Syrian Troops on the Lebanese Border are to Confront Smuggling

The Syrian move on the Lebanese border is to confront smuggling. Below is a picture of the troops ‘massed’ on the border.

Syrian Troops on Lebanon Border

Photo: Syrian troops deploy on the northern side of the Syrian-Lebanese border. Some Lebanese insist Syria is preparing to invade Lebanon but Damascus has stressed the move is linked to a crackdown against smugglers.

Notice the lack of things like tanks, APCs, or other offensive gear necessary for an assault. It is right there in plain sight. No offensive force. And the number is far less than 10,000 — more like 500. But they did need troops strong enough to deal with the smuggling clans that could easily outpower a few guards at a post.

Meanwhile, the US and others slam Syria for not controlling the border.

The context for this move against smuggling is not Syrian concerns about Salafists in Tripoli or terrorist infiltration.  The smuggling of Mazout from Syria into Lebanon, where it brings twice the price, is depleting the Syrian treasury.

The government has decided to stop the hemorrhaging to the Syrian budget caused by the smuggling, not by cutting the subsidies, which would hurt the poor who are the main consumers of mazout, but by raising taxes on the rich.  Free market reformers such Dardari have argued for getting rid of the subsidies so that all oil products rise to market prices causing smuggling to stop. Many Syrian officials do not want to do this because it will push many more Syrians below the poverty line. Free market reforms combined with worldwide commodity increases and two seasons of drought in Syria have eroded the purchasing power of the average Syrian dramatically.

Socialist-minded, Syrian officials have decided to raise taxes on the rich to make up for the subsidies. Last week the government more than doubled yearly car registration fees across the board.

Cars with 4 litre engines are now subject to a yearly payment of $3250. This is an astounding duty to pay annually. The larger the engine the higher the fee of course. When the government official was asked why the fee went up by this much, he said that if “people want to show off by buying cars with big engines, then let them pay the fee”.  (Thanks Ehsani for these figures)

This dramatic rise in car registration fees will cause considerable pain to Syrian car owners and raise the price of travel for all.  It is a sign of how seriously the Syria’s budget problems are becoming – hence the effort to stop smuggling. Syria is not interested in invading Lebanon. The Doha agreement has satisfied Damascus’ security concerns in Lebanon.

Rice and Mouallem talk in New York in the l’orient-le jour. (In French)

The Syrians say the talks went well. Rice said they only lasted 10 minutes at an Iftar and that the two talked peace negotiations and Lebanon.

Neither said that they talked about intelligence sharing and cooperation on the Iraq border, but this is probably what they did talk about.

It was the main subject of the the last Rice-Mouallem talks at Sharm al-Shaykh in May 2007.  Syria wanted intelligence sharing and was willing to accept two US generals in Damascus, but it asked that Rice send back an ambassador to Damascus. The Vice-President’s office nixed this plan. Petraeus was outraged and tried to go to Damascus himself to negotiate the resumption of intelligence sharing. He was refused permission by the White House.

Comments (26)

Qifa Nabki said:

The Lebanese pols who have been whining about the troops on the border are grasping for straws because they have nothing to talk about these days. (Amin Gemayel, Samir Geagea, etc.)

They are indignant and moralistic when it comes to the 500 shabab on the border, but turn a blind eye to the joke of an election law that has been passed.

September 29th, 2008, 4:34 am


ausama said:

Does Syria need to “mass” troops at its noerthern border with Lebaon to “threaten” Lebanon as some worry? All it would take to achive the same effect -if that was the intention- is to send an unarmed Syrian Staff Sargent strolling unarmed across the Dabbosiya crossing point to tell the Lebanese officer there that he is unhappy with whatever Syria is unhappy about!!! No need for such “major” troops concentration…

And are the rememenants of Feb 14 and thier Saudi bakers going to advise Syria now on where it can deploy its troops on Syrian soil and where it can not??


September 29th, 2008, 5:30 am


Alex said:

I spoke to a number of Syrians this weekend (many readers of SC) and I realize that what’s on everyone’s mind is … US elections.

The end is near … All this noise from M14 leaders could be a thing of the past after November … All inside stories about the Vice resident’s office blocking state department or US generals in Iraq from talking to Syria … Could be over after November.

But then again … Sarah, in her own way, could be just as special as the current v.p.

