Lebanon, Syria

Western Intelligence and the Arab Revolutions

As I was perusing some of the latest Wikileaks cables, I came across this little nugget about Asif Shawkat, the former head of Syrian Military Intelligence and brother-in-law of President Bashar al-Assad:

05PARIS6580 (September 26, 2005)President Jacques Chirac’s Technical Advisor on Middle East/Americas Dominique Boche “reiterated that the content of the final Mehlis report would be decisive. If the report established direct [Syrian government] responsibility for Hariri’s assassination, Boche speculated that Bashar may give up second-tier officials up to the level of Interior Minister Ghazi Kanaan and former [Syrian Military Intelligence] Chief in Lebanon Rustom Ghazaleh, without touching brother-in law Asif Shawkat, in-laws the Makhlufs, or his brother Mahir. Boche added that he could not exclude any possibilities for regime stability after the Mehlis report; there could be a “palace coup,” with other powerful Alawis taking over; the Alawites could lose control to the Sunnis, who lack leaders; or Bashar could seize the moment to consolidate his authority and marginalize others, as he has started to do since the last Ba’th party congress. [French Ministry of Foreign Affairs Deputy Assistant Secretary-equivalent for Egypt/Levant] Besancenot was more cautious than Boche in reiterating to us that the [Government of France (GoF)] did not want a “total destabilization” in Syria, nor did the GoF want isolation of Syria to lead to it increasing its “nuisance capacity” in the region…”

“Boche confirmed that [Syrian Military Intelligence] Chief Asif Shawkat had visited Paris and met with [French intelligence agency DST] head Bosquet and no other GoF officials, before departing France. Boche described Shawkat’s visit as part of long-standing liaison relationship between French and Syrian security services, and noted Shawkat usually visited France twice a year. Boche described timing for the visit as “unfortunate,” and claimed that there was a lack of coordination within the GoF, with the Elysee learning of the visit only after Shawkat had arrived. He added that Shawkat has a sick child, which could have been another reason for the visit. Boche offered no details on the contents of Shawkat’s discussions with the DST.”


As is clear from the cable, the French were very uneasy about seeing Syria destabilized as a result of the Mehlis Report. If they were that anxious about the political fallout of a humble UN investigation report, I can only imagine what kinds of conversations are taking place today between French and American diplomats about the situation in Syria. For anyone still puzzled about the double standard of the Obama administration on Libya vs. Syria, these cables offer a sobering reminder of the fact that for all the bluster about the Axis of Evil, Hizbullah, Iran, yada yada yada, the prospect of an Assad-less Syria is even more problematic to the West than the “nuisance capacity” of the current regime.

Also, why hasn’t anyone else commented on the fact that Asif Shawkat was visiting France twice a year “as part of a long-standing liaison relationship between French and Syrian security services“? This is Asif Shawkat we’re talking about: the man with no face, the hidden hand of the Syrian mukhabarocracy, etc. Try to find a picture of the guy online and you might luck out with a couple grainy shots here and there. Meanwhile, the French were hosting him on a biannual basis to talk intelligence.

It is well-known that Shawkat (who made Foreign Policy’s list of the Middle East’s Most Powerful Spooks in 2009) also worked with the Americans after the 9/11 attacks to set up intelligence sharing and cooperation, but that this relationship broke down after Syria declined to join the Iraq war in 2003. I guess what I’m saying is that, like Jamil al-Sayyid (whom Feltman outed as an American intelligence asset in another Wikileaks cable), Shawkat is a perfect example of a Middle Eastern strongman whom the West likes to vilify as a public enemy, but who is, in reality, very much a private ally.
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63 thoughts on “Western Intelligence and the Arab Revolutions

  1. Government of France (GoF)] did not want a “total destabilization” in Syria, nor did the GoF want isolation of Syria to lead to it increasing its “nuisance capacity” in the region…


    Arabs killing arabs is better than Arabs killing Westerners; go forth and kill yourselves silly.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 29, 2011, 2:46 pm
  2. Translation, HK was right all along ? !

    Posted by Vulcan | July 29, 2011, 3:50 pm
  3. Vulcan,

    Right about what? That 9-11 was an inside job?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 29, 2011, 4:03 pm
  4. AP,

    What is the Solidere fraud in comparison to Euro/American fraud of creating the “State of Israel” ?

    Posted by R2D2 | July 29, 2011, 4:13 pm
  5. +1

    Posted by 3issa | July 29, 2011, 4:25 pm
  6. Jamil Al-Sayyed was an American intelligence asset? First time I hear that one!
    The plot thickens! (not)

    Seriously. What a farce this all is.

