Friday, July 08, 2005

Syria Reaches out to Palestine and Punishes Lebanon

The Daily Star published French President Jacques Chirac's speech at the G8 Summit at Gleneagles concerning Lebanon and Syria on July 7, 2005. It indirectly blames Syria for the murders in Lebanon. Chirac calls for Syria to embrace the changes going on in the region - both economic and political. He also states that "Peace in the Near East, to be more precise, must be comprehensive. A zone of Syria's territories remain occupied. The settlement of peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors therefore concerns the leading nation Syria which as a consequence must contribute in it."

In this context, Bashar's announcement last Thursday, in which he "assured visiting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of his country's support for Palestinian unity," demonstrates that Syria is ready to cooperate on Palestine.

The Syrian News Agency, SANA, said "President Assad assured his guest of Syria support of the Palestinian people's struggle and rightful aspirations of ending Israeli occupation and ensuring the return of refugees to an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital," SANA said.

Assad stressed that Palestinian unity is the basic guarantee for recovering occupied national land and confronting current challenges.

"Syria encouraged and backed inter-Palestinian dialogue between all the Palestinian factions and is ready to continue on doing so," Assad was quoted as telling Abbas.
Here is Chirac's speech given a short time later.
'An occasion for Syria to open up'
Saturday, July 09, 2005

Four months after the assassination of [former Premier Rafik] Hariri, it is possible to make a first assessment regarding the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559:

Thanks to an unprecedented internal mobilization, coupled with an exemplary regional and international action, Syria withdrew its troops from Lebanon, which allowed transparent parliamentary elections. The Lebanese people were finally allowed freedom of expression.

These elections led to a true renewal. If the elections confirmed the necessity of reforming the electoral law, defects of which were highlighted by the European Union's observation mission, Lebanon enjoys today a Parliament that represents the majority of political factions.

Henceforth, the old opposition enjoys the absolute majority. Its officials own the necessary political and parliamentary means to introduce an emergency reform program. They should assume their task and we will judge them by their acts.

If the conditions necessary for success are available, the international community will voice their demands. It accompanied Lebanon through its battle for freedom. It must be at its side, tomorrow, to proceed in the path of renewal. The international community will continue to help Lebanon until an international conference can be held to determine how Lebanon can help itself.

But, a word of caution: it is not our task to take the decision in Lebanon's place. We will not help the authorities unless they help themselves. We will not accompany their reforms unless these reforms fall within the framework of a credible and reasonable scenario, conceived by Lebanon and set by the officials ruling fairly and proving their will to fight corruption.

A page of Lebanon's history is turned. But all liabilities have not been totally discharged.

The truth behind the assassination of Rafik Hariri has not been unraveled so far. The culprits have not been identified yet. We believe in the capacity of the Mehlis Commission to carry out the investigations with which it was entrusted.

Furthermore, the assassination attempt against Marwan Hamade and the murders of Samir Kassir and George Hawi have not been cleared up yet.

All these heinous crimes, part of an epoch thought to be gone a long time ago, targeted men known for their independence of spirit and their vision of a Lebanon free of foreign interference. They seek to intimidate and persuade the people and their rulers that it is in their best interest to accept a foreign protector.

So many signs that show that Resolution 1559 has not been fully implemented so far. Doubts linger as to the effective departure of all Syrian elements from Lebanon. This is why the international team entrusted with verifying the withdrawal of the pullout remains operational. This is also why the mission of [UN Envoy] Roed-Larsen is far from being terminated and must go on.

Furthermore, Hizbullah did not disarm yet. The international community demands it in Resolution 1559 that it must be fully implemented. It is up to the Lebanese government to spread its full sovereignty across the territories. Personally, the solution lies in Hizbullah's full and entire participation, as well as the Shiite community, in the political, economic and social life of the country. This participation should be the result of a dialogue process between the acting forces of Lebanon. The process, which should be launched without further delay, should also take into consideration the necessity of economic and social development of South Lebanon.

The developments that I mentioned have influenced Syria. It is an occasion for Syria to open up to its regional environment and to adapt to the evolution currently under way in the world. In the immediate present, we wish that Syria would establish a relation based on equality and respect with Lebanon. This would serve the interests of both countries because each of the two knows what brings it closer to the other.

Besides, it is in Syria's interest to return to the normal game of international relations. It can start now by ceasing support to forces that seek to destabilize Lebanon and the region.

