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Friday, March 18, 2005 

No coup in Damascus

The 'Lebanese Foundation for Peace' has been reporting a military coup d'etat in Syria. They claim Bashar Al-Assad has fled to Aleppo and that Interior Minister Ghazi Kannan has overthrown him. The North and West is allied to Bashar but the capital is under the rebel's control. It's all in reaction to the Lebanese withdrawal.

There is no evidence in Damascus to support any of these claims: on the streets, at the political offices, at military barracks, from journalists or diplomats.

This is the first 'non-news' story I've done, and I hestitate to write this. But it's caused such a flurry on the net that it needs to be put down.

A bit of background to the LFP. They are members of the Phalange and South Lebanon Army (Israeli proxies) who fled when Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000. They live in exile in Jerusalem, and are calling on Ariel Sharon to reverse Barak's decision to withdraw. They call themselves the 'Lebanese Government in exile'.

The Lebanese opposition outside the country have a very different agenda to the real independent nationalist opposition inside the country. Even Walid Jumblatt (Lebanon's de-facto opposition leader) has called for dialogue with Hizbollah, and said that Syrian troops are welcome to stay in Lebanon as long as Syria does not interfere in Lebanese politics.

After myself and others had refuted the article's claims, I contacted LFP but instead of withdrawing it they went even further. In an astonishing display of back-peddling they claim:
"Information is hard to get out of Syria, therefore the Press will have a hard time following the dynamics inside the Syrian Regime. When the massacre of Hama happened in 1982, it took almost 2 to 3 weeks to get the news out that something ugly was happening in this town."

And the World Tribune has picked up on it, justifying the incredibly shaky story with the label 'unconfirmed reports'. Can journalism be any lazier? All it would take would be a few calls to Damascus.

check this new one!

From Carpe Bonum:

Sasa doesn't seem to have as much of a problem with Hezbollah and the Syrian Army as I would.

My response:

Let me clarify. I do not take a position on Hizbollah and the Syrian Army.

Why did I refer to them? Well, Walid Jumblatt, the foremost opposition elader in Lebanon has called for the Syrian Army to leave. BUT, he said, they can stay as long as Syrian interference in Leabnese politics ends. He has also said that he needs to open a dialogue with Hizbollah.

The reason I referred to the Army and Hizbollah was to show that even the Lebanese opposition takes a much more pragmatic Syrian-leaning view than Washington neo-cons would like to believe.

And he replied:

Only a couple of years ago it would have been unthinkable for private citizens, American and Syrian, to have a rational discussion of international politics, especially when the topic discussed could eventually involve armed conflict between our two countries.

As to the issue at hand, you refered to Jumblatt's views of the Syrian army and Hezbollah without comment. It was striking to me so I pointed it out to my readers (both of us!).

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About me

  • Written by sasa
  • From Damascus, Syria
  • From Damascus to London via Beirut. Based in and out of the central Damascene hamlet of Saroujah. News and feelings from the streets every day. I'm talking rubbish? Leave a comment. Welcome to the information democracy. See below for info about this site.
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