Syria

Shaking Hands With the Man Who Killed Your Father
December 21, 2009

Geopolitical realities force Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to visit Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, who probably orchestrated a massive car bomb that killed Hariri's father in 2005. The recent rise in Syrian influence would be less galling were Assad doing anything visible to advance the Middle East peace process--one common view holds that untangling the Syrian-Israeli border could be a crucial first step towards a broader paece--as this Sy Hersh opus suggested might happen.

Derisionist History
November 28, 2009

Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations By Avi Shlaim (Verso, 392 pp., $34.95) Avi Shlaim burst upon the scene of Middle Eastern history in 1988, with the publication of Collusion Across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement, and the Partition of Palestine. Before that, as a young lecturer at Reading University in England, he had produced two books, British Foreign Secretaries Since 1945 (1977) and The United States and the Berlin Blockade, 1948–1949 (1983), and several revealing essays on modern Middle Eastern historical issues in academic journals.

Listen Up
September 11, 2009

One remarkable thing about watching the Middle East is how what’s celebrated as brilliant in Europe or America is errant nonsense. Writing such stuff makes people successful and gives them an audience of millions.

Narrative Dissonance
July 01, 2009

What Obama's Cairo speech got wrong.

The Year of the Elephant
May 20, 2009

“YES, SOMETIMES I GO into the room with my advisers and I start shouting. And then they say, ‘And then what?’” The question hangs in the perfectly cooled air in Sa’ad Hariri’s marble-floored sitting room, where Beirut appears as a sunlit abstraction visible at a distance through thick windows. Hariri’s father, the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, martyr of the Cedar Revolution, arches his black eyebrows from a giant poster near the sofa, looking out at his son with a sidelong, mischievous glance. “It hasn’t been a joyful trip,” Sa’ad Hariri is saying.

Lights On
March 04, 2009

Baghdad, Iraq In December 2007, the Alpha Company of the 4-64 Armor Battalion of the Fourth Brigade, Third Infantry Division, arrived in the neighborhood of Saidiyah in southwest Baghdad. More than half of the onceupscale, religiously mixed neighborhood's 60,000 residents had fled to Jordan, Syria, or other parts of Iraq. Those who stayed rarely ventured out of their homes. Up until a few months earlier, human corpses had littered the street, where stray dogs feasted on them.

Diversion Tactic
May 28, 2008

JERUSALEM--At first glance, Ehud Olmert and Bashar al-Assad have nothing in common. The first is a slick, media-savvy politico, while the second is an awkward, anti-charismatic, unloved and unlovable dictator. But Israel's prime minister and Syria's ruler have both concluded that the best way to beat the rap, respectively, on corruption and murder charges is to make peace with one another. That, at least, is the impression of many Israelis, prominent commentators among them, in light of last week's revelation of indirect talks between Syrian and Israeli negotiators in Turkey.

The TNR Primary: Part Twelve
January 25, 2008

I spent last May with a group of writers touring Arab universities, meeting with students in Syria, Jordan, and Palestine. Whenever we were able to speak informally, politics--specifically, American politics--came up again and again. At times, the anxiety among the students we met was overwhelming. They wanted to know why we had gone to Iraq, why we had reelected Bush, why we had squandered our opportunity to lead. Which brings me to this year's presidential contest. I've never voted with much enthusiasm, and, certainly, this year feels different.

A Circus Or A Conclave?
September 30, 2007

An article in Monday's Ha'aretz reports that there will be 36 countries in attendance at the Annapolis Israeli/Palestinian peace conference planned for next month. If anything close to that number participates it will be more a circus than a conclave. The fact is that the only nation outside the Middle East that has real cards to play is the United States. And real cards means influence with Israel. OK, by extension, you might also have France, Britain, Turkey and a few others just for historical reasons.

"sisterly Countries?"
and
June 13, 2007

"Sisterly countries," a pig's ass. Even the UN envoy for Middle Eastern matters, Terje Roed-Larsen, is disturbed by the continuing transfer of weapons and armed men across the border from Syria into Lebanon. Their destination is known: Hezbollah which is, of course, allied with Damascus which in turn is kept alive by Tehran. Not a holy trinity.

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