Will Assad and Israeli President Shimon Peres Meet in Paris?

Syria To Join Israel At Mediterranean Summit – French Min

PARIS (AFP)–Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will be joining Israel's president at a summit to launch a new Mediterranean Union in Paris next month, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Tuesday. "The Syrian president will be there, sitting next to, at the same table, as the Israeli president," Kouchner told parliament. Israel and Syria Monday wrapped up a second round of indirect talks in Turkey that both sides hailed as positive.

Syrians say they dream of peace with Israel
Reasons abound, officials say, to push talks with old enemy
By Liz Sly, Tribune correspondent, June 17, 2008

DAMASCUS, Syria — The long-abandoned border between Israel and Syria will be bustling with travelers and traders. Damascus hotels will be crammed with Israeli businessmen taking advantage of investment opportunities. Syrian tourists will flock to Jerusalem, making the 135-mile drive to visit the holy sites there.

It seems like an impossible dream, but it’s a vision that Syria — shunned by the Bush administration as a regional troublemaker — says it hopes can be realized if indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria bear fruit.

“When people can move freely between Syria, Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Egypt, a great change will take place,” said Syria Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Miqdad in an interview. “Our people will enjoy life without bad dreams of the martyrdom of their children, we will improve living conditions and we will open up to the international community. The impact of peace will be bliss for the entire region.”…..

A peace treaty would inevitably alter Syria’s relationship with groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, experts say.

“We are confident that the mechanisms of reaching a peace process will definitely evolve into a new stage, where new realities will be established,” said Miqdad, with reference to Hamas and Hezbollah. “And in this respect, Syria has always respected its commitments. We think if peace is achieved the situation will not be as it is today.”

The mere act of announcing the talks has created some of those “new realities,” said Syrian journalist Ibrahim Hamidi. Hamas is negotiating a truce with Israel in Egypt, Hezbollah is taking on a new role in the Lebanese government, and a wedge has been driven between the positions of Syria and Iran.

“Syria has reminded Hamas and Hezbollah that we are not like Iran. Iran believes in the destruction of Israel, while Syria believes in negotiating with Israel,” he said. “In diplomacy there are things that need never be written. Nobody now will be willing to show you the end game,” he added……

Israeli Envoys Propose Olmert Meet Syria's Assad
By Dan Williams, ABC News
June 16, 2008

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli envoys holding a new round of indirect peace talks with Syrian counterparts in Turkey will propose that the two leaders meet at a Paris conference next month, Israeli political sources said on Monday.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad launched Turkish-mediated negotiations last month but there has been no word on prospects for a face-to-face meeting given the gap between the sides' bedrock demands.

Both men are to attend a July 13 summit of a new union of European and Mediterranean countries in Paris and Olmert, who sent aides to resume talks in Turkey on Saturday, has offered to meet Assad on the sidelines, an Israeli political source said.

According to another Israeli source, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is trying to arrange a three-way meeting with Olmert and Assad during the Euro-Med conference but has not yet received final confirmation from Damascus.

The French embassy in Tel Aviv had no immediate comment.

Sarkozy has invited leaders attending the summit to stay on for France's July 14 national day parade.

"The idea isn't necessarily to hold an hours-long conversation, just a face-to-face encounter that would, in itself, serve to take things forward," said one Israeli source. "This is one of the fresh ideas that is being raised in Turkey."

'Syria won't end Hizbullah, Hamas ties': (Jpost.com) "Syria will not give up its ties with Hizbullah and Hamas, the Syrian Expatriate Minister, Buthaina Sha'aban, said Monday. Speaking in a press conference during a visit to India, Sha'aban said "the Israeli demand that Syria shake off Hizbullah and Hamas as a condition for peace negotiations is like a demand that the US shake off its ties with Israel."

Rice in Beirut to meet with new Lebanon leaders
The Associated Press
Monday, June 16, 2008

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice put a U.S. stamp of approval Monday on a fragile new government in Lebanon that increased the power of Hezbollah militants.

Rice made an unannounced visit to Lebanon's capital to meet with Western-backed leaders of the emerging coalition government. The U.S. regards Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hezbollah as a terrorist group and has no dealings with it.

"Congratulations," Rice said as she shook hands with Michel Suleiman, the army chief elected last month to lead the government. "We are all just very supportive of your presidency and your government."

She introduced members of the U.S. delegation to him as they sat down for their meeting at the presidential palace.

On the flight from Israel, Rice told reporters her message would be one of U.S. support for Lebanese democracy and that they would discuss "how the United States can support the institutions of a free Lebanon."

Hezbollah, which is both a militia and a political power, gained veto power over the Beirut government in a compromise brokered last month. The deal ended 18 months of political paralysis, and followed bloody street clashes.

The U.S. would have preferred that Hezbollah not gain greater power, but has called the deal a necessary step for stability. ….

Asked by reporters why the power-sharing agreement was not a defeat for the United States, Rice said that while it's true that Hezbollah has gained political clout, it is also true that democratic figures endured. "Obviously in any compromise there are compromises," she said. "But this was an agreement that I think served the interests of the Lebanese people. And since it served the interests of the Lebanese people, it serves the interests of the United States. We support the democratically elected government of Lebanon," she said. "That's who we support."

