.
As for Israel, they can do an important operation on Gaza that will put Hezbollah national strategy under pressure. I doubt Lebanon is at the end of its miseries.

May 16th, 2008, 1:03 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Cannes favorite film: A Waltz with Bashir.
It relates the Sabra and Chatila massacre from an Israeli soldier point of view. It was time that horrible story be told.

“Repressed memories, the horrors of war and Israel’s dubious role in a Beirut refugee camp massacre are the themes of the Cannes film festival’s first ever fully-animated documentary.

“Waltz With Bashir,” said Screen magazine in one of the first reviews, “could easily turn out to be one of the most powerful statements of this Cannes and will leave its mark forever on the ethics of war films in general.”

http://www.nowlebanon.com/Print.aspx?ID=43041#

May 16th, 2008, 1:10 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Averroes,
Sabra is owned by Strauss-Elite a large Israeli food company. They have factories both in the US and Israel. I hope this doesn’t make the hummus harder to swallow.

As for the Syrian TV, it has produced a very widely viewed television series Al-Shatat that is blatantly antisemitc. It was aired in Ramadan 2005. Did you condemn that?

Here is one illuminating clip:
http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/894.htm

May 16th, 2008, 1:18 pm

 

Averroes said:

Shami,

Thank you for the insight on Ibn Rushd. I hope that you no longer think I am exhibiting Taqiyya.

May 16th, 2008, 1:19 pm

 

Averroes said:

Ausamaa,

I am not so optimistic about the Qataris buying some of the M14 people. The Saudis are viewing the developments with strategic significance and with implications on them on several fronts, especially internally.

This is why they are increasingly desperate, and will stop at nothing. This is good in a way that it makes them burn all their ships.

May 16th, 2008, 1:22 pm

 

Averroes said:

Naji,

Thank you. Ibrahim Alamin is an excellent journalist. Excellent piece.

May 16th, 2008, 1:23 pm

 

Averroes said:

Wizart,

Most Syrians used to watch Future TV prior to March 14th, 2005. They have since been appalled by the channels bigotry and crudeness. In the second part, I discuss WHY Syria is not responding and make some suggestions.

May 16th, 2008, 1:26 pm

 

Averroes said:

OFFENDED,

Thanks for the correction. Yes, it was a typo. I hope a good discussion will start after posting the second half.

May 16th, 2008, 1:27 pm

 

Averroes said:

AIG,

Thanks for the info on Sabra Hummus. Now I have to find a different source.

The piece is intended as anti Zionist, but I agree that it is a good example why Syrian TV needs to evolve and shed its crude, outdated ways.

May 16th, 2008, 1:38 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Averroes,
Since Strauss-Elite employs many Arabs, you may want to reconsider about the hummus.

In any case, I hope you realize that the Arab version and language support for Windows was written in Israel at the Microsoft development center here. If you use a laptop with an Intel processor it was most likely developed in Haifa. And the list is quite long. You are using many Israeli products if you are living a modern life.

Boycotting is not the solution. You would be cutting your nose to spite your face or something like that.

May 16th, 2008, 1:55 pm

 

Averroes said:

AIG,

Boycotting is not THE solution, true. It is just something I choose to do. Do you not boycott ANY products, AIG? Or are you just good at preaching.

May 16th, 2008, 2:06 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Averroes,
No, I don’t boycott any products. I just don’t care where a product is manufactured. What for example do you have in mind? What do you think I boycott?

For any Israeli boycotting let’s say Arab or Iranian products is ridiculously stupid. Every Israeli uses oil and gas.

In the same way, for any person living a modern life to boycott Israel is just not possible. Most of Israel’s economic growth and strength comes from high tech products and components. For example, in most answering machines, there is Israeli technology. When you get voice mail on your cell phone, most likely some Israeli company is receiving royalties for the technology. Most of the yellow books in the world are created using Israeli technology. Many of the voice over IP patents are owned by Israelis and Israeli companies and when you use these technologies Israel gets royalties. etc. etc.

May 16th, 2008, 2:24 pm

 

wizart said:

Islamic political philosophy: Al-Farabi, Avicenna, Averroes

Islam is based on the Koran (a revelation from God to the prophet Muhammad) supplemented by the sunnah (a set of traditions about Muhammad’s words and deeds). Muslims recognise Judaism and Christianity as revelations from God (just as Christianity recognises Judaism), but hold that the revelation made to Muhammad completes and supersedes earlier revelations. Muslims reject the Christian doctrines that Jesus was God and that God is in three persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit); they believe that Jesus was a prophet and that God is one.

Islam spread rapidly from its birthplace in Arabia. In part its spread was due to jihad (‘holy war’ – see Encyclopaedia of Islam (ref/DS37.E523), vol. 2, pp. 538-40, art. ‘Djihad’); non-Muslims defeated in battle were offered the choice of conversion or death. An exception was made for Jews and Christians, who were allowed to continue their religious observances provided they acknowledged Muslim political authority and paid a tax. In this way there came to be in Muslim lands many communities of Christians and Jews, who sometimes acted as intermediaries in cultural exchange between Muslims and the Greeks and the Latins. Thus Arab Christians were among the translators who (about A.D. 800) translated the works of Plato and Aristotle into Arabic, and Arabic-speaking Jews were among the translators who (in the 12th century) translated Greek and Arabic works of science and philosophy from Arabic into Latin. The bulk of Aristotle’s works became known in Europe first in translations of Arabic translations from Greek (though translations were soon made direct into Latin from Greek) and were accompanied by translations of the Arabic writings of Muslim philosophers. Abu Nasr Muhammad al-Farabi, Abu ‘Ali al-Husayn Ibn Sina and Abu al-Walid Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Rushd were well known in the universities of medieval Europe under the Latinised forms of their names, Alfarabi, Avicenna and Averroes.

May 16th, 2008, 3:08 pm

 

wizart said:

Averroes’ argument in The Decisive Treatise provided a justification for the emancipation of science and philosophy from official Ash’ari theology, thus some writers regard Averroism as a precursor to modern secularism, and describe Averroes as the founding father of secular thought in Western Europe. George Sarton, the father of the history of science, writes:

“Averroes was great because of the tremendous stir he made in the minds of men for centuries. A history of Averroism would include up to the end of the sixteenth-century, a period of four centuries which would perhaps deserve as much as any other to be called the Middle Ages, for it was the real transition between ancient and modern methods.”

Averroes’s work on Aristotle spans almost three decades, and he wrote commentaries on almost all of Aristotle’s work except for Aristotle’s Politics, to which he did not have access. Averroes greatly influenced philosophy in the Islamic world. His death coincides with a change in the culture of Al-Andalus. In his work Fasl al-Maqāl (translated a. o. as The Decisive Treatise), he stresses the importance of analytical thinking as a prerequisite to interpret the Qur’an; this is in contrast to orthodox Muslim theology, where the emphasis is less on analytical thinking but on extensive knowledge of sources other than the Qur’an, i.e. the hadith.

