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February 15, 2005

Comments

Maybe this reflects the administration's overall hostility toward Syria in relation to Iraq, which the administration has decided to act upon, and that the assasination is presented as a "last straw." Even if Syria was somehow behind the kililng of an ex-prime minister, it seems a fairly minor issue given the long history of Syrian oppression in Lebanon, for which no one has said much of anything. That would also explain why we are not particularly interested in the inquiry, since the killing is not our primary grievance.

I guess the US won't be able to extraordinarily render terror suspects to Syria anymore.

I guess this could also mean that soon we'll be bombing Syrian towns on the border with Iraq in support of UN resolutions that insist the Syrians quit meddling in Lebanon.

Speaking of Lebanon, Syria and car bombs - Death of Hobeika

Here's another take:
The US (i.e. the Bush Administration) has already, via SecState Rice, put Syria on their short sh*tlist - that they view the Damascus regime as a sort of junior partner to the "Axis of Evil" is longstanding policy, and should be no surprise.
It should also not shock anyone that the Bush crew would use the occasion of the bomb assassination of ex-PM Hariri as an opportunity for self-righteous cheapshotting at the Syrians, complete with huffy diplomacy and not-so-subtle fingerpointing, even as they piously disclaim any "accusations" - and indeed, in Lebanon, sadly, just about anyone might be responsible.
However, if "Syria" (?? Gov't? Lebanese puppets? Rogue Intel??) IS responsible for this heinous act, where is the evidence? ANY evidence?
Oops, sorry, that's right... this is the Bush 43 Adminstration, stuff like "evidence" is "reality-based thinking" ... my bad!

oh maybe there's evidence, but it's all classified. you'll just have to trust them. maybe Condi will give a PowerPoint presentation on what they can tell us.

If this means (as I fear it may) that Bush has decided the big flashy war for his second term should be a war with Syria, how on earth is he going to do it?

1. Withdraw troops from Iraq in order to send them to Syria
2. Bring back the draft in order to massively increase the size of the military
3. Massively increase the size of the military by some other method
4. Attack Syria in some way that doesn't require use of troops
5. ...something else?

I've always figured (1) was possible, and made as much sense as anything else Bush & Co might decide to do about Iraq (when a war is unwinnable, withdraw). I'm assured by Bush supporters that (2) just won't happen, because the President says he isn't going to do it, and by more cynical people that (2) won't happen because Bush & Co are aware it would be political suicide. I don't see how (3) would work, but I put it in for the sake of completeness. I imagine (4) is quite possible: a bombing campaign could destroy Syria, and of course cause massive Syrian civilian casualties, without risking any American lives. The Syrian civilian casualties would be invisible to Bush's supporters, so this seems most likely - if there's anything that Bush can claim has been achieved by bombing Syria flat.

(5)?

Evidence is good.

I'm in favor of it.

BTW, Stan, that site you linked to is pretty transparent propaganda. Out of sheer curiousity I read the Bodansky book linked there, and it was a pile of lies, half-truths, and BS.

I'm waiting for Jesurgislac to avail herself of the possible-therefore-true operator.

praktike,

Anything that's partisan is "propaganda".

Slarti, read the first three words of my comment: don't skip them because you're anxious to get on to the good parts!

Now, what fun would that be? :)

Well, the Bodansky book is just full of crazy nonsense downloaded from Debka files.

I'm pretty sure the Basques did it.

I remain skeptical and pessimistic.

Does anyone on either side have a clue as to what is going on, or whether we will use military force against Syria? I doubt it, thinking Bashar is umm, manageable, but wouldn't put any money down.

On the other hand I have wanted to liberate Lebanon from its Syrian oppressors for at least three years. Good beaches & bars.

Oppressed Occupied Unfree Peoples of Lebanon

I'm pretty sure the Basques did it.

every faction inside Lebanon EXCEPT syria and hezbollah (and syrian puppet authorities) were on Hariri's side in pushing for independence.

Hariri, as the only major political/economic player in the region without any historical ties to one faction or another (he was a completely self made billionaire, and was NOT from any of the ancient families that have been waring for so many years) was the primary "glue" that could be used against syrian occupation.

