Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Comment to an article by Christopher R. Hill. "Saving Syria and America" on the web site

Comment to an article by Christopher R. Hill. "Saving Syria and America" on the web site  July 23, 2013

I would only propose that for a truly long term peaceful solution to not only the Syrian crisis but much of the Levant that your wonderful proposal have an important single reset in thinking.

Thus the nation evolving from what is currently Syria would indeed include the entire existing nation of Syria within its borders. Not to be divided. It would also be true that the nation evolving from what is now Syria would be a federal state, with broad local autonomy. And indeed the third also involves a carefully drafted and agreed upon parliament and constitutional framework.

But this could also be said, word for word, for Iraq. Or Lebanon. Indeed it is much of what the Palestinians have been demanding for their future nation, in principle with regards to Israel.

What is missing in this thinking is that what really makes sense, in the long term and for the entire region is if your statement is not just about Syria. But it is about a single nation that is the combination of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories. The Nation of Syriaq if you will.

All remain within their current borders. It would just be a single all inclusive border. All would be part of a federal state with broad local autonomy. All would concern the shape of the future parliament and constitutional framework. And again so forth.

Just as Iraq is sliding ever so closely to a three part Shia/Sunni/Kurdish state so too would a Nation of Syriaq become a Federal Nation of Shia/Alawite, Sunni, Kurds. Druze, Christians and even remarkably perhaps a great number of Jews.

As all the nations of the region are falling apart the ironic answer may be that what they really need instead is all join together.

What the US could do is create a scenario of a central core for such a nation in a compromise capital of Amman. For decades now Amman has been the go to place for diaspora refugees from virtually every surrounding and inclusive nation mentioned. The only group who have not shown up in numbers are perhaps the Kurds.

What the US needs to be able to do is show what a unified Syriaq would entail. To the Shia, the Sunni, the Kurds, the Arab League, the Russians, Iran, the EU, the Israelis.

What the US also needs to do is allow that the Syrian Army, to a very great extent, would remain intact and become the core of a Syriaq Army. What the US also needs to do is let Russia take the wheel on making it work from ground. Alone and with the people within Syriaq.

What the US could do however is convince all parties, including the Jordanians, that a nation of Syriaq has its best chance of succeeding as a Hashemite Kingdom. And with Amman as the central axis of a much larger Federal State, first of all as the capital of a nation of 70 million, Amman and surrounding region would no longer be a city without a major industry. Being the capital would provide a stable economic base for the entire region. It would also mean hundreds of thousands of refugees could go home. And this time for good. This is a concept the people of Jordan have not had since the nation was created.

The second part of the axis is that it is between all the other nations and the Palestinians. While Palestinians may not have considered merging with Jordan one on one in the past to any great degree, being part of a much larger Syriaq would be a tempting proposition. Both for the Palestinians in Palestine and those elsewhere in Syriaq.

It is no accident that the Iraqi national anthem is a Palestinian song. It is no accident that before the troubles in Syria, Syrian children used to stand in class and recite "we are all Palestinians."

As members of the Nation of Syriaq, the negotiating stance between Syriaq and Israel might have a much more peace oriented nature and foundation. The people of Syriaq would need to turn inward to both create and rebuild a new nation.

Before the end of World War I this was pretty much the hope of millions of Arabs in the Levant anyway. A single united country. It would be a century late but better late than never.

A single nation with Basra, Baghdad, Damascus, Erbil, Aleppo, Beirut, Al Quds, and Amman. That is a nation that has a promise to do great things.

And again. the people of Syria would remain united within the same border, as would the people of Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and perhaps the Palestinians. 

Read more at 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Comment by me about Egypt's future (with relevance to Syriaq), July 8, 2013

What key people in government, the press, academia and the average person in the street in Egypt, along with those same groups in Libya and Tunisia need to do is read the US Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Federalist Papers and the US Constitution, making sure to note the dates. I assure you it would be most revealing and perhaps have many rethinking myths about how nations are founded and succeed. 

Very careful reading of the US Declaration of Independence one finds that it is not a document announcing the formation of a single nation to remove British tyranny. It is a document announcing that 13 separate states are joining together to remove British tyranny, but that they intend to remain 13 separate states at the end of the revolt. For well over 100 years most of the states had related one on one with Britain and with each other. Each had their own separate governments and legislative bodies. There was not a lot of love lost between most of the states up until the time of the Revolution. It was only through necessity over time that the 13 states realized that they would have to form a more singular nation to not only win the war but to survive afterwards. They could not make it individually. Even at the start of the new nation it was under the Articles of Confederation that basically gave the central government the right to deal with foreign powers and that was about it. All other powers rested with each individual state.

