Syria: next victim of Bush’s Panzer Divisions


Richard Moore

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Subject: Syria Threatened to 'Comply, Resistance is Futile'
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2003 09:40:59 -0400


           "There will have to be change in Syria, plainly" 
                           Paul Wolfowitz
                           US Deputy Secretary of Defense
    MID-EAST REALITIES - MER - www.MiddleEast.Org -
    Washington - 4/15/2003:    War in the end is really all
    about economic and political gain -- money and power. 
    Iraq is now about to be plundered.   And Syria (as well
    as the rest of the Arabs though much less in public) is
    being told to comply...or else.   Now strategically
    isolated and militarily endangered, the screws are
    being put to Syria and to the few remaining bastions of
    opposition to near-total Palestinian defeat and
    near-total Israeli hegemony.  The world stage is being
    set for a politically-economically-militarily imposed
    'agreement' -- one quite literally to be shoved down
    the parched and bloodied throats of the Palestinians
    and thrust upon the weak/divided/corrupt Arab States. 
    It is a historical rape of the region almost laughingly
    pursued in the name of 'freedom' and 'democracy'.
    But if the upcoming political and economic steps are
    resisted with any success, the U.S. and Israel will
    then use their unstoppable military and technological
    might to assert even more direct control over the
    region, imposing new regimes and thus of course new
    policies as they march on.  This is the great 'lesson'
    the Arabs are being told they must now accept
    demonstrated by the American conquest of Iraq.  Now the
    real spoils of war are to be pursued by the American
    Empire; always now with the backdrop of overwhelming
    American power should anyone attempt definance. 
    Furthermore of course, the U.S.-Israel  'strategic
    alliance',  first articulated in the Reagan years, is
    now showing its broad results.   Little Israel -- all
    by itself with military force vastly superior to that
    of all the Arab armies combined -- is in effect to rule
    the region in tandem with superpower Godfather...  
    This collection of insightful articles in the past few
    days about the threats against Syria should all be read
    in this overall historical context and as prelude to
    what is now to come.



[The Independent - 14 April 2003]:    There is
something unseemly, not to say alarming, about the way
in which the US appears to be setting up Syria as the
next threat to world peace and security even before the
guns have fallen silent in Iraq. With looting and
violence continuing, barely restrained, over the
weekend, President Bush and his senior officials
peppered Syria with warnings about its behavior -
warnings all too reminiscent of the ones that preceded
the war on Iraq.

They held Syria responsible for myriad iniquities. But
central was the accusation that Syria could be
harboring Iraq's former leaders. "The Syrian government
needs to co-operate," said Mr Bush. In separate
television interviews, his Secretaries of State and
Defence repeated the warning and recalled that
Washington had long designated Syria a state that
sponsored terrorism. There was "no question", Donald
Rumsfeld said, that senior Iraqis had fled to Syria or
used Syria as an escape route. Mr Powell accused Syria
of supplying Iraq with "materials" - apparently meaning

Meanwhile, Saddam Hussein's half-brother, Watban
al-Tikriti, was reported to have been captured by US
forces while trying to reach Syria, and a gunman who
shot dead a US marine in Baghdad was said to be
carrying a Syrian passport. Syrians, said Mr Rumsfeld,
accounted for the largest number of foreign fighters
encountered by US troops in Iraq. As yet
unsubstantiated rumours include reports that Iraq may
have sent some of its illegal weapons... to Syria for

Having eliminated Iraq as a threat, the Bush
administration gives the impression that it is casting
around for more enemies. The risks of such public
accusations were all too apparent in the failed
international diplomacy that gave way to the war on
Iraq. The current disorder in Iraq similarly
illustrates the dangers inherent in effecting a "regime
change" by force without sufficient planning.

We can hope that Washington's warnings are no more than
a metaphorical shot across Syria's bows and reflect
nothing more ambitious than a desire to bring Saddam
Hussein and his henchmen to justice. The message,
however, comes across as rather more ambiguous. Syria
is the only other country to have a monopoly Baath
party in charge. The US accuses it of sponsoring and
harbouring Hizbollah terrorists. It suspects Syria of
trying to obtain weapons that would make it a greater
threat to Israel. Syria only narrowly, we are now told,
avoided being grouped with Iraq, Iran and North Korea
as part of the "axis of evil".

