Thursday, October 27, 2005

Bolton: The Bull in the Mosaic Shop

I wrote the other day that the US NSC Chief Stephen Hadley had asked the President of Italy's Senate, Mr. Pera, about possible replacements for Bashar al-Asad. People close to Hadley wrote me to ask where I had gotten this plum. They insisted it made "no sense" for Hadley to ask the Italians.

Fortunately several Italian journalists read Syria Comment and ran down the story as best they could.

Simona Poidomani of ADNKRONOS press came up with this:

Dear Dr. Landis,

According to a senior official working with Mr. Pera, there has been no phone call from Stephen Hadley to the president of the Italian Senate. Pera actually met Hadley in Washington last September (which coincides with the one-two month ago timeline you mentioned to me on the phone) and they discussed several issues, including Middle East). This has been confirmed to me by another source in the government.

best regards,
Simona Poidomani
Simona, I love you! One has to admire real reporters. Where would we be without the forth estate. God bless them. One caveat: This does not prove that Hadley asked Pera about a Bashar replacement! We must not conclude that Washington wants regime change in Syria. And if they did want it a month ago, maybe they don't today? Maybe all the talk about chaos in Syria is seeping into US consciousness and we are not being run by a bunch of clowns? But don't count on it.

How good is American diplomacy?
A number of fine American journalists have assured me that Washington is determined that its diplomats are going to do things differently in Syria. "It's going to be different this time around," Deborah Amos of National Republic Radio told me yesterday. She just flew in from London, where she is now based for several months. "The neocons are not in charge any more."

Others have given me the same reassurance. The only fly in the ointment, they say, is John Bolton, who is perched at the UN. "But he will be constrained," they insist, knitting their brows. The French are worried. "It is a big test for him. Ann Patterson is no longer at UN to back him up." Paris fears he will be Samson in the temple. They are not sure he is the chef to shape, sugar, and sauté this resolution along its cordon blue path. But the Americans are confident. "Texan barbeque is better than frog brew anytime. This man has got the right glaze." That is the line I am hearing.

Well what happens yesterday? Bolton goes off like a roadside bomb, leaving blood on the tarmac.

Earlier in the day, President Bush gave a long interview on al-Arabia. It was good. Even using my mother-in-law test, it was good. She was impressed. (If you get a kind word out of Umm Firas about Bush, it's a lucky day) Reporters tried to get Bush to go on the record about when and how he would bomb Syria. He faced them down directly and said something along the lines of, "Why do you want me to say this? We don't want to use force and are not planning force. Of course, force is always a last option and I cannot say it will never be an option, but we believe this must be solved diplomatically, etc." Umm Firas was up-beat.

But this evening when I got back from iftar, al-Jazeera was running a clip of Bolton saying, "We want a resolution saying that every Syrian will testify if called by the investigation. - even President Asad." Bingo! The improvised explosive devise. (Have I mixed my metaphors enough?)

It was clear. America is still thinking of how to take down the Asad family. No door is going to be left open for a political solution. The last few days have been spent by everyone here wracking their brains to figure out a way in which the regime might be able to cooperate with the process without committing suicide.

My own little scenario was: Syria plays along with the investigation which centers on Shawkat Asef, the new bad guy who the West molds into a symbol of the mafia side of the regime. How to separate him from his brothers-in-law? The investigation proceeds. Syria cooperates but all the regime principals sing from the same script as they did the first time around: "We know nothing; we hear nothing; we see nothing."

Mehlis comes up with a lot of gray. His main witnesses to Syria's involvement remain under a cloud of suspicion, as they are now, and he must fall back on the argument that Syria had the motive, the means, and were in control of the geography and Lebanese bad guys. The investigation drags on for a year. Everyone gets tired of it. Lebanon is in a mess. All real government business in Beirut has been delayed, reform has foundered, and the economy is running on fumes and foreign dollar infusions. It has reached the apex of its pyramid scheme. The US is distracted by presidential elections, Europe is looking for a way out. The Arab states are anxious about continuing chaos in Iraq and worried Syria will go down the same path. Everyone is tired of keeping Syria in the freezer. Then Bashar cuts a deal.

