Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Thoughts on the Eve of Leaving Syria

I will be leaving Syria in two days as my Fulbright year comes to an end. My family and I will return to Norman, Oklahoma, where I teach after spending a few weeks in Washington DC with family. Many have asked what will happen to "Syria Comment." It will continue.

I will have to count on the comment section, the many people who I have gotten to know this year, and Syrians who write for "Syria Comment" to keep up the local-color content. I will do my best. I am very sad to be leaving Damascus and my wife’s extended family here. The last few weeks have been full of going away dinners and visits from friends and family.

Damascus is an exciting and cosmopolitan city, full of life and interesting people. So much has happened this year - the murder of Hariri, the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, the Mehlis report and the many ups and downs of public emotions as Syria has become increasingly isolated and vilified in the international press. But there have also been many happy stories. Syria is following two tracks in its foreign policy - one to resist and another to comply with foreign pressure. In many ways these two tracks express public opinion and the deep divide among officials and non-officials alike over how Syria should shape its future.

Debate among Syrians over how to break out of their isolation and stimulate the government to change is very much alive. There is wide-spread and deep frustration with the slow pace of reform and inability or unwillingness of the President to articulate a clear vision for the future of the country. Many people try to block politics out of their minds because of the corruption and because they are treated like sheep. They prefer to focus on their daily concerns, but this is next to impossible. The fate of the country hangs in the balance. The government does not communicate with the nation. There is no transparency and the regime has little ability to renew itself. All the same, people have not given up hope that the better elements in government will somehow win out. Syrians have a surprising faith in the state.

Many Syrians understand what must be done to move forward and are courageous enough to keep pushing against the dead weight of tradition and bad policy. Many of these work within the system. They constantly make compromises with what they know to be right, but they also have a keen sense of how far they can be pushed and how to push back. It is these people who give me hope that Syria will find its way forward and not fall into total stagnation or slip towards obstinacy and extremism. Syria is at a cross-roads and one cannot yet see the light at the end of the tunnel or what the future will bring. One can only have faith that the wisdom of the people and their desire to join with the fun and productive aspects of life will triumph in the end.

I spent several years living in Syria during the 1980s - a time of extremism, when Syria was almost completely shut off from the world. Today, Syria is dramatically different from what it was then. Intellectual life has opened up tremendously and the public is engaged with the great debates of the time. Extremism is not in the ascendant.

Damascus itself has been transformed. It is a fun city today with hundreds of excellent restaurants, coffee houses, and dance clubs. There is a national orchestra and dance troop. The different sects, always leery and distrusting of each other, come together in ever greater interaction in schools, neighborhoods, government offices and the work place. Even though inter-sectarian marriages are still difficult and sometimes made impossible by public pressure, the younger generation is marrying out in ever greater numbers. In the 1980s, there were no good restaurants in town; the youth were bored out of their minds, even as they were more polite and obedient to their parents and tradition. Today, youth culture rules, whether on TV or on the streets.

Syrian TV producers and actors are coming into their own, spreading a brand of subversive humor and self-mocking political satire that can only be healthy. The dominant discourse of the middle class is liberal and open-minded. Many, particularly among the lower middle classes, have adopted an outward piety as a means of resisting and thumbing their noses at the rampant corruption of society and stagnation of government - but this retreat to piety and purity will not inevitably lead to political extremism. Most Syrian imams are forthright in their rejection of Salafism and sectarianism. They are not liberal by western standards, but they are not extremists by Middle Eastern standards. The most respected imams in Syria understand that the only way forward for the country is by building greater understanding between the sects, even as they cling obstinately to the absolutism of their own revealed truths. Relativism, which all liberalism is founded on, is only beginning to find its way into mainstream discourse, but it is filtering in from a hundred different directions as the country opens up.

These are positive things. Perhaps, in the long run, they will be more important than the thuggishness and monopolistic aspects of the security state and the deep divisions within Syrian society that have produced it. The desire to learn, to make money, to be part of the larger world, and above all, to have fun, may just win out over fear and close-mindedness. The Syrian government has many different faces, which reflect the contradictory tendencies of the society over which it rules. It is not monolithic, although, it may seem so from the outside. These divisions are reflected in the character of president himself. Many Syrians, both in and out of the government, are dreaming about and pushing for a better and more liberal future for their country. After living here this year, I cannot help but feel they will triumph.

Here is my BBC World Tonight program on mp3 about the Tueni killing and Mehlis report.

Stacey at al-Hiwar kindly points us to "Nadezhda's excellent and extremely well-organized overview of official responses, media coverage, and blogging related to the Tueni assassination. In that order, which is nice. Read: Lebanese Tremors, Syrian Earthquake?"

A reader writes:

I used to be an avid reader of your blog, but I have noticed that lately you've spiralled into the worst propaganda, reminiscent of the Soviets, or even better, the Iraqi Disinformation Minister!!

Your selection of articles on your blog, the systematic denigration of Mehlis and everything that could even imply the mildest accusation towards Syria is simply forgotten, thrown away. That is what we call selective memory.

For instance, when the poor Houssam Taher Houssam changed his testimony, you talked about it for several days, you found all the articles in the world that could support your opinion (there weren't too many). Yet you chose not to post on articles that gave evidence that Houssam Taher Houssam was coerced and manipulated to retract his testimony. You didn't report on the arrest of several close relatives of this guy in Syria prior to his surprise return to Syria. Why is that Joshua? Why have you decided to undermine your credibility and integrity?

Do you see now that your persistent blind defense of Bashar and his cronies has seriously undermined your credibility. Have you been reading all the blogs, whether by amateurs or political analysts, that have been ridiculing you?

I can only speculate on why you would have such a change of hearts :

1. You live in Syria, and have been gently "suggested" to correct your tone of voice, by friendly Syrians.
2. You are married to a lovely Syrian lady, and would do anything in the world to convince the world that sanctions or military action is the wrong thing to do, since it would hit so close to home.

In any case, I do hope that you will realise that your latest posts in the past few months, has forced a lot of readers to leave your site, and has only attracted the worst flies over.

Kind regards, CV
Two excllent commentaries on Lebanese-Syrian relations can be found in the Daily Star. One by Rami Khouri "From Detlev Mehlis, a final warning"

Two nearly simultaneous events on Monday in Beirut and New York both complicated and clarified the increasingly tense diplomatic relationships that now bind Lebanon, Syria, the United States and the United Nations Security Council in something akin to a dance of death. However, it's not clear who is in the most danger. Continue

The other by Michael Young: Defeat them with the truth. The Daily Star also has the following article about the US's call to keep increasing the pressure on Syria.

U.S. calls for 'increasing pressure' on Syria

By Leila Hatoum and Majdoline Hatoum
Daily Star staff
Wednesday, December 14, 2005

BEIRUT: The U.S. called on Tuesday for "increasing the pressure" on Syria, hours before the United Nations Security Council was to convene to discuss the latest report from Chief Investigator Detlev Mehlis on the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri.

White House spokesperson Scott McClellan said: "We believe it's important when the Security Council discusses this report that they continue to keep the pressure, and increase the pressure, on Syria."

He added: "We are disturbed by the information in Mehlis' report in noting that Syria has, at times, obstructed the progress of the investigation and misled investigators ... That is not cooperation."

Mehlis, who has said he will step down as the head of the probe on Thursday, indicated once more in his second report that Syria had a role in Hariri's assassination and accused it of "hindering the investigations."

He further demanded that Syria arrest or "detain Syrian officials or individuals whom the international probe considers as suspects," including five high ranking officials interrogated in Vienna last week.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan noted Mehlis had pointed out the Syrians "have begun to cooperate and there is some way to go yet" before thinking of sanctions against Damascus.

The council had demanded, through Resolution 1636, Syria cooperate with the investigation or face "further action."

But Syrian Ambassador to the UN Faisal Mekdad said late Monday that "Syria has extended full cooperation to Mehlis and the international probe."

The Security Council is expected to pass a resolution to extend the probe's mandate for an additional six months, after an official request from Lebanon.

