"Will failure to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict mean a new Cold War in the Middle East," By Joshua Landis - Syria Comment

“Will failure to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict mean a new Cold War in the Middle East,” By Joshua Landis

Will failure to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict mean a new Cold War in the Middle East
By Joshua Landis Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Is a new Cold War taking shape in the Middle East? It is not hard to understand why skeptics believe it may be. President Dmitry Medvedev visited Syria on Monday, the first ever visit by a Russian or Soviet head of state. Syrians are excited. They are hoping that Russia will resume its old role as armorer and advocate of those states prepared to “defend Arab rights” and resist U.S. hegemony.

When Barack Obama first became U.S. president, Syrians were hopeful that he would break the mold of U.S. policy and carry through with his promise to finally end the Arab-Israeli conflict based on land for peace. To Syrians, this means they will get back the Golan Heights, which Israel captured in 1967; it means a two-state solution for the Palestinians. For the past several months, Syrian authorities have been telling anyone who will listen in Washington that the one thing they want from the United States is help getting back the Golan. If Syria gets back its land, it will modify its alliances and end its enmity toward Israel, allowing for a new relationship with the United States. Today, that hope seems to be all but dashed.

It is in this context that we can understand the events of the last few months that have ended with renewed threats of war between Israel and Syria, the rapid deterioration of U.S.-Syria relations, and Syria’s effort to strengthen a system of alliances that it hopes will right the terrible imbalance in power between it and Israel — an imbalance which the United States supports and which Syria blames for Israel’s intransigence. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims that “the Golan will remain in our hands.” His refusal to stop expanding settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank in the face of U.S. urging suggests that the two-state solution for the Palestinians is doubtful.

Syrians are convinced that the Obama administration will cave into Israeli pressure to soft-pedal the peace process and put the best face on the status quo. With congressional electioneering in full swing and the presidential election not far behind, all signs are that Obama is feeling compelled to patch up frayed relations with Israel. This will be done at Syria’s expense. Hence, Israel and the United States joined voices in accusing Syria of supplying long-range missiles to Hezbollah. Also last week, Washington renewed sanctions on Syria. Why? Because U.S. officials said Syria continues “to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.” The renewal of sanctions only reminded Syrians of how intractable U.S.-Syria enmity is and how dependent any improvement of relations will be on a Syria-Israel peace. This is why Syrian authorities have put so much hope in peace with Israel. They believe that if Syria can negotiate peace and get back the Golan, all other problems, such as the U.S.-Syria relationship and sanctions, will fix themselves with minimal tinkering.

So what are Damascus’s options in the face of Obama’s climb down and Israel’s refusal to trade land for peace?

Damascus insists that it will not give up its claim to the Golan or its right to resist occupation. This means arming Hezbollah and Hamas. Getting Russia on board Syria’s efforts to resist will be key, as Russia is the most likely country to help with more sophisticated missiles and anti-tank weapons, as well as anti-aircraft defense. From Syria’s point of view, it must improve its ability to defend against Israel’s periodic incursions and raise the cost of Israeli refusal to return the Golan.

Syria is doing everything it can to build up what it is calling a “northern alliance” between Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. This is the primary building block in Syria’s strategy for countering Israel’s overwhelming military superiority. Rapidly improving relations with Turkey are at the heart of the alliance and breaking out of Syria’s narrow dependency on Iran. In the last two years, all visa requirements between the Turkey and Syria have been dropped, and trade has increased rapidly. In an effort to expand improving economic ties into the world of defense, Syria recently held military exercises with Turkey. It is no surprise that Medvedev will follow up his two-day Syria visit with a Turkey stopover. Assad has just concluded a tripartite summit in Istanbul with Prime Minister Reccep Tayyip Erdogan and the emir of Qatar. A spokesman at the Russian Embassy in Damascus told AFP, “We are seeking to recover lost ground with old friends.” On the agenda of Russia-Syria talks are the Mideast peace process, Iran’s nuclear program, and the bilateral arms trade between the two countries.

Russia is seeking to beef up its role in the region. It is helping rebuild the port of Tartus as a docking and repair station for the Russian fleet. It has also won contracts to play an expanded role in Syria’s gas and oil industry. A bevy of Russian businessmen are accompanying Medvedev to Damascus.

Syria is looking to Russia for help in deterring the United States and Israel. “After the USSR collapsed and Moscow voluntarily left the Middle East, the balance of power shifted in favor of Israel and the United States,” Samir Ismail, director of the Center for Strategic Studies at Damascus University, told the Russian news service, Ria Novosti. “The return of Russia, one of the poles of world policy, will bring balance, safety, and stability to the region,” he insisted. “Russia is a key player” and it “should force Israel to resume the peace process,” Samir added.

So where does this leave the United States? Syria must try to raise the cost of Washington’s support for Israel. It can do this in two ways: by attacking regional governments that ally with America as traitors to the “Arab cause,” and radicalizing their people by stressing the extent to which the United States is the enemy of Arabs and Muslims and sides unfairly with Israel. Syria will have to force the United States to decide as frequently as possible which side it is on. It will hang Israel around America’s neck and work to isolate both in the region.

America’s leading allies have been Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt. The Saudis have shown some signs of distancing themselves from Washington and have reached out to both Russia and China to hedge their bets. Saudi-Syrian relations reached a low point during Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006, when Syria accused Riyadh of supporting Israel against Hezbollah and called Saudi leaders “quasi-men.” Since then, Syria and Saudi Arabia have patched up their relations by agreeing not to allow differences over Lebanon to come between them. Saudi Arabia has shifted its attention away from Lebanon and toward Iraq, where it can cooperate with Damascus on stabilizing a post-American government. Both governments stood together in favoring Ayad Allawi as leader of a new Iraqi government. Syria has supported Saudi actions in Yemen. Jordan has also worked to improve relations with Syria. King Abdullah has warned the United States that it must pressure Netanyahu to stop settlement expansion for fear that war will break out.

Egypt’s relations with Damascus have been the most resistant to improvement. The two countries traded nasty accusations during Israel’s invasion of Gaza in 2008. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in bringing a bunch of Hezbollah operatives to trial recently, has shown that Syria and Hezbollah threatened Egyptian state security. This was a blow to Syria. All the same, Syria will continue to paint Mubarak as a traitor and Israel-lover who is willing to starve the Palestinians. This is not good for the Egyptian president, who has extended an olive branch of sorts to Syria by speaking up in favor of Syria’s accession to the World Trade Organization and by championing a nuclear-weapons-free Middle East. Syria will work to isolate the United States in the Middle East.

Russia will fish in the troubled waters of the Middle East. American isolation can only redound to its advantage. The Arabs and Iran will look to Russia for arms. Russia can also be gratified by the deterioration of Turkey’s relations with both Israel and the United Stats. It will continue to look for ways to frustrate U.S. efforts to add teeth to its sanctions regime against Iran.

So long as America’s No. 1 foreign-policy goal in the region is to hurt Iran and help Israel, Russia will be drawn back into the region and a new Cold War will take shape. Washington’s failure to realign relations with Iran and Syria dooms it to repeat its past. But this time Israel will be more of a millstone around its neck as it thumbs it’s nose at international law and human rights. China also presents a new and potent challenge.

Gamal Abdul Nasser claimed that in the Middle East there was a role in search of a hero; he tried to fill it at great cost to Egypt. So long as the Arab-Israeli conflict remains unresolved, however, that role will exist. Iran and Syria are trying to fill it today. They claim to defend Arab and Muslim rights in the face of Israeli expansion and U.S. imperialism. If they are to have any success, they will need a larger power to champion their efforts. And Russia is the obvious candidate — that is, until China is prepared to throw its weight behind Middle East peacemaking. Syria is well aware that neither Russia nor China can dare challenge the United States or Israel for at least a decade, but Syria and Iran seem prepared to play for time. The alternative to taking the long view for Syria is the loss of the Golan and national humiliation.

Joshua Landis is director of the Center for Middle East Studies and associate professor at the University of Oklahoma. He is the author of the blog Syria Comment.

Comments (66)


Alex said:

Excellent article Josh

I’ll repeat here what I wrote on your facebook page:

While no Russian leader ever visited Syria. Most American Presidents met Hafez Assad

This friendly Nixon visit took place a few months after the Russians supplied Syria with their best SAM missiles and MIG planes for the 1973 war:

http://www.syrianhistory.com/files/historical_articles/016_0.jpg… See More

The Soviet Union did not force Syria to not host Nixon when the cold war was at its peak, … Iran today does not ask Syria to stop talking to the Americans and to seek peace with Israel even though those two countries are constantly threatening to invade Iran, … I wish the Americans can learn to respect Syria’s interests and needs like the Soviets did in the past and like the Iranians do today with Syria.

