Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Syria: "Maybe Resistance Really Is Futile"

Saddam Hussein's half-brother was turned over to Iraq. It looks like he fled to Syria after the U.S.-led invasion, although Syria denied it until they, in fact, sent him back home. The linked CNN article says he was one of the most wanted leaders of the insurgency, and that he was arrested along with 29 other formed Baath Party leaders.

I question the timing.

In other interesting Syria/Lebanon news, neither nor mention the handover. And no word on Assad's promise to withdraw Syrian forces to the Lebanese border, or on Lebanon's official decision to cooperate with UN investigators on the Hariri assassination. Instead, Syria Today limits itself to reporting Russia's deal to supply Bashar Assad with nuclear material. The top three stories on Syrian Times are about the recent Tel Aviv bombing, and two stories about how foreign countries should stop putting so much pressure on Syria, just because they assassinated a foreign leader. Interestingly, one of those stories is about Iran coming to Syria's defense.

I'd say it's pretty clear who runs the newspapers in that country.

But Syria Today actually does have a useful (although unintentionally so) story, again rife with denials that there is anything at all interesting happening in that part of the world. It quotes some bits from the State of the Union address, in which President Bush told Congress, “You have passed, and we are applying, the Syrian Accountability Act.” I'd never heard of the thing. It's mostly declaratory in nature (you can read the 8-page document here), although it grants Bush certain powers to restrict diplomatic and economic ties with Syria. It's not a very impressive piece of legislation, although I was interested to notice it was co-sponsored by Nancy Pelosi and Dick Gephart. Don't get too impressed at their hawkishness, though. If a bill has 297 co-sponsors, two names hardly stick out. John Kerry, unsurprisingly, failed to vote.

Update: In Lebanon, the pro-Syrian government has instructed troops to prevent anti-Syria demonstrations on Monday, and demonstrators respond, "Take off, hoser." Apparently, Lebanese protestors learned English by watching "Strange Brew."