Posted by Joshua on Tuesday, April 13th, 2010
Addendum: See Laura Rozen’s take on this here. She interviews mainly WINEP people – Shenker and Tabler, who address the Israeli point of view that it is dangerous and destabilizing for Hizbullah to get better weapons. Of course from the Syrian point of view, it is essential that they get improved weapons. Any realist understands that the only way peace agreement is going to be signed between Syria and Israel is if Syria and its allies get stronger. Today, Israel can dismiss them. The US, if it is interested in a peace deal, will have to allow for a shift in the balance of power. The improvement in Hizbullah’s arms would have the effect of giving the US added negotiating leverage in the region. It is not a bad thing for the US. The only solution to Hizbullah is a political solution, which will happen only once an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict has been concluded.
Here is Marty Peretz of The New Republic, “When Will He Ever Lear”. “Assad is monstrous enough, running a minority personal polity that has nullified the diversity of Syrian society, smothering whatever chance Lebanon had to be Lebanon, and turning himself into an errand boy of the mullahs by spreading imported advanced weapons southward throughout the Levant and elsewhere as far as the Persian peacock aims to strut.”
U.S. delays Syria envoy over Hezbollah arms deal
By Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel
The American administration postponed “until further notice” the appointment of an ambassador to Damascus, Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai Al-Aam said over the weekend. Robert Ford was supposed to have been confirmed by the Senate for the post, making him the first American ambassador in Syria since 2005.
According to the daily, the decision to postpone the appointment was prompted by information about trucks bearing advance weaponry that passed from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon, with the Syrian regime’s blessing. The report is based on quotes from American sources who spoke with Al-Rai Al-Aam’s Washington reporter.
The report says that Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, passed the Syrian leadership a message from the U.S. administration when he visited Damascus earlier this month. Kerry asked for explanations about the relationship between Syria and Hezbollah, and voiced reservations over Syrian support for the Shi’ite organization.
The American source told the reporter the kind of weapons transported to Hezbollah could start a new war with Israel, but did not specify what kind of weapons were involved.
Tensions between Syria, Israel and Lebanon came to the fore most recently in late January, when Israel and Syria traded verbal blows and American and Israeli officials voiced concerns about Hezbollah rearming with the help of Syria and Iran. At the peak of the tension, the Israel Defense Forces held a prescheduled military drill.
However, Israel clarified to the Assad regime that it had no intention of attacking Syria, and even went as far as excluding reserves mobilization from the drill, so as not to alarm the Syrians even further. The steps appear to have had some effect, as tensions eased the following month and comments from all parties became more restrained.
Nevertheless, one of the central issues in the northern arena remains Hezbollah’s plans to avenge the 2008 assassination of its senior operative Imad Mughniyeh, which it blames on Israel. ….
Congress wants to know: Is Syria rearming Hezbollah?
Posted By Josh Rogin on the Cable, Friday, April 9, 2010 – 4:46 PM
Informed administration sources said they were well aware of the rumors that unspecified amounts of a new type of weaponry are making their way over the border and into Hezbollah hands. Sources close to the issue said that the weapons were of a characteristic and range that could pose a risk to large swaths of Israel, not just the communities in the north that already live every day under the threat of short-range rocket attacks…..
Ahmed Salkini, a spokesman for the Syrian Embassy in Washington, strongly denied the allegations.
“These reports are unequivocally false and are a product of the Israeli government that is trying to speciously create a raised level of tension in the region to justify a future conflagration of violence on their part, or simply to divert attention from the real issue at hand: Israeli settlements and expansionism,” he told The Cable.