Will Syria Serve Up Iran on a Silver Platter? - Syria Comment

Will Syria Serve Up Iran on a Silver Platter?

Saudi Ambassador to Syria:

“A Saudi diplomat said Monday that the kingdom has appointed a new ambassador to Syria, the strongest sign yet of the solidifying reconciliation between the two rival Arab nations. …. An official at the Syrian Foreign Ministry said Syria has approved the appointment of a Saudi ambassador, identifying the diplomat as Abdullah al-Eifan. The diplomat at the Saudi Embassy in Damascus said he would assume the post soon. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the appointment was not yet official, and gave no further details. Al-Eifan’s appointment is a strong indication that a much talked about summit meeting between the Saudi king and the Syrian president would be held in Damascus in the coming days or weeks. Observers have suggested a summit in Damascus was unlikely before the king appoints his envoy to Syria. …” (AP)

Former US ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer sharply denied reports Monday that he is under consideration to become the next American ambassador to Damascus. (Jerusalem Post)

[The Jerusalem Post also quotes David Schenker of WINEP as saying of the decision to send a US ambassador to Syria:

it was definitely connected to the turmoil in Iran and the administration’s efforts to take advantage of Teheran’s perilous moment. “[They want] to maximize the press on Iran, to make them concerned that Syria is contemplating a change of camps,” he said.

[Landis analysis] I think this is WINEP spin. It is much more likely that the decision to resend an ambassador was made before the Iran elections and was linked to the Centcom mission that visited Damascus shortly before the Mitchell visit in June to discuss security arrangements along the Iraq border and the resumption of intelligence sharing. I also find Moshe Maoz’s suggestion (See article copied below) that “the United States will replace North Korea as the major arms provider to Syria,” to be unlikely. Such a Syrian shift could not be contemplated unless Israel clearly agrees to give back the Golan, and that is highly unlikely given Netanyahu’s government and statements. Maoz writes: “If Syria chooses to sever its relations with Iran and Hizbullah, new doors may open up for a possible détente with the West and Israel, including the return of the Golan Heights.”

It is most unlikely that Syria will sever relations with Iran and Hizbullah before the return of the Golan. Left-leaning Israelis argue that Syria should trust Netanyahu to deliver if Syria first flips? Why would Syrians believe this? Left-leaning Israelis have little credibility in Israel. They have lost too many elections and the Labor Party is all but extinct. Tzipi Livni’s party bombed both Lebanon and Gaza, suggesting that it would prefer to kill its enemies than compromise with them.

Few Syrians are likely to believe that Netanyahu or his parliamentary allies will relinquish the Golan as liberal Israelis claim they will. There is just no reason for Assad to believe Israel or Washington will deliver. Netanyahu has stated repeatedly and clearly that Israel will not return the Golan. I think we need to take him at his word. Even analysts such as Martin Indyk argue that Netanyahu will relinquish the Golan only if he believes that Israel faces a stark choice between relinquishing the West Bank to Palestinians or the Golan to Syria. There is no sign yet that Obama has the desire or will to force such a stark choice on Israel. Obama has not once mentioned the Golan. Surely, Assad will be wise enough to wait until Obama shows his hand.

Analysis: Syria’s way out of the ‘Shi’ite Axis of Evil’
Jul. 7, 2009
moshe maoz , THE JERUSALEM POST

Monday’s news that Saudi Arabia will appoint an ambassador to Syria signifies a gradual effort by the western world and moderate Arab nations to extract Syria away from the “Shi’ite Axis of Evil” and to strengthen relations with the West under the aegis of the American administration.

Reports of the appointment come amidst the backdrop of the Syrian-Saudi-Lebanese summit, set to convene in Damascus next week, and US President Barack Obama’s announcement that the US will also appoint an ambassador to Syria.

The Saudi ambassador appointment and the combined effort of the United States and other western nations to foster better relations with Syria stem from a legitimate Iranian threat to the region’s interests and oil resources. A nuclear Iran has the capability not only to threaten Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern nations with war, but also to demand oil concessions in the hope of dominating the Middle Eastern market.

The Americans hope that their push for better relations with Syria will force the Syrian government to better patrol the Iraqi border and stop the infiltration of foreign fighters into Iraq. In addition, the Americans are likely to demand that Syria reject North Korean military aid. In exchange, it is possible that the United States will replace North Korea as the major arms provider to Syria, similar to the Americans’ replacement of Soviet aid in Egypt.

Iran’s inexorable isolation from the world and its disputed nuclear program threaten to isolate the much more moderate Syrian regime. If Syria chooses to sever its relations with Iran and Hizbullah, new doors may open up for a possible détente with the West and Israel, including the return of the Golan Heights. In the event of a Syrian-Western alliance, Syria could receive economic-military aid from the Arab Gulf States and the United States.

Despite the opposition of the Israeli public to returning the Golan, the political establishment is willing to do such in an agreement that would pass muster with the Israeli public. This would include a major change in Syria’s relationship with Iran, and a cessation of Syrian support to Hizbullah.

In fact, most Israeli prime ministers, with the exception of Ariel Sharon, have had no major objections to relinquishing the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War, which was never part of the “Greater Israel” vision. Moreover, Israel would find it much easier to have a satisfied Syria manage a Palestinian peace agreement, rather than deal directly with Hamas or Fatah.

Syria’s relationship with Iran is becoming increasingly onerous and while Syrian President Bashar Assad wants to maintain his Iranian ties, he cannot afford to play both cards. In the event that Israel attacks Iran or vice versa, Syria would be drawn into a regional war, from which it would have nothing to gain. A conventional army like Syria’s, unlike the forces of Hamas or the insurgency in Iraq, would lose in a military conflict with Israel or the West.

In the case of a future Syrian-Western alliance, Iran and Hizbullah will be more isolated than they currently find themselves. Hizbullah would lose a major economic and military supporter, and Iran would lose more ground to the Sunni Arab alliance. While this may push Hizbullah further into the Lebanese political arena, the group may also turn to terrorist action against their former sponsors.

Moshe Ma’oz is professor emeritus of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at The Hebrew University, Jerusalem. He was interviewed by Alex Sorin.

Charles De Batz-Castelmore sent me this youtube link of French public TV interview in 6 parts with Bashar, which was probably recorded in Feb 2009 – “A visage découvert : Bashar Assad.”. Charles writes:

There is nothing really new for a close observer of Syria, but this TV show is quite interesting nonetheless because of the interviews close friends, and Asma Assad. It includes some aspects of his personal life, his view of his former medical career, etc..

About politics, probably the most interesting part is the answer Bashar gave about the apparent contradiction of the close relationship between a secular republic and the Islamic Republic of Iran. (part 5 ) and some parts about teh regional situation (part 6).

Interesting to find David Lesh interviewed . 😉

Shana Marshall, “SYRIA AND THE FINANCIAL CRISIS: PROSPECTS FOR REFORM?” MIDDLE EAST POLICY, VOL. XVI, NO.2, SUMMER 2009, is now online.

Most of the French comments about Syria are a little bit stereotypical (IMOH) Dimashq view from Saint Germain des Pres 😉

Obama faces a Persian rebuff
The Hindu: India’s National Newspaper
Thursday, Jul 02, 2009
M.K. Bhadrakumar

The Iranian regime shows definite signs of closing ranks and pulling its act together in the face of what it assesses to be an existential threat to the Vilayat-e faqih system.

The street protests in Tehran fizzled out……

Also, the regional milieu can only work to Iran’s advantage. Turkey distanced itself from the European opinion. Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan greeted Mr. Ahmedinejad’s victory. Moscow followed suit. Beijing has never before expressed such staunch solidarity with the Iranian regime. Neither Syria nor Hezbollah and Hamas showed any inclination to disengage from Iran. True, Syria’s ties with Saudi Arabia improved in the last six months and Damascus welcomes the Obama administration’s recent overtures. But far from adopting the Saudi or U.S. agenda toward Tehran, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem openly criticised the legitimacy of the street protests in Tehran.

He warned last Sunday when the Tehran streets were witnessing unrest: “Anyone betting on the fall of the Iranian regime will be a loser. The[1979] Islamic revolution is a reality, deeply-rooted in Iran, and the international community [read U.S.] must live with that.” Mr. Moallem called for the “establishment of a dialogue between Iran and the United States based on mutual respect and non-interference in Iran’s affairs.”