Only the US and Israel want Syria to destroy its good relations with Iran so that they can consider improving their relations with Syria.

How democratic of the two democracies.

May 12th, 2010, 3:02 am

 

norman said:

No matter how many friends Syria can have and i surly hope she will have many ,she should always know that she should use her friends and allies to prepare her people and military to be ready to fight for the Golan as the last 40 years taught me that Israel does not leave lands it holds if keeping these lands does not cost her anything , we saw that in Gaza and Lebanon ,

No Israeli leader will be able to return the Golan if keeping it is costing the Israeli public nothing ,

May 12th, 2010, 3:03 am

 

norman said:

Alex,

What the US and Israel want is simple , they want Syria disarmed from her friends so they can defeat her , I am glad that Syria is outsmarting them ,

May 12th, 2010, 3:11 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Yes it is a good article
The liberal democrats has joined the conservatives in England,this could be a modifying force,and could adds to Israel troubles.
Russian president visit to Syria comes at a time US renew Sanctions against Syria.American policy is wrong.
Syria is making more friends.this will frustrate Israel.waiting for a change in Egypt.
Saudia Arabia is a friend to Syria ,not against Syria.

May 12th, 2010, 5:01 am

 

Fares said:

great article… i love it when i get the context of things..

can anyone clarify please: why doesnt israel want peace? domestic pressure? perhaps the solution is kneset reform in that case no?

May 12th, 2010, 6:40 am

 

Yossi said:

Not an expert on Russia but it seems to me that…

Russia is not interested is rebuilding an empire. Russia is doing today what is good for Russia, and its highest priorities are to dominate the supply of energy to Eastern Europe (a monopoly which the “Northern Alliance” potentially threatens) and to contain China (which means it will want to stay in good terms with the US). Russia will be very careful and opportunistic in how it engages with Syria, the same way Syria is opportunistic in ALL of its current alliances. After all, Assad has said that between countries, only interests matter. However, between some countries, e.g., Israel and the US, or the US and Canada, or the US and Australia, there are more than interests that cement a relationship, i.e., there are also emotions such as devotion and kinship, which make the laundry list of interests misalignment that Chas Freeman presented a week ago, a secondary-level issue.

Just consider how subdued the Russian propaganda channel sounds about the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

http://rt.com/prime-time/2010-05-11/middle-east-medvedev-visit.html

May 12th, 2010, 7:06 am

 

Yossi said:

Hi Fares,

You can read the comments on this op-ed, to get a feel for the nature of objections Israelis have to a peace deal with Syria:

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/the-missiles-are-coming-1.289149

May 12th, 2010, 7:11 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Professor Josh states:

Damascus insists that it will not give up its claim to the Golan or its right to resist occupation. This means arming Hezbollah and Hamas. Getting Russia on board Syria’s efforts to resist will be key…

By Syria placing her chips on Russia and the Iranian jihadists, clearly the Golan (like the occupation) is not the goal.

As some here have stated, keeping relations with Iran is more important than the Golan and whatever peace treaty is signed by Israel. And of course, the same Israelis that fought so hard for the Oslo facade are screaming about giving up the Golan as a goodwill gesture.

I wonder if Assad will take a hard look at the last two wars with Lebanon and Gaza to determine his next step. Getting others to fight your wars can only last so long.

May 12th, 2010, 10:57 am

 

Shai said:

Akbar,

If you were Syria, you would certainly ally yourself with Iran, Turkey, Russia, and any other significant party. You would do that, just as the U.S. allies itself with a long list of strong allies. Saying that relations with Iran have nothing to do with the Golan is only partly true. It doesn’t, and it does. The latter, because the defense alliance with another of Israel’s main enemies is, in itself, a card in future negotiations. And, it is also a defensive and strategic move, because it does cause Israel to think carefully about possible offensive steps. It is easier to hit an isolated nation, than one that also has powerful friends. If Iran is considering hitting Israel, it has the U.S. response in mind as well.

To suggest that Syria isn’t “really interested” in the Golan is, at best, naive.

Btw, not everyone that supported the “Oslo Facade” is screaming to give back the Golan. I know of at least one such person. His name is Benjamin Netanyahu.

May 12th, 2010, 12:23 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

AP said
By Syria placing her chips on Russia and the Iranian jihadists, clearly the Golan (like the occupation) is not the goal.
This is clearly twisted thinking and deceiving
AP continues to make nonesense statements,and reflects Israel intransigence.
Shame on you AP

May 12th, 2010, 12:29 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

Dr. Landis’s ended his observations of the present “modus vivendi” in the ME and specifically Syria on a somewhat pessimistic note. Which by all indications he most certainly is justified in his conclusions.

Given the realities of history one can safely say that the only two ways Syria can expect to get the Golan Heights back is either to buy it [like the Israelis made the US “buy” their exit out of the Sinai] or to prepare itself to do what the Israelis did in getting control of the Golan.

On the important issue of radicalization both Israel and the US have unwittingly [maybe?] are daily assisting the radical leadership in expanding their volunteers.

The costs of the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan are budgetted at $350 million dollars a day. How long can such expenditures continue and/or increase now that the amicable relationship with Pakistan is no longer amicable is becoming an issue.

The old adage that, “one reaps what one sows”, or as they say in Texas, “what goes around comes around”.

One must sympathise with Dr. Landis’s disappointment with Mr. Obama’s policy.

May 12th, 2010, 1:38 pm

 

100 Inshallah-ing Ahmeds said:

5 Dancing Shlomos:

Did you just step out of medieval Europe? Because those first two sentences appear to be straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

May 12th, 2010, 3:41 pm

 

almasri said:

We expect Egypt to soon explode and cause a huge earthquake in the whole region. This will result in the total eclipse America and Israel. In this case, Russia, Europe and even China will start scrambling to align themselves with the Arabs and dissociate themselves from the evil deeds of the American/Zionist axis. The ordinary American will soon pay a huge price for his/her government’s foolishness of supporting a parasitic entity living of his/her own taxes.

May 12th, 2010, 3:48 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

Dershowitz’s defense with photos of Israel’s right to be what what it is.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3888025,00.html

The Ankara/Tel Aviv Axis is finished. Turkey has made it official.

And the French and Israelis have been conducting joint military exercises in secret.

And El Baradei visited DC last week.

May 12th, 2010, 4:01 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Beating the Tin Drums of War on Syria Comment

President Dmitry Medvedev visited Syria.

It’s time to beat our chests and claim victory once again:

Professor Josh claims (projecting third person but we all know is really first person):

THEY are hoping that Russia will resume its old role as armorer and advocate of those states prepared to “defend Arab rights” and resist U.S. hegemony.

Of course, “Arab rights” is a pseudonym for the eradication of Israel. Everyone knows there are NO Arab rights in the ME, especially in Syria.

Ghat Albird said:

One must sympathise with Dr. Landis’s disappointment with Mr. Obama’s policy.

Yes, our pro-“resistance” “peace” professor is disappointed. The American president and friend of Jeremiah Wright is supposed to let Hezbollah rearm by way of Syria and Iran. Again, it looks like we’ll have to wait for the “right” American president. The poor Palestinians have already succumbed to Zionist pressure and initiated “proximity talks”. A blow to Arab Pride™ and the Jewish Yafeh Nefesh.

5 dancing shlomos said:

there can only be the destruction of israel. either by the weight of its own hate or by war.

Yes, we know. That is why the Golan comes with a tangible “Split with Iran” pricetag. You may call that “hate”, I call it common sense. Most of the sane world would agree with me.

Al Masri said:

We expect Egypt to soon explode and cause a huge earthquake in the whole region.

Al Masri,

Can you give us an indication when the “huge earthquake” will explode? Professor Josh and the rest of the faithful are counting on you.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100512/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_egypt_suspicious_luggage

May 12th, 2010, 4:34 pm

 

Shai said:

Akbar said: “Most of the sane world would agree with me.”

Funny, I don’t hear anyone else besides Israel making those demands, do you? So is “the sane world” now just Israel? And when is Israel “sane enough” for Akbar – when Lieberman is in power, but not when Rabin was? Or when Bibi was, and supported the Oslo Accords, and hugged Yasser Arafat, and called him “a true friend”? When is Israel sane enough, and when is it not?

Not a SINGLE nation on Earth (that’s the green planet you currently reside on) thinks the Golan is Israeli territory. Nor the West Bank. Not a single nation on Earth accepts Israeli Occupation of any Arab territory taken after 1967.

So where is that “sane world” you talk about?!? WHO agrees with you on this planet, Akbar, besides AIPAC and Lieberman?

May 12th, 2010, 5:01 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

AP exhibits all the symptoms common to his kind starting with hysterics and prejudices that most fools use as reasons.

