Sunday, March 06, 2005

Wrong Side of History, Wrong Side of the Deal

"Hezbollah Declares Full Support for Syria," New York Times, 6 March 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/06/international/middleeast/06cnd-syria.html.

"US, France repeat calls for Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon," GEO World News, 7 March 2005, http://www.geo.tv/main_files/world.aspx?id=68031.

As another cynical terrorist-appeasing realpolitician sees the handwriting on the wall

President Pervez Musharraf has also asked Syria to implement United Nations resolutions.

Lebanese opposition celebrating Syrian pullout from the country, after a protest campaign from the mid of last month. The protests and international pressure forced the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's to announce pullout of troops in two phases.

Assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri last month provoked an upsurge in anti-Syrian sentiment inside Lebanon and calls for an immediate and complete Syrian withdrawal.

Pakistan’s President Musharraf in a brief stopover in Beirut on his way to the Central Asian states visited Hariri’s residence and condoled with the family. Talking with the newsmen later Musharraf urged for proper investigations of the assassination and called Syria to respect aspirations of the people of Lebanon.


The Shia "Army of God" opts to support schismatic swaydo Christians who celebrate Christmas and Epiphany

The Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah declared its full support for Syria today, presenting a direct challenge to opposition groups after Syria promised to gradually withdraw troops from Lebanon.

Hezbollah's leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, spoke to reporters today in his stronghold in southern Beirut, breaking weeks of relative silence over the crisis concerning Syria's presence in Lebanon. He called for Lebanese to "express their gratitude" to Syria by joining a demonstration on Tuesday against United Nations Resolution 1559, which calls for Syria's withdrawal and Hezbollah's disarmament.

It would have been better if Hezbollah was bought off, but this is still useful. It further cements the Iran-Syria rift. Iran is supporting a government in Iraq that Syria is attacking. Now, Syria is supporting an opposition group standing in the way of democratic Shia dominance of Lebanon. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia would not have stuck their necks out on Lebanon if it was not already a fait accompli.


Iran's actions have been consistent with the thesis that they are trading Syria for membership in the nuclear club. Hezbollah had to choose which side of that deal they want to be part of. They chose poorly.

If Hezbollah wishes to remain loyal to the ancien regime, fine. They'll meet the same fate.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Syria for the Bomb, Again

UK Warns Syria of 'Pariah' Status," BBC News, 4 March 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4317473.stm.

"Bush Offers to Help EU Over Iran," BBC News, 4 March 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4317579.stm.

Repitition today. Trading Syria for a Persian Bomb is old news. American hostility to Baby Assad's Syria is old news. Syria's encirclement is old news. Potential WTO Membership for Iran is old news.

Such obvious Atlantic cooperation on the trade is the only novelty here.

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has warned Syria it risks being "treated as a pariah" if it fails to withdraw its forces from Lebanon.

In a BBC interview, Mr Straw said more UN peacekeepers could be deployed in Lebanon to replace Syrian troops.

His comments come a day after Russia and Saudi Arabia joined growing calls for Syria to withdraw its forces.

...

He said Syria had to withdraw "in a sensible, swift but phased way" in order for the country to "come back into the fold of the international community".

"If they don't," he said, "they really will be treated as a pariah."


for the Bomb

US President George W Bush has said he is willing to help European countries in their negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme.

Mr Bush said he had told the Europeans that the US was looking at how it could help move the process forward.

The European plan could offer Iran economic and trade incentives if it abandons its nuclear programme.


As Dr. Barnett writes, it is not "appeasement," it is "the fastest way to getting what we want."

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Skilled Saudis, Bumbling Baby Assad

"Saudis Back Calls for Syrian Pullout from Lebanon," by Dominic Evans, Reuters, Saudis Back Calls for Syrian Pullout from Lebanon, 3 March 2005 (from Democratic Underground).

The Saudis have hung onto both The Hejaz, Nijd, the Empty Quarter, East Arabia, and all their other despotates because they buy off internal enemies and can be useful to outside powers. For example:

Saudi Arabia added a key Arab voice on Thursday to mounting demands that Syria withdraw its troops swiftly from Lebanon, where they have helped secure it powerful influence for decades.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad flew to Riyadh for crisis talks where Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah told him immediate action was needed.

Abdullah, a regional ally of the United States, told Assad that "Syria must start withdrawing soon, otherwise Saudi-Syrian relations will go through difficulties," one Saudi official said.


Baby Assad runs from the obvious for as long as possible

Syria's official SANA news agency said of the Assad-Abdullah meeting: "The talks have tackled the upcoming Arab summit meeting and the situation in Lebanon and views were identical on this matter."

Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo refrained from joining in an increasingly public campaign calling for Syrian withdrawal and said they were opting for quiet diplomacy by individual Arab states.


One one hand, it's maddening. A key part of the Iraq War was to pressure Syria, they're nightmarish state enables terrorism, and they cruficy people.

