Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hadrian's Curse: The Invention Of Palestine, Part One

From Middle East and Terrorism:
Via Terry

Thursday, July 10, 2008


by Tsafrir Ronen

1st part of 2

The Invention of Palestine as a Psychological Weapon for Conquering Eretz Yisrael [the Land of Israel]


Almost 2,000 years ago, the Roman Emperor Hadrian cursed the Jewish People and decreed that Judea should be henceforth called "Palestine" after the Philistines, an ancient enemy of Israel that had disappeared from the world's stage more than 600 years earlier. It was his final twist of the knife and legacy after wars, massacres, persecutions, and exiles that had largely extinguished the Jewish presence from Judea.

Today, the modern enemies of a resurrected Jewish Nation have dusted off Hadrian's curse and are attempting to pull off a monumental theft: the Arab world have reincarnated "Palestine" to steal Israel's heritage and the Land of the Jewish People.

Hadrian's Curse will expose the BIG lie of the "Palestinian cause" in a full-length 120-minute documentary. The film will document that there never was a "Palestinian" people, The world has become so accustomed to the "truth" of the "Palestinian" perversion of history and work backwards, exposing recent claims and acts whose absurdity and villainy shock uninformed observers.

When Arafat declared: "Our nation is the Arabic nation that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea and beyond it", it turns out that Arafat's nation already stretches over an area larger than all of Europe.

His is the twisted story of one of the biggest, most remarkable fraud in history. It is such a successful fabrication that many otherwise informed people have been duped and mislead. This propaganda has become a powerful weapon used Israel's enemies, the Arabs, to try to conquer Eretz Yisrael without firing a shot, without an army, tanks or jets. The Jewish People eventually bested Hadrian. They returned to their land and reestablished sovereignty over it.

They rebuilt Jerusalem as their capital, and resettled desolate Judea. They did all this only to now confront the reincarnated curse of Hadrian in the guise of Arabs renaming themselves "Palestinians" and claiming all the ancient Land as their own.

As explained in the film, many Israelis and lovers of Zion have accepted this misnaming and misidentification. Hadrian's ancient curse now threatens Israel's very existence. Israel's success and endurance and the world's hope for peace in the 21st century, demands that the deceit and danger of a Palestinian state must be exposed and avoided. It is our fervent hope that Hadrian's Curse will expose the historical truth.

Part I –– The Secret All the Arabs Know

At the Annapolis Conference, George Bush spoke about his vision regarding the virtues of two nations for two peoples.

One of those peoples has a clear identity –– the Jewish People. Yet it would be interesting to know the identity of that second people: Already in 1977, one of the central spokesman of that "second people", a member of P.L.O. leadership, Zahir Muhsein, the leader of the al-Sa'iqa Organization, revealed the truth in an interview to the Dutch newspaper Trouw:

"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct 'Palestinian people' to oppose Zionism for tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa. While as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan."

Are you in shock? If the Palestinian People does not exist, what does exist? Arabs who live in Eretz Yisrael and who have disguised themselves as "Palestinians" for fraudulent purposes. "Only a means for continuing our struggle against the State of Israel," in Muhsein's words. A fraud so successful that even George Bush can be found seeking a state for that fraud!

Do you think Zahir Muhsein is alone? This transparent fraud about the so-called existence of Palestine is revealed to us by all the Arabs' leaders:

In 1974, the late Syrian President, Hafez al-Assad, declared: "It would be fitting for us to mention to the responsible Israeli authorities that we view Palestine not just as an inseparable part of the Arab nation, but as a part of Southern Syria." In 1987, he reiterated himself at a conference in Amman, "A country named 'Palestine' has never existed." Jordanian King Hussein responded, "The appearance of the national Palestinian persona serves as a response to Israel's claim that Palestine is Jewish."

Yet the prize goes to Arafat who in 1970, with candid simplicity, told the reporter Arianna Palazzi:

"The question of borders doesn't interest us... From the Arab standpoint, we mustn't talk about borders. Palestine is nothing but a drop in an enormous ocean. Our nation is the Arabic nation that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea and beyond it..... The P.L.O. is fighting Israel in the name of Pan-Arabism. What you call "Jordan" is nothing more than Palestine."

Such revelations are an eye-opener for anyone who has not understood until today the masked-ball being run by the Arabs: The true meaning of Arafat's words, that "Palestine is Jordan," is that for the Arabic people, living under the "Pan-Arab" umbrella, in addition to over twenty Arabic countries, there is already a country called Jordan that was established by the British for the Arabs on 77% of the Land of Israel, promised to the Jewish People by the League of Nations in 1922. Anywhere else on earth, would an additional country be established for a people that already has twenty-one countries?

All the same, there is nothing like the testimony of the founder of the P.L.O. himself, Ahmed Shukari. Already in 1956 he proclaimed from the podium of the U.N., as the Arab League's ambassador there, that "such a creature as Palestine does not exist at all. This land is nothing but the southern portion of Greater Syria..."

And if Ahmed Shukari says that Palestine does not exist at all, the logical inference is that "Palestinians" do not exist at all either. That same Shukari was born of a Turkish mother in Lebanon, was himself a Jordanian lawyer, served as the ambassador of Syria to the U.N., the ambassador of the Arab League to the U.N., and the ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the U.N. In 1964, after this talented actor who changed loyalties like a chameleon was fired by the Saudis, Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser hired him to found the "Palestine Liberation Organization", the P.L.O., an organization dedicated to the liberation of a country that in his own words did not exist at all.

All the prominent spokesman of that poor, homeless "people" say openly: The Arabs who live in Eretz Yisrael are precisely the same Arabs who live in Syria, Jordan or Lebanon. They are not a separate country, but a fragment of the enormous Arab nation divided amongst many Arab countries. In their identity they are Arabs and the invention of Palestine is just a transparent bluff: "a means for continuing our struggle against the State of Israel for our Arab unity". Can any testimony be better than that of the Arabs themselves, exposing the lies and deception involved in Palestine's creation?

Yet the most compelling argument for the idea that the "Palestinian People" is a fraudulent invention, and that the Arabs are all one people, was expounded by none other than Mr. Husseini, head of the Supreme Arab Committee, to the U.N. special committee that was deliberating on Eretz Yisrael in 1947:

"An additional consideration of great importance for the Arab world is racial uniformity. The Arabs lived in a broad expanse stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean. They spoke one language, and shared a common history, tradition and aspirations. Their unity was the solid foundation for peace in one of the most central and sensitive regions in the world. For that reason, it does not make sense that the United Nations should facilitate the establishment of a foreign entity within that well-rooted unity."

Indeed, Mr. Husseini is correct. His declaration before the investigative committee of the United Nations exposes the simple fact that there is no "Palestinian" language and no unique "Palestinian" culture. The Palestinians are Arabs, and they cannot be set apart from the Jordanians, Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis, etc.

Remove from the argument the lies and untruths and you reveal that the conflict is taking place between the Arabic, Muslim empire of twenty-one states and the Jewish People, claiming their right to their one and only historic homeland, consisting of less than one fifth of one percent of the lands under Arab control.

This is the twisted story of the biggest, most unprecedented fraud in history. It involves such a successful bluff that many people have no doubt about its veracity. This propaganda has become a powerful weapon by which means Israel's enemies, the Arabs, are trying to conquer Eretz Yisrael without firing a shot, without an army, tanks or jets.

Tsafrir Ronen

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Posted by Harry at 5:24 PM

Electricity Supplies In The DPRK

From Daily NK:
Via Terry

Electricity supplies in the DPRK

May 16th, 2011

Pictured above (Google Earth): Pukchang Thermal Power Plant (북창화력발전련합기업소)

According to the Daily NK:

A source from Pyongyang reported the latest on the 14th, saying, “From April the electricity situation got a bit better, so now between 8 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon the electricity goes on and off repeatedly.”

But, the source added, “Between 10 at night and 5 in the morning, it is provided stably.”

According to the source, in the winter period from January to March, electricity was only supplied at all between midnight and 4 or 5 in the morning.

Residential areas of the city receive their electricity mostly at night because factories and official buildings are prioritized during daylight hours.

However, if, for instance, from 8 A.M. to 12 P.M. electricity goes to a shoe factory, and then from 12 P.M. to 5 P.M. it goes to a fabric factory, people in the neighborhood of those factories might be able to charge batteries or watch DVDs during that time.

However, outside the capital things are worse, as usual. In the case of Nampo on the West Sea coast, there is almost no daytime electricity supply at all. According to a source from the city, “In general there is no electricity. It comes around two days in ten, but even at those times it doesn’t usually work for longer than two hours.”

“The electricity situation is getting worse, and people say this is because electricity generated at Bukchang [Pukchang, 북창] Power Plant is all sent to Gangsun Steel Mill,” the source added.

Hyesan in Yangkang Province is in much the same boat. When Kim Jong Il conducted an onsite inspection at Hyesan Youth Mine in April the

authorities provided the area with electricity, but now it never comes.

A Hyesan source explained, “They send electricity for 24 hours on Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il’s birthdays, but this year it was unstable even then. When May came, they started to give us electricity from 6 to 10 in the evening, but it is unstable so for houses with no transformer this electricity is useless.”

The source from Nampo reported that some wealthier people apparently used to get electricity by offering money to local factories, approximately 15,000 won per month, but that this avenue has also been closed off.

The practice stopped when a decree was handed down stating, “Those who use stolen electricity will be exiled.”

There is also the ongoing problem of copper theft, the Nampo source revealed, explaining, “Before April 15th this year, electrical cables were stolen from Nampo Samcheon-ri Chosun-China Joint Factory (a clothing factory), so for five days the factory couldn’t operate. The workers chipped in with around 300 to 500 won each from their wages to purchase cables so that electricity could come again.”

Since electricity does not flow in most cables continually, it is easy to sever them to obtain the saleable copper inside. This copper, which is relatively expensive, is then sold to smugglers who sell it in China.

The “Gangsun Steel Mill” (Kangson Steel Mill) is now the “Chollima Steel Mill” and it was home to the Chollima Movement (learn more here). It is true that the DPRK has been recently emphasizing steel production (via recycling of scrap), but it is strange that people would literally think it is draining all the power from the Pukchang Thermal Power Plant since the two facilities are not directly connected on the power grid (or even close to each other). It is pretty obvious from Google Earth imagery that the steel mill receives its power from the Pyongyang and East Pyongyang Thermal Power Plants. It could be that the reference to the “Kangson Steel Mill” (which is itself interesting since the factory has not gone by that name in years) is a generic reference to the state’s prioritization of heavy industry over houshold electricity use.

Read the full story here:

Electricity Supplies Showing No Big Improvement

Daily NK

Lee Beom Ki and Jeong Jae Sung



Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Egypt At The Crossroads

From Middle East Forum:

Egypt: At the Crossroads

A briefing by Saad Eddin Ibrahim

April 7, 2011




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Audio Recording

Saad Eddin Ibrahim is founder of the Ibn Khaldoun Center for Development Studies, a leading think tank for the study of democracy and civil society in the Muslim world, and a visiting professor of Arab and Islamic Studies at Harvard University. On April 7, Mr. Ibrahim, formerly a political prisoner of Hosni Mubarak, discussed the topic of Egypt and democracy in an event presented by the Middle East Forum and the University of Pennsylvania's Middle East Center.

