Bashar Elsbihi | Alenfetah Party of Syria United States
November 2nd, 2007

Re: ‘Syria's foreign policy

Many have speculated about the political outcome of the young Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s policies and strategic choices which placed the country he rules in the current status since his take-over from his father seven years ago. In a tough neighborhood such as the Middle East, no single political choice can be perfect as the challenges facing every King or President in such a hot spot of the world can either mean the demise of his rule or threaten the delicate balance of the regional powers and bring further instability or the possibility of an all out regional war that can destabilize the world economy and lead to worldwide calamity.

Yet, in a world that has become a global village no one country can pursue its sole national interests without working through the web of international diplomacy to seek those mutual benefits and enhance cooperation among the regional parties to bring about peace and prosperity to all.

Based on these premises, there is an urgent need for an overall political change to those policies which have endangered our beloved country and placed it in the uncompromising position against the international community which have led to the isolation of Syria from the West where the political, economic, social, and security interests of the country are now in great jeopardy.

On the regional level, if there is one thing the regime can do immediately to save it from further escalation with the West is to act on the Lebanese and the Iraqi fronts.

Syria should move towards reconciliation with its most significant neighbor, Lebanon. Traditionally Lebanon has been and will always be the arena to which most opposing political forces in the region seem to choose to square out their differences or influences in the region. This does not exclude any single country in the region. Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, Egypt and Syria all have vested interest in the Lebanese affairs, however, for Syria it’s a matter of survival for the regime to be able to keep the government of its closest neighbor in its circle of political influence and maintain leverage over its internal affairs.

Yet we see the futility of those policies adopted by the regime in Syria on daily basis.

Its support to radical Lebanese opposition groups such as Hezbullah and Fatah Al-Islam have placed it against the parliamentary majority and continues to direct suspicion towards it for the string of the assassinations of their members and the late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Syria should respect the sovereignty of Lebanon and should cease its interference into its internal affairs. If the regime is confident of its innocence in the outcome of the international tribunal of the killing of the late prime minister then stretching a hand of reconciliation towards its most important neighbor and to its majority government would go a long way in establishing the first stepping stone on the road to regional stability. Yet the regime continues to jeopardize the security and stability of Lebanon and Syria by arming and supporting radical elements the likes of Hezbuallh and Fatah Al-Islam on the premises that such support would create the desired armed struggle amongst the various sectarian factions in Lebanon and would prevent the election of a new president and hopefully stop the international tribunal process.

Policies of such recklessness endanger not only Lebanon, but could bring disastrous consequences for the whole region. In fact, it would threaten the national security of Syria and the regime itself. By supporting such groups, the regime is undermining the international community desires through the UN adoption of Security Council Resolution 1559 and the democratic process that is taking hold in Lebanon.

Therefore, cutting off its support to Hezballah and other Militant groups in Lebanon and adopting the Damascus-Beirut/Beirut-Damascus Declaration which was signed by over 300 intellectuals on both sides, the regime would find itself in a favorable position which could ease the tensions with the West on the Lebanese front and would reap multiple benefits.

As for Iraq, it’s as simple as keeping a vigilant eye on its border and maintaining the lid on the activities of militant Islamists groups who found the road to Damascus to be the starting point to their new promised land. With all its security apparatus the regime can easily spot and apprehend potential individuals seeking jihad in Iraq. Arab young jihadists men with beards and traditional mustaches, passing through Damascus international airport and posing as visitors to the Qamishly district on the eastern border with Iraq can not be hard to detect by the exceptional security apparatus which the regime have empowered. If the press can find them and interview them and publish their profile on the pages of the WWW, is it conceivable that the regime is unable to do so? A simple step-up of security vigilance with documentation to follow its progress can go a long way in improving the relationship with the Iraqi government and the US and might open the door for monetary help needed for lifting the burden on the infrastructure which was caused by the influx of the Iraqi refugees into the country.

