Saturday, August 20, 2005

Asad's Visit to the UN: Why the US Needs to Change its Syria Policy

One of Syria Comment’s readers wrote yesterday that "President & Mrs. Assad are coming to New York in September. The President is going to address the UN General Assembly."

All Damascus has been talking about the scheduled visit of President Asad to the UN meeting in September. Asad's presence in New York will surely "drive the Bush administration crazy," as one foreign diplomat assured me. Washington has been doing everything to keep Syria isolated and to block Bashar's efforts to arrange high level visits with other heads of state. Earlier this year, the US blocked President Asad’s scheduled trips to Brazil and Austria. Recently, it scotched the must anticipated visit of Turkey’s leader to Syria. Two days ago, local papers announced that the delivery of 7 Airbus planes to Damascus had been delayed indefinitely, due to pressure from Washington and Paris. No high-profile Americans have been able to visit Damascus since Washington pulled its ambassador from the country. When a delegation of congressmen recently visited Lebanon, they were told not to come to Damascus.

President Asad’s visit to New York is an attempt to break through this isolation. Farid Ghadry and the Syrian opposition in Washington have written that the US should deny Asad an American visa because he is a terrorist. So far, Washington has intelligently ignored this advice.

People in Damascus have asked me whom the President should see while he is in the States. The president’s agenda is something that Imaad Mustafa, the Syrian Ambassador in Washington, and the President's new public affairs office will arrange. They should do so with care.

Undoubtedly, Bashar will try to get some time alone with Turkey's leader while they are both in New York. He should also take his charming and effective wife with him and try to get on 60 minutes or some comparable news show. If he is smart, he will stay through the weekend and appear on the morning news shows. He should also meet with 5 or 6 opinion makers, such as David Ignatius and Thomas Friedman, to explain Syria’s policies. They will not write glowing reports about Syria. Why should they? Syria has been cracking down on public freedoms in Damascus, arresting Kurdish opposition leaders, and throwing its weight around in Lebanon. More importantly to the US, Asad came out squarely against the US invasion of Iraq. All the same, they should see American interests in cooperating with Syria.

Now that the United States is planning to draw down its troop numbers in Iraq and has lowered its sights on what can be achieved in its regional ambitions, the two countries have much to talk about. Both countries are trying to solve their Iraq problems. Syria no longer has to fear that the United States is preparing a permanent presence in Iraq, which many believed would be used as a base to strike Syria. All the same Washington has pursued a policy of "regime change on the cheap" in Syria. It consists of squeezing the country economically and diplomatically until it falters. Already Syria’s economic growth rate has been halved since America invaded Iraq. Syrian politicians are convinced that Washington wants to destroy the Syrian regime, not change its behavior.

As David Hirst recently wrote in the Guardian:

Officially the US might say that all it wants is a change of Syrian behavior; but, said a senior [Syrian] official, "we have concluded in recent months that they really want to bring us down". European diplomats tend to agree that an apparently systematic refusal to engage the regime at any level reflects the influence of neo-conservative hawks, for whom Syria is a prime candidate for regime change in the region. Even if George Bush isn't ready to embark openly on such a policy, the neocons are strong enough to block any inclination in the opposite direction.
Bashar is trying to break the neocon monopoly on Washington’s Syria policy and to reach out to the West the only way he can, by going to the people. He must go over Washington's head. When asked whether Assad would meet with U.S. Officials, Syria's U.N. representative answered: "It is our duty to seek a dialogue because it may solve the problem between both countries (i.e. U.S. and Syria)".

American officials will shun Asad during his visit. Some will try to vilify and embarrass him, but that will be a mistake.

America's highest interest right now is to guarantee a smooth withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and to leave behind a stable and secure state. To do this, it needs the cooperation of all Iraq's neighbors. Syria would like to cooperate with the United States, but only if it is assured that Washington is not trying to bring down the regime. The two countries share a common interest in subduing extremism and jihadism. They also share an interest in ensuring that Iraq has a united and stable government, as Bashar al-Asad has said many times. But as long as the United States stubbornly hues to its policy of "regime change," the US will remain Syria's number one enemy, and Damascus will refuse to open a second front against extremists. The possibility of meaningful US-Syrian cooperation in Iraq is slight so long as the two countries are at war. Secretary of State Rice has tried to dampen down the rhetorical firefight that has raged between the two countries. In one press conference, she hushed reporters who sought to provoke anti-Syrian remarks from her, by reminding them that Damascus had withdrawn its troops from Lebanon. She did not want to push Syria to the wall. She is also on record saying that Washington does not seek “regime-change in Syria, but a change of Syrian behavior.” These small tokens of American flexibility are not enough to convince Damascus that Washington has changed its spots. Everyone knows that the State Department loses most of its battles with Defense or the Vice-President’s office. It will take more than Rice's off-hand remarks to reassure Syria that the US does not ultimately seek Asad’s overthrow.

Washington believes it would be an easy matter for Bashar to reverse his policy of opposing America’s presence in Iraq and to crack down on the Syrian Sunni population that gives comfort and assistance to Arab fighters traveling though Syria to fight in Iraq or Baathist Iraqis who have become ensconced here. It will not be easy.

Washington is asking for background security checks on all 4 million Arabs who visit Syria yearly. It is asking for arrests and surveillance of the Iraqi refugee community living in Syria, which is estimated to be around 750,000 strong. It is also asking for a crack down on the Syrian mosques and Imams who propagate an anti-American and pro-resistance line. There are many possibilities for information exchange with Damascus. Syria has already taken the easy steps to meet American demands in a sign of good faith. It has built a large sand wall and placed thousands of extra troops along its 600 kilometer border with Iraq. It has arrested some 1,200 fighters it claims were headed for Iraq. Two weeks ago, it initiated UNDP sponsored workshops to teach ecumenicalism to hundreds of mosque preachers. But it has not undertaken the more painful internal activities required of it or begun to openly support America’s occupation of Iraq.

To appreciate the difficulty Bashar will have in implementing Washington’s full demands, one must compare his present predicament to Hafiz al-Asad’s intervention in Lebanon in 1976. President Asad’s father sent Syrian troops into Lebanon to stop that country’s civil war at Washington’s request. He did so at great cost to his own presidency. By striking down the PLO and crushing Lebanon’s Muslim forces in an effort to defend Lebanese Christians, he enraged Sunni Muslims within Syria.

The Muslim Brothers went on the warpath, accusing Asad of selling out Arabism and Islam. They began a campaign of terror against Hafiz al-Asad’s secular regime and his Shiite coreligionists. It was the bloodiest period in Syria’s history and very nearly drove the country into civil war. Asad put an end to the Muslim Brothers’ organized presence in Syria in a violent showdown at Hama. It cost his government dearly. Some 20,000 Syrians were killed. The shadow of that dark period still hangs over Sunni-Alawi relations today.

Washington is asking Bashar al-Asad to do something similar by cracking down on the Sunni population that sympathizes with the Sunni Iraqi community and opposes the emergence of a Shiite dominated Iraq. Bashar may well be amenable to launching such a campaign and risking a new chapter of sectarian strife in Syria, but he can only do so if Washington supports him openly. So long as he believes Washington is trying to isolate him and topple his regime, he cannot. It would be suicide for him to open a second front against Muslim extremists in Syria, while Washington seeks his downfall. Syria is the one Arab country that has not been wracked by extremist violence over the last 20 years. That is because the government has not swum against the tide of public opinion by embracing American policies in the region. Syrians overwhelmingly believe that the US is waging a war against Arabism and Islam. For Bashar to attack this common perception and to support America’s fight in Iraq, he must have Washington’s backing. It is basic realism.

Those in Washington who insist on continuing President Bush's campaign to "reform the greater Middle East" by ratcheting up the pressure on Syria and refusing to engage President Bashar, even at the price of added instability in Iraq, are foolish. First, such a policy will fail. There is no internal opposition to President Bashar worthy of the name. Second, it is bad for the US. More American soldiers will be killed in Iraq because of it, and Iraq's chances of finding a way out of its downward spiral into chaos and civil war will be diminished. The US needs Syria's cooperation, and it should put its Iraq policy above that of bringing regime change to Damascus.

Washington must choose between stabilizing Iraq and destabilizing Syria. It is that simple. It cannot pursue both policies at the same time.

Bashar’s decision to go to New York and talk to Americans is wise. It shows he is willing to meet Washington half way. Hopefully, someone there will be listening.


At 8/20/2005 08:36:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Shame on you, mr. Josh.

I will be back to write something!

At 8/20/2005 08:47:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

""""Syrians overwhelmingly believe that the US is waging a war against Arabism and Islam""""" Josh

You know absolutely nothing of the real Syrian people. All you are presented with are the relatives of your fucking wife.

At 8/20/2005 09:18:00 AM, Blogger Anton Efendi said...

You know Josh, you may want to try a little bit to not sound like Buthaina Shaaban and Imad Mustapha. Two of those are enough.

At 8/20/2005 09:19:00 AM, Blogger Anton Efendi said...

It was also refreshing to see you drop "dreamy ambitions" about Bashar moving reforms in Syria forward. It's always good to see Realpolitik make a comeback and have you talk about information and security coordination instead, with the understanding that the Baath is not to be touched. Farouq ash-Sharaa can identify with you on that one.

At 8/20/2005 09:23:00 AM, Blogger Anton Efendi said...

I'll also make sure to inform the news agencies and Freedman and Ignatius that you'd like them to act more as mouth pieces and water carriers for Syrian thugs and assassins (Mehlis awaits). I mean, in what way are they better than Tishrin or al-Baath?

Maybe they should be threatened, like the Lebanese press was threatened. Perhaps murder some journalist, to send a message a la Qassir. That's even better than "going to the people."

Going to the people!? I'm not sure if I should laugh or puke. How about the Syrian people?! Just imprison them! But hey, Bashar is improving conditions in Syrian jails, isn't that what you reported!? At least some "reforms" are moving forward!

tsk tsk tsk... pathetic.

At 8/20/2005 09:26:00 AM, Blogger Anton Efendi said...

And do me a favor and spare this kind of shit:

To appreciate the difficulty Bashar will have in implementing Washington’s full demands, one must compare his present predicament to Hafiz al-Asad’s intervention in Lebanon in 1976. President Asad’s father sent Syrian troops into Lebanon to stop that country’s civil war at Washington’s request. He did so at great cost to his own presidency. By striking down the PLO and crushing Lebanon’s Muslim forces in an effort to defend Lebanese Christians, he enraged Sunni Muslims within Syria.

Leave that bullshit to Juan Cole and his likes. You should know better.

At 8/20/2005 09:29:00 AM, Anonymous Metaz K.M. Aldendeshe said...

No Josh, Syrians know that there are much more important strategic goals for the United States for invading Iraq than the silly causes you been told to say, that of “waging war against Arabism and Islam” American are much more sophisticated than that and I know for sure that you will not even utter those words but you were told to say it. Simply put it is not the American mentality to wage a war against people or a religion, it is not what American are made out of and not of their history or culture. American are polite, kind people that are much more advanced mentally and in the treatment of other people.

The war in Iraq fought to achieve significant strategic options that are valid and accurate. Of course profiteer got on the cash cow wagon and maybe did alter the plan here and there in way that they can milk the cow, but that was really not the first driver and neither destroying Arabism or Islam as American could giva fuck about either of them

At 8/20/2005 09:40:00 AM, Blogger Anton Efendi said...

Washington is asking Bashar al-Asad to do something similar by cracking down on the Sunni population that sympathizes with the Sunni Iraqi community and opposes the emergence of a Shiite dominated Iraq. Bashar may well be amenable to launching such a campaign and opening a new chapter of sectarian strife in Syria, but he can only do so if Washington supports him openly.

Here's a thought: why not support the Sunni majority to take out Bashar's regime!? Why should the US piss off MORE Sunnis after setting up the Shiites in Iraq?! What for? Bashar!? Like he's such a precisou prize?! Or was it his wife?!

That's your version of realism!? Back another Arafat!?

At 8/20/2005 09:47:00 AM, Anonymous Metaz K.M. Aldendeshe said...

I am hurt that an American like you from the Hutton family would even consider uttering those comments, rather you should be stating to those Alawites Syrians how American strategists, policy makers, think tanks and foundation influence the long range forecasting of the U.S. government.

There are more than 100,000 Iraqis, more than 9000 American died and nearly 20,000 injured in this war. Try to put yourself in the position that those who lost a loved one feel. Try to imagine how you feel when someone tells you that your 20 year old son or daughter died in Iraq or your high school sweetheart husband killed in action leaving you with 2 babies and a toddler to raise by yourself. Have some heart will you. You are nothing more than an Alawite / Baathist stooge now.

At 8/20/2005 10:29:00 AM, Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

Whoa! How do you say "troll" in Arabic? They're thicker in here than under a Norse bridge.

Doubtless Bush will ambush Asad in the meetings in the margins of the UN General Assembly on Lebanon--where, BTW, there is a major US diplomatic and military blitz underway. I wouldn't like one bit if I were Fuad Siniora and someone told me the Pentagon was sending a team to meet his government and that they would prepare a report on it for the theater commander John Abizaid.

I haven't seen anything in the French press about Asad, except that he made a trip to Tehran on 9 August. I wonder if France's recent rapprochement with Israel has something to do with Chirac's hardening of his policy towards Syria. I'll have to do some digging.

I agree with Josh in his analysis--and I don't have any Syrian in-laws :)

At 8/20/2005 10:32:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why so upset gentlemen?

First, we can guess, Mister Landis is a kind of profiteer of the regime in syria.
Second, who should rule syria if not Assad? The MB?
Third, the media, intellectuells, vips...all is between his hands, all profiteers and his marriage is guarantor for stable majority.

You will see, not only syrians youth will love them more and more, modern Mr. Landis said....a little bit publicity, a talk show here and there.....

By the way, do you really believe in democracy in middle east state? It will never be in the future, as it never was in the past. It is not compatible with arabic characteristic. Sorry, gentlemen.

At 8/20/2005 10:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome in the United States of America. Checking accounts? Have fun, feel free, enjoy the freedom of speech, let us hear your voice!!!

At 8/20/2005 11:08:00 AM, Anonymous Syrian Republican Party said...

America gone to war against Iraq on the premises that it is a brutal Baathist state, it is stockpiling WMD and supporting terrorists, that it occupied Kuwait and it is a threat to it’s neighbors. Few around the world, understandably, bought this argument. Many thought it was all about money and control of Iraq oil resources

American promised a new Iraq and a new Middle East that is composed of democratic and free states that will respect human rights, refrain from stockpiling WMD’s and maintain a fair system of government and free enterprise economy that can solve the unemployment problems that is ravaging the Middle Eastern Societies and giving impetus to the rise of extremist Moslem tendency that are directly attributed to the social inequalities and unemployment.

A noble cause and one that the United States more than others is obliged to carry through, considering that it is the country that armed and supported those same Middle Eastern regimes, including Saddams for decades.

More than 9000 American are dead and 20,000 seriously injured in this war. In addition, more than 100,000 Iraqis lost their life and the country was utterly destroyed.

How can the American justify backing off from this noble cause that so many American lost their life for and support a Baathist Assad government that are exactly, if not worse than the one they gone to war against in Iraq. After all, Syria is a Baathist dictatorship that is more brutal, corrupt and oppressive than Saddam’s. It has and continue according to the U.S. Central Unintelligent Agency the world’s most sophisticated WMD program and the largest stock piles of deadly germ weapons. According to the U.S. State department Annual human right reports it has the world’s worst records, one that the International Human right groups concur with. It had until very recently occupied it is neighbor Lebanon, and even after the whole world demanded they leave the forces out of that country, still maintain more than 5500 intelligence agent at most conservative estimates. It is the premiere terrorist sponsoring state that is sheltering financing, arming and fielding terrorist organizations globally and regionally. Organizations that has caused tens of thousands of deaths in neighbor territories of countries such as Lebanon, Israel, Turkey and most importantly; Iraq., causing the death of thousands of American young men and women who were recruited and deployed in Iraq to bring President Bush vision for a greater Middle East, one that is democratic and free into reality.

It will be a betrayal by the American president, his Administration and American public to the souls and families of those that died serving in Iraq, died and injured for a noble cause, a cause that they were forced to fight for on behalf of the policy makers and the American people to ultimately bring security and safety in the long term to American and the region and the world..

To reverse course now and reward the evil dowers, is a travesty of injustice to those who died, those that need to be commemorated by symbolic monuments across the Middle East and actual monument of stable Middle East that is under Peace, Prosperity and Progress. Let a wall of the names of those that paid the ultimate sacrifice be build to commemorate them and not let the evil one victors and build his monument of victory.

At 8/20/2005 12:07:00 PM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

While reading this post I thought of two things through out.

1. Josh is gonna get it from a lot of people in the comment section
2. he is absolutely right

The first point is obviously spot-on while the second is well hmm …open to interpretation.

The reality, or at least how I see it, is somewhere in-between the two extremes. One side of the spectrum is the blind support for the Ba’ath party and everything that is told by their media outlets without questioning any of it. While the second is rhetoric we hear from the Neo-cons and anti-Baath parties/individuals the latter of which is represented here by people like Tony & Metaz.

Josh’s analysis strikes me as one that is written by a total realist. Unlike Tony’s “Across the Bay”, he avoids degrading the examination of the situation by excessively fusing his political beliefs into his posts. Like it or not, the Syrian leadership will continue to rule Syria for the short to mid-term so we all have to deal with it. And when I say deal with it, I mean to improve the situation for Syria and Syrians instead of deteriorating it. I also tend to believe that Bassha Al-Assad is truly bent on developing Syria’s political and economic system. Why is it going at such a slow pace is beyond me but as an outsider I don’t have the full picture. You can call it a dictatorship but Syria is no one-man-show.

