International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

September 14, 2004

September 14, 2004





**  The UNSC resolution "effectively attacked Syria's occupation of Lebanon."

**  Arab papers term the resolution "more proof" of U.S. "double-standards."

**  Many observers note "Lebanon's international isolation."

**  Lebanese outlets split over the resolution's effect on "Syria's monopoly of Lebanon."




'Syria is in a fix now'--  Israeli, Kuwaiti, Canadian and some Lebanese dailies praised UNSC Resolution 1559 for "increasing international pressure on Damascus," which has "crushed the only democracy in the Arab world" and turned Lebanon into "a big prison."  The conservative Jerusalem Post deemed the resolution "something positive" to terminate Lebanon's "Syrian supervision," under which the country has "become a hotbed of Islamist fanaticism and terror."  Deriding the Lebanese legislators who approved the extension of President Emile Lahoud's term in office as Syrian "rubberstamps," Kuwait's independent Al-Seyassah added that only the Lebanese "can end Syrian hegemony in Lebanon.  They should." 


'A purely internal matter'--  Other Arab outlets claimed the "UNSC's uninvited interference" in Lebanon demonstrates "a strange new precedent."  The world body "now specializes in issuing resolutions" that permit the U.S. "to invade Arab states," said pan-Arab Al-Quds Al-Arabi.  Other observers blasted the UN's "double standards."  Jordan's semi-official Al-Rai asked why "the American military presence in Iraq [is] legitimate" if Syria's presence in Lebanon "is illegitimate."  But several writers did criticize Syria's "ill-advised move" to "impose" Lahoud's extension.  Syrian papers dismissed the "illegal intervention into Lebanese internal affairs" as part of an effort to "consolidate U.S.-Israeli hegemony." 


'Unusual American-French agreement'--  Analysts stressed how Paris, "angered by Syria's recent coup in Lebanon," joined with the "U.S.-Israeli camp" to persuade the UN to issue a "yellow card, a warning" to Damascus.  An Israeli writer hailed the "more aggressive Franco-American diplomacy," while Belgium's independent De Standaard noted that the "U.S.-European front" only "amplifies the isolation of Damascus."  Syrian dailies focused on U.S. Assistant Secretary of State William Burns' visit to Syria, which state-owned Al-Ba'ath called a "new indication of victory for Syrian foreign policy."  Beirut's Arab nationalist As-Safir judged that Burns "did not pressure Syria" because the U.S. needs "Syria to help in Iraq." 


'Resentment about Syria's performance'--  Moderate Lebanese papers emphasized the "frustration of the majority of the Lebanese" with "Lahoud's extension" and the lack of any "real willingness to reform" the status quo.  Independent Al-Balad warned that Syria "cannot turn its back on the demands" in the resolution because it could "lead to sanctions," while anti-Syria An-Nahar called for a "national unity government" to implement "major change."  Pro-Syria dailies urged Beirut to "join ranks with Damascus" and opposed "any Syrian capitulation to U.S. pressure." 


Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888,


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 38 reports from 11 countries over 4 - 14 September 2004.  Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.




ISRAEL:  "Syria's Burden Of Proof"


Guy Bechor held in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (9/9):  "Following the UNSC resolution [on Lebanon], the nature of the burden of proof required from Syria must be amended: no longer should the extent of its involvement in terrorism, its striving to procure WMD and its ambitions in this domain be demonstrated, but it must be made to prove to the international community that it has modified its policy.  It should show that it has stood by four conditions: complete evacuation...from Lebanon...the cancellation of the shameful 'Brotherhood and Friendship Agreement' between Damascus and Beirut...the ouster of all Palestinian terrorism commands from its territory; the disarming of the last militia in Lebanon, i.e. Hizbullah' and the disarming of Syria's WMD....  In a regional and global policy dictated by parameters of democracy and human rights, there no longer is room for Syria's Ba'ath regime--the brother of Saddam Hussein's."


"Say Yes to Assad"


Dov Goldstein noted in popular, pluralist Maariv (9/8):  "Weak, isolated Syria, which fears U.S. and UN sanctions, is ripe for peace with Israel under reasonable terms.  These are the fundamentals of a wise policy: using the enemy's weakness in order to make him compromise under the easiest conditions.  With a strong Syria, which would have a modern army, and enjoy wide Arab support and friendly relations with the U.S., it would be difficult, even impossible to reach peace.  Indeed, the price for peace with Syria is a hefty one....  [But] peace with Syria means the end of the conflict with the Arab states....  Israel ought to carefully examine every proposal made by the Syrian President.  There's only one thing that shouldn't be done: the absolute rejection of Assad's call for peace negotiations.  Not only would the world not understand this.  The Israelis wouldn't either.  It would be better if the thousands of Syrian missiles covering every centimeter of Israel's territory--some of them equipped with chemical or biological weapons--remained in their launching pads."


"A Lebanese Test Case"


The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post declared (9/6):  "It's been a long time since Israelis had anything good to say about the UN, but last week something positive finally emerged from Turtle Bay, as the UNSC effectively attacked Syria's occupation of Lebanon....  A free Lebanon can also be expected to offer the broader Middle East a glimpse of what liberty would offer any part of this region once it unseats its unelected rulers....  Under Syrian supervision and Iranian inspiration, Lebanon has become a hotbed of Islamist fanaticism and terror.  Hizbullah, a major engine for the glorification and manufacture of hostage takers and suicide bombers, has been made the effective ruler of the country's entire south.  Worse yet, from a UN viewpoint, the places currently ruled by Hizbullah are the very ones the UN abandoned in 2000 while insisting they would be subsequently seized by the Lebanese army.  Last week's diplomatic slap on the wrist should be followed by more aggressive Franco-American diplomacy that will not relent until Lebanon's freedom is fully restored and the Lebanese army has control of its own borders."