May 16th, 2008, 3:15 pm

 

SHAMI said:

Wizart :Averroes greatly influenced philosophy in the Islamic world

Dear Wizart ,i think that what you meant is the western christian world(Saint Thomas Aquinas,Roger Bacon,Giordano Bruno…) and not islamic world.Because unfortunately with the political change in al Andalus from the open minded Ummayad to the more orthodox berber rulers the mouwahidoun and mourabitoun and the victory of Imam Ghazali in the eastern islamic world who was himself a great philosopher,the muslim world had seen the abandonment of aristotelian philosophy.

And dont forget the first arab muslim philosopher Al Kindi(Alkindus in latin)

May 16th, 2008, 3:39 pm

 

Averroes said:

Wizart,

Thanks for the insight on Averroes, Ibn Rushd.

May 16th, 2008, 3:39 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ausamaa

Let’s see what happens. As long as Lebanon emerges stronger, then I will be happy. And there is no doubt in my mind that Lebanon is much stronger and more independent today than it was on February 13, 2005. Syria is out, and its allies have played their cards in ways that will prove to be destructive in the long run, in my opinion. Simultaneously, the corrupt elite and the old warlords have proven themselves to be not up to the task of guiding Lebanon, so there is more political will among the people to find better leadership.

If our leaders return from Qatar having agreed on a respected and honorable president, a fair electoral law, and some strong commitments by Hizbullah to the Lebanese government, then I will allow myself to be cautiously optimistic. Every day that Hizbullah spends INSIDE the government, building bridges to other sects and parties, investing in the nation as a whole rather than in the Syrian-Iranian axis alone, is a day that pushes Lebanon just a little bit further away from the dysfunctional embrace of its sisterly neighbor. At this rate, perhaps Lebanon and Syria will be able to have a healthy relationship sometime in our lifetimes.

As for Aoun and the $50 billion, I’m sure Bashar will quietly say something to him if he gets too inquisitive. Where do you think half of that money went?

May 16th, 2008, 3:40 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

And the real intersting question is:
Why did Averroes have more influence on the West than on the Arab world? It should have been the other way around.

Let’s see if anyone knows the answer. By the way, the West was just as closed to new ideas as the Arab world so that is not the answer.

May 16th, 2008, 3:47 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ausamaa

Come to think of it, I am interested in what your positive proposal is for Lebanon’s political future. Mostly, you just criticize Syria’s opponents, and praise their allies.

If you accompanied Naji to Beirut and shared a drink (of araq, not beer!) with me, on the Corniche, and we had to agree on the direction for the country, what would your ideal scenario be, for the short term and the long term? Here, I am speaking about the following issues:

1. What sort of electoral law do you favor? (Should emigrants be allowed to vote, why or why not? Should we use proportionality or first-past-the-post? Should we use the qada or the muhafaza, etc.?)

2. What sort of political reforms would you like to see the country adopt over the next 5-10 years? (Bicameral system? Ending sectarian quotas? Changing the powers of the various leadership positions? Etc.)

3. How should the national defense strategy be redefined, if at all, given that the current situation is too vague and leaves Lebanon too vulnerable to outside interference?

Tell me what you think. I am curious. Concrete proposals, please.

May 16th, 2008, 3:53 pm

 

wizart said:

Shami,

Thanks. I never actually heard of Averroes til today. Thanks to our Averroe here 😉 I did hear of Ib Rushd before and always knew that Arabs produced great philosophers who enlightened their world at the time.

Averroes,

Thanks for choosing such a nice name at this time where secularism is probably more needed than ever and what I think Averroes’ claim to fame is. He chose to think for interpretations rather than Sharia.

AIG,

Averroes influenced the west more perhaps because the west was dominated by Islamic Andalucia at the time.

QN,

I’n not so sure $25 billion of that going to Damascus. Perhaps there was a 10% service tax which you got back in cheaper oil;)

May 16th, 2008, 4:11 pm

 

SHAMI said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy ,after the 12th century we can say that in the islamic world Plato defeated Aristotle and what happened in the christian west was the opposite move thanks to Averroes and Saint Thomas d’Aquinas.
Averroes is possibly the first theorician of secularism ,btw he was also (malikite) grand Qadi.(chief islamic judge).

May 16th, 2008, 4:13 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shami,
It still does not answer the question. Why did Plato defeat Aristotle in the Arab world? (I am not sure what you mean by this) In the West neither defeated the other, they were both studied.

Why did Thomas Aquinas listen to Averroes and Isalmic scholars didn’t?

May 16th, 2008, 4:25 pm

 

SHAMI said:

Another,i have answered it was because of Al Ghazali and Sufi influences promoted by the rulers from the almowahidun and al morabitun in Andalus and north Africa to the Seldjuks,Zankids,Ayyubis,Mameluks and the Ottomans.(the important influence of Ibn Arabi(neoplatonist) in the ottoman empire).
In other words mysticism,sufism and spiritualism (Platonism) has prevailed over rationality.(Aristotlism)

May 16th, 2008, 4:38 pm

 

Naji said:

Hmmm… An unfortunate development… The Saudis seem to have just reneged on yesterday’s agreement…!!! These bastards cannot be trusted to keep their word for a whole day…???!!

There could be two factions within the Saudi regime, as has been suggested before, but Al Faisal has just held a press conference, as the Lebanese delegate’s plane was still landing in Doha, to say that a Lebanese president must be elected before all else…!!! Perhaps he just misspoke…?!! The Leb situation is certainly confusing enough…!!

Bush arrived in Saudi today, coming from Israel of course, for a two day visit. I wonder if this has anything to do with the “flip”…??!! Surely not…!!
They don’t even allow alcohol in Saudi, so there wouldn’t be an Alcoholics Anonymous chapter in Riad… and they certainly don’t have any Einsteins over there either… So that explains it… Nobody has told them that little wisdom about the definition of insanity…etc…!

May 16th, 2008, 4:51 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shami,
What you say is true, but why did spirtualism etc. prevail over rationality in the Arab world but not in the West?

I think the reason is as follows. The core issue is separation of the powers of the church and the states in Europe. In Europe, the Catholic Church was a separate institution from the states and it was constantly vying with them for power. Since the states had more physical power, the Catholic Church needed to be able to convince people that its theology and teachings were correct. This forced rational argumentation. Hence Aquinas wrote the Summa Theologica to enhance the “soft power” of the Church. In Arab countries there was no central institution like the Catholic Church that vyed for power with the rulers and hence this dynamic did not happen.

In Europe in general, the Church and the rulers did not favor free thought at all, but ironically because the Church required it as a weapon against the states, they had to leave a small opening for it.

May 16th, 2008, 4:56 pm

 

Alex said:

AKBAR PALACE said: EDIT

Once again, Alex doesn’t have his facts right:

If your country’s power is measured by its ability to kill more Arabs, then you should continue to be happy with your Israeli superiority and absolute power.

Alex,

Without question, Arabs have killed orders of magnitude more Arabs than Israel could ever dream of.

Despite your belief to the contrary.

Akbar … can you read properly and slowly?

Where did I COMPARE the number of Arabs killed by Israelis or by other Arabs?

Where did you realize that I believe “the contrary”??

I was comparing SYRIA’s power (its wisdom) to Israel’s source of power (according to AIG) .. its ability to punish and inflict pain on the Arabs.

May 16th, 2008, 5:03 pm

 

Alex said:

Qifa Nabki,

A larger part of the Syrian money made from corruption in Lebanon went to Khaddam, and Ghazi Kanaan… they were the main players in Lebanon during the 90’s… and hey were Hariri’s closest friends.