The bomb that took Hariri out MUST have been triggered by wire - there is talk that it was laid in the ground or in an under ground tunnel - it could not have been triggered by cellphone (as such things usually are apparently) because of his famous counter measures. This bombing was a larger undertaking than your typical anti US IED in Iraq.

Some time ago (im trying to get other links on this right now), France made a statement that Syria was not to assasinate Hariri or another leader - or there would be dire consequences. (http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/Newsdesk.nsf/Lebanon/111C46FAA0AB832142256FA7002D1AAC?OpenDocument)


So - folks, why are we focusing on things such as:

"It should also not shock anyone that the Bush crew would use the occasion of the bomb assassination of ex-PM Hariri as an opportunity for self-righteous cheapshotting at the Syrians, complete with huffy diplomacy and not-so-subtle fingerpointing, even as they piously disclaim any "accusations" - and indeed, in Lebanon, sadly, just about anyone might be responsible."

and

"If this means (as I fear it may) that Bush has decided the big flashy war for his second term should be a war with Syria, how on earth is he going to do it?"

I dont want to knowlingly break any posting rules, but I want to point something out:

Syria IS the force that gets things done in Lebanon. They have been since the late 80s. They are Occupiers that rule with an Iron fist, and dont take ANY crap from their subjects. Dont think that the people that live in Lebanon dont remember Hama for instance.

Of course it was Syria.


Of course it was Syria.

You present a convincing case, but then why is Boucher bending over backwards to not say so?

"Syrian civilian casualties would be invisible to Bush's supporters"

I support Bush and any deaths in Syria would be completely invisible to me.

Jes... you're just too smart for us...

smlook,

Karl Rove organized the bombing!

5. ...something else?

Bomb the living daylight out the place and get the Israelis to invade from the south! See if you can get the Turks to join in the fun and invade from the North!

However, if "Syria" (?? Gov't? Lebanese puppets? Rogue Intel??) IS responsible for this heinous act, where is the evidence? ANY evidence?

You forgot "CIA"... Could'nt be, it was a successful assasination!

Stan, smlook,

Syria = Bad...got it.

But why this game? If we're as sure as bender suggests they were behind the bombing, why not call it like we see it. What does withdrawing our ambassador do except make matters worse? They can't have thought we only disliked them a little bit before.

"You present a convincing case, but then why is Boucher bending over backwards to not say so?"

If I am not mistaken, Bashar & crew have a lot more friends in the Middle East than Saddam did. I was semi-serious above. I wanted Lebanon/Syria much more than Iraq, considering Syria to much closer ties to terrorism, considering the Bekaa Valley training grounds where I had heard Al Qaeda guys had escaped to after Afghanistan....and especially because Syria was family. Majority Sunni, Hashemite descended, good company at Arab league meetings. I though no message was sent to the Saudis by taking out Saddam.

An attack on Syria and the Arab street might finally explode. I didn't think Bushco had the cajones, Iran would be an easier target, diplomaticly. I still don't think Bush will attack Syria.

Edward -

I think part of the reason why hes bending over backward to obfuscate his meaning has something to do with his profession. I dont want to sound like a radical (I might be one!) but working in state seems to make people into super diplomatic robots. Nothing is ever what they imply..., why would they ever say that!, thats not what we meant!...

Double talk. I heard a rumor they have classes on this at state (im kidding - sort of)

Its all a way of allowing the otherside to save face, back down, etc.

One of the biggest problems that people have with bush is not what hes done, but how hes done it. You hear allot of people in the pro-war corner saying things like "if clinton did it then..." but what they miss is not that clinton may have done the same exact thing, and maybe even with the same resources, or even the same outcome, but that he would have couched the whole situation differently - more eloquently - more diplomatically. He would have made an effort to make his action more agreeable to everyone.

State is going to behave like that toward the syrians until the moment someone knocks them off. That is their job - they are supposed to be able to hold dialogs with the bad guys, even when shooting is about to start.

Bush recalled the ambassador. State says they arnt implicating syria. This isnt entirely off message to my mind when you look at who the messengers are.