And oh Tony, you have no sense of open-mindedness my friend. Everyone who disagrees with your views has to be either paid, a moron or both. Your clogged brain cannot comprehend the possibility that someone else might differ with you out of his/her own conviction. I suggest you stop repeating the same “accusations” by calling people Buthaina Sha’ban or Farouq el Shara’. Even though I can’t see how that is an insult, and I highly doubt someone like you can do any better. How easy it is for you to criticize from the sidelines standing on your moral higher ground looking down upon the rest of us and our inferior intellectual prowess. But in reality you lack any ability to compose any creative criticism; instead you nag (articulately mind you) like an old housewife throwing accusations right and left. Josh’s advice to the president is dead right in that people like Freedman (who’s writing I despise often) is one of many steps he needs to take if Syria is to begin chipping away the Neo-con wall. The president is in a situation not be envied, he has to lobby groups that don’t think too highly of his government but ironically enough they hold more power in converting the highly damaged mainstream American view of Syria than any Syrian individual or organization can. And your comment “why not support the Sunni majority to take out Bashar's regime!?” can only come from a person who is so enriched with sectarian prejudice that has to always divide a country on religious grounds (But your Lebanese so your excused). If that’s democracy then you can fucking keep it. Chatter like this is too reminisced of the imperialistic powers that ruled the middle-east, India, and South American dividing & conquering by inciting differences and hate between various sects. I can easily accept a Kurdish, Alwaite, or Christian President even though I am of Sunni background.

Metaz, The American public are one of the sweetest people on this planet. They are warm hearted etc. etc. But their government policy toward the Middle East is far from that. And how the hell do you know what’s the view of the Americans by the Syrian public? Do you have a better view sitting in California than one sitting in Damascus? I happen to also agree with Josh’s statement. The absolute majority of the Syrian public have a hostile image of America’s intentions toward the middle east. Whether that is the case due to ignorance, brainwashing or consciences based on good analysis of the situation is open to discussion. But what scares me is how you could support an entity bent on attacking your “beloved” country and painting this heart warming, tear dropping story about American soldiers dying while never blaming the fuckers who sent them there in the first place. An entity that is willing to destroy the current status quo for no purpose other than Syria’s foreign policy (the best in the region in my humble opinion). While the human rights violations and oppression you all nag about is never uttered by any American policy makers. Kind of hypocritical don’t you think? Or is it the old case of the end justifying the means?

tsk tsk tsk indeed.

At 8/20/2005 12:25:00 PM, Blogger Anton Efendi said...

Nice try innocent criminal, but definitely no cigar. And get your "accusations" straight. I never suggested that Josh is paid, nor did I ever suggest that he's a moron. So next time you want to throw words around make sure you know what the hell you're talking about.

Secondly, my mentioning Shaaban, Mustapha or Sharaa was not "an accusation". It was out of amazement at how much Josh's reasoning in this post resembles regime talk.

Then, if you'd bothered to read, I went on to explain some of my skepticism in a comment about Sunnis, another about dumping any sense of reform in Syria, and another about the validity of supporting someone who can offer very little. But sure enough, you missed all that and settled for cliched stupidity.

Finally, regarding your laughable comment about fusing one's political agendas in one's posts, I think Josh would find it highly surprising that you said that his politics didn't show up in his post! I think he most definitely was consciously trying to push a political position! But again you missed that.

Come to think of it, you missed pretty much everything, whether it's my words or Josh's!

Nice going!

At 8/20/2005 12:26:00 PM, Blogger Anton Efendi said...

Oh, and I see that you articulated a clear alternative, right!? tsk tsk tsk... talk about clogged brains.

At 8/20/2005 12:27:00 PM, Blogger Anton Efendi said...

Do you actually think that Friedman gives two shits about Bashar that he'll do his propaganda for him!? You are pathetically hilarious.

At 8/20/2005 12:29:00 PM, Anonymous Metaz K.M. Aldendeshe said...

You got it right Tarek, End justify the means, that was the final conclusion of a crucial meeting held last month with the Syrian Republican strategists. It will be under evaluation for couple more weeks and you will see evidence of the new strategy online.

This is how you beloved leader Assad also decided, if yo are too dumb to notice.

Assad is not going to stay in power. That decesion is anyone hand.

And yes I rather see Syria free from Baathis oppression and tyrany even if it will cost the Syrians 5 million lives including myself. If the outcome is Iraq, so let it be, that will be your leader Assad fault for being stuburn and short sided that he did not budge, that is not our fault, we have tried and gave it our best shot.

At 8/20/2005 12:31:00 PM, Blogger Anton Efendi said...

As for your stupid ass comment about sectarianism, read Josh's recent post about the Sunnis in the Ministry.

I'm sectarian, not your ruling regime?! I'm the one who talked about starting a campaign against Syrian Sunnis or was it Josh's idea!? Am I the one who started Alawi-Ismaili clashes in Tartous that Josh wrote about? Am I the one who is killing Kurds in the northeast?!

Yes keep smoking your regime hash: there is no sectarianism in Syria. There is enlightened secular Arab nationalism.

You guys are pathetic.

At 8/20/2005 12:32:00 PM, Blogger Anton Efendi said...

Oh, innocent criminal is Tarek!? Well that explains a lot. Never mind Tarek. Keep smoking that hash.

At 8/20/2005 12:37:00 PM, Anonymous Elle said...

The article you quote is from David Hirst in The Guardian, not Robert Fisk (who writes for The Independent). And this blog is sounding more and more like a mouthpiece for the ridiculous foreign "policy" of this ridiculous dictator. There is no real policy, just wavering and error after error.

Bashar is not going to do much better talking to the press than his idiotic buddy Imad Mustapha - they both do a lot less harm when they are quiet. His interviews are pathetic and extremely insulting to the Syrian people. And his wife has gotten even worse. Self-serving, arrogant, completely out of touch. These two idiots better get some media training real soon. It's not enough to smile like idiots and pretend they're civilized. They're not.

Bashar is going to the General Assembly because nobody else will take him anymore. It's not quite an achievement, let's face it, so don't make it sound like one. And he doesn't need to spend time with the Turks there. The Americans (those who count at least) won't touch him with a 10 foot pole, so spare us the "analysis" about who he should be meeting. As if he had a choice! Beggars aren't choosers anyway. The only one who'll meet him without worrying about his reputation is Ahmadinejad, and a big help that is.

Maybe he should start thinking about repairing ties with the one country that could have helped - France - which he's completely angered with his stupidity and inexperience. It's shocking how the "friendly" EU countries have been sidelined by this idiot who never understood anything about world affairs, but who pretends he's a great thinker. He's a great ass kisser too, never too "presidential" to bow to the Saudis, or to the Americans if he could get something from them.

This man and his clan, wife included, make most Syrians sick and are a continuing disease that is holding the nation.

Snap out if it, Syria Comment. You are not helping the country by supporting these thugs. But then again you never said you wanted to help the country, not that it should be part of your goals. Maybe you should change the title of your blog to Syrian Regime Comment - because you seem to be very detached from the real country and its people.

At 8/20/2005 01:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thx Josh. Nice comment and straight to the point.

At 8/20/2005 01:03:00 PM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...


- The Shaaban, Sharaa' accusations are always on your post so I was generaly speaking and not specifically to this comment.

- I said “he avoids degrading the examination of the situation by excessively fusing his political beliefs into his posts.” Excessively is the key word here since I think it’s impossible to remove all of one’s individual beliefs but I am giving the man credit for trying.

- I have said repeatedly what I believe is wrong with the current Syrian government, but what I despise is people who make it sound like it’s the worst in the region, most of which are people trying to push their own agenda instead of various freedoms. My point is that there is just as much oppression everywhere else in the ME, if not more in some cases. And no, I am not trying to justify it by saying “everyone else is doing it so why cant we?” because two wrongs don’t make right. Maybe I just love to argue for the sake of arguing.

- There is NO enlightened secular Arab nationalism in Syria and sectarian violence DOES exist. But then again it has been, until recently at least, lower in numbers than neighboring countries and I respect the Syrian society for keeping it that way for so long.

But I guess there is no way to argue with you because you will endlessly pick on the mishaps to defuse my arguments. And since the country is far from perfect you have a lot in your arsenal.


At 8/20/2005 01:16:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8/20/2005 01:21:00 PM, Anonymous Aphrodite said...

Great comment, Ali. You wrote in my name. Thanks. Never give up.


At 8/20/2005 01:24:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

I was unable to believe that an American so called Professor is so cheaply bought by the ones he married from. He is pumping the chest of Asmaa the mute Assad, and his long neck girafe like thug president (her husband). This man, Josh has become a disgrace to America and its great people. I never imagined that there would be one as cheaply bought as this one. What are they doing to you?

You have insulted all of the Syrian people, Sunnis, Christians, Druzes, Alawis, Kurds, and Assyrians and others. Syria was a multi pot made of different religions and races, and they all lived in harmony before your thug took power and destroyed that harmony and becamse the billionaire he and his entourage and family are.

You have disgraced yourself and made many of us angry at you and at people like you. I am really ashamed to have even thought of you anything else.

"Elle", and the RPS said a lot of what I have in my heart. Their comments are great. The praise you get from Tarek (the criminal as he describes himself, and his other names), well, that you deserve for they he/are the ones we, the people of Syria in our majority are fighting against their oppression and their theft of the country and its people.

Why not mention any of those great Syrians who are passing their lives in the Assad prisons for having done no wrong what so ever except to speak their minds against the corruption that has dominated Syria for 35 years now? (they are no Muslim Fundemn\entalis Sunnis as you and your ilks try to show them). Why don't you remember the thousands of Syrians and Lebanese that this regime has massacred in Lebanon and Syria? The prisons that this regime bombarded with its helicopters to kill the prisonners ? Why don't you remember Dr. Aref Dalilah(alawi), Ryad Seif, Mamoun Homsi, and Dr. Abd Alziz alkheir(alawi)? what have they done to deserve this misery in their jails, and the beating of their families to death in their proper homes by the gangs of Assad?

Shame on you.
You are a disgrace to America.

Joseph ALi Mohammed

Post a Comment

At 8/20/2005 01:26:00 PM, Anonymous Aphrodite said...

To: Innocent Criminal

You and (all)your comment(s) its really a shame. Do you think its interesting to read your dirty insults? Stop that please.


At 8/20/2005 01:29:00 PM, Anonymous The New Yorker said...

Arabs are beginning to question
the wisdom of this al Qaeda "jihad" against the rest of the world. People
throughout the Arab world cheered as pictures of the burning towers appeared
on their TV sets on September 11. Here was an Arab accomplishment. The sad
fact is that there have been very few Arab accomplishments in the past
century or so. Currently, the 300 million citizens of the Arab league
countries, with a population ten times that of the state of California, have
an economy (GDP) half the size of Californias. Even with all the oil wealth,
the majority of the worlds known oil deposits in fact, the Arab world has
fallen behind every other region in the world, except black Africa, in
economic growth and development. Israel, with a population of six million,
produces more scientific papers each year than 300 million Arabs. Greece,
with a population of 12 million, translates more foreign language books
each year than 300 million Arabs. Ignoring new, or foreign, ideas, has long
been an Arab custom. But now many more Arabs are beginning to see it as a
bad idea.
Another bad idea is blaming Israel for all the Arab world's troubles. Most
of the Arabs killed in wars and terrorist violence during the last half
century had nothing to do with Israel. For example, the 1980s war between
Iraq and Iran, which killed several hundred thousand Arabs, had nothing to
do with Israel. Nor did the bloody Yemen civil war of the 1960s and 70s.
Westerners generally ignored this one, perhaps because Egypt sent troops,
who used poison gas against the rebels. The civil war that is raging in
Sudan right now, has nothing to do with Israel. The bloody campaigns between
dictators and their opponents (democrats and religious fundamentalists) in
so many Arab countries (Algeria, Syria, Egypt, Iraq), which has killed
hundreds of thousands of Arabs, has nothing to do with Israel. Even the
fifteen year civil war in Lebanon (1975-90), which is often blamed on
Israel, was all about a centuries old battle between Christian and Islamic
(from several different sects) Lebanese Arabs.
It's been very popular blame someone else for the failure of the Arab world.
But there is a growing chorus of Arab opinion that states the obvious;
there's something wrong with the way Arabs are running their own affairs.
The current array of tyrants and unceasing anti-Western propaganda that
defines the lives of most Arabs is being questioned. Radical Islam has been
active for over two decades, and has a track record of failure and over a
hundred thousand dead Arabs. The occupation of Iraq, and establishment of a
democratic government there, poses yet another threat to the traditional
Arab way of doing things. But millions of Arabs know that it will work,
because these Arabs have emigrated to Western democracies in the last two
decades, and found that this alien form of government fit them quite well.
Pride plays a role as well. Arabs don't want to dwell on all the lies they
traded in for so many years. But the situation grows desperate. While Arab
economies are stalled, their birth rates are not. A new generation of
unhappy Arabs is coming of age, and by now there can be no illusions about
how badly this will go if real reforms are not enacted quickly.

At 8/20/2005 02:06:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Arabs have become the joke of the world because they do not think of their future..."

"The Arabs are completely useless...."

"The Arabs have written a mark of disgrace in history that
they will never be able to eradicate. They watch what is happening in Iraq and in Palestine from the sidelines. They are finished. They have no honor and they have no blood. There is no longer any Arab blood or pan-Arab blood, Arab unity, Arab manliness, Arab femininity. There is nothing. The situation has gotten so bad that the women are the ones who take the initiative."

Muammar Qaddafi

At 8/20/2005 02:37:00 PM, Anonymous John, United States of America said...

This is for you, Mister Tarek!

I want to write for you about the defects in the Arab mind-set, all of which are cultural defects stemming from three main sources. The first is the repressive climate that prevails throughout Arab societies, the second a backward educational system that lags far behind modern educational systems and the third a mass-media apparatus operated by those responsible for the climate of political repression to serve their interests.
The following are the most obvious defects from which the contemporary Arab mind-set suffers:
1. A lack of intellectual hospitality;

2. It is steeped in a culture that encourages conformity and discourages diversity;

3. Limited tolerance for the Other;

4. Limited tolerance for criticism and the virtual absence of self-criticism;

5. The adoption of stands not on the basis of their coherence, validity or intrinsic value but on the basis of tribal or religious affiliations;

6. Deep feelings of nequality with others in terms of results and achievements makes for a sense of inadequacy that is sublimated into an exaggerated and unfounded pride;

7. A tendency to indulge in excessive self-praise and to glorify past achievements as a way of escaping our dismal reality;

8. The prevalence of what I call the ‘big-talk culture’, in which overblown rhetoric is used to compensate for the appalling lack of concrete achievements;

9. A lack of objectivity and the growth of individualism;

10. An unhealthy nostalgia for and escape into the past;

11. An aversion to the notion of compromise, which is deemed to be a form of capitulation and defeat;

12. Lack of respect for women;

13. A tendency to unquestioningly accept stereotypes at face value;

14. Setting great store by the conspiracy theory and believing that the Arabs are always the victims of heinous plots hatched against them by their enemies;

15. An ill-defined sense of national identity: is it Arab, Muslim, Asian, African or Mediterranean?

16. The spread of the personality cult phenomenon in Arab societies, where the relationship with the ruler is based not on mutual respect and accountability but on the excessive adulation, not to say deification, of the ruler;

17. The prevalence of an insular culture that knows next to nothing about the outside world and the real balance of power by which it is governed, let alone the science or culture of others;

18. A lack of appreciation for the value of the bond that links the human species together, which is their common humanity. For most people in the region, the only bonds that count are either tribal, sectarian or nationalistic, although humanity is the most exalted common denominator of all;

19. The spread of a mentality of fanaticism due to a number of factors, the most important being the tribalism that dominates the Arab mind-set to varying degrees;

20. Finally, the Arab mind-set is not overly concerned with the notion of freedom for the simple reason that the Arabs have enjoyed only limited doses of political rights and civil liberties.

The twenty defects listed above are by no means exhaustive; I have no doubt that any Middle East expert can come up with many more. However, all these defects are acquired, which means they are amenable to reform. Moreover, they can all be found, albeit to different degrees, in other societies. As I mentioned, they stem from the prevailing climate of political despotism and outdated educational and information systems designed and operated to serve the interests of a power structure intent on maintaining its iron grip.
These defects will continue to grow unless radical changes are introduced to all three areas. The political system must be overhauled with a view to providing a wider margin of freedom and allowing people a greater say in determining the shape of their present and future. The educational systems in force must be reorganized from the ground up, their philosophy, curricula and methods brought into line with the requirements of the age.
Last but not least, the media must be removed from under the thumb of government and allowed to function in complete political and economic freedom as a credible forum for the dissemination of culture, ideas and information.


At 8/20/2005 02:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In our tongues so glib
Our very deaths reside
We have paid dearly for our gift of the gab

Nizar Qabbani

No wonder the war ended in defeat,not victory,
For we waged it with all the Orient’s gift for oratory,
With quixotic hyperbole that never killed a fly,
Fighting in the logic of fiddle and drum.

