My articles, Syria

What WikiLeaks Tells Us About Assad’s Foreign Policy Record

Al-Akhbar has published an article of mine about the Assad regime’s relations with the West and its foreign policy objectives, as revealed by the original WikiLeaks cache of US diplomatic cables.

Needless to say, this article is a response of sorts to Amal Saad-Ghorayeb’s multi-part series which argues that Arab intellectuals should support Assad because of his anti-imperialist credentials. You can read her pieces here(Of special interest are “Syrian Crisis: Three’s a Crowd,” and parts one and two of her essay on Assad’s foreign policy.)

Read the whole piece at Al-Akhbar, then feel free to come back and comment.

 

 

 

 

Discussion

189 thoughts on “What WikiLeaks Tells Us About Assad’s Foreign Policy Record

  1. I am afraid that Amal Saad-Ghorayeb may have committed academic and career suicide and has left herself open to ridicule that is rightfully deserved. I remember a time when I had respect for her book on Hezbollah, but now I am not sure I could take her seriously anymore.

    What comes to mind are her silly monotonous articles, her reluctance to think beyond Palestine, and her overuse of jargon in order to cover up the weak and morally corrupt substance of her writings. It is sad that people like her continue to evoke the Palestine/Israel issue as an excuse to fully and completely support Assad (and disregard and forgive his crimes and his father’s crimes). They all seem to be trapped in a mental merry-go-round…

    I wanted to also add that your article is brilliant.

    Posted by Posh | July 17, 2012, 9:05 pm
  2. “Hagiography”!!!! you’re all class mate! well done. Nothing describes the apologists and blind followers more accurately.

    Posted by Maverick | July 17, 2012, 10:59 pm
  3. Today, as Assad continues to be championed by some on the Arab Left as a Gramscian paladin, gamely leading a war of position against hegemonic Empire and the global capitalistic elite, it is worth revisiting the WikiLeaks corpus to set the record straight.

    Where oh where do you come up with this stuff from! Gramscian Paladin!

    As always, I was tickled pink reading your article.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 18, 2012, 1:18 am
  4. your reliance on fabrication by the Zionist Imperialist Wikileaks only reveals the extent to which orientalists and native informers like you would go to discredit the resistance axis. What more absolute proof does one need that the eternal leadership of President Assad has delivered the coup de grâce to colonialism?

    Posted by nadim shehadi | July 18, 2012, 2:39 am
  5. Nicely done, Elias. You nicely deconstruct how Assad is no “Gramscian paladin [ed: !] …gamely leading a war of position against hegemonic Empire and the global capitalistic elite.” But politics is the art of compromise: I can well understand how all those Gramscian paladins out there who are not in control of state security apparatuses out there would prefer Assad to (for instance) the Hariris, the monarchs of the region, and perhaps even Assad’s rivals. Now, here is my question to you: Is the problem that Assad is not a proper vessel for these anti-imperialist aims, or that these principles themselves don’t address the real array of priorities for Syrians today?

    All best!

    Posted by David Kenner | July 18, 2012, 5:28 am
  6. Zionist conspiracy! Long live the moumana3a… :D

    Posted by danny | July 18, 2012, 6:33 am
  7. David,

    You’ve hit upon the real issue. That’s the subject of my next piece…

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 18, 2012, 6:43 am
  8. Elias,

    Nice article.

    From my vantage point, heroic stories showing how reasonable and “peace-loving” Bashar Assad WAS is futile and sad. This story is merely “Deja Vu” and a repeat of similar episodes of Arab “leadership”.

    Missed opportunities and tragedy are a ME political staple best served with a cold Molotov cocktail. To me, relying on one despot and a handful of trusted thugs will always lead to failure, especially when millions are relying on these self-appointed.

    As Assad meets the same infamous fate as Saddam Hussein, Colonel Q, Yassir Arafat, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and Hosni Mubarak, it makes no sense to hold our breath. Time is needed to reconfigure the ME with this thing called democracy.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 18, 2012, 7:17 am
  9. I didnt read her articles as an argument that “that Arab intellectuals should support Assad because of his anti-imperialist credentials”. I read them to be an argument that Arabs should oppose the Syrian uprising because it has a clear imperilaistic agenda. Therefore any argument over Bashars complicity with the west is moot and irrelevant. But no matter what the cables say (and I think its odd that you automatically assume that what he says privately to US representatives is what he actually thinks and not his public announcements or for that matter actions).

    Any discussion with Syrians living in Syria will show you that many many Syrians are opposed to this uprising, not because of their love of the regime but they see an uprising driven by external actors and made up of what people are calling “the third party”, ie Al Qaida. What they see and expect is that if and when the regime falls, the fighting will really begin. It may actually result in the first direct conflict between the west and the Saudis (and its GCC allies) as each will back their prefered party in the fight for control for Syria. So it may not be the “anti-imperialist agenda” that addresses the Syrian peoples needs but a massive civil war is certainly not. So opposing western and GCC aims for Syria does conflate with the needs of the Syrian people in that the aftermath of removing the regime will benefit neither.

    Posted by mo | July 18, 2012, 7:36 am
  10. Damascus is on fire, we may be witnessing the end (the real end this time).

    Posted by 3issa | July 18, 2012, 8:08 am
  11. An intriguing question David. Off the top of my hat, I would say the second one, that anti-imperialism is not necessarily on most people’s mind as they have more important things to consider.

    In my world (that is, in my head) the current anti-imperialism is
    equated with continuous Iranian influence. It is to large extent
    political shi’ism that drives the anti-imperialistic stance in the
    Levant today (anti-zionism, anti-capitalism and moral code). New
    rulers in Syria would certainly mean an overhaul of Syria’s foreign
    policy, and more in line with that of Jordan and Saudiarabia. The gap
    between the rulers and the ruled (as many of those ruled, at least
    previously, would want to fight alongside la résistance) can be filled with two things: either economic growth and/or a softer stance on
    religion. I.e., the new rulers of Syria would definitely have to
    produce better living conditions.

    The Palestinian issue can more easily be swept aside, with Syria still
    keeping to much of the same rhetoric (the need for a sovereign Palestinian state), but less action. The more tricky part in all this, the way I see it, is Israeli occupation and annexation of Syrian territory. What a boon to the future rulers of Syria if they could
    secure receiving back the Golan.

    Posted by Pas Cool | July 18, 2012, 8:15 am
  12. Really excellent piece. Thanks.

    Posted by anon | July 18, 2012, 9:57 am
  13. QN,

    Your conclusion is the following:
    “What the diplomatic cables actually reveal is that Syria’s foreign policy, like that of most countries, is too complex to be boiled down to cartoonish catchphrases like “anti-imperialist” or “democracy promoting.” Syria’s government has always juggled competing political, economic, and security-related demands from diverse constituencies while prioritizing its own survival.”

    The problem I have with this conclusion is that it does not employ the “principal of charity”:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_charity

    What do the people who call Assad’s regime “anti-imperialist” mean? They do not mean that every morning he wakes up and fights the US and Israel. They know he has not done anything on the Golan front for decades. They know that he has dabbled in peace talks with Israel. What they mean is that relative to other leaders in the middle east, he has stood up orders of magnitudes more against the US and Israel and was willing to pay a heavy price by being sanctioned. They know Assad is not perfect in his credentials of fighting against the US and Israel, but he is much better than the rest and that is good enough for them. In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king:

    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/in_the_land_of_the_blind,_the_one-eyed_man_is_king

    What you are calling “cartoonish” is not a definition of “anti-imperialist” that any person holds, certainly not our Mo for example. To me, your argument suffers from the straw-man fallacy. I would suggest interpreting “anti-imperialist” in the most charitable way and revisiting the argument.

    I know my writing is blunt but my sole intention is to provide constructive criticism.
    .

    Posted by AIG | July 18, 2012, 10:44 am
  14. Lavrov says ‘Decisive Battle’ taking place in Syria, no use for UNSC Resolution. Next day a big chunk of the regime’s security leadership blow up in Damascus…Al Manar and Al Akhbar acknowledge A. Shawkat and the Defense Minister are dead as well as Ghassan Turkmani, A friend from Damascus tells me there are more dead. Is this the beginning of the end, or the beginning of the beginning… a la russe? Or did I spent too much time in Lebanese taxis?

    Posted by mj | July 18, 2012, 11:01 am
  15. Mo,

    Just like Saudi and US interests are pretty much aligned in Lebanon, they are aligned in Syria. The Saudis want a Hariri clone in Syria and that is something the US can fully support. Of course, that does not mean that either of them will get what they want, if a Sunni Nasrallah emerges for example. But they certainly would not become adversaries over Syria.

    Posted by AIG | July 18, 2012, 11:20 am
  16. There was a terror attack against Israeli tourists in Bulgaria:

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4257492,00.html

    Posted by AIG | July 18, 2012, 12:03 pm
  17. There was a terror attack against Syrian civilians in Syria

    Posted by 3issa | July 18, 2012, 12:22 pm
  18. AIG,
    I think you are mis-reading the situation. A Hariri-like figure will not work in Syria. The Syrians are far less entranced by wealth than many of the Lebanese and are far more nationalistic. And I think the Saudi goal is simply to remove Syria from Irans sphere of influence and to do that they are banking on the MB. The Syrian version of the MB is far too much like and affliated with the Al Qaida crowd than the US could swallow I think. How they solve it and how much control they will have on the ground will define how adversarial the situation will become.

    Posted by mo | July 18, 2012, 12:50 pm
  19. AIG,

    In a few sentences, can you comment on the implications of Kadima walking out of the coalition?

    Does there have to be re-elections? Doesn’t Likud still have a majority coalition?

    How will the parties fair if new elections are held (which parties will grow, shrink, or fold)?

    Isn’t the new law requiring military service popular among Israelis??

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 18, 2012, 12:56 pm
  20. Mo,

    I agree that nothing much will work in Syria. It is going to be quite chaotic. However, I don’t agree that Syrians are less materialistic and more nationalistic than Lebanese. At the root of this revolution is economic discontent. Syrians were not demanding a more nationalistic or more religious government. They were demanding more economic opportunity and less corruption. There will always be extremists but in my opinion the vast majority want peace and quiet and economic development and are quite ripe for a Hariri Sr. type or a Shatter or Morsi type. I think Syrians are fed up with hollow nationalistic rhetoric and want to see concrete improvement, but we will see.

    Posted by AIG | July 18, 2012, 1:27 pm
  21. I for one don’t think the WikiLeaks tell us anything more than what we would have suspected to begin with. It was clear for years from the actions of the Syrian government that they did straddle the political divide line. So it may at most be some icing on the Cake that confirms that well- yes- that’s how the various ministers spoke to the Americans, behind closed doors.

    In that sense- Yehweh forbid- I actually agree with our dear AIG. While some here may have made a Paladin out of the Lion and his Entourage, I suspect Amal and others aren’t necessarily wearing rose coloured spectacles when reading the Syrian story.

    I don’t think however that Elias’s text discounted what ought to be patently obvious: word choice aside, the proverbial Amals have not necessarily made a Lion out of Syria’s Assad.. the article simply re-iterates and highlights that there exists a corpus out there that ought to be potent enough to at least cast some doubt in their minds as to what the Syrian leadership true intentions are [case in point: the rather clever tie in of Iranian meetings in Syria].

    Posted by Gabriel | July 18, 2012, 5:18 pm
  22. AIG

    The definition of “anti-imperialist” that I depend on may not be Mo’s but it certainly is Amal’s, and that of other self styled Gramscians. I am simply pointing out and trying to document the fact that Assad does not fit this definition even under the most charitable reading. This may be obvious to you but it is not to plenty of his supporters. I can tell you from first hand experience that such people have scoffed at the suggestion that his govt was actively sharing intelligence with the West or courting private equity investors. There is a real naïveté here that it is important to address.

    Amal did not say that Assad is a son of a bitch but he’s our son of a bitch. She said that any true Marxist committed to battling Western hegemony must support Syria.

    If the principle of charity is applied so liberally as to render the definition of anti-imperialism to be whatever the Assad regime does, then there is no argument to be advanced against that tautological definition.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 18, 2012, 5:20 pm
  23. Mo

    With respect, I don’t think you’ve read either Amal’s essays or mine very carefully. She says over and over again that leftists must support Assad because his regime is a frontline resisting state against Empire. Her whole point is that it’s not enough for some leftists (aka Third Wayers) to oppose foreign intervention and an imperialist agenda in Syria. They must *actively* support Assad. Why? Because he resists imperialism. There is no room for a third way.

    Therefore a discussion of his policies is entirely relevant.

    I can understand why someone would oppose intervention and even the violent overthrow of the regime, out of a fear of the aftermath. This is a reasonable argument. I can even understand someone saying bluntly, “Look, I don’t like this regime but without it the Palestinian cause is toast and so I’m going to hold my nose and support it.”

    But this is very different than saying that the left must stand with Assad because of its anti imperialist bonafides.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 18, 2012, 5:33 pm
  24. “I can tell you from first hand experience that such people have scoffed”….
    :). That qualifies as anecdotal and hence must be discounted!

    Posted by Gabriel | July 18, 2012, 5:37 pm
  25. “…But this is very different than saying that the left must stand with Assad because of its anti imperialist bonafides….”

    The problem there Elias is that you assume that Amal writes what she writes because she truly believes it. Perhaps she is simply trying to “sell” the idea that one must support Assad on account of his Anti-Imperialist bonafides” to appeal to a perhaps different segment of society.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 18, 2012, 5:49 pm
  26. QN,

    “If the principle of charity is applied so liberally as to render the definition of anti-imperialism to be whatever the Assad regime does, then there is no argument to be advanced against that tautological definition.”

    Of course, and your sentence above is a tautology also :) But we know what Assad actually does and we are discussing specific actions. He supports Hezbollah and Iran and until recently Hamas, clear enemies of Israel and the US and he also sent jihadists to fight Americans in Iraq. Nasrallah even outlined the significant Syrian support in his speech today. He also suffers for his support via sanctions. Can we agree that he is significantly more anti the US and Israel than any of the Arab states neighboring Israel and that he has done some concrete things to fight Israel and the US? Can we also agree that no other Arab state has come close to Syria in this regard?

    So again, what I think is missing is an argument why the above actions do not entitle Assad to the coveted “anti-imperialist” badge despite his the conciliatory actions that you document. Amal could argue that perhaps Assad did not do enough, but that others did absolutely nothing and therefore “anti-imperalists” must stand with Assad. He has imperfect anti-imperialist bonafides but others have none at all. This is not the “our son of a bitch” argument but the “imperfect saint” argument. She could say you are demanding unrealistic anti-imperialistic bonafides.

    Posted by AIG | July 18, 2012, 6:00 pm
  27. AIG

    I believe that hardcore leftist Assa supporters have consciously avoided the imperfect saint argument and stuck with the maximalist Gramscian position because they understand that the former argument is much more vulnerable to critique, in the face of sustained violence against civilians.

    Once you accept that Bashar is not much of an anti-imperialist but he’s better on Israel than the alternatives, you introduce the possibility of a slippery slope. It becomes relevant to ask: to what end? To what end should we support him, given that his considerable “imperfections” are now turning into a bloody campaign against thousands?

    The maximalist position distracts from these nagging questions by turning the issue into a cosmic struggle between good and evil. Max Blumenthal was right in pointing out the similarities with Bush’s “with us or against us” doctrine.

    So again, if the position outlined was closer to what you are portraying it to be, I wouldn’t have chosen this particular response.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 18, 2012, 6:44 pm
  28. QN,
    You are doing this on purpose just so I have to stand with AIG on this aren’t you? :)

    I did read Amal’s articles carefully. And I did in fact personally ask her if she didnt think that her articles were giving impressions different to what I understood them to be as I did feel they could be read as you are reading them but she felt that they didn’t.

    Anyway to the points you raise.
    In addition to the points AIG makes (and which he makes better than I could have which is both a boon and a concern!) you are taking things out of context to make your point.

    Sharing intelligence with the West about salafists and wahabis was as much about self preservation of Syria as anything else. Had he shared intelligence on Hizballah or Hamas that would have been entirely different but helping in the eradication of a clear and present danger to his own country hardly constitutes selling out. And in regards to any peace deal with Israel, we can only guess at the true intentions. Syrian never stopped demanding every inch of the lost land and I think we can agree that if you are entering peace talks with demands you know the other side will never accept then you can claim to be the good guy.

    You are perfectly right to suggest that cartoonish descriptions are wrong (which by the way I think the West is far more guilty of than Amal or the rest of us) the simple description of “anti-imperialist” does not somehow imply anti-Western. Reaching out to the West or American investors in an attempt to bolster the economics of the country does not imply selling out to imperialism; Its only if you can show that he was willing to turn against Iran, Hizballah or the Palestinian cause that you can make accusations of hypocrisy and one statement in one cable does not make it so. But the fact is that he refused to turn against his freinds at every carrot the West dangled does give him some credibility in the anti-imperialist camp and does entitle him, especially in relative if not absolute terms, to claim anti-imperialist credentials.

    Posted by mo | July 18, 2012, 7:07 pm
  29. Elias,

    I find your reading of Amal rather surprising, especially given you posted this previously:

    http://qifanabki.com/2012/06/02/the-debate-on-syria/comment-page-1/#comment-36213

    From which, I quote,
    Until then, no I don’t believe in dialogue unless we (non-Zionist) Arabs are the ones who define the terms of that dialogue.

    When you write:
    ” stuck with the maximalist Gramscian position because they understand that the former argument is much more vulnerable to critique, ”

    One has to ask whether Amal truly concerns herself with this. She could very well have brushed it off, in much the same way that she brushed the opportunity to join the discussion on your site!

    I think the article regarding the Third-Wayers was specifically aimed @ people like the Angry Arab, forever eager to refer to their pals as “Comrades”, and with whom a schism is already beginning to form.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 18, 2012, 7:25 pm
  30. Gabriel, I don’t follow.

    Mo, I will respond later. Currently stuck in DC thanks to bad weather.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 18, 2012, 7:30 pm
  31. Elias,

    I think that much is being made of the anti imperialist credentials of someone like Assad. Unfortunately, and I see that Mo has jumped on that bandwagon as well , the term has been hijacked.Imperial and Western may just as well be interchangeable terms!

    But I don’t think it would be quite in vogue to refer to oneself as antiwestern!

    The point is that Amal wrote an article to what is ostensibly a leftist paper. She is not reaching out globally and universally trying to sell an argument. One cannot even say that she is reaching out to Arabs, as evidenced by the qualifier nonzionist in her reasons for not willing to partake in the conversation earlier on your site. And you know how easily that charge pops out in our part of the world.

    So her choice of words I think are a function of the audience that she is appealing to. It is not the audience that is already on her side…. staunchly pro Palestinian, staunchly Baathist, perhaps fearful minority. No she is appealing to a segment that for all intents and purposes ought to have been on her side of the argument based on historical precedent.

    I simply think you are making too much of her choice of words.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 18, 2012, 8:12 pm
  32. Gabriel, what bandwangon? And staunchly Baathist?