"A Lebanese Lesson"


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (9/5):  "Resolution 1559 by the UNSC on Thursday, calling for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon, for the militias there to be dismantled, and for free presidential elections, represents an appropriate intervention by the international community to attain calm and security in the Middle East....  Washington and Paris demonstrated that they are capable of cooperating on the Middle East, despite the disagreement over Iraq....  Israel has a substantial interest in a renewed independence and sovereignty in Lebanon, whose weakness was and remains the source of security threats from the north.  Therefore, it should welcome the UNSC resolution and support its implementation, including the evacuation of Syrian and Iranian forces and the disarmament of Hizbullah.  Resolution 1559 and the increasing international pressure on Damascus would not have been made possible without the decision by former prime minister Ehud Barak to withdraw from Lebanon in May 2000."


WEST BANK:  "And Why Wouldn't America And France Ask Israel To Withdraw Its Forces From Palestine?"


Independent Al-Quds opined (9/4):  "The resolution approved by the UNSC in which the U.S. demanded that Syria pull its forces out of Lebanon and warned of any foreign intervention in the Lebanese internal affairs, mainly the presidential elections, is more proof of the U.S.’ double-standard policies and, unfortunately, of Europe’s starting to follow this policy, especially France and Germany which voted in favor of the resolution....  This American-European position reveals the real intentions and forged claims about supporting principles of justice, freedom and human rights and shows the Arab citizen how aggressive the U.S. and some European countries are toward his rights and interests.”


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Allowing Invasions"


Independent, Arab nationalist, London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi opined (9/6):  "The recently passed UN Resolution 1559, which calls for free elections in Lebanon and Syrian forces' withdrawal from Lebanon, shows that the UNSC now specializes in issuing resolutions that open the way for the U.S. to invade Arab states, as was the case with Iraq....  There are over 100 states where there is no democracy, elections and even constitutional rules. Yet, the UN passed no resolutions calling for fair elections in these states....  But these Syrian forces have been deployed in Lebanon on the Lebanese state's invitation and consent in accordance with the Taif Accord, which enjoyed the U.S.' blessing and also support from all Lebanese political forces at the time....  On the other hand, the Syrian government made a big mistake by insisting on the amendment of the Lebanese constitution....  Syria, which has the overwhelming majority in the Lebanese parliament on its side, could have worked for the election of a pro-Syrian president, perhaps one more loyal to it than current Lebanese President Emile Lahoud himself....  It is the Syrian decision to extend the Lebanese president's term in office which allowed the United States to go to the UNSC to internationalize the Lebanese crisis and secure a resolution, which may be used in the future to justify aggression against Syria or against its forces in Lebanon.  It should not be ruled out that Israel will refuse to follow UNSC resolutions which call on it to pull out of the Golan Heights, the Lebanese Shebaa farms, the West Bank and Gaza Strip because Syria did not implement the UNSC resolution, which calls on it to withdraw its forces from Lebanon.  We know very well that Syria is targeted and that both the U.S. and Israel are making preparations to carry out an aggression against it. But why should Syria give them pretexts to cover up such an aggression?"


"The Rule Of Exceptions!"


Ghaleb Solh maintained in pan-Arab London-based Al-Hayat (9/5):  "This is not the first time a Lebanese president tries to cling to his office....  Yesterday, members of parliament amended the constitution to extend the term of President Emile Lahoud for yet another three years. Another exception!....  Never has it been about internal, national, or Lebanese requirements. Typical! In the Arab world's closest model of a democracy....  The status quo will now persist for an additional three years. The security forces that blockaded the area were preparing to go home. Motorcades were getting ready to block the roads one after the other until they reach their destinations.  In a world where every peoples are fighting for their independence, self-determination, and sovereignty, we the Lebanese are giving them all up. Fifteen minutes later, downtown was swarming with indifferent people, resuming their banal lives. This time, indifference could be devastating."


BAHRAIN:  "UN Must Try To Restore Credibility"


The pro-government English-language Daily Tribune noted (9/10):  "Three cheers for Secretary-General Amr Moussa and the Arab League. Moussa’s statement that the UNSC had its priorities wrong and applied double standards is an understatement....  The UNSC's uninvited interference is a flagrant violation of the UN charter because the issue of Syria’s presence in Lebanon is a purely Lebanese internal matter. What is more worrying is that it also reflects a great deal of bias, hypocrisy and double standards in favour of the aggressor against the victim of aggression.  Moussa’s words highlighted the new realities created by the U.S. by dictating its will on the world organisation....  This made-in-Israel resolution is one more in a long list of resolutions which was forced through by the Zionist leadership of the U.S., thus turning the world body into a biased tool in their hands.  Today the UN can no more be considered the guarantor of international legitimacy.  Moussa was very diplomatic when he said that the UNSC’s recent decisions raise 'big question marks' about the council and its role....  As far as the Arab masses are concerned they have no trust in the world body and its UNSC for they only cater to the U.S.’ and Israel’s security, not the world’s....  We humbly suggest that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan...and all the members of the UNSC re-acquaint themselves with the UN Charter and keep their noses out of the areas where they have no legitimate role....  As things stand today the UN and its UNSC have no credibility, at least in our part of the world. To earn any kind of respect from us the UN and its UNSC should force the implementation of all the resolutions it passed through the past decades. Until then the world body will be considered an extension of Israel and the Zionist leadership of the Bush administration."


