Condaleeza Rice is a Liar
Blames Syria, Iran for Inciting Violence over Caricatures of Prophet
Secretary of State Condi Rice on Wednesday blamed Iran and Syria for inciting violence over the Danish caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. The problem is that she is lying, and this irresponsible charge is another in a long series of propaganda ploys whereby the Bush administration manipulates public opinion in the United States. Reuters reports,
‘ US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused Iran and Syria, both at loggerheads with the west, of inciting violence over the cartoons for their own purposes.
Speaking at a Washington news conference with Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Rice said: “Iran and Syria have gone out of their way to inflame sentiments and to use this to their own purposes — and the world ought to call them on it.”
She said nothing justified the violence and appealed to governments to urge calm.
“There are governments that have used this opportunity to incite violence,” she added, referring to Syria and Iran. ‘
I have done keyword searches in the Foreign Broadcast Information Service of the CIA, which translates radio broadcasts and newspaper articles, for all of 2005 and 2006, using “Denmark and Syria.” I found nothing from 2005 mentioning the caricatures in FBIS transcriptions of the Syrian press. The only things there for 2006 concerned the past week, which saw a violent demonstration in downtown Damascus.
I then did a similar keyword search in Lexis Nexis, which includes the BBC World Monitoring of the Arab press. I again found nothing for 2005. I print below what I found for 2006; the record begins only on January 31.
In short, it simply is not true that Syria has whipped up sentiments in the Arab world about the Danish caricatures. Neither the CIA, nor the BBC monitoring, nor any of the wire services, noticed any Syrian official saying anything at all about this matter until the past week! Since Syria is ruled by a secular Arab nationalist Baath regime, this finding is not surprising. And what influence would Bashar al-Asad, a heterodox Alawite Shiite and a secular Baathist, have with his Sunni Muslim or orthodox Twelver Shiite neighbors?
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.
You can only imagine the Karl Rove memo: “Anythin’ happens in the Middle East, blame it on Syria and Iran. Works every time!”
‘ Associated Press Worldstream
January 29, 2006 Sunday 11:49 AM GMT
SECTION: INTERNATIONAL NEWS
LENGTH: 289 words
HEADLINE: Syria joins chorus condemning caricatures of Islam’s prophet in Danish newspaper
DATELINE: DAMASCUS Syria
Syria on Sunday joined the chorus of Arab and Islamic countries condemning caricatures published in a Danish newspaper deemed insulting to Islam’s prophet.
“Syria strongly condemns this insult against the supreme token of the Arab and Islamic nations,” the Syrian news agency SANA quoted an unidentified Foreign Ministry official as saying.
The official said the Danish government should punish the offenders.
The 12 drawings published Sept. 30, 2005, by Jyllands-Posten included one showing Muhammad wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse. Another portrayed him with a bushy gray beard and holding a sword, his eyes covered by a black rectangle.
Politicians and Muslim leaders across the Islamic world have denounced the caricatures as insulting to the faith and its prophet. Islam bars any depiction of the prophet, even respectful ones, out of concern that such images could lead to idolatry. Jyllands-Posten has refused to apologize for the drawings, citing freedom of speech.
The Syrian official said Damascus was “shocked” by the caricatures and called on the Danish government to take the “necessary measures to punish the offenders so that such offenses may not be repeated in the future.”
On Saturday, Kuwait’s state-supported supermarkets announced a boycott of Danish products, and the Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry called in a regional Danish ambassador to protest the caricatures while hundreds of Kuwaitis protested outside the Danish consulate.
Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Denmark to protest the drawings. In Jiddah, the secretary-general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference criticized the Danish government for failing to deal with the issue in a “serious way.”
BBC Monitoring International Reports
February 1, 2006 Wednesday
LENGTH: 110 words
HEADLINE: SYRIA RECALLS AMBASSADOR TO DENMARK
Text of report by Danish radio website on 1 February
Syria is recalling its ambassador from Denmark for consultations in Damascus.
According to the Ritzaus news agency the ambassador is to provide information on Danish efforts to defuse the crisis over the controversial Muhammad drawings published by Jyllands-Posten.
Syria is therefore taking the same measure as Saudi Arabia did recently. Libya has gone a stage further and has announced that it is closing down its embassy in Denmark completely.
The Syrian embassy in Stockholm will take care of representation in Denmark.
Source: Danmarks Radio website, Copenhagen, in Danish 1501 gmt 1 Feb 06 ‘