Qunfuz | Author/Educator Oman
November 2nd, 2007

Re: ‘Syria's foreign policy

For a time the pattern of alliances in the Middle East was organised into monarchical-conservative and republican-nationalist camps. Following the 1991 Kuwait war, there was a realignment which pitted a Saudi-Syrian-Egyptian alliance against a disgraced and battered Baathist Iraq and its perceived allies such as the Jordanian monarchy. Because the Damascus Declaration countries were the three key Arab mashreq states, some pretence at the centrality of Arab alliances in the region was still possible. But since the 2003 invasion and subsequent dismantling of Iraq a new set up seems firmly established. On one side stands Syria, Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas; on the other Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the March 14 th Lebanese, Mahmoud Abbas, and (implicitly) Israel.

The current regional division is often misleadingly cast in sectarian terms, despite the Syrian regime’s secularism and Hamas being a Sunni organisation. It is much more useful to understand these opposing alliances in terms of those who welcome US-Zionist hegemony underpinned by American military bases, control of resources and the unfettered penetration of regional economies by Western capital, and those who refuse to submit. It is my opinion that Syria is on the right side in this. In any case, she couldn’t be on the other side even if she wanted, unless she surrendered her right to the Golan and her principled opposition to the occupations in Palestine and Iraq.

The exception to this pro- or anti-US pattern is Syria’s deepening alliance with Turkey, a NATO member which hosts an important American military base at Ceyhan and cooperates militarily and economically with Israel. Although Turkey has been moving inevitably away from the West and towards the Arabs since the invasion of Iraq, the strength of the Syrian-Turkish relationship is Bashaar al-Asad’s achievement. Bashaar has calmed tensions over Wilayat Iskenderoon (Hatay) and retreated from his father’s support for Abdullah Ocalan’s PKK. As individuals, the Syrian president and especially his wife are said to be popular with the Turkish public.

Jalal Talabani’s recent criticism of Bashaar for supporting a potential Turkish incursion into Iraqi Kurdistan in pursuit of PKK fighters rings hollow, as Talabani encouraged the American invasion of Iraq on the pretext (amongst others) of chasing terrorist groups resident there. Syria’s Iraqi alliances are complex and usually intelligent, seeking to gain influence with all camps in the fractured country but tending to back more nationalist as opposed to separatist currents.

Despite its Arabism, Syria has always been prepared to go against the grain of Arab alliances in what it perceives as the true interests of Arab causes. Syria had the honour of being the only Arab state to support revolutionary Iran against Saddam Hussain’s barbarous Western-backed attack. Despite some conflicts of interest in Iraq, and despite the very different nature of the two regimes, Syria and Iran have preserved and developed their alliance. This is certainly a good thing. Whatever the future of the current clerical regime, Iran will continue to be a regional heavyweight, with a large population of well-educated people, with a crucial geo-strategic position and a wealth of resources. I know from my visit to the country that the alliance with Syria is popular even with opponents of the mullahs.

Syria’s regional allies are well-organised forces which will remain key players in the region indefinitely. Iran is one example of this, and Turkey, with its huge and growing economic power and connections to Europe and central Asia, is another. Hizbullah is by far the best-organised, deeply rooted and efficient political force in Lebanon, and perhaps the second most effective military force in the area after Israel. Indeed, despite Israel’s continuing technological superiority (which translates into a superior ability to kill civilians and destroy infrastructure), and despite the political-sectarian traps limiting its capacities domestically, the fact that Hizbullah frustrated all of Israel’s war aims in the summer of 2006 remains a matter of pivotal importance in the region and the world.

It is interesting that Syria’s regional allies are much more likely than her enemies to be democracies or semi-democracies. Iran is by no means a perfect democracy, but it is more democratic than any Arab state, with elections in which real issues are discussed. Arab visitors to the country will be impressed by the vociferous and often fearless political and religious debates happening in every tea house. Now that Turkey seems to be reconciling some of its worst contradictions ‚?? with the emergence of a moderate, modernising Islamist government which is as popular amongst Kurds as it is with ethnic Turks ‚?? it is the most democratic state in the region. (Unlike many Western propagandists, I do not consider Israel’s ethno-democracy, in which half the people ruled over by Israel are disenfranchised, to be ‘the only democracy in the Middle East.’) Hizbullah has a clear democratic mandate, as does Hamas.