Nizar Qabbani

In the sixties, we claimed to be the stronger military power in the Middle East, a claim that was revealed to be nothing more than an empty boast on the morning of June 5th ,1967. To the same extent that we overrated our own abilities, we underestimated those of our historical enemy, which we dismissed as “a bunch of Jewish gangs”. Events were to prove that the enemy was far more dangerous than we had talked ourselves into believing . Nor were these the only instances of “big-talk” during the sixties, a decade that has become synonymous with hyperbole. A number of notorious examples come to mind, as when we described the British prime minister as an effete sissy – a particularly offensive characterization in the Arabic language – or when we taunted the United States of America by inviting its president to “go drink from the sea, first from the Red sea and, after it is dry, from the Mediterranean”, or when we spoke of the Qaher and its sister missile the Zaher as the ultimate weapon.

When we listen to the rousing national songs composed in the sixties, we find that, despite their high artistic standard and beauty of the national and pan-Arab dream they celebrated, their lyrics are replete with big-talk . The tendency to indulge in bombastic and high- flown language continued and, in fact, grew, throughout the seventies, eighties and nineties , and is now such an integral part of our public life that anyone using a different language today strikes a discordant note .

Thus when we talk of our history, we do not use scientific and objective language but invariably sink into grandiloquent rhetoric that drowns the truth in a welter of words .The same pattern applies in our approach to the here and now. Even a victory by the national football team provides an excuse for a veritable word fest. Although our standard in the game ranks somewhere between “average” and “poor” at the international level, on the rare occasions our players score a victory on the football field we are not in the least embarrassed to hail them as “conquering Pharaohs” or to use similarly overblown language to describe what is, after all, nothing more than the outcome of a match.

The use of superlatives is rampant in our media where, as a look at the front page of any newspaper will show, big-talk is the order of the day. Thus any meeting is a “summit” meeting, any decision a “historic” decision.

It must be said in all fairness that our propensity to use big-talk is in no way contrived: we are only doing what comes naturally. High-flown language has become part and parcel of our code of communication, both oral and written. It is not associated in our minds with obsequiousness or fawning; we do not use it in order to curry favour or to ingratiate ourselves with the object of our flattery but as a spontaneous form of expression. Sadly, this reflects a serious flaw in our mental buildup that has become deeply-entrenched in our culture. Even the few who are conscious of the problem are themselves not above succumbing to the big-talk syndrome on occasion, proving that the problem has pervaded our cultural climate to the point where no one is immune to its effects.

An example that graphically illustrates how this feature has come to dominate the cultural landscape in the country is the coverage by Egyptian television of the marathon that took place around the pyramids shortly after the Luxor massacre in the autumn of 1997. Viewers were treated to the amazing spectacle of about ten foreigners, interviewed separately and supposedly at random, who all said the same thing in virtually the same words, as though reading from a prepared script: “Egypt is a safe country in which we feel secure .. terrorism does not exist only in Egypt but in all parts of the world .. everyone wants to visit Egypt and see its wonderful antiquities”.

The twenty years I spent in one of the largest industrial establishments in the world gave me the opportunity to discover that this feature is unique to our culture, a mark of dubious distinction that sets us apart from other members of the community of nations, whether western or eastern.

Cultural evolution in the countries belonging to western civilization, including North America, has proceeded along a course that equates big talk with ignorance. Human knowledge is a complex web of interconnected strands in which there is no room for big talk, only for moderate language that tries as far as possible to reflect the unembellished realities of science and culture. As to eastern civilizations, the reserve that has always been and continues to be one of their most prominent characteristics shields them from any temptation to indulge in big-talk.

The picture is very different in the Arab world, where the temptation is indulged to the full. Indeed, the big talk syndrome is endemic to our culture, which has a long tradition of declamatory rhetoric that places more value on the beauty of the words used than on their accurate reflection of reality. Nowhere is this more evident than in the rich body of Arabic poetry, which is full of poems eulogizing or vilifying this or that ruler for reasons known only to the poet and often having nothing to do with reality . The dichotomy between language and truth is not only acceptable in our culture, it is actually honoured in a famous saying “The most beautiful poetry is the least truthful” (a’thab al sh’er ..akthabo).

No less authoritative a source than the Quran itself addresses the issue when it denounces poets as “drifters in all directions” and of not practicing what they preach.

The writer of these lines believes it is incumbent on all those who are aware of this distortion in the Egyptian mind-set to raise national awareness of the dangers inherent in using big talk that is totally divorced from reality. To that end, they must expose the negative effects of a phenomenon which has led some to describe us a “culture of words” or, with scientific progress, “of microphones”.

Educational curricula must be designed to alert our youth to the highly detrimental effects of this phenomenon, which not only distorts our image in the eyes of the outside world but keeps us imprisoned in a fantasy world that we have created for ourselves with no basis in reality. It also holds us hostage to a past we evoke in such glowing terms that it becomes more attractive than any present. There is no doubt that the big talk syndrome is linked to number of other negative features, such as lack of objectivity, escaping into the past, excessive self-praise and inability to accept criticism . Indeed, it would be no exaggeration to say that it is the bridge that links all these negative features together.

It is also important to emphasize the link between the big-talk syndrome and the narrow margin of democracy. In a cultural climate dominated by hyperbole, it is as difficult to expand the margin of democracy as it is easy for political forces to win adherents through the use of demagogy. Those who claim that their political project represents “the solution” to all of Egypt’s ills are merely serving up another course in an interminable and indigestible meal of big-talk. Economic and social problems today are far too complex to be cured by a slogan rooted in the big-talk syndrome.

As I listen to our public discourse drowning in a sea of hyperbole, I turn to the words of Nizar Qabbani, who eloquently sums up the situation in these words:

“We have donned a thin veneer of civilization
While our soul remains mired in the Dark Ages.”

At 8/20/2005 03:17:00 PM, Blogger Anton Efendi said...

Tarek, you used that same evasiveness on my blog every time I caught you, and you change the subject telling me that this or that was what you "actually meant", and it's just not convicing. You shot a knee-jerk reaction to my comments because I may have hit a nerve or something with the comment about sectarianism, and it's very obviously a reality that Syrians don't like to acknowledge, or are afraid to acknowledge, so they prefer opiating themselves on deriding the Lebanese instead and turning a blind eye to the role their government/ruling family plays in that regard.

Frankly, I wouldn't normally give a damn, but it's right next door, and secondly, the only way you are going to move forward in Syria is by acknowledging this reality and working with it, not against it. In that sense, the Lebanese are ahead, and the Iraqis will soon be as well, even if they fight each other for a while (with your ruling family assissting them in the killing, like they did in Lebanon before). That's the only way forward, and like I said (reacting to Young's Reason post), that's the reality of the ME, and the veil of delusion of Arab Nationalism has been lifted. Except of course, in the official discourse of Syria, where Bashar and Bouthi insisted on reaffirming that dying mantra, or, to rearrange the deck of the Titanic. Meanwhile, he consolidates power more and more narrowly in his family, which serves only to exacerbate the problem no one dares to admit.

The day will come when you will stop deriding Lebanon and realize that we have acknowledged reality and are trying to find the best way possible to deal with it, without any one group dominating the rest.

At 8/20/2005 03:17:00 PM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...


stop plagiarizing your whole comment can be found here.

At 8/20/2005 03:19:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In international relations, things are not always what they seem to be.
For instance, back in 2003, Syrian President Bashar Assad came up with what he thought was a great idea to curry favor with the U.S. and stave off threats of sanctions and even invasion for its support of international terrorism, including in neighboring Iraq.

Syrian intelligence chief Ghazi Kanaan came to the dictator with a plan to run an operation against U.S. intelligence, according a to a report in Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin, the premium, online intelligence newsletter published by WND's founder.

The plan called for Syria to recruit and train some mujhadeen to work on behalf of Osama bin Laden in an attack on the U.S. The Syrian intelligence officials easily found two willing participants, who never understood they were actually being used as pawns by Damascus.

The pair was trained for three months in weapons, explosives, engineering (for bringing down bridges, buildings, etc.) and other espionage activities, in addition to setting up a number of accounts, credit cards, and how to use discard cell phones so they could not be traced.

The Syrians launched the players into action, ordering them to go to the U.S. through Athens.

Then Syria double-crossed their dupes, tipping off the Greeks and the Israelis, informing them two al-Qaida operatives were on their way to the U.S. Syria also tipped off the chief of mission in Damascus.

At 8/20/2005 03:28:00 PM, Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

You are a disgrace to America.
Joseph ALi Mohammed

Joe Ali Mohammed? Wah-ha-ha! Since when do you speak for America, buster?

At 8/20/2005 03:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guess he can speak already for himself.
You Bigmouth.
Why must arabs always insult others?
Your style is bad. Let us guess common why civilized mankind hates arabs.

At 8/20/2005 03:43:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

? Nur-al-Cubicle?:

What does the name you chose to use mean?

Who are you?

Your question indicates that you have not read my comments for the past weeks.

May be you should do that so you get some education, and start thinking in human terms about peoples rights, inheritance of illegal power and wealth, democracy that "the people are not ready for, a term that the thugs continue to use as though they are given an inherited God given right to judge the people and decide whether they can allow them democracy or not", etc....

I know it is hard for people like you and Josh to understand.

But...I am sure he will understand later on. I know you won't.

