Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Trouble at the UN and Trouble in Washington

Here is an email I received from an Italian reporter friend yesterday. We had talked about how quickly the US could push for a resolution. It looks like it will only come on Friday or Monday. It will likely be very lowest common denominator because Europe is scared of getting trapped in an "America" war with Syria. America is also frightened of allowing this to appear as a US - Syria confrontation and not a "World" thing.

Because of that Washington will have to move slowly. It will want all members of the Security council to sign on to a resolution that assures Syria will cooperate with the Mehlis investigation and not just the 9 members that joined in on previous resolution 1559, which drove Syria out of Lebanon. Washington will want to get Russia, China and particularly Algeria on board to cover up any potential splits that could later become big chasms. Probably sanctions will not be able to be raised in the Security Council until December when the investigation is supposed to conclude. The timeline is being stretched out to buy unanimity, which everyone seems to want if they are to corner Syria.

The Arabs believe that Assad is not the worst leader they could have in Damascus and worry about instability and further chaos in their region. The French seem to agree with this as do Israelis - though they are probably divided (too many Israelis keep announcing that they are concerned about the fall of Asad not to believe that there must be a dispute going on.) The Americans seem to have given up on the House of Asad and would not be upset to see it replaced, despite the threat of chaos. All seem to believe that there is a need to corner Asad through the UN and make it very clear that he must leave Lebanon alone and cooperate with the West. The UN resolution will want to reassure the Lebanese that they have on-going support to get their house in order. Clearly, Saad Hariri's plea that the Mehlis investigation be tried in some "international" court and in some foreign land far from troubled Lebanese shores suggests he is worried about being left holding the bag of vipers. Should the international community get bored with the whole Hariri mess, the Lebanese could find themselves awkawrdly facing Syria alone once again.

The growing notion that Asef Shawkat is the dark power behind the throne, who really calls the regime shots, may serve to protect Bashar. Who would want to get rid of nice Bashar if they will be left facing nasty Asef? This also means that the Great Powers may ultimately try to get Bashar to nix Asef somehow. There must be a lot of head scratching going on?

Lurking in the background is what kind of court will be set up. US wants a "private international court." Europe will not like this because they support the Hague, which the US doesn't. (Private courts smack of American imperialism and would allow Washington to write international law unconstrained by UN or international institutions and power.) Here is the email from my Italian friend.

Regarding our conversation this afternoon, it turns out that we were not much off the mark!! Since we've talked, the international community has already started pushing the breaks on the Hariri report. The "urgent" meeting requested by Bush at the UN for tomorrow (it will be only ambassadors tomorrow) will have to wait at least one week (translation: Europeans, mainly France, probably also Russia and China not to mention the current president, Algiers, are telling Washington "take it easy". there is obviously no ready agreement on the report, nor on the measures Washington would like to impose).

France has finally spoken out after four days breaking its deafening silence, and what was the long-awaited announcement? That it will seek a UN resolution "requesting that Syria cooperate with the Mehlis investigation"... A clear no to sanctions, at least for the moment. A much lesser threat than what was expected.

Also the French FM went to all lengths to ensure everyone understood that the Elysee is only "after justice, with no other political aim". That is a rather square distancing from Washington.

Rice keeps talking about coordinating with other countries, but can only quote Britain's Straw 'till now. The Dutch after a meeting with Rice gleefully offered the Hague as the seat for an international Hariri trial (you might recall you and I mentioned that over the phone), which threw Sean McCormack, Foggy Bottom's spokesperson, into a whirl of panic. He started stuttering to the press "it's too early, we'll see..." and was all too quick to refuse the offer. The usual State Dept "anonymous" joined in the stammering with a : "... yeah, too early..." but then added: "definitely the mechanism will have to include an important Lebanese component....". So there you go, as expected, with the cold shoulder to the Hague, and the proposition of a "private international tribunal" that Washington has been circulating for about a month. Such a tribunal, however, will be unacceptable to Europeans, so there you have another rift in the making between the USA and Europe.
Voilà, we'll see...
Bush says military action against Syria "last resort"
Tuesday 25 October 2005, 5:22am EST

DUBAI, Oct 25 (Reuters) - President George W. Bush said military action was a last resort in dealing with Syria and he hoped Damascus would cooperate with a probe into the killing of former Lebanese premier Rafik al-Hariri.

"A military (option) is always the last choice of a president," he told Al Arabiya television in an interview aired on Tuesday when asked about a U.N. investigation that implicated Syrian officials in the killing of Hariri.

"I am hoping that they will cooperate. It (military action) is the last -- very last option," he said. "But on the other hand, you know -- and I've worked hard for diplomacy and will continue to work the diplomatic angle on this issue."

Bush said Syria had to meet a set of demands from the international community, including expelling Palestinian militant groups, preventing insurgents from crossing its borders into Iraq to fight U.S. forces, and ending Syrian interference in Lebanon.

"Nobody wants there to be a confrontation. On the other hand, there must be serious pressure applied," he said.

"In other words, there are some clear demands by the world. And this (U.N.) report, as I say, had serious implications for Syria, and the Syrian government must take the demands of the free world very seriously."

Bush would not be pinned down on what action Washington would take if Syria does not comply.

Asked if the United States would support a call by Hariri's son Saad for an international court to try his father's killers, Bush said the decision lay with the United Nations.

"Well, we want people to be held to account. And I'd be glad to talk to other leaders to determine whether or not that's the best course of action. But certainly, people do need to be held to account. And the first course of action is to go the United Nations," he added.

A kind reader sent me this article by Aluf Benn in Haaretz from 2001. It reminds us of the importance of 9-11 in generating the combined effort of the US and Israel to corner Syria because of its opposition to US and Israeli. It is worth a full read.
Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
October 24, 2005

* * *QUESTION: France is saying that it wants to wait until the final Mehlis report before it will support sanctions, but the U.S. and France have both said that they're on the same page. So does that mean that also the U.S. wants to wait until the final report is out before you consider sanctions against Syria?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think where we are right now in terms of the Mehlis report, let me sort of walk you through how I see the next week unfolding. Tomorrow, Mr. Mehlis is going to be presenting his report to the Security Council. There will be a discussion at the level of permanent representative, at the level of ambassador, in the Security Council, at which they will start theformal multilateral discussion of Mr. Mehlis' report. There have already been a number of discussions on a bilateral basis amongmembers of the Security Council.

The Secretary, of course, had an opportunity to discuss this issue at length with Foreign Secretary Straw over the weekend during the visit to Alabama. After tomorrow, I expect those consultations both up in New York and between capitals to continue. Right now, what we are discussing and working towards, although a final date has not yet been set, is for a ministerial level meeting of the Security Council a week from today, on the 31st of October. And at that point, I think the ministers will have an opportunity to discuss what course of action to take.

I think that certainly given the gravity of what we have seen in the Mehlis report, which at the very least includes Syria's non-cooperation with the Mehlis investigation and also includes potential Syrian provision of false information to the Mehlis investigators as well as the report pointing to potential high-level Syrian implication in the assassination of a former prime minister of another state, this is a subject and a report worthy of discussion at the ministerial level. So that's at this point how we see the next week unfolding. There's going to be a lot of diplomacy, a lot of discussion about this topic.

