Sunday, May 22, 2005

Mr. Pot, meet Mr. Kettle

US tells Syria: stop meddling in Lebanon, Iraq (Fri May 20, 1:01 PM ET, AFP)

SHUNEH, Jordan (AFP) - The United States said Syria must stop supporting the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah and meddling in Iraq, as Washington kept up diplomatic pressure on Damascus.

"Our prime role, having a united front (with Europe), is to insist that the Syrians apply (UN Security Council Resolution) 1559," US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick told reporters.

"If Syria wants good ties with the United States, it can't be supporting Hezbollah and undermining the situation in Iraq," Zoellick said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting here.

The US official also said that the outcome of elections in Lebanon, due to start at the end of the month, will likely apply pressure on Hezbollah on whether to "remain an armed militia or (become) a political party."

Hah, who are we to tell others not to meddle in the affairs of other countries?

In particular ...

U.S. Moves to Reassert Itself in Iraq AffairsAs insurgent attacks grow, American officials are returning to a more active role to improve services and foster an inclusive government. (By Paul Richter and Ashraf Khalil, Times Staff Writers, May 20, 2005)

WASHINGTON — Facing an intensifying insurgency and a frail government in Baghdad, the Bush administration has reluctantly changed course to deepen its involvement in the process of running Iraq.

U.S. officials are taking a more central and visible role in mediating among political factions, pushing for the government to be more inclusive and helping resuscitate public services. At the same time, Washington is maintaining pressure on Iraqi officials to upgrade the nation's fledgling security forces.

The change comes at a time when confidence in the leaders elected in January has been falling and U.S. officials have grown more pessimistic about how soon Iraqi security forces will be able to take charge of the counterinsurgency effort.