UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad assured him that Syria would enforce the arms embargo on Hezbollah, and that the Syrian army would patrol the border to ensure that arms traffic ceased:
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Friday that Syria would step up border patrols and work with the Lebanese army to stop the flow of weapons to Hizbullah.
Syria will increase its own patrols along the Lebanon-Syria border, and establish joint patrols with the Lebanese army “when possible,” Annan said after meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus. …
Annan said Assad informed him that Syria would “take all necessary measures” to implement paragraph 15 of UN resolution 1701, which calls on countries to prevent the sale or supply of weapons to entities in Lebanon without the consent of the Lebanese government or UN peacekeepers.
It would be a lovely development if it were true. However, one has to be incredibly naive to think that Syria would give up its proxy in Lebanon just because Annan asked them to do so. For one thing, Assad needs Hezbollah’s influence in Lebanon not just to keep Israelis on the defensive but to keep the government of Beirut hostage to Syrian demands. Hezbollah’s status as the only civil-war militia still bearing arms is no accident.
Annan’s first clue should have come when Assad declined to make a public statement after their meeting. Annan rushed to the microphones like Neville Chamberlain without the umbrella to announce Syria’s commitment to peace, but Syria couldn’t be bothered. That clear signal that states “You’re on your own” apparently didn’t dissuade the UN chief from casting Syria as a peacemaker despite their long involvement with terrorism in Lebanon and elsewhere.
Annan’s job is to talk to world leaders and try to find common ground for peace, and no one begrudges efforts made in that capacity. However, Annan fails to understand the difference between talk and action, like most die-hard utopians. His credulousness in the face of one of the worst terrorist-support regimes in the world demonstrates his fecklessness and that of the organization he fronts.