The Revolutions – What do They Mean?

Asma al-Assad’s glowing write up in Vogue was met by outrage in all the usual places. Max Fisher and Jeffrey Goldberg, big supporters of Israel, castigated Vogue for its profile of Syria’s first lady.  They express horror at seeing a positive write up of Syria.  Doubtlessly, they would be gratified to see a positive report of Israel’s first lady even though Israel has killed, wounded, and imprisoned without trial many more of its subjects in the last 10 years than Syria has. The fact is that Asma al-Assad is doing good things in Syria. Reporting on them is correct. If Israel’s first lady is doing something constructive for her country, the homeless, orphans, or the undeserved, she should get credit for it, regardless of how badly the Israeli government treats its subjects in the Occupied Territories.

The battle over interpreting the Great Arab Revolt of 2011 is raging. I quote three interpretations below. Buthaina Shabaan argues that it is a revolt against the American  and Israeli imposed order in the Middle East. Fuad Ajami claims that the Arab people have finally shaken off their own psychological chains in order to embrace freedom.

Leon Hadar, who I admire, argues that this is the end of Pan-Arabism in his Burying Pan-Arabism | The National Interest.he writes:

Egypt and the Arab world may be entering a post-Pan-Arabist stage in which new national identities and sub-regional groupings (that includes non-Arab entities like the Kurds, the southern Sudanese, and the Berbers of North Africa) will project their growing power…..

Greg Gause takes issue with Hadar’s statement that Arabism is dead, which echos Ajami’s famous statement following the 1967 War. Greg writes:

Burying something that has been dead for decades is not very interesting. What is interesting is the contagion effect in the Arab world, which demonstrates that things still do travel across borders in the Arab world in a way that is different from other groupings. Did Arabs take to the streets during the protests in Iran in 2009? When AKP won the last two elections in Turkey? Intellectuals noticed those things, but when Tunisians went to the streets successfully, Egyptians followed, then Yemenis, Bahrainis, Jordanians, Algerians…That has to mean something, even if it does not mean that Abd al-Nasir is coming back.

Like Greg, I am skeptical of pronouncements of the death of Arabism. Arabs feel an affinity for each other, they share a history and language; it is hard to believe that their sense of commonness will die. Most Syrians cling to their Arab identity; many claim it is more important than their Syrian identity and argue that they are Arabs first and Syrians second.
All the same, in the last few decades the rise of local nationalism has been powerful and is reshaping the way people think. If I had a piaster for every time I have heard young Syrians disparage Arab nationalism and claim that Arabs don’t help each other, are selfish, divided, and ghaddaariin – deceitful, treacherous – I would be rich. But such anger at fellow Arabs and the selfish politics of the Arab leaders is symptomatic of the disillusionment felt by a spurned lover.  Political ideas still spread from one end of the Arab World to the other with tremendous speed and force.

In analyzing the forces behind the revolutions, American analysts take solace in the fact that al-Qaida and Islamism is largely absent from the front lines of protest. They argue that the call for democracy and individual rights is pro-Western, not pro-Islamist. All the same, few doubt that parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood will play a greater role in places such as Egypt and Tunisia.

The new Day of Rage being called for by the Facebook website “The Syria Revolution of 2011”  is generating interest from journalists who want to know who created it, who has signed it, and whether it will spark protests. In the past, Syrian youth have been largely apolitical and apathetic. The reasons for this are many:  they have been too preoccupied with material pursuits, fed up with Syria’s traditional opposition parties, too divided, or too frightened of Syria’s uncompromising security forces. The present agitation for revolution is waking many young Syrians out of their slumber and causing them to see that mass action can make a difference, even against the most determined state. Still, there is little history of group action or unity in Syria. Most organized opposition leaders live in exile. Over twenty of my facebook friends have signed on to the protest – all live outside Syria. Some have created moving YouTube testimonials to encourage revolt among Syrians. It will take time, however, for Syrians to change, but they will.

News Round Up

Syria: Why is there no Egypt-style revolution?
By Lina Sinjab BBC News, Damascus

As Syrians eagerly follow developments in the Middle East, they are – for the first time in almost four decades – also loudly discussing the politics at home.

Everyone in Syria seems to be watching and waiting; people from all sections of society and every political stripe.

“One thing everyone agrees on is that change should be fast and tangible, it cannot wait,” says Kais Zakaria, a 35-year-old dentist.

There are signs that the wave of change in the Middle East is having an effect here….

“There is a wide gap between the government and the people in Syria,” says Mr Zakaria, while sipping his coffee and surfing the news at a downtown internet cafe. “We need to regain trust in the government… To start with, we need better living conditions and fair distribution of the country’s wealth,” he adds.

At a nearby fruit and vegetable market, buyers and sellers are fighting over food prices. No one is satisfied. “I can barely get my bread,” one of the sellers shouts above his customers. “I fought the Israelis in 1973, and now I am humiliated by the police. “Why should I take it?”

Bashar al-Assad greets crowds in Damascus, 15 February (Sana handout via AFP) President Assad’s supporters were out in force during a recent religious celebration

Cosmetic changes?

The government has taken several measures in the wake of Tunisia and Egypt to reduce the cost of basic goods, especially food. There have been grants for the poor, and reports that civil servants have been instructed to treat citizens with respect. But Syria suffers from corruption that goes all the way up the system….

But many here believe that, without the rule of law, any change will be cosmetic…..

Still, there is the sense on the streets of Damascus that demonstrations will not be seen in the capital anytime soon. There were calls last month for a “day of rage” – mainly organised by exiled opposition groups – but no-one showed up. The absence of any real opposition inside the country and fear of the security services were blamed for their lack of success.

So far, there have been few calls for President Bashar al-Assad to step down. Although Syria faces similar problems as Egypt and Tunisia, the young president enjoys popularity here.

“We need political reforms, fair and free elections, and we need to be part of building our country,” says Mr Zakaria.

President Assad’s second term will end in 2014. And this year, Syria is due to hold municipal and parliamentary elections. Many people now believe there is a golden opportunity for change and for a peaceful transition to a democratic system…. Read the rest

Oxford Analytica: Excerpt:

Syria is the most stable of the republics, albeit for the ‘wrong’ reasons. The core of the regime is the Allawi community in alliance with other minorities and parts of the majority Sunni community. It is a secular regime and few Syrians want to challenge a system whose collapse could lead to Lebanese-style inter-communal strife. The army and security services, dominated by Allawi, are loyal and will fight to retain power and crack down on major unrest. The regime for years has postponed decisions about making essential economic and social reform but it will now have to change its approach as revolution sweeps through its neighbourhood.

The Syrian Style of Repression: Thugs and Lectures
By Rania Abouzeid / Damascus Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011

The plainclothes not-so-secret police, or moukhabarat, arrived early, more than 40 minutes before the protest was due to start at 5 p.m. opposite the three-story Libyan Embassy in Damascus last Wednesday. They milled about in clumps of four or five, their black leather jackets and hard stares giving them away as much as the walkie talkies…

Gary Gambill’s Syria problem
By Nicholas Noe

Gary Gambill has two pieces out on the Syria issue…. I have always admired Gary’s ability to synthesize information. The core problem is that he has never visited Syria or Lebanon and his analysis therefore suffers – especially when getting down to an almost anthropological level about Allawi-Sunni matters. To talk credibly at this level of detail, you need to have a feeling, a touch, with the subject matter ……

Program Announcement: The Beirut & Damascus Exchanges June-July 2011

The Exchange is an effort by and its partners to promote engagement and understanding through a variety of city-focused, student conferences in and around the Middle East. The first Exchange was launched in June 2008 in Beirut, Lebanon. Now, several years on, over 150 students from 40 different countries have participated, with many going on to work as diplomats in their home countries, for NGOs serving the region and as social entrepreneurs. This year, we are offering the Beirut Exchange June 12-26 and the Damascus Exchange July 2-16 (in partnership with The Syria Report).

Syria Must Simplify Tax to Lure Investors, Former Minister Says

By Lina Ibrahim, 2011-03-02

Syria should change its “complicated and confusing” tax policy to attract foreign investments and stop the outflow of local capital, a Syrian economist and former lawmaker said.

Hussein al-Qadhi, who served as the country’s industry minister in 1980, said the government should speed up the introduction of a sales tax, originally planned for 2008, and simplify the tax code. This would involve reducing current rates, phasing out customs fees and improving transparency, he said.

“Although the tax system is not the sole reason that hinders investment and development, it is the main one,” al- Qadhi said at a lecture in Damascus yesterday.

The Finance Ministry forecast in a report published on its website that tax revenue in the 2011 budget will reach 454.5 billion Syrian pounds ($9.7 billion), up from 400.5 billion in 2010.

How To Understand the Arab Revolutions

Buthaina Shaaban
BBC MidEast: Arab protests “against Western support for oppression” – Syrian official

Text of report by Syrian government-owned newspaper Tishrin website on 21 February. [Article by Syrian Presidential Adviser Buthaynah Sha’ban: “The People Want To Overthrow [American Support for Settlement-Building”] the democratic revolution spreading in the Arab land is, deep down, a blatant response to the American usurpation of the Arabs’ freedom in Palestine and Iraq and to the unlimited support that the ugliest and racist occupation in the history of mankind received and continues to receive from them at the expense of the dignity and freedom of the people of Palestine, who are being ethnically cleansed out of their lands before their very eyes and with the support of the United States for more than 60 years and to this day….

The dawn of Arab democracy has broken and it is being made by the Arab masses with their own blood, hands, and visions. The Israeli crimes and its wars against the Arabs were the embers that lit up the revolution on the local fronts. The West must not be surprised when hundreds of millions of Arabs, from the [Pacific] ocean to the [Arabian] gulf, shout out in the future: “The people want to cleanse Palestine of the settlements.” What will Elliott Abrams, Condoleezza Rice, and Hillary Clinton say then? Would they also claim that the American support for the
occupation and the settlements is aimed at rendering the two-state solution a success?

How the Arabs Turned Shame Into Liberty Fouad Ajami – Wall Street Journal

The crowd hadn’t been blameless, it has to be conceded. Over the decades, Arabs took the dictators’ bait, chanted their names and believed their promises. They averted their gazes from the great crimes. Out of malice or bigotry, that old “Arab street” — farewell to it, once and for all — had nothing to say about the terror inflicted on Shiites and Kurds in Iraq, for Saddam Hussein was beloved by the crowds, a pan-Arab hero, an enforcer of Sunni interests….

To understand the present, we consider the past. The tumult in Arab politics began in the 1950s and the 1960s, when rulers rose and fell with regularity. They were struck down by assassins or defied by political forces that had their own sources of strength and belief. ….. The new men were pitiless, they re-ordered the political world, they killed with abandon; a world of cruelty had settled upon the Arabs. Average men and women made their accommodation with things, retreating into the privacy of their homes. In the public space, there was now the cult of the rulers,…

Yet, as they aged, the coup-makers and political plotters of yesteryear sprouted rapacious dynasties; they became “country owners,” ….. the wives and the children of the rulers devouring all that could be had by way of riches and vanity.

Shame — a great, disciplining force in Arab life of old — quit Arab lands. In Tunisia, a hairdresser-turned-despot’s wife, Leila Ben Ali, now pronounced on all public matters; in Egypt the despot’s son, Gamal Mubarak, brazenly staked a claim to power over 80 million people; in Syria, Hafez al-Assad had pulled off a stunning feat, turning a once-rebellious republic into a monarchy in all but name and bequeathing it to one of his sons.

