March 30, 2003

More on Rumsfeld's Warning to

More on Rumsfeld's Warning to Syria

Haaretz has a piece up on this. The news is not good per my initial analysis here. It appears that this was another instance of Rummy freelancing without a unified Administration posture having been hammered out before:

"Despite this, Rumsfeld's statement surprised officials in the State Department and CIA. American sources said secret contacts are being held with Syria to stop the spill of equipment and weapons into Iraq and there was no intention of making this public. Yesterday, State Department sources spoke of the damage caused by Rumsfeld's statement. They said Rumsfeld was playing into the hands of those Middle East organizations and states that claim Washington's plan is not to make do with Saddam's head but continue from Iraq to other Arab states."

UPDATE: This story is getting more complicated. In a speech over the weekend to AIPAC, Colin Powell talked Syria too. Here's what he had to say:

Saying the country faced a "critical choice," Mr. Powell said, "Syria can continue direct support for terrorist groups and the dying regime of Saddam Hussein, or it can embark on a different and more hopeful course. Either way, Syria has the responsibility for its choices and for the consequences."

The language is not as belligerent in tone as Rummy's--but it looks sure to ratchet up the tension with Damascus more. Was Powell ordered to back up Rummy's tough talk by the President or did he decide to do so on his own because he believes the assistance being rendered through (or by) the Syrians to Iraq is too significant? And who at Foggy Bottom or Langley is leaking to Haaretz that there is discomfort that this spat has been publicized?

The Syrians, predictably, are sounding off in public more vociferously now too.

Posted by Gregory at March 30, 2003 11:38 PM
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