Syria Should Stop Playing Games


""The negotiations in their preliminary stage will be conducted indirectly and do not need a sponsor. But in later stages they would require international sponsorship especially from the United States, a superpower that has special ties with Israel," Al Ittihad newspaper quoted President Bashar Assad as saying.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that Washington has not yet been asked by Syria or Israel for a role in their talks and indicated that Washington wants for now to focus on the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, which the Bush administration helped to relaunch last year.

In the interview Assad also said that Israel must return all Syrian lands seized in the 1967 Middle East war as part of any peace deal.

Israel captured the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau, in the 1967 Mideast war and later annexed the area. Many Israelis are reluctant to relinquish the Golan, which overlooks northern Israel and borders the Sea of Galilee, a key source of drinking water.

Assad also denied that his country has a secret nuclear program. In September Israeli warplanes carried out airstrike against a Syrian site claiming that it was designed to produce atomic weapons.

On Monday the International Atomic Energy Agency said Syria would allow in U.N. inspectors to probe allegations that the country was building a nuclear reactor at the remote site.

"The site they attacked wasn’t a nuclear site," Assad was quoted as saying. "If there are nuclear programs, why they didn’t ask for inspection instead of bombing?"" 

Associated Press


There are several interesting stories concerning Syria at present.

Most importantly, there is the business of future IAEA inspections in Syria.  So far, Damascus (Assad) has indicated that the IAEA will be allowed to inspect only the site near the Euphrates that the Israelis bombed earlier this year.  That will be a useless gesture helpful only to those who wish to describe Syria as a country seeking to conceal its real intentions and programs with regard to nuclear weapons.  I understand that Basshar Assad has told people recently that such inspections are not helpful because the Iraqis allowed IAEA inspections and the Americans attacked anyway.  That is true, but the fact is that Saddam’s government dragged its feet on the provision of access just enough to allow the White House propagandists depicted in Scott McClellan’s book to describe the interaction of the inspectors and the Iraqis as "stonewalling."  In fact, it was nothing of the kind, but the American people (the only population that really matters in such things) "bought" the idea with the active participation of the media.

The media are not so much conspirators in such propaganda campaigns as they are merely ignorant and easy to persuade.  Most of the people in the broadcast media know so little of the world that they fall consistently into the group who respond with "Gee whiz, I never knew" to the most basic information.  They may think themselves an elite but in reality they are a bad joke.

Syria!  Watch out!  You should INSIST that the IAEA inspectors go IMMEDIATELY anywhere and everywhere in Syria to look at whatever they want.  You do not have anything that will in any way change your vulnerability to massive destruction inflicted in your country by Israel and the US.  You will never have anything that will change that vulnerability.  Yes, I know all about asymmetric warfare.   No amount of indirect pressure exerted on your present adversaries will prevent them from destroying your infrastructure if they choose to do so.

The temptation to babble on about your national sovereignty and dignity is strong in the Arab World.  I have heard it many times.  Such an approach is suicidal.  That path will lead in the long run to some cataclysmic military event involving the US and Israel.

You can know from the State Department "talking dog" statement above that the US under this administration is not interested in seeking an objective picture of your actions.  It is also not interested abetting your Turkish sponsored talks with Israel.

Therefore, your goal should be to frustrate the hopes of your political adversaries by demanding full media and other coverage of the IAEA’s Syria wide inspections.  pl

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11 Responses to Syria Should Stop Playing Games

  1. frank durkee says:

    Thanks, avery interesting set of recommendations. A “but” is the difficulty of proving a negative combined with the power to use that to invalidate any findings that one disagrees with. Note the inspections in the runup to the Iraq war.

  2. davitd says:

    While I agree that it is a dangerous game for the Syrians, it seems that Syria (the regime) is well aware that most US posturing vis-a-vis Syria is just that: posturing. Perhaps I underestimate the possibility of a US-Israeli attack, but the Syrians rightly guessed that the Hariri tribunal was all bark and no bite and thus were willing to play ‘games’ with the issue. It remains my contention that Israel’s position vis-a-vis Syria is one of benign neglect and I dont think anything in the last seven and half years has changed that basic equation. Do they enjoy having a diplomatic stick to hammer the Syrians with? Yes, of course. But the Israelis have been quite clear that they view the Assad regime as better than the alternatives. And I don’t think any amount of pressure from the American ‘flatheads’ will convince them otherwise.
    Of course, I may be wrong, but I think some in Israel are still not happy with the US push for total war on Lebanon in July 2006. They did not want it then (just recall the chaos of Israeli decision-making at the time), and I doubt they want it now.

  3. b says:

    The AP article says: “On Monday the International Atomic Energy Agency said Syria would allow in U.N. inspectors to probe allegations that the country was building a nuclear reactor at the remote site.”
    This is NOT the case. The IAEA only said that folks will go to Syria. It is so far unclear if they will see the site.
    A visit at the site in question was only rumoured by “diplomats at the IAEA” – i.e. USG and UKG ambassadors.
    Reuters writes:

    The trip was expected to include inspector visits to the remote al-Kabir site targeted by Israel “and other places”, a senior diplomat familiar with the matter told Reuters. Other diplomats said 2-3 sites beyond al-Kabir were under scrutiny.”

    And when all sites have been visited the U.S. and Israel will come up with more sites and with more and with more …
    And there will be a lot of misreporting and misquotation and rumors by “diplomats at the IAEA”.
    And it will never end even after the CIA moles at the IAEA have seen and dug through every military and government installation in Syria.
    Colonel, I think you are wrong here. Assad should block any inspections except those Syria’s legal obligations demand.
    Otherwise he commits to an endless and degracing process that will be used to further discredit him and his countryx and in the end will not lead to peace.