May 12th, 2010, 5:11 pm

 

Hassan said:

AlMasri:

“We expect Egypt to soon explode and cause a huge earthquake in the whole region. ”

You are not living up to your name. Being from Egypt, you ought to know that in this region few things today last longer than political regimes. In fact, I would say that it is one of the things that makes the Middle East what it is. You could fall asleep today, wake up in 20 years and not need to know who is running which country. Mr. Assad will be in Syria. Mr. Mubarak will be in Egypt. Mr. Qadhafi in Libya and Mr. Salih will be in Yemen.

We can have no idea who will be leading the countries of Europe, North America, South America, or East Asia (sans China and North Korea).

I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for that earthquake.

May 12th, 2010, 5:17 pm

 

ARTH said:

That is the future: A new “Cold War” in the Middle East in which Russia will play the role of the former Soviet Union but this time, without the ideological limits of Communism. That means more arms and a greater threat of war.

May 12th, 2010, 5:36 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Presidents of Algeria, Brazil, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Sri Lanka will attend the G15 summit in Tehran next Monday. The Syrian president, the Qatari emir, and Turkish prime minister are special guests to the conference.

http://www.payvand.com/news/10/may/1133.html

May 12th, 2010, 5:54 pm

 

almasri said:

I wonder if it wouldn’t be a good idea to prevent traitors and/or Arab impostors from posting on Syriacomment. Such characters are full of shame and they should be helped to get rid of their shame through ostracism. Otherwise, they may think they are normal when they are not.

May 12th, 2010, 8:51 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

The Price of Peace

So where is that “sane world” you talk about?!?

Shai,

I said “…the Golan comes with a tangible “Split with Iran” pricetag.” and that “Most of the sane world would agree with me” on this.

This is my opinion. I’m sure most of the participants here, Professor Josh, and the Israeli Yafeh Nefesh find this to be too high a price, but I think most of the world and the US Administration would find it reasonable.

May 13th, 2010, 12:46 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

AlMasri
do not worry about Hassan,he is way out of touch,he does not know what is going on.
Also He is one of those zionists who give us arabic name to deceive us,he is ashame to admit he is Israeli

May 13th, 2010, 12:56 am

 

Ghat Albird said:

The one time bar bouncer and accused by many of having at one time operated a whorehouse is quoted as copying another zionist and one tme speech writer for GWB by the name David Frum and claimed in an interview in Japan that a \”new\” Axis of Evil has emerged and its made up of North Korea, Iran and Syria.

May 13th, 2010, 1:17 am

 

Shai said:

Akbar,

You still didn’t point to anyone in that “sane world” of yours that agree with you. Not even the U.S. is asking that price of Syria. So what makes you think anyone is finding this request “reasonable”?

But more importantly, it isn’t that I think (or most people, I would say) that this price is “too heavy” as you’re suggesting. It’s that I find it ridiculous to suggest Syria should separate from Iran in every sense of the word. I find it not-ridiculous to to ask Syria to change its defense-relationship with Iran, in particular as a go-between it and Hezbollah, if and when the Golan is returned, or a peace agreement is signed between Israel and Syria.

There’s a reason why the United States hasn’t demanded this of Syria, or any of its other allies (like Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, China, etc.) And the reason isn’t because America thinks that price is “too high”, but because it knows it can’t ask that of its allies. If Syria becomes Israel’s ally, we also can’t ask it to dismantle its diplomatic, economic, and other non-defense relationships with nations that are currently considered our enemy.

With a tiny bit of foresight, some might even understand the potential advantages of having Syria in peace with Israel, while maintaining “best-friend” status with Iran. In my opinion, Israel (and other nations as well, including the United States), have more to gain by that, than lose. An example of that is the United States and North Korea. It is easier for the U.S. to talk to N. Korea, when it has China and Russia as “friends” of both nations.

Btw, a little advice to you. Unless you plan on making good money from selling t-shirts, I suggest you leave the labeling-industry to others. Because otherwise I’ll quickly show you how your “Yefe Nefesh” label fits people from the far-Left to the far-Right of the political spectrum. If a “Yefe Nefesh” means, for instance, ready to divide up Israel, then Arik Sharon, Ehud Olmert, Benjamin Netanyahu, and even Yvette Lieberman are Yefe Nefesh. If it means ready to enable an Israel without Jewish majority, then all your Settler-friends are Yefe Nefesh, because by NOT giving back land, Israel is de facto headed in that direction.

Lastly, you still didn’t answer my question about the recent declaration by Israel’s Heads of the Defense Establishment, calling for “immediate negotiations with Syria”. Where did they go wrong? What are they missing, these security and intelligence experts? Why are they so recklessly urging Israel to go talk to Syria? Help me understand this please. It’s the 3rd time I’m asking you… 😉

May 13th, 2010, 9:04 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Syria’s Best Friend

It’s that I find it ridiculous to suggest Syria should separate from Iran in every sense of the word.

Shai,

You’re entitled to your opinion. IMHO, Syria has to decide between peace and the Golan, or continued “resistance”. Iran is the greatest exporter or terrorism, and so a peace treaty with Syria will have to include regional cooperation that isolates Iran.

There’s a reason why the United States hasn’t demanded this of Syria, or any of its other allies (like Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, China, etc.) And the reason isn’t because America thinks that price is “too high”, but because it knows it can’t ask that of its allies.

And there is a reason why Obama hasn’t sent an ambassador to Syria and there is a reason why Syria is still on the State Dept’s list of countries that support terror and there is a reason why the US and other Western countries are pushing for sanctions against Iran.

If Syria becomes Israel’s ally, we also can’t ask it to dismantle its diplomatic, economic, and other non-defense relationships with nations that are currently considered our enemy.

Shai,

There aren’t too many countries that remain at war with Israel. If Syria wants peace, that removes 1 or 2 states of 4 that remain in a state of war against Israel.

With a tiny bit of foresight, some might even understand the potential advantages of having Syria in peace with Israel, while maintaining “best-friend” status with Iran.

Shai,

You can be a “best friend” of Iran if you want, but in the real world, Iran needs to be isolated.

In my opinion, Israel (and other nations as well, including the United States), have more to gain by that, than lose.

In my opinion, you’re wrong.

An example of that is the United States and North Korea. It is easier for the U.S. to talk to N. Korea, when it has China and Russia as “friends” of both nations.

A perfect example of why North Korea has not been deterred. The best way to deter North Korea is for the world to unite in isolating that country.

Lastly, you still didn’t answer my question about the recent declaration by Israel’s Heads of the Defense Establishment, calling for “immediate negotiations with Syria”. Where did they go wrong? What are they missing, these security and intelligence experts? Why are they so recklessly urging Israel to go talk to Syria? Help me understand this please. It’s the 3rd time I’m asking you…

Shai,

Send me a link to the news article, and I’ll be glad to comment.

May 13th, 2010, 11:10 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

CAMERA continues its good work against misinformation. This time Ha’aretz and John Mearsheimer. If it wasn’t for CAMERA and MEMRI, who would take the time to defend Israel from the anti-semites and the Yafeh Nefesh?

Akiva Eldar, Mearsheimer’s Righteous Jewish Source for Misinformation

http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=2&x_outlet=6&x_article=1842

May 13th, 2010, 11:23 am

 

norman said:

Turkey Installs Anti-Aircraft Batteries Near Syrian Border
Thursday May 13, 2010 09:48 by Saed Bannoura – IMEMC & Agencies

Turkey has installed Anti-Aircraft Hawk Missiles at a village close to the Syrian border in an attempt to prevent Israeli war jets from violating Turkish Airspace in case of an attack against Iran or Syria.

A Turkish paper reported that Turkey will not allow Israel to use its Airspace to attack Iran, Syria or any other country, and will act against any such violations.

The Anti Aircraft batteries were installed in Kayeel village, south of Turkey and located close to the Syrian border.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Turkish military official stated that the batteries are meant to protect Turkey and its Airspace against any violations, including American or Israeli war jets should Israel or the United States decide to attack Iran or Syria.

Installing the batteries is more of a message than a military act as Turkey is not interested in any military combat but at the same time will not allow its Airspace to be used in attacking neighboring countries, the official stated.

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May 13th, 2010, 11:40 am

 

norman said:

Syria asks Russia to lean on Israel
By Sami Moubayed

DAMASCUS – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has been in the headlines, first for describing his predecessor Joseph Stalin as a “totalitarian dictator” and then for making the first state visit to Syria by a Kremlin chief since the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

Medvedev met with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal during his Syria visit and in an unprecedented move wrote a front-page editorial for Syria’s daily al-Watan on how important bilateral relations are between Damascus and Moscow.

During the two-day visit, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian counterpart agreed a 14-point declaration which included periodic presidential visits as well as cooperation on

tourism, education, military affairs, investment and trade and prevention of the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

A strongly worded statement was also issued calling for peace in the Middle East based on United Nations resolutions and the restoration of the June 4, 1967 borders of Israel, which would return all occupied land to the Arabs. It also called for a solution to the Palestinian refugee question and the creation of a viable Palestinian state.

