Triangulation of Fire: Syria in the Crosshairs
The Word Unheard out of the Middle East is that there is forming rapidly a triangulation of interlocking fields of fire, with Syria in the crosshairs.
As a result, reports are surfacing that Syria has 'captured' Saddam's brother along the border of Iraq and Syria. Syria 'capturing' and handing over Saddam's regime members is akin to an armed burgler, hearing the approaching sirens in the background, returning to the victims' house with TV in hand saying, "Look! I found your stolen stuff! What are friends for?"
BAGHDAD -- Iraqi officials yesterday said Syria had captured and handed over Saddam Hussein's half brother, a most-wanted leader in the Sunni-based insurgency.
The action was described by Iraqi authorities as a goodwill gesture by Damascus, but it followed months of Syrian denials that fugitives from the ousted Saddam regime were hiding on their territory.
Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan, who shared a mother with Saddam, was nabbed with 29 other fugitive members of the former dictator's Ba'ath Party in Hasakah in northeastern Syria, 30 miles from the Iraqi border, said officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The U.S. military in Iraq had no immediate comment.
Al-Hassan's capture was the latest in a series of arrests of important insurgent figures that the government hopes will deal a crushing blow to the violent opposition forces.
As you will see, the Syrian gesture comes only after the pressure from 3 sides had become too great to bear. It likely seemed the easiest and fastest way of relieving the pressure from at least one side of the Triangulating Crosshairs now sighted on Syria.
First, after the deadly Tel Aviv suicide bombing, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon stated Israeli Intelligence has hard proof that the attacks were coordinated and ordered from Syria by Syrian leaders of Islamic Jihad.
Turning his attention to the Palestinian leadership, Sharon said: "There will be no progress politically, and I repeat, no political progress, until the Palestinians carry out a determined campaign to destroy the terrorist groups and their infrastructure."
Sharon warned that if this is not done, "Israel will have to increase its military activities that are meant to protect the citizens of Israel."
Later Sharon went a step further by saying Israel was already going ahead with military steps after the bombing shattered a truce that he and Abbas had declared at a Feb. 8 summit in Egypt.
"We are stepping up our operations against terror," he told colleagues of his rightist Likud Party in Tel Aviv.
The Palestinian Authority had condemned the blast and arrested three suspects, while Palestinian officials even pointed to Lebanon's Hizbullah as mastermind of the attack.
Sharon has placed Syria openly and squarely in the Israeli crosshairs.
Second, from TKS comes this interesting pair of parallel stories:
We know the U.S. and coalition forces are training the new Iraqi army. Jordan is donating 250 armored vehicles. This reader suggests that the Iraqi forces are being built up to eventually take action against Syria. He adds the military action would be associated with Syria's refusal to police the border with Iraq to prevent terrorists and Baathists from entering Iraq.
This oddly echoes Kevin McCullough’s Pentagon source who said yesterday, “Likely, Syria's meddling in Iraq and the upcoming Lebanese elections will provide sufficient trigger for some "coalition" action. That action may well have an "Iraqi" face.”
This can be put into the context of the long-held belief by many that any new Iraqi government will respond firmly to Syria for supporting the insurgency and giving aid and shelter to the Hussein regime that oppressed them for decades. A second set of crosshairs has interlocked, this one from the east.
Third, in Lebanon the reaction continues to be harsh toward Syria following the bombing assasination of former Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafiq Hariri. From Publius Pundit via The Adventures of Chester comes a grim outlook for the Syrians by what more and more convincingly seems to be a groundswell of a majority of Lebanese nearing revolt against their occupiers.
Lebanon was headed for a showdown between the opposition and the security forces as thousands of demonstrators massed late today in Beirut in defiance of a ban on protests by the pro-Syrian government.
Shouting “Syria out” and waving the Lebanese flag, the protesters converged on the central Martyr’s Square as hundreds of heavily armed troops aided by police deployed jeeps and trucks to the main crossroads leading to the square.
Lebanon was headed for a battle of wills between the opposition and the security forces Monday as the pro-Syrian government announced a ban on all public demonstrations ahead of a mass rally called by its critics to coincide with a parliamentary censure vote.
Pro-government parties, including the Shiite Islamist movement Hezbollah, had called their supporters on to the streets for counter-demonstrations, raising fears of violence that the government used to justify its ban.
Interesting, to say the least, that the pro-Syrian (read: Puppet) government of Lebanon not only banned public demonstrations, but those that would show up faced Hizballah thugs.
Publius Pundit has a lot of fantstic supporting links, including links to video of pro-Lebanese demonstrations from Los Angeles to London. Pay him a visit and spend a few minutes clicking. You will be glad that you did.
Lebanon is headed for a battle of wills indeed. While Israeli action and/or U.S. led Iraqi action would be freightening for the Syrian regime in Damascus, the sudden turn of events in Lebanon is even more harrowing for them. Israelis can be demonized throughout the Middle East as the 'occupiers' of Palestine. The Iraqi's can be demeaned by representing them as nothing more than puppets of the infidel American invaders. The Lebanese, however is a more difficult sell and has a more lasting effect. A Lebanese revolt represents a sort of 'dissent from within'. The Lebanon uprising comes from Arab Muslims with no ties to American or Israeli forces. They are demanding that the Syrians leave their nation and are demanding free and open elections. This has a more lasting effect and is more difficult to demonize.
Lebanon spells disaster for Damascus. While there is indeed a triangulation of fire that includes the US/Iraqi front and now a possible Israeli threat, Lebanon's crosshairs are the deadliest.
These events will no doubt drive the news cycles for the forseeable future.
The Middle East is undergoing a rapid, previously unthinkable transformation before our eyes. For all of the ranting and screeding that surrounded the Iraq War, in 20 years President George W. Bush will be regarded as the man who had the courage to enable (nay, force) it all to happen.