Friday, December 31, 2010

Can Saudi media stoop any lower? "..كل ما على رئيس مصر هو أن يقول «يا عرب» لينزل مئة مليون عربي الى الشارع .."

Dar Al Hayat - عيون وآذان (كل ما على رئيس مصر هو أن يقول «يا عرب»)

France to Lebanon: "Sarkozy expected in Beirut as soon as a compromise settlement is announced.."

"... Sarkozy is expected to head to Beirut as soon as a compromise settlement over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon indictment is announced to end the country’s political impasse , French diplomatic sources revealed on Friday. The sources told the Kuwaiti al-Anbaa newspaper that the visit would be aimed at asserting France’s support to the compromise settlement..."

US to Lebanon: "Forget bilateral or regional agreements ...on with civil war!"

The US ambassador to Lebanon insisted on Friday that "... the special tribunal is an independent judicial entity, .... Its work is legitimate and necessary, and cannot be stopped by any bilateral or regional agreement, ..... The... indictments, when they are released, will mark a new stage in a transparent, independent judicial process ..."

Happy, Healthy & Prosperous New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mubarak's minions: "Al-Bashir's regime is the “worst” in the country’s history ..."

".. The strong statements of the Egyptian official come at the heels of rare criticism made by the semi-official Al-Ahram newspaper last week to Bashir for policies which it said lead to the South wanting to break away from the rest of the country. Egyptian officials in the past have shyly blamed Bashir’s NCP party for the likely split of Sudan. Last February, Egyptian president reportedly criticized Khartoum for lacking the will to preserve the unity...... 
El-Fiqy warned of the potential threats to Egyptian national security caused by Sudan’s breakup saying that “Israel will have a presence on our southern border""The previous head of Israeli military intelligence admitted that Israel supervised the training of the Southern military," El-Fiqi said, adding that Israel has "units" there. He further pointed out that South Sudan leader Salva Kiir announced that he will open an Israeli embassy in the new state. However, Kiir denied the reports on the embassy in an interview with the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat...."

"Legalizing the Ghettoization of Lebanon"

Al Akhbar

Israel (finally) fits as a Middle Eastern thing ...

Israel's similarity with many Arab countries: the head of state is a rapist. However, the similarities stop here: Arab rapist-leaders take pride in the doings and are never exposed, much less, prosecuted!

"Many Arab officials are US spies in their own countries"

"... Top officials in several Arab countries have close links with the CIA, and many officials keep visiting US embassies in their respective countries voluntarily to establish links with this key US intelligence agency, says Julian Assange, founder of the whistle-blowing website, WikiLeaks. “These officials are spies for the US in their countries,” Assange told Al Jazeera Arabic channel in an interview yesterday.
The interviewer, Ahmed Mansour, said at the start of the interview which was a continuation of last week’s interface, that Assange had even shown him the files that contained the names of some top Arab officials with alleged links with the CIA.
Assange or Mansour, however, didn’t disclose the names of these officials.....Currently, his whistle-blowing website is exposing files in a ‘responsible’ manner, he claimed. “But if I am forced we could go to the extreme and expose each and every file that we have access to,” thundered the WikiLeaks founder. “We must protect our sources at whatever cost. This is our sincere concern.”...."

Ammar 'Gadgets' Houri: "no SS deals acorn" (bala balloot)

"... Reports that Saudi Arabia and Syria had persuaded Lebanese leaders to reject an assassination tribunal's findings are baseless, a lawmaker said...
Ammar Houri, a lawmaker in Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri's March 14 coalition, told Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper there was nothing to support reports of a deal brokered by Syria and Saudi Arabia....."

"Do you know 'stick'?"

Saad: "Do you know stick'?"
Fuad: "Not now, I am texting"

"The Prince & the Political Pauper"

Prince Muqrin & Saad Hariri

Helen Thomas: Thrown to the wolves

Helen Thomas: Thrown to the wolves - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Quasi-defunct An Nahar: "US is happy with Syria's obedience!"

"... U.S. President Barack Obama's appointment of a U.S. Ambassador to Syria was probably partially related to the situation in Lebanon..... probably a result of Syria accomplishing a "valuable mission" for the U.S., whether in Lebanon, Iraq, or Palestine, or that it was part of a number of missions Syria is expected to fulfill to mobilize a few pending issues in the Middle East. One such mission, could have been Syria's role in preventing Hizbullah from executing military action as part of its campaign against the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, they said. Future missions expected of Syria revolve around halting the passage of weapons from Iran to Lebanon, which passes through Syria, breaking the strategic agreement between Syria and Iran, and closing Hamas and Islamic Jihad offices in Damascus. On a related note, political sources close to Syria predicted that the Saudi-Syrian initiative to end the Lebanese political crisis would call for a governmental change after the release of the indictment ..."

Why Israelis leave ... (any reason is good)

"... AGAINST this intellectual backdrop, the US Census Bureau has just released new figures on the number of Israelis living in the US at the end of 2009. According to the data, the number of individuals born in Israel now living in the US grew by about 30 percent since 2000. Some 140,323 people living in the States at the end of 2009 were born in Israel, up from 109,720 in 2000. Of the Israelis living there, 90,179 had US citizenship; 50,144 did not.
Some observers will doubtless be tempted to interpret this rise as a direct result of disenchantment with Israel’s failure to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians. But, strikingly, Walt, Lustick and others claiming that “moderate” Israelis are abandoning the Zionist project, ostensibly fed up with Israeli policies, have never actually troubled to ask the Israeli expatriates why they left.
Now, several immigration sociologists have done that. One of them is Lilach Lev-Ari, who heads the Oranim Academic College of Education’s sociology department. From in-depth interviews with hundreds of Israeli expats in North America, Lev-Ari has reached the conclusion that “push” factors such as the two Lebanon wars, the two intifadas and suicide bombings had negligible impact on emigration. In contrast, economic “pull” factors have dominated since the 1970s, when Israelis began to go abroad en masse..."

“ has recently accessed your account”

Our friend EM of Qifa Nabki' fame, flagged this link for us:
"...So it was 3 AM – i was logged into gmail for 3-4 hours and then the warning goes on. This rules out the possibility that my IP just got natted to theirs – so i logged out all sessions, changed passwords,etc
But seriously? Leb Govt ? accessing ppl’s mail accounts while in their sleep ?I am wondering how much we need to re-think our online privacy as lebanese and actions to be taken ..."

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"I want more money, or I'll join the Taliban..."

"... The leader of the largest militia near the town of Matani, a wealthy landowner named Dilawar Khan, warns that he will stop cooperating with police unless he gets more money and weapons from authorities. Speaking to The Associated Press, he adds what could be a veiled threat to join the militants...."

"'Paying off' the very insurgents we fight ..."

"... The Agility case has thrown a spotlight on other Gulf companies. Agility's cancelled contract was subsequently awarded to Anham, a group in Dubai. A congressional committee has requested that Anham provide documents as part of a wider investigation into claims that transport companies in Afghanistan paid protection money to the Taliban for safe passage...."

Diabolical Iranian plan in Iraq, uncovered!

