"U.S.-Syrian Relations" by Amassador Moustapha - Syria Comment

“U.S.-Syrian Relations” by Amassador Moustapha

U.S.-Syrian Relations: The Untold Story and the Road Ahead

By Ambassador Imad Moustapha
Originally published in Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs

It is no secret that Syrian-American relations have been quite strained, to say the least, for some time now. Initial talks of a U.S. invasion of Iraq sparked the first signs of tension with Syria’s fierce opposition to such a plan. While we were Saddam Hussain’s arch-enemies, the notion of infringing on another country’s sovereignty to dispose of its leader based on dubious, or even fabricated, pretexts was unacceptable to us—and should have been for everyone else. Besides, we were absolutely convinced that any foreign occupation is a perilous concept that will create serious problems and yield grave consequences.

Consequently, relations between both countries continued to spiral toward diplomatic stalemate. Nonetheless, while the administration and, for a while, Congress refused to engage or listen to what we had to say, the so-called “rational center” (academia, think tanks, the media, and thoughtful American citizens) were eager to hear from us and advocate engagement with Syria.

Although the paradigm concerning Syria has shifted drastically in the past few months, it is important to review the events that led to the current deadlock and share a side of the story that has yet to be revealed…

Syria’s Untold Side of the Story

Relations between the U.S. and Syria were not always this strained. Syria was one of the first countries to condemn the atrocious terrorist attacks of 9/11 and approached the U.S. with intelligence on al-Qaeda—which, according to Secretary of State Colin Powell in a letter addressed to Congress, was “actionable information” that “helped save American lives.” 

This security coordination faltered after the invasion of Iraq, however, when the U.S. started leveling accusations at Syria claiming that Syria was allowing the infiltration of foreign fighters into Iraq. In March 2004, I was directed by my government to initiate contacts with officials from both the State Department and the Pentagon to address these accusations. The aim was not merely to “refute” these allegations but, more importantly, to formally inform U.S. officials that Syria was willing to cooperate with the U.S. on securing these borders. I conveyed to the U.S. officials Syria’s willingness to do whatever it takes to secure these borders, including exchanging information, sharing intelligence, holding field meetings between Syrian and U.S. military officers, and even participating in trilateral border patrols with the Iraqis and Americans. Needless to say, while my suggestions aroused serious interest in the State Department, they were flatly rejected by the Pentagon.

 

In September 2004, I delivered an official letter from the Syrian leadership to the U.S. administration in which Syria explicitly offered cooperation toward securing and stabilizing Iraq. The U.S. reply was a deafening silence.

In January 2005, when former Undersecretary of State Richard Armitage visited Damascus, Syria agreed to further enhance security and intelligence cooperation with the U.S. to include any terrorists crossing from Syria into Iraq, or those operating from within Syria. Meanwhile, I had strict directives from Damascus to inform high-ranking officials at the National Security Council, the State Department and the Pentagon that if they wanted Syria’s security cooperation to continue, the U.S. administration had to cease its somewhat-daily diatribe against Syria. The underlying message was that Syria is not a charity. If the U.S. wants cooperation with Syria on security issues, political engagement should ensue.

Ostensibly, the U.S. was not interested.  Washington withdrew its ambassador from Damascus and embarked on a vicious political offensive on Syria. Still, the U.S. continued requesting Syria’s security cooperation! Unfortunately, I had to announce in April 2005 that Syria was severing all cooperation between Syrian security agencies and their American counterparts. Damascus would refuse to cooperate behind closed doors and be lambasted in the open.

Where to Go From Here

An interesting pattern is emerging out of Washington regarding U.S. policy toward Syria. While the Bush administration has invested so much into isolating Syria, it seems that the plan has only backfired, resulting in the isolation of the administration itself in regards to various major players in the region. Top congressmen and senators from both sides of the aisle have stressed the importance of re-engaging with Syria. In their response to President Bush’s State of the Union address, the Democrats stressed the role of a “regional diplomatic effort” in order to achieve stability and peace in Iraq. Key Republican figures, such as Senators Richard Lugar, Arlen Specter and Chuck Hagel, have stressed the same notion. Such a “regional diplomatic effort” will ultimately include Syria, among other neighboring countries.

Also, while Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice—who has yet to visit Damascus—downplays engagement with Syria as “fruitless,” former secretaries of state who have actually negotiated with Damascus have all stressed the importance of dialogue with Damascus. Only recently, former Secretary of State Powell told Newsweek that “we got plenty” from talking with Syria. Prior to that, one of the two top figures behind the Iraq Study Group report, former Secretary of State James Baker, who dealt extensively with Syria, recommended that the U.S. talk to Syria. The list of former secretaries of states calling for engagement with Syria also includes Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger.

The Bush administration’s isolation is not confined to the political realm. It seems they are in isolation from their own military, as well. Col. William Crowe, in charge of the border area between Syria and Iraq, was asked by reporters at a Jan. 12, 2007 Pentagon briefing about the number of foreign fighters infiltrating Iraq from Syria. The colonel candidly replied, “There is no large influx of foreign fighters that come across the border.” He added, however, that “smuggling has been taking place in this part of the world for thousands of years.” In most cases when his troops had caught an infiltrator moving across the border—a possible average of two per day—Colonel Crowe hastened to add, “it turns out it is someone smuggling sheep, eggs, or cigarettes.”

Moreover, on Feb. 13 Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared that, based on the National Intelligence Estimate, “Syria …[is] not causing the strife within Iraq…

The…Syrians have nothing to do with it.” Yet, Washington is still somehow adamant in its accusation of Syria’s involvement in allowing infiltrators into Iraq.

The administration is in isolation from its Iraqi allies, as well, regarding Syria.  In January of this year, to the chagrin of the U.S. administration, Syria and Iraq re-established diplomatic relations after a lapse of 25 years, resulting in a Security Memorandum signed by the two countries. Our foreign minister paid an official visit to Baghdad, and Iraqi President Jalal Talibani concluded a weeklong visit to Damascus. Meanwhile, the U.S. administration continues to blame Syria for its own failed policies in Iraq.

Syria firmly believes that the only way to achieve progress in Iraq is through the political engagement of all parties, without exception or exclusion. This includes all Iraqi factions, regional neighbors of Iraq, and international players with interest in stabilizing the situation in Iraq. A strategy of consensus and dialogue is the only way forward. Syria can play a constructive role if such a path is adopted. Alas, the new strategy formulated by President Bush will only lead to more violence and bloodshed.

In February 2007, the U.S. State Department invited me to a meeting aimed at discussing the status of Iraqi refugees in Syria. I told them that Syria refuses to discuss one consequence of failed U.S. policies in Iraq and opts, instead, to engage with Washington on the very policies that led to the series of disasters—of which the refugee strife is but one example. I also had to remind them that whereas more than one million Iraqis fled what they call “an oasis of democracy” into our “rogue state,” the U.S., which bears the full responsibility for everything taking place today in Iraq, had granted refugee status to only 450 Iraqis. They claimed that the number would be raised to 7,000 by 2008.

Syria’s willingness to sit at the negotiating table arises from two aspects: self-interest and empathy with the Iraqi people.  Syria is not looking for a deal on Iraq. The humanitarian toll paid by the Iraqi people through daily killings, exodus, hunger, and other brutal conditions is unacceptable, based on human and international law. While not comparable to the suffering of the Iraqis, Syria also has shouldered some of the weight of Washington’s failed policies in Iraq. Syria has welcomed around 1,300,000 Iraqi refugees—a tremendous burden on any country.

Whether it is for the benefit of the Iraqis, the Syrians, the neighboring countries, or the young American and British soldiers dying on the ground, the chaos needs to come to an end.

This is not America’s war, nor is it the world’s war—it is President Bush’s war.  Nonetheless, it is the duty of America and the world to put an end to the suffering of Iraqis, primarily, and the suffering of every party shouldering a burden from this administration’s uncalculated failed policies.  The road ahead undoubtedly will be difficult. Yet, if we are to bring this sad chapter in our history to an end, it will inevitably require all of us to take this road together, and work toward a brighter future.

Comments (150)


Enlightened said:

Ambassador Mustapha (Mustapha means chosen one) must have the hardest job in the Syrian government and diplomatic corps!

He must surely be lacking in marketing skills! How do you sell this Baathi government to the right wing Republicans in the administration?

First he must stop lying, Syria has harbored ex Baathis in Damascus, provided the Iraqis with weapons prior to the invasion, and has facilitated the crossing of the insurgents and Jihadists across its border with Iraq with the full acquiesence of its security services. This has been fully planned with Iran.

This is not fiction but fact, it might not be going on as actively anymore but more subversively, given the increased patrolling on the border, and you wonder why they refuse to talk to the Syrian government? (Syria had to strategically take this decision but now it is trying to ectricate itself from the isolation imposed on it).

Nothing Imad Mustapha says will make me believe that Syria did not aid the insurgents!

March 13th, 2007, 12:07 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

U.S.-Syrian Relations: The Untold Story and the Road Ahead

By Ambassador Imad Moustapha
Originally published in Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs

Ambassador Imad Moustapha said:

“Besides, we were absolutely convinced that any foreign occupation is a perilous concept that will create serious problems and yield grave consequences.”

Now there’s a man with experience! Well, at least the US has an ambassador in Iraq.

http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=2&x_outlet=35&x_article=1203

March 13th, 2007, 12:11 am

 

ugarit said:

AP said: “Now there’s a man with experience! Well, at least the US has an ambassador in Iraq.”

That’s funny.

That ambassador represents the USA’s occupation of Iraq. At least Syria no longer occupies Lebanon which we can’t say about the US’s and Israel’s on-going occupations.

Isn’t funny that the US is involved with discussions with Iraq’s neighbors as if the US is the neighbor of Iraq.

There’s a saying that: God created wars so Americans would learn geography.

March 13th, 2007, 12:28 am

 

ugarit said:

“Nothing Imad Mustapha says will make me believe that Syria did not aid the insurgents!”

Syria has the right to aid any insurgent it wishes to aid, just as the USA seems to feel that it has the right to invade, occupy and destroy other countries.

Anyhow most insurgents are being aided by Saudi Arabia and we hear very little complaining about that.

March 13th, 2007, 1:24 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

Just a brief comment on what Mr. Moustapha wrote:

“While we were Saddam Hussain’s arch-enemies, the notion of infringing on another country’s sovereignty to dispose of its leader based on dubious, or even fabricated, pretexts was unacceptable to us—and should have been for everyone else. Besides, we were absolutely convinced that any foreign occupation is a perilous concept that will create serious problems and yield grave consequences.”

If we were Saddam’s arch-enemies why did we decide to embark on massive financial dealings with him leading up to the invasion? That blatant violation of standing U.N resolutions that prohibited dealing with Saddam sure did not sit well at the White House.

How was Damascus so sure at the time that the charges and evidence against Iraq were so dubious and fabricated? It is easy to say this now with the benefit of hindsight. Back in early 2003, every intelligence agency in the world was convinced that Saddam had some WMD. President Clinton and the previous Administration thought the same.

As I argued in the previous thread, time will tell if Damascus made the right call by presenting a “fierce opposition” to the American invasion. If it were I, I would have taken the other side of the trade. I may well have been wrong. The consensus opinion in the country is certainly that Bashar made the right gamble. I beg to differ.

Now to economics:

This story below is a microcosm of what most public sector companies in Syria are going through.

http://www.champress.net/?page=show_det&id=15701

It looks like a new face that champions privatization has been promoted. Rather than keep on the socialist/communist leaning Finance Minister, I think that it is time to push such extinct and bankrupt theorists out of the way. The article below implies that he is kept there to provide a balance to the two opposing views fighting within the government. Can we afford the time to debate? We don’t have the luxury to wait and discuss. Even our new friend Iran has embarked on a new accelerated pace of privatization this week. It is time that we join this privatization endeavour without wasting further time.

http://www.syria-news.com/readnews.php?sy_seq=50002

March 13th, 2007, 1:46 am

 

Alex said:

Dear Enlightened,

First he must stop lying

I expected a more balanced comment from you, since you are …enlightened.

Why do we have to invoke moral values every time we make a comment on “the Syrian regime”? .. who is moral among the other politicians in the Middle East?

Are you saying that Syrian politicians should not be politicians like their American, Israeli, Egyptian, and Saudi counterparts? they should only tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Are you saying that Ambassador Moustapha should volunteer information as if he was on a lie detector test?

I always wonder why is it ONLY “the Syrian regime” that they expect more from … more honesty, more democracy and more respect for human rights than all the others. No interference in its neighbors while the Americans come from thousands of miles away to interfere in Syria’s neighbors and to threaten Syria initially that “You are next on our plans”

I would suggest that the ratio of the Bush administration’s lies to the Syrian regime’s lies can not be counted on one’s fingers.

And one last question: Why is it that only the Syrians that we call “the Syrian regime”? … why not a “Saudi regime” and “Egyptian regime” and…

March 13th, 2007, 2:10 am

 

Alex said:

My friend Ehsani:

How was Damascus so sure at the time that the charges and evidence against Iraq were so dubious and fabricated? It is easy to say this now with the benefit of hindsight.

Honestly, in this case there was no need for “the benefit of hindsight” … it did not take a genius to understand what the Bush administration was cooking… let’s not pretend that those WMD charges were relevant.

March 13th, 2007, 2:20 am

 

Enlightened said:

Alex;

Then we agree that he is a liar! If we use your logic that all politicians are liars? Your presumption about Bush’s lies are greater in magnitude is plain for all to see!

I would rather see Bashar take the lie detector test Alex if you have access to one that would be far more interesting!

Politically speaking , the job description of any politician would require an ability to stretch the truth,distort the facts,tell porky pies etc etc etc, however in all candour I dont buy that hogwash that Syria was not involved in the Insurgency, do you Alex? Let me know.

As about morality, well that and politics should not be in the same sentence should it now?

March 13th, 2007, 2:38 am

 

Clayton E. Swisher said:

Dr. Moustapha should be commended for putting Syria’s account out there in the public domain for debate and discussion–not a common practice for Arab diplomats.

I’m curious to see what kind of rebuttals we might hear from former Pentagon officials who, at the height of American hubris, agitated going to war with Syria after Iraq.

I know, for instance, that David Schenker with the AIPAC-spinoff Washington Institute has had a lot to publicly say against Syria as of late.

I’d like to see Schenker’s rebutting evidence. What does he know that Powell had wrong?

March 13th, 2007, 2:44 am

 

Syrian said:

Enlightened,

This is a nice argument you are having with yourself. A politician stretches, distorts and manipulates the facts. We all know that. What is the surprise that the Ambassador is spinning the facts to the benefits of his employers and why is that even worth discussing. Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Israel, Jordan and the US are all involved in the insurgency one way or another. SO WHAT. Everyone is trying to do what they can to preserve their interests.

You claim the insurgency is a plan of Syria’s and Iran’s. There are some who would argue that Syria and Iran are on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to Iraq (See Scott Sullivan) and an earlier post on this blog (maybe a year or so old). Their interest in Iraq do not match and they support different sides of the insurgency.

Syria is hosting ex-Baathists and why not. its called leverage and these ex-baathists will probably be turned over to Iraqis at the right price!!

Syria facilitated the movement of foreign fighters; they also support Moqtada Al Sadr. If there is anything the Syrians have been able to do remarkably well through the years it is precisely that. Create alliances on all sides of a conflict so that whoever wins, YOU DO NOT LOSE. (i.e corporations and lobby groups donate to all candidates during an election year regardless of where they stand, why?)

March 13th, 2007, 3:06 am

 

Enlightened said:

Syrian:

Yes the syrian regime is adept at political maneuvering ! My point was and is I wont buy the hogwash that Syria is not involved in the urgency !
That is my point.

Corporations and Lobby groups do not sponsor and arm people to go out and kill inoocent people- there is a difference!

March 13th, 2007, 4:11 am

 

Syrian said:

Enlightened,

You made your point very clearly and I appreciate that.

The difference is a moral one and not a qualitative strategic difference which brings back Alex’s question “Why do we have to invoke moral values every time we make a comment on “the Syrian regime”? “

Syria, after all, is not unique in arming and sponsoring different groups to serve their interests. Nations throughout history have supported one group over another with guns and money to serve their own interest.

March 13th, 2007, 4:21 am

 

Alex said:

Enlightened,

I think Imad was mostly telling the truth in this piece.. he probably was selective in his statements as “Syrian” stated above. Imad mainly wanted to explain that Syria tried to coordinate with the Americans. I know they did. But I do not believe it was proposed as a charity … obviously they expected cooperation from the Americans in return .. just like any country would expect.

But my point again is, why is it that whenever the Syrian regime violate one of the ten commandments, everyone rushes to tell us that “this justifies why the west does not want to deal with them”.

Israel won’t talk peace with Syria until Syria “stops supporting terror”. Chirac stoped talking to Bashar and co because “they won’t deliver the internal reforms they promised him they would” … and the biggest joke: the Saudi Al-Sharq Alawsat newspaper used to criticize them for being not democratic!

Which brings me to the most useless opinion piece I have read in 2007 .. from today’s Asharq Alawasat!

enjoy!.. and please tell me if Syria’s worst Baathist newspapers still talk this way about “the Syrian dictator”:

وعلى النحو الآتي نسجل هذه الحيثيات:

أولاً: ان الحل في نهاية الأمر سيكون على يدي المملكة العربية السعودية. ومثل هذا الاهتمام من جانب المملكة ليس طارئاً، فهو من أيام الملك عبد العزيز رحمة الله عليه، وهو أيضاً واحدة من وصاياه الى الأبناء الملوك الذين تعاقبوا على قمة الحكم من سعود إلى فيصل إلى خالد الى فهد رحمة الله عليهم.. وإلى عبد الله، أطال الله عمره وإخوانه وبالذات الأمراء سلطان وسلمان وطلال، والأحفاد وبالذات الأمير سعود الذي لا تخلو صفحة من أجندته كوزير للخارجية، من بند يتعلق بلبنان، والأمير الوليد الذي ترجم الاهتمام الى مشاريع خيرية كثيرة في لبنان من دون التمييز بين طوائفه اضافة الى الاستثمارات.

ثانياً ـ عندما حظي السفير الدكتور عبد العزيز خوجة يوم 29 أكتوبر (تشرين الاول) الماضي بلفتة متميزة من الملك عبد الله، وذلك بترقيته الى سفير بالمرتبة الممتازة، وبذلك بات اللقب معالي السفير بدل سعادة السفير، فإنه كان بذلك يطمئن أطياف الأزمة اللبنانية الى أن صدر المملكة سيكون أكثر وسعاً ازاء التناقضات والمساجلات

The Saudi Ambassador in Lebanon is getting the Saudi equivalent of “with our blood, with our soul we sacrifice for you … Mr. Ambassador”

March 13th, 2007, 4:22 am

 

Alex said:

And instead of discussing the most controversial point of Imad’s piece, we are discussing the relative morality of Syria’s politicians again.