But I am sure some went to others in Damascus : )

But keep in mind that when Syria’s army went out of Lebanon, the debt was $45 billions. That debt was not ALL channelled to corrupt offcials (in Lebanon or Syria) … you did spend a lot of money in Lebanon … look at Damascus which looks ancient in comparison to Beirut and you will understand that moeny was borrowed to, often, spend it on real development projects in Lebanon.

So .. lets say that out of those 45 billions, 20 went to corrupt officials and officers … 5 to 8 billions went to Syrians … half of it to Khaddam and Kanaan and their business allies …

That leaves a couple of billions only to you know who : )

May 16th, 2008, 5:08 pm

 

wizart said:

AIG,

Nobody favored free thoughts at that time so the appearance of such independent thinkers was pretty significant.

Here’s a nice fellow for you from Iran around that time as well;)

Avicenna (Ibn Sina)

Avicennian psychology

In Muslim psychology and the neurosciences, Avicenna was a pioneer of neuropsychiatry. He first described numerous neuropsychiatric conditions, including hallucination, insomnia, mania, nightmare, melancholia, dementia, epilepsy, paralysis, stroke, vertigo and tremor.

Avicenna was also a pioneer in psychophysiology and psychosomatic medicine. He recognized ‘physiological psychology’ in the treatment of illnesses involving emotions, and developed a system for associating changes in the pulse rate with inner feelings, which is seen as an anticipation of the word association test attributed to Carl Jung. Avicenna is reported to have treated a very ill patient by “feeling the patient’s pulse and reciting aloud to him the names of provinces, districts, towns, streets, and people.” He noticed how the patient’s pulse increased when certain names were mentioned, from which Avicenna deduced that the patient was in love with a girl whose home Avicenna was “able to locate by the digital examination.” Avicenna advised the patient to marry the girl he is in love with, and the patient soon recovered from his illness after his marriage.

Avicenna’s legacy in classical psychology is primarily embodied in the Kitab al-nafs parts of his Kitab al-shifa’ (The Book of Healing) and Kitab al-najat (The Book of Deliverance). These were known in Latin under the title De Anima (treatises “on the soul”). The main thesis of these tracts is represented in his so-called “flying man” argument, which resonates with what was centuries later entailed by Descartes’s cogito argument (or what phenomenology designates as a form of an “epoche”).

May 16th, 2008, 5:12 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Alex

I don’t understand the math. If we start with 45 billion, how much of it was legitimately spent on reconstruction, and how much of it went to Hariri, and how much to corrupt officials, and how much to Syria?

But anyway, you have shot down Ausamaa’s argument about the “$52 billion”. You are right, Damascus looks ancient next to Beirut. They did a huge amount of work, and it wasn’t all building up-scale boutiques. My grandfather worked as a foreman during the building boom and I visited many worksites over the years: bridges, tunnels, roads, airport, seaport, mountain highways, etc.

Of course, there was a huge amount of corruption, and I’d like it to be investigated. But let’s stop pretending like Hariri pocketed all of the money; that is wrong. I remember what Lebanon looked like in 1990, and I know what it looks like today.

May 16th, 2008, 5:28 pm

 

SHAMI said:

AIG:the Catholic Church needed to be able to convince people

AIG,as you know in catholic europe,knowledge was only restricted to clerics ,normal people were even not allowed to read the bible.
And it was during this era and for 4 more centuries that was launched the worst campaign(the so called holy Inquisition) against free thinkers ,the averroist italian philosopher Giordano Bruno was declared heretic by the church and burned.And you know Galileo’s story…. Europe has dicovered rationality thanks to the muslims but this process was restricted to some circles of rich people and clerics until renaissance and the establishment of strong national kingdoms in France and England who refused Vatican political domination.

May 16th, 2008, 5:29 pm

 

wizart said:

Ibn Khaldoun

Perhaps the most well known Islamic scholar who wrote about economics was Ibn Khaldun of Tunisia (1332–1406), who is considered a father of modern economics. Ibn Khaldun wrote on economic and political theory in the introduction, or Muqaddimah (Prolegomena), of his History of the World (Kitab al-Ibar). In the book, he discussed what he called asabiyyah (social cohesion), which he sourced as the cause of some civilizations becoming great and others not. Ibn Khaldun felt that many social forces are cyclic, although there can be sudden sharp turns that break the pattern. His idea about the benefits of the division of labor also relate to asabiyya, the greater the social cohesion, the more complex the successful division may be, the greater the economic growth. He noted that growth and development positively stimulate both supply and demand, and that the forces of supply and demand are what determine the prices of goods. He also noted macroeconomic forces of population growth, human capital development, and technological developments effects on development. In fact, Ibn Khaldun thought that population growth was directly a function of wealth.

Although he understood that money served as a standard of value, a medium of exchange, and a preserver of value, he did not realize that the value of gold and silver changed based on the forces of supply and demand. Ibn Khaldun also introduced the labor theory of value.

Laffer Curve

Ibn Khaldun introduced the concept popularly known as the Laffer Curve, that increases in tax rates initially increase tax revenues, but eventually increases in tax rates cause a decrease in tax revenues. This occurs as too high a tax rate discourages producers in the economy.

Ibn Khaldun used a dialectic approach to describe the sociological implications of tax choice (which now forms a part of economics theory):

“In the early stages of the state, taxes are light in their incidence, but fetch in a large revenue…As time passes and kings succeed each other, they lose their tribal habits in favor of more civilized ones. Their needs and exigencies grow…owing to the luxury in which they have been brought up. Hence they impose fresh taxes on their subjects…and sharply raise the rate of old taxes to increase their yield…But the effects on business of this rise in taxation make themselves felt. For business men are soon discouraged by the comparison of their profits with the burden of their taxes…Consequently production falls off, and with it the yield of taxation.”

This analysis is very similar to the modern economic concept known as the Laffer Curve. Laffer does not claim to have invented the concept himself, instead attributing it to Ibn Khaldun, and more recently, to John Maynard Keynes.

May 16th, 2008, 5:30 pm

 

Naji said:

Alex, QN,
Your math is completely off, I’m afraid…!! I am no expert on this subject… there are many books written on it, after all…, but the total amount squandered during the Saudi/Syrian Hariri reign of Lebanon is on the order of a HUNDRED billion Dollars (total government receipts + the residual debt), of which even the government doesn’t claim more than 8 Billion Dollars spent on development…!!! The scale of the robbery, and hence the stakes involved, is a lot more impressive than you think…!

May 16th, 2008, 5:37 pm

 

Alex said:

Qifa Nabki,

Absolutely, I do not agree that Hariri pocketed 50 billions.

Of ourse I do not have any reliable information on who pocketed what amounts, but I was proposing this rough estimate:

1) Hariri started with 3 billions, died worth 12 billions? … no all “corruption” .. he did the Rami thing in Syria .. take advantage of opportunities for his own business.