Furthermore, the Syrian government should prove that it is ready to make a choice of freedom and democracy for its people. Syria must contribute in the national and regional economic development. The Middle East needs it.

In this perspective, it is in Syria's interest to take into consideration the evolution of the Near East and the world. Its reticence vis-a-vis change should not end up exhausting the international community. It is not in its interest. Time is of essence.

Of course, we understand that Syria must serve its legitimate security interests. Peace in the Near East, to be more precise, must be comprehensive. A zone of Syria's territories remain occupied. The settlement of peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors therefore concerns the leading nation Syria which as a consequence must contribute in it.
The British are joining the French in putting pressure on the US and Israel to open up peace talks with Syria again.
"British State Minister for the Middle Eastern Affairs, Kim Howells, on Monday said that "peace can't be achieved in the Middle East without Syria."

"No one can ignore Syria's effective role in the region... how will we talk about a Middle East that enjoys security and stability without Syria.." Minister Howells added during a meeting with the Syrian Media Center in London.

On the Syrian- British relations, Howells underlined that, "his country will not turn its back on Syria."
The three billion promised to the Palestinian Authority at the G8 Summit at Gleneagles will add to this pressure.

The best article on Syrian-Lebanese trade comes from the Daily Star, which provides good economic statistics for the last several years of trade. It is worth noting that not all news about the Lebanese-Syrian relationship is bad for the two countries just signed a contract to have a Lebanese firm build a new railroad line linking Damascus' Hijaz railway with the Damascus airport worth US$ 54 million. Here is the Daily Star article by Osama Habib.
Syria halts Lebanese trucks at border
With no let-up of inspection procedures in sight, livelihoods threatened by time consuming policy

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

BEIRUT: Lebanese trucks are still unable to cross the Lebanese-Syrian border despite efforts to relax tough inspection procedures, reflecting the tense political situation between the two countries.

Hundreds of trucks carrying tons of perishable goods are still queuing up at the Syrian checkpoint along the border, threatening the livelihoods of thousands of Lebanese families.

Adnan Qassar, the president of the Beirut Chamber of Commerce, told The Daily Star that talks to end the crisis did not yield any result so far.

Qassar attributed the stand- off along border to political tension between the two countries.

Observers said that Syria apparently wants to demonstrate to the Lebanese that the anti-Syrian sentiments following the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon will not go unnoticed.

"We must have candid talks with Syrian officials because Lebanon and Syria have much to lose if tension continues," Qassar said.

He added that the Lebanese government must review trade agreements with Syria for the benefit of both parties.

Syria is the only land outlet for Lebanese-made goods to the outside world.

Most of the Lebanese trucks stranded along the border were heading to Iraq, Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf countries.

"Syrian authorities are reluctant to facilitate the movement of Lebanese trucks," one trader said, adding that many of the tuck drivers are forced to throw away tons of fruits and vegetables on the road after spending days waiting near the checkpoint.

Lebanese trucks are spending between four and five days at the Syrian checkpoint while Syrian trucks crossing to Lebanon are cleared in less an hour, according to merchants.

But merchants admitted that very few Syrian trucks are actually coming to Lebanon these days.

Lebanon and Syrian signed a free-trade agreement more than five years ago but Lebanese traders and farmers complained that the Syrians never respected the agreement.

Lebanese farmers were also furious at Syrian smuggling into Lebanon, flooding the local market with cheap agricultural products.

In 1997 the volume of bilateral trade between both countries stood at $76.8 million, for which Syrian exports to Lebanon accounted for 92.7 percent.

As more agreements were signed, Lebanon gradually began tipping the trade balance in its favor. In 2000, for example, bilateral trade volume stood at $190.1 million, with Syrian exports making up 87.8 percent. By 2003, trade volume stood at $277.2 million, but Syria's share of the pie had slipped to 74 percent. In the first half of 2004, total trade volume stood at $136.95 million, of which Syrian trade accounted for only 63 percent.

While such figures are susceptible to fluctuations in energy prices (almost half of Syrian exports to Lebanon are oil products), Lebanese exports to Syria more than doubled between 2001 and 2003, and Lebanon's share of the official trade volume continued to grow. But economists stress that the figures do not include the goods smuggled into Lebanon, valued at hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Traders hope that the newly appointed Prime Minister Fouad Siniora will be able to renegotiate trade agreements with Syrian authorities once he forms his Cabinet.
Becir Saade explains how "Lebanese business leaders demand end to border row" in this article. Lebanon's agricultural exports to Syria are being badly hurt. "Syria also rescinded its long-planned offer to supply gas to Lebanon at preferential rates."

