Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Anonymous Syrianist and Rabinovich argue "Talks with Syria, - Yes - But Not Now"

I quote a long response to my latest post by a friend and fellow Syrianist, whom I respect. He disagrees that Syria should be brought into negotiations at the present time, arguing that this would squander the gains for Lebanon's sovereignty that have been achieved over the last year. My friend is in excellent company.

Itamar Rabinovich, writing in Haaretz: "Talks with Syria, yes - but not now" argues along the same lines. This is an important article and should be read by all Syrians. Rabinovich is the best Israeli Syrianist who has also served his country as a diplomat with great wisdom. He helped lead the Israeli dialogue with Syria during the 1990s and has been writing on Syria for over 40 years. Every article he has written on Syria is a gem.

Here is my friend’s analysis. He asked not to be named.

Historical analogies are useful, but can also be pushed too far. A lot has changed since the 1980s – in the role of Hizballah, in the position of Syria,, in the standing of the Lebanese state, in the regional context, and in international system more broadly. And these changes suggest a more robust basis for U.S. policy than you acknowledge - despite its many evident flaws.

Syria’s presence in Lebanon has weakened considerable relative to the 1980s. The incomplete (and now damaged) effort to make Lebanese sovereignty a reality is (still) further along than at any time since the end of the civil war, in no small part thanks to Syria’s own mis-handling of its role in Lebanon. You earlier summed up the situation in the sound bite: “Bashar lost Lebanon, but he won Syria.” Your analysis made sense then. It still does, even taking changes on the ground into account.

One of the many questions facing the U.S. at this point is what posture it should take vis a vis Lebanon as a sovereign state, and it seems to me that this is the wrong moment to take actions that would undermine this standing – or weaken its future prospects further than they have been already. For a lot of reasons, it is politically useful to treat Lebanon *as if* it is a sovereign state, to expect that Syria’s relationship with Lebanon will be guided by the norms and standards of international relations between sovereign states, and to take the view that Syria does not automatically and legitimately exercise a veto over the arrangements by which Lebanon and the states that are parties to this conflict (in which Syria is not directly involved as a participant–whatever its clandestine role), negotiate a settlement.

Of course we know the reality is different. The Lebanese state is a shell. Syria is a power-broker in Lebanon. Syria supports Hizballah to generate instability that it feels gives it leverage in its relationship with Israel, and so on (though it is fair to ask whether a strategy that Syria has pursued for 25 years but has delivered nothing positive thus far – and has imposed significant costs on Lebanon – is one that should, at this moment, be validated by U.S. and Israeli recognition).

Still, for diplomatic and tactical reasons, it is not inappropriate for the U.S. to treat Lebanon as sovereign, for Rice to avoid visiting Damascus first (what a great signal that would be about Lebanese sovereignty), and to treat Syria as a concerned party but not one that has a veto over what happens inside Lebanon. These reasons include our sense that we prefer to see Hizballah occupy exclusively a political role in the future; our modest hope that the conflict might lead to a debate about the political accommodation on which Lebanese politics will be organized in the future – and might even, finally, give Lebanon’s Shi`a the standing they deserve; and the even more modest hope that this debate will take place under conditions in which the shadow of Syrian influence over Lebanon is diminished.

None of this implies a policy of ostracizing Syria. It does not mean a policy that ignores reality on the ground, where Syria looms large. Yet neither does it suggest a basis for bringing Syria to the center of the diplomatic efforts to find a solution to this conflict, to validate Syrian claims to being a spoiler, to give credibility to the view that addressing Syrian claims is the only way to resolve “root causes” of the current conflict, or to permit Syria to dictate the kind of international presence that is needed to stabilize Lebanon’s southern border. The question is what kind of outcome would be preferable, from the U.S. perspective? One in which Syria’s role as a spoiler is validated, and Lebanon’s limited sovereignty further eroded? Or one in which the guiding assumptions provide a framework for the strengthening of Lebanese sovereignty and the transformation of Hizballah into a (no-doubt powerful) domestic political actor?