"...In the heart of Baghdad's Green Zone, just yards from the mighty fortress of the biggest U.S. embassy in the world, a small but symbolic challenge to America's rapidly waning influence in Iraq is taking shape in the form of an Iranian ice cream parlor.
Ice Pack, an aggressive new franchise that proclaims its intent to challenge U.S. fast-food hegemony worldwide, will open its Green Zone branch in January, said Ali Hazem Haideri, the shop's Iraqi manager. The building is under construction, but when complete, it will offer customers a choice of 34 ice cream flavors, along with a front-row view of the comings and goings of the heavily armored convoys that whisk U.S. officials through the blast walls protecting the embassy nearby...
In some ways, Ice Pack's push into the Green Zone is more of a snub than a challenge. Iranian-made ice cream is a lesser threat to U.S. officials than the Iranian-made rockets, fired by Iranian-trained and funded militias, that periodically crash into the embassy and its environs..."

'Enough's enough' says Obama as he bypasses Congress to Syria ...

"....Obama took the controversial step of forcing through the appointments of Ambassador Robert Ford and five other officials while the Senate -- which normally needs to confirm nominations -- was out of session. A senior administration official traveling with Obama on vacation in Hawaii justified the recess appointments, which are certain to irritate Republicans after both sides spoke of bipartisanship in the waning days of the last Congress.
"All administrations face delays in getting some of their nominees confirmed, but the extent of Republican obstruction of Obama nominees is unprecedented," the official said on condition of anonymity.....
The administration sees Syria as a crucial link in diplomatic efforts to negotiate peace in the Middle East. It has also hoped to step up intelligence cooperation with Syria, while saying that Ford would directly air US concerns. Republicans, who swept November mid-term elections, have adamantly opposed the appointment....
Ford, who would likely head soon to Damascus, is a veteran US diplomat in the Arab world..."

Dahlan on the run!

"...Mais où est donc passé Mohammed Dahlan ? Indésirable à Ramallah en Cisjordanie, l’ex-homme fort de la bande de Gaza serait réfugié en Serbie, nous affirme un diplomate européen, qui rentre des territoires palestiniens. ..."

"Rarity in the region" the 'daring & provoking' Al Akhbar ...

".. Ibrahim al-Amine, the hawk-eyed editorial chairman of Al Akhbar, describes his newspaper’s founding ambitions this way: “We wanted the U.S. ambassador to wake up in the morning, read it and get upset.”
He succeeded. Earlier this month Al Akhbar became the only Arab newspaper to obtain its own substantial batch of WikiLeaks cables and gleefully cataloged various embarrassments to the region’s kings, princes and politicians. Soon afterward, the paper’s popular Web site came under a cyberattack that became a story in its own right, and provided more free publicity.
It was the latest coup for a five-year-old paper that has become the most dynamic and daring in Lebanon, and perhaps anywhere in the Arab world. In a region where the news media are still full of obsequious propaganda, Al Akhbar is now required reading, even for those who abhor its politics.
They are a remarkable blend: the paper champions gay rights, feminism and other leftist causes, even as it wholeheartedly supports Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite movement. Al Akhbar’s access to Hezbollah allows it to scoop other papers on Lebanon’s biggest continuing story, but it also publishes muckraking exposés on the abuse of domestic workers, prison overcrowding and other delicate subjects. Add splashy full-page color photos and witty tabloid-style headlines, and you have an alluring product.
“Our project is basically anti-imperialism,” said Khaled Saghieh, Al Akhbar’s mild and cerebral managing editor, who abandoned a Ph.D. in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, to help start the paper. That insurrectionary theme, he said, links the paper’s resistance to neoliberal economic policies and its support for Hezbollah’s fight against Israel. There are plenty of disagreements with Hezbollah, whose members regularly call to complain about articles — though not in any official capacity. But the Shiite group’s leaders appear to recognize the importance of maintaining alliances across Lebanon’s complex sectarian and political landscape.
Al Akhbar has sometimes criticized Hezbollah in print (though mildly), and Mr. Saghieh himself — who writes a regular column — has written excoriating critiques of Hezbollah’s chief Christian ally, the party of Michel Aoun, a former general.
The paper suffers from many of the same flaws as the mainstream Arab press: too much reliance on single sources, and news pages that often show a loose mingling of fact, rumor and opinion.
Still, it is refreshingly free of the slavish headlines that are so common across the Middle East: the king’s visit to the airport, the president’s trip to the mosque. Even the pan-Arab press, largely owned by Saudi Arabia, is seriously constrained in what it can say. Lebanon has long had the most freewheeling news media in the region, but its outlets are often vehicles for their owners, usually political bosses or businessmen with a sectarian ax to grind. Reporters are often pawns in this game: Rafik Hariri, the billionaire former prime minister who was assassinated in 2005, used to send around envelopes of cash to his favorites.
Al Akhbar wanted to break free of that formula. Its founding editor, a revered left-wing journalist named Joseph Samaha, found a London-based investment banker to underwrite the venture in 2006 while promising not to interfere with editorial content. Mr. Samaha envisioned a paper with a strong political commitment but no attachments to any particular party, and a refusal to be constrained by anyone.
“We are going to show that you can make a profitable paper without bowing to any government,” said Hassan Khalil, the banker, who is the paper’s chief owner, in a telephone call from London. “We wanted to make something new: a truly independent newspaper.” The paper broke even last year, Mr. Khalil said.
The handful of other owners include members of the staff. The paper receives no support from Iran, Syria or Hezbollah, Mr. Khalil said, despite accusations from its ideological foes that began even before the paper started printing.
Al Akhbar’s print circulation is dismally low, 10,000 to 15,000, though comparable to circulations at Lebanon’s other leading papers. The industry is fading here, as everywhere. But Al Akhbar’s Web site is by far the most popular of any Lebanese newspaper’s, and its editors see a broader audience for their product. They are starting an English-language version, set for introduction early next year.
Critics say the paper’s protestations of editorial freedom ring a little hollow, given that it operates under the tacit protection of Hezbollah, Lebanon’s most potent military force. It was reporters on the other side of the political fence, many Lebanese say, who took the greatest risks for their views in recent years, and paid the price. Samir Kassir and Gebran Tueni, critics of Syria and Hezbollah who worked for the older and more pro-American newspaper An Nahar, were both killed by car bombs in 2005.
But there is a youthful energy and conviction at Al Akhbar that is lacking at many other papers. The offices, on the sixth floor of a West Beirut office building, above a supermarket, have more of the feel of a college newspaper than a major daily. The staff members are mostly in their 20s and 30s, and seem to see the place as a kind of alternative family. There are pictures everywhere of Mr. Samaha, whose death from a heart attack in 2007 — less than six months after the paper’s founding — was a serious blow.
“Joseph was our father, our friend, our drinking partner,” said Omar Nashabe, editor of Al Akhbar’s crusading Justice page.
Like several of the editors, Mr. Nashabe is fully conversant with American culture; he earned a Ph.D. in criminal justice from the State University of New York, Albany, before joining the paper. He is responsible for some of the paper’s most socially liberal columns, and talks excitedly about the need for new laws to defend foreign laborers and women’s sexual rights. He brushes off the angry letters and phone calls he gets from social conservatives, including some in Hezbollah.
But no one apologizes for Al Akhbar’s vehement support for “the resistance,” as Hezbollah’s armed forces are known here. A portrait of Imad Mughniyeh, the legendary Hezbollah commando who was assassinated in 2008, hangs in the office of Mr. Amine, the chairman of the board.
“Our Che,” Mr. Amine says, as he leads a visitor into his office and proudly displays the portrait. After Mr. Mughniyeh was killed in Damascus, Syria, Al Akhbar published an amazing scoop: a personal interview with Mr. Mughniyeh, done months earlier and written by Mr. Amine, who was a personal friend.
If Mr. Saghieh and Mr. Nashabe are the paper’s Western-friendly faces, Mr. Amine is its hard-line bulldog, a grizzled Marxist whose columns are widely viewed as telegraphs from the Hezbollah leadership (or parts of it). He offers his visitors tea, then reels off some of his own fondest hopes: to replace the oppressive governments of the Arab world, redraw the colonial-era borders, remove Israel from the map and send the Jews back to Europe — they would be more comfortable, after all, in a capitalist environment.
“I hope I haven’t provoked you,” he says at last, somehow managing to avoid a smirk."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"Saudi Arabia is pressuring Saad Hariri to reject the 'tribunal' in return for a Hezbollah promise..."

