Nicolas Sarkozy has suspended diplomatic relations with Syria over its murderous interference with Lebanon. France’s action to isolate Syria comes as two American Congressmen flew to Damascus to kowtow to the Assad government and force Israel to give up the Golan Heights. The bipartisan duo could learn something from French fortitude:
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Sunday that his country will hold no more discussions with Syria until Damascus shows its willingness to let Lebanon elect a new president.
Lebanon’s Western-backed government and pro-Syrian opposition have been unable to overcome their disagreements to follow through with the election, and many Western countries have accused Damascus of interfering in the process – a claim Syria denies.
“I will not have any more contact with the Syrians until… we have received proof of Syria’s intention to let Lebanon designate a president of consensus,” said Sarkozy at a press conference in Cairo after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Assad wouldn’t have time to meet anyway. He’s going to be busy receiving Patrick Kennedy and Arlen Specter on their mission to see how many concessions we can offer to Syria while the French fume on the sidelines:
A pair of U.S. lawmakers visited the Syrian capital on Sunday in an attempt to persuade the Arab state to make peace with Israel and woo it from the Iranian sphere of influence.
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.) visited Syria after a trip to neighboring Israel, which gave its blessing to the lawmakers’ mediation effort. Israel and Syria have been in a state of war for decades despite occasional diplomatic forays between the two nations. …
“The time is right now, and prospects are very good,” Specter told reporters Sunday on his 16th visit to Syria since 1984. “The parties will continue talks through intermediaries, and it’s my hope and expectation at some point, if preliminary progress has been made, the U.S. government would be ready too.”
The time is right? The prospects are good? Syria has conducted a series of assassinations in Lebanon over the past two years, killing politicians who oppose its rule over what it sees as a vassal state. The UN has demanded cooperation from Assad and his government, which has not been forthcoming, over the first assassination of Rafik Hariri.
On top of that, Syria has re-armed Hezbollah in the south in defiance of UN resolutions and a laughably inept peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon. They have interfered in Lebanon’s political processes and kept its government in a stalemate. Even the French have stopped talking with Syria because of its intransigence. What prospects look good, other than enhanced concessions from Israel and the US that will only encourage further Syrian machinations?
Specter and Kennedy will fall all over themselves to give back the Golan Heights without addressing any of these issues. They want to come back with their signature Neville Chamberlain umbrellas and wave a piece of paper to proclaim peace in our time while appeasing a murderous dictator, someone who assassinates real democrats rather than suffer their existence. Israel gave them a blessing, all right — they must have felt blessed when the pair left Israel, and they know that the duo have no hope in wringing concessions out of Syria that Assad’s trading partner France couldn’t get.
First Nancy Pelosi and now Specter and Kennedy have made pilgrimages to Damascus. One might have hoped that scales would have fallen from some Congressional eyes by this time. It seems that none of them learned from Sarkozy and took a good opportunity to keep their mouths shut. (via Memeorandum)
UPDATE: Patrick Kennedy, not Ted. Thanks to several CapQ commenters who noticed the error.