A replacement has yet to be found to head the Hariri investigation. However, Mehlis has said he will lead the UN probe during the transitional period, before returning to his post as prosecutor general in Berlin.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton was confident Monday that "we will accede to the request of the government of Lebanon to extend the life of the Commission for six months.

"As you know we've been actively seeking Mehlis' successor for when he leaves the commission. Obviously once the commission's life is formally extended for six months the imperative of finding a well-qualified successor as soon as possible is right at the top of the agenda."

France also expressed its willingness to expand the inquiry to include other assassinations in Lebanon, including that of MP Gebran Tueni, who died in a massive explosion early Monday.

"If there is a request coming from the Lebanese government, my delegation will support such a request, and we will do our best to have the council going in the same direction," said French Ambassador to the UN Jean-Marc de la Sabliere.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese judiciary has questioned journalist Fares Khashan regarding his connection to a Syrian witness who recanted his testimony to the UN probe and claimed to have been coerced into indicting Lebanese and Syrian officers and officials.

Syrian witness Houssam Taher Houssam, who is currently being detained by Syria, said last month Khashan had pressured him to make false statements to the UN probe.

Houssam's lawyer said Tuesday his client is ready to meet human rights groups to show he was not forced to recant his testimony, in refute of suggestions made by Mehlis in his report.

Attorney Oumran Zohbi said the charges were "pure fabrication. I assure everyone that everything in the Mehlis report about pressure applied on Houssam and the arrest of his kin is completely untrue."

Since the report's release, Syrian media has attacked those in Lebanon who accuse Damascus of ordering Hariri's murder.

State newspaper Tishrin said Tuesday the Mehlis report was "full of gaps" and said "the prattlers, who hallucinate through the media, are mistaken if they imagine that Syria, strong and solid, will be perturbed by reports of an investigator littered with erroneous and fabricated details, of invented 'proof' and false witnesses." - With agencies

Also see: Security Council mulls action on Syria and Jumblatt demands new Syrian regime

Professor Eyal Zisser,

a Lebanon and Syria expert from the Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University, said while Syria will be blamed by all, it is impossible to know who was behind the bombings.

"There are many in Lebanon who would be interested in Tueni's death," said Zisser, mentioning Lebanese President Emil Lahoud as one possibility. "The Syrians would be stupid to do this on the day of the latest Mehlis report is released. But they are also the big winners from this because Tueni was Syria's biggest enemy. "

The latest assassination follows a string of earlier assassinations and attempts to kill journalists and parliamentarians who opposed the Syrian presence and control over Lebanon.

However, according to Zisser, the latest attack is unlikely to have much of an effect on Syria, which is already in hot water from the release Monday of the latest Mehlis report to the UN Security Council.

The report, said Zisser, raises the level of pressure on Syria for its alleged involvement in the assassination of Rafik Hariri. The Syrians, he said, are playing for time, hoping that they can withstand the increasing pressure as the US gets deeper embroiled in the conflict in Iraq.


At 12/14/2005 05:25:00 AM, Blogger shamee27 said...

Good luck Mr Landis

At 12/14/2005 06:04:00 AM, Blogger ugarit said...

“IN ORDER to facilitate the action of the liberation forces, to reduce the capabilities of the Syrian regime to organise and direct its military actions, to keep losses and destruction to a minimum, and to bring about the desired results in the shortest possible time, a special effort should be made to eliminate certain key individuals. Their removal should be accomplished early in the course of the uprising and intervention.” For that, Damascus must be “made to appear as the sponsor of plots, sabotage and violence directed against neighbouring governments”. -- from 1957!

At 12/14/2005 07:04:00 AM, Blogger Ghassan said...

I think eliminating key individuals (not more than 10) is the best solution! I think that is doable and I hope that it will be implemented in the next few weeks! It will save the Syrian people the suffering from years of isolation and boycott (see Iraq under Saddam) and the possibility of chaos (see Iraq after Saddam).

Josh, I hope that you will keep your blog or create a new one to hear your REAL thoughts! When you are back in the US, you could express yourself more freely with no fear from the Syrian mafia regime!

At 12/14/2005 08:18:00 AM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

I don't think Josh was ever "afraid" of speaking his mind. But I guess time will tell when he is back in the US.

I feel Josh's last post in Syria sums up a lot of my views and HOPES about the country. But there are too many maybes and that worries me.

Good luck with the move Josh.

At 12/14/2005 08:52:00 AM, Blogger Alterion said...

Dear Josh,

Thanks for seeing the glass half-full. It is the kind of positive spin expected from you and is actually often needed right after pointing out a few shortcomings, just like one would find in an employee year-end review. Unfortunately, this could be counter-productive when you're evaluating a society that has gone astray. There is nothing positive about going the wrong way, no matter how many restaurants lined up that way (no pun intended).

What you've decribed as the few positive developments, are nothing but the effects of the bubble-gum Satellite-TV subculture replacing human advancement, with a fake sense of prosperity. The colors of this bubble-gum subculture cover up the decay, despair, and frustration of the Syrian individual.

You're a well-travelled man, and you've been to different places. So let me ask you this: Have you ever seen a developing country with relatively small population (16+ Millions where one would think it would need its entire nation's workforce just to stay afloat), where the majority of its youth at their prime, living empty existence, wasting every evening smoking the poison introduced to us be greedy merchants, called argeelehs, playing cards, standing on the streets, EVERY day, with nothing to do, and no where to go. Unemployments stands at 30% among the educated (official figure), and the actual figure is twice as much at least. University enrollment is DOWN 30% in the past couple of years, so on and so forth.

You see countless restautants not because it is a sign of a prosperity, but it is a sign of bankrupt economy. People cannot do anything with the little money they make, except to spend it drinking and smoking, with an occassional sandwich, thus the food services have become the only game in town if you want to run a business. If you'd looked more carefully, you'd have concluded that the emergence of "nice" restaurants is the sign of a cultural divide between the have and have-nots, something which was never there in this magnitude when you visited 20 years ago.

You know, all of these tangible evidences on the corruption and ethical bankruptcy of the Syrian government (such as the Ummayad Roundabout, unemployment, poverty, the systematic robbing of the Syrian individual, etc. etc.) all can be reversed with proper regulations based on proper studies, etc., thusly it is not really the problem.

The problem is the total destruction of the Syrian individual. The Syrian individual has become a hungry monster with total ignorance of what ethics are, of what good manners are, and of what decency is. The Syrian individual has become a vicious destructive opportunist. The civil society has become an oxymoron in Syria. And that's my friend, what you can't see. Syrians still somehow managed to be kind to foreigners and even generous. But when it comes to their countrymen, somehow their existence, prosperity, and success all become mutually exclusive and can only be achieved on the wrecked lives of their fellow countrymen. This will take years to reverse, even if we start now. So instead of wishing you luck, I would like you for you to wish us luck. Bon voyage professor.

At 12/14/2005 09:45:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

I have nothing to add to your nice comment, Prof. Landis, more because ALterion added to it the necessary truth that you perhaps, did not desire to spell.

I think this last comment of yours is one of your best if not the best so far. You are a decent man.


At 12/14/2005 10:07:00 AM, Blogger Alawites for Syria said...

So that is it. The scam is clear. It is League of Nation mandate all over again. Iraq goes for US, Syria eastern part for US/UK, southern part for Israel and central part for President Assad. Lebanon under French mandate. Turkey got Iskandarun and everyone now very happy with this dvide and rule appropriation.

And looks like DeJavu, all over again for National Liberation fronts and armed struggle against occupiers will be starting soon.

Some future for the Middle East. The greed and dreams or corrupt powers.

I have some news from the Vine for the French. We stand with President Assad against this grand plot and will make sure it never come to pass. UN mandated or otherwise. Will make sure it is a misrable failure.

At 12/14/2005 10:44:00 AM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12/14/2005 11:13:00 AM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Dr. Landis,

On behalf of all Syrians, I would like to thank you for your interest, passion and obvious love for our country. It is gratifying to see an American with a Harvard and Princeton PhD takes an interest in a nation that we all love. Your Syriacomment has filled a huge void. Your comments section has become the best microcosm of the mosaic nature of the Middle East.