    I’m still waiting for the mother of all revelations where it is revealed that Hassan Nassrallah is a CIA employee who’s been working undercover for 20 years.
    It’ll turn out his real name is John Goldberg, born and raised in Brooklyn and “imported” to Lebanon, after a stint at Langley, circa 1982.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 29, 2011, 4:27 pm
  7. AP,

    I am refering to HK claim that it is Murder Inc supporting Asef and the Sith of Lord Bashar

    R2D2- you should join the Resistance and liberate Palestine like your old Master General Aoun did.

    Posted by Vulcan | July 29, 2011, 5:40 pm
  8. Yaaaawnn. Like any of this matters. Wake me up when we focus on the occupation and liberating Palestine. Then everything will be fine.

    Posted by dontgetit | July 29, 2011, 7:17 pm
  9. dontgetit, are you Palestinian?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | July 29, 2011, 7:45 pm
  10. Yaaaawnning for Freedom


    Anyone can “claim” anything. Provide a link showing that the US is propping-up Syria and Assad (if that’s what you’re claiming). Then I’ll take the link to the local newz station.

    Wake me up when we focus on the occupation and liberating Palestine.


    Why do we need to “wake” you about “liberating Palestine”? Can’t you find the energy to liberate Palestine on your own? It seems the Syrians are a bit more motivated than you are.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 29, 2011, 7:53 pm
  11. dongetit is a Jewish Israeli having some fun at your expense, ask QN!

    Posted by Badr | July 30, 2011, 5:52 am
  12. IMO I do not see anything newsworthy here. For the past five months the west has made it more than transparent that they’d rather have the Assad clan ruling Syria. Off course USA interests coincide always with that of Israel in ME.

    Again; as I have repeated on numerous occasions; Bibi & Bashar are bosom buddies.

    Posted by danny | July 30, 2011, 7:22 am
  13. Could this be the turning point in the ongoing Syrian saga?

    Posted by R2D2 | July 30, 2011, 10:50 am
  14. Re. above executive Syrian statement:

    Does that include Syrians who have been residing in Lebanon for the last 4 years … or they don’t count cause living in Lebanon means Syria?

    Posted by R2D2 | July 30, 2011, 4:16 pm
  15. It would be pleasing to true Lebanese ears to hear Syrian activists acknowledging the rights of the Lebanese.

    Posted by R2D2 | July 30, 2011, 4:28 pm
  16. This actually thickens the plot: with shawkat so close to the DST he must have known that Chirac would not permit Syria to assassinate his “buddy” without paying a hefty price. Could this have been organized by a warring faction of the Syrian intelligence without shawkat’s approval? Doubtful. Kanaan could not have pulled this on his own, and even if Ghazaleh was involved could it be that Shawkat was.completely out of the loop? Interesting info QN. A lot to think about.

    Posted by parrhesia | July 30, 2011, 11:32 pm
  17. why does the usa and france support syria? not clear here ..

    Posted by gregorylent | July 31, 2011, 1:30 am
  18. @ gregorylent

    Cause Israel does. Clear enough?

    Posted by R2D2 | July 31, 2011, 5:47 pm
  19. awsum, R2D2, but it is “israel”, Israhell or zionazis. Kthxbye!!

    Posted by dontgetit | July 31, 2011, 8:31 pm
  20. It is shameful when a regime can unleash a blood bath using its army against civilians without even a critical comment from any Arab country.
    The actions of the Syrian dictatorship demonstrate clearly its bankruptcy and barbaric ethos.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 1, 2011, 12:55 am
  21. Weren’t the various Arab regimes criticizing and calling for emergency meetings back when Ghaddafi started slaughtering his people?
    Why is Syria any different? The silence is deafening.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 1, 2011, 2:15 am
  22. What’s disgusting is that the “Arab League” has not even voiced any concerns…Not that it matters. UN security council has been hamstrung with Russian & Chinese politicking…They can’t even agree on a statement denouncing the violence. I really don’t get that one! Although I believe that Israel’s and Turkey’s interests are taken into consideration here above those of those innocent civilians being butchered by Bashar.

    BTW…Alex where art thou? Only 300 people eh?

    Posted by danny | August 1, 2011, 10:48 am
  23. Yeah. I’ve been asking Alex to come back and comment for some time now. Funny how those guys disappear when their ridiculous claims turn out to be…well….ridiculous.