There’s no doubt at all that Syria will resist this strategy, and is already doing so in voicing its opposition to the kind of international presence that might actually constrain its behavior – as opposed to a larger version of the utterly inept UNIFIL which Syria seems to prefer. Hizballah will resist it, too, but it isn’t clear that Syrian-Hizballah interests are all that closely aligned on this issue -- and exploring/pushing these differences is a useful thing to do. Hizballah will have an important role in Lebanon in the future even with a robust international presence on the border. Syria’s options, however, will become much more limited. And at some point, the question of how far Hizballah is willing to sacrifice its longer-term political future in order to preserve Syrian options will be on the table. It won’t happen right away. The conflict is, for now, reinforcing Syrian-Hizballah relations. But it will be there in the future, and the way Hizballah answers that question - down the road - will depend in large part on how the U.S. and others treat Syria now, as we look for a way out of the current conflict.

Again, this doesn’t imply ignoring Syria, but it does suggest that a U.S. framework in which the foundations of the settlement being pursued should reinforce rather than undermine Lebanese sovereignty, should advance Hizballah’s transformation into a political rather than a military presence, and should not create the conditions in which Bashar wins back what he lost with the death of Harriri, is worth trying.
I am adding a bit of an Haaretz Editorial:

Opportunity on Syria's doorstep
By Haaretz Editorial
Last update - 03:08 31/07/2006
Thus, for example, one of the essentials of the settlement being formulated is based on Lebanon's wish to receive the Shaba Farms from Israel. The government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora believes that this is the way to take away from Hezbollah one of its main excuses for continuing to hold arms, and to rally public support for its disarmament.

The transfer of Shaba Farms to Lebanon requires that Syria officially recognize that this territory is Lebanese and not Syrian, as it has been described to date. It can be assumed that Syria will pose its own conditions for making concessions on Shaba Farms, which will allow it to retain its influence both in Lebanon and the region. Herein lies the window of opportunity to which President George Bush referred to, most recently on Friday, when he called on Syria to become an active partner in peace in the Middle East.

It is possible that Bashar Assad is not a leader with the vision and courage necessary to make use of this window of opportunity which the war in Lebanon created, and it is possible that the best he can do is to retain hermetic control over the situation in Syria. However, this should not prevent Israel or the United States from presenting him with the basis for a different option.


At 8/01/2006 03:45:00 PM, Blogger Karakuz said...

Rabinovich's argument can be boiled down to one sentence --"Israel will find it hard to accept any concession that will be seen as diminishing the war's achievements." And, of course, the talking heads from Israel and Bush Administration will be in the media explaining just what those "achievements" are, regardless of the actual success of failure of Israel's current belligerence. Based on Rabinovich's logic, any outcome that gives Syria a renewed role in the region would be seen by Israel/Bush Admin. as diminishing the war's so-called "achievements." Therefore, Israel cannot accept a Syria-brokered resolution to the present conflict. This position is as absurd as Israel’s attack on the civilian Lebanese population in an attempt to combat Hizbollah. Israel is attempting, with the help of the Bush administration, to make itself the power broker in the region. The moderate Arab states are side lined in this debate while every one's attention is directed to a supposed "axes of evil."

Does any Arab really think that Jordan, Egypt and S.A. believe that Hizbollah's attack on Israel was unjustified? I don't think so. I think their initial criticism of Hizbollah's conduct represents their fear of Iran and growing sectarian violence in the Sunni states following the path of Iraq since the ill-fated U.S. invasion of that sovereign nation. The statements against Hizbollah’s initial attacks were a result of calculated self-interest – the Sunni states do not want to see the same sectarian violence that is occurring in Iraq. However, as this conflict has progressed as an attack on the Lebanese people and Lebanese sovereignty, the shouts against Hizbollah have diminished from these states. The Arab Street is hoping for a Hizbollah victory, which is an easy achievement – all it has to do is prevent Israel from destroying it and it wins, and Israel loses. This is how Israel has positioned this game. Israel cannot destroy Hizbollah, it can only diminish its capacity to launch rockets into northern Israel. But, it appears that that’s not good enough. Israel’s zero-sum strategy is doomed to failure. Israel attacked the PLO in Lebanon in 1982, and 12 years later was prepared to sign a treaty whereby the PLO would have a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza had not Rabin been assassinated by Israel’s own terrorists. Where will Hizbollah be in 12 years? At this pace, running Lebanon with Shiite zeal.

