Sunday, January 01, 2006

Khaddam Damns Bashar al-Asad

Ex-Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam, who resigned at the Baath Party Conference in June of this year (2005) and moved to Paris, has officially announced his opposition to President Bashar al-Asad.

Al-Arabiyah on the 30th aired an interview with the former Syrian Vice-President in which he explained how President Asad had threatened Hariri shortly before his murder and that Syrian security could only have carried it out with the President's knowledge.

A must read is Tony Badran’s analysis at Beirut to Bayside, which I have just read after completing my analysis below. Naturally, Tony and I read the Khaddam story from different perspectives – Tony from the Beirut perspective and me from that of Damascus, but I don’t think we differ too much on the basic story. I agree with much of Tony’s analysis, but disagree on what the new year will hold for Bashar in Syria. Tony also has listed further valuable links, especially Kais' English summary of the Al-Arabiya interview here.

BBC reports that Syrian MPs demand Khaddam's trial. "Syrian MPs demand a treason trial for an exiled top politician who implicated President Assad in Rafik Hariri's death."

Former vice-president Abdel Halim Khaddam says Mr Assad threatened the then-Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri months before his murder in a bomb attack. His comments were repeatedly denounced by members of Syria's parliament before they voted for him to be put on trial.

A UN-led inquiry implicated Syria in the murder, but Damascus denies blame.

Mr Khaddam told al-Arabiya television: "Assad told me he had delivered some very, very harsh words to Hariri... something like 'I will crush anyone who tries to disobey us'."

In the interview, broadcast on Friday, Mr Khaddam also said the Syrian security services could not have taken a unilateral decision to kill Mr Hariri. But he insisted he did not want to accuse anyone of the murder, preferring to wait for the results of a UN probe into the assassination.

Mr Khaddam's comments drew a furious response from Syrian MPs in a session of parliament on Saturday. "What has been proved beyond doubt is that he has given victory to the enemies of the nation and cut off allegiance to the homeland, and this is the very definition of the cowardly act of treason," said one, Joseph Suwayyd.

Another MP, Umeima Khudur, told the session: "I demand... that Khaddam is judged because he has attacked the dignity of Syria and humiliated millions of Syrians."

'Syria's Judas'

As the session ended, speaker Mahmoud al-Abrash told parliament: "We call on the justice minister to try Abdel Halim Khaddam for high treason and to take the necessary measures."

Earlier, Syrian newspaper Ad-Diyar denounced Mr Khaddam as "Syria's Judas".

During the UN probe, witnesses told investigators that Mr Hariri was threatened by President Assad at a crunch meeting in August 2004.

Mr Hariri himself, in a taped account cited by the UN report, described the meeting as the "worst day of his life".

"When I finished my meeting with him, I swear to you, my bodyguard looked at me and asked why I was pale-faced," Mr Hariri recounted.

President Assad has previously denied any personal involvement in the murder.
BBC reported yesterday story:


Hariri 'threatened by Syria head'
BBC Dec 30, 2005

Mr Khaddam, 73, who resigned as vice-president in June, told al-Arabiya television he was formally cutting links with the president, whom he accused of authoritarianism.

He told al-Arabiya he was "convinced that the process of development and reforms, be they political, economic or administrative, will not succeed".

Mr Khaddam used to be in charge of Syria's Lebanon policy. Damascus was the effective power in Lebanon for many years, until it withdrew its troops under international pressure this year.

The BBC's Kim Ghattas in Beirut says Mr Khaddam's intervention would be seen as very significant, important, and potentially dangerous, and would attract the interest of UN investigators.

She said it was unclear why Mr Assad's former colleague, who is now living in Paris, had chosen to speak out now, but that he may be positioning himself as an alternative to the Syrian president.

Naharnet is reporting that

Khaddam said: Assad Felt Washington Could Not Care Less About Lebanon
Syrian President Bashar Assad was duped by his advisors into believing the United
States was indifferent about his grip on Lebanon and would 'come crawling on its knees" to win Damascus' support for its invasion of Iraq. According to Syrian ex-Vice ...more

Ammar Abdulhamid has a good assessment: "The Vice-Predator!". He writes:

The story of Mr. Khaddam’s disenchantment with the ruling clique dates back to the time before Bashar’s ascension to power. He was never in complete agreement with this move. Indeed, it seems clear considering that he was the VP at the time of Hafiz al-Assad as well, that he thought himself the more qualified person for the job. The rise of Bashar and the New Guard was problematic for him. The lot simply lacked the necessary experience and qualifications, and he obviously looked at them with much disdain.

Mr. Khaddam did not say this in a direct manner though. In fact, when he spoke in a direct manner about the President, he said that he was nice and polite and that their relations was cordial, and that the President had bid his farewell before his departure to Paris knowing that Khaddam will be there for a long time. But later, he also said that he was rash and easily influenced by the very narrow circle of people around him, and that he took matters his own hands. Indeed, he made him appear extremely foolish, rash, amateurish, dictatorial, and all but accused him of ordering the assassination of Hariri in some fit of anger...

There were reports in the Syrian press recently that reflected negatively on him, and reports that the remaining property that his family have in Syria was about to be confiscated. Indeed, the family of Mr. Khaddam had been busy liquidating their assets in the country for years now, so the family was for long preparing for such an eventuality. Their liquidation activities increased in the last few months.

(Read all of Ammar's post to get the specifics of how Khaddam claimed that Hariri could not have been killed without the president's knowledge. )

Before leaving Damascus on December 16th, several people had told me that Khaddam's sons' houses in Tartus had been police taped and were closed. Some said that the families businesses were being impounded. All this now seems to be true.

As Ammar has written the power struggle between Khaddam and Bashar began before he became president. The first overt signs of the power struggle revealed themselves before Hafiz al-Asad died. In the weeks leading up to Bashar's father's death, Hariri and Jumblat working with Khaddam, Shihabi and possibly Kanaan seem to have been plotting to push Bashar aside and eliminate the house of Asad from power.

The specifics of this are not clear, but evidently this is what Bashar was told by Lahoud and others who visited him from Lebanon. This news convinced Bashar to attack Shihabi, who was the weak link among his opponents. Shihabi was accused of corruption in a story leaked to al-Hayat only a week or so before Hafiz's death on the 10th of June 2000. A few days later a follow-up story was printed in al-Hayat, claiming that an "alliance of corruption" had been detected in Lebanon. Hariri was implicated and so were others. It was impossible not to associate Khaddam and Kanaan with this alliance, for they had been the architects of Syria’s Lebanon policy. Shihabi, who was in AUB hospital at the time, fled to the United States as soon as he could. Following his purge from the state, he moved to France. When his retirement was officially announced at the Bath Party conference of June 2005, he openly with Foreign Minister Sharaa about who had been responsible for losing Lebanon. Both Khaddam and Shihabi were rumored to be plotting against Bashar in Paris. Kanaan's suicide was announced shortly following the spread of these rumors making it hard not to link the three men in a possible conspiracy against the regime. The women at Kanaan’s funeral in his hometown of Bahamra chanted that they wanted the “truth.” Few believed his suicide was voluntary. Perhaps it was connected to Khaddam’s and Shihabi’s presence in Paris and the on-going Mehlis investigation, or it may simply have been a precautionary purge by a regime that felt it could take no chances, Kanaan being the last of the old guard in a position to organize from within the state system.

Bashar had been told by his father that in order to rule Syria, he had first to rule Lebanon. It would seem that Bashar took this fatherly advice to heart. Right from the beginning of his tenure, Bashar sought to cut the Gordian knot of money and personal connections that linked Riyadh, Beirut and Damascus together in a triangle of graft and influence. The old guard members who had overseen and nurtured the construction of this triangle over the 30 years of Syrian rule in Lebanon, believed they could direct affairs of state in Syria – preferably with Bashar in nominal power, but without him if necessary.

From 2000 on the main power-struggle in Syria was between the young president and his vice-president, Abdul Halim Khaddam. Bashar moved precipitously in 2000 to support Salim al-Hoss for Prime-Minister against Hariri. His effort failed because Khaddam and Kanaan outfoxed him and demonstrated their superior control of events. Hariri had become too important in Lebanon to be denied the position of Prime Minister. Bashar was forced to write off his failure to overthrow Hariri as an indication of his benevolence and intent not to interfere in Lebanese affairs. He claimed a new page had been turned in Syrian-Lebanese relations and that Syria would allow Lebanon more freedom. Bashar, however, was only biding his time. He needed to consolidate his position further inside Syria before he could move more forcefully against Kanaan and Khaddam, which would ease the way toward eventually pushing aside Hariri and Junblat. In his eyes, they were all of a piece. He moved Kanaan out of Lebanon in 2003 and whittled away at Khaddam’s authority little by little, moving his people out of ministries and, in particular, out of the relevant security agencies.

In this reading of events, Bashar’s burning of Franco-Syrian relations was only collateral damage in his effort to unseat Hariri – and ultimately Khaddam. In fact, he placed Syria’s foreign policy in the back seat as he tried to steer the affairs of state in such a way as to consolidate his hold on power in Damascus. He sacrificed good relations with his neighbors and with the great powers in order to get his hands firmly on the steering wheel and shove aside the old-guard.

Further evidence of the power struggle between Bashar and Khaddam is clear in the governments that were formed after the 2003 parliamentary elections and during 2004. The Utri cabinet is a case in point. Bashar tried to reduce the number of Baathists in the cabinet, but Khaddam eventually won out – or seemed to – with the appointment of 15 Baathist ministers.

The war in Iraq complicated Bashar’s efforts to consolidate his power. He was forced to bring Khaddam back in, when Sharaa’s policy of fighting America in Iraq proved a disaster. It is quite possible that Bashar chose to oppose the American invasion of Iraq so openly in order to contrary Khaddam, who claims he was in favor of a more pro-American policy. This may be another example of Bashar’s willingness to sacrifice relations with a great power in order to push aside the old guard and assert his independence from them. Bashar used the anti-American sentiment in the Arab street, and more importantly, in Syria in order to over-rule the pro-American policy that Khaddam was advocating. He gave Sharaa his head during the first months of the American invasion, when Syria’s Grand Mufti declared that it was an individual duty of all Muslims to go to Iraq to fight in the Jihad against America. This anti-American policy undermined Khaddam and was used to undermine his authority. When it proved too dangerous, Bashar brought Khaddam back into to the center of power, allowing him to win in the struggle for cabinets. He also let Khaddam try to recruit the Sunni tribal leaders of Iraq to Syria’s side. Khaddam organized at least 10 meetings of Iraqi tribal leaders at the Ebla Sham Hotel on the airport road during 2003 and 2004. This may have been Khaddam’s way of trying to make Syria useful to the Americans and to bring Syria into the center of the Iraq political drama. Khaddam’s policy of taming the Sunnis and delivering them to the Americans proved useless, however. Allawi lost out in the power struggle in Iraq. The Iraqi resistance grew at a dizzying pace and America moved ever closer to the Shiites and away from the Sunnis. Bremer dissolved the Army and moved forcefully against all the old Baathists in Iraq, which doomed Khaddam’s ability to organize and domesticate the Iraqi Sunnis, so he could deliver them to the Americans and show Syria’s utility and good intentions.

