Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Syria and Lebanon, the beginning of the end

The Presidents of Syria and Lebanon "announced Monday that Syrian troops will pull back to Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa Valley by March 31, but a complete troop withdrawal will be deferred until after later negotiations." Of course, this is not the end of it, it’s just the beginning of the end. There are anti-Syrian demontrations in Lebanon, and Hizbollah has said it will hold pro-Syrian demonstrations in Lebanon tomorrow. In the meantime, France
has moved some commandoes to the eastern Mediterranean. As

Walid Jumblatt (the head of the Druse community who is now directly in contact with Paul Wolfowitz) has said:

"I think the Middle East is changing. The Arab people want to join the rest of the civilized world. They want freedom. I have denounced the American invasion of Iraq, but I also admit that the Iraqi people are now free."

Discussions - 2 Comments

Hassan Nasrallah, the Shi’ite cleric who runs the "political" wing of Hezb’Allah (like the IRA, Hezb’Allah is both a terrorist movement and a political party/social movement that runs candidates in elections) said yesterday that HB wd take Syria’s side in this (everybody had been speculating where HB wd come down).

Now the interesting question is: Does Nasrallah’s announcement represent the real preferences of HB leaders in Lebanon, or was this a stance pressed on them by their paymasters in Tehran? If the latter, then US policy needs to take up the question of how to use the Lebanon/Syria imbroglio and its various angles or side-plots (the gathering prospects for an Israeli/Palestinian modus vivendi, for example) to make the tensions between HB and Tehran/Damascus worse.

If Lebanon is now causing strains between the region’s biggest terrorist group and its state sponsors, in other words, we need to find ways to make those strains as severe as we can. Keep on the pressure, Condi and W--and don’t let these $0Bs regroup.

It’s likely the French have moved teh Var into position (with follow-on forces) in the event the situation destabilizes and they have to do a NEO (non-combatant evacuation operation).

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