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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Hold Damascus Responsible by Dr. Daniel Pipes - Author of 3 books on Syria advises targetting Hezbollah's backers

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
New York Sun
August 1, 2006


[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:

  • Deploying the Lebanese Armed Forces, the Lebanese state's official military. Hezbollah is within the government of Lebanon and would veto the LAF controlling the south. Also, Shiites sympathetic to Hezbollah make up half of the LAF. Finally, the LAF is too amateurish to confront Hezbollah.
  • Deploying Syrian forces. Lebanese and Israelis both reject a Syrian occupation of south Lebanon.
  • Deploying Israeli forces. After their experiences occupying Arab-majority lands in 1967 and 1982, Israelis have widely decided against a repetition.

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
by Daniel Pipes

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.

Read the Executive Summary of Syria Beyond the Peace Process
Read a chapter from Syria Beyond the Peace Process

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."
- The Washington Times



Damascus Courts the West
Syrian Politics, 1989-1991

by Daniel Pipes
Washington, D.C.: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 1991

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.

Read the Executive Summary of Damascus Courts the West
Read a chapter from Damascus Courts the West

Buy this book at Amazon.com
Buy this book at Amazon.co.uk
Buy this book at BarnesAndNoble.com



Greater Syria
The History of an Ambition

by Daniel Pipes
New York: Oxford University Press, 1990
Paperback edition: Oxford University Press, 1992

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.

Read a chapter from Greater Syria

Buy this book at Amazon.com
Buy this book at Amazon.ca
Buy this book at Amazon.co.uk
Buy this book at BarnesAndNoble.com

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