"Pundita! Sam wants to know if you can rip yourself away from China pig disease long enough to comment about Syria. Are we going to war with them or what?
Not Born Yesterday in New York"
Iraq first has to ratify their Constitution (waiting on vote count) then elect a permanent government. Then they can declare defensive war on Syria and use US troops to help invade.
Iraq has tons of evidence that Iran and Syria have been making war on their country. Reality TV is huge hit in Irag -- foreign fighters caught then confessing in detail on TV about who put them up to the operation. Allawi's idea, I think it was. Survivor producers, eat your heart out.
So the plot to split Iraq by provoking civil war is so well known to Iraqis that it failed. Now Tehran is in a pickle because they know the timetable with regard to Syria and know their water boy Assad is on the way out.
Sticking point for the US: who do you put in Assad's place? Choices are between venomous snake and venomous snake. One of the candidates, Rifaat al-Assad, (same family), is a mass murderer.
If a suitable candidate can be found; i.e., one who goes after al Qaeda and remnants of Saddam's Baathists holed up in Syria, and calls off Syrian incursions into Iraq, then no major US troop action with regard to Syria.
Another sticking point is the Saudis, who want Assad gone (Hariri was close personal friend of King Abdullah) but are under obligation to defend Sunni interests in Iraq. Keeping Iraq off balance via incursions across the Syrian border is one bargaining chip.
Also there is Tehran, not happy with the thought of losing Syria puppet. And there is China's military, which wants to be best friends with Tehran. And there are the China flunkies on both sides of US Senate aisle.
To boil it down, China is exerting pressure through UN 'Third World' flunkies, Euro flunkies and flunkies in US to get Bush to draw down troops in Iraq.
Where does Russia stand? Not wanting to offend Tehran and China's military but not wanting to be left holding the bag. They know Assad -- the one who ordered Hariri's assassination -- is on his way out.
What a cast of characters. A shame Charles Dickens isn't around to chronicle them.
Also, and while this is not a scientific survey, Pundita has noticed something over the years since Bush and Putin became friendly. Every time Russia drags their feet about being cooperative with China, by coincidence Chechen rebels launch a spectacular attack inside Russia. Then by another coincidence the attacks stop when Russia agrees to attend China's picnics and backyard barbecues.
Putin would probably tell me I'm imagining things.
Anyhow, the way things stand now, State is trying to help the Syrians find a suitable replacement for Assad and taking pot shots at Rumsfeld and Bush every time there is fresh news of a border skirmish up Syria way.
As to whether Assad can stave off regime change, right now it looks no. However, Pundita is not in favor of the US meddling in Syrian politics. State should not be in such a rush to see Assad replaced because at this time, any replacement is going from the frying pan to the fire, if you think in terms of the Syrians embracing real democracy.
The longer Assad and his crew stay in office, the more obvious it is to the Syrians that the Baathist party and their politics are completely wrong for the country. What they need now is time to muster genuine opposition to the Baathists. They can't do that with Washington and Brussels breathing down their neck to replace Assad yesterday.
A cynic might say that Brussels is so all-fired anxious to get rid of Assad before he starts singing like a bird.