The Asad family leans on Bushra and Asef, telling them they must save the regime. Asef agrees to resign and takes up residence in Dubai or some other gilded cage, much as Rifaat did before him. Bashar repents, changes some policies, uses the foreign pressure to promote many of the technocrats like Abdullah Dardari and Daoudi, etc., that he has been trying to promote as the non-Mafia, law-and-order face of his regime. He promises things will be different. He lets it be know that he only came into real power following the June 2005 Baath Party congress when he pushed out the last of the old guard. He needs time to be the real reformer. "Let Bashar be Bashar" becomes the new catch phrase within diplomatic circles. Syria will open up, move forward with reform, and have Egyptian type elections in 2007. The democrats come to power in the US, and slowly Syria wiggles its way back from the precipice and into the "community of peace-loving," non rogue nations. The democrats decide that to staunch the flow of blood in Iraq, they must draw Iraq's neighbors into the political process.

That was the only way I could see a way out for this diplomatic impasse. It depends on the West making a very clear line between the President and Asef Shawkat, allowing the brother-in-law to become the fall guy. This deal does not have to be complete white wash. Syria has to make some major changes in foreign policy, and Bashar is put on notice that Syria must really be out of Lebanon and crack down on Jihadists traveling through the country with a proper visa regime for foreigners, embassy in Lebanon, etc. It becomes a win-win for Syria and the West.

But what does Bolton do last night? "The President must testify," he says. He nails Bashar. Everything Bush did to suggest that there might be a diplomatic solution to this stand-off was blown out of the water. Bolton broadcasted loud and clear: "America is still dreaming of regime change." Buckle your seat-belts ladies and gentlemen. There are no grounds for building an understanding between the Asad regime and Washington. This is going to be a rough ride to the bottom. That is what I understood from Bolton's words.

To my friends who are telling me that Bolton will not be the bull in the China shop this time around or that he will do things differently than he did with North Korea, I can only say....... Inshaallah, may God protect us. To my French friends: "Get this guy to a cooking class."

Alix Van Buren of "La Repubblica," Italy's leading paper, and an old Syria hand who got the first interview with Bashar al-Asad on the subject of Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon, writes:

Here is an update on the French-American diplomatic "pas-de-deux" over Syria.
Interestingly, Le Monde today has a take on that issue. An article typically inspired by the Quai d'Orsay. The gist of it is: "The French-American joint effort could be down to its last hours". Here is an extract:
"Since the Mehlis report was published, France has played a very difficult balancing act in preserving its cooperation with the Americans while pursuing different priorities. The question of how long the joint approach can survive is now definitely on the table (...) To the French the most urgent issues are "taking time", avoiding all politicization of the report, allowing full completion of the inquiry, and preserving full consensus within the international community."
Here is where France and the U.S. diverge:
"(The aim of France) is to restore its standing in the former Lebanese protectorate, while also repairing some transatlantic tensions, and this through a pragmatic and well defined cooperation. George Bush's entourage however holds a broader regional perspective: its difficulties in Iraq, the infiltration of foreign combatants across Syria's borders, the presence of Palestinian camps in Lebanon"
Note: would this suggest Washington's desire to rid that Country of the 400,000 plus Palestinian refugees? that probably merits more attention, as such topics have been bouncing around Lebanon recently). "(...) While France will stick with the US on pressuring Syria to cooperate with the inquiry - though Paris has noticeably refrained these past days from all aggressive language towards Damascus - any semantic slip by Washington regarding ideas of "war against terrorism" or of "regime change" would be cause to break off the "partenariat". The whole concept of the French-American rapprochement, recently hailed in Paris by Nicholas Burns as "a situation where the axe of war has really been buried" is now in doubt."

And here is a Reuters' item that
just came in re Russia's stance on Syria - quite an open
challenge to the U.S.
October 26, 2005

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia,
Syria's close ally since Cold War times, will do all it takes to block any attempt to slap economic sanctions against Damascus, a Foreign Ministry spokesman was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

"Russia will do
everything necessary to stop attempts to introduce sanctions against
" spokesman Mikhail Kalmynin told Interfax news agency and other Russian media on the sidelines of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's trip to Israel.

Russia, a veto-wielding permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, angered the United States earlier this year by announcing plans to sell advanced missile systems to Syria, which Washington has accused of having links to terrorism.

(...) Lavrov will seek at next week's discussions at the Security Council in New York to make sure any resolution calls for the investigation to be fair and objective, Kalmynin said.
Timur Goksel of AUB writes: "Hizballah people are not so concerned with Mehlis report, yet. They are very focused however on the forthcoming Larsen report and their comments on Larsen are not exactly endearing. I am told to watch out
for Nasrallah's speech at Friday's Jerusalem Day parade."

