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(DV) Kaminer: Syria in the United States' Crosshairs







Syria in the United States' Crosshairs
by Reuven Kaminer
January 5, 2006

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The truth is that there are no reasons to be enthusiastic about the internal regime in Syria.  Even so, it would be the height of naiveté to believe that this country has moved into the crosshairs of the United States because of its poor record on human rights. The plain fact is that the United States, which has quite a few problems in the region, is busy organizing a list of guilty parties on whom blame can be shifted.  From the very moment that Syria refused to join Bush’s crusade to Baghdad, Washington began to prepare the indictment against it amidst growing threats to the government and the sovereignty of Syria.


Here are some of the crimes for which Syria must supposedly answer. Syria did not close the border between it and Iraq. Syria permits and even encourages passage through it by terrorists who are joining the insurgents in Iraq. Syria hosts and even welcomes refugees from Iraq who are on the U.S. intelligence “wanted list.” Then, as a matter of pure coincidence, the orange flag of the fake U.S.-sponsored “democratic revolution” in Kiev is transported to the heart of Beirut. At this point we learn that it is Syria, Lebanon’s neighbor, which has blocked the triumph of democracy in Lebanon. According to Washington, Damascus is to blame for all this and more. 


If representatives of the Syrian regime are even partially to blame for the assassination of the former president of Lebanon, Rafik Hariri, they must be severely condemned. However, the investigation is far from being over. But, without in any way condoning any kind of political assassination, one must retain a sense of proportion. This form of specious politics has been around quite a while and the United States has its own shoddy record in this department. Political assassination is immoral and usually counter-productive. But in this region, including Lebanon, it did not begin with Hariri's murder.  


No reliable source has accused Syria of producing or harboring weapons of mass destruction, and not even Washington has taken this track. Nor has anyone produced a shred of evidence of any connection between al Qaida and the ruling Ba’ath party in Syria. In these circumstances, there is simply no way that Washington can mobilize the United Nations for intervention.  It may be a matter for an International Tribunal but it is not an issue for the Security Council.


It is safe to say that there is no expectation of a U.S. military ground action in the near future. This is not because Bush wouldn’t love to do something of the sort. He would if he could, but he can't.  The U.S. Army is tied down and bleeding in Iraq. Every day, the U.S. generals pronounce more successes and every day the United States sinks deeper into the Mesopotamian mud. But let us not have any illusions. There are still plenty of methods and means in the U.S. arsenal to create tension and to prepare actions against the Syrians. For now, the U.S. is aiming its propaganda weaponry against Syria with increasing intensity.


The Israeli media, with a long history in the service of Israeli imperial ambitions in Lebanon, have already convicted Syria for the death of Hariri. The very same media, which backed Begin and Sharon to the hilt when they invaded Lebanon in 1982, are now preparing the ground for another contest in Lebanon with Syria.


The roots of Lebanese dependency on Syria stem from the Israeli-Maronite threat against the sovereignty of Lebanon. This may be the reason that there still is a mass base in Lebanon supporting a close alliance with Syria, existing along side a strong opposition to Syrian hegemony. Lebanese leaders should be left to work out the delicate checks and balances necessary for the existence of a united and democratic Lebanon. U.S. interference, either directly as in the Iraq model or via a military face off between Israel and Syria, is the perfect prescription for the disintegration of Lebanon. 


Sharon is Ready and Willing


Sharon, who installed Falangist leader, Pierre Jumayil, as the short-lived puppet ruler of Lebanon back in 1982, is ready and willing to precipitate a clash with Syria where Israel can appear, once again, as the defender of Lebanese democracy and freedom. Israeli rulers have generally seen any chance to actively serve U.S. imperial interests as the best way to stay on the good side of the U.S. administration, and at the same time, prevent Washington from getting any ideas about acting in fair-handed manner towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


So, we learn, there is a reason that tensions around the Israeli-Syrian-Lebanon conflict are kept simmering. The Israeli-Lebanese border can erupt, or be made to erupt, any minute. There are any number of forces and groups capable of igniting provocations from both sides of the border. Israel has a standing request in Washington for permission to attack “terrorist organizations” in Damascus. At this point, the United States and Israel are energetically involved in trying to isolate Syria. The obstacles to direct U.S. or United Nations intervention are such that Washington is looking at other options. This is the reason that there is growing concern about United States political backing for a new round of Israeli adventurism.


Concern Among Palestinian Arabs in Israel


Intense solidarity with Syria was expressed at a recent mass meeting sponsored by all the major groups and parties represented in the Arab Palestinian population last week in Nazareth. The Palestinians, as a community endangered directly by rising military tension, are the first to express concern when Washington and Jerusalem begin to beat the drums of war. Many in Israeli were taken aback at this display of "pro-Syrian" unity. But for those imprisoned in the impoverished discourse of establishment politics in this country, it is all too easy to forget foundational truths. The United States-Israeli strategic and political partnership is the basis for the continued suffering of the Palestinian people and for its history of misery, expulsion and brutal occupation. One does not need an excellent memory to become concerned when increased evidence indicates that this “holy partnership” is back to plotting for the imposition of more “democracy” in the region. We might, all of us, learn from Palestinian sensitivity.

Reuven Kaminer is a prominent Israeli activist and writer. He can be reached at: mssourk@mscc.huji.ac.il.

Other Articles by Reuven Kaminer

* Murder Plain and Simple
* Sharon's Disengagement: Pre-empting the "Growing Danger" of Peace