September 29th, 2008, 5:59 am


Innocent Criminal said:


When the rumors first started people were saying there are 30,000 soldiers on the boarder (that’s the same number that was in all of Lebanon before they left it) then it went down to 10,000 a couple of days later. And now we’re here about a few hundred. But I am not sure one picture is enough proof to quell these reports.

In the meantime another bomb targeting Lebanese army bus has exploded in Tripoli which logic will dictate is linked to the previous Tripoli bombings and the one in neighboring Syria on Friday

September 29th, 2008, 8:14 am


Naji said:

Waltz with Bashar
How Assad influenced Israel’s security and economy this year.
What, me worry?
By Aluf Benn, Haaretz, 29/09/08

Three critical decisions by Syrian President Bashar Assad influenced Israel’s security and economic situation more than any other factor in the outgoing year. The first decision was not to respond to the September 2007 bombing of the nuclear reactor that the Syrians built alongside the Euphrates River, and to try to play down the episode. The second decision was to ignore the assassination of senior Hezbollah figure Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus in February 2008, without even threatening to respond. Assad’s third decision was to renew the peace talks with Israel, with Turkish mediation, in May 2008. If he had decided to do the opposite in each case – to respond to the attacks and not enter into a dialogue – Israel would have spent the whole year preparing for a war in the north, and could have kissed its economic growth and tourist boom goodbye.

Assad’s decision to take lying down both the bombing of the reactor, a facility he must have considered a cardinal strategic asset, and the liquidation operation in the center of Damascus showed that he is very much in control in Syria, and demonstrated an ability to act with restraint in the face of painful setbacks to national security and prestige. His decision to resume the peace talks – which was afterward accompanied by an impressive diplomatic campaign aimed at extricating Syria from its international isolation of recent years – revealed Assad as a realist, who, while committed to the rhetoric of “resistance to Israel,” prefers to exploit diplomatic opportunities and enhance his status.

Assad’s gamble has paid off, at least so far. Syria has recouped its position of influence in Lebanon, brought Israel back to negotiations over a retreat from the Golan Heights, and enjoyed the courtship of France, Iran, Turkey, Russia and Cyprus. Israel’s top security figures have hailed Syria’s strategic importance and spoken about the importance of distancing Damascus from Tehran, thus enabling Assad to up the price and refrain, in the meantime, from entering into direct negotiations. Only the American administration kept its distance, but the United States has been weakened. The threat that Assad and his close aides will be hauled into an international court – and be accused of the assassination, in 2005, of Lebanon’s former prime minister Rafik Hariri – is receding rapidly.

Amid all this, Syria continued to supply arms to Hezbollah, thus violating Security Council Resolution 1701. Damascus recoiled only from introducing antiaircraft missiles into Lebanon, in the face of an Israeli threat.

How did he pull it off? Whom did Assad consult with about building a nuclear reactor with North Korean cooperation? How did he manage to keep the project a secret for six years? Who informed him about the penetration of Israel Air Force planes and the facility’s destruction? How did he react? Did he rant and rave about the “Zionist dogs” and curse “the Jews,” or did he treat the report with equanimity and immediately order the publication of a low-profile statement and the removal from the site of the evidence and the ruins?

What did he say about the Mughniyeh assassination? Was he saddened by the death of the Hezbollah “freedom fighter,” or pleased that he was now out of the way? And how did Assad react to the assassination of his military adviser General Mohammed Suleiman, in the Syrian port city of Tartous? Who was by his side at these moments? Did he lose sleep over these events?

According to Prof. Eyal Zisser, an expert on Syria from Tel Aviv University, Assad’s decision-making pattern is not surprising and is actually consistent with Syria’s behavior. In Syria’s perception, resistance to Israel does not obligate an active stance. “In contrast to his father, president Hafez Assad, who surrounded himself with an orderly array of advisers, Bashar is an isolated figure, who feels and projects loneliness and makes decisions with a very small circle,” Zisser says. He does not think that the president’s wife, Asma Assad, shares in the decision-making on state policy and security.

A comparison between Assad’s dispassionate approach and the reaction of Israel’s leaders to similar provocations is instructive. On the eve of the 1967 Six-Day War, Egyptian warplanes twice overflew the Dimona nuclear reactor. They did not bomb the site and did not cause any damage, but their very appearance in the skies of the Negev was sufficient for Israel to accelerate its war preparations. Just two years ago, Israel launched an all-out war after the kidnapping of two soldiers on the border with Lebanon. In Israel, cross-border penetrations immediately arouse existential fears and angry prophecies that “the country is finished.”