Larsen: Israel Giving Syria Huge Gift in Haaretz (Via Friday lunch Club)

"…In a classified telegram to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, Israel's UN delegation wrote that Larsen had complained that "Syria is receiving legitimacy for free." …"Europe is courting the Syrians because of the negotiations with Israel, and they are no longer being asked to give anything in exchange," the telegram quoted Larsen as saying…"

Latest diplomatic offer to Iran (ISIS online) HERE (pdf.)

Warren Strobel writes that: "McClatchy Newspapers' 5-part investigation of U.S. detainee policies at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere began running Sunday. Entitled "Guantanamo: Beyond The Law, it is based in part on interviews with 66 former detainees around the globe." The first two stories, along with interviews, photos and video are available" at : http://www.mcclatchydc.com/detainees/

Boaz Wachtel writes: "Here is the Jerusalem post article discussing the history of the Syrian-Israeli peace talks and on the water/peace canal Plan. An intriguing cover story in the Jerusalem Report also highlights some much neglected incentives to reach an agreement:

"A grandiose plan that would put an end to the acute water shortage plaguing Israel and its neighbours has been tossed on to the table as part of the tangle of fact and fiction, hype and spin, reality and fantasy, surrounding the dramatic late May announcement of the official renewal of Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations under Turkish mediation."

Also see: "Watering the roots of peace: An ambitious water project could help to bring reconciliation between Syria and Israel – for their mutual benefit" in the Guardian

Prosecution in Al-Hariri Tribunal to Start Work in December – UN SecGen
16/06/2008 Asharq al-Awsat

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asserted yesterday that the special tribunal for trying the killers of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri has become a fait accompli.

In an exclusive interview with Asharq al-Awsat following an official visit to Saudi Arabia, he said "we are preparing the new venue for the tribunal in the Netherlands as agreed upon and we have the judges, the prosecutors, and the records secretary."

He said the prosecution in the killing of the former Lebanese prime minister would start its work at the end of the year after pointing out that the "prosecution team's work was postponed until the end of December."

He stressed at the same time that the investigators were continuing to submit reports regularly to the UN Security Council on the progress made during their investigation of the cases before the international tribunal.

Khaled Oweis of Reuters demonstrates that wire writers can cut through the bias. The closing sentence of his story on Assad's visit to Paris is a nice twist on the usual Syria occupied Lebanon.

Syria sent troops to Lebanon in 1976 and had a powerful grip on Lebanese politics over the following three decades. It withdrew its troops in 2005 in the face of international pressure and Lebanese street protests following the assassination of former premier Rafik al-Hariri.

Damascus still wields substantial influence over Lebanese politics.

France, which occupied Lebanon and Syria from 1920 to the 1940s has 1,600 troops in Lebanon as part of a United Nations peacekeeping force in the country's south.

(Reporting by Khaled Oweis and Francois Murphy in Paris; Editing by Matthew Jones)

Israeli Ministers Mull Plans for Military Strike against Iran
By Ralf Beste, Cordula Meyer and Christoph Schult
Deir Spiegel (After reporting that Asef organized a coup attempt in Syria with 100 others, Der Spiegel must be suspect)

The Israeli government no longer believes that sanctions can prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons. A broad consensus in favor of a military strike against Tehran's nuclear facilities — without the Americans, if necessary — is beginning to take shape.

Robin Yassin-Kassab's ambitious debut of faith and faithlessness, The Road From Damascus, impresses Maya Jaggi

Saturday June 14, 2008
The Guardian

"Unbelief itself is a religion", says an epigraph to this ambitious and topical debut novel. The words of the 12th-century Sufi sage Ahmad Yasavi, coupled with a Pascal pensée on the limitations of atheism, open a book that satirises a kind of secular fundamentalism that can, it suggests, be as blinding as dogma.

In early 21st-century Damascus, Sami Traifi, a 31-year-old "failed academic and international layabout" born in Britain to Syrian parents, truffles among ancestral roots for a credible thesis for his stalled doctorate. Instead he stumbles on a family secret, an uncle broken by 22 years in a Syrian torture jail. Back in London, Sami's marriage to a teacher, Muntaha, crumbles as the astute, educated daughter of a refugee from Saddam's Iraq resolves to wear a hijab.

Comments (49)

Innocent Criminal said:


Unless i missed something there is a mistake in your title. The article refers to the Israeli President which is Perez not the PM/Olmert

June 17th, 2008, 3:46 pm


Joshua said:

Thanks for the correction, IC. Oops. Joshua

A revised article does add:

“Kouchner did not confirm reports that a meeting could be held in Paris between Assad and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on the sidelines of the July 13 summit.

“We welcome the fact that the Syrians are talking to the Israelis. On that day, it will be possible for them to do that if they want to,” he said.”

June 17th, 2008, 4:15 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I hope people begin to realize that there is a strong consensus emerging in Israel about attacking Iran. I agree with the assessment that sanctions will not stop Iran. Israel will have to take its chances.

June 17th, 2008, 4:50 pm


Nour said:

“Syria will not give up its ties with Hizbullah and Hamas, the Syrian Expatriate Minister, Buthaina Sha’aban, said Monday. Speaking in a press conference during a visit to India, Sha’aban said “the Israeli demand that Syria shake off Hizbullah and Hamas as a condition for peace negotiations is like a demand that the US shake off its ties with Israel.”

