Thursday, June 01, 2006

France Offers Syria a Deal

France Offers Syria a Deal. That is what Michel Najm of Asharq al-Awsat was told by a high-ranking French official. I have copied the article below. If you have not read it, read it first. Here are some preliminary observations of how I imagine Syrians are thinking about it.

The prospect for a deal with France must be intriguing to Damascus. Here is how regime conservatives and liberals will think about it.

1. The conservatives will think that the West is bluffing and has over played its hand. The US, neocon regime-changers that France claims to be able to save Syria from are a spent force; they are dead-enders. France's offer is empty. France should have offer this deal last year before the release of the first UN report on Hariri, when Syria was scared and the West had maximum bargaining leverage. They missed their chance. Now the Western team is trying to resurrect the type of pressure it had then by using the anticipation of the Bramertz report due out June 15, but it is bluffing; Bramertz has nothing conclusive. France is like Arafat; it missed the moment to make a deal.

The conservatives will be saying that the West knows it cannot beat Damascus by pushing it to the wall. Anyway, the Syrian opposition is a weak reed on which to build a policy; the West would never back Bayanouni as president and the Muslim Brothers as the leading party in Syria. The Bush administration is returning to realism and abandoning neoconservative idealism on its own. The deal with Mubarak proves this, if that with Libya did not. Things are so bad in Iraq and Afghanistan that the West cannot possibly risk further destabilization in the region. Iran is sucking up Western attention. Given the taught nerves of the world over the Middle East, the Security Council will never move to sanction Syria over the Hariri trial. Anyway, Lebanon has turned out to be a mess and tragically divided. It cannot sustain a fight with Syria, which threatens to polarize the sects even further, indefinitely delay economic reforms and debt rescheduling, and possibly force Lebanon to declare bankruptcy. France is a spent force in the region. What can it really offer Syria that Syria is not already getting from the rising Eastern powers: India, Russia, and China? This "deal" is a typical good-cop bad-cop performance from the West. Syria must stand with its allies - Iran, Hizbullah, and Hamas - in their time of trial. Syria must be steadfast and confront western plots.

2. The regime liberals will answer this by arguing that France is the key to repairing relations with the West. When France abandoned Syria everything began to go wrong. By repairing relations with France, everything can begin to go right again. Syria can get out of its mess with the UN and Europe. It can move beyond the Hariri investigation and impending sanctions. It can rejoin the Madrid process; be relieved of possible banking sanctions by Europe; and isolate American hotheads. Why not recognize Lebanese borders, establish an embassy in Beirut, and normalize relations with Lebanon? France is not asking for Hizbullah to disarm. Syria will not be abandoning its allies in Lebanon, but only making their lives easier. Syria needs good relations with Lebanon to prosper. If France can make a few statements about the Golan Heights being Syrian and the necessity of Israel moving toward peace talks with Syria, so much the better. Syrian troops are already out of Lebanon. Let’s move on. It is time to abandon antiquated notions of Greater Syria. They are unrealistic and unrealizable. France is not asking Syria to change its policies on Iraq or Palestine. This is not a Qadhafi deal. Far from it.

Prosperity is the operative word. If the President is serious about wanting to put a chicken in every Syrian pot, he must repair relations with the West and Syria's neighbors to jump-start the economy. Syria must put its own interests first. Syria cannot simply rely on the East. It has become dangerously close to Iran. The pressure is straining sectarian relations within Syria. To restore investor confidence in Syria, Damascus must end the threat of sanctions and further trouble from the West. The Gulf States may be willing to pitch in a few billion dollars of economic assistance and some investment to sweeten the deal. Economy Tsar Dardari's ambitious five-year economic plan will stand a chance of success if Syria can move beyond the politics of confrontation. It is not in Syria's interests to fight the West. France is surrendering. Syria would be wise to accept this peace offer gracefully and get as much as you can.

I am not sure who will win this debate within the Syrian regime now. Much will depend on whether this is just a trial balloon or a serious offer. It will also depend on how Washington and Hariri's people respond to it.

Here is the article:

A high-ranking French source tells Asharq al-Awsat: 'We are ready to open up to Syria, but the road passes through Lebanon.'"