You have been attacked by many for your comments that have been portrayed as being too kind to the regime. I think that you have fallen in love with this country and you seem to fear for its future. The fact is that we all do. May be it is the case with every national but Syria to Syrians is a huge love affair which is hard to put in words. It is from this perspective that one can understand the level of passion in your comments section.

Given my continued references to economic matters, many think that I am a professional “economist”. For the record, I am not. Since it is you last day, please allow me to indulge myself with a longer than usual comment.

What the Baath party and this regime have done to the economy of this nation is nothing short of criminal. Over 60% of our population is under the age of 18. The implications of this going forward are daunting and even shocking. The country’s labor force is conservatively growing at 300,000 per year. This means that every single year, 300,000 new people are “actively seeking jobs” which is the definition of labor force. Please note that the creation of 300,000 jobs will merely stop the unemployment rate from rising further! Given the massive size of our public sector where a large number of employed are “parked”, the true unmasked unemployment rate in the country is simply staggering. For the country to start to “reverse” the rise in Unemployment, economic growth has to double or even treble from its current rate. Why is this important, and why am I infatuated with this topic?

People can talk politics, Baath, Ikhwan, liberals, Christians, Kurds, Israel, Palestine and the U.S.A. all they want, but if this country continues on this slippery slope, a demographic time bomb awaits us. In 15 years, Syria will have 34 million people.
Time is not on our side. Approximately 10 or 15 million people will be unemployed by then. Nothing short of a miracle will stop us from sliding into a true black hole. My anger with Bashar and the regime is based on the fact that they simply do not seem to care. Millions of this regime’s citizens live a massive distance shy of their true potential but no one in leadership seems to care. They blame Israel and the USA, but they know that this is a lie. As we speak, the Middle East region is enjoying one of the greatest economic booms on record. Qatar and the UAE are growing at shocking rates, which exceed 20%. But this is not restricted to them. The equity markets in every single Middle East country but Syria is soaring. Set below is a sample of the year to date rise in the following stock markets:
Egypt = 136%; Lebanon = 70%; S. Arabia = 105%; Jordan = 98%; Qatar = 78%;
UAE = 150%; Turkey = 52 %; Israel = 23%.

The amount of wealth that has been generated in the region has been staggering. Regrettably, the 20 million Syrians have missed out. The truth is that they will continue to miss out as long as the Baath party is in charge of this country. I beg everyone to stop believing in the theory that reforms are on the way and that somehow we will soon enjoy an economic boom due to the new investments in the country. These investments are made because capital has a strong nose for finding good deals. The country has been so destroyed and value has dropped so low that some foreign investors have decided that a bottom may have been reached. Most of the investments have gone to buy agricultural land at an average price of $20-40 per sq meter. No one is allowed to build on this land at present. But if the laws change one day (as they most likely will), these investors will stand to make a handsome return as similar land in say Lebanon sell for at least ten times higher (assuming you can start build hotels and the like). This is, therefore, not necessarily a vote of confidence in the country. It is more like a statement that value has been so destroyed that any further downside is likely to be limited.

In sum, the economic future of Syria is not promising. Indeed, it is alarming if one considers that the peak in oil production is already behind us. An immediate decision to move to a full-fledged market economy is critical. Nothing short of this can or will work. The Baath party is not capable of instigating these changes. The country cannot wait anymore. Failure to do this immediately risks taking this country further into what I see as a black hole. I fear most people do not realize or appreciate the gravity of our predicament. Regrettably and with all due respect, Dr. Landis, I believe this covers you too. It is always easier to live with the status quo. Humans are risk averse by nature. I am afraid that we Syrians can no longer afford the luxury of waiting. I have no idea how this regime can be changed. I also have no idea if this country is able to avoid falling into the trap of Islamic Fundamentalism. I, for one, find that much of what the Muslim Brotherhood stands for is abhorrent. But I also know that their ideas have, regrettably, considerable appeal in the broader Arab and Islamic worlds. The triumph of democracy and its concomitant values in our region depends on the defeat of these fanatic ideas in open debate. They perhaps can no longer be defeated by repression as Egypt has clearly demonstrated. Is there a danger that Islamists can reach power through a democratic system and then destroy democracy by throw the keys away once they are inside? Absolutely. The answer has to lie in the drive to strong constitutional modifications and reforms which have to include strong guarantees of political and civil rights that could present unequivocal protection against a sharia based theocracy or other new dictatorships for that matter.

Dr. Landis. Have a safe flight, and thank you again for your interest in our beloved country.

At 12/14/2005 12:13:00 PM, Blogger Samsoume said...

I would like to thank Dr.Landis for his wonderful blog.
I am just wondering if the contents of this blog(both articles and comments) can be collected and organized in a way that they can be downloadable, so we can have them for future reference.
Again, thanks very much dr. Landis, and wish you a nice trip home. And I hope that you will give people in America a better understanding of Syria and the middle east.

At 12/14/2005 12:26:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Zionist/Jew Ehsani2 said: “My anger with Bashar and the regime is based on the fact that they simply do not seem to care”. And They blame Israel and the USA, but they know that this is a lie”.

Blame yourself, before you blame President Assad. Be angry with yourself, before you are angry at President Assad, he is doing his best to survive and fight all the ploys and plot directed at Syria by Israel and the West. He has no time to deal with this unemployment problem. And yes, Syrians and the whole Islamic world’s blame and angry at the United States and Israel for making these plots rather than providing support for the Syrians, government or people. All we see is savage beasts from all over the corner of this planet, including the Jews are lining up to carve up and feast on the poor Syria. No one ever offered help whatsoever, just plots, scams, and more plots and more scams.

When did Jews and Israel said to Syrians will give you the Golan, or will deal with you on the Golan if this and that internal conditions are met, this will provide us with security and assurance that any deal will be of benefits. When did the West or East, particularly the United States said to the Syrians, our U.S.-Syrian relations and aid will depend upon the economic, social and political development of Syria.

Even now they are at this very hour cutting deals to carve up the loot at the United Nation with U.S. help. All they care about is how to make this U.N. resolution works to our greedy benefits. How we can use it to infringe on the sovereignties of Syria and Lebanon. How can we get to force Assad and shell out contracts that are not to the benefits of Syrians but our Corporations and banking system. When did you hear the United States or Israel talk about the plight of Syrians? Of course they should be mad and pointing the finger you idiot.

A fucking Jew like you who lived in Syria for all those years, should not come here and push Mossad deceptive line of shit.

President Assad first worries right now is how to keep Syrian oilfields from Exxon and Texaco control, how not to loose southern Syria added to the Golan to become the new Kibutz for another Million Russian and American Jews planned to be imported by Sharon.

You found it convenient to Push economic problems only even though you are a Mossad agent and not an economist. You don’t find it appropriate to debate or post comment about other matter.

Got bad news for you. Syrians and Lebanese are not stupid and backward Iraqis, they are smart and educated. You are treating them in the same Jewish stereotype Mossad looks at them. They did not learn anything in 1973, They will be surprised again.

At 12/14/2005 12:43:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...


I have long made the promise to myself not to attack the character of any of my fellow commentators. I will abide by my own rule. You have chosen to brand me as a Zionist/Jew. I do not want to sink down to your level. You refer to me as an F Jew.
What you base this assumption on is beyond me. All I can tell you is that I am more Syrian and Arab than you. I strongly suspect that I lived and visited Syria much more than you ever have (was there only few weeks ago). The nature of your comments is a disgrace. If I were you, I would be deeply embarrassed by my comments. Incidentally, I will accept an apology if you insist.

At 12/14/2005 12:44:00 PM, Blogger RM said...

I thought all dinosaurs left this planet millions of years ago...

At 12/14/2005 12:50:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

Have a nice trip Josh.

Ehsani I completely agree with your comment. Syria will begin to import oil in 2010 and it's unfortunate that this regime didn't use these much-neede resources to develop the country.

At 12/14/2005 12:51:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

My apology: FUCK OFF IHSANI2
Answear the fucking questions raised above or shut the fuck up.

At 12/14/2005 12:58:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

You want SRP to insist. We insist aon hearing the answear to this question: When did anyone in the world told Bashar Assad that our relation with you depend on the Economic, political and social develpment of Syria? When did anyone said to President Assad or his father President Hafez that our relation with Syria deopend on Syria's human right record?