Again, in an interview with the CNN on Saturday, Syria’s ambassador in Washington Imad Moustapha advised the Obama administration to “exercise caution” in adopting strident criticism of the election verdict as it will “harm the efforts” to find a solution to the nuclear issue. He said Iran was a “very important country in the Middle East” and a close friend of Syria. Outside interference in Iran’s internal affairs was damaging regional stability. Equally, success of Saad Hariri as the newly-elected Prime Minister of Lebanon — and the country’s overall stability — will hinge on his reconciliation with rivals allied to Syria and Iran.

All things taken into account, therefore, there has been a goof-up of major proportions in Washington. The Obama magic suddenly wore off when he sounded like George W. Bush in disregarding convention and courtesy, contrary to the abundant promise in the Cairo speech. It is inconceivable that the Obama administration harboured the notion that the commotion inTehran’s middle-class districts would weaken the Iranian regime or make it diffident and dilute its resolve while the critical negotiations on the nuclear and other issues regarding the situation around Iran commenced. Mr. Ahmedinejad left hardly anything to interpretation when he stated in Tehran on Saturday: “Without doubt, Iran’s new government will have a more decisive and firmer approach towards the West. This time the Iranian nation’s reply will be harsh and more decisive” and will aim at making the West regret its “meddlesome stance.”

(The writer is a former Indian diplomat.)

‘Assad won’t get Golan on a ‘Silver platter’
By GREER FAY CASHMAN

Syrian President Bashar Assad must understand that he cannot expect to receive the Golan Heights on a silver platter while he continues to maintain contact with Iran and to strengthen Hizbullah, President Shimon Peres told German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier on Monday. German Foreign Minister Frank…

“Israel is ready to return to the negotiating table immediately, but without any pre-conditions,” Peres said when asked if he had a message for Steinmeier to relay to Assad.

Steinmeier, who is the Social Democratic Party candidate for chancellor, is on a brief tour of the region to promote peace. His visit has sparked great media interest in Germany, to the extent that he is accompanied by a 30-member press entourage.

Landing in Israel at 4:30 a.m. on Monday, Steinmeier met with Peres less than four hours later.

While there are still many difficulties to overcome in Israel’s efforts to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians, there is good reason for hope, the president told Steinmeier.

“Change is residing in different domains,” Peres revealed as he discussed what is happening to the Palestinians in terms of freedom of movement, security and economic development. These changes may help to bridge different gaps, he said, adding that “Europe can play a major role with patience, understanding and fairness on all sides.”

But time is of the essence, Peres emphasized. “We have to act dynamically and move ahead. Germany is an important player in Europe and Europe is an important player in the Middle East.”

As a candidate for chancellor, he said to Steinmeier, “you have an important role to play.”

Peres outlined some of the significant changes in the West Bank, which he described as an important breakthrough which Israel and the Palestinians see eye to eye on. The most important change, he said, was that 25 out of 41 checkpoints had been dismantled, allowing for greater freedom of movement, and enabling more progress to be made with Japan’s economic projects in Jericho, France’s in Bethlehem and Germany’s in Jenin.

In addition, for the first time, cities are being handed over to the Palestinians to make their own security arrangements, Peres told the German foreign minister. The police force in Jericho is being trained by the Europeans, and US General Keith Dayton, with the support of the Quartet, is training security forces that he refers to as his “gendarmerie”, said Peres.

Praising Dayton for doing “a good job”, Peres acknowledged that prior to the training of the security forces, there was fear, that if Israeli security personnel left the area, there would be chaos.

Recalling conversations held with Peres earlier in the year during and after Operation Cast Lead, Steinmeier said: “The war is over, but we have not gained peace. You know better than anyone else that the way to stability can be gained by talking to the Palestinians with the focus on a two-state solution. The pre-condition has to be security for Israel and its citizens, and we have to try to gain the support of the moderate Arab states.”

Steinmeier added that in his perception, this was what was behind the initiative of US President Barack Obama when he went to Cairo.

Europe and Germany would support this initiative as much as possible, he said.

Echoing the need to seize the dynamic of the situation, Steinmeier said that he had a clear insight that events in Iran emanating from the presidential elections did not make the situation any easier.

Peres agreed, and noted that the revolution against the Shah had been with the intent of eradicating corruption. Those who replaced the Shah brought about even more corruption, he said, and what was happening now indicated that “Ahmadinejad has lost Iran,” and that “it will have an effect all over.”

Aluf Benn / U.S. wants Iran to know it can be attacked

Iran’s nuclear program has been restored to prominence on the American-Israeli diplomatic agenda. After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adopted the “two states for two peoples” formula on the Palestinian issue, American recompense came in the form of Vice President Joe Biden’s statement that Israel, as a “sovereign nation,” will decide for itself how to deal with Iran.

George Stephanopoulos, the ABC television presenter to whom Biden made this remark, thrice asked him how the U.S. would respond if Netanyahu took independent action on Iran. Biden did not hesitate. The U.S., he said, “cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do” if they feel threatened by another country.

That is almost exactly what Condoleezza Rice, former president George W. Bush’s secretary of state, said when asked the same question a year ago. However, Biden declined to say whether the U.S. would allow Israel to overfly Iraq en route to Iran.

Iran’s nuclear program has been restored to prominence on the American-Israeli diplomatic agenda. After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adopted the “two states for two peoples” formula on the Palestinian issue, American recompense came in the form of Vice President Joe Biden’s statement that Israel, as a “sovereign nation,” will decide for itself how to deal with Iran.

George Stephanopoulos, the ABC television presenter to whom Biden made this remark, thrice asked him how the U.S. would respond if Netanyahu took independent action on Iran. Biden did not hesitate. The U.S., he said, “cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do” if they feel threatened by another country.

That is almost exactly what Condoleezza Rice, former president George W. Bush’s secretary of state, said when asked the same question a year ago. However, Biden declined to say whether the U.S. would allow Israel to overfly Iraq en route to Iran.

‘Saudis give Israel green light to attack Iran’
By Haaretz Service

Saudi Arabia has indicated to Israel that it would not protest use of its airspace by Israeli fighter jets in the event the government resolves to launch a military assault against Iran, according to a report which appeared in the British Sunday Times.

According to The Sunday Times, Mossad chief Meir Dagan held secret meetings with Saudi officials who gave their tacit approval to Israel’s use of the kingdom’s airspace.

“The Saudis have tacitly agreed to the Israeli air force flying through their airspace on a mission which is supposed to be in the common interests of both Israel and Saudi Arabia,” The Sunday Times quoted a diplomatic source as saying last week.
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The report also quoted John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, as saying that it would be “entirely logical” for Israeli warplanes to fly over Saudi Arabia en route to bombing nuclear targets in Iran.

Though any Israeli attack would be roundly condemned by Mideast leaders at the UN, Bolton said Arab leaders have privately expressed trepidation at the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran.

“None of them would say anything about it publicly but they would certainly acquiesce in an overflight if the Israelis didn’t trumpet it as a big success,” Bolton told The Sunday Times

Syrian-Saudi Contacts Freeze as Egypt Reportedly has Reservations over Damascus’ Negative Role

Halt in contacts between Damascus and Riyadh over Lebanon has made it almost impossible for a summit between Syrian President Bashar Assad and Saudi King Abdullah to be held in Damascus on Monday.

Syrian sources told As-Safir newspaper that exchange of ideas between Riyadh and Damascus was ongoing, “but so far did not reach a level where a (cabinet line-up) could be announced.”

The sources denied that preparations were underway for a Saudi-Syrian summit to be held in Damascus on Monday. They did not rule out, however, an Assad-Abdullah summit at a later stage.

Meanwhile, pan-Arab daily al-Hayat quoted well-informed Egyptian sources as saying that Cairo “feels uncomfortable toward … attempts to force PM-designate Saad Hariri to make concessions beforehand, least of which is a visit to Damascus prior to cabinet formation.”

The Egyptian sources said Cairo supports further Syrian-Saudi rapprochement. However, they said recent contacts showed that Damascus was not keen on restoring Arab unity or even achieve progress with regards to the Lebanese and Palestinians dossiers.

They said latest contacts, instead, showed a “Syrian attitude that barters every proposed step with a list of demands and conditions that only serves the narrow interests of Syria, particularly with regards to Lebanese affairs.”

The sources said Syrian demands aim at strengthening the Lebanese Opposition stance.