Rabinovich has got it wrong. Christopher and Friedman are right. We must engage Syria and we must engage Syria now. As an American, I don’t give a goddamn about Israel saving face and appearing as if it attained some kind of “achievement” out of all of its recent, unjustified, immoral and illegal belligerence. America has to stand up for its own interests in the region and those interests are best served by engaging Syria. Israel should eat crow and so should Pres Bush.

At the same time, the anonymous article had a much better point – engaging Syria should not come at the expense of Lebanese sovereignty. And should not that be the main point on which we are all focused right now – restoring Lebanese sovereignty? I believe so. We must do it and we must do it immediately. The first step should be the U.S. demanding that Israel stop its bombing and invasion of Lebanon. The second step must be the U.S. demanding Syria to convince Hizbollah to stop its attacks, which Syria can do from Damascus without making any forays into Lebanon. If this requires negotiating with Syria, then so be it. Then we can work on supporting the Lebanese government and military with an international force to divide southern Lebanon from Israel for the time being. Ultimately, we must resolve the “underlying conflict,” and I think most observers know what that phrase means. I think the Scrowcroft article summarized things quite well.

That said, this conflict will not end, and may even escalate, if Israel is determined to absolutely destroy Hizbollah, or is unwilling to make concessions that appear to diminish what it regards as its “achievements.” The absolutism coming out of Israel right now is the greatest threat to peace and stability in the region. Unfortunately, the only thing the U.S. has to offer in this current crisis is a swirly-hybrid of its own absolutism. This is a perfect fucking storm!

At 8/01/2006 05:57:00 PM, Blogger t_desco said...

"The urgent need in Lebanon is that Israeli attacks stop, the nation's regular military forces control the southern region, Hezbollah cease as a separate fighting force, and future attacks against Israel be prevented. Israel should withdraw from all Lebanese territory, including Shebaa Farms, and release the Lebanese prisoners.

The general parameters of a long-term, two-state agreement are well known. There will be no substantive and permanent peace for any peoples in this troubled region as long as Israel is violating key U.N. resolutions, official American policy and the international "road map" for peace by occupying Arab lands and oppressing the Palestinians. Except for mutually agreeable negotiated modifications, Israel's official pre-1967 borders must be honored. As were all previous administrations since the founding of Israel, U.S. government leaders must be in the forefront of achieving this long-delayed goal.

A major impediment to progress is Washington's strange policy that dialogue on controversial issues will be extended only as a reward for subservient behavior and will be withheld from those who reject U.S. assertions. Direct engagement with the Palestine Liberation Organization or the Palestinian Authority and the government in Damascus will be necessary if secure negotiated settlements are to be achieved. Failure to address the issues and leaders involved risks the creation of an arc of even greater instability running from Jerusalem through Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Tehran."
Jimmy Carter, WP

This is so reasonable, I could hardly believe my eyes when I read it. President Carter reminds us that cynical calculations seldom lead to lasting peace.

At 8/01/2006 08:30:00 PM, Blogger President Bush said...

Mr. Karakuz Landis,
Your comment is full of nonsense, the type of which is typical Landis delusion. Your beloved Syria is behind the current outbreak of violence as an instigating arsonist. It is not in the interests of the US to follow the Neville cowering policy of appeasement as you suggest. It is the interest of the US to reward countries seeking and acting for peace in the region and have proven their desire to disengage by words and deeds from acts of regional destabilization. At the moment Syria falls in the category of an arsonist as mentioned! US policy does not require the subservience of other states in order to reward those states. But it is the vital interest of the US to punish those States seeking to disturb their neighbors thereby threatening US interests.

At 8/01/2006 10:00:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

In this election year in the US i will not donate any contribution to any party or indivedual because of their stand against the Lebanese people and will not donate any contribution to any wstern otiented charities and will make all donation to Arab american organizations and i call on all people of Arab origin to do the same ,God bless Syria and Lebanon.

At 8/01/2006 11:29:00 PM, Blogger Eternal Lebanon said...

The voices of true Lebanese.