2) A very rough estimate that when Syria went out of Lebanon in 2005, the debt was 45 billions and half of it went to those extensive construction projects, bridges, schools, and luxury boutiques and condos…. so let’s say that 22 billions were legitimate (though perhaps not wise to spend that much for a small country like Lebanon)

So far we accounted for 9 billion (Hariri) and 22 billions (construction costs)

the remaining 14 billions were split among so many other players in both Lebanon and Syria .. assuming it was half/half … then Junblatt and Berri and Mur and many others got the 7 billions, and Khaddama nd Ghazi Kanaan and some others in Syria (lots of army officers) got the other 7 billions … with Khaddam then Kanaan having the lion’s share.

Of course we are not counting for cost of borrowing the money … Ehsani might be able to estimate that… few billions?

But now that I read Naji’s comments … I will shut up : )

All I was trying to say is that Hariri did not pocket the whole national debt of Lebanon Ausamaa’s argument), and the Syrian regime (which today does not include khaddam and Kanaan) did not take half (like QN proposed) … many others took their share.

I totally forgot the Saudis !

But Naji … if Lebanon was down by 45 billions when Syria departed in 2005 … then where did the other 55 billions come from? .. besides the cost of running the country, was there an extra 55 billions on the side to be pocketed by Saudi/ Hariri / syrian / Lebanese corrupt officials?

I find that number to be a bit unrealistic.

Where is Ehsani?

May 16th, 2008, 5:38 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shami,
You are correct, when I say people I mean a very small elite over which the Church could only maintian influence if it either scared them with hell or convinced them that it is the true way.

I suggest you take a look at Rodney Starks’s, “The victory of reason”.

It is interesting that many of the leading scientists (Copernicus, Mendel ) were clerics.

And yes, the Catholic church also fought free thinkers, but that is the irony. It was both the cause of free thought and the force that hindered it. It had allowed reason into argumentation for its own interests and then had a very difficult time eradicating it (since it would have had to eradicate much of its theology with it).

May 16th, 2008, 5:39 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

Alex,

You could have provided this
http://www.creativesyria.com/discussion/topicpost.php?TopicAuthorID=26&TopicID=28
when I asked you for an example of Rime Allaf’s criticism. It would be more interesting, if she publishes such critique in Arabic, does she?

May 16th, 2008, 5:44 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Naji

Where do you get your figures?

May 16th, 2008, 5:47 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

“East Asia and Middle East have worst press freedom records” by Reporters without Borders:

http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=11715

In the ranking, Syria is near the bottom of the list, tied with none other than Zimbabwe.

May 16th, 2008, 5:56 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

And Naji, please feel free to respond to my request to Ausamaa. After all, you are also invited to that soon-to-be historic meeting on the Corniche.

We can call it the Arghile Accord. Or, the Kefraya Accord. Or, the Pistachio Accord. Or…

May 16th, 2008, 5:57 pm

 

SHAMI said:

Wizart thanks for your concern,here is a leading scientist from Damascus who did a major discovery and perhaps the most important muslim physician.(sorry Mr Harvey)

Ibn al-Nafis is most famous for being the first physician to describe the pulmonary circulation,[1] and the capillary[2] and coronary circulations,[3][4] which form the basis of the circulatory system, for which he is considered the father of circulatory physiology[5] and “the greatest physiologist of the Middle Ages.”[6] He was also an early proponent of experimental medicine, postmortem autopsy, and human dissection,[7][8] first described the concept of metabolism,[9] and developed his own new Nafisian[10] systems of anatomy, physiology, psychology and pulsology to replace the Avicennian and Galenic doctrines, while discrediting many of their erroneous theories on the four humours, pulsation,[11] bones, muscles, intestines, sensory organs, bilious canals, esophagus, stomach, and the anatomy of almost every other part of the human body.[12] Ibn al-Nafis also drew diagrams to illustrate different body parts in his new physiological system.[13]
and you can read more about him:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibn_al-Nafis

May 16th, 2008, 5:58 pm

 
 

wizart said:

Shami,

Thanks for your help in raising consciousness and creating mutual appreciation for what can be produced in our societies when free thinkers are not held hostage to religious dogma and when rigid scriptures are not allowed to hold sway over a country’s destiny.

Ibn Nafis then and now hundreds of thousands of Syrian/Lebanese doctors are practicing their professions all around the world helping heal the increasingly sick and aging populations.

Simo is correct when he suggests that real power is shifting from west to east these days with the rise of commodity prices and Chindia nations awakening and opening up their mouthes and pockets!

May 16th, 2008, 6:27 pm

 

abraham said:

Three fun selections for the SC crowd this morning.

First, Democracy Now! had a program this morning regarding the founding of Israel. The main guests were Tikva Honig-Parnass (an Israeli writer and anti-zionist activist) and Benny Morris. As always, Benny completely ignores his own research and comes to conclusions that support his own zionist inclinations. Later on, Saree Makdisi (UCLA professor and writer) and Norman Finkelstein were brought into the conversation.

It’s an interesting program and worth the watch. The first part of the program (with transcript) is here:

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/5/16/israeli_writer_activist_tikva_honig_parnass

And the second part (where Makdisi and Finkelstein join in) is here:

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/5/16/as_israelis_celebrate_independence_and_palestinians

In case you don’t know, Democracy Now! is an excellent news and debate program that is considered “liberal” but brings on a multitude of guests from the across the political spectrum to discuss and debate issues with real substance and not just the normal yelling and mindless chattering one usually gets on American television. Amy Goodman (the co-creator and host) is an unassailable and impeccable journalist and and refuses to take any form of corporate sponsorship. Her program is entirely funded by individual donations and foundation grants. They often discuss the Palestinian-Israeli issue and have all sorts of interesting guests. Yesterday’s program featured Ghada Karmi (Palestinian exile and writer) and then the frontman for the Palestinian hiphop group Dam. Democracy Now! is one of the few news programs I watch regularly and I highly recommended the program as a daily ritual.

Second, here’s Daniel Pipes having another one of his famous meltdowns when he’s confronted with criticism in an interview on NPR’s Talk of the Nation yesterday. Pipes was asked to speak as an “expert” on the Arabic language school that Debbie Al Montaser was trying to start in NYC (if you don’t know the story read here for starters). A caller started off her comments by criticizing Pipe’s status as an “expert” on the subject. You can listen to the exchange here:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90477620

The link to the audio is just beneath the story headline (“Listen Now”).

The fun starts at 14:35 into the program, which is when the caller starts talking. If you just want to cut to the funny, Pipes’ meltdown starts at 16:52.

This is the same thing Pipes did in a radio debate with Ali Abunimah (Electronic Intifada) that I heard about 5 years ago. Ali starts to talk but before he can get very far Pipes starts to inexplicably accuse him of “ad hominem” attacks. In fact, the transcript is available here.

Finally, if you live in America you are probably aware of the phenomena of right-wing “conservative” talk show radio programs where a babbling idiot fills 3-4 hours of otherwise useful air time with nonsense and stupidity. Kevin James is apparently one such idiot in Los Angeles. Here, Chris Matthews (one of the main political analysts and talking heads on MSNBC) calls out Kevin James and asks him to demonstrate his knowledge of history. James, it turns out, doesn’t even know the history which is the basis for the argument he’s trying to make. This is one of those rare moments where one of these right-wing shmoes is called out for being a fraud–live on national television no less.

http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Matthews_slams_radio_host_defending_Bush_0515.html

This demonstrates perfectly how debate over the Middle East is executed like a circus in the US. It’s just very bad theater with poor actors.