Saad Ibrahim commenced his lecture with a reflection on the peace and stability marking Egypt's "Lotus Revolution." This model of peaceful protest, Mr. Ibrahim stated, resonates around the world—from Madison, Wisconsin's "uprising against their governor" to Beijing, China where "the children of Tiananmen Square protestors" persist despite government crackdowns. Mr. Ibrahim stressed that democracy is not as foreign a concept to Egypt as some may believe. Some of his key points follow:

•Despite the post-9/11 writings of people like Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington, who argue that the Middle East is "immune" to democracy, protests sweeping through that region and overthrowing dictatorships suggest otherwise.

•Egypt first attempted democracy in the 1860s, with relative success until uprisings forced the Egyptian government to accept a British intervention in 1882—leading to occupation.

•Neither anti-American nor anti-Israeli slogans were a core aspect of the protests; rather, protestors focused on toppling a "corrupt" and "decadent" regime.

•The Muslim Brotherhood staked its claim in the revolution four days after it began, but hopes to gain 30% of seats in parliament due to its better funding and organization.

Some listeners present at the lecture voiced their concerns, ranging from Egypt's illiteracy rate and female circumcision to the diplomatic influence of Turkey and Iran. Mr. Ibrahim remained optimistic that democracy will take root. Others, less optimistic that a truly democratic government and society could take root, pointed to voter fraud and the role of sharia. Mr. Ibrahim concluded that no matter what type of democracy Egyptians aim to create, democracy in any form will be superior to autocratic rule.

Summary by MEF intern William Aquilino

Muslim Outreach 2.0

From CSP:

Muslim Outreach 2.0

Center for Security Policy
May 16, 2011

By Frank Gaffney, Jr.

On Thursday, President Obama will "reach out" yet again to what he insists on calling "the Muslim world." Think of it as the 2.0 version of his much-ballyhooed, but seriously deficient, 2009 speech at Al-Azhar University in Cairo.

His message this time, we are told, will be that the death of Osama bin Laden and the outpouring of support for democratic change across the Middle East and North Africa opens a new dawn for Muslims - and even greater opportunities for expanded relations with the United States than he promised two years ago. But will they?

The answer would appear to depend on who actually benefits most from these developments. As things stand now, the answer seems likely to be the Muslim Brotherhood (MB or, in Arabic, Ikwan). If the Brotherhood does indeed come to power in Egypt, Syria, Jordan, "Palestine" (through its local franchise, Hamas) and/or others of the roughly 13 countries in North Africa and the Middle East currently in play, there is no chance that U.S. interests will be served - no matter how much Mr. Obama tries to reach out to Muslims in those regions.

That reality is rooted in the jihadist nature of the Ikhwan and its goals. While some have claimed the organization is non-violent and, in the words of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, even "largely secular" - the most cursory examination of the Muslim Brotherhood's own words makes clear that such assertions are unfounded, and dangerously so.

Consider the MB's creed: "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope." Not much non-violent or secular about that.

Then, there is a pregnant quote from a 1991 document entitled the Ikhwan's "Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goals of the Group." The memo was found in a concealed archive in Annandale, Virginia in 2004. It was introduced into evidence in the successful 2008 prosecution of the first group of defendants in the Holy Land Foundation conspiracy, the largest terrorism-financing prosecution in the nation's history.

This strategic plan describes the MB's mission in America as "a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within, sabotaging its miserable house with their [i.e., Americans'] hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions." Secular? Non-violent?

The federal government also has made public another, undated Brotherhood document called, "Phases of the World Underground Movement Plan." It describes precisely how the MB's mission statement is being operationalized within the United States, and provides a progress report (in italics). Highlights of its key passages make for chilling reading given the prospect of an even-more-aggressive Obama outreach campaign to Muslims, one that would inevitably entail parlaying with the Ikhwan:

Phase One: Discreet and secret establishment of leadership.

Phase Two: Phase of gradual appearance on the public scene and exercising and utilizing various public activities. [The Brotherhood has] greatly succeeded in implementing this stage. It also succeeded in achieving a great deal of its important goals, such as infiltrating various sectors of the Government.

Phase Three: Escalation phase, prior to conflict and confrontation with the rulers, through utilizing mass media. Currently in progress.

Phase Four: Open public confrontation with the Government through exercising the political pressure approach. It is aggressively implementing the above-mentioned approach. Training on the use of weapons domestically and overseas in anticipation of zero-hour. It has noticeable activities in this regard.

Phase Five: Seizing power to establish their Islamic Nation under which all parties and Islamic groups are united.

President Obama can try to promote the illusion that the Muslim Brotherhood does not really intend to act on these ambitions. But the rest of us cannot safely ignore what those ambitions are, or the abundant evidence that the Ikhwan is, indeed, intent on realizing them - and disciplined, organized and ruthless enough to try to achieve them.

Finally, there is the strategic alignment of jihadist forces that led up and assuredly contributed to the so-called "Arab Spring." Two co-authors of the Center for Security Policy's new book, Shariah: The Threat to America (at, former Joint Chiefs of Staff advisor Stephen Coughlin and former FBI special agent John Guandolo, have been warning for months about the following developments:

In July 2010, al Qaeda used its new, English-language Inspire magazine to challenge the Muslim Brotherhood to move from the "Meccan phase" (i.e., stealthy forms of jihad) to the "Medinan phase" (i.e., violent jihad). In October 2010, the MB's recently elected Supreme Guide, Mohammed Badie, issued what amounted to a declaration of war against Israel, the United States and the West. And in January 2011, Al-Azhar University issued a fatwah affirming that offensive operations are a legitimate part of "defensive jihad."

Team Obama missed these ominous developments. In all likelihood its Outreach 1.0 and other missteps actually encouraged them, even before the President called for the immediate removal of one of America's relatively reliable Arab allies, Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak.

Now, Mr. Obama seems intent on compounding his earlier errors by further embracing Muslim Brotherhood operatives overseas and front organizations here at home. Redoubling such efforts now will only serve to embolden our foes, undermine our friends and endanger our country. Enough already.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is President of the Center for Security Policy (, a columnist for the Washington Times and host of the nationally syndicated program, Secure Freedom Radio, heard in Washington weeknights at 9:00 p.m. on WRC 1260 AM.

Middle East Update: Palestinians Catch Israel, Syria, And Hezbollah By Surprise

From Homeland Security NewsWire:

Middle East updatePalestinians catch Israel, Syria, and Hezbollah by surprise

Published 17 May 2011

On 15 May 1948 the State of Israel was born; for Israel this is Independence Day, but for Palestinians the day is naqba (catastrophe in Arabic); this year the naqba commemoration included something new, and perhaps more menacing: hundreds of Palestinians gathered at two spots along the Israeli border, then tried to force their way into Israel; fourteen Palestinians were killed and a few dozens injured in ensuing clashes with the Israeli military; it is easy to accuse the Syrian leadership of allowing the demonstrators to cross into Israel in the hope of inviting an Israeli military reaction which would divert attention from the daily killing of civilians by the Syrian military; it is also plausible to argue that the Iranians, opposing any peace negotiations between the Arab states and Israel, welcomed the clashes along the Israel-Lebanon border; these arguments are plausible, but problematic; the record shows that Syria and Hezbollah have always insisted on complete monopoly over the use of force along their respective borders with Israel

Palestinians rally at Israeli border crossing // Source:

On 15 May 1948 the State of Israel was born. For Israel this is Independence Day, but for Palestinians the day is naqba (catastrophe in Arabic). For the last sixty-three years, Palestinians have marked the day with rallies, demonstrations, and speeches. Even in the Palestinian territories, occupied by Israel since June 1967, the day of naqba is marked in schools and in public squares.

This year the naqba commemorations included something else, and perhaps more menacing: Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Palestinians gathered at two spots along the Israeli border:

•On the Syrian side of the Syria-Israel border, opposite the Druze town of Majdal Shams. The town, located at the northern tip of the Israeli occupied Golan Heights, sits just inside the Israeli border with Syria.

•In Lebanon, near the town of Maroun a-Ras, on the Israel-Lebanon border just inside Lebanon.

It is not yet clear whether the two events were coordinated or not, but in late morning on Sunday, hundreds of Palestinians from each group of protesters rushed the Israeli border. The two groups encountered different Israeli responses.


Lebanon is now controlled by Hezbollah, the pro-Iranian Shi’a organization. The organization has been armed to the teeth by Iran and Syria, and proved in the past that it was willing to use its military capabilities. Moreover, Iran views Hezbollah as an integral part and a tool of its regional policies, and Iranian officers, instructors, and engineers are guiding Hezbollah’s training, fortifications construction, and more.

As a result, Israel has a considerable military presence along the Israel-Lebanon border (and in the sky, where Israeli drones and blimps keep a watchful eye over Hezbollah’s military moves). The Palestinian protesters in south Lebanon thus faced a watchful, even anxious, finger-on-the-trigger Israeli military – and they paid the price. When they kept approaching the border, ignoring instructions from Israeli forward positions to turn back, the Israeli military opened fire, killing ten and wounding a few dozens. The Palestinians marchers never managed to cross into Israel.


In Majdal Shams the situation was different. Syria has never been an easy negotiating partner, but Israeli leaders acknowledge that once Syria signs an agreement, it keeps it to the letter. Thus, since 1967, there has never been a Palestinian terrorist incursion into Israel from Syria. Palestinians militants entered Israel – or fired rockets at Israel – from Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, the West Bank, and Lebanon – but never from Syria.

As a result, the Israeli forces along the Israeli-Syrian border are small, and their rules of engagement more relaxed than the ROEs followed by the Israeli military along the Israel-Lebanon border.

Thus, when hundreds of Palestinian demonstrators on the Syrian side of the border rushed the flimsy chain-link fence along the border, no one stopped them, and about 130 of them managed to cross into Israel and into the central square of Majdal Shams. There were a few clashes, and four demonstrators were killed, but Israel allowed to leaders of the town to deal with the issue, and the demonstrators left Israel after a few hours (not all of them: one Syrian Palestinian took a cab to Tel Aviv to see the sights).


It is easy to accuse the Syrian leadership of allowing the demonstrators to cross into Israel in the hope of inviting an Israeli military reaction which would divert attention from the daily killing of civilians by the Syrian military. It is also plausible to argue that the Iranians, opposing to any peace negotiations between the Arab states and Israel, welcomed the clashes along the Israel-Lebanon border.

These arguments are plausible, but problematic. Syria and Hezbollah are not friends of Israel, and it is clear that they are not guided in their policies – foreign or domestic – by the principles which guided Mahatma Gandhi. Syria and Hezbollah, though – the former since 1967, the latter since 1982 – have proven time and again that they insist on complete monopoly over the use of force along their respective borders with Israel. Both Syria and Israel proved willing to go to war with Israel (Syria in 1973 and 1982; Hezbollah in 1996 and 2006) — but at the time of their choosing and for reasons that they determined to be important.