At the summit there were calls for Russia to use its influence to convince the Israelis – who the Syrians insist are not interested in peace – back to the negotiating table. This has long been an objective of the Kremlin.

Damascus also called on Medvedev to get the US, “which is not doing enough”, to jump-start serious peace talks on restoring the Golan Heights to Syria. Assad called on Medvedev to use Russia’s influence – given that it was one of the co-chairs of the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991 – to “convince Israel of the necessity of peace”.

For his part, although promising to do his best, Medvedev did not sound optimistic that any breakthroughs were on the horizon. He mention an “increase in tension” that might, he prophesized, “lead to a catastrophe”. If that happens, he said, “Moscow will not stand with arms folded”.

Russian pressure on Israel – depending on who one talks to in the Middle East – might or might not lead to any breakthrough. The Israelis have never trusted the Russians – not during the Cold War nor since – claiming the Russians always take the side of the Palestinians in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Since his landmark visit to Paris in the summer of 2008 the Syrian president has been urging world capitals to play a serious role in bolstering regional peace talks. The US administration of George W Bush was not interested and today the Barack Obama administration is seemingly unable to apply any real pressure on the Israelis, thanks to a troublesome congress at home and a hardline government in Israel.

The Israelis apparently never forgave Obama for his speech in Cairo in June 2009, in which he promised to bring the Palestinians justice and end Israeli settlements in their lands. Earlier this year, they threw dust in the eyes of Vice President Joseph Biden by announcing that they were about to construct 1,600 new settlements in Jerusalem during his high-profile visit to Israel to begin “proximity talks”.

United States Middle East envoy George Mitchell has met with both nation’s leaders in an attempt to rekindle peace talks but few are optimistic they will lead anywhere. Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas at best only represents 50% of the Palestinian street in the West Bank as the other half, controlled by Hamas in Gaza, is categorically opposed to any talks as long as the Israeli siege of the strip continues.

The fact that Abbas cannot abandon certain rights related to Jerusalem and refugees – and the likelihood of new war erupting between Israel and Hezbollah this summer – makes it highly doubtful that any breakthrough can be made in the Middle East, no matter how hard the Russians try.

Real progress, however, can be made in economic matters between Syria and Russia. The Syrians are focused on becoming a regional hub in terms of gas, oil and transportation, building on their excellent relations with countries like Russia and Turkey.

When addressing one of the numerous Syrian-Turkish business forums, Assad once spoke of an “economic space” that “one day will be complete, [where] we will then be linking the Mediterranean to the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea and the Arab Gulf”. He added, “When we link these four seas, we will become the obligatory connector for this entire world, in terms of investment and transport.”

Syria could serve as a hub for joint investments in energy, industry, agriculture, telecommunications, banking and technology as well as a route for Arab and Asian oil and gas to European markets via the Mediterranean. Turkey could then become a connecting point for electricity networks between Europe and the Arab and Asian regions.

Transportation of goods by rail is already underway from the Iraqi port city of Um Qasr in the Arabian Gulf to the Syrian port city of Latakia, which lies on the Mediterranean. There is also a project to bring the Kirkuk-Banias pipeline into operation with a capacity of 200,000 barrels per day (bpd). Another pipeline is in the works, with a capacity of 1.4 million bpd that will link the Iraqi gas plant in Akkas to a Syrian plant linked to the Jordanian and Egyptian plants which would branching out to Lebanon and Europe.

During a 2009 visit by Greek President Karolos Papoulias to Damascus, he raised the same topic with Syrian officials. His country, he said, could serve as a connecting point between the Black Sea, the Adriatic Ocean and the Balkan Peninsula, where 4,000 Greek and Russian companies are already in operation. A Russian company is currently working on two gas factories in the Syrian midland, with a production capacity of 10 billion cubic meters of gas per day, while a Russian oil company is undergoing excavation works in the Abu Kamal region, near the Syrian border with Iraq.

The Syrians believe they are capable of becoming the arrival and distribution point for goods coming from the Mediterranean, the Gulf and neighboring countries, something raised before the Turks at a summit in Istanbul on May 8, and with Medvedev during his recent visit to Damascus on May 11. To do that, the Syrians need peace in the Middle East, something that is becoming increasingly far-fetched given the inability of the Obama administration to apply any pressure on Israel. This is where Russian diplomacy can come into play.

The two sides have a long history of sound relations dating to the 1940s. Veteran Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov famously visited Damascus in the summer of 1944, refusing to recognize the French Mandate over Syria or meet any French official during his stay, insisting that his only interlocutors were elected Syrian officials.

Two years later, the Soviets used their veto power at the UN Security Council to drown a European initiative to extend the French Mandate over Syria and in 1956, during the height of the Suez Crisis, then-Syrian president Shukri al-Quwatli landed in Moscow to start a formal relationship that has been uninterrupted for the past 54 years, followed by his defense minister Khaled al-Azm in the summer of 1957, where he signed economic and military treaties with the Soviets.

Back then, Quwatli pleaded for support of the “great Russian army that defeated Hitler” in saving Egypt from a British-French-Israeli war over the Suez Canal. The relationship was further cemented with strong Russian backing for Syria during the war of 1967, taking a new turn when president Hafez al-Assad came to power in 1970.

Although Assad refused to sign a friendship agreement with the Soviet Union throughout the first 10 years of his presidency, he nevertheless relied on Soviet experts to train and arm the Syrian army, build roads, bridges and the famous Euphrates Dam. Since he came to power in 2000, Bashar al-Assad visited Russia in 2005, 2006 and in 2008, less than two weeks after the US-backed Georgian army rumbled into South Ossetia, which infuriated the Kremlin.

Sending a strong message to the Russians ahead of his 2008 trip, Assad spoke to the Russian Kommerstant newspaper: “The Caucasus and Europe are impossible without Russia … I think that after the crisis with Georgia, Russia has become only stronger … It is important that Russia takes the position of a superpower, and then all the attempts to isolate it will fail.”

His words were music to the ears of officials at the Kremlin, who saw a good ally in Assad, a man who realizes that the Russians are back and intends on using this strong reality to advance his own country’s interests, vis-a-vis stability of the Middle East and restoration of the occupied Golan Heights to its rightful owners.

Sami Moubayed is editor-in-chief of Forward Magazine in Syria.

(Copyright 2010 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

Mubarak in a dilemma (May 11, ’10)

1. US satellites shadow China’s submarines

2. India steals a march on the high seas

3. The American Taliban are coming

4. Superpower dreams interrupted

5. Global sovereign debt crisis

6. Thai power grows from the gun barrel

7. Talk of a nuclear deal gains steam in Iran

8. Victory at all costs in Afghanistan

9. Ignore Keynes behind the arras

10. Indians fear Kasab could slip the noose

(24 hours to 11:59pm ET, May 12, 2010)

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May 13th, 2010, 11:57 am

 

Shai said:

Akbar,

You keep going around in circles, but that’s ok, I understand if that’s what they teach you. Still, I’d like some proof of where isolation worked. And if isolation does work, why aren’t Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, and China withdrawing their embassies from Tehran? (I’m expecting an answer from you like “I don’t know, why don’t you ask them?”, but maybe you’ll give me a better answer.)

I didn’t say Israel would be Iran’s “best friend”, I said Israel probably has more to gain than lose if Syria, as a new ally of Israel, was. I understand that it’s difficult for you to see why. That’s why I called it “foresight”.

And now you’re again conveniently ignoring what’s not so-easy to refute, my demonstration that Yefe-Nefesh, as you define them, consist of your very own Likud members, prime ministers, and even Lieberman and your family/friends in the West Bank settlements. Please correct me if I’m wrong. Maybe the definition of Yefe Nefesh is now:

“All those who want to divide up Israel, give back land to the Arabs, or accept an Israel without Jewish majority, BUT not including people like Arik Sharon, Ehud Olmert, Bibi Netanyahu, Yvette Lieberman, and any Settler.”

By the way, just as a tiny word of advice, by suggesting that someone should “take the time to defend Israel from the anti-semites and the Yafeh Nefesh”, you are inciting against many Israelis who are no-less patriotic than any of the other non-Yefe-Nefesh you think you know, who served their country and risked their lives no less, and who continue to fight for a better future in Israel, far more than you do!

So do me a favor, when you absolutely cannot control what comes out of your mouth (or fingertips), try to remember that freedom of speech should entail precisely that – Freedom – and not only those things YOU like to hear. You should fight to PROTECT that freedom and those who exercise it, and not to challenge it! And you should remember, that on odd occasions in history, a moral minority who were silenced, actually represented the last hope for change, before disaster. In this case, I’m thinking of all the Fascist states in Europe and their majority populations, that succumbed so easily to Antisemitism. In all those places, almost without exception, there was always a minority that opposed Antisemitism, and that was silenced. I suppose they too, would have been called “Yefe Nefesh” by you, wouldn’t they?

