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31 July 2006

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Frank Durkee

How does this relate to the rumours that the US is pushing Isreal to attack Syria?

b

Unless Israel offers the Golan Heights. Syria would probably take that deal, but I doubt the Israelis would ever make that offer.

billmon

"if these translations are correct, then the chance that existed for the US and Israel to make a deal with Syria is now gone."

Not necessarily, but it IS a reminder to the Anglo-Israeli axis that it WILL have to make a deal with Syria if it wants a multinational force in Southern Lebanon. But since Team Clueless has already made it clear it won't do that under any circumstances, the point is moot.

So now what?

W. Patrick Lang

jonst

As you probably know, a common device in negotiations is to lay down positions as hypothetical and argue them over on that basis.

In that way, if the thing fall through, you can claim that you never offered that. pl

jonst

Pl,

Did you see this article yet?
http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=N2RlNjNjZWNlOTQzNTVjMTRjMWY4MzRkMDQzYmY5ZjM=

A link to it was posted on Billmon’s site. And he highlighted the ‘money shot’.

“It was never possible to “win in Iraq” so long as we insisted on fighting in Iraq alone”

While later he offers contradictory language I think this gets to the heart of the matter. And to where the neo-cons are going to try and take us. And I suspect they will be successful.

It will be up to the military to stop them. Not in sense of refusing orders. But in the sense of institutional self preservation. The congress won’t. The media, mainstream anyway, won’t. The people? I have my doubts. So who? The entity that has the most to lose. In the short run anyway.

canuck

UN postpones meeting to plan new Lebanon force

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations on Monday indefinitely postponed a meeting called by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to begin planning a new peacekeeping force for Lebanon, setting back hopes for a quick end to the bloodshed.

http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=worldNews&storyID=2006-07-31T181342Z_01_N31281470_RTRUKOC_0_US-MIDEAST-UN-DIPLOMACY.xml>more at Reuters

Comment: Second thoughts from countries after UNIFIL bombed, and knowing Olmert is just using a multinational force as an excuse to not enter into a ceasefire. I highly doubt there are countries who are willing to deploy troops to what amounts to a suicide mission in the Middle East. Israel has no respect for UN or its forces and it stretches their credibility to the breaking point to imagine they have had an epiphany that would cause them to place trust in UN forces at this late date.

Stalemate--the ball is now back in Israel's and Rice's court. What is Plan C that would end the violence?

canuck

UN postpones meeting to plan new Lebanon force

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations on Monday indefinitely postponed a meeting called by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to begin planning a new peacekeeping force for Lebanon, setting back hopes for a quick end to the bloodshed.

http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=worldNews&storyID=2006-07-31T181342Z_01_N31281470_RTRUKOC_0_US-MIDEAST-UN-DIPLOMACY.xml>more at Reuters

Comment: Second thoughts from countries after UNIFIL bombed, and knowing Olmert is just using a multinational force as an excuse to not enter into a ceasefire. I highly doubt there are countries who are willing to deploy troops to what amounts to a suicide mission in the Middle East. Israel has no respect for UN or its forces and it stretches their credibility to the breaking point to imagine they have had an epiphany that would cause them to place trust in UN forces at this late date.

Stalemate--the ball is now back in Israel's and Rice's court. What is Plan C that would end the violence?

W. Patrick Lang

All

Israel DID offer a return of the GH in the straw man that was at the heart of the Barak period negotiations.

Billmon - I think that Syria would have a hard time backing away from this position taken in its official press. pl

jonst

Pl,

When you get a moment could you explain what you meant be "straw man"? Are you implying Barak not serious about this, the GH aspect of the deal. Or about all aspects of the deal?

Just curious. No strong feeling on my part one way or another. Don't have enough knowledge on the particular subject.

Dan O'Donnell

Like jonst, I'll put the following into the comment thread just because it may add to understanding the position of one of the principals and not because I have a position.

In a published interview with a western journalist on 14 June 2006 and in response to a question (paraphrase) "What would it take for the United States to negotiate with Syria?", President Al-Assad replied:

"The most important thing, our occupied land, Golan Heights. The United States should take into consideration that we see everything in Syria through our occupied land. Without talking about peace process, in order to get this land back, what the benefit of this relation?"

