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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Abramoff Supported Farid Ghadry as well as Militant Israeli Settlers

Condoleezza Rice has blasted Syria for obstructing the Hariri investigation. She also attacked Hizbullah and recommitted the US to the full implementation of resolution 1559 and the disarmament of Party. She assures the Lebanese that there will be no "deal" with Syria, something many Lebanese have been worrying about. This comes in conjunction with Washington's and Europe's decision to bring Iran before the Security Council. Farid Ghadry, it turns out, is attached to Jack Abramoff. Quotes below. Syria’s Continuing Refusal To Comply With Security Council Resolutions Secretary Condoleezza Rice Washington, DC January 11, 2006 The United States has grave and continuing concerns about Syria’s destabilizing behavior and sponsorship of terrorism. The Syrian regime is obligated to implement UN Security Council resolutions 1546, 1559, 1595, 1636, and 1644. It has failed to do so. Syria must cease obstructing the investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri and instead cooperate fully and unconditionally, as required by UN Security Council resolutions. We call upon the Syrian regime to respond positively to the requests of UN Independent International Investigation (UNIIIC). We intend to refer this matter back to the Security Council if Syrian obstruction continues. The United States stands firmly with the people of Lebanon in rejecting any deals or compromises that would undermine the UNIIC investigation, or relieve Syria of its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions. We are firmly committed to seeking justice and pursuing the investigation to its ultimate conclusion. The United States also calls for the full implementation of all parts of UN Security Council resolution 1559, including the disarmament and disbanding of Hizballah and other militias. Syria’s continuing provision of arms and other support to Hizballah and Palestinian terrorist groups serves to destabilize Lebanon, makes possible terrorist attacks within Lebanon, from Lebanese territory, and impedes the full implementation of Security Council resolutions. As Resolution 1559 demands, Syria must once and for all end its interference in the internal affairs of Lebanon. Continuing assassinations in Lebanon of opponents of Syrian domination, including most recently the murder of journalist and Member of Parliament Gebran Tueni on December 12, 2005, create an atmosphere of fear that Syria uses to intimidate Lebanon. Syria must cease this intimidation and immediately come into compliance with all relevant Security Council resolutions. [end] Farid Ghadry and his Reform Party of Syria, it turns out, are connected at the hip to Jack Abramoff, the supper Israel Settler supporter who raised over $100,000 to buy sharpshooter equipment and night-vision goggles for militant settlers in the West Bank to shoot Palestinians. (Thanks to Michelle Zimney, who sent this to me.)

One investigator, eager to obtain information about the neocon-sponsored "Reform Party of Syria," led by Farid Ghadry, the Syrian version of Ahmed Chalabi, stumbled on the Abramoff connection: "When repeated calls to [Ghadry's] organization went unanswered, I visited the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the RFP. Reform Party of Syria is [in] the office of 'super-Zionist' lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Middle Gate Ventures, Abramoff's political advisory company' partners with RFP." The Reform Party of Syria is a front organization for Israeli interests in the Levant, and is supported by an impressive constellation of neoconservative stars. Regime change, effected by a U.S. invasion and occupation of Syria and Lebanon, is the one and only item at the top of this gang's agenda, and it comes as no surprise that Abramoff's ill-gotten gains went to funding it.


At 1/12/2006 07:53:42 PM, yaman said...

Mr Landis,

While I usually appreciate your posts, and I respect you for all the work you have done in Syria over the past year, I must say that I'm personally insulted by this post. The insinuation you have made by "connecting" Ghadry to Abramoff is that because regime-change might be in the interest of some outside of Syria, it cannot be in the interest of those inside of Syria.

I disagree. Misinformation like this stigmatizes the opposition's movement for regime change, with the intention of polarizing the Syrian populace into two camps: pro-Israel or anti-Israel. Well, Mr Landis, regime change has nothing to do with Israel. The regime change movement is actually split into these two camps: pro-Syria or anti-Syria. That is all it comes down to. Concerns about Israeli relations, American relations, European relations are all secondary to the well-being of Syria and the Syrian people. While a draconian government may temporarily be a good chess move in that never-ending game with Zionism, it is not an effective long term strategy. If all the Syrians have to rally behind right now is the Israeli problem when it comes to government formation, then they will never be able to confront it. What ever happened to self-determination?


At 1/12/2006 08:03:13 PM, norman said...

The US seems intended on destroying the secular goverment in Syria to appease the islamist and the Saudies ,and unfortionatly some Syrians will sell their soles ,that is if they have them,for power ,may God help and protect Syria and it,s people.

At 1/12/2006 09:48:43 PM, EHSANI2 said...


Good comment. Every regime change in the Midlle East must have the so-called "gang" of Neo-Cons behind it. Cut it out please.

At 1/12/2006 10:49:16 PM, Vox Populi said...

This post has been removed by the author.

At 1/12/2006 10:51:59 PM, Vox Populi said...

Joshua, while Ghadry is not a great politician, his fight is just your attack against him make you look like an amateur journalist writing in Tishreen. Cheap shot.

You make Ghadry look like a zionist spy because he's involved with the neocons. The truth that he got involved with the neocons because he thought that they would help his country. Cheap shot (again).

At 1/12/2006 11:21:39 PM, DamasceneBlood said...

So Farid Ghadry is a nice guy who just wants nice change for Syria into so-called democracy, our holy grail. Meanwhile, Dr. Landis is an amateur-journalist taking cheap shots at men with integrity like Mr. Ghadry, who found himself in the arms of Abramoff (the Zionist, 100% pro-settler, corrupt lobbyist). I mean, you would deal with the devil himself to change the regime in Syria, wouldn't you?

Come on guys, cut the crap. Mr. Ghadry is no-body in Syria. And yes, aligning himself with the pro-Israel camp completely discredits him in the eyes of every patriotic Syrian (patriotic <> regime-supporter).

This brings us back to the issue of accepting change made thru extremely pro-Israeli interests. I find it very hard to accept 'democarcy' from people who kill civilians randomly (US Army and the IDF), who have made torture an international pastime, and who imprison people without trial on mere 'we don't like you' and secret evidence. How are your saviors any better than your current dictators?????

At 1/12/2006 11:23:09 PM, Vox Populi said...

"I mean, you would deal with the devil himself to change the regime in Syria, wouldn't you?"

I tried, but it turned out that the devil didn't work against his owns.

At 1/12/2006 11:25:10 PM, annie said...

