Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Syria in Bush's cross hairs

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • #16
    No 'regime change'


    DAMASCUS - Syria's ruling National Progressive Front romped to victory Thursday in parliamentary elections in which the only challenge came from independents.

    The front, which is dominated by the Baath party of President Bashar al-Assad, took all 172 seats that it contested - five more than the 167 reserved for it under the constitution, according to official results announced by Interior Minister Bassam Abdel Majid.

    The other 78 seats up for grabs in the weekend's two-day elections went to independents amid a boycott by the only tolerated opposition bloc.

    The front has won every election since its formation in 1973. The Baath party has ruled Syria under a state of emergency ever since it seized power in 1963.

    In the outgoing parliament, the front held only its minimum reserved quota of 167 seats.

    On the twin election days Sunday and Monday, AFP correspondents saw only small numbers of voters in the polling stations they visited in the capital.

    But Abdel Majid said turnout reached 56.12 percent of registered voters.

    He said that of the nearly 12 million Syrians of voting age, a little over 7.4 million had registered and nearly 4.16 million turned out.

    "The elections are democratic and transparent - the high turnout proves it."

    The minister rejected strong US criticism of the poll.

    "Everything we do in Syria will draw US criticism because of our opposition to the occupation of Iraq," he said. "Nothing coming out of Syria is going to satisfy the United States."

    The White House on Tuesday branded the elections "a meaningless exercise" marred by unfair laws and intimidation tactics by the authorities.

    "On April 22 and 23, President Assad failed again to deliver on his long-promised reforms, rendering Syria's parliamentary elections a meaningless exercise," spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

    Abdel Majid said the new People's Assembly included 180 new members and 30 women.

    Prime Minister Naji Otri won re-election in the second city of Aleppo.

    In the capital, leading businessman Mohammed Hamcho won election as did moderate Islamist Mohammed Habash.

    The parliamentary elections were the second since Assad succeeded his late father Hafez in July 2000.

    Comment


    • #17
      Originally posted by Al-khiyal View Post
      "On April 22 and 23, President Assad failed again to deliver on his long-promised reforms, rendering Syria's parliamentary elections a meaningless exercise," spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
      Who the hell is she to say that?! When her own president broke every single promise he made...

      Comment


      • #18
        It doesn't really matter who said it, does it? Unless you're going to claim that she's just flat wrong/lying, and that Syria is actually a democracy?



        V

        Comment


        • #19
          I'm sorry to say this... but there's no such thing as democracy... it seems that the only people who get to rule a country are the dishonest ones -- and there's no hope in any fairness when your ruler is a liar and cheat.

          and it does matter... cuz b4 pointing at other countries, they should fix THEIRS...

          Comment


          • #20
            With all respect BB, that's neither true, nor an answer.

            Just because the person stating that Syria is a dictatorship happens to be a part of the Bush administration, doesn't mean that Syria isn't a dictatorship. Secondly, just because there are problems in one country, it obviously doesn't mean that people from that country can't comment on other ones. Think about it - what would be the point of boards like this if that were the case? For example Al-Khiyal is Iraqi; if your statement were correct he'd never be able to express an opinion about anywhere else at all. I'm British, so neither would I. You're Syrian-American, so neither would you. Unless in fact we have members from Liechtenstein or Monaco, I very much doubt that anyone would be allowed to comment about anything "until their own problems are sorted out".



            V

            Comment


            • #21
              Originally posted by voltaire View Post
              With all respect BB, that's neither true, nor an answer.

              Just because the person stating that Syria is a dictatorship happens to be a part of the Bush administration, doesn't mean that Syria isn't a dictatorship. Secondly, just because there are problems in one country, it obviously doesn't mean that people from that country can't comment on other ones. Think about it - what would be the point of boards like this if that were the case? For example Al-Khiyal is Iraqi; if your statement were correct he'd never be able to express an opinion about anywhere else at all. I'm British, so neither would I. You're Syrian-American, so neither would you. Unless in fact we have members from Liechtenstein or Monaco, I very much doubt that anyone would be allowed to comment about anything "until their own problems are sorted out".



              V
              I got ahead of myself... in *normal* cases ... you're right... but from the current trends, whenever america starts scrutinizing a certain government - it means it's planning to screw it (or have someone else screw it - as u said from b4). I mean that america should fix itself b4 it seeks to fixs another country. Critisism is fine... but in this case it isn't being given for the benefit of the country..............................

              Comment


              • #22
                DAMASCUS: Looking more confident than ever but no less defiant, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria said Thursday that efforts to make peace with Israel had faltered because Israel was too weak to make a deal. He dismissed rumors of secret negotiations between the two countries, while declaring that the Bush administration's policy of isolating his government had ended in failure.

                "There is no progress in the peace process and no contacts with Israel over the issue, neither in secret or overtly, because Israel is not ready for a just and comprehensive peace," Assad told Syria's newly elected Parliament as he opened a new session of the legislature Thursday morning.

                Peace efforts have faltered, he said, because a peace agreement would require "strong leadership that could make decisive decisions," apparently an allusion to the political crisis besieging Israel's prime minister, Ehud Olmert, after the release last week of a report criticizing his handling of Israel's war with Hezbollah last summer.

                The broadcast speech on Thursday was Assad's first public appearance since a groundbreaking meeting between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Syria's foreign minister, Walid al Moallem, on the sidelines of an Iraq conference last week. The meeting marked the highest-level contact between the two countries in more than two years. In the days since then, Syrian officials have sought to paint the 30-minute exchange as a victory for the Syrian regime.

                Assad, who appeared relaxed and confident, stopped short of declaring victory but proudly declared that the Bush administration's attempt to isolate Syria had "seen nothing but failure."