Syria itself, while usually tolerant in sectarian and ethnic terms, continues to suppress pluralist politics and democratic debate. This does not mean, however, that public opinion counts for nothing in Syria. In fact, unlike the US-backed Arab states, Syria is beholden to public opinion for its legitimacy and long term survival. It is therefore no accident that its regional allies tend to be democratic forces.

In terms of Syria’s relationships with ‘great powers,’ not much can be done while America continues to pursue its unrelenting pro-Israel bias, and while most of Europe trails behind America. There are, however, steadily expanding trade and military ties with Russia and China, and these ties are sustainable because both of these states seek to erode American dominance in the medium to long term. America remains by far the greatest world power, but it is also in constant decline.

Syria has a great deal of work to do domestically on human rights, corruption, and the economy. If some branch or other of the regime was responsible for the Hariri assassination, they made a colossal and unforgivable blunder (I can’t believe Syria is responsible for the string of assassinations since then). But in the field of its regional alliances, Syria is on the right track.

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25 Responses to the Article

Alex Says:

Qunfuz,

I enjoyed reading this excellent piece.

How far will the people of Iran and Turkey go in supporting Syria?

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Qunfuz,
Your obvious mistake is that you think that most Syrians are interested in the Golan and the Palestinians more than they are interested in economic growth, freedom and an opportunity to lead a better life in general.

Ask yourself, given the opportunity, how many Syrians would galdly move to the “hated” US? Once you give yourself an honest answer, you should revise your conclusions.

qunfuz Says:

Another Israeli Guy – I think Syrians are interested in both the Golan and economic growth. Very many Syrians would love to move to the US for its economic and social opportunities, but this does not of course mean that they support the policies of the US in the region. They are able to see the difference between the America that offers its people economic opportunities and the America that pursues imperial objectives which hamper Arab development.

I dont agree with what you seem to be implying – that Syria would become rich if it surrendered to US – Israeli dictates. It would probably qualify for American aid, but that’s not the same thing as making the people rich. The egyptians haven’t become rich as a result of their government surrendering their foreign policy, and much of their internal economic policy, to the US.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Who is talking about surrendering? I am talking about democratic reforms. Why is it that the only option is no democracy and fighting the US? Why not both have a democracy and stand up to the US? Don’t you see that this is a trap that Asad is using to stay in power? Democracy and independence are not opposites. You could support a anti-US foreign policy but YOU SHOULD be against Bashar.

If you and very many Syrians like the US for its social and economic opportunities, why do you support the Asad regime in Syria? This is the contradiction I can’t get over. You know what is good for the Syrians, yet you won’t advocate for it.

The Egyptians are not rich because Mubarak is a dictator just like Asad. Syria needs to become a democracy, not surrender to anybody. But you are supporting my point here. Bashar is looking for a peace deal with Israel so that he could do exactly what Sadat did. Stay in power. That is why I think Israel should only make peace with a democratic Syria. Otherwise, it will be giving the Asad regime legitimacy and hurting the Syrian effort to democratize.

Alex Says:

AIG,

I will explain to you why you will not be able to convince most of the Syrians you debate to buy YOUR “Democracy”.

It is because no matter how reasonable and fair you try to be by saying “sure, oppose the US if you want, but you must fight for democracy in Syria and remove Assad”, and by saying “I accept Hamas’ democratic elections, but I also have the democratic right to elect a government that will confront Hamas” … all that SOUNDS reasonable, but … it is not.

First of all, you have the luxury on this forum to fine tune the Neocon democracy message to make it sound reasonable and fair. But the real thing is not that fair. The current American administration is fully supporting the other dictators in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Jordan with tens of billions in weapons deals, in addition to political and P.R. support. So the real deal is not what you are selling us here. It is simply to destroy Israel’s adversaries in the Arab world. And despite your passion for democracy, you are mixing it with your real (or at least with your other) passion … a great, dominant Israel.

You want Syrians (the cowards, as you called many of us repeatedly, on http://www.syriacomment.com) you want them to risk everything and go for instant democracy … and if that leads to few years of chaos in Syria, then why not! … it is a price worth paying … they should value “democracy” higher than they value their own children’s lives… otherwise they are cowards.