    Posted by mo | July 18, 2012, 8:27 pm
  33. Again, let’s employ the principle of charity. If we do, a clear distinction can be made between “anti-western” and “anti-imperialist”. The Islamists are anti-western. They are against western values. Hassan al-Bana literally wrote the book about this.The leftists are for western values unless it turns out Marx and Engels were aliens. The anti-imperialists are just against the way the US wants to shape the middle east to the advantage of Israel or something like that. They don’t have an ideological beef with the US. The Hilarious Arab is an example of that. He seems to like living in the US and I even heard he even cheers when because of the anarchy in the Cal State Stanislaus administration they don’t send him his pay check.

    Posted by AIG | July 18, 2012, 8:37 pm
  34. Mo

    I am reduced to typing on my iPhone because I’m stuck in transit with no bloody Internet so this will be brief.

    First of all, I wish that Amal would join this conversation so I don’t have to put words in her mouth. Maybe she will later.

    Secondly, your argument confirms what I was saying about slippery slopes. If you are going to justify cooperation with the Americans on the basis of it being in the interests of the country, then where does it stop? And who determines what is in the interests of “Syria” and what is in the interests of the regime?

    I have heard Saudis and Jordanians say that they are happy to remain allied with the US as long as their interests continue to intersect as they do. If Syria signed a separate peace deal with Israel, I’m sure the language that it would be cloaked in (not just by the regime but by many ordinary Syrians as well) is that they did not do it for the US but for Syria’s national interests. The same goes for justifying things like economic deals with Qatar and Turkey and allowing the rise of a plutocracy in the form of Makhlouf, Shaleesh, etc.

    The whole point of mumanaa is that it is meant to guard against this kind of thing. But once you start making exceptions left and right then where exactly is the mumana3a?

    As As’ad Abu Khalil put it today, the regime sometimes finds it in its interest to support resistance, and sometimes to resist resistance. The common denominator is the regime’s interest.

    I personally have no problem with this. I think it’s perfectly understandable, from a realist perspective. Amal, however, consciously wants to steer us away from viewing the regime primarily in this manner, but I don’t think that the facts justify her argument.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 18, 2012, 8:56 pm
  35. Mo- Clarifications:

    1) Staunch Baathist, Fearful Minority, Pro-Palestinian were meant to be different sets of people who may for one reason or another support the regime. My point is that I doubt very much that wrapping her arguments in the language of “the Left” is intended to sway the opinions of people who already have one reason or another to support (maybe loosely) the Assad regime. It seems from reading the article that if anything Amal is dismayed by the fact that some of the people who may be naturally more sympathetic to her argument are in fact slipping away. I think her articles are addressing those people specifically.

    2) The bandwagon I speak of is the use of the term “Anti-Imperialist” and making it distinct from Anti-Western.

    AIG:

    The word Western is somewhat like the word “Semitic”. Technically Arabs and Jews are semites, but the context of the term Anti-Semitic ought to be rather clear.

    It is so with the term Anti-Western.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 19, 2012, 12:40 am
  36. ” The anti-imperialists are just against the way the US wants to shape the middle east to the advantage of Israel or something like that. ”

    That’s just what seems to me to be everyone subscribing to how the “Anti-Imperialists” want to be seen. I think the term “Anti-Imperialist” ought to be a neutral term. Conflating the term and equating it somehow to what the US does, what it does to the Middle East and allowing the discourse to support this type of definition is, in my view, giving undue credibility to the argument itself.

    I prefer the term Anti-Western.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 19, 2012, 12:50 am
  37. “As As’ad Abu Khalil put it today, the regime sometimes finds it in its interest to support resistance, and sometimes to resist resistance. The common denominator is the regime’s interest.”

    That’s just As’ad showing sour grapes that the “Resistance” was resisted by Syria back in the days of the Lebanon war days. I think a good case can be made for why he did Resist resistance in that instance. I always get a kick out of reading the speech:

    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Hafez_al-Assad_speech,_20_July_1976

    Cynical, Dirty, Ironic.

    But yet so deliciously diabolical:

    The partitioning of Lebanon is an old Zionist aim, as you know. Perhaps many of you have read the letters which were exchanged between the Zionist leaders, or some of them, in the fifties on this subject, stressing the importance of partitioning Lebanon.

    The partitioning of Lebanon, brothers, is not sought by Israel because of Lebanon’s military significance. Whether Lebanon is united or fragmented, it does not constitute a military problem for Israel at present and is not expected to constitute a military problem in the foreseeable future, as far as Israel is concerned. Israel is not seeking to partition Lebanon because it constitutes a military burden. Israel wants the partitioning of Lebanon for a political, ideological reason. If is only natural that Israel wishes the establishment of sectarian statelets in this area so that Israel can remain the stronger state. We learned this and said it in the past and we will continue to say it.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 19, 2012, 1:00 am
  38. Obviously the Shia of Hezbollah and Iran will stick with Assad as Syria is such an important gateway for Iranian influence in the Palestine/Levant. Upping Assad’s resistance credentials, the way Amal and Nasrallah are doing, is of course due to them fearing any future ruler of Syria will cut off this vital support line.

    I am sure that Hezbollah and Iran were not entirely happy about economic reforms taking place in Syria as they, fully implemented along with successful attraction of FDI, would have made Syria more vulnerable to Western political influence and thus perhaps make Syria less inclined to support the Resistance. Iran and Hezbollah view this from the resistance angle.

    Secondly, less importantly, Hezbollah and Iran, as staunch believers in modern political shi’ism are against the capitalism as it functions today. Thirdly, they oppose the influence Western culture has on Arabs/muslims. These two are, as mentioned, less important than safeguarding Hezbollah’s weapons.

    Hezbollah’s blind support for Assad and his cronies will be their undoing and cause them more harm than any Israeli minister could have wished for.

    What I wonder is, could Hezbollah have approached this in any other way?

    Posted by Pas Cool | July 19, 2012, 1:06 am
  39. … sorry missing final punchline:

    Perhaps your reading is correct. But I think there is an alternate reading. Maybe the “resistance” got ahead of itself. This notion that they could always “fight” willy-nilly doesn’t really serve the interest of “resistance”. Maybe keeping Lebanon intact, uncomfortable in its own skin, with Western countries like France/US confused on how to deal with the Lebanon file. Maybe that allowed it to foster and grow a new/different kind of resistance that did prove to be resilient or more resilient.

    I don’t think the common denominator is necessarily the Regime’s interest. Although in practice I am sure that is what it was. But I think that Amal can make a relatively good case that the common denominator was ultimately the “Resistance’s good”.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 19, 2012, 1:07 am
  40. Qifa,
    I really am not sure where you are going with this. Did the US and the Soviet Union not cooperate against a common enemy? Did anyone claim that that made their respective political and ideological stances dishonest? Hell, the Zionists in 1930’s Germany and the Nazi party even worked together as they both had the common goal of moving all the Jews out of Germany! Are we to claim this as evidence that the Nazi’s thought better of the Jews then we thought?

    Ant-imperialist credentials are borne out by deeds not words. Assad can be as fawning as he likes in cables (assuming they are his words) but the fact remains that his actions are of someone not willing to give in to the demands of the US. This doesnt give him a free pass to do what he wants but ut certainly buys him a big slice of benefit of the doubt. The simple point is that from a Resistance point of view, as long as his actions didn’t interfere or against the goals and aspirations of those opposed to Israel, it really didnt matter what he did with the US or private equity firms. In that sense we have to seperate the internal and external policies as long as they didn’t overlap his credentials hold firm. So its not a question of making exceptions left and right. There is a clear line for the things that matter and the things that dont.

    What facts do you mean? Angry Arab is as far as I am aware talking of Syrian opposition to Hizballah in the 80’s and early 90’s, which was a tad more complicated than saying it was simply oppposing resistance to Israel.

    Posted by mo | July 19, 2012, 6:18 am
  41. Mo

    The cables I cite provide evidence of deeds, not just words. We know that the late Asif Shawkat would meet with French intelligence twice a year. We know that they were helping freeze Iraqi assets in Syrian banks. We know that they were welcoming cooperation with NATO members like Turkey. We know that they were negotiating very seriously with Israel (this is confirmed by many other sources).

    This does not fit the definition of thwarting US plans for a New Middle East. This fits the definition of a much more pragmatic, realistic policy that seeks good relations with all sides without sacrificing certain strategic issues like Palestine. It is not so dissimilar to Turkey’s own policy, which I am convinced Bashar was trying to emulate (and gradually move away from Iran).

    This doesn’t make him a hypocrite but it doesn’t make him what the Gramscians say he is. Amal devoted 4 articles to her argument that the regime is a frontline state in the war against Empire. Had she argued what YOU are arguing today, she would not have encountered angry responses from other pro-resistance folks like Abu Khalil, Hicham Safieddine, Antoun Issa, Max Blumenthal, Bassam Haddad and others.

    Nor would I have written this specific essay. I am addressing her claims directly.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 19, 2012, 7:37 am
  42. I don’t give much for what Mme Amal writes, but I understand the need to inflate Assad’s resistance credentials, something she has in common with Mr Nasrallah and Iran.

    The way I see Assad’s policy was that of a pragmatic kind. The country was on the edge of bankruptcy already back in 2007. It was widely known, hence a policy for economic reforms and increased FDI was prudent and pragmatic. That the economic reforms were of the two-steps-forward-at-least-one-step-back kind was also out of necessity, and also very likely due to internal power struggling (Mr
    Dardari was not even a member of the Baath).

    Syria could not have been a Jordan, openly affiliated with the West,
    as long as Israel occupied Syrian territory, and also as long as
    Syrian interests in Lebanon collided with that of France and the US.
    So the rhetoric was often there, but the deeds that earnestly would
    have put it in the resistance camp were not. Again, most important for Hezbollah and Iran was the flow of weapons to Hezbollah and the strategic fall back position that the Bekaa/Syrian border areas
    provided.

    All this against the backdrop of being a minority ruling over mainly sunnis. Of course the Assad clan had to be pragmatic only for the sake of retaining power. Economy goes down the drain? Open it up, but make sure my dear loyal friends are in charge of the commanding heights. We’re a minority sect you say? Forge ties with the sunni elite, quell opposition and talk about Golan and Palestine.

    Assad did what he thought was the right thing to do in order to survive. It was quite evident, I find, that he would at some point
    have sold out the so called resistance camp if the carrot was big
    enough.

    Posted by Pas Cool | July 19, 2012, 8:22 am
  43. QN,
    But the crux of it is the statement ” without sacrificing certain strategic issues like Palestine”. This is very very different from the Turkish position which where Erdogan was trying to ingratiate Turkey with the resistance nations without sacrificing certain strategic issues like NATO membership. In fact, your argument turned around would mean that by Turkeys attempts to get closer to Syria and Iran, it should no longer be deemed a NATO country.

    Your belief that he wanted to move away from Iran and make peace with Israel would in fact have sacrificed the Palestinian cause and he done so we would not be having this discussion either. Your convictions aside, we can only work with the facts on the ground and that despite a lot of carrot dangling, he did not move away from Iran or make peace with Israel, and for those very actions, Syria is by default THE front line state in the war both against Empire and against GCC ambitions. It is the bridge that takes Iran to Israels borders and its positions both politically and geographically has greatly helped both Hizballah and Hamas.

    Granted, my take may be slighlty different to Amal’s (does that make me a fourth wayer?) but I think her style (and perhaps fervour) leads to widely different conclusion than intended. But the main point I think is that being a supporter of Palestine (and by supporter I mean people who believe in 1947 Palestine not 1967) and wanting this specific uprising to succeed are contradictory positions and I cannot see how one can logically argue otherwise.

    Posted by mo | July 19, 2012, 9:50 am
  44. But the main point I think is that being a supporter of Palestine (and by supporter I mean people who believe in 1947 Palestine not 1967) and wanting this specific uprising to succeed are contradictory positions and I cannot see how one can logically argue otherwise.

    Mo,

    If what you said here is true, than half of all Syrians are not supporters of Palestine, which is silly (“stupid” would more accurate).

    Not everyone is willing to die or even live in worse conditions than the Palestinians themselves just so someone like you can hold their silly, extreme opinions.

    Supporting the Palestinians has nothing to do with accepting your status as “slave”. They are unrelated.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 19, 2012, 11:02 am
  45. Mo:

    “Angry Arab is as far as I am aware talking of Syrian opposition to Hizballah in the 80′s and early 90′s, which was a tad more complicated than saying it was simply oppposing resistance to Israel.”

    I believe that the AA (not Alcoholics Anonymous!) was referring to Syria’s initial involvement in Lebanon in 1976:

    http://angryarab.blogspot.ca/2012/06/outrage-of-week-absurd-levels-in.html

    He said as much:

    Also, if support for the Asad regime is the litmus test, please register me as failing in that test every minute of my life, ever since the Syrian regime intervened in Lebanon in 1976 to crush progressive Palestinian and Lebanese struggle–real struggle–against “the imperialist-Zionist-Arab moderate axis”.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 19, 2012, 11:13 am
  46. Mo habibi,

    All I am doing us taking ASG’s argument at face value and showing why it does not have a basis in documented history. You are making a more nuanced argument using a different definition of mumana3a. I still think you are wrong in supporting Assad but at least your reasons for doing so are not based on an incorrect reading of history.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 19, 2012, 11:23 am
  47. Mo, not even Assad believed in going back to 1947.

    Posted by Pas Cool | July 19, 2012, 11:31 am
  48. No one could dispute the reality that Syria is vital to what is called the resistance axis. I make this point at the end of the piece.

    What is in dispute is the extent to which Syria’s war is against Empire. This is what ASG and others are claiming. This is what I am disputing.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 19, 2012, 11:39 am
  49. Qifa,
    I have a feeling that we are disputing is our personal interpretation of what a war against Empire means and how one interprets it and I guess short of a face to face it will remain so. But for the record, as I have said before on here, I am not supporting Assad but oppose this insurrection, and I do so for Syria and the people of Syria as much as I do for Palestine. I know it seems like a small difference but it isnt.

    Pas Cool,
    From the Dead to the Med habibi no matter what Assads or others believed.

    Posted by mo | July 19, 2012, 12:09 pm
  50. Interesting article.

    Not sure how it is relevant to this discussion, but relevant to something Middle Eastern either way.

    The Euro and Europe’s Religious faultlines:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18789154

    Posted by Gabriel | July 19, 2012, 12:11 pm
  51. Mo,

    It is actually from the Euphrates to the Nile :)

    Posted by AIG | July 19, 2012, 12:16 pm
  52. AIG,
    You say potato….

    Posted by mo | July 19, 2012, 12:50 pm
  53. Awwww, you guys are so cuuuuuuute.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 19, 2012, 12:53 pm
  54. Mo,
    Your wish…

    “From the Dead to the Med habibi no matter what Assads or others believed.”

    when added to your statement…

    “But the main point I think is that being a supporter of Palestine (and by supporter I mean people who believe in 1947 Palestine not 1967) and wanting this specific uprising to succeed are contradictory positions and I cannot see how one can logically argue otherwise.

    returns a ‘syntax error’ in my mind.

    Of course you might not have intended to be analytic.

    Assad was never going to fight for 1947. The fact that Nasrallah goes out of his way to paint Syria all resistance-friendly is kinda telling. He basically attempted to answer the question on many people’s minds, “Wtf has Assad done to further the Palestinian cause?”, the backdrop being ruling over Sunnis, torturing them in jails, never so much as hinting at an offensive from the Golan, not crossing Israeli red lines when it comes to weapons supply and so on and on.

    In any case, the Palestinian issue is, in the grand scheme of it all, but a sideshow, an important one perhaps, but still a parenthesis for modern political shi’ism. Assad, I’m sure, was quite aware of this.

    Posted by Pas Cool | July 19, 2012, 1:43 pm
  55. Pas Cool:

    “Wtf has Assad done to further the Palestinian cause?”, the backdrop being ruling over Sunnis, torturing them in jails, never so much as hinting at an offensive from the Golan, not crossing Israeli red lines when it comes to weapons supply and so on and on.

    Assad Snr:
    Took Syria to war in 1967. Then again in 1973. Then he armed the Palestinians and supported their activity in Lebanon in the 70s. And when that failed, he made sure a new La Resistance was generously armed. His son continued on that “strategy”.

    He may have (according to Elias) blocked Iraqi bank accounts, but Syrian Baath never liked Iraqi Baath anyways. And either way, he could always claim membership to the ranks of Anti-Imperialists. He made sure a steady stream of Jihadis always found their way to Baghdad and Basra.

    Salafis are scary people unless you send them off on their way to blow themselves up in Iraq. They’re going to die anyways. Might as well get the 2-for-1 deal. Off your back and a Khazoo-a up American arse.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 19, 2012, 2:56 pm
  56. For shits and giggles, always worth repeating the Angry Arab’s words:

    Syria crushed the “real struggle” against:

    1) Imperialists
    2) Zionists
    3) Arab Moderates

    Shoo 7elo.

    Ba3d Na2es: We need more “Radicals” in the Middle East. Religious Radicals, Leftist Radicals.

    And if you’re not a Radical, well you must be “Struggled” against.

    Any wonder poor Amal thought she may get a few more characters onside by appealing to the Anti-Imperialists crowd and highlighting the Lions Anti-Imperialist credentials!

    Posted by Gabriel | July 19, 2012, 3:02 pm
  57. Gabriel,
    Assad Jr is the one on trial. His credentials are blurry at best. You can’t live off daddy’s rep established in the 70s, mostly.

    And I don’t see the Palestinian cause having been furthered that much under any Assad. Settlements are still being built every so often. The frontiers are eerily quiet.

    And because it is easy to question Assad’s credentials, and because he’s on revolutionary trial, Mme Amal feels the need to boost his credentials, and so does Nasrallah, all in the name of political shi’ism, but using the rhetoric of the resistance.

    Posted by Pas Cool | July 19, 2012, 3:22 pm
  58. Pas cool,
    Not hinting at an offensive at the Golan? Theres a difference between Resistance and suicide. Not crossing red lines at weapons supply? You base this knowledge on what? Whats he done for the Palestinians? Apart from host and protect Hamas’s leaders in Syria and supply Hamas with weapons you mean? What else would you expect him to do?

    Posted by mo | July 19, 2012, 4:58 pm
  59. Mo,

    You write:

    “But for the record, as I have said before on here, I am not supporting Assad but oppose this insurrection, and I do so for Syria and the people of Syria as much as I do for Palestine.”

    This strikes me as precisely the kind of morally-consistent back-patting conclusion that Amal accuses the Third Wayers of reaching.

    But let’s take Amal’s pieces out of the conversation for now and focus on your own position, since there’s little point arguing about someone else’s views when we can’t even agree on what they are.