Both Syria and Hezbollah support the Palestinian cause – but on their own terms and with means of their own choosing. As is the case with other Arab countries, support for the Palestinians is combined with the notion that the Palestinians and their demands can also be a nuisance.

For the Palestinians to behave in a provocative way toward Israel, and thus risk an Israeli military escalation on Israel’s – rather on Hezbollah’s or Syria’s terms – is something both Hezbollah and Syria have been unwilling to tolerate in the past, and it is not likely that they allowed it this time.

Tomorrow: the 2011 naqba commemoration repercussions

Monday, May 23, 2011

Obama's Inexcusable Indecision On Syria

From Town Hall:

Jeff Jacoby

Obama's Inexusable Indecision on Syria

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John Kerry finally got a clue on Syria last week. Is it too much to hope that the Obama administration might follow suit?

For years, the senior senator from Massachusetts has been an advocate of appeasement with Syria. He has insisted that Washington and Damascus have "shared interests" that justify warmer ties, and has championed diplomatic and financial incentives to coax the regime of Bashar al-Assad away from its partnership with Iran and its support for terrorism. Kerry has repeatedly traveled to Damascus to woo Assad, and was confidently predicting not long ago that "Syria will move, Syria will change, as it embraces a legitimate relationship with the United States and the West."

But last week, with Syrian tanks shelling residential neighborhoods and the death toll in the government's savage crackdown on popular protests nearing a thousand, Kerry woke up to reality at last. He conceded that the Syrian dictator "is obviously not a reformer now" and that continued engagement with the bloody regime in Damascus is pointless. Given the carnage in Syria, it should never have taken Kerry so long to abandon his delusional belief that the House of Assad is anything but a tyrannical gang of thugs. But at least he abandoned it. That's more progress than the White House has made.

"The defining characteristic of the Obama administration's response to revolution in the Arab world has been its slowness," the Washington Post editorialized last month. Nowhere has this diffidence been more pronounced -- or less defensible -- than in connection with Syria.

Under the 40-year rule of the Assads, Syria has been distinguished only for its sociopathic foreign policy and its unremitting hostility to the United States. During the Cold War, it was a reliable supporter of the Soviet Union; today it is a close ally of the brutal theocracy in Iran. It undermines and destabilizes Lebanon, which it regards as a part of "Greater Syria." It is an implacable enemy of Israel. It actively supports Hamas and Hezbollah, the Middle East's deadliest terror organizations. It violates nuclear non-proliferation agreements, and with North Korea's help constructed a plutonium-producing nuclear reactor. And during the US war in Iraq, it dispatched thousands of jihadists to kill American troops.

If ever a government deserved America's contempt and condemnation, the Syrian government does. If ever a popular uprising deserved American encouragement, the Syrian uprising does. Yet the Obama administration, which (eventually) pressed Egypt's Hosni Mubarak to resign and (belatedly) condemned Moammar Qaddafi's onslaught against protesters in Libya, remains indecisive and incoherent on the ferocious Assad crackdown in Syria.

Instead of seizing a historic opportunity to stand with Syria's people, the White House makes excuses for Syria's rulers. Assad and his clique "have an opportunity still to bring about a reform agenda," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told an Italian interviewer on May 6. "People do believe there is a possible path forward with Syria." Does Clinton expect anyone to believe that? Can she possibly believe it herself?

So far the United States has responded to the killings and mass arrests by freezing the assets of a few Syrian officials -- not including Bashar al-Assad. "This sharpens the choice for Syrian leaders who are involved in the decisions," an administration official told reporters. "Assad could be next."

But Assad knows he has little reason to worry. The Obama administration has not recalled its ambassador from Damascus, or expelled the Syrian ambassador from Washington. The president has yet to denounce the atrocities in Syria with anything like the forceful outrage of his statements on Libya. No wonder Assad's spokeswoman brushes aside the administration's views on Syria as "not too bad," and shrugs off the milquetoast sanctions as nothing to worry about.

For weeks, throngs of Syrian protesters have been chanting, "Al-sha'ab yoreed isqat al nizam" -- "The people want to overthrow the regime." They are publicly proclaiming the illegitimacy of their cruel government, and risking their lives each time they do so. They are not asking for outside military intervention. But surely they are entitled to the vigorous, vocal support of the president of the United States. He is called the leader of the free world for a reason. Does he understand what that that reason is? If so, this is the hour to show it.

Tags: Foreign Affairs , Middle East , Syria

Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby is an Op-Ed writer for the Boston Globe, a radio political commentator, and a contributing columnist for href="">Sign up today

Thursday, May 19, 2011

U.S. Government Official Finds It Puzzling That Bin Laden Would Support Arab Spring Uprisings

From Jihad Watch:

U.S. gov't official finds it "puzzling" that bin Laden would support "Arab Spring" uprisings

It is puzzling, if one is operating on the assumption that those uprisings, given a moniker that alludes to the Prague Spring, will lead to modern, pluralistic, tolerant democracies. Indeed, from the Balkan wars onward, U.S. foreign policy toward the Islamic world has been damaged by the tendency to see every popular uprising, and every separatist movement through the lens of the struggle for freedom from behind the Iron Curtain and the eventual liberation of now-former components of the Soviet Union and neighboring subject states.

Bringing down a dictator anywhere is now hoped and somewhat expected to bring the same results. And the resulting policy based on wishful thinking continues to be disastrous.

Meanwhile, bin Laden recognized that the uprisings in the Arab world have presented a golden opportunity to launch a wave of renewed Islamic states governing by Sharia, and that groups like the Muslim Brotherhood are poised and ready to seize upon the chance. It is only natural that he would be in favor of the uprisings, because whatever rivalries may exist with the Ikhwan and other groups, Sharia states will ultimately be friendlier to al-Qaeda, its members, and its agenda, and more openly hostile to the United States, Israel, and the rest of the West. "Unreleased bin Laden audio message called 'puzzling'," from CNN, May 13:

Washington (CNN) -- An unreleased audio message from Osama bin Laden, produced in late April, days before his death, in which he talks in support of the so-called "Arab Spring," was seized at the compound during the U.S. raid, according to a U.S. official.

The message refers to the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia but doesn't mention the uprisings in Libya, Yemen, Syria or elsewhere.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the classified nature of the information.

The official said it is "puzzling" that bin Laden would "suddenly join the bandwagon on the uprisings," months after they started and not mention all of the Arab nations in turmoil. For instance, the official said it was a "head scratcher" why bin Laden would not indicate his support for the uprising against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, a man bin Laden detested.

"Why not try to inspire AQIM," said the official, referring to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a regional affiliate.

The popular uprisings carry an air of legitimacy internationally that AQIM most certainly does not. And they have a better chance at the moment of successfully instituting more Islamic governments. They have great potential, in that regard, to do al-Qaeda's job for it, because the aim of all jihad is to impose Islamic law.

Since protests began across the Middle East, U.S. officials have said the movement undermined al Qaeda and offered an alternative to dissatisfied youth.

"The revolutions in Tunisia and in Egypt and the protests elsewhere that are leading to reforms in a number of governments I think are an extraordinary setback for al Qaeda," Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said on March 1. "It basically gives the lie to al Qaeda's claim that the only way to get rid of authoritarian governments is through extremist violence."

The U.S. official also said that among the seized materials were written communications from bin Laden expressing his desire to see U.S. President Barack Obama assassinated.

The United States expects to have further interrogations of the three wives of bin Laden who were taken into custody by Pakistani authorities after the U.S. raid on the compound. The U.S. official concurred with a description of the meeting on Friday with all three wives as hostile.

Posted by Marisol on May 14, 2011 7:49 AM

Egyptian Bishop: If Muslims Who Attack Christians Are Not Held Accountable, "Reconciliation Is Just Theater"

From Jihad Watch;

Egyptian bishop: If Muslims who attack Christians are not held accountable, "reconciliation is just theater"

The army will pursue the path of least resistance and least effort to keep the peace, preferring selective action and a policy of steam-control. The Islamic movements will only take advantage of that.

Where anarchy appears to be breaking out in the short term, it is only a prelude to the imposition of Sharia in the long term, as those Islamic movements create a "problem" of chaos for which to offer Sharia as a "solution," and as the only prospect for peace in the war of their own making. "Egyptian bishop warns of 'anarchy' after church attacks," from EWTN News, May 12:

The Coptic Catholic Bishop of Giza says that Egypt will descend into 'anarchy' unless Islamist violence is stopped.

“Without action from the police and the army, it will be chaos, complete anarchy,” Bishop Antonios Aziz Mina told the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need on May 9. “The police need to say clearly to those who have done this: ‘You cannot do this. It is not allowed.’”

Muslim mobs recently attacked three of Giza's Coptic Orthodox churches, in a rampage that left 15 people dead and hundreds wounded.

At present, however, Bishop Mina believes the Egyptian army “will not stand up against the people who do this sort of thing,” because “they want to stay neutral” rather than move decisively against the Muslim extremists.

He said the police, for their part, were “frightened” by the perpetrators of Saturday's attacks.

Local reports said that only six police officers arrived at the scene outside St. Mina's Church in Giza on Saturday night. An estimated 3,000 followers of the Salafist Jihadi movement demanded to enter the church, saying a Christian woman had been “kidnapped” there for attempting to become a Muslim.

Denied access to the church, the mob attacked it with grenades and Molotov cocktails and began shooting parishioners. They proceeded to attack two other nearby churches, and local Coptic Christian homes, leaving 232 people wounded in addition to the 15 now confirmed dead.

The army arrived more than four hours after the attacks began, and failed to stop the violence from continuing for almost 10 hours afterward.

A crowd of Christians and sympathetic Muslims demonstrated the next day in Cairo's Tahrir Square, demanding protection for Copts and their churches. Egypt's military government, which replaced former president Hosni Mubarak in February, responded by stepping up security at churches in Cairo.

Bishop Mina, however, wants Egypt's new government to take a stronger stand against terrorist movements that target Christians.

“We cannot make peace and reconciliation without first bringing people to justice,” he stated. “Otherwise, the reconciliation is just theater and the problems will remain.”...

Posted by Marisol on May 13, 2011 4:15 AM

Indonesia: Hard-Line Muslim Groups Demand Revision Of Pancasila, The State's Five Founding Principles

From Jihad Watch:

Indonesia: "Hard-line" Muslim groups demand revision of Pancasila, the state's five founding principles

What do they want? Sharia, naturally: "The first principle of the Jakarta Charter, which was ultimately incorporated into the preamble of the constitution, was the 'obligation for all followers to observe Shariah law.' It was later changed to 'Belief in the one and only God,' by then-Vice President Mohammad Hatta."

So, they can deceptively say they are patriotic, even "moderate" Indonesians who believe in and uphold Pancasila. Then, the question becomes: Whose Pancasila? "Islamic Hard-Liners Plan Massive Pancasila Rally," by Nivell Rayda for the Jakarta Globe, May 11 (thanks to Twostellas):

Cianjur, West Java. After failing to kick-start a revolution through massive protests echoing those in the Middle East this year, hard-line Muslim groups are now plotting an even bigger rally next month, this time claiming they have forged an unlikely alliance with nationalists.