JORDAN:  "Illegal Security Council Action On Lebanon"


Hasan Abu Nimah held in the English-language elite Jordan Times (9/8):  "The recently adopted UNSC resolution on Lebanon sets a strange new precedent....  For a long time the performance of the international organisation has been widely criticised for abandoning its basic functions....  That has steadily led to lopsided international justice, double standards, selectivity and near absence of objectivity and fairness in handling international issues. Only when it has suited the purposes of the influential powers has the UNSC...been allowed to act....  In such a degraded situation, therefore, it was bizarre but unsurprising to witness the UNSC debating the situation in Lebanon and demanding for Lebanon what the Lebanese permanent representative to the UN was clearly opposing....  The current crisis developed when Syria, with stunning bluntness, decided to impose on Lebanon an extension of the term of President Emile Lahoud....  The open defiance and vocal protest it aroused prove that Lebanon is a profoundly democratic country....  It is now up to the Lebanese people to...determine if the official extension action was actually the result of Syrian pressure or reflected a genuine Lebanese position....  Notwithstanding the seriousness of this issue, it remains a purely internal matter....  Why, then, did the UNSC rush to register such a precedent...The that the U.S., spurred on by Israel, has put Syria in its gun-sights. And Syria, with its blatant and ill-advised move in Lebanon, has succeeded in pushing its friend, France, into the US-Israeli camp....  How could the UNSC demand the departure of the Syrian soldiers from Lebanon without, at the same time, demanding the departure of the Israeli occupiers from the Lebanon's Sheba'a farms, Syria's Golan Heights, and the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem?....  If there was a Syrian blunder, it was compounded by a UN blunder....  Any forthcoming hopes of the UN system freeing itself from superpower abuse and manipulation are fast dissipating. This is sad as well as scary. The UN is no more the guarantor of law and legality. It is fast becoming the mere tool of violators and aggressors."


"Internationalizing The Lebanese presidency"


Fahd Fanek concluded in semi-official, influential Al-Rai (9/7):  “The French-American decision that was approved by the UNSC with regard to Lebanon has two aims.  The first is French designed to safeguard Lebanon’s interest and sovereignty, and the second is American designed to defy Syria and prepare for the imposition of international sanctions.  It is difficult to protest against the content and the text of the international decision; after all, who could stand against Lebanon’s sovereignty and respect for its constitution....  The protest is therefore against the hidden intentions that lie behind such a decision, namely targeting Syria, be it through a direct Israeli aggression or an American siege similar to the one imposed on Iraq after 1990.  The protest is also against the double standard.  If foreign occupation is rejected, why the decision not ask Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights and the rest of the land it occupied in 1967....  If the Syrian military presence in Lebanon is illegitimate, then why is the American military presence in Iraq legitimate, given that the Syrian forces went into Lebanon pursuant to an agreement, while America imposed itself on Iraq by force?  Syria has always acted wisely and carefully so as not to give its enemies any pretexts for attacking it, but it has, for some reason, made it easy for these enemies when it pressured so clearly for renewing the presidency of the Lebanese president and amending the constitution.  President Bush needed such a conduct on Syria’s part in order to be able to pass an international decision calling for Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon, just as his father passed a similar decision calling for the Iraqi army’s withdrawal from Kuwait.”


KUWAIT:  "Syria Exposed"


Editor-in-Chief Ahmed Al-Jarallah contended in the independent, usually pro-American English-language Arab Times (9/8):  "A sophisticated political game is on between Damascus, Beirut and the UNSC.  Nobody will believe Syria has walked into a trap set by others....  Syria has fallen for this trick and revealed its face from behind the mask of Lebanon. They have been exposed before the international community after succeeding in hiding behind their masks for over three decades....  Lebanon, which can't stand on its own feet any longer, has reached its nadir. Although Syria is the reason for the problems faced by Lebanon it is not facing any crisis....  Syria's desire to extend its stay in Lebanon and its insistence on its Lebanese allies to do likewise led them to imagine power is more important than the will and emotions of the people of Lebanon. The already fragile political scene worsened when some Lebanese, who may be against Syria, worked on luring Syria more and more towards confrontation.  Syria is in a fix now and it can't wriggle out of it....  Unfortunately no one except Israel can implement this UN resolution. This means Damascus will meet the same fate of Baghdad. Arab leaders, who are always keen not take any blames, will be mere spectators to the events which are expected to follow....  UN Resolution 1559 to free Lebanon of all foreign forces is an invitation to the U.S. from the Lebanese who are sure no one else can end their misery. We suppose the Americans have taken the hint."


