Across the Bay

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Satterfield, Kouchner Blast Syria

David Satterfield blasted Syria for its sabotage in Lebanon and its continued support for foreign fighters in Iraq.

"Syria must be held accountable"

In an interview with UPI, Satterfield said: "The Syrian government bears responsibility for the political crisis in Lebanon, and is obstructing the election of a new president in order to peddle its demands in that country, seeking to restore its hegemony over it. This behavior is rejected by us and is unacceptable to the democratic majority in Lebanon itself, and should be rejected also by the region and the international community."

He added that Syria must be held accountable "for its obstruction of the election of a president for Lebanon and preventing the Lebanese from deciding their own future by themselves."

Regarding the recent meeting between President Bush and Syrian dissidents, Satterfield said that the meeting "reflects our interest in supporting the voices calling for change and freedom and democracy in Syria."

As for "Syrian cooperation" on Iraq, Satterfield said, "there was no Syrian cooperation on that end. Syria still allows foreign fighters and suicide bombers to pass across its territories into Iraq. [TB: Indeed, 90% of foreign fighters entering Iraq come via Syria.] Even if their numbers have recently been reduced, we think that the reasons behind that are the increase in our troop levels and the 'awakening' movement among Iraqi tribes, which created a hostile environment to their activities, in contrast to previous years, and made matters more difficult for al-Qaeda and its followers to do what they want in Iraq."

Kouchner: Talks with Syria lead nowhere

Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner also lambasted the Syrians for their subversive interference in Lebanon, and acknowledged what we've been saying all along, that talking to Syria leads absolutely nowhere. Engagement with Syria has always been and continues to be a disastrous failure.

Kouchner made the following comments in an interview with the German Süddeutsche Zeitung (my translation):

We have often talked to Syria, very often. And every time, when we believed that we had found a solution, there was a new obstacle. The Arab league, Saudi Arabia, Jordan -- they all talk to Syria. The German Foreign Minister has done it. But we have not made progress.

Kouchner had earlier made the following comments to Arab reporters in Paris:

“Who could provide me with a response to the opposition’s rejection of electing Army Commander General Michel Sleiman as president?” Kouchner asked.
“I will give the answer: They don’t want the presidential elections to take place,” Kouchner said. When asked to whom he was referring, he said, “Syria, through its allies in Lebanon.”

Syria wants to appoint the prime minister in Lebanon, the ministers, the distribution of ministries and the governmental plan of action through its allies in Beirut,” Kouchner added. (Emphasis mine.)

"Inalterable enemy of democracy"

Kouchner's last statement reminded me of an exchange at a November Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing between Sen. John Kerry and Bashar groupie, propagandist and court biographer, David Lesch.

The regime tool Lesch started with the usual flackery about how Bashar wanted "good relations" with the US.

Not particularly interested, Kerry responded by asking whether Bashar had "a preparedness to give up what he views as a long historical and cultural right with respect to Lebanon?"

Lesch at first replied: "He's not going to give that up."

Kerry then asked Lesch how Bashar thought he could have a good relationship with the US if he's "not willing to respect sovereignty and democracy in Lebanon?"

Lesch prevaricated as usual with the typical Syrian regime doublespeak that he was fed about how really (really!) Syria wants to establish diplomatic relations and demarcate borders with Lebanon!

Unimpressed, Kerry asked whether Lesch's statements were made with the assumption that Bashar was betting on dealing with "a government that he has essentially planted in place and can count on to be subservient to him?"

Lesch's answer was even more pathetic and dishonest. He literally responded: "He wasn't that specific, and he's not going to be that specific."

Kerry brushed this nonsense aside and asked for Lesch's own opinion only to get yet another Baathist-instructed litany about how the Syrians don't want Lebanon to be "a host country for what they view as this American project for transforming the Middle East, which would transform the regime in Syria."

Kerry actually then cut through the BS and hit the nail on the head: "Well, doesn't that make them therefore an inalterable enemy of democracy? I mean, opposed to the capacity for Lebanon to actually be a full-fledged sovereign nation."

Again, the dishonest Bashar groupie tried to sleaze his way out of it: "No, I don't think you can look at it that -- in that Manichaean fashion. I think there is room for compromise."

Now, of course, anyone who heard what Lesch said 5 mins. earlier, about how Bashar "was not going to give up" his dreams to colonize Lebanon, realizes that he's lying through his teeth.

But Lesch is a nobody. We don't need him to realize that in fact, as Kouchner's highlighted statement shows, Bashar has no interest in "compromise." This is a terrorist regime that plays a zero-sum game. Bashar wants to rule Lebanon with his boot. He even thinks he's entitled to it.

As such, combining Satterfield's and Kouchner's statements, one gets what we've been saying all along: engagement with Syria is a perennial failure. It's time for serious sticks.

Onward with the tribunal -- full throttle. Let's get those indictments.