Michael Totten

Lebanon and Syria in the News

Posted by Jeremy Brown
It would seem that the departure of Syrian troops from Lebanon is or will in a few hours be complete. That should be the big news in tomorrow’s papers. It will be interesting to see whether that’s anything like the case.
Here’s a quick sampling of a few bits and pieces I’ve seen so far:
I searched the front page of The New York Times for the words Lebanon and Syria. Here’s the only headline that turned up (it was indeed in international news):

Ex-Officials Say Bolton Inflated Syrian Danger

I’m not boosting Bolton, mind you, just saying.
Here’s something — just for yuks — from the Pacifica website:

Lebanon is now free of all Syrian troops. Mohammed Shublaq has more from Beirut about the mixed reactions.

I’ll grant both of these websites the fact that tomorrow happens across the Atlantic before it happens here. Indeed, The Guardian, much to its credit, has this to say in today’s web edition:

Faced with mass demonstrations in Beirut and international calls for a speedy withdrawal, Syria had little option but to pull its forces out. Anxious to save face, Damascus has sought to portray its withdrawal as implementation of the 1989 Taif accord that ended the Lebanese civil war.
Today’s ceremony is likely to provide Syria with more face-saving spin and may also distract some attention from a UN report, due to be delivered today by Kofi Annan, on the extent of Syrian compliance with resolution 1559.

That report has a just discernibly unsympathetic point of view toward Syria. And that’s: “OK.” Good for the Guardian.
Iran is not thrilled with the Syrian withdrawal (emphasis mine):

Iranian President Mohamed Khatami warned in a meeting with visiting Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt yesterday that Lebanon was “vulnerable” and risked civil war, the Isna news agency reported.
The possibility exists of an aggravation of divisions which could tranform into a civil war,”

And when it comes to the possibility of an aggravation of divisions and of civil war, Iran is not content to just wag a finger of warning — they plan to help in any way they can:

Iran’s Ambassador to Lebanon Massoud Edrissi Monday underlined the need for continuation of Iran’s all-out support for Lebanese terrorist group Hezbullah to cope with the current crucial situation in Lebanon.

Which brings me back to Pacifica’s promise of ‘mixed reactions’ which suddenly seems to be a rather apt choice of words.
Do I have a point? Yes. Please be sure you’re reading here this week.