On the other... The Saudis know which way the wind is blowing. They can read the writing on the wall, the signs in the sky, and a million other cliches. They join in popular causes after they know how it will end.

In sum: we are winning

PS: How's this for a dramatic map?

medium_very_dramatic_map_of_syria_and_lebanon.gif


If this is the future of cartography, my brother has chosen the right field!

Update: Collounsbury sums it up: "It adds a whole new dimension of bad for the Syrians..."

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Le Grande Syria for Le Grande Bomb

"Bush, Schroeder to Iran: Stop with nukes," by Tom Raum, Associated Press, http://www.journalstar.com/articles/2005/02/23/top_story/doc421cd41737533948517170.txt, 23 February 2005.

"Keep off Lebanon, Iran tells US," Aljazeera, http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/172841F4-FA99-4643-A920-D88CF8F1AD28.htm, 23 February 2005.

America, Europe See Nuclear Iran As Not In Atlantic Interests

President Bush and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder insisted Wednesday that Iran must not have nuclear weapons, but remained divided on how to coax Tehran into giving up its suspected ambitions for such an arsenal.

"It's vital that the Iranians hear the world speak with one voice that they shouldn't have a nuclear weapon," Bush said at a news conference with the German leader.

Both sought to play down the differences between the United States and Europe.

"We absolutely agree that Iran must say, no, to any kind of nuclear weapon," Schroeder said.


Iran see Atlantic Interference in Greater Syria As Not In Iranian Interests

US President George Bush on Wednesday said Syria should withdraw its military and its secret services from Lebanon.

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said Washington was trying to protect its chief ally in the region, Israel.

"The Lebanese must beware of falling into the trap of foreigners who, using beautiful words, pursue their own political objectives," he said.

"To secure the interests of Israel in the region, the Americans are putting pressure on Syria to withdraw its forces," Kharrazi told the official IRNA news agency in Tehran on Wednesday


If only America and Europe had something they could trade in exchange for Iran getting the bomb (it is happening anyway). If only Iran had something it could trade in exchange for Atlantic interference in Greater Syria (it is happening anyway).

Hmm...

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Baghdad Rules

"Hama Rules," by Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/17/opinion/17friedman.html, 17 February 2005.

I am a fan of Tom Friedman. His Geo-Green strategy is right-on, and he recognizes we are currently fighting an Iraqi Civil War. His latest column on the assassination of former Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafik Hariri is perfect. Excerpts below:

About two weeks ago, a friend of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri stopped by my office to update me on Lebanon and pass on a message from Mr. Hariri, whom I have known since reporting from Beirut in the late 1970's. The message was that the Lebanese opposition to the Syrian occupation was getting united - inspired both by the example of Iraq and by the growing excesses of the Syrian occupation. Mr. Hariri, his friend said, was planning to use the coming Lebanese parliamentary elections, and a hoped-for victory by the opposition front, to send a real message to the Syrians: It's time for you to go.

There is no excuse anymore for Syria's occupation of Lebanon, other than naked imperialism and a desire to siphon off Lebanese resources. If the U.S. government and media really care about democracy in the Arab world, Mr. Hariri's envoy said, then the U.S. has to get behind those trying to rescue the oldest real Arab democracy, Lebanon, from the Syrian grip.

...

When Syria's Baath regime feels its back up against the wall, it always resorts to "Hama Rules." Hama Rules is a term I coined after the Syrian Army leveled - and I mean leveled - a portion of its own city, Hama, to put down a rebellion by Sunni Muslim fundamentalists there in 1982. Some 10,000 to 20,000 Syrians were buried in the ruble. Monday's murder of Mr. Hariri, a self-made billionaire who devoted his money and energy to rebuilding Lebanon after its civil war, had all the hallmarks of Hama Rules - beginning with 650 pounds of dynamite to incinerate an armor-plated motorcade.

Message from the Syrian regime to Washington, Paris and Lebanon's opposition: "You want to play here, you'd better be ready to play by Hama Rules - and Hama Rules are no rules at all. You want to squeeze us with Iraq on one side and the Lebanese opposition on the other, you'd better be able to put more than U.N. resolutions on the table. You'd better be ready to go all the way - because we will. But you Americans are exhausted by Iraq, and you Lebanese don't have the guts to stand up to us, and you French make a mean croissant but you've got no Hama Rules in your arsenal. So remember, we blow up prime ministers here. We shoot journalists. We fire on the Red Cross. We leveled one of our own cities. You want to play by Hama Rules, let's see what you've got. Otherwise, hasta la vista, baby."

...

What else can the Lebanese do? They must unite all their communities and hit the Syrian regime with "Baghdad Rules," which were demonstrated 10 days ago by the Iraqi people. Baghdad Rules are when an Arab public does something totally unprecedented: it takes to the streets, despite the threat of violence from jihadists and Baathists, and expresses its democratic will.

...

Nothing drives a dictatorship like Syria's more crazy than civil disobedience and truth-telling: when people stop being intimidated, stand up for their own freedom and go on strike against their occupiers. The Lebanese can't play by Hama Rules and must stop playing by the old Lebanese Rules. They must start playing by Baghdad Rules.


Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

A Syria-US Matter

"U.S. Pressure Mounts on Syria," CNN, http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/02/15/beirut.explosion/index.html, 16 February 2005 (from Collounsbury).

"Iran, Syria 'Form Common Front'," BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4270859.stm, 16 February 2005.

Earlier, I blogged

We should use the tension of Iran's quest for the Bomb, along with events like al-Harari's assassination, to make a deal with Iran: the Bomb for Syria. It's in their interests. It's in our intersts. It's in the interests of the peace of the world.


Hopefully this is coming true. Syria-U.S. relations are fraying

U.S. pressure is mounting on Syria in the wake of the deadly bomb blast in Lebanon that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.


Both direction and speed are against Damascus

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday Syria was "unfortunately on a path right now where relations are not improving, but are worsening".


Who killed Harari? Who cares:

"I have been very careful to say we really don't know who committed this murder at this point, but we do know what effect the Syrian presence in Lebanon has," Boucher said.


Our ambassador was recalled

Ambassador Margaret Scobey was returning to Washington for "urgent consultations," Boucher said, because of "deep concern, as well as our profound outrage, over this heinous act of terrorism."


Now, take Iran's new tune

Iran and Syria say they are to form a common front to face challenges and threats from overseas.

"We are ready to help Syria on all grounds to confront threats," Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Aref said after meeting Syrian PM Naji al-Otar


This is reciprocity

Both countries are under intense US pressure, with Washington accusing Tehran of seeking nuclear weapons.


Iran is realstic. They believe that a functioning nuclear weapon will improve their position in the Middle East. And they know an Iraq-Iran Axis allows them to begin the liberation of East Arabia.

Syria is opposed to a Shia-Kurdish Iraq. Combining his father's cynicism with his own incompetence, Bashar Asad is trying to maintain a balance of power favorable to Syria. He has been supporting the anti-Shia insurgency and selling his alliance with Iran down the river.

Iran's sudden statement reminds us that Syria is traditionally in Tehran's sphere. It still has some value. And like any valuable thing, it can be traded away.

01:15 Posted in Greater Syria, Iran | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: syria, harari, rice, asad

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

May Allah Protect the Syrians - or - The Wolfowitz Plan

"Mr. President, Here's How to Make Sense of Your Second Term, Secure Your Legacy, And, Oh Yeah, Create a Future Worth Living," by Thomas P.M. Barnett, Esquire, pg 128, February 2005.

"Unhelpful Sabre Rattling: Lebland, Syria, US," by "Collounsbury," Lounsbury, http://www.livejournal.com/users/collounsbury/287898.html?view=1181082, 14 February 2005.

"Re: The Assassination Was Tragic...," by "Collounsbury," Lounsbury, http://www.livejournal.com/users/collounsbury/287898.html?thread=1176218#t1176218, 15 February 2005.

Tying together two tangentially related Collounsbury posts

None of this is worth it. Syria needs to reform its economy to be sure, and the sooner the better. Bloody basket case, but there is no key state interest for the US to destabilize Syria.


and

Egypt is not (and if one thinks it is, one needs much, much better idea about the region) making progress. The regime is treading water, playing a song and dance game to keep the gullible Americans paying its bills, and when it blows, the "transformation" is not going to be pretty.

Egyptian gov is the US's little whore, and she's painted up really nice, but she's got AIDS.

And this is your model for Syria. May Allah protect the Syrians.


In the first post, C denies any "key state interest" in destabilizing Syria. In the second, on another point, he notes that U.S. policies can be disasterous for another state.

From reading his blog, I gather C is a realst who is strongly opposed to destabilizing regimes and harming societies. We should all be careful of the ill we cause. And clearly a policy of regime transformation that "blows up" is a failure. However, the Lounsebury position is too extreme. Causing state chaos can be beneficial. It serves as a warning to all other rogue regimes that they cannot rely shoft-term American interests to save them.

This ties into regime change. As Dr. Barnett writes in Esquire

Version #3 (Ugly) is delivered sotto voce. Just have Paul Wolfowitz show [North Korean Leader] Kim the "six-month reconstruction plan" the Pentagon neocons drew up for the postwar occupation. If he thinks you're bluffing, then instruct Wolfie to slip him some of those morgue shots of Uday and Qusay looking al stiched up like a pair of Frakensteins. Kim'll get the hint. Your administration has proven that you're willing to wage war with almost no concern for the resulting VIP body count, the subsequent incompetent occupation, or the inevitable political uproar back home. I say when you've got it, flaunt it.


The reconstruction of Iraq has gone worse than it should have. But the lesson -- that the U.S. is willing to throw a state into chaos -- is very valuable. This encourages conservative forces in rogue regimes to advocate normalization of relations. Good.

Update: The whole article is now online.

01:45 Posted in Greater Syria, Iraq | Permalink | Comments (3) | Tags: syria, wolfowitz