Saturday, March 05, 2005
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Under intense global pressure, Syria was poised to announce on Saturday that it would start to pull troops out of Lebanon, but the move looked unlikely to placate the United States or other vocal critics.
Lebanese political sources said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would tell parliament some troops were leaving its neighbor completely and others would move back closer to the border.
President Assad must be dumber than a stump if he thinks this half-measure is going to satisfy world opinion about Syria's occupation of Lebanon. Moreover, you would think by now that President Assad would understand that President Bush means what he says:
President Bush warned nothing short of a full withdrawal would do.
"When we say withdraw we mean complete withdrawal -- no half-hearted measures," he said on Friday. "Syrian troops, Syrian intelligence services must get out of Lebanon now."
Even Saudi Arabia, a staunch ally of Syria, has told them that it is time to leave:
The Saudi crown prince Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz on Thursday recommended the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to withdraw quickly from Lebanon and announce scheduling this withdrawal so as to withstand international pressures imposed on his country and to contain the Lebanese crisis.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star reports that protests against the Syrian occupation of Lebanon continue:
In a move said to be an attempt to tighten the noose round the regime's neck, [Walid]Jumblatt warned in a television interview that protests which have so far remained confined to Martyrs' Square could extend as far as to reach Lebanese intelligence headquarters.
Events in Lebanon are just one example of the validity of the Bush doctrine for the Middle East, a fact even the MSM is starting to grudgingly acknowledge:
Iraqis and Palestinians have voted in free elections. Lebanese have demonstrated peacefully to demand an end to Syrian occupation. In Egypt and Saudi Arabia, long-serving rulers have made modest concessions to democracy.
For President Bush and his aides, the rapid-fire cascade of events across the Middle East in recent weeks is further proof that their decision to push democracy in the region and make it a top foreign policy goal was the right one.