Many Lebanese are sceptical about Syria's ability to act as a good neighbor. Michael Young is one of them and he explains why only democracy in Syria can ensure a good neighbor.

Rami Khouri, also of the Daily Star, recently returned from GSTAAD, Switzerland, where he discussed "the increasingly violent, fractured and fragmenting Middle East" with 20 colleagues at an annual gathering sponsored by major American and European research centers. His summation of the conference is a worthwhile read for its wide ranging survey of recent developments in the area and thoughts about the future, which Rami says "paints a rather depressing picture."


At 7/09/2005 08:08:00 AM, Blogger ThinkingMan said...

You may want to add this news release by the Syrian Finance Minister, with shocking statements, attributing the slow down at the Syrian-Lebanese border to a “normal during summer times”.
He further extolled the fact that Lebanon’s exports to Syria ($85 million) surpassed for the first time Syrian imports to Lebanon ($60 million) during the first half of 2005.
News Release here

At 7/09/2005 09:09:00 AM, Anonymous Tarek said...

I think what's being done on the boarder is extremely childish. Two wrongs don’t make right. If the Lebanese were ungrateful or rude during Syria's exit that does not mean that the Lebanese farmers and average businessmen should suffer the consequences.

At 7/09/2005 11:12:00 AM, Anonymous Syrian Republican Party said...

Not of our business or interest. NO COMMENT.

At 7/09/2005 11:19:00 AM, Anonymous MAD said...

Rami Khoury is part of the depressing picture.

At 7/09/2005 11:30:00 AM, Anonymous ArabGeek said...

who is Metaz K. M. Aldendeshe? who is Michael Rossini? who is the 'Syrian Republican Party?' Thanks to sebastian d'arfourt for starting the inquiry--here's some more info on the above:

if you do a 'whois' search on the Internet, you can find out who registered any domain name--here's a link to the info on;jsessionid=IIQXLMDJ1UQOGCWMEAQSFFA?whoistoken=0&_requestid=1027556

interestingly, the Syrian Republican Party is based in Las Vegas, USA!

also of interest is that the ssrp site looks almost identical to Metaz/Michael's 'business venture' sites, which themselves look to be of a highly dubious nature (nice perpetual motion machine you're selling--does Audi know that you're illegally using a picture of one of their cars?)

i'd say that judging from the quality of the sites, M/M is his own web designer--unfortunately, he's using old software, and only knows how to create graphics, not html text (he uses Adobe PageMill, a beginner's web design software)--also, is his broadband provider--his business is so reputable that he hosts it on his personal site, rather than spend a dollar to register a 'real' domain name...

also of interest is his personal site, where he claims that he is fluent only in English, which may come as a suprise to anybody here reading his semi-literate posts!

Ahmad Chalabi, indeed! SRP looks like another one of his opportunistic scams...


ps. responding to the inevitable slurs: the correct spelling is: 'M-O-R-O-N'

At 7/09/2005 11:35:00 AM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

bark morans, human scum, bark, your days are numbered.

At 7/09/2005 11:38:00 AM, Anonymous Agha said...

"Ahmad Chalabi indeed" well thank you Baathist subhuman scum, that is an honor for sure. I wil take that notable honor anytime.

At 7/09/2005 11:39:00 AM, Blogger Doha said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 7/09/2005 11:39:00 AM, Anonymous Imad Atassi said...

I demand respect. You can call me dog, just don't call me Baathist please.

At 7/09/2005 11:41:00 AM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Looks like the Regime in Syria and thier paid agents in the so called U.S. Academia are waging a consorted campaign. Hey, you are alredy discredited. American, already handed out the plans. Your days are numbered.

At 7/09/2005 11:44:00 AM, Anonymous Metaz said...

Yeah Imad, this tells a lot about the panic teh baathist in Syria are in. They must of got clue about what is coming up on the way.

At 7/09/2005 11:51:00 AM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

The Syrian are not trying to harass the Lebanese trade, they are taking security measure. Anyone experienced with Syria can put the SSPRS, Tel Kalakh / Dabbousia puzzle together. This not for idiots like you to understand.

At 7/09/2005 12:09:00 PM, Anonymous Metaz K.M. Aldendeshe said...