    Speaking of ridiculous, since there’s not much else happening these days. I’ll throw in a couple of comments:

    – Lassa affair: What the hell is going on there? Nice to see HA “agree” to refer the matter to the proper authorities only to have thugs in “black cars with tinted windows” intimidate policemen doing their jobs….

    – HA’s latest proclamation: “Anyone interfering with the formula of “Army, Resistance, People” is against Lebanon. Must be nice to dictate the formula on others, then claim that anyone standing against it is a traitor…Every statement coming out of these clowns mouths confirms their unilateralism. Basically “We set policy. Then we claim it’s Lebanese policy. Then we insist that if you’re against said policy, you’re against Lebanon.”
    Brilliant, really.

    – The sheeple continue to swallow that shite, hook, line and sinker.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 1, 2011, 12:37 pm
  24. @20

    You don’t get it!

    Just cause I have an opinion about the Palestinian/Israeli conflict does not mean that I personally believe Sayed Hassan Nasrallah or his Hezbollah are a or the solution.

    If I am against something … doesn’t mean I am with anything.

    Posted by R2D2 | August 1, 2011, 6:37 pm
  25. Danny,
    I did not mean to disregard your post about the role of electionering in the debt ceiling debacle but I was out of town for a few days without access to the internet.. Your point is true but yet the crisis was a purely manufactured one than did not serve any purpose besides creating uncertainty in the financial markets.
    The clowns on capitol hill have not enhanced either their credibility or that of the country. I am going to be smitten by the progressive gods for saying this but Obama sure helped this uncalled for crisis through his inability to manage it. What is ironic is that both sides made it very clear that this is not about default and that they take very seriously the idea of US obligations. Yet their political wrangling managed to create a cloud of uncertainty about the whole issue of financial obligations.
    The US , just like many other countries, needs to put its fiscal house in order, but its overall fiscal health is no where close to what has been portrayed recently. US overall debt is $14 trillion but about $6 trillion of that is owed to other government agencies. This means that the public holds only about $ 8 trillion of the US debt. This is very impportant since it imp-lies that the US can borrow $6 trillion in order to pay it back to the Social security administration and yet that will not increase US overall indebtedness by a single penny.
    I will admit that I have been very wrong in dismissing the influence of the Tea Party but I still believe that they have not done themselves or the coutry a favour through all of these shenanigans. (I am no lawyer but I am willing to bet that the debt ceiling law, if not looked upon as proforma, is unconstitutional.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 1, 2011, 6:52 pm
  26. The Tea Party will eventually crash and burn and consume itself. It’s only a matter of time.
    Until then, much like other demagogues worldwide (including our own in Lebanon), all they are good for is populist whining (and not providing any realistic solutions to anything).
    It’s all well and good to want a smaller government and all that, but these same folks will be the first ones lining up and crying foul when it is THEM who have to pay the price.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 1, 2011, 7:08 pm
  27. BV,

    Alex emerged in SC for a while yesterday promising to be back with a long article. It seems the line he is pushing now is that the opposition is violent also and that there is some equivalence between the regime violence and opposition violence.

    On another subject altogether, the FPM forum cannot even bring itself to have a discussion on what is happening in Syria. They had to discontinue the thread. And Aoun seems to be supporting the Syrian regime. I can’t believe he does not think this might have long term consequences. It looks like the FPM and Hezbollah are going all in on Assad surviving, unlike Junblatt.

    Posted by AIG | August 2, 2011, 11:14 am
  28. AIG

    The FPM forum is hilarious these days. The reason why they can’t bring themselves to have a discussion about Syria is because the vast majority of FPMers are privately disgusted with what is happening across the border but are afraid to air their grievances on a public forum. The Orange Room has, in general, become the preserve of only the most die-hard Aounist hooligans. There’s a lot of disenchantment in the ranks.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | August 2, 2011, 11:17 am
  29. AIG,

    That’s pretty hilarious (about Alex). Even the most naive can tell that there is zero equivalency between the Syrian regime and the protesters.
    Last I checked, the protesters were not using tanks to shell residential civilian neighborhood. Point, Set, Match.

    As for the FPM and HA. I, for one (and being definitely partisan here) think it’s a great thing that they’re going “all in” with the Assad regime. They’ll go down in flames when it does. Jumblatt, as usual, is taking a much more cautious approach.

    As for the FPM forums. Funny you bring that up. I had never been there until yesterday. I was bored. QN comments were slow. So I decided to take a look over there and see what those bozos were talking about.
    Let’s just say that I came off with the impression that I’d just witnessed a room full of fussy 5-year olds. I have got to believe that there are some more “normal” FPM’ers out there. They probably just don’t bother commenting on that forum. As QN said, it must be just the die hard hooligans.