I have yet to meet ONE Syrian in Syria who supports Ghadry. He is a stooge.
As for the obsession with Israel, don't we see everyday its land grabbing actions ? its total defiance of UN resolutions its permanent refusal to face Palestinian rights ?
The only interest the neocons have at heart is Israel's.

At 1/12/2006 11:28:27 PM, DamasceneBlood said...

Vox Populi

"I tried, but it turned out that the devil didn't work against his owns"

I thought the devil works against good people? does that mean the regime is saved because it's backed by Mr. Satan? so who's supporting the Israelis and the Americans, God?

At 1/12/2006 11:40:08 PM, Vox Populi said...

Israel is Satan, you should already know that DB.

This means that Israel and the Assad family are one? The geopolitical implications of this are huge.

At 1/12/2006 11:41:44 PM, Vox Populi said...

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At 1/13/2006 12:02:18 AM, neuroconservative said...


I have been following your blog for a long time now. While I disagree with most of your positions, you generally seem well-intentioned and honest, and I value the on-the-ground perspective and information that you have consistently provided.

However, I kindly ask you to reconsider where you are going with the line of thinking evidenced in this post. It is a very dark place. It is no coincidence that David Duke has recently embraced Assad.

Somehow I doubt that, as a young man, you ever thought you would end up in coalition with the likes of Duke. I wonder what your younger self would say to you now?

At 1/13/2006 12:39:15 AM, DamasceneBlood said...

This post has been removed by the author.

At 1/13/2006 12:40:25 AM, DamasceneBlood said...

Ok, so Syrian regime = the devil incarnate. We get it.

I propose here that you guys are brainwashed by pro-Israeli propaganda. After all, the media in the US is owned or populated with so many Jewish names it's not even funny. Of course, this is not some crazy conspiracy theory: Forward magazine, a Jewish-interest mag, has come out and said it with all frankness: the title of the article? "Jews own the media, so what?"

How come 99% of mainstream news sources in the US espouse the same positions and run the same stories (approved by the Pentagon, nonetheless). How is this, in its core, different from Tishreen or Xinhua? yes, the media in the West is more technically refined, and there's more 'breathing' room, but at its heart it's a government propaganda machine.

Then there's the issue of 'democracy'. Is the US really democratic? don't we just get 2 choice pre-made for us beforehand by rich white men and women? the candidates presented have very little in common or in interests with you and me. You have to be quite affluent to get into Congress, and you have to be wealthy to become a Senator.

The illusion of freedom in the West is strengthened by free economics. That's all. Believe me, if the Syrian government opened up the economy tomorrow and allowed a level playing field, even the Bush administration will fall in love with Bashar. Spreading democracy for the US means opening new markets, nothing more, nothing less. Anything else gained is just icing on the cake. The US could not care less about the Syrian people or their freedoms, as long as they are free to buy American products. Case in point: China, which has one of the worst human rights/political records on earth, yet the US treats her like a queen, and keeps a blind eye on its transgressions.

At 1/13/2006 01:14:44 AM, reminiscor said...

Neuroconservative is right.

Joshua Landis writes: "Abramoff Supported Farid Ghadry as well as Militant Israeli Settlers"

What if I wrote: "Joshuah Landis supported Bashar el Assad as well as David Duke"

At 1/13/2006 01:59:18 AM, ForFreedomOfExpression said...

Can anybody tell me WHO will solve this economic problems? Ghadry? MBs? Khaddam? Assad?


January 13, 2006 No.259

The Syrian Economy Under Bashar al-Assad
By Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli*

Syria is categorized by the World Bank as a middle-income country with a per capita of $1,200. The population stood at about 18 million in 2004, registering an annual growth of about 3 percent, which places high demographic pressure on the labor market. The country's gross domestic product (GDP) has remained stagnant in the last four years, rising only slightly from $21.6 billion in 2002 to $21.7 billion in 2005 in nominal terms. At the same time, the debt service ratio doubled between 2002 and 2005, representing 6.2 percent of the GDP. Available data, including data from the Syrian government, suggest that the Syrian economic landscape remains bleak.

Syria's GDP is highly dependent on the oil and agricultural sectors, both subject to uncertainties due to changes in oil prices and dependency on rain. The oil sector provides half of the government's revenues and about two thirds of its export receipts. As oil reserves continue to decline, this source of revenues will diminish.

Controls Deter Investments and Growth

Syria's economy, which is predominantly state-controlled, has been relatively stagnant in recent years because of the failure of the narrowly-confined political establishment to implement extensive economic reforms. An old-fashioned socialist command economy, inefficient and heavily-regulated investments, restricted political freedoms under a quasi-totalitarian system of government, and wide-scale corruption at the highest levels of government have deterred foreign direct investments, as well as the emergence of a viable market economy. Moreover, Syria's inadequate infrastructure, outmoded technological base, and weak economic system, together with declining oil revenues, make it vulnerable to future shocks and hamper its ability to compete at the regional and international levels.

Unfulfilled Promises of Reform by Bashar al-Assad's Regime

After assuming power in July 2000, following a hasty constitutional amendment that has created a sort of hereditary republic (an honor shared with North Korea and briefly with Congo), President Bashar al-Assad promised to undertake economic reforms - such as liberalizing the Syrian economy, opening the market to foreign investments, and licensing foreign banks to operate in Syria. These would be followed by political reforms.

The argument behind this phased reform was that the 30 percent of the population living below the poverty line, would not necessarily appreciate political reforms that are not accompanied by economic measures that would lift them out of poverty. The attempts for reforms have remained constrained by countervailing domestic interests of a small group of oligarchs, and a commitment to a centralized socialist form of economic management and a non-competitive political system dominated by a quasi-totalitarian ruling Ba'th socialist party.

