The Babes of Hizbullah - Syria Comment

The Babes of Hizbullah

Are Hizbullah babes as photogenic as Hariri's?

A debate has broken out among SC readers about whether the most recent crop of demonstraters are as telegenic as those of the March 14 crowd. Here are submissions highlighting the Babes of Hizbullah.

From al-Akhbar 27 May 2008 

 Hizbullah Babe 1
Sent by a kind reader

Sent by Alex
Sent by Alex. The Ar Sign says: "All our troubles are from America"

Addendum: Here are more pictures linked to another blog which raised the question of why there were not Hizbullah Babes!

Until yahoo moves the pictures, there are some protest babes here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Kim Ghattas of BBC called the March 14 demonstrations, "the Gucci Revolution" because of its well healed women. And here is the shot included in her article..

Babes of March 14:

Sent by Alex
Sent by Alex

D. B. Light wrote on his blog at the time:

The protesters may not be disproportionately female, but they certainly are young and media savvy and they know that it is in their interest to prominently display young and pretty women in the vanguard of their movement.

In many ways modern terrorism is a creation of the media world. Terrorists have long known how to capture the attention of the media and have used it to their advantage. What is encouraging here is that the forces of liberation have begun to exhibit an equally sophisticated understanding of what it takes to succeed in the modern media age.

Here is more:
The Babe Theory Of Political Movements.
Mar. 21, 2005 11:50 AM

Comments (72)


youngSyria said:

I like the tattoo on her a**.
but I still cant get it…hezb told them to go out or they did it by themselves? I don’t think hezb brought some models to promote its campaigns.

but its always nice to see such a refreshing figures..looks nicer than nasrallah anyway..lol

December 3rd, 2006, 6:34 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Now let’s see if “The Babes of Hizbullah” are ready for the next step:

Crossing the the southern lebanese border with a powerful, Gucci-style semtex belt. We need to know if they’re ready to stop Israeli aggression.

December 3rd, 2006, 7:21 pm

 

apokraphyte said:

Joshua,

Did you misspell heeled/healed or were you being super clever?

December 3rd, 2006, 7:26 pm

 

Innocent_Criminal said:

not bad but thee march 14 gang wins this battle hands down. hell, i would change my political affiliation for some of the girls.

December 3rd, 2006, 7:29 pm

 

Innocent_Criminal said:

akbar palace,

you need therapy man. seriously!!!

December 3rd, 2006, 7:30 pm

 

youngSyria said:

after that tattoo, Ive changed my political affiliation ,long live hizb.

December 3rd, 2006, 7:43 pm

 

t_desco said:

It seems that Matthew Yglesias was haunted by the same question.

Another funny moment today was when the BBC correspondent surrounded by a crowd of orange-clad protesters found out that they were not pro-Syrian at all (despite Kim Ghattas repeating it over and over again). Quel surprise!

Al-Akhbar discusses the draft proposal for the international tribunal in some detail. Perhaps the objections of the opposition against the tribunal are along the same lines? Some clarification would be appreciated.

December 3rd, 2006, 7:51 pm

 

Yaman said:

I think this type of analysis is kind of misogynistic, but it would be an interesting issue to explore based on something more substantive than looks, probably.

December 3rd, 2006, 9:08 pm

 

poiu said:

you dingbats are lame- and pathetic. no burqa policy here huh- and plenty of xtians know this is a nationalist sovereignty fight- not religious, even if the US-Israel wants it to be that in order to facilitate their bogus war on ‘islamic terrorists’.

December 3rd, 2006, 9:15 pm

 

annie said:

A man, 23 years old, just died in Beyrouth in a clash between Sunnis and Shias or so I heard.
See Al Jazeera
http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/ED8319FE-068B-4445-827F-E339262531E6.htm

December 3rd, 2006, 9:22 pm

 

t_desco said:

“Ahmed Ali Mahmoud, a 20-year-old Shiite Muslim, was shot during the clash in the Tarik Jdideh neighborhood. It was not clear where the gunfire came from, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak to the press. …

The clash in Tarik Jdideh occurred as a group of Hezbollah supporters were returning from Beirut’s downtown and passed through the Sunni neighborhood.

The police officials said the two sides threw stones at each other before the clash before shots were fired. Ten other people were slightly wounded in another area of West Beirut in similar clashes Sunday evening.”
IHT/AP

December 3rd, 2006, 9:26 pm

 

ivanka said:

Again the 14th february cabal prove their civilized and democratic nature. After all they are the allies of the two most criminal countries in the world.

Josh, how ridiculous is this post. I don’t mind fun, but this is the most sexist and racist idea ever. Like what? vieled women don’t have the right to vote or to protest. Please. It’s come to the point where we have to look western to even be considered. We really should start being racist against you people because that is the only way you will ever learn.

p.s. I am not a muslim.

December 3rd, 2006, 10:05 pm

 
 
 

Kassar Alzabadi said:

More in this video

December 3rd, 2006, 10:54 pm

 

Zenobia said:

There is nothing admirable or impressive about women parading their sexiness for a political rally and garnering attention for this. seems to me it is just a bunch of people exploiting a cheap attraction.
And – the significance in this case was the March 14th ralliers..acting like women’s sensuality is a symbol of a liberating force or a liberal attitude.
This is crap, and totally ironic in reality.

First of all – this show- is simply a caricature of ‘freedom’… freedom to what? be sexual?… women’s conformity to commercialize images of sexiness defined by men (most of the time) and defined by men’s desires….is the farthest thing from feminism. And in addition, lebanese women are just like women all over the world…. submissive to the definitions of men and the market.
How is this any symbol of freedom? it isn’t. It is the opposite. Instead of submissiveness to a veil or to a role as housewife…it is submissiveness to a role as sexy party girl.
This has nothing to do with real liberation for anyone, political or social, and it shouldn’t be used manipulate people feelings.

December 3rd, 2006, 11:02 pm

 

Alex said:

Ivanka you are right, but I have no problem with this post by Josh which highlights a very serious problem.

I know many (most) western journalists, including some of my friends, are charmed by the more beautiful crowds on the side of the “majority”. They are also more comfortable with the more media savvy figures in the same group, they enjoy a dinner with Jumblat more than a cold interview with Nasrallah or Salim Hoss.

The western press is pathetic. When they cover their own country they are meticulous, but when they cover countries the United States is actively involved in, like Lebanon, they side with those they feel more comfortable with, the more westernized ones … it does not matter if they are ex-war lords, or if they are the biggest thieves in Lebanon or if they are bad for the country… they look more westernized, and that’s good enough to report in a very biased way.

I am frustrated because this time, Syria’s allies (Nasrallah, Aoun, salim Hoss, Suleiman Frangieh) are considerably cleaner (financially) and much more honest than the members of other group (the majority), and yet again the Saudis and Americans are hoping to continue to rely on their ownership of all the major media outlets to try to sell the people of the region their own version of the truth (like the WMD and Mehlis findings attempts of last year). Enough of this comedy.

As for foreign reporters .. remember that you are FOREIGN reporters… your preferences for the shape and direction of the future government of Lebanon are irrelevant. When you report in the US on presidential elections you usually try and succeed in not siding openly with the Democrats or the republicans… Try to keep the same journalistic standards in mind when you report today on Lebanon, even if your “information” makes you believe that Jumblat and Geagea are fighters for democracy and that Hoss is a Syrian puppet.

December 3rd, 2006, 11:08 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

“after that tattoo, Ive changed my political affiliation ,long live hizb.”

youngSyria,

I wondering, how long would a Hezbollah dominated theocracy allow burka-free dress (not to mention bare midriffs)?

Be careful what you wish for.

December 3rd, 2006, 11:47 pm

 

not impressed said:

wow the hezbolla girl is ugly

December 3rd, 2006, 11:47 pm

 

t_desco said:

Ivanka, Zenobia, Alex, it’s just a joke and I also don’t think that it was intended in the way you are interpreting it.

So, for the sake of the academic discussion:

http://al-akhbar.com/ar/node/14112?size=full

December 4th, 2006, 12:41 am

 

Zenobia said:

Just to clarify, I have no problem with the post per se. I DO actually find the whole thing humorous….and the reality..pathetic. I think the issue is actually totally fascinating, but worth some analysis maybe… more than just comments about whether the women are ‘hot’ or ‘ugly’. To leave it at that ..is simply missing an opportunity to ask what the hell is going on with the fascination with the tits of the women in the Lebanese political rallies.
I mean we could actually make other comparisons to other kinds of emotional manipulation. for example, many people historically were turned on by shows of masculinity in political rallies…. the grandfather Pierre Geymayel tried to fashion the Phalange in the image he held after his erection over the masculine pomp and parading of Nazi youth.

Humans are sickos basically. We respond to the most base bullshit.

December 4th, 2006, 2:41 am

 

Ghassan said:

I am curious when Hizb-Iran will start eliminating non-Shia from Lebanon. See what did Iran do and what are they doing in Iraq!

