The Truth about Syria: Will the UN vote for a Tribunal? - Syria Comment

The Truth about Syria: Will the UN vote for a Tribunal?

The Cheney team is pulling out all the stops in a last ditch effort to get the Security Council to establishing an international tribunal to try the Hariri murder. At stake is the policy of isolating Syria. Support for the Bush administration's policy of isolation has taken a number of hits lately from both European and US statesmen, who have visited Damascus and believe that Syria must be part of the solution in the region. They believe that enlisting Syria's support is necessary to reverse the regional slide toward chaos.

Liz Cheney in the Washington Post writes: "The Truth About Syria," which begins:

Anyone familiar with the past two years of Lebanese politics would never claim, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did in Damascus last week, that "the road to Damascus is a road to peace."
It includes this policy proscription:
Talking to the Syrians emboldens and rewards them at the expense of America and our allies in the Middle East. It hasn't and won't change their behavior. They are an outlaw regime and should be isolated. Members of Congress and State Department officials should stop visiting Damascus. Arab leaders should stop receiving Bashar al-Assad. The U.N. Security Council should adopt a Chapter VII resolution mandating the establishment of an international tribunal for the Hariri murder.

The Security Council should also hold Syria accountable for its ongoing violations of existing resolutions. The U.S. government should implement all remaining elements of the Syria Accountability Act and launch an aggressive effort to empower the Syrian opposition. European governments should demonstrate that they value justice over profit and impose financial and travel sanctions on Syria's leaders.

The comment section on Cheney's op-ed is instructive. Read it here

Michael Young writes the second article of note in the Daily Star, A divorce that Nasrallah cannot afford." Here are the essentials:

Lebanon's destiny is indeed being determined today. 

While the majority and Prime Minister Fouad Siniora are taking the Security Council route to establish the Hariri tribunal under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter, Hizbullah's secretary general merely reiterated Syria's line on the Lebanese deadlock. He reaffirmed that the party's conflict with its adversaries is an existential one and, rashly, made Shiites the first line of defense in protecting Hariri's killers.

The UN is where all major matters Lebanese are likely to be decided in the coming months. The Chapter 7 tribunal bazaar has been opened. Ultimately, the outcome will in all probability be decided at the level of heads of state, not foreign ministers.

All of this comes down to the UN Security Council and whether it will vote to establish a special court.

Here is what I wrote about the likelihood of that happening in a comment on my last post.

On the tribunal, everyone is saying, “Yes, it must happen,” but few are willing to take responsibility for it. The head of the UN made it clear during his most recent visit to Lebanon that establishing the legal framework for the tribunal was Lebanon’s duty. He demanded that Lebanon come to a consensus on the tribunal and pass the appropriate laws in the Lebanese parliament. Saudi Arabia said the same thing. Russia said it would not vote against the tribunal in the UN, but asked for time and said it was complicated. This is also a way of saying “yes” and meaning “no.”

There is “public” agreement that the tribunal ought be established, but no agreement on how it should be established. Lebanon's March 14 coalition have asked that the UN vote a special Security Council law, taking the matter out of Lebanese hands. The UN, however, has asked that the Lebanese pass it through their parliament, which will not happen because Nabih Berri, the Speaker of the Parliament, has refused to call a meeting of the parliament to discuss it. Not even March 14 members think they can force it through parliament any longer.

There is a pattern here. Everyone is saying “yes,” but meaning “no.”

There is little international will to tie Syria up in a complicated international court process that most believe will ultimately be inconclusive. The UN investigation into the Hariri murder led by Brammertz has provided little beyond circumstantial evidence that Syria was involved. (On this see my earlier posts here and here.)

Because of the Bush administration success in bringing “chaos” to the Middle East and failure in bringing peace, most international statesmen are coming to the conclusion that Syria will have to be enlisted as a key player in helping to advance stability in the future.

There is no desire in the international community to preclude the possibility of doing business with Syria – the real consequence of establish an international tribunal.

A hundred legal and economic restrictions have already been imposed on dealings with Syria. They will be difficult enough to undo. Why add the master lock – the international tribunal – which Cheney hopes to leave as his legacy to the Democrats?

This is why so many heads of state are coming to the conclusion that establishing the international tribunal is unwise; it is why the Pelosi visit was explosive; and it is why the Cheney-Abrams team has launched the attack against her. What hope remains to them of getting consensus for a Security Council resolution took a big hit with her visit. Not only do most of the Europeans and Middle Eastern heads of state believe that Lebanon would crumble under the pressure imposed by an international tribunal, but so do the Democrats and many Republicans. They have little faith that the Bush-Cheney plan for the Middle East will bring success.

In conclusion, here are two recent articles that make the argument that Syria is gaining new converts in its claim to regional importance and future stability: one is by Mark Perelman of the "Forward," who just returned from Damascus, the other is by IPIN, a security think-tank.

Detente is the talk of the Town in Damascus
Syria Claims Mediation Role in West’s Standoffs With Hamas and Iran
| Fri. Apr 13, 2007

Damascus — While Republicans and Democrats in Washington trade blows over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Syria last week, officials and pundits in this ancient capital describe the political feuding as a distraction from a more important truth. From their viewpoint, Pelosi’s visit was not a freelance bid for American-Syrian thaw but rather the latest step in a larger Syrian-Western rapprochement that has been under way for months….

PNIR: ''Intelligence Brief: Syria's Regional Position Strengthens'' April 9, 2007

During the past few weeks, new events demonstrated how Syria's position in the Middle East has strengthened since last year. Although the Bush administration has aimed to isolate Syria, there are new signals pointing in the opposite direction, such as the March bilateral talks in Iraq between the United States and Syria. Moreover, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's recent trip to Damascus has been an important success for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since it creates the image of Syria as an element of stability in the region.

In light of these changes, Syria appears to be modifying its foreign policy to demonstrate how it could play an important role in guaranteeing the stability of the Middle East. Syria is hoping that outside powers will recognize its vital interests — Lebanon, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Iraq — and if they do so then Damascus will assist in stabilizing Iraq. If, however, its interests are not recognized, then Syria will resume brewing instability in the region.

Lebanon is a key point of disagreement within the Arab world. Saudi Arabia, and to a lesser degree Egypt, is backing Lebanon's Fuad Siniora-led government against Syria, the latter of which supports the groups that are attempting to cause the current government in Beirut to collapse. Currently, Syria's moves in Lebanon are dictated by international contingencies, such as the upcoming elections in France. Assad wants to stall for time in order to delay a Lebanese vote on the establishment of a Hariri tribunal until after the departure of French President Jacques Chirac, one of Assad's main political enemies. Syria hopes that the next French president will take a softer line with Damascus. Therefore, for now Syria wants to keep the question of the tribunal in limbo…..

Comments (103)


Leila said:

Thanks for the link to the WaPo comments on Liz Cheney. I only read a few, enough to be proud of the well-written, curse-free ripostes.

The internet is great for democracy. The people may not vote, but they make themselves heard online.

I hope Liz Cheney reads some of the replies.

April 12th, 2007, 5:12 pm

 

Alex said:

Joshua,

What is it with the Washington Post lately? after their anti-Syria editorial last week, now this Cheney opinion piece. Why this mobilization?

I wonder if she is the type who is sensitive enough to learn a thing or two from the 100% negative comments she got … open minded people usually would. Although I am not sure how open minded are the Neocons… i’m sure she will ignore the comments and consider them all democrats playing politics.

April 12th, 2007, 5:16 pm

 

Alex said:

المفاوضات تتعثر حول لبنان في مجلس الأمن

——————————————————————————–

سورية وروسيا تقترحان تعديلات على البيان الرئاسي
المفاوضات تتعثر حول لبنان في مجلس الأمن