Got few thousands more questions but SRP insist on just this one reply.

Scams, more scams, more no evidences, more faulty intelligence, more Mossad ops more of the same shit.

At 12/14/2005 01:00:00 PM, Blogger ActiveListener said...

Uh oh, here we go again. Is that the REAL SRP posting above or one of those naughty fakes?

In fact, after reading the other intelligent, heartfelt posts then seeing yours, my instinct was ah, here's the propagandist and disninformation agent barking hysterically, trying to drown it out.

Eshani has responded with courtesy and sincerity to your insulting paranoia on this point several times.

The fact you ingore it adds to my suspicions about you.

At 12/14/2005 01:01:00 PM, Blogger homeland said...

Dear Prof. Joshua,
On behalf of myself and alot of Syrian friends, we thank you for the exciting months with Syrian Comment; it has become a discussion sanctuary on Syrian and Middle Eastern affairs.
Have a nice and safe trip back home and God Bless You.

At 12/14/2005 01:13:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

"Eshani has responded with courtesy and sincerity to your insulting paranoia on this point several times".

Neither Ehsani2 nor anyone else ever responded to the question politely or otherwise. That is the frustrating part.

This is our last post here. infact it will be our last public commnet.

At 12/14/2005 01:30:00 PM, Blogger ugarit said...

ehsani2 said:

"What the Baath party and this regime have done to the economy of this nation is nothing short of criminal. Over 60% of our population is under the age of 18. The implications of this going forward are daunting and even shocking. The country’s labor force is conservatively growing at 300,000 per year. ..."

Come on! The high birthrate and the percentage of the population under 18 has nothing to do with the Baath. It has to do with Syrians having too many children. The rise of a stock market is not a sufficient indicator of how well a population is doing. It is usually indicative of how well the elite class is doing.

All that being said the Baath is not viable as a ruling political party. But please let's not push only a capitalist or WTO solution unto Syria. The WTO has been reducing the quality of life for many in the world. Perhaps a social market economy is the closest to being better for the majority of the population.

At 12/14/2005 01:36:00 PM, Blogger ActiveListener said...

"This is our last post here. infact it will be our last public commnet" SRP

But you always say that, you are such a teaser.

We have seen how you change your tune (or switch tracks on the CD in your head). For example, look how you abandoned your case on Dr Josh and the CIA - without him even bothering to dignify such silliness with a denial.

Anyway, sometimes the "other" SRP grabs your keyboard and mouse and makes an interesting contribution here and there. May he'll come back and take over again.

At 12/14/2005 01:43:00 PM, Blogger ActiveListener said...

"The high birthrate and the percentage of the population under 18 has nothing to do with the Baath. It has to do with Syrians having too many children" writes Ugarit.

Birthrates slow when there is economic development, opportunity and optimism. This has been well demonstrated and documented over many years in many places.

Nothing to do with the Baath?

At 12/14/2005 02:00:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

It's the real SRP, you can check by looking at the user ID number (finishes by 73)

At 12/14/2005 02:03:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12/14/2005 02:04:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

"Come on! The high birthrate and the percentage of the population under 18 has nothing to do with the Baath. It has to do with Syrians having too many children. "

It has also to do with the state's failure to implement a family planning policy. On the long term, this constitutes a serious threat to Syria's prosperity.

At 12/14/2005 02:10:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Though ActiveListner makes a very good point, I was not suggesting that Syria's demographics are due to Baath policies. What I was attempting to highlight was the fact that given that the country has such alarming demographics, policies that promote fast economic growth become even more pressing and urgent. As for the merits of capitalism and open markets versus "social" market economies, I think the record speaks for itself. It is akin to a woman who would like to be half pregnant. Sixety years after its inception in Western Europe, it is now evident that the experiment has failed. A welfare state is never sustainable as it involves the strong hand of a Government managed economies. Stop suspecting the magic of laissez-faire economics. It may Trust me it works.

At 12/14/2005 02:58:00 PM, Blogger ugarit said...

You have too much faith in the "free" market economy and I can't believe that you say that the social market economy is a failure. Perhaps you thought I meant socialist economy, which I did not.

There are many indicators that the US's "free" market economy is not adqequate for the majority of Americans. The US is rated 35th in health care and rated the most expensive. Guess which country is number one in quality health care?

The US has more poverty than Europe, and even more poverty for children. Income distribution is even worse in the US. 40 million Americans don't have health insurance. Over 2.2 million americans are in prison, which is the highest in the world, even higher than China or Russia. But of course if you only look at the stock market and "unemplyoment" rates then the US looks quite good.

BTW the US does not count the prison population as unemployed as some other countries do. So let's add 2.2 million and see what happens to the unemployment rate.

At 12/14/2005 03:45:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

"In an apparent gesture of support, two Israeli Air Force F-16 fighter-bombers performed low passes over the mass funeral in Beirut of publisher-lawmaker Gebran Tueini Wednesday."



"Angry crowds hurled abuse at Syrian leaders whom they held responsible for the car bombing-murder of the outspoken anti-Syrian Tueini in E. Beirut Tuesday. Lebanese sources also reveal that Wednesday three big roadside bombs were found planted on the road to the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt’s headquarters in the Chouf mountains."


At 12/14/2005 03:46:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

"Though ActiveListner makes a very good point, I was not suggesting that Syria's demographics are due to Baath policies. "

Neither did I. I just mentioned that the Syrian government failed to act preemptively in order to solve this problem. Not that they should care about this: the rise of poverty and extremism in Syria is the only thing that prevents a regime removal.

At 12/14/2005 03:53:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

vox. I did not suggest you were. You made a good point on the subject

At 12/14/2005 04:11:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

The French finally got smart and started playing games too. Now we know what was behind that meeting in Paris with French and Israeli intelligence. President assad is now thinking I should have made those cash deposits in three places Russia, France and U.K.

At 12/14/2005 04:22:00 PM, Blogger said...

Games Nations Play.

Remember the book!!.

Wish the author is alive or if anyone else is interested in publishing an updated book titled Games Nation Plays II, or the Game Nations Playing, or maybe the Games Nations will be Playing, with much more interesting facts and games, please contact me at:


If you are a movie studio or director, please contact me for a movie rights, cheap cash advance required. Contactmeat:

I promise it will be the year hit and it will no doubt win an oscar for best true story script, best real world drama.

and by the way: all cash proceeds will be donated to SRP, all the Hollywood blonds with fake tits and all will be donated to Metaz.

At 12/14/2005 05:21:00 PM, Blogger DamasceneBlood said...

First, I would like to join the chorus in singing the praises for Dr. Landis. Thanks for creating an internet coffee house where we all can join in and debate in both civilized and uncivilized manners.

I would also like to point out to Ehsani2 that, although our government has proven incompetent economically so far, you have to remember that rising stock markets based on speculation do NOT directly improve the living standards of the middle class. Case in point: Egypt. Huge unemployment, rising extremism, and people living in cemetries and marrying in secret (zawaj 3orfi) because they cannot afford to create a family.

Look, I know how bad the regime is, and I know how every major project requires suitcases of cash on ministers' desks, but that's an internal problem, and if we are too cowardly or stupid to accept this system and not fight it, then we just deserve what we get.

As for external pressures, yes, they are very real, and they do come from the US and Israel, no matter how hard you work (with your fellow Lebanese) to make the issue of Israel taboo and make people who accuse Israel look like crazy conspiracy theorists. I am sure you don't have ulterior motives for this, but the facts are very clear.

It might seem paradoxical that one has to stand by the regime in these very dark times, and even you agreed, that change has to come from WITHIN, and we've seen that wholesale change is pretty much impossible at the current time, given how weak and lame the opposition forces are.

At 12/14/2005 05:54:00 PM, Blogger Metaz K. M. Aldendeshe said...

Thank you Maloof, you lebanese geeks.I will take those any time, just without the fake boobs.

So, when is the Next Lebanese geeks Civil War will be starting?
looks like we are already in the intermission period. HEHEHEHEHE.