These rulers hadn’t descended from the sky. They had emerged out of the Arab world’s sins of omission and commission. Today’s rebellions are animated, above all, by a desire to be cleansed of the stain and the guilt of having given in to the despots for so long. …

As Regimes Fall in Arab World, Al Qaeda Sees History Fly By
By: Scott Shane | The New York Times

For nearly two decades, the leaders of Al Qaeda have denounced the Arab world’s dictators as heretics and puppets of the West and called for their downfall. Now, people in country after country have risen to topple their leaders — and Al Qaeda has played absolutely no role.

the past few weeks have the makings of an epochal disaster for Al Qaeda, making the jihadists look like ineffectual bystanders to history while offering young Muslims an appealing alternative to terrorism.

From the SSRC weekly news

Western news agencies have discussed the creation of a page on the Facebook website entitled, “The Syrian Revolution Against Bashar Assad, 2011”, which has around twenty-five thousand members so far. Several sites have published a statement in the name of Syrian intellectuals criticising the racism of a Syrian officer who threatened a number of young Syrians demonstrating in front of the Libyan embassy in Damascus. Syria has evacuated more than 2,500 Syrian citizens who were blockaded in Libya’s Benghazi airport. The Israeli media has reported the Israeli Prime Minister’s rejection of President Assad’s invitation to recommence negotiations.

Pro-Israel writers are going ape over the Vogue piece on Asma al-Assad. Of course they see nothing wrong with puffing Israeli leaders.

Vogue Defends Profile of Syrian First Lady
Max Fisher is an associate editor at The Atlantic

Jeffrey Goldberg: Best Line From That Nutty Vogue Piece

“Syria is known as the safest country in the Middle East, possibly because, as the State Department’s Web site says, ‘the Syrian government conducts intense …

U.S. lawmaker, Syria’s Assad working to renew peace talks with Israel – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been briefed on Kerry’s talks with Assad, opposes the plan, since he does not believe Assad is serious about making peace with Israel. …

The Saudi Tadawul All Share Index had the biggest drop in the world in overnight equity trading, dropping 6.8 percent. The Saudi stock market has lost 18 percent since the fall of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia. Saudi stocks have fallen 12 days in a row, the longest losing streak since 1998 (Bloomberg). Just out from the blog Silver Hits Fresh Post Hunt Brother High Of $34.43 On News Saudi Has Sent Tanks To Bahrain
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/01/2011 07:12 -0500
Middle East Newspaper Saudi Arabia
“If RIA Novosti’s update on the Middle East escalation is correct, the Middle East’s worst kept secret, that Saudi Arabia would interfere militarily in Bahrain before the country fell, has just been confirmed. From RIA: “Saudi Arabia has sent dozens of tanks to Bahrain, where anti-government protests continue for about two weeks, Egypt’s Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper said on Tuesday. Eyewitnesses reported seeing “15 tank carriers carrying two tanks each heading towards Bahrain” along the 25-km King Fahd causeway, which links the small island nation of Bahrain to Saudi Arabia.” And while nobody expects the DXY to do much if anything on this news, now that the dollar is irrelevant in the FX realm, the same can not be said about silver. Silver just hit $34.43 minutes ago, the highest print in the last 31 years.”

The Arab world’s impending triple crisis
Friday, 25 February 2011 12:58 by nafeez mosaddeq ahmed

As early as 2015, the average Arab will be forced to survive on less than 500 cubic meters of water per year, a level defined as severe scarcity

….The converging effects of population growth, climate change, and energy depletion are setting the stage for a looming triple crisis.

The region accounts for 6.3% of the world’s population but only 1.4% of its renewable fresh water. Twelve of the world’s 15 most water-scarce countries – Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Israel, and Palestine – are in the region, and in eight, available fresh water amounts annually to less than 250 cubic meters per person. Three-quarters of the region’s available fresh water is in just four countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.

Water consumption in the region is linked overwhelmingly to industrial agriculture. From 1965 to 1997, Arab population growth drove demand for agricultural development, leading to a doubling of land under irrigation. Demographic expansion in these countries is set to dramatically worsen their predicament.

Although birth rates are falling, one-third of the overall population is below 15 years old, and large numbers of young women are reaching reproductive age, or soon will be. The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence has projected that by 2030 the population of the Middle East will increase by 132%, and that of sub-Saharan Africa by 81%, generating an unprecedented “youth bulge.”

The World Bank’s Water Sector Assessment Report on the Gulf countries, published in 2005, predicts that these demographic pressures will likely cause the availability of fresh water to halve, exacerbating the danger of inter-state conflict. Competition to control water has already played a key role in regional geopolitical tensions, for instance, between Turkey and Syria; Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority; Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia; and between Saudi Arabia and its neighbours, Qatar, Bahrain, and Jordan.

A halving of available water supplies could turn these tensions into open hostilities. Indeed, while economic growth, accompanied by greater urbanisation and higher per capita incomes, has translated into greater demand for fresh water, the population movements that have resulted are now exacerbating local ethnic tensions.

As early as 2015, the average Arab will be forced to survive on less than 500 cubic meters of water per year, a level defined as severe scarcity. Shifts in rainfall patterns will certainly affect crops, particularly rice. A “business-as-usual” model for climate change suggests that global average temperatures could rise by 4° Celsius by mid-century. This would devastate agriculture in the Middle East and North Africa, with crop yields falling by 15-35%, depending on the strength of carbon fertilisation……

Education failures fan the flames in the Arab world
23 February 2011 by EFA Editor

By Kevin Watkins, director, Education for All Global Monitoring Report

This is the region with the world’s highest youth unemployment rate. One in four young people are out of work. In Tunisia the youth unemployment rate is 31%; in Egypt it is 34%.

Not only is joblessness rife, but young people also have to wait an exceptionally long time before finding their first job. Economists have even coined a term for the lengthy transition from education to work – ‘the waithood’. The average delay amounts to three years in Morocco and Iran, and over two years in Egypt.

These delays are a source of deep frustration. Unable to secure economic independence and the social status that comes with employment, young people are forced to delay marrying, forming their own families and buying homes.

Looking beyond the social consequences of youth unemployment, there is an immense economic cost. One estimate for the Middle East and North Africa puts the cost at 6% of GDP – more than governments spend on education. You can question the methodology behind the figure. But the high levels of economic waste associated with mass youth unemployment are beyond dispute.

The plague of jobless growth

Behind the headline unemployment data there are some worrying patterns. Many Arab states have combined high economic growth with low levels of youth employment creation. For example, Jordan has been growing at over 6% a year without registering a significant cut in youth unemployment.

The same pattern of jobless growth for young people is evident in other countries – and it could be about to get worse. Young people in the Middle East have been “missed by the boom, and hurt by the bust.” Youth are often last in line for new jobs, because the jobs are being filled by migrant workers, and because the growth sectors are often capital-intensive rather than labor-intensive. Gender inequality in labor markets is another barrier to opportunity: unemployment rates for female youth are 50% higher on average than for males.

The corollary of failed job-creation in the formal sector is the growth of the informal sector. In Egypt, more than 70% of first time labor-market entrants were forced into informal employment, where they face low pay, instability and limited job security. This has far-reaching consequences. Once young people enter the poor quality job market they seldom escape its gravitational pull, partly because they are unable to generate new skills.

Education failures feed the youth unemployment crisis….

Posted on 23 February 2011 by EFA Editor

Comments (81)

EHSANI2 said:

Dr. Landis,

This so-called Arab uprising is nothing but the expression of utter hopelessness by the youth and have-nots of society. It is about economics. The youth and have-nots have finally figured out that their fortunes cannot be allowed to sink any further. You cannot keep walking in a dark tunnel forever.

March 5th, 2011, 5:00 pm


Akbar Palace said:


Privledged utopian arabist academics married into privlegded Syrian families no nothing about Syrian “youth and have-not of society”.

People are seeing light at the end of the “dark tunnel”. I call that hope.

March 5th, 2011, 5:36 pm


Syrian Nationalist Party said:

It is a combination of all three opinions that caused the anticipated revolutionary blow out. Basically it is the U.S./Israeli order that was, and still is, the cause of the poverty and economic annihilation, joblessness and social deterioration as well as corruption, cronyism, despotism and Totalitarianism in the Middle East. Arab Nationalism had little part in that, it did not benefit the people locally, rather helped the despot rulers join a mafia called Arabism to protect each ruler economic territory, and that order was supported by the US/Israel as well. This is the beginning of a revolutionary process that will last 5-7 years before the dust settle and the WEST COLONIAL ORDER is totally dismantled. That old era will be relegated to a history called Post- Colonial Puppets Period.

“…..Silver Hits Fresh Post Hunt Brother High of $34.43 on News Saudi Has Sent Tanks To Bahrain….”

No, it was hit by the slingshot effect of JP Morgan-Chase Silver Market manipulation. As more and more demand for Physical delivery of Silver made, “Funny money” no longer can control the market contracts and futures. Silver, is the only metal mined at a loss, only 2 mining company shown profits on Silver mining ever. That is now changed, and any further attempt to manipulate the price, will most likely send either the exchange or the Morgan-Chase into seeking bailout to cover illegal transaction made to control the market, or face default on obligation.

“….The converging effects of population growth, climate change, and energy depletion are setting the stage for a looming triple crisis….”

Old news, well anticipated in the past decade, the next 2-3 years will be escalating into a final blowout that will include almost all Moslem countries, Syria included and some European ones as well.

March 5th, 2011, 5:47 pm


norman said:

Arab-ism is alive and healthy , i can even add that the disappointment of the people of their leaders selfishness that they feel is standing in the way of a united Arab nation , they feel that democratic states is the way to have one Arab nation as the leaders will not be worried about their seats.

Another reason for the uprising is what Ehsani said , the frustration of the college graduate to have a job that pays enough to support a family and the Ability to rent if not buy a house for his family.

For Syria to avoid thes uprising she has to move on thses goals.

March 5th, 2011, 6:30 pm


Ghat Al Bird said:

Eshani2. As mentioned above by one of the priviliged, ” People are seeing light at the end of the “dark tunnel”.

The priviliged are each receiving US $2,200.00 a day every day of the year in aid for their settlement expansion. And they really, really feel the pain the Arabs are experiencing.

The one basic difference is that the “priviliged” are for the “peace process” or is it the “road to peace” and the priviliged arabist utopian academics are “against” peace. And that is very very frustrating to those dedicated to the peace process or is the yellow brick road to peace. time to wise up.

March 5th, 2011, 7:00 pm


Jillian C. York said:

Goldberg, Fisher, and Israel support aside, I think the backlash against the Vogue piece is fair — Vogue, caring more about Asma’s Louboutins than the reality in Syria, harped on the mini-democracy in the Assad’s home (ooh! a comic book chandelier!) and ignored the realities of Syria. I’m surprised at you.

But if hearing it from Goldberg isn’t enough (nor should it be), there’s a piece coming soon from a group of Syrian women that is absolutely damning. I’ll be sure to point you to it when it’s out.

March 5th, 2011, 7:08 pm


Walt said:

what on earth does Israel have to do with anything? This is not serious commentary.

March 5th, 2011, 7:09 pm


Joshua said:

Dear Jillian, Of course there is a lot to damn Syria for and its government. My favorite is the lack of jobs, poverty, and corruption. I think the first lady is one of the brighter spots.

Do you really think that entire countries should get no good press because their governments do bad things and are corrupt?

What other Middle East countries would you suggest should not get puff pieces on their first ladies?

