Across the Bay

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Total Recall

Recently, Josh Landis flashed the following bit of fantasy sent to him by one of his readers:

Coincidentally again, a story is being circulating that Total (the French oil giant), is in talks with the Syria n government regarding building an oil refinery in Syria. Maybe this is the olive branch that Syria extended to Chirac (btw: a lame duck president). But Total would not have started such talks with the Syrians without a green light from the Elysees, and in return the Elysees would not have given that green light had Chirac not started to turn the page on the Mehlis episode. This is also a strong signal that sanctions may not really be a top priority, and if this is coming from France, then... (however, this story still needs confirmation).

Similar to most of what Josh has been writing lately, it's rather uncritically eager and at times close to downright silliness.

France's Total has denied any discussions with Syria over building a new refinery.

The fake story was being circulated by the Syrian media, I'd say probably following the exaggerations of the "regime reformer" Abdullah Dardari.

As for that olive branch to France, not so much. Did you catch Bashar's interview (Arabic excerpts here) on French TV? Bashar pulled a Farouq ash-Sharaa and lashed out at Chirac and accused France of being part of the conspiracy being woven against his innocent regime. What's really funny is that Bashar, who is in no position to make such statements, echoed the snide remark about Chirac by Josh's friend. Only Bashar, being the genius he is, managed to take it even further, pissing on France's entire role in the ME! Simply brilliant.

Given how every time a Syrian official makes a statement, he or she (read the "brilliant" Buthaina) cannot help but issue a threat somewhere in there, maybe Bashar should've gone into character and went with Arafat's "don't let the olive branch fall from my hand," and wagged his finger at the audience. Just sayin'... After all, Arafat managed to dupe people much more successfully than Bashar and for a lot longer. Somehow Bashar can't sell it. I mean it's quite a remarkable achievement to be able to piss away all that capital that various political leaders had invested in him (it was all self-delusion of course. People saw what they wanted to see, not what was there) in less than five years!

On the question of sanctions, take a look at Andrew Tabler's piece in the DS.