Corruption Scandal Coming to an End: Weeks of turmoil created by the uncovering of a major corruption ring in the city of Homs appear to be nearing an end. (Syria Report)

Education: Syrian President lays Foundation Stone of Massar Discovery Centre
The Syrian President and his wife laid on July 2 the foundation stone of the Massar Discovery Centre, a children-dedicated educational and cultural centre. (Syria Report)

(XIN) Syria strives for economic rejuvenation by opening up
2009-07-06

DAMASCUS, Jul 06, 2009 (Xinhua via COMTEX) — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s proposal to rejuvenate Syria’s economy by bolstering economic cooperation with the countries around eastern Mediterranean, Black Sea, Arabian Gulf and Caspian Sea is “ambitious and far-sighted,” local independent daily Al-Watan commented on Monday.

“He is seeking to broaden his country’s relations by boosting economic ties and trade relations with neighboring states,” the article published on Al-Watan said.

In recent months, Syria has signed a series of trade and economic agreement with Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Armenia, Yemen, Azerbaijan and Greece.

Meanwhile, senior Syrian officials have called on foreign businessmen to pay more attention to the Syrian market, stressing huge incentives available in Syria including skilled labors and the country’s special geographic location.

The newspaper’s article hailed that Assad’s vision to boost Syria’s unique geographic position between Europe and the East ” encompasses more than politics.”

“If his proposal is realized, the trade routes connecting eastern Mediterranean and central Asia will flourish, bringing about an unprecedented political and cultural interaction among the region which will promote economic development, and lead to a sustainable peace based on mutual interests,” said the article.

Syria, which has been under U.S. sanctions since 2004, has embarked on economic reforms and spurred economic growth after decades of stagnation and government reliance on oil revenue.

Syrian Minister of Finance Mohammed al-Hussein announced last month in London that Syria expects to attract 30 billion U.S. dollars of foreign private investment in the next five years, as it opens up its economy.

According to the official news agency SANA, a Thai trade delegation has visited Syria last Sunday and discussed with local officials the possibility of investing in Syria.

Comments (57)


majid said:

KSA denies:
http://www.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/1C8FBDF0-EC8F-483A-A091-1E86DD72C466.htm

” A nuclear Iran has the capability not only to threaten Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern nations with war, but also to demand oil concessions in the hope of dominating the Middle Eastern market.”

Mo’az wants to revive Cheney’s plan to create an Arab front against Iran. It is as simple as that. This is perhaps where Mossad got the fabrication of so-called tacit SA approval to fly over. Jews have appointed themselves as startegic thinkers on behalf of the Arabs. What a joke? Thay are so arrogant to believe they know Arabs’ interests better than the Arabs themselves. His logic about oil concessions doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Oil price is now at $70 despite world economy being in recession. This is where Iran would like to see the price. Oil is getting scarcier and scarcier having reached its peak production already and demand for oil will only go up from now on compared to supply. Actually oil countries that produce less oil now are at an advantage in the future with or without nukes.

Arabs don’t have any interest in becoming part of any front. Haykal is actually calling on the Arabs to reach a detente with Iran. Iran and the Arabs as nations coexisted for thousands of years and they understand each other better than these new comers who came from all corners of the earth and lack even the credentials to be called a nation.

Dayton’s job is to prevent W. Bank intifada. He and not Abu Mazen rules Fatah:
http://www.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/9EBF949D-AFF3-4384-930F-312E308F57D5.htm

July 7th, 2009, 6:55 am

 

Shai said:

Joshua,

I don’t think Syria should “trust” Netanyahu will deliver the Golan. I believe it will be in his interest to make his intentions clear in the upcoming 6-12 months, though he’s more likely to do so first in private, than publicly. Today, each side wants to know first what it is getting.

This was not the case with Barak or Olmert, who were much more open about the price Israel will have to pay. To this day, Netanyahu denies having sent Lauder in August of 1998 to offer Hafez Assad the Golan. Who still remembers his own Defense Minister, Itzik Mordechai, saying on national tv: “Bibi, look me in the eyes, and say that this never took place…”? So it is clear Netanyahu will keep whatever intentions he has very close to his chest.

While many may argue that Bibi means what he says and says what he means, I just can’t see much rationale in it. Is Bibi’s intention to merely try to survive these next 4 years, and achieve no peace in the process? Is he merely coveting the chair and the fancy car, but no place in our history books as “the leader” who brought an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict? What would be the point? He doesn’t want to become another Shamir, and certainly not another Golda (regional war on his shift, peace on his replacement’s, zero credit).

So while I won’t gamble my daughters’ college education savings on Bibi (:-)), I am still quite certain that Bibi will eventually deliver. Perhaps he is setting up the stage by first pushing the American administration to the limit with regards to the settlements. If and when the ultimatum will come, he’ll go back to his government and say: “They’re crazy. Next they’ll demand we divide Jerusalem!” And eventually create a real sense of fear, that Israel is being pushed too quickly to give up on the West Bank, and that a state of Palestine might be just around the corner.

This anxiety might be the perfect “environment” for a rescue-card, namely peace with Syria. My bet is that Bibi would rather give up Katzrin far sooner than E. Jerusalem. A lengthy withdrawal period from the Golan (years not months), possible peace-park, cessation to the arming of Hezbollah, are a win-win scenario for Bibi, as opposed to risking near-civil-war by forcibly pulling tens or hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers out of their homes.

July 7th, 2009, 9:26 am

 

milli s said:

Does someone have access to Syria Report and could publish the article about the corruption ring in Homs in full? Or does someone have a link to another news article on this (english/french/german/spanish/arabic fine?

Thanks,
MS

July 7th, 2009, 11:57 am

 

Avi said:

Majid again i must say what a rasist person you are!!people that come from every corner of the planet are actually jews,and the jews lived in israel (way before the palestinians) then got exiled by the romans and then came back thanks to rasists like yourself majid!check your history you rasist liar!things are not as simple as you try to put it,and your arguments are pure filth that comes only from Goering himself!!you would have been majid a good disciple of the late mufti of jerusalem.

July 7th, 2009, 1:45 pm

 

norman said:

raises in Syria,

: زيادة على الرواتب بنسبة 35% حتى نهاية 2010 ومشاريع لتحسين المعيشة الاخبار الاقتصادية

قال نائب رئيس مجلس الوزراء للشؤون الاقتصادية عبد الله الدردري إن الفترة حتى نهاية العام 2010 ستشهد زيادة في رواتب الموظفين تصل إلى 35%.

ونقلت صحيفة تشرين المحلية في عددها الصادر يوم الثلاثاء عن الدردري قوله إن “الفترة المتبقية من الخطة الخمسية العاشرة ستشهد زيادة للرواتب تصل إلى 35%، وذلك تطبيقاً لما نصّت عليه الخطّة من تحقيق زيادة على رواتب الموظفين تصل إلى 100%”.

وحققت الخطة الخمسية العاشرة 2005-2010 زيادة على رواتب الموظفين بلغت 65% فيما تنص الخطة على زيادة في الرواتب تصل إلى 100%.

وأضاف الدردري أن “النصف المتبقي من هذا العام مع العام القادم سيشهدان تطبيقاً لما ورد في الخطة الخمسية العاشرة التي وعدت بتحقيق زيادة على رواتب الموظفين تصل إلى الضعف عما كانت عليه مع انطلاقة الخطة، مشيرا إلى أن “هذه الزيادة ستأتي متزامنة مع مشروعات حكومية تهدف إلى تحسين معيشة المواطنين بشكل عام”.

وشهد شهر أيار من العام 2008 آخر زيادة على الرواتب والأجور للعاملين بالدولة والمتقاعدين بنسبة 25%، بالإضافة إلى رفع الحد الأدنى العام للأجور وكذلك الحد الأدنى لأجور المهن في جميع القطاعات بما فيها القطاع الخاص والتعاوني والمشترك بمقدار 25%.

July 7th, 2009, 1:49 pm

 

M S said:

I guess that’s the government’s strategy to soften the impact of liberalisation on a key constituency. I wonder if the crackdown on tax evasion in Homs is remotely connected – in the sense that the government will HAVE to increase its tax income if it wants to continue raising public sector salaries. Especially as it seems highly doubtful that productivity in the public sector is going to go up commesurately.

July 7th, 2009, 3:22 pm

 

norman said:

The public sector is the the most underpaid sector in Syria and the only one who pay taxes all the time , as it comes out of their salaries.they deserve higher payment , that can help discourage bribery.

