Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"Syria Can be a Stabilizing Force" by Uri Sagi, Ex IDF Intelligence Chief

Haaretz interview with Uri Sagi who headed the IDF Intelligence Corps for four years (1991-1995) [Kindly sent by Camille-Alexandre Otrakji]

If you talk to [Syria] and convince the Americans to provide them with economic aid and perhaps to gently back off on Assad regarding the Hariri assassination, Syria, with all its weakness, can be a stabilizing force in the region."

Negotiations with Syria

A question about the fighter planes that buzzed over Syrian President Bashar Assad's palace elicits a chuckle from Sagi. "That was pompous behavior that does not in any way enhance our deterrent ability. Assad doesn't need these displays to know that Israel is a lot stronger than him. He has gotten enough hints. If you want to shoot - shoot, don't talk."

It is not that he is suggesting taking aim at Syria. On the contrary. Sagi, who headed the Israeli team negotiating with Syria and spent hundreds of hours talking to key Syrian figures, defines the break with Syria as "a fatal error."

According to him, Israel is blindly following the Americans, who think that because there has been a decline in Syria's importance, it can be totally ignored.

"I told Dan Kurtzer (the previous U.S. ambassador to Israel), that hatred is not a policy. His answer was 'so go ahead and talk to them and we won't object.'" Unfortunately, since the negotiations were stopped during the Barak government's tenure, Israel has not seen fit to establish a channel for dialogue with Damascus and lost the most important leverage it had with the Lebanese government. "Israel was insulted and is using military force in Lebanon, and that's important and perhaps even necessary," continues Sagi, "but without a new arrangement in Lebanon the benefits of this operation will go down the drain. Everyone understands that the only ones capable of changing the order are Syria and Iran, or a determined international equivalent. Lebanon will not be able to do it alone."

Sagi believes that six years ago, Israel missed a rare opportunity to sign a peace treaty with Syria under Hafez Assad. "The United States did not stand by its word to Assad and Barak got cold feet at the last minute." He wants to believe that the day is not far off when the younger Assad will finish the job and even surpass his father. He is convinced that the key to Israel's long-term security problems lies with Syria: the options of neutralizing the actual Syrian threat, a road to an arrangement with Lebanon and even opening a window through it to Iran are all in Syria. He notes that the Iranians in 1991 gave Syria a green light to join the Madrid Conference and promised not to disrupt the negotiations with Barak.

Sagi has argued for years that it is easier to reach an agreement with the Arab countries, including Syria, than it is to reach one with the Palestinians, because the conflict with them involves fewer holy sites and less messianic fervor.

"Imagine if we were to wage a fight against Hamas and Hezbollah when we have a peace agreement with Syria, Jordan and Egypt," he says. Sagi points out that during the negotiations with Syria, it was agreed that upon the signing of a peace agreement, they would close all offices of Palestinian terrorist organizations. He notes that Assad was tough to work with, but after he signed an agreement, he upheld it down the last letter.

"I don't want people to gather from my remarks that I think that the Syrians are real saints," Sagi concludes, "but if you talk to them and convince the Americans to provide them with economic aid and perhaps to gently back off on Assad regarding the Hariri assassination, Syria, with all its weakness, can be a stabilizing force in the region." In the midst of a war of missiles, Sagi insists that peace and stability are "a security factor of the utmost importance." To those who don't believe it, he suggests taking a walk along the border with Egypt and Jordan.


At 7/19/2006 10:10:00 PM, Blogger Simone said...

Are you for real? Like Sagi said, "hatred is not a policy." This man was the head of the IDF Intelligence Corps and you still don't hear a word he says, because he doesn't advocate killing, murder, and slaughter as effective strategies to peace. There comes a point where you have accept your losses and make peace or sentence your children to lives prepetual violence. I hope one day that the Israelis will accept this make peace with Syria. You'll see how quickly the Palestanians follow.


At 7/19/2006 10:38:00 PM, Blogger Leila said...

Josh - the link as posted looks like this: ""

it has some kind of Oklahoma U stuff on the front of it. I got to the link by cutting in the URL but of course it needs fixing in your entry.

Mr. Syrian Nationalist Party, you sound just like all those neoconservatives in America who say that hatred is part of Islam. And if I were to go by what I hear from nominal Christians in Lebanon and in America, well, hatred would seem like a real Christian value.

None of the players is following the true path of their respective religions. If they were, they wouldn't be butchering each other. Islam, Judaism and Christianity all have theoory and practical principles for creating peace and reconciliation. Their adherents rarely use them these days.

At 7/19/2006 10:43:00 PM, Blogger Leila said...

Actually I tried just the Haaretz part of the link and it doesn't work. ???

At 7/19/2006 10:47:00 PM, Blogger Alex said...


here is the link

Here is the link

At 7/19/2006 10:52:00 PM, Blogger Contemptuous said...

The Harriri investigation will continue until Bashar, Maher, Bushra, Anisa and Asef are all behind bars waiting for trial in an international court. These are the criminals behind the horrible terrorist murder of Mr. Harriri. Making deals with such filthy criminals is in no one's interests including those of the US and the Israelis. The Middle East will become a much better place by getting rid of such scum.

At 7/19/2006 10:52:00 PM, Blogger sisco-side said...

Here is another link. joshua's link needs an id and a password from his school:

At 7/19/2006 11:16:00 PM, Blogger souria el hora said...

I urge all true syrian dreaming of a free syria to read this. It's very promising and I hope, I just hope that people will realize that it's our only hope. Joshua, you may not like it...

At 7/20/2006 02:45:00 AM, Blogger Paxillusion said...