    I am no big fan of Hariri or M14, and I am certainly no fan of Saudi Arabia. But those guy’s obssession with “Saudi/Salafi/Al Qaeda” is beyond hilarious.
    Equating M14 with Al Qaeda in every damn comment is a bit beyond the pale, IMO. And the sad thing, as best as I could tell, is that they weren’t being facetious or using hyperbole. Those guys honestly believe that M14 and Al Qaeda pretty much the same thing.
    It would be funny if it weren’t so sad, watching such degrees of self-delusion.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 2, 2011, 12:51 pm
  30. As usual, I like to bring you guys some fun Claoun quotes every now and again.

    Aoun pointed out however: “The arms present under the state’s control are not enough to put the Lebanese at ease.”
    “The army alone is not capable of defending Lebanon and neither is Hizbullah,” he remarked.

    Coming from a former army commander, what a ringing endorsement of the army.
    I wonder how all those troops who fought for him in 1989 feel about such statements. I wonder how the relatives of those who died for him in 1989 feel about this.
    It’s too freaking bad Aoun didn’t have HA on his side back in 1989, he woulda made quick work of the LF and everybody else and become Emperor of Lebanon in no time!
    Instead, he was stuck with a bunch of incompetent Lebanese Armed Forces personel who let him get overrun by the Syrians….

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 2, 2011, 1:03 pm
  31. AIG,
    Is there anything serious about PM Netanyahu’s latest offer or should it be regarded only as a delaying tactic? Is he in a position where by he can declare a settlement freeze?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 2, 2011, 2:07 pm
  32. Good question Gus. Was wondering that myself.
    Besides, it was never quite confirmed. Sounded more like an unsubstantiated rumor, the way it was reported.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 2, 2011, 2:41 pm
  33. It is really sickening. What do we call the goings on in Syria? I cannot find a fitting term. What is more, the nations that sit by idly or refuse to condemn like the UN nations of Russia, China et al. Closer to home, some selfish individuals back the Assad regime as if their life depended on it and pro Assad media focus on the attrocities committed by the demonstraters, depicting them wielding pistols and knives. They bunch together the million protesters as having been influenced by Zuwahiri and other salafi figures. Assad denied harboring terrorists when the US pressed him on the issue of Iraq, now he claims there are millions. The ministry of disinformation is in overdrive.predictable and pathetic.
    We debated with the Alex’s, untangling their logic thread by thread and they kept throwing mud on the wall with their petty excuses. It is a real shame. Shameful and disgusting. Months later, the same old threats and fear mongering still linger and the world stands idly by watching. If March 14 and the so called freedom movement is to do anything useful and get back some self respect, they must gather in martyrs square in their hundreds and thousands in support of the Syrian people. It would be a potent message to the world.

    Posted by maverick | August 2, 2011, 6:58 pm
  34. Then you have this…

    Dozens of pro-Syrian regime supporters attacked a group of around 30 protesters demonstrating in Beirut’s Hamra neighborhood in front of the Syrian embassy on Tuesday evening, injuring at least five people…

    The witnesses said that the attackers beat the protesters in front of the embassy with belts, adding that one person was rushed to Beirut’s Makasid Hospital while another was admitted to the nearby American University Hospital.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 2, 2011, 7:45 pm
  35. “Dozens of pro-Syrian regime supporters attacked a group…”

    SSNP anyone?

    Posted by danny | August 2, 2011, 8:03 pm
  36. I have known many westerners whose first reaction when they look at the SSNP symbol is to think of the Nazi symbol. Does anyone know the origin of the SSNP symbol (Al Zawba’a)?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 2, 2011, 8:30 pm
  37. Here you go Ghassan:(BTW, I was curious too)


    The SSNP emblem is a combination of the crescent and the cross.The party flag features a red hurricane, called the zawba’a, within a white circle on a black background. Each arm symbolizes one of the four virtues of the party’s mission: freedom, duty, discipline and power. It is alleged that the symbol was modeled after the Nazi swastika

    Posted by LebanesePatriot | August 2, 2011, 10:41 pm
  38. GK,

    I think Israeli politicians will be too busy with the “social justice” protests we are going through right now to be serious about peace efforts.

