Obama kowtows to Damascus while Syria rigs Lebanese poll

In less than a month after US president Barack Obama renewed sanctions against Syria over the Assad regime’s involvement in terrorism and dabbling in weapons of mass destruction, another of his envoys, George Mitchell, is on his way to Damascus to explore the chances of renewed Syrian-Israeli peace talks.
A US military delegation has also been consigned to discuss the expanded flow of terrorists from Syria into Iraq.
None of these actions, any more than the UN nuclear agency’s discovery of “man-made uranium particles” near Damascus, has slowed the American dash to thaw relations with Syria as part of Obama’s new Middle East direction. The new relationship was clinched by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s and Syrian foreign minister Walid Moualem on May 31. Its underlying imprint was strong in the US president’s June 4 speech of reconciliation to the Muslim world in Cairo. debkafile analysts note that he never mentioned Syria or Hizballah once – even in the context of the “extremists” whom he condemned. And his reference to Iran’s nuclear program was noncommittal, implying that he had no trouble accepting its right to enrich uranium.
“We want to be engaged with Syria,” said an unidentified official in Washington. “We want to see what is possible.”
Clinton diplomatically avoided referring to Syria’s intensive interference in Lebanon’s parliamentary election Sunday, June 7, or the tens of millions of dollars laid out for bribes and the hundreds of covert agents deployed to rig the vote in favor of the radical Hizballah-led March 8 bloc.
The radical bloc’s almost certain victory is tantamount to a pro-Iranian, pro-Syrian coup in Beirut, a debacle for American long-held strategic positions of influence in the Middle East. Nevertheless, the US-Syrian detente has moved ahead fast enough to spread despair among Lebanese who had once hoisted the pro-Western flag. The anti-Syrian Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and even the majority leader Saad Hariri are said by our Beirut sources to be in secret talks with Hizballah to be sure of a one-third presence in the pro-Tehran, pro-Syrian majority house expected to rise from the Sunday election.
debkafile‘s Middle East sources disclose that when he met Clinton, the Syrian foreign minister promised for the umpteenth time in the six-year Iraq war, to deal “in earnest” this time with the flow of al Qaeda terrorists through its border into Iraq. All that is needed, said Mualem, was direct engagement between Washington and Damascus.
Syrian president Bashar Assad made the gesture of replace his defense minister Gen. Hassan Turkemani with chief of staff Gen. Ali Habib, reputedly to be one of the most pro-American officers in the Syrian army.
But, according to our counter-terror sources, this did not prevent Assad refreshing his directives for terrorists, including suicide fighters, arms, explosives and cash, to continue to be allowed to cross into Iraq.
They are reinforcing a group called “The Mustafa Brigades,” whose brutalities in the northern Iraq town of Mosul have contributed to the sharp rise of US troops killed in Iraq to 24 in May, making it the worst month since September 2008.

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