    Even if we agree to disagree on what the definition of mumaana3a is, just as we agree to disagree on the question of the Assad regime’s strategic posture or its value to the Palestinian cause, there remains the basic question of where one draws the line. Those of you who “oppose the insurrection” (I’m being careful here not to call you Assad admirers or even supporters!) are quick to point out how the US and Israel will benefit from Assad’s fall, and how the uprising has been co-opted by radical Islamists funded by the Saudis and Qataris, and how the disappearance of Assad will weaken Hizbullah and Iran.

    Even if one accepts all of these points, how can one justify what is taking place? The thousands of people killed have not all been foreign jihadis. The buildings that have been toppled and burned have not all been government offices. Massacres have taken place, Mo, and some of them have been perpetrated or enabled by the army.

    Isn’t there a point at which the price to be paid for supporting this regime — even under the most charitable interpretation of its value to the resistance, and the least charitable portrayal of the participants in the uprising — becomes too burdensome?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 19, 2012, 9:39 pm
  60. Mo,
    To paraphrase QN: You support a ruthless dictator based on that? Apparently you are quite content with the situation and believe the uprising, now more or less officially a cilvil war, unjustified so that you can safeguard this Assad and his cronies?

    Maybe your thinking is based on future trade offs. Perhaps you think that if only Assad can be in power somewhat longer Palestinians will have their own state. Well, I think you’re wrong. Me, I never supported Assad, but I am quite sure he would have sold you (the resistance) off if only the carrot was big enough. You claim that the fact that he didn’t do so already proves his credentials. I claim the carrot was not yet for him to have. Everything about Assad and his Syria oozes pragmatism, mostly. If it had been a good trade off to, for instance, get the Golan back and stop funneling weapons to Hezbollah, I am sure he would have been glad to do so.

    And to answer your question about the Golan. This has been a long standing point of mine. Assad, the ruthless dictator, was willing to have a resistance from Lebanon, that coward, instead of using his army in the Golan.He was willing to help sacrifice Lebanon for the sake of staying in power. Just another bad characteristic of his. The plight of the Lebanese was not important to him. To have a strong Lebanese state was not beneficial to him. For the sake of the Palestinians, you are willing to look past this, cause it seems you are willing to accept quite a lot of bad karma for a cause that has not been advanced anything from the Hezbollah-horizon, nor the Hamas-horizon either.

    Posted by Pas Cool | July 20, 2012, 12:50 am
  61. Jawohl !!

    Posted by Monolith | July 20, 2012, 5:56 am
  62. there’s a difference between resistence and impotence. The bombing of the suspected nuclear site in Syria by Israel in a flagrant act of hostility warranted more than just recycled rhetoric. Sitting idly by while your sworn enemy occupies part of your country hardly constitutes a meaningful resistance. courting your enemy, liaising for 8 months to reach agreements does not qualify as resistance.
    If the Syrian army resisted Israeli aggression with the same diligence and determination as they have against their very own, then just perhaps we might have had a legitimate argument. But some are so star struck, that they fool themselves into belieing the BS that has been pulled over their eyes because it makes them feel warm and fuzzy.

    Posted by maverick | July 20, 2012, 8:20 am
  63. Deutschland über alles in der Welt.

    Und Israel im Osten.

    Posted by Monolith | July 20, 2012, 8:37 am
  64. Monolith

    You’re reaching your expiry date, once again. Please get a grip on your comments or take a break from this blog. Thanks.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 20, 2012, 8:44 am
  65. Will North Koreans fare any worse without the Dear Il Jong family in Asia?

    Posted by Monolith | July 20, 2012, 8:49 am
  66. I guess you’re not into comparative German literature.

    Posted by Monolith | July 20, 2012, 8:58 am
  67. Pas Cool:

    I think ultimately this is the Crux of the argument. It is not so much that Assad was not part and parcel of the “Resistance” axis, it is that his resistance strategy came at the expense of others: Lebanon mostly in this case. But then the cannon fodder in this instance appear to have been happy to play that role. I don’t think you can fault Assad for that.

    Re: Your previous response. Just because the Palestinian file didn’t get anywhere, it is no reason to discount the efforts he put into it.

    I guess my issue with the argument with which Elias has approached the Amal article, to me, appear to be all wrong. He’s getting caught up on the Big words she used, and trying to argue that Syria was far more “pragmatic” than she is giving credit for. You took the argument one notch up and said if the Carrot is big enough, Assad would have sold HA. OK, but then what? Do you think Hassan Nasrallah is sitting in a bunker somewhere with holding a Framed photo of Bashar, and Whitney Houston’s “I will Always Love you” playing in the background?

    Hypothetical: Let us say Bashar exits office tomorrow. What then? What will happen? What will happen to Hizballah? What will happen to the Resistance? What will happen to the Golan? Is Bashar really the vanguard of La Resistance, or will another character step up and fill those shoes?

    What is clear is that there is a fairly big segment of people in the Arab world for whom Resistance to the “West”, or “Israel”, or “American Hegemony”, or “American Interests” figures high on the agenda. They are not going away, with, or without Assad. That alone deconstructs the Amal argument. It really doesn’t need much more than that.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 20, 2012, 9:18 am
  68. “You’re reaching your expiry date, once again. Please get a grip on your comments or take a break from this blog. Thanks.”

    How SS/CIA of you.

    Posted by Monolith | July 20, 2012, 10:04 am
  69. Gabriel,
    “Just because the Palestinian file didn’t get anywhere, it is no reason to discount the efforts he put into it.”

    I am not as much discounting the efforts, as obviously he is doing more than most Arab rulers, or, he thinks he is, as I am saying his efforts should not be viewed of the kind to make it a defensible position to support his regime through this carnage that Syria is going through. Phew, strange sentence. Bascially, if you wanna support Assad, pick another reason than his resistance credentials. Political shi’ism perhaps? Scared of the Muslim Brotherhood perhaps? Or, as Parviziyi was implying, Assad is good for the country? To label Assad as pro-resistance is just to easy to tear apart as an argument. Of course, many other arguments would also be easy to tear apart, at least as I view it. Then again, I wouldn’t support Assad.

    “Do you think Hassan Nasrallah is sitting in a bunker somewhere with holding a Framed photo of Bashar, and Whitney Houston’s “I will Always Love you” playing in the background?”

    What an image. But I was thinking more along the lines of “Strangers in the night”, you know, “..two lonely people..”. ;)

    “That alone deconstructs the Amal argument. It really doesn’t need much more than that.”

    I kinda agree with that, safe for the argument that those arguing like Mme Amal might fret another King Abdullah – allied with the West.

    I still cling to what I said above. Hezbollah’s rationale is of course keeping Iranian influence in the Levant and thus the Arab world, and by extension, keeping a strong foothold for political shi’ism. Political shi’ism entails also armed resistance, but also much more. Amal, I dunno her, never met her. Perhaps she truly believes her own words. Maybe she’s a Marxist. Or maybe she also believes in modern political shi’ism. Hezbollah could never say it out loud of course, not like that, so they frame their rhetoric to make it about resistance.

    The rulers after Assad, maybe they will cling true to Resistance (whatever that means) against Israel, especially considering Israel has annexed Syrian territory, but whoever comes after Assad will definitely not allow Iran the same kind of influence, and that’s what Hezbollah (and perhaps Mme Amal) is all about.

    And Mo, how is liberating Lebanese lands furthering the Palestinian cause?

    Posted by Pas Cool | July 20, 2012, 1:49 pm
  70. Qifa,
    I for one have never stated that that the US and Israel will benefit from Assad’s fall. In fact I would say one of the biggest reasons the US hasnt reacted to Syria with the same enthuisiam it showed in Libya is that they still havent figured out if its better to have the devil you know, and from a personal stand point I dont think anyone is in a position to claim that they know what will happen if the regime falls in regards to Israel. And I actually dont oppose the insurrection because of any fear that it will weaken Hizbullah and Iran. The removal of the regime may complicate some things but I dont think its disappearance will weaken the resistance per se.

    As I have stated before, my opposition is based purely and fully on the fact that this uprising has very little local support because the people know that between the Salafists, the SNC and the MB, there is not one of those groups that would make life better for the average Syrian.

    Of course we all decry the deaths taking place. But unless you have better sources than me, you are smart enough to know that the amount of propoganda and psyops taking place is like nothing I have seen before in the Western press. Journalists that I know who have actually been to Syria will tell you stories that are very different to what you hear, and they will tell you how their editors alter dispatches to suit the push against Assad. Have you perhaps not noticed that for example. the MS only provides casulties of army and people. In other words, there is never any attempt to seperate dead civilians from dead combatants?

    This is not say that Assad has done nothing wrong but when a govt is faced with an armed opposition what do you suggest it does? What did the Americans do in Waco, or Falluja thats so different?

    But to answer your question bluntly. If the disparate groups we call the “opposition” cannot even agree on how to work together when they have a common cause what exactly do you think will happen when the regime falls. In other words what if the price to be paid for supporting this “oppostition” is 10 times worse for the Syrian people than the Assad regime? Would you be happy with Syria entering a civil war that kills hundreds of thousands? And what happens when, inevitable, that was comes to Lebanon? Would you be willing to pay this price for removing Assad?

    Posted by mo | July 20, 2012, 8:01 pm
  71. “What did the Americans do in Waco, or Falluja thats so different?”

    So now you think the US was justified in Fallujah? Wallah.

    Posted by sean | July 21, 2012, 11:41 am
  72. No Sean, I was admiring the hypocrisy of their disgust

    Posted by mo | July 21, 2012, 2:44 pm
  73. QN,

    To my eyes, your piece read as little more than schoolyard grandstanding. I barely even know where to begin. But first off, if you had real objection’s to Amal’s positions why not put them forward, rather than building up Gramscian Straw Men to shadow box?

    In any event, let me share some of my thoughts on your piece, and you tell me what I’m not understanding

    How in the world can you take US State Department cables as an objective measure of reality? This is the same ‘corpus’ of material that fretted about Iranian security services coercing martial arts instructors into training the Basij in the ancient art of the Ninjitsu. More than anything else, what cable gate revealed to the world is the pathological dysfunctionality of the art empirical analysis in the State Department, but somehow you see it fit to take these cables’ as authoritative evidence of Syria’s Treachery.

    Your article relies on two implicit premises, the first premise being the competence and honesty of a State Department that his shown to be neither by the very cables you cite as evidence for your argument. The second premise of your article is the honesty and integrity with which Syria would deal with said State Department, wheras the conclusion you are trying to establish is that Syria does not even deal in an honest way with it’s verry own allies. I don’t understand how you can fail to see the self defeating structure of this line of reasoning.

    That aside, do you beleive that these cables have given you insight into the inner workings of the Syrian regime over and above what Iran and Hezbollah posses? If not, why do you think these two parties are working to preserve the regime that was supposedly all too eager to sell them out?
    What benefit would Syria or it’s allies have accrued from abonding the diplomatic track of trying to glean concessions from Israel anyway? Has Syria, in the course of these negotiations, according to your valued corpus, made any concessions at all to the Zionist regime? Or is your measure of anti-Zionism and anti-Imperialism going to be the extent to which Assad would go in order to aid and abed Saddam Hussein? Why does working against Saddam Hussein compromise Assad’s anti-imperialist credentials, while working against Assad bolsters the anti-Imperialist credentials of any derranged group of psychopaths that decides that hey, maybe NATO arms aren’t that bada after all? You’ve got an answer that has nothing to do with sect, right?

    Now if Syria was as willing to sell out Iran and Hezbollah as you seem to have become convinced it was, there’s another question that becomes unavoidable: Why didn’t it happen? If Syria was as willing to sell out it’s partners, as indifferent to liberating it’s own territory andeager to sell out it’s own economy to vulture capitalists as you portray it as being, why was there no deal struck? The second Bush administration, from roughly 2005-2008, had openly made ‘turning’ Syria it’s top priority. What went wrong? Do you think Bush just found Ghadaffi more personally palatable?

    It’s time to leave la-la land. Syria isn’t being targetted because it hasn’t been anti-Imperialist enough, or its been too willing to sell out it’s own. On the flip side everyone reading this comment can name at least a dozen Arab and Muslim states who have not been targeted precisely because they are active collaborators with Imperialism and all to willing to sell out their own people for a pittance. ITS REALLY NOT THAT HARD. So, let’s just put this that fiction to rest, shall we?

    Look if you don’t like Assad, that’s fine. But I think if you want to start a conversation, or join a conversation, about Syria, there’s no point in being dishonest about the reasons you hold your opinions.

    Posted by masoud | July 22, 2012, 2:57 am
  74. Masoud,
    Your comment is not directed to me, but as this is an open forum I take the liberty of addressing you none the less.

    QN’s raionale of citing State department cables I leave for him to answer, obviously. I will say, however, that I don’t think anyone refers to these cables as the ultimate truth. Instead, their value lies in them portraying discussions from meetings of which the contents no one was supposed to know about, except the State Dep and whomever they wish to share the information with.

    As to why Assad never got around to selling out his allies, I believe two reasons are possible to state, the negotiations on the Golan having broken down and differences regarding Lebanon.

    Everything Assad did was more or less connected to him and his cronies staying in power. The biggest sense of urgency in the last years before this civil war broke out (which was not a civil war until recently) was the economy. Economic hardship, regime brutality (even during the peaceful days) and a sense of no better future was what triggered the revolution, little by little. The events in other countries only hastened the events. Regime brutaliy aggravated the situation. It is no conspiracy run by the US and/or Israel

    Posted by Pas Cool | July 22, 2012, 4:00 am
  75. Masoud

    Thank you for your comment. I will address your points one by one.

    “How in the world can you take US State Department cables as an objective measure of reality?”

    When the cables were first released, we didn’t hear very many people cautioning us about not reading them as an objective measure of reality, did we? Al-Akhbar gleefully reveled in pointing out the treachery of of March 14 politicians during the July War, and the deliberations between Western politicians as they looked for ways to corner Hizbullah and Syria. Now that the tables are turned, you want me to discount all of this evidence? Sorry, too late for that.

    The cables are not an objective record of reality. But they are an important documentary source, as I said. Diplomats are trained to gather and convey information back to the State Department. Of course, they have to work with the information they are given (and in Syria’s case, that information was often very limited), but it serves no purpose for a diplomat to make up information and send it to Washington.

    “The second premise of your article is the honesty and integrity with which Syria would deal with said State Department, wheras the conclusion you are trying to establish is that Syria does not even deal in an honest way with it’s very own allies.”

    You didn’t read the article very carefully. Where do I say that Syria is dishonest with its allies? Syria was very open about its dealings with Israel, and very open about its desire to reach out to the United States. The cartoonish vision of a staunch resistance axis that spurns the West publicly and privately is a fiction that some people strangely insist on believing in. The evidence shows that’s not the case, which doesn’t make Syria treacherous. It makes it pragmatic, as I said.

    “Now if Syria was as willing to sell out Iran and Hezbollah as you seem to have become convinced it was, there’s another question that becomes unavoidable: Why didn’t it happen?”

    International politics shouldn’t be seen through this prism of black/white, resistance/submission, selling out/holding firm, etc. This is not the way things work, and this was not the point of my essay. Read it again without your ideological blinders on.

    Syria was not planning out “selling out” Iran and Hezbollah, but it seems fairly clear that Bashar al-Assad was wisely trying to broaden his range of international allies. He inherited a very narrow range of allies from his father, and then the Iraq War, UNSCR 1559, and SALSRA further narrowed that range of allies. Then the Hariri assassination took place, and he lost the Arabs too. By 2008, when Syria began to come out of the tunnel again, we see intense diplomatic efforts by Assad (not just in the cables but in the press as well) to broaden his international support base. This is what the “Five Seas” strategy was all about, plus the plan to reach out to Europe, negotiations with Israel, etc.

    It’s only mumaana3ists and neocons who seem to view this complex range of activities as “selling out”. You’re in interesting company, ya Masoud! ;)

    You mention other countries not being “targeted” because of their ideological commitments. What about Egypt and Tunisia? Two staunch “pro-imperialist” states that were among the first to fall. Why didn’t the omniscient imperialists swoop in to defend their assets? Why was CNN’s Anderson Cooper dancing in Tahrir Square, celebrating the birth of Middle Eastern democracy, instead of warning us all about the Muslim Brotherhood (as one would expect a psy-ops outfit to do?)

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 22, 2012, 7:26 am
  76. “Now that the tables are turned, you want me to discount…”
    Bullshit. So here’s an example of what the cables tell us about how March 14 operates: One of their acollytes telling everybody who would listen about the fiber optics network everybody that Hezbollah had lain in order to ensure secure communiactions. This information goes to the levels of the US and Israeli governement who decide it must be dismantled. After the order comes down we see March 14 trying to obediantly dismantle this telecom network, an action they justified as a sovereign decision aimed at ensuring the health of Lebanon’s Telecom industry. Now THAT is treachery.

    What do you have on Syria? I, see, in the course of negotiations with the US, whose obvious goal is to portray Israel as the unreasonable party which is unnecesarily putting US interests at risk, Syria promised that if Israel returns the Golan they would at some unidentified date down the road grant Israel navigation rights on Lake Turibas. All of a sudden all the standard sectarian ‘Taqiya’ bigotry goes out the window, and your position becomes: How on earth can Syria’s ‘offer’ not be seen as anything but sincere? I mean can you beleieve a negotiotiator sitting accross the table from the adversary and saying ‘listen fellas, I’m really on your side over hear, don’t let the higher ups know I’m gonna give you this deal, but if you just sign your name on the dotted line…’ Must have been a unique occurence in the history of diplomacy.

    “Syria was very open about its dealings with Israel, and very open about its desire to reach out to the United States.”

    OK, so the why do you have to resort back to the Wikileaks “documentary record” to decipher something Syria has alwasy been very open abbout? Why not admit wikileaks hasn’t told us anything at all new about Syria? Why then write an entire article about what the ‘Wikileaks Corpus’ tells us about Syria? It’s a cheap and empty rhetorical gimmick which you wouldn’t have to resort to, if you were being honest about the reasons for your hostility to Amal’s arguments.

    It’s only mumaana3ists and neocons who seem to view this complex range of activities as “selling out”. You’re in interesting company, ya Masoud!
    So, I’m guily by association, yes? You really need to give up this gimmick. No one, but no one, sees Syrian diplomacy as evidence of Syria ‘selling out’ the resistance. That’s the cartoonish view you like to foist on people you don’t agree with because you, for whatever reason, don’t want to deal with their real arguments.

    …but it seems fairly clear that Bashar al-Assad was wisely trying to broaden his range of international allies.
    Broaden his range of international allies? Good God No! It’s obvious that no real anti-imperialist leader would attempt such a thing. Obviously a term like anti-Imperialist is far too cartoonish to apply to any leader who would actually try to reach out and broaden his range of internationl allies. I see the light now: if you seek allies, and engage in complex diplomacy, and, God Forbid, investment and capitalist development, then you’re clearly too unpure to be anti-Imperialist. I guess the only true anti-Imperialist country on the planet is North Korea.

