“What to talk to Iran About,” by Baer

Gates says US talks with Taliban conceivable Robert Gates said Washington could “ultimately” contemplate the idea of negotiating with the Taliban to secure a political settlement in Afghanistan

Robert Baer on NPR Radio:

GROSS: Oh, if you’re just joining us, my guest is Robert Baer. He was a CIA agent for 21 years. He resigned in 1997. He worked largely in Middle East. His new book is called “The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower.” My guest is Robert Baer and he was a CIA agent for 21 years, from 1976 to 1997.

GROSS: So why wouldn’t Iran want an agreement between the U.S. and Iraq?

Mr. BAER: Well, what they don’t want is an open-ended agreement between the United States and Iraq which would leave U.S. bases or U.S. troops or a security arrangement. Iran would like to pry us out Iraq very peacefully without leaving chaos behind or any sort of civil war, of course.

GROSS: So Iran wants the U.S. out completely, no bases, no remaining soldiers?

Mr. BAER: They want us gone. They want us out of the Gulf. If they could arrange it, they want us out of the Gulf. The way they look at it, the Persian Gulf is called that for a reason. It’s an Iranian body of water. 90 percent of the rim of the Gulf is Shia. All those Shia either look to Qom, the Holy City in Iran, or they look to Najaf, the Holy City in Iraq, which is very heavily influenced by Iran.

GROSS: Well, since you’re saying that Iran wants basically to be an empire and to have proxies, including Iraq, would that make it even more dangerous for the United States to do what Iran wants and withdraw completely from Iraq without soldiers or bases?

Mr. BAER: No. I take this as good news. In my book, I take a look at Sunni fundamentalism, and I took a look at Shia fundamentalism, and when I started this book, I had no idea where I was going to go. I spent a lot of time with a Hezbollah group that set off car bombs that fought this 18-year war. In Lebanon, I spent a lot of time in Israeli jails talking to Sunni extremists, suicide bombers.

And what I found, I walked away from all of this – I did this over a course of three years – was that the Shia, because of the nature of their sect, it is much more disciplined, and we are capable of making a deal with them which will hold. We are not capable of making the same deal with the Sunni, who are anarchists. You know, it’s a stretch using that word, but they are anarchists….

They have a reasonable complaint against Saudi Arabia. They do not like it that Saudi Arabia administers Mecca to the exclusion of the Shia. Iran does not like it that Saudi Arabia is repressing, and there’s no other way to put it, the Shia that live in Saudi Arabia in the eastern province. They do not like it that Saudi Arabia has so much influence in Washington. What ultimately the Iranians would like is to become an equal partner of the United States. I know this is a tall order, and we’re going to wait decades for anything like this to come about, but in their hearts, this is what they’d like.

GROSS: An equal partner on what?

Mr. BAER: In the Middle East. They would like to sit down with the United States and Israel and actually come to a solution for the Palestinians. They would like to support and give power in Lebanon to the Shia because the Shia are approaching a majority on Lebanon. They would like to co-administer Mecca with the Saudis. They feel that their sect has been repressed since 680 A.D., since the murder of the prophet’s grandson. They believe that this is the Shia millennium.

GROSS: You know, if Iran becomes the key player with the United States in negotiating a settlement for the Middle East, I mean, we know what President Ahmadinejad of Iran wants. He wants all Palestinians to participate in elections, Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and I think also Palestinians in the Palestinian diaspora, and that would effectively eliminate Israel as a Jewish state.

Mr. BAER: This is what Ahmadinejad says. During the last year I’ve sat down, for what it’s worth, with Hezbollah for more than a few meetings. And they’ve told me over and over again that the real policy in Iran, and Hezbollah’s real policy, is to come to a solution that the Palestinians accept, the vast majority of them. And I asked them, would that be on Resolution 242, which gives the West Bank to the Palestinian and East Jerusalem? They said, if the Palestinian accept it, we accept it. We do not want to be more Palestinian than the Palestinians. The Iranians have officially stated this.

Now, there’s a lot of people going to say, well, look at Ahmadinejad. Look at his statements. We can’t trust him. Well, I think we have to sit down with Khamenei and the real leadership and find out if, in fact, they’re serious. By not talking to your enemy, you’re going to miss signals. You’re going to miss opportunities.

GROSS: Do you think, if Iran does successfully complete development of a nuclear weapon, that that weapon would pose an existential threat to Israel?

Mr. BAER: I don’t think – the Israelis have nuclear weapons, and they would obliterate Iran if attacked, and they are capable of doing it. The Iranians understand this. I think what we don’t want is the Iranians to get a nuclear weapon simply because it would start an arms race the Gulf. The Saudis would immediately build one. You know, what’s to stop the Kuwaitis or the Emirates and so forth?….

Iran’s talks with West not in crisis – Larijani, Kuwait News Agency – 12 October, 2008

Speaker of the Iranian parliament Ali Larijani said Saturday Tehran’s talks with the West were not in a crisis phase.

Larijani, in a meeting with a delegation of French parliamentarians here, said Iran and the Western countries could reach a solution over the Iranian nuclear program providing “some Western behaviour change.” The policies and reactions of some Western countries, which were not named, against Iran were “illogical and hasty,” Larijani was quoted by state-run news agency (Irna) as saying. Head of the French delegation MP Jean-Louis Bianco said Europe was calling for dialogue with Iran to iron out all differences over the nuclear program.

