Syria on the Move in Lebanon and Iraq

Syrian-backed Hizbullah may be poised to stage a revolution in Lebanon, while back-room US-Syrian negotiations deal with pressuring Israel to give up the Golan Heights.

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Ezra HaLevi, | updated: 18:37


Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem began a visit to Iraq on Sunday. The visit will include meetings with US officials in Iraq, during which Moallem will relay Syria’s demand that Israel retreat from the Golan Heights in return for Syrian cooperation in Iraq.

The insurgents that have plagued US troops in Iraq have for the most part entered the country from Syria.

According to preliminary reports, former American Secretary of State James Bakar’s soon-to-be delivered recommendations on Iraq policy include engaging Syria and Iran in negotiations in order to enable the US formulate an exit strategy.

London’s Sunday Times, which has in the past proven the veracity of its Syrian sources, quotes Syrian Baath Party official Ayman Abdel Nour saying that Bashar al-Assad’s “top demand” from the US and Britain is that Israel be pressured to withdraw from the Golan.

"Syria will not do anything unless it has secured guarantees from Washington and London that every action Damascus takes to help them will be reciprocated. It will be a step by step scenario: these actions for those actions,” he said. The Syrian demands also include a staged withdrawal of US troops from the region.

Lebanon Worried About Syrian Coup
Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt warned Sunday that Lebanon is on the verge of a coup d'etat staged by Hizbullah and other pro-Syrian elements.

"The opposition groups are on the verge of announcing a coup in the country and we should take the brave decision to confront all options," Jumblatt said in a briefing to his ruling parliamentary faction.

Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah attacked the Lebanese government publicly Saturday, saying it lacked credibility. "The Lebanese government is in a state of weakness and is still feeling a huge defeat as the result of the last Israeli war in Lebanon," Nasrallah said in a taped address aired on Hizbullah’s Al-Manar satellite station Sunday.

Nasrallah urged Lebanese citizens to be prepared “psychologically” to take to the streets in support of Hizbollah's demand for a national unity government, though he insisted he was not calling for any violence.

Analysts think Nasrallah’s statements may serve as instructions for pro-Syrian elements in Lebanon to prepare to take control. Hizbullah’s unity government bid consists of a demand that the group, which answers to Syria and Iran, be given veto power on all major government decisions.