Posted by Alex on Wednesday, March 5th, 2008
Posted by Alex
Jordanian newspaper Al-Arab Al-Youm reported today, through sources that an American message leaked by Egypt to Syria shows that the United States is ready to launch a broad military operation against Syria if it insists on its position on the Lebanese crisis and this is the real reason behind the deployment of “USS Cole” in front of the Syrian – Lebanese waters.
The source said that the official announced reason of Condoleezza Rice’s visit to Egypt is to push the Palestinian – Israeli peace process forward but the real reason is to explain the American military actions and the presence of the American ships to the Egyptian leadership.- roads to iraq
'USS Cole aims to dissuade any Hizbullah reprisal against Israel'; Analyst: US sent destroyer to keep lebanon under its 'wing'
THE DAILY STAR, BEIRUT, LEBANON.
Beirut — BEIRUT: Despite US assertions that it deployed the USS Cole off Lebanon's coast to support regional stability, the destroyer's presence represents symbolic backing for the March 14 faction, an attempt to contain Hizbullah and put pressure on Syria in the regional context, a number of analysts told The Daily Star on Tuesday.
The guided-missile destroyer arrived in international waters off Lebanon's shores the evening of February 28, as White House National security Spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the purpose of the USS Cole and other warships joining it shortly near Lebanon was "a show of support for regional stability."
"Initially we thought it might have been to support Israel vis-a-vis Gaza," said Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, visiting scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center. "I don't think we can say it's there to target Syria or the Gazans or whomever. The statements coming out of the Bush administration all mention Lebanon.
"It's there for Lebanon, to support [Prime Minister Fouad] Siniora. 'Regional stability' is a euphemism for 'To keep Lebanon under our wing.'"
She added that the choice to sail a warship to Lebanon's coast demonstrates the "political bankruptcy" of US President George W. Bush's administration, after countless initiatives pushed by the US and its regional allies have failed to break the 16-month-old political impasse here between the March 14 camp and the Syrian-backed March 8 opposition.
In addition to signaling support for its allies in the March 14 governing coalition, the USS Cole also sends a message to Hizbullah to reconsider any plans to retaliate against Israel for the February 13 assassination of senior resistance commander Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus, said retired General Elias Hanna, who teaches political science at Notre Dame University.
"It's a message for Hizbullah after the two speeches of [party chief Sayyed] Hassan Nasrallah about open war" against Israel after Mughniyeh's killing, Hanna said, adding that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's recent expression of dismay over the term "open war" added to the pressures deterring Hizbullah from retaliating.
"Maybe now they will wait, but everything is up to Iran," which backs Hizbullah financially and militarily, Hanna added.
The US Marines in the convoy accompanying the USS Cole present a dramatic symbolism as well – the US has long fingered Mughniyeh in the November 1983 bombing of the US Marine barracks in Beirut that drove American troops from Lebanon, and after Mughniyeh's death the Marines are again approaching Lebanon, Saad-Ghorayeb said.
"It's too provocative," she added. "On a symbolic level it targets Hizbullah. "The [warships] are there both symbolically and [because] the US is resorting now to flexing its military muscle in the face of Hizbullah's declaration that it's going to respond to Israel for Mughniyeh's assassination."
Although the US has made clear that the USS Cole would be in the waters off Lebanon, its presence will also impact other nearby US foes such as Syria and Iran, she said.
"You can't extricate one from the other," Saad-Ghorayeb said. "You can't extricate Hizbullah from Iran andSyria."
"A lot of officials have actually said it's to target Syria," she added. "It could also be a message to target Iran. In and of itself, this is simply going to increase tension."
Regarding Syria, the Cole's arrival adds to the list of worries plaguing Syria, as part of the US desire to pluckDamascus from its alliance with Tehran and Hizbullah, Hanna said.
"When you look at the American project in the region, you have to look at it holistically," Hanna added. "Their next move will be to contain Iran and separate Syria from Iran. This is the main issue. Maybe now they are trying to threaten the regime itself.
"If Syria is isolated from Iran, all the tentacles of Iran will be cut."
Syrian President Bashar Assad has to juggle the UN tribunal investigating the series of political killings here, the bombing last September by Israel of a Syrian site allegedly connected to weapons activity, the probably absence of major Arab leaders from the Arab League summit in Damascus later this month and the aftershocks of having Mughniyeh killed while under Syria's ostensible protection.
"It's highly dangerous for the regime to have Imad Mughniyeh killed there," Hanna said.
While US officials tout the abilities of the Cole to ensure stability in the region, the destroyer's appearance here means in reality that the United States "expects some instability," said political analyst Simon Haddad.
"It is becoming clearer that a regional war will happen in the coming months," Haddad added. "The positioning of the USS Cole is not directed against Lebanon – it is most certainly directed against the Syrians. I think the next war will be directed against Hizbullah by the Israelis, and maybe the Americans want to prevent a Syrian intervention."
Whatever the US intentions in dispatching the Cole, its presence might boomerang by driving out some of the Sunnis from the March 14 coalition or by tempting militants here to attack the destroyer, which lost 17 sailors in a suicide bombing by Al-Qaeda in Yemen's Aden port in October 2000, said Saad-Ghorayeb.
"One consequence could be to provoke Al-Qaeda elements to target it," she said. "This is obviously a prime target for them, considering it was already attacked. This looks like it's bait, almost."
"It might cause a split in the Sunni community," which has many anti-American members, she added. "It will be hard for the Future Movement to argue that this is legitimate or not in any way condemn this. It might well close ranks between some Sunnis and Hizbullah."
Although the US has not said how long the Cole will remain on station off Lebanon, the destroyer will draw acute attention if it remains here if and when Hizbullah takes its avowed revenge on Israel for Mughniyeh's assassination, Saad-Ghorayeb said.
"That's the real litmus test for them," she added. "Things are to really change once Hizbullah responds."