However, all this is wishful thinking as this will never be applied or adopted by an authoritarian regime which seems to be more concerned with its own survival than regional peace and stability. In fact, without further and continuous pressure on its members from the international community for true changes to its core and the nature of its political structure, the regime will continue to use proxy groups to undermine any efforts by the international community to bring about peace, stability and democracy to the region.

Leadership begins with a vision. When the entire world surrounding you seems to be ablaze you simply can not ignore the signs of the imminent danger to yourself and your country. Today, Syria is surrounded by chaos and danger and without a vision in the leadership the danger and chaos will soon be knocking at its doors.

Bashar Elsbihi
Alenfetah Party of Syria

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32 Responses to the Article

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

As an Israeli, I would be first to demand that Israel would return the Golan to a Syria ruled by a democratically elected Alenfetah party.

Bashar Says:

Thanks AIG, and Thanks to Alex for allowing a voice of descent to appear on this forum.

Judging from what I have read from the other bloggers there seem to be plenty of American bashing going on.

Arab Analysts tend to forget that the 19 hijackers of the WTC all came from these Arab countries with home-grown ideologies.

Change starts from within, its amazing how many here seem here to ignore this little but hugely important fact.

Cheers

Alex Says:

Bashar,

Change starts from within … very true. The Arabs (including Syria) need to be honest about their not-so-great traits and beliefs and habits.

But this applies to both sides. Israel and the United States need to reconsider their use of savage force to promote their selfish interests. The past few years, they took the actions that led to the vast majority of killing innocent civilians on planet earth.

It takes two to Tango… and it happens simultaneously … you can’t ask the Arabs to start to tango alone …

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Alex,
The Arabs are only doing themselves a favor by democratization. You think that holding millions of people hostage by dictatorial regimes is the way forward. You do not undertand that it is the interest of the Arabs to democratize. Just read the UN development reports.

The Arabs should democratize regardless of what the US or Israel do. You are posing conditions just to keep a dictator in power. Democratization is not a tango. It is a necessarry ingredient in any successful society and the Arabs need it for themselves, not for the US or for Israel.

You are not doing anyone a favor but yourself when you democratize.

Majhool Says:

I agree with AnotherIsraeliGuy! isn’t that ironic coming from an arab nationlists like my self? The future is open boarders, cultural identities, and free trade. Well planned democratization is the only way forward.

In the past 5 years, Syria is more open and if thius trend continues Syria will be the most democratic in 20 years.

Alex,

Shloni ma3ak?

Bashar Says:

Alex,

Your concerns about other nations, the likes of the US and Israel seems to pre-occupy your thoughts and actions. Its the old school of blame it on others. I’ve been there and done that.

Before we worry about other nations, we must take a deep penetrating look into ourselves (The Arabs), maybe then the road to true salvation can be found.

Cheers

Alex Says:

Majhool,

1) Ahlain Ustaz. good to see you here : )

2) We discussed it before and you know in detail what I stand for. Borders will eventually go away, yes … but not if this administration continue to create more borders by destroying larger countries in order to replace them with smaller emirates and Sheikdoms.

3) Bashar beik, you don’t know me. I am not the stereotype you have in mind. I blame “it” on others when others are to blame, and I blame “it” on the Syrian regime when the regime is to blame, and I blame “it” on the System (regime plus people plus neighbors …) when the system is to blame.

So I am not blaming America and Israel for the regime’s corruption for example. And I am not blaming the regime for the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis… if you are new school and courageous, you should be able to do both.

Besides .. is Zenobia also “old school” .. she is from San Francisco. Is FADI “old school”? … you would be very impressed if you get to know him and to know his achievements in high technology.

You know, Wassim’s “picture” on his blog is “NO” in Arabic … which was “NO to the non-democratic elections in Syria” !

Yet we have the delusional blind man trying to conclude that the reason Wassim is not a fan of Israel or of current American foreign policy was that Wassim is … a supporter of dictatorship.

