Cross-Cultural Understanding

Opinion Editorials, April 2008


Opinion Editorials


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Editorial Note: The following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may also include corrections of Arabic names and political terminology. Comments are in parentheses.

Erdogan Face-Saving Ploy: Israel Agrees to Withdraw from the Golan Heights

By Hassan El-Najjar, April 24, 2008

Comment on the news by Hassan El-Najjar

The following news is too good to be true.
However, it has several implications.
First, it is an attempt to distract Syria away from its allies: Iran, Hizbullah, and Hamas. It's a bone thrown to Syrians to be busy with for a while, in an attempt to divide them from their partners in resisting the Israeli hegemonic status in the Middle East.

Second, it is a face-saving device to control the damage and embarrassment of the Turkish government, whose space was used by Israeli warplanes to raid on the (below) Syrian target. Erdogan is given this opportunity in order to appear to the public as the caring neighbor and the honest broker of peace between Syria and Israel, after his government was shown by the Israeli action as no more than an Israeli puppet and collaborator.

Finally, history has demonstrated that the Israeli occupation government employs these ploys and tactics every now and then to buy time and maintain its occupation of the Arab territories as well as its hegemony over the oil-rich region.

The list of previous ploys, to only mention those employed during the Bush administration, includes zainni, mitchel, powel, rice  road map, camp david, quartet, annapolis, a palestinian state in 2008.

Turkish PM tells Syria Israel agreed to a full pullout from the Golan Heights

Wednesday April 23, 2008 21:22 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies

The Sham Press Syrian News Agency reported on Thursday that the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, informed Damascus that the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, agreed to withdraw from the occupied Golan Heights in return for peace with Syria. The decision caused uproar among several members of the so-called Israeli parliament.

Yet, Israeli analysts said that they doubt that Olmert will be capable to make such a statement and stand by it.

Olmert always conditioned peace talks with Syria with a Syrian halt of supporting Palestinian factions and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah party, but recently he started talking about readiness to hold talks with Syria which will eventually lead to fulfilling these demands, Israeli sources reported.

He stated that “Israel is interested in talks with Syria in order to lead Damascus away from the (the Bush administration label of) axis of evil”. (which demonstrates the Israeli control over the US government).

Meanwhile, Syrian president, Bashar Al-Asad,  said two days ago that “some friends of Syria are carrying efforts which would lead to the resumption of peace talks between Israel and Syria” but added that “Syria did not, and will not, hold any secret peace talks with Israel”.

He said that Syria will hold talks in front of the public and will always inform its people of the developments.

Asad also said that the criteria of the talks should be a commitment to implement all related Security Council resolutions.

The office of Olmert did not deny the report but stated that it cannot comment on the issue.

The statements of Olmert were slammed by several right wing members of the Knesset, including by members of his party

Member of Knesset Marina Solodkin from Kadima party, headed by Olmert, said that she rejects a withdrawal from the Golan Heights because “Syria cooperates with Iran and Hizbullah” and that at this stage “peace with Syria is collective suicide in Israel”.

Kamdima MK Ze’ev Elkin said that Olmert is underestimating the Israeli public and is voicing vows which he can’t implement “such as his statements to divide Jerusalem, and now he is talking about a withdrawal from the Golan Heights”.

“Soon it will be clearly apparent that Olmert will not receive Knesset approval regarding this issue”, Elkin added, “He would not be even supported by members of his own party”.

Effie Eitam of the Ichud Leumi – Mafdal party said that Olmert is compromising Israel’s Security and is willing to give away “security and national achievements which kept the northern borders with Syria safe for forty years”.

“I want to remind Olmert that the Israeli people will not allow anyone to give the Golan Heights back to Syria”.

LA Times: “CIA to submit a report to the congress confirming Israel shelled a Syrian Reactor”

Wednesday April 23, 2008 20:45 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies

The Los Angeles  Times reported on Thursday that officials of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) will inform the Congress that Syria and North Korea have secret relations, and that the construction which Israel bombed in Syria was slated to be used as a nuclear reactor.

The paper stated that CIA officials will tell members of Congress that North Korea is helping Syria in building a plutonium-based nuclear reactor.

A senior US official said that this issue would create new resistance to an American plan to ease restrictions on North Korea.

 Also, Los Angeles Times said that the CIA officials intend to inform Congress members that they believe that this reactor will enable Syria to produce plutonium which is used for nuclear weapons.

They added that Israel bombed the reactor and destroyed it before Syria was able to produce any weapons.

The officials were apparently referring to a construction which was bombed by Israeli war-jets last year.  The bombed building was still under construction.

The report unravels a gag order by Israel on the issue (which demonstrates the Israeli control over US government) as the United States complied with an Israel request not to report on the attack which was carried out nearly seven months ago.

So far, it’s not clear why the US Administration decided to reveal this information now after its rejected several request by Congress members over the last several months.

A spokesperson of the White House said that the US Administration always informs the Congress of issues related to National Security and Intelligence Affairs.

The official did not comment on the statement which is expected to be released regarding the Israeli attack.

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