Friday, March 10, 2006

Michael Young on Aoun, Jumblatt, Asad and Hamas

Michael Young is in his element lambasting Aoun, Lahoud, Berri and other Lebanese leaders who are soft on Syria. In his article, "Can you sidestep Aoun in ousting Lahoud?" he answers, his own question with a resounding, "no." He expects that Jumblatt will eventually be forced to support Aoun for president because it will be the only way to oust Lahoud. Even though Young scorns Aoun for going soft on the Syrians and, even worse, suggesting that Hariri could have been killed by Islamists, he knows that Aoun is better than Lahoud. He figures that once in power, Aoun will become anti-Syrian and anti-"resistance." His ego is too big; he is too much a Mr. Me, masquerading as a Mr. Lebanon, not to turn against Syrian and Hizb demands. As Michael writes:

Jumblatt, ever the realist, might yet decide that it's better to swallow the bitter pill of Aoun now and break Syria's hold over the presidency than to allow stalemate to persist - stalemate that could facilitate his own assassination by Syrian agents. Moreover, deep down Jumblatt may calculate that once Aoun is president, he would have no choice but to confront Syria and Hizbullah.
Oddly enough, Michael works himself into high dudgeon about Aoun working with Lebanon's erstwhile occupier and oppressor, but then councils the Palestinians to do exactly that. He has zero tolerance for Palestinian grandstanding on moral grounds, because it assures their stagnation and continued suffering. If their leaders were assassinated by Sharon and Israel's leadership, well, perhaps they deserved it, or, perhaps, they just cannot do anything about it. Better to suck in their pride and get down to dealing with the big boy on the block, Israel.

There is considerable logic to this council. So why shouldn't the Lebanese do the same? Michael would surely say: first, the Syrians are not strong; they just seem like it. Michael has been suggesting for some time that Bashar's regime is wobbling on antiquated and arthritic legs. Lebanon and the West must deal it the coup de grace. Israel is stung; Syria is not; no need to compromise with it.

Secondly, Michael would probably say that Israel is essentially a good power and a healthy democratic state which embraces the modern world, whereas, Syria is evil, despotic and backwards; it will suck Lebanon into the rat's hole of darkness and division. So, even if Syria were strong, and it's not, it would be worth fighting against it. Lebanon can only elevate itself through struggle against benighted Syria; Palestinians can only descend into obscurantism and backwardness by fighting enlightened Israel.

These, so far as I can see, are the main reasons Michael stokes the flames of Lebanese pride and calls for struggle until the house of Asad is no more; while he douses the flames of Palestinian pride and councils the world, and particularly the Arab states, not to support Hamas or Palestinian resistance in their rejection of Tel Aviv.

I will take up this assessment in a later post. Michael has good company today in the Syrian Dr Wafa Sultan, who John Broder profiles in the New York Times, and whose al-Jazeera appearance last week has caused a major stir.

March 11, 2006
The Saturday Profile
For Muslim Who Says Violence Destroys Islam, Violent Threats By JOHN M. BRODER
LOS ANGELES, March 10 — Three weeks ago, Dr. Wafa Sultan was a largely unknown Syrian-American psychiatrist living outside Los Angeles, nursing a deep anger and despair about her fellow Muslims.

Today, thanks to an unusually blunt and provocative interview on Al Jazeera television on Feb. 21, she is an international sensation, hailed as a fresh voice of reason by some, and by others as a heretic and infidel who deserves to die.

In the interview, which has been viewed on the Internet more than a million times and has reached the e-mail of hundreds of thousands around the world, Dr. Sultan bitterly criticized the Muslim clerics, holy warriors and political leaders who she believes have distorted the teachings of Muhammad and the Koran for 14 centuries.

She said the world's Muslims, whom she compares unfavorably with the Jews, have descended into a vortex of self-pity and violence.

Dr. Sultan said the world was not witnessing a clash of religions or cultures, but a battle between modernity and barbarism, a battle that the forces of violent, reactionary Islam are destined to lose.