Speaking from his home in West Java, Chep Hermawan, the leader of the Islamic Reform Movement (Garis), said that 40,000 protesters were expected to rally in front of the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on June 1.

“Basically everyone who is a staunch critic of SBY will be on board,” Chep said, referring to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. “It will be like Cairo, where everyone who didn’t like Mubarak joined forces to topple a corrupt government.”

Chep named Sri Bintang Pamungkas, a Suharto-era political activist, and Andi Mapetahang Fatwa, a member of the Regional Representatives Council (DPD), as being among the nationalists who had expressed an interest in taking part in the rally.

“We plan on doing this on the anniversary of the Pancasila,” Chep said, referring to the state ideology first articulated by former President Sukarno on June 1, 1945.

Chep said Muslim groups were hoping to return the Pancasila to its original state, as outlined in the Jakarta Charter of June 22, 1945. The first principle of the Jakarta Charter, which was ultimately incorporated into the preamble of the constitution, was the “obligation for all followers to observe Shariah law.” It was later changed to “Belief in the one and only God,” by then-Vice President Mohammad Hatta.

“We want the Pancasila to return to its original state,” Chep said. “We don’t reject the Pancasila, rather we want to restore it to its intended purpose.”

No, really, everyone will love it:

The protest, Chep added, would also cover other topical issues. “Basically our plan is to stage a rally that appeals to all, not just Muslims,” he said. “We have been talking with the nationalists and they agreed to join our rally, but they will be pushing labor issues, agricultural reform and so on.”

Everyone who counts, that is, which won't include the Ahmadis:

Demonstrators, he said, would also demand the dissolution of Ahmadiyah, a minority Islamic sect considered deviant by mainstream Muslims....

Posted by Marisol on May 13, 2011 4:49 AM

Obama's Newest Ambush

From The Jerusalem Post:

Column One: Obama’s newest ambush


05/13/2011 16:13

Netanyahu doesn’t have to give in. He can stick to his guns and defend the country.

Talkbacks (95)

It is hard to believe, but it appears that in the wake of the Palestinian unity deal that brings Hamas, the genocidal, al-Qaida-aligned, local franchise of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, into a partnership with Fatah, US President Barack Obama has decided to open a new round of pressure on Israel to give away its land and national rights to the Palestinians. It is hard to believe that this is the case. But apparently it is.

On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that while Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is in Washington next week, and before the premier has a chance to give his scheduled address to a joint session of Congress, Obama will give a new speech to the Arab world. In that speech, Obama will praise the populist movements that have risen up against Arab tyrannies and embrace them as the model for the future. As for Israel, the report claimed that the Obama administration is still trying to decide whether the time is right to put the screws on Israel once more.

On the one hand, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told the Journal that Arab leaders are clamoring for a new US initiative to force Israel to make new concessions. Joining this supposed clamor are the administration-allied pro-Palestinian lobby J Street, and the administration-allied New York Times.

On the other hand, the Netanyahu government and Congress are calling for a US aid cutoff to the Palestinian Authority. With Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization, now partnering with Fatah in governing the PA, it is illegal for the US government to continue to have anything to do with the PA. Both the Netanyahu government and senior members of the House and Senate are arguing forcefully that there is no way for Israel to make peace with the Palestinians now, and that the US must abandon its efforts to force the sides to sign an agreement.

The Israeli and congressional arguments are certainly compelling. But the signals emanating from the White House and its allied media indicate that Obama is ready to plough forward in spite of them. With the new international security credibility he earned by overseeing the successful assassination of Osama bin Laden, Obama apparently believes that he can withstand congressional pressure and make the case for demanding that Israel surrender Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria to Hamas and its partners in Fatah.

THE SIGNALS that Obama is setting his sights on coercing Israel into agreeing to surrender its capital and heartland to Hamas and its partners in Fatah came in three forms this week. First, administration officials are trying to lower the bar that Hamas needs to pass in order to be considered a legitimate political force.

After Fatah and Hamas signed their first unity deal in March 2007, the US and its colleagues in the so-called Middle East Quartet – Russia, the EU and the UN – set three conditions that Hamas needed to meet to be accepted by them as legitimate. It needed to recognize Israel’s right to exist, agree to respect existing agreements with Israel, and renounce terrorism.

These are not difficult conditions. Fatah is perceived as having met them even though it is still a terrorist organization and its leaders refuse to accept Israel’s right to exist and refuse to abide by any of the major commitments they took upon themselves in precious agreements with Israel. Hamas could easily follow Fatah’s lead.

But Hamas refuses. So, speaking to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius two weeks ago, administration officials lowered the bar.

They said Hamas had made major concessions to Fatah in their agreement because it agreed to accept provisions of the 2009 unity deal drafted by the Mubarak government that it rejected two year ago and because Hamas agreed that the unity government will be manned by “technocrats” rather than terrorists.

Even if these contentions are true, they are completely ridiculous. In point of fact, all the 2009 agreement says is that Hamas will refrain from demanding to join the US-trained and funded Fatah army in Judea and Samaria. As for the “technocratic” government, who does the Obama administration think will control these “technocrats”? And as to the truth of these contentions, in an interview last week with the New York Times, Hamas terror-master Khaled Mashal denied that he had agreed to the terms of the 2009 agreement.

Indeed, he said that Fatah agreed to add annexes to the agreement reflecting Hamas’s positions.

The second pitch the administration and its friends have adopted ahead of Obama’s address next week is that Hamas has become more moderate or may become more moderate.

Robert Malley, who in the past advised Obama’s presidential campaign, made this argument last week in an op-ed in the Washington Post. Malley claimed that by joining the government, Hamas will be more moved by US pressure. A New York Times editorial last Saturday argued that Hamas may have moderated, and even if it hasn’t, “Washington needs to press Mr. Netanyahu back to the peace table.”

Adding their voices to the din, Middle Eastern leaders like Amr Moussa, the frontrunner to serve as Egypt’s next president, and Turkish Prime Minister Recip Erdogan, have given interviews to the US media this week in which they denied that Hamas is even a terrorist organization.

Here it is important to note that none of the administration’s statements about the Hamas- Fatah deal and none of the media coverage related to it have included any mention of the fact that Hamas deliberately murders entire families and targets children specifically. No one mentions last month’s Hamas guided rocket attack which deliberately targeted an Israeli school bus. Hamas murdered 16-year-old Daniel Viflic in that attack. No one has mentioned the café massacres, the bus bombings, the university campus massacres, the breaking into homes massacres, the Passover Seder massacres Hamas has carried out and bragged about in recent years. No one has mentioned that when seen as a portion of the population, Hamas has killed far more Israelis than al-Qaida has killed Americans.

The final pitch the administration and its surrogates are making is that the deal needs to be seen as part of the overall regional shift towards popular rule. This pitch too is difficult to make.

After all, the first casualty of the Arab world’s shift towards popular rule is the 30-year-old Camp David peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Now that Egypt’s citizens have gotten rid of US-ally Hosni Mubarak, they have committed themselves to getting rid of the peace he upheld with Israel throughout his long reign.

Again, despite the difficulties, the Obama administration is clearly willing to make the case. Regarding Egypt, they argue that the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power is a good. This was the point of Obama’s Passover and Israel Independence Day messages.

As for the regional shift, the fact that Obama reportedly intends to place the so-called Palestinian- Israeli peace process into the regional context signals that he sees potential for an agreement between Israel and Syria as well. His advisers telegraphed this view to Ignatius.

Obama’s advisers made the unlikely argument that if Syrian leader Bashar Assad survives the popular demonstrations calling for his overthrow, he will feel compelled to distance his regime from Iran because his Sunni-majority population has been critical of his alliance with the Shi’ite mullocracy.

This argument is unlikely given that the same officials recognize that if Assad survives, he will owe his regime’s survival to Iran. As they reminded Ignatius, US intelligence officials reported last month that Iran has “secretly supplied Assad with tear gas, anti-riot gear and other tools of suppression.”

WHAT IS perhaps most remarkable about Obama’s apparent plan to use the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as an excuse for a new round of diplomatic warfare against Israel is how poorly coordinated his steps have been with the PLO-Fatah. Mahmoud Abbas and his predecessor Yasser Arafat always viewed the US obsession with getting the Arabs and Israel to sign peace treaties as a strategic asset. Anytime they wanted to weaken Israel, they just needed to sound the fake peace drum loudly enough to get the White House’s attention. US presidents looking for the opportunity to “make history” were always ready to take their bait.

Unlike his predecessors, Obama’s interest in the Palestinians is not opportunistic. He is a true believer. And because of his deep-seated commitment to the Palestinians, his policies are even more radically anti-Israel than the PLO-Fatah’s. It was Obama, not Abbas, who demanded that Jews be barred from building anything in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. It is the Obama administration, not the PLO-Fatah, that is leading the charge to embrace the Muslim Brotherhood.

Like his belated move to demand a permanent abrogation of Jewish property rights in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, Abbas arguably embraced Hamas because Obama left him no choice. He has no interest in making peace with Israel, so the only thing he can do under the circumstances Obama has created is embrace Hamas. He can’t be less pro-Islamic than the US president.

ALL OF this brings us to Netanyahu and his trip to Washington next week. Obviously Obama’s decision to upstage the premier with his new outreach-to-the-Arab-world speech will make Netanyahu’s visit more challenging than it was already going to be.

Obama is clearly betting that by moving first, he will be able to coerce Netanyahu to make still more concessions of land and principles.

Certainly, Netanyahu’s earlier decisions to cave in to Obama’s pressure with his acceptance of Palestinian statehood and his subsequent acceptance of a Jewish building freeze give Obama good reason to believe he can back Netanyahu into a corner. Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s hysterical warnings about a diplomatic “tsunami” at the UN in September if Israel fails to capitulate to Obama today no doubt add to Obama’s sense that he can expect Netanyahu to dance to his drums, no matter how hostile the beat.

But Netanyahu doesn’t have to give in. He can stick to his guns and defend the country. He can continue on the correct path he has forged of repeating the truth about Hamas. He can warn about the growing threat of Egypt. He can describe the Iranian-supported butchery Assad is carrying out against his own people and note that a regime that murders its own will not make peace with the Jewish state. And he can point out the fact that as a capitalist, liberal democracy which protects the lives and property of its citizens, Israel is the only stable country in the region and the US’s only reliable regional ally.

True, if Netanyahu does these things, he will not win himself any friends in the White House.

But he never had a chance of winning Obama and his advisers over anyway. He will empower Israel’s allies in Congress, though. And more importantly, whether he is loved or hated in Washington, if Netanyahu does these things, he will be able to return home to Jerusalem with the sure knowledge that he earned his salary this month.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Abbas Vs. Obama

From Middle East Forum:

Abbas vs. Obama

by Steven J. Rosen

Middle East Quarterly

Spring 2011, pp. 53-58 (view PDF)

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Having sidelined Barack Obama's peace initiative by refusing to return to the negotiations table without apriori Israeli concessions, the Palestinian leadership seeks to secure an international declaration of statehood at the next U.N. General Assembly session in September 2011. This "date certain" strategy, whereby its entitlement to a state will be fulfilled by the world powers, has long been preferred by the Palestinian leadership to any arduous, bilateral negotiation with Israel, which would require painful concessions. The Palestinians enjoy wide support in many European capitals, and they know that the Obama administration is close to their positions on many of the core issues. So forcing the statehood demand into a multilateral forum can entice governments into satisfying the Palestinian aspirations by a fixed date.