Khaddam’s strategy may have been doomed by Bashar, who was simplifying playing him, but it was also doomed by the ideological narrow-mindedness of the US administrators of Iraq and ultimately the Bush administration. Bashar allowed Khaddam to try out his Iraq policy, but when it failed, Khaddam also failed. This may have convinced him to move against Hariri in Lebanon at the time of the Lahoud extension. Washington would not cut Syria any slack on the Iraq front. Khaddam was wrong – or perhaps just too late. When the US began to demand greater independence for Lebanon as well, Khaddam could only propose to give it. Bashar over-ruled him at the last minute and extended Lahoud’s presidency and took Lebanon away from him and from Hariri, something he had been trying to do for years. In this interpretation, Bashar gambled on losing Lebanon definitively in order to gain power in Damascus.

Of course, he didn’t plan to lose Lebanon. He was hoping that the Lahoud gambit would work and that with Hariri pushed aside, the Lebanese would slip back into their back-biting confessional ways. Syria has always viewed Lebanon as a failed nation because it doesn’t embrace Arabism. Or rather as an ineffective state which contains four irreconcilable nations within it, each of which can be counted on to attack the others and undermine the integrity of the central government. What Bashar, and all the Syrians, failed to predict was the Cedar Revolution and the tremendous outpouring of national sentiment following the murder of their national hero, Hariri. But Bashar did not sack Foreign Minister Sharaa following the UN’s issuance of resolution 1559. It was widely rumored in Damascus that Sharaa should be sacked because he had assured Bashar that resolution 1559 would not pass the security council and that the world would not find unanimity following Syria’s tampering with the Lebanese constitution. Sharaa was wrong about that and Khaddam was right. Nevertheless, Sharaa’s mistake did not cost him his job. Most likely, this is because he was carrying out the president’s will. It was the President’s mistake. Or rather, one should say that Bashar was willing to take the gamble in Lebanon in order to destroy the triangle of money and influence upon which Khaddam had built reputation and power.

If I am correct in interpreting the main dynamic of Syrian politics over the last five years to be the internal power struggle in Damascus and not foreign policy, how does this color our interpretation of Bashar?

Tony Badran believes that Bashar is just a Baathist ideology, who is stupid, uneducated, and naïve. He has stumbled from one mistake to another. Most importantly he has pissed off the French and the Saudis, the two powers that could save him from Bush’s wrath. Tony believes that Bashar is doomed because the Saudis are backing Saad Hariri to the hilt and have moved fully into the Franco-US court. He focuses on King Abdullah’s short March visit to the Damascus airport in order to tell Bashar that the Saudis backed resolution 1559 and insisted that Syria withdraw its troops from Lebanon. Tony reads this frosty interchange to be the line drawn in the sand between Damascus and Riyadh.

I am not sure the Saudis have written Bashar off, despite their pique. Yes, they may not like him. They certainly do not trust him. After all, he took down Hariri, their ally and tangential family member. Bashar has undermined Saudi influence in Lebanon in a very direct and ham-fisted way, but I am not convinced, as Tony is, that the King will support any form of regime change as a result.

I would focus on the more recent Bandar visit to Damascus at the time of the President Bashar’s November 10 speech at the University of Damascus. The Saudis smoothed the way for the Vienna deal, which got Asef Shawkat off the hook and allowed for a compromise between Mehlis and the Syrians. King Abdullah quoted the Koran to the effect that “if one cannot do good, he should strive to do no harm.” I read this to mean that if Saudi Arabia cannot fix the Hariri murder, it should not try to help the US overturn the Syrian regime. King Abdullah was letting go of the Hariri affaire. It wanted Syria to be punished and held responsible by having the 5 generals sent to Vienna, but it didn’t want to bring further instability to the region.

In Saudi eyes, the biggest setback to its regional safety has been America’s misadventure in Iraq. The fragmentation of Iraq and the rise to power in the south of Shiite ideologues has seriously damaged Arabia’s interests. The damage done to Lebanon by Syria only comes second on its list. King Abdullah gave Bashar a pass on the Mehlis investigation. It did not support imposing any form of economic sanctions on Syria, even sanctions targeted against the President and his men.

Does this mean Syria is in the clear? No, it doesn’t. The Khaddam testimony will be very damaging to Bashar. It will revive the hopes of those who believe they can put together definitive proof of Bashar’s involvement in Hariri’s assassination, which could eventually result in real international sanctions being placed on Syria.

All the same, Khaddam no longer posses a real internal threat to Bashar. The only reason he testified on al-Arabiya is that he is completely washed up in Syria and has lost whatever influence he had to influence events there. Only when Bashar moved against his children and impounded his remaining assets in Syria did Khaddam come out openly against the president. My hunch is that Khaddam is no longer a real threat to Bashar internally. That explains why he is trying to present himself as an external threat. It is why Khaddam is throwing his lot in with Paris and Washington. He has no other choice. He can only pray that the Hariri investigation and the UN will somehow bring him and his children back to Damascus.

Can America help Khaddam? Time and again, we have seen the Syrian people support Bashar against American policy, which has become ship wrecked on the shoals of Palestine and now Iraq. Syrians have not seen a defection on the scale of Khaddam’s since Michel Aflaq and Salah ad-Din Bitar were pushed out by the neo-Baath in 1966. It is nerve wracking for most Syrians to have someone of Khaddam’s stature speak out against the Asad family. Since Hafiz came to power, the inner circle of the Syrian government has been very cohesive. Bashar’s consolidation of power has caused a number of defections. All the same, they are very few compared to previous changes of regime in 1966 or 1970. Khaddam was not loved. He may have been feared by many and respected by some, but he was admired by very few. In a few weeks, most Syrians will probably forget him.

America’s and the world’s attention is bolted on Iraq. Should the recent elections in Iraq somehow lead to the formation of an effective government there, the world may decide it is time to make Bashar pay for his transgressions and to punish him for snubbing just about every pro-Western government on the globe. Unlike Tony Badran and some others, however, I do not think Khaddam’s revelations will change the course of events in any major way. The world has already decided that Syria is guilty Hariri’s murder. The UN could have been much tougher than it was in December, when it decided not to impose sanctions on Syria and open the door to destabilizing the Asad regime. Saudi, Egypt, Algeria, Turkey, Israel, Russia and China all rallied to Syria’s defense. I don’t believe they will change their policies based on Khaddam’s authority.

So long as the Shiites in Lebanon are willing to troubleshoot for Bashar, Lebanon will remain a bad bet in the eyes of most governments. How will the US make Lebanon safe for Saad Hariri’s return? How will it disarm Hizbullah? These things will require force over and above the Hariri investigation or the threat of sanctions.

Will Bashar al-Asad change his ways now that he has consolidated power in Damascus? The pessimists will say that the young man who spoke so convincingly about reform in 2005 has become part of the system. His long battle to gain power has proven to him how important the Baath Party and security apparatus really are. Although Bashar may have spoken at one time about distancing the state from the Baath and from the heavy hand and of the intelligence agencies, he has now become one with them and depends on them more than ever.

Some of the more optimistic readers of Syria Comment prose that we should give Bashar another chance because he has been distracted from reform by the need to battle the old titans of his father’s regime. They could argue that with Khaddam and his other enemies out of the way, Bashar will now be in a better position to begin focusing on building up new institutions in Syria. They may argue that he will be able to appoint the ministers of his choosing without bowing to his competitors or thinking about how he can outfox Khaddam by playing to the street’s anti-Americanism. He may now even have the freedom to begin looking for a rapprochement with the US and France.

It is hard to see how he can mend relations with either the US or France so long as Lebanon’s future is undecided. I cannot foresee a rapprochement with the Western powers, nor or do I see an end to the competition over authority in Lebanon. My hunch is that Syria will be further isolated by the West. It will seek ever more trade with the East. Bashar will hang on because Syrians have little choice but to go along with his decisions and to hope that he will do something positive for the country. So long as the situation in Iraq and Palestine remains so messy and unattractive, the stability the Asads provide in Syria will look very good, both to Syrians and to many others in the region and in the world.

[End of my analysis]

As Safir has published names of 20 Lebanese and Syrian nationals, who
it says are regarded as suspects by the UN commission investigating
former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's assassination.
The following is a list of Lebanese suspects as published in As Safir:

- Major General Ali Hajj
- Major General Jamil Sayyed
- Brigadier General Mustafa Hamdan
- Brigadier General Raymond Azar
- Ahmed Abdel Al
- Mahmoud Abel Al
- Raed Fakhreddine
- Former legislator Nasser Kandil
- Faysal al-Rasheed, a state security officer
- Colonel Ghassan Tufeili, former head of the Lebanese monitoring
services of military intelligence
- Majed Hamdan, brother of Brigadier General Hamdan

The following is a list of Syrian suspects as published in As Safir:

- Major General Assef Shawkat, Syria's intelligence chief
- Major General Bahjat Suleiman, former head of the internal security
- Major General Hassan Khalil, former head of military intelligence
- Brigadier General Rustom GHazaleh, Syria's former intelligence chief
in Lebanon
- Jameh Jameh, Ghazaleh's assistance
- Sameeh Qashaami, an officer
- Abdel Karim Abbas, an officer
- Nazem al-Yussef, an officer
- Mohammed Zuheir Siddiq, a witness-turned-suspect (held in France)

86 Comments:

At 1/01/2006 05:11:00 PM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...

Without having read Josh's analysis yet, I wanted to respond to karimhalabi;

Karimhalabi says about Khaddam:
"with all his traits (bad or good), he does provide an alternative (a credible one) to the status quo"

Thats a very important statement I think. Now for the first time Bashar and his people know there is a credible alternative out there. The Syrian people know this too now, despite the mute official Syrian newspapers and the gutless and hand-picked Syrian parliment members say. This is big.

So what are the options?
Ghadry is no option. He is a joke, but he does serve a purpose by making others seem less radical in terms of relations with the west.

Khaddam/Shihabi is a credible option. Some pros and cons though:
Pros:

1.They could pull off a coup relatively violence-free if they plan correctly and make the proper alliances with the Army leaders. Ehsani do you really think they couldn't pull it off? I don't think US Army tanks would be needed. These two must have incredible connections and I would not be surprised that they would have the resources to pull this off. Remember a lot of people in the army in Syria are angry at losing Lebanon. Also some people have to resent him for being so unqualified to be President in the first place. Something like Pervez Musharraf taking power in Pakistan could take place.
2.They command respect from world leaders and from our people no matter how corrupt they are. The people are used to looking up to these two so it wouldn't be a huge shock.
3. Maybe, being true Syrian patriots, they realize the past mistakes of the regime. So they eliminate cronyism and corrution and institute meritocracy and free-market reforms. They are old so by the time they step down democracy will have had time to build proper parties and who knows maybe a leader full of energy who worked his way up a la Barrak Obama could emerge. This may be more wishful thinking on my part.
4. Israel takes these new leaders seriously and we get back into Golan talks.
5. Whatever they are they are change. A breath of fresh air.

