Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Are the Democrats playing dirty in the Middle East?

The Dems' Dirty Game in the Middle East
Using proxies to wage war--against the Bush administration.
by Lee Smith
05/02/2007 12:00:00 AM
WITH THE DEMOCRATS pushing so hard for withdrawal from Iraq, the party seems unaware that they may be making the job much harder for themselves should they get the chance to govern again someday. After all, the United States has many vital strategic interests in the region, and it is not obvious how a plan no more elaborate than bringing our troops home from Iraq will protect, for instance, the free flow of affordable Persian Gulf oil.

The Democrats are playing a dirty game in the Middle East, where, just like Arab regimes, they are using proxies to wage war--except their war is against the Bush administration. Iraq is one venue, and Syria another.

A few weeks ago, the Syrian-born American businessman, Ibrahim Suleiman returned from the Knesset, announcing that an Israeli-Syrian deal is possible within six months, even though many observers are not sure the self-appointed peace delegate actually represents anyone. Still, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Siyassah has reported that Suleiman is the brother of Bajhat Suleiman, a security officer whose name has popped up repeatedly in the investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri.

And yet even if there is no genuine relationship between Suleiman and and Bashar al-Asad's government, the fact is that Syria would like nothing more right now than to be tied up in a peace process. With an international tribunal being formed to hand down indictments in the Hariri murder, as well as the assassinations of other Lebanese figures, the 41-year-old Syrian president is afraid of, at best, having to serve out the rest of his life-long term scarred with a Milosevic-like notoriety. 

"The whole Syrian peace initiative is a smokescreen," says Eli Khoury, a Beirut advertising executive running a civil-society campaign called NOW Lebanon. "The regime wants to be insulated from the tribunal."

With the prospect of a Syrian-Israeli peace deal, no matter how illusory, even the French and the Saudis, solid U.S. allies in the Lebanese arena, would be hard pressed to see Damascus punished for all the blood it has shed throughout the region. More Here

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