In his well-publicized interview with al-Arabiya TV, former Syrian vice-president Abd al-Halim Khaddam has confirmed that a package of economic reforms, formulated upon al-Assad's ascension to power, was submitted to the Council of Ministers in October 2000, but has remained dormant ever since. Another package of reforms, submitted by a group of French experts by invitation of the Syrian government, has not been acted upon either. "It is when I became convinced that the development and reform, whether political, economic or administrative, would not be acted upon, that I decided to resign," said Khaddam. [1]

It is immaterial whether Khaddam resigned or was forced out. What is irrefutable is that political and economic reforms, which are intertwined, have not taken place. The reasons for this failure are rooted in the very nature of a quasi-totalitarian regime that is amenable to only marginal change. Experience with totalitarian regimes in the 20th century, whether on the right or on the left, suggests reform was possible only after complete destruction of the foundations of these regimes. The Syrian regime is no exception. In a subsequent interview, Khaddam said that the Syrian regime "cannot be reformed and there is nothing left but to bring it down." [2]

Under the weight of its own oppression and mafia-style leadership, the Syrian regime has become stultified, frozen in time, and incapable of movement. Khaddam referred to "a shameless mafia [in] control of the country. [3] In its most recent report, Transparency International, which issues a Corruption Perception Index, has rated Syria 3.4 on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the least corrupt. [4] The government daily Tishreen lamented what it described as "the deluge of corruption" [tufan al-fasad] in the government ministries. [5]

The assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri has added the additional burden of a regime being treated as illegitimate, if not criminal. Bashar al-Assad's regime is isolated both regionally and internationally, save in the eyes of the Iranian regime.

The War in Iraq and the Consequences for Syria

Striving to emerge from diplomatic isolation in the Middle East following its occupation of Kuwait in 1990, Iraq launched what the former vice president Taha Yassin Ramadhan termed as "the diplomacy of deals" [diblomasiyyat al-safaqat.]. [6]

Under this unique form of the Saddam regime diplomacy, trade agreements, referred to as trade protocols, were concluded with most Arab countries, and driven almost solely by political consideration. These protocols often involved far-reaching concessions that were beneficial to one side - not the Iraqi one.

Indeed, one of the most preferential trade agreements was signed with Syria in late May 2000. Under the agreement, Syria was given preferential status in the export of consumer goods to Iraq such as furniture, soaps, electric goods and fixtures, water purification equipment, pharmaceuticals, and ceramic tiles. [7] The volume of trade may have exceeded $5 billion over a period of three years and, perhaps, substantially more if we consider smuggling, commonly referred to as border trading, and the illegal supply of oil by Iraq to Syria. The protocol also provided for the supply of Iraqi oil to Syria at heavily discounted prices.

One of the significant consequences of the trade protocol was the sudden increase in the number of Syrian nationals who were granted visas to visit Iraq. According to an official record, the number of such visitors was eight in 1996 and two in 1997, none listed in 1998 and 1999, but 19,989 visitors in year 2000. In the same year, 85,439 Iraqis entered Syria. [8]

Iraq's Oil Smuggling to Syria and its Aftermath

Iraqi oil smuggling to Syria started shortly after the trade protocol was signed. In addition to the Kirkuk-Banyas pipeline which carried approximately 200,000 b/d (barrels/day), there were also truck and rail shipments of oil to Syria. Records supplied by Iraq's SOMO (State Oil Marketing Organization) provide evidence of shipments of approximately 310,000 barrels of oil by trucks in January 2001 and about 384,000 barrels in June 2002. [9]

The protocol provided that 60 percent of the oil sale proceeds was to be devoted for the purchase of Syrian goods, and the remaining 40 percent was to go to Iraq in cash. SOMO records supplied to the Volker Committee investigating the United Nations-managed Oil-for-Food Program show that Syria paid Iraq more than $2.81 billion for oil smuggled though the pipeline and by truck or by rail. [10]

Syria's Flagrant Denials

Despite mounting evidence, the Syrian representative at the Security Council asserted in late 2001 that "[t]here was no oil flowing through the pipeline and his country was not exporting Iraqi oil through its ports" and that the "singling out of the Syrian Arab Republic was an attempt to force the [U.N.] Committee [established on the basis of Security Council Resolution 661] to apply double standards." In a later meeting in January 2002, the Syrian representative stated that "smuggling existed in various forms" but that his country has not paid a single cent to Iraq. [11] In late September 2002, he urged members of the 661 Committee not to focus "on unfounded allegations about a pipeline that was not operational." When the U.S. presented data showing that Syria was exporting 200,000 b/d in excess of its production capacity, the Russian representative stated that "the only reliable information before the [661] Committee was that provided by the Syrian side." [12] When the Syrian Government was presented by the Volker Committee with evidence about the use of the pipeline (provided by the Iraqi Ministry of Oil after the fall of the Iraqi regime), the Syrian response was that "it was not used," but only "tested." [13]

The Syrian Oil Sector

The above background is relevant to the oil sector in Syria today. Oil production in Syria reached its peak in 2000 with 540,000 b/d, but continued to decline with a projected production of 414,000 b/d in 2005, and 394,000 b/d in 2006. During the same period, Syria exported 364,000 b/d in 2000, an estimated export of 211,000 b/d in 2005, and a projected export of 183,000 b/d in 2006. The big spike in the export of Syrian oil in 2000-2003 must obviously be attributed to the flow of Iraqi oil.

According to a study of the Syrian economy by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the decline in Syrian oil exports will cause a major fiscal and balance-of-payment shock. The study estimates that, in the absence of new oil discoveries, Syria is likely to become a net oil importer within a few years, and will exhaust its oil reserves by the late 2020s. This would reduce the net foreign exchange received from oil from $3 billion in 2003 to nearly zero by 2010. [14] The shock resulting from lower oil production was masked by a recent spike in oil prices, but price spikes are a two-edged sword. They will benefit Syria as a net oil exporter in the short run, but they could be a source of a serious trouble once Syria turns into a net importer of oil.

Faced with the challenge of declining oil production, the Syrian government called on international companies to invest in the country's oil and gas sector "with no exception or discrimination." [15] However, according to Bassam Fatooh, an oil analyst in London, it is not clear whether the new explorations will increase Syrian oil production or merely maintain the present level through compensatory new production. [16] In any event, given the political uncertainties faced by Syria at this time, and particularly the risk of economic sanctions, it is unlikely that many international oil companies would agree to set up shop in Syria at this time.

Deteriorating Balance of Payment

With the decline of revenues from oil, and a further decline in foreign currency transfers by expatriate Syrian workers in Lebanon, the balance of payment is rapidly deteriorating. After reasonable surpluses from 2001 to 2003, the balance of payment registered a deficit of $1.6 billion in 2004, and the deficit almost doubled in 2005 to $3 billion.

Some economists suggest that the big increase in the deficits has to do mainly with the trade liberalization introduced by Syria in 2004 which, among other measures, reduced tariffs on imports considerably. As a result, the smuggling of goods into Syria has declined. Imports are now more accurately recorded, which was not the case when smuggling was rampant. This could lead to the conclusion that the surplus years of 2001-2003 were, in fact, deficit years, and seemed to be surplus years only due to the extensive smuggling, much of which was undertaken by the Syrian army stationed in Lebanon. [17] To finance the growing deficits, Syria has been accumulating new debt which has risen from 18.6 percent of GDP in 2001 to an estimated projection of 26 percent in 2005.