To me, the most significant part of the Ambassador’s piece is the following question:

Why would Ambassador Moustapha attack president Bush today … isn’t the Untied states now talking to Syria? … why cut bridges with the American president if you hope and expect to do business with them in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine …

Oh, and it is intentional, not a mistake.

March 13th, 2007, 4:30 am

 

Sietske said:

And he is blogging these days too! http://imad_moustapha.blogs.com/

March 13th, 2007, 4:32 am

 

Enlightened said:

Alex:

I dont read arabic; i have forgotten how to I was fluent when i was eight, its on my to do list!

Yes the Saudi/Syrian media wars have been fierce for two years, Its that OLD VERY OLD Sunni/Alawi divide about legitemacy, the Saudis were neve comfortable with an Alawi ruling syria ( there is that sectarianism again)

To answer your question about why are we discussing the relative morality of Syria’s politicians, well Alex the answer is simple they are an easy target for starters, their history and their rule should be condemned as easily as Saddams was, however i am not in favour of invading them and causing havoc, this should be done with the free will of the Syrian people.

How does their rule stack up Alex are you happy with political prisoners of conscience? Lack of freedom and free will? The abject poverty of some of the citizens, while others profit from corruption?

Imad Moustapha is attacking Bush because he knows that Syria will not benefit from The Bush regime. Dont expect any resuls form this administration, and pray for a democratic victory at the next one, that is Syrias best hope.

Alex the reason is simple much in the same way we would question any othe ME politicians, however Syrian history has condemned these rulers to be questioned no matter what!

March 13th, 2007, 5:12 am

 

Syrian said:

Enlightened,

Imad Mustapha is attacking Bush because he knows that Syria will not benefit from The Bush Regime This makes no sense. Take someone who is barking at you and say, hey he is about to bite me so I guess I may as well piss him off some more. No that’s not why the Ambasador is “Attacking” Bush. By making public the fact that the Syrians had offered their help early on in the conflict, you increase the pressure on Bush (from congress) to engage you in a more comprehensive level that is to your liking. The Syrian government is not unaware of the political pressures that are present in the American system and they will do what they can to promote their own agenda. It was, afterall, the defense department that rejected Syrian overture and not the State department (according to the Ambassador).

March 13th, 2007, 5:54 am

 

ausamaa said:

Some people on this site do not know how to choose their words. They imagine that just because their words appere on the screen, that they have achieved something, or that they “are” something. I am directing this message to those giving ideas regarding Lie Detector tests. While I do not want to come to such a level, yet it seems that they should hear a proper answer. Civility not withstanding.

How about administring a Lie Detector Test to the 14 Feb Lebanese gang leaders? Not to establish if they are Lying, that is a well known fact, also not to establish who are their current paymaster, but Merely to establish the authenticity of their Middle names and their family tree? They may pass the test for sure. Maybe they wouldn’t be lying if they gave a wrong answer, they may well not know the correct one.

March 13th, 2007, 6:04 am

 

Alex said:

Enlightened,

I wish I understood why politicians are “bad”. Especially successful politicians… Attaturk was an exceptionally “bad” person for example but they worship him in Turkey.

Do I approve of the highly selfish Syrian corrupt general who has $100,000,000 in Switzerland while there are hungry Syrians? no. Do I approve of jailing Michel Kilo? no (And I expressed to “them” my disappointment).

Now before I write 10 pages about my opinion on this topic, I would like you, or others here to come up with a reasonable way to rate the “evilness” of every regime and every leader in the Middle East today (including the Americans)

Please tell me your fair criteria for rating evilness of regimes and leaders.

Otherwise, I can not accept to randomly pick the Syrian regime to give the the lion’s share of criticism…

Why not start with criticizing the sweet Mubarak who has ten times more political prisoners. Oh and, Bloggers or demonstrators who get detained in Egypt are usually punished with a stick in police stations… story. and video

The answer to your question is that I believe the Syrian regime is not at all near the top spot in evilness.

It is an endless topic… And a very controversial one. I’m sure others here have their opinions.

March 13th, 2007, 6:17 am

 

ausamaa said:

Alex,

The US administration is CHANGING its direction not because the Age of Reason has downed on DC. It is because of these things:

1- The humilating situation in Iraq.
2- The Failure to bring down the leadership in Syria.
3- The realization of the limited ability to carry any form of a winning military action against Iran.
4- The potential local and regional consequenses of the Lebanese victory against Israel last July
5- Their inability to move forward on the Palestinan Track.

It is not because anyone has produced a winning or a convincing argument either in DC, NY, or Belgium.

They NEED Syria’s and Iran’s acquisance right now. And I hope that someone in the Syrian leadership will decide to make them pay dearly for it. They are just buying time now. And they are cornered. Syria and Iran represent the Exit they seek. They should pay the Cost.

This is politics. They did not arrive at this point because of Understanding, they are here because they have exhusted other options. They should not be offered any free meals.

And I believe this should start with a Very Cold Shoulder to Javier Solana upon his arrival in Damascus if he continues to repeat his current nonsence about Syria having to Change its Policy, he should be shown the door as fast as possible. If concessions have to be made, one should make them to the Master, the Bush administration, and a steep price. Why bother with being nice to an opportunistic EU that cannot deviate form US policy?

By saying the things he has been saying for the last two days and by not being polite enough to visit Lebanese President Lahoud, he has placed the EU in the other camp. And since EU policy, by both choice and wieght, is still a function of US policy to a large extent, and since Syria is willing to stand up to Bush in person as appeared in Mustapha’s articl, then I believe the same courtesy should be extended to SOLANA. Until he stops acting on the advice of Terry Rod Larson -who was once shown the door by Yassir Araft during the most critical moment of Arafat’s struggle-, and until he realizes, that he is merely doing a menial job for a toothless EU.

SOLANA, Sir, you are here because SYRIA did not change its policy, so please keep that in mind.

March 13th, 2007, 6:33 am

 

Alex said:

Ausamaa,

You are absolutely right about the reasons why they are again talking to Syria.

But the Syrian Ambassador is basically telling us that there is no hope with this president.

So Syria’s strategy should be to manage to go through the next two years without too much drama … they help this administration get things a bit better under control, and they get rewarded partially (Lebanon and Iraq role).

As for Solana … they like him in Damascus. He is not Terje Rod Larsen… what you are hearing from him this week is a formula that satisfies President Chirac’s ego to allow for the opening to Syria to take place. Chirac is gone in a couple of months.

March 13th, 2007, 6:53 am

 

why-discuss said:

Whether he is lying or not about the insurgents crossing the borders, he is certainly not lying about the catastrophic human tragegy caused by the US invasion as well as the meager responsibility the US is taking in dealing with the millions of refugees… It is totally inaccaptable that the US throws the blame of the continuous deterioration of Iraq human rights on the neighbors who have been adamantly asking the US to seat with them around a table. But the US administration arrogance is so obvious that it is sickening. Would they once admit that they have caused by their greed and inefficiency a disaster that will leave deep marks of suspicions and hatred in the Middle East as deep as the creation of Israel? No, they prefer to blame eveybody…
They now look so pathetic and dangerous in their attempst to cover up they shame.
Humility is not what we can expect from a a man who claim to be guided by God!
And now they want to meet Samir Geagea in the White house: another murderer in the White House,
Pathetic!

March 13th, 2007, 7:01 am

 

ausamaa said:

Again, I love this.. I really do.

1)BREMMER disbanded the Iraqi Armed Forces in a very smart and bright move back in 2003. Close to a MILLION agitated and frustrated and unemployed men, that is.

2) Iraqi Armes depots have been left ungaurded until they were emptied. Under the ever watchefull eye of US forces.

Still, SYRIA is accused of inflitrating Men and Arms to Iraq. As if Iraqies did need any more Men and any more Arms. They used to export the stuff. Talk about taking you bear can with you to the Bar.

Why did the US forces NOT track and hit those armed Infilitrators upon their crossing into Iraq. Beats me.

Maybe they did not see them, but nevertheless, they know deep down in their hearts that they must be coming through Syria.

Or,Maybe they did not want to upset Syria.

Or MAYBE, it is all hogewash.

March 13th, 2007, 7:21 am

 

Mo said:

Enlightened,

To be honest, I am a bit disappointed by your first post here:
I could easily refute your argumentation by one single question: where is your proof?
How do you know? How can you be so sure??

Do you genuinely think that Syria smuggled weapons to Iraq at any time since 2003? The insurgency is fighting using lightweight weapons, the Iraqi army had stockpiles of these. Be sure, the Iraqi arms inventory has always been larger than that of Syria.
I think laying off the Iraqi Army (it took decades to build, and only one signature to disband it!) was and is the reason for the continued chaos there: no more soldiers to guard military sites, obvious consequence: first come first served!

Where is your enlightened reasoning?

March 13th, 2007, 7:28 am

 

ausamaa said:

Alex,

I read the above Article twice, now I am now more inclined to think that the MESSAGE to Washington DC was very nicely this:

“Since we do not expect anything positive from THIS president, then, please do not EXPECT many positive things from us NOW. We will keep the goodies for the next Administration. Please bear with us meanwhile.”

March 13th, 2007, 7:37 am

 

Alex said:

Ausamaa,

Maybe … although I find that “nothing” is not manageable for two years … there will be more conflicts and they will need to do “something”.

we will start finding out soon … lots of conferences and meetings coming up this month.

March 13th, 2007, 7:53 am

 

ausamaa said:

TWO YEARS.. or TWO MORE YEARS..we shall see

March 13th, 2007, 8:19 am

 

syriano said:

in response to the hogwash man

I really think that no one gives an elephant’s flying behind whether Mustafa is lying or not, one thing I am sure of is that all politicians are liars by trade, beside it’s irrelevant because Syria has always been held up to double standard, this goes back to 1948, it is a very clever way to isolate and dehumanize an enemy, by constantly pointing out the targeted side regardless to what any other side say or do, you cannot clap with one hand no matter how hard you try, you need two, and regardless to the amounts of fault with Syria, it’s only one side.
The hogwash is that our wonderful president (U.S.A) and the people around him failed to learn anything from Vietnam, and if we ever get out of Iraq, we are looking at a trillion dollars or more in cost (a giant waste of my taxes), and very sadly close to 4000 lives of young American servicemen, not to mention the many thousand of crippled & injured vets.
Can anyone please tell me what have we, or anybody ells gained from this war?
Please let’s face reality, anyone who thinks that any Middle Eastern country is ready for a democratic government needs to wake up and smell the Arabic coffee (and I lived in Damascus for my first 14 years, I saw the dog fights in the sky in 73 not a fawned memory).
I am sure that Syria has a hand or two in there somewhere, they would be stupid if they did not, after all they are neighbors, and they are accommodating more then one million unwanted guests, however the U.S. chose to go into this nightmare practically alone and now is screaming bloody murder at the Syrian & Iranian.
So you truly cannot hold the Syrians or anyone ells for that matter accountable for a whole lot of what is happening today, ultimately that full responsibilities falls on the U.S.

March 13th, 2007, 8:47 am

 

syriano said:

who is Responsible

In my opinion the interference is split between the Iranian and the Saudis, with Iran it’s in your face we support our brothers whom have been repressed for the passed 30 years, and now it’s there turn to control the killing and the blood bath, after all the supreme religious authority in Iraq is Iranian what more need I say.
And for the suunies I give you one word (Al Qada), I think the Saudis are funding every dollar that kills our dedicated soldiers, not to mention the killing of nearly half a million innocent Iraqi civilian, whom by the way did not want or ask for a regime change, nor the mess Iraq is in now.
For anyone who is interested in understanding terrorism from the time it started in Lebanon back in the 70’s to 911, Iraq and the middle east in general (especially if you are of an Arab descent), I really recommend the reading of 2 books by the x CIA operative BOB BEAR who served throughout the ME, (“see no evil hear no evil” and “sleeping with the enemy”) he is very insightful and makes a lot of sense.
I did not study journalism in school, but I always like there # 1 rule, “follow the money trail and it will lead you to the true story”, Mr. BEAR really connects all the dots together when it comes down to terrorism

March 13th, 2007, 8:49 am

 

ugarit said:

Ehsani2 said “How was Damascus so sure at the time that the charges and evidence against Iraq were so dubious and fabricated? It is easy to say this now with the benefit of hindsight.”

For one, Osama bin Laden working with Saddam! That was laughable. Scott Ritter, the one who dismantled Iraq’s WMD facilities said they had none, Joe Wilson said that the yellow cakes’ story was not true. These and many more were in plain site throughout the world.

March 13th, 2007, 11:18 am

 

Rev. Michel Nahas Filho said:

Although I am in tune with Mustapha’s views, internationally speaking, it is also obvious by the comments in this forum that there is room for other parties in Syria.

This said, I want to propose two comments, the first is about corruption, which seems to as endemic in Syria as in any Latin American country.
One politician in Brazil once said during a campaign: “I steal, but I do something, worst are those who steal and on the top of it don’t do anything for the people” The problem is, when corruption becomes that open, the least evil is to re-elect the same people, because the new ones will try to recup the time lost. As said as it might sound!

The other issue is that Bush’s opposition to Syria is religious or eschatolocal even! He probably sees Syria as Assiria of biblical times, threatening the small and poor Israel, God’s people. Imagine how the weaponry industry would survive if Israel would be in peace with all neighbours? The way I see it Bush was paid in by the armament industry. The reciprocity was Star Wars, remeber the beginning of Bush’s first term? Tan 9/11 fell from heaven (no one was bying into star wars anyway) and Voi La! We have a war, or even better, two of them. Israel thought Saddam had WMDs. When they discovered it was not true (anymore), than the Neocon support started to fall appart. Now it’s Iran.

Israel represents representation without taxation, and I realy don’t know how decent people accept this.

Well, that’s my take
Mike Nahas

March 13th, 2007, 12:59 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

There’s a saying that: God created wars so Americans would learn geography.

Hmmm then USA needs first an internal war. Half of US students could not even locate New York State on the map of USA.

Back in early 2003, every intelligence agency in the world was convinced that Saddam had some WMD. President Clinton and the previous Administration thought the same.

Is it really like that? Only the American and British regimes have said that every intelligence agency in the world believed it. The stories in the world press strongly contradict that claim. Naturally Bush and his henchmen must tell us this story time after time because without those excuses they are in a very poor “legal” position and might in the “worst” case end in a international war crime court. But naturally we all believe that USA attacked because it had been betrayed by all the world’s intelligence services. If this “all” theory would be true the leaders of USA and Great Britain are completely incompetent to their posts.

Maybe Ehsani2 you could explain why then why France, Germany, Russia, China, India etc were strongly against the invasion. Certainly they would not have been if their intelligence services had seen Iraq as an acute dangerous risk. And let’s not forget how Bush suggested a spy plane to be painted in UN colours in order to get a reason for the attack. Actually I am very surprised that thinking people still, after all this WMD hunting fiasco, really believe, that there was a acute military reason to invade that impoverished underdeveloped country with a weak outdated army.

Jordan certainly harbours as much if not more Baathist as Syria. Saddam’s family lives in Jordan and some stories in the media have told us, that USA has negotiated with some insurgents groups in Jordan. Does USA blame Jordan or Saudi Arabia?

If Syria would arm the Sunni insurgency with their thousands of attacks against US army, there had to be an endless armada of trucks coming from Syria. Certainly it would be a piece of cake for US army to block that transport. If the smuggling of arms, money and men is the problem, why then USA and Iraqis do not put much more troops on the borders? It would be the only logical thing to do, if arms smuggling really would be the main fuel of the resistance.

In Iraq USA has to use every imaginable excuse to keep up its fast shrinking military reputation. Certainly several countries have begun to rethink their military doctrine. Why to invest in useless high tech military gadgets if a low cost guerilla army can beat the high tech army on a long run by ten to zero. The military salesmen in USA and Israel must be rather desperate after Iraq and Lebanon “sales” demonstrations.

By the way a Finnish military researcher (employed by the army) suggested some weeks ago that Finland needs submarines to fight against TERRORISM. It was as amusing as the US explanation that Europe needs the missile defence to be put in Poland against IRANIAN missiles. Come-on, Al Qaida and others have certainly more cheap ways in getting to Finland (if they really wanted to came here) than with submarines and Iran has certainly many targets closer to home than sending missiles to Lichtenstein. This terrorism phobia is getting more and more amusing / dangerous. Sweden has a law suggestion in the parliament which will give the Swedish intelligence service the right to monitor ALL telecommunication going through Sweden. All Finnish internet traffic goes trough Sweden. Seems that day after day there are fewer possibilities to criticize authoritarian counties.

March 13th, 2007, 2:10 pm

 

Atassi said:

I too would like to commend Dr Mustafa for his efforts to communicate the Syrians graveness in a more realistic and debatable manners
The idea that Bashar was right after all is a misleading one. Since The transformation and difficult rebirth of the Iraqi state can also be blamed on many external factors including the interferences by nervous regional regimes.
Also, Please keep in mind, the price Syria was demanding for its corporations with the American neo-con administrations “Lebanon” was not listed in the can do “bargaining chips”.
We all know that the American new “Middle-Eastern” map agenda can survive domestic political pressures as long as numbers coming out of Iraq are acceptable.

March 13th, 2007, 2:20 pm

 

ausamaa said:

ATTASI,

How or When exactly did Syria DEMMAND “Lebanon” as a PRICE for its cooperation with the neo-con administration?

If it is only an “assumption” what are the basis for such an assumption? Really, let us know, maybe I am missing something which I will be glad if you can point out to me.

March 13th, 2007, 2:50 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

My comment on Iraq’s WMD has elicited a lot of replies which were fair and understandable. Let me try to explain my point one more time:

I think that Dr. Moustapha did not touch on the fact that Damascus’s dealings with Saddam took a significant turn long before the invasion. This was at odds with the long held freeze that this relationship experienced under Hafez Assad. During that time, Saddam was indeed thought of as an archenemy. Clearly, the same could not be said under the present leadership. I think that to describe Saddam as an arch enemy in the days leading to the invasion is not very accurate.