In Syria they get a lot less worked up: The reactor is bombed and destroyed, assassins operate in the capital and in the vacation home of the president’s adviser – and you can carry on as usual. That’s how it is when you have no primaries, no coalition and no critical media. A dictator like Assad can absorb stinging blows without feeling that he is about to be removed from power or be portrayed as a wimp. Even though the Alawi regime rests on a minority in Syria, Assad has enough self-confidence to believe that he is safely ensconced in the seat of power. Suffice it for him to mumble something about “the resistance,” send cleaning people to collect the fragments of the building that was bombed or the car that was blown up, and go back to talking with the Israelis as though nothing has happened.

September 29th, 2008, 12:33 pm


Naji said:

Yedioth Aharonoth noted that in this “legacy interview,” published on the eve of the Jewish New Year, Olmert went further in making offers for peace than he ever did publicly when he was in active office and had greater power to see them carried out.

Olmert: Israel must quit East Jerusalem and Golan
By Haaretz Service
Last update – 12:39 29/09/2008

Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in remarks published Monday that Israel would have to withdraw from East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights if it was serious about making peace with the Palestinians and Syria.

In an interview with the Yedioth Aharonoth daily, Olmert said that as a hard-line politician for decades he had not been prepared to look at reality in all of its depth.

“Ariel Sharon spoke about painful costs and refused to elaborate,” Olmert told the daily. “I say, we have no choice but to elaborate. In the end of the day, we will have to withdraw from the most decisive areas of the territories. In exchange for the same territories left in our hands, we will have to give compensation in the form of territories within the State of Israel.”

“I think we are very close to an agreement,” Olmert added.

These comments were the clearest sign to date of Olmert’s willingness to meet key Palestinian demands in peace talks.

With regard to the Syria track, Olmert added that a future peace agreement required a pullout from the Golan Heights, an area under Israeli control since the 1967 Six-Day War.

“First and foremost, we must make a decision. I’d like see if there is one serious person in the State of Israel who believes it is possible to make peace with the Syrians without eventually giving up the Golan Heights.”

“It is true that an agreement with Syria comes with danger,” he said. “Those who want to act with zero danger should move to Switzerland.”

Yedioth Aharonoth noted that in this “legacy interview,” published on the eve of the Jewish New Year, Olmert went further in making offers for peace than he ever did publicly when he was in active office and had greater power to see them carried out.

The interview was met fierce criticism from politicians on both the right and the left.

MK Yuval Steinitz said the comments demonstrated the outgoing leader’s readiness “to ignore even the most crucial” of Israel’s needs.

“The prime minister’s concession the essential borders of defense is a gamble on the bone of existence, and the future of the State of Israel,” Steinitz told Army Radio in response to Olmert’s comments.

“Ignoring the distance between rockets fired from afar and the enemy sitting on top of Jerusalem reveals how little he understands the basis of security,” Steinitz added.

Former Meretz chairman Yossi Beilin criticized Olmert for having offered such concessions only on the eve of his departure from premiership.

“Olmert has committed the unforgivable sin of revealing his truce stance on Israel’s national interest just when he has nothing left to lose,” said Beilin.

According to Western and Palestinian officials, Olmert has proposed in peace talks with the Palestinians an Israeli withdrawal from some 93 percent of the West Bank, plus all of the Gaza Strip, from which Israel pulled out in 2005.

The negotiations, which Olmert has vowed to continue until he leaves office when a new government is formed, have shown few signs of progress and both sides acknowledge chances are slim of meeting Washington’s target of a deal by the end of the year.

Olmert has also engaged Syria in indirect negotiations with Turkish mediation, but has not remarked publicly on the scope of an Israeli pullout from the Golan Heights.

Olmert has said repeatedly that Israel intends to keep major Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank in any future peace deal with the Palestinians.

A peace agreement, Olmert has said, would mean Israel would have to compensate the Palestinians for the land it hopes to retain by “close to a 1-to-1 ratio.”

In exchange for the settlement enclaves, Olmert has proposed about a 5 percent land swap giving the Palestinians a desert territory adjacent to the Gaza Strip, as well as land on which to build a transit corridor between Gaza and the West Bank.