الياس يوسف من بيروت: استفسر رئيس الحكومة اللبنانية فؤاد السنيورة في اتصال هاتفي معالأمين العام للأمم المتحدة بان كي- مون عن موضوع إرسال بعثة دولية مستقلة لتقصي الحقائق وتقويم الوضع على الحدود اللبنانية- السورية، فشرح له الأمين العام ان البعثة ستأتي في اطار التعاون بين الأمم المتحدة ولبنان ومهمتها محض فنية وستركز على تقويم الأوضاع وتدرس إمكان تقديم مساعدات تقنية الى السلطات اللبنانية لتعزيز قدراتها على ضبط الحدود.
ولليوم الثالث على التوالي تعثرت المفاوضات في نيويوركحول مسودة البيان الرئاسي الذي تقدمت به فرنسا الى مجلس الأمن وتدعو فيه الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة الى ارسال بعثة مستقلة لتقصي الحقائق وتقويم الوضع على الحدود اللبنانيةالسورية للتحقق من تقارير قدمتها مصادر اسرائيلية للأمم المتحدة عن عمليات تهريب للسلاح عبر الحدود.ويستند مشروع البيان الى التقرير الأخير لبان كي-مون حول تطبيق القرار الدوليرقم ١٧٠١ الذي توقفت على أساسه الحرب بين الجيش الإسرائيلي و”حزب الله” في لبنان الصيف الماضي.
ويعود تعثر الاتفاق على مشروع البيان الى سعي روسيا وسوريةإلى إدخال تعديلات عليه، وقد ركزت اقتراحات التعديل السورية على الآتي :
– ان الحل الوحيد لقضية مزارع شبعا المحتلةيكمن في انهاء احتلال اسرائيل لها وللجولان السوري بموجب القرارين ٢٤٢ و ٣٣٨ مع التأكيد أن المزارع لبنانية.
– حذف الاشارة الى سورية بالاسم في معرض مطالبتها مع إيران باتخاذ جميع الاجراءات الضرورية لتنفيذ حظر تصدير الأسلحة الزاما الى أي طرف في لبنان باستثناء الحكومة اللبنانية.
– معارضة فكرة آلية مراقبة الحدود اللبنانية – السورية واعتبار ان هذه المسألة لا تتعلق بالجانب السوري من الحدود، وان سوريا لن تقبل في أي شكل قيام هيئة دولية بتصديق الادعاءات الاسرائيلية ومن يدعمها.
-تعتبر سورية أن نشر أي قوة دولية على حدودها مع لبنان بمثابة وجود حالة حرب بينها وبين لبنان،وتضيف أن هذا ما تريد الايحاء به اسرائيل وفرنسا والولايات المتحدة.
أما إقتراحات التعديل الروسية فتمحورت على ضرورة التشاور بين الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة مع سورية في شأن ايفاد البعثة المكلفة النظر في وضع الحدود.
– ادخال اضافة إلى الفقرة ١٢ من مشروع البيان التي تتطرق الى اعترافات “حزب الله “بامتلاك الأسلحة التي يحظرها القرار ١٧٠١ ، وتنص هذه الإضافة على “ازدياد الإدعاءات في شأنتسليح المجموعات اللبنانية الأخرى”.
– إلغاء الاشارة الى ان الحل الدائم لمزارع شبعا يبقى رهنا بترسيم الحدود بين سورية ولبنان تنفيذا للقرارات ١٥٥٩ و١٦٨٠ و ١٧٠١.
– إبراز “المؤسسات اللبنانية” على قدم المساواة مع “الحكومة اللبنانية”لتمييع اعتبار الحكومة اللبنانية القناة اللبنانية الوحيدة للتعامل مع الأمم المتحدة . وقد لاقى إقتراح التعديل هذا دعم العضو العربي الوحيد في مجلس الأمن، دولة قطر.

April 12th, 2007, 5:21 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Five Reasons among many others as to why the International Tribunal is an Illusive Proposition:

1- The Legality of such a Tribunal and its susceptibility to being viewed as setting an international “precedent” renders it a hazardous issue.

2- Even if the “Legality” issue gets somehow by-passed by the Security Council members, the adoption of such a Tribunal in the absence of a proper Lebanese Constitutional approvals and in the presence of serious internal Lebanese opposition to the Tribunal as it stands now will leave the door wide-open to future disputes.

3- It does not seem that the investigation will be allowed to reach any clear-cut and exclusive conclusions. Even if it does, the many fumbles that have plagued its course will leave the issues heavily clouded and disputed for decades to come.

4- The “bargaining” value of such a Tribunal as a standing threat against Syria will lose its edge once it is used (spent/consumed) and the Tribunal is adopted.

5- Most importantly, the prevailing political and military circumstances in the area are not the same as those present when the idea of the Tribunal was first concocted. The game is different now. When the assassination took place and the Investigation/Tribunal show got on the road, the strategic “direction” was not only to isolate Syria, but to practically neutralize Syria, which is not (and not for lack of trying by any means) a working proposition any longer.

April 12th, 2007, 5:28 pm

 

Alex said:

Suleiman: Peace agreement with Syria possible within 6 months

By Shahar Ilan, Nir Hasson, and Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondents

Syrian-American negotiator Ibrahim Suleiman said Thursday that Damascus is prepared to begin peace talks with Israel, adding that he believed an initial agreement could be reached within six months.

“Since 1948 Israeli leaders have said they are ready to talk peace anytime and anywhere,” Suleiman told reporters at a news conference after addressing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Commitee. “Syria right now is ready to speak peace.”

“I challenged the Israeli government to answer President Bashar [Assad]’s call for peace and sit down together,” he added. “I think it can happen in six months.”

David Baker, an official in the Prime Minister’s Office, said in response: “The position of the Israeli government remains the same. The Syrian government is not pursuing peace but is merely posturing.”

“Syria continues to be more interested in providing safe haven to the 11 terrorist groups it is harboring in Damascus and fomenting terror against Israel wherever it can,” Baker added.

The peace plan drafted during the unofficial Syrian-Israeli negotiations would allow Syria to cut itself off from the Hezbollah and join the global struggle against terror, Suleiman told the committee on Thursday.

Suleiman appeared before the committee alongside Alon Liel, former director general of the Foreign Ministry. The two briefed the committee members on the secret, unofficial talks they conducted, and on the understandings they reached for a peace agreement between Israel and Syria.

The centerpiece of the “non-paper” they drafted is a proposal to turn part of the Golan Heights, captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed in 1981, into a “peace park.” Syria would be the sovereign in all of the Golan, but Israelis could visit the park freely, without visas.

In addition, territory on both sides of the border would be demilitarized along a 4:1 ratio in Israel’s favor.

Liel, who represented the unofficial Israeli delegation during the negotiations, told the committee that he had informed the ministry of the talks and that Suleiman had met with Israeli inspectors over the issue.

Suleiman asked the Israeli government to allow him to meet with 12 Syrian citizens who are currently serving time in Israeli prisons – one Syrian who crossed the border and was captured, and 12 Golan Heights Druze who also hold Syrian citizenship.

MKs promise to help Suleiman meet with imprisoned Syrian
The Syrian representative raised the issue during the committee hearing, and several MKs promised to ensure that he could meet with the Syrian who crossed the border before the end of his visit Friday afternoon. Suleiman said such a meeting would be seen as a gesture of goodwill by Damascus.

Suleiman is the first Syrian to address lawmakers in Israel. On his way out of the meeting, Suleiman said he was very glad to have come to Israel.

“I am hoping that the officials in Israel and the officials in Syria will start meeting with one another and that we, as a private channel, should disappear now,” he said. “My presence here will make everything useful.”

Suleiman said he has no doubts that Assad is genuine in his desire for peace, as are the Syrian people. He said that in previous peace talks between Israel and Syria, 80 percent of the issues in dispute were resolved, adding that in his opinion the Shepherdstown talks in 2000 would not have broken down had the contents of the emerging agreement not been leaked to the media.

The invitation to Suleiman was extended so the panel could assess his claims to ties with top figures in the Damascus regime. Israel, which has acknowledged his talks with Liel but distanced itself from them, has questioned the quality of his contacts.

Suleiman, who landed in Israel on Tuesday, was told the MKs about a committee appointed by Syrian President Bashar Assad to coordinate the talks with Israel, which is headed by one of his army generals with whom Suleiman has regular contact.

In addition, he relayed messages he received from Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem and other Syrian officials.

In the hearing, Liel disclosed the contents of the reports he allegedly gave to officials in the Foreign Ministry regarding his progress in the talks. Liel also reported to various parties in the Prime Minister’s Bureau when it was headed by former prime minister Ariel Sharon.

“There is a genuine willingness in Damascus to initiate peace talks with Israel, which at the very least requires Israel to test the waters,” Suleiman told Israeli sources during his stay.

Labor MK Danny Yatom said during the hearing that he has approached Syrian sources during the past few weeks in an effort to begin unofficial negotiations.

Yatom said he was turned down, and that the Syrians are continuing to demand that any negotiations be official. “They have always been concerned that unofficial negotiations would end in leaks that are embarrassing to Syria,” he said.

During the hearing, a difference of opinion emerged between Suleiman and Uzi Arad, who also participated in the secret talks. Arad said Suleiman told him that the Assad family does not want peace, but Suleiman denied the conversation ever took place.

National Union-National Religious Party MK Zvi Hendel said as a result that, “Until now I thought they Syrians were liars, and now I know that they are telling the truth – they want negotiations, not peace.”

April 12th, 2007, 5:30 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Alex,

If the WaPo is upset that tells you that some in the Administration are upset! I see it as frustrated rather than simply upset. And frustration is a “healthy” sign of both helpessness as well as the inability to understand and to have a favourable impact on a given situation. A “whole set” of situations, actually.

April 12th, 2007, 5:38 pm

 

Alex said:

I agree Ausamaa. You are right that it is a sign of desperation.

There was a very interesting interview on NBN (or what they call, Nabih Berri Network) with pro-Syria Lebanese ex-mp …. he obviously has access to lots of intelligence from Syria or its friends. I could not take notes, but he surely was sent to start the process of publicizing the dirty affairs of Lebanese politicians. He made sure Jumblatt, Geagea and Saad Hariri all looked like ruthless businessmen with Isralei French and Americna strong ties. Someone has to find a transcript of that interview. Very interesting.

I’m sure someone will show up on LBC this week to do the opposite job on Aoun, Frangieh, or maybe Nasrallah if they can find anything against him.