The above statement by Ms. Shaaban is philosophically and morally wrong. The support of Syria to HA and Hamas cannot be compared to the support of the USA to Israel. In the case of Syria’s support for local resistance, the same people are cooperating to achieve freedom and liberty, while in the other case a super power is helping criminals steal the land of another people and inflict suffering on the occupied. Support of a struggle for freedom cannot be equaled to supporting a crime.

June 17th, 2008, 4:55 pm


Brian Ulrich said:

The idea of Turkish water playing a role in negotiations has been circulating in the Turkish media for some time.

June 17th, 2008, 5:24 pm


Alex said:

Robin! … congratulations on publishing the Novel.

June 17th, 2008, 5:25 pm


Atassi said:

The moment this “attacking Iran”happened, it will be the beginning of the western society demises, What do you think would be the reaction to this attack!! War, OIL@$300pb, the collapse of the fragile western economies and screeching halt for the Asian economies.. It will be a mere selfishness with a self-inflicted fatal action !!

June 17th, 2008, 6:10 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

The cost of gas in europe is $8 per gallon. In the US it is $4. At worst, the price of oil will double in the US to European levels. No big deal. The Europeans will most probably reduce the taxes on oil to mitigate the rise. In addition the US has a 1 year strategic reserve of oil. No economy will collapse. Maybe people will consume a little less which will be good for the environment.

If there will be war, it will be against Israel. If Iran attacks any other nation because of an Israeli attack, it will be committing suicide. At most Israel will suffer, not the whole world. That is our problem and we will deal with it.

June 17th, 2008, 6:27 pm


ausamaa said:

“Will Assad and Israeli President Shimon Peres Meet in Paris?”

Of course, NOT A CHANCE! Not on the sidelines, not in the toilets by chance, not in the corridors, and not looking out of the windows at the same time. And if Peres tries to act smart and cute, some one in the Syrian delegation will forewarn him, and Sarko, that he will recieve a rebuff that he has not recieved from an Arab leader before. This is Bashar Hafez Al Assad not Anwwar Al Sadat.

But now seriously Josh, you tell us, would they meet??!!

You love having us run in circles, dont you!

June 17th, 2008, 6:51 pm


norman said:

IAEA says Syria lacks skills for nuclear facility

Tuesday, June 17, 2008
DUBAI: There is no evidence Syria has the skilled personnel or the fuel to operate a large-scale nuclear facility, the head of the United Nations atomic watchdog said in remarks aired on Tuesday.

“We have no evidence that Syria has the human resources that would allow it to carry out a large nuclear programme. We do not see Syria having nuclear fuel,” International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamad ElBaradei told Al Arabiya television.

In an interview with the Dubai-based television station, ElBaradei said the IAEA only had pictures of a site in Syria bombed by Israel last year, which resembled a nuclear facility in North Korea.

Arabiya aired only part of the interview.

The IAEA added Syria to its proliferation watch list in April after receiving U.S. intelligence material, including photographs suggesting Damascus had almost finished building a nuclear reactor in secret with North Korean help before Israel destroyed it in an air strike in September.

Damascus, a U.S. foe and ally of Iran, denies any covert nuclear activity and says the site Israel bombed was a military facility under construction. It has said it would cooperate with a U.N. investigation into the allegations of nuclear activity.

ElBaradei has said previously that Syria had agreed to a June 22-24 inspection visit to examine the allegations. In the interview, he called on Damascus to cooperate with the IAEA inspectors.

Diplomats have said Syria has refused IAEA requests to examine three sites other than the bombed one.

(Reporting by Inal Ersan, editing by Tim Pearce)


Copyright © 2008 The International Herald Tribune | http://www.iht.com

June 17th, 2008, 6:59 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

what would Syria get back for this big concession? congratulations to Baath party.

June 17th, 2008, 7:14 pm


norman said:

Assad should not meet Peres, he is not a decision maker in Israel , Assad would be better off either meeting Olmert or waiting for a stronger PM like Netanyahu, so his meeting will bear fruits.

June 17th, 2008, 7:31 pm


Alex said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

The cost of gas in europe is $8 per gallon. In the US it is $4. At worst, the price of oil will double in the US to European levels. No big deal.

Hey Atassi ! … take it easy!! .. the whole world will learn to adapt over the next few years because AIG’s friends want to reduce the 0.000000001% chance that Iranians are suicidal lunatics who want to send a nuclear missile all the way to Israel and to receive a hundred such missiles in return until their country disappears from the surface of planet earth… who knows, maybe the Iranians are really bored with living on earth … if AIG thinks this is a real possibility, then they better start that war.

Who cares if the price of oil doubles in the US! … at least AIG’s freinds would show the whole world how powerful Israel is!

Worth it, worth it, absolutely … go for it Israel !

One more gift from Israel to our planet.

June 17th, 2008, 7:33 pm


SimoHurtta said:

I hope people begin to realize that there is a strong consensus emerging in Israel about attacking Iran. I agree with the assessment that sanctions will not stop Iran. Israel will have to take its chances.

On what moral ground will AIG Israel attack Iran and more importantly because we all know the Israel’s moral, how? In my map AIG Israel and Iran are rather far away without land borders. It is certain that Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia or Turkey are not allowing your planes to pass their airspace in such adventures. If USA allows you to go through Iraq USA is automatic at war.