Ibrahim Hamidi, al-Hayat's bureau chief in Damascus
, has two good stories: One in Arabic, in which Walid Mualem, the Deputy Foreign Minister, warns against a Sykes-Picot 2 in which the region is cut into statelets based on religion and ethnicity and Riyad al-Daoudi says that Syria will cooperate with the on going international investigation.

The other was printed by "Syria Today."
By Ibrahim Hamidi

I was not one of those Syrians who applauded the unanimous election of Syria to occupy a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council, representing the Arabic-Asian group for the period 2002-2003.

Syrian officials and government media warmly welcomed the 160-vote majority as reflecting Syria’s powerful influence on the international stage, while I simply saw it as an American trap, similar to that of Yemen in 1991.

When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, the United States forged an alliance under the cover of the UN to drive it out. The Yemen of Ali Abdullah Saleh was then on good terms with Saddam so it did not support this “international legitimacy”, but neither could it support Saddam. Yemen simply abstained from voting, but this neutrality turned out to be extremely costly during the 1990s, until the country was able to improve relations with the Gulf states and the US after September 11, 2001 by showing unlimited support to Washington’s war against terrorism.

The Syrian case looks similar, but more painful. During 2002-2003 Syria was expected to represent “Arab legitimacy” in any international resolution concerning two critical issues: Iraq and Palestine. However, it failed in both cases to take a comfortable attitude, and her presence in the Security Council turned into a burden rather than a breakthrough in the country’s foreign relations.

Three examples prove the point.

The first was on March 1, 2002, when Syria abstained from voting on behalf of UN Resolution 1397 - the first ever to explicitly mention the “Palestinian State”. Damascus had to make significant political and media efforts to explain why she had refrained from supporting a “Palestinian State”, despite her hard won reputation as a supporter of the Palestinian cause and a pan-Arab hardliner.

The second was in April 2002, when the then Syrian Ambassador to the US, Michel Wihbeh, left the meeting hall in New York and refrained from taking part in the vote on Resolution 1402 that called for Israeli forces to withdraw from Palestinian territories reoccupied after the Intifada.

Syria was not able to vote for the resolution because she did not want to show any kind of support to then Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, with whom relations were poor, but neither was Damascus able to vote “no” because it would have been impossible for the government to openly oppose the embattled leader of Palestinian cause. The result: the empty seat approach. No vote. No decision.

This was repeated in May 2003, when Wihbeh failed to take part in the vote on Resolution 1483 that called for an end to the 13-year sanctions regime on Iraq. Syria could not vote “yes”, because of her opposition to the US-led war in Iraq, but also she could not vote “no” because of fear of directly upsetting Washington. She simply preferred not to resist the international, American and Iraqi will to lift the sanctions; another “empty seat”.

So we had a situation where Syria could not support Resolution 1483, which called for the end to crippling international trade sanctions on a fellow Arab state, but did support Resolution 1441, which held Iraq in material breach of its obligation to disclose its weapons programmes to inspection, and was used as a central plank for the US’ case for the military invasion and overthrown of Baghdad.

Syria’s presence in the Security Council was a bitter experience indeed. It proved beyond doubt that such presence was a political achievement only in the eyes of those who fail to see beyond the surface of things.

This bitter experience continued after Syria’s departure, because of its incorrect interpretation of other international resolutions.

The first example of this was at the end of last year, after the issuing of Resolution 1559. Some Syrian officials considered the resolution a “diplomatic victory” because it had not mentioned Syria by name, and that Syria had nothing to do with the call for the “withdrawal of all remaining foreign forces from Lebanon”.

This proved an incorrect interpretation, because American and European support was able to enforce the interpretation that Syria was the main target of the resolution, and Damascus’ position was weakened further by its reputation as an assiduous supporter of the UN and “international legitimacy”, because the latter provides a good argument to demand a complete Israeli withdrawal from Syria’s Golan Heights.

Due to the great international pressure behind Resolution 1559, Syria announced its complete military withdrawal from Lebanon on April 26, 2005.

The same mistaken understanding was repeated with Resolution 1595, which called, in Article 8, for all countries to cooperate with the UN investigation into the assassination of the former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri, without mentioning any country in name.