Here’s the article in Ma’ariv you “missed”:
http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART2/104/064.html?hp=0&loc=108&tmp=3809

May 13th, 2010, 12:10 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Shai,

Apologies, but to save time, I ran the article through Google Translate. Here are some statements. Let me know if the translation is incorrect:

– Assad is at a crossroads between war and peace
– Syrians are a crucial dilemma, but Uzi Arad continues to prevent negotiations with them.
– According Eviidc, the Syrians really want peace with Israel.
– They are also willing to pay the price. Egyptian model, a cold peace with Israel in return for becoming an American satellite (including all benefits and several billions a year), Kurtz Assad. He knows well the Israeli demand for the Golan: the deportation of terrorist headquarters, stopping the transfer of weapons to Hezbollah, cooling relations with Tehran.
– According Eviidc, Assad is willing to pay that price if he received his merchandise. But if it does not happen, he goes as hard as the other side.
– Intelligence estimates have feared that if Syria did not exceed the path to peace, it can get on the path to war. Iran is backing Assad’s response to “Israeli Day”. It looks like his side. If you do not go west, run to the east. Is already running . Sometime it is too late to return it.
– Syria has been deeply immersed in the Iranian embrace. Bit further, be swallowed up in it. Assad did not really want that to happen, is still divided, he continues to look back with hope, but no one signal.
– Syrian military doctrine against Israel largely defensive: steep missile system – a formidable track, tank and anti-aircraft units thickened flexible commando battalions trained, and Hezbollah. Assad knows that he could not defeat Israel, but it certainly could cause serious damage. So even a war, after all, did not pay off for either party. At this point, the direction is war.
– On our side, nothing. Pushing the whole security system on a political level to negotiate with Assad. Make peace with Syria. Get her out of the axis of evil. Isolate Hezbollah. Save, on that occasion, the Lebanese.
– Defense Minister Ehud Barak supports. But Barak is a commentator on Middle Eastern affairs, at this point. Support negotiations with the Palestinians, supports negotiations with the Syrians, supports all what can support him to remain defense minister, but not pushing.
– According to Arad,Prefers interim agreement with Syria (no such animal), the story of Syria will be decided not by negotiation with Israel, but through Iran. If Iran wins the West and become a nuclear power, no one can extricate Syria from the clutches. If not, the Syrians will realize alone the hint. There is no reason why Israel should fall apart now a strategic asset as the Golan Heights.

My impression:

Be very clear, that Syria will have to break ties to terror organizations if a land for peace deal is to be signed.

May 13th, 2010, 2:32 pm

 

Shai said:

Akbar,

Thanks for translating the article for everyone’s use. I haven’t read through it all, but there are clearly problems in these auto-translate tools – some sentences come out unintelligible. The one thing the article doesn’t show, is the title as it appeared on the front page of the paper-version of Ma’ariv that morning. It read: “Heads of the Defense Establishment: ‘Immediate Negotiations with Syria!'”

As for your question, I’m rather surprised that you genuinely believe there’s an Israeli in his right-mind who’d accept a withdrawal from the Golan WITHOUT Syria’s unconditional withdrawal from supplying or supporting Hezbollah, Hamas, or Iran’s armed efforts against Israel.

But I can’t “demand” of Syria to sever its diplomatic (or economic, etc.) ties with anyone, just because they’re my enemy. Can you imagine if Begin had made that demand of Egypt? or Rabin of Jordan? I don’t think Iraq hated Israel any less than Iran does, and yet Egypt and Jordan had diplomatic relations with Iraq (and recently with Iran). But after making peace with Israel, neither Egypt nor Jordan ever supplied Hamas or Hezbollah or anyone else with weapons to fight Israel. And neither will Syria.

May 13th, 2010, 2:49 pm

 

100 INSHALLAH-ING AHMEDS said:

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday accused nuclear power North Korea of supplying Syria with weapons of mass destruction.
Lieberman’s office quoted him as telling Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama at a meeting in Tokyo that such activity threatened to destabilise east Asia as well as the Middle East.
“The cooperation between Syria and North Korea is not focused on economic development and growth but rather on weapons of mass destruction” Lieberman said.
In evidence he cited the December 2009 seizure at Bangkok airport of an illicit North Korean arms shipment which US intelligence said was bound for an unnamed Middle East country.
Lieberman said Syria intended to pass the weapons on to the Lebanese Hezbollah militia and to the Islamic Hamas movement, which rules Gaza and has its political headquarters in Damascus.
“This cooperation endangers stability in both southeast Asia and also in the Middle East and is against all the accepted norms in the international arena,” Lieberman was quoted as telling Hatoyama.
Thai officials at the time said that acting on a tipoff from Washington they confiscated about 30 tonnes of missiles, rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons when the North Korean plane landed for refuelling in Bangkok.
Israel has accused North Korea in the past of transferring nuclear technology to Syria, which is technically in a state of war with the neighbouring Jewish state, although the two last fought openly in 1973.
Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper reported in 2007 that Israel seized North Korean nuclear material in a commando raid on a secret military site in Syria and then destroyed the site in an air attack.
Syria denied the report.
The communist regime in North Korea has denied collaborating on nuclear activity with Syria, while Israel has maintained an official silence on the reported September 2007 raid and strike.

May 13th, 2010, 3:15 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

How true to form. Syria does not even have one nuclear missile. And the bar bouncer and sometimes referred to as also a whorehouse manager from Moldavia speaking on behalf of Boom Boom Bibi has the gall to call Syria part of an axis of evil.

“To kill a Jew or a child makes God cry, for we are exterminating [in the Jew] the bearer of universal ethics and innocence.”

No less!

With this mindset of absolute innocence Jews cannot conceive bearing any responsibility for their atrocities. Jews are only victims, only “scapegoats” in an evil and hostile world.

The Irgun Zvai Lumi, the Stern Gang and other thugs from Moldavia, and other parts of the world never killed anybody, never stole anyone lands and never expressed their hatred of anybody or calling them cockroaches.

May 13th, 2010, 4:27 pm

 

Hassan said:

Ghat,

Why don’t you let us know when you are copying and pasting from white supremacist web sites. You merely copied and pasted, but left part of what you copied out of quotes, from this ( http://www.toqonline.com/2010/03/the-psychopathology-of-judaism-2/ ) article at a white supremacist website. Please, for honesty’s sakes, attribute your quotes.

According to its editor, Greg Johnsen, your Occidental Quarterly is, “more than just a print journal and a website. It is the center of a world-wide network of scholars, activists, and their supporters, all of whom are concerned with the alarming decline in the power, pride, and demographic prospects of the white race relative to the other races.” Jee, I wonder how he feels about Syrians?

May 13th, 2010, 4:41 pm

 

Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Hassan the detective,

Redneck Ghat never provides links to his copy paste repetitive comments. This is because he’s afraid of what you just did, Hassan. That is, afraid of what else we are going to find in those www dot Jewsaredevil dot coms.

Will it be rude to ask you if you’re an Arab ?
.

May 13th, 2010, 7:15 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Amir in Tel Aviv and Hassan,

Let’s not forget Peace Professor Josh’s claim that Israel is an “Apartheid State”, where Israeli-Arabs not only have equal rights as Israeli Jews, they have more rights than Syrians.

May 13th, 2010, 9:21 pm

 

Dr. Ilgenfritz said:

The Russian strategy here must be viewed in the context of NATO expansion. The drawing of a red line in South Ossetia and Abkhazia has not impressed the likes of Biden, McCain, and Obama – they still do not respect Russia’s view of its vital security interests. When the Soviets were being encircled in the 1950s by U.S. alliances – in Southwest Asia CENTO or the Baghdad Pact – they leapt over the circle to Syria and Egypt through military and economic assistance, and notably Syria predated Egypt by months in terms of Eastern European arms transfers endorsed by the Soviets. So long as the U.S. does not respect Russian interests on its borders, and thus continues to threaten the Federation with NATO expansion, the Medvedev/Putin team will respond accordingly. Medvedev’s visit to Syria reflects but one response in a larger strategy designed to protect Russia’s borders and its near abroad interests. Moreover, Russia has carried out the “lite” version of this policy with Iran for some time now; Russian-Syrian relations can be expected to have a much greater congruence of interests, however, especially given that the two states are not starting from scratch, neither in material nor intangible terms.

May 13th, 2010, 9:58 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Norman
Thank you very much for posting the ASIA TIMES online article. I went to the source, and I spent three very enjoyable hours reading some real good articles. Some of which are in three or four part series.

