Middle East References
April 7, 2004
Iraqi Islamists take ownership of the armed resistance?
The Daily Star - Opinion Articles - Iraqi Islamists take ownership of the armed resistance?: " By fixating on Al-Qaeda and the Baathists, the George W. Bush administration underestimates the fundamental role played by Iraqi Sunni Islamists in keeping the armed resistance alive.
According to Iraqi observers, activists, and academics that live in the Sunni Triangle and closely follow the insurgency, Iraqi Islamists predominate.
A consensus emerged at a recent conference on Iraq organized by The Center for Arab Unity Studies in Beirut and attended by over 50 Iraqi civilian leaders that Iraqi Islamists - not foreign fighters or Saddam loyalists - are behind most of the attacks in Iraq. The conference was not meant for Western eyes; rather, it was for internal Arab brainstorming.
In the first field study conducted in the Sunni Triangle and based on a large random sample of rebels killed, Suleiman Jumeili, who teaches at the Center for International Relations at Baghdad University and lives in Fallujah, discovered that 80 percent of all those killed were Iraqi Islamist activists. His interviews with their friends and relatives showed that these young men were inspired by the example of 'sacrifice and martyrdom' that is the hallmark of the Palestinian Hamas organization and Lebanon's Hizbullah.
According to Jumeili, only 13 percent of the dead rebels were motivated by nationalist sentiments and only 2 percent were die hard Baathists; foreign Islamists represented 5 percent. Of those 8,500 insurgents imprisoned by US troops, 70 percent are also indigenous Islamists (when pressed, US commanders conceded that only 150, less than 2 percent, were foreigners.
These unscientific findings, which challenge the official US version, were corroborated by other Iraqi specialists at the Beirut conference. All presentations asserted that Ir"
Sharon opposes any negotiations with Syria
Israeli messages to Syria on the resumption of negotiations
Syria-Israel, Politics, 4/6/2004
The Israeli daily Maarve said that the Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon opposes any negotiations with Syria "because the Israeli people do not bear moving on two tracks simultaneously," but this will not prevent Israel from sending messages to Damascus on resuming the negotiations.
The paper's political correspondent Bin Kasbeit said that this very position of Sharon is in contradiction with the position of the intelligence branch in the Israeli army. But this difference did not prevent Israel recently from addressing official messages for Syria stating Israel's readiness to resume the negotiations without prior conditions. However, Israel stressed in the message conveyed recently by the former American diplomat Edward Djerjian and the Dutch foreign minister Bernard Bot on the need to concentrate first on the issue of terrorism.
Maarve said that Djerjian, who is considered one of the main experts in the Syrian affairs ( worked as an Ambassador in Syria), carried with him new thoughts and frank proposals to resume the negotiations between Israel and Syria and met in Tel Aviv for this purpose with several Israeli officials including Sharon's head of office Dove Vicevlas, the chairman of the security political team at the defense ministry Amoud Jalaad, the foreign minister Silvan Shalom, army chief of staff Moshe Ya'loun, chairman of the intelligence branch Aharon Zeafi and chairman of the research department in the intelligence branch Yusi Koppervaser.
The Dutch foreign minister Bot also met with Sharon and Shalom before his visit to Damascus and by his turn tried to work for the resumption of negotiations between the two countries and came out with an apparently positive message with an empty content because of the veto Sharon imposes on the Syrian track.