Again the states began to realize that going it alone individually  each state was not going to prosper. A good 13 years after the Declaration, and very careful arguments in the Federalist Papers, the US adapted a remarkable separation and balance of powers in the US Constitution to please all sides in order to form a worthy functioning government. Only then, 13 years later did they form a truly United States of America. It should be noted however that for about the first 50 years it was, as a rule, stated that "The United States ARE". It was only after long slow integration did the phrase become widely stated as "The United States IS". Even today, some 235+ years later the US is still a work in progress. 

This realization must come very soon to Egypt, Libya and Tunisia that they do not have a common enemy in the form of a foreign nation. What they do have is a common enemy in that they are all economic and political catastrophe's waiting to happen. But as a single nation they have unbelievable potential to find those resources, talents, markets, diversity, and yes similarities that already exist within a united and common nation. Only in sharing all of their common resources will they have a very great chance to succeed both economically and politically. 

The same balance and separation of powers needed by Egypt to accommodate both Coptics and Salafists is the same kind of compromise needed to find common ground between Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. If structured well it could very well lead to the addition of Sudan in a few short years. 

A newly united nation would have the ability to rebuild Libya, drastically improve the water system in Egypt, re-invigorate markets from tourism, agriculture, transportation, apparel, building materials, the list goes on. 

And at the core of such a transformation has to be reconciliation across the board. Libya cannot have 1/6th of its population stranded as diaspora in Egypt and Tunisia. Such talent, in all nations, cannot be wasted. Any progress has to start now, immediately with reaching out to all involved that the Muslim Brotherhood must be a part of any solution going forward. Many must keep positions in the government. Their press must be allowed to speak. You cannot build a greater nation without them. 

Three years ago the Arab Spring was impossible/unthinkable. One month ago a change in Egyptian government was impossible/unthinkable. A United Arab Republic of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia might not only be not impossible, it might be an absolute imperative to economic, political, cultural and humanitarian success in the entire Arab region. 

@tms5510. One might find just the idea, not even the fulfillment, but again the idea of a United Arab Republic might find the nations of the Levant also realizing that they are much better off as one large nation of their own, as was envisioned in the early 20th century before the West carved it up. People speak constantly of the disintegration of many of the nations of the Levant. I think the opposite might some day soon become the reality when they all come to realize that they are better off as one large nation than as a group of 5 or 8 or 10 smaller nations. Egypt, Libya and Tunisia could lead the way.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Letter from me to authors of a Los Angeles Times article on Syria, 05/29/2013

Dear Mr. McDonnell and Mr. Richter and Mr. Loiko:

     I read your article about Syria with great interest.  It was not only a balanced article but viewed the situation honestly and with acknowledgement of all the key players usually mentioned. 

      I do have a suggestion for the possibility of a more peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis that does not include an increasing arms race.
As you have rightly pointed out there is not a neighbor of Syria that has not been affected in a major way by the continuing conflict.  I believe it is these affected neighbors that hold the key to peace in the region, with perhaps a lot less involvement by any country with the exception of perhaps Russia and the blessing, however public, of Iran.  

      It is my contention that the only real path to peace is a unified active or agreement too, by all neighbors concerned for the return to the dream and concept of a Greater Syria.  Or as I prefer to call it Syriaq.

      There is no need to go into the complete disintegration of the entire region going back to the creation of Mandates for France and Britain at the end of World War I.  Suffice to say it evolved into ever smaller and smaller political, religious and economic divisions throughout the Levant.  

       Much speculation has been made as to whether the end result would be the disintegration or Balkanizing of Syria.  I believe that actually the reverse is the key to peace.  

        If indeed there was to become an effort to steer the entire region towards the creation of Syriaq to solve the conflict it would, in my opinion need just a few key, non negotiable realities to make it happen.

         1.  The first, no matter who wins, or compromises or unifies or shape of the resulting government, if the major core of the Syriaq Army is not the current Syrian Army  left in place and a part of the resultant nation then it will indeed be chaos for a great long time. Years in fact.   

          2.  If the resulting Syriaq is not a Hashemite Kingdom with the unified capital in Amman then it will never become a multi religious sectarian nation.  

          3.  All attempts should be made to ensure that the Palestinians are actively invited and made to feel as though they are the very core component of any Levant wide peace settlement.  It is the Palestinians who, of all the nations involved, strike the greatest sense of being of one common purpose among all the nations of the Levant.  And as Jordan is the Keystone nation to Palestine again being a Hashemite Kingdom with the capital in Amman is hard to deny.   (Borders with Israel would still have to be negotiated, but it would be between Israel and Syriaq not Israel and the Palestinian Territories.)