When I invited Wassim the first time to write here, I was inviting a regime critic… which he is.

So .. we are not “old school” … we are not Baathists .. we are not Antisemitic, we love America (the country).

Majhool Says:

Alex, I agree with you. I am all for pressure: organic, global,geopolitcal, populos etc.. and totally against cowbow style iraq democratization.

So we are in agreement, no?

Alex Says:

Yes on organic pressures as the only acceptable form of pressure.

And we agree also that Bossanova music is the best.

Majhool Says:

Define organic, aside from organic chicken, salad, and refreshments.

Bashar Says:

Alex,

I love it when your prolific side shows in your writing style. :-)

You and I might think that we know the reasons for Syria’s foreign policies and might speculate, theorize, rationalize or even, in your case, justify it to be the right or wrong choice. Yet, the facts on the ground in Syria are still the same, an authoritarian system which controls and monopolizes all political events to its advantage.
Those advantages, sometimes seem to be the logical choice when the interests of the regime criss-cross the interests of the country.
To proud Syrians, as yourself my dear friend, and others here who seem to praise those alliances the regime have made, its natural to jump on the bandwaggon and cheer on the wise leadership of the young president. Sure why not, it falls into the old Arab Nationalism camp and fits like a glove. However, its still misguided to many other proud Syrians, like myself :-), and seem foolhardy. But the facts remain the same.

As for Zenobia and Fadi, I would love to know them both and invite them for dinner in lovely Miami, you too included. I’m sure we will all indulge ourselves in a challenging debate. Just make sure on making arrangment on staying for while, as I’m sure we would all agree to disagree. :-)

Cheers

P.S, check my comments on Zenobia’s article.

Alex Says:

Bashar,

Did I tell you that I like your name? : )

I understand the impression that i am a proud Syrian. I am. But I am also a proud Canadian, and a proud, and lucky, friend of many wise people who taught me that too much pride is not good.

It is pride mixed with respect for Syria’s calm handling of the madness that surrounds her… and admiration for the kindness of the Syrian people in hosting the 1.6 million Iraqis …

Do you know what Souria means in Indian?

The Sun : )

qunfuz Says:

Bashaar – You say that “these Arab countries” produced the 9/11 hijackers, but you’ve just been talking about Syria. The countries which produced the hijackers are Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Lebanon. The first three countries all have pro-American regimes. They host American military bases or personnel and concur with the US on Israel-Palestine and Iraq. Syria, on the other hand, has not yet exported any Wahhabi-nihilist violence. The fourth country was Lebanon, which you seem to consider to be almost uniformly anti-Syrian. I have to disagree with you here. The best we can say is that Lebanon, as ever, is profoundly divided as to its allegiances. Hizbullah is not a ‘miltant group’ we can write off as undemocratic. It represents the majority of Lebanese Shia and is crucial in Lebanese politics socially and economically as well as militarily. Whether it destabilises the country is obviously a political call. Depending on your politics you will judge its defence of Lebanon last summer to be a service to Lebanon and all the Arabs, pointing towards a potential long term deterrence of Israeli aggression, or a destabilisation. As for Fatah al-Islam, I have seen no evidence whatsoever that Syria is behind them. Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker, however, suggests convincigly that such groups are being funded by Saudi Arabia and the US’s friends in Lebanon.

To chime in again on the ‘democracy’ debate initiated by AIG and countered very effectively by Alex, there is a lot of simplistic thinking going on here. It is entirely possible to support an aspect of a regime’s policy without supporting the undemocratic practises of that regime. Equally, not every critic of American foreign policy is anti-American. I disagree with every American administration I can remember, and I do my best not to buy American products. I don’t like the empire. But I love a lot of American books, music and films, the American constitution and Bill of Rights, and several American people.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

qunfuz,
Hizballah per se is not destabilizing Lebanon. They are an important group and should have a say in Lebanese politics. It is arming them by Syria and Iran that produces the destabilization. Don’t try to confuse the issues.