"Saudi Arabia is adding to the pressure on Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to reject the international tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, sources told Haaretz. In return, Hezbollah would guarantee Hariri that it would not harm him. The radical Shi'ite organization would also avoid any overt military activities and Hariri would be allowed to maintain his own security apparatus. The Saudis, considered the Hariri family's patrons, have stepped up pressure on Hariri to convince him to accept the "compromise" planned by Saudi Arabia and Syria that aims to defuse Lebanon's political crisis. The fact that Saudi Arabia has joined Syria in pressuring Hariri suggests that the chances have increased significantly that the prime minister will accept the deal. For the time being, however, the son of the murdered prime minister is refusing to decide. Last week, Hariri denied a report in the Lebanese daily Al Diyar that he had agreed to distance himself from the international tribunal's report "for Lebanon's interests." 
Hariri traveled to New York on Monday to visit Saudi King Abdullah. ... He would have to make a statement in which he expresses his rejection of the tribunal's work. Hariri would apparently be supported by Hezbollah in efforts to disarm Palestinian groups operating outside the refugee camps in the country ...  Pressure by Hezbollah has included death threats on Saad Hariri, whose security has been stepped up, according to reports in Lebanon. Tensions have also been on the rise between Hezbollah and March 14 activists in Beirut. The latter stay away from neighborhoods controlled by Hezbollah, (loool)  and a number of the group's leaders have traveled abroad for "holidays," sources say...."

"The last American soldier will leave Iraq... by the end of 2011'"

"... Mr. Maliki spoke with The Wall Street Journal in a two-hour interview, his first since Iraq ended nine months of stalemate and seated a new government after an inconclusive election, allowing Mr. Maliki to begin a second term as premier. A majority of Iraqis—and some Iraqi and U.S. officials—have assumed the U.S. troop presence would eventually be extended, especially after the long government limbo. But Mr. Maliki was eager to draw a line in his most definitive remarks on the subject. "The last American soldier will leave Iraq" as agreed, he said, speaking at his office in a leafy section of Baghdad's protected Green Zone. "This agreement is not subject to extension, not subject to alteration. It is sealed." He also said that even as Iraq bids farewell to U.S. troops, he wouldn't allow his nation to be pulled into alignment with Iran, despite voices supporting such an alliance within his government.He added that a kind of "paranoia" about a Tehran-Baghdad alliance in the U.S. is matched by a fear in Iran about U.S. influence: "An Iranian official visited me in the past and told me, 'I thought the Americans were standing at the door of your office,' " he said."For Iraq to be dragged into an axis or an orbit, that's impossible, and we reject it whether this comes from Iran, Turkey or the Arabs," he said..."

'Kouchner talked about recognizing Palestinian state'

'Kouchner talked about recognizing Palestinian state'

"No need for anyone's expertize; The STL's decision is to 'accuse' Mughnieh..."

Michel Sleiman's Presidential gift lists: "Victoria's Secret, Chanel & Dior..."

Al Akhbar

"... The irony is that this economy of 'mercy and pity' ... is linked to Lebanon’s continued role as an arena for regional struggles

"... It goes without saying that President Michel Suleiman enjoys the constitutional right to vote or not vote on any decision debated by the Cabinet. However, he must also keep in mind his few accomplishments during his term, the accumulating foreign and domestic dangers, and the country’s arrival every six months, almost like clockwork, at the brink of civil war.
Suleiman, Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Saad Hariri, each according to his position in the political regime, share huge responsibility for the ongoing deterioration in political and socio-economic life in Lebanon. Also responsible is every single Lebanese who voted during parliamentary elections to renew a crisis-ridden political elite that lacks competence and imagination...."

Few 'certainties' in Hariri probe

"..The only thing certain about the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is that the prosecutor has finished the investigation phase, a source revealed.... A source close to the investigation told London's pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat that "the only person who knows when the international tribunal will issue its decision is Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare."
The source added that the prosecutor's office was "comfortable" with the results reached thus far, adding it "will be difficult, if not impossible, to challenge this evidence or undermine it during the trial phase."the STL source stressed that the "only thing that is certain is that the general prosecutor has finished the investigative phase that has lasted nearly six years.".."

Gen. Ali Reza Asgari, 'murdered' in Israeli prison cell?

Via WarInContext:

"... Hold on to your hats because this post is going to be a wild ride.  New and astonishing developments in the case of Prisoner X, known to a source within Ehud Barak’s inner circle as Ali Reza Asgari, retired Iran Revolutionary Guard general and former deputy defense minister. exposed the name of Prisoner X here a few weeks ago.  Today, brings news from Israel that Asgari is dead in his cell.  According to the standard version, he committed suicide in his cell within the past week or so.  Ynet reported the suicide story and noted that it was under gag order.  Of course, this story was erased from the internet, but I’m posting a copy of the article which was taken down from the Ynet site...."
(Continue, here) 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Egypt seizes anti-aircraft missiles destined for Gaza

"...Israeli sources confirmed the report and said a considerable number of similar armaments had probably already been transported through Sinai to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Islamist militant groups...."

"Mujahideen-e-Khalq can perform 'Regime Change' in Iran..."

"... A number of top-level Bush administration officials and Iran scholars on Friday urged the Obama Administration to take an Iranian opposition group off the terrorism blacklist and to support regime change in Iran. 
Michael Mukasey, former Attorney General; Tom Ridge, former Secretary of Homeland Security; Frances Townsend, Former Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; John Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; Prof. Ruth Wedgwood of Johns Hopkins University; Professor Raymond Tanter, former senior NSC staff member; and Dr. Neil Livingstone, a terrorism expert, told a standing room only audience that time had come for the United States to change its wrongheaded policy of trying to engage with the Iranian regime and instead reach out to the organized opposition in order to thwart Tehran’s nuclear and terrorist threats by encouraging regime change by the Iranian people.The officials spoke in a symposium moderated by former Congressman, Tom Tancredo, and entitled “Iran’s Nuclear & Terrorism Threats; the Opposition’s Role: What Are US Policy Options?” was organized by the ExecutiveAction, LLC...."

"Not to my knowledge..."

February 25, 2010
QUESTION: Have the Dubai authorities, or the European partners, allies, asked the United States for help in the investigation into 
MR. CROWLEY: Not to my knowledge.

S E C R E T ABU DHABI 000103

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/02/24

1. (C/NF) On the margins of a meeting with visiting Secretary Chu, on Feb 24 MFA Minister of State Gargash made a formal request to the Ambassador for assistance in providing cardholder details and related information for credit cards reportedly issued by a U.S. bank to several suspects in last month's killing of Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh in Dubai. According to a letter Gargash gave the Ambassador (which transmitted details of the request from Dubai Security authorities to the UAE Central Bank), the credit cards were issued by MetaBank, in Iowa. Embassy LEGATT is transmitting the request and
associated details to FBI HQ. Gargash asked that Embassy pass any reply to the director of the General Directorate of State Security (GDSS) in Dubai.

