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Friday, November 24, 2006

You Can't Trust Syria

That is the message coming from Michael Young in the London Times today. (HT to Captain Ed):

In recent weeks the idea that the United States and the UK should “engage” Syria, but also Iran, to stabilise Iraq has been all the rage. On Tuesday, in an east Beirut suburb, Lebanon’s industry minister, Pierre Gemayel, showed what the cost of engagement might be. The scion of a prominent Christian political family was assassinated in broad daylight. This was the latest in a series of killings and bomb attacks that the UN investigator looking into the murder of the late Prime Minister, Rafiq Hariri, has determined are linked.

Mr Gemayel’s allies quickly accused Syria or its allies of the crime, and it’s difficult to disagree. With the late minister dead and six pro-Syrian ministers having just resigned, Lebanon’s Government is near the stage where it will be constitutionally forced to resign.

This is a priority for Syria as it would undermine Lebanon’s formal endorsement of the court being established by the UN to try suspects in the Hariri case. Syrian officials fear being fingered by the UN investigation.

Syria has encouraged its powerful Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, to bring down the Government. The recent ministerial resignations were led by the party which has been planning demonstrations to force the Government out.

Developments in Lebanon make the idea of engaging Syria at best premature. The Hariri investigation is continuing, and until the UN releases its final report on the assassination it makes no sense to talk to a Syrian regime that may find itself in the dock. Moreover, its President, Bashar Assad, has implied he would not allow Syrian suspects to appear before the tribunal, making a confrontation between Damascus and the international community likely. Eager partisans of engagement could have egg on their faces.

Well, Jim Baker's dealt with egg on his face before, so this would be no different for him now. The Baker Commission has been pressing this idea on the administration for some time now. Engagement is the "best course" of action regarding both Syria and Iran. But both nations have a history in not abiding by the terms of agreements that have been struck. Case in point: The UN ordered Syria out of Lebanon, and ordered them to stay out of their business. Then Rafik Hariri is assassinated, and now Pierre Gamayel. And all the fingers seem to be pointing in Assad's direction.

There is no argument that Assad wants Lebanon back under its control. This is one of the reasons why Hezbollah is operaqting there now, today, and still trying to engage Israel there while unleashing their minions to the streets of Lebanon to stir up trouble. The assassination of Gamayel has all the trademarks of a Hezbollah hit, and if anyone thinks that Nasrallah ordered this all by his lonesome, think again. Nasrallah doesn't do a damn thingw ithout his master's say-so.

It is in our best interests to help Lebanon succeed at becoming a democracy over there. Many "experts" claim that Lebanon could become an Islamic nation, but the democgraphics don't support that hypothesis. The Cedar Revolution proved that. And many think that the revolution died when Hariri was killed, but it only reinforced the populace against Syria. And Syria, under Assad's rule, is a nation that doesn't have the best interests of Lebanon in mind. Subjugation and tyranny are amongst the ideas that Assad has for Lebanon, and seemingly an operations base for Hezbollah. Israel has long known that Damascus is a viper's nest of terrorists and their leaders, which is one of the reason why they buzzed it so often during the recent engagement with Hezbollah.

If we play the diplomacy game with Syria, we'll send a signal to the Lebanese people that we care less about their freedom, and more about the illusion of stability in the region. And it would be an illusion. We can't expect a nation like Syria to simply go along with what we say without them pursuing their own agenda. And unlike the nations in the region--Iran and Syria--we abide by the terms of agreements we reach. And when those agreements are broken, we screw around with a response while the situation gets worse for those caught in the middle.

The move towards engagement with either Iran or Syria would take away the key deterrent of both nations: A US military response to any further meddling int he business of Lebanon or Iraq. Remember, the Baker Commission is urging this sort of engagement with both nations in regard to Iraq. Neither nation wants to see Iraq succeed. If that were to happen, their regimes would be threatened by their own people. The Cedar revolution was fully supported by the administration as a way of sending a message to tyranny that when the people were untied behind the common goal of freedom, that tyranny would fall. It's in the history books. All we have to do is look at Poland under the Walesa "revolution"to see this. Syria and Iran would face serious problems if such events were to occur within their borders, and had been propogated by the success in Iraq and Afghanistan. The idea that both of these terror-sponsoring nations want success in Iraq is an outright fallacy.

Mr. Young goes on to point out that such negotiations would have certain people absent from the table. Namely, those that are acutally committed to freedom rather than oppression. Mr. Young points out the same thing that many of us who have been watching these events unfold have. That being that the Lebanese government stands on the cusp of being unconstitutional itself. Another minister dies, and that will happen. the government will collapse, and Syria would be able to move right back in. As a matter of fact, they're already there still. We have solid intelligence from the Labanese that Syrian intelligence is still in Lebanon, and Hezbollah is still there, as well; fully operating under orders from both Assad and Ahmadinejad.

The administration needs to tell Jim Baker thanks, but no thanks. Engagement in diplomacy isn't the only option available to the US right now when it comes to Lebanon or Iraq. Syria's back needs to be broken when it comes to both nations, and the same goes for Iran. How to do it is the question, but the answer is definitely not diplomacy via capitulation.

Publius II


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