Monday, October 10, 2005

Rice Favors Diplomatic Isolation Over Attacking Syria

17:25 Oct 10, '05 / 7 Tishrei 5766
By Scott Shiloh

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice succeeded in thwarting a United States attack on Syria at an October 1st meeting of senior American officials.

According to Newseek magazine, Rice said she favored isolating Syria diplomatically over launching a military strike. She cited a pending UN report that may blame Syria for assassinating former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

The United States has accused Syria of harboring Iraqi insurgents who have been escalating the war against American forces in Iraq. U.S. forces have recently been waging an offensive against insurgents infiltrating into Iraq from Syria. The offensive has concentrated on Iraqi towns along the Syrian border.

President Bush turned up the heat on the Syrian government last Thursday when he referred to it as an “outlaw regime,” even going so far as to say that such a regime was an “enemy of civilization.”

Prior to the president’s speech, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, said last month that “our patience was running out,” with Damascus.

In contrast to the recent harsh rhetoric, Newsweek reported that the United States had been privately praising Syria for handing Saddam Hussein’s half-brother Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan, to U.S. forces earlier in the year.

Syrian-U.S. relations, however, soured a few months ago when Syria cut off all security and intelligence cooperation with the United States, in retaliation for the United States’ tough public stance against the regime. The loss of cooperation has been costing the United States vital information important for precluding planned terrorist attacks.

Syria’s ambassador the United States, Imad Moustapha, told Newsweek that Syria was willing to resume cooperation with the United States, provided that the U.S. cease its public criticism of that country.

A U.S. attack on Syria could have serious repercussions for the Jewish State. Syria is known to have stored large quantities of chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Some security analysts suggest that Iraq may have transferred its weapons of mass destruction to Syria before the American strike on that country in 2003.

Some military analysts claim that Syria would choose to retaliate against Israel, in the event of a U.S. attack, an action that could embroil the Middle East in a major Arab-Israeli war. Such would have serious consequences for the region and the world at large.

Aside from attacking Israel directly, Syria could signal its proxies in Lebanon, particularly Hezbollah, to reignite the border with Israel. Hezbollah reportedly has in its possession thousands of surface to surface missiles that could destroy targets as far south as Haifa.


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