Cons/Dangers:
1. These two are thieves in the past so there is nothing to say they will change. By them coming to power, all we are doing is turning the clock 10 years. Khaddam and Shihabi become the new power families and one of their sons are nominated to be the next president. We are no better off then we are now.
2. There could be a huge power struggle if they try to take over and are not successful. Major bloodspilling and violence. Civil war?
3. They could take over successfully and have a power struggle amongst themselves. See above.

Bashar continuing as President is a credible option as well. Pros and cons:
Pros:
1. Bashar when faced for the first time with a credible alternative, presses the fast-forward button on reforms. Gives kurds their rights (---hurry the Kurdish state is only a matter of time away next door and if our kurds don't have rights by then we will be in trouble), release prisoners wrongfully imprisoned, meritocracy, free-market reforms. Bashar's reformist impulses, which I still believe in, run wild and he shows he is truly in charge.
2. We still have our stable if not stagnant society. Those that can offord it will still have restaurants to go to and cellphones to talk in? More importantly there is no major violence or blood-spilling.

Cons:
1. Bashar still won't get it. Bashar's incompetent impulses, which I also strongly believe in, run wild. He makes more mistakes after mistakes, inclding the largest mistake of all at this point: Doing nothing. And if he doesn't get it now with all this foreign pressure will he ever?
2. Syria is stuck with a huge problem on its hands as Ehsani reminds us very well in many of his previous posts. Huge population growth with no new jobs and no new oil.

Those are my thought regarding the reality of the situation.

 
At 1/01/2006 05:12:00 PM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

Very interesting and very well written. but there are a lot of buts and maybes.

"My hunch is that Khaddam is no longer a real threat to Bashar internally." i fully agree with that. As i mentioned on across the bay: The Saudi's are flexing their muscles vis-a-vis their allies in Paris. Khaddam and Shehabi have been there for a while. While this interview will reaffirm what many have believed, in Damascus this will be read as a blow but not a fatal one. And I really think the Saudi’s have made a mistake here. they might be significantly more powerful than Syria at the moment but the Syrians will never forget this (unleashing Khaddam) they will attempt to bite them back in the ass. To go public with their attack on another “brotherly country” is just begging for retaliation, from the Syrians, Iranian, psalmists and Egyptians who are in an eternal power struggle with Riyadh. Egypt might go along with much of what Washington says but it draws the line when it comes to its clout in the region. There is very little that Washington will give them or Tehran that might hold them back.

But I really find your analysis strange and possibly wrong regarding the Bashar sacrificing his connection with the west to consolidate power internally. The west might have been out to get him but i doubt that he wanted the situation to deteriorate so badly. Kanaan and Khaddam were very connected to Washington and Riyadh. And like it or not the US remains the sole super-power and contact must remain active at all times. That was one of the best traits of his father, even in his closest days to the USSR Damascus and Washington had an open communication line at almost all times.

And I also fail to see how the current environment can translate to any type of social/political reform in Syria. Even if the president is finally in total control (we have heard that before) I just cant see the situation looking much better. Even if he really does want to conduct significant reforms, the powers to be that he pissed off will probably tamper with it. I have more to say but I will leave it until tomorrow.

P.S it was interesting to note that you are pretty much convinced that Syria was responsible for Hariri's murder. Its the first time you really come out and say it.

 
At 1/01/2006 05:21:00 PM, Blogger ghassan said...

This is not the first time, and it is not likely to be the lasttime, when Mr Landis does a simply phenomenal job of collecting the facts and providing background to the continuing saga of the dictatorial authoritarian rule of the Assad clan in Syria but somehow he manages to conclude that the Syrian people must support those that are exploiting them!!! Doesn't Mr Landis believe that there is ever such a concept as a price that is too dear? Dictatorships have always had stability and certainty in their favour but yet in one example after another societies have chosen the rough and uncertain road of freedom, dignity and democracy.

Please Mr. Landis , stop your insults of the Syrian people, stop your support of their jailors; they are at least as deserving of modernity as any other people in the world.

 
At 1/01/2006 05:26:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Professor Landis writes a gripping analysis of the Khaddam versus Bashar play.
This power struggle between the two men is as intense as a two grandmasters at a chess game. Dr. Landis, do you really believe that Bashar sacrificed his relations with the super powers in order to outfox Khaddam? Does Assad need to go to such lengths to get rid of his rival? Don’t you think Bashar had a long list of other ways to discredit his so-called number one rival? Over the past 24 hours, he has unleashed his arsenal of embarrassing charges against him. Why couldn’t he have done this earlier? Were you to possess Bashar’s power, do you really think that it would be this hard to get rid of a man with zero military power? Your analysis is very well written. Regrettably, its main premise is, in my opinion, flawed.

 
At 1/01/2006 05:39:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

This time I agree nearly completly with Mr. Landis' analysis.

And Bashar is a lot cleaner than both Khadam or the late Kanaan, so, may be all is not lost, and now he can re-establish his credentials with world powers, free the prisoners of conscience, and start the real reform.

 
At 1/01/2006 06:10:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 1/01/2006 06:17:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

To follow up to my earlier comment, the five-year power struggle between Bashar and Khaddam that Dr. Landis describes in gripping details must be one of the most inefficient and time wasting power struggles between an absolute President and his vice. Why not kill him? Why not throw some poison into his coffee at the Presidential Palace? Do you really have to plunge your country in a confrontation with the world’s super power in order to ensure that you won? If I am wrong and Dr. Landis is correct in describing what actually took place, Bashar loses even more respect from me. He spends five years of his Presidency and plunges his country into turmoil to win an internal fight, which he does not exactly win, given the resurfacing of his rival? If true, Bashar is even more incompetent than anyone previously thought

 
At 1/01/2006 06:20:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Ehsani2:

It is possible, and things will be clearer in the near future. This happened many times in dictatorial regimes, to cite two examples, I will mention Khrotchev, and Gorbatcheve. It takes time to clean up a mess in a corporation you have just been appointed to as a manager. I have the experience.

But I agree with you that Bashar did not prove to be very intelligent, letting this thug leave Syria with all of his money and family. However, the Saudi factor may have complicated things.

 
At 1/01/2006 09:01:00 PM, Blogger Damascene said...

It's funny to see how extreme the Syrian people are in their reponese; I wonder sometimes if we will ever be able to accept different opinions.
Thank you Joshua for the nicely done analysis; two points I would like to comment on:
- Considering that Syria is ruled by Military; how strong can Khaddam being a Sunni...? He did of course had excellent relationships with the late president Hafez Asad; but still, would you think he can play a threatening role to Bashar...? If that is the case, I doubt that his alliances were merely Shihabi and Kanaan...!
- I wish you included the economical factor in Syria's external relationships. What Khaddam mentioned about the French getting mad about Total contract is probably true....and this raises a question on what was Bashar thinking! Reading the news now, you can the number of economical agreements with Russia increasing rapidly; maybe Bahsar thought that getting Russia back with a new formula for benefits is the way?

An finally, I do believe that Syria, like all other nations and maybe even more, is ruled by a very complicated mesh of powers that the outsiders can only a small part from. I wish we could see the rest of the ice berg to really understand.

Thanks,

 
At 1/01/2006 11:33:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

Khadam and Talas wre never more than window dressing in Syria ,the power was Hafez Asad only.Khadam means nothing in Syria ,I heard his name more in the last three days than in the last thirty years.

 
At 1/01/2006 11:59:00 PM, Blogger I rather born Syrian or a dog said...

I always thought what the hell the CIA, U.S. Department of States and the White House talking about when they say there are no “alternative” and “viable alternative” or “better alternative to U.S. and Israeli interests” available that is better than President Assad and his Baath party rule. After thinking about it I concluded that this is one thing, if not the only thing the Bush Administration got very right and right on the money.

The true fact is there is no alternative to President Assad he is a Nationalist leader. His Excellency understands well what is facing Syria and Lebanon and is working hard on securing Syria's and Lebanon Greater National interests.

Those who are looking to France, the Bedouins or the Jewish / Zionist controlled Americans for re-entry into Syria, simply have no experience with the world’s varied shady dudes leaders and will be deceived, used and dumped. These foreign powers has close to heart only their interests or the interests of its close allies, not the interests of the Syria and its people. I can imagine the surprise on his excellency President Assad face when he hears Ex-U.S. Secretary of States Powel telling him to “ignore the people of Syria and what the hell do you care about their interests, all you need is us, we will support you, just serve our interests”

The people of Syria have seen vividly what the Bush Administration Democracy and Freedom drive is really all about in Iraq. Endless Abu Ghuraib’s Prisons system. Endless corruption, fleecing and racketeering. Mass murder and genocides against children and women. Payoffs for newspapers, clergy and officials. Silencing of opponents. Mass rape and torture of young girls. Fixed elections, fraudulent votes. Embezzlement of state funds by the Billions, fixed and unfair contracts, undaunted destruction and theft of Artifacts and cultural heritage, un-metered siphoning of natural resources. Destruction of National army and defense infrastructure, Cronyism and favoritism, Prostitution and Pornography, destruction of social and humanitarian values, killing of scientists and intelligecia and so on and on and on…..…..

Even the most brutal and evil people in the world, the Jews of Israel, who committed worse genocide crime against humanity than Germany’s popular Nationalist leader Adolph Hitler reputed crimes against the Jews were in shock and disbelieve at the Bush Administration Freedom and Democracy achievements in Iraq, to the point were they are fighting hard the U.S. Department of States last month against regime change in Syria and shouting to the media that there are no alternative to President Assad

What destruction of a country, economy, society, Human rights and dignity the Bush administration did in Iraq in the first month of this Iraq liberation and democracy drive in Iraq, shamelessly called Occupation is much more than what the Two Assad’s Baath party did in all his existence. If you to count Hama and the Moslem Brotherhood conflict statistics out. The Two Assad’s Baath bad deeds will pale into negligible in comparison to that of Bushes Iraq deeds and will even shine in comparison to that of Egypt and the Bedouins who control the entire wealth of the Moslem Nation as its own private account.

For those fools that are deceived by France and the United States to present themselves as an alternative to President Assad or are hoping on getting the backing and support of these powers, they should know that the Nationalist people of Syria will not welcome them, not even on the back of a U.S. tank and will be ready to greet them appropriately.

The CIA, U.S. State Department and the White house got it right for a change, when it come to Syria, there are no alternative.

LONG LIVE BASHAR ASSAD, THE ONLY VOIABLE ALTERNATIVE FOR SYRIA
BASHAR ASSAD.

INNA SOURIA LAHAFIZOUHA ASSAD’on

 
At 1/02/2006 12:29:00 AM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

Latest news: The UN Investigative Committee into Hariri's murder has formally requested to question Khaddam, Shara'a, and Bashar Assad.

We will wait for more developments and keep you posted.

I guess that Khaddam testified months ago...

Happy New year! Happy new year!

 
At 1/02/2006 12:30:00 AM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

Note that I could not confirm the information above. Let's hope for the best.

