Across the Bay

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Searing Syria

Lee Smith wrote a piece on Syria that is well worth reading. One important point, among many, that Smith made is with regard to the slogans that people uncritically endorse, without considering that these myths correspond with official propaganda.

Smith also touched on the important issue of control of information, a point that Bernard Lewis has been emphasizing in his recent talks. Smith goes on to debunk the DoS position as well as the CIA's position vis à vis Syria, which sought to keep the Syrians on the good side in order to get information on Islamists. That's why the last friend of Syria's in Washington has been the CIA who has been pushing for a delay on the Syria Accountability Act.

Smith makes the following interesting point:

"Isn't it worth entertaining the possibility that the regime's ties to those Islamist groups are at least as important as peace with Israel? After all, in the Middle East, it is dangerous for leaders to make peace with Israel and safe to make common cause with Israel's enemies."

In response to that, you might want to read Michael Young's op-ed on what seems to be another Syrian miscalculation, interfering in favor of Hizbullah in the Lebanese local elections.

For more on Syrian miscalculations, also see this piece by Chris Suellentrop. Yet another piece on Syria is the followingby Michael Young in Slate.

Finally, to get a glimpse of the reeking carcass called the Arab League, take a look at this report on the Arab Summit. For those who don't read Arabic, I'll translate some pathetic comments by the young Assad:

"What are we supposed to dialogue about with those who propose reforms (i.e. the US)? Are we supposed to dialogue about our internal affairs? We in Syria do not dialogue with anyone regarding our internal affairs, and if we want any foreigner to dialogue with us that would be within the following framework: 1) that the West bears responsibility of solving the ME crisis (i.e. the Israeli-Palestinian conflict), and 2) the issue of economic growth. These (i.e. internal reforms) are issues that we shouldn't be discussing with them (the West) and we will not hold dialogue on internal affairs because that would establish a precedent for the future, as if we have to present a report every time."

Assad further emphasized the issue of the Right of Return of the Palestinians.

He's clearly pissed off! But here's a news flash: you're damn right that you need to present a "report" because Syria has one of the worst human rights records in the universe. In fact, all Arab countries should do that, especially Sudan. Yet, as Avineri noted, Arabs don't really care about this, because only they are the victims (i.e. the Palestinians), and only Israel should have its internal affairs meddled with (this is not to condone whatever human rights abuses that occur in that conflict from both sides)! The ethnic cleansing in Sudan for instance is really a footnote and the Arabs shouldn't be submitting reports to anyone!