Syria looked hesitant at first, but soon realised that the international interpretation was the right one, and the reality of how the world works would soon mean any small country would be forced to cooperate. That is why Syria later agreed to receive Detlev Mehlis, the chief UN investigator, and allow him to question senior Syrian officials regarding Hariri’s assassination.

So now we have a new reality: Mehlis will submit his report to the Security Council by the end of October. There will be a legal reading and charges against those responsible for the murder. There will also be a political reading by America and Europe, who look likely to want to use the report to isolate Syria.

The big question is: How is Syria going to read the Mehlis report? Will she stick to the Syrian interpretation only?

Adib Farha, a political analyst and former adviser to Lebanon's finance minister, wrote this for the Globe and Mail:
Not that we are or should be enamoured of the Syrian leadership -- but until and unless a viable alternative is ready to replace the Assad dynasty, anything other than a soft landing for the rapidly faltering regime would have severe repercussions on the stability of the entire region. Should the Syrian leadership implode or, worse yet, if the United States and its allies should launch military strikes against it, the ensuing anarchy and the possibilities of a sectarian/tribal civil war or the emergence of a Sunni fundamentalist-led regime would be catastrophic for all the region's countries, friend and foe alike.

We should continue to use every peaceful means to steer the Syrian leadership toward changing its evil ways. The goal should be behavioural change, not regime change. A premature fall of the Assad regime could "open up the gates of hell" (to borrow a phrase the Syrian Prime Minister recently used to threaten the U.S.), and everyone would be in deep trouble.

So, a word of caution to cheerleaders for immediate regime change: Be careful what you wish for, because you might get it.


At 10/27/2005 04:03:00 AM, Blogger Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

- Dear freedom-loving compadre,

YEAH ITALY…that’s surely a great place to shop for submissive political replacements: after all this is the country where former Afghan king Mohammad Zaher Shah and interim president for life Hameed Karzai lived the “dolce vita” of subsidized Neocon stooge for many years- driving Lamborghinis and sipping Martini Rosso at the expense of US taxpayers while we cut Medicaid at home for the elderly, the unemployed, single mothers, and other un-American social outcasts.

Italy has also many nice summer resorts such as Vintimille and Amalfi conveniently located halfway between Washington and Jerusalem, thus facilitating logistically the regular get-togethers of members the Central Committee of the World Pharisaic Neocon Congress... Plus our Italic statesman friend with the implanted hairdo cum brains prosthesis always brings some pricey vintage bottle of kosher Valpolicella- all that high level strategic thinking and world conquering makes you thirsty!!

Once we destroy the only secular/Republican government left in the whole Arab world, the new Syrian regime will surely be “free” to adopt Ubber-democratic political reforms such as the brutal imposition of Sharia Law on women, Christians, ‘Alawites and other second-class citizen and establish diplomatic ties with the state of Israel.

Finally I want to leave a little personal note to TeX-Aviv’s favorite son may Yahweh and Zeus always protect him from his enemies for eternity and beyond:

Mr. President Sir, you’re the best freedom-loving leader I have ever had the pleasure and the privilege to serve, Sir!

Eternally Yours in Liberty,

Dr Victorino de la Vega
Chair of the Thomas More Center for Middle East Studies

At 10/27/2005 05:16:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Prof. Landis is trying really hard, and doing his best to save the Assad regime!

I wonder if he will later be deserving the Noble Prize for saving the innocents from destruction, the Assad clan!

I believe that it is not men alone who make destiny! There is such a thing as God's will!.... I am betting on a supernatural force that will put an end to this criminal clan that deserve no pitty what so ever from any decent human being!

Even when this clan is faced with hard times and its future is in doubt, it continues to terrorize Syrians, and to put more of them into jails!

If president Bush is serious about getting rid of this clan, I can tell him how to end this regime without a big fuss or destruction to Syria. My problem is that I saw how they had dealt with Iraq and Saddan, and to me the conclusion was that they wanted to keep Saddam for 13 years to weaken the people themselves and destroying their babies and make them accept anything when the missiles ring in the homes of Iraqis.

Why did they need 13 years of hungering the Iraqi people before using these missiles? If Sanctions were not going to work as Bush proclaimed in order to attack Iraq, and that he saw that 13 years of Sanctions were futile, I am hoping he will not break his own words and be duplicit..