May 16th, 2008, 6:31 pm

 

Naji said:

Alex, QN,

From all I have gathered (and there has been a fair amount of discussion about this on Lebanese media, on and off), of the one-hundred-or-so billion, Hariri pocketed about 10 billion… not too greedy… about in line with Saudi standards. The Syrians, current and former regime elements, probably managed to skim a couple of billion… The poor slobs were not too sophisticated at this back then…!

That leaves a WHOLE LOT of other beneficiaries to this Lebanese largess…!! Many Khaleejis, Saudis, well-connected Americans, connected well-to-do Syrians…etc… However, you will be happy(?) to find out that the majority of the beneficiaries were very much LEBANESE (many of whom I happen to, somehow, personally know)…!! Just look at this as one of the most efficient (and cruel) wealth re-distribution exercises to have been undertaken in our times and region, and you will feel a whole lot better about it…!

And, yes, most of the loot went to service the usurious debt (at up to 40% interest at times!)… mostly through Treasury Bills and other instruments owned by Lebanese banks… so far…! The real danger to Lebanon is if that debt is allowed to continue to be transferred to foreigners ….! The stakes are very high and crucial to the prospects of the Lebanese people…!!

I have to go eat dinner, but I’ll try to respond to some of your queries when I get back… unless Ehsani gets here first…;)

May 16th, 2008, 6:31 pm

 

abraham said:

Alex, I just finished a posting with many links. Can you please check the mod Q?

May 16th, 2008, 6:36 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Why did you delete Shami’s last comment. It is a reasonable and very polite answer to Wizart above????

May 16th, 2008, 6:46 pm

 

Alex said:

I called Ehsani, he should be here soon : )

Abraham, I released it… it was not in spam but in moderation Q (did you change your email or IP?)

TrustQuest,

Most of Rime’s articles are critical of the regime in Syria. I do not know if she writes in Arabic, I know she grew up in Switzerland and in England. She is fluent in English and in French. She’s an analyst at Chathamhouse where she published many research papers.

Here are the four pieces she wrote at Creative Syria

http://www.creativesyria.com/discussion/topicpost.php?AuthorID=26&ListArticles=true

May 16th, 2008, 6:48 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG (???)

I did not delete Shami’s last (or any) comment. He probably deleted it himself.

And… would you be kind enough to not appoint yourself a moderator here?

May 16th, 2008, 6:50 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Ok, sorry.

May 16th, 2008, 6:57 pm

 

Shai said:

This may soon change the world as we know it… watch out OPEC nations… 😉

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/984030.html

May 16th, 2008, 7:01 pm

 

Alex said:

The enemies within

By Zvi Barel

Sad and tired, wearing shabby clothes and with tears in his eyes, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt stood on the veranda of his luxurious home in Beirut’s Clemenceau neighborhood and explained his decision to television viewers. A few hours before the interview, he had called his political rival, Talal Arsalan, and asked him to coordinate with Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah the cessation of the fighting in Mount Lebanon, Aley, Chouf and the Maten region, the power centers of the Druze. In return, Jumblatt ordered his people to lay down their arms and hand them over to the Lebanese Army. Within the framework of the well-planned battle Hezbollah is conducting with the aim of changing the balance of power in Lebanon, the Mount Lebanon struggle, involving rival Druze families, might constitute Nasrallah’s most important victory.

After having occupied Beirut within hours and demonstrating his power in the northern city of Tripoli, Nasrallah succeeded not only in taking over the mount, but also in handing a huge victory to the Syrians. Arsalan, an ally of Syria, is now the mediator on behalf of that country, while Jumblatt is standing around, waiting for Nasrallah to put forward his next conditions.

A small account and a large insult are now being settled between Arsalan and Jumblatt. Arsalan’s rivals among the Druze relate, among other things, that he laundered money the Syrians received from Saddam Hussein in case it would be needed later in an emergency. According to them, the money laundering was accomplished through the Lebanese Al-Mawarid Bank, owned by the Kheireddine clan, to which Arsalan’s wife belongs. When she decided she wanted to divorce her husband upon learning that he was having sex with his chauffeur, the Syrians began to pressure her family to order her to change her mind – after all, they still needed the bank’s services. But the Syrian aid was not of much help to Arsalan in the 2005 elections. Back then Jumblatt won in the town of Choueifat, Arsalan’s stronghold, but now the wheel has turned. Arsalan is striking back at Jumblatt.

Political kaleidoscope

In internal Druze politics, this is a big deal; in Lebanese politics it is a routine matter. Shifting alliances, the betrayal of partners and the adoption of new ones are part and parcel of Lebanese politics, which in part accounts for its uniqueness. This is the way it works now and this is the way it has worked for generations. This is how Lebanon has lured foreign elements – be they French, Syrian or Israeli – into playing its domestic game, in the mistaken belief that its sectarian structure is easy prey for dragging the country to their side.

It is enough to examine the political career of Jumblatt – who is today considered anti-Syrian, but was pro-Syrian in the past; at various times he was both pro- and anti- Palestinian, and an ally of the Shi’ites as well as their determined enemy – to understand the workings of Lebanese politics. Another telling sign is the change undergone by General Michel Aoun, who fought the Syrians bravely in 1990 and was forced into exile in Paris for about 15 years as a result. Today Aoun is Nasrallah’s dear Christian ally and has adopted a pro-Syrian stance, at least according to his statement. Lebanon truly is a political kaleidoscope.

“The Lebanese democracy is steeped in local colors. The rules taught in the political science department do not apply to it. The results of elections alone are not sufficient for running the country. Representation is lacking in a situation where not all the Lebanese families are participating in the government banquet and the decision-making banquet,” is how Ghassan Charbel, editor-in-chief of the London-based Arabic newspaper Dar Al-Hayat, puts it. Participation in the banquet is one thing. But Nasrallah now intends to preside over the event itself, while his rivals wail and hope that he will leave them an adequate part of the feast. Throughout the week it was possible to hear the wails of the losers, among them Prime Minister Fuad Siniora who, in lacerative rhetoric, described Hezbollah as “insurrectionists,” exactly the same word Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas uses to describe Hamas. “They have stabbed democracy in the back,” “They have colonized the center of Beirut,” “We thought the enemy was Israel but now the enemy is here within,” Siniora fired off.

Former president Amin Gemayel also attacked Nasrallah at a press conference he gave on Monday, in front of a large picture of his son Pierre, who was killed about a year and a half ago by assassins, apparently affiliated with the Syrian regime. However, Siniora, Jumayyil, Samir Geagea – the fearsome commander of the Phalanges – and Walid Jumblatt all stood beggars this week, waiting for Nasrallah to have his say.

The term that kept coming up was “dialogue,” negotiations among the groups, or more precisely, “renewed participation in the banquet.” Each of them have their own conditions. Siniora outlined his in the most detailed manner. For his part, he will revoke the decision that constituted the proximate cause of the explosion – that is to say, Nasrallah’s private communications network will not be uprooted and the issue will be sent for examination to the army. In addition, the security chief at Beirut International Airport, Wafiq Shuqair, will be reinstated. In return, Hezbollah will withdraw all its armed forces from the streets, leaving the army the only power in charge of security. According to Siniora’s proposal, after these conditions have been met, an agreed-upon president will be chosen – at present, the most likely incumbent is Michel Suleiman, the commander of the army – and, the most important condition as far as Siniora is concerned, Hezbollah’s use of arms will be brought up for discussion in a joint dialogue between the sides.