European Support

Since the start of the Obama administration, PA president Mahmoud Abbas has refused to engage in direct talks before the stoppage of all Jewish construction activities in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank, despite having negotiated with seven previous Israeli prime ministers without such preconditions.

Some key European leaders have shown growing receptivity to setting a date for the creation of a Palestinian state. Their frustration has mounted since the breakdown of the Oslo negotiations when Yasser Arafat launched his war of terror in September 2000, then rejected Bill Clinton's final proposal in January 2001. In 2002, the Europeans hatched the idea of a "road map" for Arab-Israeli resolution as a way to create deadlines for the establishment of a Palestinian state,[1] and European Union pressure led to the creation of the Quartet (the United States, U.N., European Union, and Russia), and to the Quartet's first statement on September 17, 2002, announcing "a concrete, three-phase implementation road map that could achieve a final settlement within three years."[2]

But the Bush administration was unwilling to go all the way with fixed deadlines and a date certain because it recognized that this would free the Palestinians from the responsibility to compromise with Israel. Bush insisted that the road map deadlines be conditional: Transition from one phase to the next would be "performance based"—i.e., based on the responsibilities of the parties themselves. The road map announced "clear phases, timelines, target dates, and benchmarks." [3] But the Quartet partners were forced to agree that "progress between the three phases would be strictly based on the parties' compliance with specific performance benchmarks to be monitored ... based upon the consensus judgment of the Quartet of whether conditions are appropriate to proceed." [4]

For these reasons, the road map did not achieve its stated goal of "a final settlement within three years," and European frustration continued to mount. In July 2009, Europe's then-foreign policy chief Javier Solana called for the U.N. Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state by a certain deadline even if Israelis and Palestinians had failed to agree among themselves: "After a fixed deadline, a U.N. Security Council resolution should proclaim the adoption of the two-state solution ... set a calendar for implementation ... [and] accept the Palestinian state as a full member of the UN. … If the parties are not able to stick to [the timetable], then a solution backed by the international community should be put on the table." [5]

French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner moved in the same direction in February 2010: "One can imagine a Palestinian state being ... recognized by the international community, even before negotiating its borders. I would be tempted by that."[6] Kouchner and his Spanish counterpart Miguel Angel Moratinos wrote on February 23, 2010, that the European Union "must not confine itself to the … outlines of the final settlement" but "should collectively recognize the Palestinian State ... There is no more time to lose. Europe must pave the way." [7] Then in July 2010, Kouchner said, "France supports the creation of a viable, independent, democratic Palestinian state ... by the first quarter of 2012." [8]

But none of this happened. Solana, Moratinos, and Kouchner are no longer in their positions, and Europe has not delivered what the Palestinians sought.

Palestinian Gains

The Palestinian leadership has taken its own initiative to force a deadline for statehood without negotiations. In a major address at al-Quds University on June 22, 2009, Salam Fayyad of the Palestinian Authority announced a 24-month program to build the institutions of statehood, so that "the Palestinian State [will] become—by the end of next year or within two years at most—a firm reality." He predicted that the "building of institutions ... within two years will enable us to swing back the position of the international community in support of our right to an independent, fully sovereign State on the 1967 border and with East Jerusalem as its capital." [9] On August 26, 2009, Fayyad issued the details of his program for building statehood institutions within two years.[10]

His initiative was quickly adopted by the Middle East Quartet, which declared on March 19, 2010, that "negotiations should lead to a settlement negotiated between the parties within 24 months."[11]

"It's not a coincidence that the Europeans came out with a landmark statement," Fayyad boasted. "All of a sudden everyone is talking about a two-year timeline. The Quartet on March 19 of this year said two years. Well, their two years is longer than ours—we started a bit earlier."[12] On August 20, 2010, the Quartet made another statement shortening its timeline to match that of Fayyad, declaring that "a settlement ... can be completed within one year" instead of the two years it had announced just five months earlier.[13]

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the same timeline, saying, "Direct negotiations to resolve all final status issues ... can be completed within one year."[14] Special Envoy George Mitchell gave Clinton's reasons:

Prime Minister Netanyahu said ... that he believed it could be done within a year. President Abbas has expressed similar sentiments to me. So we believe it can be done within a year ... Both the United States and the Quartet have said that we believe there should be direct talks without preconditions ... If those negotiations are conducted seriously ... they can produce such an agreement within 12 months.[15]

Indeed, Netanyahu did give a nod to the 2011 target date, perhaps as an indication of his own sincerity about peace talks. In his September 8, 2010 Rosh Hoshana greeting, the prime minister said, "I believe that we should make every effort to reach a historic compromise for peace over the coming year."[16] Then during a press conference in Sderot on September 21, 2010, Netanyahu added, "My goal is not to conduct a process but to complete it ... to reach a historic peace. ... [through] accelerated negotiations within one year in order to achieve a framework agreement."[17]

But the most important victory for the Palestinian date-certain campaign was the dramatic pronouncement by Obama in his remarks to the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 22, 2010. Obama said, "When we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United Nations—an independent state of Palestine."[18] This was the only line in Obama's 2010 speech that received an enthusiastic ovation.

The Palestinians remained unimpressed. Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas responded, "I hope this is not just a slogan, and when the time comes, he says, 'We are sorry we could not [do it]. Leave it for next year.'" He continued, it "is a promise and a debt around your neck, and it must be realized so that Palestine becomes a full member state of the United Nations."[19]

The Final Push

The Palestinians now have a plan to receive payment for all these promises and collect on this "debt." In January 2011, the Palestinian Authority (PA) announced that it had prepared a draft resolution to be introduced in the U.N. Security Council in September 2011 when Obama's one-year promise falls due.[20] This includes formal recognition of a Palestinian state by the most authoritative organ of the world body and admission of Palestine as a member state of the United Nations. And it enshrines two additional key principles: (1) that the pre-1967 armistice line should be the basis for future negotiations over borders, and (2) that eastern Jerusalem be the capital of this Palestinian state.

In his announcement of the draft resolution, Riad Malki of the PA said, "Such recognition would create political and legal pressure on Israel to withdraw its forces from the land of another state that is recognized within the '67 borders by the international organization."[21] It would also have the effect of making eastern Jerusalem, where more than half the Jews in Israel's capital live, occupied territory, invalidating the titles to their homes. It would give a new state of Palestine legal standing to seek indictment of Israel's leaders before the International Criminal Court and to litigate a great variety of claims before the International Court of Justice.

When Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Mitchell made their several statements approving target dates, they framed the goal in every case as dates by which bilateral direct negotiations between Tel Aviv and the PA should be completed. It was not the administration's intent to incur an obligation to support statehood by those dates if the negotiations did not occur, certainly not if the Palestinians themselves refused to negotiate. But since the onset of this administration, the Palestinians have in fact refused to engage in direct talks unless the Israeli government yielded to a precondition: that there be no construction of any homes for Jews in eastern Jerusalem nor anywhere on the West Bank. This is, as Clinton acknowledged, an unprecedented precondition. Israeli building on the West Bank, she said on October 31, 2009, has "always been an issue within the negotiations. … There's never been a precondition." [22]

In fact, Abbas himself negotiated with seven previous Israeli prime ministers without such preconditions. For seventeen years—from the Madrid conference of October 1991 through Abbas's discussions with Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, which ended in 2008—a subject of recent disclosures by Al-Jazeera television—negotiations moved forward while construction of homes for Jews in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank continued. Madrid, Oslo I, Oslo II, the Hebron protocol, the Wye River memorandum, Camp David, Taba, the disengagement from Gaza, and Olmert's offer to Abbas—all these events over the course of two decades were made possible by a continuing agreement to disagree about Israeli construction of Jewish homes in Jewish neighborhoods outside the pre-1967 line in East Jerusalem.

But now, on Obama's watch, the PA is refusing to negotiate. This is a direct violation of the commitment the Palestinians made at the start of the Oslo process, which included Arafat's pledge to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on September 9, 1993, that the "PLO commits itself to the Middle East peace process, and to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides, and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations."[23] It is also a direct violation of the pledge that Abbas himself made barely three years ago at the Annapolis conference, witnessed by the foreign ministers of fifty-seven countries: "We agree to immediately launch good-faith bilateral negotiations ... vigorous, ongoing, and continuous negotiations."[24] Yet the Obama administration has been utterly silent about the Palestinian refusal to negotiate, issuing not a single audible word of criticism.[25]

Obama has certainly not been reticent to criticize what he sees as the failures on the Israeli side. On at least thirteen separate occasions, starting just weeks after Netanyahu took office, he and his top officials have issued sharply expressed objections to the building policies of the Israeli government, often doing so in the presence of the Israeli prime minister himself. For example, on March 9, 2010, Vice President Biden condemned "the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem." [26] Secretary Clinton said, "The president was very clear when Prime Minister Netanyahu was here. He wants to see a stop to settlements ... That is what we have communicated very clearly ... And we intend to press that point."[27]

Mahmoud Abbas has attributed the hardening of his own stand toward Israeli settlements to the example set by Obama. "President Obama stated in Cairo that Israel must stop all construction activities in the settlements. Could we demand less than that?"[28]

The administration did not mean to produce this result. Obama's envoy, George Mitchell, argued, "We do not believe in preconditions. And we urge others not to impose preconditions." Despite this, to repeat, neither Mitchell nor any other member of the Obama team has said anything pointed about Abbas's refusal to negotiate unless his preconditions are met.

In February 2011, Abbas succeeded in putting Obama on the defensive at the U.N. Security Council by rejecting the administration's compromise formula and forcing it to veto a Palestinian resolution condemning Israeli settlements as an obstacle to peace.[29] In September 2011, he will be going to the Security Council, daring the president to veto, and putting him in the hot seat. A veto would not be received well in the Muslim world, a key target of Obama's outreach, which is why he is looking for avenues for multilateral cooperation that would preempt the need for unilateral measures like the veto..[30] And if Obama does nonetheless veto a statehood resolution that has wide international support, he will be under pressure to offset this with fresh gestures toward the Palestinians. Obama's dilemma is that, either way, the refusal to negotiate will be rewarded. And negotiation of the issues between the Palestinians and the Israelis will still be nowhere in sight.

Steven J. Rosen served for twenty-three years as a senior official of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. He is now director of the Washington Project of the Middle East Forum.

[1] "Chronological Review of Events Relating to the Question of Palestine," Monthly Media Monitoring Review, U.N. Information System on the Question of Palestine, Nov. 2002.

[2] "Communiqué Issued by the Quartet," United Nations, New York, Sept. 17, 2002.

[3] "A Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict," United Nations, New York, Apr. 30, 2003.

[4] "Quartet Statement on the Middle East," European Union @ the United Nations, New York, Sept. 17, 2002.

[5] Reuters, July 12, 2009.