December 4th, 2006, 2:52 am

 

Atassi said:

Alex,
You are frustrated because this time, Syria’s allies (Nasrallah, Aoun, salim Hoss, Suleiman Frangieh) are considerably cleaner !!!! Why, what happened? did the cash suitcases arriving form the IRANIN Masters find another route!!!.the pathetic Irano-syrio last and final play is crashing down as you can see. say Bye bye to Hizb..and say hello to the NEW AMEL ” new Shiit leadership”

December 4th, 2006, 3:07 am

 

Jasmine karam said:

This is a pointless topic. Can’t believe ppl are commenting.

I just read the article about the 8 students arrested for forming a discussion group. The more I read and hear about the Syrian dictatorship the more i am saddened. As a Syrian I am ashamed that this injustice continues. I see no way out for Syria and that is more devastating. Everything i love about being Syrian and Syria fades in comparison. Anyone that supports the Basher al Assad supports his disgusting crushing of the most basic human rights… and that overcomes anything that he could possibly do good for the country. I understand ppl might support him for other reasons, or feel there is no alternative… but we must find one as the rights of humans should come before politics and. I know this is polemical, and even made unrealistic and sentimental… but the thought of young ppl rotting in a jail for nothing other than speaking their minds disgusts me and makes me realize how fortunate i am to live in a country that allows freedom of speech.

Things need to change

December 4th, 2006, 5:22 am

 

Karim said:

do u know more corrupt and criminal than asad family and relatives?
remember,bilan …Hama crushed with its population,20000 missing people, 150 billions of US dollars in the pockets of bashar and relatives.

December 4th, 2006, 5:37 am

 

Leila said:

When I was last visiting Lebanon, 6 years ago, I drove down the coast road from Sidon to Tyre. The freeway was not quite built all the way, so we drove through some towns on the old road of my childhood. I’d been in Lebanon for a couple of weeks by then and had seen Hizbullah flags all over the south and in the Bekaa. Certain towns south of Sidon seemed like Hizbullah strongholds, with young men glowering at us in our (old) Mercedes, and big yellow flags everywhere. Most of the women wore iterations of hijab, but I remember very clearly seeing a teenaged girl walking right alongside the highway in an area of shops somewhere about Sarafand – she wore tight jeans, high heels, sexy blouse, uncovered hair, plenty of makeup. I thought to myself – wow, she’s a defiant girl! Tougher than I ever could have been… I hated getting attention on the street.

Anyway. My point is – I am not surprised to see female Hizbullah supporters in a variety of outfits. The girl with the Hizbullah flag draped over her hip, belly exposed, would have shocked my Christian Lebanese grandmother (a traditional village lady in the South). I would, however, like to know the women’s stories. Are they Shi’i who support Hizb now because of the summer war? Are they Aounists? SSNP?

A good reporter would ask them and find out, rather than just contribute to the war of the babelicious demonstrator pictures.

On a literary note – just finished reading Syrian-American Mohja Kahf’s novel “The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf.” The girl of the title, born in Syria, raised conservative observant Sunni Muslim in America, goes to Saudi for haj. She is taken out to the desert by the daughter of her Saudi host – where the Saudi daughter and her friends snort coke, drive around with strange men, make out, and act the fool. Their hijabs fall off and they are dressed as provocatively as anybody in Beirut. Etc.

The protagonist wears hijab at first because of family and community standards, then when she breaks away, she experiments, but keeps a modified version.

The point I gather is that when you try to impose strict morality on people, they will rebel. Even in Saudi. Even in Hizbullah territory.
Frankly, I am not all that worried about an Iranian style mullah takeover in Lebanon. Hizbullah’s supporters themselves just wouldnt’ stand for it for too long. THere may be a determined hard core but the LEbanese, all of them, are just too diverse and ornery to put up with forced hijab. How long did the taverns of Beirut stay closed after the civil war ended? I saw bars in the SHi’ite neighborhoods right next to mosques.

Shi’ite professionals I know from South LEbanon were letting their teenaged daughter shack up with her boyfriend in Beirut in the late 70s. ??? These folk are related to Berri and not Hizbullah. The range of behavior amongst the Shi’a of Lebanon is very very broad.

Christians, quit peddling these bogeyman stories. Maybe you should talk to more Shi’ites, even Hizbullah ones.

December 4th, 2006, 6:18 am

 

Alex said:

Atassi

Please go back to your other “bye bye very soon to the Syrian regime and/or anyone remotely allied to it” predictions during the past year and count how many of those turned out to be right?

Zero? .. yes. Zero … Zero out of a tens of predictions? yes.

And all in CAPITAL LETTERS? most of them, yes.

Did it occur to you that you might be BIASED? and that you have a tendency to AMPLIFY any thing that looks like bad news for the regime or its friends anywhere? then to build dreams around those imaginary bad news? yes.

I know you are a nice person and that you are very smart and well educated. And I know that you are subscribed to Syria news and that you read tons of articles that you receive by email.

But political analysis of Syria is not your most impressive skill… and you are an example of why I am not too enthusiastic for the regime alternatives I have seen so far. I can expect some improvement (less political prisoners), but I can expect some deterioration as well… basically, overall it is not worth a risk of change…

Jasmine, Saddam used to kill quite of few opponents on a weekly basis … yet today Kofi Anan said that Iraq was better off under Saddam.

The reform process in Syria is desirable and necessary, but only if it is done in a realistic, logical, and well planned way… and not by those who think it is actually possible to simply jump with total ease and security to their desired outcomes (which differ from one Syrian reformer to the other).

December 4th, 2006, 6:23 am

 

D.B Shobrawy said:

The “hotness” is fairly half and half, as far as the good half, who knew Hezbollah could be so ummmm stimulating?

December 4th, 2006, 8:03 am

 

Jasmine said:

Alex, i totally get your point; some evils are better than others. But you talk of reform process. Many thought the coming of Bashar would be the beginning of that process… initally it seemed it was… but we seem to have gone back to the same old thing. How can we reform if those that can help reform are not allowed to speak.

I can understand the fear that ppl have of massive change; iraq is a living breatng example. But with iraq change has not been from its own auspeice and America had not thought out the possible outcomes. If syria can get a strong reform movement that is gienue maybe we have hope

December 4th, 2006, 8:21 am

 

ivanka said:

صحيفة الأخبار : بري قدم اقتراحاً مفصلاً.. وعن لسان السيد نصرالله : “لو قتل منا ألف رجل فلن نرد سوى بتصعيد تحركنا السلمي”.
الملخص:مواقف
الخرق السياسي الذي كان منتظراً وسط هذا التوتر السياسي والشعبي، اقتصر على نصف مبادرة قام بها الأمين العام للجامعة العربية عمرو موسى الذي واصل خلال ساعات الليل اجتماعاته بأقطاب من قوى السلطة بحثاً عن مخرج للأزمة بعدما تلقى من الرئيس نبيه بري اقتراحاً مفصلاً دون أن يحمل إليه جديدا ً.
وقال بري لـ”الأخبار” إنه لا يريد الإفصاح عن اقتراحه تاركاً لموسى القيام بجهده، لكنه لفت الى ان ما نقل إليه عن لسان قوى السلطة لا يحمل أي تغيير بل يشير الى تمسكهم بموقفهم دون الالتفات الى ما يحصل في الشارع، مبدياً أسفه لحادثة مقتل الشاب أحمد المحمود وقال إنه كلف قيادة “أمل” العمل على احتواء الموقف فيما نقل عن لسان الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصر الله قوله إنه “لو قتل منا ألف رجل فلن نرد سوى بتصعيد تحركنا السلمي”.

The person who said this is called a terrorist in the west, “If they kill a thousand people we will only answer peacefully”. Aren’t you ahamed of yourselves western journalists. Hassan Nasralla is practically quoting Ghandi and you call him a terrorist.

December 4th, 2006, 8:39 am

 

ivanka said:

Jasmine is perfectly right. Change from the outside spells disaster but the best thing that could happen to us is a strong completely Syrian reform movement. No regime is stronger that a strong domestic opposition that people like.

December 4th, 2006, 8:41 am

 

Innocent_Criminal said:

I think what it boils down to is that sex sells, just like it sells deodorant it can also sell political views. And as sad, shallow and wrong as it might be, it does work very effectively.

December 4th, 2006, 9:25 am

 

Dubai Jazz said:

Could it be that both competing blokes (opposition on one side and the 14th of march on the other) are driving the political race even ‘hotter’ so that female protesters wear more revealing clothes?

December 4th, 2006, 12:08 pm

 

Antoun said:

Before we throw ourselves in a debate over who has the sexiest women, it’s important to note that most of the pics shown are of “Orange” girls, in other words Christian FPMers.

Another tip for those who haven’t visited Lebanon. Lebanon by absolutely no means looks up to either Iran nor Saudi Arabia for fashion tips.