Mr. Ali Al-Laqqis is a Shia Lebanese From Baalbek. There are more such Lebanese to come as I pointed out in a previous post. Mr. Al-Laqqis is responding to an interview of Mr. Ghassan Tweiny in Al-Arabia. You will find the interview at:


Mr. Al-Laqqis comments:

1 - نعم و الف نعم لوالد الشهيد الكبير غسان تويني
علي مصطفى اللقيس |30/07/2006 م، 03:07 مساء (السـعودية) 12:07 مساء (جرينيتش)
ان كل ما يقوله هذا العالم الكبير هو ما يقوله كل لبناني حر, ان هذا الرجل يريد ان يعرفنا ان حزب الله هذا انه ليس اكثر من ادات في يد الغطرسة السورية - ايرانية , وانه يريد ان يوعينا وان نظل واعيين على مستقبل الاستقلال الذي حققناه في 14 اذار في النهاية اريد ان اقول ان هذه الحرب يجب ان تتوقف لانه لا احد يعد يحتمل هذا كله. ان السيد حسن نصرالله يتكلم على من يصرخ اولا, اريد ان اقول للسيد نصر الله ان كل هذا الدمار في لبنان لا يراه ؟ وان 1000 قتيل راح ضحية تلك الوعد . الا يرى الصرخات التي يطلقها كل شخص دمر منزله او نزح او هاجر؟ الا يرى ان مستقبل لبنان اصبح في خبر كان وهو لا يزال يتكلم عن الانتصار و الهزيمة؟ في النهاية الاخيرة اريد من هذا الرجل ان يصبح اكثر وعيا و يتماش مع لبنان وليس مع مرؤوسيه السوريين والايرانيين وشكراً

At 8/01/2006 11:33:00 PM, Blogger Ford Prefect said...

Dear President BUllSHit,
Your argument is as ignorant as your name implies. You are giving the inept and duplicitous Syrian regime more credit than it deserves. As if Syria today is capable of getting its own army mobilized, let alone mobilizing Hezbolla! It is clear that Syria today is void of any signs of strong leadership as evident by one colossal mistake after another. What is more laughable is the claim that the Hezbollah missiles landing in Israel were made in Syria. Really? Did they have a little “Made in Syria” stamp on them with an ISO 9001 certification logo? There was a time when I used to believe the Israeli mouthpieces more that the surrounding Arabic mouthpieces. Not sure if this is the case anymore. Please leave hapless Syria alone - it is incapable of hurting anyone at the moment while the new regime is still very busy filling its pockets. It will be a while before Makhloof and his cronies will do anything of political or military significance – there are still many business deals to be made.

Matching the incompetence of the neo-merchant clans of the new Syria is the awesomely incompetent and monumentally ignorant US policy makers on both sides of the isle and in both branches of government. This new breed of leaders whose incurious arrogance gave us September 11, Farid Ghadry, the failed invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, and now, the new Middle East picture. One would wonder if the wretched Syrian amateurs have actually more brains than the President who uttered this gem: “Security is the essential roadblock to achieving the road map to peace.” Do you still want to keep your name and sound credible?

At 8/02/2006 12:16:00 AM, Blogger Fares said...

Nec cons new fiasco
read update#4
PEACE To Lebanon

At 8/02/2006 08:16:00 AM, Blogger reminiscor said...

The amusing thing is that Syria forced Lebanon to sign a 'fraternity treaty' in the early 90's that specified, amont other tings such as Syria legally stealing Lebanese water , that Syria and Lebanon were bound by a mutual defence agreement.

O Syrian brothers, where's the mighty Syrian army? Is it only capable of flattening Lebanese and Syrian cities or can it actually do something (other than being put on a 'high state of readiness' by Basho)?

At 8/02/2006 09:47:00 AM, Blogger President Bush said...

Mr. Ford_Perfect,
For your sake, I am going to keep the name. I don't find it more ignorant than your Perfect Ignorance. Syrian merchant ruling class is amateur! Sure may be it is time to bring in some reasonable experienced class that will respect the sovereignties of its neighbors. Perhaps if this 'amateur' class has spent sometime to polish its political skills instead of preying on its neighbors then it would have become a worthy party to a peaceful region.

At 8/02/2006 02:10:00 PM, Blogger Karakuz said...