Joseph ALi Mohammed

At 8/20/2005 03:48:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Legend has it that on the morning of January 12, 1994, when Basel Assad,
the eldest and also the favorite son of Syrian ruler Hafez Assad, was
killed while driving in a thick fog to the international airport in
Damascus, the president's subordinates had a hard time deciding how to
break the bitter news to him. While Hafez Assad was still asleep, they
decided that the country's senior army and security figures would come
to the presidential palace early in the morning and tell him what had
happened. They all entered his room but none of them dared to speak.
After a lengthy silence, President Assad asked, "Well, which of you
carried out the coup against me?"
Years passed and Hafez Assad passed away and was succeeded by his son
Bashar, who had not been intended for the presidential post. Initially
he followed in his father's footsteps. After assuming the presidency, he
replaced all the key officials of the previous regime with his personal
loyalists from the Alawi community, to which he also belongs.
Nevertheless, the son cannot feel more secure than his father, as the
leader of a minority community that accounts for less than 20 percent of
the country's population.
During most of his long rule as president, Hafez Assad leaned on the
support of the Soviet Union. After its collapse, he decided wisely that
he should try to curry favor with the one remaining superpower, the
United States. Thus he took the U.S. side in the first Gulf War, hooking
up with the large international coalition that assaulted Iraq.
Washington repaid him by taking the lead in rough negotiations between
Assad and Israel, devoting all its power and influence to the effort.
The United States was on the very brink of success, and the reasons for
the misunderstandings that brought about Hafez Assad's rejection of the
final proposals made by President Clinton at their meeting in Geneva in
March 2000 have been the subject of a public debate ever since. In the
two and a half months that Hafez Assad had to live - he died in June
2000 - he did not forsake the American orientation that he had adopted
in his last years.
Bashar abandoned his father's path. Ahead of the second Gulf War, in
2003, he took the Iraqi side against the United States. He allowed
thousands of combatants to cross the Syrian border into Iraq, where they
inflicted heavy casualties on the U.S. forces; he deepened Syria's
cooperation with Iran far beyond his father's tactical cooperation; and
he intervened so blatantly in Lebanon that France, Syria's traditional
friend, this year led an initiative in the United Nations Security
Council that ended in an unequivocal resolution calling for the full
withdrawal of Syrian military and intelligence forces from Lebanon.
Effectively, Bashar Assad has brought about his country's isolation, and
for his broad strategic failure, the Syrian ruler will pay a steep
price, perhaps even the loss of power.
In the months ahead, Lebanon will be the center of international
attention, being not only the arena in which Syria will vie for its
continued influence in a country whose independence it has not
recognized to this day (there is no Syrian embassy in Beirut and no
Lebanese embassy in Damascus), but also and concurrently an arena in
which Iran vies for spheres of influence. The Shi'ites, including
Hezbollah, a potent forward arm, are deployed along Israel's northern
border, and the missiles in their possession continue to pose a threat
to those of Israel's population centers that are in their range. The UN
Security Council resolution on Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon also
obliges the simultaneous disarming of Hezbollah. The northern sector is
liable to become an unstable arena as the processes of democratization
in Syria and Lebanon gain momentum. Against this background of
instability on the northern border - and not only there, but also in
several other countries in the region - Israel is about to embark on the
path of shaping the final-status settlement with the Palestinians in
direct negotiations with the United States.
Kingdom come, kingdom go
Washington's behavior toward Syria demonstrates its determination not to
accept Syria's continued "rampage" in Lebanon - or anywhere else, for
that matter. After the flames of democratization start to singe the
corners of the kingdom in Damascus, the days of the minority Alawi
regime will be numbered. That is a sure consequence of the new American
policy in the Middle East, which revolves around encouraging and
cultivating democratic regimes throughout the region.
If Syria is a positive example of the wisdom of U.S. policy, once it
reaches the stage of implementation, it is liable to be far more
problematic in a different part of the Arab world. Saudi Arabia is an
absolute monarchy ruled by the ramified royal family of the House of
Saud. There are not many countries that are named for the ruling family.
The women in the kingdom are effectively denied civil rights, and with
the exception of assemblies of the royal family, no governmental
institutions possess genuine status and real powers. Clashes are
occurring between groups of extreme religious fighters and the security
forces in various areas of the desert state, in which both sides often
suffer heavy casualties.
Unemployment is rife in Saudi Arabia, and some of the jobless are in any
case unqualified for work of any kind. Jobs for university graduates are
far from meeting the great demand. True, the steep rise in the price of
oil has increased the country's revenues dramatically, but little of
that income is earmarked to improve the standard of living of the
population as a whole. In recent years, the government of the 5,000
princes that fostered a generation of Islamic fundamentalism has been
struggling with its violent streams, and so far has not succeeded in
overcoming either the resulting internal threat or its international
ramifications. The Saudi administration has become the target of the
extremist movements that sprang up inside the country, but apart from
the security measures taken to protect the kingdom and preserve the
regime, there is neither domestic nor foreign policy aimed at coping
with the roots of the distress that engendered the internal and external
threats and that continue to nourish them.
Whereas the United States has been able to articulate a clear policy
toward some of the countries in the region, including Iraq, Syria and
Lebanon, it has found it difficult to formulate a holistic policy toward
Saudi Arabia. This is due mainly to the Americans' economic dependence
on the vast oil reserves of the Arabian Peninsula. Not long ago a senior
official in one of the world's largest oil companies told me that he
wakes up every morning fearful that he will turn on his bedside
television set and see reports of a coup in Saudi Arabia. One of the
great concerns in Washington two years ago, on the eve of the war in
Iraq, was that a U.S. invasion of Iraq and the fall of Baghdad would
spark the fire of revolution in Riyadh and throughout the kingdom. That
was the consideration that prompted the first President Bush to order a
cease-fire in the first Gulf War and refrain from having coalition
forces occupy an Arab capital.
At present the United States is torn between the immediate need to
ensure a safe flow of oil, while maintaining close ties with the
existing government in Riyadh, and the fear that every day that passes
without genuine reform in Saudi Arabia is not only bringing the fall of
the House of Saud closer but is also heightening the danger that the new
rulers will take an extremist approach to the "infidel" states of the
West. Thousands of citizens from Western countries live in Saudi Arabia,
in well-fortified compounds that protect their families. These extreme
measures of protection reflect the constantly widening gulf between the
local population and the foreign guests.
Few observers of the Middle East scene are actually taking a good hard
look at the situation in Saudi Arabia and examining coolly the
terrifying scenarios, one of which might ensue. Some believe that there
is a real danger that extremist religious figures will seize power in
Saudi Arabia and establish an "Al-Qaida state" in Riyadh. Others note
that the national identification of large numbers of the country's
population with the Saudi entity is feeble and that their main
attachment is tribal or local-regional. Thus, a revolutionary situation
might cause the disintegration of the state and the creation of parallel
regimes in various regions of the kingdom.
In a visit to the United States two weeks ago, I was told by several
well-informed observers that should one of the more severe scenarios
come to pass, the United States will have no choice but to deepen its
presence in the Middle East. To that end, it will have to renew the
draft, to ensure that there are enough forces to deal with developing
situations in countries like Saudi Arabia.
Superpower in the `neighborhood'
From being a superpower that exerts a potent influence in the Middle
East, the United States has become a player that is present in the
region. Its pattern of activity in Iraq illustrates not only the
determination of President Bush to act consistently to realize his
policy in Baghdad. There is a good possibility that Iraq will not be the
last country in the region that will require a lengthy American military
presence. The U.S. campaign in Iraq was perceived as a signal of long-
term American commitment to do whatever is required and to stay in the
"neighborhood" for as long as needed. It was none other than Martin
Indyk, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel, who not long ago raised the
idea of establishing an American trusteeship regime in the areas of the
Palestinian Authority, if it should turn out that the Palestinians are
not ripe for self-rule. That arrangement would require an American
operational military presence along Israel's border with the Palestinian
The shapers of the basic political approach of the Bush administration
say that the United States plans "to be in the area" for as long as 10
years and more, if needed. Speaking in a semi-closed forum during a
visit to Israel a few months ago, Bill Kristol, one of the most
influential "neocons" (neoconservatives) in the United States, noted in
this connection that the American presence in Europe after World War II
lasted for nearly 60 years. Israelis who are trying to promote a role
for NATO in the region, in one form or another, are actually promoting a
generation-long American presence.
Two cheers for democracy
The belief of the United States in democracy as the healthiest and most
just system of government ever devised - and, as such, appropriate for
every corner of the world - led it to undertake a first experiment in
democratization in the Middle East in Iraq after its liberation from the
yoke of Saddam's dark regime. From Washington's point of view, the
experiment succeeded. The guerrilla forces of the Sunni minority, which
had ruled the country since the establishment of the new Iraq at the end
of World War I, were unable to prevent the process, and millions of
Iraqis went to the polls and voted for candidates for the constituent
assembly. What happened in practice is that the ethno-religious
communities seized control of the democratic process, and the outcome of
the elections reflects the numerical balance of forces between them -
apart from the Sunni minority, some of whom boycotted the elections,
while others did not go to the polls out of fear or out of disgust at a
system that formally ended its rule in the country.
Holding similar elections in all the Persian Gulf states would undermine
the present governments, because in nearly every case the original local
residents have become a minority. Holding full and free elections in
Saudi Arabia would bring the country's Shi'ite population into the
intra-political process, in a situation in which no one knows how many
Shi'ites there are in the country - and, consequently, their possible
influence - as no census has been held for many years.
Few of the countries in Israel's part of the world have succeeded in
shaping a national identity capable of overcoming the local tribal and
religious affiliations. Egypt is the salient example of a country that
did succeed, along with Jordan, which under King Hussein and King
Abdullah has promoted "Jordanization" in particularly difficult
circumstances. Many of Jordan's citizens of Palestinian origin are full
integrated into the country and no longer dream of returning to their
old homeland across the river. However, in other countries of the
region, an attempt at Iraqi-style democratization will place power in
the hands of religious-tribal entities, while in others it will topple
regimes that identify with the United States and with the West in
The international campaign and the struggle of each Muslim state with
fundamentalist Islamic terrorism are at their height. It is highly
doubtful that dressing Middle Eastern countries in democratic garb, in
the circumstances I have described, will help them in their fateful
battle against Al-Qaida and similar groups.
It is an irony of fate that the country in which the freest general
elections are held - relatively speaking, of course - is the country
that is considered, and rightfully so, the most dangerous to regional
peace and, to a certain extent, to world peace as well. Iran, which is
going nuclear, is not a democracy in the American-Western style - for
one thing, the extremist clerics who effectively rule the country
strictly vet the candidates for election. Nevertheless, a struggle is
under way between the conservative elements, who have the upper hand,
and the moderate majority which wants to lead a free life. The
international siege of Iran has lately become tighter and international
opinion on the subject is, unusually, being led by the unlikely trio of
Britain, France and Germany, with the public support of the United
From many points of view, this is the most fascinating and significant
experiment taking place today, as it is obvious that Iran is trying to
extricate itself from this international pressure and is using various
modes of deception to conceal the truth and trick those that are
negotiating with it over its nuclear program. Iran cannot, ostensibly,
allow itself to lose in this struggle, but at the same time the European
leaders cannot allow themselves to be duped and be perceived as the
village idiots. In any event, the United States will not follow in
Europe's wake if it tries to escape to the fringes. Israel, for its
part, could not hope for a better combination of players and
circumstances in the political campaign that is under way in relation to
Iran's nuclear project.
The campaign against that project is taking place in regional conditions
that are not convenient for Iran: Its Syrian partner is being led by a
leader who is not very smart; Hezbollah, its forward arm in Lebanon, is
under Security Council pressure to disarm; and the American military
presence to the west in Iraq and to the east in Afghanistan is
heightening the danger of regional isolation that Iran has long feared.
On the other hand, of course, Iran is benefiting from the fall of the
Saddam Hussein regime, which forced Tehran to agree to a cease-fire
following their eight-year war (1980-1988), which Iraq launched in
September 1980. However, the consolation Iran felt at Saddam's fall is
fading as it becomes clear to Tehran that the Shi'ite majority that
holds power in Baghdad does not intend to defer to it.
In the light of the accumulated weight of all the developments cited
above, it is possible that the favorable surprise of the years ahead
will be nothing less than the containment of Iran and the neutralization
of the danger it poses to Israel - without Israel's having to consider
whether to cope alone in the face of what it justly construes as the
potential of a genuine existential threat.
Lost on the road map
Another element in the shifting political landscape since the United
States liberated Iraq two years ago is the conflict between Israel and
the Palestinians and the still existing confrontation between Israel and
parts of the Arab world. The first to identify publicly the connection
between the broader regional reality and the Israeli-Arab configuration
was Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, who disclosed his famous initiative in
the spring of 2002 in a conversation he held with Thomas Friedman of The
New York Times. The very fact that the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia
acted contrary to the regime's traditional reluctance to take the
initiative or become involved in the Palestinian conflict, showed that a
sea-change had occurred in the Saudi understanding of the connection
between our conflict and the broader context. Afterward, in a series of
practical moves, the Saudis stepped up their heavy pressure on the
Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, and were a prime player in forcing
Arafat to submit and accept solutions not to his liking both during the
first siege of his headquarters in the Muqata and in the siege of the
Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
In the eyes of the Saudi prince, the rise in the level of tension,
violence and enmity in our conflict had the effect of significantly
strengthening the extremists in his country and throughout the Arab
world - hence the sudden pan-Arab burning interest in lowering the
height of the flames that Arafat fanned with all his might. Potential
new allies appeared for Israel in the Arab world alongside Egypt and
Jordan, with which Israel made peace at differing levels of warmth. In
that period, Israel worked diligently on an initiative of its own - to
rally the United States and the rest of the world behind its concept
that a change had to be fomented in the Palestinian leadership and in
the structure of the Palestinian Authority so that Israel would have a
reliable partner with which to conduct negotiations leading to the
establishment of a Palestinian state in temporary borders. In June 2002,
less than a year before the war in Iraq, President Bush adopted the
concept in its entirety in his famous White House address, as did most
of the countries of Europe and Asia, as well as many Arab states in the
Middle East.
However, in the period between June 2002 and March 2003, the original
intention went awry and various drafts began to appear of what was known
as the "road map," which was ostensibly meant to translate the
president's policy as enunciated in June 2002 into practical terms. The
initiators of the road map sought to amend the president's policy and
make it more balanced, because in their view the June 2002 declaration
was tilted too far in Israel's favor.
The result was that the road map changed the original policy
fundamentally. The terms of the road map were considered so negative
from Israel's point of view that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon prohibited
discussion of its details with foreign officials for fear it would
become a worthy document for negotiating purposes. In practice, Israel
said little about the road map. An election campaign was then under way
and Israeli officials argued that a transition government was not
authorized to make decisions of principle such as those relating to the
road map.
The fact is that we fell asleep on our watch: Israel was taken totally
by surprise when President Bush decided to adopt the road map as
reflecting his policy just one week before he went to war against Saddam
Hussein. After the war, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) was elected prime
minister of the Palestinian Authority and not long afterward Prime
Minister Sharon acceded to the firm demand of the United States and
adopted the road map. The Israeli cabinet followed suit, but added 14
reservations, which have absolutely no diplomatic or international
I do not know what brought about the shift in the president's policy and
afterward in the prime minister's policy. Probably, part of the reason
has to do with the fact that a connection at the international level was
drawn between our conflict and the broader regional and international
conflict. The basic Saudi approach that prompted Prince Abdullah to
formulate his initiative bore fruit.
What did Israel commit itself to in the road map? It gave its agreement
to a plan that aims to bring about a permanent solution of the conflict
and committed itself to a three-year timetable to arrive at that
solution. No longer are we talking about a temporary solution, a new
leadership for the Palestinian Authority and temporary borders, a long-
term interim solution, but, as Phase 3 of the road map stipulates,
"Parties reach final and comprehensive permanent status agreement that
ends the Israel-Palestinian conflict in 2005, through a settlement
negotiated between the parties based on UNSCR [UN Resolutions] 242, 338,
and 1397, that ends the occupation that began in 1967, and includes an
agreed, just, fair, and realistic solution to the refugee issue, and a
negotiated resolution on the status of Jerusalem that takes into account
the political and religious concerns of both sides (this signifies
Israel's acceptance that the Palestinians have a political locus standi
in Jerusalem - E.H.), and protects the religious interests of Jews,
Christians, and Muslims worldwide, and fulfills the vision of two
states, Israel and a sovereign, independent, democratic and viable
Palestine, living side by side in peace and security."
As I noted, the 14 points Israel appended to its agreement do not have,
and never did have, any validity, and in any event the United States, to
whom the Israeli document was transmitted, never recognized the 14
points, much less adopted them. The prime minister has of late stopped
referring to them, understanding that they are irrelevant.
The disengagement bypass
It was not by chance that Prime Minister Sharon looked for a way to
bypass the road map. When he announced the disengagement plan, he
emphasized that it was separate from the road map and not a step leading
to it. The problem is that when the prime minister met with President
Bush, he conducted substantive negotiations with him about some of the
elements of the conflict and obtained from him a letter relating to the
future of the Jewish settlement blocs within the framework of the final-
status settlement and a statement about the solution of the refugee
problem. This was the effective start of the negotiations on the
permanent solution.
With Bush committing himself to his letter, Israel gave him a unilateral
commitment to take steps relating to the immediate dismantlement of
outposts that were established since March 2001. That clause also
appeared in the road map within the framework of a series of mutual
commitments by the two sides. Henceforth this became a separate and
unconditional commitment by Israel to the United States and not to the
Palestinians, and its implementation is to be immediate.
This particular development illustrates the substantive difference that
occurred in Israel's perception of and approach to the resolution of the
conflict. It is no longer a case of negotiations between the sides,
because "there is no partner" and "Abu Mazen is a disappointment and is
not doing his part according to the first phase of the road map."
President Bush is relentlessly promoting the road map, which he views as
an important instrument to execute his policy. At first, the process of
Israeli-American negotiations seemed to create a convenient starting
point for Israel and appeared to give Israel achievements in relation to
the U.S. position regarding various aspects of the permanent solution.
However, it makes negotiations between the sides superfluous. It makes
the United States the exclusive arbiter in all issues of the conflict
and in the future will make it impossible for Israel to exert pressure
on the Palestinians in relation to subjects on which the Americans adopt
the Palestinian position.
The assumption that the United States will always reject Saudi or
Egyptian or Palestinian approaches that are not acceptable to Israel
requires proof. If there are developments in the region that adversely
affect the situation of the United States to the point where it must
repay one of the countries of the Arab world, or if the United States is
asked to intervene in Saudi Arabia or in the northern system and feels
it must prove that it is not facing off frontally against the Arab
world, there are clauses in the road map that will make it possible for
Washington to accept a particular Arab position without departing from
the road map.
The final and binding judgment about the implementation of the road map
by the sides rests exclusively with the "Quartet" - the United States,
Russia, the European Union and the United Nations - and Israel agreed to
let them have the final word. What is emerging is that Israel and the
United States have created the framework for an imposed resolution of
the conflict, as it will not be the result of negotiations between the
sides but of negotiations between each of them and the United States.
President Bush will strive to complete the task before he leaves office
at the end of 2008. It is also possible that Israel's veteran leaders
will want to strike a final deal while they are still in office,
believing that because of their singular past and unique experience they
bear historic responsibility to end the conflict as their contribution
to the coming generations.
Everything will be decided according to the road map, and the validity
of the permanent solution will rest mainly on the preservation of the
power and presence of the United States in the region. The imposed
permanent settlement will be established in one of the less stable
periods in "our neighborhood." Thus the circle that links the general
regional situation with our conflict will be closed. The disengagement
will be the first link in the chain of shaping Israel's permanent
borders. The continuation will be decided in the next three years not
only by the balance of forces between Israel and its neighbors, but in
large measure by the outcomes of the other campaigns that are taking
place around us. This is the configuration within which our destiny will
be propelled in the years to come.

At 8/20/2005 03:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A relative of Syrian President Bashar Assad is hiding Iraqi weapons of
mass destruction in three locations in Syria, according to
intelligence sources cited by an exiled opposition party.
The weapons were smuggled in large wooden crates and barrels by Zu
Alhema al-Shaleesh, known for moving arms into Iraq in violation of
U.N. resolutions and for sending recruits to fight coalition forces,
said the U.S.-based Reform Party of Syria.

At 8/20/2005 03:55:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The party, based in Potomac, Md., regards itself as a secular body
comprised of Syrians who want to see the country embrace "real
democratic and economic reforms."
One weapons-cache location identified by the sources is a mountain
tunnel near the village of al-Baidah in northwest Syria, the report
said. The tunnel is known to house a branch of the Assad regime's
national security apparatus.
Two other arms supplies are reported to be in west-central Syria. One
is hidden at a factory operated by the Syrian Air Force, near the
village of Tal Snan, between the cities of Hama and Salmiyeh. The
third location is tunnels beneath the small town of Shinshar, which
belongs to the 661 battalion of the Syrian Air Force.
The nephew of Zu Alhema al-Shaleesh, Assef al-Shaleesh, runs Al
Bashair Trading Co., a front for the Assad family involved prior to
the war in oil smuggling from Iraq and arms smuggling into the
country. Al-Bashair has offices in Damascus, Beirut and Baghdad.
In an exclusive interview yesterday with the London Telegraph, Assad
came close to admitting his country possessed stockpiles of weapons of
mass destruction.
Assad told the London paper Syria rejects American and British demands
for concessions on weapons of mass destruction, insisting Damascus is
entitled to defend itself by acquiring its own chemical and biological
He said Israel must agree to abandon its undeclared nuclear arsenal in
order for Syria to consider any deal with the U.S.
Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported Al Bashair Trading Co.
participated in the smuggling of millions of dollars worth of
sophisticated arms and equipment to Saddam Hussein for three years
prior to the Iraqi leader's overthrow.
Al Bashair executives met with North Korean firms before the war
began, according to the Los Angeles daily. The paper's three-month
investigation included the translation of 800 signed contracts found
in the Al Bashair Trading Co. office shortly before U.S. troops
entered Baghdad.
Just prior to the U.S.-led effort to oust Hussein, SES International
Corp. signed at least 50 contracts to supply weapons and gear to Iraq,
the Times said, including 1,000 heavy machine guns and up to 20
million bullets for assault rifles.
Not all the weapons were delivered, but some may still be in use by
terrorists battling the U.S. occupation forces, the newspaper said.
At least one shipment of arms was completed with the help of the
Syrian government in violation of a U.N. arms embargo.
SES International Corp. denied any wrongdoing, while Syria's foreign
ministry refused to comment to the Times.

At 8/20/2005 03:57:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whilst Morocco and Jordan were part of the international equation,
Syria is different. It is a country which is pivotal to the Middle East
peace process but has refused to sign an agreement short of the United
Nations resolutions. Even in his dying days, even as he watched Israeli
troops withdraw from Lebanon, Syria's President Hafez al Assad refused
a peace agreement which would have given Syria all the Golan territory
back short some marginal adjustments. "Every inch of land back" is the
legacy he has bequeathed his country. It is highly doubtful whether his
son and successor, Dr. Bashar, or the other elements of Syria's power
structure and its people, will be prepared to deviate from this legacy.
President Assad ruled Syria for thirty years but it was not a one-man
rule. He presided over a domestic consensus of Syria's role in the
region. That consensus enabled Syria to rise into a major regional
power. Significantly, President Lahoud of Lebanon was the one leader
who followed the Syrian President's cortege to its final burial place
in Qerdeha. This reflected the Syrian vision of "Two countries but one
There are some who expect the British educated son and successor to the
Syrian President, Dr. Bashar, to break with tradition and show greater
flexibility than his father. That is expecting too much. The different
institutions of the Syrian power equation rallied around Dr. Bashar as
the symbol of the continuity of his father's vision of an independent
Syria, defying world opinion to carve out for Syria a special place in
the Middle East environment through the skillful play of balance of
There are others who wonder whether Dr. Bashar, who rose to prominence
after his brother Basel's death, will be able to consolidate power.
They are underestimating Bashar. Bashar was four years old when his
father became President. He grew up in a political household where key
political leaders paid homage for decades. Power comes easy to a man
bred in the environment of power. He has a quiet authority and
confidence that comes from years of rubbing shoulders with political
players. More than that, it comes from the knowledge that he, and he
alone, is the rallying point for the different players in the nation.
The people, parliament, Baath party, military, and security have all
lined up behind Dr. Bashar. His family is solidly behind him. His
uncle, Riffat, is considered the black sheep of the family and poses no
threat from his home in Europe. Domestically, Dr. Bashar will seek to
empower greater sections of the youth. Technology, modernisation,
efficient and clean government are goals that he will pursue. His
interest in the Internet is widely known and respected. For the medium-
term, under Dr. Bashar, Syria will be economically 'less closed',
rather than 'more open'.
For the West, the focus remains the Middle East peace process. As
President Clinton said, "President Assad had exercised a strategic
choice for peace". There is concern that the momentum of peace can be
held up with the transition of leadership taking place in Syria.
However, that need not be the case if Israel now chooses to "exercise a
strategic choice for peace" by showing the flexibility which it
expected President Assad to display.
There are moments in history if, when grasped, can pave the way for sea
changes in opinions and attitudes. The death of President Assad
provides one such strategic opportunity, should it be taken, to shake
the psychological mindset of the past into a promising future. It is no
secret, as Newsweek put it, that, "the main obstacle in Israeli-Syrian
peace talks is but a few hundred yards on the Sea of Galilee at the
foot of the Golan Heights." Now is the moment of leadership for the
Israeli Prime Minister Barak to offer a peace agreement by removing
that obstacle and opening the way for a psychological breakthrough in
the region.
To expect Bashar to show the flexibility, which Barak can more easily
demonstrate, all things being equal would be to unnecessarily cloud the
prospect of a breakthrough. It is true that Barak's coalition
government has lost parliamentary support. This could be all the more
reason for Barak to enter into history by demonstrating himself as a
man who took the extra steps to build peace. Such a move by Barak would
move beyond peace between leaders to healing the wounds of war that
generations of conflict inflicted on both sides.
Little noticed by the outside world was the delegation of five Israeli
parliamentarians who traveled by road from Israel to Damascus to
condole the death of President Assad. About one in five Israelis is an
ethnic Palestinian. As coalitions become the norm in the post cold war
world, where ideology takes a back place to pragmatism, the Arab votes
could be the crucial votes for peace within Israel for leaders who look
beyond the past and into the future. As it is said, "If one of us
succeeds, we all do."