You AIG are extremely naive in thinking that the economical aftershocks will be mild and over in days/weeks. The western banking sector is already so weak that it hardly can take much more severe hits. When the oil prices double it means a fast inflation combined with the drop of housing property values. After that the oil producers will own the major western companies. It will be interesting to see how the next US president nationalizes companies. 🙂

AIG you are an idiot if you believe that India, China, Russia, EU countries etc will forgive if Israel escalates more the situation. Americans are also not stupid, when their sons and daughters are killed in thousands in Iraq they will realize whose wars they are fighting.

It is amusing that a country, which in secret has developed a wast nuclear arsenal, will attack another country which it claims aiming to do the same, uses as excuse that Iran has signed the NNPT treaty and it is under UN sanctions. Not even the best PR-companies can create good excuses for Israel.

June 17th, 2008, 7:35 pm


Shai said:


As usual, you’re exactly right! (and you beat me to it… again). Yes, Peres should get himself out of this equation. He does not negotiate, he doesn’t send his representatives to negotiate, only the PM does. So he should, if he wishes, ask Sarkozy to try to arrange such a meeting with Olmert, but it is of course up to Bashar. I imagine Olmert would be VERY interested in this, for obvious reasons (national and private).

As a general note, I will say that the more we talk about it, and the more various media mention this “hope”, the less likely it is to happen.

June 17th, 2008, 7:41 pm


Alex said:

That’s very true Shai … it shows that you understand the Syrians

: )

I think there “might” be a handshake. Sarkozy will love to brag about his skilled approach that led to this historic hand shake… Assad might go for it just to not disappoint his French host.

But who knows. I’m sure the lovely editors at Asharq Alawat have a couple of headlines ready … “Assad shakes hands with Israeli prime minister who invaded Lebanon”

June 17th, 2008, 8:09 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Both the Europeans and the Americans agree that Iran should not have the bomb and that it will be dangerous for the whole world. You of course choose to focus on Israel. This is another example of why Israel is a natural ally of the US and Europe and Syria isn’t.

There is a very simple solution that you cannot even contemplate. How about Iran stop enriching uranium? How terrible would that be? It is being asked to do so not only by the Europeans and Americans but also by the Chinese and Russians.

June 17th, 2008, 8:15 pm


Shai said:


I’m just afraid that if Bashar extends his hand to Olmert, and Olmert reaches out, that he’ll grab Talansky’s hand with the envelope instead… 😉 My guess, no chance. If ever in the same room, Bashar will probably look serious and, at best, make polite eye contact, but nothing more. A handshake right now would be symbolic of accepting much about Israeli behavior towards the Palestinians and Lebanese, as you suggested would appear the next second in various Arab newspapers, and Syria cannot afford to have that. It just doesn’t need it, and understandably so. If Bashar won’t let Al-Taqi meet face to face with Turjeman, then you think he’ll shake Olmert’s hand? Hah…

June 17th, 2008, 8:25 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I thought you were in favor of CBMs. It seems you now changed your mind even on this.

June 17th, 2008, 8:38 pm


Shai said:


Of course I wish Bashar and Olmert met, shook hands, hugged, and even kissed a nice big French kiss. There could be no better CBM than that. But my comments above reflect what I believe is realistic, not my wishes. And again, I also believe that the more that “wish” is repeated, the less likely it is to happen.

I have not changed my mind on CBM’s. Not in the least.

But as a general note, I never found changing one’s mind something undesirable, or a negative indication of anything. Personally, I find people’s inability to change their mind a rather good indication of weakness in character. Nothing to be admired.

June 17th, 2008, 8:44 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Right, if someone is wishy-washy it shows that he has a strong character. Of course not. If you change your mind for good reasons then you are ok, otherwise you are not. So there is no direct correlation between weakness of character and the fact that a person changes his mind or not. What matters are the reasons.

June 17th, 2008, 8:57 pm


Shai said:

I trust my “wishy-washyness” does not impressed you. I’m sorry. I’ll change. Oops, there I go again… 🙂 And who says you’re fit to judge my reasons for changing my mind on anything? Have you not changed your mind as of recent? I change my mind almost every day. Usually not about the same thing too often, as that would indeed be “wishy washy”. But I’d always prefer to be a “wishy washy” man, than a plain stubborn ass. Wouldn’t you?

June 17th, 2008, 9:03 pm


EHSANI2 said:


Gas in Turkey sells at USD 11.40 a gallon this morning. Using your logic, it can treble in price in the U.S. before it starts costing more than Turkey. What you miss of course is any reference to the foreign exchange value of the Dollar. As oil prices rise with the geopolitical tensions, it is the falling value of the Dollar that has finally started to have severe ripple effects in the financial market. The U.S. Administration has finally started to send the message that further fall in the value of the Dollar will not be welcome.

June 17th, 2008, 9:08 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

You can be both wishy-washy and a stubborn ass for all I care. I prefer to frequently review my reasons for holding a specific position and change if the reasons warrant it. I do not pander to others and try to write what they want to hear.

June 17th, 2008, 9:12 pm


Shai said:

I’m sorry you do not try to write things others want to hear. As a businessman, I’d hope you have those abilities, but are choosing not to use them here on this forum, for purely “ethical” reasons. I, on the other hand, believe in compromise, and in changing my mind if and when needed. Given that we’re trying to achieve peace here, I think that in itself is good enough reason to warrant changing one’s mind quite a bit, don’t you? Come to think of it, can people make peace without changing their minds? Probably not. But maybe you can.