Come on give me a break of the so called analysis. Syria is a terrorist regime it should be dismanteld and destroyed, It is the worst troublemaker in the ME. For the last 40 years this bloodsheding regime brought havoc to all its neighbours. As now it is the nearest to its collapse it should be given the grace bullit and destroyed instead of giving this regime another chance to spread it poisin for another decade.
What I can't understand is why the US is always doing half of the job in this region ie: removing saddam and replacing him with chaos, supporting the lebanese goverment then letting it be destroyed, same as in 1982 with the first operation of zib'allah on the marines in Beirut instead of destroying the culprit at its birth the US preferred to back up and leave so now there is a monster with 2 heads (syria- iran)to deal with. Cut the heads or the whole region will be heading for another century of violence and destruction.

At 7/20/2006 04:40:00 AM, Blogger t_desco said...

And thus the plot unfolds:


""The whole world must help us disarm Hezbollah. But we must first obtain a ceasefire. We can't do anything while the bombardments continue and the situation will just get worse," Mr Siniora told Italy's Corriere della Sera.

"Hezbollah has become a state within a state. We are well aware of this and it is a serious problem. It's no secret that Hezbollah follows the political agendas of Damascus and Tehran," the Lebanese leader said, pointing the finger at Syria and Iran."

«Il mondo ci aiuti a disarmare Hezbollah»
Corriere della Sera

Due to a technical glitch our discussion where I posted several articles outlining the "plot" behind Siniora's comments is not accessible at the moment. Sadly, I don't know how to address the problem and I don't want to delete anything by mistake...

If it can't be "repaired" I will repost the articles here.

At 7/20/2006 06:43:00 AM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...


The problem has been solved.


At 7/20/2006 08:07:00 AM, Blogger Philip I said...

From Philip I []

A deal with Syria? I thought it was concluded on the second or third day of bombing!

See Machiavelli Never Died

At 7/20/2006 08:29:00 AM, Blogger Ameen Always said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 7/20/2006 09:04:00 AM, Blogger Ameen Always said...

I saw a suggestion in the previous thread for the Bush Administration to effectively use the expertise that Dr. Joshua Landis has acquired about Syria with its intricate equations in that region of the world, and I would like to second that motion, having read a lot of what Landis published and concluding that he has a unique, but a far stretched view of the danger of a sudden change of the Syrian regime to Syrians above all, and to America afterward.

At 7/20/2006 02:39:00 PM, Blogger t_desco said...

Siniora paddling back? -

Lebanese PM Says Paper Misquoted Him

Italian Paper Denies Misquoting Lebanese PM On Hezbollah

At 7/20/2006 02:43:00 PM, Blogger Ameen Always said...

Paxillusion said that Syria is a terrorist regime. Syria is a country, and not a regime. However, I know what you mean, and the fact is those who are waiting to take over this 'terrorist' regime have demonstrated, many times before that they are much more violent terrorists, and they do not accept any non-sunni citizen except if he/she accepts to be a subject to their so called kuranic rules, and serve them without any question, and without any rights.

It is the devil we know proverb after all, Mr. Paxillusion!

At 7/20/2006 02:55:00 PM, Blogger Ivanka said...

Nobody has the right to utter the word terrorist anymore. Have you seen the pictures of the dead Lebanese children. Tens and tens of them. These are only the ones we see.

Israel has killed 320 civilians in 9 days. Almost one civilian is killed every houre.

1000 people are wounded

1/2 a million homeless

No electricity, no water, no hospitals, no food,

the wounded people will die and diseases might spread, a famine is an almost sure thing..even the survivors have no chance, they will be living like cavemen...

All this is not terrorism, not war crimes,

Nobody has the right anymore to accuse not even the worst islamic fundamentalist of being a terrorist..

At 7/20/2006 03:17:00 PM, Blogger majedkhaldoon said...

in 1967 the war lasted 6 days,only, in 1973 similar time, this war already 9 days, and it is against HA,and Isreal is much stronger,and US ships are there to help Isreal,by spying on Lebanon,Arab performance is much better this time, someone said this war is costing Isreal 100 million dollar a day.

At 7/20/2006 03:20:00 PM, Blogger majedkhaldoon said...

in 1967 the war lasted 6 days, in 1973 it was similar,now it is already 9 days, Arab performance is much better.

At 7/20/2006 04:03:00 PM, Blogger Ford Prefect said...

Contemptuous said...
"The Harriri investigation will continue until Bashar, Maher, Bushra, Anisa and Asef are all behind bars waiting for trial in an international court." Hmmmm, does Contemptuous know something that the UN International Independent Investigation Commission is still trying to figure out. Maybe Contemptuous can share his insights with the Commission and spare us all the agony of waiting! Or is it that Contemptuous is being presumptuous like all the misguided Lebanese who just two years ago were in bed with the Syrian regime criminals in Kuraitem?

At 7/20/2006 05:38:00 PM, Blogger Ivanka said...

many people seem to think syria's diplomatic position will improve after a cease fire. i disagree.

the bush administration and the israeli government have gained great momentum to put pressure back on syria, they will easily be able to pressure an allready convinced international community to isolate syria more and reactivate the Hariri front once things have settled down

In short, after cease fire the Mehlis days will be back.

I am not saying syria will lose. i am saying after so much effort to escape international pressure, it is now back to square one.

At 7/20/2006 07:42:00 PM, Blogger Fares said...

Rallying for Lebanon and the West double Standards

At 7/21/2006 08:39:00 AM, Blogger Ameen Always said...

Rallying for Lebanon… so very true. Good analysis. This should be republished in many places.


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