He has so far put off negotiations on sharing Jerusalem and ruled out a so-called “right of return” for Palestinian refugees, a central Palestinian demand. On both issues, there is strong opposition in Israel to significant concessions.

Olmert, who has stepped down in the face of a possible criminal indictment in a corruption investigation, will remain caretaker prime minister until a new government is approved by parliament.

A week ago, President Shimon Peres asked Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, now leader of Olmert’s centrist Kadima party, to try to put together a governing coalition within six weeks. Failure to do so would likely lead to a parliamentary election.

September 29th, 2008, 12:48 pm


idaf said:

Preliminary findings from the car bomb investigation are out.. It was a suicide bombing and the car used was a maroon GMC Suburban that entered the Syrian boarders legally on Sep 26 from a “neighboring Arab country”. SANA also published the car’s plate number and chassis number, without mentioning the source of the plate. DNA testing is being carried out to identify the suicide bomber…

It is a smart move from the Syrian authorities not to mention the source of the car. My guess is that the car had Saudi plate number and entered from Jordan. There are very very few GMC cars with Syrian plate numbers. In Saudi, GMC Suburban is the most common car because it accommodates large families. It is not a common car in Lebanon, but it’s also common in Iraq.

This could the mysterious Saudi silence so far. I was not surprised much with the official Saudi silence, but with the silence of the Saudi media. The Saudi financed media usually did not miss half a chance during the last few years in publishing conspiracy theories vilifying Syria each time a similar security breach take place in Syria. This time, even Al-Sharq Al-awsat’s opinion editors (who are the first to blame Syria for natural disasters even if they hit Syria) didn’t utter a word yet.

Maybe the Saudi authorities received information since day one that the car used had a Saudi plate number (I don’t think that the Saudi government sent the car) and was waiting to see the Syrian reaction. With not announcing the origin of the car, Syrian authorities acted wisely and might have avoided a possible backlash by Syrians against Saudis (which would have strained economic and social ties).

It would be interesting to find out the actual source of the car and bomber….

التحقيقات الأولية في تفجير السبت:العملية انتحارية والإرهابي مرتبط بتنظيم تكفيري الاخبار المحلية

السيارة المفخخة من نوع جي إم سي سوبربان دخلت سورية من دولة عربية مجاورة”

أعلنت سورية يوم الاثنين أن التحقيقات الأولية التي أجرتها الجهات الأمنية المختصة في عملية التفجير التي استخدمت فيها سيارة مفخخة ووقعت في دمشق أول أمس السبت كشفت أن العملية كانت “انتحارية” ومنفذها على علاقة بتنظيم “تكفيري”,

مشيرة إلى أن السيارة المستخدمة دخلت من دولة عربية مجاورة.

وذكرت وكالة الأنباء السورية الرسمية (سانا) أن “التحقيقات الأولية كشفت أن عملية التفجير الإرهابية التي وقعت على طريق المتحلق الجنوبي قرب مفرق السيدة زينب استخدم فيها سيارة مفخخة هي من نوع جي إم سي سوبربان خمرية اللون ورقم لوحتها 83115 وعلى جانبيها خط ذهبي ورقم محركها هو 3 جي كي جي كي 26 يو 3 إكس 2185882”, مشيرة إلى أن “السيارة دخلت القطر يوم الجمعة الماضي في 26 شهر أيلول الجاري عن طريق مركز حدودي لدولة عربية مجاورة”.

وشهد طريق المتحلق الجنوبي في مدينة دمشق قرب مفرق السيدة زينب صباح أول أمس السبت تفجير سيارة مفخخة أسفر عن مقتل 17 شخصا وجرح 14 آخرين, الأمر الذي لاقى استنكارا دوليا وعربيا كبيرا.

وأضافت الوكالة أن ” التحقيقات بينت أن إرهابيا كان يقود السيارة وقام بتفجير نفسه والسيارة ويجرى حاليا التأكد من هويته من خلال فحص الحمض النووي لبقايا جثته”, مشيرة إلى أن “التحقيقات مع الموقوفين في قضية السيارة المفخخة جي إم سي كشفت عن علاقة الإرهابي الذي قام بالعملية بجماعة تتبع لتنظيم تكفيري جرى توقيف بعض أفرادها سابقا ولاتزال التحقيقات مستمرة معهم والبحث جار عن متوارين”.