There are those in the US administration who have made
no secret of their desire to re-order the whole Middle
East. In their scheme, Iraq is only the start. The
Prime Minister, for all his commitment to disarming
Iraq and improving life for Iraqis, has so far declined
to sign up to any wider objective, beyond improving the
prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace. By sending his
Foreign Office minister, Mike O'Brien, to Damascus and
Tehran this week, Mr Blair is not only keeping channels
open with these countries. He is also publicly
distancing himself from Washington's judgement that
they are "rogue states". Keeping communications open
should remain Britain's priority. One ill-conceived war
with the potential to destabilise the whole region is
already one too many.


                     By RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI

JERUSALEM (AP - 14 April) - Israel plans to deliver a
list of demands to Syria through the United States,
including ousting Hezbollah guerrillas from southern
Lebanon and expelling Palestinian militant groups from
Damascus, Israel's defense minister said in remarks
published Monday.

The minister, Shaul Mofaz, spoke after President Bush
warned Damascus on Sunday not to give refuge to members
of the fallen Iraqi regime, and said he believes Syria
has chemical weapons. Syria has denied harboring

Faced with a new reality in the Middle East after the
Iraq war, Israel sees an opportunity to remove the
potential Syrian threat from its borders, Mofaz said in
an interview, excerpts of which were published Monday
in the Maariv daily.

Syria is the main power broker in Lebanon. During
Israel's 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon, Syria
allowed weapons from Iran to reach Hezbollah to support
the group in its fight with Israel.

Israeli-Syrian peace talks collapsed in 2000 over the
fate of the Golan Heights, which Israel captured in the
1967 Mideast war. In the negotiations, Israel offered
to return virtually all of the land, but was not
satisfied with Syrian security guarantees. Damascus
insisted on a complete Israeli withdrawal.

Since Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon in
May 2000, the Israeli-Lebanese border has been
relatively quiet, but Mofaz said Hezbollah still poses
a threat. Israeli officials have said the group has
some 10,000 Katyusha rockets and dozens of longer-range
missiles that could reach central Israeli towns and

``We have a long list of issues we are thinking of
demanding of the Syrians, and it would be best done
through the Americans,'' Mofaz told Maariv.

Mofaz said Israel wants Hezbollah weapons and rockets
removed from southern Lebanon and the group dismantled.
Israel will demand an end to Iranian aid to the
guerrilla group, which reaches Hezbollah through Syrian
ports, he added.

Israel will also demand that Syria stop harboring the
Palestinian militant groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad,
which Mofaz said have ``command centers'' in Damascus
from which they send orders and money to activists in
the Palestinian territories.

Bush and other administration officials have
increasingly set their sights on Syria in recent days.
``We expect cooperation, and I'm hopeful we'll receive
cooperation,'' Bush said Sunday.

Israeli analyst Eytan Gilboa said Syria has not lived
up to U.S. expectations that it would stop supporting
terror groups in exchange for being kept off Bush's
``axis of evil'' and for Washington's help in winning a
seat on the U.N. Security Council.

Gilboa said he believed Washington might now force
Syria to expel Palestinian militant groups such as
Islamic Jihad and Hams from Damascus.

Nafez Azzam, the Islamic Jihad leader in the Gaza
Strip, said his group maintains only a symbolic
presence in Syria. The American campaign against Syria
is a continuation of its war on Iraq, he said, warning
that Arabs ``will not surrender.''

``Syria has a clear position in support of the
Palestinian people and everyone will stand behind Syria
in the face of this campaign,'' Azzam said.
                           From Tim Reid in Washington
       Bush accuses Damascus of developing chemical weapons

Times of London, UK - 14 April:     PRESIDENT BUSH
yesterday accused Syria of having chemical weapons. In
the clearest sign yet that Washington is turning its
sights on Damascus' links to terrorism, two of his most
senior Cabinet members also warned the country against
harbouring Iraqi officials.

Mr Bush told Syria that it "must co-operate" with
Washington as it continues its effort to overthrow
Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq.

He also repeated earlier warnings from Donald Rumsfeld,
the US Defence Secretary, and Colin Powell, the
Secretary of State, that Damascus must not harbour
fleeing members of Saddam's regime.

"We believe there are chemical weapons in Syria," Mr
Bush said. "We expect co-operation and I'm hopeful that
we will receive co-operation."

He did not threaten Syria with military action, but
told it, along with Iran and North Korea - who, with
Iraq, form his "axis of evil" - that the example of
Iraq shows "we're serious about stopping weapons of
mass destruction".

