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Posts Tagged ‘Lebanon

So Difficult: “Independent Info from Syria”

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Clock Tower

All the atrocities are coordinated and conducted from this clock tower. Of course, that's just my assertion (I thought it up), it may not be the clock tower's fault at all, and anyway, I have nothing to back the allegation up, but it sounds good, doesn't it? Besides, a number of people was hanged there by the regime, in 2007.

It is still extremely difficult to obtain independent information from Syria”,writes ARTE, a Franco-German television station. “Now, for the first time”, a journalist, Sofia Amara, succeeded in shooting pictures with a hidden camera, in Syria. Her project was supported by the oppositional “Syrian National Council”.

Yes, it must be extremely difficult to obtain independent information. In June this year, Jürgen Todenhöfer, a German politician, travelled Syria. A video journalist accompanied him and took pictures, too. Not as spectacular – but then, Todenhöfer didn’t need the “Syrian National Council’s” support – and that makes his report much more trustworthy than the one ARTE is mongering, on television, and online.

How did she verify the atrocities reported? How can she tell who commited them? At least on the video shown, ARTE didn’t ask her such questions. A German newscast (ZDF, simply took this into its evening news on October 14, and asked no questions either.

Sure – the Assad regime has failed. How to do business with Syria in the future – or how not to do business with Syria any more – is a legitimate question. Military action should be discussed as an option, too.

But for this kind of journalism, I prefer reading a big German tabloid.

For some more quality, see this interview, conducted by NPR (yes, ARTE, that’s an AMERICAN station).

Written by taide

October 15, 2011 at 8:41 am

From Tehran, for a Clearer Picture

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Iran has supplied sophisticated radar to Syria that can monitor Israeli air force sorties and threaten its ability to attack Iranian nuclear targets by surprise, Reuters quotes the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ quotes – unnamed by Reuters – Israeli and US officials.

A spokesman for the Syrian embassy in WashingtonAhmed Salkini, denounced the allegation as “classic Israeli PR stunts aimed at diverting the world’s attention from the atrocities they are committing in Gaza and other occupied territories”.

The tech transfer was reportedly carried out about a year ago. In 2007, Israeli fighter jets bombed a Syrian site that the Israelis said housed a nuclear reactor in the final stages of construction. The BBC points out that there has been a UN ban on Iran since 2007 to sell or supply weapons to other countries.

Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad travelled Venezuela, Cuba, Brazil, and Argentina last week. MercoPress (Montevideo) writes that Syrian communities are very strong and economically influential in Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina, advocating the establishment of “a new and more just international order” by including Brazil in the U.N. Security Council.

On June 29, Radio Damascus, in a commentary, noted that

The countries currently visited by president al-Assad – Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, and Cuba – all adopt stands that support the just Arab cause. At the same time, their stands confront the policies of hegemony, war, and terrorism in the whole world. Those states have suffered a lot from the American policies and interference in the affairs of states and peoples. The previous American administrations supported dictatorial regimes, and supported them against their peoples.

Now, Damascus apparently believes, it is time for America to support Syria’s dictatorial regime. And no more distractions, please.

Written by taide

July 1, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Syria: Visitors Welcome, but “Sick of Processes”

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France’s foreign minister Bernard Kouchner visited Syria on July 11 and 12, as he announced in advance, within the framework of the extremely constructive dynamics that characterize the new relationship with Syria. The United States are about to restore full diplomatic relations with Syria, after semi-suspending them following the assasination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri. Kouchner received assurances from Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad that Syria would not meddle in the formation of the Lebanese government (that’s how Al-Shorfa, a website sponsored by USCENTCOM puts it, let’s assume that al-Assad and Kouchner used more diplomatic expressions). Their discussions also included an adoption of a comprehensive peace plan between Palestine and Israel, but France’s plans in this regard received rather offish treatment in a meeting between British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband and Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem. “They’re pretty sick of processes”, suggested Miliband. Mouallem and his country are now looking forward to a visit by U.S. special Middle East envoy George Mitchell as “the first step of dialogue.” President Obama‘s envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, will be in Damascus on Sunday to meet president al Assad, ahead of meetings in Israel with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The American government may be sick of processes too. “If the Syrians or anyone else can persuade [Hamas] to take a positive path forward, well, clearly, I think the Palestinian Authority and others would welcome that”, secretary of state Hilary Clinton reportedly said.