QUESTION: You said a discussion -- Monday?
QUESTION: You didn't answer my question. Are France and the U.S. still on the same page or does the U.S. -- at this point, they're saying that they want to wait until the final report. Does the U.S. -- are you leaning towards waiting until the final report?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, at this point, I think what everybody is discussing is a resolution. And I think that you have, certainly, you have seen Foreign Secretary Straw talk about a resolution. I think that that is the way the Security Council acts. And I think that that is, you know -- that is really the central focus of the discussions now. Now in terms of what might be included in a potential resolution, again, first we want to have the meeting tomorrow at which you have the ambassadors be able to receive the report in a formal discussion in the Security Council from Mr. Mehlis and then you want to have a discussion about what might be included in a potential resolution that would -- and that discussion would unfold, I would expect, over the coming days. Now, I'm not going to prejudge what may or may not be a potential resolution. I think, you know, those will be discussions to be had through diplomatic channels, as I think is appropriate.

Bolton in his press meeting said:

Bolton: Yes, I don't think that's accurate in terms of the meeting tomorrow, but we will certainly insist on Syrian cooperation. This is true confessions time now for the government of Syria. No more obstruction, no more half measures, we want substantive cooperation and we want it immediately. Thank you very much.
One kind reader sent me this old news article from 2001 in order to remind us how the US and Israel have been thinking how to knock off the house of Asad for some time.

Israel strives to import America's war on terror
By Aluf Benn
Dec. 15/16, 2001

The Israeli political-security establishment is coming to the conclusion that the terror attacks on September 11 granted Israel an advantage...

The American team, headed by Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of state, told the Israelis that Washington hasn't yet decided on its course of action for the next phase. The speedy victory in Afghanistan surprised the administration, which expected a much longer campaign.

But the first stage is not yet over. After Afghanistan, the Americans plan to hunt down Qaida cells worldwide (the network is estimated to be dispersed over 60 countries), and only then to start looking forward.

According to the Israelis who were in Washington, President Bush is daily more determined that the campaign against terror proceed to the next stages. The American officials explained that the administration is of two minds about which way to go. One direction is "dealing with the difficult cases, first," with the intention being Iraq. The other approach proposes going from the periphery to the center, eliminating terror cells in countries like Somalia and Sudan, before moving on to more difficult targets.

The Israelis spoke about the dangerous connection between terrorism and the development of unconventional weapons and missile systems. "Those who use terror, will also use weapons of mass destruction if they can. This is a matter of the means, not the will," said Dayan, in his Herzliya lecture yesterday.

Dayan identified what he called the appropriate targets for the next stage of the global campaign: "The Iran, Iraq and Syria triangle, all veteran supporters of terror which are developing weapons of mass destruction." He said that "they must be confronted as soon as possible, and that is also understood in the U.S. Hezbollah and Syria have good reason to worry about the developments in this campaign, and that's also true for the organizations and other states."

During the Washington discussions, one of the Israelis proposed a new direction for the Americans to consider: "Syria first." The intention is not for the U.S. to bomb President Bashar Assad's palace or the Syrian Scud missile bases, but rather for Washington to apply political pressure. The Syrians are sensitive to U.S. opinion much more than the Iranians or Iraqis, and they can be pressured to give up their relationship with the Hezbollah and the Palestinian terror organizations based in Damascus.
A very good description of the rent-a-rally demonstrations of Monday has been written up by fellow Fulbrighter Roland McKay who was there at the main square. I watched the demonstration from my balcony with a young Syrian friend. He remarked that it looked just like Iraq before Saddam went down. Many people mentioned the same thing to me. Of course the grand battle that is being waged between the old and tired brand of Arab Nationalism and its principles of opposing imperialism, Israel, the American occupation of Iraq, a pro-Western Lebanon, etc., is not quite so simple. Other friends who work at the UN told me that the demonstration in front of their building was more spontaneous and wasn't made up of the usual suspects who marched down town, collecting at Saba'a Bahrat square.

Meanwhile, Washington is going through its own storm. One wonders which investigation will blow up first, that in Dick Cheney's office, where most of the neo-cons are gathered, or the Mehlis investigation?

David Wurmser, one of the anti-Syria architects among the neo-cons and a Cheney and Lewis Libby right hand man seems to be caught in the middle of the Washington investigation. During the latter part of the 1990s, he wrote frequently to support a joint U.S.-Israeli effort to undermine then-President Hafez Assad in hopes of destroying Ba'athist rule and hastening the creation of a new order in the Levant to be dominated by "tribal, familial and clan unions under limited governments." You can read about his background and ideas on an earlier post.

Also see this from ThinkProgress.org. (Thanks to Steven Heydemann for sending this)
It Starts With Cheney

The New York Times reveals this morning that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, first learned "about the C.I.A. officer at the heart of the leak investigation in a conversation with Mr. Cheney weeks before her identity became public in 2003." The assertion is backed by hard evidence. According to the Times, "Notes of the previously undisclosed conversation" are in the possession of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. While the revelation does not, on its face, suggest Cheney is in serious legal jeopardy, it could cause problems for the vice president if it conflicts with what he told the federal prosecutors, or if it can be shown that he participated in a larger conspiracy to knowingly reveal the identity of a covert CIA agent and/or subsequently cover it up. For Libby, the revelation that he learned of Plame from Cheney is particularly damaging because it is at odds with testimony he provided to the grand jury that he first learned of Plame's identity from journalists.


Libby's notes of his conversation with Cheney indicate that they spoke on June 12, 2003, about Joe Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame. On that same morning, the Washington Post reported on its front page that a former ambassador (later learned to be Wilson) had passed on information prior to the war suggesting that the claim that Iraq was attempting to acquire uranium was false. That story directly implicated Cheney, saying the CIA's decision to send Wilson to Niger "was triggered by questions raised by an aide to Vice President Cheney." The Washington Post reported recently that Fitzgerald has "zeroed in on the role of Vice President Cheney's office." As early as February 2004, the Guardian reported, "informed sources said...that three of the five officials who are the real targets of the probe work or worked for Mr Cheney." The New York Daily News recently reported that Fitzgerald may be "edging closer to a blockbuster conspiracy charge - with help from a secret snitch." Already, a number of Cheney's current aides and former aides are known to have testified in the leak probe, including Libby, Mary Matalin, John Hannah, Catherine Martin, Jennifer Millerwise, and David Wurmser. (Click here to see our full list of Bush officials implicated in the probe.)WHAT DID CHENEY TELL PROSECUTORS? In June 2004, the New York Times reported that Cheney had been "recently interviewed" by federal prosecutors in the leak probe. Although that story said Cheney did not testify under oath, the Times reports today that "Cheney was interviewed under oath by Mr. Fitzgerald last year." Cheney was reportedly asked last year whether he knew of "any concerted effort by White House aides to name the officer. It was not clear how Mr. Cheney responded to the prosecutors' questions." There are a few indications as to what Cheney may have told prosecutors. When Joe Wilson alleged that it was Cheney's office that did a "work-up" on him in 2003 in order to smear him, a spokesman in Cheney's office responded, "That is false." When Cheney was asked about his involvement in smearing Wilson on Meet the Press, the vice president said, "I don't know Mr. Wilson." But Libby's notes reveal that Cheney knew about Wilson and his wife a month before Novak outed her.LIBBY'S INCONSISTENCY: A strategist "familiar with White House thinking" told the Los Angeles Times, "Nobody should fall out of their chair if they hear that the vice president discussed classified information trying to determine facts with his national security advisor and chief of staff." That spin overlooks Libby's inconsistent story to this point. Previously, it was reported that Rove was "shown testimony from Libby suggesting the two had discussed with each other information they had gotten about Wilson's wife from reporters in early July 2003. Rove responded that Libby's testimony was consistent with his general recollection that he had first learned Wilson's wife worked for the CIA from reporters or government officials who had talked with reporters." Last July, the Los Angeles Times reported, "Libby has indicated to investigators that he learned the identity of Plame from journalists."WHAT DID BUSH KNOW? In 2001, the New York Times reported Bush and Cheney had an extremely close relationship. "[F]riends and advisers say the relationship between the two men is as crucial as ever, and still refer to Mr. Cheney as the president's consigliere, or the coach to Mr. Bush's quarterback." Bush himself noted, "There is no finer member of my administration than our Vice President, Dick Cheney. He's a great friend, a great advisor, a steady hand. He is the finest Vice President our nation has ever had." Bush and Cheney's close relationship was evidence by their joint appearance before 9/11 Commission. The question that must now be answered is whether Vice President Cheney had any discussions about Valerie Plame with President Bush prior to her outing.

