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October 23, 2005



One of the many problems with Assad mirrors a problem with the Arab wold in general. Arab leaders in general, and Assad in particular, lack legitimacy.

Assad took over when his father dies. There is no sense of participation, either politically or economically, among most arab publics, and arab leaders have traditionally been selected and not elected.

This means that they are unable to make progressive deals with the West becaus they dont have the will of the people behind them. They cannot concede on things because the people havent given them the power to make concessions. This makes them totally risk averse when it comes to things like peace deals with Israel.


Great post, Mike. My only question is, how long do we wait for our encouragement of dissidents to work? And, why isn't the equivalent working in Iran?

I've been hearing for several years now that the Iranian regime is teetering. It's looking more powerful than ever, to me.

Anyway, I was wondering if you had seen the story about the UN report, and how it was submitted as a Word Document, with "Track Changes" enabled.



The "Track Changes" Scandal is so much worse than I thought:

Mr Annan had pledged repeatedly through his chief spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, that he would not change a word of the report by Detlev Mehlis, a German prosecutor. But computer tracking showed that the final edit began at about 11.38am on Thursday — a minute after Herr Mehlis began a meeting with Mr Annan to present his report. The names of Maher al-Assad, General Shawkat and the others were apparently removed at 11.55am, after the meeting ended.

At a press conference yesterday Herr Mehlis insisted that Mr Annan had not pressurised him into making changes. "No one outside of the report team influenced these changes and no changes whatsoever were suggested by the Secretary-General," he said.,,251-1837848,00.html


The UN never ceases to amaze. One really has to ask why this supposable independent organisation again and again seems to be working in the interests of the world’s most vile people. Was the oil for food scandal not enough? Now this! Truly shocking.

Yes I have also been hearing for years about regime change in Iran. I think the west has handled it badly. We haven’t been tough enough. Heard Condi Rice last night on BBC saying they are pursuing a diplomatic path with Iran. Jack Straw on the same program said military action is off the table. We are (to borrow cold war terminology) following a policy of containment. This is not the Bush doctrine. If Iran is part of the Axis of Evil and trying to acquire nuclear weapons, diplomacy in the face of this very real threat shows weakness. In addition the post war problem in Iraq also shows weakness. If you were a dissident would you stick out your neck at this time. The Iranian dissidents need to know that they have the military and diplomatic support of the West behind them. unfortunately this new European led policy of détente towards Iran demonstrates the opposite.

Regime change in Syria will be slow. Say 5-10 years. Without an internationally imposed solution like Iraq, it is going to be very difficult to control the process. Make no mistake the Assad’s have ruled Syria for many years and will ruthlessly cut down any opposition. Without American commitment to support the dissident financially and even militarily, we have no hope. While the fall of the Soviet Union seemed dramatic and sudden with the fall of the Wall, it was a process that took many years. Unfortunately we are going to have to be patient and strong to win this new ideological struggle.


Ok, I see what you mean now. Yes, it would take years, and it would require a tough and consistent policy. Yes, then it could happen.

The Bush Administration behavior regarding Iraq has baffled me. I had thought we would have taken action by now. A long-term policy of forcing regime change in Iran is not sufficient. The Iranian nuclear program will become nuclear weapons long before regime change happens. Iran can not be allowed to have nukes.

I live in America. I don't know if you know about the whole Harriet Miers debacle, but the conclusion I draw from the Iran policy coupled with the Harriet Miers situation is that Bush has decided that he is defeated. It is, seemingly, a pathetic time.

Maybe, Bush will surprise us. He has surprised me before.


I have been following the whole Harriet Miers affair. It truly is pathetic. I think that the bush administration up until this point has been revolutionary in their thinking. On both domestic and foreign policy I thought he was going to be another Reagan. But to appoint someone with no judicial experience to the highest court in the land because she is a personal friend and legal council is sad. It reeks to high hell of nepotism.

Although I am disappointed with the choice the response of conservative commentators has reaffirmed my belief in America democracy. It is truly remarkable that republican’s would openly criticise their own leader. I don’t know of many countries where there is that level of free speech and thought.

The softly softly approach with Iran is also worrying. You right maybe the Bush revolution has been defeated. The realists at the State Department have won out. If this is the case will just have to hope that next election a neo con republican is elected.


I'm pulling for Condi. She's amazing. Check this out:


Great story. didnt see it in the mainstream media. She is amazing. When I referred to the realists at the State department I meant the civil servants. Not Condi. I know she is on our team.

Brett Chatz

Strict-Islamic rule grips Somali capital Mogadishu

It has been almost fifteen years since the East-African state of Somalia last enjoyed an effective central government. The war-torn nation has been ‘ruled’ by an ineffectual interim government which was set up by the United Nations. The weakness of this makeshift government is highlighted by the fact that it is stationed in the Somali city of Baidoa and not the capital Mogadishu. In the year 2000 the interim National Assembly voted in the executive leadership, but the separatist regions of Somaliland and Puntland refused to recognize its legitimacy.

The real problem in Somalia though, lies with its warring factions. The ‘Horn-of-Africa’ state remains a nation divided; radical Muslim militia groups, headed by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, have been engaged in bloody violence with secular groups headed by Abdi Qaybdiid. These commando-style secular units are largely sponsored by the United States. The US has poured huge sums of money into rebel coffers in an attempt to oust the radical Islamists. At the heart of this ‘dirty-money’ policy is a strong desire to root out al-Qaida operatives and prevent further attacks on US interests abroad. Somali Islamist groups have been accused of providing a safe-haven to several terrorists on America’s most-wanted list.

Since the radical Islamists captured the Somali capital Mogadishu on June 5th 2006, it appears that a crippling political blow has been dealt against the Americans. The raging gun battles between the Islamic militia and the secular warlords have cost hundreds of lives, with casualties still being reported. The recent surrender of Qaybdiid’s forces however brings relative calm to the streets of Mogadishu and southern Somalia. The Islamists’ bloody campaign continues however, as they are intent on bringing the Interim Somali Government to its knees.

Somalia’s sworn enemy – Ethiopia, has been accused by the Islamic contingent of supporting the Interim Government and funding initiatives against them. The majority of Somalia is comprised of Sunni Muslims and a recent announcement by Sheikh Hassan that strict Islamic law (Shari’ah Law) be imposed on Mogadishu has been met with mixed reaction. Television censorship; restrictive media broadcasting and strict punitive measures for transgressions have now been implemented.

The loss of life is appalling. Countless accounts of victims of brutal terror-attacks and senseless massacres abound. Warlords and sectarian groups alike are responsible for the misery and neglect of their own people. Famine and impoverishment have accelerated their suffering. Only widespread humanitarian initiatives can address this dire situation, but the time to act is nigh!

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