President Bush: There is no need to repeat the Iraqi Scenario, threaten to apply Sanctions, and bluff the Arab world and the American people again!. Finish the regime of Assad today if you are honestly for the things you call for, and not using them to destroy the other country that has the potential to face Israel as the real cause we see from destroying Iraq, and now wanting to destroy Syria. Finish the job today, and then we all will believe in you and trust you.

End the Assad regime today!


At 10/27/2005 09:15:00 AM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Mr Landis,

You wonder whether we are not being run by a bunch of clowns who are not keeping a door open to political solution or having the grounds for building an understanding. You then proceed to describe how the Syria could buy itself time and hope for the democrats to come to power and slowly Syria wiggles its way back from the precipice and into the community of peace loving non rogue nations.

I am confused. Are you mocking the democrats who you expect to be naive enough to let Syria succeeed in making the remarkable transformation that you describe above? the way that you view the Bush Republicans of course is clear. To you, they are simply "clowns".

What I find appaling is your lack of interest in economic matters. For an American Professor residing in Syria, one would expect you to describe to your readers the conditions and standards of living that the average Syrian citizen has been asked to endure under the Baath leadership.

Your framework seems to simply be:

The Assad dynesty has many deficiences but the alternative could/will be worse.

As a result, the Syrian citizen will have to accept:

One of the highest corruption and unemployemnt rates in the Middle East (note not comparing to Norway here).

In your home country, Presidents are judged by their economic records every four years. By that standard, it would be refreshing to read you comment on how the Syrians should judge their own President. Unless of course, you think that this standard is too much of a luxury for the Syrian Engineer/Taxi driver who is helping you travel economically through the streets of Damascus.

Mr Landis, regardless of Mahlis, the U.N., The U.S., Bolton and Israel, the catastrophic economic performance of the Syrian Administration should surely be enough to vote this group and this party out of power. It is time to stop the collapse of the Syrian standards of living.

I know what you are thinking, though. Let us give Bashar some extra time before his "reforms" work its wonders.

At 10/27/2005 09:20:00 AM, Blogger Lebanon Divided said...

Landis is on Bashar's payroll...

At 10/27/2005 09:28:00 AM, Blogger Abhinav Aima said...

Didn't Bush also promise that military force would only be used as a 'last option' in Iraq? Wasn't he already waging war in Iraq - through special forces and air raids - at the time he was pretending to pursue diplomacy? Similarly, if Seymour Hersh's reporting is to be trusted - there already is a hot war going on by US forces and their proxies on the Iranian borders. Any such incursions going on in Syria?

At 10/27/2005 11:44:00 AM, Blogger Abhinav Aima said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10/27/2005 11:48:00 AM, Blogger Abhinav Aima said...

One more thing, on Lebanon - The last time I was there a couple of years ago I was told that the number of Palestinian refugees was about 125,000 (not 400,000).

The one thing I did notice in Palestinian refugee camps was the growing threat of radical Islamist groups that were beyond Hamas and Islamic Jihad (I was in Shatila and Ain el Hilweh).

The specualtion at that time was that Syrian intel authorities were using these radical groups to contest the power of Fatah in the refugee camps. This was around the time of the Katyusha attack on Future TV, which was seen as a 'warning' to Rafik Hariri.

The attack was supposedly the work of some group called "Ansar Allah" - at least that was the initial report. One village elder in a Druze village told me a couple of days later that the attack was probably organized by "Ansar Lahoud."

But that's Lebanon for you. A plot at every dinner table.

At 10/27/2005 02:06:00 PM, Blogger BobW said...

Dear Prof. Landis

I am confused by part of your post:

That was the only way I could see a way out for this diplomatic impasse. It depends on the West making a very clear line between the President and Asef Shawkat, allowing the brother-in-law to become the fall guy. This deal does not have to be complete white wash. Syria has to make some major changes in foreign policy, and Bashar is put on notice that Syria must really be out of Lebanon and crack down on Jihadists traveling through the country with a proper visa regime for foreigners, embassy in Lebanon, etc. It becomes a win-win for Syria and the West.

But what does Bolton do last night? "The President must testify," he says. He nails Bashar. Everything Bush did to suggest that there might be a diplomatic solution to this stand-off was blown out of the water. Bolton broadcasted loud and clear: "America is still dreaming of regime change." Buckle your seat-belts ladies and gentlemen. There are no grounds for building an understanding between the Asad regime and Washington. This is going to be a rough ride to the bottom. That is what I understood from Bolton's words.