Iran, he said, “can help a lot to achieving peace and stability in the region specially in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Bianco, in earlier remarks here, said France has never opposed Iran’s right to to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

3,000 families flee Iraq’s Mosul: Official, Khaleej Times – 12 October, 2008

Hundreds of terrified Christian families have fled Mosul to escape extremist attacks that have increased despite months of U.S. and Iraqi military operations to secure the northern Iraqi city, political and religious officials said Saturday. Some 3,000 Christians have fled the city over the past week alone in a “major displacement,” said Duraid Mohammed Kashmoula, the governor of northern Iraq’s Ninevah province.
“The Christians were subjected to abduction attempts and paid ransom, but now they are subjected to a killing campaign,” Kashmoula said, adding he believed “al-Qaida” elements were to blame and called for a renewed drive to root them out. …. Mosul police have reported finding the bullet-riddled bodies of seven Christians in separate attacks so far this month….. Iraq’s Christian community has been estimated at 3 percent of Iraq’s 26 million people, or about 800,000, and has a significant presence in the northern Ninevah province…. Joseph Jacob, a professor at Mosul University, said there were nearly 20,000 Christians in the city before the 2003 U.S. invasion. But over half have since left for neighboring towns, or new countries, he said.

Islamic extremists have frequently targeted Christians since the invasion, forcing tens of thousands to flee Iraq. Attacks had tapered off amid a drastic decline in overall violence nationwide, but that appears to be changing with the deaths this month….

Bush’s Crucial Handoffs, (By David Ignatius, The Washington Post)

 One bridge-building opportunity involves Syria, a country that has often confounded U.S. policy in the Middle East. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has asked America to join France and Turkey as a co-sponsor of its indirect peace talks with Israel. The Syrians want to lock in U.S. support for an initiative that has Israeli, Syrian and European backing.

The administration has been cautious here, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met her Syrian counterpart, Walid al-Moualem, in New York last month to resume high-level dialogue; her top Middle East deputy, David Welch, held a follow-up meeting. They should take the next step and test Syria’s promise to meet directly with Israel if the United States backs the negotiations. Meanwhile, Washington and Damascus should reopen the channel they created after the Sept. 11 attacks to share intelligence about the common threat from radical jihadist groups.

After relenting on nuclear inspection, North Korea off U.S. terrorism list, The Associated Press

North Korea will allow atomic experts to take samples and conduct forensic tests on its nuclear facilities.

Damascus: Day of the Khans / يوم الخانات

This Saturday, 11 October, from 2:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) is proud to co-sponsor the Day of the Khans as part of the 2008 Silk Road Festival.

This event aims to highlight the unique cultural and architectural heritage of Damascus’ khans – large buildings nestled within the covered souks of old Damascus that served as important centers for both trade and the meeting of different cultures.

From Syrian fishing port to naval power base: Russia moves into the Mediterranean
By Hugh Macleod
The Guardian, Wednesday October 8 2008

During balmy evenings in the sleepy Syrian port of Tartous locals promenade along the seafront or suck on hookahs discussing the two great pillars of their society: business and family.

Politics, such as it is in the tightly controlled one-party state, rarely gets a mention, and certainly not in public. But few could fail to wonder about the foreign sailors dockside and the grey warship dominating a harbour that was once a trading hub of the Phoenician empire and is now the centre of a new projection of power, this time by Syria’s old ally Russia.

Tartous is being dredged and renovated to provide a permanent facility for the Russian navy, giving Moscow a key military foothold in the Mediterranean at a time when Russia’s invasion of Georgia has led to fears of a new cold war.

The bolstering of military ties between Russia and Syria has also worried Israel, whose prime minister, Ehud Olmert, was in Moscow yesterday seeking to persuade the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, to stop Russian arms sales to Syria and Iran. Mr Olmert later said he had received assurances that Russia would not allow Israel’s security to be threatened, but offered no indication he won any concrete promises on Russian arms sales…

Iraq offers free returns for its Syrian refugees
By Albert Aji
The Associated Press, 8 October 2008

The Iraqi embassy in Damascus is organizing free journeys for refugees who want to return from Syria — the second such project in as many years — though two days into the campaign Wednesday, there have been no takers.

A large black banner plastered on the wall of the embassy urged Iraqis to register to return home. Similar posters have been placed on religious centers and offices of Iraqi parties in Damascus.

Adnan al-Shourifi, the commercial secretary at the Iraqi embassy, said that free convoys and plane tickets would be provided for the returnees, along with about US$1,300 in cash to each family from the Iraqi government and US$500 from the U.N.

Last November, the Iraqi embassy organized similar free convoys. Hundreds of refugees went back home at the time as the situation improved amid a U.S. troop increase and Iraqi forces taking more control of tense areas.

On Tuesday, the U.N. opened a registration center in a Damascus suburb for those interested in returning to Iraq but no one showed up, officials at the center said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Rashid Abdo, 36, who came to Syria five years ago from Baghdad, said he wouldn’t return. “There is no confidence in this Iraqi government. I prefer any country in the world over Iraq,” he said.

Al-Shourifi, the diplomat, said no date has been set for the first free trip, but stressed that another incentive for the returnees will be an extra monthly pay of US$120 per family. He did not say for how long those sums would be paid.

The returnees would also get houses and jobs back home, he said.

“We expect a large number of refugees to return,” al-Shourifi said, adding that plans include one free convoy a week once all arrangements are made.

Syria is home to hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees who fled the violence in their country after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Syria says their influx has strained its education, health and housing systems, pushing the government to tighten visa requirements and to call for international assistance.

Damascus has said the cost of the Iraqi refugees’ stay in Syria is estimated at US$1.6 billion a year.