Just don't blame Israel and France or America. And please be fucking polite and respectable in here. I mean how could you be a leader fleecing your country and killing innocent people by the tens of thousands and say think rude and impolite such as "fuck". Are all Lebanese and Syrian geeks have no manners!!!

At 12/14/2005 06:02:00 PM, Blogger Karakuz said...

As a recent “fly” to Syria Comment (by the way, whoever wrote that can screw-off), and an American of Syrian heritage and a student of Middle East history and politics, I am very impressed with what Professor Landis accomplished with Syria Comment in the last year. I am not certain how well his views and the views expressed by the other flies reflect the general public opinion in Syria, but I do think that he created his blog with a deep level of knowledge of Syria, its people and its politics, and with a critical eye of the events that have transpired in Syria and Lebanon in the past year. I spent time in Syria recently and I agree fully in Professor Landis's assessment of Syria, its changes and potential. However, I am dismayed at the impotent rhetoric of conspiracy theories that pervades Syrian and Lebanese politics.

The foreign policy of the United States has been overtaken by right-wing, neo-conservative ideologues (the "neocons"). Their view is that Syria should be isolated and weakened, so that a so-called “natural” alliance between Jordan, Israel and Turkey can be formed to dominate the region. This, I believe, is the real reason that the U.S. invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein – the goal of the neocons was to prevent Syria from gaining control of Iraq by toppling Saddam itself. This is also the reason behind the U.S.’ stance on Syria’s role in Lebanon. Israel and the Bush Administration greatly fear a Syria that is in control of Lebanon and Iraq, because it would make Syria the power broker in the region, giving it control over the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians and perhaps lead to further attacks, terrorist or otherwise, against the U.S. and its allies and interests in the region. I don't know whether this view accurately reflects Syria's intentions, but it is what the neocons believed.

There is no secret kabal trying to undermine Syria. There is an outright and open assault on Syria that is now being fueled by the chaos in Lebanon. These are two distinct events. If Bush and the necons – the neocons come from both the Lebanese and Jewish American communities – want to weaken Syria by assassination, they are not going to assassinate their main allies in Lebanon just because it would look like Syria did it. That's far too inefficient for this group. If they want to assassinate any one, they have the power to assassinate Syrian officials too.

I am dismayed that so many Syrians are at a loss as to what to do. They are so busy trying to uncover the proper conspiracy that they fail to see that the answer is right in front of them. They have to save themselves from the violence and oppression that has caused their degradation and isolation. No one is coming to save the Syrian people.

President Bush did a remarkable thing today. He admitted that the intelligence on Iraq was inaccurate. He took responsibility for it, and for changing America’s intelligence services and ensuring that the Iraq he promised, a democratic one, comes to life. In doing so, he said, he hopes that a democratic Iraq will serve as an example for reform in Syria and Lebanon. This statement was necessary for the Republicans, because the Republican Party fears widespread losses in the mid-term elections in November 2006 as a result of the Iraq policy.

The Syria Accountability Act, the legislation passed with overwhelming support in the House and Senate, was largely mirrored on the legislation that authorized the invasion of Iraq, and the same intelligence. President Bush was never a strong supporter of the SAA, but agreed to sign it anyway. He just destroyed it. No one can point to Syria’s failure to comply with the U.S.' demands in the SAA as a reason for forced regime change, since it was based on intelligence compiled by the same people at the same time that they prepared for the invasion of Iraq. If no more evidence is found linking Syria to Harriri’s assassination, and President Assad complies with some of the U.S.’s major demands (shutting down its connections to Hizballah and the Palestinian organizations in Syria, and securing the border with Iraq), which it is likely to do to some degree to appease the U.S., then the sanctions will probably be removed as well.

What does this mean for Syria – there won’t be any U.S.-led regime change there. The Syrians are, once again, on their own.

Ehsani’s economic comments today were right on. The time bomb is ticking. If the Syrian government is in the way of peace and prosperity for Syrians, then the Syrian people have to rise up and change the regime themselves. I think this is the proper approach. As an American, I do not want to see my government engaged in the folly of state and/or political reformation in the Middle East. I know the Bush Administration cannot deliver on its promises of democracy and peace and freedom and all that good happiness stuff. Nor do I want my tax dollars and America’s youth being wasted on wars and rebuilding nations and/or unnatural and artificial political alliances. As an Arab, with a loving glass-half-full view of Syria, I do not want to see that country destroyed, or even weakened. I don't want to see Syria descend into civil war or fracture and become fodder for Israel or another nation to occupy -- and, believe me, that scenario has not been lost on the Likud Party. I do wish to see the political and economic reform that all except the regime in power and its patronage network desire. But it won't come from the outside.

The one comment I have not heard from any Syrian is how the Syrian people are going to rise up and take matters into their own hands. Instead, all I hear is the feeble rhetoric of powerlessness and conspiracy-mongering. If it is time to end Syria’s isolation and create stability through a new constitution that gives respect to all peoples inhabiting Syria and reform the economy, and if the Assad regime is incapable or unwilling to engage in such reform, then the Syrian people have to rise up and take matters into their own hands. If you were going about it strategically, you would start by taking out the key elements that are opposing Bashar, then go for the patronage network supporting the regime. And go from there.

At 12/14/2005 06:52:00 PM, Blogger ActiveListener said...

Karakuz, you said " ....then the Syrian people have to rise up and take matters into their own hands. If you were going about it strategically, you would start by taking out the key elements that are opposing Bashar..."

WHAT, what are you talking about?

Please tell us in detail who in this category needs to exterminated.

Also, you have written a thoughtful, intelligent and articulate piece, but it has been diluted by some conspiracy-theory ingredients of your own. History is never that simple. The more you read (and you would only need to go back to the Clinton era) the more you realise and hesitate to boil it down to visions by "neocons" and the like.

At 12/14/2005 07:38:00 PM, Blogger ActiveListener said...

Dr Josh, you are a true gentleman and scholar and have been doing a terrific job running this blog. I agree that you occasionally wear a pair of bunny or donkey ears when you are writing, but you have also written some really great stuff that I still think about and enjoy sharing with others. You can be very insightful, informative and entertaining.

Above all, you have a wonderful openness, enthusiasm and personal lack of vanity that makes this “coffee house” work so well. The way you always publish things like that frank note from CV above is endearing.

Please do everything you can to ensure that that the momentum keeps on, even if you are doing it from somewhere else in cyberspace.

(Anyway, I don’t think you will last long away from Syria, you will be pining for it too much back in snowbound Oklahoma, stuck in a room full of dull American college types. In fact, I often think: “Dr Josh seems so good natured, he must secretly be a Syrian”)

At 12/14/2005 07:46:00 PM, Blogger Karakuz said...

I believe that Bashar is sincere about reform, but can't implement it because of other forces in the Syrian government that oppose reform. The Syrian people know better than I do what those forces are.

I am not proposing that the neocons are engaged in a conspiracy. They are engaged in politics. It's bad politics, but it's politics.

What do you mean that history is never that simple? What history are you referring to? This isn't history yet, it's the present. And it's fairly transparent. If you are referring to U.S. policy in the region, then of course it's more complicated than the neocons, who are relatively new. But I disagree that you can compare Bush's policies in the region with Clinton's. The neocons were around when Clinton was in office. It's when they formulated their strategy. At the time, they were selling it to the Likud Party. They were not successful in selling it to Clinton. This is not a conspiracy theory. Go to the American Enterprise Institute website and you can find policy papers that were written by current members of Cheney's foreign policy team that were written for Likud. Likud was the client. This same group has formulated Bush's Middle East policy. They have not realized all of their goals. In fact, they seem to have cooled their heels. But the relationship is undeniable.

At 12/14/2005 08:22:00 PM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...

Even before I read Josh's post today, I have been thinking about my views on the regime. I seem to remember myself as being critical of so many of the thugs and unqualified people that lead our inefficient, corrupt and largely inept government and services. I remember that education reform and the establishment of a meritocracy in Syria as things I considered first and foremost as essential for Syria to go forward, as well as regaining the Golan heights asap so it can no longer be used as an excuse to have emergency laws and thwart reform.

