Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Syrian attitude

Check out this interview with Imad Moustapha, the Syrian ambassador to the US.  He is being asked about the current conflict in Lebanon and Syria’s role in it.  He says:

      Well, he's got the wrong information. The Lebanese people are being killed right now. Lebanon is being destroyed by Israel for the third time in 20 years. Syria has nothing to do whatsoever with this crisis and yet we are accused of this.

And then he says:

      You know, asking these questions about Syria is unfair. Syria is not doing anything, while Israel is actually killing civilians, women and children, and yet the focus of their attention is being directed towards Syria. It is unfair.

Waaaaa!  Don’t look at us, look at Israel.  They’re the bad guys, not us.  Not Hezbollah.  Not Hamas.  It’s Israel.  They’re occupiers, don’t you know.  They’re tricksey, yes precious.  Nasty Hobbitses.  We’ll show them, won’t we precious.

He complains that this started because Hezbollah took some Israeli hostages in order to facilitate a hostage exchange.   So just stop firing and give us some of the Palestinians you imprisoned and we’ll give back your soldiers and everything will be peachy. 

Except it’s not that simple.  First of all, I don’t think you can call the people that Israel locked up proper “hostages” in the classical sense.  These are folks that Israel found in the process of performing terrorist acts or planning to.  Correct me if I’m wrong but if you’re caught doing stuff like that inside the Israeli border I’m sure that’s against the law and punishable by at least prison.  Some also probably come from Gaza or the West Bank, but the target has always been Israel. So are they prisoners of war that deserve to be exchanged, or are they criminals?

The other thing is that subsequent to taking the hostage, Hezbollah as been launching missiles targeting civilians in quite large cities inside of Israel.  Not what you would be doing if just a simple hostage exchange was your goal.  You’ll forgive us, Mr. Moustapha, if we don’t buy the crap you’re trying to hock at bargain basement prices.

Israel look pretty bad right now, considering that they are producing lots of collateral deaths and damage in Beirut and elsewhere.  Politically this is a nightmare for them, as most Lebanese were sympathetic to them.  I think it’s correct to question what their motive there is, apart from trying to take out Hezbollah outposts in the city.  The political costs seems much higher than the benefit from taking out an outpost or two.  I think they should have contained their stuff to the southern part of the country.  But perhaps they know something we don’t about Hezbollah and their movements.

But Moustapha’s statements strike me as the worst kind of moral equivalence that I hear from many global figures trying to condemn Israel.  Despite all the damage they’re causing in Beirut, they’re still trying to target people and things strategically.  Hezbollah is just trying to target “woman and children” as he so tactlessly put it.  Israel might be reckless here, but after all the crap they’ve had to put up with over the years, can you blame them?  Hezbollah is the true evil here.  The Lebanese know it.  Israel knows it.  America knows it.  Heck, even the Saudis, Egyptians, Iraqis, and most other people are hip to it.  So defending them here makes Syria look a bit culpable, don’t you think?

In truth, Israel’s recklessness is playing into Syria’s and Hezbollah’s hands, as many people are actually fleeing to Syria and Hezbollah for protection while this is going on.  There was a definite public sentiment against Hezbollah and a desire to disarm them at some point.  However that sentiment is shifting, and not in Israel’s favor.

Not sure if there’s going to be any winners here.  Perhaps Hezbollah, but everyone knows they started it this time, so maybe not.  The people I feel the sorriest for are the Lebanese.  They had a wonderful resurgence, kicked the Syrians out, had free elections.  Things were finally going their way, and then this happens.

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