Posted by Joshua on Friday, April 23rd, 2010
Has Syria Really Delivered New Missiles to Hizbullah?
U.S. national-security officials say they have no confirmation of Israeli claims that Syria has delivered or is in the process of delivering new, longer-range Scud missiles to the radical Lebanese Shiite group Hizbullah. Although Syria may have begun making preparations to do so, U.S. intelligence reporting indicates that no such shipments have actually occurred, two senior U.S. officials tell Declassified, requesting anonymity when discussing sensitive information. According to the officials, the U.S. government’s assessment is that Israelis’ public complaints were a ploy to deter the Syrians from going ahead with the deliveries—a strategy that’s working so far, the U.S. government believes….
… Asked whether U.S. government experts believe that Israel made a fuss about the alleged missile shipments—and exaggerated how far the Syrians had gone—in order to send Damascus a message against carrying out the transfer, a senior Obama administration official says simply: “Yes.” And Damascus appears to have heeded the warning, the official confirms. Another senior U.S. official cites Israel’s September 2007 airstrike against a suspected but uncompleted Syrian nuclear facility. In the opinion of many U.S. experts, the official says, Israel’s military would have already taken action to neutralize the threat if there were hard evidence that Hizbullah had obtained Scuds”
“It’s important to make the case to Syria why the path they’re on is so dangerous,” Feltman said. “Syria is not Iran,” he said, noting that Syria is a secular state and that the Obama administration doesn’t see the Syria-Iran alliance as immutable. Citing “growing rapprochement” between Syria and Saudi Arabia, Feltman said, “the Syrians try to hedge their bets.” It’s in the interests of U.S. allies, including Israel, Iraq and Lebanon, that the U.S. improves relations with Syria in an effort to change its behavior.
“…While the United States suspects some kind of transfer may have occurred in Syria, two U.S. officials said there were “no indications” any Scud rockets were transported into Lebanon, which would sharply escalate the risk of a conflict.
“We don’t think Scuds of any shape or size have been moved to Lebanon,….. in this case, surely they (the Syrians) realize that transferring this kind of weapons system to Hezbollah — and especially to Hezbollah in Lebanon — could lead to serious consequences,” the official added….
U.S. officials voiced confidence that Scuds crossing the Syrian-Lebanese border would be detected. The large rockets cannot be readily broken down into small parts for transport, the officials said…”
Wall Street Journal’s article by Jay Solomon and Charles Levinson concluded with the following paragraph. [Ross is playing Abrams role. He totally undermined Rice by acting as the Israel channel. Ross will make a laughing stock of Mitchell, if allowed.]
“U.S. officials said Mr. Netanyahu’s government has been communicating much of its position through the White House’s senior Middle East adviser Dennis Ross, at times bypassing special Mideast peace envoy George Mitchell. That decision has been interpreted by some in the administration as an attempt to sideline Mr. Mitchell in favor of Mr. Ross, who has advocated U.S. cooperation with Mr. Netanyahu, rather than confrontation. Mr. Ross has publicly taken positions in line with Mr. Netanyahu’s government, particularly the centrality of stopping Iran’s nuclear program as a means to underpin Mideast peace efforts.”
At a nixon center lunch today, Martin Indyk (who was the featured guest along with Sam Lewis), said that Obama and Netanyahu see the ME peace-Iran linkage in opposite ways: Obama sees progress in the peace process was vital in the confrontation with Iran, while Bibi saw confronting Iran as giving him the leeway to make progress in the peace process.
Improving the U.S.-Syria Relationship
Department of State| April 22nd, 2010
After remarks with Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet today, Secretary Clinton took questions from the press. In response to a question about Syria, the Secretary said:
“[W]e have expressed directly to the Syrian Government, including calling in the representative of their embassy in Washington to express in the strongest possible terms, our concerns about these stories that do suggest there has been some transfer of weapons technology into Syria with the potential purpose of then later transferring it to Hezbollah inside Lebanon.
“I think that the larger question as to what the United States will do with respect to Syria is one we’ve spent a lot of time considering and debating inside the Administration. Where we are as of today is that we believe it is important to continue the process to return an ambassador. This is not some kind of reward for the Syrians and the actions that they take, which are deeply disturbing not only to the United States and not just to Israel but to others in the region and beyond. But it’s a tool. It’s a tool that we believe can give us extra leverage, added insight, analysis, information with respect to Syria’s actions and intentions.
“We would like to have a more balanced and positive relationship with Syria, as do other of its neighbors from Egypt to Saudi Arabia. We would like to see Syria play a more constructive role and engage in an effort to resolve its outstanding conflict with Israel. We would like to see Syria refrain from interfering in and potentially destabilizing theGovernment of Lebanon. So we have a long list of areas that we have discussed with the Syrians, and we intend to continue pushing our concerns.”
WASHINGTON — Syria is providing a “wider array” of missiles to Hezbollah, a US diplomat said Friday, stopping short of accusing Damascus of supplying Scuds to the Lebanese Shiite militia.”We are concerned with the broadening nature of cooperation between Syria and Hezbollah,” said a senior State Department official, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.
Damascus is “providing a wider array of missiles to Hezbollah,” the diplomat added, but refused to accuse Syria of delivering the high-grade weapons to Hezbollah.
Read the Secretary’s remarks to the press or more about the her travel to Estonia, where she is attending the NATO Informal Foreign Ministerial April 22-23 and meeting with senior Estonian officials to discuss our bilateral relationship.
“… The partnership between Saudi Arabia and China is part of a broader strategy by the world’s largest oil exporter to tap Asian markets and extend global influence. It also helps Saudi Arabia reduce reliance on the U.S., which since World War II has protected Saudi security in return for stable oil supplies, said Ben Simpfendorfer, Hong Kong-based chief China economist at the Royal Bank of Scotland Plc.
“China’s rise has provided Saudi Arabia with an excuse to knock on Washington’s door and to say, you are not our only partner,” he said…”
“…At the same time that is happening, there is prosperity with the more moderate Palestinian Authority in the west bank, and Hamas in Gaza is being squeezed and people there are doing very badly. Not only because Israel has blocked off the border and not let anything into Gaza, and I support Israel in doing that, and it may be tough on the Palestinian people, but when they vote for Hamas they are going to have to suffer the consequences.”