2. (S/NF) Comment: Ambassador requests expeditious handling of and reply to the UAEG request, which was also raised by UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed in a February 23 meeting with Secretary Clinton in Washington.

3. (C/NF) Text of letter from GDSS to the Governor of the UAE Central Bank:
Excellency Sultan Al-Suwiadi

UAE Central Bank Governor
Subject: Credit Cards

MC 5115-2600-1600-6190
MC 5115-2600-1600-5317
MC 5301-3800-3201-7106

General Management of The State Security offers greetings, and asks your Excellency to direct the money laundry and suspicious transactions unit at the Central Bank to urgently obtain details of the above credit cards, in addition to details for purchases, accounts, and payments on those cards, as the users of those cards were involved in the murder of Mahmoud Mabhouh. Those cards were issued by META BANK in the state of Iowa, USA.

Thank you for your kind cooperation.

Netanyahu to Turkey: "You need to apologize to us!"

Netanyahu: No apology to Turkey - Israel News, Ynetnews

John Bolton's 'revelation': "Hariri tribunal will indict Hezbollah & Syria..."

".. John Bolton reveals that Special Tribunal for Lebanon Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare will release the indictments in the investigation into the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri soon.... in Al-Hayat Monday: "It is almost certain that prominent Syrian officials and Hizbullah members will be accused of the crime." .."

You gotta love this 'Patriarchal-Muftiesque slugfest'... "الكمية و النوعية...."

"Mount Lebanon Mufti Sheikh Mohammad-Ali Jouzo criticized Sunday “political Maronism” in the wake of Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir’s statement that “qualifications were equally important to demographics,” a reference to the decreasing numbers of Lebanese Christians in comparison to Muslims.
“The number of Christians is decreasing as they head East or West and most probably to the West,” Sfeir told a visiting delegation of nurses Friday in Bkirki. “But,” added the prelate, “Christ’s disciples were only 12 but they overran the entire world and thus large numbers do not count alone but also qualifications.” (meaning: Christians are brilliant but few, and Muslims are many but ....idiots!)
Jouzo said such statements harmed the “feelings of the rest of the Lebanese,” adding that qualifications were a shared quality among Christians and Muslims. “Holders of university degrees count more among Muslims than Christians,” he added.
Jouzo also seized the opportunity to slam Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun as an example that some Christians lack qualifications.
“It is enough that among Christians there is a man like Aoun and the rest of his team who insult everybody including the patriarch. Where is the quality in that behavior?” Jouzo asked...."

"Resistance will determine future of Middle East"

"... "We believe resistance will determine the future of this region," Baqeri said in a press statement after his meeting with Assad. "There are many countries in the region which believe resistance is the way to solve the region's problems, and at the center of this view are Syria and Iran," Baqeri added.
Baqeri held separate meetings with the Islamic Jihad Movement Ramadan and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Iranian news agency Al-Fars reported.
Baqeri is also reported to have met with senior Hamas officials in Damascus, as well as Hussein Khalil, a political aide to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah...."

Men of Ideas ...& Ideals

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Israeli foreign policy: "Turks are liars, .. Abbas is illegitimate & Netanyahu is unrealistic"

"... Earlier Sunday, Lieberman personally attacked Mahmoud Abbas, saying that the Palestinian Authority is an "illegitimate government that doesn't conduct elections. We should not reach an agreement with them."..."

Over 80 dead in Bajaur suicide attack, ... With implications for US forces nearby

Over 80 dead in Bajaur suicide attack, raids

Syrian-Egyptian intelligence sharing ... 'the timing' is of essence!

"...A source in the Syrian foreign ministry has told Ahram Online that the Egyptian-Syrian security cooperation has not been damaged despite the sensitive political situation between the two countries.
On the contrary, they continue to work together in many cases, including the recently revealed network of spies, lead by the agent Tarek Abdel Razeq.
The source added that after the discovery of this conspiracy, Egypt handed over to Damascus a dossier of sensitive technical information relating to Syria’s nuclear program, including the project’s maps and strategic positions and means of obtaining nuclear materials. ..."

Saturday, December 25, 2010

".. Sadly, the president's biggest disaster was with his signature issue, ...Palestine!."

"...Sadly, the president's biggest disaster was with his signature issue, Israeli-Palestinian peace. Obama was undone partly by his growing political weakness. I suspect that a stronger but still quixotic Obama will remount that horse next year. "

It says 'Mohamad Messenger of God ..' behind Samir Geagea' (who is accustomed to calling stray dogs Mohamad!)

The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب: Samir Ja`ja` (Ga`ga` in Egyptian accent) meets wit...: "Of course, the meeting took place after the war criminal performed pilgrimage in Mecca. (Saudi news agency)"

Al Qaeda type leader killed in Lebanon ...

"... "The body of Ghandi Sahmarani, leader of Jund al-Sham, was found this morning in a garage inside the camp," Fatah official Mounir Makdah told AFP.
An AFP photographer who saw Sahmarani's body in the morgue in the southern coastal city of Sidon said his hands had been bound with wire behind his back and it appeared he had been killed with a single shot to the mouth.
Makdah said that Sahmarani, a Lebanese, had been "a friend" of Abdel Rahman Awad, the presumed chief of the shadowy Fatah al-Islam, an Islamist group which fought a deadly battle in 2007 against the Lebanese army at Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in the country's August, Lebanese troops killed Awad, a Palestinian, and his aide, "Abu Bakr" Mubarak, in a shootout in the eastern town of Chtaura in the Bekaa Valley.
Jund al-Sham, the Arabic for "Army of Greater Syria," is a radical Sunni militant group believed to be based in Ain al-Hilweh, the largest of Lebanon's 12 refugee camps, and linked to Al-Qaeda...."

Friday, December 24, 2010

No Clemency for a spy!

"...Obama should remind Netanyahu that Israel is responsible for Pollard’s fate. In 1984, Pollard was an unsolicited walk-in who believed the United States was not properly sharing defense information with its ally and offered documents to the Israelis. He did not want to be paid for his services, but his Israeli handler insisted he take money to become a professional spy.israeli officials should have turned him over to US law enforcement when he first approached them. Not only did Israel’s manipulation of Pollard cast doubt on Israel’s willingness to help the United States; it also struck a cruel blow against American Jews, who have long had to combat the slur of being unreliable Americans torn between dual loyalties....."

A French booby-trapped car for the Iranian Embassy in Beirut & Saudi financed CIA plan to kill Fadlallah..... ...

