Hold Damascus Responsible by Dr. Daniel Pipes - Author of 3 books on Syria advises targetting Hezbollah's backers
August 1, 2006
MIM :Dr.Pipes is the author of three books on Syria and presents a viable stategy to defeat Hezbollah by targetting Syrian backers.
Hold Damascus Responsible
by Daniel Pipes
[NY Sun title: "This Cease-Fire Won't Hold"]
"There will be an international force [in Lebanon], because all the key players want it," an American official asserted recently. He appears to be right, as even the Israeli government has embraced the plan, announcing it "would agree to consider stationing a battle-tested force composed of soldiers from European Union member states."
The key players might "want it," but such a force will certainly fail, just as it did once before, in 1982-84.
That was when American, French, and Italian troops were deployed in Lebanon to buffer Israel from Lebanon's anarchy and terrorism. The "Multinational Force" collapsed back then when Hezbollah attacked MNF soldiers, embassies, and other installations, prompting the MNF's ignominious flight from Lebanon. The same pattern will no doubt recur. Back then, Americans and others did not regard Hezbollah as their enemy, and this remains the case today, notwithstanding the war on terror; in a recent Gallup poll, 65% of Americans said their government should not take sides in the current Israel-Hezbollah fighting.
Other, equally bad, ideas to end the anarchy in south Lebanon include:
Rather than travel down the road of predictable failure, something quite different needs to be tried. My suggestion? Shift attention to Syria from Lebanon and put Damascus on notice that it is responsible for Hezbollah violence. (Incidentally, this is in keeping with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1680, adopted May 17, 2006, calling on Syria to undertake "measures against movements of arms into Lebanese territory.")
Here's why: Israeli leaders have long failed to prevent attacks emanating from Lebanon. They stanched cross-border terrorism with other neighbors by making it too painful for their central governments to permit such attacks to continue. But when they made demands of the Lebanese government, they failed to get satisfaction. In Lebanon – unlike in Egypt, Jordan, and Syria – no strong central government enjoys a monopoly of force. Lebanon's state is permanently weak because its population directs its primary loyalties to one or another of the country's 18 religious-ethnic communities. As a result, militias, guerrillas, and terrorists wield more power than the government.
Israeli governments responded with an array of strategies over the past 40 years. In 1968, Israeli jets pounded Beirut's airport, to no effect. In the 1978 Litani operation, Israeli forces first entered Lebanon on a large scale, without success. In 1982, they seized a major part of the country, which proved untenable. Until 2000, they retained a security zone, but that ended in a sudden unilateral retreat. Evacuating every inch of Lebanese territory in 2000 also failed to prevent attacks.
At this point, the government of Bashar al-Assad should be told immediately to cease provisioning Hezbollah, and that future violence from south Lebanon will meet with what the Wall Street Journal calls an "offer that Syria cannot refuse" – meaning military reprisal. As David Bedein explains in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, "for every target hit by Syria's proxy, Israel will single out Syrian targets for attack." Such targets could include the terrorist, military, and governmental infrastructures.
This approach will work because Hezbollah's stature, strength, and skills depend on Syrian support, both direct and indirect. Given that Syrian territory is the only route by which Iranian aid reaches Hezbollah, focusing on Damascus has the major side benefit of restricting Iranian influence in the Levant.
This plan has its drawbacks and complications – the recent Syrian-Iranian mutual defense treaty, or its giving Hezbollah the option to drag Syria into war – but it has a better chance of success, I believe, than any alternative.
Recalling how a similar approach worked in 1998, when the Turkish government successfully pressured Damascus to stop hosting a terrorist leader, the Israeli strategist Efraim Inbar rightly suggests "the time has come to speak Turkish to the Syrians."
Syria Beyond the Peace Process
Washington, D.C.: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 1996
A view of Syria in a wider context than just the Arab-Israeli peace process, Pipes calls for a new U.S. policy that takes advantage of Syrian weakness to press for basic changes in Assad's behavior on issues critical to U.S. interests to achieve not only a full Israel-Syria peace, but also Syrian participation in an alliance with the West against the region's most dangerous challenge-radical fundamentalism.
Syria Beyond the Peace Process is available from The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Critics on Syria Beyond the Peace Process
"A detailed picture of the problems Syria faces and the problems it has engendered. This book clearly will be read and discussed by American scholars."
Damascus Courts the West
by Daniel Pipes
An account of Syrian leader Hafez al-Assad's tentative turn toward the West after losing its superpower patron, and the challenges Damascus faces in the post-Cold War world.
by Daniel Pipes
While for many years scholars and journalists have focused on the more obvious manifestations of political life in the Middle East, one major theme has been consistently neglected. This is Pan-Syrian nationalism -the dream of creating a Greater Syria out of an area now governed by Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, and Turkey. Though not nearly as well known as Arab or Palestinian nationalism and hardly studied in depth, Pan-Syrianism has had a profound effect on Middle Eastern politics since the end of World War I. In Greater Syria, the noted Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes provides the first comprehensive account of this intriguing, important, and little understood ideology.