"But why this game? If we're as sure as bender suggests they were behind the bombing, why not call it like we see it. What does withdrawing our ambassador do except make matters worse? They can't have thought we only disliked them a little bit before."

Because we cant do anything while tied down in Iraq. We cant leave now. We cant re-distribute troops to Lebanon because of the elections - not for at least a year while the constitution is being drawn up.

Killing Hariri just screwed Lebanon to hell. The factions dont have an ousider as a leader anymore. They can be played against eachother again, and there is no longer a trusted mediary.

Also - im betting we cant focus on Syria directly anymore once the infighting starts up again, because well have to go stabilize Lebanon. Can you imagine if the theories above were true, and the bush plan were to take syria next... can you imagine the international outcry if the syrians were the only ones holding the peace in war torn Lebanon and we attacked them?

We would be accused of ignoring the real problem, not helping the people that really need help, allowing a slaughter while we went after our personal vendettas... just to state a few.

Im sure that guy at state could come up with a half dozen reasons why the killing hariri now would be expedient. Thats what they are good at - creating a mess for the other side to have to try to figure out.

Well, regardless of whether Syria did it or not, the effect is the same because most Lebanese in the opposition seem pretty sure it was Syria and/or the Lahoud gov't. I think it could well be an Iranian op -- they have links to the Palestinians there.

"Majority Sunni, Hashemite descended, good company at Arab league meetings."

Not quite. Majority Sunni Arab, but ruled by Alawites.

doh.

try again.

"Not quite. Majority Sunni Arab, but ruled by Alawites."

Okaaaay. Umm, thought I had this down. Another night of googling Arab history.

If the evidence points towards Syria, as everyone seems so all-fired sure it will, then what step would Chirac want to take after the investigation? He's not exactly a pacifist.

I can imagine that the Bush administration wouldn't want France to get involved in the Middle East. France has a long history with both Lebanon and Syria, but French influence or presence in the area right now might put a damper on US projects--whatever they are.

These be some tricky diplomatic waters, methinks.

This bush supporter would love it if some trigger happy french troops would go sit on the border between lebanon and syria and tell the syrians they want their vacation spot back.

Its even of a scale that they could handle, they wouldnt have to worry about the de-gaulle being too far from port incase of melt down, etc etc.

(Sorry - i cant help but get my shots in)

And in response to Jackmormon -

when you use enough explosives to kill Hariri - a man arguably better protected than the president of the united states - in his car, there will be very little evidence to uncover. And im sure that they didnt use explosives that came off the factory floor headed to syria (heck - maybe the evidence will end up pointing to Iraq!).

We wont be finding a bomb shell with "made in the usa" stamped on it.

"Well, regardless of whether Syria did it or not, the effect is the same because most Lebanese in the opposition seem pretty sure it was Syria and/or the Lahoud gov't."

God only hopes that this can be a unifying moment for them. It wont be though. Its more difficult to unify under a dead man than with a living breathing leader who will build your relatives a hotel to run and a port to work at.

Fair enough about the evidence, Bender.

And I agree with you that French troops on the border might be a good thing for Lebanon--and that that kind of limited engagement might be feasible for Chirac both in military and political terms.

You'd be ok with it, but I wonder whether the US administration would be. You seem better clued in about the situation than I am, but, Lord, it sounds complicated enough without introducing another army.

Alawi in Syria

Good grief. Seems the more I look into the Islamic Middle East and its history, the more complicated and confusing it becomes. Ok, so the current rulers of Syria, although my guess is that they are not all Alawi, are not as close to the Royal families of Jordan and Saudi Arabia (although what I am studying is how close those two families are) as I thought.

Now all this may not be important at all, like the differences between Presbyterians, Methodists, and Episcopalians. Or it may be important, as those differences were a few hundred years ago in the West.

bender continues the string of bloggers and commenters I've seen today declaring that they're absolutely convinced it must be Syria's doing, despite the total lack of any publicly-available direct evidence for this hypothesis.

Now there's plenty of sound circumstantial reasons to *suspect* the Syrians. But you'd think, after the Iraqi WMD debacle, that folks would be a little slower to declare themselves absolutely convinced of Middle East-related propositions for which they have no direct evidence.