The Casey-Fahd plan is known, but the French 'car' is news to me.
"...This was revealed by Pierre Lacoste, who was the DGSE director from 1982-1985 and served under French President Francois Mitterrand. The operation was planned to avenge the October 23, 1983 bombing of French and American army barracks in the Lebanese capital, killing 58 French soldiers and 241 American servicemen.....
According to the information received, they were from Hezbollah, which had just been established, prompted by the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. According to the intelligence, senior Iranian intelligence officials approved the attack in the hope that it would lead to an end to the French and international military presence in Lebanon.
Lacoste instructed the DGSE's operations people to prepare a revenge attack. In an interview he gave to Le Point journalist Jean Guisnel and film director David Korn-Brzoza he disclosed the details of the operation.... Lacoste says a booby-trapped car was prepared and it was parked near the Iranian Embassy in Beirut with the goal of blowing it up. As a backup, a bazooka was also prepared which was to fire bombs at the building. But due to malfunctions, the car did not explode and the bazooka did not work...... This dramatic revelation from Paris joins a similar, earlier revelation regarding what can be called "intelligence-agency sponsored terrorism," published in American journalist Bob Woodward's 1987 book "Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA 1981-1987"
Woodward's book is based on lengthy talks with then-CIA chief William Casey. Woodward writes that Casey decided on a revenge attack following the Beirut bombing. Casey, who received intelligence data from Israel, decided that the target for revenge would be Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, who died this summer. Fadlallah was then seen as the spiritual leader of Hezbollah .... In order to conceal the CIA's involvement and bypass Congress, which at the time banned the American intelligence agency from carrying out assassination operations, Casey was assisted by King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, who agreed to pay $3 million for the revenge operation. Through the offices of the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington, Prince Bandar, the money was deposited in a Swiss bank account for a mercenary, a British commando who was hired for the mission. The mercenary arranged the operation with the help of Lebanese collaborators.on March 8, 1985, a car bomb placed near Fadlallah's home exploded, killing 80 civilians, but not Fadlallah...."

Tabasco & Barbells 'undermine America's moral & diplomatic authority'....

Report: U.S. Treasury approved business with Iran - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

المحاكمة بالنار: سياسات المحكمة الخاصة بلبنان

International Crisis Group : المحاكمة بالنار: سياسات المحكمة الخاصة بلبنان

"..We will not see anything final with respect to the accusations before March, or even April .."

"... The estimation at the tribunal is that the pretrial judge will take at least 6-10 weeks, perhaps longer, to confirm the indictments in writing. That means we will not see anything final with respect to the accusations before March, or even April, if Bellemare meets a mid-January deadline. Fransen has the latitude to dismiss all or certain charges, or to ask for more evidence, which could add to the time needed for the tribunal to present confirmed indictments.   
During the period when he is considering the draft indictments, Fransen has the option of accelerating proceedings by asking the appeals chamber to consider certain matters of law pertaining to the case. The pretrial judge will quite possibly take advantage of this rule, which involves holding public hearings. While no one would be named in these hearings, something would inevitably be revealed by the tenor of the legal discussions, which would provide the first real hint of the direction and substance of the prosecution’s case.
Until the formal confirmation of the indictments by Fransen, the contents will remain confidential.....
Does the prosecutor have evidence strong enough to prepare indictments that can pass Fransen’s muster? 
how can the tribunal function effectively, and credibly, if the entire trial is conducted in absentia? And how might the absence of the indicted impact on Bellemare’s case, if he relies substantially on circumstantial evidence? ...... ..."

'Lebanon war & Mabhouh assassination' Wikilieaks, .... coming soon

"... Assange, who was recently released from a British prison, said that he holds 3,700 more files related to Israel, and the main source of them is the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv.
Assange said in the interview that WikiLeaks plans on releasing cables that were classified as top secret regarding Israel's month-long war with Hezbollah militants in Lebanon in the summer of 2006. Moreover, he also claimed he holds documents indicating Mossad involvement in the assassination of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in January.
Assange said that WikiLeaks had not had any direct or indirect relations with Israel, but said he was sure Israeli intelligence is monitoring WikiLeaks' activities closely...."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hariri denies the Ad Diyar report ...

VOA: "... Mr. Hariri's office said Wednesday the report by Ad-Diyar newspaper was not accurate..."

"..Too many elements in the Middle East & Europe would like to see the inquiry’s conclusions pertaining to Hezbollah evaporating & Syria being cleared again. .."

Everyone scared of Syria - Israel Opinion, Ynetnews

"As you know, Lebanon is in a precarious situation whereby Hezbollah is in a powerful position to usurp the Lebanese Armed Forces.."

U.S. congressman urges France to rethink missile sale to Lebanon - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

US Official: "We would like Hezbollah to get a 'black eye'" out of the the whole 'Hariri tribunal' affair ...

MEPGS brief: December 22, 2010
"A clearly chastened Obama  Administration has "gone back to
the drawing boards" for a new approach to peacemaking between
Israelis and Palestinians.  "I would say the President is more
sober minded than before," said one top Administration official.
Despite reports to the contrary, the Administration never wavered
in its commitment to provide a written version of promises,
should the Israeli government accept a 90 day partial settlement
freeze.  Notably, this would have included funding for a squadron
of advanced F-35 fighter jets, over and above those already
promised Israel and funded through annual foreign aid
According to reliable sources, the main stumbling block was
the Israeli government's determination to trumpet the exception
to the settlement freeze, that is, continued building in East
 "There was no way we could get negotiations going if
the main focus was going to be on Jerusalem," said one well-
placed US official.  Then, there was the problem of what would
have happened at the end of 90 days.  "After getting the
Palestinians to resume talks -- and pay a political price in
doing so -- what were we going to be able to produce on day 91?"
asked this official rhetorically.
 While unwilling to spell out specific US strategy going
forward, senior Administration officials have made it clear that
it cannot look like the US wants a deal more than the parties
themselves.  That is not to say they don't see the urgency for
both sides.  For the Israelis, it is a status quo on the ground
that cannot be maintained let alone improved (as has been done on
the West Bank under Prime Minister Sallam Fayyed).  For the
Palestinians, their latest gambit of rounding up international
recognition for their state is a "dead end" in the view of US
who make it clear that they will block its adoption if
necessary but say it will also set back chances for eventual
progress in peace talks.  One top US officials sums up
Administration thinking this way:  "We need to find a way for the
two sides to negotiate.  We will not do it in the place of them."
Key US officials are a good deal more upbeat about their
diplomatic political successes on the issue of Iran's nuclear
program.  The meeting earlier this month in Geneva, according to
US officials, demonstrated to the Iranians that they could not
divide the six powers who are in talks with them [US, UK, France,
Germany, Russia and China].  While this first meeting was
designed to allow the Iranians to "vent" [in the words of one
European diplomat], the next, in January in Istanbul, will find
the "Six" a lot less accommodating.  Meanwhile, the US is going
forward with additional measures to make it more difficult for
Iran to do business in the international arena.  "We are closing
every loophole we find on individuals and companies large and
small [including the Iranian "trading companies" or "bonyards",
which, according to US officials have increasingly become
vehicles for Revolutionary Guard business dealings]
The Europeans, led by France, are also focusing on
developing a model similar to the US and in some cases going
beyond Administration efforts.  "We want to develop our own
`Stuart Leveys' [the US Treasury department UnderSecretary whose
has been in the forefront of going after companies doing business
illegally with Iran]," is the way one European diplomat put it
recently.  Moreover, the Europeans want to press Iran on human
rights issues, arguing they are better placed to have an effect,
since their criticisms do not come with the burden of "regime
change" as US attacks might well do.
While future talks may well be held in Brazil or even Iran,
say US officials, the US, Britain and France in particular will
offer no rewards for partial gestures from Iran.  "This is not a
`carrot and stick' approach, says one well-placed source.  We are
going ahead with talks for two reasons.  First, if unexpectedly
the Iranians change their minds about `going nuclear', we want to
have a channel open for them to be able to back down somewhat
gracefully."  Second, if they do display some willingness to
negotiate seriously, we want to be prepared to respond quickly."