June 17th, 2008, 9:18 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

My logic was quite different. All I was saying is that even if price of oil doubles, the price of a gallon in the US will be $8 which is what it is in Europe and significantly less than in Turkey it seems. So if Europe and Turkey can survive with their current price of gas, the US can of course handle a doubling in the price of oil. This of course does not take into account the strategic reserve which will be used and will lower the price of gas for US consumers.

June 17th, 2008, 9:18 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Why can’t people make peace without changing their minds? If two people don’t agree, then theoretically only one has to change his mind. So it is quite possible. I think there are quite a few examples in history for that. Here is one: Hafez made peace with the Muslim Brotherhood without changing his mind.

June 17th, 2008, 9:23 pm


EHSANI2 said:

But, your logic fails to note that the US currency will fall significantly further if oil prices double from here. That would likely cause severe ripple effects in the financial market in ways that you do not seem to mention.

June 17th, 2008, 9:25 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Why would the US currency fall during a war? That is contrary to all historical precedents. In a world crisis the dollar becomes stronger especially since Europe is so much closer to Iran than the US.

June 17th, 2008, 9:28 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

And, the US has strategic oil reserves and Europe and China don’t. They would be much more affected by a serious war.

June 17th, 2008, 9:30 pm


EHSANI2 said:

The value of the US Dollar has had a strong negative correlation with commodity prices. The higher oil prices go, the lower the Dollar. Economists are confused whether the cause and effect is the other way around where it is the falling Dollar that causes a rise in commodity prices. If war were to start and if oil prices do indeed rise, I can assure you that the Dollar will fall. The European Central Bank has a single mandate to control inflation. As oil prices rise, they are under pressure to raise interest rates which puts upward pressure on the Euro. The US Central bank is in no position to raise rates in a hurry as it targets the double mandate of sustainable growth and low inflation. When choosing between the two, it is likely to opt for the former given the weak housing market. This dynamic has been in place and it is one reason the Dollar has fallen in tandem with the rise in commodity prices.

June 17th, 2008, 9:40 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

In times of war, the ECB will act differently. If there is a serious war, which I doubt (I don’t think Iran will retaliate), the ECB will certainly be more worried about a recession and will not raise interest rates.

If there is no serious war, then the price of oil will not change significantly expect for some fluctuations until the market realizes that war will not materialize.

June 17th, 2008, 9:46 pm


EHSANI2 said:

If war starts, can I buy some oil and sell you some Dollars for Euro?

June 17th, 2008, 9:49 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Options are not free. I can sell you some if you like.

June 17th, 2008, 9:52 pm


JustOneAmerican said:


The USA has a de facto veto power over any Israeli attack on Iran. The US has already considered the consequences and decided the costs are not worth the risks.

Besides, Israel does not really have the capability to effectively strike the key targets in Iran. Additionally, I think your leadership understands that a strike that fails is much worse for Israel than no strike at all. After 2006, Israel cannot afford another military failure.

June 17th, 2008, 10:31 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Bashar is making some bold strides indeed. This is a break from the bait-and-switch tactics that we’ve come to expect from Damascus. It seems the Syrian minister of information has one brief and one brief only these days: publicize Syrian-Israeli talks, Syrian-Arab rapprochement, etc.

The Europeans have taken the bait, and an Obama White House will follow.

Good news for the region, as long as the honeymoon is not called off by Iranian cold feet, American/Israeli cowboyism, or any of a million other contingencies.

June 17th, 2008, 11:48 pm


Joshua said:

I agree with you. Bashar will not shake the hand of the Israeli President or PM before a deal is done. It is forbidden for Syrians of any capacity to official meet with or socialize with Israelis.

Assad cannot break Syrian law or protocol if he expects others to adhere to it.

All the same, there is a precedent.

Moshe Katsav, the President of Israel, reportedly shook hands with the Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and Syrian President Bashar Assad, during his trip to the Pope’s funeral on April 8, 2005.

According to the Jerusalem Post, a member of Assad’s entourage did confirm on Friday night that a handshake with Katsav occurred, and reported this quote by a Syrian Army Radio source saying “the gesture was an expression of manners and has no political significance.” Katsav also told Israeli Channel 2 News on Friday evening that his handshakes with Assad and Khatami were merely polite gestures and had no implications for the relationships between their countries.

Herb Keinon and AP “Syria acknowledges historic handshake.” April 8, 2005.

Upon Khatami’s return to Iran, he denied the handshake ever occurred, saying “These allegations are false like all the other allegations made by the Israeli media and I have not had any meeting with a personality from the Zionist regime,” according to the Islamic Republic News Agency. “As reiterated time and again, we do not morally and logically recognize Israel which was created based on force and usurpation.”

Katsav and Khatami, both born in the Iranian city of Yazd, share the Persian Farsi language. Katsav reportedly said when leaving, “the Iranian president held his hand out to me. I shook his hand and greeted him in Farsi.”

My guess is that human instinct and the natural politeness of Khatami and Assad got the better of them. Because Katsav spoke in Khatami’s language, the Iranian president responded naturally, as most humans would. Assad, seeing the Iranian leader speak to and shake the hand of Israel’s president followed suit, out of instinct and because he did not want to make a scene. Both undoubtedly regretted the media sensation afterward and tried to disown it.