It is worth paying close attention to the formulation. Siniora is wary of talking about disarming Hezbollah, and said: “We have never sought the disarmament of Hezbollah.” He just wants to set conditions for the group’s use of arms. By Monday these conditions had changed. After it emerged that Hezbollah had gained control over Mount Lebanon and Jumblatt gave the order to lay down arms, Amin Gemayel, a leader of the Christian Phalange Party, came along and stipulated only one condition for holding a national dialogue: that Hezbollah make a commitment never to use weapons against Lebanese in Lebanon. This is the ironclad condition. A mere commitment. Not disarmament and not discussion on the use of weapons.

A short time later Talal Arsalan, the new Druze leader, appeared and announced that all the weapons of the coalition – i.e., the Christians and the Sunnis – must be handed over to the army. Arsalan made it clear that he knows the locations of all the arms depots and that he has the names of those men bearing arms, and emphasized that there is thus no point in trying to cheat him. And so the wheel turned: Those who had demanded that Hezbollah lay down its arms are now being told to disarm.

The diva’s role

And these were just the opening salvos of the media diplomacy in which the sides engaged this week, as a continuation of the armed diplomacy. The next stipulation was advanced by Druze Member of Parliament Wiam Wahab, a Hezbollah supporter, who called on the army to enter the government palace and eject Fuad Siniora.

At the moment, this is the goal of Nasrallah and his partner Michel Aoun, who has made it clear that the precondition for any negotiations is an agreement to establish a national unity government, in which Hezbollah and its partners will be ensured a total of one-third plus one of all government members. This ensures Hezbollah veto power over any major governmental decision. These are the conditions put forth by the party considered the victor of the present crisis, with the aim of preventing a swift descent into an all-out civil war.

“Those who love Lebanon do not sing in honor of its jailers. You have described to us the nation of dreams, do not diminish that dream the way the dictators of Damascus have diminished our dream of a democratic and free country,” pleaded Lebanese MP Akram Chehayeb.

The Druze Chehayeb, a member of the Progressive Socialist Party headed by Walid Jumblatt, addressed his plea to the national diva, the singer Fairuz. He issued this emotional call because she agreed – after some 30 years of absence from Damascus – to participate in the opera “Awaken!” (Sah al Noum), which was produced in Damascus in the framework of a festival celebrating its inauguration as “the capital of Arab culture for 2008.”

Today the MP will need far more than that. It is those forces singing in honor of Syria that are dictating how Lebanon is run. The question now is not whether Siniora’s government will fall, but rather when and how. This will be the grounds for the next demonstration of force between Hezbollah and the government. The relative quiet that has prevailed in Lebanon in recent days should not mislead anyone. Nor should the deployment of the army. Nasrallah is now loping toward the government building.

May 16th, 2008, 7:06 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Dear Alex,

What is the issue exactly? Are we trying to figure out how much money was stolen during Lebanon’s reconstruction?

May 16th, 2008, 7:10 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

QN, very touching video clip in
https://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=715#comment-145850

Assaad Chaftari in the video lived in our neighborhood in Gemmayze when I was still in Lebanon including the war years 1975 to 1981 when I left. He was only slightly older than me and I was friends with his younger brother. So much sadness, so much misery, so many lost lives. But history is replete with nations, big and small, that emerge from embers of civil war – embers that sometimes last a long long time – emerge to blosom into shining beacons of prosperity and humanity. We pray for this to be soon the turn of Lebanon.

May 16th, 2008, 7:11 pm

 

SHAMI said:

Thanks AIG ,Alex is innocent here,i deleted it.

Wizart,there will be no renaissance in the arab and islamic world under dictatorial regimes.China is a dictatorship but they dont have a familly minority regime and more important ! chinese rulers have no complexes towards their people and their history.As for India ,it’s the world’s biggest democracy.

May 16th, 2008, 7:22 pm

 

Alex said:

HP,

Amen.

Ehsani

I think these are the questions

1) How much money was “stolen” from 1989 (start of Ta’if + hariri + Syrians + Saudis in control) until Syria was out in 2005

2) What percentage went to each group .. in addition to the Saudis, Khaleejis, and smart Lebanese bankers that Naji mentioned.

3) Do we really know? … is it easy to know who stole what?

May 16th, 2008, 7:25 pm

 

Naji said:

Alex, QN,

I am not even really here, …I am supposed to be having dinner with guests…, but such is the addiction to SC…!!

In response to your questions to Ehsani, I would venture to say that… No, we do not really know exactly how much money was stolen, or exactly who it went to, or exactly what is the prognosis for where this is leading…! That is why you should see the FPM’s obsession (which will hopefully, but not surely, continue) with this issue, and the broader accountability issue, as neither purely vengeful or issentially frivolous…!

May 16th, 2008, 7:59 pm

 

wizart said:

Shami,

Thanks for your reply which I would like to take further if I may.

Which comes first enlightenment or renaissance? How could people govern themselves if they continue to be lost in a sea of religion?

My argument is that there will not be true democracies or renaissance on Arab land until there’s enlightenment in people’s mind in terms of respect for secularism and separation of religion from political practices which is what raised my interest in Ibn Rushid and his contemporaries.

China has Budda and India has Yoga which is only to say none of them rely on organized religions to run their political affairs.

May 16th, 2008, 8:05 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Naji

For God’s sake go enjoy your dinner.

😉

e

May 16th, 2008, 8:10 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Lebanon’s debt is close to $35 Billion. The interest payments alone account for just over a third of all Government spending. Debt is okay if one has the revenues to make the interest payments. In 2006 (last official numbers available); the total debt was close to eight times the revenue that the government was able to collect. This is a world record.

It is a futile exercise to try and ascertain who stole and how much.

Hariri was certain that, sooner or later, the Syrians would leave and a wave of Saudi and expatriate investments would follow. The creditors during Paris I and II must have thought the same.

I am not one of those people who believe in the $$$ Billions that were “stolen”. It ought to be relatively easy to follow the money trail on the government’s book.

Instead, I am more comfortable thinking in terms of a bet that the Government at the time took with its borrowing and expected payoff.

To date, this policy proved wrong of course as the country never found its footing from a political stability standpoint.

Lebanon will find it very hard to service this debt as its economic growth and government revenues disappoint. As the central bank targets a stable currency, it will have to spend more of its reserves to defend its currency beg.

The positive for Lebanon is the enormous financial resources of its expatriate community. The country’s real estate sector is still very buoyant as millions of expatriates continue to buy homes and dream of a return to the country.

Last but not least, there is always the strong possibility that the Gulf nations (or KSA alone) will help reschedule the debt should the country need it.

In sum:

1-I doubt whether anyone can verify how much was stolen between 1989 and 2005.
2-How can anyone really know the financial transactions between the main power brokers at the time?