The Lebanese are running out of tools to escalate the confrontation short of going for civil war.

April 12th, 2007, 5:49 pm

 

K said:

BEIRUT: Support for Lebanese in Exile (Solide) held a news conference in the Khalil Gebran Garden outside the ESCWA Building on Wednesday to reiterate its demand that Lebanese detainees being held in Syrian prisons be released immediately. The gathering marked the second anniversary of a Solide sit-in in the garden.

With the United Nations offices in the background, various members of Solide detailed the group’s achievements and challenges. Speakers included Sonia Eid, president of the Association of Families of Lebanese Prisoners Detained in Syria, Ghazi Aad, president of Solide, and Change and Reform MP Ghassan Mokheiber.

“Two weeks before the Syrian Army withdrew from Lebanon, the Solide committee of families of those detained in Syrian prisons decided to wage an open-ended sit-in,” Ghazi Aad said proudly as he began his remarks.

Mokheiber said he had been working to free Lebanese detainees in Syrian jails for 17 years. “As a citizen I was committed to standing by these families. I am still as an MP,” he said.

The MP and member of Parliament’s Human Rights Committee vowed to pursue the issue “vigorously.”

“The issue of disappearances is not only legal, it is humanitarian because [the detainees] come from all parties and religions,” he said. “Very few have the courage to speak loudly enough.”

Aad said the single most important achievement for Solide in their two year sit-in was the admission by all Lebanese citizens and officials that Lebanese citizens were still being held in Syrian prisons.

Second was international recognition of the detentions, most notably from the United Nations and United States. The UN and US first formally recognized the issue in late 2005, several months after Solide members launched their sit-in.

Solide has also set as one of its main goals, Aad added, to remove the process of negotiations from the joint Lebanese-Syrian commission that was formed on May 4, 2005, to deal with the issue.

“The joint Lebanese-Syrian commission has failed,” said Mokheiber. “Syrians have been denying [the detention of Lebanese] despite evidence that was presented to the Syrian authority that indisputably shows their involvement.”

Solide intends to internationalize the negotiations to put more pressure on Syria to come clean. Aad blamed the Lebanese government for slowing the process.

“There is no international commission because the executive authority is insisting on keeping the joint committee, though we insist on eliminating this committee and creating an international one,” Aad said.

As part of the effort to internationalize Syria’s ongoing detention of Lebanese, Solide is working to attach the detentions to larger issues, such as the locations of mass graves in Lebanon. By so doing the group hopes to raise the profile of its own cause.

Solide argues that the release of Lebanese detainees should be included in UN Resolution 1559. They believe this would be a significant step in gaining international recognition.

At the end of his remarks, surrounded by people holding photographs of detained family members, Aad reiterated his commitment to seeing Lebanese detainees freed.

“We will continue the sit-in until those demands are fulfilled,” he said.

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=1&article_id=81363

April 12th, 2007, 5:53 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Come on Alex, the poor gentleman (George Qourm, ex minister of finance I think )has spent a lot of interview time saying that he is not pro-Syrian. And, that the current 14 Feb crowd are the true and origional pro-Syrian crowd as he said.
And you are right in expecting a counter-interview. He is highly respected among Maronites and he is a university professor. I missed the full interview because a couple of friends (pro Siniora) dropped in and apparently developed a headach fairly quickly while watching him and asked to change channels!

April 12th, 2007, 6:00 pm

 

ausamaa said:

What baffels me most, is why does not Israel just free the few Hizbullah POWs and return the Shebaa farms and hence pulls the rug from under Hizbullah feet.
Maybe they enjoy having Hizbullah around for some reason! Or is this card kept for the future?

April 12th, 2007, 6:06 pm

 

Observer said:

I do not think that regime change is on the agenda any longer. I think behavior change is what is needed and the threat of the tribunal will be used to achieve that. The tribunal may come to pass when the decision for regime change is made. The problem with asking for behavior change is that the incentives are se cheap and the record of delivery on promises made so feeble that Syria is not willing to risk it for now. Subversion is the next step, but in this game both can play hard ball.

April 12th, 2007, 7:13 pm

 

Alex said:

Ausamaa, I just remembered his name .. Naser Qandil, the one interviewed yesterday on NBN.

April 12th, 2007, 7:32 pm

 

Abhinav Aima said:

I see that most of these recent editorials continue to frame this conflict as Syria/Hizbollah versus the Rest of Lebanon, or the Shiite/Syria versus the Rest of Lebanon…

What about the supporters of Michel Aoun or the Lebanese union leaders who are also part of the opposition?

April 12th, 2007, 7:36 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Ah, sorry Alex, I thought you were refering to George Qurom interview by Saeed Ghraayeb. Nasser Qandeel is of course a pro-Syria man.

April 12th, 2007, 7:36 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Yeh Regime Change and Regime Behavior Change. Sounds like a Pavlov experiment sort of thing. Only, it is always backfiring. Whichever way you look!

And people used to say President Regan did not know anything.Look what we have now!

April 12th, 2007, 7:46 pm

 

ugarit said:

It is rather cute how some assume that they are Middle East experts just because their daddies hold public office. Here is Liz Cheney now talking about George Hawi (the communist leader–Cheney does not know that–don’t tell her–who was in negotiations with Syrian intelligence weeks before his death, and who was loyal to the Syrian regime): “the Lebanese intellectual and anti-Syrian leader George Hawi was assassinated by a car bomb.” She then said: “Imagine if, in 1776, James Madison, John Adams or Thomas Jefferson had been struck down by assassins.” Let me guess: so Jubran Tuwayni is Madison, and Pierre Gemayyel is Jefferson, and Rafiq Hariri is Adams, right Ms. Cheney? And imagine the daughter of the vice president of the US telling Arab leaders who they should meet with and who they should not meet with: “Arab leaders should stop receiving Bashar al-Assad.” OK, Ms. Cheney. Would you like them to send you a smoothie too? And you have tremendous clout in the Middle East, especially as the administration enters its last phase. And the successes of your father’s visions for the Middle East, and your citation of Michael Husayn Young, only add to your credibility.

http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2007/04/it-is-rather-cute-how-some-assume-that.html

April 12th, 2007, 8:07 pm

 

Atassi said:

Alex,
Naser Qandil !!! Come-on people .. What’s going on this site lately !!! is it being Hijacked by the Hizb El-Baath party 

April 12th, 2007, 8:32 pm

 

ugarit said:

“اليوم وبعد إصرار بعض الجهات اللبنانية المرتبطة بالمشروع الأميركي – الإسرائيلي في المنطقة على نشر قوات دولية على طول الحدود مع سورية أعلن السيد وليد المعلم وزير الخارجية السوري أن سورية وفي حال حصل هذا الأمر ستقوم بإغلاق الحدود كردّ فعل على أي عمل من هذا النوع.. كلام المعلم هذا كان قد سبقه تصريح مماثل للرئيس بشار الأسد لقناة دبي اعتبر فيه أن أي خطوة من هذا النوع ستعتبر بمنزلة اعتداء على سورية وأكد أنه « لا توجد دولة في العالم تقبل أن تضع على منافذها الحدودية جنوداً من خارج جنسيتها، إلا إذا كان هناك حرب مع دولة أخرى » وحمل مسؤولية تخريب العلاقات بين البلدين إلى الفريق الحاكم في لبنان.

http://www.syria-news.com/readnews.php?sy_seq=52123

April 12th, 2007, 8:51 pm

 

Alex said:

Atassi,

I clearly said he is pro-Syria figure. So, while it was very ingteresting what he said in that interview, we do not necessarily believe everything. Besides, if we are reading and linking Liz Cheney, then why not the much more knowledgable and capable and convincing Qandil? who is more biased between the two?

Trust me, it was a very interesting interview. He was prepared and he knows how to present his ideas. I wonder if there is a way to get the transcript.

April 12th, 2007, 9:26 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Ibrahim Suliman visited Tel Aviv, he said that Bashar refused to fight Isreal during last july war, Ibrahim is the brother of major General Bahjat Suliman, so IF his informations are correct we have to assume it came from his brother, so he was revealing top secrets which I hope it is wrong, this is treason, if it was true,then now we know who was HALF MEN, I think Bashar should arrest general Bahjat Suliman, and charge him with treason.

April 12th, 2007, 10:01 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Majedkhaldoun,

I had no idea that the two are brothers (article below confirms your assertion). This is remarkable.

Incidentally, I think that Syria contemplated entering the war but only if HA was on the verge of collapse. Since that did not materialize, this second front was not necessary.

Four consecutive articles on Syria today on the friendly paper’s main section:

http://www.alseyassah.com/alseyassah/New/default.asp

April 12th, 2007, 10:13 pm

 

Alex said:

Majed,

I think Syria was not ready to enter the war last summer. They are now a bit more ready, but I hope they never have to. Israel can do a lot of damage. I prefer if it takes few more years to get the Golan back peacefully rather than going through a bloody destructive war.

And if peace is the preferred option .. you have to do some public diplomacy. Since Bashar wisely refused to go to Jerusalem like Sadat did, this very symbolic gesture of a Syrian American business man talking to elected Israelis is quite reasonable I find.