In response, clerics throughout the Muslim world have condemned her, and her telephone answering machine has filled with dark threats. But Islamic reformers have praised her for saying out loud, in Arabic and on the most widely seen television network in the Arab world, what few Muslims dare to say even in private. (continue..)
"Syria diminishes importance of new US sanction"
Bahia Mardidni reported in Elaph, a pan-Arab newspaper, on March 10 that: “Syria considered today ‘that the American decision to ban US banks from dealing with the Commercial Bank of Syria will not effect the Syrian banking system because this is a procedure of a political nature’. The general manager of the Syrian bank, Darid Dargham, said in a press statement that ‘the US’s decision will not have any consequences because the sanctions have been applied for almost two years and the bank has [already] suffered from the consequences of the US’s step that today has become official’. He added that ‘the decision will not have any serious effects because it abides US banks only that have been applying [the sanctions] before the issuing of the official decision from the American government and the commercial bank does expect the banks that refused the US pressures in not dealing with us to do so today [again]’. Dargham mentioned the last Syrian government’s decision, taken a short while ago, to restrict the public sector -in its contracts abroad- in dealing in Euros was a precautionary step to diminish the difficulties that the public sector faces when it deals with the US dollar’.

Mardini continued: “The head of the Syrian Central Bank Dr. Adib Mayaleh criticized the US decision and considered it to be a part of the organized campaign that the United States has launched on his country. Mayaleh denied the accusation of the Syrian banking system’s involvement in money laundering especially after Syria formed a committee for this subject specifically, as well as [participated in] international and Arab conferences to discuss this phenomenon. He confirmed that there were no cases that involve the Syrian banking with illegal operations and said that the accusations of money laundering were false and their correctness was never proven’. The American foreign ministry had imposed sanctions, yesterday, on the Syrian Commercial Bank which includes [cutting off] all financial institutions and American bank accounts with American banks and the banning of any financial transaction with it [Syrian commercial bank] in the future.” - Asharq Al Awsat, United Kingdom

More on this here: "Syria says U.S. order to halt business with two banks part of political pressure."

from Jazeera: clashes outside of Justice Palace
Al Jazeera reported on March 9 that: "A number of Syrian opposition members have clashed with hundreds of university students after staging a demonstration in front of the Palace of Justice in Damascus. The clashes took place while dozens of oppositionists were staging a sit-in to protest against the continuation of emergency law which has been implemented in Syria for 43 years." - Al Jazeera, Qatar

Lysandra Ohrstrom has written a spirited article on the Lebanese Blogosphere
An explosion of blogging activity corresponds to protests that erupted last year on March 14. She highlights the duel between Tony Badran and As'ad Abu Khalil.


At 3/11/2006 07:27:00 PM, Blogger Anton Efendi said...

I'm not going to waste my time responding to you, but how about when you want to critique someone, you critique what they actually wrote as opposed to what they "would probably say." You have no idea what he would probably say. You've pulled this same tactic on me in the past. It's dishonest and cheap.

That you don't see the difference between the two situations and can only resort to this cheap tactic is another testament to how far you've gone in losing any critical sense when it comes to the Syrian thugocracy.

At 3/11/2006 07:55:00 PM, Blogger qunfuz said...

"Essentially a good power" and a "healthy democratic state"? If this is what Josh believes, or really waht Michael Young thinks, then they are very wrong indeed. Israelis are human beings and thus no more good or evil than any other human beings, but their state is a monster. Not just their government, but their state. It is not the state of the people who live there, but the state of immigrant Jews, founded in ethnic cleansing, perpetuated by theft and occupation and war. It occupies the Golan. It brutalised Lebanon for years and perpetrated massacres there. Any Lebanese who doesn't recognise this can not be called a patriot. Israel ignores scores of UN resolutions and threatens the region with its nuclear weapons. It is an exclusive state with full rights for Jews only. The Palestinians have every right to resist Israel, by all means including armed struggle, until Israel shows real rather than theatrical willingness for peace. The fact that the Arabs are politically backward and that the Syrian regime can be corrupt and brutal does not alter the basic nature of the zionist state.

At 3/11/2006 09:07:00 PM, Blogger qunfuz said...

