Saturday, June 26, 2004

Bashar breaks some China

The anti-Syrian squad in Washington is still trying to nail Syria on the Nuclear issue. But they are doing it in an odd way -- constant leaks, all uncorroborated. Who can have confidence in these guys? The LA Times on June 25 published an article, entitled: "Nuclear Ring May Have Aided Syria," which quotes an unnamed US intelligence source. "International investigators are examining whether Syria acquired nuclear technology and expertise through the black market network operated by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, according to a U.S. official and Western diplomats." But most of the Western diplomats and International Atomic Energy Agency sources said Syria was on the list of suspected customers, but "no evidence had yet been found" to suggest "that Khan visited Syria or sold technology to it."

"Other Western diplomats and some U.S. officials cautioned that the information linking Syria to Khan's network was not conclusive. Even if Khan had contact with Syria, they said, there was no evidence that Damascus bought centrifuges or other technology from him."

Syrian officials have dismissed accusations that the country is pursuing nuclear weapons."


It seems to have been a bad day for Bashar in China. He cut his trip short, declining to visiting Shanghai. Reuters suggested the premature return may be because China didn't want to sell Syria arms and because Olmert, the Israeli minister, had just visited Shanghai a few days earlier. Clearly, China has business to do in the Middle East and it isn't with Syria. Peking may oppose the US in Hong Hong or Taiwan, but why would it want to annoy the US or its far more important arms and business partner, Israel, by stroking Syria too much? Syria is discovering that the old days are gone. Without the Cold War and China being a first world power now, it has no reason to be interested in Syria. It's market is too small and its know-how too limited. It can make tires but not computers or airplanes. Reuters writes:

"No new agreements have been signed in the military area during this visit," she said.

Syrian Ambassador to China Mhd Kheir al-Wadi characterized the visit as "excellent," but refused to detail the reasons behind the early departure. "The visit was very, very good, it was an excellent visit," Al-Wadi said.

Assad's trip coincided with a visit by Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who was also seeking to strengthen his nation's ties with Beijing. Olmert was in Shanghai on Thursday with a group of Israeli businessmen.

Syrian news reports have indicated Damascus' preference for Chinese-style economic reforms that have been characterized by the embrace of capitalism while maintaining its one-party Leninist political system.

Seventy Syrian businessmen have been in Shanghai since Friday to discuss ways of developing trade and attracting industrial investments, a Syrian economic source said.
The Daily Star gave this explanation for why Syria is so eager to do business with China:
Economic and political problems are squeezing Syrian businesses. Over the last few years, the depreciation of the dollar due to Washington's expansionist fiscal policy to fund the so-called "war on terror," and the Federal Reserve's decision to keep interest rates low to induce a faster economic recovery in the US, has eaten away at profits in Syria's dollar-dominated economy. As European intermediate goods and finished products became more expensive, Syrian businesses began looking to dollar-denominated US products instead. But with Washington's announcement of a ban on US exports to Syria last month, Chinese exports to Syria - which were estimated to be worth between $320 million and $500 million in 2002 - are soon likely to become a vital lifeline for many Syrian businesses.

"Dealing with Chinese companies makes sense because China is not involved in our regional conflicts. It will keep the US from pulling the rug out from under us," says Karim Khwanda, vice-president of Khwanda Group. "We need as many options as we can get. I think the real question now is how seriously the Chinese take us."

Questions over just how eager Chinese companies were to do business with Syria were raised following the business delegation's earlier three-day visit to Shanghai, where most Syrian businesspeople said they felt slightly ignored by their Chinese counterparts. Whether this factored into the cancellation of Assad's visit to Shanghai scheduled on June 23 remains unknown.
Syria did announce a big tire deal though.
Increased Chinese interest in the Beijing conference could be attributed to an announcement earlier in the week of a $100-million deal between Syria's Fredstone Organization and China's state-owned MCC to establish the Middle East's largest tire factory in Syria, with a capacity of 2.2 million tires per year. Based on an agreement from 2001, the plant's production will service markets throughout the region.
Muslim Brothers coming home
Several articles cover the on going talks between government figures and the Muslim Brothers, who seem keen on coming home. One MP has announced that they can live in peace if they return as individuals and not a party.

"Some people who oppose the government say they are able to live undisturbed, this is one of the positive signs. ... And if (members of the Brotherhood) come back ... they will find they can live a normal life in Syria."

Mohammed Habash, an independent member of parliament who won a seat in elections more than a year ago, said the time was ripe for members of the banned movement to come home.

"We sent a few signals (to the Brotherhood) because of positive democratic developments we are seeing in this country." Habash said Syrian authorities had not asked him to encourage Brotherhood members to return, and that Damascus was only ready to accept them back as individuals, not a political party. But he said it was time to put the past behind them.

Syria has released hundreds of political prisoners including members of the Brotherhood since President Bashar al-Assad came to power in 2000, following on from a gradual policy of reconciliation started by his father Hafez.
Another thoughtful article on the Brotherhood by Samir al-Taqi appeared in the Daily Star. It gives greater historical background on the MB and some sense of who they are today. The Daily Star - Opinion Articles - A reconciliation in Damascus?


At 7/01/2007 10:01:00 PM, Blogger Najla said...

"We need as many options as we can get. I think the real question now is how seriously the Chinese take us."

i would like to comment what Mr. Karim said above.

-well i guess we can 'Make' as many options as we 'Want' if we all work together, each in their own field :D

-the question that comes with that one would be, how seriously do we -Syrians- take our selves?

good job with the blog, thanks.

Najla Kurbeh.

At 8/17/2007 01:07:00 AM, Blogger Maldives Islands said...

Resources: Leading Web Directory


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