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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Spreading The Disease

Recriminations fester regarding the car-bomb assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.
People inside and outside Lebanon are blaming Syria, which exercises what could be euphemistically called a "hands-on role" in Lebanon's government. Hariri had a falling out with the Syrians that precipitated his ouster.

Not that I'm a fan of Syria, or of their military presence in Lebanon, by any stretch of the imagination, but it would be an incredibly stupid move by Bashir al-Assad if his government had any role in the assassination. Many in the United States are just itching for a casus belli to invade Syria, which was unlikely to surface absent further provocation. It's even hard to see what they gain from further occupation of Lebanon, given that Israel has left its self-designated "security zone" in south Lebanon.

It's at least as likely that the bombing is the act of someone trying to embarrass the Syrians, or alternately, of someone trying to destabilize the region in general. Unfortunately, as always seems to be the case in the Middle East, it only takes a few people who want conflict for there to be conflict. So the list of suspects is pretty long.

For its part, the United States has recalled its Ambassador to Damascus in the wake of the assassination, though they are not (at least in public) blaming Syria for the terrorist attack. There's not necessarily anything wrong with what the State Department is saying, especially considering that France, the European Union, and the United Nations have also been turning up the heat on Syria to jusitfy its continued presence in Lebanon. However, the lack of a "let's figure out who's behind this" implies they could be sharpening the daggers for Syria.



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