Will the US stop Syria's terrorism?
By: Elias Bejjani*
Since the early eighties the United States, the free world, and Arab world have sadly been exhibiting a pathetic stance and laissez-faire leadership role regarding Hezbollah, the Terrorist Islamic Jihad organization. Meanwhile, they all recognize the fact that it is more dangerous and much better trained than Al-Qaeda.
Ironically, this Iranian terrorist army has been devouring Lebanon piece by
piece with the help of both Iran and Syria while the whole world watches
indifferently. In reality it now controls the country merely by force, murder,
invasions and intimidation of Lebanon's institutions. It also has the upper hand
in appointing almost each and every official in all levels of government.
We recall October 23, 1983 with pain and sorrow when in Beirut two truck bombs struck separate buildings housing U.S. and French military members of a multinational force. They killed 299 servicemen including 240 US Marines and 58 French paratroopers. The organization Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the bombing. That organization was a nom de guerre for Hezbollah, a group that would later become part of the present-day terrorist Hezbollah party.
The US, Canada and Australia have put Hezbollah on their terrorist lists, while Europe and the Arab countries have succumbed to this Iranian sponsored terrorist group by falling short of adopting an actual anti-terrorism stance. Some of them, like England, have been camouflaging their position by claiming that they are against Hezbollah’s military wing, but are in support of the social and humanitarian one. Hezbollah’s leaders themselves ridicule this classification.
Many renowned US anti-terrorism experts have been raising the alarm for years. Mr. W. Thomas Smith Jr. wrote in 2008, ("Hezbollah is perhaps the most-dangerous Talibanesque terrorist-army on the planet. The organization is trained, armed and equipped, operationally supported, and heavily funded by Iran (at least $ one-billion, annually); and operationally supported by Syria. In fact, Hezbollah is so dangerous – and gaining in its global strength and influence – that Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff recently warned, the organization ‘makes Al Qaeda look like a minor league team.’”)
For the past 26 years there has been high-pitched US rhetoric against Hezbollah, but no action whatsoever. The world knows that Syria had savagely occupied Lebanon for 28 years between 1976 and 2005 and that it is fully responsible for the creation of Hezbollah. It is a mere Iranian militant brigade fully affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)”.
So instead of deterring the Syrian regime to at the very least stop
transferring Iranian weapons to Hezbollah and encouraging them to help the
Lebanese to contain and disarm it, the US, Europe and the Arab countries have
been appeasing the Syrian leadership. Syria provides them with everything they
need to remain in power and continue oppressing the people of Lebanon, spreading
havoc and instability all over its neighboring countries. In this context, the
US officials keep issuing more warnings to Syria and Iran. These two countries
ridicule them and continue stockpiling Hezbollah's arsenal with more strategic
weapons that include ballistic Scud missiles.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates held a joint press conference at the Pentagon with his visiting Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak on Tuesday April 28, 2010 in which he said: "Syria is helping Hezbollah stockpile far more rockets and missiles than most governments in the world", "Syria and Iran are providing Hezbollah with rockets and missiles of ever-increasing capability and this is obviously destabilizing for the whole region”. Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah responded by telling AFP “The resistance has the right to use all legitimate means to build its capacity to defend Lebanon.” He added that U.S. arms were “annihilating” civilians in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon, and that they were the “cause of all suffering in the region.”
One wonders if there is any credibility in the ongoing piles of warnings and press releases. Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas have for many years been doing what they want without restraint and without any need to pay attention to the rhetoric of warnings from Israel, the US and Europe. According to Mr. Hamid Ghoriafi, a Middle East analyst and journalist, things are going to change to the point where the U.S. becomes determined to put Syria in its place.
In a report published yesterday by the Kuwaiti Daily, Al-Seyassah, Ghoriafi quoted reliable diplomatic sources in Vienna as saying “Earlier this week the US has informed the Syrian Al Assad regime that Washington is no longer only interested in the withdrawal of the Scud missiles from Hezbollah's arsenal, in case they have already been transferred from Syria to Lebanon. It is also strongly demanding from Syria that all the Syrian and Iranian missiles that had been smuggled to Lebanon during the last four years, in the aftermath of the 2005 War, be withdrawn from Hezbollah's arsenal".
According to the same source, the U.S. is insisting that all Hezbollah’s missiles with a range of 20 kilometers and more to be returned immediately to Syria. This is because they are classified as strategic weapons that threaten not only Israel, but also other countries in the region. They are also a hazard to U.S., European and particularly Arab countries' interests.
The report further revealed that the U.S. has provided NATO, Israel and Egypt each with a detailed list outlining and describing all types of these strategic missiles. The list of missiles includes Scud, Zelzal, Fatah version one and two, plus other Iranian and Syrian missiles that were piled into Hezbollah's arsenal during the last few years. The list was handed over to Syria with a clear warning demanding that every one of the listed four thousand missiles from Hezbollah’s 30 to 40-thousand missile arsenal be returned to Syria.
The warning included an expectation that this step by Syria would be followed by disarming Hezbollah in accordance with the UN Resolutions 1559 and 1701. The report stated that western efforts are underway to rectify UN Resolution 1701 at the UN Security Council. These efforts seek to add certain clauses that will give the UNIFIL forces in South Lebanon a new role in deploying along the Lebanese-Syrian border and in helping the Lebanese army put all of Hezbollah's weapons under the authority of the Lebanese State.
Ghoriafi also revealed the affirmation by diplomatic sources in London that President Obama's administration has already made Al-Assad fully aware of its serious concern not only about the Scud missiles Syria has transferred to Hezbollah, but about the entire Hezbollah missile arsenal estimated to be in the thousands. The administration told Al Assad that he must take care of this matter as soon as possible and without delay or hesitation. Otherwise, the US and the international community will resort to all options available to them to stop Hezbollah from using these stockpiled missiles regardless of Syria's national security.
In the same context the report quoted Dr. Chuck Freilich, a Senior Fellow at the Belfer Centre’s International Security Program and Israel’s former Deputy National Security Adviser for Foreign Affairs, as saying "In case Israel is actually sure and definite that any of its enemies is in possession of weapons that is capable of causing destruction to the Jewish State, it will pre-emptively destroy these weapons using all means including weapons of mass destruction pursuant to the principle: "Shoot first and then ask.”
The question remains, will the US stop Syria's terrorism before it is too late?
to read the Arabic original version of Hamid Ghoriafi's report
*Click here to read Mr. W. Thomas
Smith Jr. editorial/ 2008