A Turning Point for Syria
For several years, and certainly since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Syria reform has been among the Bush administration's top foreign policy priorities. On Thursday, the United Nations released a preliminary report "pointing the finger directly at the highest levels of the Syrian government" for February's car-bomb assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Most notably, the report fingered Asef Shawkat, Syria's military-intelligence chief and the brother-in-law of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The report has sent tremors through the Middle East, and represents an opening for reform. Yet, an important lesson must be noted: this unique opportunity has come about not from the brash rhetoric and inconsistent policies of the Bush administration, but from the careful, diligent, trusted work of the United Nations.


The U.N. report is likely to be more effective at mobilizing international action on Syria than any U.S. diplomatic effort in the last year and a half. Indeed, it may not have been possible without the United Nations. As Suzanne Nossel of the Security and Peace Initiative argues: "Without a broadly mandated UN, how could the Hariri case have moved beyond finger pointing? The Lebanese government could never have been trusted to investigate. There's no way the US itself could have interfered. The Arab League could not have been objective. The EU would never have waded in. The International Criminal Court would not have had jurisdiction. Without the UN, it's hard to envision how the investigation, particularly given its depth and breadth, could have been carried out." Demonstrating the region's high regard for the United Nations, the entire Hariri report was actually read aloud on al Jazeera television. It is another example of why, "if we are ever shortsighted enough to abandon or significantly scale back the UN, we will find ourselves with the impossible task of having to recreate what we destroyed."


Syria would unquestionably benefit from reform. Its support for foreign terrorist groups, its lack of assistance on Iraq border security, and its deplorable human rights record must all be addressed. But the Bush administration's approach to these problems has been marked by its inconsistency and lack of clarity. On the one hand, the Bush administration has pushed for help on issues like terrorist financing. At the same time, it has strictly enforced sanctions that make it extremely difficult for Syria to modernize its financial industry, which would greatly improve its capacity to track terrorists' financial transactions. Also, the United States can hardly claim that its goal in Syria is improve human rights conditions, since the Bush administration has long relied on Syria in its practice of "extraordinary rendition," whereby detainees are transported to other countries for (typically brutal) "interrogation." Says former CIA agent Robert Baer, "If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria." In one prominent case, a Canadian citizen was transferred by U.S. officials to Syria for "interrogation sessions that lasted for up to 18 hours," during which "Syrian intelligence officers beat him with thick electrical cables and with their fists, threatened to break his spine, and forced him to listen to other prisoners' screams." The prisoner was eventually determined to be innocent and released. Two days after he made his story public, "President Bush gave a speech that announced America's 'forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East' and denounced Syria for a 'legacy of torture, oppression, misery, and ruin.'"

RIGHT THREATENS MORE DANGEROUS REGIME CHANGE: Iraq-style regime change for Syria has been on the conservative wish-list for some time, dating back at least as early as April 2003, when so-called "turn-left" strategists "openly advocated moving from Baghdad on to Damascus." For many, that strategy remains operative. Newsweek reported earlier this month that, "[d]eep in the Pentagon, admirals and generals are updating plans for possible U.S. military action in Syria," and that the Defense Department unit responsible for military planning in Syria is "busier than ever." According to the Financial Times, the administration "is actively seeking an alternative who would take over" for Syrian President al-Assad. Yet, it is far from certain that military action in Syria would enhance American security. Even the National Intelligence Council, led by Bush loyalist John Negroponte, has "been warning...that if Assad is toppled, the result isn't likely to be better in terms of regional stability, and it could well be worse." As Bradford Plumer writes, "The question here isn't whether the world would be better off without Assad's family in charge of Syria— -- of course it would— -- but whether getting rid of him would actually be a smart idea, and more importantly, how the Syria hawks actually plan on doing it."

Syria: The Next Iraq
Robert Dreyfuss

October 24, 2005

The news from Syria shows that the neoconservative plan for the Middle East is still in play.

Three years ago, the U.S. invasion of Iraq was widely viewed as the first chapter of a region-wide strategy to remake the entire map of the Middle East. Following Iraq, Syria and Iran would be the next targets, after which the oil-rich states of the Arabian Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, would follow. It was a policy driven by neoconservatives in and outside of the Bush administration, and they didn’t exactly make an effort to keep it secret. In April, 2003, in an article in The American Prospect titled “Just the Beginning ,” I wrote: “Those who think that U.S. armed forces can complete a tidy war in Iraq, without the battle spreading beyond Iraq's borders, are likely to be mistaken.” And the article quoted various neocon strategists to that effect:

"I think we're going to be obliged to fight a regional war, whether we want to or not," says Michael Ledeen, a former U.S. national security official and a key strategist among the ascendant flock of neoconservative hawks, many of whom have taken up perches inside the U.S. government. Asserting that the war against Iraq can't be contained, Ledeen says that the very logic of the global war on terrorism will drive the United States to confront an expanding network of enemies in the region. "As soon as we land in Iraq, we're going to face the whole terrorist network," he says, including the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and a collection of militant splinter groups backed by nations—Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia—that he calls "the terror masters."

"It may turn out to be a war to remake the world," says Ledeen.

In the Middle East, impending "regime change" in Iraq is just the first step in a wholesale reordering of the entire region.

As the war in Iraq bogged down, and as a public outcry developed in the United States against the neoconservatives over the apparently bungled war, another sort of conventional wisdom began to take flight. According to this theory, the United States no longer had the stomach—or the capability—to spread the war beyond Iraq, as originally intended. Our troops are stretched too thin, our allies are reining us in and cooler heads are prevailing in Washington—or so the theory goes.

But the news from Syria shows that the conventional wisdom is wrong. The United States is indeed pursuing a hard-edged regime change strategy for Syria. It’s happening right before your eyes. With the ever-complacent U.S. media itself bogged down in Iraq, and with the supine U.S. Congress unwilling to challenge our foreign policy apparatus, Syria is under the gun. As in Iraq, the United States is aggressively pursuing a regime change there without the slightest notion of what might come next or who might replace President Bashar Assad. Might it be the fanatical Muslim Brotherhood, by far the most powerful single force in largely Sunni Syria? Might the country fragment into pieces, as Iraq is now doing? The Bush administration doesn’t know, just as they didn’t know what might happen to Iraq in 2003. But they are going ahead anyway.