ويعتبر انفجار هذه السيارة المفخخة من أكثر التفجيرات دموية في سورية منذ ثمانينات القرن الماضي الذي شهدت فيه البلاد أعمال عنف أدين بها حزب “الأخوان المسلمين” المحظور في سورية.

September 29th, 2008, 1:25 pm


Alex said:

Pesident Assad was interviewed by a Lebanese journalist. He said that the North of Lebanon is by now a serious threat to Syria’s national security.

He said that if any country wants to play any role in the Middle East, that country will need to pass through Damascus.

Hariri reacted quickly warning of Syrian intentions

September 29th, 2008, 5:24 pm


why-discuss said:

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have been and are still the breeding ground for most islamic terrorists: results of years of financing wahhabi madresse whose teaching is mainly to curse the heretics, the Shias, the Jews and the Christians and encourage violence against “non-pure” islam.
We are now seeing the results, a cancer spreading in the arab countries, from Algeria, Iraq, Yemen to Syria.
Even though I think the evil is done and that more violence will show up, it is time Saudi Arabia proselytism be stopped by any means.
Saudi Arabia did not take the lesson of 9/11 where the terrorists were Saudis. After 7 years, they are still allowing oil money to flow to Salafists and anti-Shia and anti-Alawi elements in Lebanon.
The roof will ultimately fall on their head if they go on, but is there someone in Saudi arabia who can think?
Syria’s verbal mistreatement of Saudis is totally justified. Bashar is the only courageous leader who says the truth to the Saudis. The others are cowards, keen of seeing the saudi money flowing in their countries. It is time arab countries be firm and frank with Saudi Arabia so it takes tough measures to stop fueling terrorism in the region.

September 29th, 2008, 9:17 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Alex said:

I spoke to a number of Syrians this weekend (many readers of SC) and I realize that what’s on everyone’s mind is … US elections.

Naturally. Everything that befalls the ME is due to some outside influence and never anything “home-grown”. Our dear leaders are only innocent bystanders.

If Oslo is any indicator, terrorism will increase if/when the US gets involved in further “peace negotiations”.

IDAF said:

Preliminary findings from the car bomb investigation are out.. It was a suicide bombing and the car used was a maroon GMC Suburban that entered the Syrian boarders legally on Sep 26 from a “neighboring Arab country”.

Which not only leads us away from an Israeli operation, but also puts into question Syria’s security apparatus.

Alex states:

He said that if any country wants to play any role in the Middle East, that country will need to pass through Damascus.

Sounds like a the typical 11 year old bully. We’re really worried;)

Why-Discuss states:

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have been and are still the breeding ground for most islamic terrorists…

This sort of discounts what Offended said yesterday:

Terrorism is not a trademark of arabs or muslims.


Do you have any actual data showing Saudi Arabia and Pakistan “are still the breeding ground for most islamic terrorists”? Or did you choose these 2 countries because they have diplomatic relations to the US? What about Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Afghanistan, Libya or Algeria? How many islamic terrorists do these countries breed?

IMHO, this terrorism “thing” is endemic to the entire Middle East where every ME government, their media, and their paid clergy encourages “martyrdom” instead of tolerance.

What we need is “Change”;)

September 29th, 2008, 10:30 pm


offended said:

Which not only leads us away from an Israeli operation, but also puts into question Syria’s security apparatus.

Don’t be blown away guys, above is just a sample of a lame commentary on the ME issues…

September 29th, 2008, 11:17 pm


norman said:

Lebanon, Syria blame bombings on Islamic militants
A roadside bomb killed four Lebanese soldiers and a civilian in Tripoli. The attack came two days after a blast in Damascus killed 17.
By Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
3:21 PM PDT, September 29, 2008
BEIRUT — Lebanese and Syrian authorities today each placed blame for recent bombings in their countries on Islamic militants tied to Al Qaeda and likely based in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon.

Today, a roadside bomb struck a bus in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, killing four Lebanese soldiers and a civilian and injuring 30 people, Lebanese officials said. The attack came two days after a 440-pound bomb detonated in a pedestrian area of Damascus, the Syrian capital, killing 17 people.

Signs of trouble seen before Syria bombing
Car bombing in Damascus kills at least 17
A senior Lebanese security official said authorities suspect that Jund al Sham, a militant group that was first detected in Afghanistan during the late 1990s and surfaced in Lebanon around 2004, was responsible for the attacks. The official said the bombings were carried out in revenge for the Lebanese military’s defeat last year of Fatah al Islam, an ally of the militant group, in a months-long battle around the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr el Bared.