  4. jonst says:

    davitd wrote:
    “It remains my contention that Israel’s position vis-a-vis Syria is one of benign neglect and I dont think anything in the last seven and half years has changed that basic equation.” Maybe. But I wonder if the 2006 war in Lebanon changed it?

  5. m savoca says:

    Col. Lang…as your composite photo points out, Bashir al-Assad bears only a distant resemblance to his father Hafez.
    still it is worth noting that he has, like his father attempted episodes of cooperation with our country but without lasting positive effect. ie in the 90s Syria supported US in driving out Iraq from Kuwait…and more recently has cooperated with US in the area of intel and rendition.
    Hafez, loosing soviet sponsorship in the early 90s had it’s costs….but not enough to blind Bashir to the fact that the Bush administration can not, or will not, do much to assist Syria in it’s negotiations.
    why is it this administration is incapable of exploiting diplomatic openings? after 911 the Iranian people and their gov decried the AQ attacks against US…and assisted with language and intel in our invasion of Afghanistan.
    this administration is diplomatically retarded, and appears to prefer military action as a first or second choice rather than a last choice.

  6. Mad Dogs says:

    The thought has occurred to me, as I suspect it has with many others, that this most recent attempt by the Israelis for a détente with Syria has more to do with an attempt by Israel (and some “hidden in the shadows” partners like Saudi Arabia) to de-link Syria from Iran with “carrots” such as a Peace Treaty, recovery of the Golan Heights, and perhaps even a Platinum no-fee credit card for Saudi-subsidized cheap oil.
    Carrots and sticks, carrots and sticks.
    Syria gets the carrots, Iran nothing but the sticks.
    Moving the mischievous Syria to the sidelines has been one of the goals of the partnership between US Jacobin Flatheads, Israeli Likudniks and Saudi Sunni-Firsters as they continue their strategy of attempting to run out Iran’s Doomsday clock.
    That this US Administration appears in its pronouncements to offer only a tepid non-objection to the Israeli-driven détente with Syria may only mean that the US sees Syria as but the most marginal of ME antagonists.
    Syria is but a mosquito who annoys and ruins picnics but is not in any sense life-threatening to the powers-to-be. And if necessary, bugs can be squashed at one’s leisure should the need ever arise.
    Whether Junya and Deadeye, and Olmert, manage to consumate their ultimate desire with Iran before their pending divorces from the reigns of power, one should well note that the incessant painting of us into the proverbial corner shall continue unabated.

  7. zanzibar says:

    I am afraid nothing that Assad does is going to matter if Dubya and Darth want their fireworks.
    The key question is will the corporate media fall once again for WMD stories just after Scottie’s book tour and the last episode. I sincerely doubt the American people will fall that easily this time to the propaganda barrage. One thing that Dubya will have is that Sarkozy and Berlusconi will still likely be gungho.
    What will Obama do? Will he rally the American people in opposition?

  8. Homer says:

    Syria Should Stop Playing Games
    If the US is lucky, Iraq, Iran, and Syria will show some mercy and stop playing `death by a thousand cuts’ with the US in Iraq.
    How can anyone posit that the Iraqi Parliament is even remotely pro-American given the fact that they’ve missed all deadlines and passed none of the US prescribed legislation?
    Iraq says likely to miss deadline for U.S. pact
    1 hour, 53 minutes ago
    A July target for negotiating an agreement on future relations between Iraq and the United States is likely to be missed, an Iraqi government spokesman said on Tuesday.
    U.S. and Iraqi officials began talks in March on twin agreements on the status of U.S. military forces in Iraq after 2008 and a strategic framework agreement that defines long-term bilateral ties.
    Washington has said it aims to wrap up the talks by July, but Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said that was unlikely to happen.
    “I don’t think that we can meet this date. There is a difference in viewpoints between Iraq and the U.S. I don’t think that time is enough to end this gap and to reach a joint understanding … Therefore, we are not committed to July as a deadline,” he told al-Arabiya television.
    He also said Iraq was looking into possible alternatives if it could not reach agreement with the United States on their long-term relations, but he gave no details.
    The talks have angered many Iraqis who suspect the United States, which led the 2003 invasion of Iraq and has around 155,000 troops in the country, of wanting to keep a permanent presence there.

  9. arbogast says:

    My only, probably worthless, comment is that the Lebanon “war” has changed Israel’s tune something fierce.
    I think that the point as stated by Mad Dogs is to isolate Iran. If the United States of Israel can pull Syria over to its side, it stands a better chance with Iran and Hezbollah.
    Good luck to them. It ain’t going to work that way.

  10. Homer says:

    Ad addendum: Iraq says likely to miss deadline for U.S. pact
    Coundown to Expulsion of the US by way of S./RES/1790 ?
    Annex I
    Letter dated 7 December 2007 from the Prime Minister of Iraq
    addressed to the President of the Security Council
    A review of the role and authority of MNF-I will thus be required in order to strike a balance between, on the one hand, the need to extend, one last time, the mandate of the force and, on the other hand, progress made by Iraq in the area of security.
    In this regard, it is important for Iraq to be treated as an independent and fully sovereign State and, in seeking the aforementioned balance, the following objectives should be highlighted:
    1. The Government of Iraq requests the extension of the mandate of MNF-I in accordance with Security Council resolutions 1546 (2004), 1637 (2005) and 1723 (2006) and the letters annexed thereto for a period of 12 months beginning on 31 December 2007, provided that the extension is subject to a
    commitment by the Security Council to end the mandate at an earlier date if the Government of Iraq so requests and that the mandate is subject to periodic review before June 2008;

  11. Allen Thomson says:

    For what it may be worth, there’s a collection of reportage on the Syrian reactor story at

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