I wondered, when I heard President George W. Bush saying on television recently that he felt "wary of Syria after reading the newspapers today," if the president of the world's superpower gets his information from newspapers, and plans his policies accordingly.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's statements on "The Charlie Rose Show" and her analysis of the Syrian-Lebanese situation suggest that the answer to my question might be "yes."
The American official's neglect of real facts in our region is shocking, unless they are planning - for ideological reasons - to reshape facts in ways that serve certain policies. For after the withdrawal of Syrian troops and military intelligence from Lebanon in compliance with UN Resolution 1559, and after the international verification team has testified to its completion, and after this was reconfirmed by the secretary general and his envoy Terje Roed-Larsen, the U.S. still resumes its conventional news leaks meant for subsequent official adoption.
The United States is, once again, depending on news reports leaked by its own intelligence, to justify its policies. An American official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the U.S. has received "credible information" that "Syrian elements in Lebanon are planning an attempt to kill Lebanese leaders" and that "military intelligence is back in Lebanon to create an atmosphere of strife there."
Rice also said that "the Syrian troops are out of Lebanon, but some of us have doubts about some intelligence forces, and we need to keep pressure on the Syrians to be transparent about what they're doing in Lebanon."
How could officials build a case on doubts? More dangerous than doubts is that the news leak, made by the U.S. and its "supporters" about a "hit list" targeting political leaders in Lebanon, came right before the assassination of both former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and Lebanese journalist Samir Kassir.
Such leaks are usually made by the intelligence services of the U.S. and Israel, and both countries have the official authorities to carry out assassinations, and long records of destabilizing operations, such as the ones in Mosaddeq's Iran and Allende's Chile.
Syria has always seen Lebanese security as part of its own; it therefore has no interest whatsoever in destabilizing Lebanon. Syrians have sacrificed thousands of their youths to defend Lebanese independence and national unity, and restore back to Lebanon its democratic political system and security, long before other parties interfered and carried out assassinations.
Hours after the assassination of Hariri, the BBC broadcast a program where the guests emphasized that such an act targeted both Syria and Lebanon, and pointed accusing fingers at Israel. Afterward the media mobilized to accuse Syria, and was put to silence about those who are working to destabilize the region and fragment it into tribes, sects and ethnicities.
Those who assassinated Hariri and Kassir are executing a publicly declared plan for destabilizing Syria, exactly as has been done since the beginning of the American occupation of Iraq, with the killing of Iraqi civilians to ignite civil war.
Rice said that the aim is to destabilize Lebanon and create internal strife. Who has an interest in this except for Israel, the state which invaded Lebanon and ignited the Lebanese Civil War? If Rice says that there is a "possible pattern of political assassinations," then it should be remembered that Isrsaeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government, two years ago, approved a plan for assassinating Palestinian leaders, and accordingly many were assassinated, one of whom was in Damascus.
It should also be remembered that Israel is the only country in the region, and perhaps in the world, that carries out such assassinations publicly and in full view of Rice, who has never objected to them.
Rice is overlooking the real facts in the Middle East when she calls upon Iran and Syria to stop supporting "rejectionist" armed groups trying to interrupt Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. First of all, there are no Israeli-Palestinian negotiations; instead there is brutal Israeli occupation, and there are deadly weapons and internationally prohibited bombs used by Israel against Palestinians without arms.
Has Rice not heard Sharon declaring to AIPAC in Washington that he "will not withdraw to the lines of June 4th, 1967," and that he "does not acknowledge the rights of Palestinian refugees?"
Has she not heard of the Beirut Arab Summit Initiative in 2002, emphasized again at the Algeria Summit in 2005, stating that all Arab states are willing to make peace with Israel, if Israel withdraws to the lines of June 4th, 1967?
I wish the American leaders would put facts ahead of ideology before they make statements, and verify information resources to find out who has destabilized the security, life and future of Iraq, and who plans to destabilize Lebanon in order to bring about changes in Syria. We then might find out that providing money and arms to terrorist groups, such as the "Soldiers of the Levant" in Damascus, goes well with those plans. Who else other than American and Israeli intelligence financed, armed and trained such terrorist groups and used them in the 1980s to disturb the life and security of our people?
The Middle East for American leaders is just a passing picture on their television screens, and a headline in the morning paper. For us it is our history, present and future. It is the safety of our children, the sky and lands we adore, the religions we sanctify, and our prophets who came out of this land to civilize humanity.