News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Condoleeza Rice Lied About Syria and Iran on Cartoons

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Condoleeza Rice Lied About Syria and Iran on Cartoons

Juan Cole is a distinguished scholar whose reports on Iraq and the mideast have gained wide respect and recognition. His vast knowledge of the history, language, and cultures of the region help provide insight into the reasons behind actions and behavior that often strike westerners as irrational.

In response to Condoleeza Rice's remarks that Iran and Syria have fanned the flames of protest and rage over cartoons that satirize Islam and the prophet Muhammad, Cole says the Secretary of State is lying. ...

After an extensive word search in media repositories for the years 2005 and 2006, Cole reports:

It is being alleged that the Baath regime was behind the burning of the Danish embassy in Damascus, on the grounds that it could not have happened unless the police state allowed it. But things have gotten out of hand before in Syria, sometimes on a large scale. It is likely that the regime allowed the initial demonstration, which radical Sunni Muslims took advantage of to torch the embassy. The Syrian regime hates radical Islam and doesn't like disorder, either. We cannot assume that the embassy burning was directed by the Syrian state. There is no evidence for it, and it actually doesn't make any sense. What would Bashar have to gain from that?

Rice and Bush have decided to get Syria, and are using the current crisis as a stick with which to beat it, and are lying shamelessly to the American public.

As for Iran, its embassy was active in Copenhagen pushing for an apology in fall of 2005, but I can't find in Lexis evidence of inflammatory statements until the past week. As I've said before, the Middle East official most concerned with whipping up this issue seems to be the Egyptian foreign minister.

In the past week, some Iranian officials have called for calm on the issue, rather than inciting it. Other officials, such as Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei, have in fact said harsh things, but only very recently. Despite wild charges that the Iranian protege Hizbullah was behind the Beirut embassy burning, in fact the demonstration on Sunday was a Sunni demonstration. The Shiites don't seem to have been part of it. Robert Fisk speculates that Sunni fundamentalist forces from Tripoli and the Palestinian camps too advantage of it to push their own agenda, and the Syrian regime was taken by surprise.
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