Beirut is a cosmopolitan, and to be honest, extremely superficial city (I would say more so than the West). It’s all about the look and the brand, regardless of whether you’re Muslim or Christian. Consumerism is the new religion in Beirut.

Don’t be shocked by what you see, this is post-1990 Lebanon.

December 4th, 2006, 1:28 pm

 

Ehsani2 said:

http://www.aei.org/publications/filter.all,pubID.25189/pub_detail.asp

Rather than retreating, it is not out of the question that the White House ends up deciding to send “more” troops in an effort to win Baghdad and security back.

December 4th, 2006, 1:47 pm

 

Innocent_Criminal said:

John Bolton just resigned 😀 hope they keep dropping like flies

BTW Josh, What’s the story with the Syriacomment.com banner in the picture?  Is this blog so successful that you have a budget for some gorilla marketing now? ;)?

December 4th, 2006, 2:46 pm

 

Atassi said:

Alex,
Yes, I am biased if your definition of being biased based on:
Not having a faith that the regime working and carrying on the interest of the Syrian people.
Believing that the regime most ultimate goal is to keep grip on power at any cost and its worst nightmare is losing it.
Believing that the regime has been thriving on sectarian base, nepotism, spreading fears and regional gothic.
The performance and historical facts of your beloved regime are well known, and it’s difficult to defend it….
As you may have known, I do read tons of articles on a daily bases, but my track record as good “political analyses ”of Syrian affair is known in the Syrian community.

December 4th, 2006, 2:59 pm

 

Atassi said:

Alex, This reading for you:

I. SYRIA: Regime interests dictate regional policies

“An Oxford Analytica In-depth Analysis”

EVENT: Jordan’s King Abdallah II warned on November 26 that civil wars could break out in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.
SIGNIFICANCE: The killing of Lebanese politician Pierre Gemayel has again focused attention on the interests and motives of the Syrian regime in the region. Syria is a potentially important player in the region’s major problems, but there is a contradiction between the interests of Syria as a state and those of its regime. Amid talk of engaging with Syria over Iraq and other regional issues, an understanding of its motives and capabilities is critical.
ANALYSIS:
The base of the Syrian regime has gradually narrowed under President Bashar al-Assad. When his father Hafez died in 2000, his lieutenants quickly united to select Bashar as the successor in order to maintain the status quo and avoid the risks of a competition for power between the men who controlled the various security and military organisations that sustain the regime in power.

Key insights
• The base of the regime has narrowed as Bashar has placed members of his family and clan in the key military and security posts, but it is strong enough to survive even if it is too weak to push through vital reforms.
• Syria wants Washington to recognise that Damascus must play a pivotal role in dealing with Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and other regional issues.
• There are contradictions between the interests of the regime and the state — but it is the former that will prevail.
• It is vital for the regime that the Hariri investigation is stopped, diverted or bargained away. As such, its overriding priority is to press for a change of government in Lebanon — and this will influence its approach to other regional issues.

Bashar constrained.
Bashar acts and speaks as someone wielding ultimate authority, but it is uncertain quite how much power he possesses. It appears that he can only act within certain limits imposed by the nature of the regime and the interests of its main military and security functionaries. He has weeded out some of the older figures from his father’s era, and others, such as former vice-president Abdul Halim Khaddam, have gone into opposition and exile (see SYRIA: Regime defiant in face of outside pressures – January 25, 2006).
The military and security organisations have been placed in the hands of his relatives or close associates of his extended family:
• His brother Maher has an oversight role in the security field and controls the armed units that protect the presidency and the regime.
• His sister Bushra, by some accounts the most intelligent and forceful member of the family, is married to Assef Shawkat, who commands military intelligence.
This has caused resentment within the wider Alawi community, which under his father enjoyed greater access to power and resources. They will not move against Bashar as this would bring the whole regime down, but they are discontented.
The limits of Bashar’s power are shown by the way that he tolerates the activities of relations and friends and their allies in business. They blatantly use their connections to enrich themselves, often in alliance with members of the Sunni business community. This also causes discontent.
Reform limits. Despite much talk of reform, Bashar has made very little progress, and Syria remains a sort of fossil regime from the 1960s when it was created:
• The large ministries run by technocrats are deeply conservative and the employees fear the consequences of change.
• State industries are grossly overmanned.
• There are many vested interests that the regime does not want to offend, particularly as its base narrows (see SYRIA: Unreformed economy suits regime stability – November 24, 2006).
• Bashar leads the Ba’ath Party but it is controlled by apparatchiks who benefit from the status quo.
• There have been some superficial reforms within the party, but it has long been shorn of ideology and has become a vehicle for rewarding loyalty with patronage (see SYRIA: Ba’ath congress proposes cosmetic reforms – June 16, 2005).
Compared with Saudi Arabia, and even Libya, Syria has moved very little. This was shown very clearly in a recent conference in Damascus organised by Bashar’s father-in-law, Fawaz Akhras, to show Bashar and the regime the potential benefits of reform. The many Syrian businessmen in the audience were deeply sceptical about whether the regime is capable of responding — other than on the basis of too little, too late.
Stasis. There is no effective organised opposition and none will be allowed to emerge. The Muslim Brotherhood remains influential but it ceased to function as grouping within Syria when it was ruthlessly suppressed in the early 1980s after it challenged the regime. Syrian society has become more overtly religious in recent years and, given a chance, the brotherhood might quickly re-establish itself (see SYRIA: Islamists to benefit from regime collapse – October 19, 2005):
• There is considerable discontent within the majority Sunni community at the power wielded by the Alawis and some of their Sunni friends but it rarely finds public expression.
• There are other exile figures such as Khaddam, but he had an unsavoury reputation when vice-president, and it is difficult see many flocking to his cause — even though he has set up a common front with the Brotherhood in exile.
The regime is strong enough to survive but too weak and timid to use its power for the long-term benefit of its people. Economic problems are likely to get much worse and the eventual solution may be very painful. Syria will become a net importer of oil around 2010. On most measures of economic and human development the country is already behind most of the Arab regimes. The gap will increase.
This regime may eventually fall apart, but not in the short or medium term without the intervention of some major cataclysm — such as a war with Israel — that the regime will seek to avoid. There may one day be a change of leader, but for the time being Bashar is well entrenched and there are no obvious challengers. If a change were to take place, his successor could be another member of his family or clan.
Regional aims. Syria’s objectives in the region are clear, encompassing:
• the return of the Golan;
• an Arab-Israeli peace deal based on 1967 borders, which Syria plays a major role in bringing about;
• a Lebanon under Syrian influence; and
• an Iraq that does not pose a threat.
Beyond that there is a vision of a strong Syria that returns to its rightful place at the heart of the Arab world and is recognised by the international community as an important player.
Regime interests. The methods used by the regime in meeting these objectives cause problems, and there often seems to be a contradiction between the interests of the Syrian state and those of the regime. This is best shown in Syria’s attitude to the UN investigation into the Hariri assassination. The contradictions are exacerbated by Bashar’s personality. One day he will make a well-argued and coherent speech expressed in moderate language and the next a tirade in which he seeks to articulate what he believes are popular feelings. They may be addressed to different audiences, but are these days heard by all. Some close to him suggest that he can get too caught up with the emotion of the moment and speaks when it would be wiser to wait or stay silent.
US engagement. It used to be said that there can be no war against Israel without Egypt and no peace without Syria. The return of the Golan has been a central aim since it was taken in the 1967 war. There is a genuine sense of betrayal about the US-sponsored negotiations in 2000 when Damascus thought it had obtained and made significant concessions. The Syrian army realises that it cannot defeat Israel militarily, and that the cost of launching a limited war on the lines of 1973 would be too high. Damascus knows that the route to the Golan lies through Washington, but it lacks the cards needed to extract assistance from what it sees as a pro-Israeli US administration.
Causing difficulties. In recent years it has tried the different tactic of using its ability to cause difficulties for Washington in other regional problems to force the administration to open a dialogue with Damascus. Washington has so far resisted, and has avoided repeating the mistake of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s misconceived visit to Damascus in 2001.
Washington learned in the Hafez era that those carrying concessions to Damascus are treated to a lengthy exposition of the Syrian case and leave without being offered anything in return. There was no doubt that Hafez was in charge and could deliver. He was respected.
Bashar has yet to earn that respect. So far his achievements include a gradual increase in US sanctions, humiliation in Lebanon and the loss to Syria of its friends in Riyadh, Cairo and Amman.
Lebanon interests. Syria’s tactics are best displayed in Lebanon. Following the Hariri assassination it was forced into a humiliating withdrawal, and key members of the regime appear to be threatened by the UN investigation. Since then it has struggled to delay and divert the UN inquiry and to look for opportunities to restore its influence in Lebanon by working with the Hizbollah and its traditional allies around the presidency. Events for once have played into Syria’s hands:
• It received credit for the ‘victory’ of Hizbollah in the summer fighting with Israel — and the wave of emotion that spread through the Arab world.
• Bashar positioned himself as a champion of the new concept of ‘resistance’ to Israel, Washington and pro-US regimes in the region (see SYRIA:Temporary triumphalism masks increased isolation – September 1, 2006).
• Whether or not Syria had a hand in the recent political assassinations may never be known. However, its past tactics make it an instant suspect, and the killings have served its interests in both stymieing the UN inquiry and giving its allies the chance to force the government to admit Syria’s allies and give them a virtual veto (see LEBANON:Gemayel assassination weakens Syria and allies – November 23, 2006).
Shia axis. The relationship with Iran dates from the 1980s when the two sides saw the Saddam regime as a common threat. It has been sustained by high-level visits and given substance through joint support of Hizbollah, economic cooperation and by their anti-US and anti-Israeli posture. It was given fresh impetus by Hizbollah’s performance this summer:
• Syria positioned itself as a part of a new axis of power in the region that might embrace an Iraqi Shia government, a Hizbollah-dominated government in Lebanon and Shia communities elsewhere.
• Damascus hoped that Sunni groups, disenchanted with what they see as the supine attitude of Arab regimes to Washington and Israel, might join in.
It was in this context that Bashar made a speech in August that managed to insult moderate Arab leaders, who were offended and anxious to retaliate. Syria may now be having second thoughts, as it sees the wave of emotion peter out. It has been making overtures to the moderate Arabs, but they want the impossible in return — some reduction in the relationship with Iran. Many in Syria, but not in the regime, point out that the majority community in Syria is Sunni, and that its interests do not lie in supporting a new Shia axis.
Iraq interests. Syria’s tactics in Iraq were recently described as a senior US official as a mixture of incompetence and malevolence. There are 700,000 Iraqis in Syria, including people organising some of the insurgents. Insurgents linked to al-Qaida appear to enter Iraq through Syrian territory.
Syria is a police state where the security authorities have great powers of surveillance and control, even allowing for the size of the Iraqi presence and the length and terrain of the border. However, the regime has an interest in sustaining the insurgency:
• It will ensure that Syria has a stake in any discussions in the future of Iraq and some control over which insurgent groups can best serve its interests.
• There is also a genuine desire to help the Iraqis throw out the US ‘occupiers’.
• Syria will ensure that its actions do not bring US retaliation, but remain a serious irritant.
Hamas support. Syria provides sanctuary for Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal, and through him and its support for Hamas seeks to influence the scale of resistance in Palestine. Damascus believes that there can be no effective government in Palestine unless Syria agrees. It may have encouraged Hamas to maintain the rocket attacks from Gaza. It supports other rejectionist groups. The Jordanians have uncovered evidence of Syria trying to smuggle arms to Hamas, although Hamas appears to get plenty of weapons across the Egyptian border. Again, Syria is demonstrating to Washington, Europe and other Arab capitals that it is indispensable to any peace process — or to managing a prolonged period of non-peace.
Regime priority. Syria’s handling of the Hariri investigation goes to the heart of the problems and contradictions of the regime. Its reactions clearly show that it is frightened of what the investigators may find. Leaks at earlier stages indicated that there could be evidence implicating Shawkat. It is hardly possible to get closer to Bashar, who cannot sacrifice his brother-in-law. Shawkat may be disliked by some of the family, but Bushra and her mother still have a powerful influence and will fight to protect him. Khaddam claims that Shawkat was acting under orders from Bashar, though there is no other evidence for this.
It is of paramount importance to the regime that the inquiry is stopped, deflected or bargained away. The interests of Syria, state or people, will come a poor second to this objective, and Syria’s approach to the other regional issues will be affected by it — but mostly in Lebanon.
CONCLUSION: This regime is here to stay at least for the medium term. It has the power to deal with the potential domestic threats and will stop short of provoking its external enemies from attacking it. Dealing with this regime will be uncomfortable, given the divergence between its interests and those of Syria as a state.

