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April 24, 2006


Anton Efendi

So, the Case for Regime Change in Syria (2) is: in order to knock some sense back into the heads of Iran’s mullahs, you need to take Syria’s Assads out of the equation. For, at this stage, they are the hottest card in the mullahs’ hands, without them the mullahs’ links to Hezbollah and Hamas will be sufficiently weakened and the mullahs might be more willing to reconsider their current regional strategy. This could open the doors for negotiations.

Michael Young recently made a similar case in a WSJ op-ed. I'll send it to you.

Here are a couple of relevant quotes:

However, Iranian vulnerabilities are hardly negligible. It has a weak and isolated ally in Syria’s Baath regime. By working to create alternatives to President Bashar Assad in Damascus, the U.S. could break that organic link, as well as the one which, via Syria, allows Iran to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon.
This is why the U.S. must reconsider its Syria policy and persist in its regional democratization efforts. The Bush administration must break Syria’s ability to manipulate Saudi and Egyptian trepidation when it comes to accepting change in Damascus, but it must also get over its own nervousness toward a post-Assad order. Unless a concerted process to replace the regime in Damascus is implemented, the Iranian-Syrian-Hezbollah axis will remain a serious thorn in the American as well as the Egyptian and Saudi sides. Islamists won’t necessarily take over in Syria. The society is complex, the merchant class is probably willing to back a credible alternative, and the Assads are discredited. But Washington must push hard for this and compel Egypt and Saudi Arabia to go along.

The idea, which I share, is to break the Iranian expansion into the Levant, where Syria now acts as Iran's client.


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Ammar, your analysis is very logical, yet, I will disagree again... for one reason:

I believe the situation in the Middle East has gone out of anyone's control. The United States, Iran, Syria, or Israel ... none of them holds enough cards to "win the game".

There in mostly chaos. Within the Chaos, there are few things we can analyze with the hope of coming up with some predictions. But if you look at the relative "volume" of uncertainty, the deterministic and logical signals are too weak to predict the outcome. Chaos will decide the outcome in an almost random way.

Bravo for all those who escalated things to this chaotic point.

As for concluding that Syria has no cards, it always looked like this is the case ever since Hafez elAssad opposed the Camp David accords in 1978. Yet they usually survive and they influence events in the area in a dramatic way. Syria does not have Iran's size, but it has the best location. It is downtown Middle East. That is one big card... and one big liability.

We'll know what happens when it happens. Anton was predicting long time ago the end of the regime. It is not that simple.

Anton Efendi

Listen my young Bashar cheerleading pup. No one was "predicting" anything. People, like Ammar and I, have been CALLING for its fall. Not "predicting" it.

Now go back and play with Landis. He;ll appreciate your sloppy gleeful nonsense.


As a westerner, I see only two possible outcomes to the Iran question. Either the western world swallows hard and allows Iran to have the bomb (of course, some EU countries will do their best to ignore it, while some Middle Eastern countries will actually be happy about it! Nuclear fallout anyone?) or, the United States bombs the sh** out of Iran's nuclear sites (without UN approval).
European "diplomacy" has hurt more than it has helped, Russia and China have no intention of putting the brakes on Iran and, Israel can't afford diplomatically to bomb a Middle East neighbor.
I have suspected, all along, that the EU knew that their effort would fail and that the United States would be the fall guy for this situation. I don't think Syria is the linchpin that you think it is.
Just waiting for the shoe to drop...


Babs, let's hope it won't drop on our heads.


That sounded a bit defensive Anton.

You would know better if you used the term "predict" or not, but the few times I checked your blog, I had no doubt you practically expected the fall of the Syrian regime ... about 6 month ago.

And I remind you that you predicted that very few in Lebanon will vote for Michel Aoun "the idiot" ... and I predicted that he will get most of the Christian vote. Today "the idiot" is the most serious candidate for president. You probably disagree.

Being a naive Bashar cheerleader, was saying what I am still saying today: it does not look like it will happen any time soon. Bahsar's adversaries have burned most of their "cards" ... the international investigation lost its credibility with the Syrian people. Even if they "find out" a voice recording of Bashar saying "I want Hariri dead", the Syrian people (the ones you love and respect so much) will conclude that the evidence is computer made.

Yes, one card remains: the use of military force. I am sure you would love to see that, but I think congress will not go for it this time, unless Iran does something totally stupid. According to Jihad elKhazen who contacted "them", he is sure they are not suicidal and will not allow the theatrical confrontation to go out of hand.

