U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice took aim at Syria on Saturday over its human rights record, stepping up Washington's bid to isolate Damascus internationally. The top U.S. diplomat used a conference in Bahrain attended by Arab leaders trying to promote economic and political reform, to criticize what she said was Syria's "arbitrary detention" of human rights activists. "We continue to support the Syrian people's aspirations for liberty, democracy, and justice under the rule of law," said Rice in a sideways swipe at the government in Damascus. "We would like to see an end to the arbitrary detentions of democratic and human rights activists -- including Kamal Labwani and all the prisoners of conscience from the Damascus Spring," she added. The Damascus Spring was a period of intense political and social debate in Syria which started after the death of President Hafez al-Assad in June 2000. Opposition activist Labwani was arrested in Syria on November 8 on his return from a visit to the United States where he had met senior U.S. officials.The Bush Adminstration is adeptly cranking up the pressure on the murderous Assad regime - on MANY fronts. Including a joint statement with the Iraqi PM demanding that Syria control its borders:
Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, appearing on Friday with visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said it was no secret that foreign fighters were using Syrian territory to enter Iraq and the government had implored the Syrians to crack down on such movements. "We ask why the Syrians are not responding to our people's demands," al-Jaafari said. "We demand that they control their borders, prevent infiltration and terrorism. We want good relations with Syria, but this cannot be achieved when such violations exist."Assad is really cornered and his time is running out. The sooner he realizes this and chooses exile, the better. I expect - however - that he and his murderous regime will FIRST attempt to divert the pressure and our attention from him by getting their comrades in the Axis of Evil - the Iranians - and their joint jihadoproxies to widen and intensify the conflict in the region; they will attempt to accomplish this by stepping up terror attacks in Jordan and Israel and Lebanon. When these fail to ignite a new Arab--Israeli War, Assad will flee - to Tehran. I predict by March.