Bashar al-Asad tells us that he is innocent, so let us assume he is.

What harm could be done by him allowing himself to be interviewed by Mehlis? If he honestly answers the questions, and he is innocent then the issue would be moot, no?

Why do we need to lean on Bushra and Asef?

At 10/27/2005 02:08:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Yes, I don'tdoubt it that the Assad regime is counting in playing the time game. So did Saddam, who allowed his country and his people to suffer hunger, lack of medicine, and participated in the killings of 2 million Iraqi babies because of the Sanctions and because he refused to step down to save the innocents of his people. The Syrian regime will play the same game, and wait for the Democrats to come into power. Democrats came to power in 1992, and stayed until 2000, but the selfish corrupt dictator of Iraq was not given releif of the Sanctions, and president Bill Clinton was not less harsh to him than the Republicans.

I bet this scenario will be repeated. Assad will enjoy few more years of dictatorship and a part of this game, and he will not care whether 1 or 10 millions of Syrians will suffer because of his stupidity and selfishness. However, he should learn from history and see that Saddam was not saved by Democrats, and that his end may well resemble at the end that of Saddam Hussein, and will be finally found in a hole underground some where in Homs or Latakia.

I look forward to that day when the dictator of Syria will hide like the real criminal he is underground in a smaller hole than that where Saddam was found!

In the end, Justice will prevail, I am so confident and sure!


At 10/27/2005 02:18:00 PM, Blogger Nicolas92200 said...

This piece (in Arabic) is about recent contacts between the US based "opposition" and Israel. The best part is a promise by Ghadry to set up a Holocost Museum (I'm sure I misspelled this) in Damascus. Now if this is not going to develop tourism I don't know what is!! I don't know if Ghadry is also aware of Ivestment Law Number 10, probably his project would qualify.

At 10/27/2005 02:33:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Most probably, Assad will survive this Bush. He will then face Hilary Clinton for 4 years where she will send him one or two missiles to his palace, but then, Jeb Bush will come next and kick his ass in 2012.


At 10/27/2005 02:42:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

A poster named BobW said "America is still dreaming of regime change."

So as millions of Syrians. Iraqi, Lebanese and what have you few Billions in this world that care about the suffering of human under the world's most oppressive dictatorship.

Noted new faces in here in the last few days. IHSANI2 very articulate, highly educated with good understanding of the problem facing Syria and the Middle East.
I think he is an American Administration Official. Otherwise
would like to know more about him.

Then there is yet another highly educated poster, he is a clown named, Dr. Seuss or is it
Dr Victorino de la Vega! Why don't you put that knowledge into something decent and good, rather than concentrating on mocking those that are trying to do good. Would like to know more about you too Dr. and why you feel Bashar should rule for another 40 years?

Finally, all this chat is idle, the deal is done, the fate is sealed. If I was Bashar, I will do anything now than copy cat Saddam and do nothing, just sit and wait until they pull me out of the same dirt hole in Kurdaha. It is amazing how dictators always think like the way they think and always they end up ousted the same way. Someone should have written a book or a thesis on this subject. If anyone knows of this, please posted here. Would like to educate myself on the Psychology that drives a dictator mind in such an unintelligent way. It seams that most dictators appears to be so intelligent when they are running the dictatorship and the system as click clock machine. Once a screw fall off or comes loose, their ignorance all sudden takes over in panic. Strange but interesting phenomena.

At 10/27/2005 02:48:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Bush will never leave office and Assad in place. Trust me. The time is set for March-June 2007. The Republican election victory. Don't even think that the filthy rich Republicans just gonna let Iraq quagmire drags on any time close to the election. You can bet on this. Bush gave up on reforming or hoping that Bashar reform himself. They will not take risk like that. If the Republican lost the White House, it will take 16-24 years to regain it back.

Metaz K.M. Aldendeshe

At 10/27/2005 02:49:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

"Why do you want me to say this? We don't want to use force and are not planning force. Of course, force is always a last option and I cannot say it will never be an option, but we believe this must be solved diplomatically, etc."

The problem is that if Bashar's family is named, there can't be a diplomatic solution.

". Lebanon is in a mess. All real government business in Beirut has been delayed, reform has foundered, and the economy is running on fumes and foreign dollar infusions. It has reached the apex of its pyramid scheme."

That's true. Lebanon's government can't focus on the economy right now.

