June 18, 2002

WHY SYRIA IS SO EAGER TO PLEASE: I wondered about that earlier today. An alert reader suggests that this may be the answer:

TEL AVIV — The United States blocked a major military offensive by Israel against Syria last month, but shares Israeli concerns that the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad is openly arming Hizbullah and Palestinian militants.

Israeli officials said the attack was to have taken place last month in response to a spate of Hizbullah strikes along the Lebanese border with the Jewish state. The officials said Israel’s military had mobilized its reserves for what they termed was to have been a heavy blow on Syrian military positions in Lebanon and Syria, Middle East Newsline reported. . . .

Officials said the turning point for Syria came during a weekend visit by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to Damascus in April. They said Powell warned Assad that Israel was preparing a massive attack on Syria and that Washington would not restrain the Jewish state.

Good cop / bad cop, apparently.

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