By Michel Najm

Paris-An official high-ranking French source told Asharq al-Awsat: "France is ready to resume political dialogue with the Syrian leadership. It is even ready to help President Bashar al-Assad and intervene in his favour."

The source added: "But this stand is conditional on France making sure that Syria has decided to be positive in Lebanon through actions, not only statements and declaration of intentions."

In a statement to Asharq al-Awsat yesterday, the source said: "Paris decides its stand toward Damascus depending on the Lebanese issue alone. It does not link this stand to regional issues, whether in Iraq or Palestine."

This suggests that Paris' stand is different from that of Washington, with which it worked hand in hand to push the Syrian authorities to withdraw their forces and intelligence services from Lebanon under Resolution 1559. Then they worked to set up an inquiry commission to investigate the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri.

The source pointed out: "Paris needs some time to test the current Syrian role in Lebanon. Several issues are a cause of concern to us."

The source added: "Paris' main question can be answered by many events and stands. They are the parliamentary elections, formation of a new Lebanese government, and Syria’s stand on allowing the emergence of a new Lebanese national consensus on Lebanon's independence and sovereignty, and the direction in which Lebanese organizations will move."

These organizations include Hezbollah, parties that revolve in the orbit of Damascus, and non-Lebanese organizations, that is to say, pro-Syrian Palestinian groups.

According to the French source, Paris has information indicating that Syria kept behind in Lebanon important intelligence and non-intelligence bodies that allow it to influence the situation in Lebanon.

The source said that Paris received messages through traditional diplomatic channels and other parties indicating that Syria has a desire to open a new chapter with France. He added that France "does not object" to responding to these messages.

The French source said: "If Paris reaches a conclusion that Damascus is playing the new game and accepts its rules, it will be ready to give Syria a helping hand on more than one level."

The source added: "Paris will not be embarrassed to resume the dual

assistance, which it began to extend to Syria regarding administrative and economic reform. Also, it will encourage the EU to resume high-level diplomatic contacts with Damascus."

Paris was behind Europe's diplomatic boycott of Syria in recent months.

The source noted: Damascus suffers "isolation" in its relations with the West.

Also, the EU postponed the signing of the European-Syrian partnership agreement that was initialled in Brussels in December last year. The agreement is awaiting a final signature before being ratified by European parliaments.

The source added: On the other hand, Paris can intervene with the US

Administration in Damascus' favour to urge it "not to intervene", that is to say, refrain from making political changes in Syria from abroad.

The source said: "Paris believes that US President George Bush respects what French President Jacques Chirac thinks and says about the Lebanese and Syrian issues and listens to him."

The source added: "Accordingly, we can persuade Bush not to heed the view held by extremists in his administration that toppling the Syrian regime will solve at once many problems, which the United States suffers in the region.

We can also convince him not to squeeze the Syrian authorities in the corner, because this move will prompt Syria to refrain from cooperation."

After a meeting with the French president in Brussels in February, Bush said that Chirac is "more experienced" in these two issues than him.

The French source summed up Paris' stand as follows: "We are ready to cooperate with, and help Syria. Nevertheless, restoration of confidence needs time and actions. The way to do this will depend on how Damascus deals with the Lebanese issue in the coming months."

The source added: "we are aware of the fact that Damascus took important steps in Lebanon, but we need guarantees for the future. Our main goal that has not changed is to see Lebanon restore its health, sovereignty, independence, and democracy and achieve new national consensus."

Turning to the Lebanese issue, the French source said that Paris can be “patient" on the question of disarming Hezbollah and the Lebanese state taking control over all its territories, including the (Palestinian refugee) camps. But the ultimate goal is to ensure that the state imposes its prestige everywhere in the country, the source noted.

The French source said: "For our part, we are ready to help rebuild the Lebanese army and assist the Lebanese legitimate authorities to restore their prestige all over Lebanon."


At 6/01/2006 05:37:00 AM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

OR, and there are many of these I am sure. France is trying to get what it can before its too late. Being late here presents two scenarios.
1) The UN report comes out with inconclusive evidence (i.e. exoneration Syria)
2) The US exerts more of its influence on Lebanon & Syria which can only mean less influence for France.