At 8/20/2005 03:59:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just check out the GDP of almost any Muslim nation

Afghanistan: $165 Woo-hoo!
Albania: $1300 Woo-hoo!
Algeria: $2000 Yee-haa!
Azerbaijan: $350 Yee-haa!
Bahrain: $14,000 All 650,000 of them! Woo-hoo!
Bangladesh: $400 Woo-hoo!
Bosnia and Herzegovina: $1800 I'm coming Elizabeth!
Brunei: Ok, I'll toss this one in the ok column, all 385,000 of them
who just happen to be sitting atop a bunch of dead dinosaurs.
Burkina Faso: $300 Giddy-up!
Chad: $250 Ay carumba!
Comoros: $750 Whoaaaaa!
Cote d'Ivoire $675 Way!
Djibouti: $450 No way!
Egypt: $1500 Way!
Ethiopia: $100 Video late fees are higher!
Gambia: $330 I'll alert the media!
So far, all these gdp's combined minus Brunei is still less than what
an illegal alien housekeeper makes here in California...not that I
would know of course. Let's continue:
Guinea: $375 Not to be topped by:
Guinea-Bissau $175 Outstanding!
Indonesia $1200 Multiply by 240 million and watch out world!
Iran $7000 Just enough to fix up the ancient mud-brick dwellings in
Bam for resettlement.
Iraq $1600 No oil, no nothing.
Israel $20,000 oops, tossed that one in just for fun.
Kuwait: couldn't find it.
Kyrgyzstan: $350 Hey, it's a stan, what do you expect?
Libya: $6500 No excuse with those resources.
Malaysia: $3900 The great Islamic success story always referenced in
here. Wow, about half the gdp of powerhouse Mexico! Well done!
Maldives: $2300 x 280,000 people...about what Bill Gates earns in a
Mali: $250 Nice lizards there though.
Mauritania: $325 One hour with a divorce lawyer.
Morocco: $1400 About $300 more than when Casablanca was filmed there.
Niger: $230 Ouch.
Nigeria: $300 This explains all those dead relatives I have there and
the millions waiting for me if I send my bank account info.
Oman: $9500 Let's hope for them that an alternative fuel is not around
the corner.
Pakistan: $2000 Allahu Akbar!
Qatar: $19,000 In the gutter.
Saudi Arabia $10,000 and dropping.
Senegal: $1500 Beachfront property available!
Sierra Leone $170 Nice dinner for two or live in Sierra Leone? Hmmm...
Somalia: N/A Hey primitives, a government would be a nice start!
Sudan: $300 Too bad the Mahdi showed up.
Syria: $1100 + you get the Assad family! Woo-hoo!
Tajikistan: $250 stan stan stan stan stan stan stan stan...(to Monty
Python's Spam)
Tunisia: $2300 Yawn.
Turkey: $3300 The "other" great Islamic success story. Poor EU.
Turkmenistan: $5200...but you do get the great Turkmenbashi! What a

At 8/20/2005 04:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

UAE: $19,000 Not bad for a 100% slave labor force.
Uzbekistan: $250 Did better under commie rule.
Yemen: $500 Ah, paradise in suburbia.
Study results: If you're a Muslim, you're best bet is to relocate
miles above dinosaur goo. We already know that you've unfortunately
figured out the moving to the west shtick as well.

At 8/20/2005 05:21:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

It was a funny article!

Though the riches of these countries from Brunai to Saudi is in the hands of few families. Each member of so called "royal" family is a billionaire upon birth. He/she gets automatic rights to oil wells.

But my friend; who has been insisting that these regimes that impoverished these peoples (islamic as you say) for more than 6 decades now? Now, perhaps you will understand why the people are getting angry and feeling powerless, and that since they are dying anyway, perhaps they can succeed in getting the ones that are supporting these regimes to die with them.

This is in no way an agreement with them. It is to point out the responsibility of this injustice in the world, and to try to rectify it for the sake of humanity as a whole.

They want the Assad family at the head of Syria no matter what the people feel. This professor is one of those who want to give the thug Bashar Assad a chance. Another chance as if the country can not produce any other man or a woman. Yes, he is impressed by the shallow wife of that thug. perhaps, her clothing, her being thin, or just because she is related to his wife through that marriage. He can not see that a woman raised in Britain thinks like a Syrian in the Assad party exactly. She says that the US is also imprisonning terrorists in Guantenamo when asked about the cream of the Syrian society that Assad has jailed or killed. This is not a woman who feels anything Western, but perhaps I am wrong. Here is a so called "professor" repeating the same shit and trying to convince us that this lady deserves to be heard - because- she is "charming". Or perhaps he wants to use that trait he finds in her to lure the American opinion into her superficial looks into the political situation, and in that way, ensure few more uyears to his friend, the dictator of Syria.

Do we all remember Haiti? How the US suppoprted family was as rich as the Assad in that poverty stricken country? Is this what we must be proud of for America?

Not at all. For the American people do not agree with such injustice, and when facts are made known and shown, the American people do not agree with their government. Here is a president, George W Bush who finally figured this out, and unlike his predecessors, he acknowldged the fact that supporting dictators will lead to disasters, and he is right.

Let him invade Syria for the sake of us all.

God be with you, president Bush when you will win Iraq finally by crushing the Assad regime. It is the regime that is responsible for the misery of Iraq. Lebanon was finally free. But we need Syria itself to be a free nation and to join your world.

God bless America.

Joseph ALi Mohammed

At 8/20/2005 05:35:00 PM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...


At 8/20/2005 05:36:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

The phrase should read:"who has been insisting that these regimes that impoverished these people stay in power".

Just to make the good sense .

At 8/20/2005 07:14:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Josh is changing the spelling of the word Assad that is the Arabic word for mouse, and he is now writing it as "Asad" in accordance perhaps with some other Westerners who are "impressed" with that mouse.

At 8/20/2005 08:46:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

""" WASHINGTON (AP) - The Army is planning for the possibility of keeping the current number of soldiers in Iraq - well over 100,000 - for four more years, the Army's top general said Saturday.


It is you, Josh who is dreaming.

Your friends in the Assad regime will meet Sadam's fate.

At 8/20/2005 11:26:00 PM, Anonymous Medical Billing Services said...

josh, I enjoy your blog but don't agree with you at all.

At 8/21/2005 02:03:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about a honest talk in US TV Morning Show at nine eleven ground zero?????

UN's Mehlis may interrogate Syria's top Spies in Switzerland
Friday, 19 August, 2005 @ 10:26 AM

Beirut, Lebanon - U.N. chief investigator Detlev Mehlis has not given up on interrogating Syria's Spy Masters, to find out exactly who gave the orders to assassinate former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Detlev Mehlis plans to ask for a few weeks extension of his mission in Beirut in a report he would submit to U.N. chief Kofi Annan Aug. 25, United Nations Beirut spokesman Nejib Friji says.

Mehlis left for Geneva on a 'private mission' on Tuesday. Media reports said he might be arranging for interrogating Syria's former spy masters in Lebanon on neutral Swiss grounds should the Assad regime remain adamant against letting the UN prosecutor to go to Damascus for the questioning.

The Syrian intelligence officers Mehlis wants to interrogate reportedly are Rustom Ghazaleh, Mohammed Makhlouf and Jameh Jameh. All are brigadier generals and all were serving in Lebanon when Hariri was murdered Feb. 14 in Beirut.

Friji denied reports that Mehlis will go from Geneva to New York to submit his preliminary report about his findings. "He will return straight to Beirut from Geneva and will submit his procedural report, explaining that he needs a few additional weeks to complete the investigation," he was quoted as saying by al-Mustaqbal newspaper Thursday.

Syria has so far insisted that the Syrian sovereignty laws prohibit the appearance of Syrian army officers before a foreign examining magistrate, but obviously Detlev Mehlis isn't buying into that. The Syrians want the interrogation to be done through correspondence, which some analysts thought it was a silly joke.

At 8/21/2005 02:41:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Recent articles and editorials in influential US papers like the Wall Street Journal, Wash Post and Wash Times have recommended military action against Syria without further delay. It is a matter of time when and how the opening salvos will be fired.

At 8/21/2005 02:48:00 AM, Anonymous Shami said...

You keep Mocking Bashbousheh. Aren't you at all concerned that almighty God will make you like him?

Fear God!!

At 8/21/2005 03:31:00 AM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

Not your best post Josh, be careful to filter the info you get from your environment. I have a few comments on the following issues:

"Washington is asking for background security checks on all 4 million Arabs who visit Syria yearly. It is asking for arrests and surveillance of the Iraqi refugee community living in Syria, which is estimated to be around 750,000 strong. "

-Might be possible, but where did you get this info?

"President Asad’s father sent Syrian troops into Lebanon to stop that country’s civil war at Washington’s request. "

-This is pure simplification, the reality is much more complex. Khaddam and others top-officials were strongly and publicly advocating a 'union' long before 75. Syria entered Lebanon unilaterally and a few christians leaders partially approved this 'a posteriori'. There never was an official demand from the Lebanese state by the way. There might have been differences between Hafez and Rifaat on this issue but it's unclear. Also Israeli-Egyptians negociations played a very important role in Syria's intervention in Lebanon.

"By striking down the PLO and crushing Lebanon’s Muslim forces in an effort to defend Lebanese Christians, he enraged Sunni Muslims within Syria.
The Muslim Brothers went on the warpath, accusing Asad of selling out Arabism and Islam. "

-This confrontation was set to happen. Lebanon was more a pretext than an issue here. The rising of political Islam is not specific to Syria and is a deep-rooted movement with its own dynamic.

It's unclear to me if Washington wants to overthrow Syria. But it's clearer every day that Bachar is not willing (or able) to engage reforms. If Washington had to chose, they would certainly prefer reforms. The real problem for Bachar, is that the Baath regime cannot be reformed.

Do not depict Bachar as a Neo-con victim. He's not a good man, do not forget about Hariri. There is still an international inquiry going on and Bachar's head is on the balance. Bachar's visit to the UN is related to this inquiry and may be his last chance to defend himself abroad.

At 8/21/2005 03:40:00 AM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

I am sorry but I must agree with some of the comments on the top. I challenge your credibility: was this post written in order for you to 'please' all parties?

At 8/21/2005 03:50:00 AM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

I am not talking of money or things like that. But it's likely that you cannot handle a bad relation with the Syrian state. Since you live in Syria, I can understand that but it's not good for your credibility.

If you take two extremes and you sit in the middle, it doesn't make you right.

At 8/21/2005 07:57:00 AM, Anonymous Lee Smith said...

Hi Josh,

First, I agree with your general take that the US needs a Syria policy. But you know, you can't say the US needs a policy--and then go and say it's regime on the cheap run by the neocons. David Hirst, Euro-diplomats? Christ, what they hell do these guys know? Is Flyntt Leverett right, or is he just losing a policy fight? Please. It would be much easier to conduct this important conversation if it weren't for the paranoid narrative about the neocons. People who know better should stop thinking like Arab regimes and incorporating their intellectual habits.

As for no violence in Syria the last 20 years, the Jordanians would say the same thing--I'm writing from Amman--and both you and they would be wrong. Just because the violence all, or largely, issues from the regime doesn't mean it's neither violent nor extremist nor ideological, especially when we're talking about ideological regimes and the Jordanians would be right that Syria's is more so than theirs.

Finally, I hope Bashar enjoys his stay in NYC and takes his hot wife out to see some shows and if they need reservations at any places downtown, you can pass them my email. But this idea of going over the heads of Washington and talking to the people directly, well, I don't get it. Like what, "Hey Americans, we'll stop helping to kill your boys and girls. Just get the neocons to stop picking on us!" Sorry, this makes no sense to me. Is that what he'll tell Americans, it's not his fault US soldiers are dying, but he feels their pain--a pain he can make go away? Man if that's what he's going to say, good, I'm glad he'll be in NY. I hope he takes his message to Brooklyn.

At 8/21/2005 08:12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Josh,
Could youo please take a few moments to answer a Few questions: Why is it inconceivable to visualize a sunni rule in Syria? How come democracy can not extend itself inside the borders of Syria? Isn't it naive to ever think that the majority of sunnis are extremists? Why should Alawis remain the custodians of "reason"? Why should the US go with your suggestions of backing the regime in cracking down on the syrian majority while in doing so advocating anti-american ideals? If Amrican values are not suitable for the rest of the world, why does the US continue to promote them globally?
Excuse my naivite, but shouldn't you personally be an ambassador of Jeffersonian principles instead of promoting short term advices to the American administration which will prove fatal in the long run? Is there any other way to fight terror but democracy?
Don't you think you owe it to the many readers who came to respect you over the last year to give your answers to the above?

At 8/21/2005 10:02:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Lee Smith made absolutely no sense in what he said. It was hard to understand a thing he said.

He could not understand what Josh said about going to the people in America. The thing is that Josh is giving the thug Bashar an advice to go to the American people directly, and refrained friom giving him the good advice of going to the SYRIAN people first and open up with them, and taklk with them and liberate them from his violent inhuman regime.

Then this last Anonymous falls again in the trap of speaking in the language of Sunnis versus Alawis. First this fucking regime has Alawis at the top and at the bottom, but the wide areas in between the few who are at the top being the president himself and the cheap labour at the bottom is mostly Sunnis that are the real profiteers of the existence and teh continuation of this regime without being exposed to the danger of the finger pointing, and the existence of this regime serves directly that class of people who have played their role in a perfect manner making the regime look as an Alawi regime that you and Josh and many others insist that it is. Alawis are the primary sufferres of this regime, and their opposition to it costs them always twice the price of those who are not Alawis. Alawis in their majority want to be liberated from the Assad clan much more intensly than the Sunnis, and how much I hate to be responding to you in such sectarian terms.

So, if the Sunni clan that supported Assad for 35 years takes over , will you say the regime is not Alawi any more, and in fact it is Sunni? Will that satisfy your urge for change?

Is it that you are bothered by this regime because there are Alawis at the top? This is ridiculous. Asking for a Sunni regime is ridiculous.

Are you more Syrian than I am ? Are you saying that I, an Alawi have no right to run for the highest office in Syria?

The problem with this regime is not it is an Alawi regime. The problem with it is that it has served the few and destroyed the country. The problem with it is that it is using all kinds of tricks to stay in power leading to a lot of oppression, and anger among the people. It is an Evil regime by all means.

I laugh when some one asks for a Sunni regime, or that he is angry that he sees nothing else in this regime except being Alawi. Do you tell me that if this regime was a Sunni regime, you would have been satisfied?

Wake up. Syria needs to be Secular, and it will never be otherwise. Syria is not Sunni or Alawi, or anything else. It has to form in a modern way respecting citizenship adherence much more than ethnicity of religious affiliation. As long as we keep hearing your old broken album, Sunnis/Alawis, Syria will not be liberated from these thugs. Because the thugs are both Sunnis and Alawis.\

Joseph ALi Mohammed

At 8/21/2005 10:25:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

It sounds that Josh wants this regime to survive inspite of it all. He is not interested in anything else except the survival of this regime.

One must wonder why!

Why is it that an American professor is in love with Bashar Assad , the man who has said nothing, formulated no philosophy of his own, and did nothing over 5 years except putting people in prisons, becomes the idol of an American professor who is begging the US adminisitration for giving him an additional 5 years term at least, that he calls another chance. Then he insists in praising the wife of that thug, the dictator of the country in every occasion. Every time I hear him speak about her, I remember Queen Antoinette and how charming she was as well. Her replies to journalists were absolutely the same as Queen Anotoniette's replies to the people who told her the people are angry because they did not have bread.

I wonder how a so called History Professor at an American University could be that shallow!

I am deeply disappointed by such a lack of intelligence and understanding by a University Professor.

He has not made a single article of his to speak about Human Rights grave Abuses that Bashar, his idol is comitting every day against ordinary Syrians, and against the top educated and cultivated Syrians. It sounds to me that he does not care about the human issues, and only cares about the survival of Bashar and his Charming wife. Smith called her Hot wife as if he desires her in his bed.

What is this Smith teaching? History also? Is he married to a Jordanian too?

You both are a shame to the country that sent you over there.

Joseph ALi Mohammed

At 8/21/2005 10:52:00 AM, Anonymous Metaz K.M.Aldendeshe said...

Agree with JAM. This subject matter has been discussed over and over again, SSPRS and MEtaz gave many examples and so as JAM.

Baath Party was brought to power initially through a military coup by Faisal Atassi, later on Louai Atassi headed the regime, afterward Zeaiin became the Prime Minister with Al-Jundi as his notorious intelligence chief. Finally the Alawites Jadid took control and put Nour Alddiine Atassi as figuer head President.
All those named above, except Jadid are Sunni Moslems from Homs.

Faisal is son of Syria first elected President. He grew up bitter that the landlord elites of both Alawaites and Sunni are in cooperation with the Damascus Merchant class and controled the Parliament. They wanted a revolution to oust those elites out of power, they united with the lower classes of Alawites and Syrians and helped the Baath party rise to power.

Zeaiin who installed himself as a prime minister was related to Loaii and Nour Alddiine through marriage.

Haffez Assad jonny came lately, kicked most of those that couldn't escape to jail for life, and turned Syria into one man show.

