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Author`s name Michael Simpson

Is "Punishment" Syria's Fate?

Washington seems to be becoming more inclined to 'punish'
"Punishment" is to be levied at Damascus for its aid (real or supposed) to Saddam Hussein's regime. In any case, recent statements by U.S. authorities have emphasized a new development in U.S. policy: Hard pressure to be exerted upon the Syrian regime, to be more precise. What consequences can this policy bring?

The temptation to say that the United States will unleash another war is great, and it is intensified by the quick overthrow of Saddam, as it demonstrated America's abilities in this respect. If a war is launched against Syria, this country is unlikely to hold out longer than Iraq did.

U.S. statements to Syria can be explained in several ways — and by the fact that, by tradition, Pentagon head Donald Rumsfeld acted as chief prosecutor.

First, people who belonged to the overthrown Iraqi regime may be taking shelter in Syria. It is not stated exactly who these people may be. The Syrians themselves say this kind of information was "initiated" by Israel.

Second, Damascus has considerable reserves of chemical weapons. This was been revealed long ago, as well as that the Syrians have several tens of missiles capable of carrying chemical payloads, which poses a real threat to Israel, for example. Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharah has already declared that, in case of military operations, the first blow will be directed against Israel.

Third, Syria supports terrorists. Damascus not accused of relations with the Hizbollah Islamic resistance movement just yesterday.

This seems to be a very convenient opportunity for intervention into the country under the present-day conditions.

According to Rumsfeld, several tens of Syrians were detained in Iraq, and these people had large sums of money and leaflets urging the commission of acts of terrorism against the occupation troops.

These three reasons are quite enough for Washington to arrange one more triumphant war. In any case, Saddam paid with his power (and probably even with his life) for his failure to persuade the White House that he had no weapons of mass destruction. Damascus' support of terrorists is another fault. Until recently, the United States did not have enough time to deal with Syria, but it will soon get a nice chance to.

For the time being, Washington isn't going to speed up the process and contents itself with so-called "verbal pressure." George W. Bush, Rumsfeld and Colin Powell have touched upon the Syrian problem recently, and all of them expressed hope that Damascus would agree to cooperate.

The reaction of the Syrian authorities to the U.S. accusations have been negative so far, which gives them space to maneuver. After all, the last word is to be said by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who currently prefers to keep silent. Is he evaluating future prospects?

It is unlikely that military operations against Syria are possible in the near future. It is highly likely, though, that the United States will achieve its goal without sending aircraft carriers and marines to the country. In addition, the Syrian authorities are not kamikazes ready to sacrifice their power and lives for the sake of resistance to Washington’s imperial ambitions. The events in Iraq have demonstrated that appeals to the international community are useless. If Washington sets its mind on overthrowing a regime with force, the objective will be attained. So, Bashar al-Assad and his people have a very poor choice.

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