I think the second scenario is the more likely one.

Yeah! It’s possible that Syria has received some “comforting information” through the secret visits of Brammertz but I really doubt it. Even if it is true, the US will not let off the pressure on Damascus. Lets not forget that pressure had nothing to do with the Hariri investigation in the first place.

So what France might be doing IMHO is a classic Franco-European move where they flex some muscles only to never follow through like the Americans. Especially because following through in this case will fall in the hands of the US. France used the anti-Syrian campaign to warm up to Washington. But with more Anti-Syrian Lebanese figures visiting Washington and its allies in the Middle East than Paris. The latter began worrying about its already diminishing clout in the region. So in short this is just another scuffle of strategic interests between Europe and US.

This could also be good cop / bad cop situation where France will try to use carrots to get Syria to comply where sticks have yet to succeed.

At 6/01/2006 06:14:00 AM, Blogger t_desco said...

"Paris believes that US President George Bush respects what French President Jacques Chirac thinks and says about the Lebanese and Syrian issues and listens to him."

I guess The Onion would have a field day with that quote...

Meanwhile, back in the reality-based community, Patrick Seale reminds us in his new article that France and the US are "temporarily allied but in reality in competition" in the region.

He offers a very interesting analysis of the neocon strategy regarding Syria:

"Amid this chaos, Israeli and American strategists see Syria as the region's weak link. Bring the country to heel, runs their argument, and the whole Tehran/Damascus/Hezbollah/Hamas axis would collapse. An isolated Iran could then be forced to shut down its nuclear programme; Iraqi insurgents would be deprived of jihadi reinforcements; Hezbollah could be disarmed and Lebanon brought into the US-Israeli orbit; and Israel could make short work of Hamas."

Seale also poses the important question (missed by some commentators) of what will happen if Brammertz points the finger at Syria in his June 15 report:

"If Brammertz produces hard evidence implicating top Syrian officials, international and domestic pressure on the Assad regime will reach critical levels. The recent wave of arrests of government opponents was a warning to dissidents that the regime is still firmly in charge. But these may well prove to be empty gestures. Should the Brammertz report condemn Assad's inner circle, Syria is likely to face punishing sanctions, which would gravely weaken the Middle East's anti-US and anti-Israeli stance. "

Is it true that Brammertz "has nothing conclusive"? There have been a number of conflicting reports about this.

A "well placed" source within the Syrian government recently told the Qatari daily ash-Sharq that "no proof exists of any involvment by Syria in the attack" (AKI, 31 May ).
As'ad Abukhalil quoted a similar report
by a Lebanese who wished to remain anonymous.

In contrast, Asharq al-Awsat reported about "New Evidence in Hariri Murder" in late March.
The Daily Star also reported about "new evidence, which might "set a dramatic turn in the course of the investigations"" (22 May). And according to a recent report by al-Hayat, Brammertz has found evidence that the Hariri murder and the string of bombings against anti-Syrian politicians and journalists are linked (Naharnet, 29 May).

It will be very interesting to see how much of all this is true.

At 6/01/2006 08:39:00 AM, Blogger Metaz K. M. Aldendeshe said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 6/01/2006 09:07:00 AM, Blogger Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

“France Offers Syria a Deal. That is what Michel Najm of Asharq al-Awsat was told by a high-ranking French official…
Here are some preliminary observations of how I imagine Syrians thinking about it” [sic]

So let’s recap:
A second-tier Lebanese journalist working for a notoriously unreliable Saudi-owned propaganda paper claims that he “was told by a high-ranking French official” (the assistant-interim French Consul in Jeddah? Jack Chirac’s janitor? Allah only knows!) that “France offers Syria a deal”…as if the sheer preposterousness of this claim wasn’t enough to disqualify it!

Hilarious stuff.

Tell me Josh, would you have shared with us your enlightened observations (“preliminary” or otherwise) if say back in 1981 a high ranking Portuguese official would have told an obscure Eritrean journalist that his country’s government “offered comrade Brezhnev a deal”??

At 6/01/2006 10:49:00 AM, Blogger Joshua Landis said...