I will be happy to publish anything damning about Syria you send along. Best, Joshua

March 5th, 2011, 7:25 pm


Malik Al-Abdeh said:

Joshua: You say “Asma al-Assad’s glowing write up in Vogue was met by outrage in all the usual places.” Not sure if I fall within that category:

The best way that the Syrian regime can improve its image is by making real and tangible political reforms, not by hiring PR men.

March 5th, 2011, 8:09 pm


Norman said:

Mrs Assad should be and is praised for what she does not for who she is and what she wears , she is in the forefront in establishing NGO that will make the Syrian people contribute to their communities , my problem with charities in Syria is that they concentrate on building Mosques and churches and provide for the poor and offer some health care to the needy but they come short on helping public hospitals getting new technologies and establishing programs for a healthier communities , the NGO that are being encouraged by the first lady of Syria can be instrumental in doing that it always make me wonder about the lack of contribution to the local Public hospital in HOMS for an advanced cardiac care that can be used for all the rich ones in Homs when they have a heart Attack preferring to run to Lebanon ,
That has to change if we want good health care in Syria,

So thank you Asma for what you do ,

If i understand things she said , it looks to me that she and the president want to move faster on reform but afraid that the people are not ready , I agree with them as for Syria to have political reform she has to prepare her population who never accepted defeat to be able to step a side when they lose and that should start from Elementary school as they do in the US election for student of the month , picking a student every week to eat with the principle then election of the most to succeed, best dressed, most popular and so on , all meant to prepare the population for democracy ,

I was thinking of the reason people come to the US , I asked myself and others that question , i yet to find anybody who comes to the US does so to be able to vote and elect a president, actually they are all cynical about politics, They all come and continue to come for economic reasons , we want to have jobs that gives us a good chance of providing to our families and yes have the chance to strike it rich ,

As Ehsani said , Light at the end of the tunnel and yes not the train coming at them . Jobs , Affordable housing to rent or to own , putting taxes on real Estate is essential to minimize investing in real Estate and decrease demand and prices.

March 5th, 2011, 8:24 pm


Yossi said:

Joshua, SNP and Norman:

There is obviously a connection between the empowerment of individual peoples in the middle east and a weakening of pan-Arabic identity, both as a form of nationality, and as an imagined or accepted cultural substrate. Here is something an Egyptian friend who is interested in linguistics has sent me on the topic of Arabic language, on the heels of the revolution, which shows where things could gravitate culturally, as well as the reality about the Arab peoples sharing a language (or the extent this is a true assertion):

“Amazingly enough, I know very little about Libya, its people, or their accent, despite the fact that they’re right next door to Egypt. I have known many more Israelis in my life than I have known Libyans. When Qaddhafi’s son spoke on TV a few days ago, I watched it on YouTube not because I was interested in his idiotic ramblings, but because I wanted to hear what they sounded like. I didn’t hear enough to form a clear image in my mind of what Libyan Arabic is like. All I can tell you is that I understood it pretty well. So, clearly it’s close to Egyptian Arabic. It would make sense to assume that eastern Libyans sound similar to Egyptians, while western Libyans sound similar to Tunisians, but I don’t really know…

“I understand Tunisians pretty well, although their speech is quite different from Egyptian Arabic. I struggle to understand Algerian Arabic, and Moroccan is almost a foreign language to me. I remember I heard a group of guys speaking Moroccan here once, and I thought it sounded like a Semitic language, but couldn’t figure out what it was initially. It really is quite different…

“By the way, I don’t know if I’ve told you this before, but I’ve become an advocate of treating these modern versions of Arabic as separate languages. I don’t think the so-called Standard Arabic should be the official language of Egypt, for instance. I think Egyptian (Arabic) should be. This doesn’t stem from nationalistic feelings, but from pragmatic considerations. Greece recently went through a similar situation. After their independence from Ottoman rule, they tried to use a modified version of Classical Greek as their official language. Well, that was as different from their everyday spoken language as Standard Arabic is from the Egyptian or Moroccan varieties. The Greeks struggled with this question for a while, with a group of them advocating for the “purity” of the ancient language, while the other camp argued for modernization. Well, the latter camp won, and now Greek books use the same language that people actually speak day-to-day. I now feel we must absolutely have a similar shift in the Arab world in order to improve literacy and culture. I think that’s what Western Europeans did, too, when they moved away from Latin as the language of learning, and started using their actual everyday languages.”

But perhaps the fact that (Standard) Arabic is the language of Islam is the factor that will forever prevent it from being supplanted by local dialects, as official languages?

March 5th, 2011, 10:54 pm


Revlon said:

Syrian people were responsible and enlightened enought to had had elected Assad jr for a second term, for argument sake that is!

If they were not, then his legitimacy as president of the people would be void.

If they were indeed, then the argument against the Syrian people being not-ready and unenlightened enough to elect a different president becomes meaningless!

March 5th, 2011, 11:26 pm


Joshua said:

Walt – the question is whether governments that do bad things be written about positively when they do good things? Isn’t that the issue here? Both of the authors that condemned Vogue for writing a puff piece about Asma’s good works are notorious defenders of Israel and denigrates of Syria.

As an exercise to illuminate what is really going on with them, it was useful to use Israel as a measure of their principles.

Now do you understand?

March 5th, 2011, 11:39 pm


Revlon said:

For an Egyptian to have israeli friends more than libyans is definitely exceptional and not main stream.
The slogans of the Egyption revolution, as shown on TV screens, reflected anti-isreali sentiments as much as those of anti-corruption.
Your views on arabism are a result of bias of non-representation of source, and ……

March 5th, 2011, 11:52 pm


Yossi said:


Yes my friend is quite exceptional this way and others. I have of course not misrepresented what he said. It’s unfortunate that you “pick” on his association with Israelis to brush aside what he has to say about the language debate. I can assure you he would not have come to have known so many Israelis unless it was the case that he works in the US in the high-tech sector, where we’re unavoidable.

I am not an expert on the topic by any stretch of the word but it seems to me that perhaps the affinity between different Arab people can be compared to that of the Scandinavian, or the Slavic, or those of Spanish Latin America? It’s still fairly obvious that the Egyptians stand out as separate from all others in their history, culture and language.

By the way, even though I’m originally from Israel,I don’t (at least not consciously) have a personal vested interest in this question one way or another, except I generally dislike it when people are indoctrinated to believe that they are part of something “big”, forcing them to honor all sorts of sensibilities, which are in reality designed to keep them docile and beholden to some distant (either geographically or mentally) elite. i.e., I prefer local self-government, culture, autonomy, etc.

March 6th, 2011, 12:23 am


Peter said:

Dr. Landis:

I agree that the responses to the Vogue piece were overblown. In the comments section of Max Fishers’ article, a number of readers pointed out, as an example, that Queen Rania has had many such “puff pieces” written about her without any other media outlets kicking up much of a fuss. To say that we have a double standard when it comes to dictators would be an understatement.

Among other things, Fisher claimed in his piece that “Bashar’s Syria has invaded Lebanon, allied itself with Iran, aided such groups as Hamas and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, and, for years, ferried insurgents and terrorists into Iraq, where they kill U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians.”

Other than seeming to claim that Syria invaded Lebanon under Bashar’s watch (?!), I was also a bit startled by the assertion that Syria has “for years ferried insurgents and terrorists into Iraq.” I have heard other claims—that Syria harbored Iraqi Baathists, provided lax border security, possibly “turned a blind eye,” etc.—but nothing even close to this. Maybe it’s ignorance on my end. Was this just an extraordinarily poor choice of words on Mr. Fisher’s part, or is there actually something behind his assertion? He seems to be implying that Syria played a role in physically transporting insurgents into Iraq… actually, to be fair, he’s not implying it, he’s stating it as “fact”… Any info. on this would be greatly appreciated.

March 6th, 2011, 1:35 am


Revlon said:

Thank you for the clarification and the unnecessary disclaimer, which I reciprocate.

To drive the point home, I assure you that Arabs as people, have no less in common, and in fact much more than Americans do in the USA. Their aspiration for a strong and proud nation, however, should be left to evolve and not forced by wars, as in the example of the American civil war.

March 6th, 2011, 3:39 am


Syrian Nationalist Party said:

“…..Silver Hits Fresh Post Hunt Brother High of $34.43 on News Saudi Has Sent Tanks To Bahrain….”

Further information about the Silver price suppression by JP Morgan on behalf of FED and this week price rise received tonight. Here are some excerpts from lengthy email:

“…Our group was determined to stand for physical delivery going into Monday; we got over 80 percent premium. That’s right. Over $50 per contract instead of market closing price of $35 on the condition that our group sell all our contracts rather than demand physical delivery. Our counterparty even threatened us with the ghost of Herstatt. They openly admitted that they could not deliver even 20 million ounces to us but that if we stood for physical delivery they would be sure that they make delivery to everyone else before they defaulted on us which would make us ‘unsecured creditors’. They told us directly that they could not allow even 5000 contracts to stand for delivery because they could not deliver a mere 20 million ounces. …”

“….These sets of facts from our traders lead us to believe that the paper price of silver may have a difficult time surpassing $36 because if the counterparty at the Comex is so willing to pay more than $50 to dissuade people from standing for physical delivery yet the paper price of silver is still under $35, then we suspect that losses triggered by derivatives is the main reason for the price suppression of silver. …”

“…We can see no reason why they would not allow the paper price to go up yet are so glad to pay off the Comex contracts to show the world that so few are standing for physical delivery. In our mind, Comex could default if as little as 4,000 contracts stood for Hard Silver delivery. We are very curious to see how high the paper price of silver actually trades during this run….”

March 6th, 2011, 4:29 am


why-discuss said:


“This so-called Arab uprising is nothing but the expression of utter hopelessness by the youth and have-nots of society. It is about economics..”

Are the Libyan people so poor and jobless to justify such devastating uprising? In view of the millions of workers fleeing Libya, I am wondering how can anyone claim that that Libyans need jobs! There seem to be plenty of them!

In my view, the domino uprising is one more proof of the commonality of the minds and culture of the Arabs and a renewed consciousness of the people’s power: a new arabism.
The fall of Ben Ali and Mobarak has triggered a desire in most arab countries to reject a one-man show and a regime that who, after a period of lullness, has perpetuated the hated colonialism.

I don’t expect the arabs to fall again in the trap that the US and to a lesser degrees the old colonial power are preparing in the Pentagon meanders.
I believe Israel will in real trouble when these states recover their stability.
If Syria was thinking about peace with Israel, it would now be foolish to do anything until the “New Arabism” show its face.
It is probably what Bush wanted: “the domino effect of democracy”
He never thought it would be so fast and so dangerous for US interests!

March 6th, 2011, 4:45 am


George Ajjan said:

Let us not focus on the obvious double standard of her critics, because it obscures a larger point.

Puff pieces do have existed, do exist, and will continue to exist – so who is responsible for the dearth of puff pieces of the Syrian First Lady over the past decade?

To achieve the best results, one must hire the best advisors.

March 6th, 2011, 5:46 am


why-discuss said:

Syria tourism : to go or not to go?

Travel is unaffected, though there have been demonstrations, so the situation may change.

FCO: No warning against travel, but developments could lead to public unrest. Avoid demos.

Tour operators: Trips are going ahead as usual. Bealby, of Wild Frontiers, was due to visit the country this weekend to gauge the atmosphere, and inform customers.