 
At 1/02/2006 01:06:00 AM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

Josh, your post has been outstanding. You didn't write something like this for months. Your views and Tony's views are both valid, and both are substantiated by facts. The coming year will tell us which one of you was right.

 
At 1/02/2006 02:04:00 AM, Blogger ActiveListener said...

Dr Josh, hooray for you and Tony and others in your blog circles. Please keep on the pace with the investigative reporting and analytical commentary - there are obviously many rich veins of information to be mined and processed out there.

It's time we saw those intellectual engines revving again. Things have been kind of stop-starting and idling there for a while.

Syria at this moment desperately needs detailed fact-gathering, sharp analysis and exposure of truth by competent people who care.

 
At 1/02/2006 03:40:00 AM, Blogger shamee27 said...

I totally agree with Ehsani, Bashar did not have to wait all this time to rid of Khadam.
We have seen many figures more important and more powerful than Khadam been put on the side. I would like to believe that Bashar is sincere about reforming the country but I doubt it very much.

 
At 1/02/2006 06:49:00 AM, Blogger t_desco said...

Professor Landis,

I wonder how to integrate the following into your analysis:

After the assassination attempt (on Marwan Hamade), Paris and Washington sent messages to Damascus warning the Syrians not to harm opposition leaders, specifically Mr Hariri and Mr Jumblatt. Richard Armitage, the US Deputy Secretary of State, reiterated that warning during a meeting with Mr Assad in Damascus on January 2.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,251-1530888_2,00.html

Wouldn't that be too risky a gamble, to ignore a direct warning by the US Deputy Secretary of State?

 
At 1/02/2006 06:54:00 AM, Blogger Ghassan said...

To Vox Populi, Active Listener and other readers,
I would like to say “I told you so!” When Josh left Syria and he is now not being watching by the Syrian Mukhabarat of the Asad Mafia regime, he can right what he believes in and freely with no restrictions!

To Josh, please continue and keep the blog up to date, things are moving fast!

Ghassan.

 
At 1/02/2006 06:58:00 AM, Blogger adonis syria said...

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At 1/02/2006 07:04:00 AM, Blogger adonis syria said...

What is dangerous now is that the regime appear more than ever an alawite and a familly matter.
This new guard was placed in charge by hafez asad himself to ensure his succession.
Yes khaddam was an important figure of the baath ,but as sunni,he had no control on the security apparatuses or the alawite milicias which are the decisive power in syria.We should take into consideration,the sectarian nature of the regime and this unhealthy monopoly of power,source of hatred against the alawite community.
I agree with ehsani and karimhalab.
If khaddam (73 years old) or an another sunni (baathist or not) is able to ensure a political transiton with the support of alawite officiers and the international community that avoid retaliation against the alawite community ,so why not?

 
At 1/02/2006 08:02:00 AM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

Khaddam does not have a chance in hell, he is out of the game and he knows it, so he allowed himself to become the pawn in a bigger game and inexchange he gets to keep his money. the syrian people hate him too much, especially now. they are willing to continue with the status quo and even worse rather than having a Saudi/French rat in power. things are only gonna get hotter, wait and see what damascus will say regarding interviewing the president, i dont think they should agree to it but i am sure the refusal will be the catalyst to some sort of punishment and more isolation. 2006 might very will be the defining year of this government's survival or fall.

 
At 1/02/2006 08:25:00 AM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 1/02/2006 08:39:00 AM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

The most significant part of Khaddam’s interview was the clever shifting of focus from Maher/Asef to the President himself. When asked about the former, he essentially said that he had little contact with them even though he obviously knew them. When it came to the President, it was from his mouth that he reportedly heard that Harriri was threatened. In one simple move, the President himself has been drawn into the investigation. Syria claims they never threatened Harriri. Khaddam refuted that claim and by saying that the President himself told him, he has made it his word against that of Bashar. The U.N. investigation has no choice but to bring the President himself into the fold. This is a very dangerous slippery slope for Bashar. One slip/lie/misrepresentation of the facts, and the President of a nation will be accused of lying to a Security Council committee. This is no small matter. In my opinion, the entire purpose of Khadaam’s interview was to achieve the goal of going after the President himself. No longer can Bashar think about sacrificing his officers/brother or brother-in-law. The spotlights are now directly pointed at him. On a final note, claiming that Harriri was never threatened was always a dangerous legal strategy. Khaddam knew it and he made sure to use it to his full advantage. Bashar now has two choices: Refuse appearing and suffer the consequences of being uncooperative with the investigation. Appear and suffer the embarrassment of having 20 million Syrians watch their beloved President being investigated by foreigners. Bashar starts 2006 with calls for checkmate.

 
At 1/02/2006 08:50:00 AM, Blogger patriot2sy said...

JAM, What a change!
Now, you can be a very good successor to Buthaina Shaaban

 
At 1/02/2006 09:08:00 AM, Blogger Nicolas92200 said...

After a good week's vacation, people in Paris are back to town and back to work. The first question I was asked at the office this morning was not how was your break? Bur rather: “What is going on with your guys?” Even a Lebanese colleague was outraged at Khaddam and said that he and all his friends (Lebanese) believe he has been paid to do this. I didn’t get a chance to chat more but I think I’m going to hear some interesting opinions over here all day.
The newspapers and TV new bulletins here in Paris have put the Khaddam story front page over the weekend, again with translations of the Khaddam script that could least be described as “inaccurate” or only present half the sentence; just like the la takraboo el salat then period phrase. On the way to the office, radio news announced that the UN commission wants to interrogate Bashar Assad (front news). Yet, on this Monday morning things were different. Le Figaro (right wing leaning and close to the Chirac clan) included 5 articles on the subjects; this is a record quantity on Syria and all in the same issue. The first on the UN wanting to interrogate Bashar Assad, Farouk Shar’a and Khaddam . He second on the reactions in Lebanon (mostly based on article in An-Nahar). The third a description of Khaddam . Then comes the interesting part: article 4 and 5. One is entitled: the Hidden Message of Abdel Halim Khaddam and this discusses the hypothesis of Khaddam presenting himself as potential candidate for the post-Bashar Assad era. The last, is a 2 sentence declaration by the Quai d’Orsay (French Ministry of Foreign Affairs) declaring that it is not in contact with Khaddam who is in Paris for private reasons (bad translation of à “titre privé”). So is France keeping its options open (article 4) or assuring Bashar Assad that all is not over yet (article 5)? In Champress this morning, an article also noted that Bashar Assad is going to go on a tour of capitals this year and that efforts are underway to organize a reconciliatory meeting with Chirac in Paris. (as far as I am concerned Champress is far from being your ultimate undisputable source of information). During the vacation, I met a friend who is in the oil business and he confirmed that a French oil company (not Total – this should be enough of a hint) is looking seriously into applying for a couple of the oil licenses that are to be put to tender in the first quarter of 2006. This company is highly politicized (yes, even more than Total) and would not have decided to go into such venture without some green light from “up there”. Earlier, I noted that Total has been in talks with the Syrian authorities about a refinery construction, this has been sited again from two different sources: Les Echos (the French version of the Financial Times) and from Zawya.com (a mideast business information site-serious and reliable news source). So it looks like its pretty serious. Somewhere in the thread above someone noted that in the eyes of the West Syria is already guilty [of the Harriri murder] regardless what happens. This statement is very true and I think it would be wisest if the Syrians dealt with things based on this above assumption. Even the Lebanese over here, who have strong influence on events in Beirut as well as Foreign policy spheres in Paris, are somehow getting bored with this story and would like to move on; this point has been mentioned to me from different people with different political tendencies (pro- and against-Syria but all Lebanese). One of these friend suggested the following: “Let them stick it over Ghazali’s back and get over the entire thing. Even if not guilty himself, let this be the price to pay for his other misgivings. The Khaddam declaration against him can be used. Bashar can admit having been harsh with Harriri in the presence of Ghazali but he regrets it and that’s why he talked to Khaddam about it. Ghazali wanted to please his master so he did the assassination thinking this would win him favors with Bashar. Khaddam noted that Bashar is not really fond of Ghazali and knows that he is a “thief” (laugh laugh). Given the international mood, everyone would turn the page and move on to something else.” This fits neatly; notably when one notices the incredible US silence.
The French seem to have got this message and this would explain the oil deals on talk now and Champress’ story of a Chirac-Assad meeting in 2006. Chirac is in his last year as president (and very weakened), he is doing all he can to smooth the transition of the presidency (not to his son ) but to the current Prime Minister (who is the only person willing to grant Chirac immunity from persecution for corruption). Cleaning up the foreign affairs file would be a major priority during the upcoming political battle. It is also worth noting that the current Foreign Minister is puppet/joke (no-one takes him seriously – not even in the EU).
Sorry to cut the discussion thread over whether Khaddam is fit or not to rule, but maybe the above thought from Paris could help the debate.
Apologies about pasting the 2 articles of Le Figaro below, but last I tried to include links, it did not work. Thank you all for your understanding.
Le message caché d'Abdel Halim Khaddam
En accusant un régime qu'il a toujours servi, l'ancien vice-président syrien cherche peut-être à se placer dans la course au pouvoir.
Pierre Prier
[02 janvier 2006]
ABDEL Halim Khaddam s'est-il placé, de Paris, dans la course au pouvoir pour l'après-Bachar ? Le contenu de l'entretien choisi pour le donner, et jusqu'au média qui le délivre semblent indiquer un positionnement politique de l'ancien vice-président, plus qu'une intervention décisive dans le dossier Hariri lui-même.
L'interview de Khaddam n'apporte en effet aucun élément concret à l'enquête de la commission de l'ONU sur l'assassinat de l'ancien premier ministre libanais. Abdel Halim Khaddam exprime surtout sa conviction personnelle que le sommet du pouvoir – il se garde bien de nommer le président Bachar el-Assad – est responsable du meurtre de Hariri.
Menaces directes contre Hariri
Detlev Melhis a lui aussi exprimé cette certitude avant de se faire remplacer le 15 décembre dernier. Mais il n'a pu en apporter la preuve, empêchant ainsi le Conseil de sécurité de voter des sanctions contre Damas. Dans l'un des passages les plus incriminants de son entretien, Khaddam confirme le récit contenu dans le premier rapport Mehlis : convoquant Hariri à Damas, Bachar el-Assad l'aurait très directement menacé.
Le vice-président cite trois sources, dont deux morts : Hariri lui-même et le ministre de l'Intérieur Ghazi Kanaan, «suicidé» en octobre dernier. La troisième source est le président Bachar. Un apport qui n'aidera en rien le successeur de Detlev Mehlis, sauf si Abdel Halim Khaddam a des éléments vraiment concrets à lui communiquer dans le cadre d'un interrogatoire.
Quant au moment choisi, on peut se demander pourquoi le vice-président, âgé de 73 ans et vieux compagnon de route de Hafez el-Assad, le père, a attendu trente-cinq ans pour dénoncer le régime syrien. Quand il démissionne du parti Baas en juin, Khaddam paraît surtout mû par le constat de sa marginalisation dans les instances du parti. L'ex-vice-président explique qu'il est parti pour protester contre l'absence de réformes politiques.
Une vue qui surprendra les lecteurs d'une interview récente donnée à la presse officielle, où il accusait les partisans du multipartisme de «servir les plans de l'étranger et d'Israël». Sur le plan politique, Khaddam n'a jamais fait figure de réformateur. Mais l'ancien dirigeant était considéré comme «souple» sur la question libanaise. Il entretenait d'ailleurs des liens d'amitié avec Rafic Hariri et fut le seul officiel syrien à assister à ses obsèques.
Comme Hariri, Khaddam était sunnite, et ce n'est pas un détail. Le vice-président démissionnaire n'appartenait pas à la minorité alaouite, dont est issu le clan Bachar, mais à l'écrasante majorité sunnite, au moins 70% des Syriens. En ces temps de repli sur l'identité confessionnelle, tout sunnite est plus ou moins en odeur de méfiance. L'amitié avec Rafic Hariri, qui pouvait servir de modèle à toute une bourgeoisie sunnite syrienne, ne donnait pas de bons points dans un CV. Surtout quand le pouvoir soupçonne l'Occident, les pays arabes sunnites et même certains membres des cercles dirigeants d'être à la recherche d'un sunnite présentable pour conduire le pays.
Intentions qui restent à décoder
On peut comprendre que Khaddam ait attendu de s'être installé à Paris pour donner son interview. Il l'a confié à al-Arabiya, chaîne à capitaux saoudiens proche de la famille royale, dont Rafic Hariri était l'ami. Un message de plus dans le message. Mais les intentions d'Abdel Halim Khaddam restent encore à décoder. Surtout dans la mesure où le régime de Damas, qui a gagné du temps et des alliés à l'ONU, est sorti consolidé, au moins pour un temps, de son dernier bras de fer avec l'ONU.
Khaddam est à Paris à titre privé
[02 janvier 2006]
Le ministère français des Affaires étrangères n'a aucun contact avec l'ancien vice-président syrien, Abdel Halim Khaddam, qui séjourne à titre privé à Paris, a assuré hier à l'AFP une source diplomatique. Le Quai d'Orsay s'en tient aux informations de la presse, selon lesquelles Abdel Halim Khaddam séjourne depuis juin à Paris.

