Across the Bay

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A new reality for Syria

A new reality for Syria: "The ground under the Syrian regime is shifting rapidly, and relations with its precious few friends outside Iran have deteriorated dramatically. Perhaps none of these reversals in friendships has been as sudden and curious, but also as telling of the geopolitical flux underway, as the rift with Qatar."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

An end to the Syria pipe dream

An end to the Syria pipe dream: "At last it would seem the Obama administration is recognizing that its policy of “hope” toward Bashar al-Assad was a pipe dream. Now the administration needs to formulate an entirely new Syria policy to match this conclusion, no matter how reluctant it may be to abandon its old paradigm."

Monday, May 09, 2011

Delusional hope over reality

Delusional hope over reality: "With every passing week, it becomes clearer that the Obama administration has no intention of revising its Syria policy and ending the delusional hope of reviving the Syrian-Israeli peace track and distancing the Assad regime from Iran. When it comes to Damascus, the administration is content to remain in its own echo chamber."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Behind the curve on Syria

Behind the curve on Syria: "The Obama administration’s latest decision to impose targeted sanctions on Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle actually highlights that, even at this point in the game, the White House’s operating principle with the Syrian regime remains “behavior change.” Washington is continuing to hold out delusional hope that Assad will miraculously “reform.”"

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Advocating for Assad

Advocating for Assad: "As the Syrian popular uprising unfolded over the last month, one of the more remarkable things to witness has been the commentary of the majority of professional Syria watchers, many of whom have given public relations advice to the Syrian dictator and uncritical reproductions of official Syrian talking points."

Weekly Column

This site has been on hiatus for a while now. If any of my readers still frequent or subscribe to this blog, I will be automatically linking my weekly NOW Lebanon column, which appears every Thursday, for those who are interested.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Saudi Arabia's Iraq Policy

My latest article in the Weekly Standard examines the consequences of going on Iraq Study Group autopilot.

PS: For those who don't know yet, my columns now appear every Thursday over at NOW Lebanon.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Transferring the Yakhont to Hezbollah

After meeting with Sec. Clinton on Monday, Syria's Walid Moallem came out with a brazen interview in the WSJ that trashed every single US item of concern. Most remarkable was his denial that Syria was passing weapons on to Hezbollah. Well, the newspaper owned by his boss's cousin says different. In fact, the Syrians have all but admitted their intention to pass along the Russian Yakhont anti-ship missile to the Shiite militia. I discuss that in my column today:

The first report came out in the Kuwaiti al-Rai in April, around the time when the story of Syria’s smuggling of Scuds to Hezbollah was still raging, along with assessments of growing military integration between Syria and Hezbollah in preparation for the next war with Israel.

The authors of the al-Rai report, known for their access to Hezbollah sources, quoted Syrian sources in laying out the shape of the military response to any Israeli attack against Syria. One element in this so-called “Syrian scenario” described in the report is of relevance here. It claimed that “Syria has prepared plans to hit the entire Israeli coast in case of a war against Lebanon and Syria, and Syria will use ground-to-sea missiles as well as imposing a blockade against Israeli naval targets, military and non-military, in order to shut down all Israeli ports.”

The report concluded with the Syrian sources warning Israel about the potency of the “unified military efforts” of the Syrian leadership and Hezbollah.

The theme of naval targets surfaced again about a month later in Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah’s “Liberation Day” speech. Nasrallah essentially echoed verbatim the Syrian claim reported in al-Rai, contending that his group possessed the capability to hit “all military, civilian and commercial ships” heading to “any port on the Palestinian coast from north to the south,” even threatening to target the port of Eilat on the Red Sea.

Then came the clincher. Immediately after Nasrallah’s speech, it was none other than the Syrian daily al-Watan, owned by Bashar al-Assad’s cousin, Rami Makhlouf, which offered the exclusive and detailed interpretation of what Nasrallah was referring to in his speech.

The paper’s report, headlined “Hezbollah possesses ground-to-sea missiles with a 300 km range,” described that the new missile was not the C-802, which Hezbollah had used to hit the Israeli Sa’ar warship, the Hanit, during the 2006 war. Rather, the new missile, according to “impeccable information” obtained by al-Watan, had a range of 300 kilometers, and covers the entire Israeli coastline.

Of course, it is precisely the Yakhont missile that has that range, as well as the capacity to carry a 200 kg warhead. In other words, the Syrians, by putting out an exclusive report, in their own media (and not through a leak to a Gulf newspaper, as is often the case), ahead of everyone else, were sending an unambiguous message regarding their intentions.