Delusion in Damascus

[Washington Post] Editorial - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's bluster has successfully deterred the Lebanese and Western governments from taking serious steps to stop the traffic of arms and explosives from Syria to Lebanon. The scores of roads and tracks crossing the border have been the principal routes for missiles and other arms supplies to Hizballah. They also carry the bombs that Syria's agents have used in a continuing assassination campaign against Lebanese politicians who favor the country's independence from Damascus. Assad knows that if he attempts to supply Hizballah with new weapons he will invite an attack by Israel, which has vowed to prevent any resupply. But the Syrian president appears undeterred. In a speech last month he declared that Hizballah's "victory" in the war had ushered in "a new Middle East," one in which the "enemy" Israel would inevitably be defeated by force of arms. When UN Secretary General Kofi Annan arrived two weeks later to ask for Syria's cooperation, Assad treated him to "a diatribe...depicting the Western powers as bankrupt and powerless." Remarkably, Annan emerged from that meeting to tell the world that Assad had assured him that Syria would take steps to secure the border. The many statesmen who have tried to do business with the Syrian president in the past - such as former secretary of state Colin Powell or Egypt's Hosni Mubarak - have discovered that such assurances are not only worthless but deliberately mendacious.

2006-09-25 01:00:00

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