 
At 1/02/2006 10:08:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Here is in summary what cahnged with me, Mr. Patriot2sy:

1- I never had believed the story of old guard vs new guard. To me all are criminals, and thought definitely that this issue was created by the regime to fool the people and give Bashar time to learn his job and to do the bad things blaming the so called the old guard.

2- Now that Khadam has come out, it was good news, but he did not come out clean, and he spoke in a langauge manking us truly retarded bastards if we even gave him a chance to get away with what he said. He spoke about thieves and the enrichment the "few" who benefitted from this regime. This was a total disrespect by Khadam to his audience. Khadam is number one thief in Syria, and for him to speak about such a subject in this manner, and to expect that we be fooled by what he says simply because he came out against the regime after 40 years serving Hafez Assad, is understandable to me for I always knew these semi men to be nothing but opportunistic pimps.

3- Seeing the fact now that there was some struggle between Bashar and the Old guard, among them is the new discovered hero by some, just put the brakes on my hatred to Bashar himself. And I just wanted to wait and see if truly Bashar is different than his father. We shall see shortly, and it is not going to take me more than short weeks to be either applauding him or back to my uncompromising position.


I read the web pages of some Islamist web sites welcoming Khadam to their ranks. Knowing how these people being always ready to forgive the Sunni personalities of the regime, their enthusiasm in the welcome they expressed to Khadam, that liar and thief, and coward, all made me prefer for the moment only, Bashar to being among such an opposition. We shall see shortly if Bashar will start to bring back to life the honest Syrian personalities that truly the old guard destroyed or jailed, (I mean his father along with his father's men), and doing so will be the first sign that this man is doing what Gorbacheve wanted to do. If he does not start this, than he would be a true image to his father, but in either case, I have no sympathy for Khadam and his ilks, and I hope that the two sides will keep barking and exposing each other until all facts are out.

So, my dear "patriot2sy", there is truly no change in my stance. I simply do not fall for Khadam and his ilks, and despise such people a lot more than I despise the Assads themselves.

Thank you

JAM

 
At 1/02/2006 10:10:00 AM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

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At 1/02/2006 10:12:00 AM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

To follow up on my comment above, it is interesting to note that there is no precedent for a U.N. commission to interrogate a sitting President. This is how serious this new development is.

On another note, I had long argued that Bashar’s ultimate blunder was his Iraq policy following the arrival of the American army to the region. Dr. Landis confirms that Bashar decided to refuse working with the White House in Iraq against the advice of people like Khaddam. A number of participants on this forum ridiculed me when I long ago suggested that Bashar should have sent his armies into Iraq under the pretext of helping Iraq restore law and order. Had his father been alive, this is precisely what I predicted he would have done. Just imagine the consequences. Already in control of Lebanon, the Syrian army helps to squash the insurgency in Iraq gaining enough favors in Washington to help Syria establish itself as the undisputed leader of the Arab world. This is what the Hafez/Khaddam team would have done. Hafez would have seized the massive opportunity and used it to his advantage. We now learn that a deal to send the Syrian army into Iraq has reportedly been discussed (please read www.elaph.com/elaphweb/politics/2006/1/117420.htm). Regrettably, the junior President did not have this foresight. He simply let the opportunity slip by and instead chose to embark on a foolish confrontation with the U.S. the results of which are now for the naked eye to see. Instead of potentially becoming the king of the Middle East, he is now the subject of an investigation that could derail what took his father 30 years to build. Leadership demands foresight and decisiveness. Regrettably, this young President has neither. 20 Million Syrians deserve better.

 
At 1/02/2006 10:37:00 AM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

Nicolas,

Very interesting view from France. But I would like to remind you that there is still a bigger player that has her finger on the pulse of this situation and that's Washington, as well as her Saudi minion. So France alone will not be able/allowed to relief some stress off of Syria's back on her own. Anyways I really doubt an oil deal would do the job. And more importantly the only reason that would draw France closer to Syria is if the US and Saudi try to cut Paris out of this alliance. And I highly doubt that seeing how well the Americans have been playing Syria with the help of France. Not to mention America needs France to put a different face than the Anglo one they used in Iraq.

I have no idea if there is a deal might be in the works but Syria should NOT let the president be interviewed; they need to play serious hardball here. But how to get around that will be the trick and will most certainly will depend on a deal.

It might become pretty sad if Syria needs to break a deal just so her President shouldn’t be interrogated. But these are hard times.

 
At 1/02/2006 10:45:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Mr. Ehasani;

The Syrian people, and despite the continous oppression by the 5 years of Bashar Assad have seen a giant leap forward in their daily lives since Bashar took over, in contrast with a long closeness and sadness during the precious 30 years of his father criminal team, and the Syrian people in their majority prefer a million times these 5 years to the previous 30.

So, you are for grandiose dreams od bigger Syria, a King of the Middle East, etc.... at the cost of the continous mentality of the Assad-Khadam so called team? This is amazing!

Khadam is no hero to any one. Khadam is the chief thief of the regime and his attacking the regime has given the regime new life. People in Syria have more trust in Bashar than the thugs such as Khadam.

 
At 1/02/2006 10:49:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

And to add one point;

also the Baath party yesterday, by expelling Khadam from its ranks has given Khadam the honour he did not deserve.

 
At 1/02/2006 10:50:00 AM, Blogger patriot2sy said...

JAM
Don’t take it personal. My point of view is that you cannot judge a man based on only one good action. You have what he’s done in a period of time, see both sides, and then come to a conclusion.
I really wish that Assad Junior can bring the change. I hope your theory proves to be right. I just don’t want to be very optimistic.
I know Khaddam is a bastard. Kicking him out is a very good step IF he is to be replaced with a good person, and NOT another thief like him.
Thank you.

 
At 1/02/2006 11:15:00 AM, Blogger adonis syria said...

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At 1/02/2006 11:24:00 AM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

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At 1/02/2006 11:27:00 AM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Giant leap forward in their daily lives? Who is suggesting that President Senior was the equivalent of Thomas Jefferson? I am stating that the so-called old guard had more vision and gamesmanship than this team. Love them or don’t (I am in the latter), they had the ability to survive 30 years. This cannot be said of the current team.
“Grandiose dreams of bigger Syria”? You prefer this? A pariah state that has the dubious distinction of having its own President called to appear in front of a U.N. commission for the first time in history. Giant leap? How disappointing.

 
At 1/02/2006 11:34:00 AM, Blogger Syrian Nationalism Eternally said...

EHSANI2
can't make out if you work for the CIA or Mossad! which one really?

 
At 1/02/2006 11:39:00 AM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Syrian People

 
At 1/02/2006 11:43:00 AM, Blogger adonis syria said...

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At 1/02/2006 11:48:00 AM, Blogger adonis syria said...

The new guard has stolen in 5 years more than the old guard in 40 years.These last years were also the worse since 80's in human rights abuses.The economic situation is not better than 10 years ago.
bashar's objective is to remain in power at any price and this is only possible through the old methods of terror and plots.
Are u ready to endure more years of maher-asef-bashar ?
At least khaddam is 73 years old and will die soon.

 
At 1/02/2006 11:55:00 AM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

EHSANI2
You work for The Syrian People??
And you want them to go kill, imprison and rape their fellow Syrians in Iraq just to make the Bush oil well raider party and Total happy? So these raiders and Iraqi will blame the Syrians for all the mass graves, genocides, missing countrymen and theft of property and resources in few years like the Lebanese doing today.

His Excellency President Bashar Assad, Syria's only hope and viable alternative did make the right decision in letting the raiders take all the responsibilities for the dastardly deeds that are planned by the Zionist Faith’s criminals. He protected Syria's reputation and did so as a Nationalist Leader who cares about the Greater Syrian National Interests.

You are either newbie into politic or an agent for someone

 
At 1/02/2006 11:56:00 AM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Appreciate the compliment and the kind words.

 
At 1/02/2006 11:58:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

"I am stating that the so-called old guard had more vision and gamesmanship than this team. Love them or don’t (I am in the latter), they had the ability to survive 30 years."


Because they did not do anything except persecuting people. Life was stalled. Time was stopped in Syria and Hafez Assad was a true retarded man mentaly and culturely. World affairs changed tremendously between the two eras as well. Hafez Assad thought he had "regional cards" to play with, but I assure you that these cards were given to him to accomplish the role designed for him, mainly crush the Palestinian, Lebanese, and Syrian leftists. He did so very well. The Golan Heights is still occupied though his whole so called "correctional movement" was on the basis that he would recuperate it his way.., not the other side way.

Khadam, Mohammad Haidar, Ahmar, and many others were being investigated for frauds and corruption, and Assad saved them, and that was primarily why they were standing with him, and they stuck with him until now. The Hafez Assad team was nothing but "yes" men without any personality of their own, they were only interested in surviving and stealing money, and so they did for 35 years.

Remember that during Hafez Assad reign of terror Syrians were required to special costly permit to use a fax machine. Now, Syria is different, and that is for sure. I am not praising this regime which is still a continuation of the same, but there is a difference.