    Posted by AIG | August 2, 2011, 11:21 pm
  39. I was wondering about that social justice protest stuff as well.
    Care to enlighten us a bit, AIG? What’s going on exactly?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 2, 2011, 11:50 pm
  40. BV,

    Basically, the cost of housing in Israel has risen much faster than the average salary making getting a house problematic, especially in the Tel-Aviv area. That was the trigger. Other groups with complaints have latched onto this. They are preparing a list of demands which they will publish soon. They will consist of things like:
    1) Some land reform and subsidies to reduce housing costs
    2) Reduction of consumption taxes (VAT)
    3) Child care expenses covered from age 3 months

    Netanyahu will give them just enough to stay in power and then we will see how strong politically these groups are in the next election. I would prefer Netanyahu go to elections now over these issues instead of giving handouts, but he likes his stable coalition.

    Posted by AIG | August 3, 2011, 12:17 am
  41. I might be stating the obvious, but the 4 points of the SSNP zorba the Greek, points to the boundaries of the fertile crescent or greater Syria. Iraq, Syria,Cyprus and Palestine…Lebanon is in the middle and an artificially created entity.

    Posted by maverick | August 3, 2011, 1:06 am
  42. Here is the “official” meanoing of the SSNP “swastika” as explained by Atun Sa’adeh himself in a 1935 speech:

    “Ever since that hour we have repudiated by our actions the judgment of history and begun our true history – the history of freedom, duty, organization, and power, the histo-ry of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, the true history of the Syrian nation. ”

    The stylizes and of the cross stand for : Freedom, Duty, Organization and Power.

    I have never done any research even remotely related to the SSNP but the symbol that they chose in addition to the the name “social nationalist” not to mention the timing, 1932 , make me wonder whether there is more to this than meets the eye.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 3, 2011, 12:41 pm
  43. GK,

    Antun Saadeh, the founder of the SSNP was a raving antisemite. I don’t have time pull the quotes but he was bat-shit lunatic anti-Jewish.

    Posted by AIG | August 3, 2011, 12:52 pm
  44. AIG,

    I never understood why the GOI never did more to give Israeli businesses substantial tax breaks for locating away from Tel Aviv?

    It’s crazy. You have large cities in the south like Beer Sheva, Ashdod and Ashkelon that could sorely use an influx of good jobs, and there’s a lot more unpopulated area to build.

    OK, what is an “FPMer”?


    Netanyahu’s agreeing to the holy “’67 lines” (with modifications) was met by another demand from the Palestinians: stop building on “occupied land”.

    Who knew?:)

    I guess BB felt he needed to make Obama happy. OK, now what?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 3, 2011, 1:17 pm
  45. AP,
    But how can a promise to negotiate a comprehensive solution based on the 1967 borders be taken seriously if the construction on the settlements does not stop? The PA has always said that a freeze on the construction is a prerequisite.
    The PA already has 122 UN member countries that have recognized a Palestinian state. Netanyahu has nothing to gain as recognition gains more support. Eventually the solution that could have been achieved twenty years ago is going to prevail.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 3, 2011, 1:44 pm
  46. GK,

    From my vantage point, stopping settlement building means Jews have given up on living in the Old City of Jerusalem, the already larger towns of the WB as well as living as full protected citizens of Palestine. If building stops in these areas, it means the only step remaining to conclude an agreement is the removal of Jews.

    The PA has always said that a freeze on the construction is a prerequisite.

    To my knowledge, there is already a “freeze” on new settlements that Israel abides by. Per past agreements, building within existing settlements is legal. Obama and the PA want to change the rules.


    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 3, 2011, 2:20 pm
  47. AP,

    I honestly do not understand your logic there.
    How is it that stopping the building of settlement means giving up on living in larger WB towns or living as full protected citizens of Palestine?

    I am not trying to be thick. I honestly did not understand that sentence.

    To me, it seems a reasonable demand. If you and I are going to negotiate on a piece of land. And we both know that in the end, you’re going to keep your big settlements, and give me some land elsewhere in exchange, what on earth does that have to do with
    – giving up on being a full citizen of Palestine?
    – giving up on the big WB cities?

    Neither of those things are on the table in any kind of way. I think that much is pretty clear to all.
    NO ONE is talking about kicking Jews out of Ariel, for example (as far as I know).
    It is pretty much a known equation. You have the top floor of a house, i have the bottom floor. We had a war in ’67 and you gained a part of the bottom floor. And you have since established yourself there and it is obvious you can’t give it up.
    So the solution is to keep it and give me some equivalent size room upstairs.
    I think everyone and their mother has already figured out that’s what’s gonna happen eventually.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 3, 2011, 2:44 pm
  48. Guys,

    In the past stopping the settlement activity was not a requirement for negotiations. It is something Abbas latched on because of Obama.

