Simple Facebook question raises problems around the world

Quoted in CNN

Facebook recently changed its listing for the Golan Heights — which Israel captured from Syria in 1967 — so users there could choose to say whether they live in Israel or Syria.

It was responding to pressure from a pro-Israel group called HonestReporting — and from Facebook users who set up a group on the site itself called “Facebook, Golan Residents Live in Israel, not Syria.” Continue reading

Should The United States Engage Syria? A Saban Center Policy Forum Debate

The Saban Center for Middle East Policy hosted a debate on October 23, 2006 between Joshua Landis, assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma, and Ammar Abdulhamid, a Saban Center Nonresident Fellow, on whether the United States should engage with Syria. Martin S. Indyk, Director of the Saban Center, formerly Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs and twice U.S. Ambassador to Israel, and Tamara Cofman Wittes, Saban Center Research Fellow and Director of the Arab Democracy and Development Program, chaired the event. Continue reading

The Opening of the Golan!

Slowly but surely, the conflict in Lebanon is beginning to spread as all sides fall victims to their rhetoric, their pride, their ambitions and their schemes. The latest chapter in this is not the meaningless operation that took place in the occupied Golan Heights a few days ago itself, but the fact that the party that tookcreditfor it, the previously unknown Free Homeland Party, claims to be an independent Syrian organization acting against the government will. Continue reading

Betting on the Assads

Can the Assads still deliver any goods in Lebanon? Can they help reign in Hezbollah? Can they really afford to turn against it, to betray it, and Iran, at this stage seeing that they played a very active role in all but canonizing Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasarllah, and Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Will there be no consequences to suffer on their behalf should they switch off the nationalist rhetoric and begin sounding a more US-friendly tone having taken such an active part in whipping up anti-US sentiments in their country and across the region in the first place? Can they afford to join the ranks of those Arab regimes, deemed cowardly and traitorous by the Arab Street, especially the Syrian Street, at a time when their sole claim to legitimacy in the country seems to rest on the adhering to certain “national constants” that will make settling for anything less than the Perfect Deal akin to suicide? Continue reading

A Tale of Mayhem Foretold!

To all those who thought I am raving mad when I told them that the adventurist streak of the Assads runs so deep inside of them that we will be hard pressed to distinguish it from a serious death-wish, I say: do you believe me now? You still don’t? Well say hello to the Popular Committee for the Liberation of the Golan, an organization whose official presence has just beenannouncedand whose founders, made up of lawyers, activists and former MPs of Golanese descent, describe it as “political military organization” that will deploy “whatever means necessary” to get back the Golan. Continue reading

The Leering Lions of Syria!

I hear the speeches commemorating Independence Day in Syria were filled with references to the Golan Heights, with some even advocating jihad as the only remaining alternative to get them back. Well, well, well. The Assad Clan seems well on their way to losing the only real international backer they have in the world – Israel.

Yes, it is not secret by now that Israel wants the Assad regime to stay in power: it is too weak to be a threat and strong enough (they think) to prevent the country from imploding into another sectarian mess. But if this regime is going to contemplate opening the Golan Heights for infiltration by Islamist terrorists, well then this regime has just outlived its usefulness. Continue reading