July 7th, 2009, 4:35 pm

 

jad said:

Dear Norman,
Most of what Mr. Dardari saying doesn’t reflect reality in Syria, it’s just (news paper talks) 🙂 7aki jarayed!
Even with 100% salary raise, the majority of government employees salaries where around 7-10K SP ($140-200) at the beginning of the plan so 100% means 14-20k ($280-400) even with that, I don’t think it will makes any difference since the prices are already rocking high and goes up every time this kind of news comes to the surface. Nothing will change if they don’t encourage people to become creative, free and support them to do real and inventive business without the usual Mafiosos.
At the same time he is giving the ‘great’ news, the government he is part of just hit the pharmaceutical industry by forcing them out of the blue to lower the medication prices between 15-30% which means that all pharmacies/factories to get the lose directly and pay their lost out of their own money. Couple millions SP may not be that big deal for huge companies but this was the best industry in Syria so they are actually killing it because now as our average Syrian Abouahmad usually do, the quality will become the victim.
At the same time and when you look at the individual pharmacist level the consequences are worst since it means lowering their salary by almost 23% without a warning in an expensive atmosphere.
I don’t trust this government at all.

July 7th, 2009, 6:01 pm

 

Avi said:

Norman i wonder what your thoughts on the golan are?? and if you think the syrian goverment is negociating correctly with the israelis…..i mean indirectly?You who seems informed on history have you ever heard of israel returning such a strategic place without a peace accord??do you think that the golan is gaza or south lebanon in its importance for israel??

July 7th, 2009, 6:17 pm

 

Avi said:

For all syrians:did you know that the golan is a word in modern and ancient hebrew,by the way the language today spoken in israel(second is arabic)???

July 7th, 2009, 6:19 pm

 

norman said:

avi,

Did you know that Arabic and Hebrew are semitic languages that are related and the Aramaic , which is still spoken in some parts of Syria , Is the Language that your ancestors and ours spoke not Hebrew , Hebrew was only the language of the temple and did you know that the Syrian Orthodox church still carries services in Aramaic.

The Golan should not be returned without a peace accord , but it should definitely be returned for a warm complete peace ,

For the sake of the Hebrew and the other Syrians .

July 7th, 2009, 6:57 pm

 

Marc Gopin said:

Josh, I agree with your analysis, and feel that Moshe, a good and well intentioned friend of peace, is a little off the mark here. I think he is trying to provoke a deal here between Syria and Israel by appealing to Israel’s military instincts. He is no Cheney, but like many Israelis they underestimate the depth of involvement for thirty years of Iran and Syria, in addition to the humiliating notion that Arabs need to sever ties with other states in order to get territory back that is rightfully theirs. Bravo to Mouallem who answered Peres right back that he does expect the Golan on a silver platter. We are seeing the vestiges of a neocon, colonial, racist culture that acts as if Arabs, Palestinians, are things to be punished, threatened, bribed, and blackmailed. As a religious Jew it sickens me.
For all of my disagreements with Syria’s unqualified support for Hamas and Hezbollah, I still must admire the Syrian independence of spirit that helps the West understand that they just cannot dictate to proud Arab nations, as if they are all backward and naive. Syria is reminding everyone of that, but, yes, it is time to get to the table with rational Israelis, probably not with the current make up of Israel’s parliament, and hammer out mutual security interests and the conditions of normalization which must naturally shift Syria’s MILITARY cooperation with Iran or Hezbollah or Hamas. But to say, we will not talk to you or give you what is yours unless you only engage who we tell you to engage is anachronistic, condescending, stupid. It reflects a mentality of those who have yet to get off the boats in Haifa and greet their new neighbors with respect and equality. Don’t know how long this is going to take, but not much longer. Meanwhile, full steam ahead on American Syrian relations, this is the single greatest shift toward a new Middle East which I am confident most Iranians will join eventually.
Marc Gopin
marcgopin.com

July 8th, 2009, 12:36 am

 

norman said:

MR Gopin,

I enjoyed your take , Jewish Americans i know agree with you , but then we live in a desegregated society in the US and Jews and Arabs are the closest to each other in the US , one day they will find out in the Mideast that they are closer to each other than they admit to.

July 8th, 2009, 2:19 am

 

Off the Wall said:

Mr. Gopin
As usual, Norman leads and we follow 🙂 . I add my voice to his.

July 8th, 2009, 3:19 am

 

LeoLeoni said:

Israelis needs to understand that by returning Golan to Syria, the Syrians will have no interest in supporting Hamas & Hizbollah. By regainining back their illegally occupied territories, Syria will no doubt become a constructive force that will lead the region into a positive diplomacy and eventually peace. There would be no need for hostilities against Israel and there would be no need for the Syrians to conintue their close relationship with an Iranian regime which they fundamentally disagree with in so many ways. In that case, peace would be inevitable.

July 8th, 2009, 4:41 am

 

Joshua said:

Dear Marc, Many thanks for your take. I have the greatest respect for Moshe Maoz, whose book on the Israeli-Syrian relations is one of the best books on Syrian foreign affairs. I was brought up on his earlier scholarly works on Syria, as well.

His urgings are, as you say, a sign of the times. They underscore the deep fear of Iran that has overtaken Israel and difficulty in pushing forward the Israeli-Syrian dialog in a way that doesn’t appear disingenuous to the other side while seeming realistic to one’s own.

There is a monstrous gap between the expectations of Israelis and Syrians, just as there is almost no trust.

You are absolutely right about the condescension. It is a non-starter and immediately provokes the dander of Syrians. I am sure many Israelis believe it is appropriate because Syria is weak. As one Western diplomat said to me in Syria, “the Syrians believe that they are the center of the universe and they aren’t.” I was discussing politics with him among a group of Syrians. They all immediately turned against him and the discussion broke down when he said that.

I am sure he thought that he was being helpful, but it just came across as condescending and mean. It spoiled the discussion on the spot.

July 8th, 2009, 5:57 am

 

Off the Wall said:

Joshua
When did that happen, when did we Syrians lose our status as the center of the Universe? I was not told about that 🙁

July 8th, 2009, 6:32 am

 

Shai said:

Dear Rabbi Gopin,

Like my fellow commentators Norman and OTW, I too join in supporting your wise words!

Leoleoni,

I agree with the first part of what you said, but disagree about the relationship with Iran. First, no one has a right to determine what relationship one nation has with another. Second, as you correctly suggest, Syria would have no interest in supporting any threatening program to Israel’s security, be it with Hamas, Hezbollah, or Iran. Israel cannot demand of Syria to cut off all relationship with Iran. Plus, if you think about it, neither is it in Israel’s best interest. Two scenarios I can imagine, with the same result:

1. Assuming Iran means what it says, which is that they will accept any solution the Palestinian people accept. That means, I believe, that Iran’s belligerent stance towards Israel would end the minute the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ends. In such a case, certainly Israel has no reason to fear any Syrian-Iranian relationship.

2. Assuming Iran does NOT mean what it says, and in fact has very sinister “plans” towards Israel. Or, you could claim, that it will continue to progress along dangerous paths, threatening Israel, until the Palestinians have their own state. Let’s even assume that Iran becomes nuclear in the very near future. In such a case, which would Israel rather have – a Syrian ally that is friend of such regime in Iran, or a Syrian ally that is deemed by the Iranians as a collaborator? To me it’s quite clear which I’d prefer.

But the one argument that most who participate in this discourse seem to be ignoring, for some reason or another, is the more likely one (I believe). Which is that Syria can help bridge gaps between Iran and the West, between Iran and other Arab states and, yes, between Iran and Israel! We somehow have this notion that once a regime is labeled “extreme”, “radical”, “belligerent”, it should be isolated. That by removing her from any world arena, we are helping to change her in a positive way. That by being shunned and sanctioned, she will opt to “come around”, to “behave”, and to become less extreme.

But how many more examples do we need, to see how wrong this reasoning is? The world has isolated North Korea for years. Has it softened any? Has it abandoned its nuclear program? Has it opted to get closer to the West? And while the answers are clear (no to all), in the process of isolation, we have all contributed in indirectly sentencing its helpless population to further misery, starvation, and other untold suffering. By isolating North Korea, we have in fact enabled its regime to become EVER MORE extreme, belligerent, uncompromising.