"Imposing A President"


Ihsan Trabulsi observed in independent conservative Al-Seyassah (9/7):  "This is the second time that Damascus has imposed a president on Beirut, and the world should compare between the Syrian occupation in Lebanon and the U.S. occupation of Iraq....  Lebanese opposition is repressed by the head of Syrian intelligence in Lebanon, Rustum Ghazali, who also represses the media with his heavy military boots....  While former U.S. civil administrator Paul Bremer left Iraq following the handover at the end of June 2004...Syrian intelligence officers who rule Lebanon have not left the country, and they are planning to stay forever.  Lebanese politicians, such as Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, have to keep their mouths shut or face the fate of those who have been assassinated in Lebanon since 1976, such as Druze leader Kamal Jumblat, former President Rene Moawad and Bashir Gemayel....  Lebanese lawmakers have become rubberstamps who simply approve what Damascus dictates.  While Washington has removed a vicious autocratic rule from Baghdad...Damascus has crushed the only democracy in the Arab world, and Syrian troops have turned Lebanon into a big prison.  While Damascus has tortured and killed Lebanese journalists, such as An-Nahar's former editor in chief Michael Abu-Jawdeh and the editor in chief of Al-Hawadeth magazine, Salim al-Lawzeh, Trabulsi added that Washington has freed the Iraqi press, and instead of one or two state-run newspapers, Iraq has around 100 free dailies....  The Lebanese people are the only ones who can end Syrian hegemony in Lebanon. They should do what Georgian people did to President Edward Chevarnadze." 


LEBANON:  "The Last Stop"


Sateh Noureddine opined in Arab nationalist As-Safir (9/14):  “UNSC 1559 lost some of its significance as a result of the renewed American-Syrian talks over Iraq....  It became easier to understand its connotation....  However, contrary to circulating rumors, these Syrian-U.S. talks do not mean that the U.S. will exchange Iraq for Lebanon.  Burns’ recent visit to Syria did not signal the beginning of Syrian-U.S. cooperation on Iraq, but was the crowning of this cooperation."


"What Washington And Damascus Say About Burns’ Talks"


Nicolas Nassif contended in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (9/14):  “Information about the content of A/S Burns’ talks with President Asad was conflicting....  The Americans...confirmed the seriousness of their demands regarding Iraq and Lebanon.  The Syrians, however, reflected satisfaction with the dialogue over Iraq, but did not attach similar importance to the Lebanese issue and UNSC 1559....  A different reality...however, exists on the content of Asad’s talks with Burns.  The information is as follows: The Iraqi issue is a priority for the U.S. Administration...because of Washington’s emphasis on stability and democracy in Iraq....  Syria has a responsibility to help achieve stability in Iraq through working on controlling the border....  In Lebanon, the U.S. insists on Syrian withdrawal from Lebanese territories, non-interference in Lebanese affairs, freedom of decision for the Lebanese, and extension of Lebanese Army control over all Lebanese territories.  Thus, A/S Burns raised the issue of UNSC 1559 clearly and frankly with the Syrian President. The Americans are dealing with the Iraqi issue independently from UNSC 1559 and the Syria Accountability Act....  No link should be created between these issues.  The cooperation of Damascus on Iraq will neither disrupt the Syria Accountability Act nor cripple the impact of UNSC 1559.  Furthermore there is no possibility of a bargain....  Washington believes that it is Syria’s obligation to cooperate on the issue of the border without bargaining.  The U.S. is getting impatient with Damascus because it believes that ever since Powell’s visit, Damascus has been deliberately ignoring U.S. demands, leading the U.S. to believe that Damascus is not serious about making any serious progress in mending American-Syrian relations.”


"Burns’ Visit Did Not Carry New Pressures And Its Lebanese Echo Is Not Escalatory"


Ghasib Mokhtar wrote in Arab nationalist As-Safir (9/13):  "Information which flowed to senior Lebanese officials following Burns’ meeting in Damascus confirmed that Burns’ visit was not negative and did not pressure Syria....  The visit reflected the American need for Syria to help in Iraq, particularly on issues where the American occupation failed....  These sources confirmed that Burns focused on Syria’s role in calming the situation politically and militarily in Iraq and an understanding was reached with Syrian officials to control the Syrian-Iraqi borders....  Official sources believe that the U.S.-Syrian cooperation on Iraq reflects progress in Syrian-Americans relations, and is an indication of Washington’s understanding of Syria’s role in Iraq and in Lebanon as well....  In this context, official sources confirmed that the military delegation which will visit President Lahoud today is not a reflection of any Syrian capitulation to U.S. pressure, but rather an opportunity to offer Lahoud congratulations for his new term in office.”


"Damascus Tried To Send Positive Signs Before Burns’ Arrival"


Rosana Bou-Monsef asserted in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (9/12):  “Despite Syrian public efforts to downplay the importance of UNSC 1559, recent intensified Syrian diplomatic activity reflects the contrary....  Two days before A/S Burns’ visit to Syria, Asad received an Egyptian envoy who asked him to take UNSC 1559 seriously....  Damascus also received the Iraqi Minister of Interior and discussed cooperation along the Syrian-Iraqi border.  Damascus also received Congressman Issa and former U.S. Ambassador Indyk.  All talked about Asad’s flexible positions...and his willingness to cooperate....  Syria believes that Burns’ visit is a new opportunity to mend relations with Washington.  This opportunity might not be repeated particularly if President Bush is re-elected.  Syria understands that any mistake could lead to another phase of sanctions against Damascus."


"American Envoys To Snub Lebanon"


Khalil Fleihan maintained in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (9/10):  “Washington has decided to exclude Lebanon from its envoys’ rounds in the region after the conditions set forth in UNSC 1559 were not met, Lebanese government sources said....  Washington says Lebanon breached the resolution by amending its Constitution to extend President Emile Lahoud’s mandate by three years.  The U.S. began implementing this canceling U.S. Middle East Envoy William Burns’ visit to Beirut, which was supposed to take place Sunday....  According to the same sources, U.S. diplomatic relations with Lebanon will be reduced and no senior U.S. official will visit the country.  These relations will be limited only to the presence of U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman.  The sources suggested this new and negative situation between both countries should be confronted, warning the Lebanese Government against underestimating Washington’s decision.  They urged the government to resume contacts to disperse the chaos resulting from Lahoud’s extension in office....  Sources said they wondered how many Arab countries backed the U.S. position....  Support for Lebanon will remain ‘shy and in the context of words only.’”