You need to realize that among Arab countries, only Syria is considered to be genuinely standing up to total US and Israeli hegemony. You managed to buy all the other obedient Arab rulers. The Assads could not be “convinced” to join the parade… not on your terms.

Very simply, the Assads’ internal management of Syria has been mostly not popular among Syrians (although it is improving a lot the past couple of years). The Assad’s foreign policy, on the other hand, has been very popular.

If you want to help Syria become democratic, so that you will help Israel sign a peace treaty with a stable and mature neighbor, there is one thing under your control … it is not trying to sell Syrians the “democracy revolution” idea … but trying to sell your country the idea of returning the Golan Heights and publicly committing to a UNSC resolution 242-based solution to the Palestinian problem … this way you can take away the Assad’s strongest card … their exceptional skills in standing up to Israeli and American attempts to control the area.

It is not all about the Golan Heights. But returning the Golan Heights will signal a fundamental change in Israeli/American intentions.

Until then … the Assads’ foreign policy will be popular with Syrians and increasingly with a majority of the Arabs as well… the more you “support” Abbas against Hamas, the less popular he will be. The more Saudis Arabia and Egypt follow America’s directions, the more they will risk internal dissent … one day you will wake up to Pakistan, Egypt, or Jordan not being ruled by a “moderate”.

It is simple .. as long as YOU are Syrians’ enemy, they will not fight to remove YOUR worst enemy.

Become a friendly country. A friendly Israel will be the best thing to happen to the middle east in decades. THAT is the revolutionary change that the Middle East needs … democracy in Syria will surely follow.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Alex,
I want the Syrians to tell Asad that he has 10 years to move to democracy. I would like to see a transition to democracy in Syria without bloodshed.

What I do not want to see is regime apologists like you making every ridiculous excuse in the world why Asad should stay in power. If Asad was so interested in fighting Israel, the border on the Golan would not have been the most quiet in the last 35 years. How can you really believe that this is Syria’s real intentions?

Asad just parades his false “resistance and dignity” BS and there are always some naive Arabs that jump on this bandwagon but do not understand that basically they are supporting dictators.

Israel should never return the Golan to Asad. It should return it immediately to a democratic regime in Syria. The Syrians are not my enemy. Asad and his regime are.

I would be very happy if the Muslim Brotherhood took over Egypt in a democratic way. If they become dictators themselves, that is not good. But if they are prepared to play by democratic rules, let them rule Egypt or Syria for all I care. I think Mubarak is bad for Egypt and Asad is bad for Syria.

And as for what Syrians really think, sorry if I don’t believe you. I will wait until there is freedom of speech in Syria and then make up my mind. You really want to tell me that Syrians prefer their life to suck just so Bashar can give the US and Israel the finger? Sorry, I don’t think the Syrians are stupid look you do.

Alex Says:

First things first.

What you are doing here?

If all of us are not representative of “Syrians” … if you read Ehsani’s quote (Ehsani is always calling for democracy and criticizing the regime) where he agrees that Bashar is very popular … a conclusion that he reached after spending two month in Syria this summer … if I try to give you a million links to other American, European, and even Israeli sources that explain the same thing I try to explain …

But … you call me a regime apologist and my arguments “ridiculous excuses” … Ehsaini’s testimony was “anecdotal evidence” … and the rest of us are basically liars, cowards, and naive.

So what are you dong here? … you made almost everyone dislike Israel more … you did not learn a thing … and you insulted each person with your antisemitic and regime apologist labels.

You do not read … you only read obedient crooks like Ghadry. I gave a you a link to Ammar’s blog in which I proposed that Bashar stays 7 to 14 years max … that we can not have democracy in this explosive Middle East, so if American and Israel want to help, I can see us moving to semi democracy in 7 years (one presidential term) … if you continue to interfere in the most negative and aggressive ways into Syrians affairs (like you have been doing) .. then it would probably take 14 years.

As for your repeated argument that you do not believe any of our “claims” because you did not see a real opinion poll of Syrians … have you heard of sampling? … Ehsani spoke to a hundred Syrians in those two months he spent in Damascus and Aleppo … Zenobia did the same, Fadi did the same … We have 32 authors here on this blog … many of them came back from Syria with the same conclusions … the Syrian people hate the regime’s corruption .. they do not want to hear the word “democracy” for now, and they fully support the regime’s regional policy… they are proud that their country is not taking orders from this American administration.