And on behalf of Joshua I will have to apologize for my, and his, sloppy comments. It is true that those of us who are "Bashar cheerleaders" do not have the English language skills that you, and Michael Young have, but at least our balanced opinions do not need the extra help of beautiful writing skills.

Again, you are a very capable and intelligent individual, but what a waste of time the way you focus all your energy on ... nothing. Did you help any fellow Lebanese with your endless focus on picking on Farouk Sharaa interviews, or on other stupid things tha all politician say and do? .. did you come up with practical (and peaceful) solutions to anything?

Being a Historian, you seem to think that the right thing to do is to look always back to see who should be blamed for things and how to take revenge fromt them. I am an engineer ... I prefer seeking dependable solutions.

Anton Efendi

Maybe you should learn how to read better when you read my blog. You know, as an engineer.

I'll get back to your other nonsense later.

As for Aoun, I "predicted" (in the one time I have ever done so on my blog) that in fact he would lose in the north, which he did. That was the only time I "predicted" anything. I was right of course.

As for Aoun being poised to become president, the parliamentary majority doesn't seem to be interested for now, and even his new allies in HA have not come out explicitly in support of him. So maybe engineers like talking about inevitability, I prefer to wait and see.

And also, I didn't know that engineers engage in pop-psychology. Spare me the pretense of psychoanalyzing me. Use that time to learn how to read what I write instead.

Anton Efendi

And by the way -- escuse me as I finish laughing -- but since when was the investigation predicated on its popularity among the Syrian people!?

Could you have said anything dumber?! Perhaps bil rou7 bil damm or something...

Anton Efendi

No, I'm focusing my efforts on exposing the ugliness of the regime that you and Josh defend in the hope, and indeed the long battle, to bring it down. You may think that is nothing, but that's because you -- unlike Ali Abdallah and the Kurds for instance -- aren't feeling their brutality over in Montreal (and I'm not even going to speculate on whether you have any ties, a la Moubayed), so you have time to utter these kinds of stupidities, as the Syrian opposition languishes in jails.

You and Joshua instead have spent your time embellishing it under the pretense of "realism."

That my friend is called dishonesty and complicity. You're free to do whatever you want, and your opinion, and that of those like you, of me and what I do never mattered to me to begin with.

Anton Efendi

Here's a proposal. As an engineer, come up with a "dependable solution" to find where Ali Abdallah is being held, and maybe as an engineer, donate some time to rebuild the Kurdish houses that your prez has demolished in NE Syria. And if you have some spare time left, come down to Beirut, in your capacity as engineer, and help defuse some of the bombs that your prez has been dispatching. You know, as an engineer. This way you don't have to "blame" anybody. Just be careful you don't end up in jail, you know through some "reformist impulse" of sorts. But then you might use your engineering skills to find a dependable solution to dig your way out.

Shou hal maskhara...


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Anton, Alex, I think we should to arrange for you two to meet soon, on neutral grounds over a barrel of Carlsberg beer (since I doubt any of us is boycotting Danish products)and continue this fine arguments of y/ours. I am quite confident that we can reach an agreement of sorts after the seventh round. If not, at least we would have had plenty of fun trying.


Thank you Ammar. With my low tolerance to Beer (and wine), I will be destroyed by Anton after half a glass. I'll take something with Vitamin C instead.

Alright, Anton,

You are right, I did not add any comment on Ammar's other post on Ali and his sons. I agree. But there is not much I can do about it from Montreal. But I totally admire Ammar's genuine efforts to shed light on any case of political prisoners who are subjected to torture in Syria. If there is an email list of signature that you want to start, I will put my name on it.

My family, Anton, was almost totally wiped out by political and religious violence early 20th century. I'll leave it up to you to guess where. That left a permanent lesson with me (through my father) ... What you see me trying to do is to fight anger and hate and revenge. I try to bring people together no matter how confrontational they are. In "my" webiste, I got "Baathists" and Israelis to find things in common and to spend hours researching it. I even got your friend Martin Kramer to give it a recommendation, despite your conclusion about my Bashar Cheerleader function.

Your position on Aoun "the Idiot" I mentioned above was in your email to Joshua. Check your NYU email mid May last year. I "predicted" that there will be a "Syrian/Shia/Aoun" coalition to counter the increasing Hariri/Saudi influence. You replied that "aoun does not equal Christians ... your friend (me) is way off target"

By the way, last year I published research in an applied psychology journal. I can email you my educational background if you like, there is a lot more than Engineering in it.