          4.  Any solution, again of any area, people, final borders, leaders and such, if the Russians are not asked to remain, with all military installations included,  by whoever or whatever form a post Syrian government becomes, again its chances for success are greatly reduced if not impossible for an conclusion for years to come. 

           Those are it.  All else are debatable, deniable, win some loose some, would have been nice, too many egos not left at the door and just plain isn't happening.  

            Almost everyone besides the most extreme of the rebel forces vaguely agree upon the need for new elections for the Syrian people to decide on a new government.  It is my thoughts that it is what that first election should be about, who should vote, that it should include all of Syria's current Arab neighbors and it should happen as soon as possible.  

             I would suggest dividing the Levant into 8 regions.  Syria, Lebanon, Kurdish Autonomous Regions, Sunni dominated Iraqi governorates, and Shia dominated Iraqi governorates, Jordan, the West Bank, Gaza.  

             I would also suggest that any thought of unity just between any two of these regions, with the possible exception of the West Bank and Gaza,  would not only not work but would not be considered at this time, if ever.  

            Each votes yes or no to join the Hashemite Kingdom of Syriaq (with the capital in Amman).   That simple.  Just debating the concept all across the Levant could also, I believe, send great numbers of combatants to a area wide cease fire to debate the pros and cons of what can be gained or lost in joining the nation of Syriaq.  Those voting no remain just as they were before the vote and back to business as usual.  (perhaps a modified Jordanian Constitution would suffice until a new Constitution could be written and unity  government formed.  

            I am fully aware of the irony if Jordan votes no.  However it is my contention, that when it would be pointed out that by Amman being the capital of a much larger nation, of say 40 to 70 million people, the city and region of Amman would at long last loose the "living on the edge economically" reality of the last 100 years.  It would also mean that most, if not all of the endless cycle of new refugees constantly swarming into the region might also finally come to a halt.   But as Amman has been one of the primary "go to" refugee destinations for decades now it has developed an often deserved image and sensibility  of neutrality over the years.  

            I also think such a formatted vote would allow for many various outcomes all of which are not earth shattering if voted no and very exciting possibilities for those who vote yes.  

            I would imagine that the majority of Syrians would vote to accept joining Syriaq if the 4 key points mentioned above were a part of the pre-vote "election promises".  If electing the King of Jordan to the Head of State, it would mean that Assad might possibly be elected PM at some early future date but the rest of the Assad power base would have a clear alternative and a much greater chance of retribution worries.  The number 3 core issue of also becoming one with the Palestinians is a long held Syrian core of their social dogma.  Also to keep in mind, the alternative goal of creating a Greater Syriaq might be something for which Assad would willingly step aside.  

            Jordan for the reasons already mentioned.  The West Bank I would hope would vote yes as it might be, finally the leverage they need to achieve peace.  I also think that if it was just a vote to join Jordan the outcome would be much different.  But as a Levant wide peace initiative it would be hard to deny.

             Gaza is an open question with no honest idea how it would vote.  Thus the separate regional voting.  It might end up that there is a Syriaq and just Gaza is Palestine.  (in my blog I also include the Sinai in Syriaq.  It is too long and involved and a distraction for this email but I do consider it a major if not critical point for both Syria and Egypt.)

             Sunni Iraq I believe would jump at the chance.  As it would be a compromise but by the sharing of power between the King and the Syrian Army and Alawite core the Sunni Iraqi access to  any sort of power, even within their own region, would be greatly enhanced.  

             The Kurdish Autonomous Regions would vote to join if they were assured continued Autonomy.  I see no reason for that to change.  They would also possibly pick up governorates the former Iraq and Syria in the new Syriaq.  

             That only leaves Shia Iraq and Lebanon.  For the Shia of Iraq it would mean returning to a minority group within a possible larger whole.  But it would also mean joining again, as with Syrians, with their Palestinian fellow countrymen.  Iraq's national anthem is a Palestinian song.  Another thing for the Shia to consider is that they would both joining the Alawites and Lebanese Shia in covering their backs but perhaps taking advantage of the fact that many Alawites have had a long period of being economically successful. 

               The final considerations, that of Iranian influence, it would seem to me that Iran would give its blessing for two reasons.  One is that "inside the tent" is better than being outside looking in.   The second would be the great number of Shia holy shrines within Sunni areas of Iraq, Jordan and elsewhere and normalization might mean greater access to them over time.  The final reason would be the possibility of a solution to the Palestinian question might ease world tension towards Iran in the world community.  