    “International politics shouldn’t be seen through this prism of black/white, resistance/submission, selling out/holding firm, etc. This is not the way things work, and this was not the point of my essay. “
    So anyone holding a different view than you do, or comming to a different conclusion must have done so because they can only see the world through a naeive black/white prism, and you’re hear to blow our minds. Is that it? Well instead of shadow boxing ghost ‘mumaana3ists’ who’ve never heard of the concept of shades of grey, why not engage real people on the arguments they actually put forth. Who in the world has suggested that Syria is not a self interested state? Who exactly has been portraying Bashar al-Assad as Che Guevera? Your just not being serious when you talk like this.

    “You mention other countries not being “targeted” because of their ideological commitments. What about Egypt and Tunisia?…”

    What about them? You are being even less serious now. Anderson cooper was cavorting around Tahrir Square in Egypt, ergo Syria is not being targeted and Saudi Arabia is not being protected. I’m sure you can do better than that. Are you really going to assert that Syria is not being targeted and that Saudi Arabia is not being protected? While I guess that’s no more outlandish than everything else you’ve tried. It’s still astonishng to read someone assert.

    Posted by masoud | July 22, 2012, 10:09 am
  77. Pass Cool,

    “As to why Assad never got around to selling out his allies, I believe two reasons are possible to state, the negotiations on the Golan having broken down and differences regarding Lebanon.

    Everything Assad did was more or less connected to him and his cronies staying in power.”

    So you beleive that either Assad would refuse to cooperate on Lebanon or that Assad would refuse to cooperate on Golan(banish the thought that Assad was ultimately unwilling to cooperate on either. That would be way too out of character for such a despicable regime…), but your very next thought is that everything Assad did was about keeping himself and his cronies in power. You don’t see any contradiction in that at all? If Assad was only concerened with as you say, keeping himself in power, why was there no coming to terms between Syria and the West. It’s not as if Assad’s acitons in Syria are open to public scrutiny, or even that he’d have to actively abdicate the Golan.
    He could have easily continued to pay lip service to confronting Israel, and quietly recalibrated his alliances in Lebanon in order to acheive what he could publicly portray as a more non-sectarian balance between the parties, given full throated support to a March 14 government in the interests of ‘peace’, who would have then proceeded with the domestic task of disarming Hezbollah with UNSC support, a process that Assad could have washed his hands of no public cost to his domestic popularrity, and with some considerable improvements in his ties to the GCC and their petro dollars.

    That would have completely eliminated the areas of disagreement he had with the West, and would have immunized him from NATO sponsored ‘revolutions’. This would have been much more than the West would have been hoping for, since the Golan and Lebanon mean nothing to the them in comparison to isolating Iran.

    But Assad is being targeted today, meaning whatever you want to beleive about the Syrian Regime, and notwithstanding what many have claimed about it throughout the years, it is not in league with the US and Israel, when it easily could be. That is not the portrait of a leader who is more or less exclusively ‘concerned with keeping himslef and his cronies in power’.

    Posted by masoud | July 22, 2012, 10:42 am
  78. …actually Masoud,

    I think an uncomfortable Middle East (and keeping it so) was the best ticket for the regime to keep hold on to power!

    Which is why, it appears to me, so many people thought the so-called Spring would not reach Syrian shores (I’m talking here about all those HA supporters who applauded the fall of Tunis and Egypt and insisted a similar fate could not hit Syria, and when it did, insisted that this fate was simply a result of Saudi-Qatari-American meddling).

    Posted by Gabriel | July 22, 2012, 11:04 am
  79. Masoud ya habibi,

    “All of a sudden all the standard sectarian ‘Taqiya’ bigotry goes out the window, and your position becomes: How on earth can Syria’s ‘offer’ not be seen as anything but sincere?

    Standard sectarian taqiya bigotry? I’d like you to find a single example of me ever having used the word taqiya to describe the Syrian government, or even suggesting that Syrian foreign policy could be explained from some sectarian/theological perspective. I will wait happily for you to troll through 4 years of blog posts and thousands of comments on other people’s blogs to substantiate such a bald-faced lie. Yalla, chop chop.

    You are trying to make more of my argument in order to discount it. In the meantime, you claim that I am doing the same thing with Amal’s pieces. After I post this comment, I’ll be happy to go through the essays in question and post the statements that vindicate my position.

    “Why not admit wikileaks hasn’t told us anything at all new about Syria? Why then write an entire article about what the ‘Wikileaks Corpus’ tells us about Syria? It’s a cheap and empty rhetorical gimmick…”

    I don’t know; I think it’s a time-consuming and pretty effective rhetorical gimmick. :)

    What WikiLeaks provides that the press does not is a sense of immediacy. It’s one thing to cite an article suggesting that March 14 leaders were angry about Hizbullah’s decision to kidnap Israeli soldiers. It’s quite another to cite a cable providing first-hand testimony about this. The same goes for Syria. When Bashar al-Assad is quoted telling an American envoy that Hizbullah has no interest in liberating Jerusalem, that is something you’re not going to find in the press.

    ” No one, but no one, sees Syrian diplomacy as evidence of Syria ‘selling out’ the resistance.

    Again, can you find an example in my essay of me saying this? I’ll wait for you to actually read it, or I can speed it up by quoting the relevant paragraphs:

    One could go on at great length documenting Syria’s track record of reaching out to the United States, Europe, and the GCC countries during Bashar al-Assad’s presidency. What conclusions to draw? Does the record suggest that the regime is a cynical clique of corrupt collaborators paying lip service to the Axis of Resistance as they secretly deal against it? Given the considerable capital Syria has invested in its alliances with Iran and Hezbollah, this would be a facile oversimplification.
    What the diplomatic cables actually reveal is that Syria’s foreign policy, like that of most countries, is too complex to be boiled down to cartoonish catchphrases like “anti-imperialist” or “democracy promoting.” Syria’s government has always juggled competing political, economic, and security-related demands from diverse constituencies while prioritizing its own survival. As important as the Palestinian cause is to the Baath for ideological reasons, it represents only a small part of its broader strategic calculations.

    Do I need to parse those lines again? Syria’s foreign policy is NOT “selling out” the resistance because the very notion of “selling out” does not apply here. What we have is a country with a complex foreign policy, one that involves alliances with Hizbullah and Iran alongside active attempts to court NATO and GCC countries. Syria supports resistance but also negotiates with Israel. Syria signs security agreements with Iran but also with Turkey. Syria complains about the STL but also shares intelligence with French security services.

    “I see the light now: if you seek allies, and engage in complex diplomacy, and, God Forbid, investment and capitalist development, then you’re clearly too unpure to be anti-Imperialist.”

    Why don’t you tell me what it means to be an anti-imperialist government? Since everything I have pointed out is perfectly acceptable, in your view, why don’t you explain to me what makes Syria’s government anti-imperialist, and therefore entitled to the support of Arab leftists despite the butchery taking place in Syria?

    In the meantime, I will provide the relevant quotes from Amal’s pieces.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 22, 2012, 11:05 am
  80. QN,
    Aside: I just read your previous post about Nasser’s speech. You had a link to a video featuring Netenyahu, where I found out for the very first time that he attended MIT, which is where Iran’s current foreign minister obtained his PHD in Physics, his area of interest being Nuclear Science. Salehi earned his PHD the same year Bibi graduated from businsess school. Talk about a tense class reunion.

    Posted by masoud | July 22, 2012, 11:15 am
  81. Masoud,

    “If Assad was only concerened with as you say, keeping himself in power, why was there no coming to terms between Syria and the West.”

    Assad was afraid of two things:
    1) He was afraid to make the leap of faith into the hands of the West and thus give up the concrete support he got from Iran only to find out later that the West cannot be relied upon to keep one in power (as indeed turned out true in Egypt).
    2) As a minority ruler, he believed he needed the “resistance” credentials to stay in power.

    I would not over estimate US power. The regime in KSA is stable because they can bribe their own people. Like in China, they traded economic prosperity for political freedom. Syria could not do that. The Assads stayed in power by being ruthless and by advancing their “resistance” credentials. But you can only impoverish your people for so long before they explode.

    The rebellion against Assad is not an international conspiracy, it is a grass roots movement that caught fire because the Assad regime denied hope and dignity from a large swath of the population. Are other countries helping the FSA? Sure, but the FSA is doing all of the fighting and paying the price.

    Posted by AIG | July 22, 2012, 11:15 am
  82. From ASG’s pieces:

    “Now the real litmus of Arab intellectuals’ and activists’ commitment to the Palestinian cause is no longer their support for Palestinian rights, but rather, their support for the Assad leadership’s struggle against the imperialist-Zionist-Arab moderate axis’ onslaught against it. Supporting Assad’s struggle against this multi-pronged assault is supporting Palestine today because Syria has become the new front line of the war between Empire and those resisting it.”

    Translation: Syria resists Empire.

    “The exigencies of the situation require Arab intellectuals to assume a more strategic and responsible position which is based on a recognition that despite its many flaws, the Syrian regime is actively resisting imperialist aggression and anything less than lending it full support — for the duration of this crisis at least — is tantamount to opposing its resistance to imperialist aggression.”

    Translation: Syria actively resists imperialist aggression.

    “As Lenin observed regarding third-way politics: “The only choice is – either bourgeois or socialist ideology. There is no middle course…It is fully in line with Lenin’s logic to therefore argue that the geo-strategic balance of power and the political exigencies at hand leave very little room for such irresponsible and aimless rejectionism practiced by leftist intellectuals, when this only serves to strengthen imperialism both ideologically and politically.”

    Translation: Even leftists staunchly opposed to the US and its allies are strengthening imperialism ideologically and politically by virtue of their denouncement of Assad.

    ” the Assad regime’s political identity as a resisting frontline state…”

    “Beyond preserving its physical security, the Assad leadership’s mumanaa has also become a principal source of its ontological security. That is, security of its identity as a resistant state and champion of Arab rights.”

    To reiterate, then, my point is not to suggest that Syria’s foreign policy is identical to Jordan’s, Saudi Arabia’s, and Qatar’s. Support for resistance against Israel is an important part of its overall strategy. But so are many other activities, such as intelligence sharing, economic and security partnerships with NATO countries, liberalizing the economy through international venture capitalist and private equity investment, negotiations with Israel, and much more.

    Anti-imperialist leftists should take all of this into account before deciding where to throw their support.

    As for myself, I belong to a different subset of Arabs “imperialized by liberal hegemony,” and so I don’t have the same qualms about believing that this regime is not worth saving.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 22, 2012, 11:27 am
  83. “Talk about a tense class reunion…”

    looooooooooooooooooool

    Did not know that. Thanks for sharing.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 22, 2012, 11:28 am
  84. Will respond to other comments tomorrow. Family time now…

    Thanks for the minority reports, Mo (to whom I owe a response) and Masoud.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 22, 2012, 11:34 am
  85. Elias joon,

    “The cartoonish vision of a staunch resistance axis that spurns the West publicly and privately is a fiction that some people strangely insist on believing in.”
    “No one, but no one, sees Syrian diplomacy as evidence of Syria ‘selling out’ the resistance. That’s the cartoonish view you like to foist on people you don’t agree with because you, for whatever reason, don’t want to deal with their real arguments.”
    “Again, can you find an example in my essay of me saying this? I’ll wait for you to actually read it, or…”

    !!

    Something getting lost in translation here? I’m not accusing you of denying that Syria operates like every other nation state in the world. That’s the argument you try to attribute to ‘some people’, so that you can sagely proceed in ‘debunking’ it, and sidestep the real arguments they actually make. The idea that Syria operates much like every other nation state in the world is not ground breaking, nor does it rebut anything I(or Amal) have put forth.

    When Bashar al-Assad is quoted telling an American envoy that Hizbullah has no interest in liberating Jerusalem, that is something you’re not going to find in the press.
    Really? Cause I think I just read it in Al-Akhbar.
    But I still don’t understand what information this brings to light. Are you asserting this statement can be read as measure of either Bashar or Nasrallahs’ intentions towards Jerusalem? If not how does it bring any value to a discussion a bout Syria’s anti-Imperialist role in the region?

    Why don’t you tell me what it means to be an anti-imperialist government?
    Simple: The bad guys are trying to get you, and you’re trying to stop em.

    Your turn. If Syria is not anti-Imperialist, what other country in the world is(North Korea aside)? Brazil? Venezuela? Iran? Zimbabwe maybe? Maybe anti-Imperialism is just one of those childish fictions ‘some people’ are apt to subscribe to, and doesn’t in reality exist?

    “I’d like you to find a single example of me ever having used the word taqiya to describe the Syrian government…”
    Guilt by association sucks doesn’t it? What’s good for the Goose is good for the Gander. Let’s just say you and all the other ‘Third Wayers’, as Amal calls them, are in verry interesting company indeed, Ya Nabki!

    But while you’re busy digging up Amal quotes, do try and think up an answer for me on the last question in my previous post: Are you denying the Syrian is being targetted by NATO, and that the Wahabist Cooperation Council is being protected and given cover by NATO? If not, does this tell us you anything about the anti-Imperialist credentials of Syria?(assuming of course, such a thing as anti-Imperialsim exists)

    Posted by masoud | July 22, 2012, 12:05 pm
  86. I think if you delete my 1200 o’clock post, that’ll fix the italics problem.

    Posted by masoud | July 22, 2012, 12:08 pm
  87. AIG,
    Where are you getting your figure from for statements such as “a grass roots” movement and the people exploding? It certainly doesnt match the facts on the ground I hear and see. And the FSA doing “all” the fighting? I doubt they are doing any more than half the fighting.

    Posted by mo | July 22, 2012, 12:14 pm
  88. Stop the italics?

    Posted by mo | July 22, 2012, 12:21 pm
  89. Masoud.

    I totally agree with your point that on the anti-imperialist scale (if that means anti-US and Israel plans for the middle eats or something like that) Syria is clearly the leader.

    But you are ignoring QN’s main point which is that though Syria is the relative leader in anti-imperialism, it still does quite little in absolute terms, and certainly not enough to justify keeping the abusive Assad regime in power.

    Let’s assume for the discussion that NATO and KSA are indeed targeting Assad. What follows from that? NATO clearly targeted Qaddafi, does that mean that Qaddafi should have been supported? I think the onus is on you to explain why in the case of Assad, his regime merits support in spite of its many shortcomings.

    Posted by AIG | July 22, 2012, 12:24 pm
  90. AIG’s assertion about the FSA doing ALL the fighting is something he probably heard from Anderson Cooper. It’s utterly in line with his “reporting” about Syria.

    Posted by lally | July 22, 2012, 12:26 pm
  91. Mo,

    1) The only way a guerrilla type army like the FSA can be successful is by having the support of the local population.
    2) Why is what happened in Deraa not a grass root movement example of people “exploding”?
    3) People who are hopeful and happy about their future, do not start rebellions.
    4) If Syria could easily be ignited by outside forces, why didn’t it happen earlier? Syria did not have the same enemies before? Isn’t it more likely that Syria’s enemies are piggy backing on a grass roots effort?

    What are you seeing and hearing? If FSA is only doing half the fighting, who is doing the other half?

    Posted by AIG | July 22, 2012, 12:34 pm
  92. Let me try something:

    Maybe this’ll take care of the italics problem from here on end.

    Anyway, Nabki, none of the quotes you have furnished establish that Amal, or anyone else, denies that Syria is a state that operates every other state in the world. I’ll check tommorow to see if you’ve come up with anything more substantive.

    Ponder this in the meanwhile:

    As for myself, I belong to a different subset of Arabs “imperialized by liberal hegemony,” and so I don’t have the same qualms about believing that this regime is not worth saving.

    Did you beleive that Saddam’s Regime was any more worth saving than Syria’s’? Does that then mean that the anti war activists were wrong? Do you judge the Hamas government in Gaza to be ‘worth saving’? Does that justify the PA’s attemtpted coup in 2008, or the defacto order it’s imposed in the West Bank, and it’s complete surrender to Israeli interests?

    Posted by masoud | July 22, 2012, 12:34 pm
  93. Why can’t someone be both against Saddam Hussein and against an invasion to take him down? That is I believe QN’s position. And how does that support your position which is that Saddam (or his Syrian analog) is worth protecting because of a foreign invasion?

    In any case, the analogy with Iraq fails because the FSA are Syrians. There is no NATO or US bombing whatsoever and of course no NATO troops.

    Posted by AIG | July 22, 2012, 12:53 pm
  94. AIG. Perhaps this can help clear up some of your confusion; a very informative article from an real life Israeli thinktank!

    Jihad in Syria: The Penetration of Radical Islam in the Syrian Conflict INSS Insight No. 355, July 17, 2012
    Robinson, Jonathan, First, Tal, and Yogev, Einav :

    “At present, at least ten different notable foreign and Syrian groups with varying ideologies are waging militant jihad in Syria. In spite of these differences, a useful distinction becomes apparent when comparing each group’s mode of operation, which can be categorized as one of three types: The first type are “support” groups that predominantly assist the flow of arms and fighters into Syria. The second type are the “guerilla” groups that carry out small scale but regular attacks on security forces, and the third type are the “terror” groups that carry out high profile bombings outside the usual fighting areas. Through this distinction, it quickly becomes evident that the “terror” groups have had the most significant contribution to the conflict in Syria.”

    http://www.inss.org.il/publications.php?cat=21&incat=&read=6893

    Posted by lally | July 22, 2012, 12:54 pm
  95. Did you beleive that Saddam’s Regime was any more worth saving than Syria’s’?

    Within the context that he was the only one that stood up physically to Iran … Absolutely. I don’t think Assad sacrificed 500,000 Syrians for the Golan or the liberation of Palestine.

    Does that then mean that the anti war activists were wrong?

    No.

    Do you judge the Hamas government in Gaza to be ‘worth saving’?

    They were democratically elected.

    Does that justify the PA’s attemtpted coup in 2008, or the defacto order it’s imposed in the West Bank, and it’s complete surrender to Israeli interests?

    That’s their problem and business.

    Posted by Monolith | July 22, 2012, 1:01 pm
  96. Masoud,

    “You don’t see any contradiction in that at all? If Assad was only concerened with as you say, keeping himself in power, why was there no coming to terms between Syria and the West.”

    I don’t see a contradiction. there was no coming to terms because they didn’t agree.

    Perhaps you attribute to me the thinking that the only way for him to remain in power was by cozying up to the West? This is not what I believe.

    And a mistake on my part. The term “selling out” has not been properly defined. The main point here is that I believe Assad was ready to stop the flow of weapons passing through Syria and ending up with Hezbollah. He was ready to deny Hezbollah, I believe, the strategic depth they so would need in any future confrontation with Israel. Syria’s positive stance toward Hezbollah is THE reason, as I see it, that Syria was positioned in the Resistance camp. And I believe he was ready to take this away. The rhetoric of being with the Palestinians would still be there, as perhaps Hamas would still be HQ:ed in Dimashq, but the main conduit of Iranian influence in the Levant would be severed, and that is to a large degree my definition of selling out.