This is not about Alawites vs. Sunni, this is about Baathism and the 40 year rule that driven Syria into the botomless pit and made it one of the most underdeveloped country in the world in all sectors. This is about Human rights, freedoms, education etc..etc..

Those who like to turn this into Sunni vs. Alawites case are the regime and its agents, so as Israel and the west.If you don't know why, ask someone else to explain it for you.

At 8/21/2005 11:06:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What is this Smith teaching?"

I think he is teaching sexology! Another American idiot, I bet.

At 8/21/2005 12:36:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am the anon you referred to.

I was only replying to what Josh said and I also called for a democracy. I am not for a sunny in power, but the Josh is saying that the US and the West in general are against a Sunny regime. All I was saying that it should not be a problem. In that context, I was asking my questions. Please read the article and then read my questions and I hope you will get my drift. I am only playing along with Josh's rationing.

At 8/21/2005 01:09:00 PM, Anonymous Syrian Republican Party said...

Neither the U.S. nor the west are in any position to dictate who is going to rule in Syia. These powers including the Israeli are on the run and not capable of dictating anything to anyone.

At 8/21/2005 01:11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


If you read in Pro Landis old posts you have to know his position. Nothing changed. Just read this old post:

"""""Thursday, May 20, 2004

The Syria Accountability Act
Sanctions on Syria are a mistake. The neoconservatives who have designed this policy seek regime change in Syria, arguing that it is a totalitarian, fascist and a terrorist state. This is far from the truth. Bashar al-Asad is the best president Syria has had in over 40 years and could be a valuable ally to the US. Syria has been the most successful country in the region at accommodating the demands of its highly diverse population and in promoting tolerance among its people. It is the only Arab government that explicitly states in its Islamic school texts that Christians will go to heaven. Lebanon has a Christian president today because Syria intervened in its civil war on the side of the Christians who make up somewhere around 30% of Lebanon's population, which is betwen 3 and 4 million. If the United States used the same logic in Lebanon that it is using in Iraq, Lebanon's president would be a Shiite, because the Shiite community is the largest sectarian group in Lebanon. (Juan Cole estimates it is roughly 40% in his May 22 posting.) What is more, Hizballah is the largest political party in the Lebanese Parliament. Asad recently offered citizenship to more than 100,000 Kurds who fled Turkish oppression and were denied Syrian citizenship by a previous regime. A fascist would not give citizenship to non-Arabs, but Asad has been solicitous of the Kurds and given them important government positions which they can use to temper excessive Arabism and Islamic fundamentalism. The best example of this the last Syrian prime minister Mustafa Miro who is of Kurdish origin and Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro, the Grand Mufti of Syria.

posted by Joshua Landis @ 11:22 AM

At 8/21/2005 01:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Josh,

you still need to answer these:
Why is it inconceivable to visualize a sunni rule in Syria? How come democracy can not extend itself inside the borders of Syria? Isn't it naive to ever think that the majority of sunnis are extremists? Why should Alawis remain the custodians of "reason"? Why should the US go with your suggestions of backing the regime in cracking down on the syrian majority while in doing so advocating anti-american ideals? If Amrican values are not suitable for the rest of the world, why does the US continue to promote them globally?
Excuse my naivite, but shouldn't you personally be an ambassador of Jeffersonian principles instead of promoting short term advices to the American administration which will prove fatal in the long run? Is there any other way to fight terror but democracy?
Don't you think you owe it to the many readers who came to respect you over the last year to give your answers to the above?

At 8/21/2005 01:53:00 PM, Anonymous Metaz K.M. Aldendeshe said...

Be patient. He is waiting for the response from the Central Unintelligent Agency to forwarded here on this comment section.

The policy of wanting non-Sunni regime in Syria is not that of Josh. It is an Israeli-American one.

At 8/21/2005 01:57:00 PM, Anonymous SSPRS said...

Moslem Brotherhood agree to attend and participate in Syrian opposition meetings in Paris. The meeting paid for and arranged by Riffat Assad office manager in Paris. Never trust a religion that preaches the coming of a Messeiah, Mehdi and other crap like that and never trust an organization that has a name Brotherhood, no matter what it is or where it is.

At 8/21/2005 02:06:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

To the Anonymous:

Please give yourself a name. There are many anonymous names here.

I think I agree with your question.

As an Alawi who knows that most educated Alawis are against this regime, and that only the special officers who exploit their Alawi and non Alawi soldiers and use them to build their villas, and are bribed by them to get a day off now and then, I think Josh owes an explanation to his attitude refusing the ballot boxes whether they will bring an Alawi or a Sunni power (Though I think there will be no Sunni or Alawi power, but a democratic power that brings what the people want).

If the new elite is composed of all Sunnis, or all Alawis, or a mixture of all, what is it that you are objecting to, Mr. Josh?

If teh people in their majority elect a majority of Sunnis, so be it. What is so bad for you in that case?

As an Alawi, I would prefer a million times a fair Sunni elected ruler than those thugs that have oppressed every body in Syria and stole its wealth. I prefer a Sunni ruler whoo is fair to any one of the Assad clan, and his illiterate and retarded gangs.

We need your reply.

Joseph ALi Mohammed (JAM).

At 8/21/2005 02:35:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

The thing is Josh believes the regime when it spreads these rumours; that is the Sunnis in Syria are Mujahedeen eager to go to Iraq and beat the Americans. I said this before: This is a lie.

Why not remember the discourse of Bashar Assad at the Arab Summit prior to the 2nd Gulf War? Do we not all remember that he was the one to claim "Arab leadership" in calling to fight the Americans? Wssn't his discourse the song on every lip of the Arab media, calling him the New Nasser? (Ridiculous to compare him with even any little thug, lest it be Nasser).

It was the US mishandling of Iraq that made Syrians wary of wanting their country repeat the same thing. The US army was not prepared for after the war. The US army mishandled Iraqis. It satrted when it did not stop the theft of the National Treasure by few gangs. Then, it was wrong by leaving Iraqis without recovering the destroyed water and electric power, and other services. This was due to the mismangement of the after war. The US made or created its enemies to a degree that I thought back then that this was on purpose: Some one at the top wanted Iraqis and all Arabs to hate the US, and wanted this chaos on purpose, because possibly the real aim of the war was to destroy, not to build or free the people. If I thought so, I am sure many Iraqis thought the same, and then came the Abu Greib that confirmed our doubts. That is the reason you have a Resistance that is expanding, not that Sunnis in Syria are eager to beat America. Sunnis and Alawis who are in their majority against this regime were expecting a lot more from the downfall of Saddam, and were eager that the same thing take place in Syria as well. The hope was that Assad would be next.

But, I am sure that even the people you are meeting in Syria, though they might not all be of your wife's father side, the few of them who wish to talk can not trust that you will not reveal their names, so every body tells you the same lie that the regime is spreading and wants the world to believe.

Joseph ALi Mohammed (JAM)

At 8/21/2005 03:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"A noble cause and one that the United States more than others is obliged to carry through, considering that it is the country that armed and supported those same Middle Eastern regimes, including Saddams for decades."

Why do people persist in pedalling this tired old lie?

The vast majority of support and armaments came from the USSR.

At 8/21/2005 04:12:00 PM, Anonymous Syrian Republican Party said...

no one peddeling lies, you are just ignorant moron. It was France, UK. the major supplier of weapon to Saddam during his U.S. inspired and backed war on Iran.
The US, UK, France and Italy were the major suppliers to all other Bedouin countries including those Jewish bedouin of Haganna Israel.
Syria, did receive some arms from Russia but it was not enough to even launch a defense against any Israeli provocation.

It was Dr. Mengele Rumsfeld that gave Saddam his WMD chemicals and it was the US that funded Saddam to the tune of 10 billion Dollars of American taxpayer money through export subsidies.

Finally, it was the U.S. to this date that supported these regimes and prevented any opposition to exist. It also for 30 years banned employees of U.S. Government from meeting with Syrian Oppositions.

So fuck off moron, idiots, this platform is for those that knows facts and not loocky loose spreading propoganda.

At 8/21/2005 04:38:00 PM, Anonymous ausama said...

Hi Josh, good article. However, I disagree with the underlining streak in your article as relating to the" conventional Wisdom" which attepmts to portray any action by Syria as an attempt to "Protect" and "Ensure" the survival of the "regeim".
In my analysis, the "regiem" is not in danger in Syria, nor does see itself in such a light. Under outside presure? Definitly! Upset and bothered by the continious onslought on Syria by various outside powers? Yes. Worried about being shut out of the peace process for a couple of years? Yes. But I do not think any body in Damascus is really losing any sleep worrying about a possible so called "regieme change". Many facts support this as I humbly see it:
1) I do not believe that Syrians in Syria have "regime change" high on thier priority list. Notice that after Syria's withdrawl from Lebanon, many "experts, analysists and well-wihers!" in the Think Tanks were woundering about the ability of the "regiem" to survive such a "debacle". Hoever, Syrians - the people in the street- reacted by outlashing against the US and against what they saw as opportunistic and ungratefull Lebanese politicians instead. Actually I believe the Syrian government have taken certain steps to "unvent" domestic anger directed at those Lebanese and not at the "regieme".The people of Syria -being the nationalists they are- are now actually in a somewhat defaiant mood directed at the what they see as an unjustified outside pressure.
2) For a "regiem" to worry about another force replacing it, an "alternative" must be somewhere insight; such an alternative does not exist in Syria. Bashar would win any real election hands down agains the Brotherhood, who might be the only political group capable of remotly thinking -or being thought of- as representing an alternative (God forbid!). And, when you at the poll faced between Bashar and the Long Beards, believe me, Syrians would go for the Baath. (or do you think President Mubarak is a high caliber risk taker???). The alternative simply does not exist.
3) While I think that a "regeime change in Syria" is still high on the list of certain groups in Washington, yet, I believe that the US Administration now realizes that such an option is niether viable or attainable nor "beninficial". Of course, notwithstanding the dreadfull "organized chaos" which some attempted to sell, and some stupidly enough fell for it.
4)Recent developments in Iran, Iraq, Palestine and even Lebanon, coupled with various developments within the United States itself had actually strenghtened Syria's hand rather than weakend it.

That is why I do not really support the notion of Assad going to the UN to "seek the good graces of the Oval Office because he is worried about the survival of the regiem". No, I believe, he is going there, just as any other leader, to promot the interests of his country, and maybe rightly as you said to reach out to other corners in DC over the head of the neocons, and to demonstrate and rally international support for Syria at an international forum. Come to think about it, he might be going there and rubbing it up in the face of the neocons; "well you gave it a good try guys, but sorry;it did not work", he will be saying to them (not only to them, but maybe to some other embarrased Eropean and -let us be open- Arab leaders at the same time).He realizes that now the only hope for the "well-wishers?!" of Syria, would be that Harriri's assasination invistigation may be "formulated" to be used to cause the regiem some embarasment by attempting to through dirt at Syria, but that -if it happens- is water under the bridge by now. The Lebanese Act is over now, the curtains are down, and that "play" has achieved all it was attended to achieve.

So I am not really buying into the worring about the regieme survival bit.

We will wait and see. Incidently, why have we not heard any bravado about allowing or not allowing Bashar to enter the US for the UN summit as was the case with the Iranian President??? Is he not the "bad guy" standing in the face of America's interests in the region as some say of course?Moreover, why did Rice in the middest of Israel's withdrawl from Gaza, so unnecesarily slapped Israel in the face by -really unnesecarily right now- stating that Gaza evacuation "is not the end of the road by any means" ?We are accoustomed to hear only appluase for Israel's "couragous" actions at "painfull!" times like those?
Are the winds changing a bit despite what we see at the surface? Is some one waking up now in DC???????? I doubt this hapening so soon, but maybe someone's alarm clock has gone off somewhere there.

And, Josh, "how about installing a "spell-checker" for us "speakers of English as a second language". I know those are only bloggs, but some times it embarases us when we see the spelling mistakes we make.Just kidding - if that is allowed- during such times.

At 8/21/2005 05:05:00 PM, Anonymous Syrian Republican Party said...

Fair and accurate assessment from Ausama. He did notice Rice's remark and no hoopla on the Visa. My assessment is the U.S. administration long time ago made a deal with Bashar. That is why he gone full force against any kind of decent. Also note the Makhloof jet fuel deal to the U.S. army flowing. A deal was struck about 3 month to 4 moths ago.

It is a desperate act by the administration. Unfortunately, after making so many mistakes and most of them of course were part of a plan seems like, they fell on this deal and it is in fact the biggest mistake they have committed, the deal maybe planned but it is the biggest mistake. Russia and Iran will most likely be the beneficiary in the area after the U.S. depart. It is doubtful that the U.S. can sustain 4 more years, my assessment it is about 2007, they will run just like they run away from Saigon.

At 8/21/2005 05:11:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

{{{ And, Josh, "how about installing a "spell-checker" for us "speakers of English as a second language". I know those are only bloggs, but some times it embarases us when we see the spelling mistakes we make.Just kidding - if that is allowed- during such times.}}} Ausama Bin Laden


Are you a natural idiot, or are you trying to be cute?

Some of us know the English language better than many English speaking people, including professors. Just check the English of the idiot Smith above, and the mistakes Josh himself makes that are not trivial, and he can edit after posting, unlike the rest of us..

So, shove it!


At 8/21/2005 05:22:00 PM, Anonymous Syrian Republican Party said...

We are taking a poll, who think peaceful means will suffice to remove the Baathist from Syria
aor at least make them compromise
say: FOR

Who think only U.S. intervention will remove the Baathist or will put pressure on them to compromise
say: US

Who think that Syrian Nationals alone empowered by sophisticated technologies that are ready available for cheap can liberate Syria from Baathist or at the least force them to compromise, say: FORCE.

Who think we just shut up and keep the Baathist in Syria as is intact for another 40 years SAY: BAATH

At 8/21/2005 05:40:00 PM, Anonymous Lee Smith said...


JAM, sorry if my comments were a little dense. One of my points is that the American people would not like Bashar's message; they would like it no more than the government they elected likes Bashar's message. Insofar as Bashar is helping kill Americans, the vast majority of Americans would not be happy to countenance his blackmail, no matter how fetchingly he and his attractive wife would couch this message on US television.

Another point is that I agree with Josh that the US needs a policy toward Syria. Right now the White House has mostly ignored the regime, forgetting that if you turn your back on a caged animal with opposable thumbs it will often throw its feces at you to get your attention. I think it's fair to argue that the US should make a deal with Syria--though I strongly disagree with this argument and believe, as I outlined above, that if the American people knew what this deal amounted to they would also disagree with this line of argument.

My last point is that I don't understand here, and maybe I'm just misunderstading, how Josh seems to be arguing that a) the US needs a policy; and b) This non-existent policy really does exist and is in fact controlled by the "neocons." That is, I don't understand what regime change on the cheap is. Does this mean that when Secretary Rice scolds Syria for messing around in Lebanon that this really hurts the regime? Maybe David Hirst and Euro-diplomats think so. I am more inclined to believe that it points to the US's unwillingness or inability to do anything. When you talk sort of tough and can't back it up, this rhetoric points to your weakness and lack of resolve rather than your strength. It is bizarre that anyone would ever take the European POV seriously on this; but who knows, maybe in some alternate universe the French are conducting a successful foreign policy that gives them unique access to Gulf oil without a military. That is, the Europeans are incapable of distinguishing tough talk from action--hence their ME policy, hence their belief that the US is pressuring Bashar heavily.

As for regime change on the cheap, maybe David Hirst and all of Europe missed the fact that US governments were arguing about the feasibility of taking down Saddam for 12 years before they did it. So, when the State Dept and White House say they have no plans for regime change in Syria, I take them, for better or worse, to mean it--at least right now when there is apparently not much they can do or are willing to do about it. And we know they are not because Bashar has called their bluff time and again.

So, by all means, let's talk about the US's lack of a Syria policy, but we should leave out the ideologues who have a bone to pick with the "neocons" so we can see what the real problems are.

At 8/21/2005 05:54:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

To LEe Smith:

Now we are more in agreement. I just read your post fast and will come back to it later.

Sorry for misjudging you


At 8/21/2005 08:06:00 PM, Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

we should leave out the ideologues who have a bone to pick with the "neocons" so we can see what the real problems are.

As if the neocons weren't the problem...

At 8/21/2005 08:11:00 PM, Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

You both are a shame to the country that sent you over there.

Joseph ALi Mohammed

The shame is you, brother.

At 8/21/2005 08:12:00 PM, Anonymous barney said...

WOW - There are a lot of people- mostly Syrians, I suppose, are angry at you, Joshua, and I thought I should explain a little about you and they might cut you some slack.

To the commenters: Joshua has at least three strikes against him:

First, he is a college professor in the US, which means that he has to be anti-establishment, or other faculty will demean him. Another characteristic the US faculty enjoys today is that they just do not have the quality of scholarship which faculties had, say, thirty years ago. Also, there is a high degree of arrogance combined with intellectual snobbery among a large percent of faculty members today.

Next, he is in MidEast studies, and they have not had a good idea in the last 35 years, since the publication of that pseudo-intellectual treatise on Orientalism! It is a sterile field.

Finally, he is not even in a good University. He IS in a large cow-University devoted to corn growing and football.

So please consider these and cut him some slack. He means well.


At 8/21/2005 08:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Barney: That was great!

At 8/21/2005 09:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The U.S. should Change policy on Syria...we agree with the change, time to stop kissing ass, dealing dollars under the table and watch more American get killed and mamed. It is defenitely time to change policy on Baathist Assad and start supporting the opposition. Unfortunately the U.S. did listen to the CIA, State and Josh and looks like they struck a sweet deal already. Give it amonth or two and the U.S. will see the grave mistake done in this policy change, they will come running on all four with tail between the legs to the oppositions for help.