“The Lebanese Issue Will Not Be A Priority On Burns’ Agenda"


Radwan Al-Theeb remarked in independent, non-sectarian Ad-Diyar (9/10):  “A/S Burns’ visit to Damascus is very important...because Burns will open the doors of dialogue regarding all pending issues between Damascus and the U.S.  It is believed, however, that Iraq will be the priority issue on Burns’ agenda because of the increasing number of American casualties in Iraq....  Sources believe that the U.S. is becoming convinced that the policy of exerting pressure on Syria is not beneficial and has only backfired....  Syria also proved that it has the ability to help the U.S. inside Iraq...Those who believe that the U.S. will isolate Syria are shocked over Burns’ imminent visit to Damascus."


"Syria On The Strategic Arena: Is It Weak Or Strong?"


Fares Khashan said in pro-Hariri Al-Mustaqbal (9/10):  “Is Syria strong or weak?  This strategic question is being posed in Lebanon and other Arab countries....  Those who believe that Syria is weak cite the following reasons:  The UNSC internationalized The Syria Accountability Act....  The EU placed the project of partnership with Damascus aside....  France, which was one of the countries that defended Syria, decided to reverse its policy...because it came to believe that Damascus has no consideration for the French economic interests in Syria and political interests in Lebanon....  The U.S. bilateral relations with Syria are facing a crisis....  Syria’s geographic location is strategically weak because it is surrounded by Israel, the U.S. Army, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon (which is under international scrutiny.  Finally, Arab countries are not able to support Syria....  On the other hand those who believe that Syria is strong...cite the following reasons: neoconservatives in the Pentagon, Wolfowitz for example, are weak because of the Israeli spy issue....  The natural result of what is happening at the Pentagon is strengthening the voice of the State Department which is the voice of negotiation and diplomacy.  Weaknesses at the Pentagon will bring the CIA--which has good relations with the Lebanese and Syrian security agencies-back into the limelight....  It is impossible to implement UNSC 1559 within a month....  Finally, Syria...was always able to solve its problems with the international community....  In any case...whether Syria would be considered strong or weak depends on two issues: whether U.S. President Bush will become the next U.S. President...and whether Syria knows how to deal with France and Europe.”


"Egyptian Contracts With Washington And Paris To Convince Them To Dismiss Implementation Of 1559"


Khalil Fleyhan contended in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (9/9):  "A number of Lebanese officials believe that UN Secretary General Annan had no right to criticize Lebanon’s constitutional amendment...because it does not threaten regional security....  The same sources noted that the motive behind UNSC 1559 was political....  Other sources revealed that Egypt will work through diplomatic channels with the U.S. and France to clarity the dangers of UNSC 1559 and to convince them to dismiss looking into its implementation.”


"Damascus May Hold Off On Cabinet Reshuffle"


Zeina Abou-Rizk opined in the moderate English-language Daily Star (9/9):  “Burns’ expected visit to Damascus at the end of the week is likely to shed more light onto the ambiguous U.S.-Syrian dialogue, and its repercussions on Lebanon.  Significantly, Burns will be accompanied by a high-ranking Pentagon official, Peter W. Rodman...a neoconservative who once worked for former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.  As a senior Pentagon official, Rodman’s presence with Burns will definitely add a new dimension, one that is more military in nature, to the ongoing American-Syrian political contacts.”


"Avoid Blunders"


Ali Hamada commented in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (9/9):  "Following the UNSC resolution 1559 that demanded the withdrawal of foreign troops from Lebanon, the dismantling of Hizbullah, and the deployment of the Lebanese army in the South, the international community is observing the Lebanese domestic situation closely and President Emile Lahoud should avoid any blunders in his extended three-year term....  Because Lebanon is under the international microscope, if Lahoud makes any mistakes in politics, economics, and human rights, the country will pay ten fold.  Beirut and Damascus...cannot anymore claim that Syrian-Lebanese matters are domestic issues, but international ones put under scrutiny by the UN.  Resolution 1559 is a yellow card, a warning, given by the UN to Lebanon and Syria, and those stupid Lebanese politicians who pretend that the crisis over the constitutional amendment that allowed Lahoud to stay in office is over are not aware of the gravity of the situation....  Hence...any blunder made by Lahoud during the coming years will increase Lebanon's international isolation, and the president should look for wisdom even it were in China."


"Resolution Repercussions"


George Alam stated in Arab nationalist As-Safir (9/8):  "In order to face the repercussions of UNSC Resolution 1559, the Lebanese should unite, institute a plan of action that includes coordination with Syria and cooperate with the EU and France....  While such advice may sound simple, it is the only way that Lebanon and Syria could avoid international isolation.  This was Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's opinion too....  Lebanon should take action instead of trying to explain 1559 and maintain its friendship with France, despite Paris' stance with Washington in favor of the resolution.  Lavrov was not the only diplomat to offer Beirut advice on ways to deal with 1559 or take positions on the resolution....  Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom declared that 1559 will pave the way for a peace agreement between the Jewish state and Lebanon.  The Lebanese authorities have been debating with the UN over Resolution 425 ever since the UNSC announced that Tel Aviv had implemented 425 fully when Israeli troops withdrew from South Lebanon in 2000.  Beirut, however, thinks that Israel should also withdraw from Shebaa Farms on Mount Hermon.  Only then would Beirut consider Israel to have fulfilled its obligations under the resolution.  At this juncture, Lebanon does not need more confrontations with the UN. Beirut should approach the international community with soft diplomacy and join ranks with Damascus in order to face Israel."