    “But Assad is being targeted today,…”

    He was and is being targeted by his own. Many, not all, of his own are in collusion with foreign actors. That to me is not an international conspiracy. There is a will to break Assad so as to break Iranian influence (and surely, for some, the will to get rid of what they perceive as non-muslims and empower the sunni). That is international powerplay taking part in Syria, just like it would in any civil war throughout history. Assad played his cards wrong, domestically and in foreign policy. That is why he is about to lose power. He was trying to correct it, but you don’t make a deal with “the West” unless you get what you need in return. For some reason, there was no deal with the West. He would’ve needed it, he just didn’t know how bad. He was so sure during the Egyptian uprising that this wouldn’t happen in Syria, citing his credentials in amongst other aiding the Resistance. He was wrong. But I’m sure he knew were it was all headed, hence the urgent need to reform society in Syria and his vain attempts to reach out to other countries.

    Posted by Pas Cool | July 22, 2012, 2:34 pm
  97. Masoud said:

    “The idea that Syria operates much like every other nation state in the world is not ground breaking, nor does it rebut anything I (or Amal) have put forth.”

    You’re right: it’s not a groundbreaking idea. You’re also wrong: it does rebut the argument that Amal has put forth. Take a look at the quotes I posted above. Which other nations claim to be resisting Empire? Since the demise of the Soviet Union, the vocabulary of anti-imperialism has all but disappeared from the lexicon of foreign policy. The only place it continues to live on is in leftist essays like the ones that we are discussing, and the odd speech by the leaders of North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, and Syria.

    So yes, whether you like it or not, the claims put forth in the four-part series do amount to a clear-cut argument that Syria is an exceptional “resisting frontline state”. You and Mo are trying to moderate that position so that you can account for all the material that doesn’t fit so nicely under that “resisting” rubric. But it’s unconvincing.

    “Are you asserting this statement can be read as measure of either Bashar or Nasrallah’s intentions towards Jerusalem? If not how does it bring any value to a discussion about Syria’s anti-Imperialist role in the region?”

    Once again, if you’d want to doubt the veracity of the opinions expressed by those quoted in WikiLeaks, then you need to be consistent. If March 14 leaders’ statements are taken as fact, then we should at least take Bashar’s statements into account.

    My personal interpretation of Bashar’s words is that he does not believe that Israel is going anywhere, and that sooner or later, it will be in Syria’s best interests to abandon the rejectionist path and come to some kind of settlement based on the 1967 formula. Until then, he will continue to support Hizbullah and Hamas as a means to increase his leverage over Israel. This, in my opinion, is the only interpretation that can explain Syria’s multi-dimensional foreign policy. “Anti-imperialism” does not.

    Which brings us to…

    “Why don’t you tell me what it means to be an anti-imperialist government?
    Simple: The bad guys are trying to get you, and you’re trying to stop em.

    Huh?

    This is your explanation? Never mind, then. You win!
    :)

    “Are you denying the Syrian is being targeted by NATO, and that the Wahabist Cooperation Council is being protected and given cover by NATO? If not, does this tell us you anything about the anti-Imperialist credentials of Syria?(assuming of course, such a thing as anti-Imperialsim exists)”

    Absolutely. The United States and its allies in NATO and the GCC have clearly seized the opportunity to weaken Assad and perhaps replace him.

    Guess what? This tells us absolutely nothing about Assad’s anti-imperialist credentials.

    In the same way that Assad’s (until recently) positive relations with Turkey, Qatar, France, the UK, etc. do not suggest that his regime are “collaborators”, neither does the current destabilization campaign amount to an argument that Syria is an anti-imperialist state.

    “Did you believe that Saddam’s Regime was any more worth saving than Syria’s’? Does that then mean that the anti war activists were wrong? “

    No and no. And yet, this is the Third Way position that is under attack.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 22, 2012, 2:37 pm
  98. Lally,

    Right, I should have written that the FSA does the vast majority of the fighting, not all of it. Of course there are jihadists in Syria. But they are a small percentage of the fighters. Since these are the same guys that fought the US in Iraq, are you claiming now that NATO and the US sent them? And what exactly are you complaining about? These are the guys that Assad sent to Iraq.

    You and Mo have not yet produced any explanation of why if it is possible for external forces to take on the regime, why it was not possible a year ago or two years ago or five years ago. What is it about the Arab Spring environment, except that it emancipated the spirit of the Syrian people, that made such a difference? Erdogan was Assad’s bff. What happened? Why did Erdogan join the “conspiracy” against Assad except that he truly believes that Assad abuses his own people?

    Posted by AIG | July 22, 2012, 3:16 pm
  99. AIG.

    Did you read the linked analysis piece? Does it claim that the various jihadi elements are the “guys that Assad sent to Iraq”? Uhhm, no it doesn’t, perhaps because Israeli analysts aren’t terribly concerned with stupid political point scoring instead of sketching out scenarios as they see them in order to provide a sound basis for decision-making. The propensity of oppo advocates and Anderson Cooper to make such claims weakens their case.

    Why would I think that NATO and my own dear GOA would send anyone other than SOF, CIA black budget assets and “X” mercenaries into Syria? KSA et al are far more likely to be the enablers of their ideological jihadi brothers.

    IMO, Erdogan was motivated by a couple of things; increasingly hard-ass pressure from all sorts of elements in DC and he was personally insulted that Assad lied to him. Erdogan had been moving to ameliorate the ire directed his way before Arabs started springing. His agreement to host the X-band radar battery (same as in the Negev) on Turkish soil was an early outward sign that he could be persuaded to change teams.

    I wasn’t aware that I had been tasked with explaining the timing of the “external forces to take on the regime” but I’ll give it a try.

    The Obama administration was convincing themselves that THEY could be more persuasive in getting Assad to finally agree to accede to Israeli demands to dump his axis buddies. When it finally became obvious that Assad was not to be enticed by the blandishments of Mr Jeffrey Feltman Sir and the current Israel firster US ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, all bets were off and Syrian regime change as policy re-emerged from it’s short dormancy.

    Arab Spring YAY!!!!! has provided convenient cover for the implementation of myriad agendas-by-any-other-name(s).

    Posted by lally | July 22, 2012, 4:32 pm
  100. QN,
    Take a look at the quotes I posted above. Which other nations claim to be resisting Empire?
    Wonderful. So either anti-Imperialism just plain out does not exist, or the criteria for being anti-Imperialist is that a state can not engage in normal diplomatic relations with the rest of the world, so that, Kim’s North Korea, and the Khmer Rouge’s Cambodia aside, no other state is pure enough to be annointed anti-Imperialist.

    Once again, if you’d want to doubt the veracity of the opinions expressed by those quoted in WikiLeaks, then you need to be consistent…

    I am completely consistent. I do not for a second doubt that the text of the cables obtained by wikileaks is the text of the cable filed by the US. But there is no symmetry between stances adopted in the course of ongoing negotiations by the Syrian regime on the one hand, and documentation of actual acts of treachery by March 14, on the other. I don’t buy the idea that you don’t understand the distinction I’m drawing here.

    …neither does the current destabilization campaign amount to an argument that Syria is an anti-imperialist state.
    But you have sidestepped providing a definition of an ‘anti-Imperialist’ state, haven’t you? The opening statement in your latest post(and your article)suggest that at a minimum it should include severing normal diplomatic relations with all the important states in the world, and eschewing capitalist development. But maybe that’s just the definition of anti-Imperialism that you would hope that I(and Amal) would adhere to.

    My personal interpretation of Bashar’s words is that he does not believe that Israel is going anywhere, and that sooner or later, it will be in Syria’s best interests to abandon the rejectionist path and come to some kind of settlement based on the 1967 formula.
    So you view these these expressions of intent made in the course of negotiations as a valid measure of Bashar’s plans for Jereusalem. What then do you think of Netenyahu’s publicly stated, and therefore much more serious, expressions of intent to see a Palestinian state creaed, for which Israel is pepared to give ‘painful concessions’? And again, if that were the case, don’t you beleive Tehran and Nasrallah have seen these cables now at least, if they weren’t in the loop with what was going in real time? Why haven’t they jumped at the opportunity to embrace their fellow Islamists, and install a more prinicipled regime in Damascus? Or do you these minutes of negotiations give us a more serious window into Syrian strategic calculus than either Iran or Hezbollah have, even at present?

    And yet, this is the Third Way position that is under attack.

    So for Iraq the Third Way position is Saddam’s Regime is not worth saving, but the attack against Iraq must be opposed. For Syria the Third Way position is that the attack against Syria is not such a big deal, because Assad’s regime is not worth saving. Wonderful.

    Posted by masoud | July 22, 2012, 5:48 pm
  101. AIG,
    “1) The only way a guerrilla type army like the FSA can be successful is by having the support of the local population.”

    Not if the guerilla army has support from and is based in a neighbouring state or states.

    “2) Why is what happened in Deraa not a grass root movement example of people “exploding”?”

    What happened in Deraa was a reaction to the over-reaction of the local governor over the actions of a group of teenagers and nothing to do with poverty.

    “3) People who are hopeful and happy about their future, do not start rebellions.”

    And when said rebellion is taken over and run by people who give less hope about the future, people do not support ir

    “4) If Syria could easily be ignited by outside forces, why didn’t it happen earlier? Syria did not have the same enemies before? Isn’t it more likely that Syria’s enemies are piggy backing on a grass roots effort?”

    Actually no. The Saudis want nothing more than to be seen as the “leaders of the Arab world”, and want nothing more that to be rid of the Resistance Axis (See Olmerts claim that he was encouraged to finish the job in 2006) and would not jeapordize there reputation by financing an insurrection with no causus belli. The Arab spring and the Deraa incident gave them just that opportunity.

    Posted by mo | July 22, 2012, 6:28 pm
  102. QIfa,

    Lets start again.

    Anti-imperialism is the struggle against another nation or nations policy of extending their authority by territorial acquisition or by the establishment of economic and political hegemony over that nation.

    Now, we can at least agree that Syria, as a nation, fits that definition in that it has suffered territorial aquisition and been the subject of economic warfare for many years and as a state has, by it refusal to sign peace with Israel and continued support for Hizballah and Hamas, been the subject of pressure and blackmail by other nations, especially the US.

    Your argument, if I understand it correctly, is that Amal is wrong for stating that Assad is a bulwark against imperialism because he talked about peace with Israel and invited Americans to invest in Syria.

    Now I appreciate that inviting private companies from the same nation that is attacking you may put you in a position that is liable to blackmail or influence but that does not necessarily make the act of invitation a betrayal of an anti-imperialist position until such time that you can show that said investment is influencing political decision making.

    In regards to his position on making peace with Israel; As far as I can see, even if all the cables are an absolute rendition of the truth, he did not once back down on regaining every inch of the Golan. Now since that land goes right up to the shores of Israels most important water resource, do you really believe that he ever, ever expected Israel to agree to that or as is much more likely, was using this position to show that he wasn’t a hardliner as so to benefit Syria by easing sanctions and import restrictions?

    Assad and his policies may be debatable but the facts on the ground are that Syria has been under economic and political attack for a long time and has been so simply because it opposes the political hegemony of the US. It certainly isnt because of human rights abuses or the lack of freedoms as these problems are and were far worse amongst nations the US considers or considered friends. Added to that Assads military, economic and moral support of the Palestinian cause, Hizballah and Iran then I really dont see how you can logically not call Syrias position as anti-imperialist unless you are using a really extreme defintion of the description.

    Posted by mo | July 22, 2012, 6:53 pm
  103. Masoud

    “So either anti-Imperialism just plain out does not exist, or the criteria for being anti-Imperialist is that a state can not engage in normal diplomatic relations with the rest of the world,

    That sounds about right to me. I don’t know what an anti-imperialist foreign policy in today’s world could possibly look like. Your definition (baddies vs. goodies) is not satisfying.

    “there is no symmetry between stances adopted in the course of ongoing negotiations by the Syrian regime on the one hand, and documentation of actual acts of treachery by March 14…”

    First of all, half of Lebanon’s population would not describe March 14’s leaders’ actions as treacherous. That is the adjective they’d reserve for Hizbullah’s actions. But what is at issue here is not your personal political preference but rather the fact that WikiLeaks confirms that Assad spared no opportunity to tell every Western and Arab leader he had coffee with that he was eager to restart negotiations with the Israelis.

    There are two ways to read this behavior. Either he was bluffing in the service of anti-imperialism, or he genuinely did want to sign a peace deal with Israel that would have returned the Golan to Syria. We may never be able to settle this conclusively, but let me ask you: if Assad’s goal was to maintain the resistance until the liberation of Jerusalem, then why bother with negotiations?

    “you have sidestepped providing a definition of an ‘anti-Imperialist’ state, haven’t you?

    As I said above, I don’t know what an anti-imperialist state would look like in today’s world. My definition is based on Amal’s references to Lenin and Gramsci. If you have another definition besides baddies fighting goodies, let’s have it.

    Why haven’t they jumped at the opportunity to embrace their fellow Islamists, and install a more prinicipled regime in Damascus? Or do you these minutes of negotiations give us a more serious window into Syrian strategic calculus than either Iran or Hezbollah have, even at present?

    To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you don’t resist with the allies you want, you resist with the allies you have.

    Do you think the Assad regime is crazy about the fact that Hizbullah is a revolutionary Islamist party that announces its allegiance to al-walih al-faqih? If Hizbullah were in Syria today, it would be illegal according to the political parties law. Membership in the party would be punishable by imprisonment, if not worse.

    Similarly, Nasrallah is probably not very happy being put into a situation supporting Assad after he cheered the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Bahrain.

    “For Syria the Third Way position is that the attack against Syria is not such a big deal, because Assad’s regime is not worth saving.”

    No, that’s not correct. The Third Way position, as represented by folks like Bassam Haddad, Haytham al-Manna`, Hicham Safieddine, and many others, is that foreign intervention in Syria is a red line, but that the regime must also go. All of these people are anti-Zionists, but they believe that the regime can no longer be supported.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 22, 2012, 7:18 pm
  104. Just saw Mo’s post. Will read now and then respond.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 22, 2012, 7:20 pm
  105. Mo,

    I couldn’t care less whether the rebellion in Syria is a grass roots movement or a foreign instigation. I judge simply by the facts. Syria is a huge country and the rebels are not just making quick attacks and returning over the border to Turkey. They are staying for long periods inside Syria. You cannot do that without significant support of the population. Furthermore, they do not have control of the main roads, so how are they supplied without the help of the local population? How did thousands of fighters get into Damascus without the regime catching up on what was going on? Huge swaths of the population knew what was going on but stayed quiet and the regime was surprised. This is evidence of grass roots support for the rebellion and less fear of Assad.

    As for KSA you are over estimating their capabilities. Do you really believe they thought they could cause what is happening in Syria now but waited for a casus belli? I find that impossible to believe. They were many casus belli they could have exploited, for example the prison massacre, and do what they are doing now if they really had the capability. The bulk of the fighting is being done by Syrians and that is the critical factor in the success of the rebellion. Yes, KSA could cause terror attacks in Syria, but it could not orchestrate such a wide spread rebellion. There are 21 million people in Syria. If several million support the rebellion, it is enough for it to succeed if its people are dedicated enough.

    In addition, if indeed KSA could so easily have outsmarted Assad and destabilized him, Assad is an idiot and does not deserve any support. If it is so easy to destabilize Syria, then it was never a real country in the first place. But we know that Syria is a muchabarat country and that Syria had good intelligence about the Islamists going through it to Iraq and in general. So the KSA theory do not make sense. Until recently Assad controlled the borders, so how did thousands of foreign fighters come in without him knowing about it or being able to capture them? If thousands came in, he would have at least stopped a few hundreds, but there is no mention of that anywhere. I think the evidence points to KSA opportunistically taking advantage of an internal Syrian initiative.

    Posted by AIG | July 22, 2012, 7:34 pm
  106. Mo said:

    “Anti-imperialism is the struggle against another nation’s or nations’ policy of extending their authority by territorial acquisition or by the establishment of economic and political hegemony over that nation.”

    This is not a definition of anti-imperialism. If it were, the Kata’ib, Lebanese Forces, and FPM would have been considered anti-imperialists because of their opposition to Syrian hegemony in Lebanon.

    The Greek Cypriots would considered be anti-imperialists because of their position vis-a-vis Turkey.

    One could go on at length with many examples.

    Anti-imperialism — according to the Leninist paradigm that is operative here — is a different thing entirely.

    “Your argument, if I understand it correctly, is that Amal is wrong for stating that Assad is a bulwark against imperialism because he talked about peace with Israel and invited Americans to invest in Syria.”

    Yes, and that he made strong efforts to neoliberalize the Syrian economy, co-operated with Europe and other NATO countries like Turkey in various ways, shared intelligence, etc.

    “Assad and his policies may be debatable but the facts on the ground are that Syria has been under economic and political attack for a long time and has been so simply because it opposes the political hegemony of the US.”

    But it’s not because Assad “opposes the political hegemony of the US”… it’s because he provides arms to Hizbullah! That’s what we’re talking about here. You can dress it up however you like, but that’s ultimately what is at stake. What the documentary record shows is that Syria was happy to cultivate strong relations with the West as long as it didn’t mean giving up support to Hizbullah.

    If this is what you want to call “anti-imperialist”, that’s fine. But let’s be clear about what the stakes are. When someone writes an essay telling the Arab left to support Assad because his regime is the new frontline in the war between Empire and those resisting it, what we should actually understand from that statement is: the Arab left should support Assad because his regime provides weapons to Hizbullah.

    Or am I misreading you?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 22, 2012, 7:39 pm
  107. Qifa,
    Ok at least we have some clarity over what we mean by anti-imperialist and now we know we are discussing two different things. But Im not sure why you assume it is the Leninist Paradigm we are talking about (aprt from the fact that Amal quoted Lenin) because again if we are being clear, what is at stake is not Hizballahs weapons, its Israels security and the attempt by the US to coerce, bully, threaten and cajole Syria into contributing towards that security (by amongst other things stop its arms supply to Hizballah) and as such when we refer to Syria being anti-imperialist, it is more appropriate to use my definition, which should have had an addendum that the opposition is to a policy that targets that state but is part of a broader policy towards an entire region or the world.

    The Leninist argument is Capitalist centered and is in my opinion neither relevant or broad enough. I think the definition you are using is but a facet of Imperialism.

    So not its not just Hizballah we are talking about here. For the US its Hamas and Iran and for the GCC its mainly Iran. Its about Resistance to the policy of forcing the Arab world into normalization with Israel. Furthermore I would argue that of all the reasons one could consider, Hizballahs weapons are probably the last thing we need to worry about – We still have an airport and a port!

    Therefore, when someone writes an essay telling the Arab left to support Assad because his regime is the new frontline in the war between Empire and those resisting it, what we should actually understand from that statement is that if you support Palestine and the Palestinian cause the removal of Assad will weaken that cause greatly.

    And finally, you didnt answer my previous question. We know who the disparate groups in this opposition are. We know they cant get within 100metres of each other without their being an argument , a puch up or someone walking out. What do you think will happen the day after Bashar goes? Will you be happy if Syria is turned into another Iraq with hundreds of thousands dead? Do you insist Bashar goes at any price even if it means the collapse of the Syrian state?