Dear President Barney Fife:

Governing for Idiots, 101 -- sovereignty is based on, among other things, comity, and comity means "if you respect me, I will respect you." The U.S. cannot insist that states constrain themselves to their own borders, when the U.S. does not respect the sovereignty of other states, like Iraq. The Monroe Doctrine, which was subsequently adopted by most all nations and has become part of international law, permits states to protect themselves in their "sphere of influence," which is defined as the region surrounding a state. A state has the right to intervene in a civil war in one of its neighboring states, if that civil war threatens the peace and security of that state or the region. The U.S. uses this same doctrine to justify its foray into Iraq and the Middle East in general, because that region has natural resources important to (a) the world economy, or (b) Dick Cheney's portfolio? (that was a rhetorical question) But the U.S.'s right to extend its power to violate the sovereignty of another state becomes more tenuous with the distance between the U.S. and the state it seeks to invade. On the other hand, Syria has never attempted to assert its influence beyond its own sphere of influence, and if you weren't a D student in history you would undertsand that that sphere has always extended to Lebanon and Palestine, and sometimes to Baghdad.

Syria attempted to overthrow Saddam two times during the 1990s and failed. Syria did not destroy and isolate Iraq, Saddam and the U.S. did. Syria had, as with Lebanon, to deal with the detrimental economic and humanitarian outcome, which it always has to do in response to wars in the region, none of which Syria started. The idea of Syria in control of Iraq sent shivers down the spines of the Israelis. A Syria in control of Lebanon, Syria and Iraq would be the dominant power player in the region vis-a-vis the Golan and the Palestinians. Israel greatly feared this development. That is why the U.S. went into Iraq in 2003, and simultaneously forced Syria out of Lebanon. After 9/11 Bush outsourced foreign policy to Cheney and his merry band of neo-conservative Zionists and they already had their plans drawn. This recent belligerence of Israel is a culmination of policy that has been in the works for years. Israel is no longer fenced in by Syria and does not want to be fenced in by Hizballah either. While Israel also has a right to be concerned with the impact on its security from Lebanon, the doctrine of comity still applies. If peace and stability is really what the U.S. and Israel wants, then is not Israel's response more threatening to the region than Hizballah's attack on Israel? I think it clearly is. Hizballah might want to destroy Israel, but the fact of the matter is that it cannot do so. Israel's response is out of line.

Israel could embolden forces in the Middle East to ignore the military disparity between them and Israel, which will result in a regional war. Perhaps Syria is a weak state, its merchant middle class denuded and impotent, and its leader an Arab Barney Fife much like yourself. But Syria still has a stake in the region and a right to assert itself. Why is it then that the Americans and the Israelis do not give any credence to Syria's right to assert its interests in the region? It is not because of the all too ironically named "war on terror." The attacks perpetrated on Syria's image have very racist undertones, as if to suggest that the Arabs and Muslims have no right to influence events in the region if the U.S. or the Jews disagree with the outcome. And what about bombing innocent civilians? Do you not see the racism implicit in Israel's conduct? In the U.S. support of Israel's conduct? For example, the U.S. required the American Arabs it had to evacuate from Lebanon to sign a promissory note saying that they would repay the U.S. government, since, apparently, they had no right to be visiting Lebanon in the first place. Who is the arsonist here? Unlike the conduct of Israel and the U.S., which has clearly inflamed the region, the accusations against Syria are completely without any evidentiary support. We only wish Syria was the arsonist, because that fits with the current policies being pursued by the Shrub Administration and Israel.

And, by the way, middle classes aren't something that you import and export like computers, or stupidity.

At 8/02/2006 04:13:00 PM, Blogger Atassi said...

Lebanon's war: a peace door opened, or closed?
David Ignatius
837 words
3 August 2006
Daily Star
Beirut -- Groping for a way to understand the ruinous mess in the Middle East, I find myself looking backward to an earlier ruinous mess, the Yom Kippur War of October 1973. That long-ago war, like the current one in Lebanon, began with an Arab sneak attack - a potentially devastating Egyptian thrust across the Suez Canal, cruelly launched on Israel's holiest day. The Israelis initially fumbled against a surprisingly ferocious Arab assault, and then recovered thanks to aggressive military operations.

Then as now, there was a diplomatic uproar over a United Nations cease-fire. The Israelis wanted more time to transform their initial reversals into military gains. At the height of the crisis, then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger secretly cabled the Israeli ambassador to Washington that "we would understand if Israelis felt they required some additional time for military dispositions," according to documents released in 2003 by the National Security Archive.

The 1973 war seemed like the ultimate disaster: Israel's very survival was at stake in the early hours of the battle. As the war dragged on, there was a risk of a US-Soviet nuclear confrontation; and the conflict triggered an Arab oil embargo that devastated the global economy. Because of its close alliance with Israel, the United States was isolated from many of its European and Arab allies.

