The Delusional USA - Syrian Overtures
By: Elias Bejjani


February 17/2010

It is extremely bizarre and astonishing that Western countries, especially the USA and France, stubbornly refuse to learn from their own manifold mistakes and finally see and grasp the deeply rooted criminal, inhuman, savage and terrorist nature of the Syrian Baathist dictatorial regime. They naively kept on repeating their same unproductive strategies and accordingly reaped with frustration the same disappointments and failures.

Since the early eighties these countries have loosely and erratically been adopting a carrot and stick policy with Syria's brutal rulers, and for reasons incomprehensible to political analysts, they never went far enough to topple this regime and support the Syrian people’s rights for freedom and peace as was the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It is worth mentioning that Syria has been on the US Department of State’s terrorist watch list since December 29, 1979, and is considered globally by policy makers and think tanks the number one state worldwide that sponsors and breeds terrorist groups.

In spite of the USA’s and EU’s recent hasty and unjustified overtures toward Syria’s dictator, Bachar Al Assad, the Syrian regime brazenly continues to provide overt massive political and material support to Hezbollah and many Palestinian terrorist groups, including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), HAMAS, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP), and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC).

Even when all tangible proof and documents have demonstrated that day after day Syria is recruiting, training, sponsoring and facilitating the infiltration of militant insurgents into Iraq since 2003, no decisive deterrent action was taken by the USA except mere verbal condemnations through press releases and empty rhetorical threats.

One wonders why this pariah regime has still not been toppled when its rulers have been oppressing, terrorizing, murdering and impoverishing their own people and destabilizing through terrorism all its neighboring countries, especially Lebanon and Iraq.

Meanwhile, Syria's dictator, Bachar Al Assad, keeps on defying the Western and Arabic countries' demands, wishes and hopes in regard to his relations with Iran and the terrorist groups and continues steadily to solidify and intensify Syria's relations and ties with the Iranian mullah's terrorist regime, Hezbollah and Hamas on all levels and in all domains.

Against all logic and odds the Obama administration has been appeasing and cajoling Al Assad in a rapprochement bid to cut his ties with Iran and stop his country's sponsorship and weaponry supply to Hezbollah and Hamas. In this context the USA gave its close ally, Saudi Arabia, the approval to amend its bitter relations with Al Assad, decided to return its ambassador to Damascus who was withdrawn in February 2005 in the aftermath of the Lebanese PM, Rafic Al Hariri's assassination in a bombing widely blamed on Syria, and last Monday it lifted a travel warning to Syria that was in place since September 2006 when armed assailants attacked the US Embassy in Damascus.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a Senate budget debate last Wednesday (17.02.10) said that the United States is urging Syria to distance itself from Iran as well as to stop arming Hezbollah and interfering in Lebanon. In disclosing US demands for engagement with Syria, Clinton was blunter than ever about Washington's bid to drive a wedge between Damascus and Tehran. Clinton presented a set of demands that Washington is making to Syria now that a US ambassador is returning to Damascus for the first time in five years under President Barack Obama's policy of engagement. She said that William Burns, the number three diplomat at the State Department, "had very intense, substantive talks in Damascus" when he visited there last week. "And we've laid out for the Syrians the need for greater cooperation with respect to Iraq, the end to interference in Lebanon and the provision of weapons to Hezbollah, a resumption of the Israeli-Syrian track...," she said. Clinton said Washington is also asking Syria "generally to begin to move away from the relationship with Iran, which is so deeply troubling to the region as well as to the United States."

On Thursday (25.02.10), Al Assad while sitting happily and proudly next to his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a joint conference held in Damascus, slapped the Obama administration on the face, ignored all its overtures as well as its conditions and sarcastically ridiculed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's statement which urged his country to distance itself from Iran and stop sponsoring terrorist groups. Assad responded by signing a new friendship pact with a grinning Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Moreover, he mocked Clinton by saying: "We must have understood Clinton wrong because of bad translation or our limited understanding, so we signed the agreement."