As to the more important point of WMD, of course the U.S. exaggerated and even outright lied about some of the alleged evidence. Having said that, to suggest that everyone was certain that Saddam had zero biological or chemical weapons is not correct. The late Iraqi leader tried to do his best to give the impression that he had “something”. Even his closest advisors were not aware/sure of what the country did or did not exactly have. Following September 11th, this White House convinced itself that it cannot take even a 5% risk with regimes like that of Saddam. I am well aware of the neoconservative plans to go after Iraq well before September 11th. I don’t think that we need to revisit that issue which has been beaten to death. My point here is that Dr. Moustapha seems to argue that Damascus knew from day one and with 100% certainty that the evidence of biological, chemical and nuclear evidence against Iraq were both dubious and fabricated. This conviction was so strong that Syria decided to fiercely oppose the American plan. In other words, he is implicitly arguing that Damascus took a bet that it will stand against America since it is convinced that the latter will find nothing in Iraq. Once that conviction becomes a reality for the world to see, Damascus’s view would be vindicated and the world would understand Syria’s position. It seems to me that Damascus could not possibly have been 100% certain whether Saddam did or did not have a chemical factory somewhere in that country.

I will continue to maintain that the late Hafez may well have decided to follow a different (and more correct) strategy when it came to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Were that to have been the case, the world would have also been a totally different one as far as Damascus is concerned. I would not be surprised to find that a lot of people would dissagree with my view on this critical subject.

March 13th, 2007, 3:08 pm

 

Gibran said:

Just so I let you know that I read your comments from time to time EHSANI. Yes, of course Syria knew the US was ‘lying’ from day one about the US evidence blah blah blah against Iraq.
And that’s exactly why Syria voted with the rest of the UN Security council authorizing the use of force against Iraq.
You know what they say in Arabic about those who speak like Mr. Moustapha. There is a very popular saying for such kind of talk. Actually there are two. the first one says the man is hiding his face from the sun using a porous sieve. The second one says the man is hiding himself using the shadow of his finger. In both cases the implication is the man is full of contradictions. What else can you say about a functionary trying to serve a Baathist regime? Ask Dr. Landis. He knows best.
I know. You may reply by saying you did not benefit intellectually from my comment. But I couldn’t resist the temptation.

March 13th, 2007, 3:31 pm

 

Atassi said:

It was said, When H. Assad was in his deathbed, one of his last wishes was “bashar take good care of Lebanon”.
It’s known that Lahoud was kept in office to avoid any changes of heart toward the Syrian presents in Lebanon.
In an interview with on CNN after the Hariri assassination, Mr. Sharra was asked When do you believe the Syrian will be quitting Lebanon ? His reply was maybe in two years !!.

Yes. It was well known that Syria would do it’s most even working with the presumed devil “US” to keep the statuesque in both Lebanon and Syria after the US invasion of Iraq.

March 13th, 2007, 3:32 pm

 

Gibran said:

ATASSI,
I wonder why the Syrians keep dreaming about Lebanon. Do they not realize that they got a one way ticket back home in 2005? Only a fool would think the Lebanese would agree to renewed Syrian meddling in Lebanon’s affair. Come on guys find your life somewhere else.

March 13th, 2007, 3:36 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Gibran,

People with your views ought to be glad that Hafez Assad did not live 4 years longer.

March 13th, 2007, 3:42 pm

 

ugarit said:

EHSANI2: “The late Iraqi leader tried to do his best to give the impression that he had “something”.”

In fact the opposite is true. Remember Iraq gave a full report to the UN (which the USA whisked away from the UN) stipulating that they have no more WMD’s and a list of all their suppliers, etc. etc.

Let’s also remember that Russia and several EU nations started opening up to Iraq prior to the USA invasion. It looked like sanctions were on the verge of collapsing.

One final thing, the US Congress (under Clinton) passed a resolution stating essentially that Saddam must be removed, so it didn’t matter that Iraq had WMD’s or not.

March 13th, 2007, 3:42 pm

 

Gibran said:

EHSANI
when you say : “People with your views ought to be glad that Hafez Assad did not live 4 years longer.”
Can we take this as an admission on your part that Bashar is a total caput?

March 13th, 2007, 3:50 pm

 

syrian said:

Ehsani2,

The statement “My point here is that Dr. Moustapha seems to argue that Damascus knew from day one and with 100% certainty that the evidence of biological, chemical and nuclear evidence against Iraq were both dubious and fabricated.” is not completely true. The US may not have been willing to take a 5% chance, but Damascus thought it was a small enough chance to leave things alone. The US afterall was going to be fighting a war thousands of miles away from home but Syria was facing the prospects of WAR right next door. Even if Syria’s assessment produced the same probabilities (5%) of WMDs, their evaluation would be completely different and hence, the opposition to the invasion.

March 13th, 2007, 4:01 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Gibran,

The answer to your question is No. I think that were Hafez to have still been around, it is doubtful that Syria would have faced many of the challenges that it seems to be facing today.

Having said that, it is still too early to judge Bashar’s record and whether he made the correct decisions on a number of key strategic issues

Indeed, the majority of Syrians seem to think that he has. Just because I am more skeptical in no way means that he is a “total caput” as you put it. I am sure that you hope that it is so. My personal opinion is that if it were me, I would not rush to declare victory as you seem to be thinking/hoping.

Syrian,

Fair point.

My main point is this:

By offering such a fierce opposition (the words of Dr. Moustapha), did the leadership in Damascus err or not when it comes to advancing the country’s strategic interests and well-being?

If I were an investor, I would not have made this trade

March 13th, 2007, 4:01 pm

 

Gibran said:

EHSANI
Please define victory. I mean what is victory to you and who are the warring parties?

March 13th, 2007, 4:03 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

It is you who has to define “your” so-called victory. I was talking about you. You seem to think that Bashar is caput and that “only a fool would think the Lebanese would agree to renewed Syrian meddling in Lebanon’s affair.” My point is that it is simply too early to make ANY predictions right now

March 13th, 2007, 4:12 pm

 

Gibran said:

We are not going in circles here EHSANI, are we? I don’t think I ever used the word victory before you did. So that was not an issue on my mind . But it could have been on yours. So it is more appropriate that I ask you the question. Which I did.
But do you an atom of doubt as to the truth of my statement “only a fool would think the Lebanese would agree to renewed Syrian meddling in Lebanon’s affair.”?
Now there is no question of victory or defeat in this. I look at it as an accurate reflection of a reality on the ground. YES THE LEBANSE WILL NEVER AGREE TO RENEWED SYRIAN MEDDLING IN LEBANON’S AFFAIRS. Do you think it is or will be otherwise?

March 13th, 2007, 4:21 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Gibran,

In your opinion

What is Lebanon?
Where does Lebanon stand on the identity question? Arab, Not Arab, Midle Eastern, European?
Where does Lebanon Stand in the Arab-Israeli Fight?

March 13th, 2007, 4:27 pm

 

syrian said:

Ehsani2,

If you recall, the US did not get much support from many other nations in the days leading to the war, Russia, China, France and Germany were all opposed to the war as well as a number of American Middle Eastern allies including KSA, Egypt and Jordan.

Considering the US was not making any promises of good return on cooperation and the risk to the relations with France, Germany and the other Arab countries, I would see opposing the invasion was not an unwise move. Being the most vocal about it may have been a mistake.

Additionally, we know nothing of what attempts took place through back channels to try and find out what rewards there would be for cooperating with the US on the invasion. One scenario under which Syrian cooperation was rebuffed would lead the decision makers to increase the probability that they would be next on the list; how would the calculation change then?

Combine that with the threat Syria sees coming to its doors and your conclusion might be different

March 13th, 2007, 4:30 pm

 

syrian said:

renewed Syrian meddling in Lebanon’s affair Has it stopped and no one told me?

March 13th, 2007, 4:32 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

1- You cannot speak for ALL Lebanese. Stop using words like “THE” Lebanese.
2- It does not matter whether people do agree to something or not. It is the geopolitical facts on the ground that will determine how things move. Presumably, THE Lebanese did not agree to Syria’s meddling over the past 30 years too. Why couldn’t you do anything about it then?

March 13th, 2007, 4:34 pm

 

Alex said:

Ehsani,

I agree with “it is too early to judge”

We are still watching the movie … and this is real life, we can’t expect the predictable Hollywood-ending that the Bush administration expected when they thought they will go there, remove the trouble makers among the regional powers (Syria and Iraq) and end up with a much more cooperative Middle East .. one where Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel coordinate everything with Washington.

The HUGE mistake that the Americans made was to assume that Syria will simply accept their decision to remove it from the list of regional powers… Syria had two options

1) Accept American Saudi decision to turn Syria into a Jordan.

2) Make new alliances that allow Syria to stay in the game until Bush loses the 2004 elections (after losing popularity because the war was not going as planned).

Of course it was a disappointment for the Syrians that they had to find a way to survive until 2008, not 2004… But they are doing a really good job at it so far… survival is their skill.

Now, it is a mess … but everything is possible… we might have a decision to cooperate on everything, on few things, or to go back to full confrontation.

But an earlier comment here makes a lot of sense (unfortunately): Arms dealers can not allow the Middle East to be completely calm… you will have more conflicts and more dead civilians … and the movie will not have an ending.

March 13th, 2007, 5:05 pm

 

Gibran said:

AUSSAMA
You can go the Lebanese Government website to find answers to your questions.
As to Where does Lebanon Stand in the Arab-Israeli Fight? Very simply, it is not our fight, and we will sign a peace treaty with Israel in the very near future with or without Syria.
EHSANI
Geopolitical conditions changed dramatically in the last 30 years. Syria’s intrusion into Lebanon was made possible by the imposition of the so-called Cairo Accord by the Arab League on Lebanon in 1969. The accord gave the PLO virtual control over the south of Lebanon and upset the delicate social balance. This accord has been nullified by the government of Lebanon in the mid 80s when everyone realized the huge damage it caused the country. I don’t think any one will seek to impose such injustice on Lebanon again.
My use of THE Lebanese will continue. Because I know Lebanon and I have more at stake than you. So you simply have to bear with it with no further whining. After all as far as I know you are just a Syrian born American. I will not have any problem if yu use THE Syrian or THE American people. That’s fair I think.

March 13th, 2007, 5:06 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Have you ever heard me say “we” Syrians or “The” Syrians?

No nation can claim to have its populace speak with one voice on many of its key issues.

For the record, Dr. Landis chose to characterize me as a Syrian Born American. Just to set the record straight, I was actually born in Beirut to Syrian parents before moving back to Syria as a young boy.

I arrived in America only in the 1990’s and did indeed gain an American citizenship since. If that makes me a Syrian born American, I guess that it what it is.

March 13th, 2007, 5:21 pm

 

Gibran said:

EHSANI
Why did you skip the important issue of geopolitical shifts and concentrated instead on mere semantics of WE, THE etc…?
Now I see you are born in Lebanon but for Syrian parents. Would you be interested in a Lebanese citizenship?

March 13th, 2007, 5:30 pm

 

ausamaa said:

GIBRAN

I know what the Lebanse site would say about Lebanon. I was asking what you think? The Official Site would say Israel is the Enemy, and Syria is a Friend. Do you agree? This will more than answer my humble question.

March 13th, 2007, 5:32 pm

 

Alex said:

Sorry, no time to translate it, but basically Farouk Shara met with Moubarak and he had a press conference afterwards…

It seems Syria got Egyptian Saudi approval to not modify the Arab peace plan (the way Israel hopes it would be modified). Also, relations with Egypt are in reasonable shape, but with Saudi Arabia .. not yet… there was no three-way (Syria KSA, Egypt) summit announcement as anticipated earlier.

And Syria has no problem accepting the International tribunal as long as it is nor politicized… Anyone here knows how they can make it politicized or not politicized? … what is the difference from a legal perspective?

الشرع .. الرئيس مبارك اكد حرصه على توطيد العلاقات المصرية السورية

قال فاروق الشرع نائب الرئيس السورى أن الرئيس المصرى حسنى مبارك اكد حرصه على توطيد العلاقات الثنائية بين البلدين الشقيقين مصر وسوريا .
وأضاف الشرع ـ خلال مؤتمر صحفى عقده اليوم بعد مباحثاته مع الرئيس مبارك ـ لقد وجدت لدى الرئيس مبارك العاطفة المعهودة لدى الشعب المصرى تجاه سوريا ، وحرصه على أن تكون هناك علاقات متميزة بين البلدين “. ووصف نائب الرئيس السورى لقائه بالرئيس مبارك ب”المهم”، مشيرا الى ان محادثات معمقة حول الأوضاع فى منطقة الشرق الأوسط دارت خلال الاجتماع . واضاف أنه يجرى الان التنسيق بين القيادتين من أجل إنجاح القمة العربية القادمة المقرر عقدها فى الرياض أواخر الشهر الحالى .وقال فاروق الشرع نائب الرئيس السورى إن الرسالة التى نقلها الى الرئيس حسنى
مبارك تتعلق بالتنسيق بين مصر وسوريا قبيل انعقاد القمة العربية المقبلة نهاية الشهر الجارى فى الرياض. وأضاف الشرع أن مباحثاته مع الرئيس مبارك تطرقت للموضوعات ذات الإهتمام المشترك بين مصر وسوريا والتى تتعلق باوضاع المنطقة والصعوبات التى تمر بها شعوبها نتيجة ما يفرض عليها من آراء خارجية .. وأيضا الفتنة التى يراد خلقها بين
مجتمعاتنا المتماسكة منذ مئات السنين.وأردف نائب الرئيس السورى قائلا ” أن الجهود المصرية ” مشكورة ” تعتبرها
سوريا اضافة هامة فى بناء تضامن عربى وأن سوريا تعمل على المساعدة فى هذا البناء خاصة وأن المرحلة القادمة بها الكثير من التحديات التى يجب أن نكون مهيئين لمواجهتها “.وعما ستقدمه سوريا للقمة العربية المقبلة .. قال الشرع إن الورقة التى ستقدمها سوريا للقمة تستهدف اصلاح الوضع العربى واحياء التضامن ومواجهة التحديات وعلى رأسها الفتنة التى يراد زرعها خاصة فى العراق وضررورة مواجهة التداعيات التى يأتى على رأسها الإقتتال غير المبرر بين المذاهب فى العراق وعمليات التفجير والقتل على الهوية والتهجير حيث تتحمل سوريا العبء الأكبر فى مسألة المهجرين
العراقيين.
وردا على سؤال حول وجود حوار شرق أوسطى لإستئناف عملية السلام على المسار السورى ..قال فاروق الشرع نائب الرئيس السورى إن عملية السلام كل لا يتجزأ وأننا لدينا مبادرة عربية للسلام ، وأن سوريا يهمها إستعادة الجولان وكل الأراضى العربية المحتلة وإقامة دولة فلسطينية مستقلة.
وحول لقائه بالرئيس مبارك .. قال الشرع إنه كان “دافئا ووديا” ، وأنه شعر خلاله أن العلاقة القائمة بين الشعبين تاريخية .. مشيرا الى أنه تم الإتفاق على تنسيق تام بين البلدين خاصة فى أول محفل خلال المرحلة المقبلة وهو القمة العربية فى الرياض. وعن الحوار مع الولايات المتحدة .. وهل تريد دمشق عملية مقايضة لإحلال السلام على المسار السورى ؟ .. قال نائب الرئيس السورى “نحن لا نقايض شيئا بشىء وأن الحوار به أخذ وعطاء ومصالح متبادلة وهموم وهواجس قد تكون غير مشتركة .. وأن الحوار فى حد ذاته هو لئلا يكون هناك هواجس..مضيفا أن ما جرى فى العراق بين سوريا والولايات المتحدة لم يكن حوارا ولكن بداية لا نستطيع أن نتجاهلها ونتمنى أن تكون الخطوات القادمة ايجابية وبناءة”.
وردا على سؤال عما إذا كان هناك خطوات لإحداث تعديلات فى المبادرة العربية وفصل المسارات فيها .. قال الشرع إن ما يثار عن تعديلات هو ما يطرحه الاسرائيليون لتعديل ما يتعلق باللاجئين والحدود وأن هذه الأمور تستهدف تبرئة عدم قبول إسرائيل للمبادرة وخروجها عن إستحقاقات السلام الشامل والتنكر لما انجز من خطوات لتحقيق السلام وتحقيق قرارات الشرعية الدولية .. مؤكدا أن المبادرة العربية لم تأت بشىء لا تنص عليه الشرعية الدولية وقرارات الأمم المتحدة ولذلك فهى تضع إسرائيل فى حرج.وعن اللقاء السورى الأمريكى ببغداد وإذا كان قد أحدث دفئا فى العلاقات ..قال فاروق الشرع نائب الرئيس السورى إن تعبير الدفء هنا ليس فى محله وأن تحقيقه يحتاج لحوار عميق وفترة طويلة لإزالة الشكوك المتبادلة ونحن لا نعلق أهمية كبيرة على ماجرى فى بغداد ولكن لا نتجاهله لأنه اعاد الحوار بين البلدين.
وردا على سؤال حول المحكمة الدولية بشأن إغتيال رئيس الوزراء اللبنانى الأسبق رفيق الحريرى .. قال الشرع إن هذه المحكمة ذات طابع دولى وخاصة بلبنان ولم يؤخذ رأى سوريا بالنظام الأساسى للمحكمة..ونحن نقول أن هناك تحقيقا دوليا تشرف عليه الأمم المتحدة وأن سوريا تتعاون بالكامل مع هذه اللجنة وستظل تتعاون إلى أن تنتهى اللجنة من عملها..مضيفا “يجب ألا تستخدم المحكمة كسيف من أجل التهديد بها وكوسيلة ضغط بأهداف سياسية وأن هذا الأمر مرفوض من سوريا”.وأكد أن سوريا تساهم دائما فى تهدئة الساحة اللبنانية وأنه ناقش مع الرئيس مبارك اليوم هذا الأمر .. مشيرا إلى أن إسرائيل فى عدوانها الأخير على لبنان كانت تحاول تغيير الميزان العام بالمنطقة ودفعه تجاه المواجهة .. ولذلك فالمسئولية تقع على عاتق الدولة العبرية. كما أكد أن سوريا مع وفاق وطنى لبنانى – لبنانى وأن هذا هو جوهر اتفاق الطائف
وأى تسوية لأنه يجب تفعيل مبدأ لا غالب ولا مغلوب.وعن البوادر التى تراها سوريا أنها بوادر حسن نية من الولايات المتحدة تجاه دمشق .. قال الشرع إنها تتمثل فى انهاء الإحتلال الأمريكى للعراق وعدم السماح لتداعيات الإحتلال أن تستمر على شكل فتن وارهاب وقتل مدنيين. وحول مايتردد عن خلاف سورى سعودى ..أكد نائب الرئيس السورى ” ان ما نقل فى هذا الإطار تم نقله خطأ فى بعض وسائل الإعلام وفسرته كما يحلو لها .

