Across the Bay

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Three-Layered Conflict

Here's my piece in the National Review Online today. It examines the three dimensions of the Lebanese crisis: domestic, regional and international.

The crisis, as I argued in July with the Hezbollah and Hamas operations against Israel, is about shifting the balance of power in the Levant in favor of the Iranian-led axis of which Syria is a part. Syria will not be "flipped" from Iran. Syria has made its strategic choices clear.

On a related note, Abu Kais points out how Syria vetoed the Arab attempt at pulling Hezbollah from the streets. The reason: the international tribunal, which as I have said repeatedly, is the reason for this crisis. This is all about the tribunal.

Of course, officially the Syrians say they support the Arab initiative, but then Hezbollah rejects, and then the Syrians say, "we support what the Lebanese agree to." Oh and just as a minor detail, that thing "they" disagree on is the tribunal!

For example, Al-Hayat reported yesterday that Turkey's Erdogan was told by the Iranians during his visit that they have "remarks" about the tribunal. Then when he visited Syria, he was told by Assad that Hezbollah has reservations about the tribunal due to its "anxieties" that this tribunal might target it (a very telling statement in so many ways), and that the Syrians would later send the precise remarks to Erdogan.

Meanwhile, it's clear from even a cursory reading of the latest Brammertz report that Brammertz is already thinking in terms of the tribunal, and has tied all the crimes together, further tightening the noose on Syria.

This is all about Assad trying to scuttle the tribunal which will indict him and his regime.

Update: Just in case Assad didn't get the message, the White House makes it clear. The US policy on Syria is not about to change.

Update 2: More about Erdogan, Assad and the tribunal. This from al-Mustaqbal: Sources in Ankara revealed that Assad relayed to Erdogan his rejection of the international tribunal. He made two specific remarks, rejecting the clause that holds him responsible for the actions of his underlings, and the clause that expands the tribunal's mandate to cover all assassinations that have been tied together by Brammertz, starting with the attempt on Marwan Hamade all the way to Gebran Tueni's murder, potentially even covering Pierre Gemayel's assassination.