The long view: Syria has seen a huge growth in tourism in the past decade. Arrivals for the first eight months of 2010 were 6.5 million, up 47% from 4.4 million for the same period in 2009. Of these around 4.7 million were Arab or ex-pat Syrian, 1.52 million foreign. Brits made up 23% of foreign tourists.

Bealby said: “In 2007 we took just 12 people to Syria; in 2010 we took more than 100. It is our second-biggest country after India. To many this is the land where history began – Aleppo is said to be the oldest inhabited city on earth – with extraordinary architecture, incredible landscapes and a truly hospitable population.”

Syria is also nervously watching developments and has lowered its forecast of tourist arrivals.

“We don’t expect more than an 11 to 12 per cent increase in the number of tourists because of the situation,” Tourism Minister Saadallah Agha al-Qalaa recently said, adding that annual growth since 2000 had stood at 15 per cent.

Ghassan Chahine, owner of Naya Tours in Damascus, said his agency had received 35 to 40 per cent cancellations for the peak season that runs from March through May and concerns mainly European tourists.

“People tend to think that the revolts taking place extend to the entire region even though we are telling them that nothing is happening in Syria,” Chahine told AFP.

“Not so long ago, we were begging hotels that were fully booked to find us rooms and now they are calling us looking for customers,” Chahine said, adding that the downturn will translate into hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses.

But despite all the gloom and doom, tourism professionals point to the industry’s capacity to rebound quickly.

March 6th, 2011, 6:04 am


Norman said:

Syria is working on housing,

Print Back to story Syria to Tender Property Projects Valued at $8.4 Billion
By Lina Ibrahim – Mar 6, 2011 Syria plans to invite developers to build 118,000 homes in projects valued at $8.4 billion in the second quarter of this year, a government official said.

The Real Estate Development and Investment Commission, the industry’s regulator, is finalizing tender books for the 12 projects, said its General Manager Yasser al-Sibai.

“We invite more investors to establish companies in Syria and participate in the tendering process, which will be announced in some two months,” al-Sibai said in an interview in Damascus yesterday. “Newly established companies are advised to merge in order to meet our development plans.”

The Commission, founded in 2008, granted a license to the country’s first private developer in August 2010. Since then, 24 companies were set up. Previously, most real estate projects were developed by state-owned developers or cooperative societies representing trade unions. Syria needs to build about 570,000 housing units by 2015, al-Sibai said.

The new developments, with a built-up area of more than 12 million square meters, require capital inflow and investor response has so far been poor, al-Sibai said. “About 35 percent of investors are non-locals coming mainly from the Gulf, with a few from Turkey and Iran,” al Sibai said.

According to Kamal Malas, an international arbitrator based in the United Arab Emirates, international companies need a more solid ground to invest in Syria. “More stability in laws, a clearer vision on behalf of the government, better trained labor force, and a deeper coordination between authorities are among the issues,” Malas said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lina Ibrahim in Dubai at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Riad Hamade at


March 6th, 2011, 9:16 am


majedkhaldoon said:

Libyan rebels say,they captured two syrian pilots helping Gaddafi

March 6th, 2011, 9:22 am


Norman said:


In the western media, They claimed that there is no evidence of that.

March 6th, 2011, 10:09 am


Ghat Al Bird said:

YOSSI #14 The following sentence is somewhat disenginious given the historical saga of creating ” a religious state on lands occupied for years by others”.

” I generally dislike it when people are indoctrinated to believe that they are part of something “big”, forcing them to honor all sorts of sensibilities, which are in reality designed to keep them docile and beholden to some distant (either geographically or mentally) elite. i.e., I prefer local self-government, culture, autonomy, etc.

Israel’s roots and indoctrination began in the 1890’s. It started because the Ultra Orthodox Zionist Sect after being persecuted by the Russian Pogroms, decided that God literally gave them ownership of a land bordered on the North by the Litani River in Lebanon, to the East by the Euphrates river in Iraq, to the West by the Mediterranean, and to the South by the Red Sea. 

They also took literally the instruction by God to the Moses led Exodus, to destroy every living thing not Hebrew in that land of Canaan.  Unfortunately for the people living in that land ( JEWS COMPRISED ONLY 1% of the land that is now Israel), not being Jewish, they didn’t agree with that religious claim.

In 1907 Ben-Gurion, later to become known as the father of Israel, became the leader of this murderous plot.  A Terrorist war was commenced against the people of that land, with most of the funding provided by the House of Rothschild.  So to say the war against the Palestinian people began around 1907 would be fairly correct.  The Zionist plan was to get political control of the land then “cleanse” it of Non-Jews. 

In a speech in 1937 Ben-Gurion stated that there would have to be a forceful eviction of the Arabs of the land so that the political purity of the “New” Israel could be maintained.

When given the New Country of Israel by the U N, Israel refused to recognize the 1947 Borders drawn by the U N because the plan wasn’t finished.  The Eretz Ysarial remember was to stretch from the Mediterranean to Baghdad to the Letani River to the Red Sea, so the plan was hardly finished.

And to the modern day Zionist, the plan will not be finished until those borders are finalized and all Arabs are forced out of those new borders.

Or as Governor Huckabee stated just recently while campaigning for the 2012 election, “The Palestinians need to get out of the occupied territories because the land doesn’t belong to them it belongs to the Jews as promised by God”.

Its been reported in Counterpunch that Huckabee has been on 20 freebie roundtrips to Israel within the past several months.

March 6th, 2011, 10:19 am


Souri said:

You’re absolutely right Dr. Landis. Even on the internal level inside Syria, the Syrian regime always fails to defend itself effectively even when it is doing the right thing. The media machine of the Syrian regime is very weak and ineffective (it is also corrupt).

March 6th, 2011, 11:01 am


Akbar Palace said:

Assad Lovers coming Down to Earth NewZ?

Professor Josh chimes in:

Dear Jillian, Of course there is a lot to damn Syria for and its government. My favorite is the lack of jobs, poverty, and corruption. … I will be happy to publish anything damning about Syria you send along.

Professor Josh,

Don’t “damn” the Syrian government too much. It would ruin your reputation.

March 6th, 2011, 5:50 pm


Friend in America said:

Josh should be commended for an excellent selection of articles that express a wide range of opinions about the recent events. While they, and most of the comments here, concentrate on social and economic issues plus discussions of pan arabism myths, all have side stepped a dynamic that has political theorists around the world discussing.
It has to do with the future of the political power of central governments, particularly in countries with authoritarian rulers. Events in Tunesia and Egypt and those in process in Lybia, Bahrain and possibly Yemen mark the end of 20th century political power (or as typified by Gadaffi and Sadam Hussein, ugly 17th century political power). Those power structures have been cracked by the rise of what will be called the new political power of the 21st century, which is characterized by the internet, YouTube, Facebook, WikiLeaks, etc. People who have never met each other now share their grievances and discover they have opinions in common. Bonds are made. The new means of communication has encouraged political demonstration and facilitate coordination of diverse groups which central governments are challenged to control.

21st century political power has broken the #1 20th century tool used by authoritarian governments to control their population – fear and isolation. Why did the young in Syria not mount large demonstrations on the “days of rage?” Because the communications between themselves is not as well developed as in Egypt and Tunesia or Bahrain, and the young adults feel isolated. Fear remains strong in Syria. There are many reasons to commend President Assad and his wife, but no one should think that respect for the first family and a claimed “universal hatred of Israel” will ever temper the dispair that drives a man to pour petrol over his head and set fire to himself or the public outrage that ensues.
Syria has 3 to 5 years but the train is leaving the station. Syria can be the leader in peaceful reform. It was tried in Lybia 5 years ago but the conservatives close to Gadaffi put a stop to it.

March 6th, 2011, 7:06 pm


Alex said:


How would you like it if in every comment I wrote every day I passed a hint that you work for AIPAC? … it gets really annoying and silly beyond some point, just as annoying as your daily comments trying to portray Joshua as a Syrian regime propagandist. So I would appreciate it if you can try harder to cut the repetition. You have been here for many years … you wrote the same thing hundreds of times. I think we heard you enough. Thank you.


I did not like the timing of the Vogue article and I did not like the reference to democracy at home (but not outside) … and I did not like the overly polished image that sounded a bit too good to be true.

However … I don’t understand how you would feel the need to lecture Joshua for criticizing Fisher, but not feel much more angry at Fisher who was into full strength anti-Syria brainwashing mode … like quoting Lieberman to prove to his American readers that Syria (and not Israel) is why there is no peace, and then quoting John Bolton to prove that Syria is one of the members of the axis of evil (it was not, according to Bush) …

Here is a list of the 100 most powerful women in the Arab world

Can you guess where the first lady of Syria fits in that list?

She in not on the list! … one of the thousands of cases where the Syrians get unfavorable and unfair press coverage. Do we really have to be angered because there was one exception at Vogue.

As for her expensive fashion … if we were in a communist country I understand, but since she is really one of the best ambassadors for Syria, I will not be that upset at the admittedly high price of her shoes.

Who else would get the approval of the usually impossible to convince Parisian intellectuals?

I can tell you that after that recent visit to France, there were some serious agreements reached between the two countries, and part of the credit must go to the first couple who are really the most capable and the hardest working in the Arab world.

If any first lady in the Arab world deserved that Vogue article, it would be Asma Assad or Sheikha Moza of Qatar.

March 6th, 2011, 7:17 pm


Jillian C. York said:


I don’t think there are many countries in the region–or at all, for that matter–that deserve puff pieces on their first ladies…but this one was particularly heinous. Max Fisher touched on a few of the reasons why–the “wildly democratic” Assad household, the emphasis on Christianity.

Nonetheless, I think it’s fine to praise the good things Asma does *while* being balanced, which this piece was not.


Did I really *lecture*? I said I was surprised, which I was. That’s it.

And I did snark on Fisher’s article earlier, and elsewhere.

March 6th, 2011, 8:38 pm


Ziad said:

Yossi #11

Your Egyptian friend is only partially right. I do not know what zenga zenga means, but generally I have no difficulty understanding an educated Libyan talking in his vernacular. As a matter of fact all educated Arabs understand each other’s vernaculars. The distance between modern standard Arabic and the different local dialects is no wider than the distance between the local German dialects (Plattdeutsch) and the standard Hochdeutsch. The difference between vernacular and written Arabic creates problems for foreigners trying to learn the language, because it feels like learning two separate languages. It also creates a minor problem for first graders. They learn modern standard Arabic like a second language. In Germany, particularly in rural areas, pupils go through the same experience. However schools and society insist that the pupil speak the formal language in and out of school. This does not happen in the Arab world.

That your friend does not understand Libyan or never met a Libyan makes me believe that (s)he is not a native speaking Egyptian. Today no sane educated Arab in any country advocates the promotion of the local vernacular to a language for writing. Of course there are few who do. I once heard the news on a Lebanese TV delivered in some local dialect. It sounded awful. With education and the spread of Arabic satellite TV, the distance between colloquial and standard Arabic is narrowing. Al Jazeera is a major factor. Their Anchors and reporters speak clear- and error free Standard Arabic. Before Aljazeera you could spot grammatical errors frequently. Interviewees speak usually speak in a mixture of vernacular and standard Arabic but with time they speak more formally. This tells me that there is a learning curve.

However, song lyrics, TV plays, soaps and movies are still done in the vernacular. I hope an effort will be made to create dramas and movies in the standard language. May be Aljazeera should start a drama channel. Initially the language will sound stiff and acted, but gradually it will become more natural. When I view early American movies from the 1930s-1940s, the language also sounds stiff and unnatural. This tells me that spoken American went through a similar evolution. Another important point is that a simplified grammar for the spoken language should be developed. Some constructs and tenses will be used only in writing, (e.g. the feminine plural).