The IMF Review of the Syrian Economy

A recent report by the International Monetary Fund highlighted the sharp decline in private investments as the most immediate cause for the low growth in recent years. It said that "persistent weaknesses in the business climate are the main factors holding back investment." These weaknesses arise despite abundance in domestic savings and large reported holdings of Syrian private assets abroad. They are caused by several factors: the regulatory environment in the tax, trade and exchange regimes in the financial sector and in public administration, and also by government monopolies and poor governance. [18]

The IMF report stressed the urgent need for Syria to boost growth in order to (a) diversify and expand the production and export base of the economy before oil resources are depleted; and (b) absorb "a bulge" in entrants into the labor market arising from decades of very rapid population growth.

With the labor force projected to increase at 4 percent a year, unemployment could exceed 20 percent by the end of the decade. To reverse this trend, which the IMF described as "a daunting challenge," [19] an average employment growth rate of 4.5 percent a year would need to be sustained over the next 10 years.

The IMF has also expressed concerns about the medium-term prospects of the Syrian economy. Despite reform measures to address structural rigidities, "the pace and the scope of reforms have fallen short of Syria's medium-term growth and employment challenges." The IMF warns that:

If structural reforms and fiscal consolidation are not accelerated, there is a risk that oil reserves will be exhausted before the ongoing reforms have had time to generate new sources of growth and income. If this risk were to materialize, Syria may get locked in a cycle of financial volatility, fiscal deterioration, low growth and rising unemployment. [20]

Furthermore, the IMF directors said the government should strengthen its implementation of a Syrian anti-money-laundering and anti-terrorism-financing law.

With oil revenues declining, Syria must find new streams of income. According to Adib Mayyalah, the Governor of the Central Bank of Syria, "we have to move from an oil economy to one based on banking, services and tourism." He added: "Most importantly, we have to change the mindset of Syrians from a socialist system to a market system. This is the hardest task of all." So far, Syria has licensed five foreign banks from Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. But these banks are still "subject to strict foreign exchange controls and can't set their own interest rates." [21] The government daily Tishreenrelated the case of a businessman who recently offered to sell $500,000, and another €100,000 to a bank in Aleppo. The man was kept waiting for three hours pending the arrival of the central bank bulletin, which establishes the exchange rate for that day. [22]

The Issue of Unemployment

The population has experienced a high growth rate of about 3 percent per annum, bringing the total population from 12.1 million in 1990 to 17.4 million in 2003, and close to 18.5 million in 2005. [23] At the current rate of population growth, at least 300,000 new Syrians enter the work force each year. Due to decrease in investment, caused largely by an inhospitable political climate, work opportunities are not increasing proportionately to the increase in the number of work seekers. The Egyptian Al-AhramWeeklyestimates that 30 percent of university graduates are unemployed. [24] The Syrian Prime Minister Mohammad Naji al-Otri estimated the number of persons gaining employment through November 2005 at 82,500. [25] Even if the number were to increase to 100,000 for the entire year, it is still less than a third of the new employment opportunities required to accommodate the new entrants into the labor market. The likely consequences of an ever growing unemployment are not difficult to assess.

A World Bank report has noted that the education system in Syria "is not fully prepared to provide quality education and economically relevant skills to the young labor force." As a result, Syrian workers are not economically competitive by regional standards. Massive upgrading of the human resources base will require the opening up of the economy, and upgrading of schools, professors, vocational training systems, as well as civil servants qualified to manage the transition. [26]

To alleviate the problem of unemployment, the government keeps redundant civil servants. By the account of the Minister of Finance Dr. Muhammad al-Hussein, two million Syrians receive wages and pensions from the state. He estimated that if every wage or pension earner supports four family members, it means that half of the Syrian population lives on government fixed income. [27] Clearly, such a situation is neither desirable nor sustainable over time.


Syria's biggest accomplishment was in the agricultural sector, to which the government has redirected its priorities from the industrial sector. The purpose was to achieve food self-sufficiency, enhance export earning, and stem rural migration.

Thanks to sustained capital investment, infrastructure development, subsidies of inputs and price supports, Syria has gone from a net importer of many agricultural products to an exporter of cotton, fruits, vegetables, and other foodstuffs. One of the prime reasons for this turnaround has been the government's investment in irrigation systems in northern and northeastern Syria - part of a plan to increase irrigated farmland by 38 percent over the next decade. Syrian exports reflect this turnaround. Apart from oil, which accounted for 68 percent of export receipts in 2004 and therefore remains the main source of foreign earning, agriculture and animal husbandry accounted for close to 15 percent of export earning. [28]

Environmental Problems

The focus on agriculture, coupled with a rapidly growing population, have had their negative consequences in environmental degradation. Syria is suffering today from deforestation, overgrazing, soil erosion, desertification, water pollution from raw sewage and petroleum refining wastes, and inadequate potable water. [29]

Syrian Economy - "Mostly Unfree"

The Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation publish an Annual Index of Economic Freedom. The index measures how countries score on a list of 50 independent variables, divided into 10 broad factors of economic freedom. Among these factors are trade policy, government intervention in the economy, property rights and informal market activity (black market). The higher a country's score on a factor, the greater the level of government intervention in the economy, and the less economic freedom there is. Countries are then divided into four categories: free (score 1-1.99); mostly free (score 2-2.99); mostly unfree (score 3-3.99) and repressed (score 4-5). Under the 2006 Index of Economic Freedom, Syria is rated No.145 out of 157 countries. With a score of 3.93, Syria occupies the bottom of the category of "mostly unfree." [30]

Reform by Decrees

In his attempt to highlight the reform in the Syrian economy in 2005, Prime Minister al-Otri listed 40 laws, 96 legislative decrees (presidential decrees) and 518 organizational decrees. All of these laws and decrees were introduced with the purpose of "achieving economic, financial and administrative reform, simplifying procedures for our brethren the citizens, and for the transformation toward a social market economy." [31] For some reason, the prime minister could not foresee the debilitating effects of so many new rules and regulations added to those already on the books. Economic reforms cannot take hold in an environment of political uncertainties.