                Lebanon is about as easy to predict as Gaza.  I have no idea.  The one factor I think often overlooked by everyone in the region for decades concerning Hezbollah is the fact that in Lebanon they pretty much sit beside the Litani River from headwaters to the sea.  And the Litani is by far the largest river in the entire Levant that sends millions of gallons of some of the freshest water into the Mediterranean each and every year. Unstopped.  Never used.   It is the great water waste tragedy of the entire region.   The only diversion now for the Litani is to send water to Beirut.  For years the Shia of the region had no political power to fund such water projects.  Now with political power comes infighting and distractions of fighting elsewhere.   If there was one region in the entire nation of a new Syriaq that could be converted to very productive agriculture in a very short amount of time,  it is the lands the Hezbollah now live in.  Turning their attention and giving financial aid to develop the Litani could be a massive game changer for all involved.  ( I would also suggest that the entire Golan Heights and the former Syrian Governorate be made a Druze Autonomous Region for all the Druze in Lebanon, Syria and Israel, again without regard to any outcome of any vote.). 

              Exactly one century ago the dream of almost all the peoples of the Levant who knew of life beyond the horizon dreamed of one day living in a Greater Syria with the Hashemite King as their leader.  They were even promised this by France and Britain.  While they did get compromise and divided positions the dream of Greater Syria died every so slowly a greater death year after year.  The Levant has, as mentioned before, been a mess ever since.

              If the people of Syria, on all sides, want to have peace I think they need to look to a Syria that has been missing for this past century.  There they might find not only the agreed upon peace they so desire, but the chance to move forward.

              Whatever happens, it would be a shame to not literally "think outside the box" for a solution to the quagmire that is Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine.  For each the answer to their current ongoing crisis might be as close as just across the border.   

              Thank you for your time.  Best regards.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Thousands dead. Over a million displaced. What are YOU doing about it?

The crisis that is the Levant has, over the course of decades, has left hundreds of thousands dead, millions displaced and homeless.

I have written this blog to try to ignite other solutions, other options, than the few that have been proposed both within and outside of the Levant.

And yet if there is no great discourse among diverse people then solutions will not be found and thousands more will die and millions more will be displaced.

If you have reached this site I ask that the very least you could do is to pass it along to 10 other people that you know.  And they to 10 more.  Let other options be expressed.  Let other voices be added.  This is but the smallest spark in search of a great light of debate on new ways to stop the violence and the misery.

It is little enough to ask to perhaps find others among your friends who might come together and help to put and end to the suffering.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

LinkedIn Group: Jordan Business and Professional Network. Comment left by me on May 21, 2013

 Over two centuries ago Petra created a thriving economy amid one of the harshest climates imaginable by recognizing and taking advantage to the fullest its strategic location for controlling trade, political stability and its economic independence. Petra also advanced their intellectual base to such an extent as to leave what was to become Arabic script to the region.

Today the country of Jordan, and more importantly the city of Amman, must recognize that it too must assess and take advantage of its strategic location, relative political stability in relation to its neighbors and the high regard in which the Hashemite dynasty commands worldwide.respect.

I think in terms of corporate acquisitions, restructurings and spin offs, as does almost everyone at this and other groups. And yet in such a climate of constantly evolving structures little is ever transferred mentally to the concept of nation states acquiring, restructuring or spinning off regions in a peaceful manner for the greater efficiency and future growth of the remaining entities. This thought process is, however, a primary mental exercise in which I often explore and evaluate possibilities.

One such possibility to reclaim stability, peace and forward economic progress for the entire Fertile Crescent is for the renewed concept of a Greater Syria. Or Syriaq if you will.

There is no country, city or group of leaders who are more acutely positioned to delve into the possibility of such a concept, with Amman as the capital and as a continuing Hashemite Kingdom, than the citizens both within or currently stranded within Jordan. Even more so perhaps also for those who have long standing political or business relationships with the Kingdom and who are very personally acquainted with the ideals of the nation, its people and the King and his family.

I do not propose the idea lightly. It is not a concept for the faint of heart or without great risk. But it is also a concept that could conceivably end decades of strife from Gaza to the Kurdish Autonomous Regions.

But then again Amman, as the capital of a nation of between perhaps 44 to 70 million people would no longer be so overwhelmingly and forever living on the very edge of economic crisis or stability. As the capital of a nation of 70 million Amman would be a virtually recession proof national and international center of constant activity. It is also, to be quite blunt, the only way to truly stop what is still, even now, the flow of refugees from neighboring countries year after year, sometimes decade after decade.

As for the long term residence of the city and region, the concept of being citizens of the capital would mean not only greater economic, social, educational and cultural advantages but would balance the constant flow of visitors to the city.

