Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Only media offices, and those have all been closed.
There are no terrorists inside our country and Syria is in full control of its borders," said a Syrian official.
As it turns out, Bashar didn't close them. Instead, they eventually closed down of their own accord because of the pressure on Bashar.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Powell specifically mentioned three groups -- Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, General Command -- and quoted Powell as saying the United States will watch closely to determine whether the offices are indeed closed.
So there are a few little puzzles to solve in these AP pictures (via Yahoo):
Later, the offices were closed, at the initiative of the Palestinian organizations themselves, who did so after they saw the pressure on Syria, and this was their own initiative.
Khaled Mashaal, centre, the head of the Hamas militant group, shaking hands Sunday, May 22, 2005 with Farouk Kaddoumi, the head of the Fatah movement during a rare meeting held in Damascus comprising prominent leaders of Palestinian opposition groups. Ramadan Shalah, the head of the Islamic Jihad militant group, appears smiling at right. Syria once allowed Palestinian militants to run media offices from Damascus, but those were closed after a visit by then U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in May 2003. (AP Photo/Bassem Tellawi).Here is the first obvious question: given that there are no terrorist groups in Syria, if these guys aren't terrorists, who is? (Bush=Hitler fans, please keep the barking down).
The picture's caption reassures us that these really aren't terrorist groups; they are opposition groups. That's a nice new euphemism. I'm sure the victims of bus bombings will be pleased to know they haven't been terrorized but oppositionized. This labeling confusion is an inevitable part of the Global War on Opposition. Whether these men represent terrorists groups, or opposition groups, isn't so important really, since the office closings requested by Secretary Powell were of specific groups (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP) rather than those associated with the slippery term 'terror'.
From right, Nayef Hawatmeh, the leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ramadan Shalah, the head of the Islamic Jihad, Khaled Mashaal, the head of the Hamas militant group, Farouk Kaddoumi, the head of the Fatah movement, and Khaled al-Fahoum, the former head of the Palestine National Council, during a rare meeting held in Damascus Sunday, May. 22, 2005, to discuss inter-Palestinian issues and the latest developments in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian lands. Syria once allowed Palestinian militants to run media offices from Damascus, but those were closed after a visit by then U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in May 2003. (AP Photo/Bassem Tellawi).Next obvious question: if the "media offices" were closed, where are these guys meeting? Did Bashar just give them the keys to an office down the hall? As long as they don't go back into the closed offices, I guess Bashar doesn't really care where they meet.
This leads to the question that is more than just cute blog-venting. After voluntarily closing their own offices to reduce the pressure on the young optometrist, why have these terrorist leaders decided to openly meet in Damascus now?
Sounds like they've held this first meeting, and after a few days standing back to watch which way the wind blows, will try to meet again in Damascus, slowly reestablishing the old status quo if no one objects.
Since the offices' closings, Mashaal and other Damascus-based Palestinian leaders have kept low profiles, speaking to reporters from other Arab countries to avoid embarrassing Syrian authorities.
[Hawatmeh] said Sunday's meeting was held to prepare for another broader meeting either in Damascus or in Cairo. He did not say when the meeting will be held.
What changed in the calculation? Why do they feel now is the time to try this? It could be they've stopped worrying about Bashar. Or it could be they no longer care what Colin Powell threatened them with, if they ever did in the first place.
Either way, I think someone should object.
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