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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Syrian troop shift does not please anyone

Al-AP is reporting that Syria has shifted troops to guard its border with Lebanon in a bid to fend off international demands for more security to prevent arms transfers to Hezbullah. The move became necessary after calls from Israel in the aftermath of this summer's war in Lebanon for international troops to be posted on the Syrian-Lebanese border. Syria's move will please no one.

Israel, of course, would much prefer international troops, because it does not trust the Syrians to do the job. But the move is also likely to anger the US and Iraq, as President Bashar Assad said Syria shifted forces away from its eastern border with Iraq to fortify its frontier with Lebanon. The US and Iraq have accused Syria of not doing enough to stop terrorists crossing into Iraq to fight US troops, an allegation that Syria denies, saying it is impossible to fully control the long desert border it shares with Iraq.

In an interview with Spain's El-Pais newspaper that was released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), the Chinless Ophthalmologist said that other nations should "have faith" in Syria over controlling its borders. According to Sana,
The President pointed out that the countries concerned have no choice but to have confidence in Syria "because if there is a real desire in smuggling then neither the UN Security Council resolutions nor all technologies or armies of the world can prevent this process….there must be a return to the peace."
Another country that is not likely to be pleased by the Syrian move is Lebanon. Lebanese blogger Beirut Spring points to the following part of the El-Pais interview:
"What's missing [in Lebanon] is a state in which all Lebanese consider themselves represented," the Syrian president told El Pais. "If that's accomplished, it will then be possible" to disarm Hizbullah."

The only solution," Assad added, "is if all interested parties have confidence in Syria. The Americans need to talk to us to understand us, to know who we are and what we want," Assad said, adding that Washington "needs the Europeans to better understand the region."
Code for: Once we control the Lebanese cabinet, we will hold the keys to peace in the region and you'll have to talk with us if you want to disarm Hezbollah.
The more things change with the Syrians, the more they stay the same. Having troops on its border with Lebanon is more likely intended to menace Lebanon than it is to prevent arms transfers to Hezbullah.


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