The US Ups Pressure on Syria
The US inches closer to adopting a policy of "regime change" in Syria. Washington is looking for a second act now that UN Resolution 1559 is over.
A number of sources are patching together America's latest moves on the Syria Front.
The Washington Post explained that Patrick Leahy, a senior U.S. senator,
said on Monday he had no doubt Syria was behind the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik al-Hariri, according to intelligence he had seen.The article also explains that Kofi Annan is sending its evoy Larson to Syria to dress down the Syrians.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, made the comments to reporters after meeting U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on a variety of issues and offering him support.
"I have seen enough of the evidence on Hariri to know that they (Syrians) were behind it," Leahy said without elaborating. "I don't think there is a single person in Lebanon and probably no one in Syria who doesn't believe they were behind it."
"There is no question -- no question in my mind -- that they were behind the assassination," the senator said.
`Imad Makki of al-Sharq al-Awsat who gets the best story in his article:
مصادر في واشنطن: النصيحة للنظام السوري .. تقاعدوا
He explains that State Department officials recently called a meeting of all Arab ambassadors in Washington to get them up the pressure on the Syrian regime to "change its politics". Imad Mustafa, the Syrian embassador was not invited.
One Arab diplomate said that the US administration is talking about "changing the old Syrian regime."
هناك إحاديث واضحة داخل أروقة الإدارة الأميركية، تتحدث الآن عن «تغيير النظام السوري القديم»
That means "retire" as one official interpreted it.
This is one step away from actually and officially calling for regime change in Syria. But the upsot is that Washington is clearly looking for complete international cooperation in isolating Syria and placing the squeeze on Bashar. The Arab regimes are just one side of the story.
State Department officials are meeting with their French counterparts to look for a way to tie the Kassir murder into the overarching investiagation into the Hariri murder dnd to figure out how they can revive a Syrian element of UN resolution 1559, which was so effective in driving Syria out of Lebanon.
According to Washington, Kofi Annon prematurely announced that Syria had withdrawn from Lebanon two weeks ago. It has denied that Syria pulled out and is no doubt behind the Larson visit to Damascus.
Annahar reports that indications are that that the new UN German investigation team may switch back to the "under the road" bomb theory and reject the Irish UN team's assertion that it was a car bomb which killed Harriri. Many believe that if the bomb was planted under the road, this would prove that Syria and the Lebanese state secret service under Syrian control would have to be responsible.
Farid Ghadry, the head of the "American" Syrian opposition is trying to spin the story that Washington has announced "Regime Change." He sent out this email circular:
State Department Wants "Regime Change" in Syria
Washington DC, June 7, 2005/RPS/ -- For the first time ever the U.S. State Department said yesterday that "regime Change" in Syria of the "Old Guard and the new one" has become a necessity.This opinion piece in the Christian Science Monitor, a normally leftish paper, is representative of the negative stories that are beginning to come out of the conference, and doubtless only scratch the surface of the negative reation it is producing in Washington.
Saudi owned al-Sharq al-Awsat reported this morning that David Welsh is spearheading a new strategy to gain the support of the Arab countries to put pressure on Syria in regard to Hezbollah, Iraq, and Lebanon. Towards that goal, a meeting of all the Arab Ambassadors took place at the US State Department without the presence of the Syrian Ambassador Imad Mustapha to seek that support. Excluding the Syrian Ambassador has isolated Syria, even amongst the Arab countries, for the final blow.
Syria's 'Great Leap' Sideways
It's not over until Thursday, but Syria's Baath Party conference - billed by dictator Bashar al-Assad as a "great leap forward" for his country - looks so far to be a leap toward disappointment....
To date, Assad's most meaningful "reform" has been withdrawing Syrian troops from neighboring Lebanon. But that was a move forced on him by the popular uprising next door - and international pressure.
It could be that reform can take hold only by forcing Assad's hand....
In his speech, Assad assailed external pressures on Syria. But after five years, he has yet to prove himself capable of reform from within.
Buthaina Shabaan's remarks yesterday will also not please Washington. (Thanks Tony.) She accused the US of racism, saying:
Syrian Expatriates Minister and congress spokesperson Buthaina Shaaban accused the U.S. of seeking to undermine Arab identity by fostering religious and ethnic divisions.What happened to Syrian national identity? It has been suppressed by the Baath Party. Ever since the Baath took revenge on the Syrian Social Nationalist Party for the killing of Adnan Malki in 1955, Syrianism has been effectively banned and taken out of Syria's curriculum and national textbooks. I write about this in my article: "Islamic Education in Syria" Also Translated into Arabic here .
"If we are not Arabs what could we be? Do we want to be Sunnis and Shiites and Christians? Or do we want to be Arabs? I think I can speak in the name of million of Arabs that we want to be Arabs," she said. "If the Baath Party was not there I think we would have to invent it."
The word "Syria" or "Syrian nation" does not appear in any of the text books used in the twelve years of Islamic education in Syrian schools. Only the Arab Nation and Islamic Nation are referred to. The Syrian government has suppressed Syrianism in favor of Arabism.
One of the great hopes of this conference was that the government would begin to back away from Arabism and begin to define a more practical Syrian national identity which could protect the country and its citizens should there be regime collapse or dramatic change in the future. How else will Syrians learn not to revert to their sectarian loyalties, if they aren't educated to give their loyalty to Syria, their actual nation? Arabism, everyone admits, is no longer a practical national identity. Yes, it has a role in binding together the Arab people who share a common culture and history. But it is no substitute for a Syrian national identity, just as being a member of the common European federation is no substitute for being French, Spanish, or Italian.