    At the same time, there is a palpable sense of relief over
what has been called the "ticking clock" of Iranian nuclear
development.  Most recently, the technical setbacks indicate to
most observers that outside forces [most assume the Israelis]
have been able to introduce destructive computer bugs into Iran's
enrichment program.  Another widely mentioned issue is whether
the Iranians are really up to producing a weapon.  More than one
expert questions that after two decades, predictions of Iran
"crossing the threshold" constantly have to be revised to a later
That being said, it has been more than three years since
Iran achieved the ability to create fissionable material that
eventually, after enrichment, could be used to produce a nuclear
device.  It was also supposed to be a "red line" that many
assumed the Israelis would never let them cross ["It turned out
to be more of a `pink line'", commented one US official].  Still,
top US and European officials remain convinced that there is a
red line for Israel.  It involves a number of factors that, in
combination, would provoke a military attack by Israel on Iran.
And this assumption, as much as any combination of other factors,
energizes efforts to deny Iran the capability to produce a
nuclear device.  However, Israeli officials have made it clear to
their US counterparts that, so far they are impressed (and
surprised) with the success the Administration has had in
ratcheting up pressure on Iran.  In return, US officials
acknowledge that Israel would like nothing better than a peaceful
resolution of the Iranian "nuclear problem."
 As one top US
official said recently, "The last thing the Israelis want to do
is go it alone."
The Israelis are also not looking for a reprise of their
inconclusive 2006 fight with Lebanon's Hezbollah
militia.  Now
armed with tens of thousands of various sized missiles, a war
with Hezbollah, it is believed, could find Tel Aviv under attack.
Hezbollah, under siege politically from an intentional tribunal
investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister
Rafik Hairi, has lashed out at Israel, not to mention the current
Lebanese government led by his son, Saad.  However, the
Administration, backed by France, has pressed Saad to accept
indictments handed down by the Intentional Tribunal investigating
the assassination.  Part of the reason for this pressure on Saad
[who, according to some well-placed sources, would like nothing
better than for the entire issue to go away]
, is not only to
uphold the concept of these kind of tribunals {Which have
succeeded in trying and convicting war criminals such as Solbodan
Milosevic) but also to help end the era of assassinations in
Lebanon.  Moreover, US officials would like to see Hezbollah get
a "black eye" to cite the words of one Administration official
[However, to help protect Israelis, should Hezbollah turns its
anger on them, Congress and the Administration has accelerated
production of the "Iron Dome" anti-missile defense system,
providing an additional $275 million for it in this years
Appropriations bill].

Imperial by Design

Mersheimer at his very best.
"... U.S. grand strategy has followed this basic prescription for the past twenty years, mainly because most policy makers inside the Beltway have agreed with the thrust of Fukuyama’s and Krauthammer’s early analyses.
The results, however, have been disastrous. The United States has been at war for a startling two out of every three years since 1989, and there is no end in sight. As anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of world events knows, countries that continuously fight wars invariably build powerful national-security bureaucracies that undermine civil liberties and make it difficult to hold leaders accountable for their behavior; and they invariably end up adopting ruthless policies normally associated with brutal dictators. The Founding Fathers understood this problem, as is clear from James Madison’s observation that “no nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” Washington’s pursuit of policies like assassination, rendition and torture over the past decade, not to mention the weakening of the rule of law at home, shows that their fears were justified.
To make matters worse, the United States is now engaged in protracted wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that have so far cost well over a trillion dollars and resulted in around forty-seven thousand American casualties. The pain and suffering inflicted on Iraq has been enormous. Since the war began in March 2003, more than one hundred thousand Iraqi civilians have been killed, roughly 2 million Iraqis have left the country and 1.7 million more have been internally displaced. Moreover, the American military is not going to win either one of these conflicts, despite all the phony talk about how the “surge” has worked in Iraq and how a similar strategy can produce another miracle in Afghanistan. We may well be stuck in both quagmires for years to come, in fruitless pursuit of victory...."

Al Diyar: "Hariri will halt Lebanon's backing of the 'Hariri Tribunal' ..."

"..Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said on Tuesday that Lebanon will ask the United Nations to halt the probe of an international tribunal into the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the pro-Syrian Lebanese newspaper a-Diar reported on Wednesday.
According to the report, Hariri said on Tuesday that he intends on giving up on the findings of the tribunal "for the interests of the country." Hariri was quoted as saying that the Lebanese government will turn to the UN to "work to stop the activities of the tribunal and to cancel the work protocol between the government and the tribunal." Moreover, the newspaper quoted Hariri as saying that he will stand by Hezbollah if the group is found guilty by the tribunal, and that Lebanon will not support any of the tribunal's further activities.
"I have already sacrificed a lot, and I cannot sacrifice more," Hariri said...."

Jumblatt: "Geagea's rants make him sound like an additional 'false witness'..."

".. Why give justice for one man and deny it to thousands?.."

"...Unlike other international tribunals, like the ICTY in former Yugoslavia, the special court for Sierra Leone or the international criminal tribunal for Rwanda, all looking at mass atrocities, the special tribunal for Lebanon (STL) was set up to prosecute the killers of one person, Rafik Hariri, the former prime minister, and those who perished with him in a central Beirut explosion in February 2005.
But why give justice for one man and deny it to thousands?
Regardless of Hariri's controversial postwar reconstruction and corruption legacy, the tribunal owed its existence to two primary factors. First, the assassination's critical timing. Two years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, regime change was still on the table and the Bush administration's neocons were longing for revenge against Syria's backing of Iraq's brutal insurgency.
Hariri's international connections also played a significant role, especially his Saudi ties and his friendship with the French president at the time, Jacques Chirac. of the special tribunal's leading and most persistent advocates is Samir Geagea, a militia leader turned politician. Geagea, the Lebanese Forces leader, who is explicitly a US ally, was indicted in the assassination of the acting prime minister Rashid Karami in 1987 and the murder of his political rival, Christian leader Dani Chamoun, along with his wife and two sons in 1990 .... In a shocking quirk of fate, Geagea secured for his party two ministries in the latest national unity government (2009), among them the justice ministry...."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Netanyahu will "formally" call for release of spy Pollard

"... After consultations on Monday night and Tuesday morning (mostly with American lawmakers & Israel-firsters on the Hill), Netanyahu decided to send a formal letter to Obama on the matter."I intend to continue to act with determination for the release of Pollard, both because of the State of Israel's moral obligation to him and so that he can live with his family and restore his health after his prolonged incarceration," Netanyahu said in a statement on Tuesday...."

International Court 'Judges', Slavin & Yacoubian: "Only Mughniyeh could have killed Hariri!" (Case Closed!)

"... Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah's chief of operations until his own assassination in Damascus in 2008, likely played a role in the massive car bombing that claimed the lives of the former Lebanese prime minister and 22 others in Beirut. Experts on Lebanon and Hezbollah say it is difficult to envision a crime of such scale and consequence without Mughniyeh's involvement.
"My guess is no," said Mona Yacoubian, director of the Lebanon Working Group at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), asked if the Hariri assassination could have been pulled off without Mughniyeh's knowledge. She added, "It would be hard to know how it could have been done without the connivance of Syria given its role in Lebanon in 2005."..."

Merkava-penetrating Kornet missile fired from Gaza ...

"... Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi revealed "On December 6 a Kornet rocket was fired for the first time and hit an IDF tank and penetrated its outer shell," Ashkenazi told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, saying that the Kornet missile penetrated the tank exterior shell but failed to explode inside it.
"It is a heavy missile and one of the most dangerous in the region, which was also fired toward the IDF during the Lebanon War," Ashkenazi added..."

Welcome back, Al Akhbar!

"Partitioning Afghanistan is Obama's best alternative to 'strategic defeat' ..."