President Al-Assad followed that with another comment:

"I think after the 11th of September, which was a very tough lesson, not to the United States people, to everybody in this world, first of all, you should learn more about what's going on behind the ocean, all over the world. You should send more people, more delegations to meet with other cultures to discuss with them, to know the facts, not to be isolated away from the rest of the world.

The Syrian president also commented several times about Syria's attempts to cooperate with the US viz. al Qaeda and against terrorism immediately post-9/11. He said that eventually that broke down due to US' "mistakes". The Pres. seemed to emphasize this in the interview. I think Bill Arkin has commented on that as well.

Dan O'Donnell

What is the agenda of MEMRI that evokes the comment "yes I know"?

W. Patrick Lang

Dano

They are often accused of being a tool of the neocons but so far as I am concerned a translation is either accurate or it is not. the issue of their selection of texts I can deal with. pl

ckrantz

Why should syria give away something for nothing. Unless the israelis are prepaired to give away the golans and the US are prepared to give economic and security guarantees why do anything if your enemy is destroying himself?

It's certainly ironic that syria and hizbollahs hand have actually been strengthened but it says something about the people doing the strategic planning for this war.

The only possible solution would be a Madrid type of conference with all issues on the table and with all regional players. Of course that will not happen with the current administration. Much like the recommendations by Brent Scowcroft in sundays WaPo.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/28/AR2006072801571_pf.html

canuck

http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=sd&ID=SP122106#_edn4>More text of Syria’s resistance to a UN deployment

Hmm … Israel isn’t the only Middle East country that is suspicious of a UN multinational force. A MNF could end up being shot or bombed by more than one foe.

Regardless of whether there is or isn’t a MNF as part of the ceasefire, it's shaping up that the http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/rosnerBlog.jhtml?itemNo=743481&contrassID=25&subContrassID=0&sbSubContrassID=1&listSrc=Y&art=4#article743481>US increasingly will have to open talks with Syria. Israel didn’t deliver a victory and unless something changes soon, I expect the demands that will be on the table will include more of Nasrallah’s than Israel and the United States would have liked to include.

Colonel, please remove one of my double posts and please accept my apologies for making them.

zanzibar

The conflict continues. No cease-fire says Olmert. No international force say the Syrians stating that such a force will not be policing a two-way street and will only focus on the Lebanese side of the equation. No one really willing to pony up troops for such a force. No visit to Beirut for Condi without cease-fire say the Lebanese government. One month to stop uranium enrichment says the UNSC to Iran. Sistani warns of dire consequences if no Lebanese cease-fire. Dead and maimed civilians everywhere. And the world's only superpower fiddling while the ME burns!

zanzibar

"Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's political-security cabinet voted in the early hours of Tuesday morning to expand Israel's ground operation in south Lebanon.

Under the plan, and similar to last week's operation carried out in Bint Jbail, IDF forces will mount raids on villages that have served as Hezbollah bases. The plan was presented to Olmert during meetings held Saturday with Defense Minister Amir Peretz and defense establishment heads.

The cabinet voted nearly unanimously in favor of the plan, with none opposed and one abstention."

So is this Phase II or second try at "crushing" Hizballah with similar tactics? And will this version achieve more than the last version?

confusedponderer

A brief article on MEMRI from the (admittedly left) guardian. Still, it makes a point about the selection of articles at MEMRI.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/elsewhere/journalist/story/0,7792,773258,00.html

In brief, one of MEMRI's heads, Carmon, spent 22 years in Israeli military intelligence and later served as counter-terrorism adviser to two Israeli prime ministers, Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin. A high profile guy.

It's not unlikely that MEMRI is an outsourced influence shop to form opinion. The point is not that they translate wrongly, but, as PL hinted on, the selection of what they choose to translate.

It's declared mission is to provide 'timely translations of Arabic, Farsi, and Hebrew media'. AFAIK their translation are primarily Arab and Farsi to English.

So yes, MEMRI is interesting, but don't expect them to offer you a complete picture.

