Keeping Our Eyes on the Ball

As the situation in Iraq continues to be influx, following the Bush Administration’s reorganization of the American presence and leadership with the appointment of L. Paul Bremer III, we should hope the American forces will do a better job then they have been doing up to this point. Maybe we should pick up a few pointers from the British, who have managed to calm Basra in the south–a city thought to have been a much greater security threat due to the high saturation of Iranian agents egging on local Shiia elites.
While these developments are heartening, and all support should be given to Bremer as long as he takes concrete steps to stabilize the center and nurture its economy, we should not loose sight of another problem in the region, which threatens to destabilize the greater Middle East we would like to help build: Syria.
A number of reports have been coming out in the past couple of days regarding Syria’s increased efforts to build ties with the “Western European Coalition”–namely France, Germany and Belgium. These ties come at a time when Basher Asad is scared to his bones by the American presence on his doorstep, and yet feeling bolstered by the proposition that Syria has gained enormously in its biological and chemical weapons potential from the fall of Saddam: reports before the war said that Saddam was moving his weapons of mass destruction (WMD) infrastructure and stores for safe-keeping in Syria.
Syria has not left any stone unturned: while cooperating with the Iranian regime for quite some time in regards to the Hizbullah, the two terrorism-exporting states have increased their cooperation as of late to include economic ventures. Sounds benign? Well, not when you understand where the main brunt of their cooperation will lie: petrochemicals and technology. Both of which are the main ingredients in the quest for WMD.
Syria has not stopped there, though. Neither has France: the same French administration that immediately met with the Iranian regime in order to coordinate their anti-American strategies regarding Iraq–which, in an earlier post I remarked upon the interesting timing between the French visit and the publication of a religious edict or fatwa by the Iranians calling for Shiia to rise up and take power in Iraq–has now moved closer to it’s former colonial provence of Syria. In what field? Education and scientific research. Interesting, huh? That the road to Teheran passes through Damascus in regards to scientific research. Since it is pretty clear that the only real good Syria exports is suicide bombers (let’s not forget the two British bombers made their way through Damascus) I would venture to say that France has replaced its scientific support for Saddam with that for other extremists in the region.
What is the Bush administration to do, after sending Sec. Powell to the region and watching as Basher Asad promised to close terrorists’ offices–and then ended up doing nothing? Well, first things first it better stop the French. Asad has proven to be quite an inexperienced little boy, frightened as all hell, who would only take such steps were he bolstered by what he would see as a power. France wants to be that power. We must make it very clear to France that it cannot continue to play both sides of the fence, and that, if it continues to do so, our economic relationship will come into question. I personally would start by releasing the information found in Baghdad about Chirac’s personal relationship to Hussein, but hey, I have not been known for my diplomacy.
Next, the US should make it clear to Asad that it is in the region to stay, and that we are watching him closely. By moving our troops to permanent bases in the northern portion of Iraq–under Kurdish control–we will be making a strong statement as to our capabilities and intentions. With the US in his backyard, and in Iran’s front-yard, I think even the most extreme of tyrants would have to cool down.

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