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Monday, September 24, 2007 

Now is the time for peace

Israel feels like it has regained its honour, lost after last year's defeat.

Days after the attack on Syria this month, Israel said it would drop pre-conditions on peace talks. No longer, it said, would Syria need to end support for Hizbollah and Hamas.

Now America has invited Syria to wide-ranging Middle East peace talks.

The time has never been better for Syria.

Syria has been asking for peace talks for the past seven years. Again and again Israel ignored the calls. Recently there has been pressure in Israel for Bashar's intentions to be tested, for Israel to dip its toes in the water. But America held Israel back.

Now America is itself asking Syria to talk.

And what is Syria doing? On Israel - it says 'no chance', not after an attack. And on America - the summit is useless unless there are clear aims.

Throwing away the chance of a generation. And it doesn't take much reading between the lines to see where this is coming from. Have a look at who in Syria is giving these juicy quotes. Not the Foreign Minister, not the President's office. But Vice-President Farouq Ash-Sharaa.

It's time for a new generation.

I'm afraid you are mistaken. I think something very bad is going to happen. That generation you criticize might be a lot of things, but it's not stupid.

Tell me more...

What do you think will happen?

And why don't you think Syria should jump at this chance to move closer to peace? Even if it is a red herring, it won't do any harm.

Sitting on your hands, though, achieves nothing, even if there is a dark cloud looming.

Sasa, I agree with you that we need a new generation. but not for the reason which you have mentioned, I can never trust what the Americans as well as the Israelis are stewing, and therefore I trust that for whatever reason we are shunning the peace opportunity, it is for a valid reason...

My 2 piaster...

"Have a look at who in Syria is giving these juicy quotes. Not the Foreign Minister, not the President's office. But Vice-President Farouq Ash-Sharaa."

For the benefit of new-comers like me to Syrian politics, would you be able to expand (extremely briefly) on why Ash-Sharaa would want to jepardise peace talks, please?

Also if possible, please can you recommend any books on Syria? I like Chomsky and Finkelstein - can you think of any Syria specialists who write with a similar dedication to the historical record?

Good to see that Israel is interested in making 'heavy concessions' by the way. Pfft.


Anon Londoner

Ok, crash course. Wassim - correct me if I go wrong!

Ash-Sharaa is one of the few remaining members old guard - those who served under ex-President Hafez Al Assad.

Many carried on into the first few years of Bashar's rule. Tlass (Defence Minister) resigned, Khaddam (Vice President) turned against Syria and fled to France, Kanaan (Interior Minister) committed suicide.

Sharaa is the only hanger on.

When Bashar came to power, he promised political reform, openness, economic development.

For months, people started getting involved in politics. It was called the Damascus Spring.

Then there was the crackdown. This huge old guard which - at the time - dominated Bashar's government, didn't like losing control.

Over the years they have been edged out. But at the same time America has come down hard on Syria, so there hasn't been a commensurate opening up that should've happened as the modernisers gained power.

The withdrawal from Lebanon was a huge victory for the young leaders.

Anyway, Sharaa is still there, and he is Vice President. And he's doing a very good job of keeping Syria in the dark old days.

I'm sure Wassim will disagree :)

As for books - anything by Sami Moubayed. Syria's best English language writer, and really more knowledgeable about the country's recent history than anyone I can think of.

Patrick Seale has THE biography of ex-Pres Hafez Al Assad.

And David Lesch and equally impressive bio of Bashar's first years in power, with brilliant access to the top rungs of power.

Anyone else suggest any others?

Can I ask you, anon Londoner, what brings you to become interested in little Syria?

Sasa, I have come back from Syria, and like I promised, I have pics of the Enrique Iglesias concert. I even have a short, cell phone video of when he was kissing a Syrian girl on stage, which I have yet to upload onto my computer. Would you like them?

The withdrawal from Lebanon was a huge victory for the young leaders.

The greatest day in Lebanese history!!!!!!!!!!

Its what you call people power. Maybe the people of Syria should practise that, instead of living under a dictatorship..

No one gives a rats toss about what Syria thinks.
They are nothing but a state sponsor of TERROR...

And what about ASSAD...
After last years summer war he was calling arab leaders HALF MEN..

Now Israel has attacked Syria, what is ASSAD doind about that?
Where is the retaliation?
OH sorry there are no resistance groups in Syria....

I guess we must ask ASSAD the question,


Syria Almighty, I would love that. Would you mind if I upload it here?

You can email it if you want - lio119@yahoo.com

Thanks so very much for the brief overview of recent Syrian politics and for the book recommendations - very kind of you to take the time to type it all out!

"Can I ask you, anon Londoner, what brings you to become interested in little Syria?"

A fair question. Well, since I am English, I am very concerned about the welfare of ordinary Iraqis, as well as you Syrians who are the leading country shouldering the refugee burden.

Even our own government committees here in England have been criticising my government for doing nothing to help you or the refugees. But my government just ignores the committees, and completely ignores us ordinary people who want our country to do something to help.

You and your people have kindly taken in those Iraqis able to flee the utter catastrophe which our illegal invasion unleashed. The very least the UK (and US) can do is give your country lots of money to help both the refugees and Syrians.

I also have a lot of respect for Syrian dissidents, people like Kamal al-Labwani and Abdul Sattar Qattan; people who are prepared to give up large chunks of their lives rotting in jail simply because they publicly express their support for Syrian democracy.

I know a quite a bit about Israel-Palestine, and I spent a few weeks in Hebron this year working with the International Solidarity Movement. But Syria is a country I read about all the time and yet do not really know anything about (apart from the fact that the Syrian government chucks dissidents in jail for a long time, and your war against Israel in 1973).

That's pretty much it I think...

Do you know any good blogs, similar to your own, that are written by Iranians/Jordanians?

Thanks again! Keep those blogs coming, they are very interesting to read!! I can stop posting anonymously if you prefer?

Anon Londoner

Yes, I know exactly what the Foreign Affairs Select Committee has been saying! And Amnesty as well. Refugees are an easy problem to ignore. Your support for them is valuable, and gratefully received, I'm sure.

Ah, an ISMer. You are a very brave person.

Maybe you should visit Syria. I think you might be surprised. I have said again and again, that although the political prisoners are a scar on Syria, there are only about 20 left (I've linked to the source, if you want to search). There are about 600 members of the Al Qaeda linked Muslim Brotherhood.

True, it is 20 too many.

Compare that with Egypt, which has 40,000 at the last guess.

Ok, other blogs. Jordanian ones - my favourites are Roba's wonderful andfaraway.net and black-iris.com.

Iranian, I don't know.

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  • 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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