Monday, March 31, 2003

Colin Powell launched a broadside against both Iran and Syria yesterday before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. On Syria he said:

Syria can continue direct support for terrorist groups and the dying regime of Saddam Hussein, or it can embark on a different and more hopeful course. Either way, Syria has the responsibility for its choices and for the consequences.

This followed Donald Rumsfeld's accusations last Friday that Syria was providing military equipment, including night-vision goggles, to Iraq. However, looking at the broader picture, it is worth placing this in the context of information provided by Seymour Hersh in his article on Rumsfeld that has provoked so much controversy in Washington. Overlooked was the last paragraph in the story, which noted:

There is also evidence that Turkey has been playing both sides. Turkey and Syria, who traditionally have not had close relations, recently agreed to strengthen their ties, the businessman told me, and early this year Syria sent Major General Ghazi Kanaan, its longtime strongman and power broker in Lebanon, to Turkey. The two nations have begun to share intelligence and to meet, along with Iranian officials, to discuss border issues, in case an independent Kurdistan emerges from the Iraq war. A former U.S. intelligence officer put it this way: "The Syrians are coordinating with the Turks to screw us in the north--to cause us problems." He added, "Syria and the Iranians agreed that they could not let an American occupation of Iraq stand."

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