and another thing...while I'm still ranting! Concerning Dr Sultan, I agree with her general point that Islam is in a sorry state. Sunni Muslims (and I am one) gave up ijtihad a millenium ago. Most Muslims practice the religion not as a path to spirituality and social justice but as an outmoded set of rules. We cling to ancient interpretations of sharia, fail to examine our inner motivations, use the religion as an excuse to always be angry and offended. The sectarian and absurdly literal contribution of salafis has been particularly negative. Look at Iraq. It may be that there are American and Israeli hands directing and profiting from some of the chaos, as Arabs constantly claim, but the idiots blowing themselves up in Shia mosques and markets are not Americans or Israelis. BUT the situation in Palestine is different. In Iraq suicide attacks are directed against fellow Iraqis, Arabs and Muslims, and they are an ideological weapon of choice. In Palestine the tactic comes after fifty years in which the following have been tried and failed: hijackings, waiting for Arab armies, negotiations, 'revolution' in neighbouring states, stonethrowing, peaceful demonstartions, petitions, letter writing campaigns, and so on. When the Palestinians try passive resistance, as at the start of the second intifada, they are gunned down by the dozen, and the American media calls them terrorists. War is war. Any attempt to describe Palestinian attacks on civilians as terrorism and Israeli or American or British attacks on civilians as legitimate is ideoplogical foolery which imagines that it feels good to be murdered or maimed by a tank or an F16 but not by a human bomb. The Israelis murder far more civilians than the Palestinians do, and they do so not in order to resist occupation but in order to perpetuate it. The year or two in which the suicide bomb campaign was really effective saw the Israeli economy suffer greatly and tourism to Israel drop dead. That's war, as practiced everywhere: the attempt to bend your enemy to your will by destroying his livelihood and through the use of terror. Which is not to say that suicide bombing can be justified Islamically. It can't. No form of modern warfare respects the rights of noncombatants, children, property or the environment, so no form of modern warfare is Islamic. A problem there for the Muslims to think about. But people in dire straits tend to use the vocabulary which has most resonance for them. Islamic vocabulary at the moment has most resonance in Palestine.

At 3/11/2006 09:21:00 PM, Blogger majedkhaldoon said...

this past week has been boring, next week is important,Brammertz,report,islamic banks meeting, and lebanon dialog,and interviews,will follow.

At 3/11/2006 09:27:00 PM, Blogger ActiveListener said...

Thank you, Qunfuz. I was sitting there clutching my head about Dr Josh’s view of Israel. I hope he is insultingly wrong in also hanging this view on Michael Young.

The most damning thing about Israel – for anyone who has seriously examined the history or even recalls events in the news of the past five years - is its lack of political integrity and maturity. It’s displayed in the chaotic, impulsive, vicious extremism of the actions taken by their leaders, rationalised by bizarre double standards and convoluted reasoning that even Israeli people themselves have trouble grasping.

When the Israeli people protest at the actions of their leaders, nothing changes. Time for another cruel, sly punch of the rich-kid bully then the howl of “we are under threat”.

This is not a healthy, developed democracy, which embraces the modern world. Just because its cynical spin doctors and those entranced by them say it does not make it so.

Dr Wafa Sultan significantly weakens her credibility and betrays staggering gaps in her education with the following:

“Perhaps her most provocative words on Al Jazeera were those comparing how the Jews and Muslims have reacted to adversity. Speaking of the Holocaust, she said, "The Jews have come from the tragedy and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror; with their work, not with their crying and yelling." She went on, "We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church. We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people." (New York Times article referred to above).

Where to start? There is probably not much space left in her head, but perhaps someone will be kind enough to take her aside and tell her about Dr. Baruch Goldstein, who shot to death 29 Palestinian men and boys as they prayed at the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron.

At 3/11/2006 10:16:00 PM, Blogger why-discuss said...

Josh, Jumblatt has swallowed a lot of pills, so I am expecting him to flirt with Aoun very soon, especially that Hariri is quietly getting closer to Hezbollah. I think the declarations of Jumblatt in the USA were very clear signs that he is panicking about his own raison-d'etre and trying to boost his own ego to face the humiliation waiting for him when he will have to side with Aoun and smile to Nasrallah and ultimately deal with Syria. What a pathetic politician he makes..

At 3/11/2006 11:25:00 PM, Blogger Joshua Landis said...

Here is a further comment on Jumblatt that I left at Stacey's blog "al-Hiwar. She commented on my last post about Jumblatt.

Stacey, Yes, Jumblatt is fickle, but I think it was Syria blowing up Hamade and then targeting Jumblatt that began his migration toward total confrontation. At first he thought he could give a few broadsides and then make up with Syria. Bashar refused to play that game and would not see him. Bad went to worse and Jumblatt quickly came to realize that the only way he would ever be really safe is if Bashar were overthrown.

During the elections, Jumblatt did work closely with Hizbullah and Berri in order to ensure his people won seats, but that was still when most Lebanese thought that Hizb could be domesticated and weaned of Syrian. Hizb joined the government for the first time and there was hope that by entering into the domestic confessional game, Hizb would buy into "Lebanon."

This is also why Aoun got so mad. He too believed that the Sunnis Druze and Shiites were forming an alliance that would cut out the Christians. He accused the Kornet Shahwan group of Christians, that were working with Hariri, of being simps and fools. He raised the Christian flag and won. Christians were frightened that Aoun was right and that Hariri and Jumblatt were concocting a Muslim coup.