At 8/21/2005 10:06:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joshua ,I agree with your comment,I think you love Syria more than many of the people who call themselves Syrians,Syria is the only country in the middleast where christians have equal right and for that syria deserve the freindship of the US.

At 8/21/2005 10:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Josh,I thought that it was a good post and showed the inevitability for the US and Assad to resume their security cooperation with the goal of stabilizing Iraq. I have been reading your blog for over a year and can say that you were consistent with your previous posts. Unlike Anton, I always felt that you were reasoned, knowledgeable and realistic like Cole in your analysis of the situation.

One could argue that the history of the Assad dynasty has been one of a continuous line of cooperation with the Us and its allies from the Golan, Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait and the War on Terror. Iraq has been an exception until now because of the Neo-con's project in the ME and the high internal cost the Syrian Regime will have to pay. It can only pay this price if they are compensated by the Americans. The Syrian security establishment has already made the calculation that Iraq holds more riches for it than Lebanon ever did. The Regime needs a way to save face with the Syrian people

I know that such a deal would break the heart of people like Anton Efendi and the Neo-cons. Unfortunately, there is not presently any suitable alternative to Assad for the Americans in Syria or Iraq.

I agree with you that the US needs a Syrian policy soon or it will wake up some morning to a "surprise".


At 8/21/2005 10:44:00 PM, Anonymous Metaz K.M. Aldendeshe said...

To that Motherfucker subhuman, expendable garbage.

Leave the Syrian Christians out of this. They had nothing and will have nothing to do with Assad and his Baathist crimes / criminals.

Christians and all other minorities had always had equal rights in Syria before the Baath illegally came to power by force.

Mother fucking bastard, human scum.
I am a Sunni moslem and grew up practically raised by nuns and fathers you human garbage and so as hundreds of thousands od Sunni Syrians. Thera re more Churchus in Homs than Mosques. When the Baathist came to power they shut down all the Christian schools and fired all the Christian governemnt workers. You devil, I wish you can post your real name here you scumm.

At 8/21/2005 10:54:00 PM, Anonymous Syrian Republican Party said...

US needs a Syrian policy soon or it will wake up some morning to a "surprise".

What is new, did not they woke up to every surprise in the past 50 years. When did they have a plan other than deals under the table with total disregard to the local population feeling. Remember IRAN,
Dejavu.......Guess who is rulling Tehran today, guess what are they cooking.

Bush had it right at the start. There are no substitute to an American Policy that says: We will not deal with Tyrants and dictators. Democracy, freedom, human rights and free enterprise ar ethe only security the United State can have in the Greater Middle East.

At 8/21/2005 11:13:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

That anonymous is surely trying to misrepresent facts. I hear so much of this, and of other things suchas Ass-ad has provided free education to teh Syrian students up to the university level. These lies can only be believed by those who did not know anything about Syria before Ass-ad.

Syria was teh example, truly the unique example of harmonious coexistence between all ethinc and religious background. Just look at the Syrian constitution of 1920, where it gave Jews by name complete equal rights to all other Syrians. It gave women full political rights, and the French came and destroyed that constitution. Nevertheless, Syrians always welcomed other people who ran away from persecution such as the Cherkess, and the Armenians and were given full rights and full citizenship. Aremenians are Christians.

Syria had no problem promoting a Christian to the highest office, and we all know Fares Al Khouri and his position after the independence from France. Syria had many Druzes Generals in the Army who headed the army, and the Druzes number was less than 1% of the population. All of this before Ass-ad came to power.

So, enough of spreading misinformation.


At 8/21/2005 11:51:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

People, could we try to keep the discussion exhibiting basic rules of respect and etiquette?

All this name-calling and accusing really serves no purpose but to in-dignify its author.

At 8/22/2005 12:08:00 AM, Anonymous Metaz K.M.Aldendeshe said...

It is like my cat Gracy not liking my neckties or meaoing at me, or a dog across the street barkes at me, how indignite you think I feel.
It's a fucking dog barking.

At 8/22/2005 12:10:00 AM, Anonymous Metaz K.M. Aldendeshe said...

Saddam says he’d offer his life for Arab cause. In letter, ex-dictator would sacrifice ‘soul, very existence’ to end occupation.

I doubt the Devil wants that soul back, he is saying YYYYUUUKKK, PASS.

At 8/22/2005 01:05:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8/22/2005 01:06:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Bad news for Josh:

I have just received a vision. I think it is Gebrael. Something terrible will happen to Bashboush Bashar Assad upon his return to Syria from New York. Too bad. He is too young to have this..

Let's see who they will appoint in his place! Bushra?


At 8/22/2005 01:40:00 AM, Anonymous Expat said...

I must begin by appologizing most sincrely for some of the totally inappropriate,personal comments made by some of my compatriots(??).However ,I must admit,as much as I disappprove of their tone,I do understand where they're comung from.In all honesty,you did sound like an appologist for the Assad klyptocracy.Still, the advice that you gave him about what he should do in the US is very sound and it would be very useful to him ,although I doubt he would follow it ,because Shaban et al. are a bunch of opportunistic idiots.
Also ,incomprehensibly, you still seem wedded to the idea
that Bashar,after all these years,must still be given the benefit of the doubt and that he is a reformer at heart. Surely, someone as smart and and as knowledgeable about Syria as you obviously are will have realized by now that the the two components of the glue that holds the regime together are sectarianism and corruption. Assuming for the sake of argument that he wants to change things, then his entire regime would come crashing down.It would be the ultimate manifestation of the Gorbachev Syndrome, a lesson thaat Bashar and his cronies ,I assure you, are keenly aware of.
Finally, I would like to say that your analysis of the clash between the Moslem Brothers and the regime in the early 80's was somewhat off the mark.While Assad's Lebanon policy did play a role in it, it was a minor one at best.There were many other ,far more important political,social,sectarian and economic factors at play.
Also, your reference to the attack by the Moslem brothers against Assad and"his co-religionists"is factually wrong. The fact is that the Alawites are not Shiites, and were rpeatedly denounced by leading Shiite scholars over the years as heretics.It was only for reasons of political expediency,that the the late Imam
Moussa Al-Sadr,manipulated by Havez Assad, declared them a branch of the Twelver Shiites.An excellent Arabic scholarly work on the subject is
"The Islamic Creeds" (Mathaheb Al-Islamiyyin )by Dr. Abdulrahman Badawi.

At 8/22/2005 02:32:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many thanks to BARNEY

At 8/22/2005 03:48:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

News from Israel: "Worshippers found a pig's head Friday in the yard outside the Hassan Bek mosque, between Tel Aviv and Jaffa. Mosque employees alerted the police, and officers launched an investigation. The pig's head was wrapped in a keffiyeh with the word Mohammed written on it."

At 8/22/2005 03:51:00 AM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

I think we should all have these discussions face-to-face over lunch. I doubt many of us would be as "outspoken" as we are here, hiding behind our protective computer screens but it could be fun/violent :D Josh would you please play host? I'll bring the tabouleh ;)

Am I wrong in assumming that very few posts here are from Syrians living in Syria? many are either expats or Lebanese.

At 8/22/2005 05:42:00 AM, Anonymous J. said...

Syrians living in Syria are mostly poor, how can they write blog comments? Some benefiters close to the system, some intelligence...
Government offers TV (Al Jazeera, I know you like it also).
And you? Student in Netherlands, scholarship holder and dossier writer, SAT-TV owner and Al Jazeera watcher?

You wasted already enough of your time here with senseless comments. What have you to tell except indignities?

Are not computer experts ruling the country? Are they not modernizing the country since more than five years? """"Am I wrong in assumming that very few posts here are from Syrians living in Syria? many are either expats or Lebanese. """"

What a shame.


At 8/22/2005 05:48:00 AM, Anonymous ENIGMA said...

Asmaa al-Assad's personal computer was bugged by the Talmudian Terrorist intelligence

The Sunday Times reported that Syria's first lady's personal computer was bugged by Talmudian Terrorist "intelligence" in an attempt to build up a profile of her husband, President Bashar al-Assad.

The Talmudic Terrorists used the "Trojan horse" spy software to record her messages, including e-mail exchanges with her husband, and forward them to a server computer.

Intelligence sources quoted in an Israeliar newspaper admitted to the operation after police arrested 22 suspects in Israeliars's biggest industrial espionage scandal last week.

The so-called 'Trojan Horse affair' involved leading Highly Offensive "defence" contractors stealing secrets from rivals by sending spy software to their computers disguised as a package of confidential documents. The programme recorded every keystroke and collected business documents and e-mails, which it then sent to a server computer registered in Occupied London.

Intelligence sources claimed the Syrian leader and his wife had proven as ideal targets with Assad said to be addicted to computer games.

Asma al-Assad is a computer science graduate from King's College London, and is known to spend long hours corresponding online with her friends and family.

The sources claimed Assad was aware that Talmudian intelligence experts had gained access to all his wife's e-mails and documents and had complained about it to "some European leaders".

Another military intelligence expert said: "The wives of leaders are soft targets." {no pun intended}

Most leaders, including Assad, would have well- protected computers, he said, but those belonging to their spouses were less secure.

"Sometimes they do not even have a basic firewall."

Syria's first lady, now 29, graduated in 1996 and worked as an economist for Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan. She married Assad, who trained as an eye surgeon in London, in December 2000.

The intelligence official said Asma's personal correspondence was of little value but the bugging provided an ideal method of monitoring the thoughts of the president.

"Talmudia is, of course, interested in the husband, not the wife," he said. "Assad, even after five years in power, is an enigma."

At 8/22/2005 06:21:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I were you josh, I would shut down the comment space- It’s only visited now by a bunch of amateurs who think they know something about the Syria & the Middle East just because they can write good English! Take it from me that the people who can really provide constructive and beneficial comments no longer blog on your "Syrian Comment"

At 8/22/2005 06:42:00 AM, Blogger SYRIAN YANKEE said...

Hey Josh, They have gotten to you, haven’t they?
Your writings turned into propaganda for the Syrian Regime.
My advice to you is go back to your university before they
Make you a member of the Ba’ath party !!

At 8/22/2005 07:10:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Yes, I was aware of the Tamudian spy operation. In one instance, Asmaa Akhras Assad told her father in one of her emails: "I love you dad". In another instance, she said this to a friend, Ghada: "I can't say much in this email, except that the weather was great, and Bashar and I are spending exciting time".

Those remarks went directly to Ariel Sharon who referred them to the University of Tel Aviv to study them, and form a phsychological profile of the two persons, she and her husband.

The Israelis now have a subject to study as they were desparate to find something on Assad and his wife. Every thing was closed to them inside Syria and outside. They did not even know the name of her mother's maden name before this operation.

Fortunately for the Syrian people, Asmaa is a graduate in Computer Sciences. She soptted the operation after her 10th emails when her computer started acting funny. She right away ran anti-cirus, and anti-spy programs, and uncovered the Trojan horse. The creature was huge, and ugly. How could it have infiltrated all of her security programs, she thought to her self? She killed the horse, and lived happily ever after>


At 8/22/2005 10:12:00 AM, Anonymous Orontes Defense Corporation said...

She is not the only one JAM, Most of American Technology companies were victims. Google Israeli spying on America and see few thousand pages coming up

Here is one:

الحزب الجمهوري السوري

June 18, 2005

The State of Israel
Office of the Prime Minister
The Excellency of Premier Ariel Sharon
3 Kaplan Street,
Jerusalem, Israel

Dear Premier Sharon

I am writing to bitterly complain about espionage activities that were carried out by Israeli nationals against me and my U.S. based company Orontes Corporation starting about September of 1999 and to the present day by means of telephone tapping and Trojan software programs that went undetected for a long time. I am deeply disappointed and angry because of damages my company and me was suffered as a direct result of the illegal espionage and criminal activities.

My first suspicions of espionage started when the company and home telephones were working after the telephone company quietly disconnect the telephone lines and finding out that my worst fears were well founded. The telephone was working for 3 months after the telephone company has disconnected the line. We investigated and found that an Israeli national has tapped into the line Using means that are now well understood. I am not sure if this espionage was authorized by the Israeli Government, conducted by Israeli Intelligence services or some privately owned Inquiry company.

At that time we could not assess the damage and thought it is the end of espionage and criminal activities, but we were wrong. In the past years not less that 34 sophisticated espionage Trojan, that went undetected by security software, were present on every computer in my office and home. At that time we have realized the immense damage that was done to me and to Orontes Corporation, as these systems were used to research, develop defense and security systems and type the patent applications that were filed in the United State Patent Office.

We knew that Israeli, illegally, got hold of all these intellectual properties right off the desktop computer, but we needed confirmation, that came after presenting Israel MOD office in New York with several offers that were never responded to. It was obvious why there was no interest. An offer to present sophisticated missile and defense system technologies from Syrians to a country that is now, and has been at war for it’s entire existence with a belligerent country like Syria would not be ignored, unless the information and technologies offered are already known through espionage mean.

After researching current Israeli defense systems and comparing it to those systems that were available prior to 2001-2, and systems that were offered for sale in countries such as United States, China, India among others, and improvements that were contracted by Israeli defense company afterward, it was concluded that all the systems that were sent to the United State patent office were stolen by Israeli spies, either in official or unofficial capacity.

Premiere Sharon, these espionage activities have caused me personally financial and emotional damages. But most importantly, it will effect my and the party policies regarding Israel. It is true that Israeli defense contractors have made hundreds of millions on sale of technologies and upgrades that were similar to the ones I have sent to the patent office. Acquiring technologies through theft of intellectual property will be proven to be disastrous policy for Israel, I guarantee that.

There are some recourses that I can take, Legal action under United State Law against Israel and it’s defense contractors is one option. But first, to be fair, I would like to give your office and Israeli government a chance to examine the allegations made here and conduct an investigation with the various Israeli defense companies and intelligence services, both official and private.

It is my interest and wish, that we can resolve this matter in a straight forward manner. I am in possession of certified copies of the patent applications that are the subject of these espionage charges. Israeli defense companies should have, as usually the case, applied for a patent also. If the Israeli Patent applications that were filed in the United State Patent office predate the year 2001, I shall consider this case closed. Otherwise, if they post date 2001, or patent was not thought for the technologies, I shall expect Israel to compensate me for the stolen intellectual properties, as it is moral to do so.

Your investigation of these espionage allegations, will be most beneficial to Israel. Should additional information be required, I can be reached at this contact information:

Mailing Address:
236 S. Rainbows Blvd. # 324,
Las Vegas, NV 89145 USA

Look forward to a positive and cooperative response.

Best regards,

Metaz. K.M. Aldendeshe

At 8/22/2005 10:14:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dandishy , your mother will be ashamed to see what comes out of your mouth by the way christians were told (toreq)which means get off the sidewalk where they where walking by, muslem do not forget the university teachers wh were killed by th MB in the late seventy and early eighties.

At 8/22/2005 10:23:00 AM, Blogger Anton Efendi said...

Issam... Wlik yo2borne il zake!

ويلاحظ المطلعون أنفسهم ان المحاولة السورية المذكورة تبدو الأخيرة على الخط الأميركي، إن لناحية المستوى الأرفع للقائمين بها، والمتمثل بشخص الرئيس السوري مباشرة، أو لناحية سباقها مع الوقت المشار اليه آنفاً، لجهة محاولة انجازها قبل صدور التقرير الدولي في قضية اغتيال الحريري، والذي سيؤشر الى مرحلة جديدة، قد تطيح بأي فرص ممكنة لهذه المحاولة. غير أن اللافت حتى اللحظة هو تصلب الموقف الأميركي وصدور أكثر من تصريح لأكثر من مسؤول في واشنطن، يستبعد حصول أي اتصال أميركي ــ سوري على هامش الحدث الدولي في نيويورك، الشهر المقبل. ويؤكد أصحاب تلك التصاريح على أن لائحة الشروط المسبقة على سورية، والمحتمة لأي اتصال جديد، لا تزال طويلة، وتمتد من الحدود العراقية ــ السورية الى داخل النظام الدمشقي، وصولاً الى الحدود السورية ــ اللبنانية ودلالاتها على النيات السورية حيال الوضع اللبناني الجديد.

At 8/22/2005 11:37:00 AM, Anonymous Tarek said...


This quote encompasses how I feel about you & your “letter” to Sharon.

"I've been trying to figure something in my head, and maybe you can help me out, yeah? When a person is insane, as you clearly are, do you know that you're insane? Maybe you're just sitting around, reading "Guns and Ammo", masturbating in your own feces, do you just stop and go, "Wow! It is amazing how fucking crazy I really am!"? Yeah. Do you guys do that?"

At 8/22/2005 11:42:00 AM, Anonymous Syrian Republican Party said...

What a low life nobody Tarek is. NOBODY, just a dreamer, keep on dreaming pal, beats taking yourself out like those other frustrated middle easterns, by suiside.

At 8/22/2005 11:45:00 AM, Anonymous Will Franklin said...

Interesting stuff.

At 8/22/2005 11:54:00 AM, Anonymous Metaz K.M. Aldendeshe said...

To: At 8/22/2005 10:14 AM, Anonymous said...

Reading you, I am ashamed that I was born to those Moslems. Why the fuck I was not lucky and born as American. Fuck, born Sunni Moslem from Syria, what a misfortune, what a traversty of injustice.

At 8/22/2005 11:57:00 AM, Anonymous Metaz K.M.Aldendeshe said...

