Well, this sounds interesting, if true, and it confirms that there may be a larger strategy to the War on Terror that is slowly becoming apparent. According to DEBKAFile, Richard Armitage, performing his last act as deputy secretary of state, recently delivered 9 demands to President Assad of Syria:
1. Start repealing Syria’s 40-years old emergency laws.
2. Free all political prisoners from jail.
3. Abolish media censorship.
4. Initiate democratic reform.
5. Speed up economic development
6. Cut down relations with Iran.
7. Announce publicly that the disputed Shebaa Farms at the base of Mt. Hermon are former Syrian territory. This would cut the ground from under the Lebanese terrorist Hizballah’s claim that the land is Lebanese and must be “liberated” from Israeli “occupation.”
DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources report that the Iran-sponsored Hizballah’s attack on an Israeli convoy patrolling the disputed Shebaa Farms sector, killing an Israeli officer, on Palestinian election-day, Sunday, January 9, was addressed as much to President George W. Bush as to the new Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas as a foretaste of what it has in store.
8. Hand over to US or Iraqi authorities 55 top officials and military officers of the former Saddam regime, who are confirmed by intelligence to be established in Syria and running the guerrilla war in Iraq out of their homes and offices.
(An address, telephone number and cell phone number were listed beside each name).
But the punchline was in the last demand.
9. Syria had better make sure that none of the Kornet AT-14 anti-tank missiles which it recently purchased in large quantities from East Europe turn up in Iraq. US intelligence has recorded their serial numbers to identify their source. DEBKAfile’s military sources add: Because he cannot afford to buy advanced fighter planes and tanks, Assad purchased massive quantities of the “third generation” Kornet AT-14 anti-tank weapons.
Just in case any are found in Iraq, General Casey, commander of US forces in Iraq has already received orders from the commander-in-chief in the White House to pursue military action inside Syria according to his best military judgment.
The article goes on to say that no action will be taken until after the Iraqi elections. I imagine it this way: if we move into Syria, we will inevitably drag most of those "insurgents" (who, it is increasingly clear are being sponsored by Syria and Iran) into Syria with us--and hence mostly out of the way of Iraq. There is still hope for Iran with the pro-Democracy movement that already exists, but Syria is another matter, and hence it is more logical ot shake that regime up a bit, while waiting for Iran to change from within.
I don't know if this strategy will work or not. I don't know if DEBKAFile is accurate (read the entire piece) or not. But I do know that what is happening in the Middle East is breathtakingly brilliant and offers--for the first time in history-- a real chance for the people there to determine their own futures in free societies. And, as for the problem of Terrorism in the 21st century--I believe firmly that this transformation of the Middle East offers the best opportunity for its containment and eventual eradication.
We shall see, if given the torch of Liberty, the Afghanis and Iraqis will run with it. All may come to naught--but if human nature holds true, then I believe Freedom will prevail.
P.S. Just so you know, DEBKAFile is often outright wrong and wildly inaccurate--but sometimes they hit the nail on the head, and they are always interesting!