I. SYRIA: Regime interests dictate regional policies
Friday, December 1 2006
An Oxford Analytica In-depth Analysis
EVENT: Jordan’s King Abdallah II warned on November 26 that civil wars could break out in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.
SIGNIFICANCE: The killing of Lebanese politician Pierre Gemayel has again focused attention on the interests and motives of the Syrian regime in the region. Syria is a potentially important player in the region’s major problems, but there is a contradiction between the interests of Syria as a state and those of its regime. Amid talk of engaging with Syria over Iraq and other regional issues, an understanding of its motives and capabilities is critical.
ANALYSIS: The base of the Syrian regime has gradually narrowed under President Bashar al-Assad. When his father Hafez died in 2000, his lieutenants quickly united to select Bashar as the successor in order to maintain the status quo and avoid the risks of a competition for power between the men who controlled the various security and military organisations that sustain the regime in power.

Key insights
• The base of the regime has narrowed as Bashar has placed members of his family and clan in the key military and security posts, but it is strong enough to survive even if it is too weak to push through vital reforms.
• Syria wants Washington to recognise that Damascus must play a pivotal role in dealing with Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and other regional issues.
• There are contradictions between the interests of the regime and the state — but it is the former that will prevail.
• It is vital for the regime that the Hariri investigation is stopped, diverted or bargained away. As such, its overriding priority is to press for a change of government in Lebanon — and this will influence its approach to other regional issues.