The combined experience of those bloggers (neutral or regime critics) meeting over a thousand Syrians counts as a … sample size that is good enough to make an obvious conclusion.

I am sure you will tell me that you are an expert in sampling populations and that this is not a scientific sample. But before you say it … a reminder: when there is little variation in opinions, then this sample is more than enough.

And don’t worry, I kept in mind to ask visitors of different regions in Syria, and those who interact with different types of Syrians .. poor and rich, old and young, Christian, Alawite and Sunni Muslim …

But of course .. who cares what all those Syrians say .. YOU are God.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Alex (or anybody else that cares to chime in),
Let’s be very concrete. If you ask Syrians the following question, what would be their answer:
“Let’s assume you can have only one or the other, would you prefer that your economic state advances 5% each year or would you prefer that Syria continue its anti-American stance but have the economic conditions that you now have?”

What percentage would prefer each option?

If you think this is not a fair question, how would you phrase it?

I’ll have to repeat myself here: You really want to tell me that Syrians prefer their life to suck just so Bashar can give the US and Israel the finger? Sorry, I don‚??t think the Syrians are stupid like you do. All you provide is unconvincing anecdotal evidence. There is not one people in the world that freely said, “sure we would like to participate in a fight unrelated directly to us and stop our economic development”. I don’t think Syrians are an exception.

naim Says:

Qunfuz ,
I wanted to write about the subject but after i read your post , i felt that you said what i think and i might say much better than i could have ,
i believe that Syria takes it’s stands depending on two principles , The Golan Heights and the Palestinian rights and until the US and Israel recognize that there will be no peace.
AG and AIG ,
Please listen to what we are telling you and try to learn about what Syrians want from Syrians instead of thinking that you know more .

Alex Says:

AIG,

First, to help you better understand …

You think Syrians would be “stupid” to refuse another option (5% economic growth) to the current Bashar option with his anti-American policies and not enough economic growth.

But you have been arguing everywhere that Syrians should not be cowards… that we should overthrow the regime and fight for democracy, despite the risks involved (given the Iraqi Chaos).

OK … so in the first part, you are assuming that the only reward that counts for Syrians should be … economic. In other words, standing up to the destruction that this American administration is bringing to the Middle East should not count in any way n comparison to potential economic benefits … Syrians would be stupid to refuse a 5% increase per year and go instead with a “moral and just” stand.

But in the fight for democracy part .. you are preaching to Syrians to risk THEIR LIFE for Democracy …

So … are you suggesting tat Syrians would be either stupid, or cowards if they don’t agree with this exact way you rate the following goals:

1) Democracy
2) Money (5% economic growth)
3) Their life
4) Standing up to this Administration’s plans.

And notice I am using “this administration” .. because as Zenobia told you … Syrians actually love Americans. If next administration gives us the good old America, I assure you that Syria (regime and people) would love to be America’s best friends.

You would like to think it is only a matter of giving the finger to Americans … you are wrong. Ahmadinejad is the one who is enjoying giving the finger to Israel and America. Assad is watching every word he says … He is intentionally trying to not upset President Bush.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

ALex,
You are becoming incoherent. The question is about what the Syrians prefer, not if they should right now lay their life down for their preferences. The question is about setting priorities, not about deciding that just one thing is important. The question aims to show that you are wrong about the priorities of the Syrians and that they would rather have a better life than lead the charge against the US or fight for Palestinian rights.

And, yes fighting for freedom is dangerous and requires sacrifice. I am advocating a united approach that would put pressure on Bashar through non-violence. How about starting by the ex-pat community staging strikes in front of Syrian embassies? How about refusing to send money to Syria? How about taking money out of Syrian banks? How about not visiting Syria anymore? I am sure you can think of many more non-violent ideas.

Yes, the people in Syria will suffer economically, but this is a non-violent course that will lead to strong pressure on the Bashar regime to negotiate change.

What are you advocating?