Back to the human rights abuses of the Syrian regime: I said earlier on Joshua's blog that sadly, the Americans lost the ability to act as the moral leaders of the fight for democracy in the Middle East. I wish they can be creative enough to reinvent their Mideast policy and to be able to positively influence the direction things take in the area. If anyonw can accelerate things, it is them. But not the way things are now.

As for the effect of the UN investigation ... We obviosuly disagree. I'll leave it at that.

Anton Efendi

First, I know exactly what that email said, and I advise you to check what I said. And for some reason you seem to think that my statement about Aoun not equaling the Christians somehow proves you right and me wrong. You're sadly mistaken. It is quite clear that Aoun does not equal Christians. Is he the strongest Christian politician. Sure. Where did you see me deny that?

So frankly, I'm really not sure what your point is. Again, read that email again and see what I said and see how that fits today.

I also remember you saying to typical nonsense about Neocons and blah blah blah, and some other obviously Sunni-phobic material. Doesn't matter. I still don't get your point with this email! Total red herring.

Good, so your family almost got wiped out, mine too almost got wiped out by Syrian army shells, as they were bombing your friend Michel Aoun. That is, bombing him and the entire region he inhabited. At random.

So you can go ahead and embellish that regime and justify it with the hippy crap about bringing peace to mankind, and then call that "realism." I frankly am quite happy with the path I've chosen politically!

And publish as much as you want in psychology, but to assume that you can somehow psycho-analyze me through a computer screen smacks me of incredible pretense.

And disagree as much as you want about the investigation, it still wouldn't change the hilarity of thinking that the value of the investigation is dependent on whether the manipulated Syrian public thinks highly of it or not!

As for your view of US policy, I'll take a look at the amount of cliches in your comment and then it's my turn to tell you, let's leave it there! Because if I start taking it apart... sigh...

Anton Efendi

And by the way, you should have left Kramer out of it. He called "slick propaganda." Not much different from "Bashar cheerleader" if you ask me.

Anton Efendi

If I may, Ammar, take a moment away from the topic, just to remind Camille of what I did say, since he's so fixated on that email and his amazing powers of prediction and how my predicting skills aren't up to par (I must admit, I never honed them or took interest in "prediction"!).

Here's what I said in May 05 my dear man:

Nothing really is new in this! Aoun always had ties with Hizbullah and both have problems with Jumblat

Indeed. Despite the shifts, this statement still stands. Although Jumblat has been careful in how to deal with Aoun for obvious reasons.

Aoun is afraid that he'll be left out of such an arrangement. (The arrangment refers to the election alliances).

Indeed, he was left out of the arrangement. Never in that email did I mention whether he'll win or not. But again, only you cllaim the power of prediction. I never did. But if it makes you happy go ahead. However, that's why I told you to improve your reading skills instead of your predictions skills.

So in that case I wouldn't be surprised to see Aoun working with the remains of the old system. however, that would be quite the stupid move because his followers will be hard pressed to work with Lahoud and the pillars of the Syrian order. It would be quite the irony though!

Umm... remind me again what your point was? Was it a stupid move? We'll see. Did it create apprehension among his followers? You bet. But of course, he's made all kinds of justifications (not as good as yours about Bashar) and some of the apprehensions have died down. And indeed, it was quite the irony! Others remain. Besides, he has not completely watered down his positions on HA's weapons, etc. So like I said, it remains to be seen how that "coalition" as you called it (it's not really a coalition) plays out, and whether it proves stupid or not. It already pissed of the Americans and the French. I'd say that's somewhat stupid!

And finally, this is for you to correct your misquoting me, and to refresh your memory. This is what I really said:

So your friend's equation of Aoun's frustrations and the Christians' frustrations (i.e., LF, Qornet, and Bkerke) is way off target.

I think that was true then as it is true now. Frustrations, my dear Camille. Frustrations as in frustrated that you prefer prediction to proper reading skills.


Ammar, it seems we are not going for that Beer and orange juice.

Anton Afandi:

1) you called me "way off target" for seeing the inevitable Shia/Aoun/syria alliance a year ago. And you doubted Aoun "the idiot" is significant. And you ridiculed my opinion that Hariri and the Sunnis are playing a larger role than before (when Syria played that role) ... how knowledgeable of you!...