And do you use the same standards for the US as you use for Syria? Do you not buy Syrian products because you don’t agree with the Syrian regime?

Bashar Says:

Qanfuz,

I will start from the end of your comment. You say;

” Equally, not every critic of American foreign policy is anti-American. I disagree with every American administration I can remember, and I do my best not to buy American products. I don??t like the empire. But I love a lot of American books, music and films, the American constitution and Bill of Rights, and several American people.”

Let me remind you of the United States Bill of Rights in a brief description as to what it contains which I quickly picked up off the net;

“Protecting the rights of all citizens, residents and visitors on United States territory. Among the enumerated rights these amendments guarantee are: the freedoms of speech, press, and religion; the people’s right to keep and bear arms; the freedom of assembly; the freedom to petition; and the rights to be free of unreasonable search and seizure; cruel and unusual punishment; and compelled self-incrimination. The Bill of Rights also restricts Congress’ power by prohibiting it from making any law respecting establishment of religion and by prohibiting the federal government from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”

If you do truely believe in this, then your support for the current policies of the regime in Damascus and to the clerical regime in Iran contradicts your belief. The people who wrote those words envisioned a better world for their childern and grandchildren and grand-grand children which you currently find yourself in disagreement with.

Loving America does not stop at its constitution and the Bill of Rights. America have held the moral benchmark for the universal dream for the past century and continues to be the choice for any immigrant looking for better life from around the globe. It stands as a living proof of humanity greatest triumph over tyrany and prejedice. This does not mean America is without faults, in a democratic system bad presidents can reach the office, yet they usually leave at the end of their terms and the system goes on.
If America current foreign policy for this administration seems to be shortsighted, it does not mean its evil or ill-intended.
When I read your article I rememberd the slogans of the past 45 years we have been hearing in Syria such as “American Imperial Hegemony and Israeli Zionist plans to control us, our land and turn us into their agents”, don’t you get tired of repeating such vanity?

No one can argue with the fact that Hizballah is a “militant” group, that is trying to create a state within a state in Lebanon. When Naserallah vows never to “lay-down his arms” for the sake of Lebanon, how can you believe his motives are altruistic? While Hizballah is a true political force on the lebanese scene, yet it seeks to undermine the majority government in Lebanon on daily basis. It’s valiant efforts during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon proved popular as with any other liberation movement that have fought to free its country from foreign invadors. But after the pull-out of the IDF, its stance against Lebanese national aspiration in setting up a strong government and an army that can defend Lebanon proves to be antithetical.
Its terror tactics against opposition members in the past prevented criticism of it from the majority government for long period of time. Criticism of it did not surface ’till it committed the mistake that cost Lebanon its infrastructur and set the country back 20 years and left it at a political impass.

As for the country origin of the 19 hijackers, your point is well put yet my contention was it is an “Arab” ideology that produced such haterd and continues to do so to this day. The factors involved are countless and can not be simply listed here so I’ll leave this for another debate.

Cheers

Alex Says:

Bashar,

America have held the moral benchmark for the universal dream for the past century and continues to be the choice for any immigrant looking for better life from around the globe.

Sadly, this administration is not exactly a good ambassador for the wonderful country they were elected to lead.

Do you want to read this article by American Catholics who visited Syria?

We came back from 10 months in Damascus in mid-June and plan to return to Syria early in September. When we speak about Syria with small groups in homes or churches here these days, my wife always makes a suggestion: Let’s start a movement to tow the Statue of Liberty from the harbor in New York City to Syria’s Mediterranean seaport at Latakia. That’s where it belongs if there’s anything at all to this business about giving over “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.”

All I am saying is

1) It is not Black and White … neither Syria, nor America are pure White or pure Black.

2) Things are generally improving in Syria and generally deteriorating in the United States … under this administration.