Then Hizbullah proved that it would not separate itself from Syria. It walked out of government over the issue of establishing an international court and investigating the subsequent murders of Lebanese along with Hariri's. Hizbullah was protecting Syria against the murder rap.

Jumblatt was personally threatened by this stand; it seemed to give Syria a carte blanche to kill. The next victim could be Jumblatt himself. Nasrallah chose Bashar's safety over Jumblatt's.

This is when Jumblatt went on the warpath against Hizb and began attacking it where it hurts. He demand UN resolution 1559 be implemented to the letter; he claimed Shaaba Farms was never Lebanese territory (meaning Hizb's entire "resistance" thing is but a rouse), and he claimed that there is no need for resistance in Lebanon any longer. For the icing he said Hizb was acting like a traitor.

The Christians were furious with Jumblatt for sucking up to Hizballah during the elections, as you say, as well as for coming out against them on the question of Qada versus Muhafaza as the unit of voting. They were also furious that he advocated Berri for another term as Speaker of Parliament.

He did this for election reasons and got the Shiites to support his list in his region. But he also probably misjudged the Shiites' zealous connection to Syria, as did most Lebanese. As did I.

I agree that Jumblatt is fickle. But I also think that today, he thinks Syria is anathema. He should. He is threatened, and Bashar has made it clear that there is no returning to Damascus. He has been cut off and there is only one way for him to go now, and that is to Washington, whether he likes it or not.

He will try to have Lahoud taken down first, because that is the easy part. As Young suggests, he will have to accept Aoun to do this. Then he will have to deal with the Hizb-Damascus connection, which will be very difficult. Only American, and more importantly, Europe can really put the squeeze on Syria.

That is the way I read this. Best to you. Like the blog.

At 3/11/2006 11:33:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Remember Dair Yassin, remember KANA. How about all the targeted killings, assasinations and the constant threat thereof. How about destroying homes of Palestinians and Kunaitra!! How about kicking 2 million Palestinian from the land and let them live in conditions equal to the concetration camps. No commnet about Josh description of Israel and Jews, it is just as absurd as that low life doctor whatever.

Finally, Jews are smart, they use Goyyims like that doctor to to the dasderly deeds of Abu Guraib. They get boys from Omaha and Oklahoma schools to do the dirty work, while they sit in high places.

At 3/11/2006 11:40:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

Sooner or later and no matter who wins in Lebanon has to deal with Syria and it,s freind Hizballa if Lebanon declares war on Syria Syria can strangle Lebanon Aoun undestands that Aoun does not want to kill the keeper of veniard he only wants to take the grapes and with Syria out of Lebanon there is no need to be an enemy of Syria ,he remembers his old freind and what they did to him in 1991 when they sold him out ,he also remembers that Israel did not leave Lebanon because of the US or the UN but because of Hizballa while they are still in the Golan because Syria is hounering it,s commitment but sooner or later Syria will understand that the only languege Israel understand is force as one jewish freind of mine explained when i asked about the reason why Israel will not leave the Golan eventhough syria,s border with Israel has been peacfull for 30 year he answered why should they ,it does not cost them to stay so untill it is costly for Israel to stay in the Golan they will not leave,about the difference between the arab moslem response and the Jewish response she forgets something very important ,the jews controle the media and can build sympathy for themselves while the arabs are not allowed to manage the crains in american ports while the US fleet is in the UAE and Dubai is a majer american base , and i thought that america is fair ,may be she should mention to her patients that she is an Arab and moslem.

At 3/12/2006 12:40:00 AM, Blogger qunfuz said...

Active Listener has reminded me of one of Dr Sultan's comments, that the Jews have never blown up a German restaurant in response to the Holocaust. Well, if they had done so when the Nazis were in power I would support them completely. Actually there were Jews working in the French and other resistances who did try their best to blow up Germans, including civilians in restaurants, and well done to them. What zionism has done, however, is to blow up restaurants (and blocks of flats and mosques and offices)in Palestine and Lebanon. Wrong target.

At 3/12/2006 03:05:00 AM, Blogger Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

- Josh,

Just ignore comrade Antonov’s vile neocon bile: the man is just a paranoid fascist fool obsessed with the Baath party’s alleged “totalitarian traits”. Effendi is just a non-Marxist version of Samir Kassir without the wit.

What you say about Michael Young is 100% spot on: one has to wonder if that corrupt Lebanese-American journo ever heard of concepts such as “journalistic objectivity”, “media ownership” and “conflicts of interest”…

I’m afraid the problem of anti-Christian, anti-Shiite, anti-Alawite and anti-secular bias is far bigger than just Michael Young and The Daily Star.