Bashar constrained. Bashar acts and speaks as someone wielding ultimate authority, but it is uncertain quite how much power he possesses. It appears that he can only act within certain limits imposed by the nature of the regime and the interests of its main military and security functionaries. He has weeded out some of the older figures from his father’s era, and others, such as former vice-president Abdul Halim Khaddam, have gone into opposition and exile (see SYRIA: Regime defiant in face of outside pressures – January 25, 2006).
The military and security organisations have been placed in the hands of his relatives or close associates of his extended family:
• His brother Maher has an oversight role in the security field and controls the armed units that protect the presidency and the regime.
• His sister Bushra, by some accounts the most intelligent and forceful member of the family, is married to Assef Shawkat, who commands military intelligence.
This has caused resentment within the wider Alawi community, which under his father enjoyed greater access to power and resources. They will not move against Bashar as this would bring the whole regime down, but they are discontented.
The limits of Bashar’s power are shown by the way that he tolerates the activities of relations and friends and their allies in business. They blatantly use their connections to enrich themselves, often in alliance with members of the Sunni business community. This also causes discontent.
Reform limits. Despite much talk of reform, Bashar has made very little progress, and Syria remains a sort of fossil regime from the 1960s when it was created:
• The large ministries run by technocrats are deeply conservative and the employees fear the consequences of change.
• State industries are grossly overmanned.
• There are many vested interests that the regime does not want to offend, particularly as its base narrows (see SYRIA: Unreformed economy suits regime stability – November 24, 2006).
• Bashar leads the Ba’ath Party but it is controlled by apparatchiks who benefit from the status quo.
• There have been some superficial reforms within the party, but it has long been shorn of ideology and has become a vehicle for rewarding loyalty with patronage (see SYRIA: Ba’ath congress proposes cosmetic reforms – June 16, 2005).
Compared with Saudi Arabia, and even Libya, Syria has moved very little. This was shown very clearly in a recent conference in Damascus organised by Bashar’s father-in-law, Fawaz Akhras, to show Bashar and the regime the potential benefits of reform. The many Syrian businessmen in the audience were deeply sceptical about whether the regime is capable of responding — other than on the basis of too little, too late.
Stasis. There is no effective organised opposition and none will be allowed to emerge. The Muslim Brotherhood remains influential but it ceased to function as grouping within Syria when it was ruthlessly suppressed in the early 1980s after it challenged the regime. Syrian society has become more overtly religious in recent years and, given a chance, the brotherhood might quickly re-establish itself (see SYRIA: Islamists to benefit from regime collapse – October 19, 2005):
• There is considerable discontent within the majority Sunni community at the power wielded by the Alawis and some of their Sunni friends but it rarely finds public expression.
• There are other exile figures such as Khaddam, but he had an unsavoury reputation when vice-president, and it is difficult see many flocking to his cause — even though he has set up a common front with the Brotherhood in exile.
The regime is strong enough to survive but too weak and timid to use its power for the long-term benefit of its people. Economic problems are likely to get much worse and the eventual solution may be very painful. Syria will become a net importer of oil around 2010. On most measures of economic and human development the country is already behind most of the Arab regimes. The gap will increase.
This regime may eventually fall apart, but not in the short or medium term without the intervention of some major cataclysm — such as a war with Israel — that the regime will seek to avoid. There may one day be a change of leader, but for the time being Bashar is well entrenched and there are no obvious challengers. If a change were to take place, his successor could be another member of his family or clan.
Regional aims. Syria’s objectives in the region are clear, encompassing:
• the return of the Golan;
• an Arab-Israeli peace deal based on 1967 borders, which Syria plays a major role in bringing about;
• a Lebanon under Syrian influence; and
• an Iraq that does not pose a threat.
Beyond that there is a vision of a strong Syria that returns to its rightful place at the heart of the Arab world and is recognised by the international community as an important player.
Regime interests. The methods used by the regime in meeting these objectives cause problems, and there often seems to be a contradiction between the interests of the Syrian state and those of the regime. This is best shown in Syria’s attitude to the UN investigation into the Hariri assassination. The contradictions are exacerbated by Bashar’s personality. One day he will make a well-argued and coherent speech expressed in moderate language and the next a tirade in which he seeks to articulate what he believes are popular feelings. They may be addressed to different audiences, but are these days heard by all. Some close to him suggest that he can get too caught up with the emotion of the moment and speaks when it would be wiser to wait or stay silent.
US engagement. It used to be said that there can be no war against Israel without Egypt and no peace without Syria. The return of the Golan has been a central aim since it was taken in the 1967 war. There is a genuine sense of betrayal about the US-sponsored negotiations in 2000 when Damascus thought it had obtained and made significant concessions. The Syrian army realises that it cannot defeat Israel militarily, and that the cost of launching a limited war on the lines of 1973 would be too high. Damascus knows that the route to the Golan lies through Washington, but it lacks the cards needed to extract assistance from what it sees as a pro-Israeli US administration.
Causing difficulties. In recent years it has tried the different tactic of using its ability to cause difficulties for Washington in other regional problems to force the administration to open a dialogue with Damascus. Washington has so far resisted, and has avoided repeating the mistake of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s misconceived visit to Damascus in 2001.
Washington learned in the Hafez era that those carrying concessions to Damascus are treated to a lengthy exposition of the Syrian case and leave without being offered anything in return. There was no doubt that Hafez was in charge and could deliver. He was respected.
Bashar has yet to earn that respect. So far his achievements include a gradual increase in US sanctions, humiliation in Lebanon and the loss to Syria of its friends in Riyadh, Cairo and Amman.
Lebanon interests. Syria’s tactics are best displayed in Lebanon. Following the Hariri assassination it was forced into a humiliating withdrawal, and key members of the regime appear to be threatened by the UN investigation. Since then it has struggled to delay and divert the UN inquiry and to look for opportunities to restore its influence in Lebanon by working with the Hizbollah and its traditional allies around the presidency. Events for once have played into Syria’s hands:
• It received credit for the ‘victory’ of Hizbollah in the summer fighting with Israel — and the wave of emotion that spread through the Arab world.
• Bashar positioned himself as a champion of the new concept of ‘resistance’ to Israel, Washington and pro-US regimes in the region (see SYRIA:Temporary triumphalism masks increased isolation – September 1, 2006).
• Whether or not Syria had a hand in the recent political assassinations may never be known. However, its past tactics make it an instant suspect, and the killings have served its interests in both stymieing the UN inquiry and giving its allies the chance to force the government to admit Syria’s allies and give them a virtual veto (see LEBANON:Gemayel assassination weakens Syria and allies – November 23, 2006).
Shia axis. The relationship with Iran dates from the 1980s when the two sides saw the Saddam regime as a common threat. It has been sustained by high-level visits and given substance through joint support of Hizbollah, economic cooperation and by their anti-US and anti-Israeli posture. It was given fresh impetus by Hizbollah’s performance this summer:
• Syria positioned itself as a part of a new axis of power in the region that might embrace an Iraqi Shia government, a Hizbollah-dominated government in Lebanon and Shia communities elsewhere.
• Damascus hoped that Sunni groups, disenchanted with what they see as the supine attitude of Arab regimes to Washington and Israel, might join in.
It was in this context that Bashar made a speech in August that managed to insult moderate Arab leaders, who were offended and anxious to retaliate. Syria may now be having second thoughts, as it sees the wave of emotion peter out. It has been making overtures to the moderate Arabs, but they want the impossible in return — some reduction in the relationship with Iran. Many in Syria, but not in the regime, point out that the majority community in Syria is Sunni, and that its interests do not lie in supporting a new Shia axis.
Iraq interests. Syria’s tactics in Iraq were recently described as a senior US official as a mixture of incompetence and malevolence. There are 700,000 Iraqis in Syria, including people organising some of the insurgents. Insurgents linked to al-Qaida appear to enter Iraq through Syrian territory.
Syria is a police state where the security authorities have great powers of surveillance and control, even allowing for the size of the Iraqi presence and the length and terrain of the border. However, the regime has an interest in sustaining the insurgency:
• It will ensure that Syria has a stake in any discussions in the future of Iraq and some control over which insurgent groups can best serve its interests.
• There is also a genuine desire to help the Iraqis throw out the US ‘occupiers’.
• Syria will ensure that its actions do not bring US retaliation, but remain a serious irritant.
Hamas support. Syria provides sanctuary for Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal, and through him and its support for Hamas seeks to influence the scale of resistance in Palestine. Damascus believes that there can be no effective government in Palestine unless Syria agrees. It may have encouraged Hamas to maintain the rocket attacks from Gaza. It supports other rejectionist groups. The Jordanians have uncovered evidence of Syria trying to smuggle arms to Hamas, although Hamas appears to get plenty of weapons across the Egyptian border. Again, Syria is demonstrating to Washington, Europe and other Arab capitals that it is indispensable to any peace process — or to managing a prolonged period of non-peace.
Regime priority. Syria’s handling of the Hariri investigation goes to the heart of the problems and contradictions of the regime. Its reactions clearly show that it is frightened of what the investigators may find. Leaks at earlier stages indicated that there could be evidence implicating Shawkat. It is hardly possible to get closer to Bashar, who cannot sacrifice his brother-in-law. Shawkat may be disliked by some of the family, but Bushra and her mother still have a powerful influence and will fight to protect him. Khaddam claims that Shawkat was acting under orders from Bashar, though there is no other evidence for this.
It is of paramount importance to the regime that the inquiry is stopped, deflected or bargained away. The interests of Syria, state or people, will come a poor second to this objective, and Syria’s approach to the other regional issues will be affected by it — but mostly in Lebanon.
CONCLUSION: This regime is here to stay at least for the medium term. It has the power to deal with the potential domestic threats and will stop short of provoking its external enemies from attacking it. Dealing with this regime will be uncomfortable, given the divergence between its interests and those of Syria as a state.

December 4th, 2006, 3:42 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

What kept the regime in syria till now ? first the security that it provides,seeing Iraq swim in horribble massacres,and previously mistakes by Saddam,civil war in Lebanon,major trouble was in jordan before.
also Bashar has increased the goverment employees salaries from 4-5 thousand a month ,6 years ago to close to 10,000 lira a month,now.
the hatred of syrians to the USA as it supports Isreal, while they see Syrian foreign policy as nationalist and supportive of the Arab cause, at the time they see Egypt and Jordan submit to the demands of Isreal, especilly after this long strugle, I mean the arab isreali fight,they do support Bashar policy against Isreal.
the previous coups one after another coup that syria witnessed,they all were useless.
However the security forces control in Syria,the corruptions , the increase in population,and recently the concessions he is giving to USA ,these factors are bound to cause resentment among syrian, I think the Hariri investigations will be the match that fire the revolution.
Alex said the regime change that we expected soon did not happen, Alex needs to be reminded that soon meens 2-3 years, regime change is coming,just wait.

December 4th, 2006, 4:00 pm

 

Alex said:

What is happening in Lebanon is to some extent a natural and expected rebellion against all the things that are terribly wrong .. including all the lies, including the Saudis exerting too much influence through Saad Hariri and others, including the American ambassador replacing Rustom Ghazali in his interference in everything… the same way many Lebanese were not happy with the old days of too much Syrian influence (and related corruption) today many Lebanese are not happy with too much Saudi American influence and related corruption (by the same corrupt group that existed in the days of Syrian control)

In addition to internal Lebanese dynamics, again, this is to a large extent the old Syrian Saudi Egyptian competition for influence in the Middle East. The Saudis last year after the fall of Iraq, and the popular predictions of an apparent “near collapse of the Syrian regime” had their expectations a bit too high about their new role as the father of the Arab world (Egypt being the mother). The American script writers of the new play were watching and assisting confidently and happily backstage… Jordan was playing the role of the son very well, Beirut was too, so was “Iraq” … but not Syria, and the new unwelcome ugly supporting actor they brought with them, Iran.

For those who never paid attention to it, Arab-Arab competition can be destructive. Saddam fueled the Lebanese civil war and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood’s violence in the eighties in order to try to topple his Syrian enemy, Hafez al-Assad. King Hussein tried to assassinate Hafez Assad, and Hafez obstructed “peace efforts” in the region for ever.