    Posted by mo | July 22, 2012, 8:13 pm
  108. AIG,
    If you have not heard of the foregin fighters caught, the cargo containers containing weapons being seized then you are reading the wrong media.

    If you open google earth you may notice that the borders are large swathes of mostly desolate land. Given that and the co-operation of the govt on the other side it would be very easy to get fighters in illegaly. But they really didnt even need to do that as the borders are quite easy to cross.

    And dont over-estimate the Syrian intelligence- Much like the Mossad, their hype is far greater than their abilities.

    In regards to the KSA, I really dont think you get their style of politics. Given their hatred of Hizballah, you would think there would be loads of on the record quotes by senior Saudis showing that. But thats not how they work and a prison riot in absence of anything else is far from being enough cover for them.

    Posted by mo | July 22, 2012, 8:19 pm
  109. if Assad’s goal was to maintain the resistance until the liberation of Jerusalem, then why bother with negotiations?
    As a minimum, to attempt to portray Israel as the beligerent party to European states that could help getting Syria’s economy back on track, and optimally, to free the Golan and without having to go to a war that would see Israel make all of Syria’s major population centers look like Gaza.

    As I said above, I don’t know what an anti-imperialist state would look like in today’s world. My definition is based on Amal’s references to Lenin and Gramsci.
    You should have just said so to begin with. Assad is not a Leninist, ergo Syria is not anti-Imperilist. QED.
    Much more sophistimicated than my facile bad guys vs good guys view of the world.

    To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you don’t resist with the allies you want, you resist with the allies you have.

    Well, now Hezbollah and Iran now have a golden opportunity to resist with a better partner don’t they? They don’t even have to go out of their way to do it, really. Just sit back and enjoy the show. But Iran, and especially Hezbollah, are going out of their way to support the Syrian regime. Why is that? Maybe they just don’t know their business.

    Absolutely. The United States and its allies in NATO and the GCC have clearly seized the opportunity to weaken Assad and perhaps replace him.

    As for myself, I belong to a different subset of Arabs “imperialized by liberal hegemony,” and so I don’t have the same qualms about believing that this regime is not worth saving.

    Did you believe that Saddam’s Regime was any more worth saving than Syria’s’? Does that then mean that the anti war activists were wrong?

    No and no. And yet, this is the Third Way position that is under attack.

    …foreign intervention in Syria is a red line, but that the regime must also go

    This might seem all clear in your head, but to me it comes across at muddled. Why didn’t Saddam have to go? Was he less brutal? Was his regime more keen on reform? His victims more deserving? Maybe George Bush’s mistake was that he should have relied exclusively on sectarian and ethnically based terror groups to destabalize Iraq.
    Actually I could swear that the ranks of the fence sitters have swelled, especially in the arab world, even since the Ghadaffai campaign. The US didn’t even send it’s army into Lybia save the day in that case. They limited themselves to a friedly neiborhood airstrike or two. Does anyone actually doubt they could have accomplished the same thing, but at only a little extra cost simply by providing weapons and trainig?
    Foreign intervention isn’t the problem for the third wayers:it’s airplanes they find offensive.

    Posted by masoud | July 22, 2012, 8:19 pm
  110. Mo,

    You want us to believe that for years Syria was able to control Islamists, both internal and external, and then suddenly KSA pushed a button and thousands of foreign Islamists came and destabilized Syria. And that KSA had this ability all along but didn’t have a casus belli (as if the Saudis really care about things like that). And that while KSA can send thousands of foreign fighters to Syria, it never bothered to send them to Lebanon where according to you their arch-enemy Hezbollah is. I will just stick with the much more likely scenario that KSA are piggy backing on an internal Syrian rebellion.

    Posted by AIG | July 22, 2012, 9:00 pm
  111. Akhhhhh

    I will pick this up tomorrow if I have some time.

    Carry on.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 22, 2012, 9:45 pm
  112. Putting aside all the sophistry (and there really is little beyond sophistry going on here), perhaps this little gem of a conversation is most telling:

    “What did the Americans do in Waco, or Falluja thats so different?”

    So now you think the US was justified in Fallujah? Wallah.

    POSTED BY SEAN | JULY 21, 2012, 11:41 AM

    No Sean, I was admiring the hypocrisy of their disgust

    POSTED BY MO | JULY 21, 2012, 2:44 PM

    The context of the conversation truly never is relevant. What is relevant is who can trump the other with arguments.

    Mo… do you admire the Hypocrisy of the Arabs when they are disgusted by Fallujah, and other such incidents? Or do you join in the disgust?

    Posted by Gabriel | July 23, 2012, 8:48 am
  113. Gabriel, its seems that along with context, inflection is also not relevant. You know what Sean was doing and you know that the my reply was as sarcastic as his question was rhetorical. Or are you just trying to trump me with your question?

    Posted by mo | July 23, 2012, 9:28 am
  114. And if all that is happening here is sophistry you are welcome to point it out

    Posted by mo | July 23, 2012, 9:29 am
  115. Mo-

    The sophistry is coming from all sides, and I’ve pointed it out earlier!

    I know quite well what Sean was doing. He was asking the question I rephrased right now. It is a recurring story in the Arab world:- a world that goes up in arms when Israel does this/that, when America does this/that, when Britain does this/that. Not everyone in the Arab world reacts that way of course.

    For example, when it suits Group A/B/C.. they don’t go up in arms when Fill-In-Imperialist-Aim does something they more-or-less agree with. That we are self-serving and invariably hypocritical actors and partakers in the events that unfold should be self-evident. It is never a bad thing to remind oneself of this fact!

    I don’t know in what sense your response was sarcastic. Do you think it was a terrible thing that the US did in Fallujah? Terrible but necessary? Or Terrible but unacceptable?

    We know that you think what Assad is doing is Terrible- but seemingly Necessary.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 23, 2012, 10:10 am
  116. Gabriel, you are trying to draw a symmetry between the two where there is not.

    Fallujah was an act of brutality by an occupying force against people resisting occupation and was an act of wanton violence as a message to those resisting occupation. a right that they had under moral, legal and international norms.

    What is happening in Syria is the reaction of a govt. against an armed insurrection and if we were comparing the two, as an example Assad would have leveled the whole of Homs rather than kep he fighting to were the “occupation” forces were.

    Secondly, while the objectives of those fighting the respective insurgencies can be claimed ot be noble, those doing the fighting in Syria are likely to bring worse to Syria than Assad himself. There is no sophistry in my argument. Even those journalist, like Robert Fisk who have been cheerleaders for the insurgencies are talking about the level of people the rebels in Syria are using as being very low. In some towns the rebels have already installed strict Taliban like Islamic rule. In others the looting and drug taking amongst the rebels is forcing people to escape their homes just of pure fear of them. So again, everyone is so eager to know at what point and what price does my opposition to the insurgency come. The question no one seems to want answer is what price should the Syrian people pay for this eagerness to remove Bashar and does anyone really care?

    Posted by mo | July 23, 2012, 10:55 am
  117. Mo,

    There is no difference between local and foreign occupation. There is either “consent of the governed” or there is not and it does not matter if the governor is foreign or local. And if Assad really had the consent of the people he governed, his regime would not have had to be so dictatorial and he would have enacted many more reforms during his 11 years in power.

    And you ask good questions about the alternatives to Assad. It is just too late to ask these questions. Assad and his supporters should have asked themselves these questions when they were refusing reforms in Syria and when the regime was imprisoning liberal and secular voices while supporting and funding Islamists. What did Assad expect his eventual opposition to look like when the only place where people could assemble was the mosque? Assad cynically wanted to leave himself as the only alternative to religious rule and he was quite successful. Assad and the regime bear the brunt of the responsibility for what follows them.

    Posted by AIG | July 23, 2012, 12:04 pm
  118. Mo:

    My apologies. I didn’t realize that was your position on Fallujah at all. Why use it as an example the way you did?

    Here’s what you wrote at the time….

    This is not say that Assad has done nothing wrong but when a govt is faced with an armed opposition what do you suggest it does? What did the Americans do in Waco, or Falluja thats so different?

    It reads as though the reaction that Assad had was seemingly his only option. If you were so adamantly against what the Americans did in Falluja, perhaps using them to demonstrate Assad’s lack of options was not the best route to take!

    On your second point:

    Secondly, while the objectives of those fighting the respective insurgencies can be claimed ot be noble, those doing the fighting in Syria are likely to bring worse to Syria than Assad himself.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/04/egyptian-women-better-under-mubarak

    I was reading in the Guardian that some think women fared better under Mubarak. But as I recall it, Hizballah, and Hassan Nasrallah was a grand supporter of the Arab spring there. Why did he not take a Pro-Mubarak stance given that the alternatives would likely leave Mubarak worse off?

    Posted by Gabriel | July 23, 2012, 12:28 pm
  119. correction… would likely leave Egypt worse off…

    Posted by Gabriel | July 23, 2012, 12:30 pm
  120. So AIG, if you found out that most Syrians prefer Assad to the “opposition” would you consider that “consent of the goverened”? Too late? I dont think its ever too late to ask questions that would avoid a situation where the death toll increases ten-fold.

    (And to keep on topic Ill refrain from the obvious of comparing and contrasting your statements with Israel and the Palesstinians)

    Posted by mo | July 23, 2012, 12:33 pm
  121. Gabriel,

    Fisrtly, I wont hide behind the obvious that where Assad is a supporter of Hizballah, Mubarak is an avowed enemy.

    Secondly, the Egyptian uprising was purely Egyptian and the people were out on the street en masse while the pro-mubarak demonstrations were paltry. In Syria the only mass demonstrations we have seen have been pro-Assad and it would be very naive to say they were staged considering the numbers that attended and ot would be equally naive to say the Syrians dont protest en masse out of fear. I have seen video of many protests in towns obviously not under Assads control and still there are only small nubers attending.

    And thirdly, while the election of the MB may leave Egypt worse off (and I do think we are jumping the gun a little here, they hardly had time to get settled) it was still a democratic choice and not one foisted on Egypt.

    Posted by mo | July 23, 2012, 12:42 pm
  122. So AIG, if you found out that most Syrians prefer Assad to the “opposition”…

    Mo,

    That’s just the point. You have no clue. None of these despots and military dictators want to conduct free elections and lived with the results.

    All Assad had to do was conduct a free multiparty election. But no, that was asking too much. Forget about allowing various political parties, term limits and a basic constitution, Arab society is fighting for freedom. There are too many arabs like who don’t value freedom, and so now arabs are fighting arabs for their basic rights.

    You get what you pay for.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 23, 2012, 12:52 pm
  123. Mo,

    Absolutely, if most Syrians want Assad, that is “consent of the governed”. But again, if that were the case, why was Assad so scared of enacting more reforms and allowing liberal voices to thrive in Syria?

    Off course it is too late to ask these questions when the guns are doing the talking. There is nothing much that can be done now except let this play out. How are you going to stop this civil war? And please, don’t tell me that the Saudis should stop sending weapons and money, tell me how you plan to actually make them stop.

    As for the Palestinians, did I ever claim that Israel has any consent from them to govern them? Of course they resent Israel governing them. In fact you support that even Arabs with Israeli citizenship should rebel against Israel just showing that the distinction between foreign and local governments is bogus. If Israel would annex the West Bank and give all the Palestinians there citizenship, would that make it ok to treat Palestinians like Assad treats his own people? Would anyone in the Arab world give the time of day to the argument that it is ok for Israel to kill 15,000 of its own citizens because it would stop an Islamic takeover that is worse than the current government?

    Posted by AIG | July 23, 2012, 1:06 pm
  124. Mo,

    I think the point (and maybe I take it back to something you wrote) is:

    In some towns the rebels have already installed strict Taliban like Islamic rule.

    You have gone back to the theme of Wahabis/Salafis and Taliban style rule on a number of occasions. Egypt had an election. 25% of the people were openly pro-Salafis. Another 50% were pro-MB.

    Where is the MB on the Syria question? Inside Syria that is? We know where the Palestinian MB stood. But what about the Syrian MB? Are you claiming they are a minority of people in Syria? That the Sunnis of Syria have bucked the trend of the rest of the Middle East?

    Still, despite this, in Egypt you seem rather supportive of the democratic process. The only apparent difference is that one is a supporter of HA and the other is not. Is that the metric that defines whether one ought to support a group or not?

    I think if Assad was confident that he would win an overwhelming majority of the support of the Syrian people, he would simply have held elections a year ago.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 23, 2012, 1:10 pm
  125. Mo,

    “The question no one seems to want answer is what price should the Syrian people pay for this eagerness to remove Bashar and does anyone really care?”

    I care. My wife is Syrian and her family is scattered around.

    Of course I need not care solemnly for that personal reason. I have a heart that extends beyond my immediate family as well.

    This question has always intrigued me, and it is at times quite difficult to have to do with, especially if you know that any outcome that resembles anything like Afghanistan or Iraq or Lebanon in time and scope has a direct bearing on your family life.

    I feel though that there are is a flaw associated to the question. The assumptions are one or more of the following:

    1. Syria can only work under Bashar. Anything that follows is almost ceratinly worse than his rule.
    2. Syria was on it’s way to improve when, unfortunately, Tahrir happened, affecting Syria. If only Bashar had been given more time to continue his reforms (most would claim about a decade or more), Syria would’ve been so much better off.
    3. The high number of causalties is the fault of the opposition. Syria is faced with an armed uproar and the State has the duty to enforce law and order.
    4. Democracy could eventually come out of this uprising, but the number of causalties just doesn’t warrant the attempt.

    I write 2, 3 and 4 directly off. 2. because Bashar never showed any sincere will for economic reforms, and not any will at all for any political reforms. His clan was not going to give up power. 3. because I believe the regime bears the brunt of the responsibility for the escalating violence, and because the uproar is fuelled by domestic concerns, and is not an international conspiracy. 4. because that just would be discarding any future revolutions were democracy is a hopeful outcome (but certainly there is a limit to the number of causalties that one can accept for a desired outcome).

    That leaves me with nr 1, by some dubbed the boogeyman scenario. I’ll skip all the yada yada and boil right down to it. My world view is not yet so pessimistic that I automatically define islam as virtually uncompatible with democracy. There’s a lot of work and thinking that needs to be done, certainly, but without the attempt for a democratic society then most certainly there will be no democracy.

    A second rendering of nr 1 is that democracy can not function in a multicultural and multiethnic society (this is a huge theme in Europe of late). I give that thought a lot of credit, and I’m not sure what the future entails, but we gotta try. Some would point to the US and call it democratic. But the US is not a nation state in the traditional sense. It’s an idea.

    This a little off the top of my head. I’m sure there are more assumptions then the four I listed.

    Posted by Pas Cool | July 23, 2012, 3:11 pm
  126. AIG,
    I wasnt talking about asking the questions in order to stop the fighting but in regards to why I dont support these people. Assad wasnt scared about being voted out when he stopped his reforms; I think he was more worried about his brother taking over and Syria does not want his brother in charge.

    Gabriel,
    The MB in Syria run the SNC. Salafism isnt a trend, Islamisc is. The MB in Egypt are not quite the wahabists the Syrian MB is and the SYrian MB is not the wahabists that come into Syria. The Syrians are a religious society but the support for the MB as far as I can guage is low.
    For the record the MB in Egypt has historically not supported Hizballah so you cannot clam I respect the wishes of the Egyptian people because they are. And I am not against the Syrian people having elections and would support their right to choice no matter what their position to the Resistance is.

    I am not arguing here for the continuation of dictatorship nor am I against a democratic Syria. I just do not believe anything will come of this rebellion other than masses of bloodshed as I firmly belief that if they remove Assad they will turn on one another.

    Pas Cool,
    Those are your assumptions not mine as I dont think I made any of those claims. The only thing I have said that comes close is that any nation, dictatorship or democracy when faced with an armed uprising would behave no different.

    My only assumption is that the level of violence we are seeing now is nothing compared to what will happen if Bashar is removed from power. That does not equal assumption no 1 as I have said repeatedly. I am not championing Assad but opposing the opposition.

    Posted by mo | July 23, 2012, 5:14 pm
  127. Did HA condemn the assault on Fallujah out of principal or was it just lip service?
    As far as I know, Sistani and all Iraqi Shia leaders were on board, they actually provided all the manpower for the cleanup job after the assault.

    Talk about hypocrisy and sophistry!

    Posted by Vulcan | July 23, 2012, 5:26 pm
  128. “In Syria the only mass demonstrations we have seen have been pro-Assad and it would be very naive to say they were staged considering the numbers that attended…”

    The sad thing about the Syrian uprising is the fact that they had no ” Tahrir square” or that the uprising was not concentrated in a single area. Demos were located sporadically across Syria. This weakens the impetus or momentum of a nation-wide revolution as they appear to be a local affair. It’s sad because even revolutions with good intentions need some kind of “sell point”.

    ” I have seen video of many protests in towns obviously not under Assads control and still there are only small nubers attending.”

    That’s the thing, uprisings were limited to small towns where the authorities had lesser presence. Lets take Daraa for example, the number of protesters for such a small town meant almost every able bodied man and his dog were out to protest. This is one of many examples across Syria. Add them up and place them in central Damascus, you would have a larger demonstration than the one in Egypt.

    My point is you cannot deny the legitimacy of the protesters or the intentions behind the demonstrations. You cannot and must not paint the revolution with a single brush stroke- ” Islamic insurgents” backed by the GCC and the West, because in doing so, you are denying “these people” as you called them their right to “Resistence” and as far as they are concerned, they couldn’t care less where the oppression that they have suffered for so long came from, to them all oppression is “Imperialism” whether from outside the borders or within.

    Posted by Maverick | July 23, 2012, 7:47 pm
  129. I want to offer an apology to everyone whose responded to my posts and hasn’t heard back from me. I’m just pressed for time. If this thing is still going after Wednesday, I may rejooin the mele.

    Posted by masoud | July 23, 2012, 11:56 pm
  130. Vulcan.

    I had no idea that there is a sectarian aspect to the shameful Fallujah story.

    My last impression was of a biometrically mapped populace in a corral.

    Posted by lally | July 24, 2012, 2:16 am
  131. I too have to apologize for not responding. It’s been a great conversation. Please keep it up.

    And read this:

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/a-look-back-at-the-houla-massacre-in-syria-a-845854.html

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 24, 2012, 6:42 am
  132. Mo,

    Thanks for your reply. I apologize for the breaks, caused by my Iphone.

    ” The only thing I have said that comes close is that any nation,
    dictatorship or democracy when faced with an armed uprising would
    behave no different.”

    We differ of course in that you describe it as an armed uprising,
    whereas I describe it as legitimate grievances expressed and made done with by use of force. The regime bears the responsibility of the
    escalation.