Impediments to Growth

In a speech before party loyalists, Prime Minister al-Otri admitted that the economic growth for 2005 was modest (no figure was provided but, judging by the Syrian economic performance in recent years, it was probably in the 2-3 percent range). Al-Otri attributed the moderate performance to eight negative factors:

· Weakness in the performance of some economic sectors and low personal income

· Population growth pressures

· Dependency of exports on declining oil production

· Small return on investment

· Low levels of national and foreign investments

· Low productivity and growing unemployment

· Low levels of wages and corresponding low levels of incentives

· Poor technical standards in the production sectors [32]

What the prime minister failed to mention was that the regime, which is implicated in the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, is now fighting for its very survival and pays little attention to everything else.

Social Market Economy

Recognizing the failure of its command economy, the Syrian regime is promoting the social market economy, sponsored by the Ba'th Party Congress in June 2005.

Germany's first post-war economic minister Ludwig Erhard's developed the concept of soziale Marktwirtschaft as the proper economic model for the rebuilding and reconstruction of the almost completely devastated German economy. This economic model stresses two concepts - market and social. Because of the Nazi experience, post-war Germany opted for an economy free of state intervention and domination. The only role of the state in the new Germany was to protect the competitive environment from monopolistic and oligopolistic tendencies. The term "social" was stressed because the Germans wanted an economy that would not only help the wealthy but would also care for the workers and for others who might not be able to cope with the strenuous competitive demands of a market economy.

The Ba'th Party conference failed to establish the conceptual framework or the principles for a new and far-reaching economic model of this sort. Obviously, in the absence of competitive environment, internally and externally, and in the absence of a political will to join the global market, a social market economy remains a mere "slogan," [33] as one Syrian economist labeled it. Slogans, like decrees, do not induce economic reforms.

Association Agreement with the European Union

The European Union is Syria's largest trade partner, and Syria has strived for years to negotiate an association agreement with the E.U. similar to the agreements that the E.U. has with most other Arab countries.

After arduous negotiations that lasted for five years, a draft agreement was concluded in December 2004. Most of the delay was caused by the demands made by the U.K., Germany and the Netherlands to include a provision against the WMD development by Syria. The association agreement called for reducing tariffs on imported European goods by 50 percent during the first three years following the signing of the agreement, and for the dismantling of the remaining tariffs in the following twelve years, before a full partnership agreement could be reached. [34]

The Association Agreement was initialed in October 4, 2005 but has not been signed. If and when signed, the agreement will have to be ratified by the 25 members of the E.U., in addition to the European and Syrian parliaments. For the moment, however, the signing, let alone the ratification of such an agreement, is quite remote.

Sanctions on Syria

The rush for reforms has been driven largely by the fear of sanctions and by the regime's desire to mobilize the Syrian people in face of its crumbling foundations.Al-Ahram Weekly put it exactly right when it wrote that, taking into account the experience of the Saddam regime, the Syrian government "realized that a population that is dissatisfied will not defend its government in times of crisis." [35] In a modest attempt to isolate the economy from politics, the Syrian government appointed the non-Ba'thist Dr. Abdallah al-Dardari, the head of the Planning Commission, as deputy prime minister for economic affairs during the June 2005 Ba'th Party Congress.

Al-Dardari has been beating the drums of optimism on a daily basis. He said that the share of the Syrian industry in the GDP will grow to 20 percent in 2010 from the present range of 5-7 percent. He promised that per capita income would be doubled by 2010 and that $16 billion in foreign direct investments would be obtained in the next five years. He has also been reassuring about the capacity of Syria to weather sanctions.

Following the unanimous adoption on October 31 of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1636, which threatened sanctions on Syria if it did not cooperate with the U.N. investigation, al-Dardari told TheFinancial Times that his government has moved to establish a crisis team to deal with the matter. He said sanctions would not pose insurmountable obstacles because there was no shortage of "sanction busting." Dardari said: "to be honest, sanction busters are everywhere… there are American companies in Canada that sell to Syria." [36]


The Government of Syria under Bashar al-Assad has initiated modest economic reforms in the last few years, including cutting interest rates, opening private banks, consolidating some of the multiple exchange rates, and raising prices on some subsidized foodstuffs. However, the Syrian economy remains highly controlled and correspondingly inefficient. The Wall Street Journal noted that these initiatives "face formidable hurdles, and skeptics say the moves will do little to unseat the oligarchs and ruling families that control the nation's wealth." [37] Among the biggest oligarchs are members of Bashar al-Assad's immediate family, including his brother and sister. It is not surprising that the IMF study observed that "the pace and the scope of reforms have been insufficient compared to Syria's medium-term challenges." [38]

The success in the implementation of any reform policies is measured by their palpable results, and not by the number of law and presidential decrees, which often impede progress by adding new layers of rules and regulation to an already highly inefficient system. But this is precisely what the Syrian government has been doing.

The preoccupation of the regime of the consequences of the assassination of al-Hariri will continue to divert attention from the country's serious problems of growth and unemployment. The threat of sanctions on Syria will discourage investments. Despite much bravura about Syria's ability to withstand the effects of sanctions, the Syrian economy, under sanctions, could go downhill quite rapidly.

* Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli is Senior Analyst of MEMRI's Middle East Economic Studies Program.

At 1/13/2006 02:48:09 AM, EngineeringChange said...

DamasceneBlood your comments are right on the money.

At 1/13/2006 03:28:28 AM, Innocent_Criminal said...

some of you guys must have such a sad excistance that you have to pick on every little detail and twist it. While the post does "sound" like disinformation you guys miss the simple point of it. Josh never attacks the liberal opposition or ones that are inside Syria but Farid Ghadry is a low life bitch who needs to be tortured on video and then make a reality tv show out of it (i'd pay to watch that).

Basically the post was just to reconfirm the fact that Ghadry is nothing but an enemy of Syrians and he and the horse he is riding on can go to hell. So don’t nag about how he was defending the regime because in my opinion this is defending the Syrian people

worst case scenario it was just an interesting point. and btw David Duke's visit was a spectacular mistake. they were so desperate for attention they were ready to take it from anyone

At 1/13/2006 06:16:09 AM, Alterion said...

This post has been removed by the author.

At 1/13/2006 06:18:40 AM, Alterion said...

There are people who hijack the State, and there are people who hijack its opposition. We'll have to be wary of both for they both are ill-intentioned and have personal agendas. Take a lesson from Iraq and how its opposition has been hijacked by every bastard (Iraqi and otherwise) there is.