[6] France 24 TV, Feb. 22, 2010.

[7] Bernard Kouchner and Miguel Angel Moratinos, "A Palestinian State: When?" Le Monde (Paris), Feb. 23, 2010.

[8] Bernard Kouchner, "Viable Palestinian State by 2012," Ma'an News Agency (Bethlehem), July 27, 2010.

[9] Salam Fayyad, address at al-Quds University, Abu Dis, Prime Minister's Office, Palestinian National Authority, June 22, 2009.

[10] "Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State: Program of the Thirteenth Government," Palestinian National Authority, U.N. Information System on the Question of Palestine, Aug. 2009.

[11] "Statement by Middle East Quartet," Moscow, Mar. 19, 2010.

[12] "Fayyad: 'Build, build despite the occupation,'" Palestine Note website, Washington, D.C., July 30, 2010.

[13] Quartet statement, United Nations, New York, Aug. 20, 2010.

[14] Political Transcript Wire, Aug. 20, 2010.

[15] Ibid.

[16] "Rosh Hashanah Greeting from PM Netanyahu," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem, Sept. 8, 2010.

[17] Benjamin Netanyahu, press conference in Sderot, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem, Sept. 21, 2010.

[18] Barack Obama, remarks to the United Nations General Assembly, New York, White House Press Office, Sept. 22, 2010.

[19] World Bulletin (Istanbul), Nov. 11, 2010.

[20] Ha'aretz (Tel Aviv), Jan. 10, 2011.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Benjamin Netanyahu and Hillary Clinton, remarks in Jerusalem, U.S. State Department, Oct. 31, 2009.

[23] Exchange of letters between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, Sept. 9, 1993, MidEast Web archive.

[24] Annapolis agreement, The Guardian (London), Nov. 27, 2007.

[25] Steven J. Rosen, "Why Isn't Obama Pressuring the Palestinians?" Foreign Policy, Jan. 4, 2011.

[26] Joseph R. Biden, Jr., statement in Jerusalem, White House Press Office, Mar. 9, 2010.

[27] Ahmed Ali Aboul Gheit, Egyptian foreign minister, and Hillary Clinton, remarks in Washington, D.C., U.S. Department of State, May 27, 2009.

[28] "Mahmoud Abbas: I Reached Understandings with Olmert on Borders," Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington, D.C., Nov. 16, 2010; The Jerusalem Post, Jan. 22, 2011.

[29] BBC News, Feb. 18, 2011.

[30] Steven J. Rosen, "Will Obama Use His U.N. Veto?" Commentary, Sept. 2010.

The Resistance Camp Abandons Syrian President Bashar Al Assad And His Regime


The Resistance Camp Abandons Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and His Regime

By: B. Chernitsky*




The continuing unrest in Syria that began on March 15, 2011, has undermined Syria's relations with its traditional allies and intensified tensions between it and its opponents.[1] The international criticism of the Syrian regime's treatment of the protesters was echoed by elements from the resistance camp, such as Al-Jazeera and other media in Qatar.[2] Even elements in Iran criticized Syria's suppression of the unrest, despite that fact that the Iranian regime employs similar methods to suppress its own opposition.

The London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, whose editor, 'Abd Al-Bari 'Atwan, has consistently supported the resistance, published numerous articles condemning the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. Turkey, which in recent years has tightened its relations with Syria and Iran, was also harsh in its criticism of the Syrian regime, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the suppression of protesters in Syria was beginning to resemble Saddam Hussein's brutality against the Kurds in Halabja in 1988 and the violence in Hama, Syria, in 1982.[3] On the other hand, Hamas, which has the backing of the Syrian regime, is continuing to officially support it, though reports in the Arab press indicate that there is some tension between the two sides.[4]

At the same time, the unrest in Syria has widened the rift between Syria and its opponents in the moderate Arab camp, particularly Lebanon's March 14 Forces, which have been accused of active involvement in organizing protests in Syria.[5] Syria and its supporters have made similar accusations against "the Palestinians" - meaning the PLO[6] – as well as the Jordanians[7] and the Saudis.[8]

Saudi Arabia, which belongs to the moderate Arab camp, and which, in an historic move in January 2009, reconciled with Syria in an attempt to pry it away from the resistance camp, has refrained from officially criticizing the Syrian regime, while the Saudi media have limited their coverage of events there. However, the London-based Saudi dailies, particularly Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, which is owned by Prince Salman bin 'Abd Al-'Aziz, have taken a clear and unprecedentedly harsh anti-Syria line.

Qatar – From Staunch Ally to Harsh Critic

When the Syrian unrest first began, the Qatari media largely refrained from taking any position on the matter, but as the Syrian regime's violent suppression of the protests escalated, Qatari editorials began condemning Syria's actions and calling on the regime there to quickly implement fundamental reforms. Al-Jazeera also expanded its coverage of the events, and some of its analysts, hosts, and correspondents harshly criticized the Syrian regime. Prominent among these was International Union of Muslim Scholars head Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, host of the channel's "Sharia and Life" show, who expressed support for the protesters and called for the removal of the Ba'th regime there. Other senior Al-Jazeera staffers criticizing the Syrian regime were former Israeli MP and senior analyst 'Azmi Bishara and Israel/Palestinian bureau chief Walid Al-'Omari.

The Syrian media, for its part, reported on Assad's anger at Qatar's emir following a meeting between Assad and the emir's emissary, Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassem, in which the latter had not expressed support for the Syrian regime. It was also reported that Assad had said no further meetings would be held between the two countries until Qatar apologized for Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi's statements.[9] Pro-Syrian Lebanese newspapers stated that Qatar, formerly affiliated with the resistance camp, had switched sides and was now working against the Syrian regime.[10]

Qatari Editorials: Syria's Continued Oppression Will Lead to a Regime Change

In an editorial, the Qatari daily Al-Arab explained that the Syrian people had chosen freedom, and that the Syrian regime must realize that it could not eradicate its own people but could only eradicate the oppressive regime itself: "At first, the Ba'th regime believed that it was disconnected from everything that was happening around it in the Arab world, a mistake made previously by Hosni Mubarak's regime in Egypt and Al-Qadhafi's regime in Libya. Furthermore, [it] had pinned its hopes [for survival] on its years of oppression and maltreatment of the Syrian people, and on ongoing media [brainwashing] and ideological terrorism about conspiracies against the [Syrian] resistance regime... But reality has refuted the false claims of the Damascus regime, and the Syrian people has proven that its liberty is more [important] than anything...

"Bashar Al-Assad and his regime had a real opportunity to end the protests that started in Der'a, had they descended from their ivory tower and listened to the people, and had they used a modern approach in handling them, instead of an outmoded one [like the one used by] the regime of Assad senior when it killed some 40,000 residents of Hama and exiled twice that many in 1982. All the people wanted was the fulfillment of the promise of reform that Assad junior made in 2000 and nothing more... The Syrian regime must know that oppressing peoples will not eradicate them or erase their footprint. The one who is eradicated is always the oppressor of the people – and nothing remains of him but curses."[11]

The Qatari daily Al-Sharq wrote in an editorial that the era of the dictatorial regimes had passed from the world, regardless of whether such regimes belong to the moderate Arab camp or the resistance camp: "The security approach in dealing with protests will only spark popular revolution, and will give [the protesters] yet more reasons to continue in the path that will lead only to regime change.

"Many lessons can be learned from the recent events in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen... [namely,] that the time of rule by security apparatuses, totalitarianism, dictatorship, and the single-party [regime] is over, [and] the only way to deal with the people is to listen to their familiar demands and to comply with them in the best and fastest way possible. These revolutions by the Arab peoples that are sweeping through the region from East to West will not skip over regimes, be they 'moderate' or 'resistance' [regimes]..."[12]

Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi: The Ba'th Party Should Not Rule Syria

International Union of Muslim Scholars head Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi expressed support for the Syrian people's protests against the Assad regime, as he had previously supported the protests in Tunisia,[13] Egypt,[14] and Libya.[15] In his Friday sermon of March 25, 2011, Al-Qaradhawi called the measures declared by Assad insufficient and added that the Ba'th party should no longer rule Syria. He said that Assad himself was a prisoner of the Alawi community, and that this was the reason for his failure to institute changes:

"...Syria cannot be left out of the history of the Arab nation. Some have said that Syria is safe from these revolutions. How can it possibly be safe from these revolutions? Is it not part of the nation? Is it not part of the law of Allah... In fact, it is even more in need of a revolution than other countries...

"Now they are trying to downplay the crime... The Ba'th Party has come to an end throughout the Arab world. All these ancient parties are a thing of the past – the RCD in Tunisia, the NDP in Egypt... These parties are over and done with. The constitutional courts annulled them...

"How come the Higher National Committee of the Ba'th Party still rules Syria? Who the hell is the Committee of the Arab Ba'th Party? Is Syria an estate that you inherited from your father or grandfather, so that you could steer the political activity and control the emergency law? These people are backward – they live in a different age from us. We live in the era of the Arab revolutions...

"The problem of Dr. Bashar Al-Assad is that although he is intellectual, open-minded, and young, and could have done a lot, he is held prisoner by his entourage and by the [Alawi] sect. He cannot get rid of them. He sees with their eyes and hears with their ears..."[16]

Following this sermon, Assad advisor Buthayna Sha'ban called Al-Qaradhawi's statements tantamount to "calling for civil strife [fitna]."[17] The Syrian daily Al-Watan wrote that while Syrians once enjoyed Fridays, they now feared for their lives and the lives of their children because of Al-Qaradhawi's inciting sermons, which led to fitna and killing.[18] The Damascus University law faculty even filed a lawsuit against Al-Qaradhawi for his incitement against Syria.[19] In his sermon the following Friday, Al-Qaradhawi mocked the lawsuit and further criticized the Syrian regime: "I will never fear those who sue me, and I will continue to tell the truth. They are judging me for harming the country's good name, but a country whose name is harmed by a word is... a very weak country...

"This is a time of change, and those who do not change will by trampled by [the people]. These regimes have enslaved the people... and when they asked for freedom, they were shot at... The Muslim countries today are backward due to repression and persecution..."[20]

In another sermon, Al-Qaradhawi referred to Syrian Religious Endowment Minister Muhammad 'Abd Al-Sattar as "a stupid fool" for claiming that Al-Qaradhawi was interfering with Syria's internal affairs. He added that the Koran and the Sunna grant the International Union of Muslim Scholars the authority to interfere in Syria's affairs, as well as in the affairs of any country that oppresses its people.[21]

Al-Jazeera TV Israel/Palestinian Bureau Chief: Assad Is Obsolete

Walid Al-'Omari, the Al-Jazeera Israel/Palestinian bureau chief, wrote in the Jerusalem daily Al-Quds that Assad was acting like an outmoded ruler, and that he seems to have missed the chance to salvage his regime by implementing reforms: "...Apparently, the Syrian president does not yet realize that the era of perpetual [autocracy] is over, and that the [era of the] single [ruling] party and autocrat is inappropriate for the new age and the new Arab – who, before anything else, longs for freedom and dignity.