What would you prefer?

April 12th, 2007, 10:30 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

“Incidentally, I think that Syria contemplated entering the war but only if HA was on the verge of collapse”.Ehsani : are you sure?

Dear Alex;
Isreal will never relinquish the Golan completely without war,I do not agree that diplomatically we can do it,water is the important issue.
My preferance is that we improve economic relationship with Lebanon ,Jordan and Iraq(if USA pull out) and Turkey we have to work hard on the economic development,then we will be in a better position to force our demands, this will take 7 years at least, but no one should negotiate except from strong position, Turkey is changing and it is becoming more pro Syria.

April 12th, 2007, 10:32 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

I hate to use words like “my sources”. BUT a very good source DID confirm this to me during that summer. The total collapse of HA would have had grave consequences for Damascus. Opening up a second front was thought to be a way to force the Arab brothers to make a move and change their original position. The HA “win” has resulted in the exact opposite scenario of course and it marked the turning point in Damascus’s favor.

April 12th, 2007, 10:36 pm

 

Alex said:

Majed I agree about negotiating from a position of strength and about developing closer ties with Turkey. The two countries are natural allies, at least today.

Ehsani, your source’s story makes sense.

Now, here are few more bad comments for Liz, and teh WaPo editor because he failed to mention that her dad is the Vp himself.

April 12th, 2007, 11:10 pm

 
 

K said:

Abhinav Aima,

Aoun is a deluded idiot. His followers vow to remain with him unto death, but inside they are scratching their heads. They do no share Hizballa’s ideology or program. They just want their man in the top spot, and they think they can ride Hizballah to that end. Actually, the joke’s on them, because Hizballa’s smarter than they are, and they are the ones being used. Fools.

In Lebanon, unions are corrupt, pathetic politically-dominated entities. Most are owned by Nabih Berri, the #1 most corrupt politician on the Lebanese scene, and also the longest-serving Syrian stooge in Lebanon.

Alex,

Nasser Qandil is one of Syria’s third-rate Lebanese pawns. He is in the same class as Wi’am Wahhab and Talal Arslan, perhaps even a notch lower, if it’s at all possible to sink lower than those lowlifes.

Here is Qandil in one the brightest moments of his service to Syria. Remember, this took place at a time when Lebanon was under Syrian military/intelligence occupation. Ironically, much of his vitriol was directed at the erstwhile champion of Lebanese independence from Syria, Aoun’s FPM:

“In between speeches, Syria’s most vocal ally in the Lebanese parliament Nasser Kandil, rallied the crowd.

Shouting poetic praise to Syria and Hizbullah at the top of his voice, Kandil yelled his rejection of opposition claims that it had popular support, hinting that even God was on Syria’s side.

In a breaking voice that often seemed to fade away completely, Kandil wondered “Who other than God can affect the weather and give clear skies” for the demonstrators?

He also delivered scathing diatribes against Lebanese supporters of the resolution, led by right-wing Christian groups such as the Free Patriotic Movement, whose students staged an anti-Syria demonstration 2 weeks ago.

There was no official estimate of the number of demonstrators, but many journalists put the figure at 100,000.

Kandil boasted there were more than a million in the crowd.”

http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/Newsdesk.nsf/Story/4C7EF47BE12B243642256F5C00569007?OpenDocument&PRINT

April 13th, 2007, 12:45 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

“Also How can you talk peace when you fully support and arm Hizballa? and Hamas”
Hamas and HA are very patriotic parties, we should support them financial,diplomatic and military support, it is because their resistance and bravery that the arab summit leaders refused to change the Saudi initiative,it added pride to our arabic nationality, with Iraqi are defeating USA,and HA resisted Isreali forces shattering the illusion that Isreal can not be defeated, the truth is that we are getting better,and our hopes are achievable now,this is not time to give concessions,but it is time to support each other,and work for victory.

April 13th, 2007, 1:52 am

 

Alex said:

K,

I haver no doubt Mr. Kandil is very much one sided. I never implied he is to be fully trusted.

Actually I heard his name when Mr. Mehlis tried to scare him by implying he knew of the Hariri murder in advance! … you might not respect Kandil, I surely do not respect the German “professional” investigator and all those who trusted him blindly in Lebanon and elsewhere.

Our T-Desco is much more professional : )

But K, I have to say that Kandil speaks better than 95% of Syrian officials. Most Lebanese politicians (even the ones I dislike) do very well in TV interviews. I usually watch the whole hour even if it is Jumblatt or Geagea speaking.

As for crowd estimation … If Annahar said it was 100,000 and Kandil said it was a million .. then it was 250,000 probably … ALL the sides are terrible in “counting” crowds in Lebanon and elsewhere.

Remember when the BBC and CNN claimed that thousands of Iraqis participated in the celebration of toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue? … the truth was that it was only 150 Ahmad Chalabi fighters who were there and the cameras intentionally focused only on them, ignoring the rest of the empty square.

That was the BBC, CNN, and the rest of the world who played that “dramatic” “emotional” video clip again and again.

April 13th, 2007, 2:44 am

 

Zenobia said:

I would like to humbly second a mention of WATER that Majed made.
somebody should write a post about the significance of Water in the estimations and motivations of all parties but obviously Israel in whether they in fact desire peace agreements or a resolution of conflict that would necessarily require the relinquishing of the occupied land. The Golan particulary – and of course the Pal territories are sitting on water resources that, in my view, are critical to everything….and are hardly ever mentioned.
Water resources could be shared (as they are now in most ways) but the power over it – the power of who controls it – is something Israel does not want to share. And I think they have no intention of trusting their neighbors with the spigot.
somebody should do an equation of how control of water resources figures into the mental calculations of relative gains and loss in regards to the true desire or resistance to resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict and final peace agreements.

April 13th, 2007, 3:16 am

 

Zenobia said:

T-Desco should be a private investigator, …. or a spy! (a good one, i mean) ….our own private Columbo. ..mastermind researcher… He’s goood.

April 13th, 2007, 3:21 am

 

youngsyria said:

I read articles about human rights, freedom and other stuff in the Arab world from time to time. i wonder with the writer why nobody cares about those issues except some foreign powers(not really).

here is an article on alarabiya.net talking about Kuwaiti constitution and how it is limiting human rights and freedom
متى تقوم القيامة؟

looking at the comment section will urge you to leave this stupid place if you haven’t done so. those are the people who are able to access the internet.. try to imagine what others (who don’t have this luxury) comments would be like…

this in off-topic and I’m sorry.. but reading the comment section made me jump around my room in anger.. not because of the comments but because I have found a contradiction in Darwin theory about natural selection.. I doubt those people are homo sapiens.

April 13th, 2007, 5:53 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

سليم الحلو: رجل اعمال من
اصل لبناني يصبح ثاني اغنى رجل في العالم

April 13th, 2007, 6:34 am

 

Fares said:

Majed, that shows you the benefit of working with Lebanese and not against them.

April 13th, 2007, 6:45 am

 

ausamaa said:

Fares, you are right. Ask Chirac and he will confirm this.

April 13th, 2007, 1:06 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Fares,
You are right. Ask Chirac and he will confirm this.

Youngsyria,
I read the same article on the Elaph site yesterday, and I was surprised by the number of comments on the article. Those Islamists in Kuwait have rallied against it very quickly.

April 13th, 2007, 1:11 pm

 

youngsyria said:

ausamaa,
just read the comments on alarabiya.net. they are talking about judgment day, I hope that they didn’t read the article and just decided to comment on the title, because if they did ..well Darwin is wrong .

April 13th, 2007, 3:52 pm

 

ausamaa said:

I found this on israelinsider.com .

Perhaps this is what got Liz Cheney going!! lol..

Believe it or not: Iran and Syria leading UN Disarmament Commission
By Anne Bayefsky April 13, 2007

On April 9, 2007 there was a United Nations believe-it-or-not moment extraordinaire. At the same time that Iran’s President Ahmadinejad declared his country was now capable of industrial-scale uranium enrichment, the U.N. reelected Iran as a vice chairman of the U.N. Disarmament Commission.

Yes Ripley, the very U.N. body charged with promoting nuclear nonproliferation installed in a senior position the state that the Security Council recently declared violated its nonproliferation resolutions.

So in Iran at the Natanz nuclear facility Ahmadinejad gloated: “With great pride, I announce as of today our dear country is among the countries of the world that produces nuclear fuel on an industrial scale.” And in New York, courtesy of his U.N. platform, Iranian Disarmament Vice-Chairman Seyed Mohammad Ali Robatjazi railed against “noncompliance with the NPT [nuclear nonproliferation treaty] by the United States” and “the Zionist lobby.”

It took the U.N. a mere five days to rehabilitate Iran after the British kidnap victims made it home alive. Just the night before on April 8, Faye Turney, the only female victim, revealed her Iranian abductors stripped her to her underwear, caged her in a tiny, freezing cell, and subjected her to mental torture such as leading her to believe that her death was imminent.

