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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Syrian Culture Minister Optimistic Israel Will Come to an End in 10 Years

Courtesy of MEMRI

Following are excerpts from an interview with Syrian Culture Minister Riyad Na'san Al-Agha, which aired on Al-Hiwar TV on April 19, 2008.

To view this clip on MEMRI TV, please visit Syrian Culture Minister Optimistic Israel Will Come to an End in 10 Years .

"[Jailing] is a Security Matter, And There Are People Whose Job It Is to Deal With It"

Riyad Na'san Al-Agha: "In my capacity as minister, I can say that people sometimes fail to understand the motives of the opposition. There are some oppositionists whom the security agencies suspect of having clandestine ties with embassies or other elements. They suspect that these people commit certain acts, the significance of which I have no way of determining. The security agencies, which are privy to information I don't have, can determine this. I have no way of knowing.

"For example, I asked once why a certain person was jailed, and I was told that he had met with all sorts of peoples, and so on. I have no way of knowing if this is true. It's not my job to know. This is a security matter, and there are people whose job it is to deal with it.


"For example, some writers are currently facing trial in Syria. Some of them are friends of mine, whom I have known for many years – members of the opposition with whom I have debated one TV. I can even divulge to you that many years ago, I spoke with President Hafez Al-Assad on behalf of some of them. They were not in jail back then. I suggested them for senior posts in the civil service, but then, I was surprised to hear them present certain views, which caused me great embarrassment."

Interviewer: "As an intellectual, are you ready to accept that intellectuals are placed on trial?"
"I Accept The Placing On Trial Of Whoever Curses The Resistance [Hizbullah]... [And Of] Anyone Who Wants To Shatter National Unity"

Riyad Na'san Al-Agha: "Of course. I accept the placing on trial of whoever curses the resistance [Hizbullah]. I accept the placing on trial of anyone who wants to take part in the Greater Middle East plan, with which the U.S. controls our nation. I agree with the placing on trial of anyone who questions the identity of this nation, anyone who wants to shatter national unity to racial and ethnic pieces, and anyone who wants to instigate tensions between the different minorities."


Interviewer: "What if someone is not a pan-Arab Nasserist? He refuses to believe in this theory, because the past decades have proven it to be merely empty slogans."
"I Will Not Allow Anyone to Dance On The Body Parts Of My People, And Then Talk About His Liberties"

Riyad Na'san Al-Agha: "Fine, he can write an article. For the past seven years, in newspapers and on the Internet, they write about us things that bring to mind Yediot Aharonot and Haaretz, yet we did not throw anyone in jail. Some of them even went to the U.S. in order to curse us from there, and when they returned to Syria, nobody interrogated them at the airport. But they must not take any action. If they do, we will throw them in jail.
"I'm sorry that I've transformed from an intellectual into a governmental official. I will throw him in jail not because I am a minister, but because I fear for my nation because of these people, who are happy when they meet with a Mossad officer, even when Gaza is trampled under enemy shoes. They are happy even if Baghdad is turned into a cemetery inhabited by ghosts, just so they can raise toasts with some Mossad agents in Washington or New York.

"I am not talking as a minister, but as an injured citizen. I will not allow anyone to dance on the body parts of my people, and then talk about his liberties. No, he is not at liberty to do this.

"I want to remind you of something the caliph Muawiyah said: 'We shall not separate people from their tongues, as long as they do not separate us from our authority.' They can say what they want, but if they act, they will be punished. They can curse or make statements, but if they become tantamount to a secret squad, which assassinates a great citizen, a hero, a martyrdom-seeker, like Mughniya... The person who killed him relies on an ideological group." [...]

"I Optimistic That Within 10 Years, Israel Will Come To Its End"

Interviewer: "How would you respond if one day, the regime itself forms similar contacts..."
Riyad Na'san Al-Agha: "On that day, I will be thrown in jail."

Interviewer: "In five years, the government might call Israel and say: Let's put an end to this."

Riyad Na'san Al-Agha: "I will be the first they have to take to jail."

Interviewer: "Will we be saying that the president maintained 'dubious relations' with Israel?"

Riyad Na'san al-Agha: "Those who will want to do this, God forbid, will have to get rid of me and many others like me beforehand.


"Imagine the Arab nation without those resistance fighters. By Allah, it is not worth being stepped on.


"Blair is gone, Bush will be gone, and so on..."

Interviewer: "But in the meantime, people are dying, entire generations..."

Riyad Na'san al-Agha: "That's our fate. We are talking about an eternal conflict. I am not optimistic that it will be resolved any time soon, but by Allah, they suffer more than us. Here in Syria, the people are united. Sheikh Hassan [Nasrallah] himself said that in 2006, the decision of whether Syria should join the war was left to him. It's not me who says this. He said so. We were ready to join the war. This does not mean that we will necessarily win. We might be defeated, but at least we will prove that we exist. I am optimistic that within 10 years, Israel will come to its end."