Mac Nayeri

Sistani has issued a statement on Qana -


M

Minnesotachuck

For what it's worth, Soldiers for the Truth, not exactly a knee-jerk lefty website, is flying a "Set General Quarters" banner at the top of their home page. It is based on Juan Cole's exegesis of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani's latest statement in which he threatens action in Iraq in support of Hezbollah in Lebanon.
www.sftt.org

The banner passes along two of Cole's reasons for concern: "(1) because up to now, Sistani has been supportive of the US efforts in Iraq, and (2) because Sistani's history is that he does not make idle threats." There was also a third that did not lend itself to a succinct bullet point, but may be far more compelling: "Sistani is taking such a hard line on this issue not only because he feels strongly about it (his fatwa against the Jenin operation of 2002 was vehement) but also because he is in danger of being outflanked by Muqtada al-Sadr. Sadr's Mahdi Army is said to be "boiling" over the Israeli war on Hizbullah, since after all the Sadrists are also fundamentalist Shiites and they identify with the Lebanese Hizbullah. There have already been big demonstrations in Baghdad against the Israeli attacks, to which Sadrists flocked but probably also other Shiites. . . Sistani cannot allow Muqtada to monopolize this issue, or the young cleric's legitimacy will grow among the angry Shiite masses at the expense of Sistani's."

John in LA

Interesting piece here on the limits of air power alone.

"...over-reliance on air power can make it impossible to achieve equally important political goals -- such as weaning the civilian population away from groups like Hezbollah.

"...The consequences of failing such a test, as at Qana, include a loss of support for Israel in the international community and the galvanizing of support inside Lebanon and throughout the region for Hezbollah..."

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/08/01/MNGDAK90EI1.DTL

confusedponderer

Let me correct myself on MEMRI: They have a clear allegiance, and they act on their own convictions - in synergy with presumable Israeli state interests. Thus, it is not to far fetched that MEMRI at times very willingly lends them a helping hand to get a partuicular message out.

b

Just for the record on the Qana bombing, aka Israels excuse "Hizbullah hiding behind civilians":

/quote/As the Israel Air Force continues to investigate the air strike, questions have been raised over military accounts of the incident.

It now appears that the military had no information on rockets launched from the site of the building, or the presence of Hezbollah men at the time.

The Israel Defense Forces had said after the deadly air-strike that many rockets had been launched from Qana. However, it changed its version on Monday.

The site was included in an IAF plan to strike at several buildings in proximity to a previous launching site. Similar strikes were carried out in the past. However, there were no rocket launches from Qana on the day of the strike./unquote/
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/745185.html

Some reports said 80 bomb raids hit Qana that day. Essentially Israel is clensing south Lebanon - destroy what ever is there.

b

On Syria and its position may I recommend Joshua Landis blog "SyriaComment.com". Landis is an assistant professor of Middle Eastern studies and has until recently lived in Syria.

His recent interview is very interesting, especially on why Hizbullah has (to have) arms.

http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/L/Joshua.M.Landis-1/syriablog/2006/07/what-role-can-syria-play-in-lebanon.htm

MarcLord

Hizbullah is a legitimate, elected political party now. When the IRA got official parliamentary representation in the form of Sinn Fein, it became possible, over time, to effectively negotiate with them. Unless Israel is prepared to kill every Shiite across the span of three countries, Hizbullah can't be extinguished. The cat is out of the parliamentary bag, and it must eventually be negotiated with on an official basis, whether Lebanon is partitioned or not.

Luckily, the Neocons control the Pentagon and the IDF. They're such a comfort in my dotage, they'll bring things 'round all right. I wonder, can a nuclear war be contained to just the Mideast?

wtofd

From Stratfor:
Gen. Dan Halutz, chief of staff of the IDF and architect of that air campaign, was hospitalized for the second time July 31, complaining of stomach pains. Should Halutz go out of commission, his deputy, Moshe Kaplinsky, will take command. Kaplinsky is drawn from army, having commanded the Golani Brigade, with long experience in Lebanon. This brings expertise on ground warfare to the top spot in the IDF, particularly in combined infantry-armored operations in Lebanon.

PL, if this change of command happens do you see it as a benefit to Israel?

Also, Stratfor offers this map to show how far back Hizballah must be pushed to keep Tel Aviv and Jerusalem safe. As you can see this line is to the north of Tripoli, almost into Syria. Is this possible? Is this extension of the IDF desirable?

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