Finally, Yossi, it will be very helpful if you could tell us about the evolution of Modern Hebrew and the dichotomy between its spoken and the written language.

March 6th, 2011, 8:48 pm


Revlon said:

Your passionate account of impending, large scale housing projects in Syria is refreshing. Unfortunately, I am not moved.

Progress of millions of people can not be achieved without harnessing their God-given gifts for creation. The medium for for such creativity is their freedom to express, within the bounds of common laws and culture.

Give it sometime and you will relaise tha vast void between aspirations and reality in Syria. Poor management, powered by corruption-linked red tap have been very efficiant in stiffling similar attempts.

Here is a friend’s account of own experience! The teachers association housing-co-op, which is semi-governmental, started a major resort project for its members in Kafroon, in the 1980’s. The aim was to build small, budget chalet’s. The project was meant to be completed within few years. Anyone can visit the site now. Nearly 40 years later, it is still only part-built. The infra-structure of the project, fully paid for by applicants, has been left to individuals or ad-hoc committees to tackle. In the process, a whole generation of teachers lost their savings and life-long hope to enjoy a heard earned retirement in a pieceful place. What went wrong? The same old story. Greed, unchecked by corrupt legal system, and protected by abusive power.

The scandal involved a number of the assoition council members and collaborators in the Baath party and security. A few were detained for a few days and then released (during Assad jr term).

However, I realise the difference in this ambitious project. It is the prospect for Assad, Makhloof and company to enjoy a decent cut! Beneficieris are expats who earn in hard currency and Arab investors. Al-ghalaba stand to spend the rest of their life struggling to find a decent and stable job. The blessed who find one, will be left to spend their life sharing appartment with parents or pay dearly for rent.

March 6th, 2011, 9:02 pm


Shami said:

Alex ,the sad known reality in Syria is not in need of such hypocrit shows of diversion.Asma should be concerned by the outrageous corruption of her environment and human right violations,it would be better if the advice her husband how to quit in a polite way before it becomes too late for a less costly exit ,this is how she could act positively towards Syria’s well being,for those who like the statu quo ,i ask , how much years has our country to suffer of this basharian kitchy propaganda that has no equivalent in the world ?her husband’s addiction for his image cult that pollute streets of Syria is an insult against our nation as whole.

March 6th, 2011, 9:02 pm


Syrian Nationalist Party said:

“……For nearly two decades, the leaders of Al Qaeda have denounced the Arab world’s dictators as heretics and puppets of the West and called for their downfall. Now, people in country after country have risen to topple their leaders — and Al Qaeda has played absolutely no role…..”

Not only played no role, but utterly silent with only one fake Zawahiri “production tape”. The silence is not deafening, rather telling, wonder why? Will don’t, the group was disbanded in the 80’s and resurrected fictitiously on paper in late 90’ under new management of(Bandar) and with spiffy new name brand (Al CIADA) although it kept doing business under the old name for obvious advantage. They will eventually surface in Saudi Arabia, Libya, South Sudan or Sinai at the right time, after another false flag op, and then the good ol’ boys will have to go in and get them out before another super high tech terrorist act masterminded by the nasty Moslem cave dwellers with advanced capabilities that accedes the Pentagon. Bandar and Cheney will need them to get to power in Arabia, or was it the oil, on ALCIDA wagon again. Hariri will need them too to get the fleet over to deal with Hezbollah eventually. What a Scam, and the world bought it, Khatami even had the Iranians walks the street of Tehran in Satanic candle vigil.

March 6th, 2011, 9:12 pm


Alex said:

Shami 7abibi … “no equivalence” anywhere in the world?
I’ll let you see whatever you decided to see.


My point is that Vogue’s decision is not exactly a threat to the well being of people in the Middle East. It is those who are brainwashing Washington DC who are ensuring the whole Middle East is hostage to their Baby Israel’s greed for Arab lands… they are the biggest threat (along with the Wahabis)

Here is another example of the livid AIPACis … they are mad at … Vogue?

When the WSJ has to launch such a massive attack on Vogue for a light weight article, and when those leading the attacks are the typical Neocon leftovers (Weiss and Feith) then I know exactly where my priorities are and who I find repulsive.

Asma’s shoes are not the biggest problem in the Middle East … it is Likud. They hate Syria and its allies. They want puppets. They can only make peace with puppets who accept their domination and their terms.

It ain’t gonna happen.

Dear Likud propagandists: We now know that you hated seeing Egypt moving towards democracy (Israel’s puppet gone) but you are dying to FORCE a revolution in Syria.

Listen at 2:00 here:

March 6th, 2011, 9:41 pm


Norman said:

As you can see that the new project is being done by the private sector, so it should be done on time, I personally think that the government should just give low mortgage rate loans to people and let the private sector build what needs to be built, and i still think that Syria does not lack housing but lacks houses available for all people and taxation on all other than first house and taxation on transfer of money or assets from parents to children and grand children as is the case in all Western countries,

These taxes will force owners to rent or sell and in both case people will have more housing ,

About corruption , I agree with you that there is a lot of corruption in Syria but so is in the US but apparently , in the US people are responsible for their deeds , In Syria president Assad and the Baath party are always responsible for everybody’s corruption , Yes having one party system opens the door to have many opportunities as members and their deeds reflect on the party in power,they should not they should reflect on the people themselves.

March 6th, 2011, 10:03 pm


AIG said:


The biggest problem in the middle east is Likud? Do you really believe that the corruption, poverty, unemployment, illiteracy etc. in Syria are the fault of Likud?

I think your attempt to blame the situation on Israel or Likud or neocons will only backfire. Arabs are not buying this excuse. The biggest problem in the middle east are the autocratic regimes which deny their populace hope. Asad’s regime is one such example. Trying to shift the blame from the regime to Likud or Israel or the US will not work anymore.

I am a Likud supporter and I am happy Egypt is moving towards democracy. There are quite a few Likud supporters like me. I would also be happy to see change in Syria towards democracy, not because Syria is Israel’s enemy, but because I believe that the Syrian people deserve better and because I think long term it will be good for Israel.

March 6th, 2011, 11:05 pm


Alex said:


“… Do you really believe that the corruption, poverty, unemployment, illiteracy etc. in Syria are the fault of Likud?”

I did not blame Israel and Likud for everything that is wrong in the middle east. I just rated Likud (and obviously I am generalizing a bit) along withe Saudi Arabia’s Wahabis at the top of the reasons why the Middle East is backward.

Corrupt Arab dictatorial regimes come next, I agree.

Do I see the Assad regime among them? … nope. Assad is the wisest leader in the Levant. So was his father.

But you can blame “the Syrian regime” for many of the mistakes they made inside Syria over the years, that is true, but I was referring to the region in general, and not Syria, in my remarks in the comment above…

You are a Likud supporter who loves democracy (Great)…. many others, including Danny Ayalon, do not care for that much. You heard I’m sure …

March 7th, 2011, 12:12 am


AIG said:

You really need to explain how the backwardness of Syria or any other middle east country is the fault of Likud. I just cannot see any relation.
This is what the famous sandmonkey (, one of the youth leaders of the Egyptian revolution wrote in 2005:

Thursday, January 06, 2005
The 7 rules of the A.P.U.!
On yesterday post Jeffery left me a comment describing a phenomenon he noticed over the past 3 years of viewing middle-eastern news, something he referred to as the A.P.U., the Arab Parallel Universe. This universe was created by Arabs to explain to themselves why they are in the rut they have been for so long, while also glorifying their personal victories against a world that is always conspiring against them. In the A.P.U. events that happen in our real universe also occur, except that the fashion of their occurrence and their outcome are very different then what we- in the real universe-know them to be. It amazed me that he came to that conclusion, since it brilliantly summed up something that I have been trying to describe for years. I immediately told all my family and friends about it and upon their realization that we are all citizens of the A.P.U., they started giving me examples and evidence of that geographic phenomenon. In this post I will try to explain some of the rules of the A.P.U., and list examples of them for the sake of explaining to the rest of the world the rules of our very fun parallel Universe. Now, the first thing you have to realize about the APU that its outlook on its history is dependent on the fact that Arabs are never at fault. That’s APU’s rule#1 : Arabs never make mistakes, and they rarely lose wars. In the APU, the British didn’t leave the Middle East cause they could no longer keep the empire after WWII; the Arabs kicked the British out. In the APU, Egypt won the 56 and 73 wars, without any help or intervention for seize fire by the USA. And since we are on the topic, Egypt only lost the 1967 war because the Jews surprise-attacked us when we weren’t prepared. We only had our troops in Sinai and were talking about driving Israel into the Dead Sea as a form of muscle stretching. We were only kidding about invading them and they used it as an excuse to attack and invade us. Those damn Jewish Zionist snakes. Now, speaking of the Zionists brings us to APU Rule # 2: The Zionists and the Americans are always to blame for everything that is wrong in the APU. Drug use rise in Egypt? Israel is shipping drugs free to Egypt to destroy our naïve helpless youth! STD levels rising? STD & HIV infected Israelis moussad girls who come here to infect our virile Egyptian men with AIDS are to blame. The Egypt air plane that captain Batouty committed suicide with and plunged in the ocean? The Americans shot it down. Or the Zionists. The plane had 13 trained apache helicopter pilots and u know how those 13 men are all we need to liberate Palestine. So the Zionists had to bring down the plane rather then risk giving us the great strategic advantage of having 13 apache helicopter pilots. History books that contradict our version of reality? Zionist and American ploys to undermine our heritage and history and historical leaders. 911? Everyone knows that it was the moussad and the Bushies who planned the whole thing; especially with the 3000 Jews that didn’t show up for work that day at the WTC towers. Although we wouldn’t be surprised if it was Arabs, because the planning and execution was so flawless. Which brings us APU rule #3: If there is any credit at all that can be contributed to Arabs in any way, they will take it. Even though this whole 911 thing was a jewish conspiracy anyway, if it turned out that arabs were behind it, then u have to admit that it was greatly planned and flawlessly executed and that its good to give America a lesson every now and then. They had it coming anyway with all their plotting against us. Hopefully the jews are next! This brings us to rule #4: Good leadership is inversely related to how US-friendly a leader is! As a leader in the APU, it doesn’t matter what you do or how bad you messed up; As long as you “stand up” against the USA and its controller Israel then you are a good leader. Using this mentality, it’s easy to see why Sadat was the worst Egyptian leader ever, how Saddam is a great arab leader, a resistance hero and a symbol against US imperialism and how Gamal Abdel Nasser is the greatest president/ leader/ diplomat that ever lived/blessed this part of the world. It doesn’t matter that his nationalization of private property and socialistic economic policies ruined the Egyptian economy and that every war he waged ended in sounding defeat. The man stood up to the Americans and the Israelis, and that’s why he is the best leader ever! Rule # 4 explains why the current Egyptian president makes all the public sounds to show that he is standing up against Israel for the poor Palestinians. It’s why he never visited Israel during his 23+ years tenure as Egyptian president-unlike the traitor dog Sadat- and why he keeps recalling the Egyptian ambassador from Israel every time the Palestinians attack Israelis and then the Israelis get uppity and attack back. It is also imperative to understand that in the APU Egypt no longer negotiates with Israel, no matter what you may have heard elsewhere. For example, the exchange of the 6 Egyptian soldiers that were arrested for plotting terrorist attacks in Israel for the Israeli spy Azzam Azzam was not really negotiated nor did Mubarak strike a deal with Sharon in any way. It was just a coincidence that they were released at the same time in the same location. Actually, as the speaker for the Egyptian president explained: “Azzam was supposed to be released 6 months ago, but we decided not to give him back to Israel until they gave us back our 6 students. The president made that abundantly clear to them”! See, we were smarter then the Jews there, we actually tricked them! But remember, there was no deal of any kind, no matter what you may have heard in the lying media. This in turn brings us to the APU rule # 5: Any media that is not the official state-owned media is filled with Zionist, Jewish, American, Christian, imperialist, anti-arab influences and they LIE ALL THE TIME! If you want the unaltered truth and honest reporting, watch the official state-owned media. They have no agenda what so ever! Waffa Constantine’s story you say? What story? Christians are shown demonstrating on every channel except on the Egyptian state-owned channels? There were no Christian demonstrators in the streets. It’s all a vicious lie and rumor to hurt the incredibly strong Christian-Muslim relationship in Egypt, which is strong as ever by the way, and getting stronger every day. Strong, that’s a word we like to use when we describe it. To demonstrate it’s strength, the egyptian state-owned newspapers reported that Father Shenooda , in a meeting he did not attend by the way, thanked the Egyptian president for helping resolve the Waffa Constantine’s misunderstanding and anything else u may have heard about Shenooda never thanking Mubarak and about him getting so upset that he ended up secluding himself in a monestary is a lie. Just like the demonstrations against another Mubarak term. There are no demonstrations against Mubarak. What? CNN showed it? Those lying Jewish, Zionist, imperialist American dogs. They just want to foster division and doubt. We all know that all Egyptians want nothing but for Mubarak to stay president for life. And this, in turn, brings us to the APU rule #6: There is really no need for elections in the APU, because Presidents and rulers are presidents and rulers for life. The people like it this way, because people like their “leadership” and the “stability” they bring to the country. But since we are all democracies, we have elections anyway. In the Egyptian democratic elections, for example, u have the choice between voting yes for Mubarak and voting no for Mubarak, which would mean if he gets a 100% no vote, he would still win cause he is the only one running. Hey, at least it’s better and a less confusing system then Libya’s direct democracy, which Ghadafi’s Son and future Libyan president explains here! And this finally brings us to the 7th and final APU political rule: The only viable alternative candidate to the current leader or president is this current leader or president’s son. The perfect example of which resides in Syria and an other example -God willing- will exist in Egypt in the near future. This rule is supported and stems from the fact that those presidents and leaders are chosen by god and have superior genetic material and intellect that only male members of their direct lineage may possess. Plus, Arabs really like dynasties and ruling families. It’s because Arabs are all really like a big family. Sure they may disagree, squabble or even kill each other, but what family doesn’t? Plus, it makes it a lot easier for our future leaders to relate to each other, since they all will experience and share the same struggle of being born into power. This can only help make relations between the countries stronger and lead to a more unified and prosperous APU. So, in summary and conclusion, the 7 political rules of the APU are: 1) Arabs never make mistakes, and they rarely lose wars. 2) The Zionists and the Americans are always to blame for everything that is wrong in the APU. 3) If there is any credit at all that can be contributed to Arabs in any way, they will take it. 4) Good leadership is inversely related to how US-friendly a leader is! 5) Any media that is not the official state-owned media is filled with Zionist, Jewish, American, Christian, imperialist, anti-arab influences and they LIE ALL THE TIME! 6) There is really no need for elections in the APU, because Presidents and rulers are presidents and rulers for life. 7) The only viable alternative candidate to the current leader or president is this current leader or president’s son. Hope that helped explain some of the confusing discrepancies that you may encounter from having those 2 parallel universes existing in the same reality. Mind you, those are only the political rules. There are other rules concerning economics , social traditions and norms, but those will be covered in future posts. This is the Sandmonkey, from the APU, signing off!