May 16th, 2008, 8:13 pm

 

abraham said:

Israel is insisting that the Palestinians forget their history and heritage before they are given their state and stop using the term “Nakba”:

http://www.ynetnews.com/Ext/Comp/ArticleLayout/CdaArticlePrintPreview/1,2506,L-3543937,00.html

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/984009.html

The unbridle hubris that comes from Israeli leaders is stunning in its arrogance and simple-mindednesss. Then there’s the hypocrisy:

Defense Minister Ehud Barak also addressed the crowd in Jerusalem, saying that “there is no future for a nation that doesn’t know its past.”

Unreal. Simply, un-real.

May 16th, 2008, 8:13 pm

 

Alex said:

I agree with Wizart.

That’s the logic behind my 7-15 year delay before we have half-democracy in Syria : ) … until most Syrians get a degree in enlightenment.

The regime is good in teaching some of the courses in that enlightenment program, but they need help in studying and teaching other basic courses.

We’ll see how we can convince enough Syrians to take the courses that the regime can teach well, and then how to convince the regime to go back to being students again.

May 16th, 2008, 8:13 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Good editorial by Rami Khoury:

The core issues for Doha and beyond
By Rami G. Khouri
Daily Star staff
Saturday, May 17, 2008

The agreement among all the Lebanese political leaders to hold talks in Doha, Qatar, Friday and keep meeting until they resolve their current political impasse will probably bring peace and quiet to Lebanon for a period of time, certainly months and perhaps even years. Skepticism abounds, though alongside signs of hope and maturity. Speaking for myself, this is the third time in my life that I have lived in Beirut – 1958, 1975 and 2008 – when the country has been scarred by internal fighting and the entanglement of foreign powers and troops.

A complex matrix of issues defines the current situation. Local, regional and global power relationships all have to be sorted out, and the three levels are deeply intertwined. I see two core issues at stake here, and everything else is footnotes: If the central state does not meet its citizens’ needs, how does the state work out a credible balance of power with indigenous groups and powerful armed organizations like Hizbullah that do respond to citizen needs more efficiently? Is Lebanon mainly an Arab-Islamic-Middle Eastern society integral to Syrian and Iranian interests, or is it a more Western-oriented, liberal society that sits more comfortably in the American and French orbit?

In both cases, the central issue is the relationship between Hizbullah and the state. Last week’s fighting and political crisis in Lebanon revolved around the government’s decision to curtail aspects of Hizbullah’s security system, to which Hizbullah responded with a fast, decisive show of force that overwhelmed the Hariri camp and other March 14 groups allied to the government.

Two previously sacred red lines were breached when the government tried to interfere in Hizbullah’s telephone system that is vital for the group’s security network, and Hizbullah and allies used force against fellow Lebanese. Those two new actions clarified the main issues that have to be discussed and resolved in Doha and beyond. Yet the Doha talks are hindered by the persistent problem that hovers over all issues in Lebanon today: the sense among many pro-government Lebanese that Hizbullah is being used by Syria and Iran for those two countries’ purposes.

These people argue that Syria wants to regain control of Lebanon and stall or stop the international tribunal to try those to be accused of killing the late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and a dozen other personalities, while Iran wants to be able to use Hizbullah and its formidable military and logistical capability in any potential confrontation with Israel or the United States. These are very serious charges, to which Hizbullah remains vulnerable because it persists in using ambiguity as a strategic weapon in dealing with its foes and critics. The fact is that many Lebanese simply do not trust Hizbullah, and that sentiment has increased since the fighting last week.

Hizbullah’s emergence as the single most powerful military-political group in Lebanon is augmented by its alliance with the prominent Christian leader Michael Aoun. The Hizbullah-led alliance of these and other smaller groups demands a greater say in the Cabinet and Parliament, which are designed to reflect power balances among the country’s main sectarian and religious groups. A significant reconfiguration of the traditional power-sharing system must be undertaken.

This can probably be done in a manner that all Lebanese can accept. What remain problematic are the underlying issues of Hizbullah’s arms, and the influence of Iran, Syria and the United States. Therefore, for long-term peace and security to prevail, the Doha talks would have to agree on fundamental structural reform of the Lebanese governance system, and the ideological values that define the country.

A real shift in the balance of power among the country’s main confessional groups means the Christians and Sunnis in particular would give up some power in favor of Shiite Hizbullah and its allies. They are reluctant to do so without some guarantees on the status and use of Hizbullah’s arms. That in turn requires Hizbullah’s clarifying its future stance on its arms, relations with Israel, and other important issues. When either side relies more on its external support to overcome internal pressures, the other side becomes more confrontational and daring. The result is the Lebanon we have today, which keeps having to turn to external assistance to resolve political confrontations that are also heavily caused by other external assistance in the first place.

The real issue, then, also becomes more clear: the viability, credibility and legitimacy of Arab statehood. The weak state led to the birth of groups like Hizbullah to provide those services that it could not offer its citizens, and Hizbullah now is a parallel state. How can the state and Hizbullah coexist? This is the central issue around which all others revolve. It is also an issue that plagues many other Arab governments, as the years ahead are likely to show.

May 16th, 2008, 8:20 pm

 

wizart said:

Good points Professor Alex and “god” save Lebanon from itself;)

I think SC itself is a perfect stage to offer degrees in enlightenment thanks to its many highly endowed resources like Ehsani and many others.

Imagine if we could count on designated professionals to pitch in in real time about all sorts of topics from all over the world.

Good night to all and good morning to Enlightened from down under who stopped bloging shortly after changing his name to Haskala!

May 16th, 2008, 8:33 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
You think that in 7-15 years the Syrians are going to be less religious when ALL indications show they are becoming more religious?

What will change in the education system or anywhere else that will cause change in any Syrian?

As for the lessons from the regime, what lesson is it exctly teaching when it supports Hizballah, a fanatic religious party who obeys Iranian clerics? That is exactly the lessons you do not want to teach about political parties.

What you say just does not add up, but please convince me otherwise.

And by the way, do you understand how far behind Syria will be in 15 years if its rate of economic growth does not change? You do not have that much time.

May 16th, 2008, 8:51 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Alex,

I’d like to add the following to what AIG was saying: democratization is a long and messy process. Look at Lebanon, eastern Europe, Russia, etc.

Sometimes I feel like your 7-15 year plan is unrealistic because you are imagining that Syria is going to democratize, in accordance with the regime’s specific mandates. Do you know what I mean? The point about democracy is that it is not as controllable as autocracy. I know that sounds silly and syllogistic, but I think you know what I am getting at.

If/when Syria begins to open up, the surrounding regional powers are going to get involved in it just as they have gotten involved in Lebanon. What will the regime’s instinct be? To clamp down again? Or to keep democratic reforms on pace? You will have so many challenges: corruption, sectarianism, foreign influences, all the things that Lebanon is facing.

I think the time horizon is more like 40 years, ya Alex, not 15.

May 16th, 2008, 9:01 pm

 

ghat Albird said:

Since Alex is filling in and while I may be putting him on the spot and considering the emotional and oft times condensceding contributions of “ANOTHERISRAELIGUY.the question/challenge posited is:

there ANOTHERSYRIANGUY…OR ANOTHERLEBANESEGUY…OR ANOTHER PALESTENIANGUY contributing to a corresponding web/log called Israel Comment?

or is ANOTHER ISRAELIGUY in reality either in Beverly Hills, California; on K Street in DC or an associate of Daniel Pipes one of Senator McCain’s advisor on the ME.