It isn’t just the repercussions of the U.N.-led investigation into the assassination of former Lebanon Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, whose murder may or may not have been arranged by Syria’s intelligence service. Since 2003, the United States has sought political and economic sanctions against Syria (long before Hariri was killed); sought to isolate Syria diplomatically; singled out Syria for its support for Sunni insurgents inside Iraq; issued a series of ominous threats against the Syrian regime (“our patience is running out with Syria,” warned Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. proconsul in Iraq); and, according to an October 15 New York Times article, begun threatening “hot-pursuit” and other cross-border military action against Syria. That Times piece noted, in part:

A series of clashes in the last year between American and Syrian troops, including a prolonged firefight this summer that killed several Syrians, has raised the prospect that cross-border military operations may become a dangerous new front in the Iraq war, according to current and former military and government officials.

There is even a Syrian version of Iraq’s charlatan Ahmad Chalabi, and there are rumors that Kurdish rebels in Syria northeast, along the Iraqi border, are getting support from Iraqi Kurds who are part of the current interim government in Baghdad.

Various U.S. Syria analysts who have not swallowed the neoconservative Kool-Aid argue that the United States is pursuing Regime Change II in Syria. Among them is Flynt Leverett, a former CIA analyst now at the Brookings Institution, who suggests that Assad is moving slowly in the direction of political and economic reform—and might want our help. Others, including several former U.S. ambassadors, tell me that Syria can be a key partner in quieting down the crisis in Iraq, but U.S. belligerence is driving Syria in the other direction. And Scott Ritter and Sy Hersh, speaking in New York last week, noted that Syria (and its spy services) has been an important behind-the-scenes partner in attacking Al Qaeda since 2001. But "So what?" argue the neoconservatives. It’s regime-change time, and they won’t let rational arguments get in their way.

The brilliant Syria weblog Syria Comment, written by Joshua Landis, had this to say on Sunday:
Here is a most extraordinary letter from Syria's Ambassador in Washington Imad Mustapha to Congresswoman Sue Kelly, which has come into my possession. It explains how the American Administration has been stonewalling Syrian cooperation on a host of issues. It explains how Syria is being set up to fail so that the US can isolate it and carry out a process of regime-change at the expense of Iraqi stability and the lives of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians. It explains how the U.S. administration's policy of forcing regime change in Syria is trumping the need to save lives in Iraq. …

For over a year Syria has been trying to cooperate with the West on the Iraq border, on the issue of terrorism finance, on the issue of stopping Jihadists from getting into Syria, on intelligence sharing, and on stabilizing Iraq.

Washington has consistently refused to take "Yes" as an answer. Why? The only credible reason is because Washington wants regime change in Syria.
Read the rest of Landis here, including the astonishing full text of Ambassador Mustapha’s letter.

So I ask: Is it possible, after everything we’ve learned about the Bush administration’s lies and deception over Iraq, after the staggering cost of that misguided war to the United States, is it possible that the American body politic is going to let Bush, Cheney and Co. get away with shattering another Middle East state?

It’s possible. Because it’s happening.

If you want to know why, read

Robert Dreyfuss is a freelance writer based in Alexandria, Va., who specializes in politics and national security issues. He is a contributing editor at The Nation, a contributing writer at Mother Jones, a senior correspondent for The American Prospect, and a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone. His book, Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam, will be published by Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books in the fall.

The White House cabal
By Lawrence B. Wilkerson who served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell from 2002 to 2005.
October 25, 2005

Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld made the decisions. And our inexperienced president just went along for the ride.

My quote of the day comes from Nick Blanford's article in the CSM, "Pressure builds on Syrian regime." 10/24/2005

"They want this [Syrian] leopard to change so many of its spots that it
turns into a lap dog.... It's tantamount to regime change," says Joshua

This from K.K. Atak, a writer from Turkey:
The letter of Syrian Ambassador Imad Moustapha to a an American Congresswoman pointed out in your SyriaComment today is a lucid illustration of the lack of understandig occured between the United States and Syria. Unfortunately this letter was and will not the only example this sort of misinterpretation. Almost three years ago, Seymour H. Hersh of The New Yorker Magazine put this argument in the article titled "Did the Bush Administration burn a useful source on Al Qaeda?" Let me quote a long passage from Hersh's article,
“Up through January of 2003, the coöperation was topnotch,” a former State Department official said. “Then we were going to do Iraq, and some people in the Administration got heavy- handed. They wanted Syria to get involved in operational stuff having nothing to do with Al Qaeda and everything to do with Iraq. It was something Washington wanted from the Syrians, and they didn’t want to do it.”Differences over Iraq “destroyed the Syrian bet,” said Ghassan Salamé, a professor of international relations at Paris University who served, until April, as Lebanon’s minister of culture. “They bet that they could somehow find the common ground with America. They bet all on coöperation with America.” A Defense Department official who has been involved in Iraq policy told me that the Syrians, despite their differences with Washington, had kept Hezbollah quiet during the war in Iraq. This was, he said, “a signal to us, and we’re throwing it away. The Syrians are trying to communicate, and we’re not listening.”
Since then it appears that nothing has changed so much about this chronic misunderstandings, on the contrary both sides seem to have hightened their idea fix performance. Once they were deaf, but now they are also blind. To avoid another turmoil the first priority of the statesmen is to solve these hearing-impaired and blindenss problem.

Foes help at sea
Syrian sailors rescued two Israelis whose boat sank off Cyprus.

An Israeli drowned early Sunday when the catamaran he was on went down during a storm 5 miles away from Limassol. The other two Israelis aboard were hauled onto a passing Syrian ship and taken to shore.

The survivors told reporters they were well-treated by the Syrians, but noted that their boat had flown a Canadian flag. [From Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Israel's side of the story is here:
As pressure mounts on Syria,
Israel weighs risks and benefits
By Leslie Susser

Here is an article published on Radio France Internationale's website, which claims that the US Pentagon and State Departement are developing closer ties with with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. It also maintains that Saudi Arabia is buying into the notion of regime change in Damascus in order to see the creation of a Sunni regime. The journalist gives no source for this information, but points to Saad Hariri's presence in Jiddah. (Thanks to Yann for this article)


At 10/26/2005 06:10:00 AM, Blogger ugarit said...

'"It may turn out to be a war to remake the world," says Ledeen.'

This is true, but it's going to remake the US. At least let's hope so. The US will need to realize its limitations and stop flurting with extremist Zionism which is essentially the cause of the US' debacles in the Middle East.

At 10/26/2005 06:48:00 AM, Blogger JoseyWales said...

Right Ugarit,

Cuz the Arabs know their limitations.

And lets remake the US and the world in the image of the Arabs.

At 10/26/2005 08:30:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Josey Wales:

Remember my friend that the world has witnessed the most brutal dictators in so many countries starting with poor Haiti, that small and impoverished one and its family dominating dictators Doctors(Western Educated as well) who became among the richest of the world, to the largest ones all installed and supported by this America. Among the most retarded political and social regimes in the world are those Arab regimes from Saudi Arabia to Khadafi Lybia, to Moroco and Jordan all installed and supported and by the US itself. For 50 years at least we wanted to be a good image of the great US, but the US prevented us and wanted to keep those regimes, and with them those Islamists who fought Liberal Arabs in the name of Islam, and back then, and even now it was and still is the US that is supporting them. The Saudis, the most evil regime on Earth are your allies, and your protoctarate and it is them whose money is used to influence Arab state of affairs and keep them under the threat of Islam.