I look at myself now and see I am defending the regime with gutso. And all the things I have mentioned in the previous paragraph have largly and unconcsiously taken a back-seat to the instinct to defend Syria against anyone attacking it--whether it be Mehlis, or Bolton or the Lebanese. I now realize the line of defending the regime has blurred in my mind. On one hand I am compelled to defend the regime in order to prevent sanctions that would wreck our economy or worse (in my mind) cause internal collapse and chaos. And I see how this can be construed as defending the regime because they are rightous and doing good and everything is fine. Nothing could be further from the truth.

What an unfortunate state to have found myself in. Although I think external pressure on the regime does push and prod it faster toward reforms, I acutely realize that it is much more difficult to be critical of the regime when it is under attack. The patriotic instinct is to identify the regime with the motherland and try to hit back. The fact is I do not want to walk down the sanctions road. And I do not want a government collapse (which I think is extremely unlikely in any case) because of the uncertainty of consequences involved. And so I find myself defending the regime.

Reading Josh's post today and the letter addressed to Josh have made this realization hit harder. I agree with the letter writer, Josh's posts have lacked the criticism of the regime that I remember in the past. In the past I remember thinking to myself--'How can Josh get away with talking like that in Syria?'. But no longer.

What a predicament the Syrian regime has gotten us all into. Woe on us.

At 12/14/2005 08:35:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...


I am Syrian. Please tell me who "those forces" who are opposing reforms are?
You suggest that Bashar wants but can't deliver because of those forces? After five years in power, do you think we need another five before THE President is able to implement his vision? I beg to differ. Bashar CAN get it done if he wants to. All he needs is articulate his vision and order it implemented. Syria's power structure is centralized at the top of the pyramid. Any suggestion otherwise is simply not credible.

At 12/14/2005 08:39:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

Yes Syria needs free market economy soon and very soon to improve the lives of the Syrian people,the US economy has safty net for the poor Syrians can survive free markeet economy ,they are doing that every day in the US,most Syrianswould rather ive in the US than in EU and that is not because the US has more social programs than the EU but because the US treat everybody as equal under the law and the US gairantees opprtionety not welfare ,in the US most Syrians have done well for themselves,and they can do the same in Syria under free market economy simmeler to yhe US ,the rapid increase in population and the poor economic condition in Syria is a pretex to disaster not only for Syria but to Israel and the US with unemployed population religously endoctrinated and ripe for violence ,so it is of the US interst and Israel interest is to improve Syria,s economy,we should remember that peol ple who are happy finantionaly do not resort to violence,now to the point about the Baath party abelity to implement reform,i think they can their problem is not that they do not want to improve but that they do not know how and they do not want to learn from others thinking that they should reinvent the wheel before moving ahead ,Syria needs organizational skills in addition to economic legal and political help to improve and if the US wants and needs democracy in Syria they can help just offer help and you will see that syria goverment is eager to improve ,I do not know why change especialy for the better needs to come though violence and death.i hope Syria can achieve democracy and free market economy peacefully nad with pratection of minority rights.

At 12/14/2005 09:01:00 PM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...

I agree with much of Alterion's sentiments. Well said.

Your points are well spoken Ehsani and very wise indeed. (I was under the impression you are an economics student) Not to take anything away from your comments, but be careful comparing Syrian economic growth to that of a place like the UAE and Saudi with their oil wealth or even Jordan and Egypt with their massive American aid of $1 billion and $26 billion over the past 5 years and since 1975 respectively . I don't think we are at the same starting level as these countries to be quantitavely compared as if we are. Don't you agree?

Samsoume, I am continuously compiling a single pdf file of all blog articles and comments: I have July 15 2005 through today on file. It is 14 MB and growing so far! I can send this to Josh if you would like, who can forward it to you if he pleases.

Before I forget, I will give my thanks to Dr. Landis for his insight and creation of this forum.

At 12/14/2005 09:22:00 PM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...

Karakuz, you mentioned Bush admitting fault and accepting responsibility. It is a political ploy in a way true. But wait and wonder if we in Syria will ever have a President Bashar or otherwise who would do the same. The only time we hear Bashar's voice addressing us in Syria is when he wants to rally us to defend the country (and him).

Accountability and open communications--Things we can only dream about in Syria and totally taken for granted in the US.

But I still agree with you that Bashar is sincere about reform, only at a snail pace. He needs to be given a push by the Syrian people. And your neo-con sentiments are right on on my book. This article gives good insight into the matter and the relationship between the Bush admin neocons and the now very far right wing Netenyahu Likud party. It is the one thing that angers me most as an American, that my national foreign policy interests are being tended to by people that have Israel's best interests as well. And it is accepted as status quo. It has caused so much foreign anger at America.

Ehsani, Syria's power structure may appear to be centralized at the top...but the truth is my guess is as good as yours. With no free press and no communications we really cannot know any better without insides information.

Norman you forget the many entrenched interests of so many of the Baathist and their cronies. They are so comfortable in life and either do not care or are blind of the plight of the 'non-wasta' part of the population. These people in large part do not want reforms since it would or should mean spreading the wealth. Rather they are happy buying fast cars and making lots of money.

At 12/14/2005 09:34:00 PM, Blogger ActiveListener said...

Engineeringchange, I admire you.

You are honest and sane and very human.

Many Americans could not sleep or eat for days after George Bush won the last election, they were so distressed. Many talented, hardworking and wise Americans (including top military) saw their efforts pissed on and discarded by Donald Rumsfeld in the final run up into Iraq, many senior State Dept officials felt their careers turn to dust. But if any non-American says anything critical about how their Government handled Iraq, they'll flinch and disagree, their national pride reflex kicking in.

You'll also find many Israelis ashamed and alarmed and nervous about what their Government does. But they can't say so to others.

The difference is, these Governments make dreadful mistakes but at some level their citizens trust them to do what is in the national interests of their people.

In a place like Syria, run by a self-appointed, ruthless hereditary mafia, the people sense that they are behind enemy lines with regard to their own "leadership".

It takes clear and strong thinking, vision, bravery and sacrifice to look past the Assadists and move forward. Ignore their rubbish smokescreen agendas, such as Israel and Lebanon - focus on what Syrians need and deserve to have worthwhile lives.

I believe Syrians like you have it in them.

At 12/14/2005 11:03:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

A spy named active-listener said:

"In a place like Syria, run by a self-appointed, ruthless hereditary mafia, the people sense that they are behind enemy lines with regard to their own "leadership".

Let's assume for a second the impossible, that your are not a Jew spying here and on everyone internet connection.

If Assad is so bad as you such described, then why on earth every fucking country Head Ape in the world kisses his ass and the ass of his great father Hafez. Why, for decades American Presidents and high level officials flew all over the world to meet the Assadists (as you call them) and beg for their hand. If President Bashar Assad is so evil as you describe, why the Queen of England, King of Spain, and not to forget Chirac himself, as a first in line pampered the Syrian President. Why bus load after bus load of Congressional delegations and senators from the United States and the world all flying and driving to Damascus to meet our Syrian President Bashar Assad, even one load of this shit was in Damascus meeting with his Excellency this month.

If the Assadists are so Evil, why would every fucking Eurobeast and Popeshit visited him and his father for the past 30 years.

My ear still ring of the high praises made for his excellency even from President Bush himself, who said once that “Bashar is doing great things”

NOW, JUST NOW, when President Assads won’t play this Colonial Puppet game, he will not compromise on Syria’s National Interests and hand over the Golan to the Jews,
When he will not abandon the right of Palestinian to return to the occupied land stolen by the Jews and refuses to house and feed nearly One Million refugees that Jews thrown out of Palestine in the utmost of evilness and crudities. When he will not surrender Lebanon to be split by the Franco-Israeli interests and mandate. NOW HE IS ALL THE SUDDEN, IN ONE HOUR, EVIL DICTATOR, AND RUN EVIL AND RUTHLESS REGIME.