But while this was actually happening to Faye Turney, Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba of Mexico, the president of the U.N.’s lead human-rights body – the U.N. Human Rights Council – was making this announcement, March 26, 2006:

I would like to make the following statement adopted by the Council. One, … the Human Rights Council has in closed meetings examined the human rights situation in … the Islamic Republic of Iran… Two, the Human Rights Council has decided to discontinue the consideration of the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran… Three, … members of the Human Rights Council should make no reference in the public debate to the confidential decisions and material concerning [the Islamic Republic of Iran]…

This is not simply a very bad joke. The U.N. is feted by many as the go-to address for international progress in the world today. Congressman Tom Lantos, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, declared at a hearing on U.N. reform in February that “the U.N. provides vital support to core U.S. foreign-policy initiatives” including on Iran and the way forward is to “ratchet up our level of diplomacy there.”

“Ratchet up” suffers from some elementary numerical challenges — not to mention the netherworld where that ratcheting is headed. Congressman Lantos and his close friend former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan have long been drinking from the same well. The “reformed” Human Rights Council was Annan’s creation. Lantos is the leading advocate of the United States joining the Human Rights Council — where presumably we could jump up and down while exercising one vote out of 47. Annan, of his own volition, went to Tehran last September and urged the world not to isolate Iran immediately after the Iranian president had ignored a Security Council deadline to suspend its nuclear activities. Lantos confessed to the House Committee at the end of February that he has been begging for a visa to go to Iran for the past ten years and “will be among the first ones to do so once this visa is granted.”

Lantos was pleased with his recent trip, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to Syria. The U.N. shares his view that one of the world’s leading state sponsors of terrorism ought to be a welcome player on the world stage. Following the election on Monday of Iran as vice chairman, the U.N. Disarmament Commission elected Syria as its rapporteur.

The line between U.N. diplomacy and farce has been crossed. The real tragedy is that the defensible border between our freedom-loving rights-respecting world and the cave of our enemies is fading along with it.

This article originally appeared in National Review Online.

April 13th, 2007, 4:06 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Youngsyria

Thanks, I did. Also, what strikes me always is their very very poor Arabic..

April 13th, 2007, 4:16 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Alex noted:

And if peace is the preferred option .. you have to do some public diplomacy.

JUST “public diplomacy”;)

Peace would also include: early warning, verification, access, ambassadors, cultural exchange, cessation of incitement in the media, no more support for terrorism, etc. It could be a very degrading experience for those who are used to blaming Israel for everything. And will Syria be voted out of the all-important, Arab League like Eygpt was?

And I hope Israel learned from their Oslo haluccination. What happens when the negotiating partner doesn’t comply with the agreement?

I prefer if it takes few more years to get the Golan back peacefully rather than going through a bloody destructive war.

You may change your mind after a while like our Palestinian hero Yassir Arafat.

Yes, it can get very messy, that is, unless peace wasn’t really the issue.

April 13th, 2007, 6:03 pm

 

Alex said:

Akbar,

You are absolutely right.

good?

: )

Don’t worry about Syria respecting its international signed agreements. You know who knows the Syrians very well? those who negotiated peace agreements with them. If Syria did not intend to respect its agreements, you would have seen more of them signed so far. Hafez received Kissinger dozens of times and they talked for long hours each time they met to reach an agreement that Syria can respect and stick to. And they did.

When it comes to Syria, all Israel needs to know is that an “Agreement” is something you agree on, not something you hope to force on the other side.

April 13th, 2007, 6:17 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Alex,

This is the PROBLEM.

Offer them Peace, and people start laying down CONDITIONS instead of counting their blessings. Offer them underground shelters as Hizbullah did, and they start CRYING for peace.

Maybe they want to implement “on” Syria the same Peace they are “implementing” on the Palestinans in Gaza and the West Bank.

April 13th, 2007, 6:25 pm

 

Atassi said:

Exactly, this is what happens when you seek peace while your country is weak economically, military, and the majority of your citizens are morally depressed.
It’s the kind of demands and answers the regime will be facing if they stay isolated and keep on digging deeper in the hole!!, ideally, The Israeli are asking themselves, What this guy will bring to the table? It’s basically for them a real-estate deal first…..

April 13th, 2007, 7:00 pm

 

Alex said:

Atassi … I disagree : )

Syria is worthy of that real estate deal.

It is up to the Israelis to see it .. one day. they will.

April 13th, 2007, 7:09 pm

 

norman said:

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said in Iowa today the United States must be willing to talk directly with Iran and Syria in order to stabilize Iraq.

April 13th, 2007, 7:25 pm

 

Atassi said:

Alex,
Actions are needed prior to panhandlings and begging for worthy peace!!!
Assad MUST Fix the broken house. I mean it. The regime need’s to get in deep-talk-to-our- people mode and try to figure out the best way to unite the people under the SYRIRAIN flag… it’s tough, takes lots of personal sacrifices, But If the REGIME can handle the task of being brave and seek consolation with the peoples form all sides. I will be the first one to support it

April 13th, 2007, 7:33 pm

 

Alex said:

Atassi:

Ok, on that I agree with you : )

Norman, they ALL agree that the US should speak to Syria and Iran … except the ones whose pride is hurt.

Ausamaa, after HA’s war last summer they are “crying for” a new war if you ask me. The same way Atassi wants Syria to negotiate from a position of strength, they also want their government to negotiate from a position of strength … their economy is just fine. It is the invincibility of the IDF that needs to be re-established.

April 13th, 2007, 8:02 pm

 

Atassi said:

U.S. Vice President chastises Democrats during Chicago stop
By DEANNA BELLANDI
Associated Press Writer
13 April 2007
Associated Press Newswires

CHICAGO (AP) – Vice President Dick Cheney delivered a scathing report card Friday on the Democrat-controlled Congress that marks its 100-day milestone this weekend, rebuking its leadership for trying to usurp foreign policy and military operations.

Cheney continued the Bush administration’s denouncement of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent trip to Syria, saying “we don’t need 535 secretaries of state,” referring to the number of lawmakers in Congress.

“No member of Congress, Democrat or Republican, has any business jetting around the world with a diplomatic agenda contrary to that of the president and the secretary of state. It is for the executive branch, not the Congress, to conduct the foreign policy of the United States of America,” Cheney said to applause during a leadership gathering of the conservative Heritage Foundation.

The Bush administration has condemned Pelosi’s trip to Syria because it considers the country to be a state supporter of terrorism.

Pelosi has defended her trip throughout the Middle East and has said she thinks it helped President George W. Bush.

Lawmakers from both parties commonly travel to the Middle East, and some Republicans were in the region when Pelosi was there. Some also have been in Syrian President Bashar Assad’s office.

The second-highest ranking Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin of Illinois, planned a Friday afternoon news conference to respond to Cheney’s comments.

Cheney also assailed the Democrats for trying to “micromanage” the war in Iraq and tie funding for it to a troop-withdrawal timetable, a move he called unacceptable.

“Under the Constitution, Congress has the purse strings and the power to confirm officers, but military operations are to be directed by the president of the United States, period,” Cheney said.

Cheney reaffirmed that Bush will veto a war funding bill that includes a timetable for withdrawal, calling it “irresponsible legislation.”

Bush has said his troop increase in Iraq needs time to work.

April 13th, 2007, 8:38 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Alex

They are “crying” for another war, or “asking” for another such war?

But I agree, they may say they can not make peace while they are defeated. But, have they made peace when they were victorious?

And what gurantees do the Israelis have that the Israeli army will fare better the next time? The Arabs are closing the gap despite themselves. 1948 Total Victory against all Arabs, 1967 Victory against Egypt and Syia, 1973 A shattered IDF and a draw, 1982 they could not dislodge the Syrians in Lebanon, 2000 they hurried out of Lebanon under the flag of Saving the Soldiers, 2006 Boof!
The only victories they can claim now is over the Palestinian civilians under their occupation, and not even then. I think the good ol days for the Israeli military are over. In the Arab psych at least. It is not that easy anymore. And they have wise ones who can see this. Wise friends as well.

But they can try again..in the name of peace of course!

April 13th, 2007, 9:25 pm

 

ausamaa said:

I always liked Robert Novak at CNN’s Crossfire without knowing the full background. Now we know.

Robert Novak in Haaretz
Sharp Pen, Cruel Tounge
By Akiva Aldar
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/847988.html

April 13th, 2007, 9:39 pm

 
 

K said:

Ausamaa,

(and to a lesser extent Atassi and Alex)

Are you actually calling for Syria to attack Israel militarily?

April 13th, 2007, 10:01 pm

 

ausamaa said:

K,

Bravo. I think you got it right!

If Israel keeps threatning the area, WHY NOT? Israel is still the enemy. Syria offers peace talks and Israel declines. What should Syria do. Wait until the right opportunity has arrived for the IDF to attack Syria??

April 13th, 2007, 10:10 pm

 

ausamaa said:

And please K, dont tell enlighten me as to how weak Syria is, tell that to Olmert who keeps sending Syria assurances and requests for “calm”

April 13th, 2007, 10:13 pm

 

Habib said:

Call to Action:

Could we please infect youtube with some virulent bellicose rhetoric. These whackos suck ideological phallus.