Il gentile dottore may be right on this one. Both US and Franch officials of every rank - not just janitor's of Jack Chirac - have sworn on bibles and other holy books to the Lebanese that deals with Syria are not on.

T-desco, thanks again for your careful updates on the Hariri investigation.

Fares' remark two posts ago was right on and expresses how many feel. Thanks.

At 6/01/2006 01:14:00 PM, Blogger Metaz K. M. Aldendeshe said...

SET TIME=30:00

Excellent assessment from Landis. Count me in with the conservative
Baathists winners. That assessment is my thought per verbatim. No more no less. Bramertz report is just a pressure ploy. In fact it is empty according to the facts. But this French proposal timing is deliberate and if declined they can go to puppet Bramertz and make changes to the report that will be insinuating Syria responsibility, then give another 3 months extensions, because now the West sack of tricks is empty. If I was President Assad, I will call that a bluff and steadfast with the front. That is the real strength for Syria.

At 6/01/2006 01:34:00 PM, Blogger sisco-side said...

P. Seal seems to be more in touch with the situation in Syria than this self glorifying, self appointed "syria expert".


Opinion, June 1, 2006

The secret state
New Hariri probe report could bring Syria down to its knees
By Patrick Seale
Authoritarian and anti-western, Syria stands alongside Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas in defying US ambitions for the Middle East. But a UN report on the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, due out this month, could bring the regime to its knees. Patrick Seale on the linchpin to the battle for a region in turmoil.

One nation, American hawks believe, holds the key to subduing and pacifying a Middle East that is giving Washington a severe headache. But it is not Iraq, Iran, or even the increasingly turbulent Palestinian territories. It is a prickly, defiant and repressive state apparently in the grip of its security services: Syria.

Syria is the linchpin in the battle raging for the region. On one side of the conflict stand the United States and its Israeli ally. They bully their opponents, and are swift to resort to threats or brute force. Ranged against them is a motley anti-western alliance - the Tehran/Damascus/south Lebanon axis - with an extension to Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement that, having won the Palestinian elections in January and formed a government, is now under international siege.

Four men represent this alliance: President Mahmoud Ahmad-inejad of Iran, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, head of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement, and the Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas. None of these men is a saint and all have resorted to questionable tactics, but together they form the main resistance to US-Israeli hegemony over the region.

Big issues are at stake: whether the US will remain the unchallenged power in the Middle East, whether Israel can suppress the Palestinians by force and, most importantly, whether small powers can hold their own against a bellicose superpower.

The struggle is particularly ferocious because it is being waged in a context of international anarchy. The flames were fanned by the illegal western invasion of Iraq, which has distorted every political relationship in the Middle East and given a great boost to its most violent and lawless elements.

Amid this chaos, Israeli and American strategists see Syria as the region's weak link. Bring the country to heel, runs their argument, and the whole Tehran/Damascus/Hezbollah/Hamas axis would collapse. An isolated Iran could then be forced to shut down its nuclear programme; Iraqi insurgents would be deprived of jihadi reinforcements; Hezbollah could be disarmed and Lebanon brought into the US-Israeli orbit; and Israel could make short work of Hamas.

In Washington, this thinking produced the Syria Accountability Act 2003, which freezes key assets in the US. President Bush explained that sanctions against Damascus were needed "to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States constituted by the actions of the government of Syria in supporting terrorism, interfering in Lebanon, pursuing weapons of mass destruction and missile programmes, and undermining United States and international efforts with respect to the stabilisation and reconstruction of Iraq". Little wonder that Syria feels it is in America's gunsights.

The challenges that the country faces are vast, and demand a leader of stature. On that matter, the jury is still out. Bashar al-Assad, a mild-mannered, UK-trained ophthalmologist, was placed in power by the nation's barons on the death of Hafez al-Assad in June 2000. But while the father was a master of realpolitik, the son's record has so far been marred by diplomatic blundering, painfully slow domestic reforms and human-rights abuses, which hit a new low in recent weeks with the arbitrary arrest of some three dozen pro-democracy activists.