General Tommy Franks, commander of coalition troops in
Iraq, said that it could take a year to search every
site in Iraq where weapons of mass destruction might be
hidden. He said that up to 3,000 locations are
earmarked for visits which are progressing at the rate
of five to 15 a day. He added that Syrian fighters had
joined Iraqi soldiers to fight inside Iraq.

US Intelligence has given warnings that Damascus has a
nascent chemical and biological weapons programme, but
the accusation has never before been made publicly by
the Bush Administration.

Imad Moustaphi, Syria's deputy ambassador to the US,
denied the claims, calling them "a campaign of
disinformation" to distract attention from civil
disorder in Iraq.

However the accusation, coming from the President
himself, marks a significant increase in Washington's
aggressive rhetoric toward the regime of President

Mr Rumsfeld, who last month accused Syria of
channelling military equipment including night-vision
goggles to Iraq, said yesterday: "Being on the
terrorist list is not some place I'd want to be. The
(Syrian Government is making a lot of bad mistakes, a
lot of bad judgment calls, in my view, and they're
associating with the wrong people."

He added that there was "no question" that some senior
Iraqi leaders had fled to Syria.

His comments came as the Pentagon announced that a
half-brother of Saddam, Watban Ibrahim Hassan, had been
captured in northern Iraq, apparently trying to reach

Watban, apprehended near the northern city of Mosul,
was the "five of spades" in the Americans' 55-name most
wanted list, issued in the form of a deck of cards.

General Franks also said that several senior members of
the regime had been captured in western Iraq. Meanwhile
Yemen granted political asylum to Mohsen Khalil, Iraq's
permanent ambassador to the Arab League in Cairo.

General Powell also told Syria not to offer shelter to
Iraqi officials fleeing Baghdad.

He said: "We think it would be very unwise if suddenly
Syria becomes a haven for all these people who should
be brought to justice who are trying to get out of
Baghdad. Syria has been a concern for a long period of
time. We have designated Syria for years as a state
sponsor of terrorism."

The US stance towards Syria has become markedly more
aggressive since the start of the Iraqi campaign.
Yesterday's comments were Washington's latest move to
increase the pressure on Damascus, which also gives
shelter to the leaders of the Palestinian groups Hamas
and Hezbollah.

The rhetoric is part of a new phase of muscular US
diplomacy in the region which has been given added
force by the demonstration of US military might in
Iraq. But the targeting of Damascus has raised fears
that Washington plans to turn its attention to a
military assault on Syria.

However it is unlikely that the Administration would
entertain the idea of another pre-emptive military
campaign so soon, particularly with a presidential
election next year.

There is also recognition in Washington that military
action against Syria, or even the overt threat of it,
would confirm fears that the US is intent on
subjugating the Arab world.

President Assad has voiced concern that Syria is next
on the US "war on terrorism" list.

The White House and the State Department have denied
that President Bush plans any more "regime changes" in
the region. But Washington hopes to use the leverage
gained from its overwhelming military victory to exert
uncompromising diplomatic and economic pressure on
regimes to change their behaviour.


Take a look at the recently redrawn map of the Middle
East and it quickly becomes painfully apparent that
Syria's strategic military position has just about
become unmanageable. A nation that apart from garrisons
within the main cities and border patrols along its
extended desert frontiers to the north and east, has
concentrated its major combat formations either in
southern Lebanon or in defending the vital area between
Damascus and the occupied Golan heights must now face a
totally new situation.

The Syrian Government now finds itself beset by a local
superpower in Israel only a few short miles from its
capital and an increasingly hostile Turkey a equally
short distance from the northern city of Aleppo, to
which has been added a huge United States military
presence in occupied Iraq to the east. Worse still
President Bashir Assad made the frightful mistake of
opting to anger Washington by its attempts to aid the
failing regime of Saddam Hussein without doing
sufficient to prolong the campaign and seriously tie
down the US forces.

The last four or five weeks may well prove to be a
catastrophe for the Syrian regime and the beginning of
the end for yet another dictatorial and repressive Arab
Government. Syria, though not formally a part of
Washington's so-called 'axis of evil' has long been
suspected of deep involvement with terrorist
activities, particularly against Israel and possession
of both chemical weapons and significant numbers of
long-range missiles. Its relations with the United
States have been further damaged by the rumours that
Damascus may have been hiding illegal Iraqi weapons of
mass destruction and indeed to have provided a
bolt-hole for leading members of the defeated Baghdad

Syria has a military quite incapable of defending the
country.  Syria has on paper a significant armed forces
as well as a reputation for being one of the most
warlike of the Arab armies. However its army is two
generations behind in its armoured and electronic
warfare capability, while its air force is reliant upon
dwindling numbers of elderly Russian aircraft. Its air
defence missile and radar networks are barely capable
of providing serious opposition for the Israeli air
force and  would probably be swamped even faster than
that of Iraq in the event of a  United States air
assault.  Its ground forces are concentrated in a
potential killing zone with the 1st Corps based on
Damascus and the 2nd Corps at Zebdani (Zabadan).

