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Tuesday, November 27, 2007 

The Economist finally loses it

Right, As'ad, explain this*

Wassim first pointed it out, and I had to check the actual magazine cover in the shop. I couldn't believe that the Economist would go this far over the top. It is the most absurd cover I have ever seen. I really believed it was a spoof.

It must be the most blogged Economist cover in history. My favourite analysis is by Ahmed in Jordan - and he rarely even blogs about politics:

"It’s almost unbelievable. Here we are seven years later. Palestine in in shambles. Arafat is gone. Sharon is semi-dead. The Wall. Israel’s fortress mentality. Iraq drowning. Lebanon divided. A whole generation of Palestinians lost to violence and no hope."

(*The Angry Arab says he is a fan of The Economist - but he distances himself from its editorial, so maybe my top line isn't reallllllly fair!).

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Syria's quest to regain Golan takes new shape
Tue Nov 27, 2007 7:39am EST Email | Print | Share| Reprints | Single Page | Recommend (0) [-] Text [+]

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GOLAN FRONTLINE, Syria (Reuters) - Under the gaze of an Israeli tank, Syrian bulldozers slice through rocky terrain to build roads just inside a ceasefire line separating the occupied Golan Heights from the rest of Syria.

Apartment blocks will follow for thousands of refugees on land facing their hilltop village of Adnanieh, which was lost to Israel in battle 40 years ago along with the rest of the Golan, a fertile plateau south of Damascus.

More than 1,000 flats for refugees from Adnanieh are planned, and infrastructure is being laid out for housing schemes facing other occupied villages, government engineer Hilal al-Ghaeb told Reuters.

"These projects are a message to Israel. The refugees will no longer be scattered in slums and camps all around Syria. Soon they will live here and stare right at their Israeli occupiers," Ghaeb said.

The Golan is at the focus of Syria's participation in the U.S. sponsored peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland, which starts on Tuesday.

President Bashar al-Assad agreed to send a delegation only after receiving a modified copy of the agenda with a session on restarting Syrian-Israeli peace talks, which collapsed in 2000 over the Golan.

Pro-U.S. Arab governments have put pressure on Damascus to join them at Annapolis. But Syrian officials had made it clear they expect the conference to make little progress toward resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Hafez al-Assad, Syria's late president, refused an Israeli offer seven years ago to withdraw from most of the Golan without giving Syria control of the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.

The elder Assad told then U.S. President Bill Clinton that he used to swim in the lake before Israel occupied the Golan. Bashar has stuck by the landmark laid by his father -- full Israeli withdrawal in return for peace.

"A peace deal is only possible if we regain our full rights and not sell out," Assad told a Tunisian newspaper last month. "They (Israel) have heard this in the 1990s and they will hear it now -- complete rights and sovereignty on this land and nothing less."


After decades of neglect, Syria is pouring money into services in frontline Golan territory to draw back residents -- and help raise the profile of an issue it wants back on the international agenda.

A theatre hall is being built further east from the ceasefire line. Workers occasionally run into mines or unexploded missiles, and United Nations peacekeepers are called to dismantle them.

The government has also launched a media campaign to highlight the Golan's richness in water and wildlife, and the fact that thousands of Syrians under occupation have refused Israeli citizenship.

This coincided with a renewed Syrian diplomatic push to regain the plateau, following international pressure that forced the Baathist government to withdraw Syrian forces from Lebanon in 2005 after a 29-year presence.

Among Golan refugees, who number 600,000, counting their descendants, Annapolis meant little.

"Israel is feeling very comfortable with U.S. support higher than ever and the Arabs in shambles. I look daily across this line and see Israeli settlers cultivating more of our land," Hassan Ibrahim said.

An Israeli warplane flies overhead and a tractor driven by an Israeli settler ploughs the fertile land.

Syria launched a war in 1973 that failed to regain the Golan but it won back small parts of the plateau a year later according to a ceasefire agreement that has held firmly since.

The deal gave the Golan's capital Qunaitera back to Syria, but only after Israeli forces blew up the city's houses and buildings. Today Qunaitera remains in rubble as evidence of what Hafez al-Assad called "Israeli barbarity".

Officials said there was no active plan to rebuild the city.

© Reuters2007All rights reserved

Yeah, The Economist, I'm with As'ad: great magazine, crappy editorial lines. It's like they think they're somehow more sophisticated because they embrace right-wing policy positions from time to time. Somebody needs to teach them the one bit of wisdom GWB has: "stupid is is stupid does"

I got my copy of the Economist in the mail today and did a double take on seeing the cover. But one has to read the editorial before passing judgement. The editorial clearly predicates GW's title as "Mr. Palestine" on him making a substantive speech (yeah right!)and coming out with bold a and visionary agenda to jumpstart the peace process in Annapolis today.

He obviously failed miserably. It was wishful thinking on the part of the Economist's editorial board.

Very interesting Abu Kareem!

I could understand the title 'Mr Palestine' if GW had shown a willingness to really push for a Palestinian state. But he has explicitly done the exact opposite. And that's why the title 'Mr Palestine' just looks so so wrong!

If it was an editorial gamble on the part of the Economist, they got it spectacularly wrong. Was there anyone in the world, except for the Econ, who thought Bush might suddenly change course and have an Annapolis revelation?!

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