At 1/13/2006 06:53:57 AM, Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

dr. landis would like to defend the Assad Family under any pretext, and using all tactics. That is a fact.

This latest thread is one more example, and it is not his finest. Since Ghadri is "no body" in Syria, and he is not the "Opposition", I wonder why opening a thread for him with such a large title! has also, few eeks ago come up with a head line saying "Interview with the Syrian Opposition", and the interview was with Ghadri. When this "zionist" connected man is blown way out of proportion by those critics, are they trying to infiltrate our minds with some of their own propaganda and private agendas? You bet!

If trying to present Ghadri as the opposition, or one of the main opposition group, and at the same time making him look as a Zionist "tool", well, their agenda is easy to predict and guess!

One would have expected some thing else from a "History professor", but I expect he will do what ever necessary to discredit the Syrian Opposition in favir of the Assad rule. If Ghadri is a Zionist, what is Hafez Assad, and Bashar?

Pitty the poor masses of the world, for those with influence have much greater power to influence the media and raise the status of who ever they choose to play their game. Is Mr. landis not a Zionist?

Then, I pityy the Jews as well, for all evil is committed in their name. Those with the greater agenda may also be using Zionism (jews) as a cover. we are all victims of some much greater evil that uses us all.

At 1/13/2006 09:07:31 AM, Liamsi Malles said...

You can always tell who are the Zionists or Neoconservatives (is there a difference?) among the blog repliers by the little nuances/nuisances they attempt to downplay when they are confronted with the sanitizing light of day.

Quite plainly, Ghadry is a shill for the Zionists and Neocons who would topple the Syrian government to install their own puppet and eliminate one more enemy of Israel.

Ghadry is quite clearly in league with Abramoff, an Orthodox Jew and proud Zionist, who also happens to be at the center of the biggest corruption, fraud and government malfeasance scandal the United States has ever seen (the details out so far are only the tip of the iceburg).

Abramoff collected money from his Native American clients under the guise of investing it in a "non-profit" organization (the so-called Capital Athletic Fund) to the tune of $4 million. He took $140,000 of that money and gave it to Schmuel Ben-Zvi (a form of cancer of the Israeli Settler variety) so that he could buy weapons, night vision goggles, and other things useful in subjugating Palestinians.

To re-cap: Abramoff took money from a dispossessed people in order to further dispossess another people. Cute.

So we have a wannabe Syrian leader (Ghadry) who was being propped up by an Israel-first Orthodex Jew Zionist Neoconservative (Abramoff) who was stealing money to give to his friends in the illegal settlement of Beitar Illit to further the rape and pillage of Palestine, and you guys don't see a problem with this? No wonder you choose to leave anonymous responses. It would be much more helpful if you just declared your fealty to Israel outright so we could at least have an honest discussion here.

At 1/13/2006 09:16:59 AM, annie said...

Please ForFreedomOfExpression
spare us this long copy and paste from MEMRI

Those of us who want to read MEMRI go to their website.

As for Jews in the American press, please, do not put them all in the same bag. They are not all Zionists.

At 1/13/2006 09:41:09 AM, Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

Yeah that’s what I call the Neocon “New Democratic Arabstan” paradigm:

Here, Syrian masses will have to choose between a US-based “modernist Muslim” whose links with the Mossad won’t hamper his willingness to work with “progressive” Islamic fundamentalists (Ghadry) and a redeemed “secularist” Baathist thug living in Western Europe (Khaddâm)...etc.

There’s a stooge in store for every taste: it’s kind of Ahmad Chalabi vs. Iyad Allawi déjà vu all over again!

Frankly, these Pharisaic plotters could try to come up with more imaginative stuff.


Dr Victor de la Vega

At 1/13/2006 09:42:50 AM, zadigvoltaire said...

This post has been removed by the author.

At 1/13/2006 09:46:11 AM, zadigvoltaire said...

Lebanese MP says that Syria could encourage new attacks in Lebanon next week

A pro-Jumblatt MP said today that Syria will probably sponsor a terrorist attack in Lebanon next week after the Lebanese refused its terms for a normalization of relations.

Indeed, Al Arabiya TV reported earlier today that “Syria has agreed to demarcate its borders with Lebanon, including the disputed Shebaa Farms, and that it will stop all media and security attacks.”
An Al Arabiya correspondent from Cairo added that Syria will indeed “help Lebanon to stop the attacks on its security.”

Commenting on the news item a pro-Walid Jumblat Member of the Lebanese Parliament said that it was probably Egyptian intelligence that leaked the report to Al Arabiya. He added that the head of Egyptian Intelligence General Omar Suleiman was behind all efforts, (including Amr Moussa’s failed attempt), to mend the relations between Lebanon and Syria.

The MP added that he saw a copy of the Syrian proposal that Syrian President Bashar Assad gave to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
He said that it was a printed on a A4 paper without any official Syrian emblem. It basically stated that Syria will coordinate with Lebanon on the security front, stop all media attacks against the Lebanese and demarcate its borders with Lebanon including the Shebaa Farms (apparently that was part was handwritten and added by General Suleiman himself). In return Syria expects Lebanon to stop all media attacks against its regime and for Lebanon to coordinate with Syria on the diplomatic front based on UN resolutions 425 and 242.

“This is unacceptable,” said the MP who added that Syria’s only aim is to dominate the security and foreign affairs of Lebanon once again.

He concluded that because Lebanon refused the Syrian proposal, the Syrian regime will probably encourage a terrorist act in the coming week.

At 1/13/2006 10:09:01 AM, Karakuz said...

(forgive my amateur physics explanation, but...) An MIT math Professor recently wrote a book of physics, explaining how the physics of our world shows that there are other dimensions that we have not figured out yet. In these other dimensions, she theorizes that physics changes -- like going through the event horizon of a black hole where all matter and light are sucked into its anti-gravity vortex and the three-demensional physics we know and understand breaks down into some kind of physics we do not yet have the vocabulary for. Those of us who have been following the situation in Syria already know this to be true -- we have either fell into a portal of a fourth dimension or been sucked past the event horizon of a black hole called the Assad regime. I never thought I would see the day that I was found on the same side of a political issue as David Duke. How stupid could the Assad regime be to find Duke in Syria at rallies supporting the government. The neo-cons have already convinced those that are taking their lead that Assad is Hitler-lite and that Syria is a ticking time bomb. (Consipiracy theories aside, Khaddam and Ghadry can both shampoo my crotch.) Duke single-handedly shut-up all the other Americans who don't buy the neo-con agenda. So, once again, I, and others like me, are back in the position of scratching our heads and wondering, how can being so right, be so wrong?