القاهرة – رلى الهباهبه

March 13th, 2007, 5:34 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Lebanese authoreties are preparing to announce that Fateh Al Islam members have confessed to the recent duel Van bombing in Ein Alaq. They said they were financed by Al Qaida.

Seymoure Hersh may have known a thing or two after all.

March 13th, 2007, 5:42 pm

 

Gibran said:

AUSSAMAA
What else do you want me to say besides what you read on the Government’s website?
Of course you sign a peace treaty with the enemy and after that he is no longer the enemy.
I never said Syria is an enemy of Lebanon. Yes Lebanon and Syria had a long history of friendship. There is tension at the moment, but that doesn’t mean they’re not friends any more.

ALEX,
what’s the fuss about Sharaa’s so-called Egyptian/Saudi approval? If that’s all he went for to Egypt, he could have saved the money spent on his trip. Amr Moussa has been saying this all along from day one. Either the Syrian government is run by morons or they could be living on a different planet!

March 13th, 2007, 5:44 pm

 

ausamaa said:

GIBRAN,

That is Great. Let us then just remeber who is Lebanon’s enemy and who is Lebanon’s friend until that peace treaty is signed and sealed.

March 13th, 2007, 5:52 pm

 

ausamaa said:

What Has Tehran to Gain from Hizballah’s New Face?

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report

March 13, 2007, 6:48 PM (GMT+02:00)

For the first time in its 20-year history as a reviled international kidnapper, Hizballah is demanding that its representatives be allowed to hold direct talks with Israel.

The demand interrupted the efforts by a German BND intelligence go-between to negotiate the release of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, the Israeli soldiers whose abduction on the Israeli side of the Lebanese border touched of a 33-day war.

If the Olmert government responds positively, it will also be the first time that Israeli military intelligence officers have ever come face to face with Hizballah’s military officials.

The Hizballah demand was specific. They asked to meet with “Ofer Dekel and his people,” thereby identifying the former Shin Bet deputy chief who is in charge of the effort to obtain the release of the two soldiers snatched by Hizballah and Gilead Shalit, who was kidnapped in a Hamas-led incursion from the Gaza Strip a month earlier.

In addition to the German middleman, the Lebanese Shiite terror group has also asked Qatar to open up a direct link with Israel for talks on the two hostages.

One conjecture by Israeli intelligence officials is that Hizballah has been told to offer to trade information about Goldwasser and Regev for word about Iranian ex-general Ali Reza Asgari, said to have disappeared in Istanbul on Feb. 7.

Before deciding on a response to Hizballah’s surprise approach, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has asked for intelligence evaluations on what is behind it.

One theory speaks of a fresh Hizballah trap.

But, more seriously, the case of the missing Asgari, who according to some reports is in the process of debriefing by Western intelligence somewhere in Europe, has completely stumped Tehran. The Iranian government is at sea over how, when and why the former deputy defense minister disappeared, and who is holding him now. They refuse to believe that he spied for the West for many years or that he defected voluntarily.

To support this conviction, Tehran put Ziba Ahmadi, Asgari’s wife, their three children and his brother, on television to deny his defection. Their appearance was meant to belie the reports that he had asked for asylum in the West for himself and family.

But there were two slips in the TV interview.

Mrs. Asgari said he had been missing since Dec. 9, 2006, whereas he was generally reported to have disappeared in Istanbul on Feb. 7.

His brother Davoud admitted that Asgari had two wives.

This hypothesis postulates that, after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appealed to the Saudis for help in tracing the missing general and was turned down, Tehran sent Hizballah to dig information from Israel. It was understood that the Olmert government would not to agree to sensitive negotiations of this kind going forward through a third party. The German middleman was therefore dispensed with and a direct encounter demanded.

A third hypothesis current in Israeli intelligence is that Hizballah’s initiative is part and parcel of the newly-launched US-Iran diplomatic track on Tehran’s nuclear misdoings and its disruptive role in Iraq. The first steps went forward discreetly through Saudi Arabia. Since the Baghdad neighbors’ meeting for stabilizing Iraq Saturday, March 10, the exchanges are out in the open. A follow-up between foreign ministers is expected to take place in Istanbul in April.

The first positive action by Tehran has been to call its proxies off from hounding the pro-Western Fouad Siniora government of Lebanon; Hizballah has been told to end its boycott of the government in return for additional cabinet seats. Therefore, Iran emerges with its Lebanese cat’s paw’s position in Beirut enhanced, well before diplomacy for an accommodation on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and the stabilization of Iraq has gone anywhere.

To solidify its position, Hizballah must behave like a respectable political party rather than terrorists who conduct terrorist and kidnapping raids against the neighbors. The comprehensive face-lift Hizballah is aiming for, according to this third theory, is to be accomplished through a new mode of behavior, which would relegate the Goldwasser and Regev abduction affair as far as possible to its murky past.

March 13th, 2007, 5:53 pm

 

Atassi said:

Iran and U.S. back off _ slightly _ from confrontation
By SALLY BUZBEE
Associated Press Writer
13 March 2007
Associated Press Newswires
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) – The confrontation between the United States and Iran is cooling down and entering a new diplomatic phase, lessening the chances of a military conflict. The change comes even though sharp rhetorical attacks continue.

The shift, building for weeks, came to a head with the recent meeting between Iran and the United States and has been further pushed by a new hardline stance from Russia toward Iran.

“There’s an increasing American willingness to try to ‘manage’ the Iranian problem, rather than try to ‘solve’ it,” Jon Alterman, a Mideast expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said Tuesday. “That’s making a difference.”

There are corresponding signs Iran wants a cool-down, too.

Among them:

— The weekend meeting between U.S. and Iranian officials at the Iraq neighbors’ conference in Baghdad. Although Iran and the U.S. exchanged sharp words at one point, both seemed open afterward to continued interaction. U.S. President George W. Bush said the talks were constructive and U.S. envoy David Satterfield said he expected more.

One Arab diplomat who was briefed by participants, speaking anonymously Tuesday because he was not authorized to talk publicly, said the talks among Iran, Syria and the U.S. were substantive and addressed several Iraq-related issues.

— Russia’s new stance. Russia, a key ally of Iran, criticized it in unusually strong language this week for failing to meet U.N. deadlines over its controversial nuclear program, and also announced it would delay assistance to an Iranian nuclear plant. That angered Iran, but is also likely to give it pause, and perhaps to modulate its position.

— Iran’s own internal changes. Hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has softened his attacks on the West after internal criticism that he was jeopardizing the country. His main political rival, former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, supports a more conciliatory stance toward the Arab world and the West, in particular spearheading recent new talks with U.S. ally Saudi Arabia aimed at defusing Mideast tensions.

— The U.S. approach. Three months after U.S. President George W. Bush brushed aside suggestions to engage Iran in efforts to stabilize Iraq, his administration is now doing essentially that — apparently because it believes it now holds a better diplomatic hand than in December.

It is also under political pressure at home to counter Iran’s rise as a regional power.

“There are enough negatives (to any U.S. strike at Iran) that if the Iranians seem to be willing to step back a bit, there is a new willingness in Washington to see how far you can take that,” said Alterman.

None of that means broader U.S.-Iranian frienship is near.

Iran is unlikely to back away from its goals — increasing its own regional influence and pushing forward with the nuclear program.

In its anger with Russia, Iran could even become more confrontational in the short term. Its foreign minister Tuesday accused Israel and the United States of posing the main threats to the Mideast, prompting the U.S. and Israeli delegations to walk out of his speech at a Geneva forum.

Nor is there any sign the U.S. will back down from its insistence on curbing Iran’s nuclear program.

Just two months ago, the United States sent a second aircraft carrier to the Gulf in a sharp signal to Iran. It has arrested Iranians in Iraq, and accuses Iran of arming and training militants there to attack American soldiers with sophisticated roadside bombs. It also continues to push hard for new U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran.

Many in the Bush administration, and many in the U.S. Congress, would be likely to oppose anything that looks like American capitulation to Iran, and want a continued hard line.

That was reinforced this week when Democratic leaders in Congress took out of a spending bill a requirement that Bush would have to gain approval from Congress before any military move against Iran. Conservative and moderate Democrats had pushed for the change, saying they feared tying the administration’s hands when dealing with Iran.

Despite all that, “There is more potential for diplomacy now,” said Vali Nasr, an expert on Iran at the Naval Postgraduate School in the United States.

If that diplomacy makes any headway, the United States would be unlikely to risk military action against Iran in the near future. America already is making a costly and high-profile military push in Iraq and remains overstretched in Afghanistan, Nasr and others point out.

“With the U.S. people demanding results on Iraq, the administration probably cannot sacrifice stability in Iraq by escalating tensions with Iran,” Nasr said.

March 13th, 2007, 6:35 pm

 

youngSyria said:

there are some positive sings of relaxation in the region …. but I think there will be another round(s) to fight.

alex said:
“And Syria has no problem accepting the International tribunal as long as it is nor politicized… Anyone here knows how they can make it politicized or not politicized? … what is the difference from a legal perspective?”

Ive been hearing this for a while,I don’t know what difference that makes or what it means.. anyone?

March 13th, 2007, 6:40 pm

 

youngSyria said:

and what is the purpose of Imad Moustapha article ? anything we don’t know?

March 13th, 2007, 6:43 pm

 

Alex said:

Young Syria

“One Arab diplomat who was briefed by participants, speaking anonymously Tuesday because he was not authorized to talk publicly, said the talks among Iran, Syria and the U.S. were substantive and addressed several Iraq-related issues.”

Yet Dr. Moustapha is telling us there is no hope from President Bush … so why now? and why so negative since American/Syrian talks are promising so far?

March 13th, 2007, 7:22 pm

 

Gibran said:

The following piece of news found in Al-Jazeera today March 13 proves several important facts:
1) Lebanese security forces are quite capable of solving crimes aimed at subverting their government and social peace.
2) Syrian hands are indeed behind this latest crime of the bombing of the two buses near Bikfaya in north east Beirut which resulted in the killing of two civilians and the wounding of 20 others. This event took place on 13 Feb. one day before the planed memorial to be held for the late assassinated PM Mr. Hariri and his companions. The event was looked upon at the time as a desperate attempt by Syrian agents to scare the Lebanese into not showing up in Central Beirut for the memorial. They showed in mass anyway.
3) It will be very difficult for the Syrian regime to stand up with an open eye face to face with the International Community regarding its criminal behavior through its agents operating on Lebanese soil.

Now to the news:
Lebanese security forces obtained the admission of six persons under arrest as to their role in the crime. They belong to so-called group “Fatah al-Islam”. The arrested persons are Syrians and Palestinians. They were arrested in an apartment rented by a SYRIAN in Achrafiyeh East Beirut.

The confessions indicate the group consisted of 8 people. Two of them ran away. And they admitted to planning assassinations of Lebanese political figures as well as UNIFIL personnel.

لبنان يعلن تبني “فتح الإسلام” تفجيري عين علق

تفجيرا عين علق بالحافلتين كانا متزامنين (الفرنسية-أرشيف)

قالت مصادر أمنية لبنانية إن ستة موقوفين ينتمون لجماعة تطلق على نفسها اسم “فتح الإسلام” اعترفوا بتورطهم في تفجير حافلتين للنقل بمنطقة عين علق المسيحية قرب بلدة بكفيا قضاء بالمتن شمال شرق بيروت الشهر الماضي، ما أسفر عن مقتل ثلاثة أشخاص وجرح أكثر من 20 آخرين.

وأوضحت المصادر أنه جرى توقيف الستة -وبينهم سوريون وفلسطينيون- بعد دهم شقة استأجرها سوري في منطقة الأشرفية ببيروت كانت تحتوي على أسلحة ومتفجرات.

وأشار المصدر إلى أن الشبكة -التي نفذت التفجيرين يوم 13 فبراير/ شباط الماضي- تضم ثمانية أشخاص فر منهما اثنان، وكانت تخطط لاغتيال شخصيات سياسية واستهداف قوات اليونيفيل الدولية في جنوب لبنان.

March 13th, 2007, 7:38 pm

 

Atassi said:

Alex,
I concur with Dr. Moustapha; the regime needs to be careful form the changes in the US policy and they need to be very skeptics of the sudden U turn. If it’s too good to be true, then it’s not real !!!
It has been part of the US tactics to send a confusing signals, Hoping the other party “ Iran, Syria” will misread them.

March 13th, 2007, 7:47 pm

 

ugarit said:

“I am told that the March 14th website has changed its account of the so-called “confession” of Fath-Islam group regarding the bombing in `Ayn `Alaq. Earlier today, the site mentioned that a Saudi was one of those arrested; later, the reference to the Saudi was taken out.”

http://angryarab.blogspot.com/

March 13th, 2007, 9:07 pm

 

ugarit said:

Most Arab media is heavily controlled by Saudi Arabia. I believe that they control over 95% of it. It’s no wonder that the Saudi nationalities of the other captured Fath-Islam individuals are rarely mentioned in the Arab press nor in the Western press for that matter.

March 13th, 2007, 9:22 pm

 

ugarit said:

“The Lebanese governments seems intent on framing Palestinians and Syrians, and blaming them for the bombing in `Ayn `Alaq, and possibly other bombings. I of course don’t believe the claims of the Lebanese government. Remember what the Babylonian Talmud says about liars?”

Source

March 13th, 2007, 9:25 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

More from Good Amassador Moustapha:

“Where to Go From Here

An interesting pattern is emerging out of Washington regarding U.S. policy toward Syria.”

>

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070313/wl_nm/lebanon_arrests_dc_1

Interesting patterns indeed!

ausamaa tries to persuade Gibran:

“GIBRAN,

That is Great. Let us then just remeber who is Lebanon’s enemy and who is Lebanon’s friend until that peace treaty is signed and sealed.”

With friends like that, who needs enemies?

March 13th, 2007, 9:54 pm

 

ugarit said:

“Concoct a plot, and then find the right Syrians and Palestinians to frame them. There is really nothing new about the claim of a plot by the Lebanese government today. In fact, Hariri rag, Al-Mustaqbal, claimed back in 29 of October that Fath-Islam was sent by the Syrian regime to plant bombs in Lebanon, and to assassinate March 14th Movement. This was before the so-called members of the “plot” were arrested. Notice that Hariri minister of interior, Hasan As-Sab`, said that there is no difference between Fath-Uprising and Fath-Islam. How does he know that, when it looks like Abu Khalid Al-`Amlah (formerly of Fath-Uprising) has split from the organization, and is now languishing in jail in Damascus. And the Hariri director-general of the Hariri militia (known in Lebanon as Internal Security Forces) claimed that the organization has no connection with Islam or with Islamic fundamentalism. So basically, Fath-Islam is in reality Fath-Ba`th. OK. Of course, the Syrian regime is capable of crimes and bombings, and they had a long record in that regard with the assistance of some of their clients (many of them are now part of March 14th Movement), but I remain skeptical regarding claims by this lousy government of Lebanon that has no credibility whatsoever. And the Lebanese government claimed that “an Arab source” funds them, but they then said that they use bank robberies for their funding. And one of them was asked to plant both bombs on BOTH busses. He was asked to plant the bomb on the first bus, and then descend, and then plant the other bomb on the other bus. And initially, the Lebanese government claimed that a Saudi was one of the members. A few hours later, the official account spoke of “people with forged Gulf passports.” Don’t be surprised if Hariri rag tomorrow claims that the gang was driven around Lebanon by none other than Bashshar in the new Sham car, and that the Iranian general who defected to the US trained them, and that Chavez gave them their pocket money.”

http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2007/03/concoct-plot-and-then-find-right.html

March 13th, 2007, 10:27 pm

 

ugarit said:

“Israel’s supposedly “defensive” assault on Hizbullah last summer, in which more than 1,000 Lebanese civilians were killed in a massive aerial bombardment that ended with Israel littering the country’s south with cluster bombs, was cast in a definitively different light last week by Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert.”

http://www.counterpunch.org/cook03132007.html

March 13th, 2007, 10:59 pm

 

Gibran said:

Syrians confess to Lebanon bus bombs: minister

Reuters
Tuesday, March 13, 2007

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Four Syrians held by the Lebanese authorities have confessed to bombing two buses in Lebanon last month, killing three people, Lebanon’s interior minister said on Tuesday.

Hassan al-Sabaa said the men were members of Fateh al-Islam, a small Palestinian group which he linked to Syrian intelligence. Fateh al-Islam broke away last year from Fateh al-Intifada, another Palestinian group.

A fifth man, also Syrian, was on the run, Sabaa said.

“It is no secret that Fateh al-Islam is Fateh al-Intifada and Fateh al-Intifada is part of the Syrian intelligence-security apparatus,” Sabaa told reporters.

Fateh al-Islam denied any link to the bus bombs in the Christian village of Ain Alaq.

“If a man had been killed in the Amazon forest, Fateh al-Islam would have been accused of his murder,” it said in a statement.

The bombing on February13 was a day before the second anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, whose killing many Lebanese blame on Syria. Damascus denies involvement.

The bombing had been added to a list of attacks being investigated by a U.N. inquiry into the Hariri killing.

Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said the men had been instructed to carry out the attack before February 14.

“They said that their bosses had asked them to be ready to carry out another operation,” Aridi said, adding that the target was to be an office of the Kataeb Party, a Christian faction which is part of the anti-Syrian governing coalition.

Pierre Gemayel, a cabinet minister and Kataeb leader, was assassinated in November. Ain Alaq is in the area of Bikfaya, home to Gemayel’s father and Kataeb leader, former President Amin Gemayel.

Security sources said earlier that six members of Fateh al-Islam had confessed to the Ain Alaq bombs.

Fateh al-Islam first emerged in the Palestinian refugee camp of Bedawi in north Lebanon.

Governing coalition leaders said the February 13 bombing was designed to deter their supporters from attending a Beirut rally to mark the Hariri killing and to bolster their camp against a political challenge by the opposition.

The opposition includes Hezbollah and Amal, which are both close to Damascus.

© 2007 Reuters

After reading this, I have to agree with Akbar: “With friends like that, who needs enemies?”

It is time for the Lebanese Government to move on with a speedy signing of a Peace treaty with Israel.

March 14th, 2007, 12:00 am

 

youngSyria said:

alex,
“Yet Dr. Moustapha is telling us there is no hope from President Bush … so why now? and why so negative since American/Syrian talks are promising so far?”

Atassi said:
“It has been part of the US tactics to send a confusing signals, Hoping the other party “ Iran, Syria” will misread them.”

