Saturday, July 31, 2010

Syria Marches Into Lebanon; Saudis Surrender to Inevitable, State Department Proclaims Victory

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By Barry Rubin

P.J. Crowley, State Department spokesman and its answer to Pollyanna (Note 1), looks at the advance of America’s enemies and gives the advice that their strategy isn’t working. Ah, but it is.

Crowley responds to the following question  about the joint visit of the Saudi king and President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, self-styled leader of the Resistance to American interests in the Arabic-speaking world, to Beirut.

“Do you see this as an effort, with your help, to distance Syria from Iran?”

For goodness sakes! People in the region see the visit as the exact opposite: the Saudi acceptance of Syrian (and hence of Iranian also) hegemony in Lebanon. It is the seal of Saudi approval for Lebanon’s surrender to the Iran-Syria bloc, but at the same time trying to preserve some remnant of Saudi influence.

It's just like Turkey. Iran and Syria pull Turkey into their orbit and the U.S. government and British prime minister congratulate Turkey for being a good influence on Iran and Syria!

Crowley responds to the question:

“Well, we have made clear that Syria’s relationship with Iran is of concern to us. And to the extent that Syria wants to advance its relations within the region and around the world, it would be much better for Syria to distance itself from Iran and move in a more constructive direction.”

Why better? The United States does maintain some sanctions on Syria but Washington is engaging Damascus. The Obama Administration puts no obstacle in Syria’s way regarding its reestablishment of Lebanon as a satellite; does nothing about Hizballah which now bullies the UN “peacekeeping” force at will; has actually helped the Syrian- (and Iranian) backed Hamas in the Gaza Strip; and pretty much ignores Syrian organization and helping terrorists in Iraq who kill Americans.

Meanwhile, Europe is moving toward giving Syria what it wants, while Syria’s protector Iran is advancing toward nuclear weapons. (Iran faces tougher sanctions but these have no negative effect on Syria.)

So why should Syria distance itself from Iran? In fact, the two countries are constantly tightening their relations and now (virtually unnoticed by the U.S. and UK governments) have brought the Turkish regime into the alliance.

Crowley makes a statement that can only provoke gales of laughter in the Middle East:

“The relationship between Syria and Iran gets Syria very, very little….”

Let’s see, how about this list: billions of dollars in Iranian aid, free weapons and political support for Syrian clients Hamas and Hizballah, backing for Syrian ambitions in Lebanon and among the Palestinians, religious cover to sanctify Syria’s non-Muslim rulers as Muslim, and soon a nuclear umbrella! This is not the entire list by any means.

Meanwhile, as Assad triumphantly enters into Lebanon—a country he had to flee due to U.S. pressure a few years ago—the U.S. government doesn’t even notice that it has suffered a defeat.

The clueless Crowley urges Assad to listen to Saudi King Abdallah, who presumably will have some moderating effect on him. P.J. doesn’t get it. The situation is the exact opposite: Abdallah looked at a weak and confused U.S. policy and then decided to listen to Assad.

Note 1: A literary character famous for being naïve and engaging in wishful thinking.

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). The website of the GLORIA Center is at and of his blog, Rubin Reports, at

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