Engaging, rather than isolating, a nation such as Iran does not mean accepting its behavior. Even as parents, how long does it take us before we understand that locking the kid in his room for a whole day achieves the opposite effect? Most of us believe in carrots-and-sticks, but to effectively wave the stick, we must also offer the carrots. And we cannot do this from a patronizing stance. We cannot say “Behave, or else…”

Israel should hope to have Syria as a close ally one day. And it should hope to have Syria’s allies as close allies too.

July 8th, 2009, 6:42 am

 

Shai said:

Joshua,

It is unbelievable just how desperately our region needs a therapist! 🙂

The Syrian people (as most Arabs) are suffering from conflicting inferiority-superiority complexes. On the one hand, they lost their territory in war to a tiny, brand-new nation of Jewish immigrants, that is still imposing its will upon the region. On the other, over thousands of years they have seen empires come and go, and only they remained. The Arabs have withstood all nations, conquerors and occupiers. And Arab historic pride is justified. But the tension between these two feelings is quite often debilitating. Perhaps, on a national level, it is a depressive tension. We know what we’re worth, but can do nothing about it…

And at the same time, Israelis too are suffering from the same complexes. We have the mightiest army in the region, we are by almost any standard a regional super-power, we have the deadliest weapons, and yet cannot force peace upon our neighbors. The tiniest and cheapest of rockets fired from an improvised launcher in a field makes us feel our existence is at stake. It reminds us of the Holocaust, of trains filled with Jews on their way to the slaughterhouse. An Israeli ambassador to the U.S., knowing and understanding nothing about atomic weapons, lectures about “A single Iranian bomb will wipe out the State of Israel”. We’ve become experts at selling, and buying, fear. We are the strongest, and yet the weakest.

So how do we get over these complexes? I guess the answer is time. We need courageous leaders that will at least change the facts on the ground, that will bring an end to the Occupation of the West Bank and the Golan, that will remove the last obstacles to peace. And then, shwaye shwaye, therapy will begin. Maybe it is too late for our generation (I hope not), but let us hope our children will not suffer from the same psychoses. That must be our goal.

July 8th, 2009, 7:10 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Weird Rabbi NewZ

Rabbi Marc Gopin said to Professor Josh:

Josh, I agree with your analysis…

Earlier, Professor Josh said:

Tzipi Livni’s party bombed both Lebanon and Gaza, suggesting that it would prefer to kill its enemies than compromise with them.

How anyone could agree with a pro-Baathist Professor who claims Tzipi Livni should have “compromised” with Hamas should have his head examined. The Rabbi Marc Gopin & Professor Josh “alliance” seems like a marriage made in heaven.

Bravo to Mouallem who answered Peres right back that he does expect the Golan on a silver platter.

It is “Land for Peace” Rabbi Marc Gopin. We all know you would give the Golan back for nothing tangible at all, that’s why you’re not in government.

We are seeing the vestiges of a neocon, colonial, racist culture that acts as if Arabs, Palestinians, are things to be punished, threatened, bribed, and blackmailed. As a religious Jew it sickens me.

As a Jew myself, it sickens me that a rabbi would give back a hard-fought, strategic plateau to a undemocratic Baathist despot for nothing in return and thus, severely jeopardize the security of 1/2 of the world’s Jewish community.

Fortunately, I have barf bag and health insurance.

For all of my disagreements with Syria’s unqualified support for Hamas and Hezbollah, I still must admire the Syrian independence of spirit…

Don’t get worked up about Syria’s “unqualified support for Hamas and Hezbollah. Syria’s “independence of spirit” (aka Assad Baathism) will keep that going for another 40 years.

… yes, it is time to get to the table with rational Israelis, probably not with the current make up of Israel’s parliament, and hammer out mutual security interests and the conditions of normalization which must naturally shift Syria’s MILITARY cooperation with Iran or Hezbollah or Hamas. But to say, we will not talk to you or give you what is yours unless you only engage who we tell you to engage is anachronistic, condescending, stupid.

Rabbi Marc Gopin,

How long have you had the “chutzpah” to dictate to Israel how to make peace? Have you been using your same talents with the Syrian government?

It reflects a mentality of those who have yet to get off the boats in Haifa and greet their new neighbors with respect and equality.

It reflects a mentality of those who got off the boat, wanted to retain their Jewish identity and create an independent Jewish state.

You may not like that, but you’re not Israeli.

Don’t know how long this is going to take, but not much longer.

Let’s make a wager.

July 8th, 2009, 11:35 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

The REST of the story

A quick scan of the today’s news shows Israeli “racism” continues unabated:

Bedouin kids can finally surf internet:

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3742766,00.html

Muslim doctors train in Israel:

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3742863,00.html

July 8th, 2009, 12:03 pm

 

Joshua said:

Dear Shai, I wish we could all recline on your couch for a bit of regional therapy. I conjecture that even Akbar would arise from the experience with an out of body urge to hug an Arab.

Best to you, Joshua

July 8th, 2009, 2:02 pm

 

norman said:

Dear DR Landis ,

The problem with AP is just simple , he probably does not interact with Arab or Syrians on a daily basses as other Jews do in the US .

If he comes to know us he would love , no doubt.

July 8th, 2009, 3:04 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

I conjecture that even Akbar would arise from the experience with an out of body urge to hug an Arab.

Dr. Josh,

You’re here! What a surprise! Marhaba!

I’m all for hugs Professor Josh, but, unfortunately, no one is giving away the Golan “on a silver platter”. Sorry!

And frankly, why anyone would expect such a thing is quite remarkable even “eyeopening”.

Anyway, please send my regards to Bashar and his lovely wife Asma. Please tell them every Israeli Jew would gladly hug and kiss them once they agree to cut ties to terror organizations and the countries that sponsor them (as well as a few other minor details like “peace”). Once this simple agreement is signed and placed into the annals of the UN and the Quartet, Bashar Assad would be honored and revered by his own people like Hosni and the Jordanian monarch.
The Assad Family may even get royalties.

It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

July 8th, 2009, 3:34 pm

 

Shai said:

“You may not like that, but you’re not Israeli.”

Akbar,

And neither are you. But Rabbi Marc Gopin has done more in the service of peace, and has brought Syria’s Christian and Muslim community closer to Judaism, than certainly you or I have. He deserves infinite credit for that.

That he speaks in a very different tone to and about the regime, does not make him a “pro-baathist”, though I know that is something that is difficult for you to understand. That he believes Tzipi Livni’s government (actually Olmert’s) should not have bombarded Gaza, does not mean it should have “compromised with Hamas”, there are other options, but I don’t expect you to understand that either.

Akbar, your closed mindedness is not serving you well, as it did not serve the previous administration during the past 8 years. There is more than one way, and very often others’ ways are no less effective than our own. This world truly is NOT made up only of people “with us” or “against us”.

July 8th, 2009, 4:22 pm

 

offended said:

You may have been following this story, I’m glad it’s come to an end:
_________________________________________

Risking Israel’s ire, US takes 1,350 Palestinian refugees

The State Department confirmed today that as many as 1,350 Iraqi Palestinians – once the well-treated guests of Saddam Hussein and now at outs with much of Iraqi society – will be resettled in the US, mostly in southern California, starting this fall.

It will be the largest-ever resettlement of Palestinian refugees into the US – and welcome news to the Palestinians who fled to Iraq after 1948 but who have had a tough time since Mr. Hussein was deposed in 2003. Targeted by Iraqi Shiites, the mostly-Sunni Palestinians have spent recent years in one of the region’s roughest refugee camps, Al Waleed, near Iraq’s border with Syria.

“Really for the first time, the United States is recognizing a Palestinian refugee population that could be admitted to the US as part of a resettlement program,” says Bill Frelick, refugee policy director at Human Rights Watch in Washington.

Given the US’s past reluctance to resettle Palestinians – it accepted just seven Palestinians in 2007 and nine in 2008 – the effort could ruffle some diplomatic feathers.

For many in the State Department and international community, the resettlement is part of a moral imperative the US has to clean up the refugee crisis created by invading Iraq. The US has already stepped up resettlement of Iraqis, some who have struggled to adjust to life in America.

The resettlement of Iraqi Palestinians is “an important gesture for the United States to demonstrate that we’re not heartless,” says Alon Ben-Meir, a professor of international relations and Middle Eastern studies at New York University.