I Am Minister Of Culture in A Regime Whose Principles I Believe In

Interviewer: "But the pressure on Syria is continuously increasing, and the price you might pay is the economic exhaustion of your people."

Riyad Na'san al-Agha: "So what if they get exhausted?


I am proud to be the minister of culture in this regime because of its positions, and not because of my role as minister. I am not the kind of man who would be a minister in just any regime, even if they paid me $100,000 per hour.


"I am minister of culture in a regime whose principles I believe in. By my principles, I would not remain in it, and nor would President Bashar Al-Assad. We are people with principles and values."

please contact MEMRI at

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, non-profit organization that translates and analyzes the media of the Middle East. Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information, are available on request.
MEMRI holds copyrights on all translations. Materials may only be used with proper attribution.
P.O. Box 27837, Washington, DC 20038-7837
Phone: (202) 955-9070
Fax: (202) 955-9077

Continued Aggression By Iran Sparks New Look At Options By U.S. Military

Courtesy of National Terror Alert Center

A second American aircraft carrier steamed into the Persian Gulf Tuesday as the Pentagon ordered military commanders to develop new options for attacking Iran. CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports that the planning is being driven by what one officer called the “increasingly hostile role” Iran is playing in Iraq - smuggling weapons into Iraq for use against American troops. Read more »

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hamas Leader Khaled Mash'al: Our Proposal for Tahdiah ("Calm") is Tactical

Courtesy of MEMRI

Following is an interview with Hamas leader Khaled Mash'al, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on April 25, 2008:

To view this clip on MEMRI TV, visit .
To view MEMRI TV's page on Khaled Mash'al, visit .

"If The Siege Is Not Lifted... We Will Explode In The Face Of Everybody"

Khaled Mash'al: "Our only real motive for seeking tahdiah ['calm'] and for our willingness to deal with the Egyptians efforts, which were generated in order to achieve a tahdiah, with full knowledge of the Americans, of Rice, and David Welch, and through the efforts Egypt has exerted vis-à-vis the Israeli side, is to put an end to the aggression against our people in Gaza and the West Bank, and to get the siege lifted and the border crossings opened.
"Let me tell you that without all this, all options will be available for us. When the [Egyptian] minister Omar Sleiman comes, he will meet with the other factions, in order to develop a general Palestinian position. Then he will move on to the Israeli occupation, and if they accept [the tahdiah], we are ready, but if the Israelis reject it, then it was not us who offered them this tahdiah to begin with, and the Israeli rejection will be vis-à-vis Egypt.
"Egypt bears the responsibility, and no one in the world will be able to blame us when we take two measures: We will defend our people and our land in the face of the Israeli aggression, and we [will carry out] the explosion in Gaza, of which we have warned. Yes, if the siege is not lifted, the Gaza Strip will explode in the face of all those besieging it."

Interviewer: "Including the Egyptians?"

Khaled Mash'al: "No, we don't blame the Egyptians for this. We will explode in the face of everybody. By 'explosion,' I mean that the Palestinian people will choose its own options." [...]

"The Tahdiah is a Tactical Means; It Is a Step Within the Resistance, And Is Not Detached From It"

"People should not assume that in the management of this conflict, we are moving from a phase of resistance and battles to a phase of calm. No.

According to our concept of the management of this conflict, the tahdiah is a tactical means. It is a step within the resistance and is not detached from it.

"It is only natural for any resistance movement, which cares about the interests of its people, to bear in mind the general Palestinian condition. At times, it generates an escalation, and at times, it withdraws a little. It is a process of ebb and flow, going up and down. This is how you run a battle. Hamas is renowned for this.

"In 2003, we began a tahdiah, and later renewed the operations. The same thing happened following 2005. Hamas conducted resistance from within the government, as well as when it was not in the government. This is a method of conflict management.
"My brother Muhammad [i.e. the interviewer], if a tahdiah is achieved – the Gaza Strip was, is, and will continue to be part of this homeland. People in Gaza would be able to recover, and the siege would be over. This would be an accomplishment.
"They are worried that Hamas and the other resistance factions will use the tahdiah to grow stronger, both in terms of weapons and training, and that the people will recover and prepare for the next round of resistance, because we are talking about a tactical tahdiah, within the constraints I have mentioned. But the resistance, in principle, is not directed against the aggression only. In principle, the resistance is directed against the occupation. As long as there is occupation, there must be resistance."

"In The Face Of Resistance, In The Battlefield, Israel Will Be Forced To [Withdraw]"

Interviewer: "Israel is not so naïve that it would give you what you want, just like that, so that you can recover, and prepare for the next round. What would make Israel do this, notwithstanding all the important things you just said?"

Khaled Mash'al: "Herein lies the important paradox, my brother Muhammad. At the negotiating table, since Israel holds all, or most, of the cards, Israel will not give us anything. It is not naïve, and will not give anything out of generosity. But in the face of resistance, in the battlefield, Israel will be forced to do so. Otherwise, what made Israel reach the April '96 understanding with Hizbullah? What made it leave South Lebanon? What made it leave Gaza? It did not withdraw as a result of any understandings. The balance of power on the ground forces Israel to do so."
Interviewer: "Carter stated on your behalf – and later you clarified this – that you agree that if President Mahmoud Abbas reaches a settlement, a referendum would be held on it following a national reconciliation. You agree to accept the results of the referendum, even if they do not reflect your views. This was considered a sign of openness and moderation on the part of Hamas.

