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Friday, March 04, 2005

Syria for the Bomb, Again

UK Warns Syria of 'Pariah' Status," BBC News, 4 March 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4317473.stm.

"Bush Offers to Help EU Over Iran," BBC News, 4 March 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4317579.stm.

Repitition today. Trading Syria for a Persian Bomb is old news. American hostility to Baby Assad's Syria is old news. Syria's encirclement is old news. Potential WTO Membership for Iran is old news.

Such obvious Atlantic cooperation on the trade is the only novelty here.

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has warned Syria it risks being "treated as a pariah" if it fails to withdraw its forces from Lebanon.

In a BBC interview, Mr Straw said more UN peacekeepers could be deployed in Lebanon to replace Syrian troops.

His comments come a day after Russia and Saudi Arabia joined growing calls for Syria to withdraw its forces.


He said Syria had to withdraw "in a sensible, swift but phased way" in order for the country to "come back into the fold of the international community".

"If they don't," he said, "they really will be treated as a pariah."

for the Bomb

US President George W Bush has said he is willing to help European countries in their negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme.

Mr Bush said he had told the Europeans that the US was looking at how it could help move the process forward.

The European plan could offer Iran economic and trade incentives if it abandons its nuclear programme.

As Dr. Barnett writes, it is not "appeasement," it is "the fastest way to getting what we want."

Uniting North America to win the Global War on Terrorism

"Dearborn resident helped terror group," by David Shephardson, The Detroit News, 2 March 2005, http://www.detnews.com/2005/nation/0503/02/A05-105122.htm (from Michelle Malkin).

The ever-hot Michelle reports:

A Dearborn man pleaded guilty Tuesday to providing material support to Hezbollah, a foreign terrorist organization.

Mahmoud Youssef Kourani, 33, admitted to hosting meetings at his Dearborn home during Ramadan in 2002 and allowing a Lebanese man to solicit donations from people there for Hezbollah.

The U.S. government considers Hezbollah, a Lebanese group known as Party of God, to be a terrorist organization. The group's goals, the government says, include the eradication of "Western imperialism" from the Middle East.

Hezbollah has conducted many high-profile terrorist attacks, including the killing of a Marine lieutenant in 1989.

Under the plea deal with the U.S. Attorney's Office, Kourani faces no more than five years in prison. Under the original charge, he faced up to 15 years. He will be sentenced June 14 by U.S. District Judge Robert H. Cleland.

Federal agents found thousands of dollars and evidence of wire transfers when they searched Kourani in May 2003. He was then charged with housing an illegal immigrant.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said Kourani bribed a Mexican consular official in Beirut to get a visa to travel to Mexico. Kourani and a traveling companion then paid another man in Mexico to be smuggled across the southern U.S. border Feb. 4, 2001, the government said.

And then comments:

I know, I know, just another "undocumented worker" who crossed the border to "do the jobs Americans won't do."

I'm a fan of Mrs. Malkin, but I disagree here. She's taking the wrong lesson. We shouldn't stop the flow of people from Mexico to America. It helps our economy and their people, and it begins the process of forming a block to meet Europe and China. But we should have a common frontier.

We should not hold our security hostage to labor protectionists or Euro-style anti-immigrationists. Here's to immigration, border security, and the coming victory.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Skilled Saudis, Bumbling Baby Assad

"Saudis Back Calls for Syrian Pullout from Lebanon," by Dominic Evans, Reuters, Saudis Back Calls for Syrian Pullout from Lebanon, 3 March 2005 (from Democratic Underground).

The Saudis have hung onto both The Hejaz, Nijd, the Empty Quarter, East Arabia, and all their other despotates because they buy off internal enemies and can be useful to outside powers. For example:

Saudi Arabia added a key Arab voice on Thursday to mounting demands that Syria withdraw its troops swiftly from Lebanon, where they have helped secure it powerful influence for decades.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad flew to Riyadh for crisis talks where Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah told him immediate action was needed.

Abdullah, a regional ally of the United States, told Assad that "Syria must start withdrawing soon, otherwise Saudi-Syrian relations will go through difficulties," one Saudi official said.

