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Rafik al-Hariri and the Syria Blame Game

The following headline posted by the propaganda outfit, Voice of America—created by the U.S. Information Agency and connected at the hip to the CIA—says it all in a few short words: Israel Welcomes Pressure on Syria; Campaigns to Stop Russian Missile Deal.

By Kurt Nimmo

02/17/05  -- The assassination of Rafik Hariri, former Lebanese prime minister, is a virtual propaganda bonanza for Israel and the United States and has resulted in nearly unanimous finger pointing at Syria, even though it would be excessively stupid for Syria to do such a thing, especially with the U.S. and Israel beating the bushes, looking for any pretext to invade the country. Syria figured prominently as a target on the Strausscon-Likudite hit list even before Bush included the country in his Manichean “axis of evil” speech, written by the Strausscon David Frum, a “scholar” flunkey over at Strausscon central, the American Enterprise Institute.

“Syria has repeatedly called for a resumption of peace talks with Israel and for better relations with the United States. Indications are neither is likely to happen soon, while pressure on Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon is likely to increase,” reports VOA.

Of course, since the Likudites and the Strausscons have a severe allergy to peace and both Syria and Iran are to be attacked in one way or another over the next four years, it only makes sense peace talks are completely and utterly out of the question.

If you are interested in objective reporting on Lebanon and the Middle East, you have to read newspapers and visit web sites outside of the United States.

“If we look at the way the assassination has been conducted, it is very sophisticated, I knew al-Hariri’s security measures—no local system could have breached them,” Bushra al-Khalil, a Lebanese lawyer and political activist, told Aljazeera. “The question is, who stands to benefit from his death? Syria’s enemies. I think al-Hariri’s death is part of the plan to divide the region into tiny helpless sectarian states. This plan has started in Iraq and it will continue to hit all other Arab countries.”

As Bushra al-Khalil points out, al-Hariri was an advocate of pan-Arabism, that is to say Arab nationalism without regard to borders (most of these borders were devised by colonialist Europeans). Israel and the United States have worked feverishly over the years to eviscerate Arab nationalism—as the Europeans did before them—and consider it far more of a threat than Islamic fundamentalism. In fact, Israel has funded and organized radical Islamic organizations in the past as a wedge against Palestinian nationalism (see Richard Sale’s Analysis: Hamas history tied to Israel). A war against crazed Wahhabi nut cases is an easier sell than a war against Arab nationalists who demand self-determination and an end to foreign domination. In likewise fashion, the United States spent billions of dollars to create, train, and fund the Islamic terror network (al-Qaeda, et al) in Afghanistan, initially to oust the Soviet Union, and then unleashed them elsewhere, most notably in the Balkans under the aegis of NATO.

“Obviously al-Hariri’s assassination was a blow against Syria and Lebanon. He was not an enemy of Syria. He was a historic and traditional friend and ally of Syria,” Imad Fawzi al-Shuaibi, head of the Strategic Studies Center, Damascus, told Aljazeera. “He did have disagreements with Syria lately, but he did not call for the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon, or stir up hostility towards Syria or demand an end to Syria’s role in Lebanon.”

In the United States, of course, the story has a completely different spin. “Mr. Hariri’s death should give in fact it must give renewed impetus to achieving a free, independent and sovereign Lebanon,” William Burns, assistant secretary of state for Middle East affairs, said after a meeting with Lebanese Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammod. “And what that means is the immediate and complete implementation of the U.N. security resolution 1559, and what that means is the complete and immediate withdrawal by Syria of all of its forces in Lebanon.” In the following sentence, the Bush Ministry of Disinformation, ABC News division, states: “Washington accuses Syria of aiding anti-Israeli militants and supporting insurgents in Iraq.”

No explanation provided for the first accusation and the second, as admitted by the Pentagon, is almost entirely baseless. “There are very few foreign fighters” in Iraq, Lt. Col. Paul Kennedy, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, told USA Today last July. In fact, as Jim Lobe points out, the propaganda campaign accusing Syria of aiding and abetting the Iraqi resistance is entirely a Strausscon affair. This propaganda “campaign appears to be based primarily on alleged statements by unidentified U.S. military and intelligence officials cited in the Washington Times [a far right-wing Moonie newspaper] op-ed and a subsequent Washington Post news article to the effect that the Sunni insurgency in Iraq is being organized, funded, and even managed by, as the Post put it, ‘a handful of senior Iraqi Ba’athists operating in Syria.’ … At the same time, a number of published accounts about the aftermath of the capture of Fallujah established that the number of Syrian and other ‘foreign fighters’ involved in the insurgency there was far less than had been expected, putting paid to the theory that foreigners from Syria or elsewhere were a major factor in the uprising, as had long been claimed by the Pentagon and its neocon backers.”

The Bush Strausscons want us to believe Syria has a death wish, stupidly running the Iraqi insurgency and killing beloved Lebanese leaders. It makes absolutely no sense.

Meanwhile, the political results of al-Hariri’s assassination are going exactly in the direction desired by the Likudite-Strausscons. “The two most immediate dimensions are internal Lebanese politics and the Syrian-Lebanese relationship,” reports the Lebanon Daily Star. “The third dimension is the relationship between Syria and external powers—the U.S. and France most notably, the UN and the Europeans more broadly. The speed, clarity and intensity with which Lebanese opposition groups Monday blamed Syria and its allied Lebanese government for the killing spoke volumes about the troubled Syrian-Lebanese axis being the central political context in which this whole matter must be analyzed.”

As usual, history is lost in all of this. Syria was a reluctant player in Lebanese internal affairs, contrary to what we are told by the Strausscons and especially the duplicitous Likudites in Israel. “In July, 1976, the Syrian army entered Lebanon and imposed a ceasefire [during the Lebanese civil war]. Syria involved itself initially to protect Christians from defeat at the hands of the Muslims. President Asad of Syria had been duped by Henry Kissinger and the Israelis into believing that if he, Asad, did not enter the war to rein in the PLO and the Muslims, then Israel would have to go in and do the job itself, a prospect Asad found terrifying. Kissinger played skillfully on Asad’s fears and succeeded in dividing the Arabs further to the benefit of Israel,” writes Ted Thornton, summarizing the work of Patrick Seale ( Asad: The Struggle for the Middle East). Of course, Israel “went in” regardless, with devastating results for innocent Lebanese civilians, and Hezbollah, effectively a guerilla operation in opposition to Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, was organized as a result. In fact, in regard to the PLO’s presence in Lebanon, this was a situation wholly created by Israel, as there would not have been militant Palestinians in Lebanon if Israel had not “transferred” (i.e., ethnically cleansed) large numbers of Palestinians since the creation of the Israeli colonialist-settler state in 1948.

For more background on Israel’s illegal incursions (often in direct violation to the Geneva Conventions in regard to civilians), see Noam Chomsky’s Israel, Lebanon, and the “Peace Process.” 

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