“They are declaring a terrorist war against the Lebanese army to avenge the battle of Nahr el Bared and to demoralize the army and regain the influence that they lost in the last battles,” said the official, who requested anonymity.

“They are not an organization that has a known command or known spokesman,” he said. “They’re linked to Al Qaeda and have bases in the Palestinian camps,” which retain semi-autonomous status in Lebanon.

Syrian officials today also suggested that evidence pointed to an Islamic group in Lebanon for the deadly weekend car bomb explosion in Damascus, though they did not name the group. In an official statement, Syria said the explosives-packed vehicle had entered the country a day before the bombing and the alleged driver, who died in the blast, was linked to the group by suspects in custody.

Syrian authorities have complained that mostly Sunni northern Lebanon has become a hotbed of Islamic extremism in recent years, drawing some veterans of the Iraqi insurgency.

Radical Sunni groups, often members of the puritanical Salafi movement, have been increasingly active in Lebanon, angered by the perception that the army is allied with the Shiite militia Hezbollah and that Lebanon’s Sunni leader, Saad Hariri, is ineffectual.

“While the Salafis will take his money, they are less inclined to rest their fate in his sometimes shaky hands,” said Augustus Richard Norton, a Lebanon expert at Boston University. “There have been deep worries in Lebanon … about the resurgence of Salafi groups, especially in the environs of Tripoli.”

Television footage of the scene of today’s bombing showed charred automobiles, blood stains on the pavement, tiny pieces of metal and burnt human flesh. Soldiers scrambled to cordon off the scene of the blast, which took place during the morning rush hour. Interior Minister Ziad Baroud summoned security officials for an emergency meeting.

The U.S. Embassy suspended all travel by its personnel to Tripoli and advised Americans to avoid the city. Syria called the attack “a terrorist and criminal act.”

In recent weeks, thousands of Syrian troops massed along the northern Lebanese frontier in a move some analysts described as a potential attempt to keep Lebanon’s troubles from seeping into Syria.

Special correspondents Gheith Al-Amin in Beirut and Ziad Haidar in Damascus contributed to this report.

September 30th, 2008, 1:48 am


why-discuss said:


Just check the names and nationalities of the terrorists of 9/11, Nahr al Bared, US embassy in Syria etc… Check also the origin of the funds. Coincidence? The overwhelming majority are Saudis and this is constanly embarassing the US and KSA who avoid mentionning the nationalities and islamic sect of the terrorists. In view of the funds they dispose of, it is not a surprise that they enroll egyptians and palestinians and other sunnis arabs after endoctrinating them.
There has been not a single Iranian and since the Iranian revolution there are no Shias involved in suicide bombings.
Of course you, Israelis, consider that Hezbollah and the iranians are the terrorist while arabs consider them as “resistance ” to the illegal occupation of Palestine. For Arabs, Israel is a terrorist state because its claim legitimacy to defend a land that it occupies illegally. You have no internationally recognized rights to these lands and attacking you to get them back in any way possible is totally legitimate and heroic in view of the military power you dispose, i.e French against german occupation.
In any case Hezbollah in the last 15 years have not been involved in any suicide bombings. They have preferred to wage guerilla wars as a response to Israeli aggressions and it seems to pay off.

September 30th, 2008, 2:18 am


why-discuss said:

If the lebanese army is not able to put an end to the North salafist terrorist movements, maybe it is time swallow the pride and call again the Syrian army for help.. Deja vu?

September 30th, 2008, 2:24 am


Leo said:


I do agree with you that Saudi Arabia and their warped interpretation of Islam has been a major factor in the spread of terrorism in the region. At the same time, I am not satisfied with the way the Iranians/Hizbollah have been running things lately and would not bet on a lasting relationship with them in the near future.

I believe as a country which wants to protect its secular establishment and its fragile ethnic/sectarian population, Syria needs to foster stronger allies with the secular powers in the region. The Turks can be of great asset. 1. They can become our mediator in the negotiations with USA/Israel. They can also put pressure on Israel to return back Golan. In return, Syria and Turkey can work together in exposing radical Kurdish elements in Syria/Turkey border and bring them into justice. I would rather wager on Turkey than on a theocratic Iran which bases its rules on religious institutions and a supreme religious ruler with his fanatic president who could easily drag the whole region into turmoil.