    The basic Israeli point is why should we stop settlements in areas we know will be part of Israel in the end, such as areas in Jerusalem? Abbas is asking for a settlement freeze everywhere. Why?

    Posted by AIG | August 3, 2011, 3:38 pm
  49. AIG,

    I believe Abbas has always asked for a freeze. At least as far back as I can remember, that’s always been a precondition.
    The basic Israeli point is somewhat valid, if you take the stance of “as long as we know these will be part of Israel in the end.”
    But I think that’s not a given to others. And it kind of goes against the concept of negotiating the land.
    See, the thing is, like it or not, admit it or not, the settlement policy (and I don’t mean the current one, i mean going as far back as the 70s) was designed to establish de facto land grabs. I think even Israelis can admit to that. Possession is 9/10th of the law of whatever the saying goes.
    You build settlements, and then you say “Well, gee. I can’t move all those people out. So I should keep this piece of land.”
    So regardless of the current policy of partial freeze, you can probably understand that, viewed from the other side, it may look like negotiating in bad faith.
    Let me put it this way, Israel has given its own preconditions: No more rockets. Interlocutor must recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Right?
    By your logic of “We all know what’s gonna happen in the end”, wouldn’t it stand to dismiss those preconditions too?
    “Well, we can negotiate now, because we all know that in the end the rockets will stop eventually.”
    That logic makes no sense to me.

    And then, on top of all that, while there may not be a big issue with Israel building on existing settlements in the WB, there is a whole different matter when it comes to East Jerusalem.
    With EJ, you can’t even say “We know it’s gonna be part of Israel in the end” to justify building.
    That matter IS for negotiations. There is zero agreement on how that one’s gonna look like “in the end”.
    Yet Israel keeps building there. And you wonder why the Palestinians think it’s bad faith on the part of the Israelis?
    It would be akin (in my previous analogy) to Abbas repeating that he’ll negotiate with you, while he lobs rockets at you every day. You say “We won’t talk till the rockets stop.” and he says “Just talk to me…Once we figure things out, the rockets may stop…”
    I don’t know of one Israeli who’d go for that logic.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 3, 2011, 3:56 pm
  50. BV,

    Abbas did negotiate in the past while settlements were on going, for example during the Annapolis process. I can understand why Palestinians may think we are negotiating in bad faith, on the other hand, I can also see why they should negotiate faster to stop Israel establishing facts on the ground. So, it goes both ways. In the past the Palestinians thought they could wait with negotiations because no settlement was on going. But the settlements changed this view.

    Posted by AIG | August 3, 2011, 4:36 pm
  51. BV
    But you see rockets are being lobbed at Israel daily,
    from Gaza. The other day an Arab shepardess was injured
    in Israel by such rocket. You did not hear about that because what is one injured woman compared to what is going on in Syria, Iraq, Libya, etc. But still most Israelies see that as a good cop bad cop game. And as a matter of fact that is exactely what Abbas is saying: “Just talk to me…Once we figure things out, the rockets may stop…”. I and few others think that Israel will lose nothing by declaring another temporary stop of building in Jerusalem, Judaea and Samaria. It would have helped us if the Hamas would stop that rocket game and if people in Lebanon, the most
    beligerent Arab nation toward Israel, would lower the tone and will start drilling instead of bad mouthing. No I am not asking for declarations of love, you can hate us as much as you want or need but if possible lower the tone, a little bit. You can see, it may even save some lives. Thank you.

    Posted by Rani Hazbani | August 3, 2011, 5:02 pm
  52. AIG,

    I think we agree then. I too think the Palestinians should move forward with negotiations quicker.
    Maybe not for the same reason as you. I happen to feel the Palestinians are negotiating from a position of weakness and I don’t think waiting will do them any good or improve their position. So yeah. The sooner we end this charade the better…Specially since we all know the outcome already.


    In all fairness, Abbas is not in control of Gaza and is therefore not the one lobbing rockets.
    For the most part, Abbas can’t really be held responsible for that. He’s saying talk to me, but stop building. And I think, even though Israel knows it will get to keep the big settlements, it can at least show some good faith by stopping construction, in, let’s say East Jerusalem (since that one’s still unresolved). I think both sides here are guilty of making it harder for negotiations to continue.