Bashar Says:

Alex,

Don’t confuse my opposition to the regime as an endorcement of political sanctions against the people of Syria. I know what WE are and I know what we are capable of. I never argued the Syrian people capacities to mercy and peace. I’m surprise you bring such a quote or an article to my attention. What’s the point?

I agree with you its not black or white when it comes to politics in Syria or America, but its actually black or white when it comes to ideals such as freedom and democracy. :-)

As for things improving in Syria, it depends on your prespective.
SC just published great comments from readers of the Economist magazine article regarding the hike in the price of Gasoline. One of the commentators brings the author of the article attention to hike in the price of electricity too. I don’t believe that guy IN Syria share your views.

Cheers

Alex Says:

Bashar

1) I think it is clear why I linked the article … the regime in Syria did not close Syria’s borders to any refugee …. over two millions (Iraqis and Lebanese) found safety in Syria lately … This administration which started and supported and sustained two unnecessary wars (Iraq and Lebanon) not only caused the killing of hundreds of thousands … but refused to take refugees!

Lately … Syria is much more moral, regardless of America’s usual moral advantages of “freedom, Liberty, and Democracy” … which are not in good shape lately, thanks to this administration.

2) You can conclude whatever you want from any subset of comments that you feel prove your point … but … I assume as a republican American who found Mr. Cheney to be not too bad (as you told me at SC) .. I assume that you are not a socialist … or are you? … you want Syria to continue to subsidize electricity and Gasoline of not?

It does not look good when you criticize the regime if they decide to go with option A or its inverse, option B …

qunfuz Says:

Bashaar – if you visit my blog you’ll find that I am deeply concerned with the internal Arab malaise that has given rise to Wahhabi-nihilism and other problems. You’ll also find that I am critical of the Syrian regime’s undemocratic aspects. I think the Bill of Rights is an important document that should be read and considered by the people of every country. Let me say it again as clearly as I can: I Want More Rights For Citizens in Syria. Here, however, we have been debating Syria’s foreign policy. I believe that Syrian foreign policy, in the main, is far more in tune with public opinion and the principles of law than the foreign policy of the American clients in the region. This is DESPITE Syria’s internal failings, which are obvious. As for America, I think you are very naive if you believe that America is anything other than a republic which has transformed into an empire. The Bill of Rights has noit been realised in America, and neither is America anything approaching a ‘moral benchmark.’ The American lack of democracy is something I will write about at greater length sometime on my blog. Have you read, for instance, Gore Vidal, who writes passionately on the failings of the American democracy, its transformation into an unrepresentative corporate empire, from a patriotic conservative viewpoint.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

How is arming Hamas and Hizballah and risking a war in tune with “public opinion and the principles of law”?

How is the Syrian foreign policy helping the common Syrian? It is hurting him! Asad has made an enemy of both Europe and the US because of his foreign policy.

Zenobia Says:

AIG,
what if…the foreign policy isn’t helping. what if it is bad?
in my own article, i didn’t argue about whether it is ultimately good or not. I argued that Syria has no choice, effectively, given the positions that America has taken.
but lets suppose you are correct for a moment.
Even so, there is just no denying that the Syrian government’s position is in line with the sentiment of the majority of the public.
If you were here, you would get it, you would see it.
First of all, there are pictures of the ‘hero’ Nasrallah…hanging in small stores and shops…allllll over syria. And i am not just talking about in the city.
Hezballah is overwhelmingly regarded as heroes. Hamas, i think a little less revered probably because there is nothing impressive about there organizational skills (in fact that is a travesty….so…)but…still Hamas is supported. Nobody is yelling to get the Hamas members out of the country.

Next, a little word about my personal experiences. I have had many unpleasant moments, a couple where i was even a little bit frightened…. in small food shops…and taxis… where after i answered the inevitable question of where i am from… “american….”…. i am bombarded with words…. like “George Bush” ..”Condolezza Rice”…. ‘criminals”….. ‘democracy!…”… yelling about the actions of america…. and then a few words of fury about Israel controlling the United States congress.