Honestly, what you said is becoming true. After those 50 years of Arab attempts to mirror the US, it is now the US that is mirroring the Arab backward regimes, and your cheriched freedom is disappearing slowly and you are becoming like those Arabs you have for long supported and enforced on the Arab peoples throats.

Yes, now, the US is becoming, slowly, but steadily a mirror of those dictators it had installed and supported across the world. It is more sad for me to see this than you, because I see the decline of this great power while you don't see it. I do love America and its people, and I am very sad that now, America is declining grace to the Neocons that are using every thing in their power to bring it down.


At 10/26/2005 08:43:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10/26/2005 08:52:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

They claim that the US was attacked at home by Islamists, and that by itself was an excuse to say they want to fight them abroad instead of on the American soil. To fight those Islamists that America knew exactly 2 hours after 911 attack their names and their life history (19 men among them 15 Saudis), America stared to kill those Islamists in the world, or so it says. But America started in the two most liberal countries of the Arab world, Iraq and Syria (Though their regimes were also installed and supported by the US, and their corruption and bad behaviour I am not disputing), but they are the two countries that are the least Islamic among all the Arab states.

And while the US is fighting to change these two countries by destroying them, it is still the main supporter of the more Evil Arab states like Saudi Arabia where no one can bring a Bible in and where the crime of seeing a Bible in your luggage is enough to make a lot of troubles for you.

What logic are you all using to infiltrate the minds of good human beings?


At 10/26/2005 09:02:00 AM, Blogger Abu Arab said...

I wonder why can’t we draft a resolution against Israel for not complying with dozens of UN resolutions. Israel still assassinating the Palestinians and still occupies their lands and builds settlements and the discrimination wall and assassinates the freedom in the Middle East.

Abu Arab

At 10/26/2005 09:24:00 AM, Blogger BP said...

how pathetic Mr. Jam. Good speech indeed. But you should think more complex if you analyse policy. Without intellect and special education one should not be a leader. Mao Tse Tung was philosopher. Syrias problems are home-made. Did Asad solve any internal problem? Can he be a global player?

At 10/26/2005 09:31:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...


Your name sounds to me like that Oil Company!

Who is defending Assad?

I am glad the gang of Damascus will finally meet its ugly fate, one day. I say one day, because I know that this game will last few years before America really decides it wants him down. The Syrians will have to face isoloations for few years at first, and Syria does not have the resources Lubia or Iraq had. The Syrian people do not need to play this coming game at all. Either you take Assad today, and it is very easy to take him down as it was easy to take Saddam down (remember that it was the CIA in 1996 that told Saddam of the names of the Iraqi Officers that were about to overthrow him, and he killed them all). May be the same happened now with Ghazi Kanaan, and the CIA told Assad about him, and so he was elemintaed!

We do not want to play this game. Either the US takes down Assad today like it took the Shah of Iran so easy before or Markos, or so many others, or the US must not hunger the Syrian people and prevent Medicines or Airplanes from reaching the people!....

Why not be more courageous and take the Saudi family out, the root of all evil in the ME and the world?

What have those Arab Emirs and Sheiks done to humanity as well, according to your logic above?

At 10/26/2005 09:35:00 AM, Blogger BP said...

Abu Arab,

sorry, Sir, has Israel a problem or Syria? Can I ask you who killed JFK? this is what Mister Jam asked.
"""I wonder why can’t we draft a resolution against Israel for not complying with dozens of UN resolutions.""" Answer: your great leader cannot play ball. Power and money, is it not enough?

At 10/26/2005 09:46:00 AM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Why is it so hard for people to understand that mankind is genetically programmed to act in its own self interest. Being a superpower, it would be a shock if America does not follow this script. When it was in America's self interest to support the Jihadists in Afghanistan, it did so. When it was in their interest to let Saddam run Iraq the way he wanted, it also ignored his ugly deeds. When you read history, you learn that nations never had a static and fixed policies. When facts change you change your mind. September 11th is for America a new fact. This has forced it to dramatically change its priorities and policies. Two facts are unlikely to change soon. One is America's support for the State of Israel. The second is the importance of ensuring that the region's natural resources do not fall into the hands of either Iran or the Bin Laden jihadists. Were either event to occur, the world would be shocked that the US did not anticipate this or do anything about it. The American people would (And rightly so) kick their leaders out of office for allowing such an event to take place.
American policy making is programmed to anticipate precisely such events and adapt its policies and strategies accordingly. One wishes the Arab world had this foresight.

P.S. JAM, Please stop the line of why doesn't the U.S. change the regimes of Saudi, Egypt or Haiti. In life you have to set priorities. Right now, dealing with Iran and Syria is more of a priority for the US and its self interests than introducing democracy in Egypt or allowing you to carry a bible in S.Arabia. Why is this so difficult to understand?

At 10/26/2005 09:49:00 AM, Blogger Ameen Always said...

Some people do not discuss, and have no ability to dispute a point stated by an opponent. This is the case of BP vs JAM. BP trashes all the points JAM made by a couple of words. This tactic works some times with the real ignorant of the issues, but if BP wants to discuss or disputes the points JAM made, he better show some real intelectual discussion, not just two trashing words.

For now, I am betting that BP is Lebanese belonging to those brainwashed among them also.

At 10/26/2005 09:55:00 AM, Blogger Ameen Always said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10/26/2005 09:55:00 AM, Blogger BP said...

Mister Landis is telling us unimportant stories here till we get tiered, just to confuse the truth. One could believe, he as american professor does not know it better.

Sorry, it is long, but read this and hopefully you will understand a bit more than this blog offers you.

Syria, Iran and the Power Plays over Iraq

In assessing the current phase of events in the Middle East, it is essential to link events in Syria with events in Iran. These, in turn, must be linked to the state of the war in Iraq and conditions in the Arabian Peninsula. The region is of one fabric, to say the least, and it is impossible to understand unfolding events -- the pressure against Syria involving the murder of a former Lebanese prime minister; feints and thrusts with Iran and talk of direct political engagement with the United States; the emergence of a new government in Baghdad, or obstacles to one -- without viewing them as one package.

Let's begin with two facts. Since the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Tehran has had close collaborative ties with Damascus. These have not been constant, nor have they been without strains and duplicity. Nevertheless, the entente between Iran and Syria has been a key element. Second, one of the many goals behind the U.S. invasion of Iraq was to position U.S. forces in such a way as to change a series of relationships between Islamic countries, not the least of which was the Iranian-Syrian relationship. Therefore, to understand what is going on, we must look at this as a "key player" game (Syria, Iran and the United States), with a serious of interested onlookers (Europe, China, Russia, Israel), and a series of extremely anxious onlookers (the states on the Arabian peninsula in particular).

The Roots of Alliance

Let's begin with the issue of what bound the Iranians and Syrians together. One part was ideological: Syria is ruled by a minority of Alawites, a Shiite offshoot that is at odds with Sunni Islam. Iran, a Shiite state, also confronts the Sunnis. Therefore, in religious terms, Syria under the Assads had a common interest with Iran.