While I’m not good in connecting dots, I think that low level US representation in Iraq conference gave some doubt about US seriousness, Although it looks like starting point to change direction.

other interpretation of Imad’s “negative position” is that syrian regime learned how US is serious in limiting talks on Iraq and not including Lebanon, which is more important to Syria.

Its too early to know whether US will go all the way to “change course” or not. Imad’s “negative position” suggests that syrian regime is not satisfied of these new developments.

March 14th, 2007, 12:17 am

 

Enlightened said:

Ausamma:

I didnt propose the lie detector test! Read the thread! As for choosing my words carefully well, I say it as I see it, just as you speak what you see! If I choose to call him a liar it is my prerogative to do so. ( I would be more careful if I was in Syria though right)

Alex:

Unfortunately there is no Barometer for evil or a scale, arbitrary arrests, torture mass killings! ,take your pick at any regime in the ME, There is no morality when one rules in the middle east, or any civility, leaders are above the law!

March 14th, 2007, 12:18 am

 

Ford Prefect said:

Dr Moustpha’s essay is excellent, telling and to the point: “…the US was not interested” in dealing with Syria. While this is a true statement, what I was hoping to see, however, is the “why”. Why was the US not interested in talking to Syria – when the US had nothing to loose and much to gain in its massively failing war in Iraq? Why was Syria and Iran not worthy of talk, but other evils (including NK) were? What is so dangerous in Syria against US interests in the Middle East? Does the US really care about Michele Kilo’s human rights? Does the US really care about the freedom and independence of Lebanon? Does the US really now find in Walid Jumblatt a democracy fighter whereas it was only in 2005 when it revoked his US visa for “wishing” death to Wolfowitz in a bomb attack in Iraq?

To answer these questions, one can point directly to an open letter to President Bush written on April 3, 2002. (http://www.newamericancentury.org/Bushletter-040302.htm) In it, the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neoconservative-propelled think-tank (literally, a tank is all they can think of) asked President Bush to sever all ties with the Palestinian Authority (Arafat at the time), and to provide Israel with full support in its fight to defend itself because “Israel is targeted in part because it is our friend, and in part because it is an island of liberal, democratic principles — American principles — in a sea of tyranny, intolerance, and hatred,” the authors seriously, but laughingly contended.

It is evident that the answer is, by and large, Israel and Israel’s security. The ideologues of Likud and the neoconservatives concluded (we know now how dead wrong they were) that Israel security (and thus US interests and security) could only be protected by “…full support to Israel as it seeks to root out the terrorist network that daily threatens the lives of Israeli citizens.”

The shunning of Syria was a calculated step – but at the costs of the continuing deterioration of Iraq costing thousands of American and Iraqi lives. Engaging Syria would have required paying a price. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Syria’s ultimate price is not Lebanon as some has indicated above. The lessons of Lebanon are still fresh in the minds of Syrians. No one wants to venture into that “hornet nest.” Event the Lebanese themselves are fleeing – as they have been for hundreds of years. Lebanon does not offer Syria or its government anything they don’t already have. The ultimate price that Syria is demanding is way too more expensive than anything else: Israel must give up the Golan Heights it occupied in spite of the all international laws and UN Resolutions.

It is not HA. It is not the insurgents. It is not the Oil for Food smuggling. It is not Lebanon’s independence. And it is certainly not harboring the Iraqi Ba’athist that alienated the US against Syria. It is Israel and Israel’s unwillingness to return the Golan Heights to its rightful owner.

The US and Israel were hoping isolating Syria while applying the pressure of the Hariri circus will capitulate that country into a low-level, disintegrating civil war that will give Israel a new lease on the Golan Heights – maybe permanently.

Dr. Moustapha should have taken a line from the famous detective Sherlock Holmes and wondered to whose benefit was Syria sidelined, isolated, and pressured?

March 14th, 2007, 12:30 am

 

Ford Prefect said:

Wow! Finally the truth is out about Lebanon as mentioned in the press clipping above. Syrians have finally confessed. This incident is certainly worth mentioning in light of all other minor developments in the region. So now we can rest assured that Syria destroyed Lebanon, three times over and counting, by bombing its bridges, roads, and infrastructure. It was Syria who used banned weapons in Lebanon, dragged thousands of Lebanese into its jails where they have been for at least 20 years without charge, littered South Lebanon with over 3 million cluster bombs in just 2 weeks, turned millions into refuges (for a war it was planning way ahead of the HA attacks – according to its Prime Minister, but he lies a lot, so don’t believe him). I am so happy that the Lebanese know the truth now and Syrians have confessed. Happy hunting.

March 14th, 2007, 12:40 am

 

Gibran said:

The March 14 gift – A breakthrough in cracking the terrorism of the Bashar regime of Syria.

“هدية” ذكرى 14 آذار
إنجاز “نوعي” وكبير “خرق” رتابة الوضع السياسي، تمثّل بالكشف عن شبكة إرهابية تنتمي الى جماعة “فتح الإسلام” المفبركة من جانب المخابرات السورية، وتوقيف أفرادها الذين اعترفوا بتدبير وتنفيذ تفجيري عين علق في منطقة المتن صباح يوم 13 شباط الفائت، عشية إحياء ذكرى 14 شباط، وذهب ضحيتهما 3 قتلى و23 جريحاً.
وأكدت المعلومات المتوافرة أن المجموعة الإرهابية تتكون من أربعة أشخاص سوريين بزعامة سوريّ يدعى مصطفى سيّو، يقيم في شقة في منطقة كرم الزيتون في منطقة الأشرفية شرق بيروت، وقد اعترفت هذه المجموعة بارتباطها بأجهزة المخابرات السورية وتلقيها الأوامر والأموال والتدريبات منها مباشرة، وعرف من الموقوفين المدعو حسام محمد صيام المعروف باسم أبو محمد السوري، والأردني من أصل فلسطيني شاكر عبسي.
وأضافت المعلومات أنه تمّ العثور في شقة المدعو سيّو وهو زعيم المجموعة على كميّة كبيرة من العبوات المعدّة للتفجير مشابهة لتلك التي استخدمت في تفجير عين علق.
وتابعت المعلومات أن السلطات المختصة، وفي مقدمها فرع المعلومات في قوى الأمن الداخلي، تمكنت من وضع اليد على هذه المجموعة نتيجة تحريات واستقصاءات وتحقيقات وعمليات رصد ومتابعة موسعة امتدت على مدى أسابيع عدة.
قضائياً، باشر قاضي التحقيق العسكري الأول رشيد مزهر تحقيقاته الاستنطاقية مع الموقوفين على أن يصدر لاحقاً مذكرات وجاهية بحقهم.
إشارة الى أن “المستقبل” كانت كشفت في عددها الصادر في 29 تشرين الثاني 2006 عن توقيف مخابرات الجيش اللبناني لعنصرين من “المجموعة السورية” التخريبية المذكورة، اللذين اعترافا بالسعي لتنفيذ مخطط تخريبي بتكليف من رئيس النظام السوري بشّار الأسد ويهدف الى زعزعة الاستقرار والقيام بعمليات إرهابية وقتل 36 شخصية سياسية لبنانية واستهداف قوات “اليونيفيل”.
وجماعة “فتح الإسلام” مجموعة تتبع الاستخبارات السورية وقد روّج أواخر العام الفائت أنها منشقة عن جماعة “فتح الانتفاضة” التي يتزعمها أبو خالد العملة الموجود في مخيم اليرموك في دمشق وقد انتقل عدد من عناصرها للإقامة في مخيمي نهر البارد والبداوي في شمال لبنان.
مجلس الوزراء
مجلس الوزراء الذي عقد جلسة حضرها مدعي عام التمييزالقاضي سعيد ميرزا، مدير عام قوى الأمن الداخلي اللواء أشرف ريفي ورئيس فرع المعلومات في قوى الأمن الداخلي المقدم وسام الحسن، استمع الى شرح مفصل، قضائي وأمني، لحيثيات توقيف المجموعة الإرهابية وما توصلت اليه التحقيقات والمعلومات، وأشاد بـ”الجهد الكبير الذي بُذل لكشف حقيقة إحدى الجرائم التي استهدفت أمن الوطن”، وأكد أنه “عندما تنوجد الإرادة القوية والإدارة السليمة والتعاون والتنسيق بين المؤسسات يمكن الوصول الى نتائج”، منوّهاً بالذين قاموا بهذا العمل (..)”.
من ناحية ثانية كلّف المجلس الرئيس السنيورة تشكيل الوفد اللبناني الى القمة العربية، وكذلك الى الاجتماعات التحضيرية التي تسبق انعقادها في الرياض في 28 و29 الجاري.
وكشف وزير الداخلية حسن السبع أن “الجهة التي طلبت التفجيرات أصرّت على حصولها قبل ذكرى 14 شباط وفي مناطق ذات صفة سياسية معيّنة”، ولفت الى أن الأجهزة الأمنية عثرت في ثلاث شقق متفرقة كان يستخدمها الموقوفون، في مناطق الدورة، الأشرفية وقرنة شهوان، على كميات من المتفجرات، وأشار الى أن هناك فاراً واحداً من عناصر المجموعة لا تزال الأجهزة الأمنية تعمل على توقيفه، معلناً أن هذه المجموعة كانت تخطط لتفجير أمام بيت حزب “الكتائب” في بكفيا من خلال تفجير دراجة نارية.
وقال السبع “إن الجميع يعرف من هي الجهة التي تقف وراء ما يسمى فتح الإسلام أو فتح الانتفاضة التي هي جزء من الجهاز الاستخباراتي السوري”، وأعرب عن اعتقاده “بوجود رابط بين التفجيرات على مستوى القرار السياسي”.
وأشار اللواء ريفي الى أن المجلس كلّف الأجهزة الأمنية “دراسة موضوع ملاحقة المجرمين الفارّين داخل المخيمات الفلسطينية”.
براميرتس
بالتزامن، يقدم رئيس لجنة التحقيق الدولية القاضي سيرج براميرتس اليوم تقريره المرحلي حول مجريات التحقيق الى الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة بان كي مون، ومن المقرر أن يحيل كي مون التقرير مباشرة الى مجلس الأمن، الذي سيعقد بدوره جلسة خاصة للنظر بالتقرير يوم الأربعاء المقبل في 21 الجاري.
وتبعاً للإعلان عن التقرير ستجري مشاورات بين الدول الـ 15 الأعضاء في المجلس من جهة، وممثلي هذه الدول وحكوماتهم من جهة أخرى، لتحديد الموقف من التقرير، بحيث يتبلور ذلك خلال الجلسة.
وأوضحت مصادر ديبلوماسية في الأمم المتحدة لـ”المستقبل” أن التقرير سيكون “وصفياً وتقنياً”، ويتناول التقدم البالغ الذي أحرزته اللجنة من دون تفاصيل، وذلك على غرار الطابع الذي تميزت به تقارير براميرتس السابقة حول تقدم التحقيق.
وسيتناول التقرير أيضاً ضرورات إنشاء المحكمة الدولية ومقتضيات ذلك، كما سيتناول آلية عمل اللجنة في تحقيقاتها وضرورة تجاوب مجلس الأمن مع طلب الحكومة اللبنانية التمديد لمهمتها سنة كاملة تبدأ من منتصف حزيران المقبل.

March 14th, 2007, 1:22 am

 

norman said:

FP, You are right the only thing that Syria wants and can be satisfied with is the Golan Hights , the question is , Is president Bush is smart enough and practical enough to pay the price and save his legacy and Israel in the process.

March 14th, 2007, 3:02 am

 

Enlightened said:

Olmert = Another LYING POLITICIAN

March 14th, 2007, 3:18 am

 

Alex said:

U.S. envoy: We won’t stop Israel talking to Syria

By Nir Hasson, Haaretz Correspondent

The United States is not preventing Israel from holding negotiations with Syria and the decision on whether to proceed on this matter is in the hands of the Israeli government, according to U.S. Ambassador Richard Jones speaking to a group of academics at the Davis Institute for International Affairs at the Hebrew University on Monday.

The U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv refused to comment on the ambassador’s statements, saying that the meeting was a closed forum. However, the deputy press attache at the embassy, Geoff Anisman, said on Tuesday, “we are unaware that any U.S. official has ever expressed an opinion on what Israel should or should not do with regard to Syria.”

Ambassador Jones, who participates in the meetings of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her visits to Israel, told the crowd of academics that in all the meetings in which he took part there was never a demand that Israel avoid contacts with Syria.

Jones said he does not consider Syria a partner in the diplomatic process so long as it supports terrorist organizations and aids Hezbollah. He added that the Syrians have not done enough to lift doubts that they are interested in negotiations solely as a means of receiving international legitimacy.

“If the Syrians change the situation,” the ambassador said, “the situation will also change.”

March 14th, 2007, 4:29 am

 

Fares said:

http://freesyria.wordpress.com/2007/03/14/the-road-to-damascus/

This is a great request to Solana on his damascus visit

March 14th, 2007, 4:56 am

 

why-discuss said:

Were there 3 Saudis caught also by lebanese FSI? are they syrian-guided saudis too?

March 14th, 2007, 8:20 am

 

Ford Prefect said:

Norman,
I don’t think president Cheney is smart enough to realize that he is endagering the lives of Americans as well as the lives of people in the region – including Israelis with his reckless and incompetent policies. Bush is completely irrelevant in this context.

Why-Discuss, it is now fashionable to blame all ills in today’s Lebanon on the Shia and their Syrian masters. In the 70s it was the Palestenians. In the 50s it was the Sunnis and the Nasser master. There is always an evil that Lebanese need to blame – never themselves though!

March 14th, 2007, 8:48 am

 

ugarit said:

“F. is right. We should remember what Seymour Hersh has said about Fatah-Al-Islam in his last article on Lebanon: “Alastair Crooke, who spent nearly thirty years in MI6, the British intelligence service, and now works for Conflicts Forum, a think tank in Beirut, told me, “The Lebanese government is opening space for these people to come in. It could be very dangerous.” Crooke said that one Sunni extremist group, Fatah al-Islam, had splintered from its pro-Syrian parent group, Fatah al-Intifada, in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, in northern Lebanon. Its membership at the time was less than two hundred. “I was told that within twenty-four hours they were being offered weapons and money by people presenting themselves as representatives of the Lebanese government’s interests—presumably to take on Hezbollah,” Crooke said.The largest of the groups, Asbat al-Ansar, is situated in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp. Asbat al-Ansar has received arms and supplies from Lebanese internal-security forces and militias associated with the Siniora government.””

http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2007/03/f.html

March 14th, 2007, 10:31 am

 

ugarit said:

“Blaming the Palestinians: a Lebanese Sport. The official spokesperson of Fath-Al-Islam, Abu Salim, said in a press conference that accusations against his [kooky] organization are not new. He reminded the press that in the past they have been accused of working for Hariri Inc, then Hizbullah, then Syrian mukhabarat, then Al-Qa`idah, and now the bombings in `Ayn `Alaq.
PS As-Safir newspaper is reporting that Lebanese security officials first told Arab media that Fath-Al-Islam works for Al-Qa`idah, and then Minister As-Sab` appeared before the media and changed the tune: he accused Fath-Al-Islam of working for Syrian mukhabarat.”

http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2007/03/blaming-palestinians-lebanese-sport.html

March 14th, 2007, 10:34 am

 

ausamaa said:

GIBRAN,

Do not be soooooooooooooooooo optemistic about Stria’s involvement with the supposed group. That is if the whole story can be verfied to be correct.

Why? Well, because:

1- If Syrian Authoreties can lose sleep, it will be because of Jihadists and Al Qaida. They will never cooperate with them. That is why they cooperated with the US in War on Terror Part 1.

2-If the case is in the hands of Lebanese Army Intelligence, what you may hear later you will not like. They are not part of the Fatfat/Al Sabe’a spin machine like Ashraf Riffi’s cowboys.

3- That is why no one who is anyone has paid real attention to the findings. If there was a shred of truth about Syria’s involvement, you would have seen Elliott Abrams himself “publically” jumping on the first flight to Beirut.

March 14th, 2007, 12:43 pm

 

trustquest said:

I Think there is a historical fault on the part of Syrian regime taken from the mouth of the ambassador “, وأنا نقلت الرسالة للمسؤولين الأمريكيين التي تقول إن سوريا على استعداد لضبط تلك الحدود بكل الوسائل، بما في ذلك تبادل المعلومات، وتقاسم المهام الاستخباراتية، وعقد اجتماعات ميدانية بين ضباط القوات الأمريكية والسورية، بل وحتى المشاركة في خفارات حراسة حدودية ثلاثية مع العراقيين والأمريكيين”

What the ambassador is saying that Syria can and would control the boarder with Iraq; however the American administration did not recognize Syrian cooperation so we chose not to cooperate. It seems innocent statement but consequences were and still catastrophic and has cost the Iraqis hundreds of thousands of lives. The American administration is also responsible for these lives, but hey Syrian responsibilities for our Arabs brothers are higher. I wonder if they regime in Syria put his self-image ahead of the lives of the innocent Iraqis.

March 14th, 2007, 1:04 pm

 

Gibran said:

I wouldn’t use the word optimistic if I were you AUSSAMAA. Disappointment at the disgusting behavior of Bashar’s regime is perhaps a better word. He hasn’t learnt a single lesson since he appeared as the boy ruling a country. You know what they say: A kid is a kid even if he rules a country (lwalad walad law hakam balad).

Any way, to be honest with you, the ugly smell of the rogues of Damascus has become so pervasive, it is becoming disgusting. If I were a Syrian working in Lebanon at this moment I’d pack up and leave immediately. Lebanon has become, as a result of the Syrian government behavior, a no man’s zone for any one with the slightest connection to this horn nest of a place called Syria that is ruled by a bunch of criminal terrorists. So, either the Syrian people put their acts together and get rid of their scum of humanity so-called leaders, or else people will have to deal with the Syrians as full accomplices with their so-called government of terrorists. I mean you can’t come and try to make a living in Lebanon and be a subversive agent of a terrorist regime. Right? Expect gallows to be erected soon.

March 14th, 2007, 2:00 pm

 

ugarit said:

Gibran:

I don’t think you’re Lebanese. You seem to be an agitprop.

March 14th, 2007, 2:35 pm

 

Gibran said:

It doesn’t matter what you think UG.

March 14th, 2007, 2:44 pm

 

ugarit said:

Your statements about Syria would be more believable if you exhibited similar anger at other violators of Lebanese sovereignty.

You seem to be a paid lobyyist of the Sinora/Hariri/Saudi axis.

March 14th, 2007, 2:52 pm

 

Gibran said:

UGARIT
Didn’t I tell you previously you’re getting ridculous? Well it is now becoming your habit. Go find your life somewhere else.