    To me, if we both know the foregone conclusion is an exchange of territory, based loosely around ’67 lines (and i think we all agree that’s the solution). Then let’s say so and stop playing games about preconditions.
    Let both Abbas and Bibi come out and say “This is what we’re shooting towards. ’67 lines with some exchanges.”
    Let them also add “We’ll stop building in EJ for now, as a gesture of good faith, since that one remains a dicey proposition” and “We recognize the state of Israel (and the state of Palestine) starting right now, even though we still need to hammer out the details of the borders.”

    Everyone should be happy with that.
    – Israel gets recognition immediately (that was one of their preconditions).
    – Abbas gets recognition for Palestine (and he can now go to the UN with USA and Israel’s blessing).
    – East Jerusalem is on hold. That will be negotiated.
    – Negotiations can start right away because there are no preconditions.

    Simple. No?

    Then, you take a few days off. Let each side celebrate their independence/recognition. Put together some committees of expert and start negotiating the details of land swaps, Jerusalem and the refugees.

    Why is it so hard?
    Both sides are making it harder than it needs to be.
    Instead of letting preconditions rule the day and postpone any progress. Do away with the preconditions by agreeing to them (instead of this ridiculous “we want no preconditions at all”).
    If both sides agree to the other side’s preconditions, that gets the ball rolling and only the details to be worked out!

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 3, 2011, 5:59 pm
  53. Also, since apparently there’s not much else going on here…

    Let me be the first to express my utter disgust with Lebanon’s stance vis a vis the UN Sec. Council statement on Syria today.
    It is the height of hypocrisy to refuse to condemn the violence committed on civilians in Syria (Or anywhere else for that matter).
    It would behoove the Lebanese to remember the way they felt in 1982 or 2006 when civilians were suffering at the hand of the IDF, when this or that nation refused to condemn…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 3, 2011, 6:46 pm
  54. Are u surprised BV ? It was a given. I’m just hoping for more involvement from the Lebanese, especially the M14 bunch. At least those odd 50 that protested in the Hamra caused a stir.
    When ideology envelopes reality, people become delusional.

    Posted by maverick | August 3, 2011, 7:36 pm
  55. Sadly, there is no ideology here either. What ideology do any of these people share with Bashar & co? Does anyone even know what ideology Bashar espouses beyond “keep my family in power”?

    This is not about ideology. This is about cronies and lackeys, grovelling at the feet of the regime that feeds them (or arms them, rather).

    Thugs for hire have no ideology. They simply follow the gang leader…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 3, 2011, 7:52 pm
  56. AP,
    What rules? The Fourth Geneva Convention that practically the whole world subscribes to or is it the settlement on privately owned Palestinian land?
    Don’t insult everybody’s intelligence by claiming that the law is on the Israeli side. Forget about ideology, hatred,race, religion … and just view this through the impartial lens of the law. No country is allowed to occupy land and then “steal” it by denying its owners their title on the land in order to resettle its own. This was the reading of the Israeli government counsel in 1967 under Ashkol and it is the opinion of every single government in the world except that of Israel 🙂 Further more Peace Now have documents that 40% of the land used for settlements is privately owned by the Palestinians who are kept out of the settlements. Speak about adding insult to injury !!!

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 3, 2011, 8:50 pm
  57. BV #55,
    A closer reading of the Lebanese position makes it less reprehensible. The UNSC does not use Presidential Statements often and what might have gone unnoticed and not emphasized enough by the press is that such statements must be unanimous. This simply means that Lebanon could have objected to the statement and thus blocked it ( Wouldn’t that be something? Lebanon frustrating the efforts of all the other members of the security council?)
    Cooler heads prevailed and Lebanon did not object to the statement but dissociated itself from it in order to preserve unanimity. As usual the Lebanese tried to have it both ways, they did not bloc the statement but yet they dissociated themselves from it. If this is an indication of how this Lebanese cabinet deals with crisis then we are in trouble.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 3, 2011, 9:15 pm
  58. Now we know: Peace in the ME has little to do with the Palis.

    How is it that stopping the building of settlement means giving up on living in larger WB towns or living as full protected citizens of Palestine?


    Because the PA interprets “the building of settment” to mean even the building of new homes in existing settlements. This means jewish settlement growth stops abrubtly and suddenly BEFORE any negotiations start.

    Some jews would opt to live under the PA control if they believed the PA would protect them like Arabs in Israel. But because the PA has never proposed anything like this, there’s no chance it would fly, especially if Israel were to take the step and halt all building beyond the green line BEFORE negotiations resume.

    This issue is akin to requirement that the PA put down its guns BEFORE negotiating. That means even if there is no progress in negotiations, there is still a “defacto” peace arrangement.

    So, without placing judgement, we are at an impasse, where both sides are content where they are now.