The nightmare that the Syrian military must now plan
for includes possible US ground attacks launched from
Jordan to the south; Iraq to the east; Turkey from the
north and amphibious operations on the coast around
Latakiya or even through the Lebanon to the west. Syria
is surrounded by major US airbases and of course highly
potent carrier battle groups in the Mediterranean.
However any United States campaign against President
Assad's regime would hardly take place without the
major risk that Israel would decide to take out the
Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon; the
Syrian forces in the Beka'a valley and a final
redrawing of the Golan heights.

Syria has a reputation for repression and brutality
second to none, and indeed Saddam Hussein's regime
would have been hard put to match the massacre of Hama
in February 1982 when after a revolt against the ruling
Ba'ath party, the Syrian Army deployed tanks and
artillery against the city. Operations only ceased
after the uprising had been totally crushed with the
deaths of some 25,000 of its inhabitants. President
Bashir Assad is now being confronted with the biggest
security threat in Syria's modern history. The
alternatives appear to be either caving into
Washington's increasingly vociferous demands and seeing
the Syria's vision of the Arab cause against Israel and
any hope of a lasting independence from Western
domination lost for a generation or standing on their
'pride' and seeing the MIAI Abrams role into Damascus
in due course.   [Richard M.Bennett - AFI Research - 13



LONDON , April 13 ( & News Agencies) -
As the U.S.-led Iraq invasion is almost done, it seems
Washington is getting serious about its "daily" series
of threats against Syria . The pretext now is to
"persuade" Israel - the U.S. protégé - to support the
U.S.-drafted roadmap peace plan, a British paper said.

The United States has pledged to tackle the
Syrian-backed Hizbollah group in the next phase of its
"war on terror" in a move which could threaten military
action against President Bashar Assad's regime in
Damascus , The Observer reported Sunday, April 13.

It would be part of a deal designed to entice Israel
into the so-called U.S.-drafted roadmap peace package
that would involve the Jewish state pulling out of the
Palestinian West Bank, occupied since 1967.

As Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Sunday that
the collapse of the Iraqi regime "could" pave the way
for a settlement to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict
and that he was ready to make some "painful"
concessions to that end, Washington has promised Israel
that it will take "all effective action" to cut off
Syria's support for Hizbollah, sources in the Bush
administration have told The Observer.

The new U.S. undertaking to Israel to deal with
Hizbollah via its Syrian sponsors has been made over
recent days during meetings between administration
officials and Israeli diplomats in Washington .

"If you control Iraq , you can affect the Syrian and
Iranian sponsorship of Hizbollah, both geographically
and politically," says Ivo Daalder of the Brookings
Institution think-tank in Washington .

"The United States will make it very clear, quietly and
publicly, that Baathist Syria may come to an end if it
does not stop its support of Hizbollah," he added.

The U.S. undertaking dovetails into "phase three" of
what President George W. Bush calls the "war on terror"
and his pledge to go after all countries accused of
harboring terrorists.

It also fits into calls by hawks inside and aligned to
the administration who believe that wars on Afghanistan
and Iraq were first stage in a wider war for American
control of the region.

U.S. Hawks Fish In Troubled Waters

Hawks in and close to the Bush White House have also
prepared the ground for an attack on Syria by alleging
that Syria harbors the remnants of the Iraqi regime.

U.S. Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld charged that
senior Iraqi leaders were fleeing to Syria , which he
claimed was continuing to send military assistance into
Iraq .

And his deputy Paul Wolfowitz - regarded as the real
architect of the Iraqi war and its aftermath - said on
Thursday, April 10, that "the Syrians have been
shipping killers into Iraq to try and kill Americans",
adding: "We need to think about what our policy is
towards a country that harbors terrorists or harbors
war criminals."

"There will have to be change in Syria , plainly," said

Washington intelligence sources claim that weapons of
mass destruction that Saddam was alleged to have
possessed were shipped to Syria after inspectors were
sent by the United Nations to find them, the daily

One of the chief ideologists behind the war, Richard
Perle, warned Saturday, April 12, that the U.S. would
be compelled to act against Syria if it emerged that
weapons of mass destruction had been moved there by
Saddam's fallen Iraqi regime.

