Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Syria’s Policy and Europe’s Pay-Offs Disprove A Cliché: Crime DOES Pay

By Barry Rubin

If you are seeking ironies, you need look no further than the Middle East. Consider:

Syria is a country which:

--Is a dictatorship and regularly violates human rights, with peaceful dissidents arrested, thrown into prison, and tortured.

--Provides the headquarters for the terrorist groups Hamas and Hizballah.

--Gives a safe haven and base of operations for terrorists in Iraq who have killed thousands of civilians.

--Is being investigated for its role in a dozen terror attacks in Lebanon, including direct accusations of its ordering the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

--More than any other country in the world, cooperates with al-Qaida and helps it launch operations.

--Was caught two years ago building a secret nuclear plant for making atomic weapons.

BUT, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, whose government will hold the EU presidency come January 1, has just expressed his support for the EU signing a partnership agreement with Syria. European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner has stated that an EU-Syria deal is close.

Britain and France have already expressed support for signing the agreement.

This comes at the very moment when Iraq is accusing Syria of involvement in major terrorist attacks in Baghdad plus complaining that it refuses to expel those organizing the war of terrorism against Iraq. In addition, while European states supposedly support higher sanctions against Iran they are rewarding its closest and most faithful ally.

The deal was held up previously given European demands that Syria had to improve its human rights’ record before it could be signed. The record is worse now but the Europeans appear to have given in on the issue.

There are no declarations of outrage about Syria’s behavior from governments, no campaigns against it in European media, no street demonstrations against its sponsorship of terrorism or human rights’ violations.

Who says crime doesn’t pay?

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports.

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