Syria's puppet President in Lebanon had his term extended for 3 months; that was apparently what made Harriri resign. Was Harriri planning to run for the Presidency himself? Either for real, or as a protest candidate? How popular was he; that is, if he ran, would he have won?

Unless Harriri was going to do any of that, I don't understand why Syria would kill him. Harriri isn't the only politician in Lebanon who wants the Syrians out, but I don't see any particular push to get them out. All killing Harriri accomplishes then is to make people angry and scared who otherwise might not have been either one.

I'm not sure an act that threatens to destabilize Lebanon, as Harriri's murder does, actually advances Syria's interests. They're already pretty firmly in control of Lebanon, aren't they? The opposition hasn't managed to do much about it, has it?

These aren't rhetorical questions. Lebanon went through hell for a very long time; however much people might loathe the Syrians, it would take (I think) a lot of grief for them to want to start a civil war again. But killing popular politicians - esp. if there's no compelling reason to do so - is possibly just the sort of provocation to start things up again.

So, Syria trades a stable situation it controls for an angry/outraged populace willing to go to the streets again? Why?

Didn't the Congress pass a law, signed by the executive, concerning Syria. Just asking don't want to ruin the party.

Just one other question, has Syria been protecting Iraqi Baathist. You know the individuals blowing up other Iraqis. Just asking, again please party on.

I have to imagime that soon, the US will take Syria to task for Arar. It would be par for the course.

"Didn't the Congress pass a law, signed by the executive, concerning Syria"

There may be more, but last year I think Congress authorized the President to umm, implement? such sanctions as he saw fit, when he thought them appropriate. There was an argument about mandating sanctions that failed.

Didn't the Congress pass a law, signed by the executive, concerning Syria. Just asking don't want to ruin the party.

Just one other question, has Syria been protecting Iraqi Baathist. You know the individuals blowing up other Iraqis. Just asking, again please party on.

Questions are typically followed by a question mark. The notable exceptions to this are indirect quotations, and some forms of rhetorical questions. As I misdoubt you are quoting yourself indirectly, I must assume that you are speaking rhetorically. This would match up closely with your longstanding pattern of asking rhetorical questions to which you already know (or think you know) the answer, presumably in order to make an oblique point but frequently having little or no relevancy.

Your points would be better conveyed if you would phrase them in the form of a statement and use complete thoughts. E.g., "If I recall correctly, Bush has been considering sanctions against Syria for some times. This is relevant because foo bar baz." Or: "Given our longstanding suspicions about Syrian involvement with foreign insurgents in Iraq, I think there could easily be more to this than we're privy to."

Discussions at other blogs note that the anti-Syrian opposition stepped up its rhetoric after another high-profile assassination attempt, one that failed. And Hariri's successor, a pro-Syrian, said "We'll show them" just 2 weeks ago.

Arabic politics are byzantine, to put it mildly, but this does indicate that Hariri's murder is part of an ongoing campaign to pick off important opposition figures. I guess one question is whether the Lebanese will respond to the assassinations and attempted assassinations by keeping their heads down and their mouths shut. Hard to say, since on the one hand they can hardly want a return of the civil war. On the other hand, if Syria is killing pro-opposition leades, and keeps doing so, the Lebanese might decide to respond in kind.

The Bush Admin might be contemplating the chances of assisting in an escalating confrontation. It would be interesting to know if there are any Lebanese versions of Achmed Chalabi getting cozy with Bush's neocon brain trust. Also, Bush's strategic foreign policy team is lousy with people who've covertly encouraged guerilla movements in the past, from Nicaragua to Angola.

"This would match up closely with your longstanding pattern of asking rhetorical questions to which you already know..."

Didn't notice it was Timmy. Boy is my face red.

Two questions:

1) What is the current Vegas over/under for the number of days until the Amazing Relocatable Nuclear Facility 2005 Tour makes its stop in Syria?

2) What is the current Vegas over/under for number of times some people have to be played for complete fools before they wise up?