The corruption mentality among Syrians, small or big did not start in the past 5 years, but was encouraged and implanted in Syria by Hafez regime for 30 years, and so it is now truly difficult to change the people and appoint honest men or women to important posts, for corruption runs even at the level of the littlest employee in the Justice System for example. You need either powerful connections, or money to do anything. Can Bashar change this by issuing new laws? That is not how this problem can be solved. It is now deep in the Syrian culture, and poor are those who could not benefit from what they do, and they are also many..but they are the suffering victims.

 
At 1/02/2006 12:21:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Truly difficult to change the people and appoint honest men or women?
It sure is when you pay them $100 a month and allow your cousin to plunder, steal, win every single business and contract in the land. It sure is when you turn a blind eye to anyone who claps for you every time you open your mouth. It sure is when you reward every regional Baath and security office head a carte blanche so long as they provide your regime the security it so desperately needs to stay afloat. Here is some simple math. For you:

A falafel sandwich costs 15 SYP. Let us assume that a civil servant decides to feed his wife and three kids only falafel for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He will need 45*5*30 = SYP 6750. This is $123 a month, which exceeds his salary and the country’s per capita GDP. If this poor Government official does not cheat or accept bribes, he will die of starvation. Note that the above falafel budget is yet to cover rent, heating bills, new cloths for the children (I guess used is the operative word here) and potential sickness of members of his family. In contrast, most of you who praise the President eat falafel after you have had enough shrimps, steaks and eating out. You want your country fellowmen to support the regime to “protect Syria’s reputation”? What reputation? You have the audacity to blame the Syrian “people” for not being honest? Cut it out please.

 
At 1/02/2006 12:24:00 PM, Blogger Orontes Defense Technologies Corporation said...

Mr. Landis
Could you please use less intrusive spyware than this counter.digit.com. A counter should be used on the home page entry point and not record every click. It is just too much work having to block teh TCP port on every refresh. There are several site counter that are less intrusive and can be used for free.

Noted that you can actually write well, when you wanted to.

 
At 1/02/2006 12:33:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

""In contrast, most of you who praise the President eat falafel after you have had enough shrimps, steaks and eating out""


If you meant me as "praising" the regime, than you are deeply mistaken.

All I am saying is that giving me the choice between Khadam or people of his time, and Bashar, I would choose Bashar.

So, the Falafel Sandwich, and so on just happened, or is it what Hafez Assad-Khadam did?


You wish to return to an era in th epast or go forward? Giving me a choice between Hafez Assad and Bashar Assad, I wiould certainly choose Bashar.

The problem is that you are limiting our choices between the two.

I refuse both of them, but all I am saying is that until I know for sure that it was not Khadam that killed the so called "Damascus Spring" for which history says it was him, I am not for getting this criminal become a hero.


Thank you very much..


JAM

 
At 1/02/2006 12:35:00 PM, Blogger Orontes Defense Technologies Corporation said...

Thank you for removing that intrusive software that is deguised as a counter so fast, almost as fast as I was typing the commnent. Most likely it was those who placed it that did.

 
At 1/02/2006 12:47:00 PM, Blogger adonis syria said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 1/02/2006 12:47:00 PM, Blogger adonis syria said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 1/02/2006 12:54:00 PM, Blogger adonis syria said...

It's not goodwill matter,killing, corruption,sectarianism, clientelism are the engine of bashar asad's regime.
and we should refuse the way of nizar nayouf who try to exonerate a regime in using hafez friends as scapegoat.
asef ,maher and bashar are not less criminals than hafez and khaddam.

 
At 1/02/2006 01:22:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

JAM. Okay we got it. You and the world knows that Khaddam stole money and he was corrupt. You claim that I am limiting our choices between the two.
Yu refuse both of them. For the last time, please give us your choice in black and white and explain to us how this person will ask Bashar and company to call it a day. I would love to see a Syrian saint drop from the sky with enough military power to keep law and order while he embarks on his drive to guarantee civil rights, open the economy, raise living standards, maintain Syria's reputation and dignity and protect it from falling into a theorcracy. Who would not? When you find this Gentleman, please let us know

 
At 1/02/2006 01:50:00 PM, Blogger Orontes Defense Technologies Corporation said...

AGENT EHSANI2

You heard it from the world top experts at the U.S. State Department, the CIA and the White House, “THERE IS NO VIABLE ALTERNATIVE” and “THERE ARE NO ALTERNATIVES AVAILABLE THAT CAN SERVE U.S. INTERESTS BETTER THAN ASSAD”. Is this true or not?

It was loud and clear message that was repeated over and over again for more than a year. Ehsani2, you know better that even your boss at Mossad’s agree with that assessment.

You also heard it loud and clear from all over the world, especially the Americans, that all they care about is everything else except the wishes and well being of Syria and Syrians. Is this true or not?

So what the fuck you are trying to stir mischief in here for. Do you have a viable alternative that will be acceptable to the Bush’s, Blair’s, Chirac’s, that Bedouin Arabian king whatever the fuck his name is, that African in Egypt and that Jew in Israel? Not to mention Iran and Russia?

If you do, then please present that person to us, and to the world. Call Bush and tell him you got the man that can ignore the Syrian People interests and their wishes and work diligently to serve him and his company obediently not only in Syria but as you dream of in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine, a real puppet and stooge of first class.

I said this before and I say it again. I know something that these ignorant in the world don’t know. They think that because his Excellency President Assad belongs to a minority Alawites that are “supposedly” hated by the majority Sunni Moslems of the country, he will be ready to serve the west’s interests in exchange for protection from the populace and recognition of his rule.

This is the folly of western strategist. The fact is, Alawites are devout Syrian Nationalists, more likely to protect the interest of Syria, that those of the west. Trying to contrive these mechanisms to force President Assad to bow down to the Beasts of the world, will be an exercise in futilities.

Yes, President Assad did inherit a corrupt Socialist, Baathist system, that is backward and not conducive to the interests and future of Syria. Not even to the interests and future of the Baath Party or the Alawites. But, as of now, President Assad is the only viable option for Syrians, those that are interested in not turning Syria into vassal of Jews of Israel.

Bushes, Iraqi model of Freedom and Democracy in Syria is not a viable alternative. Bushes viable alternative for regime in Syria, one that serves the Petro-Zionist interests is not a viable option for Syrians.

Agent Ehsani, When you have a viable option, please present it. Otherwise, working with President Assad is the only available option for Syrians.

Finally, If I was President Assad, I will withdrew from the United Nations and ask this criminal organization to remove it’s thugs out of the Syrian Golan right away, strengthen my relation with Russia, Iran and North Korea, and build up the Syrian Armed forces, armed with modern weapons. Syria can have access to modern weaponry that can render the entire Israeli/Jewish air and missile force obsolete and effectively wipe it out in couple of hours. This will send clear signal to the Jews of what is coming and they will lean hard on all others to cool it. Mossad, have all the tricks in the bag to keep every leader in line with Israel wishes if he wants to stay in politic or business.

Testifying, humiliating the people of Syria and handing over Syrian sovereignty and officials to the U.N. Bowing down to the beast is only going to be the start of a lengthy and endless process that is pre-configured and will end of having Syria chopped up and his excellency is sitting as a stooge on an Alwites canton and it’s eastern part incorporated into a Kurdish state, supposedly called Kurdistan, that is run artificially by a Kurd, but in fact it is nothing more than Haliburtonstan. The plan is also to include the Turkish part to the North, one that Geo-Resource satellite discovered it is very rich in oil.

President Assad can also take full advantage from the Israel-Iran conflict. Not by selling out Iran interests to the Jews but quite the opposite strengthening the strategic-military relation with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Let’s face it, it is a fact the Jews lost out in this conflict and they are sore. They are so sore that they are planning on attacking Iran’s. The fools must have really fabricated and utterly twisted intelligence about Iran. This is what happened when you pay for intelligence, you get what you paid for, so the payments continues. Assad, should have his military ready to liberate the Golan Height as soon as the foolish Jews bomb Iran. Israel missile, anti missile and entire air resources will be immobilized and this is the time for 5000 tanks, 10,000 armored vehicle backed by couple of MIG jets to liberate the Golan in couple of hours and roll back the Jews.

Rolling back Israel, is a key objective of a paper titled CLEAN BREAK III that President Assad should be asking his ambassadors for a copy.

 
At 1/02/2006 01:51:00 PM, Blogger Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

Josh,

Tony Badran is a notoriously pro-Hariri Phalange fascist: how can you lend any credibility to his so-called “analysis” of the situation in Syria??

As for your own analysis, well with all due respect, I wish it were as simple as “the Stalinist scales fell off comrade Khaddâm’s eyes and he truly could never believe in Baathist collectivism again for he was touched by the grace of Yankee liberty, free enterprise, and the pursuit of happiness”…

1) Al-‘Arabiyya is certainly no “disinterested beacon of intellectual objectivity” beaming rays of investigative journalism into the barren Soviet-style Syrian steppes… Al-‘Arabiyya is owned by Sheikh Walid Ali Ibrahim, a brother-in-law of Saudi Arabia's late King Fahd, and a notorious rightwing Wahhâbi Islamist who once said in a TV interview that “Christians are the descendants of dogs and swine”. Mr. Ibrahim is also a significant shareholder of Saudi Oger SA, a French-Saudi joint-venture….and the main investment vehicle for Rafiq Hariri’s real estate and construction ventures in Beirut and Riyadh

2) Bashar al-Assad is no saint, but he has only been in power for the past 5 years at a time when his country was losing much of its Cold War-era “geo-strategic clout”… Abdul Halim Khaddam on the other hand has a much longer/darker track record: from 1976 till 1999 he personally supervised the execution of thousands of Lebanese resistants whose only fault had been to refuse the Syrian occupation of their country. Abdul Halim Khaddam is also on the record for having publicly and repeatedly called “his friend comrade Leonid Brezhnev the greatest leader of our time” and for having described President Reagan as “a bloodthirsty war criminal and a lackey of Zion”.

Allow me to be skeptical about the man’s recent “democratic epiphany”…

 
At 1/02/2006 02:21:00 PM, Blogger DamasceneBlood said...

A very alarming trend has surfaced after the Khaddam interview. I've noticed that most of my Syrian Sunni friends are singing Khaddam's praises (at least the ones outside the country) as well as some here on SC. On the other hand, Alawites are starting to side with Bashar (see JAM above). Are we moving closer towards a sectarian rift? This is a very unwelcome trend. It seems that Sunnis all of the sudden are viewing Khaddam's past transgressions are just like everyone else, and everyone did it, and "what he did is nothing compared to Rami", and "at least he has the balls to come out and say the truth", etc etc.

Granted, Bashar's response, in the form of MPs' diatribe, was quite moronic and predictable.

Ehsani2

What strikes me as mind-boggling, is why is it that the Syrian citizen, with his below-dignity standard of living, rallies around the very regime that causes him all his suffering? maybe our people are too stupid to deserve any better..."Kama takoonoo yuwalla 3alaikom"

 
At 1/02/2006 02:30:00 PM, Blogger ActiveListener said...