Those who thought that Bashar’s “half men” comment was an emotional mistake by the young president, should have read it for what it is … a loud and clear way to announce that last couple of years’ attempt to reduce Syria to the role of one of the children of the parents of the Arab world (Saudi and Egypt) is not a role Syria is willing to play.

Time to go back to the old script that existed under Hafez Assad, Mubarak and King Fahd … three equals… Iran’s role can be limited to moderate influence in its neighboring Iraq at most (arguably a natural role to play), if the three Arab sides (Syria Egypt and Saudi Arabia) can go back to cooperating… hint hint to those who are investigating ways for reducing Iranian influence in the area.

Despite losing part of the Palestinian card to Syria, Egypt is quite secure about its overall role in teh Arab world which is naturally Egypt’s to keep. But Saudi Arabia and Syria are the ones who need to fight to earn their leading roles … the danger in Lebanon today is that the Saudis’ expectations for their role in Syria’s immediate neighbor the past few years got unrealistically high … and unmet expectations are dangerous. The Saudis should have realized from the time Abdel Nasser tried to play a daddy’s role in Lebanon that it does not work that way .. not for long.

And back to something I mentioned yesterday.. this time the four personalities leading the opposition are not the type the Saudi ambassador can buy with his money (although he has been trying hard the past week)… Aoun, Frangiyeh, Hoss, and … Nasrallah. Syria is comfortable with the lasting power of “the alliance”

Here is the latest escalation .. from Saudi and Egypt this time.

What does it mean in reality? what will they do?

“إسقاط حكومة فؤاد السنيورة .. خط أحمر”، بهذه العبارة سربت مصادر دبلوماسية فحوى التوافق المصري ـ السعودي، بشأن التعامل مع الأزمة اللبنانية الراهنة، ونفى المصدر السياسي الذي تحدثت معه (إيلاف) أن تكون لدى القاهرة أو الرياض أدني رغبة للتورط في الشأن الداخلي اللبناني، إذا ظل داخلياً، ولم تكن له تبعاته الإقليمية، لافتاً إلى أنه لم يعد سراً أن الأزمة اللبنانية لها أبعادها الإقليمية غير الخافية، فقوى المعارضة تربطها صلة لا تنكرها الأطراف المعنية بإيران وسورية .

December 4th, 2006, 4:15 pm

 

Alex said:

Atassi,

One of the reasons those predictions are not going too well is that they keep assuming that the regime is working only for its own interest .. the regime, like most politicians around the world, definitely take their survival in power into account, but if they were that selfish, the Syrian people would have revolted by now. There is a reson why the Syrian people did not revolt .. a majority of them find their regime “reasonable overall”, despite the corruption.

And regarding your analysis of politics in Syria … you have a burning desire to see one particular outcome. That will make it difficult for you to not bias your perception of reality.

In journalism, there is a difference between an opinion writer, and a news reporter. The first is expected to express his strong opinion (personal) on news stories. The news reporter, on the other hand, is supposed to report it the way it is in reality, without injecting his personal preferences in the way … You are capable of being an opinion writer, but your strong bias prevents you from being a neutral news reporter.

December 4th, 2006, 4:40 pm

 

Ehsani2 said:

My friend Alex,

what do you consider yourself to be? Are you an opinion writer or a news reporter?

December 4th, 2006, 4:56 pm

 

Global Voices Online » Blog Archive » Lebanon: The Babes of Hizbullah said:

[…] Are Hizbullah babes as photogenic as Hariri’s? A debate has broken out about whether the most recent crop of demonstrators are as telegenic as those of the March 14 crowd. Joshua Landis has some photos and links highlighting the Babes of Hizbullah. Haitham Sabbah […]

December 4th, 2006, 5:15 pm

 

Alex said:

🙂

Ehsani!

Before I start writing anything, I decide if it is going to be a news or an opinion. The above was obviously more of an opinion type. When I feel more confident, when I can see more clearly, I form an opinion and I write an opinion. But when there is no clarity (like in Iraq) I stay away from predictions and strong opinions.

Majedkhaldoun, in 3 years everything is possible. But the way things change in the Middle East, it is safer if we classify that under “only God knows” category.

December 4th, 2006, 5:22 pm

 

Atassi said:

Then, Yes please count me on your list as a biased and discontent with the Family-Owned regime in Syria, until I see a good objectives and non superficial reforms on the grounds, nothing will change my mind…..

December 4th, 2006, 5:29 pm

 

frank al irlandi said:

Joshua

Helena Cobban is very upset on her blog.

On balance I think you are quite right to publish.Part of the power of bloggers is that they let us see that people in the Middle East are just the same as us, even down to the same jeans, T-Shirts and tattoos.

It beats doom and gloom all the time.

December 4th, 2006, 10:34 pm

 

Alan Cabal said:

Lebanon rocks my world! Beirut is my favorite city. I can’t wait to get back there. I’m going as soon as the Zionist Insect eats the flaming death it so rightly deserves.

Rock on, Hezbollah!

December 4th, 2006, 10:37 pm

 

Burt Halbot said:

Yes, nice of them to have outspoken opinions, but what counts is the form of those calves, Joshua’s I mean, and those of the other boys of the Centre. Don’t you think that a co-director of the “Center of Peace Studies” should have reasonably acceptable calves? I mean, they don’t need to be beautiful, but they should be at least moderately elegant. Do your calves pass this criteria, Joshua, or is there something to hide? Why not a picture of them, so we can assess them? And tell us; what is the fashion code for co-directors nowadays? We have a right to know. Don’t dissappoint us, please.
Thank you.

December 4th, 2006, 11:32 pm

 

Enlightened said:

LOL

Just read all your comments , I have to visit Birut next year! We are booking an entire A30!

December 4th, 2006, 11:53 pm

 

Helena said:

No, Frank, I’m not “very upset”. I just think that the phenomenon of guys passing around pictures like these with breathless comments and comparisons about “babes” etc is really demeaning to women, and childish; and I guess I’m disappointed that someone like Josh who has a position of responsibility in a “Center for Peace Studies” at a large state university would be as sexist and exclusionary as this.

And Frank, your comment is quite interesting. Are peole “just the same as us” only if they sport jeans, t-shirts, and tattoos? But what about the ones who don’t? Are they different from “us” in any way that is at all morally or politically significant? Perhaps thereby less worthy of “our” concern? (Whoever the “we” in question is at this juncture, which I don’t even want to speculate about.)

And then, we have the smutty, leering tone of most of the discussion sparked here. Yuk. Still, Josh invited it with his post.

December 5th, 2006, 12:45 am

 

Frank al Irlandi said:

Helena

One of the complaints the British Military have in Iraq is that the US troops treat the Iraqis as “Untermensch” subhmans. I rember a TV interview with a US Marine in 2004 where he said he was on his way to Falluja to “Kill terrorists”.

The Israelis projected themselves as bombing “Hizballh” an anonymous entity but we knew they were bombing women and children. The blogs let us see that the “Hizballah Fighters” are in fact often part timers who are really teachers and farmers and bookkeepers very similar to the Territorials and National Guard and Weekend Warriors that we once were.

What I like about middle eastern bloggers is that they allow us to empathise with them. These kids could just as well be our sons and daughters, off to a “Stop the War” demo in Hyde Park. I don’t read Arabic or persian well enough to read their blogs in those laguages so I read english ones.

One of my teachers complained that she found that people thought that they rode camels in the centre of Cairo.(Crossing Tahrir Square might be safer if they did.) You realise with some surprise, as I did, that Damascus is a modern city as you look down from the top of Jebel Qaisun.

If bloggers`let us see pictures that make us realise that they “are people just like us” then they go a long way towards the process of unlearning that Edward Said talks about in Orientalism.

It is where the power of Leila Umm Yusuf and HebaZ from Gaza struggling with two young kids and a part time MBA comes from.

So let me paraphrase some of the comments above:

Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead.
Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them.
Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks.
Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.
Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies.

December 5th, 2006, 4:11 pm

 

Paul D said:

I’m with Helena on this.

So it’s –

Joshua Landis
Co-director, Piece of Ass Studies
University of Oklahoma

Credibilty — shredded.

December 5th, 2006, 5:48 pm

 

Alex said:

I still support this post. It made readers more aware of the fact that “sex sells” and how applies in Lebanese politics too … last year it sold very well to too many silly foreign journalists, and it biased their reporting in an obvious way.

But as a compromise, Josh you should consider adding photos of western-looking young Hizbollah and Aoun male supporters too, not only the female ones.

December 5th, 2006, 8:10 pm

 

Sven said:

I think Mr Landis’ decision to focus on the feminine is well-placed.

Who are the fomenters of war? Is it not predominately the male of the speices?

I feel that by focusing on the feminine one is defusing the violence, consider it from an environmental standpoint, we have seen that the Save the Whales campaign, while not totally successful, has seen a marked increase in whale numbers. Similarly a Save The Babes campaign could help to foster a reduction in indiscriminate bombing and laying of landmines.