Aside from the above, the rest of that email from you was actually good. I am not saying you are totally wrong. But if you had in you the ability to admit a mistake when you make one, we wouldn't be arguing over that email 4 rounds in a row.

2) My family did get "almost totally" wiped out, different from your family "almost did" get wiped out by the Syrian shelling. Tens of members of my family died ... And I hold no hate towards them what so ever, but I learned lessons. Sadly, you have not learned much from the Lebanese civil war... or from your graduate studies in history. Maybe next lifetime.

You have spent hours everyday during the past year trying "to expose the Syrian regime" ... translation: you are obsessed with your need to take revenge. And I don't need to know you personally to analyze you. It is a bit obvious Anton.

Why I am analyzing you? .. because there are many others like you in the Middle East. You and your types are the cause of most problems in the middle east. Every endless conflict has revenge attached to it.

As a "Bashar supporter" I apologize to you for all the filth that accompanied the presence of the Syrian army in Lebanon. And I wish Bahsar could formally apologize to the Lebanese in a clear way for all the mistakes. And I wish the rest of the Lebanese would thank Syria for the times when its role was actually constructive in Lebanon.

That's my last post on this topic. I'll leave it up to you to have the last word if you wish.

No, actually I will do even better; let me help you with the outline of your reply

1) I am an idiot
2) I don't know how to read your email or anything else.
3) I know nothing about psychology, or even pop-psychology.
4) I am a hypocrite Bashar supporter
5) You are laughing even harder at this stupid Syiran who does not even have a spell checker, just like Joshua.

Anton Efendi

1) you called me "way off target" for seeing the inevitable Shia/Aoun/syria alliance a year ago. And you doubted Aoun "the idiot" is significant. And you ridiculed my opinion that Hariri and the Sunnis are playing a larger role than before (when Syria played that role) ... how knowledgeable of you!...

Aside from the above, the rest of that email from you was actually good. I am not saying you are totally wrong. But if you had in you the ability to admit a mistake when you make one, we wouldn't be arguing over that email 4 rounds in a row.

No I didn't. Again, for the millionth time, go and read, or learn to read. I quoted the part about Aoun working with the remains of the Syrian order. Are you blind or just incapable of comprehension? Calling Aoun an idiot has nothing to do with anything. As for the off target remark, it's there for you to reread, if you can do that.

I wonder who's the one who cannot admit the mistake. You read what you wanted into that email. That's why I urge you to learn how to read properly.

Anton Efendi

And I advised you on your lame pop-psychology. You didn't listen. Here's another piece of advice. Don't quit your day job.

Anton Efendi

I'm not asking for your apology. I never held you or anyone in Syria outside the regime for the regime's behavior in Lebanon.

But the part about wishing Bashar could basically... how should I put it... not be Bashar is your real problem. One which you won't admit. It actually summarizes it quite well.

Bashar will always be Bashar. And the regime will always be the regime. That's why Bashar and the regime must go.

Anton Efendi

And by the way, I see your powers of prediction are waning. You were "off target" in 3/4 of your predictions about my response!

And why was that? It's because you didn't read carefully what I said! Ironically, that's the only thing you predicted correctly!

But, if you please, I never called you an idiot. Never would. I was very clear in what I said (as I was in my email): you don't read carefully what I wrote/write. If you did, half of this conversation would not have taken place. Nor would you have written the #5 prediction, which is completely useless, as I never said anything about your writing abilities, or style, or typos. Certainly never said that about Josh. YOU did (just like YOU said what you said about Aoun and Christians, my email, etc. Not me!).

My beef with Josh, whatever beef I have, is not his typos!! I think it's a bit more serious than that!!

So take your one prediction that you got right, and take it to heart!

Anton Efendi

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Well.....that was a really unpleasant pissing contest above. And....actually I DO IN FACT have a doctorate education in clinical psychology....and therefore will be pleased to provide the proper diagnosis here. Efendi is afflicted with a severe case of Narcissistic Assholedom Disorder. This is characterized by a high degree of PARANOIA....and the extreme need to thrash his 'opponent' with over intellectualized insults....in order to defend his own inner sense of superiority...(and well, lets face it, also restore his faith in the size of his...you know what).

Amr T


That was brutal!!

Defamation, is ineed, what Tony's does best.

No discussion is ever possible with this guy. It is another talent, waisted.. Unless he starts a career as a Rap song writer!! I am sure they could use some of this hate in him.

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