Media Control is Mind Control

April 13th, 2007, 10:54 pm

 

Habib said:

Please follow above link:

Al Jazeera english is restricted in America. Yet normal viewers can only feed on this sort of meal. You are what you eat, and this tastes like bull.

April 13th, 2007, 10:57 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

No, we are not asking for Syria to attack Isreal, we are asking for syria to be able to defend itself against Isreal aggression, Isreal attacked Syria several times, it is proven in 1955 they made huge offensive,and Syria stopped it, in 1967 after finishing Egypt, Isreal turned around and attacked Syria, Isreal continue to send airplanes over Lebanon and syria,infact we all remember when they attacked a place northwest of Damascus,that is when Bush put too much pressure on Bashar not to retaliate.
I agree with Atassi 100%, but we all know that Bashar underwear is wet, because the Hariri affair, he will not open up to the syrian people, if he does , I will be strong supporter of him too.

April 13th, 2007, 11:38 pm

 

Alex said:

K,

I do not support a Syrian innitiated war even if Syria is one day stronger than Israel militarily (yeah right).

But I support the new attitude in Damascus which is based on their new found confidence in their ability to make it highly difficult for Israel to consider the use of power against Syria.

For everyone who thinks of war as a real option .. remember that Israel has nuclear weapons, and that syria has other lethal weapons. It can get very ugly this time. Neither country will accept to be defeated without having to use its ugliest weapons as a last option. Otherwise, it will end up in a draw … like the Lebanon war last summer.

There is always a way to avoid going to war.

April 14th, 2007, 12:33 am

 

Fares said:

yes Alex avoid the war between Israel and Syria by dumping it on Lebanon and use your darling proxy Nasralla.

April 14th, 2007, 2:21 am

 

Fares said:

for those of you who don’t know what war is, here is a good post by our friend Abu Kareem

http://levantdream.blogspot.com/2007/04/lebanon-mental-images-of-civil-war.html

April 14th, 2007, 6:49 am

 

ausamaa said:

Fares

Thanks to Israel being around for so long, we all have a pretty fair idea of what war is like. It is on TV everyday practically.

April 14th, 2007, 7:40 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Alex claims:

When it comes to Syria, all Israel needs to know is that an “Agreement” is something you agree on, not something you hope to force on the other side.

Like I said, I hope Israel learned a little from past failures. But I doubt it…

Operation Accountability

After a rocket assault on Israel from southern Lebanon in July 1993, followed by a massive Israeli military response (Operation Accountability), Asad swore to prevent future such attacks. This agreement, struck with the aid of Secretary of State Warren Christopher, was then systematically violated: four times the rockets fell in 1994 and five times in the first half of 1995. Once again, Syrian sources denied the very existence of a deal with Israel.

At the time, Israeli leaders condemned Asad’s actions in strong language, with Prime Minister Rabin charging a “total violation” of the 1993 agreement. (A few months later, though, Rabin publicly excused Asad, saying that the Syrians “don’t always keep to [the agreement], we don’t always keep to it.”) The accord fell apart completely in April 1996 when rockets landed again in northern Israel and, in response, Prime Minister Shimon Peres launched Operation Grapes of Wrath, a wide-ranging assault on Lebanon’s infrastructure. Yet in the same month, Peres still spoke of Asad as someone who “respects” his undertakings. A more accurate assessment was offered by Benjamin Netanyahu. “In Lebanon,” the then-leader of the Likud party said in 1994, “the Syrians broke just about every agreement they signed.”

April 14th, 2007, 10:16 am

 

IDAF said:

Here’s a realistic view of the balance of military power between Israel and Syria in the aftermath of last summer’s war:
Analysis: Don’t underestimate Syria’s Military
By YAAKOV KATZ – Jerusalem Post

While the Knesset heard about potential scenarios for reaching peace with Damascus on Thursday, senior defense officials warned of an unprecedented military buildup in Syria and said that prevailing in a war with Israel’s northeastern neighbor would not be as simple as some might have been led to believe.

Following the Second Lebanon War, IDF Military Intelligence noticed a change within the Syrian military. Syria feels empowered by Hizbullah’s surprising success last summer and Damascus now believes it can use Hizbullah-like tactics in a future confrontation with Israel and possibly even defeat the once-thought-to-be invincible IDF.

“For years we thought that the IDF had a clear upper hand over Syria’s military,” a top official told The Jerusalem Post. “After the war in Lebanon we now know that this assumption was not accurate.”

Syria has emphasized missile development in recent months. According to Western sources, Syria has the ability to independently manufacture Scud missiles, and it has 300 of them deployed just north of the demilitarized zone in the Syrian part of the Golan Heights.

A division of some 10,000 troops is responsible for operating the missiles, which include an small number of Scud D’s with a range of 700 kilometers and said to be capable of carrying nonconventional warheads. Syria has close to 30 launchers for its Scud missiles, according to foreign sources.

Syria keeps the projectiles in bunkers at several locations; most are in a valley near Hama, where it has built a missile electronic and assembly facility.

Syria has a massive military divided into 12 divisions and totaling close to 400,000 soldiers at full mobilization.

One of the divisions is made up of 10,000 elite commandos, a formidable force that would serve as Syria’s first line in an offensive against the IDF.

Since the Second Lebanon War, Syria has established new commando units and is said to have increased urban and guerrilla warfare training.

“Syria saw the difficulty the IDF had during the fighting inside the southern Lebanese villages and now the military there wants to draw us – in the event of a war – into battles in built-up areas where they think they will have the upper hand,” explained a source in the IDF Northern Command.

Over the last year, the Syrian military has made only two major acquisitions: a number of advanced Russian anti-aircraft systems called Stretlets. It has not received new fighter jets, tanks or armored personnel carriers for a number of years.

According to Yiftah Shapir – a researcher with the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University – the Syrian military plans to use short-range Katyushas alongside the long-range ballistic Scuds in any future conflict with Israel.

“Syria was impressed by Hizbullah’s strategic success, with its use of small rockets and Israel’s inability to neutralize them,” Shapir said. “This is a weapon that is not traditionally used in conventional wars, but can be.”

While Ibrahim “Abe” Suleiman – the Syrian national who appeared before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Thursday – might be right in his prediction that peace between Israel and Syria is possible, war, officials said, was no longer impossible.

Both militaries have raised their level of alert along the border and while the IDF has increased its presence on the Golan Heights – mostly with troops who are training – the Syrians have also moved units as well as military infrastructure closer to the border.

In satellite images broadcast this week on CBN News in the US, reporter Chris Mitchell revealed Syria’s three major missile sites. One site – referred to as the “heart” of Syria’s missile program – is in Hama, where a weapons factory is surrounded by more than 30 hardened concrete bunkers that house multiple launchers and missiles. In just minutes, experts said, these launchers could deliver more than a ton of nonconventional warheads anywhere in Israel.

Another missile site near Homs contains a previously undisclosed chemical warhead facility where a drive-through building leads to a facility where warheads are installed on ballistic missiles.

These images do not necessarily indicate that Syria plans to attack Israel, but they do send a clear message to the IDF and the Israeli leadership: Do not underestimate us.

April 14th, 2007, 12:29 pm

 

Alex said:

Akbar,

There is a difference between signed peace agreements, and the countless smaller verbal “agreements” that politicians reach in some meeting with some mediator which are contingent on some other conditions. Those fall under prime minister Rabin’s “The Syrians don’t always keep to [the agreement], we don’t always keep to it.”

The ceasefire agreement on the Golan is your proper signed agreement that Syria respected since 1974.

April 14th, 2007, 5:44 pm

 

K said:

I’m having a dreamy moment – forgive me.

Suggestions for peace and progress in the Mideast (mot in a particular order):

1. End of Israeli occupation of West Bank, Gaza and Golan

2. Democratic Palestinian state in West Bank and Gaza with constitutional restraints against Islamism

3. End of Ba’thist regime in Syria

4. Democratic Syria with constitutional restraints against Islamism, constitutional protection for minorities, and renunciation of Syrian claims over Lebanon

5. Comprehensive peace agreements between Israel, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon, including release of all prisoners, resource sharing, and economic arrangements

6. Return of Palestinian refugees from Syria and Lebanon to Palestine: some to Israel, but most to new Palestinian state

7. Democratic Lebanon with nonconfessional “House” and confessional “Senate”

8. Elimination of armed non-state actors

9. Demilitarization of Israel, Syria, Palestine and Lebanon

Add, substract or substitute your own…

April 14th, 2007, 7:54 pm

 

ausamaa said:

K,

Nice dreamy moment. I like those dreams, but let us take them one at a time and count our blesings while doing so.

Let us realise Dream 1 First: “End Israeli Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands.”

But to get there, a VERY IMPORTANT DREAM must take place:

“Control AIPAC and cut it down to true size”

April 14th, 2007, 8:19 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

it seems that the lebanese leaders has made up their mind,and decided to split lebanon,and give the south their independence and seperate it from the rest of Lebanon, Sidon and the Beirut will be part of the north, they will have their own independence, and Berri and Nasrallah is out, they will have their own constitution, their own president and their own goverment and house of representative, nasrallah and berri have no say in it, initially I thought USA will be against it, but it seems that USA approved it, this will isolate the south and prepare for Isreal invasion, this will end the state of (state within state), this will be declared this summer.