March 7th, 2011, 12:23 am


AIG said:


What Ayalon is against is not democracy but Iran style regimes. I think you would agree with him.

March 7th, 2011, 12:26 am


Revlon said:

Private business is neither for charity nor immune to the corruption-linked governmental bureaucracy.
The only exception is the one run by Asad, Makhloof, and company.

Syria taxes only owners of businesses. Those people have no need for government help for housing. The remaining are not taxed either because they are government employees barely making it, or jobless! The impediment to real business contribution to housing and other facets of the economy is not the “official taxation” it is the insatiable appetite of the corrupt system.

I am not sure what you exactly meant in your paragraph on corruption in Syria. The way that I understood it, is that Assad jr, The Baath party, and the gang are unfairly made responsible for all the corruption in Syria and individuals should share responsibility. This characterization of the problem is naive and down right outrageous.

The system, political and economic, was established by Asad sr. and inherited by his jar. It was imposed on the people of Syria. All peaceful and not so peaceful attempts by groups and individuals to encourage and effect reforms have failed. Therefore, it is only natural to blame the system failures, including corruption on its benefactors.

March 7th, 2011, 12:31 am


Revlon said:

APU vs Who? RU
The comment you are referring to is interesting. It points to the existance of two kinds of perceived universe on this planet. The one perceived by Arabs, Arab Paralle Universe and the real one RU, which is perceived by the west.
Such conclusion was made by someone from the west, stemming from his experience in following middle eastern public media for three years.
First the comment stereotypes the Arabs.
Second, it concludes that the opinions of the arabs are reflected truethfully in its public media, which is false and has been proven to be so, by the ongoing uprisings.
It is only natural for people to perceive different aspects of the same reality. Neither is right or wrong. Both are usually partly right.
Watching Isreal media during the bombing of Jenine camp pittying th holocaust one can easily think of JPU, for jewish parallel universe.
Watching Fox news, in the buildup to and during the invasion of Iraq makes me want to think of an AmPU, for american parallel universe; No al-qaeda or nuclear weapons link were ever found in Iraq.
Stereotyping is easy. If you do it to the jews you will be dubbed antisemetic and God help you if you live anywhere outside tha arab world. If you do it to the americans you are dubbed a jealous retatrd and you you will not be given a an entry visa. If you do it to the arab people, you get away with it, even on Syriacomment.

March 7th, 2011, 1:17 am


Dani Harb said:

I am syiran and myself was thrilled to see an article written about this stupid and puff interview with Asmaa Al Assad. Yes, the authors of the articles might be pro-isreal, but what can we do when the leftist and pro-Arab intellectuals like you are taking a part in the Syrian regime PR campaigns or at least defend them
Its so offensive for me as a Syrian, to read an article titled ” A rose in the desert”

Its not Assma fancy shoes that cost more than 600$ are the one that give a good image about Syria neither Assad lies about having a democratic principle in their house. I wonder how can you say that Israel kill Palestinian without saying that Assad is killing Syrians

March 7th, 2011, 1:28 am


Yossi said:

Hi Ziad,

My friend was born and raised till his teenage years in Egypt, and in the West since then. He is actually half-Sudanese, half-Egyptian. So yes, it’s very likely he doesn’t have the typical experiences a grown-up Egyptian would.

Great observation about al Jazeera, I wasn’t aware of that, of course mass media can help homogenize all Arab speech. It’s cool it’s used to further good style and form. I was in presentation-training a while back and the lecturer said something like, if you are American, then you better get rid of any geographically-specific accent you may have. It’s not that there are “good” and “bad” areas of the US, it’s that if you don’t have the all-American-corporate-pronunciation, you’re considered more traditional, less cosmopolitan and less business-ready. I suppose the same could be happening in the Arab world. But can you really expect an Egyptian to say al-Jazeera, rather than al-Gazeera? 🙂

About Modern Hebrew, as you can imagine, the story of modern Hebrew is tightly coupled with that of modern Zionism and is in fact one of the main pillars and enablers of Zionism. Like political Zionism, modern Hebrew was willed into existence by a small set of very determined individuals, chief amongst them was Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, who led a successful campaign to revive the Hebrew language. What he ended up doing was creating w a new language, only somewhat related to the old Hebrew. If you ask an Israeli today to read a section of the bible, they will be able to do so, but the syntax would appear weird to them, and they may get stuck on content every few sentences. Old Hebrew at the time of Ben-Yehuda (end of the 19th century) was only being used as the language of religious scriptures and prayers. The new Hebrew that Eliezer Ben-Yehuda created was different from the old one in multiple ways:

1. Many words had to be invented or re-purposed. The bible and medieval texts simply didn’t have the words necessary to describe modern life and sciences. So he and his colleagues invented new words, many times by mimicking the way the new words were derived from old ones in European languages. For example: consider the word “projector” and how it derives from the older verb “to project”. Similarly, he derived the new Hebrew word MAKREN from the old verb “KARAN” which means to radiate or project light. In other cases he took existing words in the bible, which nobody knew what they really meant anymore, and gave them new meaning. An example for that is the word “KHASHMAL” which is the Hebrew word for “electricity” and originally appears in Ezekiel’s first vision as something accompanying God’s chariot.
2. Many words were simply borrowed as-is from European languages. This is similar to how this has happened in other languages, including Arabic.
3. Most importantly, the modern Hebrew under his reformation gravitated towards a more European syntax than the original Hebrew.

In the decades that followed, modern Hebrew was highly engineered, controlled by the same Ashkenazi-Secular elite that led the Zionist political movement. They had recognized the fact that Sephardic pronunciation was (most likely) more faithful to the original Hebrew, so they tried to adopt it, but had a problem pronouncing the guttural sounds corresponding to ق ع and ح. At this stage they also started adopting words from Palestinian Arabic.

After Israel was established and the Arab Jews moved to Israel, i.e., in the 50’s, there was already a “good” way to speak modern Hebrew, which is what the Ashkenazi decided and the Arab Jews (Mizrahim) had to follow suit if they wanted to be considered “civilized”. However many have managed to preserve their original accents and they are now coming back in force, as the Ashkenazi elite is phasing out (at least culturally, if not financially and politically) and Mizrahim take the helm as the most popular and innovative forces in culture, and this has an influence on the way Hebrew is “sung” these days, which I would characterize as more fluid and natural.

In the last decade I’m also noticing more pronounced throw-backs to the traditional Hebrew of the scriptures, as the power of traditional people who were schooled in religious establishments, also increases in Israel.

In terms of reverence to high/standard language vs. a more pedestrian approach to language as a functional tool vs. a celebration of the vernacular and discredit of formal language altogether, I would say that Israelis are definitely gravitating away from formalism. Mizrahi poetry and literature harks back to Jewish tradition, as well as connecting very naturally with the vernacular. The Ashkenazi elites in Academia and the courts, who are supposedly the guardians and the cultivators of High-Modern-Hebrew seem to have lost interest and are using Hebrew as a functional tool, many times with militaristic vernacular shades (when that is their background—which is typically the case). Mostly they treat Hebrew as something that they need to translate to from English or vice versa.

Of course the infusion of immigrants from Russia, Ethiopia and elsewhere has also brought about a “flattening” of the vocabulary (since otherwise dialogue would have been too difficult). This has regressed the expressive power of the language, and this is why some scholars say that modern Hebrew is a little like a pidgin language.

Finally, the last thing I’m noticing is that these days, without exception, Israel defines what Hebrew “is”. When a Jewish school in the US or France would want to teach Hebrew, they would prefer somebody who has lived in Israel and has used Modern Hebrew as a spoken language for a while, and the teaching material comes from Israel or is prepared by Israelis.

