web counter Media Lies: The world is turned upside down

Thursday, March 03, 2005

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The world is turned upside down

Saudi leaders are insisting that Syria get out of Lebanon.
Arab leaders grew increasingly impatient at Syria's resistance to a quick, complete withdrawal of its troops from Lebanon, with Saudi leader Crown Prince Abdullah sharply telling Syria's president on Thursday to start getting out soon or face deeper isolation, according to a Saudi official.

The unusually tough message came when Syrian President Bashar Assad met Abdullah and other Saudi leaders in the kingdom's capital, the Saudi official told The Associated Press by telephone from Riyadh. Arab League foreign ministers, meeting in Cairo on Thursday, added to the pressure, expressing support for the diplomatic push by Saudia Arabia and Egypt.

Syria has resisted Arab pressure to withdraw, saying in behind-the-scenes diplomacy in recent days that it wants to keep 3,000 troops and early-warning stations in Lebanon, according to an Arab diplomat in Cairo. The Syrian army already operates radar stations in Dahr el-Baidar, on mountain tops bordering Syria. Israeli warplanes have attacked the sites in the past.
I'm not sure what to make of this. Have the Saudis found religion? Is there some backdoor play here that isn't obvious? Or have they seen the handwriting on the wall (ironic that Babylon is the origin of that story, isn't it?) and decided to cut their losses in the hope that the pressure on them will recede?

In any case, Assad is in a world of trouble, and it's hard to see how he can wiggle out of it short of defying the entire world, and that is an outright invitation to trouble of another kind. (Although we already know France's bark is not backed up by bite — nor is much of Europe's either.)

The whirlwind of events in the middle East is turning into a tornado.