Alex Says:

I am advocating nothing. I am not a leader of Syrian expats. I am not smarter than Syrian expats. If THEY want to do it they would have done it. Same applies to Syrians in Syria. If THEY do not take action, it is because you are wrong … they read all the news (CNN, ABC, Anti-regime LBC and Hariri network …all the way to Creative Syria and Syria Comment …) … most of what they read is in fact anti-regime .. but with all of that negative P.R. …. Syrians are not buying it… they are investing ore and more in Syria, many changed their minds and decided to return to Syria after finishing their studies, instead of continuing to live and work in the west.

If and when Syrians decide that they want to get rid of their regime, and to pay a price in the process, then I will have nothing against your non violence suggestions… they are very reasonable.

As for the point I made about YOUR priorities not being identical to Syrians’ priorities, I am sorry if it was too complicated for you to understand.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Alex,

Do you really believe what you write?
Why is Majhool, an expat afraid to be identified? Perhpas Majhool would care to comment on this?

There are Syrians that don’t care about what is happening in Syria and have moved on with their life. As for the rest, some support the regime like you, but the majority that would like to see the regime change are just afraid of repercussions against them or against their families in Syria. That is the sad truth. It is difficult to battle ruthless mafia like dictators that have no problem killing or imprisoning innocent people to serve their interests. So your evidence about what the expats or the Syrians have done or have not done is just evidnece to how ruthless Asad is.

If Asad is so loved by his people why does he have to run a police state and why is he so worried about freedom of speech? Because he knows that the moment a mass movement against him starts to roll he is finished. You can kill and imprison hundreds without problems. But he cannot do it to tens of thousands, not in todays international climate.

Alex Says:

Yes, I believe what I am saying. Did I say ALL Syrians think the same way? Did I say Syrians Absolutely LOVE their regime? .. I said that more and more Syrians are understanding of their regime’s regional policies, even though they hate the corruption.

Why is Majhool not using his real name? because he can occasionally go a bit further in his criticism without worrying if he went too much. It is not very dramatic really… because probably 95% of what he says is within what is tolerated by the regime… he is not calling for violece or hate of the Alawites or for working with the Neocons to invade Syria and remove the regime …

As for the frequent point you make “if Bashar is popular, then how come he does not go for real elections today”… I’ll explain:

Look at Olmert’s popularity … it went up ten points with a simple “secret mission” over Syria … no one knew at the time what the mission was about (few days after) but … a full 10% of Israelis changed their opinions of Olmert that week.

Then this week, he announced that he has a very treatable early form of cancer…. another large number of Israelis changed their impressions of him and now support him!

The point I am trying to make is: Opinions could change very easily … The authoritarian regime in Syria would rather not get into a high risk game of democratic elections … even if today Bashar has 60 to 65% popularity (my estimates) if an election campaign starts he can easily lose 20% to many sides who would compete…. who knows .. Khaddam has prostate cancer and Syrians sympathize with him … the ikhwan go door to door distributing pamphlets with graphic pictures of some of those who died in Hama at the hands of Bashar’s uncle Rifaat’s army… you know that experiments showed that Americans who supported the iraq war often changed their mind after seeing pictures of dead Iraqi children.

Then you will have the Saudis trying to do what they did in Lebanon … Hariri Jr who was a Saudi citizen with Saudi accent and zero experience in Lebanese politics … used his money to become Lebanon’s king maker.

So Bashar won’t bother of course…. because he can … he is an authoritarian ruler.

Can that change? … yes, it can.

What is “my plan” … you will read it in the new topic dealing with political reforms in Syria.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Alex,
Your answers are getting more and more surreal. 65% of Syrians support Asad but he prefers to oppress them just in case they change their mind. Majhool is not really afraid, he is just a worrier. This current US adminstration is worse than that of the Asads. Before we had interesting debates, now you have left the realm of common sense and moved to porpaganda.

The Asads are in power since 1970. The excuses that you give now have been used extensively since then:
1) Wait till the region quiets down then we will have democracy
2) The Americans and Israelis are worse
3) “Dignity and the Palestinian cause” are more important than freedom and economic progress.
4) The Arabs are nor ready for democracy, they do not know how to disagree
5) If we democratize, we are “losing” to the Americans and Israelis and submitting to their hegemony

The SAME excuses for almost 40 years. There is nothing new about your arguments except the packaging. The content is exactly the same. Do you really expect anyone to buy your excuses (except the pan-arab leftists)? If you are not a regime mouth piece, when will you wake up and understand that you are being taken for a ride?