"National Unity Government Is Needed"


Sarkis Naoum wrote in moderate, anti-Syria An-Nahar (9/8):  "The frustration of the majority of the Lebanese over the Syrian-backed constitutional amendment allowing President Emile Lahoud to stay in office can only be defused by forming a national unity government that includes all political groups in the country....  But there are two stumbling blocks in the success of such a step.  First, Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir, the Christian opposition group Qornet Shehwan, and the Druze leader and his parliamentarian bloc are not ready to participate in such a Cabinet because they believe that its failure will be inevitable....  The opposition believes that even if Lahoud were able to do in his extended three-year term what he failed to do in six years, regarding the eradication of corruption, national reconciliation, and economic reform, Syria may not be willing to allow any major change in the Lebanese situation....  Meanwhile...the war between opposition forces and Syrian loyalists in Lebanon will continue.  The second obstacle to a national unity that Damascus and Lahoud have not until now shown any real willingness to reform the Lebanese situation.  Some parties may add a third stumbling block: The Lebanese are only objects in the regional conflict, and their country is the battlefield used by the following parties: pro-Syrian Lebanese, Syria, the U.S. and Israel. Hence, none of these parties has any interest in changing the status quo."


"The Last Stop"


Sateh Noureddine wrote in Arab nationalist As-Safir (9/8):  “Israel presented its interpretation of UNSCR 1559...however, it pushed things too far by expecting Lebanon to become the third Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel.  This is an overly optimistic Israeli reading of UNSC 1559....  UNSC 1559 is only a reflection of American, French, British, and German resentment about Syria’s performance in Lebanon.  The resolution might aim at breaking Syria’s monopoly of Lebanon, but no one is looking to separate the Lebanon and Syria peace tracks....  In any case, it is clear that Israel is not interested now in reaching a peace agreement with Lebanon....  It certainly knows that Lebanon might have its differences with Syria over many issues but not on its position towards Israel."


"Lebanese And Syrian Attempts To Deflate International Congestion"


Rosana Bou-Monsef asserted in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (9/7):  “Syria minimized to a great extent the impact of UNSCR 1559, which demands respect for Lebanon’s sovereignty and Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon....  Syria will continue to take necessary steps to confront and further diminish the impact of UNSCR 1559: It will allow its allies in Lebanon to respond in several ways to UNSCR 1559 and confirm the importance of the Syrian presence in Lebanon.  It will stop linking the Syrian presence to the Arab-Israeli conflict, and instead link it to Lebanon’s need to control the Palestinian camps....  Syria is also depending on Prime Minister Hariri to use his broad international contacts to explain Syria and Lebanon’s view and work on diminishing the impact of Annan’s report expected after 30 days....  On the Syrian level, diplomatic sources noted that President Asad is ready to cooperate with Washington regarding Iraq...Syria is also ready to make A/S Burns’ visit a success....  In this context, Asad informed the Congressional delegation that visited him last week that he had asked the U.S. Embassy to provide him with technical equipment that would support Syria’s efforts to monitor its border with Iraq....  He said that he was also ready to allow U.S. military planes to use Syrian space to enhance control of the border.”


"American Successes: Internationalization Of Syria Accountability Act And Dismantling Resistance"


Ibrahim Al-Amin commented in Arab nationalist As-Safir (9/7):  “How will the UN deal with UNSCR 1559?....  In principle...the UN Secretary General should send an ensure that UNSCR 1559 is implemented.  However, a UN source says...that Annan tends to wait and observe the situation...and believes that the coming few weeks will witness events that could facilitate Annan’s mission....  The same sources revealed that the U.S. pressure that was exerted in order to reach UNSCR 1559 was not normal.  Many thought that the U.S. wanted to expedite the procedures to reach UNSCR 1559 in order to block extension of President Lahoud’s term in office, however, UN sources clarified that the real aim behind UNSCR 1559 was to show that Syria and Lebanon violated an international resolution and use this fact against them in future negotiations...The U.S. also wants to convince the Europeans to join them in ‘chasing’ Syria....  The U.S. wants to internationalize the Syria Accountability Act and also wants the Europeans to join it in characterizing Hizbullah and other resistance movements in the region as terrorists.”


"The Lebanese Army To Control Palestinian Bases And (Southern) Border"


Ali Al-Amin argued in independent Al-Balad (9/7):  “The Ta’if Accord, which was signed in 1989, gave Syria a free hand in Lebanon....  However, UNSCR 1559 is designed to take Lebanon and Syria to a new phase...Sources believe that Syria cannot turn its back in the demands in UNSCR 1559...because ignoring them might lead to sanctions....  Lebanon and Syria...should show readiness to implement the demand for withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon, dismantling all militias, and extending the Government of Lebanon’s control over all Lebanese territories.  Arab political sources claim that Syria is exerting get the Arab League (instead of the U.N.) to supervise the implementation of UNSCR 1559....  As for the actual implementation of these demands...sources believe that Syria might announce its support to sending the Lebanese Army to South Lebanon....  Such an announcement might help Lebanon and Syria avoid possible the same time, begin the mechanism of controlling a number of Palestinian military bases.”