March 14th, 2007, 2:56 pm

 

youngSyria said:

mmm……..
gibran,
i didnt comment on any of your comments, and I always understood your opinion/position (although I may disagree sometimes)…but thats too much..

threatening innocent people who are there to make their living and blaming them for others mistake/crimes is way out..i have many things in my mind but you words made me speechless…. I’m so sorry for you..

March 14th, 2007, 2:59 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Ugarit

Haram, I do not think GIBRAN is in anybody’s employe, he is just a little bored with his his life (a LOT, not a little bored!), and have nobody to argue with or to pick on, and he stumbled on syriacomment. Now, we have to pay the price for this unfortunate act of his.

March 14th, 2007, 3:05 pm

 

Atassi said:

Please read the last line..

===============================
Solana urges Assad to work for peace in Lebanon
14 March 2007
10:35
Agence France Presse
English

DAMASCUS, March 14, 2007 (AFP) –

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, on his first visit to Syria in two years, urged Damascus on Wednesday to work for peace and security in neighbouring Lebanon.

He said he told President Bashar al-Assad to make a “great effort” to ensure implementation of the UN resolution that ended last year’s 34-day war between Israel and the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, which is backed by Damascus.

Lebanon, where Damascus was the power broker for decades, is in the grip of a paralyzing political crisis with deep divisions between the anti-Syrian government and the pro-Damascus opposition led by Hezbollah.

Saying his talks were held in a positive atmosphere, Solana told a news conference that the EU believed UN resolution 1701 which ended Israel’s war on Hezbollah must be applied totally to ensure Lebanon’s “peace and stability”.

The August resolution demanded the progressive withdrawal of the Israeli army from southern Lebanon, its replacement by Lebanese troops backed by UN soldiers, and the disarmament of militias — a reference to Hezbollah, which is backed by both Syria and Iran.

The change in the military deployment in southern Lebanon has been carried out but there has been no move to disarm Hezbollah, seen by many Lebanese as the legitimate resistance against Israel.

Hezbollah also spearheads the political opposition to the Western-backed government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, resulting in a political crisis that has paralysed the country for months.

Solana’s trip is the latest in a string of visits by Western officials that Syria puts forward as proof of its indisputable role as a key player in the Middle East region.

The EU official, who arrived in Damascus after visits to Beirut and Riyadh, held separate talks with Vice President Faruq al-Shara and Foreign Minister Walid Muallem before meeting Assad.

In Beirut on Monday, Solana told reporters he would hold “frank discussions” on Syria’s troubled relations with Lebanon, where many people blame Damascus for a series of deadly bomb attacks.

He also said he would address the issue of the UN tribunal due to try suspects in the February 2005 murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri in Beirut.

Official EU contacts with Syria have been frozen since that attack which was widely blamed on Damascus, despite Syrian denials of any involvement.

“Solana’s visit today is a major step on the road to stabilising Arab-European relations,” Syria’s official newspaper Tishrin said.

“We truly hope that this will work out in the interests of the Syrians and Europeans and of peace and security in the region and the world.”

The anti-Syrian parliamentary majority in Lebanon has accused Damascus of blocking the creation of the UN tribunal, and a string of pro-Syrian cabinet ministers resigned last November over the issue, setting off the political crisis.

Before his Wednesday meeting, Solana had said he would also raise with Assad the question of alleged arms smuggling from Syria into Lebanon.

The European Union hopes Solana’s visit will help ease the crisis in Lebanon, sharply divided between pro- and anti-Syrian camps since Hariri’s murder forced Syria to end its military domination of the country.

Solana said the European Union wanted to “see if we can resume our relations with Syria… We will have to discuss the change of behaviour.”

His visit follows on the heels of a trip by a senior US official, the highest-level visit from Washington to Damascus in two years which involved talks limited to the Iraqi refugee crisis.

“It is clear that Syria cannot be isolated; to the contrary, its role is being recognised,” said Ath-Thawra newspaper on Tuesday. “Syria has not changed its policies, which have turned out to be valid.”
……………..
We must work hard to rid and disallow this kind of ignorance’s and arrogant mentally form exclusively ruling Syria, Otherwise. Syria will achieve nothing; it will standstill while others advances

March 14th, 2007, 3:12 pm

 

Atassi said:

Guardian International Pages
International: Europe leads bid to lure Syria in from the cold: Solana visit trumpeted as first step to end isolation: Damascus sources rule out any change in policies
Ian Black, Middle East editor
14 March 2007
The Guardian

Syria is hailing its return from international isolation with a landmark visit today by the EU’s foreign policy chief as diplomacy in the Middle East intensifies ahead of a key Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia at the end of this month.

Damascus is trumpeting the talks with Javier Solana as evidence that the country is coming in from the cold after being largely shunned by Europe since the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik al-Hariri, two years ago.

Mr Solana, mandated by all 27 EU member states, was only able to arrange the trip late last week when France lifted the veto imposed by Jacques Chirac after the murder of Hariri, a close friend. The Syrian government and media is preparing to give him the red carpet treatment, but there is no evidence of a change on basics.

The visit follows signs that the US may be slowly changing its approach to Damascus. Last weekend, Syria’s deputy foreign minister took part, with the US and Iran, in security talks in Iraq, as recommended by the Baker-Hamilton commission. On Monday, Ellen Sauerbrey, assistant secretary of state for refugees and migration, became the highest-level US official to visit Syria for two years. Her visit was to discuss the plight of the tens of thousands of Iraqi refugees in the country. Washington insisted that that was the context, not any improvement in bilateral relations.

“It has become crystal clear that Syria couldn’t be isolated,” said the government newspaper Al-Thawra.

“People are knocking on Syria’s door,” said Ghayth Armanazi, director of the Syrian Media Centre in London. “The Europeans have realised that Syria is a pivotal state. Even the Americans are starting to take steps in that direction.”

Diplomats say that Europeans have come to recognise that engagement is likely to be more productive than isolation as Syria is intimately involved in the cri sis in Lebanon, has been attacked for not closing its border to foreign fighters entering Iraq, and is a supporter of Hamas, the Islamist movement at the centre of talks on a new Palestinian unity government.

Mr Solana was expected to raise the issue of alleged Syrian arms shipments to Hizbullah, the Lebanese guerrilla movement which fought last summer’s war. Israel opposed his trip, arguing that it would reward Damascus “for policies that have endangered the Middle East”.

Syria is also the only Arab country which has a strategic relationship with Iran, embroiled in an intensifying row with the west over its nuclear ambitions.

In Beirut on Monday, Mr Solana promised “frank discussions” in Syria on its role in Lebanon, where many blame President Bashar al-Assad for a series of bomb attacks. He will also address the issue of the UN tribunal due to try suspects in the Hariri killing. Fuad Siniora’s pro-western government is seeking parliamentary approval for the tribunal, but this is being resisted by the pro-Syrian opposition.

Damascus insists that any of its nation als accused of involvement in the killing should be tried in accordance with Syrian law.

The EU envoy said that Damascus would have to “modify” its behaviour. But the official media was defiant. “Syria did not change its policies simply because they proved to be correct and do not need to be changed,” said an editorial in Al-Thawra. “The others should make the required change because they were wrong.”

Last year, Tony Blair sent his foreign policy adviser, Nigel Sheinwald, to Damascus on a private mission to see President Assad. That too was hailed as flattering recognition of Syria’s importance but produced little change apart from the establishment of diplomacy with the Iraqi government. Possible carrots for Syria include implementation of an “association agreement” with the EU, which would give the country preferential trade arrangements. There is greater excitement about the thaw with Europe than any rapprochement with the US. “Warming relations need deep talks and a long time for mutual doubts to be removed,” the Syrian Vice President Farouq al-Shara, said.

Mr Solana spent yesterday in Saudi Arabia, talking to King Abdullah and his foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, who rejected Israeli calls for changes to the Arab peace initiative agreed in 2002 and expected to be revived in some form at the Riyadh summit on March 28.

March 14th, 2007, 3:16 pm

 

Gibran said:

YOUNGSYRIA
We too, the Lebanese, have been speechless at Syria’s government behaviour for quite a long time. Could you do something to change their behaviour? We can’t remain silent any longer with the thoughts that there could be subversive agents living among us who are ostensibly trying to make a living while they’re plotting to kill innocent Lebanese. I’d say it is best if they go back to their country. I’m saying this for their own sake.

March 14th, 2007, 3:18 pm

 

ausamaa said:

“War Clouds Gather Over the Golan”

An article by Martin van Crefveld, professor of Military History at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem!

Towards the end of his article, he makes a remark about the July War saying: ” a war that was probably launched Hezbollah without any consultation with Damascus,..”

If this genius Professor of Military History can make such stupid statements, then I wonder what other goodies he may be imparting to his bright students.

http://www.d-n-i.net/creveld/war_clouds.htm

incidently,

a while back I read a brilliant but short triology about “How Hezbollah Defeated Israel” by Alastair Crooke and Mark Perry at the asiatimes site. http://www.atimes.com It sure is worth checking out.

March 14th, 2007, 3:38 pm

 

Alex said:

Solana: EU supports Syrian initiative to regain Golan Heights
By News Agencies

The European Union supports Syria’s goal of regaining the Golan Heights from Israel, the EU foreign policy chief said after meeting President Bashar Assad on Wednesday.

“We would like to work as much as possible to see your country Syria recuperate the territory taken in 1967,” Javier Solana told a joint news conference with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem.

Syria has made it clear that its cooperation to help end violence in Iraq would be tied to Western – especially U.S. – support for its peaceful campaign to regain the Golan Heights, which Israel conquered during the Six Day War four decades ago.

March 14th, 2007, 4:03 pm

 

norman said:

Bremertz is going to submit his report soon , do you think smobody will die to blame Syria and who.?.

March 14th, 2007, 4:05 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Yeh, When anybody had nothing to about a meeting here, they declare support for the Road Map, or for 242 and 338 (remember!), or the Land for Peace song. Now, Is this what is happening with Solana on this visit to Damascus so as to make him say that the EU supports Syria in regaining the Golan Hights. That is either “Nothing” or a “Breakthrough”!

By the way, the Headline reffers to the Syrian “inititive”, the qoute is nothing like that. Anything there?

They seem to be just passing time!

March 14th, 2007, 4:50 pm

 

norman said:

They promised Syria a peace proccess in 1990 so Syria will side with US ,Syria got nothing Israel was armed to the teeth ( make Israel secure so it can give to the Palestinians )and now they want Syria to help in Iraq and Lebnon for a small promise of support from the do nothing Eu ,I think Syria should do nothing untill there is a clear commitment of economic sanctions against Israel if it does not withdrow from the golan Hights ,otherwise SYria would have been fooled twise.what do you think.?.

March 14th, 2007, 5:03 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

It is amazing what happens when the West needs Syria for something. Statements like what Alex posted become the norm – as if Solana and others have just been born again. Expect more of the same until they get what they want, then they will disengage like they have done for the sorry 14 March Lebanese.

March 14th, 2007, 5:06 pm

 

idaf said:

Syria: Reform Balance Sheet – Carnegie’s Arab Reform Bulletin

Sami Moubayed

As Syrian president Bashar Al Assad approaches the end of his first term in office, there is much debate on whether or not he has succeeded as a reformer. He is credited with establishing private universities, banks, and media. The general lack of public and media interest in parliamentary elections schedule for April, however, reflects the frozen nature of political reforms.

The privatization of education is by far the biggest achievement of the past seven years. Four years after deciding to break the state monopoly on education imposed by the Baath Party in 1963, there are eight private universities and many private schools. According to official figures, 380,000 students are enrolled in Syrian universities: 250,000 at the five state-run universities, 6,000 at private universities, and 2,500 at the Syrian Virtual University (which offers online learning). Al Kalamoun University’s class of 2007 will be the first to graduate from a private university in Syrian history. The university also has the first independent School of International Relations and teaches many courses in English. Despite these successes in undergraduate learning, there are only 15,000 post-graduate students and only 2,100 students receive scholarships to study abroad. Government funds for education have actually been reduced, and now are only $50 million out of Syria ‘s annual budget of $11 billion, while funds for academic research are only $3.8 million.

Since 2000, six private banks have been established in Syria: Bank of Syria and Overseas (BSO), Banque BEMO, Bank Audi, the International Bank of Trade and Finance, Arab Bank, and Bank Byblos. At the time of privatization, their combined deposits were estimated at $30-50 million. By the end of the first year, however, deposits in the private banking sector amounted to an impressive $2 billion and today stand at $3 billion. Encouraging as this may seem, these deposits have not really changed the climate for investment in Syrian society. Red tape and regulations hamper banking; for example, long-term real estate loans were off-limits to Syrian citizens until January 2007 because of restrictions imposed by the Central Bank of Syria. In 2005, private banks lent out only 17 percent of their total deposits, meaning that over 80 billion Syrian pounds remained in the vault. The private banks were not intended to be mere money incubators, as there are plenty of those in the public banking sector.

Media privatization also is a mixed picture. While conditions are much more promising today than they were before 2000, media reform has been extremely sluggish compared to that in other Arab countries such as Lebanon, the UAE, or Qatar. Shortly after coming to power, Bashar Al Assad authorized parties affiliated with the ruling Baath to establish political publications. The result was dogmatic political weeklies that preached thundering Arab nationalism, socialism, and anti-imperialism, which were read only by narrow constituencies. The independent satirical weekly Al Domari (The Lamplighter) by the acclaimed Syrian cartoonist Ali Farzat was a breath of fresh air, but the quality of the publication dropped after the first few issues and readership plummeted. After clashes with the government, Al Domari and Al Mubki (another weekly that criticized government officials) were shut down, leading to speculation that private newspapers would once more be subjected to strict censorship. Other private publications survived, including the political weekly magazine Abyad wa Aswad (Black & White) and the economic monthly Al Iqtissad (The Economy), which run critical, reform-oriented articles.

As for political reform, government officials claim the process has been stalled by regional and international conditions, and that political reform cannot proceed under foreign pressures, namely from the United States. The Syrian leadership has not taken expected steps such as authorizing private political parties and amending article 8 of the Syrian Constitution which states that the Baath is the ruling party of state and society. But it is also true that the emphasis on Baathism has decreased significantly in recent years. In his speeches Assad stands next to Syrian flags, not Baath Party flags, and many non-Baathists have been appointed to senior posts. Dr. Hani Mourtada, an independent, became the first non-Baathist to head Damascus University and the first independent Minister of Higher Education since 1963. Other senior independents include Vice-President of the Republic Dr Najah Al Attar, deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Al Dardari, and Ambassador to the United States Imad Moustapha.

There is now speculation that a non-Baathist might replace Prime Minister Mohammad Naji Al Otari, and that a political party law might be passed after the April parliamentary elections and before the summer presidential referendum. But it is too early to tell whether such predictions will come true or are merely wishful thinking.

Sami Moubayed is a Syrian political analyst and author of Steel & Silk: Men and Women Who Shaped Syria 1900-2000 (Cune Press, 2006).

March 14th, 2007, 5:38 pm

 

Atassi said:

“I would like to confirm that Syria condemns any terrorist act,” Foreign Minister Walid Moallem told reporters in Damascus. “We are a secular country that has no links to terrorist operations.”
What!!
Change of the regime policies! Is it time to burn the Islamite? So invoking God for protection of Syria is no longer needed
It’s I think the first admittance of Syrian official that terrorists are Moslems!!

March 14th, 2007, 5:38 pm

 

Alex said:

Norman, this time there is already an agreement on the Golan. As James Baker said this week, an agreement should be finalized within few months after negotiations start… so there is no bluffing for a decade like the Israelis often (not always)did in the 90s.

Now it seems that contrary to popular belief, Syria is going for the Golan and not for Lebanon

1) Dr. Moustapha said it in his article.
2) American Ambassador to Israel “We are not stopping Israel from talking to Syria”
3) Solana’s statement today.

But I would assume that in case they do decide to start a constructive dialog (still a big assumption in my opinion)

1) Syria will be given a bigger role in Iraq
2) Lebanon will be neutral … Saudi Arabia and the US will have to reduce their current roles as papa and mama of the Lebanese majority. And the clowns and the warlords (Gibran’s heros) will have to slowly disappear from the scene.

AND … something similar to Prince Turki AL-Faisal’s fertile crescent vision would be implemented… economically, not politically.

March 14th, 2007, 5:48 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

Alex, I think you are right and a deal is in the works. Much to the displeasure of Israel, who would rather see Syria being engulfed in chaos and sectarian violence so it can hold on to the Golan Heights. But the Syrian people turned out to be smarter and more conscientious than neighboring countries. Way to go Syria, persist. Once the Golan is liberated from the racist warmongers, we will turn to the inside and clean house.

March 14th, 2007, 6:00 pm

 

Atassi said:

FP,
“we will turn to the inside and clean house” 🙂
Woow..

March 14th, 2007, 6:05 pm

 

Alex said:

Yes Atassi … but slowly : )

FP, I agree that the Syrian people so far turned out to be quite wise and calm… the way they received the Lebanese refugees for example! … there was not hate or revenge for the tens of Syrian workers killed.

March 14th, 2007, 6:23 pm

 

norman said:

Alex , That is because Syria is still the Heart of the Arab world.now I hope other Arabs will see how much Syria did for Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq.

March 14th, 2007, 6:26 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

Yes, indeed, Atassi and I dig (and appreciate!) what you are saying. Our house is in desperate need of spring-cleaning and rejuvenation. That can only be accomplished AFTER we clear the warmongers from the Golan. Nothing Israel wants more, in order to keep occupying the Golan (oops, I forgot, they annexed it – just like Saddam did to Kuwait) illegally, than our internal infighting and bickering.

March 14th, 2007, 6:27 pm

 

Gibran said:

Yes of course in your dreams FP. Only clowns there are the clans of Bashar and his alawi group of thugs. They are the most likely to disappear and perhaps to your obvious distatste and displeasure.

March 14th, 2007, 6:28 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

Alex, you are correct, and thanks for pointing out the “slowly” part – the grassroots, indigenous process of giving birth to democracy. The Syrians, after all the backstabbing and double-crossing from Lebanon, never blinked once on receiving and giving shelter to the thousands of Lebanese refugees who fled the barbarism and savagery of Israel’s “democracy”. I am truly amazed, and proud, by the resiliency of the Syrian people towards the repeated and heavily financed efforts to get them to disintegrate into another Lebanon or Iraq.

Norman, yes indeed and well said. The Syrian people are a shining example of tolerance and cohesiveness. They deal with the “bad apples” in effectively and in a timely manner while preserving their national identity and sanity.