I mean, this has happened many times. And these are shop keepers and taxi blokes. Not regime figures….and mafia men. Ignorant? yes, probably…..but ….
it is not amazing that this is what people scream about.
Syrians really really hate Condi Rice and George Bush. these are their most hated people.
so,… you know… you can tell me now…how those posters i see all over the place are put there by gun toting security officers spreading propaganda store to store….forcing people to put decals on their cars….
i can’t say i know the full truth…..all i can tell you is what i see….and i know it is a complicated relationship between the people and leaders. Impure, indeed.

nonetheless, it is at least a follie a deux between the people and their leaders regarding the agreed upon enemies and heroes, regardless of what you or other outsiders would like to be the reality that makes sense to us.

Zenobia Says:

and ps,
just so you know…..usually those shopkeepers who launch a tirade in my direction after i tell them i am American….and they go on an on …about the crimes of the USA….
at the end…most then take a pause, and tell me how much they like the American people in general…and speak to me in this gentle voice about how welcome i am to Syria…
it is very amusing…

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Zenobia,
One of the episodes that I find most enlightning about the relation between the Arab masses and the dictators is Nasser’s “resignation” after the Six Day War and how the “masses” forced him to reconsider his position. You should take a hard look at it. It is all a well orchestrated sham that Arab dictators have become experts at. The “masses” play along because they really have no choice and the media is so one sided.

Let me write in Tishrin for one month and you will see how public opinion in Syria changes :) (maybe I’ll need a few more months :))

Alex Says:

AIG,

You would make the masses love their dictators even more : )

You should forget about NAsser’s episode becasue

Today, Syrians do not read Teshreen … I told you that three ties so far .. do you understand it? … do you think I am lying? .. SYRIANS READ EVERYTHING … they make fun of the official newscast on Syrian television.

They have been properly enlightened … they won’t change if you offer them your wonderful opinions… President Bush did a “good” job trying to communicate with Syrians … and Syrians understood very well his intentions.

I know you hate to accept it but .. after reading the New York times, Haaretz, hostile Saudi-owned Lebanese satellite stations … most Syrians, like Zenobia is confirming to you … like Bahsar, Love Nasrallah, dislike the Syrian regime, and … HATE your heroes … The leaders of American and Israel… and Zenobia forgot .. Syrians hate the Lebanese crooks to whom America is trying to “give” the presidency … by force, threats , international intimidation, and special presidential directives from the office of President Bush…

Maybe we should ask them the same question you asked about Bashar: If America is so sure THEY (the M14 group) are really the Lebanese majority .. why are they afraid from new elections? … just like you have in Israel when a government is clearly not functioning anymore … you call early elections.

Any idea why Syrians loved America when Presidents Clinton, and Bush Sr. were in charge? … could it be that … this mad administration is the reason behind most of the negativity?

The potential Good news is that there is a good chance (not guaranteed) that the net administration will be much more positive. Hillary already said that her husband would be her Middle East envoy .. he said that he thinks peace between Syria and Israel can be achieved in 30 minutes.

At least there is some hope there that Syrians would love an American democrat more than Nasrallah …

Otherwise … don’t worry about trying to make Syrians hear alternate points of view … if that had any chance of success you wouldn’t have had the early termination of the P.R.. mission of Karen Hughes and Dina Powell… both of them came back realizing that America has no hope of becoming popular in the Middle East without a change in actual policies.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Alex,
America was NEVER popular with Syrians. All adminstrations were considered as doing Israel’s bidding. You are not fooling anybody.
A huge percentage of Syrians do not know English so your claims about them being informed are ridiculous (I found the part about the NY times extremely amusing). All the time you think of Syrians as the Christian and Alawite click that you are part of but you personally are not a typical Syrian which is a poor Sunni farmer.

