Unaware that a microphone was picking up his conversation with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at a G-8 summit luncheon, President Bush made a candid assessment of the crisis in Lebanon.
"See, the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this s— and it’s over," Bush told Blair.
Exactly right. Hezbollah, created by Iran and nurtured and supplied by both Iran and Syria, is used as a weapon by these two anti-American, anti-Israeli regimes. Without the support of Syria and Iran, Hezbollah is out of business.
Moreover, Syria and Iran are responsible for Hezbollah’s recent attacks on Israel because — at a minimum — they supplied the weaponry for the attacks and then cheered the attacks on when they happened. The missile that hit an Israeli warship last week was manufactured in Iran. The missile that hit Haifa, Israel’s third largest city, was manufactured in Syria.
The outrageousness of Syria’s backing of Hezbollah and its attacks on Israel are underscored by the fact that other Arab regimes in the region — including Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia — have taken the unusual step of condemning Hezbollah’s acts.
The government of Saudi Arabia put out a statement condemning “uncalculated adventures by elements inside [Lebanon] or behind its back” — a not so subtle swipe at Syria and Iran as Hezbollah’s sponsors.
At an Arab League summit in Cairo over the weekend, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia were joined by Arab states in the Persian Gulf in putting out a statement attacking Hezbollah for “unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible acts.”
“These acts will pull the whole region back to years ago, and we cannot simply accept them,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal was quoted in the New York Times.
In the alliance between Hezbollah, Syria and Iran, Syria may be the weak link in the chain. Hezbollah and Iran both accept a radical Shiite ideology. Syria, by contrast, has a secular government controlled by Bashar Asad, a member of the minority Alawite sect, which aligns itself with the Shiites. Syria itself, however, is predominantly Sunni. It may not be a natural and sustainable link for the Arab Sunni people of Syria to range themselves with Persian Iran against the Arab states on their own borders, and in favor of Shiite revolutionaries next door in Lebanon.
President Bush is right to support Israel in its legitimate effort to defend itself against Hezbollah’s unprovoked attacks and in its quest to recover the two Israeli soldiers taken hostage by the terrorist group. If Israel can crush Hezbollah by military force, so much the better.
In the meanwhile, the administration should do everything it can to isolate Syria in the world and in the Arab Middle East, making it face as united a front as possible, and the costliest consequences manageable, for its meddling in Lebanon and its support for Hezbollah’s terrorism.