March 14th, 2007, 6:40 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Perhaps.

But whoever are cooking up a deal are supposed to be shrewed. The same can not be said for Dubbya. Definitly not when Elliotte Abrams is rocking his craddle and reading him Red Riding Hood while Chenney is on the look out for both and for Halliburton!

It is still early for that. Unless we ride the conspiracy theory to the end and remeber that foxy Unckel James Baker is pulling the lines from behind, and is still simmering over the Bush 41st.loss of second term elections engineered by AIPAC after the row over the Madrid Conference followed by $10 Billion Loans Guarantees. Was it Bush Sr. who went on TV then and pleaded to the American people: I am this little guy alone with all THOSE ones against me.? Not verbatium, but something to that effect. Does anyone still remember?

Well? Who is known for their long memory??? And who was the Godfather of the Madrid Conference?
who has no love lost for AIPAC? Republicans perhaps?

Has THE deal been struck? Chenney takes the money and run to Dubai, and AIPAC and Israel get an egg in the face? Maybe more than that?

Only problem with this theory is that there is not enough time left befor the Democrats get to White House. Niether time enough to try again to rearrange the Middle East in a favourable manner! Or is there? as Halliburton is relocating to “our” greener pastors?

March 14th, 2007, 6:40 pm

 

Atassi said:

Alex,
Sure the slower the better!! 40 more years should do:-) Really.. what’s hurry for !! ..
By the way, MOST of the Lebanese refugees were unfortunate Shiites form the ill-fated south of Lebanon! I would think “I could be wrong too”. The welcoming party would be less contented, if the refugees were not associated with once triumphant Hezbollah

March 14th, 2007, 6:41 pm

 

Atassi said:

FP,
spring-cleaning !! I hope you are right on this one 🙂 “I know you did not mean it” ..

March 14th, 2007, 6:49 pm

 

ausamaa said:

GIBRAN

Do not start jumping. When they talk about cleaning our house they mean the Syria house, not our joint, brotherly, warm Syria-Lebanon house.

March 14th, 2007, 7:02 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Gibran;
we the syrian have to hide our name and use fake names, because we are afraid as we visit Syria,we are afraid of the security forces, but I do not understand why you are writing under different fake name ,who are you afraid of? all people who are not from Syria they declare their true identity and not afraid, why dont you tell us your real name, and where are you from.
the recent arrest of those murderers is serious news, I do think the timing of it,before Brammertz report, and before the arab summit is deliberate, could someone be arrested during that summit?is it possible that Farooq Shara’ went to Mubarak to have a guarantee not for this to happen, my friends are telling me that this is a real concern to the security forces in Syria.

March 14th, 2007, 7:09 pm

 

ausamaa said:

His Vision keeps hunting him I guess.

March 14th, 2007, 7:12 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

Atassi, I mean it, I truly do. It is evolutionary and it is a one-way street. There is nothing wrong with that. Remember how we cleaned house in November 2006?

Ausamaa, I love your thoughts man.

March 14th, 2007, 7:15 pm

 

Gibran said:

AUSSAMAA
No one is jumping but you. “Joint, brotherly, warm Syria-Lebanon house”, who would say that in the present circumstances but a jumper? Actually you’re stretching the word ‘brotherly’ to the point where it would break to pieces. Forget about it. Any Syrian that ventures into Lebanon will do so at the risk of playing with his own life; i.e. until we see some real Syrians standing up and doing something about their SCUM (You know, Bashar, Moallem, Sharaa, Shawkat etc…).

Do you want to see the witch hunt in full swing?

March 14th, 2007, 7:15 pm

 

ausamaa said:

If the Brammertz report is Bad this time, we should boycut the Summit, hit Israel, think about rolling back to lebanon, arm the unarmed Iraqies! Wow, it would be fun Gibran. Until there is guarantees for all the Suspects (now and later) of a fair, just and a Jury based trial in the US! Then all will have an assurance of Justice. Libby’s public prosecuter if possible.
Darn, based on the evidence seen so far, even an indictment would be thrown out.

March 14th, 2007, 7:21 pm

 

Atassi said:

Habib Allbi Gibran,
I will be venturing into Lebanon this summer “I do every summer”. I dare you to show your ugly face, I will be posting when and where..Yealla Yea Haboob it’s your bed time

March 14th, 2007, 7:26 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Gibran,

What you just said is punishable under the Patriot Act, the Syrian Law, and the Lebanese Law. But do not worry, we wont press charges against you, only those against Junblat would stand.

And dont get it wrong; Hezbollah is the one who kicked the Israelis, not your bunch.

March 14th, 2007, 7:26 pm

 

ausamaa said:

And Gibran,

What we have seen for the past few years was the Mother Of All Witch Hunts min al Areeb wi el ba’eed sawa

March 14th, 2007, 7:29 pm

 

Gibran said:

AUSSAMAA
Go for it man with or without the Bramertz report. After all, you will be accused by your own SCUM of politicizing the tribunal if you tie your government behavior to the contents of the report. I thought the SCUM of Damascus is fully against politicizing the tribunal. Do you really think Syria has the guts to roooooll back to Lebanon? What else will Syria do? Hit Israel? O’ man lets start building some heavy-duty anti radiation shelters!
Now you want guaranties of fair trial for all the suspects. So you know who they are. Watch out man. If you don’t come forward with their names to the proper authorities assigned to the investigation (you know their location is in the Monte Verdi), you may become a suspect and prosecuted in obstructing justice. Don’t think we don’t have the means to track your IP address and know who you are.

March 14th, 2007, 7:33 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Ok Gibran, but we have to see the report first. My guess you will be saved!

March 14th, 2007, 7:35 pm

 

Gibran said:

Atassi
I dare you post your arrival date. But I know you are a decent man. I will come and show you my “ugly face” and then you’ll know who I’m. I promise you you’ll never set foot again.

March 14th, 2007, 7:36 pm

 

ausamaa said:

If it becomes bad, do not track my IP address, just call Josh and ask. Al Sbaa and Fatafat must be able to help you too….

March 14th, 2007, 7:38 pm

 

Atassi said:

I will POST it..
I love to stay at the hotel next to the LBC HQ in Adma “owned by a French Lebanese family”…
Will be in August timefor sure… And I will POST the exact date for sure. See you then 🙂

March 14th, 2007, 7:42 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Gibran, it has just hit me! Are you a Female? It has never come up. Because your anger and venegence and threats are similar to the blind and silly Fury of a Woman thinking that she was deserted by her Married lover. If so, my appologies, I would understand then.

March 14th, 2007, 7:42 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Hell, Gibran, after this, I personally will try to find a place in Al Dhahiyaa or Zgherta from now on!

March 14th, 2007, 7:45 pm

 

Gibran said:

“Ok Gibran, but we have to see the report first”
AUSSAMAA
Suspects don’t have a say on how investigation should be conducted. It doesn’t make sense.

March 14th, 2007, 7:54 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Good night GIBRAN

March 14th, 2007, 8:30 pm

 

Jawad said:

Two Busted Flushes: The U.S. and Iranian Negotiations
March 13, 2007 19 00 GMT

By George Friedman

U.S., Iranian and Syrian diplomats met in Baghdad on March 10 to discuss the future of Iraq. Shortly afterward, everyone went out of their way to emphasize that the meetings either did not mean anything or that they were not formally one-on-one, which meant that other parties were present. Such protestations are inevitable: All of the governments involved have substantial domestic constituencies that do not want to see these talks take place, and they must be placated by emphasizing the triviality. Plus, all bargainers want to make it appear that such talks mean little to them. No one buys a used car by emphasizing how important the purchase is. He who needs it least wins.

These protestations are, however, total nonsense. That U.S., Iranian and Syrian diplomats would meet at this time and in that place is of enormous importance. It is certainly not routine: It means the shadowy conversations that have been going on between the United States and Iran in particular are now moving into the public sphere. It means not only that negotiations concerning Iraq are under way, but also that all parties find it important to make these negotiations official. That means progress is being made. The question now goes not to whether negotiations are happening, but to what is being discussed, what an agreement might look like and how likely it is to occur.

Let’s begin by considering the framework in which each side is operating.

The United States: Geopolitical Compulsion

Washington needs a settlement in Iraq. Geopolitically, Iraq has soaked up a huge proportion of U.S. fighting power. Though casualties remain low (when compared to those in the Vietnam War), the war-fighting bandwidth committed to Iraq is enormous relative to forces. Should another crisis occur in the world, the U.S. Army would not be in a position to respond. As a result, events elsewhere could suddenly spin out of control.

For example, we have seen substantial changes in Russian behavior of late. Actions that would have been deemed too risky for the Russians two years ago appear to be risk-free now. Moscow is pressuring Europe, using energy supplies for leverage and issuing threatening statements concerning U.S. ballistic missile defense plans in Central Europe — in apparent hopes that the governments in this region and the former Soviet Union, where governments have been inclined to be friendly to the United States, will reappraise their positions.

But the greatest challenge from the Russians comes in the Middle East. The traditional role of Russia (in its Soviet guise) was to create alliances in the region — using arms transfers as a mechanism for securing the power of Arab regimes internally and for resisting U.S. power in the region. The Soviets armed Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya and so on, creating powerful networks of client states during much of the Cold War.

The Russians are doing this again. There is a clear pattern of intensifying arms sales to Syria and Iran — a pattern designed to increase the difficulty of U.S. and Israeli airstrikes against either state and to increase the internal security of both regimes. The United States has few levers with which to deter Russian behavior, and Washington’s ongoing threats against Iran and Syria increase the desire of these states to have Russian supplies and patronage.

The fact is that the United States has few viable military options here. Except for the use of airstrikes — which, when applied without other military measures, historically have failed either to bring about regime change or to deter powers from pursuing their national interests — the United States has few military options in the region. Air power might work when an army is standing by to take advantage of the weaknesses created by those strikes, but absent a credible ground threat, airstrikes are merely painful, not decisive.

And, to be frank, the United States simply lacks capability in the Army. In many ways, the U.S. Army is in revolt against the Bush administration. Army officers at all levels (less so the Marines) are using the term “broken” to refer to the condition of the force and are in revolt against the administration — not because of its goals, but because of its failure to provide needed resources nearly six years after 9/11. This revolt is breaking very much into the public domain, and that will further cripple the credibility of the Bush administration.

The “surge” strategy announced late last year was Bush’s last gamble. It demonstrated that the administration has the power and will to defy public opinion — or international perceptions of it — and increase, rather than decrease, forces in Iraq. The Democrats have also provided Bush with a window of opportunity: Their inability to formulate a coherent policy on Iraq has dissipated the sense that they will force imminent changes in U.S. strategy. Bush’s gamble has created a psychological window of opportunity, but if this window is not used, it will close — and, as administration officials have publicly conceded, there is no Plan B. The situation on the ground is as good as it is going to get.

Leaving the question of his own legacy completely aside, Bush knows three things. First, he is not going to impose a military solution on Iraq that suppresses both the Sunni insurgents and the Shiite militias. Second, he has successfully created a fleeting sense of unpredictability, as far as U.S. behavior is concerned. And third, if he does not use this psychological window of opportunity to achieve a political settlement within the context of limited military progress, the moment not only will be lost, but Russia might also emerge as a major factor in the Middle East — eroding a generation of progress toward making the United States the sole major power in that region. Thus, the United States is under geopolitical compulsion to reach a settlement.

Iran: Psychological and Regional Compulsions

The Iranians are also under pressure. They have miscalculated on what Bush would do: They expected military drawdown, and instead they got the surge. This has conjured up memories of the miscalculation on what the 1979 hostage crisis would bring: The revolutionaries had bet on a U.S. capitulation, but in the long run they got an Iraqi invasion and Ronald Reagan.

Expediency Council Chairman Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani already has warned the Iranians not to underestimate the United States, saying it is a “wounded tiger” and therefore much more dangerous than otherwise. In addition, the Iranians know some important things.

The first is that, while the Americans conceivably might forget about Iraq, Iran never can. Uncontrolled chaos next door could spill over into Iran in numerous ways — separatist sentiments among the Kurds, the potential return of a Sunni government if the Shia are too fractured to govern, and so forth. A certain level of security in Iraq is fundamental to Iran’s national interests.

Related to this, there are concerns that Iraq’s Shia are so fractious that they might not be serviceable as a coherent vehicle for Iranian power. A civil war among the Shia of Iraq is not inconceivable, and if that were to happen, Iran’s ability to project power in Iraq would crumble.

Finally, Iran’s ability to threaten terror strikes against U.S. interests depends to a great extent on Hezbollah in Lebanon. And it knows that Hezbollah is far more interested in the power and wealth to be found in Lebanon than in some global — and potentially catastrophic — war against the United States. The Iranian leadership has seen al Qaeda’s leaders being hunted and hiding in Pakistan, and they have little stomach for that. In short, Iranian leaders might not have all the options they would like to pretend they have, and their own weakness could become quite public very quickly.

Still, like the Americans, the Iranians have done well in generating perceptions of their own resolute strength. First, they have used their influence in Iraq to block U.S. ambitions there. Second, they have supported Hezbollah in its war against Israel, creating the impression that Hezbollah is both powerful and pliant to Tehran. In other words, they have signaled a powerful covert capability. Third, they have used their nuclear program to imply capabilities substantially beyond what has actually been achieved, which gives them a powerful bargaining chip. Finally, they have entered into relations with the Russians — implying a strategic evolution that would be disastrous for the United States.

The truth, however, is somewhat different. Iran has sufficient power to block a settlement on Iraq, but it lacks the ability to impose one of its own making. Second, Hezbollah is far from willing to play the role of global suicide bomber to support Iranian ambitions. Third, an Iranian nuclear bomb is far from being a reality. Finally, Iran has, in the long run, much to fear from the Russians: Moscow is far more likely than Washington to reduce Iran to a vassal state, should Tehran grow too incautious in the flirtation. Iran is holding a very good hand. But in the end, its flush is as busted as the Americans’.

Moreover, the Iranians still remember the mistake of 1979. Rather than negotiating a settlement to the hostage crisis with a weak and indecisive President Jimmy Carter, who had been backed into a corner, they opted to sink his chances for re-election and release the hostages after the next president, Reagan, took office. They expected gratitude. But in a breathtaking display of ingratitude, Reagan followed a policy designed to devastate Iran in its war with Iraq. In retrospect, the Iranians should have negotiated with the weak president rather than destroy him and wait for the strong one.

Rafsanjani essentially has reminded the Iranian leadership of this painful fact. Based on that, it is clear that he wants negotiations with Bush, whose strength is crippled, rather than with his successor. Not only has Bush already signaled a willingness to talk, but U.S. intelligence also has publicly downgraded the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons — saying that, in fact, Iran’s program has not progressed as far as it might have. The Iranians have demanded a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, but they have been careful not to specify what that timetable should look like. Each side is signaling a re-evaluation of the other and a degree of flexibility in outcomes.

As for Syria, which also shares a border with Iraq and was represented at Saturday’s meetings in Baghdad, it is important but not decisive. The Syrians have little interest in Iraq but great interest in Lebanon. The regime in Damascus wants to be freed from the threat of investigation in the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, and it wants to have its interests in Lebanon guaranteed. The Israelis, for their part, have no interest in bringing down the al Assad regime: They are far more fearful of what the follow-on Sunni regime might bring than they are of a minority Alawite regime that is more interested in money than in Allah. The latter they can deal with; the former is the threat.

In other words, Syria does not affect fundamental U.S. interests, and the Israelis do not want to see the current regime replaced. The Syrians, therefore, are not the decisive factor when it comes to Iraq. This is about the United States and Iran.

Essential Points

If the current crisis continues, each side might show itself much weaker than it wants to appear. The United States could find itself in a geopolitical spasm, coupled with a domestic political crisis. Iran could find itself something of a toothless tiger — making threats that are known to have little substance behind them. The issue is what sort of settlement there could be.

We see the following points as essential to the two main players:

1. The creation of an Iraqi government that is dominated by Shia, neutral to Iran, hostile to jihadists but accommodating to some Sunni groups.
2. Guarantees for Iran’s commercial interests in southern Iraqi oil fields, with some transfers to the Sunnis (who have no oil in their own territory) from fields in both the northern (Kurdish) and southern (Shiite) regions.
3. Guarantees for U.S. commercial interests in the Kurdish regions.
4. An Iraqi military without offensive capabilities, but substantial domestic power. This means limited armor and air power, but substantial light infantry.
5. An Iraqi army operated on a “confessional” basis — each militia and insurgent group retained as units and controlling its own regions.
6. Guarantee of a multiyear U.S. presence, without security responsibility for Iraq, at about 40,000 troops.
7. A U.S.-Iranian “commission” to manage political conflict in Iraq.
8. U.S. commercial relations with Iran.
9. The definition of the Russian role, without its exclusion.
10. A meaningless but symbolic commitment to a new Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Such an agreement would not be expected to last very long. It might last, but the primary purpose would be to allow each side to quietly fold its busted flushes in the game for Iraq.

March 14th, 2007, 8:48 pm

 

Fares said:

Alex, do you see what I mean how Josh has been serving the regime in justifying the arrests of prisoners and smearing their reputation!!! I caught that a while ago nad I remember objecting to these unneeded cheap shots

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=5&article_id=80467
read the bottom half

which still doesn’t explain how Kilo’s name slipped in; or, knowing the impact of what he was saying, Landis mentioned Kilo intentionally, effectively justifying his arrest, then dishonestly attributed this to Tabler.

March 14th, 2007, 10:00 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

IDAF’S link to Sami Moubayyed’s article above is worth reading. The piece is factual, direct and fair

March 14th, 2007, 10:33 pm

 

Samir said:

Two Busted Flushes: The U.S. and Iranian Negotiations
March 13, 2007 19 00 GMT

By George Friedman

U.S., Iranian and Syrian diplomats met in Baghdad on March 10 to discuss the future of Iraq. Shortly afterward, everyone went out of their way to emphasize that the meetings either did not mean anything or that they were not formally one-on-one, which meant that other parties were present. Such protestations are inevitable: All of the governments involved have substantial domestic constituencies that do not want to see these talks take place, and they must be placated by emphasizing the triviality. Plus, all bargainers want to make it appear that such talks mean little to them. No one buys a used car by emphasizing how important the purchase is. He who needs it least wins.

These protestations are, however, total nonsense. That U.S., Iranian and Syrian diplomats would meet at this time and in that place is of enormous importance. It is certainly not routine: It means the shadowy conversations that have been going on between the United States and Iran in particular are now moving into the public sphere. It means not only that negotiations concerning Iraq are under way, but also that all parties find it important to make these negotiations official. That means progress is being made. The question now goes not to whether negotiations are happening, but to what is being discussed, what an agreement might look like and how likely it is to occur.