Syria , for its part, frequently rejected the U.S.
accusations as unfounded, arguing that the Bush
administration wanted to exaggerate matters concerning
the Middle East to show that the security of the United
States was really in danger.


                 The neoconservative agenda
                           By William Pfaff

Thursday, April 10, 2003 - IHT - PARIS: The Bush
administration, determined to remake the Middle East by
remaking Iraq, now has the bit between its teeth.

Few had seriously doubted that the military forces of
the United States would overcome Iraq's army in fairly
short order. It was the administration itself that
fueled contrary fantasies of military disaster caused
by the supposed threat of Iraqi weapons of mass
destruction - weapons that might tomorrow be used
against the American "homeland" itself.

The balance of conventional forces said that Iraq's
defeat was a military inevitability; the single
question open to discussion was whether Iraq's
population or a part of it might rally to the invaders,
or on the other hand support irregular or terrorist

Quick victory now is taken for granted in Washington,
and the debate has moved on to two other matters: who
will govern a conquered Iraq, and which country will be
the next American target.

President George W. Bush went to Belfast on Monday to
discuss the first of those questions. Prime Minister
Tony Blair of Britain, who still believes that he can
bridge certain now-unbridgeable Atlantic differences,
settled for a common statement that the United Nations
will play a "vital" role in conquered Iraq.

That will not satisfy Europeans or others who insist on
international law, which holds that military conquest
affords only limited authority to alter the political
structure and rights of a defeated country - and limits
the disposition of such national assets and resources
as Iraq's oil.

But even Secretary of State Colin Powell -
internationalism and multilateralism's bulwark in the
Bush government - has said that the United States has
not come all this way in order to let some other
authority dominate Iraq.

Given that possession is nine-tenths of the law, the
government of Iraq will undoubtedly be taken over by
former General Jay Garner - a protégé of Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a unilateralist - and his
shadow cabinet of former diplomats and businessmen
named as interim authority for Iraq.

The more important question is what country will be

Until now the existence of a "next" has been in some
doubt. But unless victory in Iraq is marred by a
punishing irregular resistance, or a persisting
political breakdown and factional struggle, the Bush
administration seems likely to proceed with the
neoconservatives' program for remaking, by military
means if necessary, the political culture of the Muslim
Middle East.

That means building on the political reconstruction of
Iraq to cause eventual "regime change," spontaneous or
otherwise, in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Egypt and
Libya. (North Korea is another problem.)

The neoconservative publicist and Washington columnist
Charles Krauthammer says that if Iraq becomes "pro-
Western and if it becomes the focus of American
influence," an American presence in Iraq "will project
power across the region, [suffusing] the rebels in Iran
with courage and strength, and [deterring and
restraining] Syria." (I am quoting a summary of his
views recently published in the Israeli daily Haaretz.)

This will "enhance the place of America in the world
for the coming generation." The outcome "will shape the
world for the next 25 years."

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is generally
acknowledged as the man whose determination and
bureaucratic skill turned President George W. Bush's
reaction to the Sept. 11 attacks into a decision to
overturn Iraq's regime. He calls the neoconservative
crusade to change the Arab world an application of "the
power of the democratic idea." His critics call him a
naive and dangerous ideologue. But his program, at this
moment of success in Iraq, seems the most important
single influence on Bush administration policy.

This is not good news. There are three things to be
said about the neoconservatives and what they want.

The first is that they act out of fear. They are
motivated by fear of terrorist bands, armed by Islamic
states, wielding weapons of mass destruction, even
though this is politically, technologically and
militarily highly implausible.

There is an element of hysteria in this fear, as there
was a quarter-century ago when Washington convinced
itself that a victory by peasant insurgents in Vietnam
would lead to world domination by "Asian communism" and
to the isolation and destruction of the United States.

Second, they are naive. Krauthammer says it is "racist"
to think that "Arabs" can't govern themselves
democratically. The problem in the Middle East is not
"Arabs." The problem is a powerful historical culture
that functions on categories of value absolutes and
religious certainties hostile to the pragmatic
relativisms of Western democracy. Military conquest and
good intentions will not change that.

Finally, the neoconservatives are fanatics. They
believe it is worth killing people for unproved ideas.
Traditional morality says that war is justified in
legitimate defense. Totalitarian morality justifies war
to make people or societies better.

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