"The young Assad has preferred to act like an old and obsolete ruler... instead of confidently leading the revolution of young people in the 'Arab Spring.' The young Assad does not realize that he cannot base his handling of the protests in Syria [on the claim that they are a foreign] conspiracy, without presenting solutions to the basic demands for freedom and dignity...

"There are many signs that [Assad] has missed the chance to save himself and his land through real reforms that would satisfy the aspirations of the people – who, following his first speech [after the unrest began], called to him, 'The people want regime reform!' and who, following his second speech, called, 'The people want to topple the regime!' How different these two demands are!"[22]

'Azmi Bishara: Syria Has Created a 'Cartel Regime'

Former Israeli Knesset member 'Azmi Bishara, a leading Al-Jazeera political analyst specializing in the recent Arab revolutions who, in the past, was known to have good relations with the Syrian regime, also criticized its handling of the demonstrations and rejected the claims of an anti-Syria conspiracy:

"The people are demanding reforms. How come the people's demand for reforms is met with such a cruel attack? Even demands for reform within the establishment or from Syria's friends are met with a cruel response. How can we believe that you want reform, if you accuse those demanding reforms of being collaborators [with foreign enemies]?

"Let's assume that there is indeed a foreign conspiracy. All the people who stood by Syria when it really faced foreign conspiracies are now demanding democratic reforms. Let's assume that there is a foreign conspiracy. Does that mean people are not entitled to their rights?! What does this have to do with foreign conspiracies? Even if I prove that there is a foreign conspiracy – does that mean people are not entitled to their rights?! The Syrian people is struggling for its civil rights..."[23]

On another occasion, Bishara said that Syria had created a "cartel regime" that ensured the continued rule of a party that was politically and ideologically bankrupt. He added that the Syrian security apparatuses were now interfering in aspects of the citizens' lives that had nothing to do with security.

Bishara pointed out that Assad had inherited his position from his father, "which is unacceptable in a republic." He said that the Syrian people had been willing to give him a chance because he presented new and refreshing slogans never before heard from the Syrian regime; additionally, he had spoken with the Syrian intelligentsia and diaspora about fighting corruption. But, said Bishara, not only had Assad failed to fight corruption, corruption had grown, along with the repression of the intellectuals.[24]

Criticism in Iran of Syria's Suppression of Protests

Besides Iranian claims that the protests in Syria were a U.S.-Israeli-Saudi plot aimed at driving a wedge between the Syrian people and the regime and sabotaging the resistance axis,[25] there has also been Iranian criticism of the suppression of the unrest in Syria as well as calls by Iranian officials for reform, out of fear that the events in Syria would have a negative impact on the alliance between the two countries and on Iran's standing in the region. It should also be noted that the U.N. Security Council has reported that Iran is violating a U.S. arms embargo on Syria, shipping weapons to the Assad regime purportedly to be used against the protestors.[26]

The Iranian daily Kayhan, which is affiliated with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, claimed that the Syrian security forces' harsh treatment of the protestors was a mistake because it only caused the unrest to intensify and spread. It said: "The Syrian police and security forces' policy vis-à-vis the protestors was brutal and caused fatalities. This shows that the Syrian security apparatuses do not have the insight required to deal with limited popular demonstrations – and this is what caused the demonstrations that started in Der'a six weeks ago, which had 10,000-15,000 participants, to spread to other places."[27]

The Iranian foreign ministry expressed support for reforms in Syria that would improve the citizens' lives, saying that the efforts to implement reforms were a great responsibility requiring tolerance on the part of both the people and the regime, and that, if successful, these reforms would be a great victory for Syria.[28]

Earlier, former Iranian ambassador to Lebanon Mohammad Irani assessed that the Assad regime would be undermined if reforms were not carried out, and warned that the events in Syria could harm its alliance with Iran: "The changes in the Arab world have so far worked in Iran's favor – but this trend was reversed by the changes in Syria, which has strategic relations with Iran, and which has always been [Iran's] gate to the Arab world...

"With regard to the reforms... it seems that the situation in Syria cannot be restored to what it was before. The people's demands are not many, and the Assad regime will be forced to comply with them. In this way, the internal threats to his regime will be turned into opportunities to advance a national reconciliation... The main demand of the people is the immediate lifting of the emergency [law] that has been in force in Syria for more than 48 years... Rescinding this law as soon as possible will not create any special problem for Assad... [and] will comply with most [of the demands], enabling him to continue to rule."[29]

The moderate-conservative website Asr-e Iran termed the events in Syria "a massacre," and complained that Iran's censorship of the media coverage of the Syrian regime's "massacre and repression" was harsher than that of Syria itself.[30]

Al-Quds Al-Arabi: Support for the Resistance Does Not Preclude Reform

The London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, whose editor, 'Abd Al-Bari 'Atwan, is affiliated with the resistance camp in the Arab world, also criticized the Assad regime. At the onset of the unrest in Syria, 'Atwan wrote that he hoped Syria, as the last bastion of the resistance, would swiftly implement reforms.[31] In a subsequent article, however, he expressed doubt that reform, no matter how swift, would help save the regime, and stressed that if forced to choose between the regime and the people, he would support the latter's demand for democracy and freedom, explaining that an oppressed people cannot liberate territory:

"The Syrian regime will not leave easily... What is certain is that the Syrian people, like all other Arab peoples, cannot retreat once its journey towards democratic change, with [all] its martyrs, has commenced. Those who are demanding reforms in Syria are not American and Zionist agents, as the regime and its mouthpieces are claiming in a deliberate smear attempt. The martyrs of Der'a... do not even know where the U.S. is. Indeed, most of them never left the city, not even to visit Damascus.

"[Syria's] support for the Lebanese resistance and its hosting of the secretaries-general of the Palestinian factions in Damascus, after the other Arab capitals slammed the door in their faces, are praiseworthy positions... but I do not see how these positions preclude a response to the Syrian people's demands for reform. And if there is such a preclusion, I would prefer that the Syrian regime put off its support for the Palestinian people and the Palestinian issue [until] it complies with its own people's demands for freedoms, for fighting corruption, for establishing elected legislative institutions, and for creating infrastructure for a regime with integrity. The oppressed peoples cannot liberate plundered land, because dictators' armies have [never] won a war..."[32]

Pro-Syrian Lebanese Media Disappointed by Assad's Conduct

Along with blaming the Lebanese Al-Mustaqbal faction for fanning the flames of the protests in Syria, pro-Syrian Lebanese newspapers published several articles calling on Assad to immediately enact reforms. In his column in the Al-Safir daily, Talal Salman wrote: "...For Lebanon's security and unity, in addition to my concern for Syria and for its special status and role in our region, I appeal to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to end this downward spiral of events, to immediately make good on his promise for reforms, and to authorize critical measures, before these violent developments are exploited in order to thwart plans for the future by those who believe in a security approach..."[33]

In his column in Al-Akhbar, Ghassan Sa'ud expressed his disappointment in Assad's March 30, 2011 address, in which he made no concrete promises:[34] "...Most [Syrian] residents expected a speech [promising] change, but did not get one... The weak point of the speech was that it exposed the conflict the regime is facing: It wants to say everything and says nothing, to do everything and does nothing... During Assad's speech, you could have heard a pin drop in Damascus... but afterwards, Damascus seemed just the same... Many did not understand a thing, and many understood and would have preferred not to..."[35]

Al-Akhbar board chairman Ibrahim Al-Amin, in addition to reiterating accusations of foreign intervention in Syria, stressed that the Syrian regime could not ignore the wave of reforms sweeping the Arab world. Hinting at the suppression of the demonstrations, he said, "The complications that accompanied the wave of protests attested directly to the true danger... the civil war that could tear apart Syria and its people... "[36]

Saudi Clerics Support Syrian Protestors

The Saudi government press barely addressed the events in Syria, and failed to respond to Syrian accusations of Saudi involvement in the Syrian events published in Syrian and pro-Syrian media.

However, 45 Saudi clerics issued a communiqué openly expressing support for the Syrian protests and condemning "the despotic Syrian regime." Prominent among them were Sheikh Nasser Al-'Omar and Dr. Muhammad Bin 'Abdallah Al-Habadan, an associate of 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Barrak, the extremist sheikh and imam of the Al-'Izz bin 'Abd Al-Salam Mosque in Riyadh, who opposed the protests in Saudi Arabia and was among those who called on the Saudi king to enact "Islamic reforms" in the kingdom.[37]

The communiqué stated that the Syrian regime was committing "horrific crimes against its defenseless Muslim people, who demanded their legitimate and usurped rights throughout the meager years, when they lived under oppression and deprivation at the hands of this regime, which is still torturing, killing, and arresting its own men, women, and children in the most heinous fashion." The communiqué called upon all Muslim countries "to prevent this abominable extermination, according to the divine commandment [which requires] every Muslim to help his brethren." It urged the Syrian military and security apparatuses "to stand with the people and protect them from the aggression of the tyrant [Assad], and not to obey his orders to commit crimes against these helpless people." As for the Muslim public, the clerics urged them to help their Syrian brethren, "every man according to his abilities." Finally, the clerics called on the Syrians, whom they called "jihad fighters," "to find shelter in the shadow of Allah during this crisis."[38]

Muhammad Al-Habadan also published an article in which he wished the Syrian revolution success and expressed hope for the departure of the Ba'th regime, calling on the Syrian security forces to join ranks with the protestors. Al-Habadan cited 13th century Islamic scholar Ibn Taymiyya, who regarded the Alawis (who were known then as Nusairis) as greater heretics than even the Jews and Christians: "Those who understand the danger of the ruling party in Syria understand the greatness and stature of these martyrs [i.e., the Syrian protesters who have been killed]. This Nusairi party [i.e., the Syrian Ba'th party] is one of the most dangerous regimes in the region...

"This blessed silent revolution against this regime expresses support for the religion of Allah, for the oppressed, the missing who have been [incarcerated] in prisons for years, and the Syrian diaspora worldwide... Therefore, it must be supported and assisted by all legitimate means."[39]

In a video posted on Youtube, senior Saudi cleric Saleh Al-Luhaidan expressed similar sentiments. He called the Syrian regime "sinful, indecent, dangerous, and heretical," called for jihad to overthrow "Bashar Al-Assad the Nusairi."[40]

Saudi London Dailies: The Protests Are Authentic; Syria Has Contributed Nothing to the Resistance

The London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat provided widespread coverage of the events in Syria, and its editor, Tariq Alhomayed, took up a clear anti-Syrian line. It should be noted that the daily provided no coverage of the anti-regime protests staged in Saudi Arabia.