    Seemingly we tend to look at this in a logical way. Sometimes
    dictatorships and democracies behave in the same way, and sometimes the one way is justified, whereas the other is not. Here, the regime does not, according to me, have the moral highground, which sometimes is the lone difference between two seemingly similar approaches. You might agree it is a dictatorship. You might agree that Syrian society is (was) largely based on fear; fear of imprisonment and torture if your belief goes against that dictated by the state, fear of what will happen to minorities if Bashar would fall (nurtured by Bashar in that he never allowed any unified opposition to begin with).

    “My only assumption is that the level of violence we are seeing now is nothing compared to what will happen if Bashar is removed from power. That does not equal assumption no 1 as I have said repeatedly. I am not championing Assad but opposing the opposition.”

    Do you care to elaborate? Perhaps you already have elsewhere?

    Obviously, as mentioned above, Bashar has aided this thinking by way
    of him controlling society. Agreeing with him, as you do, albeit
    perhaps unintentionally, has a strange logic to it. A dictator would
    get your backing (by you opposing the opposition) if the dictator sees
    to it that any attempt to topple him will inevitably end in large
    amounts of causalties. How do you then topple a dictator? Or do you
    not have a policy (as you would like to see) for spreading democracy?

    Furthermore, why do you believe that the bloodshedding will be so much
    more if Bashar falls? Do you think of Syria as intrinsically
    incompatible with democracy? Or do you think that people will just
    battle it out? Would not the proper approach then be to instead
    support a transition government instead of succumbing to the notion that Bashar is so much better, for all his faults, for Syria?

    I myself could do with answering some of these questions, as I don’t always have a clearcut answer to my own questions. I just hope the questions are the right ones posed. Perhaps that is what I seek for, also in your reply, to see which questions are the right ones to ask.

    Posted by Pas Cool | July 24, 2012, 10:12 am
  133. Time for a post on the “re-Return of Hussam Hussam” ?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | July 24, 2012, 4:42 pm
  134. HP

    Yes

    Posted by lally | July 24, 2012, 6:05 pm
  135. LooooooooooooooooooooooL.

    Is he back!

    Posted by Gabriel | July 24, 2012, 6:56 pm
  136. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Politics/2012/Jul-25/181879-hussam-fugitive-from-lebanese-justice.ashx#axzz21aEptQDS

    What is it with those Hostage video clips. Always scary looking people carrying big scary guns.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 24, 2012, 7:08 pm
  137. Wow. This is some great conversation getting very deep.

    I think there are a few huge problems with the kind of approach to politics that QN is describing as “anti-imperialist-politics-for-the-sake-of-this-discussion” .

    The first problem is that its far too subtle to be widely held
    This discussion is academic but since it’s a realpolitik rationale I think it’s only fair that we consider how to put this position in to practice. The subtlety works well 200 comments into a thoughtful online discussion or 3 finjans & 4 whiskeys into an evening with friends. How does it translate into soundbites, speeches and shallow, heated discussions? In reality, support for the Assad regime no matter the subtle reasoning will translate into support for denial in the regime’s crimes, faults and culpability.

    Paraphrasing (and taking liberties with) Orwell: “The partisan not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them”

    This is probably acceptable to supporters-of-Assad-on-anti-imperialist grounds but I think it’s still worth pointing out this cost. In a wide public discourse, most successful proponents of this view will be making the case that the Assad regime is legitimate and good, not a necessary evil tool for resisting US hegemony.

    The second problem is that it is open to cynical exploitation by the Assad regime and others
    We have been here before. This is where Leninist dichotomy is the most harmful and one of the reasons it had such evil consequences. If I could paraphrase a whole book I’d abuse Orwell again, the most insightful advocate or “The Third Way.” This time ‘Homage to Catalonia’. Leftists supported Stalinism under a supposed Fascism-or-Stalinism dichotomy. Orwell advocated calling this what it is: a choice between two evil totalitarian systems. He was actively fighting Fascism in Spain and this rejection of Stalinism was seen by his comrades as a treason.

    Maybe this is another acceptable compromise in an intrinsically compromising position. But again, lets call it what it is: Making it easier for the Assad regime & other anti-imperialists to subject their people to totalitarianism, violence or other normally intolerable conditions.

    The third problem is that it runs both ways
    We have selective memory on a lot of things, but the lead up to the Iraq invasion is an extreme case. At the time I spoke to a lot of people about it and opinions were all over the place. Even within the hard left and the arab left you could find substantial positive attitude towards the invasion on the grounds that it would do away with Sadaam and with any luck might result in quasi-democracy. Basically the mirrored opposite of the pro-Assad-the-anti-imperialist argument. If the choice is between corrupt, ineffective totalitarianism paid for with the added cost of sanctions or American-Zionist (or Capitalist to stay with Lenin) Hegemony, leftists might swing either way.

    QN, What exactly do you think the practical anti-imperialist aims are ? I’m very much an outsider, but it seems to me that in many (perhaps most) cases its a veil or euphemism for nationalism. Do you think this a warped perception?

    Posted by netsp | July 25, 2012, 7:43 am
  138. Altering Orwell to suit is sure to signal to the g*ds that a shocking sin of partisan hubris has just been committed in the name of The Cause.

    Let’s keep it real, shall we?:

    “Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

    GEORGE ORWELL, Politics and the English Language

    Posted by lally | July 25, 2012, 3:30 pm
  139. Pas Cool,
    Sadly time is getting precious so apologies for the delay in answering and apologies that I will not be able to contribute much after today.

    My description of this as an armed uprising does not negate the legittimate greivances of the Syrian people. But I think that if you research back far enough, men and weapons were being captured on the Syrian borders a mere days into the start of the uprising. The regime may be guilty of many crimes but I think the “escalation” as you call it was prepared ahead of time.

    And I am not making the case for a moral highground, or to be more specific, my argument is that the intentions and make up of much of the opposition makes me question both their goals and morality (which I will elaborate on later) but nevetheless, if you agree that any state will have done the same then the morality of the govt. in question is moot (and if we are going to discuss morality of nations I think we are going to enter a whole new line of argument that would throw this thread off completely)

    To answer your other questions, I dont base anything I believe on anything the regime claims. I dont thin Syria is incompatibable with democracy, abd toppling a dictator without the use of violence isnt a difficult question for Egyptians, Tunisians and the people of many countries of the former Eastern Bloc. Violence is usually the resort of groups that dont have the backing of the public.

    As to why I think Bashars fall will lead to more violence I will try to explain as clear as I possible can.

    Firstly, the opposition as a single entity is flawed in many ways, Even though they have a common goal and know well that the more they work together the stronger they would be cannot agree on much. Each disavows statements by the other at every turn and meetings have come to blows, even when a single group meets amongst itself.

    Secondly, the opposition is made up of four distinct groups, the FSA, the SNC, the MB and the mercenaries.
    I think the FSA have honourable intentions but they are weak and therefore easily influenced. Their leadership, as many journalists are pointing out, seems totaly out of touch with what is happening on the ground in Syria and is kept on such a tight leash by the Turks, that effectively the troops inside Syria are operating as seperate militias.

    The mercenaries are mostly men who come from fighting all over the world to fight in Syria (see the recent interview with a bunch of guys who took a border crossing – From Libya, Bosnia, Sudan, Crotia, Iraq and Afghanistan!). They come mainly for one of two reasons – Either they are commited Salafists who want to spread their oh so lovely version of Islam or they are here for the money. And the money is coming with the arms from the GCC. The question is do the Saudis just want Bashar removed or do they want something else in Syria?

    As for the MB, they have been disturbingly quiet, I am not sure where their leaders have disappeared to or if they are trying the tactic of the MB in Egypt by staying out of trouble until the regime is gone.

    Lastly, we have the SNC and Im afraid this is a vipers nest of some of the most henious Arabs I have ever seen. Just do some research on some of its leadership and spokespeople and you will see how many are very highly connected to Washington and the US intelligence and how many are associated with think tanks that are highly pro-Israeli or at the least hishly neo-con centered. Also check how these people have funded since 2006 in order to “bring democracy to Syria” . Now call me cynical but I have yet to see a US policy towards the Arab world that had the Arab people’s interests at heart.

    So, next day scenario. You have all these groups with disparate backers and goals all vying to lead the nation. Added to that, you will have a new alawite opposition made up of former members of the elite units of the Syrian army. My honest belief is that the removal of Bashar will leave Syria looking more like Libya than Egypt. Furthermore, these groups are backed by people whom I do not trust have the best intentions for Syrias people and may even want a Syria in turmoil so that even a transitional govt. with these same people would face the same problems.

    If you are going to ask what is the solution, then a transitional govt. but with only members of the Syrian opposition who have tirellessly worked for the end of dictatorship in Syria (and whom you may have noticed have totally sidelined by the SNC). These people have risked their liberty and their lives to fight the regime and its these people who should be really counted as the opposition.

    Hope that helps.

    Posted by mo | July 25, 2012, 5:35 pm
  140. P.s. Of course, the predicted bloodshed is also based on this kind of stuff:

    Posted by mo | July 25, 2012, 7:05 pm
  141. If you are going to ask what is the solution, then a transitional govt. but with only members of the Syrian opposition who have tirellessly worked for the end of dictatorship in Syria (and whom you may have noticed have totally sidelined by the SNC). These people have risked their liberty and their lives to fight the regime and its these people who should be really counted as the opposition.

    Mo,

    You seem to be playing on both sides of the fence. I agree with your statement, but the only people against this approach are the Assad Baathists and his backers in Russia, China, Iran and Hezbollah.

    And, BTW, if YOU agree with your own statement, you wouldn’t be backing Assad!

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 26, 2012, 7:14 am
  142. Mo,

    Earlier you wrote:

    Syrian MB is and the SYrian MB is not the wahabists that come into Syria. The Syrians are a religious society but the support for the MB as far as I can guage is low.

    Why is this racist bigot a concern for you? I am not sure if he is a Wahabist, or a MB. But if the support he and his buddies have in Syria is quite low, don’t you think the likelihood they will be allowed to create mayhem will be low as well?

    Posted by Gabriel | July 26, 2012, 11:47 am
  143. Gabriel,
    You think Al Qaida in Iraq has high level of support?

    Posted by mo | July 26, 2012, 1:57 pm
  144. My honest view?

    Amongst the Sunnis, I think a little more than they would like to admit. Not necessarily because they support them per se, but because it is one way that a minority can punch above its weight. Remember our dear friend, the Saudi-Supporting- Iceman who came boasting here that it was the “Sunnis” of Iraq that managed to “control” the Al-Qaeda that Syria was sending?

    I don’t think the situation is the same in Syria. If Bashar loses power, I don’t think the “Sunnis” will need to assert themselves with a troublesome clan.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 26, 2012, 3:15 pm
  145. Gabriel,
    All it takes is one event and the tit-for-tat begins. But, he was a postscript to my reply, not a central part of it. His kind of mayhem will be only one aspect of the disintigration of Syria.

    Posted by mo | July 26, 2012, 4:53 pm
  146. Gabriel, you are correct

    In the early days of OIF (Lally, wink wink) Al Qaida enjoyed a high level of support among the Sunnis of Anbar province, for a while they became the de facto government in Fallujah and other Sunni towns.
    Al Jazeera called them The Resistance, the anti-Imperialist folks in Damascus, Beirut and around the Arab world were very impressed by Al Jazeera back then.

    Posted by Vulcan | July 26, 2012, 5:03 pm
  147. Mo:

    “All it takes is one event and the tit-for-tat begins. ”

    I think we can all safely agree that the tit-for-tat is well under way!

    “His kind of mayhem will be only one aspect of the disintigration of Syria.”

    Again, not that I disagree, except with the word “Will”. The disintegration of Syria is well under way now.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 27, 2012, 10:03 am
  148. My argument, better put:

    Posted by mo | July 27, 2012, 6:34 pm
  149. So, what Galloway and others are suggesting is that if the opposition to the Assad rule is legitimate and is borne of genuine good intentions, then it must be a non-violent passive resistance a la Ghandi. Anything else, and it becomes an international conspiracy against the ‘ last castle’ of resistance that is the honorable Syria who has defied imperialism in the region.
    Call being stuck between a rock and a hard place.
    Where were Galloway and the anti imperialists in the first year of the uprising when it was purely civilian demonstrations and the only violence came from the regime’s arsenal?
    Perhaps, were it not for the total mismanagement and bungling of the civilian unrest by the ham fisted regime with its unscrupulous killings and horrific acts of torture to instill fear in the population, were it not for the very actions of the regime, there wouldn’t be such a chaotic mess there is today with international backing.
    Apart from withstanding extreme violence from the regime, what would you have the Syrians to do? Sit down and read Tolstoy, Huxley et al?
    Again, this “blanket-thinking” of painting the whole mess as a conspiracy from the offset is in my opinion a “sell-out” to the Syrian people who are expected to fight on multiple fronts in nothing short of a miracle.

    Posted by Maverick | July 27, 2012, 7:18 pm
  150. My apologies, again for not being able to join in this great discussion. I’ve been finishing my project on the Lebanese senate, which should be available for you guys to tear to shreds in a week or so.

    Netsp, I’m not sure I understand your question exactly.

    Mo, you make some good points and I agree with you that the aftermath of the Syrian uprising (assuming Assad goes) has the potential to be very bloody indeed. I think that what many people find frustrating about the anti-oppositionists’ stance is that you are all willing to be so … adult … when the resistance axis is on the defensive (warning about a bloody aftermath, the “low level” of the insurgents, etc.) but when the resistance axis is on the winning/offensive side, then no price is too high to pay for success. How do you think a Syrian Muqtada al-Sadr would be described by SANA if he were leading the fight against Assad? Resistance hero or filthy terrorist?

    In this region, any successful challenge to state authority is going to attract a wide range of people. Have you seen the Pew polls on religion and politics that show that something crazy like 60-80% of Egyptians support punishments like stoning for adultery, amputation for theft, and death for apostasy? Why is Egypt less Wahhabist than Syria, in your book? I don’t recall any leftists’ gravely warning anyone that the removal of Mubarak could bring into power some very dangerous figures.

    Yes, the fall of Assad could create a very bloody aftermath. Yes, there are religious fanatics in Syria. Yes, there are probably foreigners involved in the uprising. Yes, the US, Turkey, and the GCC have an interest in weakening and/or toppling Assad. But all these things were true about Iraq, and yet the fall of Saddam was cheered by the resistance axis, even though they complained about US imperialism.

    New post coming soon I hope.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 27, 2012, 8:12 pm
  151. QN,
    when the resistance axis is on the winning/offensive side, then no price is too high to pay? Can you give me an example?

    Its ironic that you should use Al Sadr as an example. The only Shia leader that Iraq’s Sunnis have any trust in and the guy who has worked hardest to stifle the attempts to make Iraq a secterian killing ground, and the Shia leader deemed most independent of iran. If there was a Syrian version of him SANA may describe him as a terrorist but we would be having a different conversation now (as I reiterate, my position is based not on whom is in charge but who is driving the opposition, why and to what end. which by the way put me i conflict with my “resistance” friends when it came to Libya).

    Im not entirely surprised by the the figures you state if they are true. That pretty well matches the poverty figures and I would guess a lot of it comes from the high levels of illiteracy – ie when a man cant read, its easy enough to tell him a book says whatever you want it to say. But you are confusing fundementalism and Wahabism. Though oe may be part of the other, Wahabism is a whole new level.

    Furthermore, even if Egypt was Wahabist, if 60% want it, hey thats democracy. I am pretty sure there is not a 60% support for an Islamic state in Syria let alone a Wahabist state but that is still not my problem. In Egypt, there hasnt been the spate of car bombs targetting people of other sects and religions a la Iraq and in Egypt the fundementalist did not drive the revolution or launch suicide attacks against the regime.

    And as I said earlier, the potential of the MB in Egypt was discussed by the left, right and everyone in between. But the MB in Egypt has until now been a pragmatic group so the “fear” of a Wahabi or even fundementalist state seemed distant.

    The attack on Saddam was cheered by the Resistance axis? If my memory serves me, Nasrallah castigated the entire Arab world for being so silent while Europeans were demonstrating in their millions and remarked how amazing it was that the Hajj had taken place without a single demonstration by the Muslims against the attack. I’m guessing you are referring to something I dont remember.

    By the way, funny how Syrian Danny of youtube fame disappeared once he was rumbled isnt it?

    Maverick,
    “the first year of the uprising when it was purely civilian”

    Dude, this uprising wasnt purely civilian after the first week

    Posted by mo | July 27, 2012, 9:01 pm
  152. “The only Shia leader that Iraq’s Sunnis have any trust in and the guy who has worked hardest to stifle the attempts to make Iraq a sectarian killing ground”

    Mo- I dont know where you get your information on Iraq but you obviously have no clue of what was happening there. Muqtada and his group of thugs were behind the horrific surge in sectarian killing and kidnapping in 2006 Iraq

    Posted by Vulcan | July 28, 2012, 4:54 am
  153. Vulcan,
    And your evidence is? Obviously, as a person who “has no clue”, I only take the fact that he has led marches calling on the Sunni and the Shia to not get involved in secterian fighting, the fact that some of his closest allies in the Iraqi Parliament are Sunnis and that some Sunni leaders stated that he was the only Shia leader they trusted. But as an expert, perhaps you can point me to the facts so I can better my understanding and education on him.

    Posted by mo | July 28, 2012, 6:17 am
  154. Mo, it is only recently that Muqtada aligned himself with Saleh Al Mutlaq and Eyad Elawi in an effort to overthrow Al Maliki, which is why you hear some praise of him coming from Sunni politicians.

    I worked in Iraq from 2003 until 2008 and I was a little bit involved in the efforts to pacify the various groups. There is a trove of security reports that point out to his direct involvement in Sectarian killing. if you want proof you wont find it on Al Manar Tv or the likes but there are some credible Media reports where you live that will confirm it.

    During his “resistance” days he barricaded himself in Imam Ali Mosque, a tactic to collect money from the highest bidders, Gen David Petraeus or Gen Quassem Suleimani, until he got in trouble and got summoned to Iran for “Islamic Studies”. The Iraqi Shia led by Sistani were and still are the main supporters of the American invasion and the resulting overthrow of Saddam. I know high level Shia politicians in Iraq who hold George Bush in a higher esteem than they do some of the most revered Shia Imams.

    Posted by Vulcan | July 28, 2012, 7:42 am
  155. How do you think a Syrian Muqtada al-Sadr would be described by SANA if he were leading the fight against Assad? Resistance hero or filthy terrorist?

    C’mon QN,

    Any other opposition party “leading the fight against Assad” is automatically, and by definition, considered a terrorist by the Baathists and SANA. Period.

    I know high level Shia politicians in Iraq who hold George Bush in a higher esteem than they do some of the most revered Shia Imams.

    Vulcan,

    “Part II” of the “Arab Awakening”, it seems to me, is creating democractic institutions: political parties, coalitions, and elections. A way for the government to go forward, peacefully, without resorting to violence.

    Since you have experience in Iraq, can you comment on this and the forces and organziations out there (perhaps Iran and al-Queda) that are trying to thwart this (“Part II”)?