At 10/27/2005 03:02:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Today funniest Joke prize won By Bashar Assad and his Baatjist regime. Way to to go winners, here is the joke as reported this morning:

دمشق تدعو الى حوار مع الولايات المتحدة

At 10/27/2005 03:05:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

I bet it is those Zionist-Syrians dardari and Daoudi who came up with this joke

At 10/27/2005 03:07:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Yeah these guys still running the Eli Cohen network in Damascus.

At 10/27/2005 03:11:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Would not be surprised if Eli Cohen is in fact still alive and running that network. That is why the Baathist never returned or produced the body. That could be the secret behind the Golan givaway by Hafez.


At 10/27/2005 05:41:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

Josh, I apologize for my comments – not for the substance but for the tone, I’ve reposted the same comments with a more constructive style.

I like you blog – I’ve been following it since February. But something has changed these last months; you’re too close to Syria’s official position. I do share your concerns about Syria’s future, and you’re right to say that the international community shouldn’t remove the current regime. But saying that there’s no alternative to this regime is one thing and excusing the regime’s behaviour is another thing. After all, they are responsible for the mess they’re in.

There must be sanctions against Syria, this regime must be aware that terrorism will lead to serious consequences, otherwise it will not change its behaviour. The UN sanctions shouldn’t be too harsh, and they shouldn’t affect the Syrian people or block the reform process. I am hoping that Russia and China won’t block the following:

-symbolic sanctions against the regime like diplomatic isolation for a couple of years, banning most of Syria’s leaders from travelling and freezing their foreign assets.

-An embargo on weapons,

Bashar is pushing for a regime change, not the US. The international community must make it clear to Syria that there won’t be a new chance. If the regime cannot reform Syria and refrain from spreading terrorism, then it’s useless.

At 10/27/2005 08:04:00 PM, Blogger BobW said...

Syrian Republican Party:

Not sure how you came up with me saying:

A poster named BobW said "America is still dreaming of regime change."

At 10/28/2005 12:01:00 AM, Blogger sasa said...


Your ideal scenario supposes a bit too much. Most importantly, it assumes that Bush actually cares about changing Syrian policy - he really cares about Lebanon and 'foreign fighters' crossing into Iraq. On the other hand, if Lebanon and Iraq are simply an excuse to pin down Syria, using Asef as the fall guy will have no effect on Bush policy whatsoever.

Bush's Lebanon policy has not looked genuine from the start. And even his own intelligence officials have told him that the number of people crossing the Syria-Iraq border is minimal.

All this suggests that Bush wont take yes for an answer from Syria.

And as for the Democrats coming to power and saving the day - I wish I could be so optimistic. What would be happening now if John Kerry was in power. His Syria policy was almost identical to Bush's. And who was one of the authors of the first piece of Syria bashing equipment, the Syrian Accountability Act: John Kerry. In fact, Bush had to be persuaded to use the full power of that nasty Act.

The Syria News Wire

At 10/28/2005 08:50:00 AM, Blogger ForFreedomOfExpression said...

What is all the fuss about? Historically, the only resason the enlightened views of the arab masses are quoted is strictly for comic relief. As for their glorious dictators, they cannot let down one of their own, so they have to support Assad Junior.As for bloggers' reactions, at least I am starting to read crtiticism of the world-famous expert, the brilliant Professor Tishrin Landis himself. It is a hopeful start.

At 10/28/2005 09:50:00 AM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

I don't think that Criticising Mr.Landis is fair. Debating him is, however. Given the apparent success of his site, one has to congratulate him for thinking of the idea in the first place. Syrians as well as Lebanese seem to use it to express long held frustrations about the lack of a forum to do so. I think we all owe Mr. Landis a Thank you note.

At 10/29/2005 01:44:00 PM, Blogger ugarit said...

Syria needs to democratize and have a viable economy for its citizens. The Bush administration can't bring democracy to Syria because Bush's admin does'nt know what democracy is. Democracy must be initiated within Syria.

So let's see who are occupiers in the Middle East, hmmm who could they be? Well it's the US and Israel.

Syria is being setup to fail just as Iraq was and then the US concotted lies to convince the american public for an invasion.

I recall a reporter asking Richard Perle if the US is willing to give a carrot to Arab states and Perle said the only carrot the US will give the arabs is a lack of a stick. This is the way neocons think. It does'nt matter how much Syria capitulates because the neocons will invent a new problem.


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