Metaz K. M. Aldendeshe,
Chief Strategist
Syrian Republican Party
The future of Syria
The future of the Middle East

At 12/14/2005 11:47:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

SRP is but one example of the Syrian flip flop mentality, a mentality that permitted Hafez Assad to play his game for more than 30 years, and pass all of Syria as a private property to his son. Syrians of this type have, from the begining of the reign of the late dictator, Hafez Assad played a key role in killing the trust between people. Here, SRP, the most ardent anti Alawi, anti Baathy, anti Assad for months on this same web blog is now the praiser number one of this "Young" and "Western Educated" dictator, the inheritor of Syria and its peasants. So did many Syrians for over 30 years. People trusted other people when they showed them so much destest for the dictaor, and confied in them, only to be taken to prisons because those ones who were so ardent against the regime, were either spies to start with, or that they have suddenly been offered a position of prestige, or some benefit such as a scholarship for their relatives, sons or daughters..etc...

How can this so called SRP (they/he are/is never mentioned in any other place beside this blog) have made exactly 180 degree turn in its/his political views?

Some one explain to me.

I say this is why I despised many Syrians, and I am not proud to have been born as Syrian.


At 12/14/2005 11:48:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

"Damascus is an exciting and cosmopolitan city, full of life"

Well I am happy that it has changed because the last time I went there in 2000 it looked like the stage of the movie 'the night of the living dead'. But I was told that the city was improving.

"Debate among Syrians over how to break out of their isolation "

A cosmopolitan but isolated city? Now that's something you don't see everyday.

At 12/14/2005 11:54:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

"I would also like to point out to Ehsani2 that, although our government has proven incompetent economically so far, you have to remember that rising stock markets based on speculation do NOT directly improve the living standards of the middle class. "

My dear DB, it looks to me that you studied XIXth centure French economics. An increase of the assets value that does not create inflation is good for the economy.

At 12/14/2005 11:56:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

If this good dictator is fighting Zionism, imperialsim, and all of these convenient adjectives, and he is so good for Syria, then why is he keeping the Best and Most Honourable Syrians in Jails?

At 12/15/2005 01:55:00 AM, Blogger Metaz K. M. Aldendeshe said...

Excuse me JAM,

Neither me, SRP nor any member or supporting poster of SRP ever offended you or called you names. We have said many time how much we value the fact that you are a Syrian Alawites and wish for you to join us when you see fit. Please remember that.

1- Neither SRP, or me personally, ever been anti Alawite, 26 of my 87 members committee are Alawites. Most of my friends in Syria’s school (9th –12th grade) were Alawites. My personal lifestyle as an atheist in many ways similar to Alawites in that I celebrate the Spring and vegetation and women. I add the Sun to my admired fascination because without it life can not exist in its present form on the planets. That was well understood by Akhnaten.

2- Anti Baathist, NO, I respect Baathist right just as we demand rights to SRP. In fact we know that Baathism and Arab Nationalism is very strong and popular in Syria and SRP will never attract the Syrian people as much as Baathism and Arabism or Islam for a matter of facts can attract from Syrian voters. SSNP been in Syria and Lebanon for more than 70 Years and still has less than 60,000 members. Compare that with the Baath Party membership and you will understand.

3- Anti Assad , NO. We have made it very clear to President Assad, long time ago, that we object to the policy of the Baath party which is the leader of. If you checked our website, we clearly stated that we shall increase the salary of the Mukhabrat and military by Ten fold. And that we will equip and train them on the latest of technologies and defense systems.

4-Maybe some of the remarks that gave you this wrong impression were the one posted by our distracters. Personally and the party are constantly being spied on by Mossad or ex-agents or whoever since 1999-2000. Personally I lost so many technologies due to industrial espionage and even internet business. As I am typing here for you, someone is watching this type in real time, because we could not remove the Total Control Spyware of this internet connected system. Although we see it, we can not locate the program because it is very high tech and it works by renaming itself internally and giving another name to show.

5- Now to answer your charges:

Flip-Flop : You mean we should ignore all the intelligence we gathered and follow your line of opposition blindly. Totally disregarding the data. You must feel that removing President Assad and his Baath party from power is the number One of importance to you as an opposition. I am sorry, but who ever gave you that impression that we support this at the expense of chopping up Syria into parts? Disarming it like Iraq, Killing all it’s bright and smart people because they can be thereat to Israel. Turning the people of Syria into a consumers for Israeli made products and farm animal / laborer to Lebanon, Jordan and now Israel. Where did you get the idea that we or me personally will support plans to invade the eastern, oil rich part of Syria using the Kurds and incorporating it into the gas-oil complexes of Kurdish Iraq. What gave you the impression that SRP or me personally or any other poster on SRP behalf are willing to give Lebanon to France and Israel to be the new Mandate power over it.

SRP do not care if the Baathist rule Democratically in Syria, nor do we care if Bashar Assad or any other Alawites or Christian get elected in Syria. They should have the same rights as we are asking for. Or are you suggesting that we should campaign to get this right and then deny such to Baathists and Bashar to run for office.

We still ardent opposition to the way the Baath party has driven Syria to the ground, even more angry at the way the Baath party is not doing anything fast enough to introduce reforms. No flip flopping sir.

You are emotionally charged and we understand your suffering. We care about your feeling and wishes for Syria and we share those aspirations and feeling with you and many Syrians and Lebanese too. But unlike your emotionally and blind push, we are unlike what some think that I am insane or SRP is unknown. There is facts you should know: SRP is the oldest Syrian Political Opposition group around, even before MB came to existence. And splinters of this groups that emerged from SSNP were very active in the past. Personally, I am so smart that I think god needs me, I don’t needs him.

Now, there are several posts that were posted here in the past 4 days. These important policy and strategy posts started 2 days before Mr. Tuaini assassination and these posts if you to carefully evaluate you will be able to ascertain why this shift in strategy were made by me and SRP. Unfortunately, most of these posts are not accessible here. I asked Mr. Landis about it and he replied stating that he does not know why these pages are not working. It is a lot of material and a lot of clues, not going to repeat it here. But the bottom line is this, and I will attempt to articulate this for you without resorting to the use of bad language, although I am upset to the point that now developing serious heart problem:

We support any program/s that will bring Democracy, Freedom, Cultural and Economic Development to Syria, a program that will respect the human rights and establish a strong American styled election, educational and legal system with the Baath Party on the programs or leading, and President Assad on the lead or out. It makes no difference to us for as long as it is accomplished and fast.

SRP will not support or be part of any Zionist or Neo-Con-artists game plan/s that will have any elements which in my opinion, which I dictate to SRP committee, is not conducive or supportive of the party platform or agenda, or it is designed to harm Syria, chop it up, turn it into no man land, diminish its sovergnity or the status of it’s Government, including the President for the benefits of Israel. This also includes Lebanon.

The United States had many chances to provide support for me or more recently to SRP since the first time I requested aid from the CIA, Secretary of State Schultz and President Reagan back in 1982. We have made repeated requests for the U.S. Government asking for this support, but we received none. We posted the website with all the necessary details and introduced it to many people privately, someone deemed me personally and SRP not worthy.

Yes sir, neither me nor SRP are going to play games, just to get the support, we are not a colonial agents and nor Zionist puppets. And that is what President Assad is not prepared to do too.

If the United States is serious about bringing peace and Democracy to Syria and the Middle East it would have taken a whole lot of different avenue. But it consistently chose the one that is only to the benefit of Israel and the Oil companies.

We are not stupid people as what Jews always think of Syrians, I have not met a single Jew that have 10% of my intelligence. So don’t insult my intelligence please. When I smell bad fish, It is a bad smelly fish.

If President Assad needs help, we said we are always ready to help. If President Bush needs our opinion, we are always available. Like so many members of SSNP and SSPRS, we both founded on the basis of American system, and most members if not all are English speaking. We love Americans and we think they are the nicest and most polite people in the world. But we both are Nationalist Organizations and Syrian Ideologue just like the Zionist are for Israel. Just like no Zionist will compromise on the Security, Sovereignty and territorial integrity of Israel, We will just as same make no compromise on Syria’s.