But some critics say the State Department is sloughing off its problems onto American cities, especially since in this case the Palestinians were sympathizers of Hussein, who was deposed by the US.

“This is politically a real hot potato,” says Mark Krikorian, director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, adding, “[A]merica has become a dumping ground for the State Department’s problems – they’re tossing their problems over their head into Harrisburg, Pa., or Omaha, Neb.”

SADDAM’S GUESTS
Palestinian refugees came to Iraq in successive waves over several decades, first in 1948, then in 1967, and in 1991. They were treated well under Hussein but were also used to attack Israeli policies, and their presence was resented by many Iraqis.

After Hussein was deposed in 2003, many of these Palestinians were driven out of their homes and now live “at the mercy of the weather” in rough camps along the Syrian and Jordanian border, says Mr. Ben-Meir. The number of Palestinians in Iraq has fallen from around 34,000 to an estimated 15,000, with about 2,773 living in camps, according to the State Department.

The US, which takes in about 80,000 refugees annually, hopes to bring 17,000 Iraqi refugees this year.

CATEGORIZED AS IRAQI REFUGEES
While the US generally doesn’t accept Palestinians, Todd Pierce, a spokesman for the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, says that the Iraqi population of Palestinians falls under a different category from those in Gaza and the West Bank. Each applicant will be carefully scrutinized for terrorist ties, he adds.

The US reluctance to accept Palestinians is because it “doesn’t want the refugee program to become an issue in its relationship with Israel,” says a diplomat in the region, who requested anonymity because he is not cleared to talk to the press. But these Palestinians, he says, will be processed as refugees from Iraq.

Mr. Krikorian says the US should be the last refuge for those fleeing persecution. Only Jordan of all the Arab countries routinely grants citizenship to Palestinian refugees, he notes. More recently, says Mr. Frelick, Jordan has also shut its borders to Palestinians coming from Iraq.

Frelick, who has visited a camp on the Jordanian border, said the Iraqi Palestinians are “apolitical,” and “basically desperate, scared, miserable, and ready to just get out of Iraq.”

http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0708/p02s04-usgn.html
_____________________________________

One still has to wonder though, if Israel wasn’t the racist, inhumane and usurper entity that it is, why would it get ‘ireful’ over Palestinian refugees getting settled in the US?

July 8th, 2009, 4:28 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Offended,

Which begs the question, “What Ire is the author of that article referring to?”. I didn’t read any words from the author about it. The GOI has always wondered why there are still Palestinian refugees, after so many years.

One still has to wonder though, if Israel wasn’t the racist, inhumane and usurper entity that it is, why would it get ‘ireful’ over Palestinian refugees getting settled in the US?

Offended,

The usual (and inaccurate) adjectives don’t answer my question about the “ire” thing nor do they account for high standard of living and individual freedoms that the Israeli-Arabs have even compared to the rest of the Arab ME.

I do like “usuper entity”. Is has a nice ring to it.;)

July 8th, 2009, 6:53 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Akbar Palace asks Dr. Landis to tell Syria’s President and his wife that “every Israeli Jew would gladly hug and kiss them once they agree to cut ties to terror organizations and the countries that sponsor them.”

In effect, the Syrian President is asked to put all his eggs in the Israeli basket. He is asked to call Tehran and terminate his 30-year old relationship. Once done, he is asked to make a similar call to Nasrallah and inform him that its over. He is no longer welcome in Damascus and that he is effectively thrown under the bus. Presumably, the Syrian President will then be asked to send his security men to Mr. Meshaal’s office, pick him up and drive him straight to Damascus airport with a one way ticket to Sudan perhaps.

Now that the Syrian President haS followed the request of Mr. Akbar (doubtful that this is enough of course) and his leaders, Damascus may now get invited to sit across their Israeli counterparts for talks and hugs. Since the Syrian leader was so compliant with the above Israeli demands, these talks will be like a walk in the park. The Golan heights (1967 borders) will be handed back to Syria on the spot. Settlers will be removed and we all live happily thereafter.

This is the movie that Mr. Akbar and his leaders are directing and selling to the world.

Even if this were science fiction, it is idiotic at best.

Cut this tired nonesense please.

July 8th, 2009, 7:20 pm

 

Avi said:

Yeah true Akbar you are correct on the Israeli Arabs having the most free society in the ME because of Israeli democracy and you neglect to think that maybe Israel one day will have to take in Palestinian refugees i think this is the hot potato biz, but personally as an Israeli i understand for example that if Lebanon demands of Israel to take in a number of refugees because of the problem there because if we do not agree then we are heartless but at the same time Lebanon treats them worse than dogs…so I think they are also heartless specially Nasrallah (the man who controls lebanon by the gun)who sells the Palestinian blood real easy for his own interests.

July 8th, 2009, 7:25 pm

 

Shai said:

Ehsani,

Well said. Akbar has clearly been bought-over by neocon rhetoric and will continue to find any excuse for NOT ending the occupation of the Golan. Funny, but I wonder if he realizes that in the 1990’s, no less than 5 Israeli prime ministers had no claims against Syria pertaining to Iran or Hezbollah. The “Axis of Evil” hadn’t yet been born. And yet, we did not withdraw from the Golan. The same Golan that houses barely 26,000 Jews (a tiny-town USA). So if it’s not because of “terrorism-supporter”, it’ll be “strategic-importance”, or “existential threat”, or “lack of democracy” (AIG’s favorite).

It’s time to shove the excuses into that special place in history, where the sun never shined much, and move into a brighter, a safer, and a more sane future. If not for us, who’ve already experienced wars, then for our children.

July 8th, 2009, 7:49 pm

 

Alex said:

Thanks Ehsani and Shai … but Akbar, as usual, disappears after he comes here to make his predictable AIPAC comments.

He is not a listener, .. there is here to do his small part in brainwashing.

Your logical arguments don’t go anywhere as very few people are able to put aside Akbar’s line that they also heard a thousand times a day from top US administration officials, to congressmen, to Think Tankers to WSJ opinion page writers …

July 8th, 2009, 8:17 pm

 

Alex said:

Syria is number 38 .. way better than many other countries with higher GDP

See HPI (happy planet index) ratings at page 61

http://www.happyplanetindex.org/public-data/files/happy-planet-index-2-0.pdf

Israel is number 67

July 8th, 2009, 8:22 pm

 

Alex said:

“German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier sees Syria and its president, Bashar Assad, as an important regional player, a key to Mideast peace. In Damascus, Assad did all he could to accomodate this leap of faith, showing a willingness to find a middle ground even on hot-button issues.”

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,635128,00.html#ref=rss

July 8th, 2009, 8:25 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Israel is number 67

Alex,

Your “Happy Planet Index” is rubbing off!

You didn’t use “usuper entity”.

Careful, you don’t want to be too happy. By retaining a solid level of anger™ and rage™ , you may eventually get the Golan back on a silver platter.

July 8th, 2009, 9:15 pm

 

majid said:

How can Syria get the Golan back? The answer is obvious and there is only one such answer. There is no second answer, there is no third answer, there is no… It is the one and only one. Waste not your time, Obama is already backtracking.

Here’s the one and only answer,

http://www.youtube.com/user/yassirjanati#play/all/favorites-all/1/d7CHVsAp5HA

July 8th, 2009, 9:21 pm

 

offended said:

Palace,

It’s usurper entity

Although I prefer to say usurping entity

Yallah, repeat after me…

July 8th, 2009, 10:19 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

As a late comer to this discussion and considered by many to be a down to earth rabble rouser I emphatically support Syria’s serving up Iran on a Silver Platter IF AND ONLY IF in a quid pro quo the US serves up Israel and it does not necessarily have to be on a Silver Platter. (Or is it vice versa?).

July 8th, 2009, 10:56 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Platters for Peace

Yallah, repeat after me…

Offended,

Whatever floats your boat. I’m convinced the myriad of negative labels for Israel is one of the many Rxs to keep the Arab world from looking inward.

IF AND ONLY IF in a quid pro quo the US serves up Israel and it does not necessarily have to be on a Silver Platter.

Ghat Albird,

The US will facilitate, but I don’t think the US will “serve up Israel”. Israel will gladly return the Golan for a very tangible peace. If your not sure what that means, use your imagination. I know I have.

How can Syria get the Golan back? The answer is obvious and there is only one such answer.

Majid,

Thanks for the Youtube of Hezbollah. Nice music. Although the headbands are pretty, I didn’t sense there was enough anger™ and rage™ from some of those pictured.