SYRIA:  "Towards Common Denominators"


Ahmad Dawa commented in government-owned Al-Thawra (9/14):  "The official US-Syrian comments about Burns' visit to Damascus, especially the one made by Secretary Powell in which he praised these talks and considered them as useful, good and necessary player have restored credit to the principle of dialogue as a basis for serious and objective discussion to eliminate points of disagreement between the two countries....  These talks constitute a success for the moderate team in the Bush Administration....  Certainly the U.S.-Syrian talks have not reconciled the two countries' positions on the issues they tackled, due to their seriousness and sensitivity for the two countries and their connection with the Israeli factor. The U.S. inclination to resort to dialogue as a necessary option, is inevitable in international relations to eliminate differences and to agree on deferring solutions for deeper differences until better international and regional circumstances materialize."


"Ground For Dialogue"


Dr. Fayez Sayegh, chief editor of government-owned Al-Thawra, stated (9/13):  "The U.S.-Syrian agreement on continuing dialogue is a step in the right direction. Agreement on setting appropriate mechanisms to deepen dialogue is a second step that serves U.S. and Syrian interests....  Burns' talks provided a common ground for dialogue....  We hope that the coming days will witness intensified constructive solutions for pending issues to achieve best results before this positive atmosphere is sabotaged by Israeli circles and wasted by Zionist interests."


"Is Syria's Policy That Of A Super State?"


Dr. Mahdi Dakhlallah, chief editor of government-owned Al-Ba'th, remarked (9/12):  "Recent developments in US-Syrian relations, including Burns' visit to Damascus, have reinstated the issue of Syria's foreign policy as a distinguished phenomenon in the Middle East....  When Burns visits Damascus, he does not come only to speak, but also to listen. His return to Damascus, in form at least, is a new indication of victory for Syrian foreign policy. It is a policy that always underscores the importance of dialogue in organizing relations among states--small or big--as opposed to the concept that pressure, threats and shows of force are the only effective means in international policy.  Isn't this new evidence that Syria's foreign policy is that of a super-state?....  Syria's policy confuses observers, who are astonished by the way a small country like Syria--which is located in an inflamed region--could say 'no' to the sole superpower, which has no concern whatsoever for other countries' independence and sovereignty."


"Syria Cannot Be Blamed"


Government-owned Tishreen editorialized (9/8):  "Syria cannot be blamed for the worsening condition of U.S.-Syria relations....  The U.S. knew that Syria does not take responsibility for the deteriorating conditions in the region....  Damascus was interested and eager to achieve stability in the region...Syria is not an aggressor, but is being assaulted by Israel, and is facing American pressures, especially from this administration, because it is not bowing to blackmail and threats of aggression from Israel and the American drive that adopts the Israeli allegations....  It was impractical to describe Syria's position as hard-line when most of the world countries were supporting it....  Even the EU recently asked the U.S. to take a more firm position towards Israel....  Washington should have by now discovered the Israeli games and blackmail that have reached the point of spying on American national security and the reality that Israel does not want developed Arab-American ties, but wants everything that is American for itself alone that would serve its aggressive plans whose results reflect badly on the U.S." 


"U.S. Threats"


Ahmad Hamadah said in government-owned Al-Thawra (9/6):  "U.S. threats against Syria can be seen from the perspective of the American strategy for the Arab region and its many plans to redraw the region's maps, policies and inclinations in a new way that will serve Israel and its expansionist ambitions....  The American need to please Israel should be obvious enough...the American presidential elections and their requirements: primarily pleasing Israel and the Jewish lobby in the U.S., AIPAC, and American Jews' long economic, financial and media arms....  The resolution behind which the U.S. is throwing all its weight in the UNSC tries to arrange the situation in Lebanon in a way consistent with what Israel wants: particularly turning the Lebanese Army into a protector of the Israeli security in northern occupied Palestine and restricting Lebanese resistance even though Israel attacks Lebanon daily from the air, the sea and the ground.  Only because of Israel is American concerned for the Lebanese constitution and presidential elections....  The U.S. considered the election an opportunity to raise the issue of the presence of the Syrian troops in Lebanon even though this presence is legal, legitimate, and agreed upon by the two governments. It also enjoys broad Arab and international understanding....  Although the Lebanese alone are the ones who have the right to choose their president and amend their constitution, the U.S. Administration allowed itself to interfere flagrantly in Lebanon's domestic affairs and in Lebanon's strategic relation with Syria....  From this premise we can understand the nature of the Israeli-American moves against Syria and Lebanon."


"Lebanon's National Stance"


M. Agha noted in the English-language government-owned Syria Times (9/5):  "The US Administration has been adamant on exerting further pressure on Syria with the aim of serving Israeli objectives which run counter to norms of international laws and conventions.  The UNSC meeting to approve the U.S.-French draft resolution on Lebanon is part of this policy. The current attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of this Arab country are part of the US-Israeli strategy to divert world attention from the human rights violations and state terror pursued by the Sharon government against the defenseless people of Palestine.  The main target of the US-Israeli alliance is to obliterate the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, the establishment of an independent state and the return of refugees to their homeland.  The meeting is a flagrant violation of international law for it represents an illegal intervention into Lebanese internal affairs. The recent developments that preceded the meeting show that this step is part of a larger campaign that has nothing to do with the Lebanese presidential question. This vicious campaign is an integral part of the so-called Syria Accountability Act plot that aims to consolidate U.S.--Israeli hegemony over the region as a whole and to pillage its natural resources, particularly its oil.  After the UNSC issued a revised version of the US-French draft resolution concerning Lebanon, the Lebanese Parliament voted to amend the constitutional to extend the President's term for three years. This is a rebuff to US pressure on Syria and to its attempts to meddle in Lebanon's internal affairs."