Hassan
I wrote at length in the past about the follies of considering white supremacists and their literature as anything but a threat to all. But how different is that from quoting the racist fear machine MEMRI? from giving credence to professor torture, or from befriending and quoting Christian Zionists, I wonder how do they view the Jewish people?….. Really….

Amir,
Be careful when accusing others of repetitiveness…..

100 Akbars,
round and round it goes, round and round it goes, round and round it goes, round and round it goes, round and round it goes ………………………………….

This is the only answer your interventions are worth, especially after calling racist MEMRI a credible source of news.

May 13th, 2010, 10:26 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

100 Akbars
It seems that I was wrong, you consider two racist fear mongering sites as good outfits, CAMERA and MEMRI. Not only one. Dershowitz is probably your favorite Harvard man, and Pipes is for sure the intellectual giant you aspire to be.

GOOD LUCK.

May 13th, 2010, 10:43 pm

 

Amir in Tel Aviv said:

OTW,

You repeatedly don’t like what I say. This does not say that I’m repetitive.

MEMRI doesn’t “invent” the news bits it posts.
MEMRI copies news from sources in Arabic, translates, and posts them with translation. So, MEMRI functions just like a mirror does.
If you don’t like what you see in the mirror, don’t blame the mirror.
.

May 13th, 2010, 11:04 pm

 

Hassan said:

Akbar,

Of course, Arab Israelis have more rights than Syrians. Just today an Arab Israeli sent a letter to the OECD demanding that the OECD rescind its invitation for Israel to join the organisation. Imagine if a Syrian politician openly wrote to an international body decrying its policy of murdering Lebanese politicians (Walid Eido, Pierre Amine Gemayel, Antoine Ghanem). Well, of course, a Syrian politician wouldn’t do that. Not only because self-criticism isn’t very common in Syria, but also because he would face a harsh punishment. So, yes Akbar, Israeli Arabs clearly have more rights than Syrians. As the above example shows, we can see this by their ability to be politically vocal and voice their disagreements. Syrian Arabs, not a minority, are denied this very basic right of the freedom of expression.

Off The Wall,

You wrote:
“I wrote at length in the past about the follies of considering white supremacists and their literature as anything but a threat to all. But how different is that from quoting the racist fear machine MEMRI?”

Are you attempting to minimize supporting white supremacist language by telling us that there are others out there whom you consider to be racist. Ghat Albird was copying and pasting, without attributing, racist language from a white supremacist site. The views of MEMRI or CAMERA are not relevant to the question of whether a person should recycle the writings of white supremacists. If you disagree with the racist language from that website then simply say it. Period. You minimize the strength of your criticism of such language by bringing Memri or Camera into the discussion.

May 13th, 2010, 11:28 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Off The Wall,

I find there are many on this website, including our esteemed Baathist sympathizer, Professor Josh who overuse the term “racist” and the term “apartheid”.

In your case Off The Wall, please show the forum how MEMRI and CAMERA are racist. Either you don’t know what the term “Racist” means, or you just hate Israel and need to find a “hammer word” to hit Israel with.

Hassan,

There is a prince from Jordan, who like you, isn’t afraid to make peace with your semitic cousins.;)

Cheers.

May 14th, 2010, 2:16 am

 

Husam said:

It looks like Syria Comment has become a launching pad against anything-Syria! We have a new Stern Gang forming right here on SC. Fares, Hassan, AP, Old Amir, who perhaps use other aliases as well, are determined to set the agenda, change the discourse, propagate anti-Arab sentiments and b.s.

It is really getting repetitive and annoying reading through threads of total B.S. and you get caught up, myself included, unwittingly in an endless tit for tat. Whenever they are confronted with convincing and credible refutations, they move unto their next target. It then becomes very clear that their objective is not in bringing different perspective, building bridges, or even winning the argument, but rather diluting any positive, relevant, meaningful exchange. How many times do I have read that Prof. Joshua, the host himself, is Baathis sympathizer, seriously?

I propose a $20 annual membership fee, with identity disclosure. The cowards, actors, and double-headed-snakes will disappear within 24 hours. Perhaps, SC will then return to its civilized platform. For those who think this is against freedom of expression, if we are to remain anonymous then how free are we? Any other ideas?

May 14th, 2010, 3:47 am

 

Off the wall said:

Amir
You repeatedly don’t like what I say. This does not say that I’m repetitive.

excellent answer. Funny and smart and you got me smiling. I am glad you wrote repeatidly not always because I do like some of what wou write

in one way or another we are all repetetive but some are nothing but repetetive.

May 14th, 2010, 7:02 am

 

Off the Wall said:

Hassan
Never would I minimize the follies of attaching oneself to racists and extremist in order to bolster an argument by blanket accusation. But If you can not see the relevance of pointing hypocrisy, then I am afraid that we have different value systems albeit we share detestation, if i am to believe your declarations, of supremacist and anti-semitic arguments.

As for your argument about Arab Israelis having more rights than Syrians, I am not so sure I fully agree for many reasons. But If I am to accept your argument of weighing rights on the scale, my question would be are they full citizens?. How about housing, how about state expenditures in Arab towns, how about denying building licenses. Would you consider a Lebanon that does not allow Shia or Christians or sunnies to live in certain areas and developments by the force of law, a truly democratic Lebanon. I sure hope not. That said, Arab Israelis are going through a different, political struggle for equality. No matter what shape Israel takes, that struggle is bound to be resolved one way or another. But it seems that friends of your new friend AP, think that deporting Arab Israeli to the west bank, or even better, to Jordan, would be the solution. Just pray they do not deport their un-equal citizens to your beloved Lebanon to solve their demographic nightmare, you will be powerless to do anything about it.

Palestinians in WB and Gaza, on the other hand, are trying to survive a brutal occupation hell-bent, through a web of administrative procedures, laws, military excursions, and settlers menace, on eradicating their presence, on minimizing their humanity, and steeling the last square meter of their land and the last drop of their water. By all means, it is one of the most brutal occupations our modern history has known. So please do not go boasting of the rights of Arab Israelis, until Israel leaves all occupied lands, really leaves not with agreement that diminishes the sovereignty of people in their own land, it will remain in my view a pariah state, and their democracy is nothing more than the democracy that sees blacks as 2/3d of a human being. If that does not bother you. Again, we have different value systems.

You hate Syria, so be it. But in your attempt to exercise your hate, which is something you are entitled to, you also trample on the suffering and dehumanization of Palestinians. That, I am afraid is a convenience i can not grant you.

May 14th, 2010, 7:27 am

 

Shai said:

OTW,

You said: “in one way or another we are all repetetive but some are nothing but repetitive.”

I disagree, and to prove that, I’d like to discuss at length my reasoning for why Israel should now make peace with Syria… 🙂

May 14th, 2010, 10:18 am

 

Off the Wall said:

Dear Shai
You have no idea how hard you and Yossi make it to keep slamming Israel. Every-time i write something that negative about your country, a lingering feeling of unfairly characterizing people like the two of you, make my writing harder than it seems.

I believe that like any country, Israel has the potential for peace and justice, I hope that as a country, it will realize the best of her potential. As I hope Syria, Lebanon, and all countries and people get to do, hopefully in partnership, and most importantly unmolested.

May 14th, 2010, 11:14 am

 

Shai said:

Dear OTW,

Thank you. Yes, we all possess the potential for peace and justice. And like so much in life, the majority normally do not see beyond yesterday or today. They feel more comfortable generalizing and depending on the logic of the past. They prefer to be led, than to use their own brain. In that way, they truly are not that much different than sheep. But it’s true everywhere, not only in Israel.

So the only way out, unfortunately, seems to be in finding courageous leadership that has foresight, and is willing to take a chance, even when supported by very few. Begin, Rabin, and even Sharon may have been such leaders. I’m not sure Netanyahu is. By allowing the Uzi Arad’s and the Lieberman’s out there to run the country, Netanyahu isn’t proving his leadership capabilities. I hope that will change soon. His time in politics is also not unlimited.

On a side note, since I hear a lot of the “War’s Coming This Summer” rhetoric lately, I want to try to calm some of those out there who believe it. Of course I don’t have a proven record of omniscience, but if we base things on the past, the Left almost always delivers the policy of the Right (settlement building, wars), and the Right delivers the policy of the Left. Netanyahu doesn’t need to go on military adventures against Hezbollah or Hamas. He has the Left and Kadima to do that for him. He’s not going to take a chance of thousands of missiles of every sort landing atop Israeli cities and towns, on his shift.

I hope he takes the other route. The one he seemingly tried to go down, back in 1998.