Orontes Defense Technologies, you have a highly unrealistic and inflated opinion of Mossad to imagine they could have someone like Ehsani2 on board.

That's the sort of fantasy the creepy Israeli intelligence services are so keen to promote - that they have sophisticated-thinking agents. In their dreams! You do them a service by falling for it.

In fact, their performance (not the disinformation myths spun by Israel's supporters)indicates they are closer in quality to your heroes, the Iranian and Russian secret services.

Your guides should call you in for better training - they are idiots, but even they would not urge Syria to strengthen its relationship with North Korea.

 
At 1/02/2006 02:56:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

DamsceneB;

Is that why you are supporting Khadam now, and saying that the people of Syria do not deserve better? Because as you put it, you are a Sunni?

I explained my point of view above. Also, I do not think that SRRPs who are writing here are Alawis.

Have a great day.

JAM

 
At 1/02/2006 03:03:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

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At 1/02/2006 03:07:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

And to answer our friend, Ehsani2, concerning what alternative I see, here is my resply again:

Let's take a woman, married to a bad bad man. She wants to get rid of him, and so she meets some one who smiles a little better than her man and promises her democracy, freedom, equal rights, etc..., but he has a bit of a bad past that she is ready to forgive because of her experience with her man. The new man seems appealing with his smile, but he was a crook, few years ago... so she jumps right away in his arms, divorcing her husband and marrying him. Only to discover that this new guy is a lot worse than her husband, and he is truly a monster. Should she keep repeating this experience and change men until she falls with the right man, that is if the new guy she just married does not kill her or force her to work as a prostitute? You tell me.


To get out of Bashar's rule, should we rush into believing this old new thief and criminal Khadam, just to get away from Bashar?

Let me ask you thins, and if you can answer me with facts, I will side with Khadam right away:

Who was responsible in killing Damascus Spring? Was it Khadam or Bashar. All I know is that it was Khadam that uttered the first words against that "spring". Do we all not remember? If you tell me as a fact that it was not Khadam, I will change my views immediately.

Thank you very much.


JAM

 
At 1/02/2006 03:47:00 PM, Blogger Orontes Defense Technologies Corporation said...

JAM.
Thank you for pointing out Khaddam being the first to squash the Damascus spring. I do remember his front standing condemnation. And yes SRP 78 top committee members of which 64 are sunni moslems.

Active Listner,
I was sure you will be the only one commenting on Orontes comment and making a point of DPRK. In fact I received an email jocking about it before you even commented.
Try to google Israeli spying on america, and israeli spying on the world,you will see that people these days are well informed.

De la Vega,
Good comment, facts and facts.

Agent EHSANI2
Have you called Bush yet and told him about the viable option you have? I really like to know the name of that stooge. Is he also wiling to hand over the Golan with the rest of Palestine to teh Jews and Lebanon to split between Israel and France.

 
At 1/02/2006 04:25:00 PM, Blogger KarimHalab said...

A good deal of Khadam’s pan lays on the idea of him being Sunni (the country’s majority) – it looks like he did succeed given your firend’s reactions. Btw, most of my entourage (also Sunni) are reacting quite the opposite; but not out of hate of Khadam or love of Bashar but out of fear for their businesses. The first reaction I heard after the interview was about the Pound-USD exchange price jumping up rather than about anything else. The man is no saint in whatever standard you put, but again, is he any different than the rest of them? Can you anyone name a single person in the Syrian government over the past 30 years who is not corrupt? If Khadam has more wealth than the rest that is because he probably outsmarted them in corruption as well, and had they been in his shoes, they would have done the exact same thing. Every one of us on this forum would bury nuclear waste in the country if we were going to get paid multiples of hundreds of millions of dollars for it: let’s get real guys please enough idealistic values that noone is up to.

On the other hand, apart him, who would qualify as a credible Sunni alternative to the current establishment? Yes he needs Shihabi or a military back up, but this could be bought / sought (you make the choice)

JAM my brother, could you for once answer a question straight? The inspiring story about the lady switching husbands is not a concrete solution. Who do you think can steer the country out of the current position it finds itself in? Let’s assume Khadam does not even exist, given the current situation, what do you suggest concretely? Mentions a plan, names, something concrete for once. This is the 6 or 7th time you are being asked the same question: please answer or admit that you don’t have a plan. This not a bad thing, this the same position where the current opposition finds itself. They know what is wrong and they point a finger to it, but they cannot offer anything concrete. It is important to define the problem, but without proposing a solution, we simply turn in circles like a cat trying to bite its tail. We need to snap out of it.

Unless I’m missed something, DB did not mention in his post that he is supporting Khadam, all he did was describe his friend’s reactions. Why do you suppose that he is “supporting Khadam now, and saying that the people of Syria do not deserve better? Because as you put it, you are a Sunni?” Aren’t you the one stirring this subject up? This the time when we need smarter reactions, not Bashar style reactions. But again, this is part of the problem of the Syrian personality as you mentioned earlier.

 
At 1/02/2006 04:44:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

KarimHalab:


1- you asked this: "Unless I’m missed something, DB did not mention in his post that he is supporting Khadam, all he did was describe his friend’s reactions. Why do you suppose that he is “supporting Khadam now",

and here is what DB said:

"""What strikes me as mind-boggling, is why is it that the Syrian citizen, with his below-dignity standard of living, rallies around the very regime that causes him all his suffering?"""

so, still on the first question, 1-a DB used to be the great defender of the regime here and of Bashar Assad himself. His response above seems a change in direction. , and 1-b, I did not change direction. I am only not jumping on Khadam's wagon.

2- you said this:

" If Khadam has more wealth than the rest that is because he probably outsmarted them in corruption as well"

That is not what I attacked Khadam for. He is among many many many corrupt individuals, the creation of his master, Hafez Assad who killed or imprisoned or scared all honest and good people, and brought the pigs upfront such as Khadam. The point is Khadam opened the subject of corruption, and spoke about Syrians who eat from garbage while others became billionaires from nothing. If he did not speak about the subject, I would have opened my ears to what he was saying, but to blantly mock our intelligence and think that he will laugh at us and pass himself as the clean honest hard working poor guy is something that turned against him, and burried him..


3- The alternative is not going tot be Khadam, and if there is not an alternative now, I am not in a rush to burry Syria with Khadam.


4- You mentioned that you or us would burry poisonous material in Syria for money. Please speak about yourself. You have no right to speak about others.

Thank you

 
At 1/02/2006 05:19:00 PM, Blogger KarimHalab said...

JAM,

Thanks for your reply.

1- I still do not see where DB mentioned that he personally supports Khadam, but pursuing this debate is childish, so my apologies.
2- I thought Khadam was the "number one thief" in your point of view (and mine too). But if you do not oppose him because of this then bcs of what? Because of his political stance? Fine which one? The one on the Damascus Spring? I don't recall that we were living in a "Hyde Park Society" where free speech and political activism were sacred rituals that only the evil Khadam disrupted. For his foregin relations stance? Well this is the little plus that he can bring back after Bashar blew it all up. You have no idea what his so-called "reforms" are? How can you disqualify them without even knowing what they are? Then what do you oppose him for? His looks? This the pragmatism I was talking about.
3-You finally mention that you have no alternative. Thank you. This does not bring you down in anyone's eyes a single drop, to the contrary, where are all in the same position, but just blast it out straight away from the start.
4- I only speak so bcs this is normal human nature. Unless I'm missing something again, the ones posting on this forum all belong to the human beings category. Trust me, your adrenaline would boil in your brains for much much less than multiples of millions of dollars (trust me on this, i've been there). You do lose it and this is why it is so easy to buy people, many have done before and many will do it later; no good reason why people on this very forum are above human standards. And trust if you see the checque signed, or the samsonite filled with greenbacks handed over to you, you'll bury nuclear waste and with it your entire family if needed. After all you're human if I'm not mistaken again, no?

 
At 1/02/2006 05:33:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

What you have just described, mr., is the mentality that is post 1970, exactly. Sorry to tell you this, but you are profoundly wrong, and perhaps, you are of the age of the Hafez Assad revolution of 1970.

I gave all my reasons why I despise this thug Khadam, but it is as if you did not read or understand a word of what I had said. I am not going to repeat.


Thank you again

 
At 1/02/2006 05:41:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

karim Halab and Active Listener add a sense of logic to the discussion.

 
At 1/02/2006 05:50:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Anyway, Khadam will not shake a thing in syria. People know him, and he is despised. You do not run from wolves into hyenas.

 
At 1/02/2006 06:11:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 1/02/2006 06:13:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 1/02/2006 06:16:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

As many of you would be happy to hear, my postings on this forum will decrease substantially in terms of frequency. You should also be happy to hear that it has nothing to do with my Spymasters. I am merely a hard working Syrian citizen who is embarking on a new business venture starting tomorrow, hence my less available time. I am well aware that a number of you will not miss my remarks, which appear to anger and frustrate a number of participants. I have been branded an agent of the CIA and Mossad, and that is regrettable but not surprising. The Arab and Syrian brain has been drilled with high doses of empty slogans and patriotic nonsense that has brought nothing but despair and economic ruin. My falafel budgeting calculator above is a damning fact that cannot be ignored. 20 million Syrians deserve to live in the economic prosperity that they so desperately need and deserve. Generations of people have been wasted and lied to by thugs who have no respect for the people they turn to every time they get into trouble. Sadly, but not surprisingly, these very same people oblige when needed. Not surprisingly because their plight has been ignored for too long. Not surprisingly because they are too poor to think, analyze, bog or travel to experience what human dignity and economic independence is all about. Not surprisingly because of that old CD that has been planted in their genes almost from birth. Not surprisingly because they have become convinced that no one cares about them and that their leader will squash them if they ask for accountability. In the U.S. and other civilized nations, accountability holds supreme. Elections are decided on Unemployment rates. Raise standards of living, lower unemployment and protect the homeland, and you will be reelected. Not our people. Unemployment is off the charts. Who cares? Not even the seemingly educated on this forum care. They think they have the morale higher ground. They counter with big words like dignity, reputation and honor while they sit from afar. In the meantime, their fellow countrymen are reduced to corruption and despair. Not because they enjoy doing so but because they have to. As I sign off, I remain an optimist. The region and Syria in particular is no longer under the radar screens. The region is changing at a breathtaking pace. The ship has turned. A speedboat it is not. In my humble opinion, Syria’s next forty years will be dramatically better than its past 40 year. On that positive note, I say my goodbyes for now.

 
At 1/02/2006 06:17:00 PM, Blogger KarimHalab said...

JAM,

Bro, I'm not picking on you in any manner, but this is an interesting thread and I'll promise to lay it to rest here. I did re-read what you mentioned about Khadam and i stick to everything I wrote above in my reply. The one point I failed to mention was when you said that you oppose (or attack to your use your propoer wording) this guy bcs he "blantly mock our intelligence and think that he will laugh at us and pass himself as the clean honest hard working poor guy". Who exactly where you talking about here Khadam or Bashar Assad? I can't recall Khadam trying to act as anything else but a hauty openly corrupt guy (just like the rest of the bunch). But I do recall Bashar Assad mocking our inteligence by saying that the Syrian people are too ignorant for democracy (or something along this line). I do reacall Bashar Assad trying to pass by as a clean (Rami Makhlouf and the rest) honest (old guard vs new guard) hard working (internal reform and international relations)poor guy (living off his salary and feeding his family falafel all day long I'm sure).

