Across the Bay

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Digging Deeper

As I suspected, the Syrians have now issued a statement that Amr Moussa misunderstood what Bashar meant when he said he's willing to withdraw troops from Lebanon. What Assad meant was a redeployment inside Lebanon.

Well, no surprise there. Like I said, they're not interested in that. They're standing firm! No face saving from anyone (so alienate the West and the Arabs! Great job!) It turns out then that SANA was right in not reporting anything about a Syrian withdrawal after the meeting between Moussa and Assad!

Meanwhile, Bush and Chirac have once again demanded that the Syrians abide fully by UNR 1559, and withdraw immediately from Lebanon.

I once mentioned that Lebanon will be the place where the US and France can cooperate in the ME -- a rare event -- serving as part of their reconciliation. I also held that Lebanon will be integrated into Bush's ME democratization project. Hence Bush's statement:

    "The true commitment to democracy is taking place today in Lebanon, where thousands of Lebanese are trying to emerge from Syrian tutelage. Syria must end its occupation of Lebanon."

    He said Lebanon's parliamentary elections, due to be held in May, can be "another milestone of liberty" if Syria does not interfere.

Naharnet reports that shortly before the Bush-Chirac meeting, the American President served for the first time what amounted to an ultimatum for the Syrians to leave Lebanon before its Parliamentary elections in Spring or face heavier sanctions which Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said would include "financial and commercial blockade without dropping the military option."

Update: Mubarak tries again to keep it within an Arab framework.