I think that modern Hebrew is not doing extremely well today, like Israeli politics, it is now in a relatively retarded state, ironically due to mass media abuse (see, it’s a double-edged sword), but I’m still amazed at the breadth of creativity expressed through this language—fiction, non-fiction, scholarly works, movies, news-papers, songs, even porn—when it was just a crazy idea a little over a hundred years ago. By now five or six generations of babies have been growing on Modern Hebrew lullabies.

Thanks for asking!

March 7th, 2011, 1:29 am


Jad said:

A very sad news:
Syrian blogger Camille Arbaji passed away in Beirut, he was only 32years old.
My deepest sympathy to his family and friends.

March 7th, 2011, 2:53 am


Shai said:


You are (my) Israeli Ambassador to the United States!

March 7th, 2011, 5:34 am


majedkhaldoon said:

You mentiond inheritance tax, can you give me justification for such tax, Tax is supposed to be for services by the goverment,what sevices the goverment provide for dead people?Inhertance tax is steeling, and should be abolished.

March 7th, 2011, 5:55 am


why-discuss said:

Iran, Turkey, Syria, Iraq agree on issuing joint visa
“As offered by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, tourists can visit the four countries with the joint visa,” Aghamohammadi told ISNA. The measure seeks lessening tourists’ expenses and facilitating tourism in the four countries….

The name of the visa “Shamgen” is offered by Erdogan. Shamgen is named after “Sham” which is the classical Arabic name of Syria, he added.

March 7th, 2011, 6:24 am


majedkhaldoon said:

Is the PARDON ,issued by Bashar ,will apply to political prisoners?

March 7th, 2011, 6:58 am


Jihad said:

It is disturbing to keep bringing up the Zionist Fouad Ajami into debates about the Arab world. Who cares the s… about what he thinks and writes?

As for Mona Al-Tahawy (aside from her friends nobody knows her in the Arab world or cares about her musings in the Western press. The Wahhabi Asharq Al-Awsat used to reproduce some of them), is she no longer a Likudnik (she seemed proud that her father was once Mubarak’s ambassador to the Zionist entity and that she lived among the rabid colonizers of Palestine), and did she stop being a female version of Fouad Ajami with her racist-orientalist renditions on Islam and Arabs?

March 7th, 2011, 7:17 am


Jihad said:

The so-called judgement made by Ehsani2 and co about the revolts in different parts of the Arab world is both condescending and pathetic. We are living such revolts since the one that began in Tunisia last December.

99% of the banners speak about dignity, liberty and participation. This does not mean that there are no social and economic concerns. But the issue is primarily political. It is now known that when Mohamad Bouazizi put himelf on fire, he did it to protest his repeated humiliation in public at the hands of the lousy Tunisian police.

If it was only about economic and monetary issues, Barack Bushama’s goon in Egypt, Hosni Muabarak, would have succeeded in bribing the army of public sectory employees when he promised them a 15% salary increase. It used to work in the past. Not anymore.

Even if people are poor and less educated, this does not mean that they don’t have good insight into things along with a more than a healthy dose of common sense. One can catch a sample of such people by reading Galal Amin’s, Description of Egypt at the End of the 20th Century (Wasf Misr fi Nihayat al-Qarn, Al-‘Ishrin), Cairo, Dar Al-Shourouq, 2nd Edition, 2005, pp. 209-215.

March 7th, 2011, 7:51 am


EHSANI2 said:


I am sure that you are correct to argue that when Mohamad Bouazizi put himself on fire, he did it to protest his repeated humiliation in public at the hands of the lousy Tunisian police. I am also sure that dignity, liberty and participation are powerful ingredients of the uprisings. But, I still believe that economics is even more powerful. Mohamed Bouaazizi may not have set himself on fire had he been insulted by Tunisian police on his way to a respectable advertising position paying him $75,000 a year with medical and long term disabilities benefits. But when he is selling vegetables at a street corner after finishing university and struggling to make $3000 a year with zero benefits, his fuse gets shorter by the minute.

March 7th, 2011, 8:27 am


norman said:

Instead of blaming the tribe and it’s leader for the sins of the members , give me your suggestion on how to stop corruption.
I will tel you mine later today after work.

March 7th, 2011, 8:50 am


Alex said:


Wonderful to read your educational comment. It reminds me how repetitive and boring I am in comparison (see below)


Again, I did not blame Israel for all the problems in the Middle East. definitely not for corruption or education system or other internal problems in Syria. That would be delusional.

But I blame right wing Israel for many region-wide problems…. I think Israel and the Wahabis are both the top problem makers in the region.


When did Mona claim her father was ambassador to Israel??

March 7th, 2011, 9:26 am


Ghat Al Bird said:

Israel Khadaffi Axis?

Israel flies to the rescue of ally Khadafi, reaping millions

Libyan militia members from the forces against Gadhafi escort a man who they suspect to be a mercenary (Photo: AP)

Netanyahu’s cabinet asked Israeli company Global CST to bail out Colonel Khadafi’s friendly regime.

Egyptian sources have revealed that the Israeli company has so far provided Gaddafi’s regime with 50,000 African mercenaries to attack the civilian anti-government protesters in Libya. Gaddafi regime pays $2000 per day for each mercenary. The mercenaries receive $100 per day and the remaining goes to Global CST, the report says.

A former Nasser disciple, Colonel Khadafi has over recent years perfected the art of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds, at the risk of antagonizing both sides at the same time. He adopted a radical discourse against U.S. imperialism and Zionism, while often serving their interests, notably by eliminating on command some of their chief opponents (for example, the Iranian-Lebanese national Moussa Sadr or the Sudanese Abdel Khaleq Mahjoub). He never took any action against Israel and he officially mended fences with Washington in 2003.

Global CST managed Georgian troops during their aggression against South Ossetia, organized Ingrid Betancourt’s release from FARC captivity and trained Peruvian special forces against “Shining Path” guerrillas.

Meanwhile, the United States has demanded the UN Security Council (UNSC) to remove the provisions of charging mercenaries with war crimes in the killing of Libyan civilians.

The request is for the UNSC to word the resolution in a way that no one from an outside country that is not a member of the International Criminal Court could be prosecuted by the Court for their actions in Libya, which in addition to Israel would also include the United States.


March 7th, 2011, 10:06 am


Ziad said:

Thank you for your interesting essay. Modern Hebrew seems like an engineered construct. Is there a normalizing authority, the equivalent to the Academie Francaise? Are there local dialects?


Your parallel universe metaphor is very accurate. Two days ago I watched a feature on Al Jazeera called The Tent of Um Kamel Al Kurd. You can Google for the details of her story. Watching it brought my blood to the boiling point. She was ejected from the house that she indisputably owns. To protest her injustice, she lived in a tent on a private lot, yet the tent was forcibly removed nine times, the Israeli court judged against her with the flimsiest arguments. She lost and had to pay many fines. This story is in the RU. The story in the JPU is best reflected in the following quote:

“Since their anti-Zionism had always been founded upon the supposed mistreatment of Palestinians by Israelis and the alleged denial of Palestinian rights by the Jews….”
From the following web site given by AP few days ago:

“Supposed” and “alleged” is how the mistreatment of the Palestinians looks in the JPU. AIG and Shai praised the Israeli courts as fair and uncorrupted. That may be true for Israeli Jew. When it comes to dealing with Palestinians, they are Kangaroo courts of the worst kind. The narrative in the JPU is that there are no bad Jews. The Jew is by definition good, so if you criticize what some Jews do, then you must be at fault, you are a Jew hater.

March 7th, 2011, 10:26 am


Akbar Palace said:

Alex Continues to Spread Misinformation

Dear Likud propagandists: We now know that you hated seeing Egypt moving towards democracy (Israel’s puppet gone) but you are dying to FORCE a revolution in Syria.


All the Likud supporters I know (you can also include me), are very much FOR “Egypt moving towards democracy”. I would inlcude Charles Krauthammer under that label as well.

Of course, “Democracy” is MUCH MORE than 1 vote whenever it is convenient.

This is why our paramount moral and strategic interest in Egypt is real democracy…

The Jew is by definition good, so if you criticize what some Jews do, then you must be at fault, you are a Jew hater.


Who said that? Jews do bad things every day. So do Arabs. It is when we can’t be objective that really prohibits us from making peace.

March 7th, 2011, 11:45 am


Akbar Palace said:

Libyan Resistance Leader is a secret Zionist NewZ


There’s a report that 2 Syrian fighter planes were shot down over Libya. What do you think? Also, if you have link detailing the Libyan-Israel connection, I would like to see it. I never knew Libya had much (or any) contact with the Zionist Entity.

March 7th, 2011, 12:07 pm


Ghat Al Bird said:

To #59.

AP as a pseudo- hasbara you should do more digging on your own.

Your future personal requests will be ignored so consider this as final.

March 7th, 2011, 12:55 pm


Shami said:

Majed,they are symbol of Syria of the future ,Bashar and his gang will pay for their crimes ,they are symbol of a dying past.

13 Jailed Syrian Human Rights Activists Hunger Strike

Monday, Mar 07, 2011

DAMASCUS (AFP)–Thirteen jailed Syrian human rights activists, including lawyers Haytham Maleh and Anwar Bunni, are staging a hunger strike at Adra prison, near Damascus, the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights said Monday.

“We have launched a hunger strike because we demand an end to political detention and injustice, as well as the recovery of stolen civil and political rights,” said the activists in a joint statement published by the rights monitor.

They denounced “Syria’s state of emergency decreed 48 years ago by an unelected military authority” and “the ubiquitous security services that embody political despotism and use the court to break freedom of opinion and expression punishing their opponents through arbitrary accusations and judgments. ”

The detained activists, among them lawyers and writers, said the “Syrian people suffer tremendously under a despotic and corrupt authority.”

“We have also paid dearly for the cause of law and freedom, but it is time to cancel this state of oppression and persecution at a time the winds of change are sweeping the Arab world. Rights cannot be legitimate in Egypt and Tunisia but illegitimate in Syria.”

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

07-03-11 1304GMT

March 7th, 2011, 12:57 pm



Can someone provide a summary of what did the pardon cover, what type of crimes, and what crimes were excluded, in order to understand the rational used in framing the presidential decree, and do we know what was the occasion?

March 7th, 2011, 1:12 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Ghat’s Wonderful World of Blogosphere NewZ


Can you provide a link from a respected news source(s)? Blog posts aren’t reliable sources, just like the second-hand misquote of Begin you brought up a couple of months ago.

Also, you didn’t comment on the 2 Syrian fighters shot down. Why not? If it is bad that the GOI is helping “Gad-fly”, it stands to reason that it is just as bad if Syria is helpiing Gad-fly. No, or do you simply have 2 separate standards for Arabs and Israelis?

March 7th, 2011, 1:16 pm


Shami said:

Search on for Syrian opposition activists missing in Lebanon

Mar 6, 2011, 18:05 GMT

Beirut – Lebanese authorities began a search Sunday for four Syrian opposition activists who went missing shortly after passing out fliers in Beirut calling for a demonstration to oppose Syria’s government.

The four brothers were taken in by Lebanese security for questioning shortly after passing out the fliers in front of the Syrian embassy, reported a Lebanese security source Sunday. It was not immediately clear when they had been detained.

But they were released after that and had not been seen since. Lebanon’s internal security chief, General Ashraf Rifi, has instructed the proper authorities to immediately start an investigation.

Unconfirmed reports said that the four were taken, an hour after they were released by the Lebanese security officials, to the Syrian embassy in Beirut and then transferred to Damascus. The Syrian embassy denied those reports.