May 16th, 2008, 9:06 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Qifa,

Give me till tomorrow and I will try to tell you what I think for all what its worth. Too much is going on today and for the past two hours my wife and daughter banned me from watching TV..

Let us hope for the best, a sign of which is that everyone agreed to pack their bags and fly to Qatar immediately. Just that is a good omen.

ألا أيُّـها الَّـليلُ الطَّويلُ ألا انْجَلِي بِـصُبْحٍ ومـا الإصْباحُ منِكَ بِأَمْثَلِ

Cheers,..

May 16th, 2008, 9:17 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Ghat Albird,
Chill man. How can a different point of view hurt? I am an Israeli most of the time in Israel but I do travel a lot and sometimes I am in NJ. I am not affiliated to any of these guys you mentioned or any think tank or university or camera or whatever. I am a businessman.

May 16th, 2008, 9:20 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

WIZART HABIBI,

Thank you for the kind words. Alex and I just finished talking on the phone. We both noted the high quality of the participants on this forum. It is great to see so many smart people here.

May 16th, 2008, 9:35 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

ِAusamaa

Take til tomorrow. Your wife should comiserate with mine; they are both Syria Comment widows.

كِــلاَنَا إِذَا مَا نَالَ شَيْئَـاً أَفَاتَـهُ

ومَنْ يَحْتَرِثْ حَرْثِي وحَرْثَكَ يَهْـزَلِ

May 16th, 2008, 9:41 pm

 

Alex said:

Qifa,

1) I said .. “…’s the logic behind my 7-15 year delay before we have half-democracy in Syria”

Half.

Because “democracy” takes more than 7-15 years, and more than 40 years.

2) I absolutely agree that for Syria to start this process, we need to start with a regional agreement … as long as the Saudis believe it is ok for them to help Khaddam to overthrow Bashar, as long as Junblatt thinks it is ok for him to promise to assassinate Bashar, as log as Egyptian foreign minister thinks it is ok to give orders to Syria about what HE is expecting Syria to do or not do in Lebanon … we can not start the process. When THEY decide to interfere, there will be no movement forward. Imagine if the regime is convinced to try first with local municipal elections .. and the Saudis come to each city with lots of money to help their favorite candidates to win… it would be a failed experiment and the regime will cancel any plans for other tests.

3) To answer AIG … what you see today is a snapshot of an ongoing cycle … the region goes through ups and downs just like America goes liberal then conservative then liberal again …

Syria’s relations with Hizbollah are calculated … Hizbollah does not interfere in Syrian affairs … anyway, Syria is a Sunni country (75 to 80%) … there are no Shia in Syria (very few).

As for Islam in general, while one out of two Syrian girls and women cover their hair, it does not mean they are fanatics. If we had that many fanatics, you would have heard of car bombs in downtown Damascus to take revenge after what Hizbollah did to the Lebanese Sunnis… or the way the Saudi Media tried to portray it.

May 16th, 2008, 9:41 pm

 

norman said:

Alex,

Where is your 7/15 plan , i missed it , can you put it again.

May 16th, 2008, 10:34 pm

 

Alex said:

I’ll work on it Norman. Last time we discussed it in detail (2005) many people did not even want to take it seriously because they were sure the Syrian regime’s days are numbered anyway (Hariri investigation or American invasion)

In a month from now inshallah.

May 16th, 2008, 11:37 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Norman,

The 7/15 year plan was actually called the 7/14 year plan when I first heard it (i.e. last year), and so by now it should be called the 6/13 year plan.

tick tock ya 3azizi Alex… 😉

May 17th, 2008, 12:04 am

 

norman said:

Alex,

Another month , for God sake , can you move on it?.

May 17th, 2008, 12:41 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

The Lebanese delegations took two separate planes to Doha: one for the opposition, one for the majority.

What do you think they talked about? Or maybe they just chewed on stale bread and luke-warm spaghetti bolognese while they watched re-runs of Seinfeld.

It would have been far more entertaining if they all crowded onto one plane. Lebanese courtesy and etiquette would have prevailed, despite the awkward circumstances:

Samir Geagea: Oh, excuse me, am I sitting in your seat?

Gen. Michel Aoun: Wala yhimmak, I will sit over here.

SG: Lak walaw, ya General?! Please, please, I insist, I know how much you like the window seats.

GMA: No, no ya Hakim, ma baddeh 3azbak…

SG: Lak, tikram 3uyunak ya 7abibi albi… tfaddal 3od ma7alleh!

GMA: Lah lah lah, ya Hakim, mon frére, j’insiste!

SG: Wa lak ma bi2bal ya general, al-kirseh ilak!

GMA: Lak, lah lah mon ami, al-kirseh pour vous!

SG: Lah lah lah, ya General… etc.

😉

May 17th, 2008, 1:01 am

 

norman said:

QN,

I heard that they went in two planes , one for the leaders and one for the assistants,

The Lebanese told them not to come back without an agreement.

And to find another place to live if they do not have one.

May 17th, 2008, 1:22 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ammo Norman

That’s what I love about the Lebanese: it’s a love-hate relationship with their leaders, mostly “hate” these days.

May 17th, 2008, 1:38 am

 

Enlightened said:

Alex said:

I agree with Wizart.

That’s the logic behind my 7-15 year delay before we have half-democracy in Syria : ) … until most Syrians get a degree in enlightenment.

The regime is good in teaching some of the courses in that enlightenment program, but they need help in studying and teaching other basic courses.

——————————————————————-
Without Prejudice:

Alex:

I along with QN, and HP stand ready to help you our Syrian brothers and sisters with any help you need! (LOL)

May 17th, 2008, 1:51 am

 

Averroes said:

Avi Salam,

thank you for your note, which is a sound and good one. God bless your late grandfather. He was a wise man.

We are trying to make something positive here, by immunizing people against sectarian hatred and bigotry.

May 17th, 2008, 1:58 am

 

wizart said:

Dear Alex,

Thanks for your constructive efforts along with those of Averroes and other valuable contributors here as Ehsane and Enlightened just noted above. Please kindly send my email address to Naji, Ehsane and enlightened at this time for further cooperation.

Thanks and all the best for peace, love and more enlightenment.

Cheers

May 17th, 2008, 7:39 am

 

LadyUniversalis said:

AVERROES… What a GIFT you are.
If only more of our politicians could possess your heart, courage and love of humanity….. Your voice rings with truth and compassion in relevance far beyond the Middle East.
As someone who looks to blogs like this to try to comprehend the situation outside the West, I was delighted to read such a well written insightful article.

The topic/issue of mass manipulation to control, manipulate, misinform, provoke, incite one against the other is global. Your replies in the discussion is nothing less than steadfast, with the intent to empower and educate indeed truly inspiring. Your riposte to Avi Salam’s comment will keep a warm smile on my face for a long time to come. With a mind and heart like yours there’s hope for us yet.

June 30th, 2008, 11:40 pm

 

Averroes said:

LADYUNIVERSALIS,

Thank you for you kind words. I really hope there’s still hope for all of us. I think there is.

Best regards

July 1st, 2008, 4:35 pm

 

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