Obama and Rezko: Is there a Syrian and Islamic Connection?

Obama and Rezko: Is there a Syrian and Islamic Connection?

Obama_Rezko.jpgIt may just be a smattering of coincidental facts whose convergence will be difficult if not impossible to decipher, and these days there are signs that the mainstream media is so solidly behind Barack Obama that it’s almost assured they’ll never look into this, but there are several items popping up on my radar this weekend relating to Obama and some of his campaign contributors and advisers, and ties back to Syria, Islamic fundamentalism, and the Nation of Islam, that are puzzling enough to put out there for discussion.

Item #1: Long-time Barack Obama supporter and campaign insider Tony Rezko was born in Syria and raised among Muslims.

Rezko traveled the world for five years putting together business and real estate deals for famed-boxer Muhammed Ali.

“My role model in life is my father and Muhammad Ali,” Rezko says.

Item #2: Muhammed Ali [aka Cassius Clay] is a Muslim.

On Friday, March 6, 1964, Malcolm X took Clay on a guided tour of the United Nations building (for a second time). Malcolm X announced that Clay would be granted his “X.” That same night, Elijah Muhammad recorded a statement over the phone to be played over the radio that Clay would be renamed Muhammad (one who is worthy of praise) Ali (fourth rightly guided caliph).

Elijah Muhammad led the Black Muslim and Nation of Islam movement in the United States from 1934 to 1975.

Item #3: Tony Rezko still has ties to Syria – [ABC-10/12/06]

Law enforcement sources believe that Rezko may be in his native Syria. He is know to have investments, real estate holdings and relatives in metro Damascus, the capital of the Middle Eastern nation where Tony Rezko was born.

Item #4: Barack Obama’s foreign policy adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski traveled to Damascus, Syria last Tuesday.

A foreign policy adviser to Senator Obama is scheduled to arrive in Syria today as the leader of a RAND Corp. delegation.Zbigniew Brzezinski will travel to Damascus for meetings as part of a trip Syria’s official Cham News agency described as an “important sign that the end of official dialogue between Washington and Damascus has not prevented dialogue with important American intellectuals and politicians.”

 

Item #5: Brzezinski was President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser during the time that the ayatollahs rose to power, and was in office when Iran became an anti-western Islamic state. Brzeninski saw no threat in this.

On February 2, 1979, Brzezinski wrote a memo to the president claiming that Islamic fundamentalism was not an imminent threat and would not gain prominence in the Middle East.

and

Brzezinski, known for his hardline policies on the Soviet Union, initiated in 1979 a campaign supporting mujaheddin in Pakistan and Afghanistan […] This policy had the explicit aim of promoting radical Islamist and anti-Communist forces to overthrow the secular communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan government in Afghanistan[…]

Item #7: In 2005 Tony Rezko’s company Rezmar partnered on a deal to build a nuclear power plant in Iraq.

Rezmar Corp., a real estate development company controlled by Tony Rezko, a controversial confidant of Gov. Rod Blagojevich, entered into a joint venture with a British firm in a $150-million deal to build a power plant in Iraq.

Item #8: Tony Rezko’s Rezmar Corporation has been implicated in the FBI investigation of Rezko.

In one case, sources said, {FBI Mole John Thomas] told authorities he saw a Rezmar employee pass an envelope with a visible wad of bills to an unidentified [Illinois Governor] Blagojevich aide.[…] Sources said Thomas also logged frequent visits to Rezko from Gov. Blagojevich and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

At this point these facts are nothing more than pieces of a puzzle.

Maybe the Tony Rezko trial, with jury selection set to begin March 3rd, will help put these pieces of the puzzle together. The trial is expected to last at least three months.

Related stories and links:

  • Obama Revealed in Rezko Corruption Investigation – link
  • Dem. Candidates on Nuclear Energy – link
  • Obama Fable #1: That he’s a Progressive – link

Sidebar: Tony Rezko apparently has ties back to neocon circles as well.

