News Round UP (February 27, 2006)
Al-seyassah just reported that Qatar is leading an effort by the Gulf countries to enlist Syria's support for sending an Arab army into Iraq to restore law and order. For that, Syria would get paid close to $ 1.5 billion a year which will exceed the help Iran is offering it, hence giving Syria the incentive to support the effort.
Ehsani2 sent me the above news. But Muqtada al-Sadr said only a week ago, during his visit to Lebanon that he would consider any Muslim troops sent to Iraq as occupiers and would fight against them. He asked Muslims not to send troops and force such a dilemma on Iraqis. It is too late for Syria to consider such an option, even if the US were willing to consider it, which is hard to imagine.
The extent of US and regional anxiety about the state of Iraq is made clear in this article by Megan Stack and Borzou Daragahi of the LA Times, "Analysts See Lebanon-ization of Iraq in Crystal Ball."
Gunmen hold sway over streets lined with concrete bomb-blast barriers and razor wire. Entire neighborhoods are too dangerous for police to enter. ...Ziad Haydar explains that the Syrian government is planning to compensate landowners that lost their property in the 1958 agricultural reforms and has established a committee to oversee it. Ayman Abdulnour's "Kulina Shuraka" published the proposed bill. It is high time. The land confiscations soured relations between Syria and many Syrians now living abroad. It will help to end many old animosities.
The surge of sectarian fighting after a Shiite Muslim shrine was bombed last week has dealt a hard blow to hopes for creating a functioning Iraqi state.
Instead of laboring to create a well-run economy or a democracy, Iraqi and American resources are being diverted to stave off a civil war between Shiites and Sunnis, who are suspected in the bombing. And the formation of a new government appears likely to devolve into a series of capitulations to the various constituencies that have the power to plunge the nation, and the region, into chaos, officials and experts say.
"We are dedicating all our time to ward off what might be dire consequences," said Hussein Ali Kamal, the Interior minister's intelligence chief. "If the crimes and attacks increase, I do not think anyone in this country will survive."
The outlines of a future Iraq are emerging: a nation where power is scattered among clerics turned warlords; control over schools, hospitals, railroads and roads is divided along sectarian lines; graft and corruption subvert good governance; and foreign powers exert influence only over a weak central government.
The bleak prospects have serious implications for the U.S. Washington wants to tone down its overt political influence in Baghdad and decrease the number of U.S. troops precisely at a time when the fledgling Iraqi government has shown itself incapable of maintaining political or military control.
"This is something that's been leaning in this direction for some time, and the mosque incident has accelerated the process," said Edward S. Walker, a former assistant secretary of State for Near East affairs. "What we're talking about is people looking out for their own. I don't think it can be turned around."
Doomsayers long have warned that Iraq was turning into a failed state like Somalia or Taliban-run Afghanistan, a regional black hole. It's far too early to write Iraq off as a quagmire, analysts say, but the threat of contagious and continuous instability — like in Lebanon — looms. >>
Riad al-Saif, the recently released Damascus Spring leader, has reiterated his support for the Damascus Declaration leadership, who condemn external interference in Syrian affairs. He says that the West should confine itself to supporting human rights in Syria, which he does not see as interference. He expressed his concern about the situation in Iraq, which he indicated should be a warning to the Syrian opposition not to invite too much foreign intervention in Syrian affairs. He said that Bashar al-Asad could participate in peaceful democratic change.
* رياض سيف يميز بين "دعم المجتمع الدولي" والتدخل في الشؤون الداخلية .. ويرى أن بشار الأسد قادر على المساهمة في التغيير السلمي
The Kurdish Front for Promoting Democracy & Freedom in Syria is holding a conference on Democracy and Freedom for All Syrian and Kurdish Human & National Rights in Washington D. C. on March 13, 2006 in the Russell Senate Office Building. Representatives of Farid Ghadry's Reform Party will attend, I am told, as well as others.
The purpose of the conference is to explore the opportunities to unite the Syrian Opposition Front to establish through peaceful means a true democratic system in Syria where the human and the national rights of all components and minorities in Syria including the Kurdish nation are recognized. The conference highlights the suffering of the Syrian citizens in general and the horrendous suffering of the Kurdish people in Syria in particular.Amaar Abdulhamid explains that "The Temporary Committee for the Damascus Declaration has announced plans to form a Permanent Committee that will include opposition figures from inside and outside the country. The new Committee will be made up of 23 members, eight of them will be chosen from the Syrian opposition abroad."
Omayma Abdel-Latif of al-Ahram, interviews a number of Syrians in his article, "What now for Syria? (Al-Ahram) She examines prospects for political reform in the wake of 12 unprecedented months.
Ibrahim Daraji, a law professor at the University of Damascus, nonetheless firmly believes that the process of democratic opening in Syria will have to come from the top, namely the president. "There should be a commitment from all parties to expand the existing space for democratic evolution." The problem, he added, is that "there is a deep crisis of confidence between the regime and the opposition." In this context, strained relations with Lebanon can only bear negatively on the process of politically opening in the country, Daraji believes. "If the regime's survival is at stake, the issue of political reform will definitely not be one of its top priorities," he said.
Mufti of the Syrian Republic Condemned the attack that targeted a shrine in Iraq saying destruction of holy sites and dirtying them is aimed at religious and ethical values.
Alawite authorities in Turkey, Syria and Lebanon have also condemned the criminal attack on the shrine of Imams Hadi and Askari in Samarra. The Alawites trace their origins to the eleventh Shia Imam, Hasan al Askari (d.873), who is buried in the destroyed mosque, and his pupil Ibn Nusayr (d.868). Ibn Nusayr proclaimed himself the Bāb "Door" (representative) of the 11th Imam. The sect seems to have been organised by a follower of Ibn Nusayr's known as al-Khasibi who died in Aleppo in about 969. Al-Khasibi's grandson al-Tabarani moved to Latakia on the Syrian coast. There he refined the Nusayrī religion and, with his pupils, converted much of the local population.
"A Bomb-Builder, 'Out of the Shadows',"By Karl Vick, Washington Post (February 20, 2006)
Syrian Linked to Al Qaeda Plots Describes Plan to Attack Cruise Ship in Turkey.