Viewing these women what kind of male would want to see their cities and countrysides laid to waste?

This is actually the most basic means of curbing the violence that is all too endemic to that part of the world, thanks largely to US supplying cluster bombs, smart bombs, not to mention the destruction of Iraq for some 15 years or more.

Join Joshua in promoting peace, not war.

December 5th, 2006, 9:14 pm

 

t_desco said:

Zenobia, for the record, I’m not responsible for this blog entry and I personally wouldn’t have posted the fifth picture; instead I would have included the picture from Al-Akhbar because it expresses the (apparent?) contradiction in a very beautiful way. 🙂

I find this all-American clash between a college prank “theory” and puritanical “PC” culture rather fascinating, yet the tendency to equate beauty with “sexism” is deplorable.

December 5th, 2006, 9:16 pm

 

Johannes said:

Listen up all of you, blasting these women at the rallies. Submissive to men and the markets? Forget that!! How about letting these women THEMSELVES choose how they want to present themselves. If they want to wear a scarf, fine. If they want to wear make-up, no problem. Why would it be up to a few intolerant MEN to decide what`s best for the women? Doesn`t the holy book (of every religion) teach to be peaceful and tolerant towards others? Than practice that. I have spoken

December 5th, 2006, 11:15 pm

 

Tikkun said:

“Again the 14th february cabal prove their civilized and democratic nature. After all they are the allies of the two most criminal countries in the world.”

The two most criminal countries in the world are America and Israel. Both claim to be democratic, and neither really is. What does Lebanon have to prove with these rogues in the world?

We saw how the US and Israel helped get Syria out, just so that Israel could bomb South Lebanon and it’s new “Cedar Revolution” democracy.

Yalla, yalla, ya Nasrallah! Nasrallah Zindabad.

December 6th, 2006, 3:21 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

I’m afraid Helena Cobban is a liberal sell-out, and her indignation here is quite disingenuous.

December 6th, 2006, 7:21 am

 

Helena Cobban said:

I’d like to note that since I posted the above comment, Josh has changed the original post considerably. Before the change it actually contained (and thereby propagated) a number of images of scantily clad females at demonstrations in Beirut, focusing to a large extent on cleavage shots. Right now, the only picture he has is of some enthusuastic-looking participants in a pro-Hizbullah demonstration who are fully veiled and have attractive open faces.

I really welcome that change that Josh made in the post. It is quite possible to talk about the issue of women’s dress codes– and the preference that many male photographers and photo editors have for shooting and propagating down-the-cleavage shots wherever possible– without oneself propgataing such images and perpetuating the general idea that women are to be judged and admired primarily for their sex-related physical attributes. (Q.v. the whole images-of-the-Prophet discussion.)

However, Josh still uses– in the title of the post and in the text– the term “babes”, to refer to adult women. I consider that to be every bit as demeaning as the term “boy” to refer to an adult African-American. Plus, as I understand it, use of the term “babe” is related to the tendency to judge women primarily by their sex-related physical attributes.

So while I welcome the move Josh made in taking down the exploitative photos that he earlier had here, I still have an objection to the post as revised, and wonder why Josh has strayed so far from the original mission of this blog (“Syria Comments”) to join in– and continue propagating– this childish and sexist discussion.

(30 mins later: Oh, the cleavage shots are back. I’m not clear what Josh is doing with this post… Maybe you aren’t either, Josh?)

December 6th, 2006, 4:42 pm

 

AtheistBot #4031 said:

I think these images are important to demonstrate to the West that not all who oppose their Glorious Leader are screaming, Koran-thumping theocrats stuck in the Medieval era, who wish to keep women in a state of permanent cosseted servitude. This is the image that is propagated in the West, non-stop, ad-nauseum: either you’re with the vile savages that stone women to death for showing a fraction of an inch of ankle. That this misperception is being torn down is refreshing and joyous.

Theocracy is every bit as bad as capitalism. It causes people to close their minds and live in a state of constant fear and supestition.

December 6th, 2006, 10:45 pm

 

Pointless said:

You guys are something. I would not expect to see a bunch of Spaniards or Frenchmen to become so idignant. So they’re nice-looking ladies who like jeans and t-shirts! They’re Lebanese – that’s how some people dress. They do the same in Jordan, Syria, Turkey, the West Bank, and even in Yemen (well, under their abayas….). It’s a nice break from the weighty and dreary issues for a few minutes.

Without a sense of humor, everything is more difficult. “Save the Babes!” “Save the Beefcakes,” for that matter. 😉

December 9th, 2006, 7:29 am

 

osama yagoup m.h said:

It is not really because this babes are cristian not muslim and israel lost the war and hizbullah winnings

March 27th, 2007, 2:09 pm

 

lol said:

war on terror is now finally sexy

May 1st, 2007, 11:30 pm

 

Leaflesseve said:

The first picture is NOT of a Shiite girl. She is a Aonist (Christian). She is wearing an orange built, which is the Aoni color. She’s just wearing the Hizballa flag because of their “alliance”. She is as CLUELESS as most of the young Aoni females in that demonstration as to what the flag she’s wearing stands for.
The irony is, if you ask most of the Hizballa “Sheiks” they would tell u what she’s doing is heresy or “7aram” because she’s carrying the “holy” flag or the word “GOD” around her half naked body. Tattoos are also not considered “OK” for young Muslim females, let alone young Shitte females.

but hay… who cares about religion when u wanna look as “COOL” as the 14th of March girls in front of CNN.

Lebanon is funny…

that’s all i’m gonna say

October 23rd, 2007, 8:06 am

 

بهترین عکسها وکلیپ خفن موبایل و موزیک دختران و پسران ایرونی said:

بهترین کلیپها و جذیذ ترین موزیکها را در گروه دختر پسرای ایرونی داشته باشید این گروه جزو بهترین گروههای یاهو طبق رنکینک یاهو هست
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/iranin_modern/join
برای مشاهده و عضویت رایگان بروی لینک فوق کلیک کنید
خفن

December 19th, 2007, 11:31 pm

 

wizart said:

Who’s that girl holding the flag next to Syriacomment.com poster?

Alkarama football team maybe energized by Hizbulah cheerleaders!

——————————————————————

How the money men ended Syria’s military approach to football

Professionalism has leveled the playing field in Syria and helped the national team challenge for a place at South Africa 2010
James Montague

April 10, 2008 12:54 PM

The Colonel wanted to see me right away. I’d been caught red-handed by a gaggle of armed troops who, confused about what to do with me, phoned their boss, the Colonel, for instruction. My crime? Taking pictures outside a Syrian military installation in Damascus. This was a stupid thing to do – I’d been snapping a sign that said: Military zone, no pictures.

But this wasn’t outside a Syrian army barracks, a missile battery or even the residency of the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad. I was outside the training ground of Al Jaish, one of Syria’s most decorated football clubs. It also happened to be the football club of the all-powerful Syrian army.

“Sit,” said Colonel Hassan Swaidan after I was marched to his office overlooking the training ground. A huge, framed photo of President al-Assad hung intimidatingly behind him. “You shouldn’t have just come here without a letter, without permission. And you cannot take pictures here. This is the army, there is discipline.”

Al Jaish literally translates as The Army in Arabic and the club, which has a chain of command like the armed forces, with a general overseeing matters and the colonel as technical director, has held a special place in Syrian society since its inception in 1946.

The club has won 10 titles and secured countless cup triumphs, although they weren’t exactly playing with a straight bat. Syria is a highly militarized society, with an army close to half a million strong. Down every Damascene street you’ll find soldiers on patrol. Whole districts of the city make their living from clothing the country’s newly minted conscripts. An inordinate amount of amputees go about their daily business, testament to Syria’s past, unsuccessful, conflicts with its quarrelsome neighbours, Israel and Lebanon.

Most importantly for Al Jaish, however, is national service. At 18, every man has to serve two years and Al Jaish used this to their advantage. The moment a talented young player came of age, the army conscripted him and he played for Al Jaish. As the league was still amateur, there was no compensation. As it was the military doing the taking, there was no argument. By sucking up the league’s talent they won honors and attracted huge crowds, while the other clubs had to keep a lid on their discontent.

But five years ago the army’s power was challenged by an unlikely source. The Syrian FA decided that enough was enough. Syrian football was going pro and if Al Jaish wanted to take any clubs’ players then they’d have to pay for them. It was a brave, and rare, move in a country where dissent isn’t often tolerated.

“Before they took all the players,” admitted Taj Addin Fares, vice-president of the Syrian FA. “Any good players, they would just take them and if they played for Al Jaish they played for the national team too.” The military had successfully turned what should have been a partisan league club into a de facto national team, flying the flag for Syria at home and abroad. Not supporting them was akin to treason.

“More than 80% of Damascus used to support the army club,” Toufik Sarhan, the FA’s general secretary, told me. “But now many of the clubs are as good as Al Jaish, if not better, because we made the league professional. Rich men started to support their clubs. Football is much better now.”