Sorry, but more and more you are sounding like a regime hack.

Alex Says:

You comment above was 70% insults and 30% opinion, I will not remove it because it had some opinion that I want to answer but as I explained many times before, from now on every single accusation you make, personal attack, or insult, I will remove your comments.

Why? … because I want to go back to positive tone. At the beginning I tried to interest you in a more positive discussion, but it seems you are not compatible with positivity.

Back to your opinions:

Syrians read the Saudi Owned Alhayat … which has for example Raghida Dergham and Randa Tekki eddine .. two harsh critics of the Syrian regime … Syrians watch LBC news … LBC is owned by Saudi Arabia and presents mostly anti Syrian views .. they do a very good job trying to attack the Syrian regime … Walid Jumblatt .. Geagea … are always there.

Syrians also watch Almustaqbal … Hariri’s TV station that reminds viewers everyday that the Syrian regime is a murderous group of thugs ..etc… this is sounds exactly like you. So you really don’t need to go there and lecture Syrians.

Syrians have the internet … they can read Haaretz, they can check the website of Al-Arabiya (owned by Saudi Arabia) … Aljazeera (Qatar) … Jordanian .. Egyptian sites .. ALL IN ARABIC …

You get the picture? .. sorry if that takes away from the amusing part (the English New York Times) …

For your info … most of my friends are Sunni Syrians .. not Christians and not Alawites. I just spoke for an hour with Majhool … a Sunni who is not a big fan of the regime. I am friends with everyone … and I listen to their stories and opinions… and I learn.

You always talk confidently about us Syrians … Are you friends with as many Syrians as I am? do you listen to them with an open mind?

And if you really want to know … I am also lucky to have Alawites, Druze, Sufis, Ismaelis, Freemasons, Opus Dei, Kabbalah among my friends… many of them are quite advanced in their groups.

I know things you will probably never know or understand about the Middle East.

And finally … you asked me who am I fooling?! … I don’t know. You tell me. Why do I need to fool anyone? can you explain? … will I make a million dollars if I fool you? … will Bashar call me and congratulate me for convincing some “AIG” that Syrians sometimes are capable of not hating America?

Regular Syrians are rarely in love with America’s mideast politics, true. America vetoes UNSC resolutions that attempt to condemn frequent Israeli aggressions.

But there are exceptions … Syrians respected George Bush Sr. a lot … When his son ran for office in 2000 … all my Syrian friends, including me, were pro George Bush … we all hoped he would finish the peace process that his father started.

Syria, and the whole world will fall in love with America again if the next administration is more reasonable and peaceful …

We have had enough of conflicts.

Zenobia Says:

thats, funny. i have a cousin (Syrian born but now an american citizen by marriage) who told me he actually voted for GB jr because he believed that he would be like his father.
and he and his friends were sooo upset…when the reality was nothing like that.
i was quite surprised to hear how many Syrians were big fans of George Bush Sr.

anyhow i don’t think Syrians read the NYTimes. they think NY is the haven of the Jewish conspiracy!…. sadly.
but….
all the rest Alex said i agree with. I believe….from the TVs i see going ALL the time in Syria…. many you see from the street…. shops and police guard houses all over the place…and homes i have been in….
they watch LBC…and lebanese stations. they watch news from the gulf stations. and maybe some people watch the two meager Syrian stations sometimes…for celebrity stuff…but hardly at all for news.
and young people are looking at the internet. they dont’ read as much news though.

you would be surprised how many people speak English in Syria now. It is nothing like twenty years ago….the numbers have grown exponentially. the level of speaking is very poor….and i am not sure if they can read news adequately… but hey they have seen CNN.
everybody knows…. of Fox TV….they know what is being said about them and their government.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

A small percentage of Syrians are connected to the Internet. They read Ha’aretz? Are you sure it is not censored? They censored this site but they don’t censor Ha’aretz?

