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                                       politics + culture

Sunday, November 13, 2005

saber rattling

A familiar chorus is in the air. From Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to John Bolton to these words from the President on October 25th, before the bombings in Jordan:

Syria is destablising Lebanon, permitting terrorists to use its territory to reach Iraq, and giving safe harbour to Palestinian terrorist groups. The United Nations has passed strong resolutions against terror. Now the United Nations must act.

Of course, if George Bush had said that in 2002 we'd likely be at war with Syria now, too. John Bolton's phrasing, here referring to the al-Hariri assassination, is significant as well:

Bolton was consulting with fellow Security Council members on a wide range of possible responses, he said, but he would not say whether sanctions against Syria was among them.

"This report is obviously very significant. It finds probable cause to believe that the assassination could not have been undertaken without the knowledge of senior figures in Syrian intelligence," Bolton told reporters.

"It refers to a lack of cooperation by Syria with the investigation, which is diplo-speak for obstruction of justice. It is a very hard-hitting report," he said.

Asked whether he was looking at U.N. sanctions, he responded, "We're considering still a range of options."


U.S. saber rattling doesn't mean that fellow security council members aren't moving full steam ahead on oil-related business deals in Syria:

Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Dardari told a news conference on Nov. 9 that firms from China, France and Russia were bidding to construct oil refineries worth $4.4 billion to process crude oil from Iraq. Dardari, responsible for Syria's economy, said France's Total would submit a formal offer to construct an $800 million refinery with a production capacity of 70,000 barrels per day.

"There is no reason why Syria shouldn't refine crude oil that's imported from Iraq," Dardari said along the sidelines of the Arab Business Conference in Manama.

Dardari said Syria has signed a memorandum of understanding with China for the construction of another oil refinery with a capacity of 140,000 barrels per day and worth $1.2 billion.

What the rattling of sabers does mean is that the United States, three years into the invasion of Iraq, with assasinations in Lebanon, bombings in Jordan, and French, Chinese and Russian petro deals in Syria, has not so much "remade" a more peaceful and stable Middle East as it has opened a Pandora's Box.


  • Nice catch on the "obstruction of justice" comment. Wow.

    By Blogger awol, at 10:06 AM  

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