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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Syrian Scuds to Hezbollah? Obama is on the case!

In response to reports from various quarters that Syria has been transferring Scud missiles to Hezbollah, which would be able to hit virtually any target in Israel, the Obama administration showed what it's made of. Here is what White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had to say on the matter:
Q Robert, let me ask you a foreign policy question because the Israeli government yesterday contended that Syria is sending long-range Scud missiles into Lebanon into the hands of Hezbollah, a game-changing -- in their words -- military maneuver that they’ve found extremely destabilizing to the region. U.S. officials expressed some other similar concern. Give me the administration’s evaluation of that. And in the context of what some have described as a rough patch in U.S.-Israeli relations, how does this fit?

MR. GIBBS: Well, as I have said many times up here, we are -- we have an unbreakable bond with the Israeli people --

Q Even when they’re wrong?

MR. GIBBS: -- and in ensuring their security. We are obviously increasingly concerned about the sophisticated weaponry that is allegedly being transferred. We have expressed our concerns to those governments and believe that steps should be taken to reduce any risk and any danger of anything from happening.

Q How has that message been sent and what does this do to the administration’s attempt to engage the Syrians in this more complex discussion about Middle East peace?

MR. GIBBS: Well, again, we have relayed our concerns.

Q At the highest level?

MR. GIBBS: We have.

Q At the highest level?

MR. GIBBS: Yes. And again, obviously this is a -- you heard the President speak yesterday about Middle East peace, his desire to have this nation remain focused on that goal. The potential destabilizing effect, the alarming effect that this has, we’ve expressed our great concern about that.

So, the White House cannot even say the word "Syria"when they supposedly expressed their concerns. Not displeasure, not condemnation, not warnings - but concerns. At the highest level, of course.

The wording also seems to say that the White House specifically asked Israel not to make a big deal over this, since Gibbs only says that the White House "expressed [its] concerns to those governments" in the plural and that the governments must both take steps to reduce the risk of anything happening.

Wow, Syria must really be frightened in the face of such far-reaching concern. You can see how easily they will be pressured at the prospects of strong, stern words from President Obama evenhandedly asks both them and Israel not to escalate tensions when Syria does something unilateral like give sophisticated weapons to a terrorist group which vows to destroy Israel.

Bashir Assad will sure think twice before transferring the next 40,000 rockets to Hezbollah.

(And wouldn't it be nice to know which objective reporter yelled out "Even when they're wrong?")

UPDATE: The BBC assumes that the two governments in question are Lebanon and Syria. Since Lebanon is impotent to stop weapons transfers to Hezbollah, I have my doubts that this was Gibbs' meaning.