Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Syrian Pullback: Too Little, Too Late?

The Washington Times reports:
The presidents of Syria and Lebanon agreed yesterday that Syrian troops would pull back to the countries' common border by the end of the month and that a timetable for a complete withdrawal would be determined within a month.
Later, Syrian military vehicles and personnel were seen moving east in the first signs of a withdrawal.
Syrian President Bashar Assad and Lebanese President Emile Lahoud said in Damascus that Syria's troops would be pulled back to the eastern Bekaa Valley. Military officials from both countries would determine later how many troops would remain in Bekaa and for how long.

I had two thoughts on this story. The first is that "the presidents of Syria and Lebanon agreed" is like you and your dog "agreeing" on which way to walk, when one end of the leash is attached to his neck and the other is in your hand. This was an agreement between Bashar al-Assad and himself, or perhaps between him and his generals.

The second thought is that it sounds like typical Assad, but it will not work this time. He is used to dealing with President Clinton. If he announced a half measure, or a tenth of a measure for that matter, it would be greeted with great enthusiasm. However, he is misunderestimating George W. Bush. Half measures will not buy off this president. Assad has to realize that there will eventually be a full troop withdrawal. The main question is who will be the leader of Syria when it happens?


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