The recent kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah, and the Israeli military reaction to it, has focused many a mind on the terrorist group's ties to Iran and Syria. This, of course, makes relevant once again this corner's call for Iran's liberation from the terrorist-supporting, Communist-backed mullahcracy. However, outside of Michael Ledeen (National Review Online) and yours truly (UPDATE: Mark Levin joined in as I was writing this), hardly anyone has called for the liberation of Syria (note to readers: consider this an invitation to inform me of any other calls I have missed), despite the Syrian Ba'athist regime's ties to both terrorism and Communist China. I hope that will change, for the liberation of Syria is vital for victory in both the War on Terror and the larger Second Cold War.
Syria's support for terrorism is not exactly news. It has long been a haven for Hezbollah, and together, the Ba'athists and Hezbollah made Lebanon a virtual satellite state for a decade-and-a-half (Hezbollah still does Syria's bidding there - Small Dead Animals). What are not as well known are Syria's ties to Iran. Damascus and Tehran have been allies for over a quarter-century. In fact, the late Hafez Assad was Iran's only Arab ally during the Iran-Iraq war. Hafez's son Bashar has cemented that alliance in recent years. Iran and Syria have also aided Shiite and Sunni terrorists respectively in their battle against the American military and the Iraqi people for more than three years now (Iraq the Model).
Given Syria's closeness to Iran, it should surprise no one that it also considers Communist China an ally. The cadres have provided military aid to the Ba'athist Syrians, including aid in "nonconventional" weaponry (the old label for weapons of mass destruction). Zhongnanhai has also signed numerous economic deals with Damascus. Lastly, and perhaps mostly, it was in Syria where Hu Jintao uttered his infamous slander against Israel as a "colonialist plot aimed at detaching from the Arab nation a part that is dear to it – Palestine" (sixteenth item).
Also, for those curious, Ba'athism was the same ideology that drove Saddam Hussein to power, and fueled his lust for torture and murder. The Assad family has its own history of atrocities: Hafez once wiped out the entire city of Hama in less than a week.
Most of the focus on the Hezbollah kidnapping has been on Iran and the foreign policy goals of the Khomeinist regime. However, the Syrian dictatorship likely has its own reasons for allowing this to happen. The liberation of Iraq has given new hope to Syria's oppressed Kurdish community. Meanwhile, the rapid growth of the Syrian Reform Party has shown the regime it, too, has a domestic pro-democracy movement ready and willing to take its country back from its tyrants. Under such pressure, any dictatorship will look for something to distract its imprisoned people - and for Syria, there is no better distraction than Israel.
Sadly, the Administration, while expressing its frustration with Syria and Iran, has refused to take the next step and call for Syria's liberation (it has also given little more than lip-service to Iran's liberation, but that has been covered in previous posts). That must change, and quickly. Even if Iran were free, the Syrian dictatorship would be more than willing (and able) to provide aid and comfort to anti-American terrorists throughout the Middle East, and serve as the Communist proxy it already is.
The aforementioned strength of Syrian Reform Party makes it possible, perhaps even probable, that liberation could occur peacefully. That would certainly be preferable. However, if liberation can only come by force, than it still must come all the same. For the American troops in Iraq, for Iraq itself, for Israel, and most of all for the Syrian people, the Ba'athist regime of the Assad family must be ended. Syria must be free.