France isn’t at the centre of the process. That may hurt. Then again, maybe it could also be an opportunity. An NGO would like to remind the French foreign minister that there are issues besides Palestine, the Golan Heights, Hamas, Hezbollah, and Lebanon. Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) points out that five cyber-dissidents are still in prison, among them Habib Saleh and Firas Saad. A Palestinian journalist and expert on Israeli affairs, Helmi Musa, was arrested in Damascus  on July 5 for unknown reasons.  The Syrian Press Law of 2001 prevents any liberalisation, criticizes RSF. Only the prime minister may authorise work permits for journalists, and the press law provides many reasons for arresting journalists, such as damaging the the reputation or dignity of the state, national unity, or the morale of the army.

Aleppo, satellite dishes: You can watch, but You better not Blog

Aleppo, satellite dishes: You can Watch, but You better not Blog

More than enough for Bernard Kouchner to take care of, while Washington and London are doing the sweet-talk. Someone has to be the bad guy after all.

Then again, if he gets the impression that talking with Damascus about Lebanon is more than just a process, maybe he will prefer to  stay nice.

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Related: Is Sarko just “showy”? – July 13, 2008

Written by taide

July 25, 2009 at 4:08 pm

The Damascus Declaration on trial

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Big Brother, Smiling at You

Big Brother, Smiling at You

When Bashar al-Assad took over the presidency of Syria, the country was under pressure. America was preparing the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration looked pretty omni-potent, and Syria was one of the points made for justifying “regime change” in Iraq.
 
But the Syrian authorities can hardly claim that they are still facing serious threats from abroad.
 
Nevertheless, several Syrian dissidents are facing trial. They are accused of establishing or joining the “Damascus Declaration Group”, founded by a group of Syrian and Lebanese intellectuals and activists in 2005, calling for improved relations between the two countries.
 
 
Some more Syrians who are willing to establish a fair dialogue with Lebanon – contacts between equals, not between a would-be imperialist “Arab Republic” and a candidate for colonisation – could only help both countries. But that’s apparently not what Damascus has in mind.
 
The “Damascus Declaration Group” is accused of being a “secret group”.
The sad background is that a Syrian organisation that advocates constructive relations with its in many ways closest neighbour can only be “secret”.

And the trial against a number of Syrians who advocate some respect for their Lebanese neighbours suggests that these relations, contrary to what Lebanon’s president Suleiman claimed them to be, are anything but “normal”.

Written by taide

August 1, 2008 at 6:50 am

Posted in diplomacy, Syria, USA

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Is Sarko just “showy”?

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venue for a future Mediterranean conference?

Aleppo Citadel throne hall: venue for a future Mediterranean conference?

He is our president. So-to-speak. France is chairing the EU until the end of the year, and Nicolas Sarkozy is the French president. The BBC’s diplomatic correspondent in Jerusalem is weighing the pros and cons of the Union for the Mediterranean project and prefers not to make up his mind. “President Sarkozy wants to add France’s weight as a facilitator [in the Middle East]. But in the end it may amount to little.”  

Compared to what any US president Bush’s successor may be able to achieve. Sure. But if Lebanon and Syria really exchanged embassies, that would be a big and helpful step for Syria towards the real world.

Then again, it is going to be a long way, even if the two countries do advance diplomatically. Lebanon’s president Suleiman asked press people not to refer to the dialogue between his country and Syria as “normalising ties”. Their relations were “completely normal”.

Makes me wonder if he considers them “normal” because he sees no Syrian involvement in the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, or because Lebanon’s former prime minister is dead anyway.

Written by taide

July 13, 2008 at 7:24 pm