Rezko cochaired a major fundraiser for President Bush’s campaign in 2003.

Puzzling… If Rezko is raising money for Bush then obviously Rezko isn’t supporting Obama because he supports liberal causes — liberals don’t raise money for Bush — so what is the quid pro quo for Rezko in supporting Obama? What did he get in return?

Another Update: From Rezko Watch:

James Bone and Dominic Kennedy reported February 25, 2008, in the The Times (UK) that on May 23, 2005–just three weeks before Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Rita Rezko, the wife of indicted political fixer Antoin “Tony” Rezko, closed on their same-day real estate deals on June 15, 2005–Fintrade Services SA, a Panamanian company related to Iraqi billionaire businessman Nadhmi Auchi, “lent” $3.5 million to Tony Rezko.Bone and Kennedy wrote that their investigation “raises the question of whether funds from Nadhmi Auchi, one of Britain’s wealthiest men, helped Mr Obama buy his mock Georgian mansion in Chicago.”

It is unclear how Mrs Rezko could have afforded the downpayment of $125,000 and a $500,000 mortgage for the original $625,000 purchase of the garden plot at 5050 South Greenwood Ave.

 

And now for a few trivia questions…

Bonus Trivia Question #1: Leo Strauss, widely considered by many to be the one of the top founding father of the neoconservative movement in the United States, was a Political Science professor from 1949-1969 at what prominent American University?

Answer: The University of Chicago.

Bonus Trivia Question #2: Barack Obama is a Senior Lecturer (on leave) at what the law school at what prominent American University?

Answer: The University of Chicago.

The Truth about Syria

The Truth about Syria

“Is Syria likely to attack Israel directly? It is possible–most likely via a deniable terrorist attack by a mysterious group. That is exactly how Syria is now trying to undermine Lebanon, with many in the West swallowing the propaganda that Fatah al-Islam is a shadowy al-Qaida branch rather than a Syrian surrogate. More likely, Syria might use Hizballah in a year or so to launch another attack on Israel. But next time, Israel might retaliate against the sponsor of the aggression–Syria–unlike what happened in summer 2006″.Barry Rubin

By Jamie Glazov, FrontPageMagazine.com, June 1, 2007

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research for International Affairs (GLORIA) Center of the Interdisciplinary university (IDC), and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal and of Turkish Studies journal. He is the author of The Long War for Freedom, Yasir Arafat, The Tragedy of the Middle East, and Hating America. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Foreign Affairs, and many other publications. He has been a Council on Foreign Relations Fellow and is the editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs. He is the author of the new book The Truth about Syria. CONTINUE

Posted by Jerry Gordon @ 11:41 am |

Jihadists moving into Lebanon from Syria

Jihadists moving into Lebanon from Syria

More evidence of Syria’s active abetting of jihad activity. By Christopher Allbritton in the Washington Times, with thanks to all who sent this in:

NAHR EL-BARED, Lebanon — Heavily armed foreign jihadists have been entering Lebanon from Syria from around the time Western authorities noticed a drop in the infiltration of foreign fighters from Syria to Iraq, Lebanese officials say.Syrian authorities, hoping to disrupt Lebanon so they can reassert control of the country, “have stopped sending [the jihadists] to Iraq and are now sending them here,” charged Mohammed Salam, a specialist in Palestinian affairs in Lebanon. “They sent those people to die in Lebanon.”

Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi, commander of Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces, said about half of the militants who have been battling Lebanese forces in the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp outside Tripoli for nine days had fought previously in Iraq.

“They are very dangerous,” he said in an interview. “We have no choice, we have to combat them.”