Comments (31)

Observer said:

I have just finished reading two book, the Limits of Empire by Bacevich and The devil we Know by Robert Baer.
Here are my observations
1. As I said before Iran is the only country in the ME that has a long term strategy. According to Baer, we helped accelerate their attaining their goals by about 25 years by toppling Sadam and the Taliban and destabilizing Pakistan.
2. Iran is creating proxies, at several levels as it has effectively gridlocked the Israeli Palestinian track of negotiations with the help of Olmert of course. It has essentially gained legitimacy to have a presence in Lebanon. It has effectively left Syria no choice but to maintain the alliance with Tehran
3. The US is out sooner or later and Iran is ready to fill the void. It will help guarantee the stability of the Gulf and the medieval countries that exist there and will sit on the table with the big powers. They may overreach but who knows, there is huge degree of incompetence these days in non pragmatic leaders in the West such as Merkel or Sarko le premier. The only pragmatist so far is Brown.
4. The Arab world as such is finished. The only discourse left is that of political Islam. However, the Sunnis have four pillars three of which are irrelevant: Pakistan which is an army and not a state; Sadam who is dead and his regime completely destroyed ( Iraq was also an army not a state ); Egypt and Saudi Arabia are left. Egypt is irrelevant and is an Israeli American colony. Saudi Arabia has lost all legitimacy for leadership of the Muslim world having been outsmarted outmatched and defeated in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, the Gulf and even in Turkey and Pakistan/Afghanistan.
5. With the current financial crisis, not even their US treasury notes will be available to them anymore. They will chased out and the cutsodianship of Mecca and Medina will move to another tribe or Sunni ally of Iran.

October 12th, 2008, 5:26 pm


norman said:

Bush’s Crucial Handoffs

By David Ignatius
Sunday, October 12, 2008; B07

The best thing about presidential elections is that they mark a break with the past. But that can also create a dangerous chasm — a period of uncertainty while the new administration hires its people and frames its policies. Meanwhile, the world’s problems fester.

It’s like passing a baton, this process of transition, and it’s easy for things to go wrong. Remember the ignominy of the U.S. men’s and women’s track teams in Beijing when they botched the handoffs in the 4×100-meter relays.

The Bush administration (remember them?) has an opportunity to build some bridges in foreign policy that could help the next administration, whoever is elected. Its goal shouldn’t be to bind its successors but to preserve options — and to prevent deterioration of America’s position during the interregnum.

One bridge-building opportunity involves Syria, a country that has often confounded U.S. policy in the Middle East. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has asked America to join France and Turkey as a co-sponsor of its indirect peace talks with Israel. The Syrians want to lock in U.S. support for an initiative that has Israeli, Syrian and European backing.

The administration has been cautious here, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met her Syrian counterpart, Walid al-Moualem, in New York last month to resume high-level dialogue; her top Middle East deputy, David Welch, held a follow-up meeting. They should take the next step and test Syria’s promise to meet directly with Israel if the United States backs the negotiations. Meanwhile, Washington and Damascus should reopen the channel they created after the Sept. 11 attacks to share intelligence about the common threat from radical jihadist groups.

(((( Amen to that ))))

October 12th, 2008, 6:09 pm


norman said:

According to LBC,

The Kurds are behind the killing of the Christians in Mosul.

Governments are measured by their protection of the minorities .

October 12th, 2008, 6:20 pm


jad said:

Dear Norman,
When someone or a group kills their neighbours just because they are from a different sect or believes that means a lot of who they are but defiantly not a human worth to be in a society or have any power whatsoever.
Day after day I become more convince that the political system we have in Syria with all its miserable flaws and unjust is the only way to deal with uneducated and intolerant society of the Middle East. Shame but true.

October 12th, 2008, 6:36 pm


norman said:


syria has a government who cares about the poor, disadvantage and the minority and that will make such kind of ethnic cleansing unlikely,
People everywhere are like sheep, you should make them wonder making their own discussions but be the shepared who can protect them from the wolves that are hunting for them ( forign interference ) and from each other ( domestic terror ).

October 12th, 2008, 7:24 pm


why-discuss said:

LARRY KING interviews Ahmadinejad


He is saying very much what Baer is reporting

October 12th, 2008, 8:40 pm


norman said:


one time Rabin was asked about his desire for a peaceful solution to the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict and his rush toward Oslo,
He Said : I do not want what happened in Yugoslavia to happen in Israel ,

Do you think from what is going on in Akka is the beginning of the Israeli civil war,

Jews and Arabs trade blame after riots divide town
By Isabel Kershner

Sunday, October 12, 2008
ACRE, Israel: Jewish and Arab residents of this mixed city traded blame Sunday after being rocked by four nights of rioting and sectarian violence, some of the worst seen here in decades.

Usually at this time of year Acre – also known as Akko, on the coast north of Haifa – would be in the throes of final preparations for its annual Jewish-Arab alternative theater festival, an event, scheduled to start Wednesday, that has helped turn this ancient port city into a national symbol of coexistence.

Instead, the police were blocking the main entrances to the city, checking all incoming vehicles for potential troublemakers, and it was doubtful whether the festival would take place. A tense calm prevailed by day, but residents from both sides remained apprehensive about what might happen after dark.

So far, the violence has been contained within the city, mostly limited to certain neighborhoods, and nobody has been killed. But some Arab citizens and community leaders said that it reflected a more general fragility of relations within the Jewish state, where Arabs make up 20 percent of the population.

At the start of the Israeli cabinet meeting Sunday in Jerusalem, the outgoing prime minister, Ehud Olmert, described the recent events in Acre as “very sad and worrying.”

“There is a sense,” he said, “that very many Acre residents have become hostages to small groups of extremists – Jewish and Arab – on both sides, and the result is violence, fanaticism and a loss of a sense of proportion.”

The troubles started Wednesday night as the Jewish residents, who make up two-thirds of this city of 46,000, began the fast of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when all traffic in Israel’s Jewish population centers comes to a standstill.

Late that night, an Arab resident of Acre, Tawfiq Jamal, drove with his son into an increasingly religious Jewish neighborhood to pick up his daughter from her fiancé’s apartment in a mainly Jewish block.

After leaving the car, the Jamals were chased by a stone-throwing mob, narrowly escaping.

A rumor spread in Acre’s Old City, where many of the town’s Arab residents live, that Tawfiq Jamal had been killed. According to witnesses, hundreds of masked Arab youths set out to take revenge.

“They came ready with knives and chains,” said Betty Yanai, 45, who lives in the eastern district. “People thought war had broken out. They went into the bomb shelters.”