May 14th, 2010, 11:43 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Hytham Maleh is still in jail,the accusaion against him has changed

May 14th, 2010, 2:41 pm

 

100 INSHALLAH-ING AHMEDS said:

U.N. seeks torture probes in Syria, Yemen, Jordan

(Reuters) – The United Nations torture watchdog urged Syria, Yemen and Jordan Friday to investigate what it called numerous and credible allegations that their police and prison authorities routinely tortured detainees.
WORLD

Its 10 independent experts also voiced concern at “honor” crimes by family members in Syria and Jordan which go unpunished and violence against women and children in Yemen.

Their conclusions on a total of eight countries were issued at the end of a three-week meeting.

In Yemen, it voiced alarm at killings, forced disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrests and indefinite detentions without charge or trial carried out in the context of the fight against terrorism.

There was a “climate of impunity for perpetrators of acts of torture in Yemen,” the U.N. Committee against Torture said.

“No exceptional circumstances whatsoever can be invoked as a justification for torture and…anti-terrorism measures must be implemented with full respect for international human rights law,” it added.

Yemen’s government, struggling to stabilize a fractious country in which central authority is often weak, faces international pressure to quell domestic conflicts in order to fight a resurgent al Qaeda.

The U.N. torture watchdog also voiced concern at reports it had received that Syria has set up secret detention facilities under the command of intelligence services, where inmates are held incommunicado and subject to cruel treatment.

It cited “numerous reports of torture, ill-treatment, death in custody and incommunicado detention of people belonging to the Kurdish minority, in large part stateless, in particular political activists of Kurdish origin.”

“Moreover, the committee notes with concern reports of a growing trend of deaths of Kurdish conscripts who have died whilst carrying out their mandatory military service and whose bodies were returned to the families with evidence of severe injuries,” it said of Syria.

The U.N. experts urged Syrian authorities to clarify the case of Muhannad al-Hassani, president of the Syrian Organization for Human Rights, who was arrested last July on charges of “weakening national sentiment.”

A lawyer who has defended leading opposition figures, he won an international human rights award last week [ID:nLDE6461J1].

(Editing by Jonathan Lynn)

May 14th, 2010, 5:04 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Off The Wall’s Painful Enterprise

Dear Shai
You have no idea how hard you and Yossi make it to keep slamming Israel.

OTW,

It really must take a toll on you. How do you do it?

Every-time i write something that negative about your country, a lingering feeling of unfairly characterizing people like the two of you, make my writing harder than it seems.

The pain must be excruciating.

I believe that like any country, Israel has the potential for peace and justice, I hope that as a country, it will realize the best of her potential.

How can you remain so optimistic in the face of Zionist crimes?

As I hope Syria, Lebanon, and all countries and people get to do, hopefully in partnership, and most importantly unmolested.

Don’t forget Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran. They deserve praise too.

May 14th, 2010, 6:54 pm

 

jad said:

“Don’t forget Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran. They deserve praise too.”

They actually do, they deserve every praise from every human because they are keeping garbage people like you and those who you support away from ruling the world.

Here you go:

GOD/AlLAH PROTECT THE RESISTANCE AND MAKE THEM STRONGER!

You can drop dead now AP!

May 14th, 2010, 7:18 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

100 APs
Your appreciation for humanity seems to equal your intelligence, at very low level. Hence your cynical comment. I am hopeful about humanity’f future. And it is only people like you, in every country, who are too selfish, self indulged and arrogant, to recognize the real human story unfolding around them. The good news is that it unfolds despite of them. South Africa’s apartheid is bye bye, so is slavery. Oppression of women will go, so will the murderous occupation. Despite of you, and your teachers who taught you to ridicule a moment of openness.

The pain is not excruciating, but it is hard for one to have to be always harsh. But what Israel is doing, leaves to space for kindness. So buzz off and learn some humanity, you have been living so long among AIPAC robots, get out and observe real people who develop bonds with objectives other than land grab, subjugation, and dehumanization of others.

I told you you need to get your money back. You are refusing even the simplest opportunity to humanize the people of Israel in the eye of those who you want to keep them as enemies. Sometimes I wonder how much people like you collect for every lost life. Must be worth selling your soul.

May 14th, 2010, 7:22 pm

 

Henry said:

Oh jeez Josh Landis’ blog has turned into a mouthpiece of Hamas-supporters.

May 14th, 2010, 7:30 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

In my comment #55, which I could not correct for strange reasons, the following:

But what Israel is doing, leaves to space for kindness

should be read as

But what Israel is doing, leaves NO space for kindness

May 14th, 2010, 8:45 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Majed
As shameful the whole debacle is, out of the dark rises some light. Syrian NGOs are calling for dismissal of the trial. They are forming a backbone, and are daring to talk. It is good news, small but encouraging. More will come and the Maleh debacle will become more embarrassing by the day, as it should.

May 14th, 2010, 8:49 pm

 

Hassan said:

Off The Wall:

You are monopolizing Syria Comment. Let other people communicate.

May 14th, 2010, 8:58 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Hassan,
Please don’t teach me etiquette. Here some stats for you and I did bot read your complaint about monopolizing the site.

Thread: “Will failure to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict mean a new Cold War in the Middle East,
AP: 8,13,16,23,27,28,32,34,38,44,52,53 Total: 12/59
OTW: 40,41,46,49,55,57 (correction), 58, and now 60 Total: 8/59

Thread: Sheba Farms
AP: 3,7,12,14,18,26,28,31,33,37 Total: 10/85
OTW: 66, 82, 83 Total: 3/85

May 14th, 2010, 9:40 pm

 

scott sullivan said:

Germany intends to build a strategic corridor to the Middle East via the Balkans from Croatia, Albania, and Turkey to the Iran-Pakistan Axis, which will outfit Germany’s nuclear program so that Gemany can recoup its WW II losses.

Meanwhile, the Arab States, backstopped by Russia and France, are focused on a strategic alignment of Russia, Greece, Serbia, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Hezbollah, the PA, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

China’s role in this strategic realignment has yet to be determined. On the positive side, China has just signed an agreement with Karzai that will authorize China to take over peacekeeping in Afghanistan as US forces are withdawn. With this agreement, signed just a few days before Karzai met with Obama, China dealt a significant blow to Pakistan/ISI-CIA intervention in Afghanistan. On the negative, pro-Iran/Germany side, China has just agreed to supply nuclear materials to Pakistan. My view is that at the end of the day, China will align with Afghanistan, not Pakistan, Iran. and Germany.

Finally, Iraq’s role in this strategic realignment — for or against Syria, France and Russia — has yet to be determined.

See below for an excellent Syrian analysis of the ongoing power realignment in the Middle East.

Syria asks Russia to lean on Israel
By Sami Moubayed

DAMASCUS – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has been in the headlines, first for describing his predecessor Joseph Stalin as a “totalitarian dictator” and then for making the first state visit to Syria by a Kremlin chief since the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

Medvedev met with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal during his Syria visit and in an unprecedented move wrote a front-page editorial for Syria’s daily al-Watan on how important bilateral relations are between Damascus and Moscow.

During the two-day visit, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian counterpart agreed a 14-point declaration which included periodic presidential visits as well as cooperation on

tourism, education, military affairs, investment and trade and prevention of the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

A strongly worded statement was also issued calling for peace in the Middle East based on United Nations resolutions and the restoration of the June 4, 1967 borders of Israel, which would return all occupied land to the Arabs. It also called for a solution to the Palestinian refugee question and the creation of a viable Palestinian state.

At the summit there were calls for Russia to use its influence to convince the Israelis – who the Syrians insist are not interested in peace – back to the negotiating table. This has long been an objective of the Kremlin.

Damascus also called on Medvedev to get the US, “which is not doing enough”, to jump-start serious peace talks on restoring the Golan Heights to Syria. Assad called on Medvedev to use Russia’s influence – given that it was one of the co-chairs of the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991 – to “convince Israel of the necessity of peace”.

For his part, although promising to do his best, Medvedev did not sound optimistic that any breakthroughs were on the horizon. He mention an “increase in tension” that might, he prophesized, “lead to a catastrophe”. If that happens, he said, “Moscow will not stand with arms folded”.

Russian pressure on Israel – depending on who one talks to in the Middle East – might or might not lead to any breakthrough. The Israelis have never trusted the Russians – not during the Cold War nor since – claiming the Russians always take the side of the Palestinians in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Since his landmark visit to Paris in the summer of 2008 the Syrian president has been urging world capitals to play a serious role in bolstering regional peace talks. The US administration of George W Bush was not interested and today the Barack Obama administration is seemingly unable to apply any real pressure on the Israelis, thanks to a troublesome congress at home and a hardline government in Israel.

The Israelis apparently never forgave Obama for his speech in Cairo in June 2009, in which he promised to bring the Palestinians justice and end Israeli settlements in their lands. Earlier this year, they threw dust in the eyes of Vice President Joseph Biden by announcing that they were about to construct 1,600 new settlements in Jerusalem during his high-profile visit to Israel to begin “proximity talks”.