June 18th, 2008, 12:17 am


norman said:


You might like this one and let me know what you think about this and about letting forign nationals own real state ,,

Skip to main content, accesskey ‘s’
Homepage, accesskey ‘1’
Financial Times FT.com
WorldCloseSyria sees benefits of liberalisation
By Heba Saleh in Damascus

Published: June 18 2008 03:06 | Last updated: June 18 2008 03:06

Chic sidewalk cafés offering fashionable coffees and trendy western dishes have sprung up in the more upmarket areas of Damascus.

The clients are invariably well-dressed, and the neighbourhoods are studded with shops selling international brand name clothing such as Benetton and Stefanel, some of whose merchandise is made in Syria.

In the arcade attached to the Four Seasons Hotel, imported shoes and fashions from top designers are available to those who can pay more than £1,000 ($2,000) for a single item of clothing.

The picture is at odds with Syria’s image as a pariah state with a centrally planned economy, a large and unprofitable public sector and a security apparatus breathing down everyone’s neck.

But Syria has been forced to liberalise aspects of its economic system to make up for oil revenue that has been falling by about 10 per cent a year.

The economy remains in desperate need of restructuring, and privatisation has stalled. The country’s foreign policy, at odds with most of its neighbours in the Arab world, has been deterring investment from abroad.

However, in recent years the establishment of private banks and a dramatic reduction in tax rates and import duties have boosted private investment, trade and non-oil exports. The latter have strengthened, particularly in Arab markets.

The International Monetary Fund expects growth in real gross domestic product in 2008 to reach 4 per cent, up from 3.9 per cent last year.

Economists say the presence of 1.5m Iraqi refugees has fuelled local demand, tourism has been growing and petrodollars from the Gulf have been finding their way into Syrian property.

Foreign direct investment has grown – even if it was still modest at $700m in 2007. Most foreign investment is in oil and property, according to Nabil Sukkar, an economist who runs an independent consultancy.

“Foreign investment to manufacturing is not there,” he said. “The multinationals are not there. I can only think of two.” But he argues that “the business climate is no longer the deterrent to foreign investment. It is the media image and the United States accusing Syria of terrorism”.

The economic cost of a hardline foreign policy might be an additional factor driving the Syrian regime to send signals recently that it wants a better relationship with the west.

Officials are in contact with Israeli counterparts on reaching a peace agreement that would return the occupied Golan Heights to Syria.

Having acquiesced in a deal that ended almost two years of crisis in Lebanon – after being accused of blocking it – Syria is starting to reap benefits, with France in particular resuming its engagement with Damascus.

The US, however, remains unconvinced that the regime, accused of the 2005 assassination of Rafiq Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister, deserves to be rewarded at this time.

Washington first imposed trade sanctions on Syria in 2004. Last month it was reported the US Treasury had been pressing Turkcell, a Turkish mobile phone operator, to abandon a $1bn (€645m, £512m) takeover of Syriatel, which is owned by Rami Makhlouf, the tycoon cousin of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president.

There is little expectation that Syria’s international image will change soon, so the country’s economic decision makers are concentrating on local and regional investment and on mitigating the impact of global inflation which has been exacerbated locally by poor harvests.

Ordinary Syrians are being squeezed by higher prices especially after the government reduced fuel subsidies recently.

Public sector salaries have been raised 25 per cent to help those on limited incomes, but most people work for the private sector. Mr Sukkar argues inflation is causing the middle class to “disappear” as its buying power erodes.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

“FT” and “Financial Times” are trademarks of the Financial Times. Privacy policy | Terms
© Copyright The Financial Times Ltd 2008.

June 18th, 2008, 2:48 am


Shai said:


You said: “If two people don’t agree, then theoretically only one has to change his mind. So it is quite possible. I think there are quite a few examples in history for that. Here is one: Hafez made peace with the Muslim Brotherhood without changing his mind.”

I think that says it all. As long as there are Israelis that think this way (we’ll force “them” to change their mind), there will be no peace. There will, however, be much bloodshed in our region. What you fail to understand, is that respect and pride are key to any agreement. Very few examples in the modern era can show successful peace brought upon a people by force. Japan and Germany might be examples, and there, they had to first be conquered, surrender, and be occupied for years. In a way, I’m sure many Israelis think given enough time, we could force peace upon the Palestinians in just that way. But they’re wrong. Neither the Palestinians, nor the Syrians, or the Iraqis, or Lebanese, or anyone else in this region, are like the Japanese or Germans. And Israel is not America.

Peace will only come through COMPROMISE. It will not come through “… one side changing its mind.” Stick to this belief, and continue watching your countrymen dying, and killing others. It will continue, until a catastrophe happens, probably in the shape of nuclear war. You don’t seem to be overly concerned about that. You think time is on our hands. What more do you need to happen, to realize that you’re wrong? Do you need a “dirty bomb” to go off in Tel-Aviv? Must you continue to think this way towards your enemy, waiting for him to bring about stinking democracy, before you’ll consider relinquishing land which belongs to him?

Perhaps you’re like those stubborn COGS (chiefs of general staff) Kennedy had advising him during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. That was the closest America and Russia ever came to nuclear war. The COGS unanimously voted in favor of an attack on Cuba, meaning on Russian forces there. We know from historical records, that had Kennedy listened to their advice, and attacked Cuba, some 192 short and medium-range nuclear warheads would have been used against the United States, from a distance of 90 miles off the Florida coast. Imagine how our world would look like today, had that happened. And you know what, Robert McNamara explained in the past, that these same COGS, like many others in the U.S. at the time, were smart people that had already established in their own minds that a nuclear confrontation with the USSR was inevitable, and that therefore the sooner this happened, the better, before the USSR got much more powerful. These experienced military generals were ready for the worst. They were ready for a catastrophe. Kennedy, thank god, wasn’t. To avert disaster, he was ready to make concessions to the Russians, to make public and private promises, never to invade Cuba, and to remove American missiles from Turkey. He found the way to help Khrushchev get off the tree. He compromised, for the sake of peace.