At 1/13/2006 10:35:20 AM, Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

I laughed so hard at the following when I read about the cheers there.. Really funny, really funny. I pitty Duke for he is now defending retarded regimes who want that their leaders be worshipped as a god without probably knowing what he is doing!

Duke: I thought worshipping other men was in a far away era of the human archeology, but here in Syria, and North Korea, the practise is revived and doing well.
""Interpreter: "I have come from the peace-loving American people to your peace-loving Syrian president."

Crowd: "Our soul and our blood we will sacrifice for you, oh Bashar!

"Our soul and our blood we will sacrifice for you, oh Bashar!

"Our soul and our blood we will sacrifice for you, oh Bashar!" ""


At 1/13/2006 10:40:01 AM, Alterion said...

Syrians are really desperate for anyone to speak out against the really unmatched atrocities which have been committed against them, their country, their future, and their humanity for the past 35 years. So out of this desperation, they find themselves wanting to grab-on to anything/anyone that remotely resembles an opposition. I am not too worried tho, for these puppets are too dumb to even put on a credible facade to fool the people. I have heard an interview once with al-Ghadri, and he couldn't even spell out what's wrong with Syria today, other than to say "people are unhappy, people are oppressed" and he kept repeating these two sentences as he lacked any intellectual presentation of any kind. Even a moron like Muhammad Habash (who is nothing but a government puppet with an Islamic facade) was able to shut him down and punch holes in every argument he (Ghadri) had to offer. We've had enough losers for 35 years. I no longer have any tolerance for any more losers even if they claim opposition.

At 1/13/2006 11:13:28 AM, Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Again, Ghadri is not THE Opposition, so why making this an issue? it is only being made an issue to discredit the opposition to the Assad Regime to the Syrian people. (Not a very smart move by landis).

My position: I think Syrians and Israelis should find a way to live in peace together as this is what will really free the Syrians to start with from decades of oppressions using that "enemy" called israel, and in whose name all attrocities were committed against the Syrian masses and Syria's wealth has gone to the few pockets. Defeating Israel, if that is really what any one is after can not be achieved by militarizing the country and spending all of its resources on armemements (armements that can be destroyed in a twink of the eye, leaving its population as waiters and wiatresses and busboys for few hotels, or making its women prostitutes for Arabs from Saudi and the gulf region, but by having a peace that would develop the resources and employ people in good industries and professions, and elevate their standard of living and become productive in all the areas of human developments to give back to humanity and not be easily exploited by their thugs leaders.

If Syria can achieve the same standard of education and econmic power as israel, then (expansionist israel) will lose any possibility of dominating Syria in the future. That is the solution, and I predict that real peace would take place if that is what we do with Syria instead of making it a backward military camp whose armements can not defteat flies and whose richess is sucked out by the few to Swiss banks, or others. If Sria and Israel have peace, then my prediction is that they will not be enemies and israel will be integrated in the wider Syria. I see so much resemblance between Syrians and israelis anyway.

In short, if your objective to defeat Israel, your backward militarization is rendering Syria a weak country for a very long time, and is in fact achieving the opposite of what your spoken intentions are. But this is serving well the thieves of Syria's wealth, and its real oppressors, the Assads and their cronies.


At 1/13/2006 11:25:09 AM, Karakuz said...

BTW, MEMRI is a service that translates Arabic news reports into English. It is run by the neo-conservative, zionists of the American Enterprise Institute and their followers -- David Wurmser's wife, what's her name. Wurmser is on Cheney's staff along with John Hannah (a Lebanese-American), fashioning U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Wurmser is famous for writing a policy paper at AEI for the Likud Party in the 1990s, arguing that Syria should be weakened so that a so-called "natural" alliance between Jordan, Israel and Turkey can form. MEMRI only publishes the most pernicious news about the Middle East, nothing positive, nothing balanced.

At 1/13/2006 11:38:42 AM, Vox Populi said...

Courtesy of al Mehdi

* (For the benefit of newbies here, quoting MEMRI drives the Apologists into a foaming-at-the mouth paroxysm of rage. Once they've calmed down a bit and we've put back all the toys in the playpen, they explain that it's because

MEMRI is owned by Jooos....

So you explain patiently that who owns it is irrelevant, all MEMRI does is to translate published material into English. The translations are precise and nothing is invented.)

Yes, but it's owned by Jooos....

And then you explain even more patiently that they only publish stuff from mainstream sources, from people in authority or with reputations in their own countries, not the ravings of some extreme loony in some discussion thread....

But Jooos own and run it.... (in the most calming and soothing voice you can muster) if people don't like what is translated, perhaps they shouldn't come out with the garbage in the first place....

....BUT IT'S OWNED BY JOOOS.... which point, it's probably an appropriate time to switch off the light, close the door, tiptoe away, and wait for the howling and yelling to settle into gurgles, followed shortly by deep sleep.)

At 1/13/2006 11:50:45 AM, EHSANI2 said...

Limsi Malles, Karakuz, JAM, Alterion & Vox:

This is a great discussion. Please keep it up. There are two opposing views expressed by the group as a whole but this is what it is all about. I would love to add my input to the mix, but I cannot do so right now due to work constraints. I will do so, however, pretty soon. The subject matter is actually very important in my opinion.

At 1/13/2006 12:03:21 PM, Nafdik said...


1) Regarding the Ghadri Abramoff connection

I think for a blog about Syrian politics it is interesting news and I don't see why you are blasting Josh for reporting it.

How we want to interpret it is up to us. But do not shoot the messanger.

2) Vox you comment on MEMRI.

While I have no informed opinion on the subject. The fact that they accuratly translate news from mainstream media does not mean that they are reliable.

If Tishrin translated news from CNN and Fox that are limited to prostitution, scandal and murder reports we would laugh.

Selective truth is the best way to lie. This does not mean that what MEMRI does has no value, but there is a difference between a media source whose objective is to serve its consumers and one whose objective is to serve an ideology or an interest group (I have no idea where MEMRI falls)

At 1/13/2006 12:50:03 PM, ugarit said...

annie said:

"As for Jews in the American press, please, do not put them all in the same bag. They are not all Zionists."

You are absolutely right. Some of the most ardent apponents of zionism are Jews. Probably most Zionists in America are christians and not Jews.

At 1/13/2006 12:54:25 PM, ugarit said...