One last brotherly tip for the sake of Syria: let's stop opposing for the sake of opposing. Being in the opposition is an art in itself that noone maters (me included). Just name calling and turning the back on every proposition made to us will not help in any way whatsoever. Let's move forward, let this forum help us put something together.

Have a good night and give this a good thought.

V Peace - 70s attitude:-)

 
At 1/02/2006 06:24:00 PM, Blogger KarimHalab said...

Ehsani2,

It is a real pity that you are off. Your comments have been the breath of fresh of air (and common sense) that this forum needed. I wish you the best of luck with your new venture. May the economic hyenas (Makhlouf and wannabes) remain as distant as possible for your business.

 
At 1/02/2006 06:45:00 PM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...

Ehsani2,

Your comments and insight are very much appreciated by the vast majority of SC readers (including myself) I can assure you that. Do not let the ravings of a couple of idiots throw you off. I think all of us who have commented on this site for the past few months appreciate that some people on this site just make no sense whatsoever in their rants, and their rant on you is included.

You have it right on when you said that economics right now dictate corruption in Syrian society. A Syrian police officer makes 6000 SP a month which is simply not enough to feed his family. Until his salary rises to somehere around 12,000 SP/month, this police officer will continue to demand and accept bribes and nothing will change. He must feed his family. This is exactly what a Syrian traffic police officer told me first hand this past summer. So Ehsani's felefel example is well-supported by this street evidence.

So best of luck with your business venture and hope that you will still have time to make some less frequent comments.

 
At 1/02/2006 07:06:00 PM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...

And for the record Ehsani, you still do not have me convinced that even if Bashar wanted to send to troops to Iraq that he would be allowed by the Americans. The same Americans who are fiercly independent, and also wary of Syrian motives. The same Americans that refused to give Iraqi contracts out to foreign companies. And never mind Syria would have been the only Arab country with troops in Iraq unlike Gulf War I. Never mind that Iraqis would rightly fear Syrian intervention rising to Lebanon proportions. So I think Bashar's hands were tied with his Iraq policy.

I also think he did the world a favor by supporting the insurgency, at least initially. American set a huge precedent in its illegal invasion of Iraq: That if a country is strong militarily, it can attack and overthrow any country of its choosing. If Iraq went smoothly, American would attack country after to country under this principle. China, Russia, India might then venture into military adventures following the success of Americans in Iraq. Because the insurgency still raises, the American precident has been diminished and American policymakers think twice before invading anyone else.

And let also not forget that if Iraq went smoothly, America just may have very well sparked an incident at the Syrian border and then invaded Syria. So I still think Bashar did well by not supporting the American military adventure in Iraq.

 
At 1/02/2006 07:08:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Ehsani2 Forward you complaint to President Assad. His excellency is working on resolving these economuic desparities that were created and supported by Western imperliasts, backed by Bedouin regimes. Give him a chance, he is the only viable option, ask the people in the know in Washington, Israel, Paris, London and Moscow.

These countries leaders are not stupid. They have many expets and they know. You have acomplaint, send it to the Syrian Ambassador in Washington. You have acomplaint about this ambassador as I do, send your complaint to President Assad through the Syrian Foreign Ministry, If you want the fax no, I will give it to you.

Go ahead and refine your Falafel Liberation theory and come back here and enlightin us please. We are too fucking stupid to know this Falafel Economic theory.

Regards

 
At 1/02/2006 08:24:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 1/02/2006 08:30:00 PM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...

JAM, yes we should be happy that somebody has defected from the Assad regime. You said "what is a discussion without different views", well in Baathist Syria we have never had different views.

So regardless of how big a thief Khaddam is, his speaking out is important. Him admitting that the regime is huge because this regime is used to zero accountability. He is absolutely no hero, but what he has done still is important and unprecedented.

 
At 1/02/2006 08:31:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Patriot2Sy;

Well, I know Bashar mocked not only our intelligence, but the world's intelligence, and he was not my subject.

My subject is the defector, the defector Khadam who only defected when he was kicked in his bot, and only defected when he sold all of his Syrian properties, and got his family out of Syria, unlike the thousands of real heroes who refused, day one of the Assad regime of accepting even the highest positions in his regime, and preferred to live in his prisons rather than to being ministers or higher, and even refused exiles, and they died POOR.

This Khadam came out and declared his defection, and we are supposed to be happy about him. He did not say a word of sorrow to whatever he did in the past 40 years. He did not express any regret, but tried to praise himself to what ever role he can invent. Then the most ridiculous is when he spoke about Syria's poor and how they eat from trash and garbage while some little employees became Billionaires. That is precisely what I call mocking our intelligence and taking us all for a ride. This guy defects, but you know what? He stayed silent like a good dog under Hafez Assad, because he has no dignity, he is an opportunist, interested only in himself, and he could not back then say a word , or take a stand, because he is a semi man, and now, only now after he was kicked out , and he feels safe in the outside, he takes another opportunity that he calculates to raise his status or wealth again, and you, and people who have your mentality want us to follow him. No Sir, for with all of my hatred for the Assad family, I say they are not cowards like the people they used, and I have more respect for them than all of their men combined. I do not trust cowards and opportunists, and I respect Bashar Assad a million times than wicked opportunistic pigs like Khadam or his likes.

For Ehsani, I regret you are leaving. What a discussion if not to be between different views? But your Falafel theory really stinks, sorry to say so...and you want to solve Syria's economic and cultural problems by confying to Khadam. I am sorry but that stinks.

Thank you


JAM

 
At 1/02/2006 08:37:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

EC, suddenly you are attacking the regime you were defending just a while ago, like DB, like others...that is funny.

I am happy he defected, but he is no hero to me, and he is part of the problem that you suddenly want him to be part of solving it.

Suddenly, this regime is no good, huh? May be what DB said regarding loyalty has something...yet, I say again, I did not change my views, and the Assad clan will show soon whether they were really held down by the old guard, or this is just another game. I am awaiting the release of prisonners soon, and if Assad does so, he will show us that yes, he was held by Khadam and his ilks. Either way, I am not for the regime, but never for little puppies like Khadam.


Thanks

 
At 1/02/2006 10:46:00 PM, Blogger ActiveListener said...

Ehsani2 thanks for you contributions to this forum which are often outstanding for their originality, depth and expression. You are also a clever wit. I have circulated many of your posts and will not forget them.

Expect to see some of your comments and ideas usefully recycled when the first free Syrian elections are held.

I hope your business is very successful and helps you contribute to the future of Syria which you so clearly honour and love.

May it also be prosperous enough to allow time to occasionally visit SyriaComment.

You will be missed.

 
At 1/02/2006 10:52:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

Ehsani,

good luck with your new business. I hope we'll see you here from time to time.

 
At 1/02/2006 10:56:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

SRP, just put the CD you're listening on pause, will ya?

 
At 1/03/2006 12:02:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

The most that this regime should be regretting now is that in 2000, and to allow the ascendency of Bashar to inherit the throne, they invented the so called "anti corruption" campaign and killed their prime Minister at the time, Mahmoud Alzoubi, being from Horan, and without great influence, the weakest of the weak, and in killing him, that anti corruption campaign was totally forgotten afterward, but that sent a shivering message to all, and established Bashar. Who ever came up with that idea was short sighted, for if they did that to Khadam instead, they would have been now without this terrible problem they are facing. They killed the poor Al Zou'bi, a man who was after nothing except some dollars like all of them, but with no more ambitions, and left the snake to come and bite them now.

JAM

 
At 1/03/2006 04:20:00 AM, Blogger patriot2sy said...

I think the debate now is Assad vs Khaddam.
My point of view:
Khaddam lost his credibility a long time ago, and his last appearance on TV did nothing but consolidate this idea more in the minds of Syrians.
Assad, tough he may have made lots of mistakes, is still credible. And if he now manages to bring reforms to his country, then he will gain support from Syrians.
BUT if he will keep wandering around, then he may soon loose his credibility and then, there will be no big difference between him or Khdaam.
Thank you

 
At 1/03/2006 08:04:00 AM, Blogger annie said...

Let's start from scratch. Why even speak of who is going to replace Bashar? Why replace him? For what reason ?
He is embarking on reform and deserves to be supported.

 
At 1/03/2006 09:53:00 AM, Blogger adonis syria said...

next harakiri ?


Beirut - Syrian Brigadier General Rustom Ghazaleh, who has been implicated in the murder of a former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri, said Tuesday he was ready to resign if asked by Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

'If the leadership asks me to die a martyr, I am ready,' Ghazaleh, the former head of Syrian military intelligence in Lebanon, told the television news channel al Jazeera in a broadcast monitored in Beirut.

'And if they ask me to resign, I am also ready,' he added in the comments to al Jazeera in the interview in Damascus.

Ghazaleh denied accusations of corruption, including charges last week by Syrian former vice president Abdel Halim Khaddam that Ghazaleh took 35 million dollars from Lebanon's Al Madina bank which collapsed two years ago.

'These accusations are all baseless ... It is part of the unjust campaign against Syria,' he said.

'I am ready...all my relatives are ready, to disclose our financial statements, and if they find any Syrian dime in any country, let them disclose it,' he said.

A United nations probe has implicated Lebanese and Syrian officials in the February 14, 2005 assassination of Hariri that triggered massive protests ultimately leading to the end of Syria's 29-year presence in Lebanon.

Ghazaleh was among a number of Syrian officials interviewed by U.N. investigators in Vienna in November.


© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

 
At 1/03/2006 12:45:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Annie said:

{{{Let's start from scratch. Why even speak of who is going to replace Bashar? Why replace him? For what reason ?
He is embarking on reform and deserves to be supported.}}}



Genius question!

Why there exists a blog like this in the first place? That was a waste?


If you don't know why we need to change the Syrian regime, there is something wrong in your understanding of Syria and the world in general.

Bashar is the inheritor of power and money. The money he inheritted is from theft of Syria by his father and his family, but we are willing to forgive the man and say this manshould not bear the guilt of his father, though he is enjoying the benefits of what his father did.

We are willing to forget everything about this corrupt family, but let's see from now on some positive steps toward Syrians and Syria. Let's see him empty his jails from innocent Syrians, and this should be soon enough because from now on, there is no Old Guard he can blame.


Then, we will talk why he should stay or leave.

Thank you

 
At 1/04/2006 12:03:00 AM, Blogger annie said...

JAM, you won't be reading this since we have started a new chapter but for the record : why get rid of Bashar indeed ?
You yourself say "we are willing to forgive the man and say this manshould not bear the guilt of his father"
and "If you don't know why we need to change the Syrian regime"
I did not say do not change the regime

 
At 1/06/2006 05:50:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

trying to post to see if that fixes the comment section

 

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