You can view short term possibilities to make it through this year and perhaps the next, wondering what the next round of regional consequences will bring to Amman and the nation of Jordan, or you can encourage Jordan to regain the insight it took to build Petra and the Nabataean Nation into the master of it and its neighbors destinies.

That is the underlying strength and virtual assets that Amman and the Jordanian people must recognize within themselves, their country and their leadership. Those are the true assets to be recognized for success in any endeavor in the 21st century. That is what they have to offer to the surrounding region at its embattled citizens.

Without taking that next step of discussing the ideas with those whom you might think have something more to add, or question, is to have already agreed to fail. There are more ideas to explore, evaluate and discuss at the following site. Read them yourself or just send to others. The region might thank you.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Comment by "Jeff" to earlier post by me in Yahoo News May 20, 2013

One small kink in your theory:

In order to achieve peace they have to want peace. There are the surface problems of greed to deal with. Then there are the religious disputes. Then there are cultural evolution problems do to the previous root problems. All I see is a big knot.

The Shias and Sunnies are split do to religious doctrine. The Shias have a literal view while the Sunnies have a fundamental interpretation of the Qaran.

The UN, USA or Russia can't resolve this. This is much like the Spanish Inquisition or the Jewish holocaust in nature. All that can be done is contain it until they are tired of killing each other. 

Russia has interest in Assad. Assad has interest with others that are at odds with Israel. Israel is forced into this because of the antisemitic views of of some in the region that tend to blow stuff up. Turkey has been dragged into it. The USA wants to do business as look out friends that are suffering.

There are also secondary agendas to whoever wins to consider. The people factor, lol.... Everyone wants to do it their way. Everyone is right lmao....

Part 1. Reply to comment: Yahoo News May 1, 2013

I agree with virtually all your points. They are the crux of the matter. But lets go a little deeper into each one. 

The Shia's and the Sunni's are indeed split on religious doctrine. The split began with the line of succession to the Prophet. Shia's then as now believe that the leadership of the Muslim faith should have descended through the family line of Fatimah ( the Prophet's daughter) and her husband, Ali bin Abu Talib (also a cousin to the prophet) male heirs. This was done through 11 generations and the 12th is considered "hidden". 

The Sunni's, on the other hand, believe it should have passed down to the most agreed upon leader or in the early years the Caliph. The mantel of Caliph, and who had it and who actually decided they deserved the title passed down all the way to the last leader of the Ottoman Empire. But it was always to be an elected position. It was who got to vote that created problems through the centuries. 

A quick but notable point from Muslim history is that who and where the Shia and Sunni reside has been a major ebb and flow based upon leadership for centuries. For centuries Egypt was the center of Shia life while Persia (Iran) was not. Changes in leadership brought changes in religious followings. 

And among both Shia and Sunni's there are major factions that have separate and distinct religious doctrines and teachings. 

Today the major conflict is which of the groups has the political power and where. The French and British during their mandate periods used the same method of elevating the minority sect of the two to supreme leadership so they would be beholding to the French and the British for power. In Iraq it was the minority Sunni who ruled while in Syria it was the minority of Alawite's, an offshoot of Shia, of which the Assad family belong. 

In the case of Iraq, the US government's policy for containment in Iraq was to basically take all the guns away from as many Sunni's as possible and arm as many of the Shia majority as possible so they could leave. The Shia, out of power, have unrestrained scores to settle. 

One other major point to make in back round history. The current national anthem of Iraq is a Palestinian song. Each day Syrian children, before the strife, used to stand in class each morning and declare that "we are all Palestinians." And finally there are perhaps more Palestinians in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan than in Palestinian territories. 

In the case of Assad and Russia it is not really, deep down any love for Assad or his regime that keeps Russia in his corner. Nor is it weapons sales. It is the symbolic problem of a group of outside nations determining the legitimacy of the Syrian Leadership. Because of former incidents such as Chechnya and Kosovo and current "client" states of South Ossetia and Abkhaza in which Russia just cannot have such "regional or international" approval of legitimacy. Other nations such as Bahrain also have a huge majority Shia population while the ruling family is Sunni. In Saudi Arabia, a mostly Sunni nation, the area around their largest oil fields is mostly a Shia population. Thus Saudi nervousness about Iranian moves in the region. 

But then again Putin has said dozens and dozens of times, in public forums, that the greatest catastrophic event in recent Russian history was the loss of Ukraine and other CIS nations from "Mother Russia."

Which brings me back to my concept. While the complete unification of a Greater Syria or Syriaq is the primary, and in my opinion, the best goal, variations upon the theme succeeding are better that many of the conflicts in the region currently. 

(to be continued)