Dozens of cars were vandalized, and the windows of Jewish-owned stores were smashed.

Over the following few nights, Jewish residents took more action of their own. Despite a heavy police presence, they torched at least three Arab-owned houses in the neighborhood – the fearful occupants had already moved out of the area to stay with relatives – and damaged several more.

“The whole family is in trauma,” Tawfiq Taisir, 27, said outside his home, the yard filled with glass from the upper-floor windows that had all been smashed. Taisir, an Arab, said his family had lived as a minority among Jews in this neighborhood for 30 years.

By Sunday, many were hoping that calm had finally been restored. But Taisir said he felt “anger, a lot of anger,” as he carried belongings out of the house in a sack, planning for a temporary absence.

“We are leaving like thieves, like paupers,” he said.

Abbas in Syria for talks
Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, has arrived in Damascus to hold talks with Syrian officials on the Middle East peace process and ways for ending Palestinian infighting, The Associated Press reported from Damascus.

Abbas is not expected to meet officials from the rival Palestinian faction Hamas, which is based in Syria. Abbas’s Fatah group and Hamas have been at odds since the latter’s violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007.

Abbas told reporters upon his arrival Saturday that his visit was aimed at coordinating with Syria on the peace process.

“The Syrian track is important for us, and the Palestinian track is important for the Syrians,” he said. “There must be coordination and consultation.”

Syria has recently held four rounds of indirect peace talks with Israel through Turkish mediation. Both sides have said they were satisfied with the talks.

Israel and the Palestinians resumed talks last November at an international conference hosted by President George W. Bush. They expressed hope of completing a peace deal by the time Bush left office in January. But both sides have since cast doubt on meeting that target.

Abbas was expected to brief President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on recent meetings between Fatah and Hamas in Egypt. Syria has significant influence with Hamas, and plays host to several other Palestinian groups opposed to Abbas.

When asked about the reconciliation efforts, Abbas said Egyptian mediation had reached an advanced stage. He said there would be a declaration in Cairo, followed by a meeting with all Palestinian factions, but did not give details.

Cairo has called for a meeting at the beginning of next month between senior Fatah and Hamas officials.

On Wednesday, a high-level Hamas delegation, including members from Syria and Gaza, met with the Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman to discuss Egyptian proposals to resolve the split between Fatah and Hamas.

October 12th, 2008, 8:45 pm


majhool said:

تكشف جهات سياسية واسعة الإطلاع في واشنطن، أن إسرائيل والولايات المتحدة الأميركية، تشتركان، وعلى مستويات إدارية وإستخبارية، في عملية تهدف الى إعادة تقييم شاملة للوضع في سوريا، من مدخل جدوى الرهان على نظام الرئيس بشار الأسد.
وتُفيد هذه الجهات بأن تقريرا سيتم وضعه بنتيجة العملية التقييمية، ليكون بمثابة توصية تُرفع الى الرئيس الأميركي الجديد، أكان جمهوريا أم ديموقراطيا، حول الطريقة الواجب التعاطي بها مع النظام السوري، بعيدا من التجاذبات التي ميّزت الولاية الأخيرة للرئيس الأميركي جورج بوش، حيث برز تباين بين الرؤية الإسرائيلية من جهة وبين القرار الأميركي، من جهة أخرى.
واللافت في المعطيات التي بدأت تتكرس أن القراءة الإسرائيلية تقترب من النظرة الأميركية “المعدّلة”، بحيث يُجمع الطرفان على أن مبدأ عدم تغيير النظام السوري الحالي هو من الثوابت المشتركة، ولكنهما باتا مقتنعين بأن اعتماده كخيار وحيد، من شأنه أن يرتد سلبا على الولايات المتحدة الأميركية ويتسبب بكارثة لإسرائيل.
وتُشير هذه الجهات السياسية الواسعة الإطلاع في واشنطن إلى أن المعطيات التي تتجمع لدى الأجهزة الأمنية الإسرائيلية والأميركية، لا تدعو الى الإطمئنان، إذ يتبدى يوما بعد يوم أن نظام الأسد بات أشبه بتلك الأنظمة المريضة التي لا يعرف أحد متى تُدركها الساعة.
وتُفيد بأنّ ما يحصل في الداخل السوري يدعو الى الريبة، فكل شيء غامض وملتبس. لا يعود هذا الغموض والإلتباس الى نقص في المعطيات، إنما الى الواقع السوري “المضروب”، بحيث لم يعد أحد قادرا على معرفة حدود الصراع القائم بين الأجهزة السورية المختلفة من جهة، وبينها وبين القصر الرئاسي من جهة أخرى، وتاليا مدى تأثير هذه الفوضى “السرية”، على تفلت الشبكات الإرهابية التي سبق للمخابرات السورية أن أسّستها، وتمكنت من الإمساك بمصيرها وبوجهة عملها، بيد من حديد.
وفي هذا السياق، فإن السؤال الجوهري الذي يطرحه الأميركيون والإسرائيليون، يتمحور حول قدرة الرئيس السوري على الفكاك عن النظام الإيراني.
وتقول هذه الجهات إن المسؤولين الإسرائيليين، ووسط تأكيد تركي، تبلغوا من الأسد بأنه مستعد للإنفصال نهائيا عن إيران في حال تمّ التوصل الى تصور مشترك للحل بين دمشق وتل أبيب بضمانة الإدارة الأميركية، وتثبيتا لصدقية هذا الوعد، أطلق الأسد مواقف أوضح فيها أنه غير معني عسكريا بأي حرب يمكن أن تشنها الولايات المتحدة الأميركية ضد إيران أو إسرائيل ضد “حزب الله”، وعندما دُعي الى تقديم دليل ميداني، وقعت جريمة اغتيال العميد محمد سليمان، بعدما جرى تقديمه على أنه صلة الوصل العسكرية بين دمشق وطهران.
وتشير هذه الجهات الى أن دراسة لاحقة أجراها الأميركيون والإسرائيليون على ملف تصفية سليمان، أظهرت أن الأسد يبيع الإسرائيليين كل من يشكلون عبئا عليه، فسليمان هو الوحيد الذي يملك معلومات دقيقة عن “الملف” النووي السوري، كما أنه المنفّذ الأمين للأوامر التي كانت ترده من الأسد، ومن بينها تنفيذ مجموعة من الإغتيالات قد يكون اغتيال الرئيس رفيق الحريري احدها، ولذلك استجوبته لجنة التحقيق الدولية مرتين وكانت على وشك استجوابه مرة ثالثة.
وتؤكد هذه الجهات أن الأسد أبدى كثيرا من الضعف، عندما أشعرته إيران بأنها منزعجة من حركته، فسارع الى استرضائها بطلتين تلفزيونيتين، واحدة على “المنار” وأخرى على التلفزيون الإيراني، حيث أطلق مواقف تتناقض، على الرغم من سطحيتها، مع التعهدات التي قطعها للإسرائيليين والأتراك والفرنسيين والقطريين.
وتسند الجهات السياسية الواسعة الإطلاع في واشنطن إتهام بعض المستويات في إسرائيل لإيران بالضلوع بتفجير دمشق الأخير، إلى انزعاج طهران من السلوكيات الأخيرة للأسد، فبدأت تُرسل له ما يعينه على فهم حقيقة بلاده أكثر، حيث بات العامل الإيراني يشكل معادلة في سوريا، وتاليا فإن انحراف الأسد عن التحالف العسكري الإستراتيجي وتصفية رجاله، سيكون له الكثير من التداعيات الخطرة على النظام السوري.
وتقول هذه الجهات إن الأميركيين والإسرائيليين يُدركون تمام الإدراك أن إيران التي تملك أوراق قوة حقيقية داخل سوريا، هي نفسها إيران التي تملك قوة التأثير الحاسمة على الساحة اللبنانية، ذلك أن حلفاء سوريا في لبنان ليسوا سوى واجهات صوتية، في حين أن المعادلة الميدانية التي يمكن ان تفيد سوريا أو تعزلها، فهي معادلة إيرانية بامتياز، في إشارة الى “حزب الله”.
وفي هذا السياق، تكشف هذه المصادر عن نقاشات جرت على مستويات أمنية عدة دفعت الى طرح معادلات تُشكك بصحة الأنباء التي تحدثت عن اغتيال القائد العسكري لـ”حزب الله”عماد مغنية، وهي تشير الى أن الإسرائيليين طلبوا من السوريين تزويدهم بالحمض النووي لجثة مغنية حتى يتأكدوا من صحة الإدعاءات بموته، ولكنهم لم يحصلوا على شيء، وحاولوا أن ينفذوا عملية مخابراتية على ضريحه من أجل الإستحصال على خزعة من جثته، لكنهم فوجئوا بحراسة شديدة يوفرها “حزب الله” للضريح، بحيث تمنع أي مجموعة إستخباراتية، مهما كان مستواها الإحترافي، من تحقيق هدفها.
وترى هذه الجهات أن عملية التقييم المشتركة بين إسرائيل والولايات المتحدة الأميركية، لا تسقط من حسابها مطلقا أن تؤدي الحرب الباردة الإيرانية ـ السورية والصراع المحتدم بين الأجهزة الأمنية المختلفة وما تتضمنه من مواجهات مستترة مع القصر الرئاسي السوري، إلى إضعاف النظام، مما يؤدي الى تكتل الشبكات المتفلتة مع فئات سياسية معارضة تجمعها بها وحدة الهدف أو العقيدة، كنذير بانهيار لا يمكن لأي كان أن يستشرف تداعياته على كل المنطقة.
وتفيد بأن اتجاهاً بدأ يترسخ إسرائيلياً وأميركياً على ضرورة صوغ توصية تدعو الى اعتماد مسلكين متوازيين في التعاطي لاحقاً مع سوريا، بحيث يكون دعم استمرارية نظام الأسد مواكباً لمساعي إيجاد البديل الذي يجب أن يستلم البلاد في حال وهن هذا النظام وسقط.

October 13th, 2008, 2:07 am


why-discuss said:

General Aoun is visiting Teheran Iran under an official invitation.
Do you hear grinding teeth? He is accusing Saudi Arabia & the USA to have reduced Lebanon to a client and corrupted the Lebanese including the Christians wih petrodollars. He is also declaring that Iran is the biggest regional power.

Maybe he is planning to encourage the creation of an Islamic Republic in Lebanon and force Lebanese christian women to wear the veil…
L’Orient le jour 11 oct 2008
À la veille de son départ, hier, pour Téhéran, Michel Aoun a affirmé, au cours du meeting commémorant l’offensive syrienne du 13 octobre 1990, que les événements du printemps 2005 n’étaient en fait que l’abolition de la dimension sécuritaire d’un condominium imposé au Liban et le maintien de « l’inféodation » à Riyad et Washington.
Le général Michel Aoun a entamé hier après-midi une visite à Téhéran à l’invitation des autorités iraniennes. Dans une déclaration au salon d’honneur de l’aéroport de Beyrouth, le chef du CPL, qui est accompagné du député Edgar Maalouf et de M. Pierre Raffoul, a mis l’accent sur la nécessité de renforcer les relations avec les pays du Moyen-Orient, soulignant que la République islamique iranienne est « la plus grande puissance régionale », et que de ce fait, l’établissement de liens « amicaux » avec elle est un impératif. En réponse à une question sur les informations selon lesquelles il se rend à Téhéran afin de s’y procurer des armes et des fonds, le général a répondu : « Pourquoi pas, si cela constitue un pendant à ce que reçoit l’autre partie. »
… Elle représente aujourd’hui une grande puissance régionale. Il est naturel que nous accordions un intérêt au renforcement des relations entre la République islamique iranienne et les pays du Moyen-Orient, et dans ce cadre, cette visite pourrait contribuer à renforcer les liens avec la République libanaise. »
Interrogé sur les raisons de l’intérêt particulier que porte la République islamique au général Aoun, l’ambassadeur iranien a déclaré : « La République islamique iranienne accorde une importance particulière au général Aoun, aussi bien sur le plan libanais que sur le plan politique chrétien ou au niveau des chrétiens d’Orient. Nous avons beaucoup d’estime et de respect pour sa vision stratégique profonde qui, à notre avis, est la bonne. »

… En conclusion, le général Aoun a affirmé que « la société libanaise, en général, et chrétienne, en particulier, sont la cible d’une vaste opération visant à les soudoyer, sous l’effet de l’abondance des pétrodollars ».