This raises fundamental questions about Assad's political instincts. Is all-out repression the best strategy for rallying the home front against external enemies? Would the president not be wiser to curb the powers of the dreaded secret police, check the greedy excesses of his immediate entourage, allow the population some genuine freedoms and even co-opt into his government the "patriotic opposition" of human-rights campaigners and civil-rights activists, who are as opposed to accepting the diktat of the US and Israel as he is himself?

President Assad would no doubt argue that if the regional environment were less hostile - if Syria were not caught between the danger of overspill from the war in Iraq on one border and Israel's cruel oppression of the Palestinians on the other - he could afford to become more liberal, as he briefly attempted to do when he took over. Yet his actions present an enigma. Is he, at heart, a reformer manqué, faced with deadly threats to his country and to himself? Is he a reluctant figurehead manipulated by ruthless placemen and relatives? Or has he simply acquired a taste for absolute power on his father's model?

One of the greatest tests that Assad as a leader and Syria as a nation now face is the attempt to strip Damascus of its remaining influence in Lebanon. The challenge has been mounted by the US and France, which have jointly sponsored a United Nations Security Council resolution (number 1680, of 17 May) calling on Syria to establish full diplomatic relations with Lebanon "as a significant step towards asserting Lebanon's sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence".

Temporarily allied but in reality in competition, France and the US are hoping to step into the vacuum in Lebanon that Syria's ejection would create. Syria has rejected the UN resolution as interference in its internal affairs, signalling that it will not give in without a fight.

This is no mere sideshow to the bigger regional contest. Lebanon is of immense importance to Syria. With Damascus less than 20 kilometres from the Lebanese border and the heart of Syria vulnerable to a thrust up the Beka'a Valley, a basic principle of Syrian policy has for decades been to prevent any hostile power establishing itself in Lebanon, or mounting hostile operations against it from Lebanese soil.

Syria has striven to keep Lebanon away from any relationship with Israel, and firmly within its own sphere of influence. Israel invaded Lebanon not once but twice - in 1978 and again on a larger scale in 1982, when it killed roughly 17,000 Lebanese and Palestinians and besieged and bombarded Beirut. One of its aims was to drive out the Syrians and bring Lebanon under its control, though the attempt failed when Syria managed to abort a US-brokered peace deal between Israel and Lebanon in 1983.

A focal point of the present "struggle for Lebanon" is the investigation into the murder, in February 2005, of Rafiq Hariri, the billionaire former Lebanese prime minister, architect of Lebanon's post-civil-war revival and close personal friend of President Jacques Chirac of France. Hariri was emerging as a potential challenger to Syria's dominance over Lebanon, and Syria has been widely blamed for his killing.

Although it insists it is innocent, the government in Damascus is anxiously awaiting the report of the UN's Belgian investigator Serge Brammertz, due out this month. Chirac, who strongly supported Bashar al-Assad when he first came to power, is now an implacable enemy, and wants the killers brought to justice.

If Brammertz produces hard evidence implicating top Syrian officials, international and domestic pressure on the Assad regime will reach critical levels. The recent wave of arrests of government opponents was a warning to dissidents that the regime is still firmly in charge. But these may well prove to be empty gestures. Should the Brammertz report condemn Assad's inner circle, Syria is likely to face punishing sanctions, which would gravely weaken the Middle East's anti-US and anti-Israeli stance.

At 6/01/2006 02:31:00 PM, Blogger Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

“Chirac, who strongly supported Bashar al-Assad when he first came to power, is now an implacable enemy, and wants the killers brought to justice”

Hmm… no more implacable than a toothless paper tiger I’m afraid!
“A tout prendre” as they say in the language of fries formerly known as Gallic, I prefer Landis’ erratic but sometimes witty analysis to Seale’s cheap brand of tabloid geopolitics!

At 6/02/2006 08:39:00 AM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

I'm sure everyone has heard of the reported attack on the media building in Damascus by now.

But what I found below articles a bit more interesting.

This will make a great pro-Syrian propaganda tool. Al Qaida and Anti-Syrian Lebanese Christians have the same demands

Some muscle flexing

The old/new strategic ally?

At 6/02/2006 09:49:00 AM, Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

Russia has offered Syria a deal...a permanent Russian military base inside Syria.