In an arrogant tune and humiliating smile Al Assad said: "Our support for the resistance is a moral and legal duty", and expressed surprise at Clinton's call for Syria to distance itself from Iran. "We thank them (the Americans) for their advice," "I am surprised by their call to keep a distance between the countries when they raise the issue of stability and peace in the Middle East", “The region's people should be ready for any Israeli attack”, he told reporters.

The Iranian president, in his turn, said Arab countries will usher in a new Middle East "without Zionists and without colonialists." He said that "if the Zionist regime wants to repeat its past mistakes, this will constitute its demise and annihilation." Ahmadinejad said the region's peoples, including the Lebanese, will stand against Israel. The U.S. should pack up and leave the Middle East and stay out of regional affairs, Iran's president added. Ahmadinejad's trip to Damascus follows a string of US efforts to break up Syria's 30-year alliance with Tehran.

Ahmadinejad and Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah met Thursday (25.02.10) evening in Damascus along with their senior advisors, and discussed regional developments and “the Zionist threat,” it was revealed Friday. The two were the guests of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who had dinner with the two and participated in the talks. According to Arab media reports, the meeting was not reported upon until after it had taken place for security reasons. Ahmadinejad has meet also with high ranking officials from Hamas and other Palestinian armed Jihadist groups.

Ahmadinejad said his talks in Syria will focus on "reaching new decisions on the possible threats" from Israel, adding that Iran and Syria "stand at the forefront of the resistance to the Zionist regime." Speaking at the airport in Tehran before leaving for Syria, he said, "The Zionist regime and its supporters in the region are quickly approaching a dead end. The situation whereby the Zionists continually threaten countries near occupied Palestine makes it necessary for Iran and Syria to reach new decisions to deal with the possible threats from the Zionist regime."

During the last week, Ahmadinejad said during three telephone conversations with Al Assad, Lebanon's president, Michel Suleiman, and Hezbollah's General Secretary Hassan Nasrallah that Israel should be resisted and finished off if it launched military action in the region. "We have reliable information that the Zionist regime is after finding a way to compensate for its ridiculous defeats from the people of Gaza and Lebanon's Hezbollah." "If the Zionist regime should repeat its mistakes and initiate a military operation, then it must be resisted with full force to put an end to it once and for all,". 

Facing Syria's ongoing rudeness, arrogance, and defiance, the USA policy makers need to re-evaluate the Obama administration’s hasty opening on Al Asaad and seriously start taking serious practical steps in all domains, including sanctions and military means to either force the Syrian regime to comply with the peace requirements and worldwide anti-terrorism efforts or to face the same choice of being toppled as had Iraq's Sadam Hussein.

What the Western countries and particularly the USA, should recognize in regard to the current Syrian dictatorship, is that Al Assad’s Baathist regime cannot change, because if it does it will fall from the inside as was the situation with the USSR and Romania. This dictatorship cannot survive in a milieu of peace, openness, freedom or democracy, and therefore all those policy makers and world leaders who keep deluding themselves that they can change the criminal and terrorist nature of the Syrian regime are required to read Middle East history more thoroughly and study more deeply the criminal record of Syria's rulers during the past 30 years.

In conclusion, there will be no peace in the Middle East before toppling the Syrian regime, containing by force the Iranian nuclear threat and disarming and dismantling Hezbollah. All other venues and means will give more time to Iran to build its atomic bomb and for Syria to breed more terrorist groups and for Hezbollah to totally devour and destroy the democratic and multicultural Lebanese system. Those who have ears need to hear and stop sinking in their delusions and day dreams.

The question is: How many times does the Obama administration have to get slapped in the face and ridiculed by Bachar Al Assad before it stops offering his regime an ”open hand”?

**Elias Bejjani
Canadian-Lebanese Human Rights activist, journalist and political commentator
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