As a side note, the above link in question uno is a larger CNN story by orders of magnitude than last weeks Eason whine-a-thon. And I will gladly bet the entire contents of Phil's 401k that Bird Dog won't do a 250,000 word story about it.

Some various clips

"It could be that the old guard element in Syria has said, `Enough is enough, we'll never appease neo-conservative America,' " said Nadim Shehadi, head of the Centre for Lebanese Studies at Oxford, England. "They've played at everything from reform to anti-terror, and it hasn't worked. If they (assassinated Hariri), they're putting their foot down." link

Of course, since I thought that we'd get fleas from being in bed with Syria, it stands to reason that I would be doing a little jig, but strangely enough, I really don't want to pull on my dancing shoes.

I know we pissed Putin off with the Ukraine thing, but just so we make no mistake

Russia has informed Israel that a controversial sale of a weapons system to Syria is to go ahead despite Israeli objections, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Tuesday.link

And this crisis gives Rice a chance to show what a diplomat she's going to be
"Let me be very clear that this is not the first time that we have discussed with the Syrian government our differences," she said after a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Aboul Gheit.

-snip-

"The Syrian government is unfortunately on a path right now that where relations are not improving but are worsening," Rice said.
link

and this
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other U.S. officials said the suspected Syrian complicity in the bombing attack was the latest in a series of hostile acts, including what they contend is Syria's support of the insurgency in Iraq and of groups carrying out violent attacks on civilians in Israel aimed at disrupting peace talks with the Palestinians.

Fool me once...


Most sobering was the last paragraph of this Haaretz op ed

One reasonable defensive measure, for both Syria and Hezbollah, will be to delegitimize the Lebanese opposition by depicting it as cozying up to the Americans. If Syria and Hezbollah succeed at diverting the debate in Lebanon to issues of loyalty to the U.S. or the "homeland" Washington's step could end up taking things in the opposite direction it intended.

That silly Israeli left, thinking that the Bush admin is going to screw things up! Nothing will be left to chance, guys.

I am sure that someone will point out the Hezbollah-Syria link, which is discussed below, along with a number of other linkages, here, but before jumping on the soapbox of how we have to destroy all terrorist organizations, attend to this interesting, if very depressing portion.


To fight such dangerous tactics, Western governments will also need to adapt. In addition to military, intelligence, and law enforcement responses, Washington should start thinking about how U.S. policies are perceived by potential recruits to terrorist organizations. The United States too often ignores the unintended consequences of its actions, disregarding, for example, the negative message sent by Washington's ongoing neglect of Afghanistan and of the chaos in postwar Iraq. If the United States allows Iraq to become another failed state, groups both inside and outside the country that support al Qaeda's goals will benefit.

Also, in line with our discussion about Woods revisionist history, this should send chills up anyone's spine

Focusing on economic and social alienation may help explain why such a surprising array of groups has proved willing to join forces with al Qaeda. Some white supremacists and extremist Christians applaud al Qaeda's rejectionist goals and may eventually contribute to al Qaeda missions. Already a Swiss neo-Nazi named Albert Huber has called for his followers to join forces with Islamists. Indeed, Huber sat on the board of directors of the Bank al Taqwa, which the U.S. government accuses of being a major donor to al Qaeda. Meanwhile, Matt Hale, leader of the white-supremacist World Church of the Creator, has published a book indicting Jews and Israelis as the real culprits behind the attacks of September 11. These groups, along with Horst Mahler (a founder of the radical leftist German group the Red Army Faction), view the September 11 attacks as the first shot in a war against globalization, a phenomenon that they fear will exterminate national cultures. Leaderless resisters drawn from the ranks of white supremacists or other groups are not currently capable of carrying out massive attacks on their own, but they may be if they join forces with al Qaeda.

Of course, the NYTimes is filled with interesting points.

Since the 1970's, Syria has used its troop presence in Lebanon to dominate Lebanese politics, at the time with the blessing of American and Israeli leaders. Now, however, Syria's presence is widely regarded as a destructive factor in the region even as some concede that it has added a measure of stability.

and

"Syria is low-hanging fruit compared to Iran," said Martin Indyk, a former Middle East official in the Clinton administration and now director of the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution, meaning that Syria, a poor country, may be easier to pressure than oil-rich Iran.