Where is the equivelant to MEMRI to translate the nasty things in the Hebrew media? Is'nt Israel part of the Middle East?

At 1/13/2006 01:01:27 PM, Nafdik said...

OK, here is some basic research.

MEMRI headlines:
Jan 13 IA# 259 - The Syrian Economy Under Bashar al-Assad

Jan 12 SD# 1070 - Saudi Doctorate Encourages the Murder of Arab Intellectuals

Jan 11 SD# 1069 - Saudi Professor of Islamic Law on Saudi TV Exhorts Muslims to "Positive Hatred" of Christians

Jan 11 SD# 1068 - Libyan Leader Qaddafi: We Can Cut Our Defense Budget by Using Suicide Operations, Car Bombs; I Agree With America on Everything but Iraq and Palestine; The Word "Democracy" is Arabic

Jan 10 SD# 1067 - Iranian Pilgrims in Mecca at Anti-American Rally: We Express Our Hatred & Disgust to the Center of Evil, the Criminal America… "Death to America"

Tishrin Headlines:

President al-Assad received the credentials of Slovakian Ambassador .
-President al-Assad reviews with the Jordanian Popular Forum the developments and pressures on Syria.
-President al-Assad exchanges felicitations on the occasion of Greater Bairam, Eid al Adha, with kings and presidents of the Arab and Islamic countries.
- Mubarak reviews with Chirac the latest developments and the Syrian –Lebanese relations.
-Moslem Pilgrims gathered on Arafat and performed the most important step of pilgrimage ,alHaj.
- On the occasion of Greater Bairam , exchange of visits between the Turkish and Syrian relatives facilitated .
- From Samir Kintar to Walid Jumblat: I reject your accusation to the resistance of betrayal .
-Lahoud stresses that Lebanon can not live outside its Arab environment.
- Sheikh Bahjat Eid: Bad people are hatching conspiracies against Syria and the national resistance.
-Iraqi criticism of American troops storming Um al Qura Mosque…38 policemen killed and 35 others wounded by two bombings in front of the Iraqi Interior Ministry.
- Sharon in danger after bringing him to consciousness…. The puzzle of Arafat’s death at the United Nations.
-The Palestinian elections…the Authority receives US. assurances regarding Jerusalem and Israel turns a blind eye.
-The weather is rainy

I think the last item is the most useful :)

At 1/13/2006 01:46:20 PM, Lebanese Pride said...

Joshua Landis...u fuckin PRO syrian rat fuck! gotten laid yet? u fuckin dork. say hi to that monkey assad when ur kissing his ass, as usual. now we all know why you went to syria, your just as dumb as those dumb retarded syrians! when bashar gets overthrown or maybe even killed who knows, i will take my lebanese brothers and we will go piss on his f'n grave!!


At 1/13/2006 02:15:20 PM, t_desco said...

Syrian arrested in Lebanon over Hariri probe

BEIRUT (AFP) - Lebanese authorities arrested a Syrian national for giving false testimony to investigators trying to shed light on the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, a judicial source said.

Ibrahim Michel Jarjura is suspected of giving false testimony to both a UN probe and the Lebanese judiciary aimed at misleading investigators, the source said without giving further details.

-- A new Hussam, or what?

At 1/13/2006 02:35:05 PM, t_desco said...

More about Ibrahim Jarjoura:

In other news, police on Friday arrested a Syrian on charges of giving false evidence to the Lebanese investigation into the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, the former prime minister, a judicial official said in Beirut.

Ibrahim Jarjoura was detained on a warrant issued by Elias Eid, the investigating magistrate, who interviewed Jarjoura on two occasions and heard conflicting testimony, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the investigation.

Lebanon's official National News Agency reported the arrest, adding that unknown parties appeared to have been using Jarjoura to mislead the investigation. ...

Most of the detainees were arrested on the recommendation of the UN commission investigating al-Hariri's killing. It was not known whether the commission had recommended Jarjoura's arrest.

French seeks Gulf asylum for Khaddam/al-Jazeera

At 1/13/2006 02:56:31 PM, Atassi said...

Lebanese Pride .. F you for a True syrian. F you form the Pride of good Syrian. F you from true Lebanese.. We love our SYRIA.. and take from a TRUE ATASSI\SYRIAN. We love the Lebanese as we love the Syrian. You are nothing but a parasite the message!!

At 1/13/2006 03:03:44 PM, t_desco said...

Yet another interesting story:

Report: Lebanon nabs 11 Al-Qaida militants planning attacks

A Lebanese newspaper reported Friday that Lebanese authorities arrested 11 Al-Qaida militants suspected of intentions to carry out terror attacks. ...

According to the reports, the continuing investigation will look into a possible connection between the suspects and a man named Khaled Tahak, whose name has been dropped in the ongoing probe into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Tahak is also suspected of enlisting Lebanese residents into Iraq-based terror organizations.

Are they referring to Khaled Midhat Taha, the friend of Abu Adass? Does this mean that there is an al-Qaeda link, after all?

At 1/13/2006 03:35:56 PM, ActiveListener said...

Now wait, before we get too excited about Jewish domination of the media, I just came across something interesting when I followed Vox’s link above to the Saudi critic el Mehdi (incidentally, a highly entertaining and informative read – though I cringed when I scrolled down the page and read the excerpts he’d posted from the Saudi school syllabus, dripping with primitive incitement and hatred against “infidels”, which covers any non-Wahabis).

One of the discussion threads there highlighted the flourishing relationship between the world’s biggest and meannest media magnate Rupert Murdoch and irritating Saudi exhibitionist Prince Alwaleedbin Talal.

Not only is the Saudi Prince a serious investor in Rupert’s empire, but he also gets Rupert to tone down news coverage the Prince considers bad press for Muslims. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp owns the Fox News and BskyB networks, is the world's leading newspaper publisher in English and operates an international collection of TV outlets, radio stations, magazines, book publishers and film studios.

Also, contrary to popular myth there is nothing Jewish in Rupert Murdoch’s background (you’ll find his longtime wife who got pushed out by a predatory Suzy Wong type is spending many $ millions of her divorce settlement refurbishing Los Angeles Catholic Cathedral. AND new wife Wendi Deng has now managed to push Rupert’s son and heir Lachlan out of the business too - so that dynasty is on a fast track to China, forget Jewish control).

But read for yourself about this financial romance, Rupert and The Prince here and here

At 1/25/2006 04:08:29 PM, ahnad said...



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