It’s rare that fans sing the praises of the money men that have commercialized their leagues, but the influx of finance, and with it better facilities, wages and coaches, has had a dramatic effect on the game, making Syria an example that other emerging leagues should follow. Al Karama, the team that has dominated the professional game in Syria, reached the final of the Asian Champions League in 2006, and the quarter-finals last year.

But it’s the Syrian FA’s policy of promoting youth that is showing the best results. By beefing up its scouting and training structure and encouraging league teams to play more young Syrians, the FA has been able to identify talent and develop it through the ranks. At the 2007 Under-17s World Cup, Syria surprised even themselves. After drawing with Argentina, beating Honduras and then losing by a stoppage-time goal to Spain, their tournament ended with a 3-1 defeat to England. At the 2005 Under-20s World Cup in Holland, Syria beat Italy before losing 1-0 to Brazil in the last 16.

Many of these players are now spearheading Syria’s attempt to qualify for their first World Cup finals. Draws against Iran and the UAE have put them in a good position to make the final Asian qualifying round. “In the past five years we have taken very big steps and we have got to a good level,” Sarhan agreed. “Our youth teams at Under-17 and Under-20 are very good. They would have all played with each other through all the levels. We have a big chance to reach South Africa.”

The weekend’s fixture list had presented me with a dilemma. Al Karama were the form team, but they play in Homs, two hours away, so I chose to stay in Damascus to watch the city derby between Al Jaish and Al Majd. With their monopoly broken and raison d’être corrupted, few bother to follow Al Jaish anymore. At the 45,000-seater Abasiyyin Stadium, only 1,000 or so Al Jaish fans turned up. Five years ago the stadium would have been full. Things got worse for Al Jaish when they quickly went 2-0 down before mounting a stunning comeback, replying with four goals.

The next day’s game involving Damascus’ new No1 team Al Wehda and basement club Al Horriya showed just how unpopular Al Jaish have become, as 20,000 fans screamed throughout an end-to-end encounter, Al Wehda eventually winning 3-2 after being 2-1 down. The fans sung and taunted the opposition with cries of “kis akh tek Horriya” (Horriya, go fuck your sister) as they took the lead at the last. “Al Jaish are hated,” 20-year-old Ali, a Wehda fan, told me. “When you’re 20 they come and, bzzzz, shave your head. But if you sign for Al Jaish, they don’t shave your head, you don’t have to serve. And there’s wasta. They have all this money and the referee always gives them the decisions, for sure.”

The standard at both games was some of the highest I have seen in the Middle Eastern game; quick, fluid, attacking football executed by players with technical skill. I’d seen 11 goals to boot. And Al Karama ground out a 1-0 victory over relegation threatened Al Shorta as they marched inexorably towards their third consecutive title.

Syria is holding its breath that it can reach the World Cup finals and, in the words of Sarhan, “show the world that Syria is different to what the American and Israeli media thinks it is”. Things have even started looking up for Al Jaish. After five years in the footballing wilderness, the army finally seems to be adapting to the realities of the modern game. This season they hired a new coach, experienced Egyptian former national team coach Ahmad Rifat, who has implemented a youth policy in line with the FA’s wishes.

“It’s very different coaching an army team. We can have any facility we like. The only problem was we could take players from the competition before,” Rifat lamented. “Now it’s more difficult. The results for Al Jaish had been very bad so I concentrated on young players. The whole team is under 23, except two who are over 30, for experience. I hope, inshallah, next season we will be successful again.”

Colonel Swaidan was equally upbeat about the future for Al Jaish. “We will look in the close season to see if we need to buy any strong players,” he said after we had ironed out our differences. He agreed to walk me around Al Jaish’s vast training complex, the most comprehensive in Syria, as long as I agreed not to take my camera. “We are No1 in Syria. No1 in terms of facilities and No1 in discipline. Other clubs will be following our lead.”

Al Jaish’s star midfielder Abdul Razek al-Hussein, a soldier and member of the 2005 Syrian youth team that stared in Holland, agrees that Al Jaish’s unique disciplinarian approach can be harnessed for the better. “The facilities are good here so I can really show my technique and fitness,” he said. “But I came here because it has better discipline than anywhere else.” Who knows, maybe next season they may even be challenging Al Karama for the championship, which should please The Colonel, if no one else.

April 11th, 2008, 11:43 am

 

Murtuza Ali said:

these are nothing but the cheep tricks which are applied by israel,they are affraid of the popularity of “HIZBULLAH” and are affraid they can again loose the war against him.(If they do such mistake again).
Long live “HIZBULLAH” Ameen.Allah(s.w.t) help him a lot to fight against the evils.Ameen.

May 8th, 2008, 7:01 pm

 

wizart said:

What’s behind persistent Hizbulla and Lebanese Government conflict?

Different world views combined with mutual disrespect and mistrust.

——————————————————————-

Humanistic psychologists preach unconditional positive regard

Unconditional positive regard involves accepting the client’s own personal constructs / personal values / valuing system. It would be possible to imagine a spectrum involving at one end confluence between the valuing systems of counsellor and client, and at the other end conflict between the valuing systems of counsellor and client. The person-centred counsellor allows herself to accept the valuing systems of clients which are far removed from her own. This does not mean that the counsellor must share the client’s values, or pretend that she shares the client’s values. Indeed, the counsellor may, in boundaried circumstances, disclose to the client ways in which her values differ from those of the client. However, she is required to accept in full that the client’s values are the client’s values, that the client is entitled to hold those values for as long as the client wishes, that the client’s values are not deficient (however much they may appear to be deficient from the standpoint of the counsellor’s values), and that the client’s values may never change. If, during the course of the counselling, the client’s values change, then this may be indicative of the client changing as a person. If, during the course of the counselling, the client’s values change to become more like those of the counsellor, then the counsellor may need to consider whether she has been persuading the client in some way.

What if both parties approached the conflict with the right positive mental attitude?

Imagine if Hizballa at peace in Lebanon redirects its energy to moderate Iran and helps create a new enlightment revolution there.

Let’s fight negative thinking that leads to more death and misery!

May 11th, 2008, 1:11 pm

 

OLD SKOOL G said:

ITS A YAHOOODI GIRL DUDE FAKING TO BE ARAB TO GIVE A BAD NAME TO MUSLIMS

November 25th, 2008, 5:20 am

 

Azz Kicker said:

this is Zionist propaganda targeted to create the most hate towards muslims and everybody who is living int he coutnry of mulsims even christians.

They get 1 photo of a girl who is wearing clothes that show her breast and say this is what muslims do to promote terrorism.

These are the Isrelis, they even use the tits of our girls to see this is terrorism. What more do you want? do you want to use their vaginas too?

You talk about ethics and you use Israeli women in the IDF to kill and scare children with machine guns? Israel has been terrorisziong Palestine sine the 1960s. You kill women and children and use brainwashing directors liek speilberg to make the world beleive that Israel is innocent and their athletes are heart over and over in their munich film. All the time Israel is being shown to be human, understanding and loving and kind and that Israeli athletes are brave and that the killer mossad who actuall shot a poor naked woman 3 times till the poured blood are actually good israeli people.

And in non of the film does speilebrg show WHY!! the palestinians had to fight israel athletes. He did not show its because israel actually killed 10s of thousands of palestinians and stolen 90% of their land.

Hitler is more human than the zurrent zionist israelis. If you don’t beleive that israel is the real terrorist. Check out the war crimes that Israel did on the palestinian people, they are the same as hitler did in world war.

http://3mb.us/images/476_IsraeliZionism.jpg

January 17th, 2010, 9:59 pm

 

Azz Kicker said:

So they are trying to attack muslims because hizbollah babes are beautiful? You want them to be ugly otherwise its terrorism…

Didn’t you watch how Speilberg promoted the killers who butchered the woman in Holland as heroes. When Jews promote people who kill women as hereos just because she killed as a Jew then we see who is racist.

Speilberg made the killers have human values, and family values and heroic values, why? cause they are jewish like him. He is saying in the movie that Jewish blood is more important than any blood including women. He treats her death with such sarcasm that she has no value whatsoever for them.

In the Talmud it says that Jews are human and everybody else is below humanity and if someone killed a Jew he must be killed where as if a Jew killed someone, its to be treated as killing an animal.

So the poor dutch women was most probably treated as an animal.

Please check out Youtube and see how Israelis are promoting themselves as good with using girls as propaganda to make Jews human and sexy.

Search IDF girls and Israeli girls and see how they use the bodies of women to promote Israel. And you show us 1 tit of a girl and you say we are using girls? See what your israeli media is doing on youtube showing Israeli millitary girl fighters as sexy babes…

January 17th, 2010, 10:21 pm

 

ali AWAN said:

this is called freedom.
GOD BLESS YOU ALL .

September 12th, 2010, 3:45 am

 

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