Baby Assad runs from the obvious for as long as possible

Syria's official SANA news agency said of the Assad-Abdullah meeting: "The talks have tackled the upcoming Arab summit meeting and the situation in Lebanon and views were identical on this matter."

Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo refrained from joining in an increasingly public campaign calling for Syrian withdrawal and said they were opting for quiet diplomacy by individual Arab states.

One one hand, it's maddening. A key part of the Iraq War was to pressure Syria, they're nightmarish state enables terrorism, and they cruficy people.

On the other... The Saudis know which way the wind is blowing. They can read the writing on the wall, the signs in the sky, and a million other cliches. They join in popular causes after they know how it will end.

In sum: we are winning

PS: How's this for a dramatic map?


If this is the future of cartography, my brother has chosen the right field!

Update: Collounsbury sums it up: "It adds a whole new dimension of bad for the Syrians..."

Images of the Cedar Revolution

It is because of President Bush's destabilizing of the middle east that we see the current outpouring of youth and life from Lebanon.

Lebanese, Protesting (from Is That Legal)

He deserves our thanks and praise.

Update: One Free Korea links to further examples (twice!). Omar at Iraq the Model adds his thoughts, as well.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Arab Street

Anti-Occupation Protest in Lebanon

Anti-Terrorism Protest in Iraq

04:05 Posted in Greater Syria, Iraq | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: lebanon

Monday, February 28, 2005

People Power Beirut Government Resignation

"Hezbollah Radio Advert," by Bryn Jones, Hamas Cinema Gaza Strip, http://pretentious.net/Muslimgauze/releases/hamas-cinema.htm, 7 February 2002.

Hoping that I have not yet bored all with posts on Bryn Jones, a/k/a Muslimgauze...

's overt geopolitics and use of speech samples make his music completely unique. Also new under the sun is the incredible news out of Egypt and Lebanon. Multiparty elections in one, a popular protest forcing a government's resignation in the other. I couldn't help but listen to one song...

We are here. We will continue to be here. The first, this city, the first, the first, this is very important, this is the first Arab capital which the Israelis people are blockading.


We create a new people. Instead of being refugees subjects we to be fighters protesters. This very important. We were refugees subjects. Harmless. We became now fighters protesters. Freedom fighters protesters. The next stage...


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Secret Lives of Dade County Poll Watches

"Druze Warlord Turns Neocon?," by Mark Safranski, Zen Pundit, http://zenpundit.blogspot.com/2005/02/druze-warlord-turns-neocon-walid.html, 23 February 2005.

More flower children of Baghdad Spring

Walid Jumblatt, the canny survivor and leader of the ferocious Druze militia during Lebanon's civil war, had some kind words for George Bush:

"It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," explains Jumblatt. "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world." Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."

Recalling Jumblatt's activities twenty years ago, this is kind of like finding out that Daniel Ortega had emigrated to the States and was last seen as a Republican poll watcher in Dade county.

Le Grande Syria for Le Grande Bomb

"Bush, Schroeder to Iran: Stop with nukes," by Tom Raum, Associated Press, http://www.journalstar.com/articles/2005/02/23/top_story/doc421cd41737533948517170.txt, 23 February 2005.

"Keep off Lebanon, Iran tells US," Aljazeera, http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/172841F4-FA99-4643-A920-D88CF8F1AD28.htm, 23 February 2005.

America, Europe See Nuclear Iran As Not In Atlantic Interests

President Bush and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder insisted Wednesday that Iran must not have nuclear weapons, but remained divided on how to coax Tehran into giving up its suspected ambitions for such an arsenal.

"It's vital that the Iranians hear the world speak with one voice that they shouldn't have a nuclear weapon," Bush said at a news conference with the German leader.

Both sought to play down the differences between the United States and Europe.

"We absolutely agree that Iran must say, no, to any kind of nuclear weapon," Schroeder said.

Iran see Atlantic Interference in Greater Syria As Not In Iranian Interests

US President George Bush on Wednesday said Syria should withdraw its military and its secret services from Lebanon.

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said Washington was trying to protect its chief ally in the region, Israel.