At 6/02/2006 12:49:00 PM, Blogger Ausamaa said...

Informative article, and very informative comments.
Why is France doing what is roumered to be doing towards Syria now? However, many people tend to either take things at face value as if France is really attached to whatever position it took under certain circumstamces and would never renege on it, or, they limit their thinking to certain paradigms such as that Frenc or US or even Israel hold all the ropes to all that happens or is bound to happen in the area.
Such a simplification restricts the thinking of some to a certain direction of analysis which does not take into account that their are other players and forces whose wishes, determinations, goals and strengths need be taken into account. whatever happens on the ground is the sum result of the actions and wills and wishes of "ALL" the various parties involved including Syria, Lebanon, Hamas, Hizbullah, Iran,and the rest. Including a northern Israel going up in flames and not forgeting a half dozen oil loading terminals in the gulf getting knocked out of use or realtively soft US force in Iraq fighting Sunnis, Shieats, Iranian Passiege, tribal forces, a contaminated straits of Hurmuz, a plundering Republican election camgain, a thrown out Chirac and Blair governments, a strained US dollar, etc...
A lengthy pargaraph, but it goes only to remind us that what France says, or what the current US administration plans, or what the neo-liberals wish is a far cry from what will happen on the ground especially in the current fluid situation.
And what is the true sitiuation on the ground? 1) a US administration stuck in Iraq and cornered into a lose-lose situation in its current confrontation with Iran, 2) an Israel that sees its dream of rulling from the Nile to the Euphrates falling to pieces at the hands of a relatively small group but determined group in Labanon (Hizbullah)that managed despite enormous presuure to"gain" from the efforts to implement 1559, and also by the poorly armed Palestinian movement supported by intifada in the Occupied territories which brought almighty Israel to its knees, and 3) a European, Frensh leadership that at first resisted, then tried to ride the US wave to find itself sidlined, and now is in search for a salvation out of its directionless policies, and 4) a remerging Russia and a waking up giant in China that is slowly but eagerly becoming more assertive and more challenging to the dictates of the west, and finally, and most importantly a World -and in particular an Arab- public Opinion that has lost faith in the intention, wisdom, and ability of the US administration and is actually trying to protect itself from it or from the ramifications of its disastrous actions.
This brings to France, who we should recall that the long history of its diplomacy and politics in the area are seriously ethically and morally questionable and at best they can be termed "nuterally opportunistic". Which is its right of course especially when it holds niether the necessary military or economic clout to be counted an "effective" player in the area.
To be the sole and effective player in the affairs of the area, you should posess not only raw military power that now falls helpless before the Iraqi situation, same as it did in Vietnam decades ago and in Somalia and Bierut years ago, but also the will, the vision, the staying power, the historic justification, and most of all the true understandin of the "enemy" and the various elements that form that strength, be it historical, national, psychological, religious, ideolgical and finally the ability of the "enemy" to sustain the damages inflicred and rise again to resist.Which I belive is what has happened in the the latest butched tour de force of the US in the area. Starting from invading Iraq, to attempting to presuure Syria, to reconstruct Lebanon "as a model of democracy" in the middle east and so, and on.
I believe the impass has been reached now and an equlibrium is in the state of being realised and addmitted, and hence a revision of blundering policy is being undertaken. Nevermind bombing Iran, never mind changing the regiem in Syria, never mind installing a pro west regiem in Lebanon, and finally, never mind prserving Israel's security while keeping the occupied lands at the same time. All this has now evaporated. Mucho talk about all this continues, but again, its a put-up or shut-up situation for the current neo-cons and for the US Admin policy in the area.It is time to salvage whatever can be salvaged. So that how we can view the "talk" or the "baloons" claimed to be floated by France now.Sounds similar to the effect of the Suze Canal crisis on the British empire.It is not anti-Americanism, its anti-Imperialism and a stupid Imperialism at that, mainly because many of its actions were not taken in the sole interest of Imperial USA but influenced by the misguided powers of the stupid chuvaunistic pro-Israel lobby, which in its own turn did more damage to Israel than any one else.