Nicholas Weininger: But you'd think, after the Iraqi WMD debacle, that folks would be a little slower to declare themselves absolutely convinced of Middle East-related propositions for which they have no direct evidence.

Why would you think that? Yes, Bush & Co lied about WMD in Iraq, and yes, everyone who swallowed their lie now looks a little bit gullible.

But in right-wing circles, it clearly matters very much less that Bush lied about WMD in Iraq than that Eason Jordan told an uncomfortable truth about reporters getting killed in Iraq. Bush had no evidence about WMD: Jordan had at least the evidence that, at least, unAmerican reporters are getting killed in startling-large numbers by US troops.

So, there is no reason for people not to go ahead and believe: evidence is irrelevant. It's the party line that matters.

Oh, and in other news: Iran reports an explosion in Deilam. Witnesses say it was a missile; the Iranian government says it might have been a falling fuel tank.

And in other, other news, Iran and Syria have announced they have formed a common front to oppose US threats against their countires.

From an Iraqi blogger's post:


Al-Jazeera showed a video by Palestinian who claimed that a group called AL-Nasrah W Al-Jihad in the Sham region is responsible. This is a name look like related to Al-Qaida.

Sham means "Greater Syria." Not sure why AQ would give a crap about that.

"Sham means "Greater Syria." Not sure why AQ would give a crap about that."

praktike, I have become interested in what Osama might mean, precisely,historically or metaphorically, by "the restoration of the Caliphate" and how, if at all, his goal might be connected to the Saud acquisition of the Holy Sites and the Treaty of Jedda. And other recent developments in the Middle East. "Recent" meaning since about 1300.

Wow -

A deplorable guy, who might have actually had a chance of ushering Lebanon back to its prosperous roots gets wacked, most likely by Syria (or some Syrian backed front, or some Syrian controlled front, or some Syrian supported and promoted front), and its somehow about Bush.

Go figure.

What part are you suprised is about Bush, bender? The withdrawal of our Ambassador?

I guess - in all honesty, I dont see a judicious use of standard political methodology (as seen in the whitehouse and state department reaction to the Hariri killing) to be anything but a sign that maybe the Bush whitehouse has learned a lesson from Iraq that maybe it should have known before getting involved in a shooting war. I dont understand why everyone here isnt applauding the white house for getting it right for once.

The French are actually taking the lead, and for once the Bush administration is towing the line.

the Bush whitehouse has learned a lesson from Iraq that maybe it should have known before getting involved in a shooting war

Fair supposition. I hope so.

I dont understand why everyone here isnt applauding the white house for getting it right for once.

It's a matter of trust. It takes more than one example to undo all the previous damage.

praktike, I have become interested in what Osama might mean, precisely,historically or metaphorically, by "the restoration of the Caliphate" and how, if at all, his goal might be connected to the Saud acquisition of the Holy Sites and the Treaty of Jedda. And other recent developments in the Middle East. "Recent" meaning since about 1300.

Well, IIRC Bin Laden advocates a return to the way things were under the four "rightly-guided caliphs." He views the House of Saud as illegitimate.

Here you go, bob.

Thank you, praktike. The Islamic Server is the kind of resource I have been looking for.

It sure looks like the USC MSA has some, er, issues there. Go to the main page and check out their embrace of the Taliban.

Aw, I don't care. For a start I want stuff like the difference between najis and halal, and whether there is any tradition to the Caliphate being a hereditary position, like Cohens and the temple. Islam 101.

Actually, radical Islamists aren't so bad cause I am seeking some more unspoken prejudices and judgements. Osama isn't accredited, but if he thinks the Saudis are illegitimate, I am sure there are many others who won't publicly say so.

My short-term memory ain't so good, and I need places to quickly revisit over & over.

Googling the Taleban speaker that the USC-MSA have the webpage about, I came across this. I'm headed out the door for rehearsal, so I can't say how balanced it is, but it has number of links that look interesting. Knock yourself out, Bob.

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