Alex Says:

AIG,

Oh… but I don’t see your feedback on the 100 pages in the link I gave you.

It is amazing how you are telling this Syrian who spends two hours daily moderating Syria’s busiest blogs that he does not know anything … and YOU, an enemy, KNOW .. with full certainty that Assad’s popularity CAN NOT be anywhere near 60% that I suggested.

How wise and how impressive a character you are! … are you sure you don’t feel you are superior to Syrians for some reason?

1) Yes indeed. Let me explain: Israel often stopped peace talks because “terrorists” did something bad to Israel that week. So if Israel can stop peace talks simply because 5 innocent Israeli civilians were killed, then Syria can slow down on reform if hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are killed and two million more had to be absorbed into Syria… and Lebanon is about to go into deep chaos…. I said “slowdown” .. I did not say we should forget about democracy.

2) Yes they are in many ways (not in everything) … but that is not why I am not for democracy now… you are just trying to make sound like a Baathist from the 60’s

3) I am not the one who say these things … you are again dreaming. I usually say “Syria will sign on a peace treaty if the Golan is returned and if there is sufficient progress on the Palestinian track”

4) I did not say “the Arabs” … I think Egypt could have been a good candidate from democracy … it population is very homogeneous and America is not trying to destroy it or weaken it. I was talking about Syria. And I did not leave it at that … I suggested 7-14 years to implement sufficient political reforms to call it “a democracy” … buy you don’t want to read the link I gave you because you only want to lecture here, not to learn or to agree. I am seriously holding myself from giving you another psycho analysis session.

5) Again .. keep dreaming. I do not say that… I am claiming that the Assads did a good job in reading the sentiments of the Arab street that does not want Israeli or American hegemony. And they did t without any extreme leftist positions … they participated in the original American coalition to liberate Kuwait, they are happy to meet and work with with any friendly US president …

Sorry … YOU are stuck in the old fashioned way of stereotyping those you do not like. Time for you to learn how to read the right signals.

But to learn, you have to respect those who you are having a discussion with.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Alex,
1) “Slow down”. Why? Things were going fast before? And what was the excuse before Iraq? Care to tell us?
2) Yeah sure, that is why most Syrians would prefer to live in the US. You are always using the worst kind of “two wrongs make a right argument”. And of course you are ignoring the huge role of Syria in killing Iraqis by letting Jihadists cross the border.
3) You said it many times. The Syrians support Asad because of his foreign policy and they think it is more important than internal issues.
4) I read the link. It is your usual vapour that does not ask Asad and his regime to commit to anything upfront and makes the process dependant on their good will. In any case your argument is that Syrians are not ready which proves my point.
5) You said many times that democratization is part of US hegemony.

But know, we have the template in place. Each time you make an argument, I will show you that it is one of points 1 to 5 and that you are simply rehashing the same propoganda that the Asads have been using for the almost 40 years. Nothing new. Time to stop fooling people.

Alex Says:

1) I will agree with you that in the 90’s when Clinton and King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and President Chirac were all Syria’s friends (so to speak), Hafez should have reformed. I am a fan of Hafez’s foreign policies and his exceptional leadership skills, but he did not even try to give Syrians more freedom of speech. So your point is valid in the 90’s.

But in 2000 and 2001 .. there was the “Damascus Spring” … which was a good first step towards political freedoms. But two things stopped it .. the first was 9/11 and the chaos that started in Afghanistan and the new highly negative attitude that America had towards Syria. The second was that the opposition did not stick with the regime’s reduced limitations on free speech… you can talk about anything you liked, as long as you did not call for removing Bashar and the regime. Also, you can not deal with the Muslim Britherhood, they were banned.

The opposition started to challenge many things, especially the way the Syrian parliament managed to elect Bashar even though he was 34 and the Syrian constitution said that the president has to be at least 40.

Also, the political platform of the Muslim Brotherhood was read publicly at the Atassi forum, the main opposition forum.

To the regime, those challenges only meant that the opposition wants to take their place tomorrow. So they reinstated most of the old restrictions on freedom of speech.