We are giving Baathist the wrap. I don't think these human scums are anything but Lebanese, failed career academia and somone that is profiting from the Syrian Governmnet. I will admit that Baathist have more class and restrain than this people with sewege surnames. We should respect the restrained Baathist please. My assessment is those attacking are even possibly American or Israeli agents.

At 7/09/2005 12:12:00 PM, Anonymous Imad said...

I see your point Agha. Today test of "no comment" and yet getting attacked is evidence.

At 7/09/2005 12:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

About the slow-down at the northern Syrian-Lebanese border, news show that the slow-down is the same on the main Syrian-Lebanese border in the Bekaa. Most of the trucks are carrying Lebanese produce to be exported to other Arab countries.

At 7/09/2005 12:44:00 PM, Anonymous Agha said...

should have a profiling of these sewege surnames attacking SRPS soon, will publish part of it here for all "concerned to view" DO NOT POST REPLY COMMENT ON IT. SEND IT CONFIDENTIAL.

At 7/09/2005 12:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Lebanese people are not sewage scum. We're all one people, we shouldn't forget that. I'm sad that people with good intentions get attacked. It's working; you are scaring me, like we've always learned to be scared of you since we were born. Thank you.

At 7/09/2005 01:18:00 PM, Anonymous Tarek said...

What I found very odd about is the kind words reserved for Iran, if you click on the arrow under Khamenei’s picture you can read more mind boggling analysis. And Josh will be proud to know that they have a picture of him among world and middle-eastern leaders.

Not surprisingly they praise Ileana Ros-Lehtinen the powerful Cuban-Jewish congressmen and the architect of the American pressure against Syria.

But since the website was only started in April of this year, i can safely say that this party does not exist outside these people's minds. To Metaz, i beg you, pretty please, with sugar on top can you provide us with the websites of all these companies you worked for? how about any clients of yours? or any product you have on the market? this keeps reminding me of that famous quote. "oh what a tangled web we weave, when we first practice to deceive"

At 7/09/2005 01:18:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

We see that clearly. Lebanese Christians and Shias will prefer President Assad in Damascus than the Sunni Moslem notables running it. The fear is not about security, it is about Economic and Political status. They know should Syria goes back to a Democratic Republican rule, Lebanon will be a backward province in no time.

On the other hand, Syrian Christians and shias are not scared and that is what is important to us.

At 7/09/2005 01:21:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

To Human Scum Tarek, I will not let my dog piss on your sole and sole of evry dead four legged creature in your surname extended family.

At 7/09/2005 01:23:00 PM, Anonymous Tarek said...

Stop generalizing all Christians and Shi3a vs. Sunni you racist prick. Thre should NOT be a Sunni president just because the majority are Sunni. I would be happy to see a person from any sect leading the country as long as he/she are up for the job. And please make your come backs original this time. "Bark dog bark, your days are numbered" and "baathist human scum" have been used wwwwwaaaayyyy too much. get some new lines

At 7/09/2005 01:30:00 PM, Anonymous Metaz said...

keep this subhuman called tarek talking, he is already givin our profiler some very important clues about the ape specie he evolved from and the wild zoo he lives in

At 7/09/2005 01:32:00 PM, Anonymous Imad said...

SSPRS website started in April? where did you get that information?

At 7/09/2005 01:56:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

To Tarek,
How are you sir? you are such an expert on the Middle East, we are impressed by your expertise. Sir, who would you like to see or in your opinion is the best leaders for Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran? and would you make a good President of any of these xountry and why?

Your response is greately appreciated.

At 7/09/2005 01:59:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hehehehe, getting close huhhh..

At 7/09/2005 03:18:00 PM, Anonymous arabGeek said...

such amazing powers of the SRP! how did you guess my true origins? born to Baathist Allawites, I then moved to Lebanon, and then to France, finally settling in America, where I have acquired into an academic post, which is really a front for my work for the CIA, Scooter Libby's Office of Special Planning, and the Zionist Liberation Movement...

meanwhile the SRP is busy drinking margaritas and ogling women in California and Las Vegas, where he divides his time between get rich quick schemes and liberating Syria!

again, sirs, may I remind you:

it's spelled 'M-O-R-O-N'

At 7/14/2005 05:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It is spelled M O R O N", ArabGeek:

No, if one is a moron they spell it as MORAN.

Happy birthday!


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