Syria Has Secret Underground ‘Missile City’

Syria Has Secret Underground ‘Missile City’

Beirut & Damascus – Syria has built a fortified complex buried deep underground and cloaked in secrecy to manufacture and store ballistic missiles capable of striking Israel, an Israeli newspaper said on Monday.
The complex includes 30 reinforced concrete bunkers, production facilities, development laboratories and command posts, the mass-selling Yediot Aharonot quoted “foreign experts” as saying, without specifying its location.
The “missile city” houses mainly Scud missiles capable of reaching anywhere in Israel. Given its weak air power, Damascus is boosting its arsenal of surface-to-surface missiles and protecting them in the complex, Yediot said.
According to the paper, Syria has 200 Scud-B missiles, 60 Scud-C and a certain number of North Korean Scud-D missiles with a range of 700 kilometres (434 miles), and has developed chemical warheads for all its Scuds.
The chemical warfare agents are stored in a separate facility, Yediot quoted the foreign experts as saying.
It also said that Iran recently supplied Syria with around 100 Chinese shore-to-sea C-802 missiles — the same missile that Hezbollah used to hit an Israeli warship during last year’s Lebanon war.
In March, military and government sources told AFP that Syria had positioned thousands of rockets on its border with Israel, …   more »

This Summer’s War With Syria – Iranian Coordination Edition

This Summer’s War With Syria – Iranian Coordination Edition

by Omri Ceren

DEBKA is reporting that Syrian generals are visiting Tehran, coordinating and planning in preparation for a major was with Israel. Whether or not Syria is really gearing up for war (it’s a DEBKA so it might not be true except for the fact that it’s obviously true) – at the very least, it looks like the Iran-Syria alliance isn’t going anywhere:

[Syrian Ambassador to the US] Imad Moustapha, April 23, 2007: “Q. Some people hope engagement would be a way of wooing Syria away from its relationship with Iran? What are the chances?

A. It’s bemusing to hear this…. While we are the best possible friends with Iran, we don’t have the same policies as Iran. Iran has a well-publicized policy against Israel, but President Assad, at least once a month, has publicly invited the Israelis to peace talks in the last four years…. Iran is a friend to Syria. It is an ally on many issues. But we disagree with Iran on other issues.”

Maybe Assad could be convinced by another Pelosi visit. Last time she only wooed him by wearing a hijab. Maybe if she donned a full burka she could abase herself sufficiently to persuade him to stop supporting the current epicenter for global terrorism. Obviously, “best possible friends” leaves a lot of room for compromise, right? Here’s some more from this week on this summer’s impending war: Ha’aretz, Smooth Stone, and Meryl.

[Cross-posted to Mere Rhetoric]

Posted by Omri Ceren @ 12:59 pm |

WMD and the coming War

WMD and the coming War

Column One writer Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post discusses the cause and probability of the next conflict in her latest column ‘Fighting the next war’

According to Glick,

Syria has been openly preparing for war since the last summer. And in the space of the past week alone, the Syrians twice announced their intention to attack Israel. On Monday, Syria’s Propaganda Minister Moshen Bilal threatened that if Israel doesn’t fully implement the Arab plan which calls for its retreat to the 1949 armistice lines and acceptance of millions of Arab immigrants, Syria will go to war. On Wednesday, Syrian dictator Bashar Assad said, “We always prepare ourselves. Israel is a fierce enemy. We have seen nothing from it but harm.”

But if Glick is correct and Syria is indeed preparing for war with Israel, what would embolden Assad to take on such a task? Caroline has her ideas, but another consideration may be found in an article by Melanie Philips under the heading ‘The questions that need to be asked about those WMD’

Phillips begins her article,

I have written an article for this week’s Spectator magazine about Dave Gaubatz, a former USAF special agent who says that in 2003 he discovered four of Saddam’s WMD bunkers — only for the Iraq Survey Group to fail to excavate these sites, allowing the material to be looted by the Iraqis, Syrians and Russia and taken to Syria. If Mr Gaubatz is correct, it means two things: that the invasion of Iraq was more than justified on the grounds originally given, that Saddam was in breach of the terms of the ceasefire of the 1991 war and that he posed an unconscionable threat to the free world; but also that, through American incompetence, the worst case scenario has now been realised — that Saddam’s WMD are in the hands of terrorist regimes waging war against the west.