Second, both states were anti-Zionists. Syria, as a front-line state, confronted Israel alone after Egypt's Anwar Sadat signed the accords at Camp David. Iran, ideologically, saw itself as a committed enemy of Israel. Syria looked to Iran for support against Israel, and Iran used that support to validate its credential among other states -- Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia -- that were either collaborationist or merely symbolic in their opposition to Israel's existence. Syria and Iran could help each other, in other words, to position themselves both against Israel and within the Islamic world.

But ideology was not the glue that held them together: that was Saddam Hussein. Syria's Assad and Iraq's Saddam grew out of the same ideological soil -- that of Baath socialism, a doctrine that drew together pan-Arabism with economies dominated by the state. But rather than forming a solid front stretching from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf, the Iraqi and Syrian brands of Baathism split into two bitterly opposed movements. That difference had less to do with interest than with distrust between two dynastic presidents. Syria and Iraq had few common interests and were competing with each other economically. The relationship was, to say the least, murderous -- if not on a national level, then on a personal one. It never broke into open war because neither side had much to gain from a war. It was hatred short of war.

Not so between Iraq and Iran. When Iraq invaded Iran following the Islamic Revolution, a war lasting nearly a decade ensued. It was a war that cost hundreds of thousands of lives -- making it, for the size of the nations involved, one of the most brutal wars of the 20th century, and that is saying something. The issue here was fundamental. Iran and Iraq historically were rivals for domination of the Persian Gulf. The other countries of the Arabian Peninsula could not match either in military strength. Thus, each had an interest in becoming the dominant Persian Gulf power -- not only to control the oil, but to check the political power that Saudi Arabia had as a result of oil. So long as both were viable, the balance of power prevented domination by either. Should either win the war, there would be no native power to resist them. Thus, each side not only feared the other, but also had a great deal to gain through victory.

The Iranians badly wanted the Syrians to join in the war, creating a two-front conflict. Syria didn't. It was confronted by Israel on the one side and Turkey, another tense rival, on the other. Should its forces get bogged down fighting the Iraqis, the results could be catastrophic. Besides, while the Syrians had serious issues with Iraq, their true interests rested in Lebanon. The Syrians have always argued, with some justification, that Lebanon was torn from Syrian territory by the Sykes-Picot agreements between France and Britain following World War II. Nationalism aside, the Syrian leadership had close -- indeed, intimate -- economic relationships in Lebanon. It is important to recall that when Syria invaded Lebanon in 1975, it was in opposition to the Palestinians and in favor of Maronite Christian families, with whom the Alawites had critical business and political relations. It was -- and is -- impossible to think of Lebanon except in the context of Syria.

A Delicate Web of Relations

It was Damascus' fundamental interest for Lebanon to be informally absorbed into a greater Syria. Damascus used many tools, many relationships, many threats, many opportunities to weave a relationship with Lebanon and extend Syrian influence throughout the state. One of those tools was Hezbollah, an Islamist Shiite militia heavily funded and supported by Iran. From the Syrian point of view, Hezbollah had many uses. For one thing, it put a more secular Shiite group, the Amal movement under Nabih Berri, on the defensive. For another, it helped to put the Bekaa Valley, a major smuggling route for drugs and other commodities, under Syrian domination. Finally, it allowed Syria to pose a surrogate threat to Israel, retaining its anti-Zionist credentials without directly confronting Israel and incurring the risk of retaliation.

For Iran, Hezbollah was a means for asserting its claim on leadership of radical Islam while putting orthodox Sunnis, like the Saudis, in an uncomfortable position. Iran was fighting Israel via Hezbollah and building structures for a revolutionary Islam, while the dominant Sunnis were collaborating with the supporters of Israel, the United States. Hezbollah was, for the Iranians, a low-risk, high-payoff investment. In addition, it opened the door for financial benefits in the Wild West of Lebanon.

Both Iran and Syria maintained complex relations with both the United States and Israel. For example, Syria and Israel -- formally at war -- developed during the 1980s and 1990s complex protocols for preventing confrontation. Neither wanted a war with the other. The Syrians helped keep Hezbollah operations within limits and maintained security structures in such a way that Israel did not have to wage a major conventional war against Syria after 1982. There was far more intelligence-sharing and business deal-making than either Jerusalem or Damascus would want to admit. Lebanon recovered from its civil war and prospered -- as did Syrian and Israeli businessmen.

Iran also had complex relations with Washington. During the Iran-Iraq war, the United States found it in its interests to maintain a balance of power between Baghdad and Tehran. It did not want either to win. Toward this end, as Iran weakened, the United States arranged to provide military aid to Tehran -- not surprisingly, through Israel. Israel had maintained close relations with the Iranian military during the Shah's rule, and not really surprisingly, those endured under the Ayatollah Khomeini as well. Khomeini wanted to defeat Saddam Hussein more than anything. His military needed everything from missiles to spare parts, and the United States was prepared to use Israeli channels to supply them. It must always be remembered that the Iran-Contra affair was not only about Central America. It was also -- and far more significantly -- about selling weapons to Iran via the Israelis.

Intersection: Iraq

Now, if we go back up to 50,000 feet, we will see the connecting tissue in all these relationships: Iraq. There were plenty of side issues. But the central issue was that everyone hated Iraq. No one wanted Iraq to get nuclear weapons. We have always wondered about Iran's role in Israel's destruction of the Osirak reactor in 1981; but no matter here. The point is that the containment of Iraq was in everyone's interest. Indeed, the United States merely wanted to contain Iraq, whereas Iran, Syria and Israel all had an interest in destroying it.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq was in the direct interest of two countries, in addition to the United States: Iran and Israel. Other countries had a more ambiguous response. The Saudis, for example, were as terrified of Iran as of Iraq. They, more than anyone, wanted to see the balance of power maintained and viewed the American invasion as threatening to their interests.

Syria's position was the most complex.

Syria had joined the coalition fighting Saddam Hussein during Desert Storm -- at least symbolically. The Syrians had complex motives, but they did not want the United States interfering with their interests in Lebanon and saw throwing in with the coalition as a means of assuring a benign U.S. policy. At the same time, Syria was in the most precarious strategic position of any country in the region. Sandwiched between Israel, Turkey and Iraq, it lived on the lip of a volcano. The outcome of Desert Storm was perfect for the Syrians: It castrated Iraq without destroying it. Thus, Damascus needed to deal with only two threats: Israel, which had grown comfortable with its position in Lebanon, and Turkey, which was busy worrying about its Kurdish problem. In general, with some exceptions, the 1990s were as good as it got for Syria.

The U.S. invasion in 2003 upset the equation. Now Syria was surrounded by enemies on all sides again, but this time one of the enemies was the United States -- and immediately at the end of conventional military operations, the United States rushed forces to the Iraq-Syria border, threatening hot pursuit of the fleeing Baathists. The Syrians had not calculated the American intervention, having believed claims by Saudi Arabia and France that the United States would not invade without their approval. Now Syria was in trouble.

Syria and Iran: A Parallel Play

For the Iranians, this was the golden moment. Their dream was of a pro-Iranian Iraq -- or, alternatively, for Iraq's Shiite region to be independent and pro-Iranian, or at least to have a neutral Iraq. The Sunni rising put the Iranians in a perfect position: Using their influence among the Shia, they held the cards that the Americans had dealt them. They adopted a strategy of waiting and spinning complex webs.

