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April 14, 2003

Analysis / Washington turns its sights on Damascus

Why, asks Haaretz writer, all the attention upon Syria now?
Why is the volume of rebuke leveled by the U.S. administration against Damascus getting higher while the war in Iraq is actually coming to a close? Two reasons seem to underly America's rage, which was quite evident first in the statements of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and then of President George W. Bush. One is that Washington has learned that Damascus has decided to "turn Iraq into a new Lebanon," and the second is the suspicion, which is probably based on reliable intelligence, that Damascus is ready to shelter fleeing Iraqi leaders and let them pass through to other hiding places worldwide.

Hardly a day has gone by recently without Washington lashing out against Syria. The headquarters of U.S. forces in Qatar concured, saying that during the fighting in Iraq, volunteer Syrian soldiers opened fired on American troops; the Syrians also fired anti-tank missiles and old Strela missiles against U.S. aircraft. Since these are weapons that individuals usually do not own, the Syrian volunteers must have received them before crossing into Iraq. [more]