Keep being stubborn, keep looking at life through your “Right vs. Wrong” principled lens, and you may well have to explain to your grandchildren one day, why it is that the Middle East is a destroyed region, with ruined cities, towns and villages. Why it is that wise men and women couldn’t avert catastrophe. And your only answer would be” “Because THEY didn’t change their mind…”

June 18th, 2008, 4:12 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

“Do you need a “dirty bomb” to go off in Tel-Aviv?”
Who is going to send a dirty bomb to Tel-Aviv? It can’t be the Iranians because you think they are rational. So who?

But I certainly am for compromise, but with democratic regimes, not with dictators who do not represent their countries.

June 18th, 2008, 4:26 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

And I have another question for you:
“Neither the Palestinians, nor the Syrians, or the Iraqis, or Lebanese, or anyone else in this region, are like the Japanese or Germans.”

In what way are they different? I think you are quite wrong about this.

June 18th, 2008, 4:33 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

What you fail to understand, is that the Arab states will undergo significant changes in the next 10-30 years. Most likely many will fall to radical Islam. Some will deteriorate into civil war. Peace with them is at most a short term arrangement which will have long term costs deterimental to Israel.

There is nothing Israel can do. We have to wait the decades it will take for our neigbors to become democratic.

June 18th, 2008, 4:40 am


Shai said:


Both of us want peace. But the main difference between us, is that you’re like those “stubborn” COGS, having already accepted that “many will fall to radical Islam” and that “some will deteriorate into civil war”, while I still believe there might be another path possible. I don’t know for fact that by giving back the Golan to the Syrians, the West Bank to the Palestinians, and Shebaa Farms to the Lebanese, that the Arabs will suddenly learn to love us. My suspicion is, that they won’t, not for a while. I do believe that a far better way to avert catastrophe in our region, is through diplomacy, and through first doing what’s right. And in Israel’s case, there is no doubt whatsoever that giving back Arab land that isn’t ours is the first step. Coming to terms with the dark parts of our history is the second step.

The Japanese and Germans were (and in a way still are) an unusually obedient people. But even they had to first be destroyed, before they surrendered and accepted their fate. Israel is not America, we cannot destroy the Arabs, and the Arabs will never surrender. I certainly hope you accept that. They also will not become democratic in the near future. Iraq is a perfect example of an American attempt at a Japan-2, and we see the results thus far. We cannot force anything upon one another. We can only hope to reach a compromise, and change together.

June 18th, 2008, 5:32 am


SimoHurtta said:

What you fail to understand, is that the Arab states will undergo significant changes in the next 10-30 years. Most likely many will fall to radical Islam. Some will deteriorate into civil war. Peace with them is at most a short term arrangement which will have long term costs deterimental to Israel.

AIG after reading for a long time your comments I begin to understand the rather poor results of the Jewish “nation’s” foreign political relations and PR during the millenniums.

You seem to be ready to nuke Iran because they potentially could put a dirty bomb in Tel Aviv in lets say ten years. But as usual you do not provide any rational reason for Iran doing that. You only hint to radical Islam. Well what about radical Judaism? Lets not forget the religious expansive Jews with ready nukes.

And, the US has strategic oil reserves and Europe and China don’t. They would be much more affected by a serious war.

From where do you AIG dig your facts? As usual you are creating your own national socialistic Israeli dream-world fantasies.

Wikipedia tells us:

The US SPR is the largest emergency supply in the world with the current capacity to hold up to 727 million barrels (115,600,000 m³) of crude oil. The second largest emergency supply of petroleum is Japan’s with a 2003 reported capacity of 579 million barrels (92,100,000 m³).

Finland has an SPR with an approximate size of 62.4 million barrels.

Germany an approximate reserve size of 250 million barrels as of 1997.

China’s reserve structure
Government Reserves; 101.9 million barrel strategic reserve
Enterprise Reserves; 209.44 million barrel strategic reserve

Wikipedia tells us also
The United States and Israel agreement
According to the 1975 Second Sinai withdrawal document signed by the United States and Israel, in an emergency the U.S. is obligated to make oil available for sale to Israel for up to 5 years.

Isn’t that interesting AIG? USA is demanded to sell oil for Israelis even they would not have any to their own citizens. That is real friendship. 🙂

June 18th, 2008, 6:04 am


AnotherSyrianGuy said:

“Pascal’s Pensée on the limitations of atheism”. I think the Pensée, from the point of view of both mathematics and philosophy, is one of the most superficial books ever written. It is very overrated. I wonder why the name dropping.

June 18th, 2008, 10:36 am


Mike Nahas said:

What AIG and others insist in denying (throughout the years in this forum) is this:

Golan is not a desert, as the land portions returned to Jordan and Egypt. There are vineyards, sky resorts, and the most important commodity: Water.

This was, from 67 (again I reffer to Moshe Dayan´s postumus letter), a land grab operation. I agree that this nation suffered more than enough throughout the centuries with persecution, and Hitler´s was the apex of human shame, no one disagrees with that.

