- DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Syria
is sounding the alarm about what it says is Washington's ambition to use
an attack on Iraq to reshape the Middle East to suit U.S. and Israeli interests.
- Syrian analysts and the government-controlled press have
issued increasingly shrill warnings in recent days, saying that behind
Washington's plan to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein lies a strategy
of imposing puppet regimes in the region, and might even include an eventual
attack on Syria and Lebanon.
- "It seems that America wants to reshape the political
geography of the region. The U.S. acts as if force is the only means to
restore stability in the world. This is power-madness. This will lead to
total destruction," Syrian political analyst Imad Shueibi told Reuters.
- Western diplomats say the fever-pitch of Syrian rhetoric
reflects real Arab fear that Washington will use any eventual control of
Baghdad to change the Middle East order, and has Syria, a key player in
any future Arab-Israeli settlement, firmly in its sights.
- Syrian officials are particularly concerned at the Syria
Accountability bill, draft legislation under consideration in the U.S.
Congress. The bill threatens Damascus with sanctions unless it ends its
support for radical Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad as well
as Lebanon's Hizbollah group.
- "The Syrians are scared of what will happen next
after Iraq. They may be panicking that Iraq is just the first step. They
are also concerned that Israel is dictating its policies to the United
States," one Damascus-based Western diplomat said.
- "Whether they want to serve Israel or not, (an attack
on Iraq) will in the end serve Israel's interests. Israel will also take
advantage of the situation," Shueibi added.
- U.S. TURNS ON ARAB ALLIES
- Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which all joined the U.S.-led
alliance that drove Iraqi troops out of Kuwait during the 1990-91 Gulf
War, have said they oppose any military action against Baghdad this time.
- Damascus, which has long had a troubled relationship
with Washington, is also concerned that the United States may be turning
against its traditional allies in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
- "Egypt and Saudi Arabia are facing a blackmail and
smear campaign by the United States... This is how America deals with all
Arabs, particularly its allies. Such U.S. policies carry grave consequences
for a region already inflamed by Zionist aggression and U.S. bias to Israel,"
the Tishreen daily said.
- A policy board that advises U.S. Secretary of Defense
Ronald Rumsfeld this month discussed a briefing by a think-tank analyst
arguing that Saudi Arabia is Washington's "most dangerous" opponent
and the "kernel of evil."
- The U.S. administration quickly disavowed the sentiments
but Rumsfeld did acknowledge difficulties in the relationship, highlighted
by the fact that most of the hijackers in the September 11 attacks on the
United States were Saudis.
- Despite the U.S. assurances, the U.S. report has set
off alarm bells not only in Saudi Arabia but across the region.
- Then, last week, the White House confirmed it would oppose
any increase in aid to its longtime ally Egypt because of a recent jail
sentence on Saadeddin Ibrahim, an Egyptian-American democracy and human
- WAR ON IRAQ IS NO "PROMENADE"
- Arab officials have said both incidents are part of a
pattern designed to pressure reluctant Arab allies who oppose an attack
on Iraq to fall into line behind Washington's declared aim of toppling
- Syria believes that the United States has more sinister
designs. Long a fixed star on a U.S. list of rogue states that sponsor
"terrorism," Damascus fears it could be next in line if Washington
succeeds in getting control of Baghdad.
- "It looks like the war scenario in the region won't
spare anybody. They want to change all the (Arab) regimes," said Shueibi,
who is close to Syria's official thinking.
- Syria, traditionally a bitter enemy of Baghdad, argues
the focus should be shifted to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
and reviving talks between itself and Israel for the return of the Golan
Heights, captured by the Jewish state in the 1967 war.
- Officials further argue that military action against
Iraq would ratchet up Arab anger, already running high because of Washington's
seemingly unconditional support of Israel.
- "A war against Iraq is not a promenade. The situation
is really dangerous... anything is possible," Shueibi said.
- "The Americans have not learnt that force does not
bring results and they don't want to learn. This (attack) will generate
more terrorism. The region won't see stability and neither will the United
- From Joseph Ehrlich
- Here you have confirmation of the position we perceived
some time ago, clear to us by the timing and wording of remarks made by
President Bush. Why President Bush wants to makes the agenda one known
by the Middle East is something we have been trying to figure out because
by doing so he has unified the Middle East, made them more angry and committed
to breaking away from the U.S., pushing them as a result into China's waiting
- The US's best position is to do nothing. To rethink and
reevaluate its position, recognize that it has lost a great deal, made
a number of mistakes, develop a sense of humility to offset previous arrogrance,
and consider the correct course: a religious resolution.
- Joseph Ehrlich
- Sender, Berl & Sons Inc.
- August 19, 2002
- PS. Will there be an attack on or before 9-11? Not from
the Middle East. Why? The American people are starting to wonder what happened
because they have learned little to nothing, have seen despite VP Cheney's
hysteria no further terrorism, and ponder the division not only within
Republican ranks but worldwide. This article highlights that perhaps the
agenda is more haphazard than even we imagined.