There are still a number of members of Israeli intelligence who to this day state with certainty that a massive amount of materials were moved from Iraq to Syria preceding the war.

However, the greatest concern may come in the form of a nuclear threat, not only from Iran, but also Syria,

[…]It is not widely know, but open sources identify that the US Government has a satellite capable of detecting the unique frequencies generated by high speed uranium centrifuges. The satellite confirms that uranium centrifuges are operating in Syria. Syria has no known nuclear program, not even a power plant. Nor does it have a natural supply of uranium ore. Why then, are the Syrians running nuclear centrifuges?

It is reasonable to suspect that all of Saddam’s nuclear research, scientists and equipment have been relocated to his fellow Baath party members in the nation of Syria. Indeed there is no other explanation to explain the disappearance of what Saddam himself talked about on his tapes; a massive and robust program to make an atomic bomb.

A significant percentage of the intelligence community disagrees with Mr. Negroponte’s benign view of Chinese intervention in the Middle East. The opposition ‘Blue Team’ if you will, uses the Intelligence Summit as its outlet. The Blue team theorizes the existence of an international consortium of rogue states under Chinese direction. Each state has a different piece of the nuclear puzzle: yellowcake enrichment in Iraq (now in Syria), missile production in Iran, and warhead production in North Korea. Films of military parades reveal that the mock warheads on Iranian missiles are exact duplicates of the North Korean nuclear warhead.

If the blue team is right, then Iran has distracted the IAEA into focusing attention on Tehran’s primitive P-1 centrifuges, while the advanced P-2 centrifuges in Syria have been producing weapons grade uranium to be loaded onto Iranian missiles carrying North Korean warheads.. There is circumstantial evidence to back up the satellite data. Iranian scientists attend the North Korean nuclear tests, and North Korean nuclear experts hold meetings in Damascus.

If the Blue team is correct, then Tehran may already have nuclear warheads and are merely waiting to perfect their multiple stage orbital missiles……

If western intelligence agencies are as bad as they say they are, do we really know what has been taking place over the last decade, or what information is being denied us?

Posted by RandyTexas @ 2:49 pm |

U.S. says most Iraq bombers via Syria: ‘It has to stop’

U.S. says most Iraq bombers via Syria: ‘It has to stop’

Absolutely, but where is the political will to hold Syria to account? The deterrent posed by having the world’s strongest and most advanced military is attenuated by the fact that U.S. military assets are stretched thin under the burden of holding together Iraq, a country with no inherent unity. Absent that, the U.S. would not only regain the deterrent power of being more ready, willing, and able, to address global threats, but Syria’s Alawite regime (categorized as a Shi’ite group, but well removed from the mainstream) would find itself occupied with a Sunni-Shi’ite jihad next door that would embolden its own Sunni majority population against its enemies both across and within the border, leaving Damascus much less able to threaten Israel and do the bidding of Iran.

From the World Tribune:

WASHINGTON — A U.S. State Dept. official said about 90 percent of the suicide attackers in Iraq came from Syria.

“It has to stop,” said David Satterfield, the chief State Department adviser on Iraq. Officials said that despite numerous appeals, Syria has failed to stop the flow of Sunni suicide bombers to Iraq. They said the lion’s share of suicide bombers were foreign Arab nationals who entered Syria and made their way to Iraq.

“They [suicide bombers] see Syria as a more accommodating country through which to transit across the border to come into Iraq to perpetrate their terror,” Satterfield.

Satterfield said the U.S. intelligence community has assessed that between 85 and 90 percent of suicide bombers in Iraq entered from Syria. In an address to the Washington Institute on March 27, Satterfield said 90 percent of suicide bombers in Iraq were foreigners.