    But its government [Israel] argues that the international conventions relating to occupied land do not apply to the Palestinian territories because they were not under the legitimate sovereignty of any state in the first place.

    IOW, the “country” of Palestine is not a member, sovereign country and has no defined borders. Israel is “occupying” “arab land”, just as Jordan “occupied” the same “arab land” that has no border between 1950 and 1967.

    DOn’t worry about it, there are bigger “fish to fry” in the ME.


    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 3, 2011, 9:15 pm
  59. Suffering from Goldstones

    I just want to get this off my chest.

    Now that another 50 Syrians got killed today, I don’t believe the number that “1400” protesters have been killed since the demonstrations started 4 months ago. This 1400 was used al least a month ago, and the number of dead has been climbing pretty high these past 2 weeks.

    In short, the number of dead Syrians have surpassed that of the number of Gazans killed in Operation Cast Lead.

    Who out there believes the Arab and International community has been equally vocal about the death of Syrians by Syria as the death of Gazans by Israel? And how many missiles have the Syrian protesters shot into Syrian population centers?


    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 3, 2011, 9:25 pm
  60. AK,

    I know I personally voiced my disgust in this very thread to the deafening silence of Arabs in the face of the Syrian regime butchering its people. There is simply no excuse for this. Period.

    (And it has nothing to do with comparing to Cast Lead or anything else, IMO).

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 4, 2011, 2:06 am
  61. When Will Goldstone Visit Syria NewZ

    After 5 months and over 2000 deaths:

    The UN Security Council has condemned the Syrian government for its deadly crackdown on protesters.

    It is the first clear condemnation issued by the Security Council, which includes longstanding allies of Syria such as Russia.


    After 3 weeks of heavy missile firing:

    An Israeli ground invasion began on January 3. … The war ended on January 18, when Israel first declared a unilateral cease fire…


    Main article: International reaction to the Gaza War
    See also: Antisemitic incidents during the Gaza War.
    While Israel defined its operation as a war against Hamas, Palestinian representatives and individuals, among others, viewed it as a “war on the Palestinian people.”[409][410][411][412][413][414]

    The United Nations Security Council issued a statement on December 28, 2008 calling “for an immediate halt to all violence”.[415] The Arab League,[416] the European Union and many nations made similar calls.[417] On January 9, 2009, following an earlier, failed attempt at a ceasefire resolution,[418] the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1860 calling for “an immediate, durable and fully respected cease-fire” leading to a full Israeli withdrawal and an end to Gaza arms smuggling, by 14 votes to one abstention (the United States).[419] The resolution was ignored by both Israel and Hamas.[420]

    Governmental proclamations regarding the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict


    States that endorsed the Israeli position/defined Israel’s action as falling within its right to defense.
    States that condemned Hamas action only.
    States that endorsed the Hamas position/defined Hamas’ actions as falling within its right of resistance.
    States that condemned Israeli action only.
    States that called for an end to hostilities, and condemned neither/both belligerents.
    States that made no official statement on the conflict.Many governments expressed positions on the conflict, most condemning both belligerents, or neither of them. Thirty-four states, mostly members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, condemned Israel’s attacks exclusively. Three of them expressed support for Hamas’ operations or defined them as falling within its right of resistance. Nineteen states, mostly members of the European Union, condemned Hamas’ attacks exclusively. Thirteen of them expressed support for Israel’s operations or defined them as falling within Israel’s right to self defense.

    Bolivia, Jordan, Mauritania and Venezuela significantly downscaled or severed their relations with Israel in protest of the offensive.[421][422][423][424]

    The conflict saw worldwide civilian demonstrations for and against both sides.[425]

    The conflict triggered a wave of reprisal attacks against Jewish targets in Europe and elsewhere.[426] The worldwide number of recorded antisemitic incidents during the conflict more than tripled the number of such incidents in the same period of the previous year, marking a two-decade high.[427]

    The British government reviewed its export licenses to Israel for violations of EU and national arms export control laws and revoked five export licenses for replacement parts and other equipment for Saar 4.5 gunboats used by Israel because they were used in the Gaza offensive, although 16 export licenses for other British defense items to Israel were approved.[428]

    The conflict has been called the Gaza Massacre (Arabic: مجزرة غزة‎) in the Arab world.[429][430][431] Khaled Meshaal Hamas leader in Damascus called for suicide bombings. Ismail Haniyeh, PM of Hamas government of the Gaza Strip, said: “Palestine has never witnessed an uglier massacre”.[432]


    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 4, 2011, 7:47 am

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