Friday, October 06, 2006

Bush rallies the troops

There was a front-page piece in the Wednesday Oct 4 edition of Yedioth Ahrunoth, apparently reporting the following: (1) A "secret report" that Olmert has seen describes Bush as having told European governments that this is not the time to renew negotiations with Syria, and repeating to them the Bush meme to the effect Syria "knows what it has to do". (2) In the last few days there has been a sharply worded note from Bush to the Israelis warning them against resumption of any negotiations with Syria, particularly on the Golan Heights issue, because any talks would only embolden the Syrian regime in its rearmament of Hizbullah. (3) The newspaper report added that Bush told the Europeans that they must adopt a tougher approach to potential arms shipments to Hizbullah via Syria. Israel, Bush told the Europeans, cannot stand idly by, and could take matters into its own hands via military attacks on such shipments.

This is really a reconstruction of the YA story, which is in Hebrew (which I don't read), and which isn't included in the English-language items that appear on the paper's website. So far I have seen summaries of the story in only three places, two in Arabic, namely Al-Hayat, al-Manar, and a two-sentence summary in English in an obscure Israeli site called The above is a composite from those reports. (I found the latter two thanks to a commenter on the SyriaComment blog.)

Clearly the gist of the YA piece is that Bush is warning Israel and the European governments off any resumption of any talks with Syria, and in a nifty Rovian-wedge move, warning the Europeans that if they don't toe the line the result could be Israeli military action, while warning the Israelis that if they talk to Syria the result would be increased arms shipments to Hizbullah.

I don't know why the story hasn't been picked up anywhere in the West.

One particularly important point is the Bush reference to possible Israeli strikes on "arms shipments" in this pre-US-election month (aka the month of the "October surprise").

Another is the illustration of how Bush has gone about attempting to close the allied ranks in his new "moderate versus extremist regimes" strategy.

(Yedioth Ahrunoth has a good reputation for news-accuracy so far as I know. For instance it is still elaborating on the story it broke late last month about a meeting between Olmert and high-ranking people in the Saudi royal family. If you don't read Hebrew but have some Arabic, the latest installment is summarized in Al-Quds today, Friday Oct 6).


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