Tiny Minority of Extremists Alert:

Officials said North Africans and Yemenis comprised the largest element among the foreign suicide bombers. But they said Saudi nationals have become an increasing factor in the Sunni insurgency war in Iraq.

In his address, Satterfield again warned Syria to stop the flow of would-be suicide bombers and other insurgents to Iraq. He said Iraq and the United States have sought to stem the flow of insurgents from Syria to Iraq’s Al Anbar province.

“It has to stop,” Satterfield said. “It is not in Syria’s long term interests to let this violence continue. We and the Iraqi security forces have done our best. It is a long, long border.”

Over the last month, the Bush administration has resumed high-level contacts with the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad. Officials said that during the March 10 meeting in Baghdad, the U.S. delegation accused Iran and Syria of interfering in Iraq. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was expected to attend the next meeting that included Syria in April.

“We would hope that the Syrian government understands as well that its rhetoric for a peaceful and stable Iraq has to be matched by actions,” Satterfield said.

Posted by Marisol at 01:27 AM | Comments (24)
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Pakistani Islamic Schools Are Rife With Extremism, Group Says

Stop the presses. By Ed Johnson for Bloomberg:

March 30 (Bloomberg) — President Pervez Musharraf has failed to tackle Islamic extremism in Pakistan’s religious schools, which continue to promote a holy war against the West and foment terrorism, the International Crisis Group said.

Five years after the government pledged a crackdown on the schools, known as madrassas, many still preach a violent ideology and train and dispatch fighters to Afghanistan and Indian-administered Kashmir, the Brussels-based advocacy group, which aims to resolve conflicts, said in a report yesterday.

“The Pakistani government has yet to take any of the overdue and necessary steps to control religious extremism,” the group said. “Musharraf’s periodic declarations of tough action, given in response to international events and pressure, are invariably followed by retreat.”

[…]

The ICG said the government’s “reform program is in shambles” and that banned extremist groups continue to operate openly in Pakistan, particularly in the port city of Karachi.

The group called on the government to introduce a law that “bars jihadi and violent sectarian teachings” in madrassas and close schools that fail to comply. Many madrassas remain unregistered and government attempts to introduce non-religious classes have been futile, according to the report.

A law that “bars jihadi and violent sectarian teachings” is highly unlikely, as Islamic teachings on jihad are part of the standard Pakistani curriculum, and are not at all limited to the notion of an “inner spiritual struggle.”

The group recommended the government establish financial controls on the schools, to establish where they receive funding. Students should also be registered, the group said. Certificates issued by the schools shouldn’t be treated as the equivalent of university degrees to encourage participation in mainstream education, it added.

Indeed.

War Blog

http://frontpagemagazine.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=27076

War Blog
By FrontPage Magazine
FrontPageMagazine.com | February 23, 2007

SYRIA ARMING UP

By Ed Morrissey

Syria has embarked on a program to bolster its military after the war last summer in Lebanon, Ha’aretz reported this morning and repeated by the AP. They have begun acquiring heavy weapons from the Russians and the Iranians, including medium-range missiles that threaten just about every possible target in Israel:

Damascus has large numbers of surface-based missiles and long-range rockets, including the Scud-D, capable of reaching nearly any target in Israel, the report said, and the Syrian navy has received new Iranian anti-ship missiles. Haaretz also said Russia was about to sell Syria thousands of advanced anti-tank missiles, despite Israeli charges that in the past Syria has transferred those missiles to Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

Syrian officials did not immediately comment on the Israeli reports, but President Bashar Assad said in a television interview immediately after the fighting that Syria was preparing to defend itself. Israeli defense officials confirmed that Syria had ordered new stocks of the anti-tank weapons after noting Hezbollah’s successful use of them against Israeli armor in last summer’s fighting in south Lebanon.