In an editorial, Alhomayed wrote that the Syrian protests were authentic and that they had been triggered by Syrian oppression: "...Everyone knows that the Syrians' demands are real, [especially] in the country that has imposed oppressive emergency laws and deprived [its citizens of] freedoms the longest. What is more, the Syrian president himself is still promising reforms..."[41] In another article, Alhomayed wrote that "Syria is the most prominent example [among the Arab countries] of an imbalance between the minority and the majority."[42]

Alhomayed dismissed the Iranian claim that the unrest in Syria was the product of a U.S.-Zionist plot against the country for its support of the resistance, saying that Syria, like its allies in the resistance camp, has taken no real action against Israel:[43] "Iran and its allies are ignoring the fact that the Arab citizen is fed up with false slogans and lies. Nowadays, all the demands in the Arab world are national and internal. What resistance are the Iranians speaking of? Syria has not killed even a single dove in the resistance campaign in the last three decades. In fact, it did not even respond to Israeli aggression on its soil. It always reserves the right to respond without actually responding. As for Hizbullah's weapons in Lebanon, they were turned on the Lebanese themselves, especially the Sunnis in Beirut, and [were used to] terrorize other ethnic groups. [After all,] it is [Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan] Nasrallah who is now appointing the Sunni prime minister in Lebanon! Even Hamas oppresses [Palestinians] who protest against it in Gaza. As for Iran, it too... has not fired a single bullet to protect Arab blood. We all remember how [Iranian Supreme Leader] Ali Khamenei forbade Iranians from going to Gaza during the recent war [there]."[44]

'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, director-general of Al-Arabiya TV and former editor of Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, wrote in the daily that the situation in Der'a would only intensify the protests against the regime. He added that Syria was suffering from a leadership crisis and that the regime had missed its opportunity to implement reforms in the country, saying:[45] "The tragic situation in Der'a shows that the Syrian authorities do not want to end the city's demonstrations; rather, they want to set an example, to make other protestors across the republic learn the hard way. All reports confirm this because the situation in this small city is extremely dangerous; streets are littered with corpses, patients are left without medication, and hundreds of youths are being detained in camps. Der'a is deprived of water and suffers electricity blackouts; food and medicine are denied access into the city, whilst shops, groceries and even pharmacies have all been looted by the regime's thugs. The Syrian regime is definitely mistaken, for Der'a will indeed be an example, but the Syrian people will 'learn the hard way' to fight the regime, rather than fear it...

"Damascus is certainly suffering a crisis within its leadership, as officials disagree on how to confront the [protests]. President Bashar Al-Assad was prepared to announce reformative resolutions following his first address, yet it was rumored that his associates forced him to retreat, giving priority to the security [approach]. These were the reforms which Buthayna Sha'aban, the Syrian President's media advisor, had leaked to the Syrian news media. Yet, unfortunately, the regime missed its opportunity, and even if it offered the concessions it had promised, it would now be too late. The leadership must present its scapegoats, announce a wide-ranging reform program, and set a date for parliamentary elections under international supervision. Only then [might] the regime be able to repair what it [has] destroyed."

Al-Hayat Columnist: Syria's Foreign Policy Has Failed

Hassan Haidar, a columnist for the daily Al-Hayat, wrote that Assad's theory that Syria's support of the resistance made it immune to internal revolution had proved to be groundless: "The Syrian regime has been forced to discuss lifting the emergency state in the country, which has been in place for 48 years, as well as enacting other reforms. [This discussion] clearly disproves the notion that foreign policy can provide internal stability, [a notion] that Assad emphasized in his [January 31, 2011] interview with the Wall Street Journal, in which he dismissed [the possibility] that the events in Tunisia and Egypt could take place in Syria, [on the grounds that] the views of the Syrian regime and people are fairly close, especially regarding support of the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance and Syria's opposition to Israel and cautious attitude toward the U.S...

"Even though this theory long succeeded in hiding the internal contradictions [in Syrua], and was used as an excuse for the lack of reforms and freedoms [there], the Syrian leadership should have considered that foreign relations are a two-way street... and that the success of the revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, and other countries would open the Syrians' eyes..."

Haidar went on to point out that Syria's foreign policy had proven erroneous and even self-detrimental, providing the example of its ties with Hamas, which he said, following the Egyptian revolution, might no longer consider Damascus its primary supporter. He also noted Syria's tense relations with Turkey, which had in the past worked to break Syria out of international isolation. Regarding Syria's ties with Iran and Hizbullah, he wrote: "During the rule of the late Hafez Al-Assad, the relations between Syria, Iran, and Hizbullah were based on a delicate balance between Syrian interests and Arab sensibilities. Nowadays, however, Iran is the strong element in this relationship... [while] Syrian influence on Hizbullah has declined..."

Finally, Haidar claimed that "even if Assad succeeds in calming the current protests in various ways, it is clear that the country will never be the same again, and he will have to face [the people's] demands, since [his] foreign [policy] has played itself out."[46]

*B. Chernitsky is a research fellow at MEMRI.


[1] The unrest began despite Assad's prediction in a January 31, 2011 interview with the Wall Street Journal that, thanks to its anti-U.S. and anti-Israel policy, Syria would not witness any protests likes those in Tunisia and Egypt.

[2] On Qatar's membership in the resistance camp, see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 492, "An Escalating Regional Cold War – Part I: The 2009 Gaza War," February 2, 2011,

[3], May 11, 2011. On the rapprochement between Syria, Iran, and Turkey, see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 490, "Recent Attempts to Form Strategic Regional Bloc: Syria, Turkey and Iran," January 6, 2009,

Articles in the Syrian daily Al-Watan, which is close to the regime, responded to Erdogan's statements with criticism against Turkey. For example, columnist Nizar Saloum called Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu "the architect of new Ottomanism." Al-Watan (Syria), May 12, 2011. According to the pro-Syrian Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, Turkey's ambassador to Damascus has been summoned by the Syrian foreign ministry, which expressed displeasure at the recent Turkish statements. Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), May 12, 2011.

[4] Two weeks after the unrest in Syria began, Hamas issued a statement emphasizing Syria's support of the resistance and especially of Hamas., April 2, 2011. In May, the daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported that Hamas had decided to leave Syria and relocate its leadership to Qatar and other countries. According to the report, Hamas Political Bureau head Khaled Mash'al plans to settle in Qatar, while his deputy, Moussa Abu Marzouq, plans to relocate to Egypt. Al-Sharq Al-Awsat editor Tariq Alhomayed and Al-Arabiya TV general-director 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed wrote in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that one of the reasons for the Palestinian reconciliation was the deterioration of Hamas-Syria relations. The Hamas leaders, on their part, vehemently denied any plans to leave Syria. Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 9, 11, 2011; Al-Hayat (London), April 30, 2011.

[5] For example, Syrian TV aired a statement by three young men who claimed that Lebanese MP Jamal Al-Jarrah, of the Al-Mustaqbal faction, had supplied them with funds and weapons in order to commit terrorist acts in Syria. One of the three said that Al-Jarrah was connected to the Muslim Brotherhood., April 13, 2011. The pro-Syrian Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar widely discussed the allegations against the March 14 Forces, and on April 1, 2011, it published an article accusing the Al-Mustaqbal movement and its head, Sa'd Al-Hariri, as well as Samir Geagea's Lebanese Forces, of inciting against Syria, making veiled threats against them. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 3037 "Pro-Syrian Lebanese Daily: Syria Considers Al-Hariri Responsible for Riots in Syria," April 1, 2011,

[6] Assad's advisor Buthayna Sha'ban accused Palestinians from the Al-Raml refugee camp near Latakia of vandalizing shops in the city in the course of protests staged there, while the Syrian daily Al-Watan claimed Palestinians had been involved in the Der'a protests. Al-Watan (Syria), March 27, 21, 2011.

[7] Al-Watan (Syria), March 24, 2011;, May 2, 2011.

[8] On April 7, 2011, the Syrian website Champress, citing a "Jordanian source," reported that Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, secretary-general of Saudi Arabia's National Security Council, was working from Jordan to exacerbate the protests in Syria. On March 29, the pro-Syrian Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar claimed that the Syrian intelligence services had concluded that "the Wahhabi Party" was one of the main forces working against the Syrian regime. In an April 28 article in Al-Akhbar, columnist Jean 'Aziz claimed that the Saudis, having understood that they could not confront Iran directly, had decided to attack it indirectly by going after Syria and presenting this country with two options: either to topple the Ba'th regime or to abandon its alliance with Iran. On April 10, Hassan Hanizadeh, a staff member at the Iranian news agency Mehr, claimed that dubious and violent elements from Jordan and Saudi Arabia were involved in the Syrian protests.

[9] Al-Watan (Syria), April 10, 2011.

[10]Al-Akhbar board chairman Ibrahim Al-Amin wrote that Qatar had left the resistance camp even though this camp had defended it and given it a role of importance in the region, and that Qatar was using Al-Jazeera to spread lies and incite against the Syrian regime. An article in the Lebanese daily Al-Safir claimed that Qatar was working to overthrow the Syrian regime by financing Arab media in Lebanon and elsewhere and by embracing the Syrian opposition, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, and providing it with political, media, and financial support, in coordination with Turkey. Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), April 29, 2011; Al-Safir (Lebanon), April 27, 2011.

[11] Al-Arab (Qatar), April 24, 2011.

[12] Al-Sharq (Qatar), April 23, 2011.

[13] See MEMRI TV report,

[14] See MEMRI TV reports,,

[15] See MEMRI TV report,

[16] See MEMRI report,

[17] Al-Watan (Syria), March 27, 2011.

[18] Al-Watan (Syria), April 14, 2011.

[19] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), March 30, 2011. 'Issam Dari, a columnist for the Syrian daily Teshreen, wrote in response that every Syrian citizen was entitled to sue Al-Qaradhawi for his incitement, which had led to the killing of civilians and security personnel. Teshreen (Syria), April 12, 2011.

[20] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 2, 2011.

[21] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), April 24, 2011.

[22] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), April 1, 2011.

[23] See MEMRI TV report,

[24] See

[25] Mehr (Iran), April 10, May 6, 2011; Fars (Iran), April 3, 2011.

[26],, May 12, 2011.

[27] Kayhan (Iran), May 5, 2011.

[28] Mehr (Iran), May 6, 2011.

[29] Iran Diplomacy, April 7, 2011.

[30] Asr-e Iran (Iran), March 29, 2011. See MEMRI TV report,

[31] See MEMRI TV report,

[32] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), March 27, 2011.

[33] Al-Safir (Lebanon), April 11, 2011.

[34] Assad claimed that there was a plot against Syria and promised a schedule for reforms but said it would be subject to change. Al-Watan, SANA (Syria), March 30, 2011.

[35] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), March 31, 2011.

[36] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), May 9, 2011.

[37] See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 674, "In Anticipation of the Saudi Day of Rage on Friday March 11, 2011," March 12, 2011,

[38], May 1, 2011.

[39], March 26, 2011.


[41] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 14, 2011.

[42] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), March 20, 2011.

[43] Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said that the events in Syria were being guided by the U.S. and Zionism. Entekhab (Iran), April 12, 2011.

[44] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 14, 2011. 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, director-general of Al-Arabiya TV and former editor of Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, wrote that during the four decades Syria had waited for a war with Israel that never materialized, numerous problems had accumulated, ultimately leading to an explosion. Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), March 29, 2011. Egyptian playwright 'Ali Salem wrote in the daily that over the years, the Syrian citizen realized that the resistance was not aimed at the Zionist enemy who occupies Syrian land, but against the Syrian people and their desire for freedom and normal lives. Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 1, 2011.

[45] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 1, 2011. The original English translation, as it appeared in the English-language version of the daily, has been lightly edited for clarity.

[46] Al-Hayat (London), March 29, 2011.