The cumulative “share of voice” of Saudi-owned Lebanese media has reached dangerous levels:
- Approx. 75% for audio-visual media: Future TV, Al-Hayat, LBC, Radio Orient….etc.
- Approx. 60% for print media: Al-Nahar, Al-Moustaqbal, The Daily Star, Al-Watan-Al-Arabi…etc.

Now “Sheikh” Saad is a Saudi citizen “knighted” by virtue of a Royal edict, sitting on the board of public and private Saudi companies, and he calls the Saudi head of state “Mawlânah” (our master) which makes him a self-declared stooge as far as I’m concerned…

Saad Al-Hariri and the Saudi foreign policy establishment are also self-declared enemies of Gen. Michel Aoun and Syria.

It’s hard to believe that Mr. Young, a mere employee in a loss-making Lebanese newspaper surviving off Saudi allowances, would risk loosing his job (remember there are NO other English-language newspapers in Beirut, so it’s not like he could hope to found work elsewhere!), would risk his whole career for the sake of a little bit of objectivity vis-à-vis Michel Aoun or Bashar Al-Assad.

At 3/12/2006 11:29:00 AM, Blogger majedkhaldoon said...

Assad is a lucky man,america continue to have major problems in Iraq three years after the invasion,In lebanon, syrian regime is strategically successful,Hizbullah is allied with syria along with some christians and Sunni of tripoli,every poll lately showing George Bush loosing ,his popularity is down to 36%,and disapproval is 60%,Syrians look at what happening in Iraq first they are busy watching the chaos,feeling bad, second they dont want this chaos to come to Syria, this is very strong factor, and it is greatly weakening the opposition,which want to remove the regime, bloodshed is not welcome in Syria,the nature of syrian is completely different from Iraqee, who tend to behave violently,in addition Assad waiting for america to be defeated in iraq, this is a very good possibility now, it might be by america pull their troops out, or by dividing Iraq into three countries,both will give Assad great victory,the investigation of Hariri murder is going nowhere,it is all coming down to one thing he,Assad, is lucky

At 3/12/2006 11:36:00 AM, Blogger 10452 said...

And more crap from apologists! Michael Young's article is spot on, and rumour has it that Rambo Aoun is losing sleep over it, I hear he'll address Young next week.

I definitely agree with Mr. Effendi, on Josh's article. We are getting used to this kind of article, and it's no use getting angry about it, as he is only contributing to his own demise and building a cse for doubting his credibility.

Of course having self proclaimed Las Vegas MD defend Mr. Landis is not helping a bit.

At 3/12/2006 08:53:00 PM, Blogger majedkhaldoon said...

with rana qlailat ,now, in the hands of lebanon,Brammertz can talk to her, and more news about Hariri murder,will be known

At 3/12/2006 11:32:00 PM, Blogger why-discuss said...

Josh, you say that Jumblatt has tried to befriend Syria until the attempted murder of Hamade. I believe Jumblatt has been hypocritically playing the two games: At the death of Hafez, he has tried all he could to prevent Bashar to take over, by plotting with Shehabi and others. He has always wanted the skin of Bashar, but played the tamed friend in a total double game.
The murder attempt on Hamade brought his game to the light as he panicked and started to worry about his own life. Is it possible that Bashar always knew that Jumblatt was playing a double game and went along, because he believed that Waleed had no weight?
Now Jumblatt thinks that Bashar should be removed so he won't threatened him. I really wonder what importance Bashar attaches to the hysterical calls for help Jumblatt is making to the US? Bashar is still strong, his association with Iran makes him hold one of the keys of the thorny issue of Iraq that haunts the US. He knows the US needs his cooperation more than they need democracy in Lebanon. The syrians do not want the iraqi chaos so will be reluctant to follow blindly the appeal to internal subversion. Ultimately Jumblatt will have to go back to Damascus or quit the political arena.. hopefully the later for health reasons..

At 3/13/2006 02:46:00 PM, Blogger Lebanese Pride said...

Hey buddy, Landis how you been? You still a PRO syrain co*k sucker aren't you. Michael Young speaks the truth and his articles are great. I enjoy reading them cuz he is impartial, but a for you a PRO syrian RAT I love skimming through yoiur articles so I can let you know how I feel. Stop taking orders from monkey bashar. isn't your wife a dirty little hairy syrian slut? moooooo??!!!

When Bashar is out on his ass soon where will you go then? will you follow your leader? you dickhead!




Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home