Syria also ordered new supplies of surface-to-sea missiles after Hezbollah used one to hit an Israeli warship, killing four crewmen, off the Lebanese coast last July, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The two nations remain at war, although they have not fought it for decades. The Syrians want the Golan Heights back, and the Israelis want the Syrians to stop funding and supplying Hezbollah. The new weapons systems, in fact, seem ideal for that kind of arms transfer, the kind specifically prohibited by UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

It comes as no great shock that the Iranians have begun supplying Syria with more materiel. After all, the Iranians need the money, and they have a tight military alliance with Damascus. Both of them run Hezbollah as a joint project, and the eventual destination of these systems can hardly be doubted.

More surprising, or at least disappointing, is the Russian participation in Syria’s distribution channel to Hassan Nasrallah. After all, they signed off on 1701, and they have to know who will benefit from these weapons sales. It appears that Putin once again has determined that the enemies of the West are his friends, despite the Islamist connections to the insurgencies in the Caucasus. It’s really not much of a surprise to see Moscow taking the side of terrorists and totalitarians, although it should embarrass the Russians themselves.

Bashar Assad recently told Diane Sawyer that the US should engage with Syria to establish a peaceful Iraq. This is the same peace he has in mind for Lebanon and Israel. Until Syria stops being a mule for terrorists, they have no business at the table of a serious peace conference, and neither do Iran and Russia.  Thursday, February 22, 2007

www.captainsquartersblog.com

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LA-LA LAND

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From FOX News: Hillary Clinton, Obama in Hot Exchange Over Hollywood Heavyweight’s Comments.

The war of words between leading 2008 Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama spread Wednesday night, after the campaigns had earlier exchanged heated words when Clinton suggested Obama return funds to Hollywood bigwig David Geffen, who insulted her in a newspaper article. “We aren’t going to get in the middle of a disagreement between the Clintons and someone who was once one of their biggest supporters. It is ironic that the Clintons had no problem with David Geffen when was raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation in the Lincoln bedroom,” Obama campaign communications director Robert Gibbs said in a statement that was e-mailed to the news media. …

Geffen, a former “Friend of Bill,” co-hosted a star-studded, $1.3 million fundraiser for Obama on Tuesday night in Beverly Hills with Hollywood heavyweights Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Among the 300 contributors who forked over $2,300 each were George Clooney, Barbra Streisand, Jennifer Aniston, Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy and Morgan Freeman. Also in attendance were Dixie Chick Natalie Maines and director Ron Howard.

Geffen became a former FOB in 2001 after Bill Clinton refused to pardon Leonard Peltier, a Chippewa Indian convicted of killing two FBI agents in a 1977 shootout on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. …

Geffen is apparently still holding a grudge against the Clintons. In remarks to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd that appeared in Wednesday’s edition, the music producer suggested that the Clintons have had their day and it’s time for new blood in the White House. …  Thursday, February 22, 2007

www.coxandforkum.com

Syria’s unprecedented arms build up

Syria negotiates with its knife on the table, dripping with blood

Syria negotiates with its knife on the table, dripping with blood

Thursday, 15 February, 2007 @ 7:42 PM

By Lee Smith
Bikfaya, where three people were killed and many others injured earlier this week by a bomb planted on a bus, is in the Christian heartland of Mount Lebanon, and has hosted a large Christian community since well before the time of the Islamic conquests.

bus%20bomb%20lebanon%206.jpgIn the past, the high mountain passes surrounding the area, with their breathtaking views, served to protect the Christians from intruders. During the Ottoman era, imperial administrators rarely braved the region at the risk of being cut to ribbons along any steep approach.

Bikfaya is also the hometown of the Gemayel family, and posters of the late President Bashir Gemayel decorate street signs, homes, shops, and cars almost a quarter of a century after his assassination at the hands of Syrian operatives. It’s difficult to pinpoint a specific motive for the murder, but his mulling over a deal with Israel was likely a major factor, and now there are Americans and even Israelis who say that Bashar al-Asad, the son of the man who murdered Bashir, is mulling over his own deal with Israel. But Bashar al-Asad must have the Golan Heights back, first, and those Americans pushing for diplomatic engagement with the regime are keen to negotiate just such a deal. Still, Bashar may place a higher priority on maintaining its influence in Lebanon.