Let’s begin by considering the framework in which each side is operating.

The United States: Geopolitical Compulsion

Washington needs a settlement in Iraq. Geopolitically, Iraq has soaked up a huge proportion of U.S. fighting power. Though casualties remain low (when compared to those in the Vietnam War), the war-fighting bandwidth committed to Iraq is enormous relative to forces. Should another crisis occur in the world, the U.S. Army would not be in a position to respond. As a result, events elsewhere could suddenly spin out of control.

For example, we have seen substantial changes in Russian behavior of late. Actions that would have been deemed too risky for the Russians two years ago appear to be risk-free now. Moscow is pressuring Europe, using energy supplies for leverage and issuing threatening statements concerning U.S. ballistic missile defense plans in Central Europe — in apparent hopes that the governments in this region and the former Soviet Union, where governments have been inclined to be friendly to the United States, will reappraise their positions.

But the greatest challenge from the Russians comes in the Middle East. The traditional role of Russia (in its Soviet guise) was to create alliances in the region — using arms transfers as a mechanism for securing the power of Arab regimes internally and for resisting U.S. power in the region. The Soviets armed Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya and so on, creating powerful networks of client states during much of the Cold War.

The Russians are doing this again. There is a clear pattern of intensifying arms sales to Syria and Iran — a pattern designed to increase the difficulty of U.S. and Israeli airstrikes against either state and to increase the internal security of both regimes. The United States has few levers with which to deter Russian behavior, and Washington’s ongoing threats against Iran and Syria increase the desire of these states to have Russian supplies and patronage.

The fact is that the United States has few viable military options here. Except for the use of airstrikes — which, when applied without other military measures, historically have failed either to bring about regime change or to deter powers from pursuing their national interests — the United States has few military options in the region. Air power might work when an army is standing by to take advantage of the weaknesses created by those strikes, but absent a credible ground threat, airstrikes are merely painful, not decisive.

And, to be frank, the United States simply lacks capability in the Army. In many ways, the U.S. Army is in revolt against the Bush administration. Army officers at all levels (less so the Marines) are using the term “broken” to refer to the condition of the force and are in revolt against the administration — not because of its goals, but because of its failure to provide needed resources nearly six years after 9/11. This revolt is breaking very much into the public domain, and that will further cripple the credibility of the Bush administration.

The “surge” strategy announced late last year was Bush’s last gamble. It demonstrated that the administration has the power and will to defy public opinion — or international perceptions of it — and increase, rather than decrease, forces in Iraq. The Democrats have also provided Bush with a window of opportunity: Their inability to formulate a coherent policy on Iraq has dissipated the sense that they will force imminent changes in U.S. strategy. Bush’s gamble has created a psychological window of opportunity, but if this window is not used, it will close — and, as administration officials have publicly conceded, there is no Plan B. The situation on the ground is as good as it is going to get.

Leaving the question of his own legacy completely aside, Bush knows three things. First, he is not going to impose a military solution on Iraq that suppresses both the Sunni insurgents and the Shiite militias. Second, he has successfully created a fleeting sense of unpredictability, as far as U.S. behavior is concerned. And third, if he does not use this psychological window of opportunity to achieve a political settlement within the context of limited military progress, the moment not only will be lost, but Russia might also emerge as a major factor in the Middle East — eroding a generation of progress toward making the United States the sole major power in that region. Thus, the United States is under geopolitical compulsion to reach a settlement.

Iran: Psychological and Regional Compulsions

The Iranians are also under pressure. They have miscalculated on what Bush would do: They expected military drawdown, and instead they got the surge. This has conjured up memories of the miscalculation on what the 1979 hostage crisis would bring: The revolutionaries had bet on a U.S. capitulation, but in the long run they got an Iraqi invasion and Ronald Reagan.

Expediency Council Chairman Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani already has warned the Iranians not to underestimate the United States, saying it is a “wounded tiger” and therefore much more dangerous than otherwise. In addition, the Iranians know some important things.

The first is that, while the Americans conceivably might forget about Iraq, Iran never can. Uncontrolled chaos next door could spill over into Iran in numerous ways — separatist sentiments among the Kurds, the potential return of a Sunni government if the Shia are too fractured to govern, and so forth. A certain level of security in Iraq is fundamental to Iran’s national interests.

Related to this, there are concerns that Iraq’s Shia are so fractious that they might not be serviceable as a coherent vehicle for Iranian power. A civil war among the Shia of Iraq is not inconceivable, and if that were to happen, Iran’s ability to project power in Iraq would crumble.

Finally, Iran’s ability to threaten terror strikes against U.S. interests depends to a great extent on Hezbollah in Lebanon. And it knows that Hezbollah is far more interested in the power and wealth to be found in Lebanon than in some global — and potentially catastrophic — war against the United States. The Iranian leadership has seen al Qaeda’s leaders being hunted and hiding in Pakistan, and they have little stomach for that. In short, Iranian leaders might not have all the options they would like to pretend they have, and their own weakness could become quite public very quickly.

Still, like the Americans, the Iranians have done well in generating perceptions of their own resolute strength. First, they have used their influence in Iraq to block U.S. ambitions there. Second, they have supported Hezbollah in its war against Israel, creating the impression that Hezbollah is both powerful and pliant to Tehran. In other words, they have signaled a powerful covert capability. Third, they have used their nuclear program to imply capabilities substantially beyond what has actually been achieved, which gives them a powerful bargaining chip. Finally, they have entered into relations with the Russians — implying a strategic evolution that would be disastrous for the United States.

The truth, however, is somewhat different. Iran has sufficient power to block a settlement on Iraq, but it lacks the ability to impose one of its own making. Second, Hezbollah is far from willing to play the role of global suicide bomber to support Iranian ambitions. Third, an Iranian nuclear bomb is far from being a reality. Finally, Iran has, in the long run, much to fear from the Russians: Moscow is far more likely than Washington to reduce Iran to a vassal state, should Tehran grow too incautious in the flirtation. Iran is holding a very good hand. But in the end, its flush is as busted as the Americans’.

Moreover, the Iranians still remember the mistake of 1979. Rather than negotiating a settlement to the hostage crisis with a weak and indecisive President Jimmy Carter, who had been backed into a corner, they opted to sink his chances for re-election and release the hostages after the next president, Reagan, took office. They expected gratitude. But in a breathtaking display of ingratitude, Reagan followed a policy designed to devastate Iran in its war with Iraq. In retrospect, the Iranians should have negotiated with the weak president rather than destroy him and wait for the strong one.

Rafsanjani essentially has reminded the Iranian leadership of this painful fact. Based on that, it is clear that he wants negotiations with Bush, whose strength is crippled, rather than with his successor. Not only has Bush already signaled a willingness to talk, but U.S. intelligence also has publicly downgraded the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons — saying that, in fact, Iran’s program has not progressed as far as it might have. The Iranians have demanded a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, but they have been careful not to specify what that timetable should look like. Each side is signaling a re-evaluation of the other and a degree of flexibility in outcomes.

As for Syria, which also shares a border with Iraq and was represented at Saturday’s meetings in Baghdad, it is important but not decisive. The Syrians have little interest in Iraq but great interest in Lebanon. The regime in Damascus wants to be freed from the threat of investigation in the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, and it wants to have its interests in Lebanon guaranteed. The Israelis, for their part, have no interest in bringing down the al Assad regime: They are far more fearful of what the follow-on Sunni regime might bring than they are of a minority Alawite regime that is more interested in money than in Allah. The latter they can deal with; the former is the threat.

In other words, Syria does not affect fundamental U.S. interests, and the Israelis do not want to see the current regime replaced. The Syrians, therefore, are not the decisive factor when it comes to Iraq. This is about the United States and Iran.

Essential Points

If the current crisis continues, each side might show itself much weaker than it wants to appear. The United States could find itself in a geopolitical spasm, coupled with a domestic political crisis. Iran could find itself something of a toothless tiger — making threats that are known to have little substance behind them. The issue is what sort of settlement there could be.

We see the following points as essential to the two main players:

1. The creation of an Iraqi government that is dominated by Shia, neutral to Iran, hostile to jihadists but accommodating to some Sunni groups.
2. Guarantees for Iran’s commercial interests in southern Iraqi oil fields, with some transfers to the Sunnis (who have no oil in their own territory) from fields in both the northern (Kurdish) and southern (Shiite) regions.
3. Guarantees for U.S. commercial interests in the Kurdish regions.
4. An Iraqi military without offensive capabilities, but substantial domestic power. This means limited armor and air power, but substantial light infantry.
5. An Iraqi army operated on a “confessional” basis — each militia and insurgent group retained as units and controlling its own regions.
6. Guarantee of a multiyear U.S. presence, without security responsibility for Iraq, at about 40,000 troops.
7. A U.S.-Iranian “commission” to manage political conflict in Iraq.
8. U.S. commercial relations with Iran.
9. The definition of the Russian role, without its exclusion.
10. A meaningless but symbolic commitment to a new Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Such an agreement would not be expected to last very long. It might last, but the primary purpose would be to allow each side to quietly fold its busted flushes in the game for Iraq.

March 14th, 2007, 10:36 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

“a minority Alawite regime that is more interested in money than in Allah.”

The above article is a fine piece

March 14th, 2007, 11:00 pm

 

ugarit said:

““a minority Alawite regime that is more interested in money than in Allah.””

I worry more when someone says they’re more interested in God.

March 14th, 2007, 11:24 pm

 

ugarit said:

Which regime on this planet is not interested in money?

March 14th, 2007, 11:26 pm

 

ugarit said:

“This report (I can’t assess its credibility because I don’t know the publication) contains references to funding of Fath-Al-Islam from Baghiyyah Al-Hariri, and to links between the organization and Al-Qa`idah. This should not be surprising: many Bin Ladenites groups in Lebanon receive funding from Hariri Inc. The Hariri-funded Mufti of Biqa`, Khaldun Al-Mays, has been a Bin Laden advocates for years, and was reportedly one of the most enthusiastic recruiters of fighters for Al-Qa`idah in Iraq. ”

http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2007/03/this-report-i-cant-assess-its.html

March 14th, 2007, 11:29 pm

 

Samir said:

This is a paranoiac reaction from hizbollah(dictation to seymour hersh) because if they lose their alawite allies in syria ,their iranian umberical cord will be cut.
As for the syrian regime’s plots using qaida like groups is a well known fact inside Syria(the abu al qaaqas)…Lebanon and Iraq.
I’m sure that if he receives the green light, brammertz has a lot to say about this syrian regime – qaida like groups connection.
Even the iranian intelligence has a nexus with al qaida in iraq.
Al qaida is a permeable nebula and many parties infiltrated it.

March 15th, 2007, 12:02 am

 

ugarit said:

al-Qaidah is very anti-Shiite so it makes no sense that they would even talk to Hizballah, Iran, and especially Alawites. al-Qaidah is also anti-secular hence they would not be dealing with a secular state such as Syria, but of course they may have close connections to the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the Hariris (Sunni) of Lebanon.

March 15th, 2007, 12:17 am

 

Samir said:

Are u novice in politic ? Politic is not based on logic.
As i know,during the the last decade ,the al qaida groups have launched many attacks against the saudi regime.
And who said that the syrian regime fears a marginal group wich has no popular support as qaida or other small groups….The syrian regime fears the moderate islamists,because the majority of the syrian people share the same belief.
Ugarit ,do u know the story of this syrian mukhabarat agent called abu al qaaqa who promoted al qaida ideology inside Syria and under the syrian regime protection for years ?

Fateh al Islam for example is 100 % syrian regime creation.

March 15th, 2007, 12:53 am

 

Syrian said:

Politics: a random sequence of unrelated events and unforeseen consequences from the Samir dictionary of political thought.

March 15th, 2007, 1:10 am

 

Samir said:

ok syrian,because of my poor english,I have expressed my idea wrongly,what i meant must be placed in the context of intelligence agencies scheming,firstly,the purpose of a plot is to mislead ,as the killers of hariri intended when they fabricated abu adas’s scenario….this is how i see al qaida -syrian regime connection

March 15th, 2007, 3:58 am

 

Gibran said:

الرياض طلبت استرداد مواطنيها وأحدهم مطلوب أستُعين به «لتقديم فتاوى» … لبنان: 12 موقوفا في شبكة «فتح – الاسلام» بينهم 4 سعوديين ضللهم التنظيم ولم يتورّطوا
بيروت – محمد شقير الحياة – 15/03/07//
كشفت مصادر قضائية لبنانية مواكبة للتحقيقات الأمنية مع الموقوفين المنتمين الى تنظيم «فتح – الإسلام» ان عددهم بلغ حتى الآن 12 موقوفاً، بينهم 4 سوريين الذين أوقفتهم شعبة المعلومات في قوى الأمن الداخلي، اعترفوا في التحقيقات الأولية بأنهم فجّروا العبوتين في حافلتين لنقل الركاب في 13 شباط (فبراير) الماضي، في بلدة عين علق (المتن الشمالي)، ما أدى الى مقتل ثلاثة مدنيين وجرح عشرين.
وقالت المصادر لـ «الحياة» ان هناك أربعة موقوفين سعوديين أظهرت التحقيقات ان لا صلة لهم بأي نشاط ذي علاقة بالحوادث التي ارتكبتها «فتح – الإسلام»، وأن بينهم السعودي عبدالله بيشي، وهو مطلوب من السلطات السعودية، كان وصل الى لبنان براً آتياً من إيران عبر العراق وسورية.
ولفتت الى ان بيشي كان مقيماً في إيران وحضر الى لبنان بعدما أوهموه بأن «فتح – الاسلام» حركة جهادية تحتاج الى شخص يقدّم النصائح والفتاوى الى أفرادها. لكن سرعان ما اكتشف عدم صحة هذه الادعاءات عبر رفضه تغطية بعض الاعمال مثل فرض الأتاوات على تهريب البضائع وسلب بعض المصارف، وكذلك امتناعه عن الموافقة على انضمام «فتح – الاسلام» الى لجنة التنسيق الفلسطينية – اللبنانية. وأشارت المصادر ذاتها الى ان بيشي اختلف مع شاكر عبسي قائد تنظيم «فتح – الاسلام»، فما كان من الأخير إلا ان طلب من السوري غسان السنكري ان يرافق بيشي الى خارج الأراضي اللبنانية، عبر الحدود السورية. ولدى وصول بيشي والسنكري قبل ساعات من الانفجارين في عين علق، الى نقطة الأمن العام اللبناني في منطقة العريضة على الحدود اللبنانية الشمالية مع سورية، أوقفا بعدما حامت حولهما الشبهات بناء لإفادة السعوديين الثلاثة الذين أوقفهم الأمن العام في مطار رفيق الحريري قبل أيام.
وتبين من التحقيقات الأولية ان السعوديين الثلاثة غير مطلوبين من السلطات السعودية، وأوقفوا في مطار بيروت لدى محاولتهم العودة الى المملكة بعدما وصلوا الى لبنان في صورة غير شرعية.
وعلمت «الحياة» ان اثنين منهم أوقفا في أول شباط، وان الثالث أوقف في السابع منه، بعدما اتصل احدهم بذويه في ابها، وأبلغهم أنه موجود في لبنان من أجل الجهاد، ما دفع ذويهم الى الحضور الى بيروت وإبلاغ السفارة السعودية التي أبلغت بدورها السلطات اللبنانية، فباشرت البحث عنهم.
وأوضحت المصادر انه خلال توقيف السعوديين الثلاثة، أجريت مواجهات بينهم وبين بيشي، فأفادوا بأن الأخير نصحهم بالعودة فوراً الى ديارهم، وان لا علاقة لـ «فتح – الاسلام» بالجهاد.
وتشير المعلومات الى ان السلطات اللبنانية تدرس من خلال وزارة العدل طلباً سعودياً باستردادهم بناء لكتاب نقله الى الخارجية اللبنانية السفير السعودي في بيروت عبدالعزيز خوجه. وعلم ان الخارجية أحالت الكتاب قبل أسبوع على النيابة العامة التمييزية التي يفترض ان تبته ايجاباً فور انتهاء التحقيقات، خصوصاً ان لا علاقة للموقوفين بأي نشاط لـ «فتح – الاسلام» في لبنان، بل ان احد الموقوفين أفاد بأن عناصر من هذا التنظيم سلبوه 28 ألف ريال سعودي.
أما بقية الموقوفين وعددهم ثلاثة، فإن مخابرات الجيش اللبناني التي لعبت دوراً في التقصي عن نشاط «فتح – الانتفاضة» التي انشق عنها «فتح – الاسلام»، خصوصاً بعد اشتباك عناصر تابعة لها مع فنيين في المساحة في البقاع الغربي، ما أدى الى مقتل أحدهم إضافة الى تزايد تهريب السلاح عبر الحدود اللبنانية – السورية والتسلّل الى داخل لبنان، كانت تسلّمت اثنين من «فتح – الاسلام» أوقفتهما اللجنة الشعبية في مخيم البداوي للاجئين الفلسطينيين في شمال لبنان، في أعقاب اشتباك في الصيف الماضي. واضطرت العناصر التابعة لـ «فتح – الاسلام» الى مغادرة البداوي باتجاه مخيم نهر البارد حيث استقرت هناك ولحقت بها أخرى كانت في مخيم برج البراجنة في ضاحية بيروت، وشاكر عبسي هو فلسطيني – أردني مطلوب من السلطات الأردنية في اغتيال الديبلوماسي الأميركي لورنس فولي في عمان، يتزعم حالياً «فتح – الاسلام» ويتّخذ من مركز «صامد» للخدمات الاجتماعية في نهر البارد مقراً لقيادة تنظيمه، ويعاونه شخص سوري ملقب بـ «أبو مدين».
وأوضحت المصادر ذاتها ان هناك موقوفاً سورياً سيضم ملفه الى هذه المجموعة، علماً انه أوقف اثر ضبط عصابة سلب اعترفت بسرقة فرع «بنك الجمال» في صيدا. وأظهرت التحقيقات ان الاموال المسلوبة من المصرف استخدمت لتمويل «نشاط» تنظيم «فتح – الاسلام» بما في ذلك جريمة تفجير الحافلتين في عين علق.

March 15th, 2007, 4:11 am

 

Oussama said:

Bravo! I am impressed that someone at the University of Oklahoma is making such an effort. Unsurprisingly, the blog seems to be mostly a cut-and-paste job rather than any serious analysis, but it is a useful first step. Keep up the good work, Josh. Someday, you’ll have a serious job.

March 16th, 2007, 11:43 pm

 

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