"Targeting International Legitimacy"


Samir al-Shibani observed in government-owned Tishreen (9/4):  "Day after day, world peoples are becoming more convinced that the current U.S. administration and Sharon's to turn international authorities into a tool to impose hegemony over peoples' resources and to exercise all sorts of coercion against them.  Within this context comes a dangerous precedent that portends great chaos.   The UNSC has stepped away from its legal course as a result of US-Israeli pressure.   It has discussed an issue of concern to two brotherly countries that are tied with relations of kinship, history, and fate....  Observers view the timing of the UNSC resolution with great it coincided with the Republican Party's endorsement of George Bush for the US presidency. Bush has great problems inside and outside the U.S., and his practices in support of Israeli policy have greatly aggravated and intensified these problems. It is noteworthy that the UNSC resolution has brought nothing new and that those who stood behind it have failed to mention Syria by name.  Moreover, the resolution rallied only the minimum number of votes. Those who stood behind the resolution must recall the unanimous votes in the General Assembly that repeatedly denounced and condemned the Israeli occupation and its practices; the most recent of these votes was on the illegality of the hated racial wall.  If they are concerned about Lebanon, they must apply their influence and pressure on the party that occupies Lebanese land in the south. Moreover, if they are concerned about the UNSC's prestige and its need to retain international authority, they must implement its decades-old resolutions that remain frozen and forgotten in drawers."


YEMEN:  "Did Lebanon Lose The Democratic Test?"


The pro-government English-language Yemen Times averred (9/10):  "Many in the Arab world thought that Lebanon could have been the leading example of democracy. It is the Arab country with the freest press and the most liberalized media....  But it has undergone a very difficult test....  The constitutional amendment to extend the presidential term of Emile Lahoud by three more years was a grave disappointment to those who had bet on Lebanon’s democracy. Overturning the amendment in parliament would have been a clear example of the insistence of the people of Lebanon to stick to the democratic principles established in their country. It was a pity that Lebanon didn’t pass this test....  For many Lebanese, the amendment constituted a failure to stick to the growing trend in democratic practice in Lebanon, and a tendency to slip back to the domain of other Arab regimes, which manipulate constitutions and parliaments for their own benefit.  But if there is another side to blame, it would be the USA and European countries, who passed a UNSC resolution that pointed fingers towards Syria and Lebanon, and dragged a sovereign issue into the international domain.  This has caused extensive damage to the position of the Lebanese people who had opposed the amendment....  It would be difficult to stand with the USA and others....  However, it is important to note here that it is not the number of years, or reasons, that make the amendment a disappointment, it is rather the decision to go for it at a time when Lebanon was advancing very quickly, and being acclaimed as a liberal and free Arab state.  Is this a regression or weakening of Lebanese democracy? Was our belief that Lebanon could be a state different from other Arab countries a myth? Let’s wait for three more years and see."




BELGIUM:  "American-European Front Isolates Syria"


Mia Doornaert wrote in independent Christian-Democrat De Standaard (9/9):  "While the U.S. is feeling how difficult it is to try to export democracy with weapons, France is coming to the conclusion that dialogue does not yield much either when reforms are needed.  That has led to an unusual American-French agreement in the UNSC for a resolution that demands that Syria respect Lebanon's sovereignty....  While France is disappointed by the poor results of its 'engagement' in Syria it is also angered by Syria's recent coup in Lebanon....  The Syrians consider Lebanon and Israel/Palestine as part of their historic territory that was seized first by the Ottomans and later, by Western powers.  France does not want Lebanon to become a Syrian colony.  That explains its initiative--supported by the EU--for UNSC resolution 1559 that demands the departure of all foreign, i.e. Syrian, troops from Lebanon.  It was not difficult to find American support.  In the U.S. Bashir al-Assad is in disfavor because, Washington believes, terrorists can go to Iraq via Syria and because Syria continues to give support to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and to Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas and the Islamic Jihad that seek the destruction of Israel.  For that reason America imposed trade sanctions on Syria earlier this year.  The fact that this country is now confronted with an U.S.-European front amplifies the isolation of Damascus and Assad."




CANADA:  "Syria's Bullying Ways"


The liberal Toronto Star editorialized (9/6):  "While Syria has been a genuine force for stability in Lebanon, where rival communities waged a savage war in the 1970s and 1980s, its continued meddling in Lebanese affairs, and denial of democracy, puts it on the wrong side of history. Choosing a president should be a strictly internal matter. And the UNSC has wisely reaffirmed that principle, by denouncing Assad's latest string pulling, the third such meddling in a decade. The UN passed an American-sponsored resolution last week, demanding respect for Lebanon's sovereignty and calling for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Lebanese soil.  Lebanese Sunni Muslim, Christian and Druze religious figures have also denounced Assad's manoeuvring.  Assad has shrugged off international outrage. But this will haunt him. While Canada has always tried to cultivate good relations with both Syria and Lebanon, people here recoil from Assad's bullying.  Syria has already been rightly criticized for giving sanctuary to Palestinian extremist groups, for letting Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrillas run riot on the Israeli border and for spurning Israeli peace overtures over the Golan Heights. This latest outrage can only further tarnish Syria's image, deepen its isolation, hurt its economy and invite sanctions."



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