Yet in the long lens of history, the importance of the 1973 war is that it opened the door to peace. The Arabs, humiliated by earlier wars with Israel, could now claim a measure of dignity because of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's bold attack across the canal. The Israelis learned that their Arab adversaries wouldn't run from battle, as they had in the June 1967 war. That gave them a stake in making peace, too.

After the war ended, Egypt and Syria joined in active diplomacy, masterfully orchestrated by Kissinger, who managed to create enough distance between the US and Israel to allow some negotiating room. Sadat felt confident enough as the "hero of the crossing" to make his famous trip to Jerusalem. Even the terrorist group of the day, the Palestine Liberation Organization, was drawn into a web of secret liaison with the CIA.

The 1973 war marked a historic turning point, in ways that no one could initially have predicted. And it is just possible that the current conflict offers a similar opportunity. The key missing element, so far at least, is a Kissinger-level diplomatic commitment by the US. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice came close to a Lebanon peace deal last weekend, but to pull it off, she will need to move more toward Kissinger's stance of honest broker.

To turn the Lebanon disaster of 2006 into an opportunity, each side will have to alter its view of the other. In dealing with the Palestinians and the Lebanese, the Israelis will have to revise their doctrine that their adversaries can be coerced solely by military force. As Gal Luft, a retired Israeli military officer, commented at a conference in Washington last week, the days are long past when Arab fighters would see the advancing Israeli Army, discard their boots and flee in terror.

The strategy of Israel's (and America's) enemies today is to lure the military superpower into a protracted conflict. To accept the bait, as the Israelis did in assaulting Lebanon and as America did in Iraq, is to risk stepping into a trap. As Lawrence Wright says in his new book, "The Looming Tower," the master of this approach is Osama bin Laden: "His strategy was to continually attack until the US forces invaded; then the mujahadeen would swarm upon them and bleed them until the entire American empire fell from its wounds."

The Israeli and American resolve in this grim summer of war should be: no more falling into traps. In the age of missiles, there's limited value in a "security fence" or "security buffer." The evidence grows that you can't achieve real security without negotiating with your adversaries, and you can't succeed in such negotiations without offering reasonable concessions.

For the Arabs, the opportunity of 2006 lies in the surprising success of Hizbullah and its leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. Their resistance on the battlefield makes them more dangerous adversaries - but also more plausible negotiating partners. Little in Nasrallah's past suggests that he will use his new stature and confidence to encourage indirect negotiations with Israel but, as 1973 reminds us, the aftermath of war can produce big surprises. American officials recognize that Nasrallah will likely emerge as the strongest political force in Beirut and hope he will make strategic choices that will build a stronger and more stable Lebanon.

This war is opening a door: Will the combatants have the good sense to walk through it? Will America have the guile to help them?

At 8/02/2006 04:31:00 PM, Blogger Philip I said...

New Post on Via Recta:

Ronald Reagan was right after all

At 8/02/2006 07:47:00 PM, Blogger majedkhaldoon said...

I do not think that it is a coincidence,that two days before Isreal sent force to Balabak,Bashar raised the readiness of his army,he probably was notified.

At 8/02/2006 08:16:00 PM, Blogger President Bush said...