"... De facto partition offers the Obama administration the best available alternative to strategic defeat. The administration should stop setting deadlines for withdrawal and instead commit the United States to a long-term combat role in Afghanistan of 35,000-50,000 troops for the next 7-10 years.
Concurrently, Washington should accept that the Taliban will inevitably control most of the Pashtun south and east and that the price of forestalling that outcome is far too high for Americans to continue paying. The United States and its partners should stop fighting and dying in the Pashtun homeland and let the local correlation of forces take its course - while deploying US air power and Special Forces to ensure that the north and west of Afghanistan do not succumb to the Taliban. The United States would make clear that it would strike al-Qaida targets anywhere, Taliban encroachments across the de facto partition line, and sanctuaries along the Pakistani border using weapons systems that were unavailable before 9/11.
Accepting a de facto partition of Afghanistan makes sense only if the other options available are worse. They are.
One alternative is to stay the current course in Afghanistan. The United States deploys about 1,00,000 troops in Afghanistan, yet there are now only 50-100 al-Qaida fighters there. That is 1,000-2,000 soldiers per al-Qaida terrorist at $100 billion a year - far beyond any reasonable expenditure of American resources given the stakes involved. And even if many of the roughly 300 al-Qaida fighters now in Pakistan did move a few score miles north across the border, it would not make much of a practical difference - surely not enough to justify an indefinite major ground war..."

Iran survives the 'subsidies reduction' ...and remains stable

"...with Iran’s economy in general teetering on the edge of collapse, a problem that has been compounded by severe economic sanctions levied against it by Western countries that believe Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, and political unrest stemming from the contested elections last year, many thought the subsidy cuts could be the final straw for the Iranian public.
This time, however, the government was prepared. For days, security forces have been patrolling streets and major squares throughout Tehran, many of which were the site of clashes between protestors and police during post-election outrage last December.
Most analysts agree that the subsidies had to be cut to both relieve the significant drain they represented on the country’s budget and to reduce the culture of waste they created throughout the country..."

Erdogan survives the Wikileaks 'challenge'...

"... Other than various negative remarks about some government officials, perhaps, the most controversial part of the cables were the allegations about Erdogan. In particular, a report, dated December 30, 2004, sent by Eric Edelman (who served as US ambassador in Ankara between August 2003 and June 2005) referred to speculation that Erdogan might have up to eight secret accounts in Swiss banks and Erdogan’s explanations about the source of his wealth were dubious. Other cables also included speculation about the deputy head of the AKP, Abdulkadir Aksu, including his alleged involvement in heroin trafficking and corruption. Some cables contained very critical remarks about Arinc, which were interpreted as insults....
Obviously, such claims about Erdogan were based on hearsay or gossip among the political or media circles. Short of any concrete evidence the opposition could furnish, thus, Erdogan used the occasion to reiterate his criticism that the CHP and other opposition groups were employing dirty tactics to taint the successful track record of his government (Cihan, December 10). Moreover, by highlighting many of the cables which are based on unsubstantiated information, Erdogan gained a tactical advantage and deflected attention away from other cables that might have weakened his position. Erdogan, overall, managed to turn the tables and emerge from this crisis stronger in domestic politics...."

Assad to the German Bild: "I see the West moving away from Turkey ..."

Our friend Guthman Bey writes:
"... The fact that Bild's editor-in-chief, Diekmann, himself ventured out to Damascus to do the interview (accompanied by the former editor of Hurriyet,  Özkök) is rather remarkable all
in itself. Whatever one may otherwise think of the Baathists in Syria, Assad is very sharp
in interviews. They don't have it up in English on their website, unfortunately.
Here are some excerpts (rather amazing how good Google translations have become; I had to change some stuff, but really not all that much):
BILD: You have been the president of Syria for ten years. How do you perceive the image of
your country in the world?
President Assad: Are you speaking of the West or of the world? I ask this because the problem
lies in the west, not in the entire world. The problem with the West is that imagines itself as the whole world and forgets the rest of the world easily. The West can not continue to pursue its ostrich policy, simply putting your head in the sand and not see what is going on in the rest of the world. Syria's image in the world is very good. We have very good
international relations and have never had problems with South America, East Asia, Africa.
But our relationship with the West has been troubled. It has become a bit better but not much better....
Bild: Mr. President, let's talk about a country between east and west - Turkey.
From our European perspective, we have the impression that Turkey is moving from the west,
NATO and the United States and towards the Islamic world. Would you agree?
President Assad: "I rather see the West as moving away from Turkey. However I believe that
the role that Turkey has been playing in the region for the last three years is vital.
It has created a degree of balance in this turbulent region. Especially after the events of September 11, after the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, one could not possibly wish for bad relations between Turkey and Syria, and between Turkey and Iran. One wouldn't even want to think of the impact that that would have."
Bild: Should Turkey be allowed to join the EU?
President Assad: "You should literally beg Turkey to join the EU, because the EU needs a
Muslim country as a member, so that the EU is not merely a Christian club.
They talk always about openness, about the dialogue between different cultures.
How can you lead a dialogue, if you isolate yourself and limit yourself to one culture
and social order...."
Bild: It's pretty obvious that since September 11 there has been infinitely more distrust
 between the West and the Islamic world. What do you think is the biggest misunderstanding between the West and the Islamic world? Is there something we do not understand that we need to learn?
President Assad: "This is precisely the problem: when we talk about "the West"
and "Islam". This is wrong, because this already constitutes the basic misinformation,
the misunderstanding.
it meant that on one hand there is "the" West and its Christianity and Islam exists only in the East. But in my country we have Christians and Jews and then a majority of Muslims. We live here together. As Christians, you have to learn from Christians in the Middle East, because they have been living together for over 1400 years with the Muslims. Yes, you need to learn more about this religion. Otherwise you will forever have problems integrating Muslims into your society."
Bild: In Germany, people have been shocked by a case in Iran in which a woman was sentenced
to death by stoning because she is said to have cheated on her husband. This may not be the
image you want for the Islamic world.
President Assad: "We could also ask a different question: to kill half a million people in
 Iraq - is this the image that the West wants for itself? I could ask the same question about Afghanistan. That is another way to look at the situation. Just because you do not agree with one thing that still doesn't represent a whole country or an entire culture. In Syria, there may be things that you do not agree with, but surely those do not form a complete picture of my country. You can not say that you care about one woman, while you miss a half a million people in Iraq."
Bild: Could you explain to us why the overwhelming majority of all victims of suicide attacks
are themselves Muslims? Muslims kill Muslims - many people in the West have trouble understanding that.
President Assad: "Again - let us talk about the realities. There are two opposing sides here.
One side has missiles and aircraft, which throw bombs. The other side has none of that,
but will fight anyway, so this fighter can only use his body. That is the reason why people blow themselves up. To some of them Islamist ideology doesn't even matter. There was a suicide bomber, three years ago, a girl from a secular family. She was not Islamist. She acted solely out of desperation. If we want to stop suicide bombings, we must put an end to this despair. And despair is completed, by giving people their rights or give them at least hope
that one day they will come to their right. That is the solution."..."

Monday, December 20, 2010

More Patriarch Sfeir innuendos ...