So JAM, thank you for giving me the opportunity to make this post. If it were not you asking, we probably never bothered replying. So rather than you come here and offend me and my ultra sophisticated and highly capable NGO, when we never ever offended you. Please go and ask Mrs. Condelessa Rice, President Bush, his colorful Vice President and ultra colorful ex-Saddam friend the defense Secretary what the hell is the plan for Syria other than another mess like that of Iraq. And tell them the only plan that will work is to “empower the people of the Middle East to bring a change in accordance with the stated terms of President George W. Bush Initiative, that is a noble plan and a noble cause for America to promote” all other Feith styled plans are either De Javue Lebanon all over again, same O-same O with the same people in fact, or they are plans for Zionist scams or Armageddon.

I thought this Jewish carpenter that was born an a manger and grew up fishing hefty trout in Gallile, the one that tuned out to be the only begotten son of the living god, whose shall believe in him shall have eternal life or go to eternal hell said something like PEACE ON EARTH. He ran around heeling the sick and preaching love one another so the Jew killed him because he was preaching that he was the Messiah. And now Christians celebrate his death annually by shopping till-ya-drop. UHHMMM…Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Mr. Amen, I learned a lot from you and your way. Soon I may just be on your side and follow your Messianic or is it Masonic plan!! Whatever, sometime I think what you inspired George Washington and the others such as my favorite dude Benjamin with, is quite a degree of elevation in mankind evolution.

Metaz K. M. Aldendeshe,
Chief Strategist
Syrian Republican Party
The future of Syria
The future of the Middle East

At 12/15/2005 02:13:00 AM, Blogger BP said...

This is also syria and its nice people.

"We are witnessing the destruction of the soul and the spirit," wrote Adonis the poet, whose real name is Ali Ahmed Said.

"""The Baath Party in Iraq ruled by its sheer brutality. I gathered reports from Iraqi dissidents and human rights workers in the early 1990s, when I was researching my novel about Iraq, "The Bank of Fear." These stories are sickening to recount, even now: The children of Shiite rebels in southern Iraq, dropped from helicopters to terrify the parents; dissidents who had nails driven into their heads; and prisoners beaten with metal cables until they collapsed or died. At Saddam Hussein's trial last week, a woman was speaking about how she had been beaten with those cables. Watching his arrogant scorn for the testimony of his victims, I remembered what the war is about.

The Baath Party in Syria has governed much the same way, though it saved its worst brutality for neighboring Lebanon. The Syrians maintained their mandate by demonstrating that they were prepared to kill anyone who got in their way: a president, a prime minister, a religious leader, a journalist. The price of speaking out was death. That was the message: This is the land of death. Enter into this theater of violence and we will swallow you up.""" (David Ignatius)

Proud to be born as syrian? I agree with JAM.

"""George W. Bush gets a lot of things wrong, but he knows that he's fighting the assassins. On days like these, I'm glad that he is such a stubborn man.""" (D. Ignatius)

If Damascus is filled with happy life and happy people, what have we to worry about? You, Professor Landis, convinced me that President Bashar Al Asad is the powerful man. He and only he can rule country and the open minded people.

At 12/15/2005 02:26:00 AM, Blogger ActiveListener said...

JAM what you said about SRP puts flesh and bones on Alterion's bleak words: "The problem is the total destruction of the Syrian individual. The Syrian individual has become a hungry monster with total ignorance of what ethics are, of what good manners are, and of what decency is. The Syrian individual has become a vicious destructive opportunist. The civil society has become an oxymoron in Syria."

I once heard a Latin American psychiatrist talk about how living with corrupt dictatorship and economic chaos had eroded the character of his countrymen.

Living so long with fear, economic insecurity, injustice, not able to trust or rely on anyone - he saw it destroy his society's mental health. Instead of hope, human warmth and dignity there was mass anxiety, neurosis and depression. Everyone was obsessed with personal survival. When he came back from Europe he was shocked at the behaviour and attitudes of even his own family and friends.

Please do not say this is happening in Syria. No! No!

At 12/15/2005 02:37:00 AM, Blogger I rather born Syrian or a dog said...

Yes it is thugs like BP and others, that make us so proud to be Syrians and noble. No wonder why Syrians have developed such a desdain to humans. That is why we think an Armagedon will be launched by us Syrians. We are the victims of evil mankind brutalities that brought this Baathist regimes on us in Syria and Iraq and till this very second is supported this evil by all the discusting humans in the world. From Jews in Israel to Arabs all over to Europeans and Russians. Even this spiecies of garbage that is called human, the un-Syrians, are desperetly at this moment are trying to find ways for the Baathist to get away with murder at The U.N., they are frantically trying to find a way out for this regime to survive to continue to keep us Syrians in bondage, awahile they shell out dispicable words against us, demeaning us, the victimes of thier crimes and evil, diabolic god.

At 12/15/2005 02:44:00 AM, Blogger Syrian Nationalism Eternally said...

I see all the Jews, Zionists and Lebanese launching an assult on Syrians, demonizing the poor people. I hope President Assad reads this blog and give the appropriate response back, especially to all those Lebanese thugs that invited us to save them from thier insanity.

At 12/15/2005 04:53:00 AM, Blogger Amr T said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12/15/2005 05:59:00 AM, Blogger BP said...

I completely agree with you Activelistener:

""""JAM what you said about SRP puts flesh and bones on Alterion's bleak words: "The problem is the total destruction of the Syrian individual. The Syrian individual has become a hungry monster with total ignorance of what ethics are, of what good manners are, and of what decency is. The Syrian individual has become a vicious destructive opportunist. The civil society has become an oxymoron in Syria."

I once heard a Latin American psychiatrist talk about how living with corrupt dictatorship and economic chaos had eroded the character of his countrymen.

Living so long with fear, economic insecurity, injustice, not able to trust or rely on anyone - he saw it destroy his society's mental health. Instead of hope, human warmth and dignity there was mass anxiety, neurosis and depression. Everyone was obsessed with personal survival. When he came back from Europe he was shocked at the behaviour and attitudes of even his own family and friends.

Please do not say this is happening in Syria. No! No!

Thursday, December 15, 2005 """"

How sad it is!!!!!!!!

At 12/15/2005 06:11:00 AM, Blogger Samsoume said...

Thanks a lot Eng. Change, I wonder if Dr. Landis can put this file on this website, so we can download it.
The goverement is now collecting singnatures from people in SYria, and these signatures are to be sent to the UN.
They are sayin, that this is a spontaneous gesture from people, altough today, in my brother's school, they asked(and expected YES from everyone) all the students from age 12 to 18 to sign these forms, as an expression of their love to their country.
You can also send your name FREE as an SMS, on syria mobile networks, or complete a form put on daily newspapers, and mail it FREE as well.

At 12/15/2005 08:25:00 AM, Blogger hijazi2005 said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12/15/2005 08:35:00 AM, Blogger sarma said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12/15/2005 04:30:00 PM, Blogger DamasceneBlood said...

Actually, Vox, I studied capitalist economics at UCLA, so I think I am more qualified to talk about the subject than you are.

I mentioned Egypt, which is a case in point for how speculation in markets doesn't really help the middle class. If anything, it hurts them big time: how many of you here lost large amounts of money in the stock market? only insiders and very big players make money on the long run.

And you seem to have a very short-term memory coming from the 90s bubble. Basically, the stock market is a 'wealth transfer' tool. Nothing more, nothing less: it moves the middle class money upstream to the wealthy and to large corporations.

At 12/16/2005 12:43:00 AM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

And I studied finance in France and I can tell you that speculation is essential in any financial market.

At 12/16/2005 06:17:00 AM, Blogger Alterion said...

Of course it is essential. It is sometimes the only factor in determining the value of a commodity. But that does not mean it can't be harmful to small investors (which in essence is DB's point). Speculations can also hurt entire economies of entire nations. You've got some pretty powerful financial brokerage/consultant power houses in the US which do nothing but speculate against/for entire countries. Henry Kissinger has become one of the leading international speculators for potential investors/policy makers. Of course his sepculations are more along the lines of political stability and such, but nonetheless they're speculations used by economists in speculations based on fundamentals.

At 12/17/2005 12:40:00 AM, Blogger zobahhan said...

UCLA wins hands on buddy. Name your institution. He clearly stated UCLA but you dont state your french connection buddy...

community college? side street?


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