"However, shortly afterwards, Sami Abu Zuhri said, 'We are not obliged to accept the results of this referendum.' There were contradictory statements within Hamas. We would like a clarification.

"If Mahmoud Abbas reaches a settlement, which he himself accepts, and it is preceded by a national reconciliation, and a referendum is held over it among the Palestinian people – will you accept the results, yes or no?"

"[A] Referendum [Over A Settlement Reached By Abbas] Must Include All Our People, At Home And Abroad – Not Just Within [Palestine]"

Khaled Mash'al: "Look, brother Muhammad, everything you said represents different angles of the same issue, and not different positions within Hamas. First of all, negotiations must be held on the basis of the Palestinian rights. Eventually presenting the results for ratification is not enough. From the very beginning, the Palestinian negotiator must adhere to the [2006] National Agreement Document, and must negotiate on the basis of the rights listed in it. Ignoring these rights is tantamount to violating the documents. This document is a complete package deal, and one cannot deal with only parts of it.

"Secondly, as you have said, this must take place following a reconciliation. Today, the negotiations are held in the shadow of division. Moreover, while all the doors are open for negotiations [with Israel], all the doors for [Palestinian] reconciliation are closed. You saw what happened following the San'a Declaration. When the U.S. and Israel threatened the Palestinian president, the [Fatah] withdrew from what they had signed in San'a.
"Thirdly, the referendum must include all our people, home and abroad – not just within [Palestine]."

Interviewer: "Or else there should be new election for the Palestinian National Council."

Khaled Mash'al: "Yes. When all these terms are met, nobody in Hamas – or any Palestinian leader – will have any concern. We will have confidence in the choices of the Palestinian people."

Interviewer: "Even if you disagree with them?"

Khaled Mash'al: "Yes. Brother Muhammad, I will accept the will of the Palestinian people, as reflected in free elections to the Palestinian National Council, according to terms on which we will agree, or in a free referendum, home and abroad. I respect and accept the rules of the democratic game."
Interviewer: "You say: We are ready to accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, within a certain settlement, but we will not recognize Israel.

To tell you the truth, it is difficult to accept such a formula. Israel is not likely to give you – whether to Hamas or to the Palestinian leadership, since this is the situation right now – a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, with Jerusalem at its capital, and allow the return of the refugees, while you say to Israel: Bye-bye, I won't recognize you.

"Why should Israel do this? After all, it is not a charity association. Why should Israel give you all this, and I say 'give you,' because this is the situation right now..."

"The Formula Of Recognizing Israel In Advance, Which Was Adopted By Some Palestinians And Arabs – What Results Did It Yield?"

Khaled Mash'al: "This is a logical question in these difficult times, when things are confused. Brother Muhammad, all the formulas are difficult. The formula of recognizing Israel in advance, which was adopted by some Palestinians and Arabs – what results did it yield? Some people recognized Israel, and discussed normalization of relations, coexistence, and so on.

What was the result when we turned to this formula, which seems easier? Did it unravel the secrets of the conflict? Did it drive Israel to respect the Palestinian and Arab will? Did Israel give Yasser Arafat a state, or did it kill him? They killed Yasser Arafat just because he maneuvered between the negotiations game and the game of the Intifada and resistance.

"Now, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas is proceeding along a single highway – negotiations. He recognized Israel and everything, but what was the result? Nothing."

For assistance, please contact MEMRI at

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, non-profit organization that translates and analyzes the media of the Middle East. Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information, are available on request.

MEMRI holds copyrights on all translations. Materials may only be used with proper attribution.

P.O. Box 27837, Washington, DC 20038-7837
Phone: (202) 955-9070
Fax: (202) 955-9077

Monday, April 21, 2008

Global Warming Stupidity

Courtesy of Rick Roberts, KFMB, San Diego


Everyone knows of what has got to be the most famous, patriotic image from WWII that shows five U.S. Marines and a U.S. Navy corpsman raising the American flag during the battle of Iwo Jima in 1945.

It is a moving image that embodies America’s selflessness and sacrifice… and the cost of freedom.

But Time doesn’t see it that way. They see “red, white, and blue as the new green”. That’s according to their editor…

The cover of the April 21st issue of Time took the Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima photograph by Joe Rosenthal and replaced the flag with an evergreen.

I’m all for stupid people saying stupid things… but this goes beyond the pale.

This isn’t a First Amendment issue.

This is an issue of vandalism: This is no better than burning the American flag.

You may as well spray paint something like ‘global warming is the real issue’ on the National WWII Memorial… or tear out part of the Vietnam Veteran Memorial Wall to make room for a statue of Al Gore.

Send the Editor an email:… Give him a piece of your mind.