Actually when I think about it, Hezbollah has never come close at all to getting the Golan back. Only the Syrian army came close in 1973. I’m not sure why the Syrians haven’t tried again since then. Maybe Professor Josh can shed some light on this. My guess is, the Syrians just aren’t exhibiting enough anger™ and rage™ at the issue.

In effect, the Syrian President is asked to put all his eggs in the Israeli basket.

Eshani2,

What a silly comment. Egypt and Jordan made peace with Israel. All their “eggs” are not “in the Israeli basket”. I thought the authors here were devoted to some semblance of higher ME knowledge! Syria would be in the “moderate” or “western” basket, assuming the Assad family could handle such a responsibility. Yes, it would be strange seeing Bashar and Asma on the cover of People magazine or shaking hands with Benjamin Netanyahu, but I guess this all depends how badly the Baathist need the Golan.

I’m thinking it may be better to cry, sing, or remember the Golan than actually get it.

This is the movie that Mr. Akbar and his leaders are directing and selling to the world.

Eshani2,

“Land for Peace” means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. The Israeli/Jewish Left, like Shai and the Good Rabbi obviously think Israel should return the Golan because retaining it makes the Good Rabbi sick. And we can’t have that.

Most Israelis want a real, TANGIBLE peace. No Oslo thank you.

At this point, I’m not sure what the Syrians have proposed. Maybe you know.

July 9th, 2009, 12:39 am

 

majid said:

“Although the headbands are pretty, I didn’t sense there was enough anger™ and rage™ from some of those pictured.”

Of course you cannot sense, this is Hezbollah™. You need to understand not just listen to the music.

“Actually when I think about it, Hezbollah has never come close at all to getting the Golan back.”

Actually, Hezbollah doesn’t want just the Golan; or more correctly the Golan is not good enough for Hezbollah. You need to watch carefully and not just the headbands. Every picture tells a story that you need to decipher.

July 9th, 2009, 12:59 am

 

Marc Gopin said:

Life is short, and as humorous as outrageous Jewish narcissism is I cannot respond to it on this site, because I know these rather damaged folks will be dragged kicking and screaming into a nonviolent future. (I must say I get a thrill when I am attacked by them because then I know I am on the right path). But there are many intelligent writers here, Jewish and Arab, who I just want to address with a serious objection by me to my own thesis and Josh’s, and it is hinted at by Leoleoni. I do not agree that Syria and Iran will automatically roll over and embrace Israel if most Palestinians get what they are demanding, nor even if Syria gets the Golan. There will always be rejectionist Palestinian factions and there may be reactionary temptation in Syria or Iran to follow them to avoid opening up states in the region to real change. But both in Syria and Iran recent events in recent years have demonstrated a profound push of many, at high levels, toward modernization, engagement, pragmatism and a more open society, despite the painful setbacks. Everything indicates that in the moves of chess here, a settlement with Syria as well as with Palestine will vastly strengthen the pragmatists, and, dare I say, democrats in both societies. I am not looking for miracles but evolution, it is the only way that has ever brought nonviolent positive change to all classes of people. I will not even address those who treat Syrians or others with condescension. It is simply uncivilized and has always accomplished the opposite in history. From Sun Tzu to the Jewish author of Proverbs this is an ancient truth. And someone here wisely raised this in terms of North Korea policy as well. As crazy as that regime is I have not seen an intelligent Western policy of how to engage effectively, drawing on Asian values and strategies. I have a chapter in my new book on Asian wisdom, and someone intelligent in Asian diplomacy should take a fresh look at this.

July 9th, 2009, 1:00 am

 

majid said:

Looks like a media war. First, mossad fabricates against SA. Now they seem to fabricate against the USA. But it is not easy to know who is telling the truth.

http://www.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/FDB4FFF7-ECEE-42FD-9173-FE58D69ECC65.htm

Probably need to examine the incentives behind such spins and then make up your mind.

July 9th, 2009, 2:06 am

 

norman said:

For any Israeli leader to return the Golan to Syria , he has to justify his actions to the Israeli people , the people who elected him ,
Barack Left Lebanon because Israeli soldiers were being killed and the Israeli public was demanding it , Sharon left Gaza because the Israeli army was stuck defending few hundreds settlers ,
Netanyahu will leave the Golan only if he is forced to by force or economic sanction , i do not see him leaving because he loves to have peace with Syria , that will not get him reelected and if we hear as he does what his palling is telling him , they are telling him it is a political suicide to leave when he is not paying anything , actually he is benefiting for being there , 80% of the Israeli public want to stay there.
And yes , That is my take.

July 9th, 2009, 3:10 am

 

LeoLeoni said:

SHAI,

It’s great to read your words while drinking my favorite drink shai (no pun intended, that’s tea for those who are not familiar with Arabic, Persian, or Hindi).

I agree with most of what you said, but allow me to elaborate on the relationship with Iran and its consequences. Assuming that Golan is returned to Syria, Iran will then be faced with 2 options. The first would be to continue with the hard-line stance against Israel. This would prove more difficult for the Iranians because they would realize that they are having strategic and military disagreements with Syria, since Syria would avoid any direct confrontation in the region and would not risk itself and engage in war. This can become very difficult for Iran, and thus they could try and pressure Syria to give in to their demands, in providing logistics and aid to Hezbollah/Hamas. The Syrians would have no interest in continuing that hard-line approach. The main attention and priority for the Syrians after this issue would be the economy and the issues of foreign affairs will be targeted towards building closer bridges with the Gulf and neighboring Arab states. The 2nd option for the Iranians would be to sit back and accept the reality that they are losing their influence in the region. A small reevaluation of their priorities and they would realize that after all, they are more interested in Iraq than Israel. In that case, I agree with you that Syria can play a very constructive force in being a mediator between Iran and the other players in the region.

The key for all this is for Israel to engage with the Syrians. The Syrians have been calling for discussions all along, but the Israelis want preconditions. Israelis need to understand that by insisting on preconditions, all they are doing is stalling and avoiding discussion and negotiation. Israel has the right to state its demands on the negotiation table, but they need to understand that their demands are tied with the Golan, and for both parties to get their ideas through, they need to sit down and discuss! After all, the Israeli demands (for Syria to halt its support for Hamas & Hizbollah) are bound to happen once the Syrians get the taste of Golan.

July 9th, 2009, 4:19 am

 

Shai said:

Dear Leoleoni,

It’s morning here in Israel, and I will raise a toast to you momentarily with my own “shai”… 🙂 Thank you for the thoughtful response.

I agree with you, and I tend to believe Iran will go for option 2. Even if they opt for 1, Syria will not play along as it will, for the first time, be contrary to its national and strategic interests.

As for Israeli preconditions, I want to try to pose two possibilities here, the first of which is obvious (and most probably find this to be the case):

1. Israeli leaders are setting preconditions simply in order to stall talks, progress, and withdrawal.

2. Israeli leaders are setting preconditions because they feel they cannot “market” the idea to the Israeli people, without pointing to Syrian capitulation on some of these major issues, in advance.

If it’s the first, then we’re probably doomed to another regional war at some point in the future. This is what caused Sadat to initiate the 1973 war – continued Israeli arrogance and unwillingness to return land taken from Egypt. True, Syria today is not Egypt of 1973, but with the support of all her allies, she is not far from it. There’s only so much the “pressure-cooker” will take before it explodes.

If it’s the second, then it means one of the following needs to happen:

a. A courageous enough Israeli leader must appear (perhaps Bibi) that will convince his people that your option 2 is the likely scenario.

b. The Israeli people go through a process of “learning” on their own, either through public discourse, through political debate, or even another military “adventure” like Lebanon 2006 or Gaza 2009, that peace is their only option.

c. The Syrian leadership gives in, and comes out with unequivocal statements clearly defining what Israel will receive in return for the Golan.

d. A courageous Israeli leader develops trust with the Syrian leadership, closes the deal behind the scenes, and presents a “total package” to the Israeli people. The difference between this option and a, is that he has already received confirmation for what Syria is and isn’t willing to do, and knows how to market the package best.

My guess is that the last option is the most likely one. I’ve written here exhaustively before why I doubt Bibi’s here to make time go by, and not to end the Arab-Israeli conflict. If he’s serious, he’ll find the way, and we will support him.

July 9th, 2009, 5:27 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Every picture tells a story that you need to decipher.