September 30th, 2008, 2:13 pm


norman said:

I wonder if Rice Gave Syria the go ahead to get rid of the extremists in northern Lebanon,


September 30, 2008 —
IS Syria preparing to seize the opportunity provided by the global financial crisis and the US presidential campaign to invade Lebanon?

For the last week or so, Syria has been moving heavily armed elite military units to the Lebanese border – with up to 25,000 massed there by early last week. Backed by tanks, armored vehicles and attack helicopters, the units were on “maximum war footing,” eyewitnesses say.

Damascus says the build-up is a response to smuggling rings that run the black market in the Syrian capital and major provincial centers. My Lebanese contacts call that explanation “laughable” – noting that Syrian elite itself runs the black market in both countries through the security services.

The buildup covers only the northern portion of the Syria-Lebanon border, leaving the eastern portions in the hands of the Iran-financed (and thus Syria-allied) Hezbollah militia.

And Lebanese analysts say the type of force Syria is massing is better suited for a classical invasion than for chasing small and scattered groups of bandits along the border.

More ominously, the official Syrian media claim that the force could be used to “hunt down and eliminate fundamentalist terrorists linked to al Qaeda.” This refers to a group called Fatah al-Islam (Conquest of Islam), which fought the Lebanese army in the northern city of Tripoli, close to the Syrian border, for months before being flushed out. Since then, the group has gone underground; it is suspected in a number of assassinations and suicide attacks.

In his meetings with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan last month, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad promised, without going into details, that he’d “play a more active part” in the War on Terror. The Lebanese see Syria’s claimed intent to fight al Qaeda-linked terrorists as a ploy to “hoodwink the Americans.”

“They want to present their invasion as part of the global War on Terror led by the United States,” says a Lebanese analyst.

Indeed, evidence suggests that Syria assisted the emergence of Fatah al-Islam in the Tripoli area. Lebanon borders only two other nations, Israel and Syria. Since it’s unlikely that Fatah al-Islam killers entered Lebanon from Israel, the assumption that they came through Syria can’t be dismissed easily.

Plus, shortly after Fatah al-Islam seized control of the Nahr al-Bared area close to Tripoli, a pro-Syrian Palestinian group, Fatah al-Intifada (Conquest of the Uprising), merged with it. That couldn’t have happened without Damascus’ approval.

Fatah al-Islam members captured by the Lebanese army have said that almost all the group’s fighters came from other Arab countries. Once installed in Tripoli, they linked up with “sleeper” Palestinian terror networks there and launched a joint bid for the control of the mostly Sunni city.

Yet another pretext the Syrians invoke for a possible intervention in Lebanon is the protection of the Alawite religious minority.

The Alawites, an esoteric sect most Muslims regard as heretics, number some 50,000 around Tripoli. But they account for 11 percent of Syria’s population and dominate its government and armed forces through the Assad dynasty.

In its brief domination of Tripoli, the Fatah al-Islam gang refrained from attacking Alawite neighborhoods, giving credence to claims that it was a Syrian proxy.

When Syria invaded and occupied Lebanon in the 1970s, its excuse was that it wanted to protect the Christian minority against the Palestinians and their allies. Today, with a majority of Lebanese Christians opposed to Syrian intervention, it is painting the Alawites as those needing protection.

One thing is certain: The Syrian buildup has little, if anything, to do with fighting smugglers or terrorists. Syria has special police and security units for such tasks.

President Assad might well be tempted to remedy his humiliation in 2005, when he was forced to withdraw his army from Lebanon after 29 years of occupation.

If so, he may well be eyeing a brief window of opportunity right now. America is preoccupied by the financial crisis and the presidential campaign. And Europe, led by Sarkozy, has just committed itself to rehabilitating Syria and doesn’t want to jeopardize the supposed gains of its “positive dialogue” with Damascus.

Turkey would be in no position to criticize a Syrian incursion into Lebanon – Turkish forces have repeatedly entered Iraq, ostensibly to hunt down Kurdish rebels. And Russia – grateful for Syria’s support in the recent war with Georgia – wouldn’t frown at a Syrian move to topple the pro-Western regime in Beirut. Israel, politically paralyzed and possibly heading for early elections, is in no position to oppose a Syrian invasion.