United States Middle East envoy George Mitchell has met with both nation’s leaders in an attempt to rekindle peace talks but few are optimistic they will lead anywhere. Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas at best only represents 50% of the Palestinian street in the West Bank as the other half, controlled by Hamas in Gaza, is categorically opposed to any talks as long as the Israeli siege of the strip continues.

The fact that Abbas cannot abandon certain rights related to Jerusalem and refugees – and the likelihood of new war erupting between Israel and Hezbollah this summer – makes it highly doubtful that any breakthrough can be made in the Middle East, no matter how hard the Russians try.

Real progress, however, can be made in economic matters between Syria and Russia. The Syrians are focused on becoming a regional hub in terms of gas, oil and transportation, building on their excellent relations with countries like Russia and Turkey.

When addressing one of the numerous Syrian-Turkish business forums, Assad once spoke of an “economic space” that “one day will be complete, [where] we will then be linking the Mediterranean to the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea and the Arab Gulf”. He added, “When we link these four seas, we will become the obligatory connector for this entire world, in terms of investment and transport.”

Syria could serve as a hub for joint investments in energy, industry, agriculture, telecommunications, banking and technology as well as a route for Arab and Asian oil and gas to European markets via the Mediterranean. Turkey could then become a connecting point for electricity networks between Europe and the Arab and Asian regions.

Transportation of goods by rail is already underway from the Iraqi port city of Um Qasr in the Arabian Gulf to the Syrian port city of Latakia, which lies on the Mediterranean. There is also a project to bring the Kirkuk-Banias pipeline into operation with a capacity of 200,000 barrels per day (bpd). Another pipeline is in the works, with a capacity of 1.4 million bpd that will link the Iraqi gas plant in Akkas to a Syrian plant linked to the Jordanian and Egyptian plants which would branching out to Lebanon and Europe.

During a 2009 visit by Greek President Karolos Papoulias to Damascus, he raised the same topic with Syrian officials. His country, he said, could serve as a connecting point between the Black Sea, the Adriatic Ocean and the Balkan Peninsula, where 4,000 Greek and Russian companies are already in operation. A Russian company is currently working on two gas factories in the Syrian midland, with a production capacity of 10 billion cubic meters of gas per day, while a Russian oil company is undergoing excavation works in the Abu Kamal region, near the Syrian border with Iraq.

The Syrians believe they are capable of becoming the arrival and distribution point for goods coming from the Mediterranean, the Gulf and neighboring countries, something raised before the Turks at a summit in Istanbul on May 8, and with Medvedev during his recent visit to Damascus on May 11. To do that, the Syrians need peace in the Middle East, something that is becoming increasingly far-fetched given the inability of the Obama administration to apply any pressure on Israel. This is where Russian diplomacy can come into play.

The two sides have a long history of sound relations dating to the 1940s. Veteran Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov famously visited Damascus in the summer of 1944, refusing to recognize the French Mandate over Syria or meet any French official during his stay, insisting that his only interlocutors were elected Syrian officials.

Two years later, the Soviets used their veto power at the UN Security Council to drown a European initiative to extend the French Mandate over Syria and in 1956, during the height of the Suez Crisis, then-Syrian president Shukri al-Quwatli landed in Moscow to start a formal relationship that has been uninterrupted for the past 54 years, followed by his defense minister Khaled al-Azm in the summer of 1957, where he signed economic and military treaties with the Soviets.

Back then, Quwatli pleaded for support of the “great Russian army that defeated Hitler” in saving Egypt from a British-French-Israeli war over the Suez Canal. The relationship was further cemented with strong Russian backing for Syria during the war of 1967, taking a new turn when president Hafez al-Assad came to power in 1970.

Although Assad refused to sign a friendship agreement with the Soviet Union throughout the first 10 years of his presidency, he nevertheless relied on Soviet experts to train and arm the Syrian army, build roads, bridges and the famous Euphrates Dam. Since he came to power in 2000, Bashar al-Assad visited Russia in 2005, 2006 and in 2008, less than two weeks after the US-backed Georgian army rumbled into South Ossetia, which infuriated the Kremlin.

Sending a strong message to the Russians ahead of his 2008 trip, Assad spoke to the Russian Kommerstant newspaper: “The Caucasus and Europe are impossible without Russia … I think that after the crisis with Georgia, Russia has become only stronger … It is important that Russia takes the position of a superpower, and then all the attempts to isolate it will fail.”

His words were music to the ears of officials at the Kremlin, who saw a good ally in Assad, a man who realizes that the Russians are back and intends on using this strong reality to advance his own country’s interests, vis-a-vis stability of the Middle East and restoration of the occupied Golan Heights to its rightful owners.

Sami Moubayed is editor-in-chief of Forward Magazine in Syria.

atimes.com 14 may, 2010
————————

May 15th, 2010, 5:08 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Between Iraq and a Hard Place

Henry, Hassan,

We all know how “hard” it is to “slam Israel”, apparently for Syria Comment participants, it is even harder to slam Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, and their Iranian overlords…

Iranian cleric wants creation of ‘Greater Iran’

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20100515/D9FN9INO3.html

May 15th, 2010, 7:31 pm

 

abu arab said:

In the name of God the Merciful
The existence of the Zionist entity in the heart of the Arab and Muslim is itself a strange
Because the Zionist entity is not shared with the Arab world of anything characteristics such as religion, customs
Traditions and language. The existence of Israel within the Arab world is a big mistake, and constant tension
In the Middle East, and we note since 1948. Such as the entry of foreign bodies within the human body begins
Body fever, tension and fatigue and to ensure that until the UFOs.
To all Arab and Islamic countries to form the Ministry of Defence and one common to all States and the expulsion of the Jews
From the Middle East. This is the best choice for Arabs and Jews in that one because Bjrdasiraiil within the Arab world
Will feel the Arab world would not be true of the world would not be true of the Jewish people will never feel the stability and comfort, unless
Came out of Palestine, all Palestine greetings to all

May 28th, 2010, 11:23 am

 

abu arab said:

The existence of the Zionist entity in the heart of the Arab-Muslim is in itself a strange
Because the Zionist entity is not shared with the Arab world, anything that characteristics such as religion, customs
Traditions and language. The existence of Israel within the Arab world is a big mistake, and constant tension
In the Middle East also note since 1948. Such as the entry of foreign objects inside the human body begins
Body fever, tension and fatigue and to ensure even go out foreign objects.
To all Arab and Islamic countries to form the Ministry of Defence and one common to all States and the expulsion of the Jews
From the Middle East. This is the best choice for Arabs and Jews in that one because he Bjrdasiraiil within the Arab world
Will feel the Arab world would not be true of the world would not be true of the Jewish people will never feel the stability and comfort, but if
Came out of Palestine, all Palestine greetings to all

August 28th, 2010, 2:36 pm

 

BrotherSka said:

Let me recommend ‘Solving the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Walter Phillips. Walter acknowledges the specified two pre-conditions for peace, namely 1) The Islamic nations must recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace in the region. 2) Israel must return the Gaza and West Bank areas.

He then shows how these pre-conditions conflict with the following aspects of Islamic and Jewish religious traditions. 1) Mohammed’s final command that only one religion must occupy the Arabian Peninsula. 2) Moses’ final command that the Israelites must occupy the Promised land, which includes Gaza and the West Bank.

Previous attempts at finding a peaceful solution have largely ignored these religious traditions, which has forced both sides into negotiating in bad-faith in order to avoid the fatal consequences of making unpopular decisions. Walter resolves the religious issues and proposes an equitable political solution.

You can follow discussion on the book at the following link.
http://researching.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/solving-the-arab-israeli-conflict/

September 1st, 2010, 5:56 pm

 

arab said:

There is no democracy in Israel as a state is illegitimate and illegal and not recognized
Evidence of this if anyone wanted to write a comment in the Israeli websites
Does not allow him or be there are many obstacles to prevent him from writing a comment The reasons for Arab-Israeli conflict is the occupation of Palestine in 1948.
Palestine Arab Islamic state like the rest of the Arab and Islamic states surrounding
Them. Means that there are Jews and Zionists in Palestine a big mistake, because this entity
Zionist is not consistent with the surrounding area (such as language, customs, traditions and religion)
The only solution to end the Arab-Israeli conflict is the expulsion of Jews from Palestine
All of Palestine. The Jewish people will not rest and will not feel comfortable and stability
But if it gets out of Palestine and the Middle East completely. If people continue to
Jews in Palestine and the Middle East, the death and destruction will continue.
Palestine Arab Islamic state and will remain

November 2nd, 2010, 4:43 am

 

Melvin said:

Sorry for an error. I ment to say: You may not see this as the Solution to the Middle East Conflict, but I certainly do.

May 16th, 2011, 10:42 am

 

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