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SYRIA - Pax Americana Is Changing - Part 17E - The Jordan & Palestinian Factors.

In dealing with Jordan and the Palestinians, as well as the Lebanese, the Baathist regime in Damascus has behaved as if these were part of Greater Syria, an old notion remodelled in the early 1970s by the late President Hafez Al-Assad. It was inherited by his first surviving son, a reluctant Bashar who since coming to power in mid-2000 has become a worse dictator than his father was. He has become worse simply because he has tasted power - Baathist power which corrupts in the worst way - as this has forced him to take a course which critics say his father would have changed after 9/11.

Independent analysts of Bashar Al-Assad explain: In bargaining with the US or Israel, as in dealing with these Arab states, his regime depends heavily on its "intelligence capabilities" based on threatening the security of - or indeed providing security for - people or leaders involved. In its proxy war against Israel through southern Lebanon, for example, the Syrian intelligence networks have relied on Hizbollah's guerrillas, with their weapons paid for by Iran and supplied through Syria. The analysts say that, during his recent visit to Moscow, Assad obtained President Putin's approval to provide Syria with special Russian missiles which will be paid for by Iran and will ultimately reach Hizbollah for attacks against Israel that will be timed by the Syrian intelligence. Lebanon is thus one of the "security cards" on which the Baathist regime depends - not only in bargaining with the US or Israel, or in dealing with Syria's neighbours, but also for its own survival at home.

According to these analysts, the Baathist regime still keeps security assets also in each of Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, the Arab Gulf (GCC) countries, Iran and any other country where there is a Syrian community. Interviews with captured insurgents in Iraq serialised by Iraqi TV have shown Syrians confessing that they were members of the Syrian secret service trained in Syria even before the US-led invasion.

Depriving Syria Of Its Security Cards: One of the main reasons for the US to be putting its weight behind UN Security Council Resolution 1559 to get Syrian troops and intelligence networks out of Lebanon and to disarm Hizbollah and radical Palestinian groups based in Lebanon is to deprive the Assad regime of its "security cards". The US priority is to eliminate these "cards" in the following order: in Iraq, in Jordan, in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon.

Because the Lebanon issue has become so hot in recent weeks, the US in partnership with France is concentrating on getting the Syrian military and intelligence assets out of Lebanon as soon as possible. But the US is not neglecting the Iraq priority, having just got the Assad regime to provide clear proof that Syria plays a big role in Iraq's Baathist/Salafi insurgency through the Syrian-aided arrest of Saddam's half-brother Sab'awi Ibrahim Al-Hassan Al-Tikriti and 29 other Baathist insurgents (see below).

In Lebanon pressure for the Syrians to leave and change is coming from the grass-roots level. The small Mediterranean country has witnessed an unprecedented wave of anti-Syria demonstrations in Beirut, which The Christian Science Monitor on Feb. 28 described as "a cathartic reaction of national outrage at the Feb. 14 assassination... of...Hariri" (see fap2SyriaHaririFeb21-05). The CSM noted: "Most Lebanese blame Syria for the killing because of Mr. Hariri's alliance with the Lebanese opposition". The pan-Arab TV channel Al-Jazeera has reported polls suggesting that 77% of Arabs believe the Syrians were behind the assassination of Hariri and they should withdraw from Lebanon. Such expressions of Arab public opinion only embolden the Lebanese public.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Fate of the Arabian Peninsula
Geographic Code:7LEBA
Date:Mar 7, 2005
Previous Article:Syria's Pretexts Gone.
Next Article:SYRIA - The Jordan Factor.

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