So, the tied is turning, optimists who await a 'menna" from heaven coming in the form of a tough Brammertz report against Syria are only illuding themselves. THe illusion reaches a peak with thier beliefe/wish that Brammertz will reach the conclusion that whoever did al Harriri has done the others as well. Well, he might reach that conclusion and he might not. While I do not believe that Syria was involved, because all the following events proved that those acts only served to create and intensify pressures against Syria in the service of a certain clean-break, Creative-instability, deomcratic-Middle-east, or whatever. However, should the report indite Syria, then there is always the possibility that some factions of Syrian intelligence wrere penetrated by the Mossad, Israel, or a mpination of a group of "do-godders", it also could have been a false-flag operation. And if it is not any of the above, and apart from the fact that it the world years to establish-if it does- that Syrian intelligence was behind such act, then I believe Syrian Intelligence should be congratulated on such a well-planned well-executed operation, that is on the professional level which has only been the speciality of the CIA and the MOssad.The perpetraters can be tried during the coming ten years for such an act but the Leadership will be away from this. Actually, since the day Bashar al-Assad said: we did nit do it; i.e., "we, as regiem did not sanctions it", those i position of power and gudgement should have taken those words at face value and "directed" thier attention some where else. Even if they were not fully convinced then. "We did not do it" means that "we did not do it", even if come up with a hundred reports saying we did; our position is "we did not do". And if any one sticks to the position to hold Syria accountable, may I enquier what can they "do" about it??? World Opinion, Public Openion, Secuirty Council Resolutions, Sanctions??? Stuff all that, it will have no effect. You to travel that route, fine, start applying those principles on a first-come-first-served basis; and Isreal will be the winner of the contest, and the first who should demonstrate willingliness to adher to "international legality" and set example to other less "democratic and low-abiding nations".
This is not stubborness or instraignace, its real politics You got Syria with some million people, and a relatively sizable army (like it or not), you got the Iraqi blunder-of -the century, you have a Lebanon that is split 50/50 with Syria and its supporters in dominance(like it or not), and you got the Hamas situation, and you got an Ahmad Najad who is smart and determined enough (like it or not)who is willing and ready for a show of that he might come out brusied but dominant, and you got Smart, really politically experienced and Smart leadership in Syria -despite all the shortcoming attributed to it by many including the neocons/newliberals (after all, a lot of you smart guys have never realised why Syria withdrew so quickly out of Lebanon in the wake of 1559; I think they pulled a brilliant one on resolution 1559 supporters by doing so (pulling out so fast) thus leaving the field clear to whoever wanted to disarm Hizbullah and tackle the problem of Palestinan arms to go and do it themselves. And no one in his right mind would contemplate undertaking such a task. This act reminds me of the fast act that the international community pulled on Lebanon and on the naieve 14 Februaery forces in Lebanon through the latest resolution requiering a Syrian Embassy in Lebanon and by touching on matters fundamental to Lebanon's sovrienity, all - I believe-in preparation for a future resolution forcing Lebanon to naturalise the Palestinians residing in Lebanon. I would love to see what the current Lebanese eager-beavers supporters and cheerers of Security Council resolutions and thier new sence of the necessity of adhering to international legality when that decision comes to pass at the Security Council! Ouch!!
So it is good to remember that there is two sides to the coin. France is throwing no rope to anyone. France is trying to salvage what it can vefore the tide really turnes. And my guess, Syria's answer to France now will come in few words resembling something like "shove it, its too late", or "sorry,Mr. Chirac, but its your turn to make ammends".

Not many will be able to digest the above words, and yes, "might is right", but that is when "might" is not confornted by "another might" coming from other direction and carries deeper historical, national and forces supplemented by a will to resist.
And for those who will lable those words as none sense, I am not an intern at Tishreen news paper, I am not a member of any Mukhabrat, and I am on the regiem's payroll or whatever such descriptions and labels reserved for thos of us who do not really believe in the good intentions of the the US admin and who at the same time refuse to laydown and play dead just because the Roman Legions -or Bizantain, or the British Impire, or General Gauraud,the Might IDF, or the world's lone Super Power moost recently- think we should be paralised by "shock and awo" just because they come knocking at our door and asking for the keys to all we hold dear and beloved.


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