Dear Mr. Karakuz,

Let us begin by a little jab on this name game which seems to be of interest to you. Karakuz - what is in the name? Clown in Arabic? That is your choice to call yourself. There are no further comments on our part. History classes from some second rate half educated Oaklahoma so-called 'history expert' are of no interest to us. As I mentioned in an earlier post we are exploring the history of the region from the source, namely from those real experts with deep roots in the ME. One such expert pointed out to me that the senior Assad once said if each one of those Syrian soldiers that occupied Lebanon for thirty years made a single Lebanese friend, then there will be no Lebanon today!!! So Mr. Karakuz what kind of sphere of influence does this inept Syrian entity wishes to entertain? They have been given the chance! They squandered it and they continue to do so in typical Syrian fashion! They are so hated in Lebanon by all groups including this Syro-Iranian so called Hizballah. The US has legitimate goals and objectives in the ME, namely to establish a lasting peace for all the people of the region. The point you brought about comity may have some merits with regards to sovereignty. But even that comity the incompetent Syrian merchant corrupt rulers did not respect. That does not mean that we accept your definition of sovereignty which is clearly defined in the UN charter. Syrian terror plots have extended so far all the way south to Egypt not to mention Jordan, Iraq and the despicable preying on the sovereignty of Lebanon. So is this the meaning of comity in your view of sovereignty? Extortion has been the hallmark of this despicable Syrian regime since its inception. The regime began its life with terrorism no where else but on the home front. Whole Syrian cities are standing testimony to the brutality of this so-called ‘comity’ regime. It then extended its claws to its neighbor, Lebanon and kept it in constant turmoil for over 30 years. The many incidents of this extortionist policy are very well documented for those of interest in history Mr. ‘Expert’. Zahle in Bekaa Lebanon is a prime example. The city was subjected to intense bombardment on several occasions in the mid 80s for weeks until the booty in billions of Dollars was brought in hard currency on airplanes from the Gulf States. Similar recurring incidents took place against the Achrafiye district of Beirut and other areas with the same objective, i.e. billions of dollars paid for affecting an end to bombardment of civilian populations!!! Mr. Karakuz, don't you think you have displayed quite a bit of your clownish expertise in this Syrian wasteland of the inept, corrupt, criminal and incompetent merchant class of the lost tribe of the Assads and their cohorts.

At 8/02/2006 11:43:00 PM, Blogger Fares said...

Assad is the natural choice
PEACE To Lebanon

Sorry President Bush, I had to paste your hilarious comment of last week at the end of my post

At 8/03/2006 11:17:00 AM, Blogger majedkhaldoon said...

USA is saying the war in Lebanon could last days,the truth is days may stretch to ten or twety days, I still think that USA wants Syria to be involved,and it is easy to do that.

At 8/03/2006 02:25:00 PM, Blogger Ausamaa said...

Something so stupid about US and Israelt Policy in the world amf the Middle East. Those ass holes still think they can "determine" WHO and WHEN to talk to people, be it Syria, Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas or even Jane Fonda!. Just like an old spent whore who is under the illusion of being able to decide who to sleep with after having a couple of drinks at door-opening time.

The past is gone. And forever. And you lost it with your stupid actions. Forget "containment: and "Dammage Controle" now. The shit is up in the air. Beleive it or not, you had a chance but you blew it. in Madride, that is, back in the good ole' ninties..

Look around you DC and Tel Avive and what do you see?????

That old game is over. Now is the time for clear minds, wise mindes, and reasonable dealouge.

The Arabs seem to have opted for a "STRATEGIC" confrontation. And do not worry about who you call your friends; they are in a big hole, worse than yours maybe! Forced into it or by Choice; does not make a diffrrence.
So either put up -and try to reason with them, the dammned AIRABSS I mean, , or, shut-up, and pay the price. If you are able, willing and couragous enough to pay it.

Bye to good ole times, welcome Pax anti-americana. And it it is just the tip of the iceburg.

Lookoing for someone to blame? look no further than AIPAC, and your own stupidity....which has caused us and you to loose many opportunities. Comes out of watching a lot of Jhon Wayne's movies. And a lot of people wikk say: WE told you so, Choumesky, Brezzinski, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Nato, Gen.Anthony Zainny, even Rabine, and least but not last poor old Annan.

Win Some, loose some. But this is one of the big ones even though tou are not so sure you blew it yet.

Want a way out. Ask your ex USCENTCOM. Evenhandedness in the Arab Israeli Conflict with no "special attention" given to US?Israeli "claimed" ties. Getv theose stupid assholes to know that your interests in the area is more imortant than the "special relationship" they keep shitting you about. Realise that "time and a willing People" can erode the effects of "might", and play it by the book. You tried to fool us, it did not work. Nevermind Democracy and Dvelopment and etc.. talk! WE know what the whole stuff is about. And Arabs have dcecided that enough is enough.

And if I was the US, I would not step further into quicksands based on whoever trusted "advice" I get from my "smart and wise" friends.

We hate to say it; but a lot are of people are going to say: "told you so,...... "!!!

At 8/03/2006 03:45:00 PM, Blogger Zenobia....herself said...


write me an email plz. to:

At 8/03/2006 04:09:00 PM, Blogger Karakuz said...