Majid,

Unfortunately, what I’ve deciphered is that when Israel finally determines it had taken too much crap from Hamas and/or Hezbollah, she strikes back and all is quiet.

If Israel would have relied on Leftists and Peaceniks during her 61 years, she wouldn’t have made it to her 20th birthday.

The Syrians have been calling for discussions all along, but the Israelis want preconditions.

Leoleoni,

Please detail for us the “preconditions” that the Israeli government has set in their discussions with Syria. I’m not aware of any.

Professor Josh stated in this thread above:

It is most unlikely that Syria will sever relations with Iran and Hizbullah before the return of the Golan. Left-leaning Israelis argue that Syria should trust Netanyahu to deliver if Syria first flips?

Few Syrians are likely to believe that Netanyahu or his parliamentary allies will relinquish the Golan as liberal Israelis claim they will.

Actually, all I’ve been hearing is that Syria won’t discuss peace with Israel until the GOI first withdraws from the Golan (hence, the “Silver Platter” theme we see on 2 threads on this website).

So I have to disagree with you. It seems to me the Syrians have “preconditions” of their own.

All-in-all, the notion of trust is out the window. Believing the Syrians are going to do “Option 1” or “Option 2” is silly. Israel’s experience with their peace treaties with Jordan and Israel is that the peace partner will try to get away with doing the MINIMUM at best. Believing in Arafat was the Israeli Left’s downfall, and another data point for the Israeli public to heed and remember.

The best the Syrians and the Israelis can do is continue secret talks out of the public eye and go through the details behind closed doors. If and when an agreement is reached, only then should they go public. No one can be expected to do anything “first”. It will all have to be done and agreed to simultaneously.

July 9th, 2009, 10:58 am

 

Ghat Albird said:

AKBAR PALACE SAID.

Ghat Albird,

The US will facilitate, but I don’t think the US will “serve up Israel”. Israel will gladly return the Golan for a very tangible peace. If your not sure what that means, use your imagination. I know I have.

It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own imagination. One needs to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err. Still to each his own.

July 9th, 2009, 1:55 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

AKBAR PALACE.

Came across this headline that may add to ” ones imagining imaginations”.

“Netanyahu’s paranoia extends to “self-hating Jews’ Emanual & axelrod”

http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1098853.html

July 9th, 2009, 4:47 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Ha’aretz, the North Tel Aviv Newspaper of Choice

Ghat Albird,

Barak Ravid didn’t say where he got that quote. Did he hear it personally, or did hear it from someone else?

The Ravid article was a lot about nothing. Must be a slow news day.

Personally, I think Netanyahu is better than any other recent PM including Olmert, Livni, and Barack. About on the same par as Sharon. By virtue of their conservative leanings, they’re already miles ahead in the “common sense department”.

Obama will play the same game as Bubba Clinton; he’ll ignore the Israeli PM and the liberal MSM will gladly follow suit. BB knows this, and I don’t think he’s overly concerned. At least he shouldn’t be.

Of course the silly thing is that Kadima (offshoot of Likud) is now the new liberal party and Labor is now more conservative than Kadima. Don’t be confused, these political parties were created to so more people have a chance to become PM.

July 9th, 2009, 5:17 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Happy Planet NewZ

Alex,

Here’s something to compare with your “Happy Planet Index”.

Perhaps ignorance is bliss. We can only thank the esteemed Syrian billionaire for such forward thinking.

http://www.freedomhouse.org/uploads/specialreports/wow/WoW2009.pdf

July 9th, 2009, 6:23 pm

 

Shai said:

“By virtue of their conservative leanings, they’re already miles ahead in the “common sense department”.”

Conservative leaning? Akbar, have you forgotten already who did the following:

1) Handed control of Palestinian towns in the W. Bank to the Palestinians?

Answer: Bibi – did. Barak, Olmert, Livni – didn’t.

2) Forcibly removed Jewish settlers from Sinai and from Gaza (25 years later)?

Answer: Sharon – did. Barak, Olmert, Livni – didn’t.

3) Kissed Arafat on the cheek (after Oslo), and referred to him as “a friend”?

Answer: Bibi – did. Barak – tried…

4) Released the “terrorist spiritual leader” Sheikh Ahmad Yassin?

Answer: Bibi – did. Barak – didn’t.

5) Was elected by a majority of Israelis to specifically withdraw from Gaza and the West Bank?

Answer: Sharon – did. Barak – didn’t. Olmert – did.

6) Encouraged and helped Settlement activity grow in the West Bank and Gaza?

Answer: Labor Party – did more than anyone else, and did not remove a single settlement, ever. Likud – did less than Labor, and absolutely removed settlements.

So you see, Akbar, it so happens that your “conservative leaning” leaders, Likudnicks and ex-Likudnicks, have carried out action on the ground far more liberal-leaning than perhaps you recognize, or would like to admit. In fact, could it be that you blind-supporters of Likud (and Bush) have actually perfected your self-deception to the level of an art, such that you can no longer differentiate between “conservative” and “liberal”?

As a final “curioze”, I’ll tell you that when Yossi and I visited the Golan, we interviewed a few shop owners in Katzrin. We asked them: “So now that Bibi’s in power, you must feel much safer, right?” You know what they said? “The opposite. We’re terrified!” We asked why, and they responded: “Because Bibi WILL be the one to take us down. Barak couldn’t do it, but Bibi can, and will.”

Hmmm…. Doesn’t sound very conservative-leaning to me.

July 9th, 2009, 6:38 pm

 

Shai said:

“If Israel would have relied on Leftists and Peaceniks during her 61 years, she wouldn’t have made it to her 20th birthday.”

Akbar, you’re so full of it. Did you not realize that for the first 29 years of Israel’s history, Israel relied PRECISELY on “Leftists”? Likud came to power, for the first time, only in 1977. So the first 5 wars (major wars) in Israel’s history were carried out by the Left! And as I mentioned in the previous comment, most of the settlement activity began, was carried out, and encouraged, by none other than your so-called “Liberal Leftists”. Israel has been relying on your “conservative-leaning” Likud, precisely because it is the only one that DOES what the liberals say they’ll do.

Oh and, who would YOU call more of a “peacenik” – Ehud Barak, or Menachem Begin?

July 9th, 2009, 6:58 pm

 

majid said:

Norman said,
“Netanyahu will leave the Golan only if he is forced to by force or economic sanction”

Only half of your statement is true, Norman. It should read, “Netanyahu will leave the Golan only if he is forced to”

Syria should transform its armed forces into a fighting organization similar to Hezbollah. It should train to fight like Hezbollah and then proceed to liberate the Golan by force. It should be able to do so within a month, and as a side benefit the settling parasites will fly away on one way tickets to where they came from.

July 9th, 2009, 7:14 pm

 

norman said:

Majid ,

i will answer you tonight Easter US time,

July 9th, 2009, 8:36 pm

 

Avi said:

Majid you think hezbollah is so great because of the 2006 war, well i have secret for you if Syria declares war on Israel than it will loose….and then your whole society will look like hezbollah or hamas which also had the brilliant idea of copying hezb ….what a shame,but then again everything for you is honor right??even in defeat!The only way Syria is going to recover the Golan is by DIRECT NEGOCIATION!!!!!All the rest Majid is just your self pitying pride which by the way is mostly based on hatred!!Majid you are such a rasist so full of hate that i pity you.And by the way negociating is much harder than making war or copying hezbollah but you are ignorant on what war is,i can tell you from personal experience that war sucks and is no good for Syria!

July 9th, 2009, 9:19 pm

 

norman said:

Majid,

The goal is to get the Golan and other occupied land and the rights of the Palestinians , If that can be done peacefully that will be great but if not then force should always be an option , I personally do not think that Israel will leave the Golan or give the Palestinians their rights without force , but i can always hope for a miracle.

And that is my take.

July 10th, 2009, 2:00 am

 

majid said:

Very good take Norman as usual.
But I have to add that to be prudent is to be prepared. But you could also be right. Never reveal your plans especially the military ones.

July 10th, 2009, 4:33 am

 

Avi said:

Well then if you chose the military option what happens if Israel wins some more territory..and things don’t go like majid planned norman ;and you find out that hezb technics only work once on the israeli army(lessons have been learned)….try not to forget what this IDF soldier told you!If you do you will pay a very heavy price!

July 10th, 2009, 6:01 am

 

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