Often we say that 'we have had it' with Lebanese men of the cloth, but lately, we have not been saying it often enough, loud enough and perhaps with clenched fists. Our lot are a corrupt, lying-conniving bunch, ... and most are just a grade below criminals.
On today's menu, Sfeir's 'love-peace and unity' sermons are nothing but calls to sedition and sectarian strife. May Hell, in all its glory, save a special place for Sfeir and all of Lebanon's Muftis!
"...Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir has noted that "the way Hizbullah is acting gives the impression that if they pressed on with their plan, they might seize power (and he was quick to add) ...We hope no Lebanese were involved (in the Hariri murder), but if those involved are Lebanese, every criminal must face punishment."
"Every time we take a stance, some think it is against them, although we're not against anyone, we're only voicing our viewpoint regarding the current events," the patriarch said, noting that "Bkirki's gates are open to everyone." ..."

Wikileaks [37]: (repeat of Al Akhbar leak) Meir Dagan: "With Siniora, Israel is about to achieve something in Lebabon..."

¶17. (S) Dagan urged caution with respect to Lebanon, noting
that the results of efforts there to bolster the Siniora
government would impact Syria and Iraq. The U.S. and Israel,
he said, are on the edge of achieving something in Lebanon,
and so cannot afford to drop their guard. What is necessary
is finding the right way to support PM Siniora. "He is a
courageous man," Dagan said. Syria, Iran and Hizballah are
working hard against him. Dagan noted that much of what is
animating the leadership of Lebanon to take on Syria is
personal: "Hariri, Jumblat and others had their parents
executed by the Syrians." This anti-Syrian sentiment has
forged an alliance based on personal and national interests.
Siniora has worked well with the situation, but Dagan
suggested that the odds are against him. Under Secretary
Burns replied that the U.S. is trying to give PM Siniora as
much support as possible, and that we would continue to
consult closely with Israel on Lebanon. He noted that he
would return to Israel in October..."

Wikileaks [36]: "..Israel believes that LAF/Hezbollah cooperation is a matter of national policy .."

S E C R E T TEL AVIV 002482

, Assistant Secretary of
Defense (ASD) for International Security Affairs, Ambassador
Alexander Vershbow, met with a number of senior Israeli
defense officials in Israel including: Ministry of Defense
(MOD) Director General (DG) Pinchas Buchris; Head of MOD
Political Military Bureau Amos Gilad; Assistant Chief of
Defense Major General (MG) Benny Gantz; and Head of MOD
Intelligence Analysis Production Brigadier General Yossi
Baidatz....ASD Vershbow's trip to Israel came as a number of
high-level Israeli and American officials were meeting on key
issues. On October 31, Secretary of State Clinton arrived in
Jerusalem for talks on the peace process with Prime Minister
Netanyahu, Defense Minister Barak, and Foreign Minster
Lieberman. In addition, EUCOM Commander Admiral Stavridis
arrived in Israel on November 1 to observe the Juniper
Cobra-10 ballistic missile defense exercise. The ASD's visit
also came in the wake of recent high-level discussions on
Israel's QME in Washington, and the October 21 meeting of the
Joint Politico-Military Group in Tel Aviv.....
¶16. (S) Israeli officials remain pleased with the "quiet"
nature of its northern border -- something they attribute to
the deterrent effect Israel has built up following OPERATION
CAST LEAD and the 2006 war in Lebano. However, according to
Israeli officials, it i a foregone conclusion that strong
cooperation eists between the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF)
and ezbollah. The level of cooperation far exceeds wht
many assume is simply the day-to-day problem of corruption
within the ranks. On the contrary, Israel believes that
LAF/Hezbollah cooperation is a matter of national policy.
Amos Gilad attributed this dynamic to elements of
nationalism, stating that Lebanese government and military
officials choose not to confront Hezbollah out of patriotic
zeal. Moreover, according to Gilad, any information shared
with the United Nations Interim Force-Lebanon (UNIFIL) goes
directly to Hezbollah by way of the LAF.
¶17. (S) Israeli officials have major concerns over
developments within Hezbollah -- specifically, its
relationship with Syria and Iran. General Baidatz spoke of
this relationship and drew attention to the existing supply
of Fateh-110 long-range missile that Iran sent to Syria.
Israeli officials believe these missiles are destined for
Hezbollah. According to Baidatz and others, if the delivery
were to occur, this would significantly alter Israel's
calculus. Under such a scenario, the looming question for
Israeli policymakers then becomes: "to strike or not to
¶18. (S) General Baidatz offered an Israeli intelligence
assessment that if Syria were able to achieve peace with
security and obtain greater U.S. involvement, it may pull
away from Iran's orbit. He explained that President Assad
used his "negative assets," namely Hezbollah and HAMAS, to
make himself relevant and that ultimately Assad wants it all:
the Golan Heights; peace with Israel; better relations with
the U.S.; a strong relationship with Iran; and a continued
relationship with Hezbollah. Ultimately, Gen Baidatz
asserted that if Assad had to choose one thing, it would
likely be peace with Israel. ASD Vershbow asked if Hezbollah
could be sustained without Syrian support. Baidatz
acknowledged the difficulty in answering this question, but
stated his belief that it would be a gradual process before
Hezbollah could completely wean itself from the Syrian
support apparatus and that, ultimately, both Hezbollah's and
Iran's flexibility would be significantly reduced..."

29% Of Americans expect US-Israeli Relations To Worsen

29% Expect U.S.-Israeli Relations To Worsen

Egypt (also) is nabbing Israeli 'telecom spies'... recruiting for Lebanon & Syria

"..Egypt on Monday charged an Egyptian businessman and two Israelis with spying for Israel and trying to recruit operatives working for telecoms companies in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.
Officials arrested Tarek Abdel Rezek Hussein, the 37-year-old owner of an import-export firm, in August, according to a document shown to reporters by Egyptian state security attorney Hicham Badawi.
The document alleged that Hussein had accepted $37,000 for providing the Israelis with information about Egyptians working in telecommunications companies who could be recruited to spy in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon. ....It was not clear if the charges were linked to a wave of arrests in Lebanon in the past two years, some of them involving telecom sector employees, over accusations of spying for Israel...."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

US plan gets left behind in Iraq

".."U.S. ideas for power-sharing will have been conveniently left aside, which is not surprising given that they were unfeasible in the first place due to the need for special legislation to be passed in order to make them work," Visser said.
When U.S. officials in Baghdad first told Qassim Daoud, an independent Shiite politician and former national security adviser, of the council idea, he said to them, "This is a joke." .."

Mottaki slams Ahmadinejad

Sacked minister slams Ahmadinejad - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Netanyahu: 'Attacks on Israel are not due to its criminal nature, occupation, wars & aggression ... but because we are cute, handsome & smart'

Netanyahu: Stalled peace talks are not catalyst for anti-Israel sentiments - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

"Hezbollah’s choice is to commit suicide, the Lebanese should make an extra effort" to help them?!

From the minds of MEOWLebanon
"...Nasrallah reiterated his support of the Saudi-Syrian initiative, probably trying to buy more time. Hezbollah has backed that initiative assuming that the regional axis, fearing its threats of instability and strife, would offer the Party of God a way out before the indictment comes out.
But Nasrallah is certainly aware that in a statement following President Bashar al-Assad’s talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy earlier this month, the Syrian president said that answering a question on Lebanon “There is no initiative as being reported… and in the final analysis, the solution is a Lebanese one, not Syrian, nor French or Saudi."
Additionally, in the last couple of weeks a number of messages were sent to and from Lebanon stating that there will be no postponement of the indictment and that any internal strife is rejected, including statements coming from Russian Foreign Minister Deputy Alexander Sultanof and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who visited Lebanon recently.
If Hezbollah has eliminated all efforts to resolve the issue internally, preferring instead to bargain on the regional powers, it could be too late for them to switch back to the domestic level.
It seems there is something in the making. ..."