Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has ordered US Ambassador Margaret Scobey home from Syria amid rising tensions over the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut, a US official said.
Before departing US Ambassador Margaret Scobey delivered a stern note - called a demarche in diplomatic parlance - to the Syrian government, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity on Tuesday, said.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, announcing the US move, expressed the Bush administration's "profound outrage" over al-Hariri's assassination on Monday
"The United States will consult with other governments in the region and on the Security Council today about measures that can be taken to punish those responsible for this terrorist attack, to end the use of violence and intimidation against the Lebanese people and to restore Lebanon's independence, sovereignty and democracy by freeing it from foreign occupation," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.
Does the Lebanon have oil then? Or are they taking the DEBKA ravings as gospel?
Hariri was about to coordinate the various political factions into a "Free Lebanon" movement dedicated to getting rid of the Syrian army and spooks occupying their country and pulling all of the key strings in a puppet government.
Nope. He was born in the southern port of Sidon. I think the Syrians are counting on the Lebanese making a lot of noise and doing fcuk-all else and the US being too overstretched in Iraq. Hariri was former prime minister and reckoned to be the only figure with the clout to pull all the anti-Damascus factions together. Made him a prime target.
My understanding is that Iran runs Hizbollah, by and large, and the Syrians would rather see the back of them. Much like Jordan and the PLO.
I don't fully understand why Syria is still in Lebannon. Clearly they are going to be interested in making sure the country is governed by someone sympathetic but you don't need to garrison a small corps in the country to do that. Are they just trying to protect the northern flank of the Golan hieghts?
Strikes me that a Syrian withdraw from Lebanon would be a good move on their part - I can't really see the downside. what am I missing?
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush demanded Syria pull troops from Lebanon on Thursday in the wake of the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri and said he would seek support from European leaders next week to put more pressure on Damascus.
I wondered about this too, but as Syrian troops have been there since 1976 they must have good reasons. Apart from the official line of stopping bloodbaths and preventing a power vacuum, there are a few other factors.
Syria has never been comfortable with Lebanese independence and sees the country as a rogue province - rather like China's view of Hong Kong. The troops' presence also confers economic benefits on Syria: control of water and a ready market for Syrian produce. Politically it allows Syria to counter-balance Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights. Militarily, Syrian commanders argue that control of Lebanon's Bekaa Valley is vital to protect Syria's western flank against the possibility of an Israeli invasion.