First, “name game”? You call yourself “President Bush” for crying out loud. You are the one who has in fact associated your blog name with a clown. Karakuz does not mean “clown” in Arabic, you silly hamza. Karakuz is a literary figure. Of what kind, I will leave for your own study.

Second, your other oh, so insightful remark was: “As I mentioned in an earlier post we are exploring the history of the region from the source, namely from those real experts with deep roots in the ME.” The “source” is not the “real experts with deep roots.” The “source” are the main actors and I doubt you know any of them. The “real experts” might be professional analysts, but like the rest of us, they are also observers. Joshua Landis happens to be one of those experts. So why do you always criticize him for making an argument? That’s his job, and he does it pretty well. By the way, I am not Joshua. Like yourself, I am a clownish amateur. One of the many differences between you and me is that I didn’t need someone to tell me that, I was already aware of it.

You continually reference historical events that have no bearing on the current crisis in support of your conclusion that the US is pursuing a good strategy in the region. You should wean yourself from Fox and CNN and do some real homework.

You seem to think that arguing for a Syrian role in the region means that those of us who argue for it support the current regime and all of the things it has and has not done in the past. That is a crude presumption on your part. Giving respect to Syria is important not only in resolving the current crisis, but in creating an atmosphere that could lead to a change in the Syrian regime altogether. A political scientist who was smarter than all of us, and who paid the price of peace with his life, argued very successfully in the mid-70s that isolating and marginalizing a dictatorship based on patronage only strengthens the regime. Why, you might ask? Because the patronage networks that are common to both Syria, and the former Iraq, are based on the regime in power distributing wealth to those who are loyal to it. This is how control is maintained in those states. By isolating such a regime, it makes it easier for the regime to control such wealth and distribute it to those loyal to the regime. Hence, such regimes are stronger when they are isolated. Look how strong we made Saddam in the ‘90s as a result of sanctions. Not even Syria with all its connections in Sunni Iraq could topple him. By isolating and ignoring Syria (and Iran) all we do is make the regime stronger, because the regime is better able to control the wealth Syria and distribute it to those who are most loyal. If we really want to see a change in the Syrian regime, we cannot then isolate Assad and the Ba’ath Party. By giving them a stake in the outcome of the game, we put their legitimacy on the line, and therefore make them accountable. And isn’t that what democracy is about? Accountability? Well, perhaps not in your administration.

But I do enjoy the barbs between us. If only you really were President Bush! It would give me even more pleasure in saying that you will go down in history as the single worst President the US has ever seen, a tyrant and a war criminal.

At 8/03/2006 04:43:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...


Your comment is superb. This morning I was party to exactly this type of a discussion with a dear friend. We both agreed that the U.S. policy of isolation and playing hardball with Syria and Iran is producing the worst possible results. Your point about accountability is right on. The biggest losers of the recent events have been the reformists, liberals and seculars. Supposedly, these are the very same people that the U.S. claims to want to help. The more intransigent and tougher the Israeli and American policies have become, the more subdued the voices for reforms have gotten. Who would dare talk about economics now? Who would dare talk about civil rights now? U.S. policies have been a Godsend to the Syrian leadership.

Handing the Golan back to Syria is more likely to weaken rather than strengthen the leadership’s grip on power. If the U.S. wants to promote democracy in the region, working on a peace deal that would return the land is THE place to start. The longer they avoid confronting Israel and forcing it to enter into negotiations, the stronger the region’s dictators and Islamic fanatics will become.

At 8/03/2006 05:29:00 PM, Blogger Zenobia....herself said...

I second Ehsani,

Karakuz - your observation and comment IS superb (clownish amateur or not).

This isolating policy is killing any opportunity for reform , as you so eloquently explained and only causes a regression and hardening of the things that WE ALL supposedly want to change.

At 8/03/2006 06:41:00 PM, Blogger Ameen Always said...

This very amazing and important article shows the true chess game where apparent actions hide the true aims:



At 8/03/2006 08:59:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

Ehsani2 ,I am so glad to your conversion to our side , we have been telling everybody about the poor American gov policy in the middleast and how it is pushing the area toward the islamists you kept putting alla the blame on the Syrian regime ,now i am happy to call you ( sT,PAUL ) .welcome in my paradice.Alex will be very happy to see your note.


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