April 14th, 2007, 8:34 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Majedkhaldoun,

What are you basing this scenario on? What makes you think that it is taking place?

April 14th, 2007, 8:49 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Majed,

I Doubt it. No grown-ups will allow that, some are still around.

April 14th, 2007, 8:51 pm

 

Alex said:

Majed,

You made me run to check the BBC, CNN, and LBC : )

Have you seen couples who have been married for ever but they can’t stand each other? their relatives arranged their marriage at the time. They tend to manage to stay together despite their differences, and despite the fact each one of them is now finding others more attractive than the one they are living with at home.

Who knows.

April 14th, 2007, 9:02 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

I am basing this scenario on private talk from Amin Jemaiel, watch LBC and their interviews,today, you will come to the same conclusion

April 14th, 2007, 10:55 pm

 

Alex said:

Majed,

I agree. Remember yesterday I said that the Lebanese seem to have run out of tools to control their disagreements short of resorting to violence.

Just like you, I also reached that conclusion after watching different leaders being interviewed on LBC, NBN, Mustaqbal …

Preserving a country that is severely divided is a serious challenge. Here is another developing story … similar to Lebanon’s except that they have a very strong secular army that no one can challenge.

300,000 demonstrated for keeping Turkey secular …reminds me of the Anti Hizbollah demonstrations in Beirut last year.

And the funny thing, just like the Lebanese demonstrations were reported differently by different journalists, the BBC (pro secular Turkey I guess) estimated the crowds at 300,000, whereas the more Islamic AlJazeerah estimated them at 80,000 to 150,000 …

April 15th, 2007, 12:26 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

in Turkey, the democratic process will lead to pro islamic president,the army promised that they will respect democracy,remember 7 years is a long time,whem Sezer was appointed it was different parliament, but I still doubt that Ardogan will be the president this time ,however I may be wrong and he may declare that he is running just one day before the end of the closing date, this man is formidable, he is an excellent planner,he has officers in the army pretending they are secular, but they are not, waiting to make a move at the proper time.

April 15th, 2007, 5:14 am

 

Alex said:

Majed,

I like Erdogan a lot as you probably know. But I think he won’t make it… That demonstration was alarming if you ask me. No one will allow Turkey to be destabilized. If Erdogan’s candidacy will lead to conflict, then the Army will quickly interfere.

April 15th, 2007, 6:17 am

 
 
 

trustquest said:

So what’s the deal with Mr. Sulieman visit to Israel, the Syrian foreign ministry has denied any connection with him in the timely way after he completed his visit. And his visit took very small space in Syrian media. In Syria-news the visit post took small section for short time and their comment section only couples of comments were printed, which is weird, where some of them call him a traitor and ask for his head. The visit in my view is one of the main events in the history of the conflict, and even the commentators on Syria comments pass it very lightly. It is on all levels, diplomacy, psychologically and mentally is a gigantic step at least from the Syrian side which should be emphasized to promote a change in course of conflict. Commentators, observers should use this visit to promote peace agenda and even opposition figures should used it to promote negotiations principals with enemy and dissents as a new tools to force an alternate way to solve conflict. In Syria, since 1948, any association with a Jew has been considered treason and it is part of the psychos of the government. Regime was and still using the no contact tool as one of their legitimacy for governing and protecting the country. It seems that time has change. Question to Joshua: How can the opposition use this visit to their advantage?

April 15th, 2007, 10:14 am

 

Syrian said:

The rhetoric from Syria now is we don’t need unconditional negotiations and Israel should declare, before the negotiations start, that they will return the entire Jolan. Source

The Great Society

April 15th, 2007, 10:49 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Ausamaa claims:

Let us realise Dream 1 First: “End Israeli Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands.”

But to get there, a VERY IMPORTANT DREAM must take place:

“Control AIPAC and cut it down to true size”

AIPAC has no “control” over Hamas, Hezbollah, nor terror enablers in the PA, Syria and Iran which arm and fund these two powerful rejectionist terror organizations (none of whom even recognize Israel).

Dream on Ausamaa.

Syrian said:

The rhetoric from Syria now is we don’t need unconditional negotiations and Israel should declare, before the negotiations start, that they will return the entire Jolan.

Yes, the Syrians changed their mind again. Surprise, surprise.

Your article states:

Syria says Israel should surrender Golan Heights before talks

What a joke.

TRUSTQUEST said:

In Syria, since 1948, any association with a Jew has been considered treason and it is part of the psychos of the government.

I read about a similar European country that (about 65 years ago) once instituted the same type of government. Subjecting a country to forced racism never seems to work out well in the long run.

April 15th, 2007, 12:46 pm

 

Joshua said:

Thustquest, I am working on the Ibrahim Suleiman visit and responses.

But am off to Witchitaw National Park with my son and friends for the day. Will try to get it off tonight, inshaallah.

Salvation Front has condemned the visit as a “surrender.”

The opposition, in general, seems to want Syria to be more hard line and not to give away so many Golan rights.

Best, J

April 15th, 2007, 1:54 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Very simply, Syria tried to demonstrate through Suliman the extent to which it can go then “retracted” the same so it would not “constitute” an official Syrian position that Israel would consider as a “high ceiling” and which Israel will try to negotiate and bring lower down. They got used to how the litle beast tries to take advantage of things. For example, look at Shimon Peres! Yesteday he said something like: Israel can NOT negotiate with the Arab countries until they recognise Israel’s right to exist. Wow! The little bugger thinks he is smart! Maybe another hit on the head, or two, from Hizbullah and Hamas will wake him up to a reality that says: Beggers can not be chosers. The US is waking up, the Arabs are running out of both patience and peace offerings, and the once mighty and arrogant Goliath is not as mighty and arrogant as used to be. But still, they refuse to acknowledge the grim reality which is preventing them from sleep at night. They think they can be smarter than their old South Africaans friends, the French in Algiers or the British in India (and all of those had nukes). Five millions against 300 millions; and they think they can keep the lid on things forever..!!

April 15th, 2007, 3:25 pm

 

trustquest said:

This question to Ehani2:
The follwoing link is for the recent law regarding the change in civil registration in Syria. Please have a look at it and I wonder if share with me how poor these laws are and how these laws working agianst investement and improvement. Some paragraphs are even writtn badly.
http://www.syria-news.com/readnews.php?sy_seq=52193

April 15th, 2007, 4:05 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Joshua said
“The opposition, in general, seems to want Syria to be more hard line and not to give away so many Golan rights.”
this is absolutely true, we all should remember this so we understand why Isreal prefer Bashar to stay.

April 15th, 2007, 4:11 pm

 

Atassi said:

Joshua,
I don’t believe your descriptions “a hard-line stand “position regarding Syria’s total right to the Golan is accurate. I think you used this term loosely. To my best knowledge, Syrians has demanded 100 % of the Golan, and this demand still stand. Thank you

April 15th, 2007, 5:13 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Dr. Josh stated:

The opposition, in general, seems to want Syria to be more hard line and not to give away so many Golan rights.

Dr. Josh,

Did you mean Golan “rights” or “Heights”? If you really did mean rights, can you explain exactly what they are?

I’m also wondering why you’re so concerned about these “rights” about the Golan, when human rights in the Middle East outside of Israel are about 3 orders of magnitude worse. Please feel free to comment.

http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html

April 15th, 2007, 5:44 pm

 

Alex said:

Akbar,

There are so many problems with the Middle East. Israel is not the cause of all problems. But Israeli implementation of UN resolutions 242 and 338 in a carefully negotiated agreement with Syria, the Palestinians and Lebanon is the best way to quickly move in the right direction for all.

April 15th, 2007, 6:21 pm

 

Alex said:

Trustquest,

Most Syrians I know will not allow their government to sign anything less than the 1967 borders int eh Golan.

“Syrian opposition”? .. depends who. It includes patriotic Syrians and it includes Washington made clowns. The later types do not care about the Golan in anyway.

For example, see how this one conveniently hid the Golan part in Syria’s map in his banner on top.

April 15th, 2007, 6:31 pm

 

Fares said:

Excellent analysis on Sleiman in arabic
http://www.free-syria.com/loadarticle.php?articleid=17326
but I know you guys won’t like it even though it represents reality

April 15th, 2007, 7:46 pm

 

Alex said:

Fares, I did not see much analysis in that link. It was a translation to the API news only put in words that make the Syrian regime look like corrupt weak losers … again.

Can you tell us what are the excellent parts you found there? And can you tell us about that wonderful site’s promoting the very honest and patriotic Khaddam, and what we are supposed to conclude as a result regarding the site’s objectivity.

April 15th, 2007, 7:52 pm

 

Zenobia said:

btw, the new look of the blog is fantastic. so much easier to read and look at.

April 15th, 2007, 7:53 pm

 

Zenobia said:

now if only some of the yo-yo comments would improve……..

