In Damascus, the usually unoriginal and clumsy Bashar al-Assad now announces a shrewd, dangerous new game when he charges that Israel assassinated the dead Egyptian national Yasser Arafat.
"Among the many assassinations that Israel has carried out in a systemic and organized manner, the most dangerous one was the assassination of Arafat." He adds, "This was done secretly, under the watching eyes of the world. But no country responded -- as if nothing happened at all."
This is not the idle blame-shifting of a rascal. I read al-Assad's charge as a cunning invention of a useful casus belli to attack Israel and its supervisors the U.S., the UN, and anyone of the road map that want to get in the way. Since Damascus and Tehran routinely pay for and order attacks on Israel already, Bashar al-Assad is not searching for a reason to attack, he is naming the reason to continue the attacks, to increase the pace going into the March elections in Israel
Also, the identifying of the casus belli of assassination is potent rhetoric to heave at your enemies. It works well for the UN and the U.S. and Lebanon's democrats to hammer at the al-Assads over the Hariri assassination -- so it will work equally well for Damascus and Tehran to hammer at Olmert and Bush and Rice over the Arafat death. Also, Arafat's death is not in the distant past, as are the tedious grievances over the 1948, 1967, 1973 border lines, or the schoolyard whining about the security fence coming on my side of the deed. Arafat's ugly, painful 2004 death was globally reported, mysterious, prolonged, ghoulish, and is now completely covered up by a coalition of Arab and French physicians and clinics.
Many of the terror bosses have told me over the last year that Arafat was poisoned by the Jews. I recall Hamas, Popular Resistance Committee, Al Aqsa and Islamic Jihad speakers each signing on to the charge: and the PA's Saeeb Erekat didn't dismiss the possibility that Arafat died as a result of criminal conduct.
The Damascus Corgi Bashar al-Assad now picks up the Palestinian charge and throws it into the Arab view. You accuse me of Hariri? Why don't you accuse the Jews of Arafat? Where is the UN investigation of Arafat's last days? Has Sharon been questioned, or Olmert, or any member of the Mossad? Don't you go to the movies? What does the American Jew Spielberg says of the Jews when they are in trouble -- that they shoot and blow up noble Palestinian scholars and diplomats as if they were wild boars in the streets of Europe.
Will Bashar al-Assad's new tactic work? Does Ahmadinejad's tactic of telling anti-Semitic Europe to take back the Jews you slaughtered and ran off work? The answer is no to both; however, these smears are both, in their Cossack cliché fashion, most recognizable, most effective as talking points. And oil at $70 a barrel most profoundly works to stay the hand of reason.
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