Syrian opposition groups have been calling on Syrians to protest what they call the ‘oppressive regime’ of Syrian President Bashar al Assad in the wake of pro-democracy uprisings that have swept the Arab world, starting in Tunisia and Egypt.

March 7th, 2011, 1:18 pm


Atassi said:

Smart move and good timing indeed

Syrian prisoners launch hunger strike-rights group
7 March 2011
Reuters News
(c) 2011 Reuters Limited

* Hunger strikers say time to end “oppression”

* Strikers include 80-year-old former judge

BEIRUT, March 7 (Reuters) – Thirteen Syrian political prisoners have gone on hunger strike to protest against “political detentions and oppression” in their country, a rights group said on Monday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced the hunger strike on the eve of the anniversary of a 1963 coup when Syria’s Baath Party seized power, banning any opposition and imposing emergency laws which are still in place.

The list of striking prisoners included 80-year-old Haitham al-Maleh, a former judge serving a three year jail term after criticising corruption in Syria, and lawyer Anwar al-Bunni, jailed for five years in 2007 for “weakening public morale”.

“The time has come to end this state of oppression, in line with the winds of democratic change sweeping through the Arab world,” the organisation quoted the prisoners saying.

They said that rights could not be “legitimate in Egypt and Tunisia and other countries, and not legitimate in Syria”.

“Therefore, we the political prisoners in Adra prison… have decided to go on hunger strike, demanding an end to political detentions, lifting oppression and restoring rights that were taken from civil and political life,” they said.

Syrian authorities have intensified a long-running campaign of arrests of dissidents and opposition figures since mass protests overthrew rulers in Egypt and Tunisia.

A teenage blogger who wrote articles on the Internet saying she yearned for a role in shaping the future of Syria was sentenced three weeks ago to five years in jail, despite U.S. calls for her release.

Last month Syrian authorities released 75-year-old Islamist Ghassan al-Najjar, after he went on hunger strike to protest his arrest for calling for Egyptian-style mass demonstrations in Syria in early February.

Security was tightenend and no protests went ahead. Security forces have also broken up small crowds who have gathered to express solidarity with protesters in Egypt and Libya.

The list of hunger strikers also included writer Ali Abdallah, who faces a military trial for criticising Syria’s ally Iran, and Mahmoud Barish, who is also standing trial for criticising corruption in Syria.

Leading dissident Kamal al-Labwani, who was handed a three-year sentence in 2008 on top of an existing 12-year jail is among the strikers.

Labwani was arrested at Damascus airport in 2005 upon his return from a trip to Washington, where he met U.S. officials in the White House to raise the issue of human rights in Syria. He was convicted of “inciting a foreign country to invade Syria”.

March 7th, 2011, 1:57 pm


Shai said:


It is well known that Gaddafi’s son, Seif Al-Islam, dated for a while the Israeli actress, singer, and model Orly Weinerman. Perhaps that’s the link to this CST… It would also mean that Gaddafi almost had a Jewish grandson! That could have made some good stories on some Arizona-based website.

March 7th, 2011, 2:08 pm


Ghat Al Bird said:

SHAI this might interest you although it has nothing to do with Ghadaffi’s son sexual prowes.

A Special Relationship: Neocon Ties to Gaddafi
Jacob Heilbrunn | 03.04.11

One of the central tenets of neoconservatism, in its current incarnation, has been to espouse democratization and opposition to tyranny. Richard Perle, for example, co-authored a book called An End To Evil. In it, he laid out what the jacket flap calls a “bold program to defend America–and to win the war on terror.”

But as Laura Rozen, among others, has reported in Politico, it seems that none other than Perle has been functioning, in the past several years, as an adviser to Col. Gaddafi. By any measure, Gaddafi is at least as terrible a despot as Saddam Hussein, the man whom neocons said it was essential to depose from power–and the ruler whom Ronald Reagan called the “mad dog” of the Middle East. That was then.

According to Rozen, one of the more unlikely figures to have advised a firm which has worked to burnish Libya’s image and grow its economy is not registered with the Justice Department. Prominent neoconservative Richard Perle, the former Reagan-era Defense Department official and George W. Bush-era chairman of the Defense Policy Board, traveled to Libya twice in 2006 to meet with Qadhafi, and afterward briefed Vice President Dick Cheney on his visits, according to documents released by a Libyan opposition group in 2009.

The firm is based in Boston and called the Monitor Group. It is apparently linked to a number of professors at the Harvard Business School. The idea was to bring prominent academics to Libya to try and polish up the regime’s image. According to Rozen, the Monitor Group documents state that thinkers such as Francis Fukuyama and Bernard Lewis were recruited to meet with Gaddafi. The story was first released by members of the Libyan opposition, who have sought to highlight the extent to which the West has colluded with the Gaddafi regime. Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam also visited Harvard University under the auspices of the Monitor Group.

As I’ve previously written, the efforts of the Bush administration to reach out to Gaddafi made sense. Former Bush national security aide and neocon Elliot Abrams makes a persuasive case that it was necessary to cut a deal with the devil. In an act of realpolitik, the administration secured Gadaffi’s nuclear materials, a major success.

But seeking to improve Gaddafi’s image is another matter. Perle should explain what, precisely, he was trying to accomplish in Libya. What did he and Gaddafi talk about the two times that they met in Libya? What did Perle tell former vice-president Cheney when he briefed him about visiting Gaddafi?

As it stands, his actions appear dubious in the extreme. America did not need a special relationship with the man who presided over the Lockerbie bombing and numerous other heinous acts. Some reputations are irredeemable, and Gaddafi’s, as he tries to send his country up in flames, as an act of personal vanity, before he is finally deposed from power, is one of them.

March 7th, 2011, 2:31 pm


Jihad said:

Quote from the Vogue’s piece:
“It’s a tough neighborhood,” admits Asma al-Assad.

This comes straight out of the racist Zionist handbook.

Sure, Mrs. Asma al-Assad is beautiful and educated and the glossy photos adds to her attractiveness. But as a whole, the article is riddled with Orientalist clichés and sends the message that hey in Syria there are people like us who know Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (contrary to her last name, Angelina is not that “jolie”), who send their children to private Western school and who regard Islam like mayonnaise sauce.

Finally, why those in power in the Arab world don’t ever send their children to public schools and universities?!

March 7th, 2011, 2:49 pm


norman said:

OTW, Jad,
Do you approve?.

Print Back to story Syria Starts $2.1 Billion Irrigation Project on Tigris River
By Lina Ibrahim and Nayla Razzouk – Mar 7, 2011 Syrian President Bashar al-Assad laid the first stone of a $2.1 billion irrigation project on the Tigris River today, the Syrian Arab News Agency said.

The project will pump 1.25 billion cubic meters (330 billion gallons) of Tigris water to irrigate some 200,000 hectares (770 square miles) of land in the northeastern governorate of Hassakeh, it said. It will provide 125 million cubic meters of potable water a year to the region, it said. The agency did not give a time for the completion of the project.

Syria’s eastern region is home to the country’s oil, gas, wheat and cotton industries. The region was hit by severe droughts over the last few years. Syria and Turkey set the first stone for a dam capable of storing 115 million cubic meters of water on the Orontes River on their borders on Feb. 6.

To contact the reporters on this story: Lina Ibrahim in Dubai at; Nayla Razzouk in Amman at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at


March 7th, 2011, 3:00 pm


Friend in America said:

I agree with you about Gaddafi’s viciousness. Several decades ago his informants reported remarks uttered by several students at the university that were critical of the corruption allowed by the leadership. Gaddafi had the students tried and convicted. They were then hung in the square (or main crosswalk)of the university in public view so that the other students could see them on the way to and from classes.Thge bodies were left hanging for several days. Gaddafi also would postpone the executions of criminals and other convicts for Ramadan when he would hang some of them each day with state television broadcasting the hangings the entire day.

In 2006-2007 an effort was made by one of Gaddafi’s sons to bring about some modest democratic reforms. This effort occurred when Gaddafi was trying to improve relations with western European countries and the U.S. The Monitor Group was hired to advise on improving Gaddafi’s public image and to make concrete proposals for political reform. Monitor Groups proposals was prepared, approved by Gaddafi’s son and presented to the political leadership. It was promptly shot down by the conservatives, the report was filed away to be forgotten and the son was disfavored by his brothers for years thereafter. When the report was filed away, the academics who had written the proposals resigned. Monitor Group’s contract ended shortly thereafter. What you report in your comment is accurate from my information. I just thought it would be interesting to provide the rest of the Monitor Group-Gaddafi story.

March 7th, 2011, 3:36 pm


Off the Wall said:

Dear Norman
I am never in a position to approve or disapprove. I do not have enough information to make any informed technical judgement. I will try to gather more information, which must be far more extensive than SANA’s piece and see then.

March 7th, 2011, 3:42 pm


Akbar Palace said:

42 years of Silence NewZ

And here was the Arab world’s response after Gad-Fly had his hench-men blow up a commercial airliner, Pan Am 103:

March 7th, 2011, 5:22 pm


Ghat Al Bird said:

FRIEND IN AMERICA . Appreciate your comments

March 7th, 2011, 6:09 pm


Norman said:


I wanted to know if you think that a project like this will help the farmers and the eastern part of Syria.

March 7th, 2011, 8:52 pm


Yossi said:


You asked: “Modern Hebrew seems like an engineered construct. Is there a normalizing authority, the equivalent to the Academie Francaise? Are there local dialects?”

It started out very engineered, but now it’s almost anarchic. There is an Academy for The Hebrew Language, but it’s not being taken seriously. When it comes to grammar and syntax, it’s pretty much a lost cause to try to go against the popular current. The academy is sometimes helpful in coining new words for foreign terms.

There are local dialects, but less than being local they are more correlated with country of origin, religious orientation, socio-economic background, age group, etc. The number of Arab speakers of excellent Hebrew is also rising, some of them are successful authors, such as Sayed Kashua. They tend to be a little more formal, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Hebrew-language equivalent of Joseph Conrad will turn out be an Arab…

March 8th, 2011, 2:09 am


Friend in America said:

thank you and my best regards.

March 8th, 2011, 8:32 am


Syrialover said:

Guess what, I’m old enough to remember admiration-soaked articles in the western media about the very elegant but down-to-earth and charming wife of an Arab leader who spent her time supporting fine causes and doing good deeds.

Her name was Suzanne Mubarek.

No doubt arranged by the same expensive western PR machine employed by the Assads and the Gaddafis.

It’s puzzling that Asma al-Assad is unembarrassed promoting and parading on behalf of her husband’s ruthless, corrupt and incompetent unelected regime.

Obviously she had a paper bag over her head and earplugs during all those years of higher education and upbringing in a modern western society with well-functioning government, economic prosperity, rule of law and human rights. But I gather her daddy was on board the Assad train and she happily took up the chance to serve it too.

It’s also puzzling that Syrians on this site proudly praise Mrs AA’s charm while a few lines down you can read reports of cruelty to political prisoners, manufactured economic disaster and reckless foreign policies, all directed from the same chambers where she is groomed and polished for the press.

Do they feel she compensates for everything by looking glamorous and sprinkling a bit of fairy dust on a grim mess?

Events in the future will have the world comparing Asma al-Assad not with Suzanne Mubark or the witch-like Mrs Ben Ali, more likely that cool dude Saif Gaddafi.

March 9th, 2011, 2:35 am


Laura said:

Why is everyone tying to bring bashar down?
hes only making Syria a wondersul country..
I love bashar <3

March 11th, 2011, 7:40 pm


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