The fact still that the ethical behavior of (part of) the members of this community or nation, if you will, lead the peoples (mailnly in Christian societies), to despise them.

Nevertheless if I were a Jew I would exercize some soul searching and honesty, and I would want to know why this feeling was prominent. Let´s be honest, what would (even for Americans) the level of commitment be if AIPAC and the absurd amount of political persecution would´d occur in Washington, both by Israeli lobbyists and the Right Wing Religious NUTS in America (I am an ordained minister in a Main line church in America) and can testify that this religious behavior and attitude towards Israel, is either American or American-exported, and quite an exception in world Christianity.

This sense of entitlement of the Zionist mind, and the constant scapegoating (Holocaust) that justifies or makes right any abuse, breaking of international law, or any political position will be recognized, sooner or later by those now being mislead or bullied by AIPAC, and its allies in the US.

Jews (as a religious community) are respected and have rights, both in Teheran and Damascus, but this lawless Zionist entitlement attitude cannot be tolerated, period.

Why would Syria give up its (barganing) chips before even playing the game? (I reffer to severring its ties to HB, Iran and HM?).

Why would Israel need ¨deffensible borders¨ if it is in peace with its neighbours?

Who are the ones in Israeli society agains giving back the Golan? The ones living anf profitting there, or the one´s concerned with the security reason involved on the operation?

If we ought to have an honest conversation on this matter let´s call things as they are, and in the Golan case it is a land grab operation by a group of disonest and ill intentioned people (notice that I´m not including here the whole of the Israeli or Jewish community).

So, next time someone, anywhere in the world, asks why has this people being persecuted throughout history, remmember to explain what a bad orange can do to others on the same box!

Contrary to ancient Egypt, Canaanites,Philistines, Assyrians, Babilonian, Persians, Greeks, Romans, and Christians, the Arabs did not invade Israels land, on the contrary, Biblical history witness that the whole ¨Holy Land¨project was a land-grab óperation since Moses´s time.

How about some historical integrity here?

Salutations from Brazil, to all!

Rev. Michel Nahas

June 18th, 2008, 11:15 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

It is real friendship isn’t it? The US and Israel have a special relationship. Get used to it.

June 18th, 2008, 1:59 pm


why-discuss said:

Israel keep threatening and do nothing. Where is the famous Gaza military strike they have been hammering on us with? what about the rejected cease fire proposed by Hamas a year ago. Result: invasion is off, cease fire accord is on.
Now there is the barking on Iran nuclear sites about to be bombed. Nothing will happen again.
In both case we can see how weak Israel has become militarily after the fiasco of the war against Hezbollah. They do not trust anymore the IDF and fear another fiasco. Cowardly they attacked Syria military target to flex their muscles. Maybe it is a high time for negotiating peace before Israel appears even weaker.

June 19th, 2008, 4:04 am


Shai said:


This cease-fire that has gone into effect this morning (1.5 hours ago) is not a result of no-option for the IDF. In fact, many in the Israeli army are ready to roll into Gaza in a large scale operation. I believe there are two main reasons for not seeing such an operation right now: First, Hamas did negotiate well through Egypt and made Israel look like the aggressor if it should refuse the offer. And second, the Israeli government wants to be able to tell the Israeli people “You see, we tried our best”, before going in again. All the newspapers are readying Israelis for, what they call, an inevitable eventuality which is clash with Hamas. This cease-fire, unlike perhaps others in the past, is meant to be the last “test” for both sides, before a major operation is authorized. Trust me (and you know my opinion on these operations), the IDF really IS preparing to go in, and it really WILL do so in an instant should the cease-fire terms be broken by Hamas, Jihad, or even Israel itself. Everyone knows the price Israel will pay by going in, and this is why the government is trying to avoid it as long as it can. But Hamas also knows it’ll suffer heavy losses, not to mention many many innocent Palestinians, and it too wants to avert such a catastrophe.

Personally, I don’t think the attack on the Syrian installation was “cowardly”. I think it was foolish, and it gambled on almost everything we tried to do with Syria behind the scene over the past 3-4 years. Syria could have, after all, attacked back. At the very least with missiles. And then we’d be at war. But Bashar chose not to, thank god, and therefore many on my side are claiming he is weak. I think that’s a dangerous assumption to make, and I’m truly hoping that we Israelis won’t avoid making the necessary decisions in the coming 1-2 years (giving back the Golan), and instead push Syria into such a corner, from which it could only come out through war.

As for Iran, I wouldn’t rule anything out just yet, though I do believe an attack is unlikely. Even if the U.S. doesn’t attack, Israel still might. I hope it doesn’t, but there are enough hardline advisors to the PM, and his trouble with the Talansky investigation could, in theory, cause him to authorize a terrible operation that would distract the public long enough to make him look good (protectorate of Israel against nuclear threats). I agree with you – the way the IDF traditionally fights, it is indeed very weak against HA and Hamas. But against regular armies, regular targets, etc., it is still the strongest in the region. If god forbid it went to war against Syria, or Iran, it would fight much better than against some armed militia. By the way, it should be assumed that the IDF has been learning its lessons from Lebanon 2006, and that it will not fight the same way next time. Translating that into action, it probably means it will do far greater damage to civilian targets, and take a far greater toll next time around.

June 19th, 2008, 4:56 am


Post a comment

Neoprofit AI beylikdüzü escort