"The Lebanese must beware of falling into the trap of foreigners who, using beautiful words, pursue their own political objectives," he said.

"To secure the interests of Israel in the region, the Americans are putting pressure on Syria to withdraw its forces," Kharrazi told the official IRNA news agency in Tehran on Wednesday

If only America and Europe had something they could trade in exchange for Iran getting the bomb (it is happening anyway). If only Iran had something it could trade in exchange for Atlantic interference in Greater Syria (it is happening anyway).


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Baghdad Spring

"When Camels Fly," by Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/20/opinion/20friedman.html, 22 February 2005.

Tom Friedman continues to be a terrific columnist for the New York Times. From his latest:

It's good news, bad news time again for the Middle East. The good news is that what you are witnessing in the Arab world is the fall of its Berlin Wall. The old autocratic order is starting to crumble. The bad news is that unlike the Berlin Wall in central Europe, the one in the Arab world is going to fall one bloody brick at a time, and, unfortunately, Vaclav Havel, Lech Walesa and the Solidarity trade union are not waiting to jump into our arms on the other side.

No one is more pleased than I am to see the demonstration of "people power" in Iraq, with millions of Iraqis defying the "you vote, you die" threat of the Baathists and jihadists. No one should take lightly the willingness of the opposition forces in Lebanon to stand up and point a finger at the Syrian regime and say "J'accuse!" for the murder of the opposition leader Rafik Hariri. No one should dismiss the Palestinian election, which featured a real choice of candidates, and a solid majority voting in favor of a decent, modernizing figure - Mahmoud Abbas. No one should ignore the willingness of some Egyptians to demand to run against President Hosni Mubarak when he seeks a fifth - unopposed - term. These are things you have not seen in the Arab world before. They are really, really unusual - like watching camels fly.

Something really is going on with the proverbial "Arab street." The automatic assumption that the "Arab street" will always rally to the local king or dictator - if that king or dictator just waves around some bogus threat or insult from "America," "Israel" or "the West" - is no longer valid. Yes, the Iraq invasion probably brought more anti-American terrorists to the surface. But it also certainly brought more pro-democracy advocates to the surface.

Call it the "Baghdad Spring."

But we have to be very sober about what is ahead. There will be no velvet revolutions in this part of the world. The walls of autocracy will not collapse with just one good push. As the head-chopping insurgents in Iraq, the suicide bombers in Saudi Arabia and the murderers of Mr. Hariri have all signaled: The old order in this part of the world will not go quietly into this good night. You put a flower in the barrel of their gun and they'll blow your hand and your head right off.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Free Lebanon

Lebanese opposition demands 'independence uprising'," China Daily, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2005-02/19/content_417640.htm, 19 February 2005.

Not sure what to make of this, so without comment. Certainly hopeful, though.

ebanese opposition figures urged Lebanese to join what they called an independence uprising against Syria's grip on Lebanon on Friday, escalating a war of words after former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri's assassination.

Hariri's killing in Beirut on Monday sparked anti-Syrian fury among many Lebanese and renewed world pressure on Damascus to loosen its political grip and remove its troops from Lebanon.

The United States, which this week recalled its ambassador from Damascus in reaction to the bombing, warned Syria it must help investigate the assassination or face the possibility of further sanctions.

Lebanese Tourism Minister Farid al-Khazen resigned in another sign of the country's political turbulence, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad named his brother-in-law, Major-General Asef Shawkat, as head of military intelligence to replace retiring Major-General Hassan Khalil.

Khazen, a Maronite Christian, became the first minister to quit because of the assassination and said he had done so because the Syrian-backed government was unable to "remedy the dangerous situation in the country."

"There is no substitute for national dialogue on the basis of the Taif agreement," he said, referring to the deal that ended a 1975-1990 civil war and committed Syria to moving the troops it keeps in Lebanon to the eastern Bekaa Valley.

Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and figures from the disparate opposition movement blamed the government and its Syrian backers for Hariri's death and called for its resignation.

They urged Lebanese to back a peaceful "independence uprising" -- the first time they had used the term. It was not immediately clear what form of protest the uprising would take.