As usual you speak in generalities because there are no statistics no official numbers and no way to get them. There is no real debate in syria about the internal and foreign situation. There is only fear. When there is real debate we will know what Syrians really think. You think LBC and the Gulf channels give a complete picture and enough information? Of course not. The Syrians need to to see an Israeli debating a Syrian on television. When will that happen?

Bashar Says:

Alex,

I was out for a few days and I just got back to reading all the comments. I??m surprised you are still at it with AIG! I believe you both have good points but refuse to admit the obvious.

Now back to your last comment to me;

??2) You can conclude whatever you want from any subset of comments that you feel prove your point ? but ? I assume as a republican American who found Mr. Cheney to be not too bad (as you told me at SC) .. I assume that you are not a socialist ? or are you? ? you want Syria to continue to subsidize electricity and Gasoline of not?
It does not look good when you criticize the regime if they decide to go with option A or its inverse, option B ??

Don??t you find a contradiction in your statement, your advocate putting off democracy project in Syria for later times and accept the regime for now for the sake of stability and security, yet you seem here to support lifting subsidies on Gas and Electricity which can literally bring on popular disenchantment, chaos, and possibly street demonstrations that would threaten the security and stability which you seem to be so concerned with!
One more thing, you assumed wrong, and I??m a registered Democrat and have been since I became full fledged American citizen. Never voted Republican and never will.
Ahlan Wassahla ?

Zenobia Says:

oh my goodness …AIG….why do you keep sounding like you know what goes on here. you have some ideas….that are not completely untrue…but they are exaggerated and so concrete, completely lacking in any nuance.

i mean….i have lots of ideas about what goes on in Israel.. definitely…it is easier to say things about a place in terms of its professed politics…. but I would never in a million years… start making big statements about what is going on inside Israelis… if I haven’t even been there to see….or spend some time.
it is all speculation. and whats even weirder…is that you keep asserting your idea…. even though their are probably a lot of people who could say with more experiences and more accuracy what the situation is.

I mean if you wanted to talk about and describe Israeli society at some point or in some context, I would be all ears… it wouldn’t occur to me to lecture you on what I know!…who hasn’t even been there….. it is absurd.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Zenobia,
You can easily visit Israel and go where ever you like and speak to whomever you want without being followed or harrassed. There are realible statistics. There are computerized databases. There are hunderds of documentaries. Israeli society is an open book. The bad and the good are there for all to see.

We agree that this is not the case with Syria. I do not know what exactly Syrians think, but I am 100% that they are humans like anybody else and are not less talented or able than any other humans. Maybe I am really stubborn but I will not accept that Syrians are timid and resist change as their nature and that this will take years and years to change. I believe that once democratization takes place, you will see a very quick acceptance. Ask yourself, do Syrians that move to the US, and encounter huge amounts of change, do these Syrians require years of adjustment in general? I am sure they don’t.

Alex Says:

Bashar,

So you are a democrat! ….You must be the only Democrat who had something positive to say about Mr. Cheney.

If I were an American, I would not be a democrat .. and I would not be a republican. I would be an independent.

Now … back to your observation that i was not consistent:

Don??t you find a contradiction in your statement, your advocate putting off democracy project in Syria for later times and accept the regime for now for the sake of stability and security, yet you seem here to support lifting subsidies on Gas and Electricity which can literally bring on popular disenchantment, chaos, and possibly street demonstrations that would threaten the security and stability which you seem to be so concerned with!

Hmmm … who said I support lifting subsidies?

I support the gradual lifting of these subsidies … lifting subsidies over 5 to 10 years.

You might want to ask Ehsani how much I argued with him regarding his ideas for immediate widespread economic reforms… including lifting subsidies.

Don’t worry .. I was living in Egypt when Sadat lifted the subsidies on bread and witnessed those demonstrations in the streets of Cairo.

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