Hey Moslem garbage, all of ya:
Saudi are demolishing your Rasoul Mohammad home to buil a new five star hotel (harrim rooms) around the holy or whatever grand mosque. Why the fuck you are in here waisting your time. Even me hurt to see that happen, don't you want to spend your time organizaing an opposition to this plan, or like all Moslems lost all honors and dignity even to the Rasoul.

At 8/22/2005 12:09:00 PM, Anonymous Syrian Republican Party said...

Don't fall into the trap, as the Baathists and their agents now trying, as usual to turn this into secterian subject matter. It is getting old now. It is happening at the end of every serious comment that is harmful to the regime.

At 8/22/2005 12:15:00 PM, Anonymous Metaz K.M. Aldendeshe said...

JAM comments are great, he represent the ideal Syrian character. It is people like him that keep me motivated to make Syria and Lebanon a place as it used to be for both. If I was pulling strings in Syria, I will make sure this dude is holding a very high ranking appointement.

At 8/22/2005 12:30:00 PM, Anonymous Metaz K.M. Aldendeshe said...

To the Westerner idiot: At 8/22/2005 10:14 AM, Anonymous said... the way christians were told (toreq)which means get off the sidewalk where they where walking by,....

That was the Jews (san Heedran) in Jerusalem telling the Christian you idiot. Get the fuck out of here will ya.

At 8/22/2005 01:18:00 PM, Anonymous barney said...

Right above here, the Syrian Republic Party (not connected with the US Republican Party, I hope!) concluded a comment with these immortal words: "So fuck off moron, idiots, this platform is for those that knows facts and not loocky loose spreading propoganda."

There. That should hold you!! (smile)

Josh did say one thing in his OP I would like to cite. He wrote:

"Earlier this year, the US blocked President Asad’s scheduled trips to Brazil and Austria."

Now this was written by Joshua Landis, a PROFESSOR at a state university, and written as if it were the truth! I ask you, how does Bush, or any of those evil neo-coms, stop the head of another country from going out to the airport, buying a ticket and going to, say, Brasilia. You know and I know that they can't.

Next, he said: "Two days ago, local papers announced that the delivery of 7 Airbus planes to Damascus had been delayed indefinitely, due to pressure from Washington and Paris."

Now I don't know about you, but I do know that France wants to sell their Airbuses so much that they would never block such a sale; they would do ANYTHING to beat Boeing. And the only reason Bush would block such a sale would be to try to keep Airbus from getting ahead of Boeing! Let's face it, in the US (and I imagine the same is true in Paris), politics is important, but not nearly as important as capitalistic profits!

Where does Josh get all of these ideas? After all, this blog is strictly for those: " that knows facts and not loocky loose spreading propoganda." !! (smile)


At 8/22/2005 01:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again: Thanks to Barney, good analyse :)

But...its not easy to understand, how Arabs think and act and dont forget, our Prof is living within a ruling circle and as we say, love also makes blind.

His dreams may not come true, let us hope it in the interest of the poor syrian people, and some of them are really great like this Karfan or Joseph Ali Mohammed (why Joseph and not Jesus?) or this Metaz....and so on...

Go ahead please barney, you are welcome.


At 8/22/2005 02:18:00 PM, Anonymous Metaz K.M.Aldendeshe said...

Tarek, I know who the shit you are subhuman Baathist and your days are numbered. I know the plan and it does not look pretty for you, it looks really, really, horribly ugly, it is on the way coming dude.

At 8/22/2005 02:23:00 PM, Anonymous SSPRS said...

Of course Josh is blinded by love. That is the first girl ever came within 10 yards of him. He's gonne dateless all those high school and college years.

At 8/22/2005 02:35:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Here is my advice to Josh since he is in a position to advise Mr. Bashar Assad:

Tell him that he should get the people who, in good faith participated in giving their opinions about improving syria and destroying the corruption that he is admitting even after 5 years of assuming the highest office in Syria that he is unable to do even with the help of the French team to whom, we are sure that he paid a tremendous amount of money, for a task that any ordinary Syrian would have done a lot better and the French have failed to do. For corruption in Syria is a "local phenomenon to Syrians" and it has an easy solution in their minds, because every ordinary Syrian knows what the causes of it are, and what the solution is (they know what the regime does to encourage corruption, and corrupthe people and the country). Tell him to get the most honourable Syrians out of prisons, those he imprisnoed in what was called the Damascus Spring, and also Dr. Abdel Aziz Al Kheir who is in prison since 1992 because he wrote a book about the Assad corruption. Also to include the people he imprisoned for accesing opposition sites on the Internet. If you think this advice I am giving you is not worth it, then, please get out of the Syrian affairs, and occupy yourself with your toys with your wife and her father, the ex general.

That is because, this is the most important thing now for Syrians. Getting these honourable people out of prisons is a pre-requisite to anything else. No free and honourable human being would ever accept such a travesty of justice anywhere, and you, being a supposedly an honourable American prosfessor should be very concerned about the human rights issue before anything else. If not, then, fgrankly, you are not worth your title as a history professor, and you are not an honourable man.

Think about what I said, and do not take it as a personal insult. This is a hard truth to take for some one who is only worried about how this thug Bashar and his "charming" wife will surivive. 17 Million Syrians think that human rights is their first issue. Freedom of thought is what we cherish most, as we think you do as well.

Have a nice day.


At 8/22/2005 02:43:00 PM, Anonymous Tarek said...

I would have to disagree with our purple dinosaur friend Barney. Blocking business deals happen ALL the time and it’s quintessentially political. After the first Gulf war Boeing 747s were given to Syria as a gift by Kuwait for standing by them against Iraq (one hell of a gift I know). The delivery for the planes was intentionally postponed by the US government. What your living is a CNN dream-world where no backdoor haggling goes on. I fail to see why France wouldn’t block the Airbus delivery? They are still holding a grudge from the Lebanon-affair and can also play hardball.

But I would leave it up to you explain Tayyip Erdogan’s statements regarding America’s attempt to isolate Syria and how the latter requested assistance on the issue from Turkey. I also know for a fact that a major business deal of a major Syrian corporation has been blocked by the Americans even though the location of this deal was in Eastern Europe. What about the Syrian Accountability Act which allows the US to punish any company (local or international) that deals with Syria? And Syria is not the target of these practices alone. We did it to the Lebanese to an extent, the Americans and Europeans play politics with business deals and subsidies all the time. Economic rewards/blackmail in the shape of big business deals are the carrots being offered to rogue states gone good (i.e Ghaddaffi). Josh’s claims and sources, whether correct or not I don’t know, are plausible and highly possible.

Here are very few and quick examples.

At 8/22/2005 02:57:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

As you see, Mr. Josh, none of us here who are in opposition to the corrupt Assad regime even sympathises with the MBs, so you know that this bull shit about the choice between Assad and the MBs is a lie. The regime has tried since 1980 to speak only about the MBs and to label any one who is against it as an MB. This is the greatest lie the world is swallowing. Syrians were among the pioneers in the world for integrating different ethnic and religious backgrounds and I spoke about it previously as have others.

This lie that the main opposition is the MBs is getting this regime off the hook. The MBs will be stronger with time if this continues and if we all have to become MBs, then we shall be, even though I am an Alawi. For oppression creates violence, and more oppression creates more violence. If things look under control now, this will not last, and what we saw in teh 1980's will be nothingg compared to what will happen later on if the oppression intensifies as it is being so right now.

And you need to be concerned about the human being before being so attached to one good looking woman in your eyes, that is of Asmaa.


At 8/22/2005 02:58:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Thanks to J. for his/her remarks.
May be it should have been Jesus ALi Mohammed. Too late.

At 8/22/2005 03:17:00 PM, Anonymous Metaz K.M.Aldendeshe said...

Asmaa pretty!!! boy, talk about poor taste in women. What is so pretty about her? I think she is average Homs chick. She looks old, poor, raggedy and newel-rich just
like all the other middle easterner Gypsies you see on Ailaf website. Her dress style is un-eloquent and if I was here I will dump whoever making these choices for her. I Honestly think Bashar can do better, there are a lot nicer Alawites girls in Syria.

I know, we used to spend few weeks in the summer in Masyaf, Banias and Tartous areas when I was young. Frankly I was very attracted even back then in the Sixties to the nice Alawites ladies you see in the parks and beaches. One thing I noticed that they were very open minded, not afraid of strange men approaching them and talking to them. I used to test them all the time and they never were upset, just smiling and friendly.

At 8/22/2005 03:23:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Bashar has 4 kids now from Asma. I am not sure he wants to be like his brother in law who married his sister. Bushra fell in love with that thug, Assef Shawket even though he was married and had 4 children.

May be it is not too late for Bashar to remary. I think with his neck looking like a Girafe, the only woman who would accept him is his present wife, Asmaa.


At 8/22/2005 03:26:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

not to mention that there are some women who like to marry criminals, you know! Some of them search the prisons to correspond with killers and marry them. He will find some one like Asmaa who acepted him.

At 8/22/2005 03:30:00 PM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

There's been new bombing in Beirut (Zalqa) and an article on Al Jazeera about clashes between "gangs" and Syrian forces.

At 8/22/2005 03:36:00 PM, Anonymous Syrian Republican Party said...

Must be Riffat at work with Israeli/ CIA baking

At 8/22/2005 03:42:00 PM, Anonymous Metaz K.M. Aldendeshe said...

In fact, now that I think about it. Have I not was marrying a Russian lady, a Syrian Alawite lady will be the perfect one for me. But I am a lot more handsome and by far smarter than this geek Josh so I will attract a beautiful, young notable Alawites for sure, one that does not giva a dammabout Baathists and geeky American professor, just to get green card for her family escape.

At 8/22/2005 03:44:00 PM, Anonymous Syrian Republican Party said...

Inhoms they are famed for being smart and talented. As an example stores used to place placard on the windows advertising that the store sell "cold ice".

At 8/22/2005 09:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In 1973 the islamist went on arampage in Syria because the new syrian constitution does not recognize Syria as an islamic state if it was not for president Asad the christians and other minority would have been second class citizen,that is the country that aldandashy and the others who would like to destroy Syria for their own interest than help Syria achiev stability and economic improvment,now think again Syria needs all the people who care and i think deep inside you all care about syria so from what is bad about syria and it,s goverment and i agree there are many but you and i need to move to find ways which will tranfere syria from adictatership socialist country to a democraticly run country with free market economy and a legal system which will treat people equaly without attention to their religion or ethnic backround or the color of their skin but depending on their deeds so work together and make Syria proud of you all.God bless Syria and protect it,s people.

At 8/22/2005 10:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The number of Mosques that the dictator built in syria is 10000. Yes, ten thousands, while there is no other outlet than these mosques for people to gather and talk about Syrian afafirs. Every thing is closed in their faces, and even teh Attasi Forum that was permitted to stay open was closed recently, and many of its membership are in prison. Inn fact, most of the pepole who this regime has jailed are not Islamists at all, but secularists and believe in the total separation between religion and the state. This regime is the one which is making Islamists becoming more powerful, because it wants so for it can use extreme force against every body in the name of their danger.

10000 Mosques were built in Syria at the hands if this criminal regime.


At 8/22/2005 10:31:00 PM, Anonymous Metaz K.M. Aldendeshe said...

Bark fucker anon. You got it right, I want Syria that human scumm like you are are not second class but fifth class citizens you mother fucking bastard. Better yet, garbage like your class is out of Holy Syia. So we will treat you the way baathist treated you and forced all the good, smart and honest people out of Syria. What a fucking subhuman garbage. I wish you mother fucker will put your real name to see how I can then really load some shit on you and your fucking god no matter who it is. I hope you will have a horrible existance in the future for you and all your family and I can assure you that I am working on just that you scumm of scumms bastard.

Aghatak ya hiwan

At 8/23/2005 11:38:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Christian so called Fundementalists!

Pat Robertson calls for the assassination of an elected leader. I heard him before calling to use force here and there and to assassinate people like Saddam, or others. This man, I used to have the utmost love and respect for, but now I am deeply disturbed by his attidtudes. If he, a man that claims to be not only a follower of the peaceful, loving his enemies, Jesus Christ, but also a carrier of Christ's message believes in the superiority of his race over all other races, and believes that his enemies do not deserve to live. I may ask the Christians who attack Islamists who also call for the death of their enemies , but because they do not have superior armies and can not bomb civilians using bombers and fighter jets, use suicide bombings, and so they label them as Terrorists, believing in dark dogmas: What is the difference between you two?

I bet that if the situation was reversed between Islamists and Christian Fundementalists , that is if Islamists had US power, and Fundemntalists had none, that the Christian so called Fundementalists would be the Suicide Bombers and would be officially labelled the Terrorists.

Has man evolved at all?

At 8/23/2005 12:16:00 PM, Blogger alHollandi said...

It looks like the pressure on Syria is still very strong and is getting stronger. But that is just what it is, it only LOOKS like that. In reality the pressure on the Americans is growing. They're starting to realize their invasion of Iraq is turning into a mess which is only getting bigger and bigger. On the other hand they have a problem with the Iranians. I was talking to some friends yesterday and we discussed what options the US has to deal with Iran. The options are very, very limited. Sanctions might not be agreed upon by the Russians and the Chinese (and perhaps not even the Europeans). Even if sanctions are imposed the Iranians allready said they will not tolerate them. A possible military option can only include some bombardments by cruisemissiles and aircraft. A fullscale groundoffensive in order to occuppy Iran is no option. Only a mentally ill, very ill president would decide to launch such an attack. In any case the Iranian military response will most likely hit US interest all over the Middle East. It's a cardgame and the US is loosing valuable cards fast. The Americans are loosing more allies (fed up with the violence and policies which lead to nothing). At home people are more and more opposed to the war in Iraq and the policies of the Bush administration in the Middle East. The insurgency in Afghanistan has been growing stronger for the past few months.
Billions of dollars are being on spent on wars that are getting increasingly unpopular. How long can the Bush administration handle this situation? It is very likely the American presence in the Middle East will get less much sooner than most people think (insja'allah!).

At 8/23/2005 12:46:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not putting my name on this, but the smart one will figure out who is this comment by.

In Response to JAM last comment:
No I think they will call them "Crusaders" and they will say that they are martyrs to deliver the message of Peace, hope and eternal salvation to mankind. Then they will say crap like god only begotten son died for the sin of man and these crusaders are in jihad=crusade to deliver man kind to an internal heaven on earth, the kingdom of god, where the sheep and the lion sits side by side. Oh Amen/marduk what a crap.

In response to AlHollandi:
Your assessment is accurate. This was concluded long time ago. The idiots at the Pentagon, lacking any traditional military skills and strategy, failed to understand the theater of operation they will be fighting in and made no plan for a basic military offensive criteria "cover my rear". Have they understood that theater well, they would have started the attack in Syria, moved to Lebanon then faced Saddam in Iraq. I will leave the rest of this out………………At worst scenario they should have planned a Syria strategy to cover the rear. None in existence and even now it will take a year to prepare for one, so they stuck in a shit hole called Iraq. Time is neither on the U.S. nor Israel side and both are failing to understand that element and will just react to the wake up call.

At 8/23/2005 01:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aldandashy,two more note and you will propably have a heart attach by the way i know where your family live in HOMS if you have an argument please post it.usualy GOD will give people what they wish to others.

At 8/23/2005 02:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

JAM,the christian fundmentilist and the the islamist are the same both are racist think that their way is the only way to heaven ,jery falwell and roberts and all the other fundimentilist are distent for hell anybody who preffer people because of their religion or ethnic backround is racist, i am christian syrian arab and i am proud of it, what anoyes me is that some muslems think that they are the only Arabs and that you have to be muslem to be elected to leadership position when islamist chang their attitude about evaluating people depending on their qualifcation not their religous affiliation that is the time to axcept them in syria.

At 8/23/2005 04:06:00 PM, Anonymous Metaz K. M. Aldendeshe said...

SSPRS did not state in its platform that high positions in Government, including Prime Minister, ministers, or V.P and President mandatorely be Muslim.

It mandate a Republican electoral system that is based on popular vote regardless of religion or ethnicity. That was wrong, I am now convinced, after 3 months in dealing publicly, thanks to this comment too.

That may change now. It is going through evaluation. The hostile responses we received from Christians and other minorities such as Kurds and the way Alawites treated the majority in Syria makes a convincing argument to find other ways to secure minority rights but not to give control to them again ever. A change in the bylaw is being prepaired with few exceptions being crafted to permit good people like JAM to head high position in leadership and government.

You fuckers Syrians are not yet evolved, maybe in a trillion year, but I am now convinced that you can not change Black color into White color or having Black milk.

At 8/23/2005 04:12:00 PM, Anonymous Metaz K.M. Aldendeshe said...

In fact I am being convinced that an Alawites rule, although not Baathist and oppressive in nature, but rather Nationalist, democratic and free enterprice, one that respect human rights might not be a bad idea, but the best solution for Syria.

Alawites kind of the middle ground between Moslems, Christians and other minorities such as the kurds.

At 8/23/2005 04:21:00 PM, Anonymous Syrian Republican Party said...

We received the hostile feedbacks in fact from both Moslems and Christians, Arabs and non Arabs, even worse than from Baathist. Alawites were much more reasonable and almost supportive. In fact very little hostile feedback from Alawites.

Although it is obvious that most of the negative feedback came from lower classes and not from notable people or families. The Agha was right in his first assumptions, it proven all correct and accurate.

At 8/23/2005 09:56:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

continue to live under your familie,s name that is why syria will have truoble advancing at the end you seem to agree that the Baath party rule is the most appropiet for Syria at this time.

At 8/25/2005 08:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...




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