                "Whoever wants to isolate Syria is in fact isolating himself from the region's issues, because Syria has a rightful role," he said.

                The Bush administration, which alleges that Syria is a state sponsor of terrorism, on Wednesday extended sanctions on Syria for another year, citing its support of militant groups like the Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah.

                Israel and Syria have in recent months extended hesitant overtures for peace through intermediaries, including the U.S. speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, but they have also placed preconditions that have detracted from such overtures. Israel insists that Syria must end support for militant groups like Hamas and Hezbollah before any negotiations can take place.

                As if to emphasize his confidence, Assad also declared that his country would not recognize a United Nations-backed tribunal on the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri if Syrian officials were indicted. A UN investigation has implicated Lebanese and Syrian security officials in the 2005 assassination of Hariri in Beirut.

                Efforts to establish the tribunal, however, have slowed dramatically as a political crisis has left the Lebanese government at a virtual standstill for six months, while international support appears to have waned.

                In a different indication of the Syrian regime's newfound confidence, meanwhile, a Syrian court on Thursday sentenced the prominent Syrian dissident Kamal Labwani to 12 years in prison, in the harshest sentence imposed on an opposition activist since Assad came took power in 2000.

                Labwani, who was arrested in November 2005 after meeting with White House officials on a tour of the United States and Europe, was convicted of having contact with a foreign state "to encourage it to attack Syria."

                Comment


                • #23
                  The Bush administration, which alleges that Syria is a state sponsor of terrorism...
                  ...state sponsor of terrorism:

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    WASHINGTON, May 26, 2007: The Bush administration has dismantled a special committee that was established last year to coordinate aggressive actions against Iran and Syria, according to State Department officials.

                    The committee, the Iran-Syria Policy and Operations Group, met weekly throughout much of 2006 to coordinate actions such as curtailing Iran's access to credit and banking institutions, organizing the sale of military equipment to Iran's neighbors and supporting forces that oppose the two regimes.

                    State Department and White House officials said the dissolution of the group was simply a bureaucratic reorganization, but many analysts saw it as evidence of a softening in the U.S. strategy toward the two countries. It comes as the Bush administration has embarked on a significant new effort to hold high-level meetings with Iran and Syria.

                    The group had become the focus for administration critics who feared that it was plotting covert actions that could escalate into a military conflict with Iran or Syria. The air of secrecy surrounding the group when it was established in March 2006, coupled with the fact that it was modeled after a similar special committee on Iraq, contributed to those suspicions.

                    A senior State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press, said the group was shut down because of a widespread public perception that it was designed to enact regime change. State Department officials have said the focus of the Iran-Syria group was persuading the two regimes to change their behavior, not toppling them.

                    Nicholas Burns, the State Department's under secretary for political affairs, revealed in a written statement to a senator in the past week that the group was disbanded in March in "favor of a more standard process" of coordinating between the White House, the State Department, Defense Department and intelligence agencies. Burns's statement came in a written response to questions submitted by Senator Robert Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat.

                    Shortly before the Iran-Syria group was shut down, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice launched a major initiative to engage Iran and Syria in a regional effort to stabilize Iraq, reversing longstanding U.S. policy against high-level contact with the countries.

                    For years, the Bush administration has shunned meetings with Syria. The administration cited concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions and accused both nations of supporting militants in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. Diplomatic ties between the United States and Iran were cut off following the 1979 Iranian revolution.

                    But Rice met this month with Syria's foreign minister in Egypt, the first such high-level meeting between the two countries since 2004, and on Monday, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, is scheduled to meet his Iranian counterpart in Baghdad.

                    Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East specialist at the Congressional Research Service, the research arm of the U.S. Congress, said he did not think it was a coincidence that the Iran-Syria group was disbanded at the same time the State Department began its diplomatic outreach.

                    "I think the rationale for that group was promoting regime change, and Rice is going in a much different direction from that," Katzman said. "The regime-change school within the administration has really gotten quite a bit weaker."

                    Trita Parsi, an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University who also heads the National Iranian American Council, said he also sees the dismantling of the Iran-Syria group as evidence of a change in Washington's stance toward Iran and Syria. But he said that it is too early to tell how significantly U.S. policy has shifted.

                    "At this stage, these are just initial steps towards diplomacy," Parsi said. "I think we have entered a stage in which the people who were favoring regime change are not strong enough to conduct policy but they are still strong enough to undermine policy. It is too early to count them out entirely."

                    Despite the group's dismantlement and the new diplomacy, aggressive actions against Iran and Syria are widely expected to continue. ABC News reported in the past week that President George W. Bush had given the CIA permission to try to destabilize Iran's government with a "coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions." According to ABC News, the covert action was championed by Elliot Abrams, the deputy national security adviser, who was a co-chairman of the Iran-Syria group.

                    Burns, who oversees the State Department's Iran policies, wrote in the May/June issue of The Boston Review that both threats and rewards are needed in dealing with Iran.

                    He heralded tough actions, including what he called a "whisper campaign" that has caused a string of banks and countries to cut off financial dealings with Iran.

                    Burns also championed recent U.S. military maneuvers in the Gulf as putting increased pressure on Iran. Another major war-games exercise by the U.S. Navy began Thursday.

                    Burns said it was important to show Iranians that the Gulf, crucial for shipping oil to the world, was "not an Iranian lake."

                    But in the same article, Burns also urged Americans to prepare for the eventual resumption of diplomatic relations with Iran, which he described as inevitable.

                    In a statement rarely made by U.S. diplomats, Burns wrote that "there is going to come a point - we hope in our lifetimes - when we are talking to Iran again."

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      that's good news... phew

                      Comment

                      Unconfigured Ad Widget

                      Collapse
                      Working...
                      X