But it is still much better than the days of Hafez so .. the answer to your question is, yes there was some movement … very slow, as I said.

2) We are talking about governments and specifically about foreign policy and policies of war and peace… that’s where the Syrian government lately is the best.. the smartest, the wisest …

But … Syrians like me love the United States and its culture and its people and its great education and its legal system, and its bill of rights …. How many times do you need to hear it to understand it?

3) If I said that Syrians like Assad’s foreign policies … what does it have to do with your earlier erroneous statement about me supposedly saying “‚??Dignity and the Palestinian cause‚?Ě are more important than freedom and economic progress.”??!! … There is a difference between what I describe as popular opinions, and between MY opinion. Try to read slowly, you might understand.

4) If you read my link you would have understood that it was not my usual anything. you did not read it .. you skipped through it at the beginning. In it I was proposing auditing and other measures to make sure political reforms take place according to a schedule (7 to 14 years). Exactly what you challenged me to do .. I did it already last year .. but you won’t get it because to your brilliant mind, only a crook like Farid Ghadry is trust worthy.

5) Again you need to read slowly to understand … I usually say “Democracy” .. which means: the Neocons “democracy” which is not the real thing but only an excuse to advance their own interest. I think you heard what people in the mIddle east think of Neocon’s version of Democracy.

I will simplify it for you: I would love to see Syria democratic in the shortest possible time… real democracy, not the one forced by neocons and their armies, is a wonderful thing that has nothing to do with US hegemony.

Is that clear for you?

Should I also remind you that I would love for Syria to be America’s best ally in the whole world?

OK AIG please note that this is the last comment I am going to keep that investigates My own opinions. Enough. I think this is getting ridiculous. You are welcome to discuss the issues in anyway you like. But no more attempts to prove that each one here is an Antisemite or an America hater or an old fashioned Baathist …

Tomorrow I am back to work and I will not have time to reply to your messed up way of interpreting my statements.

Back to the main topic.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

{comment deleted by admin}

Dear AIG,

I explained above but you obviously

1) Do not know how to read or
2) Have a problem comprehending anything not fitting within your black and white limitations, or
3) Are exceptionally rude.
4) All of the above.

If coming back here and accusing me of being a baathist … and “a Christian” coward is going to be the only argument you can make, then I will not bother with your endless insults and accusations. As I mentioned above, I have given you all the time to make your arguments for Democracy. But to hijack the discussion and to continue to insult every single writer here is not going to be constructive, so… learn some manners, or just … continue to have your own internal angry dialog.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Where did I call you a baathist? I called you a Christian that does not believe that democracy bodes well for the Christian minority in Syria. Those were my exact words. How is that an insult? Please repost my comment.

Global Voices Online » Syria: Foreign Policy Says:

[…] while agreeing in general terms with Wassim, brings out the notion that the current conflict is not in reality a sectarian one, in spite of the many attempts to depict it as such. The current regional division is often […]

PH Says:

” Syria had the honour of being the only Arab state to support revolutionary Iran against Saddam Hussain‚??s barbarous Western-backed attack.”

Actually, Libya supported Iran as well it even supported the Khomeini while he was in exile.

david s Says:

Q – nice piece. You articulated points that are barely ever explored. Keep writing my friend.

Simon White Says:

Qunfuz,

In the title of the page http://creativesyria.com/syrianbloggers/?author=45 – which links here – is the name Robin Yassin-Kassab. That wouldn’t be the Robin (alias Qunfuz?) I knew in Morocco by any chance? Contact me if it is. Excuse me if it isn’t.

-Simon

brute_force Says:

Having read General E.L.M. Burns’ memoirs as the UNTSO rep responsible for keeping some semblance of peace between Syria and Israel in the early 50’s , I have a rather negative perception of Israeli behavior at the time. Then I read Moshe Dayan’s revelation in Yediot Aharnot’s 1997 Passover edition that it was Israeli policy to aggravate Syrians as an excuse to seize the Golan. Amazing that the Golan is now populated with Israeli settlemets all the way up to the new border with Syria. Even more amazing is why Syrian supporters do not see the value of repeating General Burns and Moshe Dayan statements ad nauseam until the pitifully misinformed public amd US Congress finally get it.

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