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July 12, 2006
Egypt Blames Syria For Escalating Violence

Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak blames Syria and Bashar Assad for scotching a deal last week that could have resolved the crisis in Gaza. Egypt had worked out a deal with Israel and Hamas to trade prisoners for abducted soldier Gilad Shalit, but "outside pressure" caused Hamas to renege at the last moment:

Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa denied his country had a role in either the Hamas or Hezbollah abductions. .. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak implicitly accused Damascus of wrecking his attempts to mediate a deal for the release of Cpt. Cpl. Gilad Shalit, snatched by Hamas-linked militants on June 25.

Hamas was subjected to "counter-pressures by other parties, which I don't want to name but which cut the road in front of the Egyptian mediation and led to the failure of the deal after it was about to be concluded," Mubarak told Cairo's Al-Ahram Al-Massai newspaper.

No one with any understanding of the sponsorship of Hamas and Hezbollah takes the Syrian demurral. Both Hamas and Hezbollah take order from Syria and Iran, and both have headquarters in Damascus. The Israelis and the Egyptians have both said that the Palestinian chapter of Hamas has never controlled the Shalit abduction, but that the terrorists responsible took orders from Khaled Mashaal. Mashaal himself has taken responsibility for the operation by setting forth the demands under which Shalit would be released. Mashaal is no more than Bashar Assad's sock puppet, and neither Hamas nor Hezbollah would dare take action against Israel without coordination from the Assad regime.

Egypt isn't fooled. They have pressured Assad from the beginning to put an end to the operation, but he has refused to do so. Syrian government officials have stated that Israel may wind up retaliating against them, and unless Hamas and Hezbollah return the abducted soldiers, that may happen soon. The IDF has already started hitting Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon and pushing troops back across the border in an effort to retrieve the soldiers taken today.

Olmert may decide that he has had enough of the proxy war waged against Israel by Assad and his creaking regime. A quick strike at the Syrian air force would leave Assad at the mercy of the Israelis, and having 135,000 US troops in Iraq would probably convince the Iranians to sit this one out, as long as we don't join in ourselves. The time may never be better to take the war on terror into one of the two hearts of the enemy -- Damascus.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 12, 2006 5:00 PM

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