October 13th, 2008, 2:19 am


Shai said:


I certainly hope not. But every Israeli knows that deep inside most of us is an innate fear and distrust of Arabs, including Arab Israelis. So unless dealt with, this is a ticking time bomb, and every few years we do have “minor” explosions. Personally, I was never able to escape the notion that the Palestinian issue is for Israelis what Slavery was for Americans in the 19th century – a deeply and dangerously dividing problem.

If, God forbid, there ever was civil war in Israel, I could envision such a thing taking place between Jews and Jews, not Jews and Arabs. It would be between those who believe we can continue to live with Palestinians under our rule, and those who do not. Defiant settlers and their supporters within Israel would be on one side (“The South”), and those who support a two-state solution on the other (“The North”). Naturally, Arab-Israelis would side with the latter.

However, at the moment there’s no indication that something like this (on such a scale) could occur.

October 13th, 2008, 6:53 am


Qifa Nabki said:

Dear Why-Discuss,

What measures should be taken, in your opinion, to prevent Lebanon’s transformation into an Iranian client?

Lebanon was a Syrian client — with American approval — from the late 80’s until early 2005. During this period, Saudi Arabia and Iran also began to insinuate themselves into Lebanese politics, with the effect of transforming Lebanon into a servant with many masters.

At this stage, given the disasters of Iraq, the current financial crisis, and the changing of the guard at the White House, we might well see a new order prevail in the Middle East, one dominated by the Iranians (as Observer suggests above).

What is to prevent Lebanon from becoming an Iranian protectorate?

October 13th, 2008, 10:51 am


why-discuss said:

As long as Lebanese are divided and hatred instilled in the different factions, Lebanon is bound to become the client of a more stable and united power, until it finds its path to unity.
I believe Iran’s “protectorate” can be more beneficial to the country that the Saudi’s or American’s ( the two extreme of a democratic regime). Iran has a mixture of different ethnic origins ( turks make more than 20%) , Kurds etc.. and it has a strong national identity supported essentially by a resilient and dynamic culture. Just look at the arts in Iran that are blooming, despite the negative media. Industrially it has come out of the dark age when most goods were imported to an age where they build cars, nuclear energy etc.. Compare this to pathetic Saudi Arabia.
Of course the religious Shia connotation and restrictions of expressions of the Iranian regime gives some worries to christians and more to the Sunnis in Lebanon.
Freedom of expression comes with a price and I am not sure the excesses of the Lebanese media have served the country to more unity and stability, in the contrary. Some self-restrain is becoming imperative.
Historically Iran has never invaded any country and in Syria were Iranians have a long lived presence we have not seen any new restriction applied on syrians, inspired by Iran. I doubt Iranian impact in Lebanon would be different than it has in Syria: Restoring religious sites ( ND of Harissa included), encouraging religious tourism, helping industrial growth, providing gaz and oil, encouraging culture ( they are already many young Lebanese studying in Iran in top notch Universities and Cinema and Arts schools).
One of the best universities of the world is in Iran, the Newsweek weekly said in its latest edition, referring to Iran’s Sharif University of Science and Technology.
“Forget Harvard _ one of the world’s best undergraduate colleges is in Iran,” said the news weekly in an article appeared in its August 9 edition.

Altogether I am sure the Iranian pilgrims, business men and artists will pollute less the country that the Saudi have.
In addition Israel will think twice before attacking Lebanon. Stronger Lebanon can better negotiate the return of the Palestinians and a peace deal. Saudi Arabia has failed totally in this respect.
The only impact it may have that would displease the sunnis is that some of them will see with repulsion and suspicion ‘heretics’ Shias , ignored for decades, getting more influence in the country.

Overall I don’t think Lebanon would loose anything in that alliance, in the contrary. Aoun seems to think the same.
The next intelligent step for the Sunnis is to try to bring Turkey in, as Syria is doing… Let see if the Sunnis will make such a move after years of apathy, looking at their big brother, Saudi arabia.
As for Saudi Arabia, it should reshuffles its house in the aftermath of the 9/11 and dispel the perception that after decades of financially promoting their “extreme” islam in neighboring countries, it has become a terrorist breeding ground. Until then, their influence can only be negative and should be limited and reined.

October 13th, 2008, 12:38 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


Thanks for your response. I agree with certain aspects and disagree with others. For example, I don’t think that Saudi Arabia has had a stronger effect on Lebanon’s culture than Iran. The Saudis have poured money into Lebanon, but they have not had a significant cultural effect on a large portion of the population. We talk about Salafists in Tripoli, but how pervasive are these groups? Not very. On the other hand, Iran has had a massive effect upon Lebanon’s Shi`a, in many domains. (I’m not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing, but compare today’s major Shiite political movement with the leftist and Arabist movements of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.)

There is no question that Iran is far more impressive, politically, economically, strategically than any of the Arab regimes. As such, it behooves Lebanon to have good relations with it. However, as you said, Iran’s record on freedom of expression is not good. I personally don’t think that “freedom of expression comes with a price,” nor do I believe that the Lebanese media’s occasional absurdities constitute “excesses”. Some self-restraint may be needed, but not the kind of restraint that is exercised in Tehran, where progressive candidates are prevented from running in elections, university professors are sacked because of their views, etc. The Saudis are much worse, of course.