So far, Syria’s military gesticulations on the Lebanese border haven’t elicited warnings from the United States or the European Union, encouraging the hard-line faction in Damascus that is pressing for a “return to Lebanon.”

September 30th, 2008, 3:08 pm


why--discuss said:


Iran is much more complex than it appears in the media. There are internal forces who do not agree with the grip of the religious powers in the country. The issue is that no one wants another bloody revolution, therefore changes are coming slowly. It is not logical to expect Iran to be conciliatory with countries that condoned and helped Saddam Hossein when he invaded and waged a inhuman war against Iran for 8 years with chemicals supplied by european countries! How fast Europe forgot the third world war and Nazi invasion ( that was only 5 year?). Iran is slowly moving to democracy with ups and down after centuries of authoritarian regimes and dictatorship. Their foreign policy is dictated by the refusal to be at the mercy of the foreign powers that they perceive as hypocritical and unreliable. Therefore they try at any opportunity to affirm themselves as a important, powerful country that the West cannot bully anymore. This explains their policy on the nuclear questions and their rejection of having Iraq, their previous enneny, becoming a dependant servant of the USA. Their position on Palestine complements this policy as they refuse to have the zionist governemnent of Israel, an US ally, abuse and control the neighboring arabs.
More than Hamas who is mainly sunni, Iran support for Hezbollah is also based on common religious/humanist precepts. Contrary to Sunni who have been mostly rulers and part of the islamic establishment, Shiism have historically been a revolutionary movement opposed to injustice and ready to use wars to liberate and protect innocents that are abused. Because of their own sufferings as oppressed minority Shias identify themselves more to Jews and Christians than it appears. Jesus and Iman Hossein are similar personnalities, persecuted, humiliated and executed by oppressors.
Sunni’s violence is totally different from the Shia. Sunni violence is religious extremism and the rejection of non-moslems.
Their methods is also more inhuman and ignore the casualties of human life.
There is a lot to write about that to clarify what the western media are blurring on purpose.

September 30th, 2008, 3:27 pm


why-discuss said:


Is Amir Taheri suggesting Lebanon should call the US army instead of the Syrian to get rid of the terrorists in North Lebanon. Or the Saudi army? Or that Lebanon should accept that the north becomes a mini Afghanistan?
It is naive and easy to accuse the Syrian of bad intentions. Syria took a lesson and I doubt it will fall into this trap that may destroy all their recent foreign policy successes withthe west. I think they will let the Lebanese army with its meager weapons deal with that danger. They will protect thoroughly their borders, enhance their intelligence and wait…

September 30th, 2008, 3:42 pm


norman said:


Syria would be doing Lebanon and the US a favor to get rid of the extremists , It might be a condition for US friendship,

September 30th, 2008, 3:52 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Not to plug a new venture, but there is more along these lines (the invasion of Lebanon by Syria, coming soon to a theater near you) that can be found here:

September 30th, 2008, 5:18 pm


offended said:

QN, what? are you trying to steal the thunder of SC now?


September 30th, 2008, 5:23 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


My modest little blog is nothing more than a humble province of historic and noble Greater Syria (Comment).


September 30th, 2008, 5:55 pm


why-discuss said:


Lebanon is again in front of dilemma: Ask Syria for help and bear the consequences of political dependency and possible economical abuses, ask the US for help and bear the consequences of a civil unrest, ask the UN for help but the UN will never come for a war, or have the lebanese army already overstretched equipped with weapons like night glasses, generously offered by the US after Nahr al Bared to loose the battle against the terrorism in the North with the terrible consequences in terms of lives and pain for Lebanon.
Yet, I am sure the syrians will discreetly help the lebanese army in this task, as they did during Nahr al bared, a fact never recognized by the lebanese government.
I believe Sleiman, who was in charge during Nahr al Bared, will ask Syria to coordinate the security at the borders and exchange intelligence, that is the first step, but the road is long and North Lebanon may easily become Tripolistan, a safe haven for islamic terrorists.

September 30th, 2008, 10:21 pm


norman said:


I do not think that Syria will let that happen and I think the US will be stupid not to back Syria in this endeavor.

October 1st, 2008, 1:29 am


ugarit said:

I recommend that “free” marketeers read this article

The free market preachers have long practised state welfare for the rich

October 1st, 2008, 3:03 am


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