The Syrians saw themselves in a much less advantageous position. They were in their worst-case scenario. They could not engage the United States directly, of course. But the only satisfactory outcome to their dilemma was to divert U.S. attention from them or, barring that, so complicate the Americans' position that they would be prevented from making any aggressive moves toward Syria. What Damascus needed was a strong guerrilla war to tie the Americans down.

The Syrians hated the Iraqi Baathists, but they now had two interests in common: First, a guerrilla war in Iraq would help to protect Syria as well as the Baathists' interests; and second, the Iraqis were paying cash for Syrian support -- and the Syrians like cash. They had been selling services to the Iraqis during the run-up to the war, and once the war was over, they continued to do so. The strategy proved rational: Syrian support for the Sunni guerrillas and jihadists was important in bogging the Americans down.

The Iranians liked it too. The more bogged down the Americans were in the Sunni region, the more dependent they were on the Shia. At the very least, they urgently needed Iraq's Shia not to rise up. At most, they wanted the Shia to form the core of a new government. From the Iranian point of view, the Sunni guerrillas were despicable as the enemies of Shiite Iran and yet were the perfect tool to increase their control over the Americans.

Thus, as before, Syria and Iran were engaged in parallel play. They shared a natural interest in a weak Iraq. If the United States was the dominant power in Iraq, then they wanted the United States to be the weak power. For a very long time, the United States was unable to get out of the way of the complexities it had created. It used the Iranian Shia and then, when trying to pull away from them, would stumble and return to dependence. And while Iraqi and Iranian Shia are not the same by any means, in this particular case, both had the same interest: increased leverage over the Americans.

The United States had two possible strategies. The key to controlling Iraq lay in ending the guerrilla war. One part of the guerrilla war -- not all -- was in Syria. The United States could invade Syria -- not a good idea, given available forces. It could ask Israel to do it -- which would be a bad move politically, nor was it clear that Israel wanted to do this. Or, it could use a strategy of indirection.

The Situation at Hand

The thing that Syria wants more than anything is Lebanon. The United States has set in motion policies designed to force Syria out of Lebanon. It is not that the United States really cares who dominates Lebanon -- in fact, its Israeli allies rather like the control that Syria has introduced there. Nevertheless, by threatening its core interests, the United States could, leaders thought, begin to leverage Syria.

The Syrians were obviously not going to go quietly into that good night -- not with billions at stake. The assassination of Rafik al-Hariri was the answer. Even when Syria drew its overt military forces out of Lebanon, covert force remained there perpetually. The result of the assassination, however, was overwhelming pressure on Syria -- coupled with a not-too-convincing threat of the use of force by the United States.

For Iran, the fate of Syria is not a major national interest. The future of Iraq is. Iran's view of events in Iraq is divided into three parts: First, a belief that Syria is an important but not decisive source of support for the Sunni guerillas; second, the view that the United States has already maneuvered itself into a de facto alliance with a faction of Iraq's Sunnis; and finally, the belief that Iran's interests in Iraq were not endangered by evolving politics in Lebanon.

The most important feature of the landscape at this moment is the decision by Iran that it is time to move toward direct discussions with the United States. To be sure, the United States and Iran have been talking informally for years about a variety of things, including Iraq. But this week, the Iranian foreign minister did two things. First, he stated that the time was not yet right for talks with the United States -- while acknowledging that talks through intermediaries had taken place. And second, he described the conditions under which discussions might occur. In short, he set the stage for talks between Washington and Tehran to move into the public eye.

It appears at this point that Iran has taken note of the U.S. pressure against Syria and is adjusting for it. However, what is holding up progress on public talks between the United States and Iran are not the reasons stated by the foreign minister -- doubts about Washington's integrity and unclarity about its goals -- but rather, the status of the presidency in Washington. Support for President George W. Bush is running at 39 percent in the polls. He still hasn't bounced upward, and he still hasn't collapsed. He is balanced on the thin edge of the knife. Indictments in the Plame investigation might come this week, which would be pivotal. If Bush collapses, there is no point in talks for Tehran.

Thus, the Iranians are waiting to see two things: Does the United States really have the weight to back the Syrians into a corner? And can Bush survive the greatest crisis of his presidency?
The Middle East is not a simple place, but it is a predictable one. Power talks, and you-know-what walks.

At 10/26/2005 09:59:00 AM, Blogger Ameen Always said...

Now, this BP is killing the discussion by copying an already copied article in this blog, a long article that he wishes to use to make the logical points used by his opponents as murky as he could without discussing them and disputing them with logic or facts./

At 10/26/2005 10:07:00 AM, Blogger Ameen Always said...

To BP:

May I ask you to state what you represent so we can discuss your motivation?

I see that what is motivating you is a blind hatred without any interest in the subject you are intervening in!

That is in short a bad thing for some one who is intelligent enough to be able to copy/paste from other sites!

Be yourself, and tell us what you are!

At 10/26/2005 10:17:00 AM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

JAM seems to expect politicians to tell their constituents the exact truth and nothing but the truth.

Somehow, the US administration is asked to tell its people the follwowing:

"we are not in the ME just to advance democracy, but our first priority is to ensure that the region's natural resources are under control and that there is Zero chance that either Iran or Bin Laden will have access to these resources and ever become in a position to dictate to the Industrial world their demands and idiology. Our second priority is to also protect and safeguard against any threats to the National Security of Israel. Our third priority is getting the Arab world out of the economic black hole that it has been in for the past 40 years. This is why we are going after the Baath parties of both Iraq and Syria. We can no longer tolerate regimes that starve their people and have their engineers drive taxis and live on $300 a month while their Governments blame us and Israel for their falied and bankrupt economic policies.

May be when W. Bush gives a speech along these lines, the Arab world would finally rejoice that America is finally telling the truth

At 10/26/2005 10:34:00 AM, Blogger annie said...

BP is telling us unimportant stories here till we get tiered (that is tired)
Josh, spare us these lengthy interventions which take minutes to download, please

At 10/26/2005 10:44:00 AM, Blogger BP said...

Hahahahahaha MRS ANNNNIE,

allright, this is the problem, they dont understand french but policy. So tell me, what is your comment worth?

Breaking news: Iran will eliminate Israel.

Are you ready MRS ANNNIE?

At 10/26/2005 10:49:00 AM, Blogger Ameen Always said...

BP; you haven't said a thing yet in all of your interventions except to mock others.

You seem to be sick! Sorry to say it!

At 10/26/2005 11:50:00 AM, Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

Herculean reporting Josh! What heavy lifting, whew, but certainly necessary.

I'll go back to the post shortly (I need a couple of hours to get through it!) but I wanted to tell you that I've seen dispatches saying 1)Bashar has been on the phone with Putin and Hu Jintao. Both Russia and China seem to be indicating that they will veto any resolution and 2) the Lebanese are requesting yet ~another~ extension, beyond December 15th, for the Mehlis investigation. The maneuvre appears to be a big break for Syria.

At 10/26/2005 12:24:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

Syria is stuck. The substance of the report is not likely to change till December, the final report will probably be worst then the first one. The harm is done : Syria was publicly accused and the accusations are substantiated by evidences. The UN can't back off, it's too late for a deal.

At 10/26/2005 12:56:00 PM, Blogger shamee27 said...

The Asad's regime may well be stuck but syrians won't.