The question of whether or not Lebanon would be better off as an Iranian protectorate depends entirely on what Iran wants to achieve vis-a-vis Israel and the Palestinians. If Robert Baer is right (and, interestingly enough, everyone I’ve spoken to in the Hizb uses the exact same phrase that he does [“we don’t want to be more Palestinian than the Palestinians”]) then Iran’s influence in Lebanon can only be positive in the long run. If this statement is disingenuous, then Lebanon will continue to suffer.

October 13th, 2008, 1:53 pm


SimoHurtta said:

Rather desperate propaganda from US. 🙂

13:05 U.S.: Iran bribing Iraq lawmakers to oppose pact keeping U.S. forces in Iraq (Reuters)

It would interesting to know how much money Iran is “giving” to the Iraqi lawmakers. Certainly Iran has not to pay one cent for those Iraqi lawmakers who listen to the Iraqi people (majority) who are against US permanent bases. Well Iraqi lawmakers can now make much money. First the accept and take the US bribes for supporting the permanent bases and insane stupid oil contracts (from Iraqi people’s viewpoint). When the US dollars are in the pocket they phone to Teheran and ask what is the bid to reverse the opinion.

I suppose that even hard core Bush supporters have difficulties to believe such propaganda, that Iraqi lawmakers love USA so much that they want US troops to stay for decades in their country and Iran has pay for them to end that “love”.

Well Iranian have cash, Bush doesn’t have. 🙂

October 13th, 2008, 4:06 pm


Alex said:

Qifa Nabki said:

I don’t think that Saudi Arabia has had a stronger effect on Lebanon’s culture than Iran. The Saudis have poured money into Lebanon, but they have not had a significant cultural effect on a large portion of the population. We talk about Salafists in Tripoli, but how pervasive are these groups?

Saudi influence was more than that Qifa … think of how Al-mustaqbal ad other Saudi backed media outlets, in addition to how Saudi agents (like Saad and Fouad) and other Saudi supported (financially) corrupt Lebanese politicians (Christians and Muslims) … think of how they have been poisoning the political and social environment in Lebanon the past three years.

All the direct hate towards Iran, the strongly implied suspicion of anything Shiite … hating Syria or suspecting anyone who does not submit and join their anti-Syria chorus (like Sleiman Frangyieh, President Lahoud, and Lebanese Shiite leaders) …

This sectarian and negative influence was quite widespread … it made it difficult to reach solutions in the past and it will continue to make it difficult to reach solutions in the future.

But the good news is that it started to fade already … the Doha accord was proof that there is a much better way… Saudi Arabia’s consecutive failures affected its ability to continue influencing the minds of the more sane people in Lebanon.

But they can still influence the lunatics and the paranoid … and the Salafis.

We’ll see.

October 13th, 2008, 4:51 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Alex said:

think of how they have been poisoning the political and social environment in Lebanon the past three years.

Alex, I know you know that it was not just the “Saudi agents” who were doing the poisoning. It seems to me that both sides were engaged in poisoning. Over the past three years, there was was a mini-Cold War taking place in Lebanon, and both sides were doing their best to demonize the other.

Some in Lebanon may hate Iran because it is full of Shi`a. But the vast majority of people who are “anti-Iran” are against it for political reasons, not theological ones. They look at Hizbullah and see it as nothing more than a tool of the Syrian-Iranian axis, etc. etc. Similarly, March 8 partisans look at March 14 and see it as nothing more than a tool of the American-Saudi axis, etc. etc.

October 13th, 2008, 5:28 pm


Alex said:


I was merely disagreeing with your statement that Saudi influence was limited to the extremist Salafis.

As for saying that both sides were engaged in poisoning … I will also disagree there … at least disagree in the case of 2005 … when the new reality in Lebanon, was inaugurated … After Hariri was assassinated, M8 were very understanding and sympathetic to M14 … no one said a single nice word about Syria that whole year … no one visited Syria … they all pretended that Saad Hariri was an actual “leader” and not a stupid clown.

But M14 took it to unacceptable extremes … and that’s when M8 started to be critical at first, then they started to attack M14 and call them American puppets … then only recently they started to call them Saudi puppets.

October 13th, 2008, 6:19 pm


Alex said:

Expect some good news from the region : )

October 13th, 2008, 6:20 pm


Nour said:

What do you mean by that Alex?

October 13th, 2008, 6:26 pm


Alex said:


They are not signing the peace treaty yet : )

But more than one difficult issue seem to be on its way to solutions, or partial solutions.

October 13th, 2008, 6:36 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

As for saying that both sides were engaged in poisoning … I will also disagree there … at least disagree in the case of 2005 … when the new reality in Lebanon, was inaugurated …


Just because M8 was sympathetic, I don’t think it is fair to say that M14 was engaged in poisoning the political climate in 2005. I think that the bombings and assassinations were responsible for that. Here’s a list of security incidents for that horrible year:

1. Rafiq Hariri assassination: 21 people killed
2. New Jdeideh bombing
3. Kaslik bombing
4. Sad el-Bouchrieh bombing
5. Broummana bombing
6. Jounieh bombing
7. Samir Kassir assassination
8. George Hawi assassination
9. Elias Murr assassination attempt
10. Monot bombing
11. Zalka bombing
12. Ali Ramez Tohme attempt
13. Jeitawi bombing
14. May Chidiac assassination attempt
15. Gebran Tueni Assassination

Under those circumstances, how would you react? 🙂

PS: Don’t leave us dangling with your insider information… Out with it! I think I can guess the news: Bab al-7ara is coming back for another season next Ramadan, right?!!