The most recent bombing is just another thread in a long family narrative about the Asads and Gemayels. Bashir’s nephew, Pierre, a minister in the Siniora government, was gunned down in a Christian suburb of Beirut in November of last year. Pierre’s father, Amine, another former president of Lebanon, was in Washington last week, where he heard strong words of support for Lebanon from President Bush, the vice president and the secretary of state.

The attack, says Tony Badran a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, may have been a warning to Gemayel. “It may be that the Syrians thought Gemayel was going to Washington to campaign to replace Lahoud as president, and Damascus showed they would literally kill to stop it,” says Badran. “It wouldn’t be the first time. Remember that in 2004 Asad reportedly threatened Hariri that ‘only he appoints the Lebanese president.’ If not, as he told Hariri, ‘he would break Lebanon over his head.”

Since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri two years ago, every single attack in Lebanon has targeted either a Christian or a Christian area. Lebanon was once a country known as a refuge for minorities. And yet, Christians have been singled out for attack by a Syrian regime that is itself run by another Middle Eastern minority, the Alawis.

Before Hafez al-Asad made a deal of political convenience with Imam Moussa al-Sadr to acknowledge the Alawis as real Shia Muslims, their blood was believed to be licit, by both Shia and Sunni. The fourteenth century jurist Ibn Taymiyya ruled that the Alawis were “more infidel than Jews or Christians, even more infidel than many pagans.”

That fear of being swept along in a current of their own blood, as they themselves are letting Christian blood, is what keeps the Alawi regime from being able to negotiate or make peace with Israel, or indeed anyone, and it is why they embraced Arabism and became more “Arab” than even the Sunnis. It is also why they must be flexible enough to incorporate Islamism as well. As a minority sect running a Sunni majority state in a Sunni majority region, they have no choice but to follow regional trends. And they have no legitimacy except for what they can establish through violence. That is how things work in Syria. In Lebanon, there is an agreement between minorities, however difficult, to share power. It’s not surprising that Syria’s ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah, would prefer to play by Syrian rules.

Hezbollah represents much of Lebanon’s Shia minority, and that minority’s large population and rage have led much of the Western press corps to believe that the huddled masses camping out in downtown Beirut are the long suffering wretched of the earth–and thus entitled to bring down the government, and with it the international tribunal investigating Hariri’s murder. It was the particularism of Shia suffering this past summer that made them the darlings of the international community, even though the fanatical Islamic resistance made use of an entire nation, Christians, Sunnis, and Druze alike, to shield them and abet their anti-Semitic eliminationist fantasies. Yes, Shia civilians were killed, but only when Hezbollah took them to war against Israel. Christians are being killed because they won’t submit to the will of Hezbollah’s patron in Damascus.

“Remember that this is the first time that civilians have been targeted since Hariri’s murder,” says Lebanese analyst Elie Fawaz. “This is a very serious escalation.”

It is also a message meant to remind observers of Syria’s capacity to inflict violence in Lebanon. Syria can do anything it pleases in the land of the cedars.

The sporadic car bombs in Lebanon these past two years that picked off one or maybe two people, these weren’t warnings or even threats. A threat would look something like a large explosion in a Gemmayze bar, a Monot nightclub, or the ABC mall in Ashrafiyeh. Such an attack would kill and maim scores of Lebanese civilians. So far, Asad and his regime have merely been making enough violence to keep their place in the conversation Syria wants to have with Washington about the future of the Middle East. And first on the agenda is Lebanon.

So, will the wise men who counsel we sit down and talk with Damascus–the Brzezinskis, the Powells, the Obamas, the Bakers, and Djerejians–will they have the decency at last to recognize what their high-minded posturing can no longer obscure? This is how Syria negotiates, with its knife on the table and dripping with blood.

Source: The Weekly Standard