But if king asada the 2nd is smart enough , he sould open up to his people. I was awating the report like many syrians and after I heard it I told my friends "do you know what the regime reponse will be" I told him the regime will bring people to the street of Damascus protesting ...... the next day I saw that on TV . If the regime want to safe itself and the whole country , it needs to talk to the syrians and give power back to people and then if America want to fight let it fight all syrians , you will find millions willing to fight and die for their country even if they have to cross the iraqi border to do so.

At 10/26/2005 02:02:00 PM, Blogger Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

- Josh,

How dare you criticize our video conf-calling El Presidente?
You should know by now that the President of the United States is the King Arthur of our time: together with his chivalresque Neocon knights, he’s fighting a terrible war against “Terror” while people like you sit comfortably on their Soviet-style sofas in the decadent discos of downtown Damascus and sip Arak-based cocktails with Baathist thugs!

You should be ashamed of yourself!

You should know that under the visionary guidance of our beloved President-King, the White House has become a truly global freedom factory that churns out perfectly trained collaborators such as Baron Ahmad of Baghdad, Earl Hameed of Kabul, and our favorite new stooge on the block “Sheikh” Saad-Ul-Dînn de Qoraytem y Riyadh y Bourbon, a perfectly groomed operative fluent in modern Saudistani, and ancient Hebrew (or vice versa I’m not certain…more vice than versa in the case of our decadently bashful Saudi princes but I’m digressing as usual).

I also wanted you to know how un-American your ideas have become lately: Frankly Josh, you sound like one of these Euro-trash liberal pundits and their “Baathist dead-ender” friends at The-Jazeera TV and Al-BBC! … These guys are just a bunch of decrepit pinkos and Arab nationalist sore losers- yuk! Donald and Dick had assured me these poisonous Bedouin “ideologues” would simply vanish in the air once we desecrate Mitchell Aflaq’s Soviet-style mausoleum and burn up his corpse…just like we did with these bloody Afghan civilians earlier this week…

In a nutshell, it’s high time for our disingenuous critics to wake up to REALITY (what we call “Al-Haqiqa” in Hariristani parlance): they must understand that the Gulf War is over!!
With the help of our “Liberty adoring” local allies such as Saudi Fahdistan- where women and Christians are officially treated as second-class citizen when they’re not beheaded publicly for “improper behavior”, and Israel- where Yahweh’s glorious occupation army regularly rids the civilized world of 25 Palestinian kids per week on average thus striking mighty blows for freedom in the Middle-East, we can now focus all our energy on the Baathist leftovers in Damascus.

Once we destroy the only secular/Republican regime 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 social outcasts and establish diplomatic ties with the state of Israel.

Finally, I want to leave a little personal note to the son of our beloved deceased martyr sheikh Rafiq may Allah and Zeus keep his soul in heavens for eternity and beyond:
“Saad you’re the best Freedom Movement 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 10/26/2005 03:12:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

yeah, when I say Syria I mean the regime.

At 10/26/2005 08:21:00 PM, Blogger Abhinav Aima said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10/26/2005 08:34:00 PM, Blogger Abhinav Aima said...

So, the crises seems to have been put off till Dec. 15, when the UN will end its investigation into the murder of Rafik Hariri and submit its final report (also the date of the Iraqi general elections - coinkidink? Bush will get to parade the success of elections in Iraq and then set the troops onto Syria all in one day?)

But it seems that even at that point, if the investigation offer credible evidence for the involvement of senior Syrian officers in the Hariri murder plot, the U.N. might not be moved to garner unanimity on anything more than a Lockerbie-Libya type arrangement wherein Bashar will be asked to hand over the accused or face economic sanctions.

At that point, I believe, Bashar Assad will comply and cut off his right arm to get out from under the boulder of world isolation. Syria simply can not survive within global economic and trade sanctions. I guess the right thing to do for Bashar would be to preempt this outcome by complaining that his right arm has started to fall off (Oye Suleiman, does this smell like gangrene to you?).

However, it seems very clear at this point that no other country in the world is interested in backing a U.S.-neocon regime change or leadership change in Syria.

No, Blair's support does not count - his own countrymen will break down the door at 10 Downing Street and pummel him jolly good if he joins another Cowboy-style Bush war.

The ability of the Bush administration to complete the magical mystery neocon journey to a Free Syria and a Free Iran, and a free for all for U.S. corporations, now rests almost completely on its ability to survive PLAMEGATE - and that shall be revealed in the next few days with the coming of Fitzmas!

At 10/26/2005 08:44:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

One encouraging thing that went on the UN Security Council was that the proposed Sanctions will be directed against indivdiuals of the Regime, not towards the Syrian People. That is a big progress in the International Thinking and I do feel a lot better now.


At 10/26/2005 08:45:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

And I thought Vox was a Maronite ideot. Look at these new zombies posting in here.

I can't wait until the road to Damascus is clreared for all of Corporate America. We promise to be a very wide open one with welcoming cheers. Why should Syrians be the only people in the Middle East living on $100 per month salary. Even, Ralph Lauren sweat shops in Burma and Maccau pays salary 3 times higher.

Posting in here by idiots and moron subhuman, living in the comfort provided to them by Corporate America bitching about why Syrinas are praying for similar life. It shows how devoid of any humanity whatsoever. No feeling about others and their aspiration.

Metaz K.M. Aldendeshe

At 10/26/2005 09:25:00 PM, Blogger Abhinav Aima said...

As Golda Meir once famously said, There is no such thing as Dr Victorino de la Vega!

At 10/26/2005 09:47:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

Mr Bush is in trouble in the investgation of CIA leak the leak that mr wilson,s wife is a CIA operative ,the theary at Hardball is that for MR bush to survive being a lame duck second termer he has to have a way out of Iraq ,for that i have a salvation for the president and i hope he is reading your site Josh ,MAKE A DEAL WITH SYRIA she can save american lives in Iraq save the presidency in the US , Syria can do that by deploying at one hundred thousand troops on the border with Iraq to protect our troops back in return he should have the courage to solve middle east problem with a palestenian state withboarders negotiated between the palestenians and the Israelite and fair componsation for the palestenians and economic assistance to the countries that will help settle them by giving the cittizenship,giving back the GOlan Hights is a must otherwise no peace can be acheived, all that will cost less than what we spend in Iraq in one month , i do not know how long will it take the american people to recognise that ,i hope soon for the sake of the country i love ,the good US of AAAA.

At 10/26/2005 11:13:00 PM, Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

Hi Joshua...reporters at the Italian newspaper La Repubblica have published an expose on Nigergate that you may want to have a look at. English translation of the 3-part investigative story on my blog.


At 10/26/2005 11:22:00 PM, Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

Again, sorry. But

AFP: 21h58
Russian Foreign Minister Sergeï Lavrov said Wednesday in Ramalla that his country will oppose international sanctions against Syria..."Russia will do everything necessary so that there is no attempt to adopt sanctions against Syria", said FM spokesman Mikhail Kamynin.

At 10/27/2005 01:48:00 AM, Blogger BP said...

Sorry to say that here, but Vox Populi´s blog http://cedarsawakening.blogspot.com
is far more serious, read his newest posts and you will understand what I mean. Its time for the blogger and most of his commentators here to change some things. Vox is a good alternative.

At 10/27/2005 10:25:00 AM, Blogger norman said...

It is called Syria comment not Lebanon.


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