October 13th, 2008, 7:08 pm


Alex said:

Ya Qifa Nabki,

Are you saying that you find it understandable, and a natural reaction, that M14 pointed the finger to Syria ALL THE TIME, even when those assassinated were not necessarily anti Syrian figures (Hawi, and Murr at the time) and that M14 to ridiculed those who said “maybe the bombings in Christian areas were done by religious extremists”? and refused to consider it a possibility.

That mentality was “Bad guys” are behind everything bad … we are the good guys, we do nothing but good.

And the Good guys were somehow all Saudi allies, the bad guys were Syria and its allies.

If this is not the most obvious case of total correlation, I don’t know what is.

October 13th, 2008, 7:28 pm


Jad said:

From a Syrian public point of view the reaction of M14 was and still as if Syria, as a whole, without any evidence is responsible for all those attacks and they push it to an alarming levels of hatred and aggression even against the innocent Syrians working in Lebanon.
QN, you forget to point out the killing of many Syrian workers on your list of 2005.

October 13th, 2008, 7:30 pm


Alex said:

And Qifa Nabki,

You forgot that they were paying witnesses (Siddiq) to testify that Syria killed Hariri.

: )

The negativity was planned and sustained from Saudi Arabia and the neocons.

But I agree with you that the reaction of the M14 supporters (fear and hate of Syria and its Lebanese supporters) was genuine, I have no doubt .. . but it was sustained through daily theatrical performances by Junblatt, Geagea, Hariri, and other M14 “leaders”

But why are we talking about hte past? : )

As I said, the following few weeks will hopefully bring some positive news, nothing dramatic, but a couple of small moves in the right direction.

And no inside information … I’m sure if you take a couple of taxis in Beirut today you will hear the same opinion.

October 13th, 2008, 7:39 pm


Shai said:


With the assumption that Alex’s good news is not something like “Israel and Syria signed an agreement earlier this morning including not only the return of the Golan, but also the return of Sarah Palin to her actual dimensions and capabilities…”, have you been going over your Mandarin Chinese? They said none of their lunar manuals will be in English, Arabic, or Hebrew… So we got to get movin’… 🙂

October 13th, 2008, 7:50 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


Of course that is an understandable and natural reaction. Since when have we Lebanese been in the habit of calm and rational fact-finding? Usually what happens is that half the country blames America/Israel and the other half blames Syria/Iran! Why is this so surprising to you?


I assure you that the anti-KSA/USA discourse in Lebanon is just as venomous as the anti-Syrian one, ya zalameh. But I agree, let’s not dwell on the past. After all, the future is so bright!!

Jad, the attacks against Syrian workers were the work of cowardly thugs. I am ashamed of them.

October 13th, 2008, 8:12 pm


Jad said:

Ni hao (hello in Chinese) Shai, Happy Sukkot…

Palin…. what can I say, she is Dick Cheney in a dress…
I’m practicing some Chinese for our long trip hopefully it will be only for 4 years without any extension… do you have your book, (Learn Chinese by eating dumpling)
Do you think AP in Akka throwing stones at those damn Arabs, what the nerves those Arabs got over there, living in their own land and asking for rights…what the world is coming to?!

BTW, I like when AP writes, in his last comment about being from Damascus (big city) means that you are racist.
It’s good he wrote that so we could explain to him who we really are and not who he thinks we are,
He makes me realize that few people knows about Syrians and their tolerance, very few people might know that in our education system we don’t set any exams on Saturdays in respect of the small Syrian Jewish community we have that we never ever went to their neighborhoods and put fire in their houses, they are Syrians.
The government has public holidays when it comes to religion and different sects celebration.
AP also shows that his accusations always missing the smallest level of accuracy and he keeps doing that without questioning himself how can I reach out and understand those people without judging them out of ignorance. One day he will understand that power doesn’t always the right choice, Soon I hope.

October 13th, 2008, 8:30 pm


norman said:


What is happening in Israel is more like the civil right time than the civil war ,

The only way for Israel is to seek integration and anti discrimination laws in housing schools and employment and that is to avoid hatred by both sides and abuse by the extremists .

October 14th, 2008, 2:15 am


why-discuss said:

The Saudis have poured money into Lebanon, but they have not had a significant cultural effect on a large portion of the population.
In addition to what Alex wrote, let me add a token as I mentioned the artistic sense of Iran and its growing places in Cinema and Visual arts worldwide compared to the sterility of Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia and the easy petro dollars have contributed to the ugliness of Beirut. Just one example: The row of dead palm trees on the once beautiful corniche ( ain mreisseh to Ramlet al Baida) and the hideous lamp posts ( both offered by Saudi Arabia)… are just one example of the wave of bad taste on the city brought in by Saudi arabia. Iranians would instead bring parks and garden and an elegant and simple architecture lacking in beirut today.
On the question of the palestinians, I think Iran will stand on its position: “We will accept what the Palestinians would accept”. They are pragmatic:, why would they do otherwise.

October 14th, 2008, 4:22 am


Qifa Nabki said:


Now you’re pushing it a little too far my friend. 🙂 The Saudis are foisting ugly lamp posts and dead palm trees on us?! Actually the lamp posts are supposedly modeled on the ones that were originally found on the Corniche, just like the ones downtown were the original ones from pre-Civil War Beirut.

I think you are mixing up modern Iran with Safavid Iran. Is Tehran some kind of gorgeous metropolis covered in parks and elegant architecture? Hardly… it’s an urban jungle just like any other, with concrete monstrosities and ugly high-rises.

Beirut is visually quite compelling these days, with many different projects opening up on a monthly basis, international architects, etc. I don’t attribute this to the Saudi influence, nor do I blame the Saudis for the dead palm trees. Enough Saudi/Iran bashing for God’s sake … people are not automata! The Lebanese are mostly responsible for their own choices, political, aesthetic, or otherwise. 🙂

(Unless Syria is involved, and then of course it is a case of pure hegemony).

October 14th, 2008, 10:19 am


Syrian Nationalist Party said:


July 29th, 2011, 3:28 pm


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