April 15th, 2007, 7:55 pm

 

Zenobia said:

TRUSTQUEST said:

In Syria, since 1948, any association with a Jew has been considered treason and it is part of the psychos of the government.

so, what if … some israeli citizens wanted to visit damascus for tourism. If anyone, just an individual – applied to visit this way – could they ever be granted a visa?
I mean saying “yes” and graciously hosting a bunch of people could be a huge publicity coup for the syrian government. They should try it.

April 15th, 2007, 8:02 pm

 

Alex said:

Trustquest, did you say “any association with a Jew has been considered treason”?? … Did you hear of Syrian Jews?

Zenobia, here is one, here is another.

April 15th, 2007, 8:19 pm

 

trustquest said:

In the last 10 years or so, sometimes during Hafez Assad presidency, we started hearing about Jews and some connection with Jewish organizations. I heard about Mrs Hind visit also. You are right Alex there is little change, but there is no movement on part of the regime to make any social change towards openness and civil course. There is the double standards in all walk of lives what apply on Mr. Soluiman does no apply on other citizens. In actuality any association with Jew is still till know a crime and you could be shot dead in any of security basements and you can voted out for any hint of that in the public media. If you go to Syria-news you will realize the stiff mentality in the public and you will notice that there are no social programs to make civil changes in the mentality of dealing of differences. What I was trying to say, that more lights on the Soleiman visit from all sides including the regime in Syria, could soften and humanize the theory of discussion between parties in preparation for its coming if ever happened. The government in Syria showing no signs of opening channels with opposition and its opening channels with its enemy. It seems that even its enemy is not believing its seriousness.
I know of a gentleman who was executed in the 80s, in flash of light when he was accused of spying and spying from them means he met Jewish girls while he was studying outside for his ministry. So, Alex, be careful? What you think is not what they think?!

April 15th, 2007, 9:18 pm

 

Zenobia said:

Alex, those links to the other post and to Hind’s post on Gopin’s visit to Syria were very fascinating.
Of course, Truthquest is correct. There is a huge difference between allowing some very notable jewish people to be guests of the president and the higher ups in syria and actually generating more tolerance in the general population.
why is he telling you – Alex- to be careful…lol, of spying?…or your fondness for jewish girls?
ha ha..

April 15th, 2007, 9:48 pm

 

Alex said:

Well, I was already interviewed by Haaretz, which is supposedly not allowed. I did not hear any complaints. I have many friends who are Israeli Journalists (moderate ones).

Let be clear here “Israelis” and “Jews” are not the same. Jews are very much accepted in Syria. More so than most other Arab countries.

There was a Montreal Jewish journalist who visited Syria few years ago. He came back totally in love with Syria and the Syrian people who were all extra nice to him after he told them he was Jewish.

But he was Canadian, not Israeli.

I agree that the government does not want anyone to play with Syrian Israeli relations issues without their approval. They want to be in control of the process.

April 15th, 2007, 9:56 pm

 

Zenobia said:

well i totally agree that Jewish and Israeli are not equivalent. but in my last visit to syria (and even with a group of syrian immigrants in Cali), my own experience was that they don’t go launching their complaints (including bigotedness) about Israelis….they keep referring to “jews”…at which point I try to correct them at least on this unconscious- conflation of two distinct designations.
i found that many people are conflating and then it becomes very disturbing to me.
of course this was my own personal sample. my relatives there might be small minded idiots and other syrians might have more mature attitudes.

April 15th, 2007, 10:08 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

I’m also wondering why you’re so concerned about these “rights” about the Golan, when human rights in the Middle East outside of Israel are about 3 orders of magnitude worse. Please feel free to comment.

Stop feeding Akbar your silly propaganda. The areas occupied by Israel were won in a war it started. The human rights in the occupied areas are worse than in any Arab country.

In the link you provided we can easily see that Israel violates Palestinians rights in

Article 1.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status..

Article 5.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 7.
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.

Article 9.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 12.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation.

Article 13.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

ETC. You Akbar can easily see that Israel violates most of the human rights articles of her Arab citizens and the millions of Palestinians under Israel’s rule.

Certainly all Arab countries have problems with their ruling style and human rights situation, but those problem are small considered what Israel is doing and to what it has transformed. The difference is that the Arab nations are not even pretending to be “democratic” and not a single behaves like Israel.

The reality is Akbar that you and your few “fellows”, who believe in Greater Israel, have to get used to the fact that Israel has in near future to leave the occupied areas. Religious extremism, terrorism and human rights are certainly not the best subjects when you try to justify the “Jewish nations superiority”.

Not even you Akbar seem to be willing to move to your “homeland”. Why? I have been wondering it for a while. In Israel you would be as man and Jew a real “Ûbermensch”.

April 15th, 2007, 10:51 pm

 

trustquest said:

This is completely different issue here; I do not disagree with Simohurtta about the other side human rights issues.
And I will say, Right Alex” the government does not want anyone to play with Syrian Israeli relations issues without their approval. They want to be in control of the process.”
Still, you are not out of the woods, you will never know when they will open your file and by who?.
But your statement does not end there and does not describe it completely. It is not only “control” when it is selective, Sulieman is not a traitor, but Ammar is for making interview with Israili news paper. This was proved last month when they let their agents on Syria news bark against his mother. I do have an issue here of how the regime handling all these issues. They are not equipped to make a change with their current structures to contradict thier long standing policy unless they do “reforms”, I know it, I feel it and even Joshua has mentioned these social issues way back on his blog, talking about Syrian Education system, Baath party school of mind and the media set of rules. They can not keep playing this game by picking and choosing who is traitor and who is not, letting Suleiman to have a free hand and putting Kamal Labwani in prison for meeting American officials. The regime is shooting itself in the foot. People in their privacy are whispering about what is allowable to Allawite is not allowed to others. Put this in prospective, this mean any progress on the peace process will not have the luck to stand in the public eyes. Off course not to mention the full load of ammunition will provide to others who been silenced in the process.

April 16th, 2007, 12:41 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Alex;
you commited something awful,you should never went through the interview without syria permission,that was a mistake, I hope nothing will happen to you, but please do not repeat it again,you will be arrested in Syria if the syria embassy reported you;or anyone else reported you, even Gibran can do it.
No syrian official will talk,or meet with a foreign jew.
no syrian will meet with official jew they both against the law in Syria, and the person is a spy unless proven not to.

April 16th, 2007, 3:00 am

 

Fares said:

Alex, The analysis was basically that both Syria and Israel are playing with time and are not serious about making a peace deal. They are just keeping the issue alive for their own interests but there is no real desire for changing their positions or attitudes.

Truequest is making a lot of sense and I agree with most of his points. Also 2001-2002 Intifada with all the mistakes made was a real set back in all the progress made in the 90s if any and the new/old axis of fake resistance is enjoying and making the most of the game.

If you are really looking for a Peace deal then both Syria and Israel need to change their internal as well as their external policies and prepare their people for that Peace, both sides currently can not handle the radical change, and instead of things being cooled down tensions are building up more and more thanks to Najjad and his nuclear plans.

The only thing that I am confused about is does Iran and Israel have secret deals and alliances between them (Iran has a big jewish population like Morocco and there are a lot of people who go to both countries) and all these tensions are increase extremism and squeeze the arabs more and more. Lebanon got destroyed in a proxy war that did not hurt Iran and Israel took a very small hit but Lebanon was brought back into the past and is still not out of it. Syria got back its hardline policies and the region became more divided. It is a very bright plan…Iran and Al Qaeda are so useful to keep setting us back.

BTW free-syria.com is a news site that gather news and articles that seem useful to them, does not mean that the writer who writes in Elaph wrote it for free-Syria. Another thing is while I didn’t really like Khaddam because of his previous control of Lebanon and playing Assad game perfectly while he was in power. I don’t see how the guy is hurting you or Syria…He is entitled to aspire to power just like the people who are in power would like to keep it…to me attacking Assad does not mean attacking Syria…would i vote for Khaddam to be in power, I don’t know it depends on his policies and what does he bring to the table, but for now he has no chance so I don’t worry about it. I know that you are going to Say Khaddam is another version of Assad (dictartorship and just using people to be in power) but why not add more players to the game and see what happens.

April 16th, 2007, 4:14 am

 

Fares said:

BTW Alex, I expected you to pay a visit to my site and comment on the fate of the uprooted Iraqi christians since you care about Iraq.

April 16th, 2007, 4:18 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Alex clarifies:

Let be clear here “Israelis” and “Jews” are not the same. Jews are very much accepted in Syria. More so than most other Arab countries.

Alex –

Let us be clear, Jews and Israel are one and the same, which is why Jewish institutions are prime terrorist targets not just in Israel, but also around the world.

The claim by racists and anti-semities that “Jews” and “Israelis” are different somehow, only prolongs the conflict.

You want peace? Recognize the fact that Israel is the one and only Jewish Homeland. It is where the Jewish people were born, and it is where they now govern themselves.

Zenobia said:

well i totally agree that Jewish and Israeli are not equivalent.

And I agree that Islam and Israeli are not equivalent also.

April 16th, 2007, 11:19 am

 

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