    Thanks.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 28, 2012, 10:52 am
  156. Vulcan,
    Those particular alliances may be recent, but his relationship with the Sunni community is not. During the first siege of Fallujah in late March and April of 2004, it was his party that sent aid convoys to the besieged Sunnis there. In 2005, when the Association of Muslim Scholars accused the Badr Corps of having formed anti-Sunni death squads inside the special police commando units , it was Muqtada al-Sadr who engaged in shuttle diplomacy to calm the two parties down. He could play this role because he had credibility with both sides.

    As for the reports, I have yet to see anything that has anything resembling proper evidence. I read heresay and circumstantial evidence but nothing damning.

    You are leaving out the small detail of the fact that Americans twice tried to kill him and you are ignoring his anti-Iranian influence stance with the implication of being summoned to Iran. It is more likely he left for Iran because the Mehdi Army had taken quite a beating. But to imply he was waiting for Petraeus to make a higher bid is silly. Considering his stance against the invasion and the occupation from the outset, he would have lost all credibility.

    Not all Shia supported the invasion and to tar them all with the same brush is ridiculous. Sciri and Sistani may well have welcomed it yes but they dont represent or speak on behalf of all Iraqi Shias. Sadr was consistent both in his opposition to it and his calls to resist it.

    As for high level Shia politicians in Iraq who hold George Bush in a higher esteem than they do some of the most revered Shia Imams, well of course, hes made some them very very rich. Of course they love him.

    Posted by mo | July 28, 2012, 12:48 pm
  157. Mo said:

    “If there was a Syrian version of him SANA may describe him as a terrorist but we would be having a different conversation now (as I reiterate, my position is based not on who is in charge but who is driving the opposition, why and to what end…”

    You’ve lost me here. Who was driving the Iraqi opposition and what was its goal? Who is driving the Syrian opposition and what is its goal?

    “But you are confusing fundementalism and Wahabism. Though oe may be part of the other, Wahabism is a whole new level.”

    You’ve lost me here as well. What distinguishes “fundamentalism” from “Wahhabism” in your view? Remember that the point of this distinction was this statement of yours to Gabriel:

    “The MB in Syria run the SNC. Salafism isnt a trend, Islamism is. The MB in Egypt are not quite the wahabists the Syrian MB is and the SYrian MB is not the wahabists that come into Syria. The Syrians are a religious society but the support for the MB as far as I can guage is low.”

    What you seem to be saying here is that Syrians are less religious than Egyptians. Egyptians support their MB, which is not as Wahhabist as the Syrian MB who run the SNC but don’t enjoy real support in Syria even though Syrians are a religious society.

    Now I’m even more confused.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 28, 2012, 3:15 pm
  158. OK, let me try and be clearer. In my view (which Vulcan believes is erroneous but for arguments sake lets go with it), Sadr was fighting both an invading force and trying to stop Iraq from spiraling into a secterian kill zone. The driving force here was nationalistic and the goal was retaking Iraq for the Iraqis and not an attempt at grabbing power.

    The Syrian opposition either has been working with the US for over five years or wants Syria to be rid of its minority peoples. The driving force may look nationalistic but is about power and secterianism. Like the good man in the video above, elements of it openly want to turn Syria into a secterian kill zone.

    Fundementalism is a strict adherence to the letter of the law of Islam. Wahabism is a strict adherence to the letter of the law of Islam as Abd al-Wahhab decreed whereby only one school of thought is countenanced and accepted with extreme punishment due to those that disagree (in fact those that disagree are automatically apostates).

    Ok, I was a little flippant with my description for Gabriel but no, Im not saying the Syrians are less religious. Gabriel was comapring the MB of the two countries and I was trying to point out that the MB is Egypt are more, pragmatic shall we say than the MB in Syria which explains the different levels of support. For example, in all the talk and discussion of the MB in Egypt, not once have I read anyone fearing for the fate of Egypts Coptic Christians. Compare that to the expected fate of Syrias non-Sunni populace.

    And still, there is the small matter of the fact that the MB in Egypt were voted in.

    I’d still like an example where the Resistance axis have cheered an action where no price was too high to pay.

    Posted by mo | July 28, 2012, 5:03 pm
  159. The 1200 dead in 2006 was not a too high of a price to pay for Samir Kuntar’s freedom ? !

    Posted by Vulcan | July 28, 2012, 5:22 pm
  160. Mo said:

    “Sadr was fighting both an invading force and trying to stop Iraq from spiraling into a secterian kill zone. The driving force here was nationalistic and the goal was retaking Iraq for the Iraqis and not an attempt at grabbing power. The Syrian opposition either has been working with the US for over five years or wants Syria to be rid of its minority peoples. The driving force may look nationalistic but is about power and sectarianism.”

    Come on Mo. The Mahdi Army was a direct participant in the Iraq violence and it wasn’t just in the anti-occupation game. Do you really want me to go dig up articles from 6 years ago showing that they were involved in attacks on both Sunni areas of Baghdad as well as fighting with other Shiite militias? Sadr was not “retaking Iraq for the Iraqis”… he was absolutely playing politics and carving out a role for himself and his supporters after the American withdrawal.

    “For example, in all the talk and discussion of the MB in Egypt, not once have I read anyone fearing for the fate of Egypts Coptic Christians.”

    Seriously? That’s very strange because every Copt I know (in addition to every Egyptian liberal I know) is deeply deeply disturbed about the future of their country, and there have been probably a half dozen articles that I can remember that deal with this issue. I can post if you’d like.

    “Fundementalism is a strict adherence to the letter of the law of Islam. Wahabism is a strict adherence to the letter of the law of Islam as Abd al-Wahhab decreed whereby only one school of thought is countenanced and accepted with extreme punishment due to those that disagree (in fact those that disagree are automatically apostates).”

    This is very simplistic. There is no “letter of the law of Islam.” There are multiple law schools and multiple sub-schools. For all intents and purposes, in today’s world there is no easily discernible difference between ultra-conservative (or what you are calling “fundamentalist”) Shafi`is, Malikis, Hanafis, Hanbalis, and Wahhabis. Most people, even the most devout Muslims, aren’t knowledgeable enough about the jurisprudential and theological subtleties to tell the difference. Can you identify certain concrete differences between the Egyptian and Syrian Muslim Brotherhood that point to increased Wahhabi influence on one and not the other? I couldn’t.

    This is partly why I find it so difficult to discuss the current situation in Syria with the pro-regime crowd, even the thoughtful ones like present company. You are hugely cynical about your opponents and hugely naive/fawning about your heroes. According to this view, the Syrian opposition is made up of collaborators or sectarian bigots, while the resistance axis is made up of nationalistic, honorable men who, by the way, are also non-sectarian.

    If we’re going to have a serious conversation, let’s keep it real. Otherwise, what’s the point?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 28, 2012, 5:38 pm
  161. I forgot to address the point that Vulcan did respond to…

    Yes, 2006 is an example. The sectarian attacks by the Mahdi Army is another. The Iranian govt’s response on the Green revolutionaries. Hamas… plain and simple (another example of a party that would be hunted down and exterminated if it existed in Syria).

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 28, 2012, 5:42 pm
  162. Allow me to interject some sectarian comic relief from a cooking show of all places:

    http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/3501.htm

    Posted by AIG | July 28, 2012, 5:47 pm
  163. The 1200 dead in 2006 was not a too high of a price to pay for Samir Kuntar’s freedom ? !

    How is Samir these days? Is he still resisting? Perhaps he doing lectures at the University of Damascus?

    AIG,

    They expect Israel to be perfect, yet the clip you linked to shows a huge amount of racism, even within Arab society and the media.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 28, 2012, 6:12 pm
  164. AP,

    Let’s not generalize from one example. The chef is on a Salafi channel. The questions of the prank callers, which are related to anti-Shia fatwas, are just funny. The chef’s reaction also adds to the comedy.

    Posted by AIG | July 28, 2012, 6:33 pm
  165. Hey, your accusation was that there was never a price too high to pay for actions by the resistance axis, not actions which led to a high price. Even Nasrallah accepted that the result of the capture of the Israeli soldiers was too high a price. And what does Hamas plain a simple mean? That they had the audacity to be elected or the arrogance of fighting occupation? And saying “another example of a party that would be hunted down and exterminated if it existed in Syria” imples that you are still debating with me as if I am standing up for the regime….!

    Ok, our differences on Sadr aside, as his politics are obviously moot given that we disagree on them, what did you mean then by “How do you think a Syrian Muqtada al-Sadr would be described by SANA if he were leading the fight against Assad? Resistance hero or filthy terrorist?”.

    In regards to fundementalism and wahabism, yes of course Im being simplistic over a subject that could have one typing for days! As you say there are various schools of thought that you list. Yes its a simplistic overview, and we can go on at length at the differences and similarities but the small but important difference is that a follower of the mainstream schools, even the most conservative, accept that a Mulsim does not have to adhere to the one madhab and is not obliged to follow the guidance of the one school. Wahabists on the other hand view that the following of any school of thought other than their own is practically apostacy.

    Honestly, my only basis on placing the Syrian MB as a notch up from the Egyptian one is its links to Saudi Arabia.

    Firstly, I am neither fawning or naive on anyone. I stated clearly above that amongst the Syrian opposition I could not slate the FSA for anything in regards to either treachery or secterianism so you cannot accuse me of tarring the opposition with the same brush. And when I do accuse anyone of anything I will happily back it up.

    The resistance axis is made up mostly of nationalistic, honorable men because resistance to outside invasion and hegemony usually attracts people who are proud sort of by default. They may not follow your or even my political ideals but in general, historically and globally, it is men and women who stand up for themselves are simply better people than those that allow themselves to be dominated. In regards to their non-secterian credentials, in general and in recent years, its been people from the Resistance axis that pointedly and publicly tried to fight off the attempts to secterianize the Arab world? Is that not correct?

    Posted by mo | July 28, 2012, 7:08 pm
  166. Or did I speak too soon?:

    Posted by mo | July 28, 2012, 7:12 pm
  167. Next thing Mo is going to convince us that Nasrallah is also not pro Assad regime, he is just anti opposition.

    How come those nationalistic honorable merry men of the Resistance axis have no problem with regimes that dominate for decades by brute force, torture and killing? Aren’t they the puritanical defenders of the weak against all evil?

    Posted by Vulcan | July 28, 2012, 7:41 pm
  168. No Vulcan, the puritanical defenders against evil are all your boyos. ;-{)

    BTW, recall that US Undersecretary of the Treasury David Cohen paid a visit to Lebanon (and other
    regional states) in March? According to himself during a talk at the Aspen Security Forum, part of his agenda included convincing Lebanese bankers to grease the skids for some Syrian business people to
    transfer their assets out of town:

    margaret brennan ‏@margbrennan
    Treasury’s Cohen met in Beirut w/Lebanon’s bankers to ask them to help Syria’s biz class transfer assets out of the country #ASF2012

    (tweeter Margaret Brennan was the moderator @ the forum concerned)

    Could pretender Manaf Tlas been among them?

    Another interesting article from Ynet’s (pro-Assad!!!!!??????) military correspondent Alex Fishman concerns the CIA/WH cluster-effs regarding all things Syria. The premise of his OP ED is the threat a Syrian meltdown poses to Israel:

    “One of the products of CIA collection efforts is a problematic opinion about the rebels. Firstly, says the spy agency, the number of rebels is smaller than what is perceived in the West. Secondly, the rebel leadership was massively infiltrated by radical Muslim Brotherhood elements. Some of the rebels have a radical agenda, both politically and religiously, which is incommensurate with what someone in the White House thinks.

    Moreover, as the rebels are still not shying away from using cellular phones, CIA agents have been able to report that some of the massacres in Syria in the past year were carried out by elements that were not
    activated by the Assad regime.”

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4260723,00.html

    Cell phones, AGAIN?????? Isn’t that special.

    Posted by lally | July 28, 2012, 9:13 pm
  169. Lally,

    One may get the impression you’re a pro-Baathist Hasbarite.
    If you are relying on YNet to find a “pro-Assad” op-ed piece, that’s a bit conspiratorial on your part.

    Any president-for-life who fails to provide basic human rights for his people is ALREADY guilty, even before the demonstrations began. The Arab world is gravely sick when the only 2 options are dictator or theocracy.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 29, 2012, 6:34 am
  170. lol Lally ! my boyos! engaged in noble missions! not bad not bad… :)

    Posted by Vulcan | July 29, 2012, 7:47 am
  171. You have been reading too much Daniel Pipes, Mr Palace.

    Imagine that your first response is that Ynet’s military correspondent is a raging lefty post-Zionist Assad fan or something instead of a channel for more dire warnings from the security professionals. (The military censor appears to have different standards for news pieces vs OpEds; the later have more leeway). Alex Fishman was scrupulous in keeping inside the Isreali censorship redlines while highlighting the deep concerns of those whose focus is regional stability. Good for them. Don’t be disappointed in these men, A Palace. They are deeply motivated by patriotism and don’t care a whit about Syrian civil rights.

    Along the same vein:

    Supposedly, Ehud Barak swiftly moved to widely censor a Channel 10 story that the current IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz is telling intimates that he opposes a strike on Iran because it would be a) ineffective and b)that the Homeland is not prepared for the anticipated blowback. From Channel 10’s video to Arutz Sheva’s & Times of Israel’s reporting; the shutdown was swift.

    The timing of Ehud’s alleged news freakout/blackout is suggestive; he probably didn’t want a shmoozing Mitt Romney to catch whiff of the real anti-war opinions of Israel’s TVulcaop General. Not that Mittens would necessarily care.

    Defense Minister Barak is a dangerous, obsessed pr!@%.

    Vulcan.

    ….and the world’s most formidable Shiite is…….hands down…..Ahmed Chalabi!!!!!

    Did you work with him?

    Posted by lally | July 31, 2012, 12:31 am
  172. Lally,

    I appreciate your attempt to read other news outlets outside of SANA, but Alex Fishman’s article was a OP-ED piece. It was his opinion, which is basically what we already ALL know (except you):

    1.) The opposition is a huge unknown quantity interlaced with Islamic fundamentalists.

    2.) Bashar Assad is just as bad, but a (once) known quantity.

    So what? And who is this guy Alex Fishman you are relying so much on? I couldn’t find anything about him.

    Then your manage to take the usual swipe at the CIA (which, BTW, Richard Perle made a career doing) by calling them “cluster effs”. Granted the CIA doesn’t give you a large “bang for its buck”, but I’d say they’ve done a pretty good job keeping terrorists out of the US and stopping them before they attack.

    In conclusion, please explain to the forum why you are a pro-Assad “Hasbarite” (using your favorite word).

    While Israel pretty much sits on its hands (that’s their “secret” foreign policy) waiting for the dust to settle in Syria, explain to us why Syrians do not deserve basic human rights.

    Where do you live Lally? Syria? Do you live in a place that has freedom of speech? Why do you deserve freedom but Syrians don’t?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 31, 2012, 7:09 am
  173. Lally,

    Did I ask too many questions? Cat got your tongue?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 31, 2012, 9:08 am
  174. The BBC has a typical video:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19052238

    I’ll give it a title that appeases the pro-Batthists here:

    “Salafi Terrorists disrupt daily Life in Aleppo”

    And now I’ll give it a title that befits reality:

    “Syrians ‘Voting’ and expressing their opinions since the Baathist government won’t allow it”

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 31, 2012, 9:20 am
  175. Egyptian President Mursi sent Peres a letter. A good sign…

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4262832,00.html

    Daniel Pipes views:

    http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2004/12/bibliography-my-writings-on-moderate-muslims

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 31, 2012, 11:32 am
  176. Berri is saying that Lebanon is about to be transformed into a federation à la Switzerland. But do not worry, he said that his job is to make sure that everyone is aware of the coming dangers.

    Machiavelli 101

    Posted by 3issa | August 2, 2012, 11:00 am
  177. To the defense of the Deir …We will tolerate anything but the desecration of our national flower.. ..Cry Havoc !

    Posted by Vulcan | August 5, 2012, 6:02 pm
  178. ha !

    Posted by 3issa | August 5, 2012, 8:57 pm
  179. QN, with all the hoopla about electoral law going on in Lebanon, may we please have a post from you on that subject? Looking for didactic distillation, context, and definition of possible outcomes (with your usual links to previous posts on the subject). Wa shookran!

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 9, 2012, 8:11 am
  180. The Samha affair is surprising to me. I did not think that Syria and Hezbollah would be so weakened so quickly in Lebanon. Maybe someone is miscalculating like in the case of Hezbollah’s telecommunications network.

    Posted by AIG | August 9, 2012, 12:46 pm
  181. Samaha would seem to be an odd choice for an explosives bagman.

    At this rate though, I wouldn’t be surprised to “learn” that he is somehow linked to the killings in Burgas.

    Posted by lally | August 9, 2012, 4:50 pm
  182. Lally,

    And bombing Aleppo would seem an odd choice also but still Assad is doing so. You couldn’t wait even one minute before delving into the conspiracy la-la land.

    Posted by AIG | August 9, 2012, 6:51 pm
  183. HP,

    I am totally confused as to what the “set up” is in the persecution of Samaha…Could it be Tribunal related?

    Posted by danny | August 9, 2012, 8:14 pm
  184. I waited a lot longer than one minute, AIG. Just trying to get in “conspiracy la-la land” mode & inspired by your wild and wooly post that mentions telecommunications…Especially since the Izzies have announced that their monitoring of calls from Lebanon to Burgas shows an increase of activity in the days preceding the attack…

    There are plenty of conspiracy theories going around the twitterverse including one that Nasrallah is behind the arrest…

    http://twitter.com/#!/search/?q=%23MichelSamaha&src=hash

    Let’s see if you can stay on the topic that you introduced.

    Posted by lally | August 9, 2012, 8:26 pm
  185. Hi, Danny, I’m flattered that you pose me the question which is probably better answered by QN and then chimed on by AIG, as a prelude to a few long winded word fights among the junkies of this blog.
    But, since you asked, and just using simple psychology, I would put a high probability that it IS indeed STL related since some have gone out of their way to say it is NOT.
    Disclaimer: I’m only guessing. Really.
    The chap is likely one of the operatives in the Hariri assassination who, to the investigators’ credit, was not given any hint of the evidence they have collected against him. To avoid another fiasco with the STL where the Lebanese government pleads incompetence of finding and arresting him when the actual evidence and charges are exposed, a preemptive arrest was orchestrated on what is likely a very thin connection as an “explosives bagman,” as Lally correctly points out.
    Disagree?
    Ha!
    Prove me wrong!

    Posted by honestpatriot | August 9, 2012, 9:33 pm
  186. Hashtag Samaha. LoL

    Someone needs to explain twitter to me.

    Posted by Gabriel | August 10, 2012, 2:29 am
  187. Gaby. Try it, you may like it.

    One need not join twitter to “follow” people, conversations and/or issues/ #hashtags of interest. Just click the links and you too can become a fly on the wall.

    Posted by lally | August 10, 2012, 7:25 pm

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