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Hallinan and Syrian Safehouse

In his December 4, 2008 column, Hallinan examines various wacky conspiracy theories as to why the U.S. had recently bombed a remote compound in Syria, near its border with Iraq.  The U.S. said it was a safehouse used by al Qaeda to sneak suicide bombers into Iraq. 

Hallinan’s favorite conspiracy theory was that the US intentionally bombing a house filled with innocent construction workers, rather than al Qaeda operatives, because:

Damascus has improved its relations with the European Union (EU) as well, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad recently met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Lastly, with Turkey as a middleman, Syria and Israel have been discussing a peace treaty and a return of the Golan Heights. In short, Syria is beginning to break out of the isolation imposed on it by the U.S. and the EU. Which may be why it was targeted. A number of hawks in the Bush Administration, in particular Deputy National Security Advisor for the Middle East, Elliot Abrams and Vice-President Dick Cheney, have long advocated “regime change” in Syria. . . . Abrams has long been close to Benjamin Netanyahu, who may be Israel’s next prime minister and who is implacably opposed to negotiations with either Syria or the Palestinians. . . . 

One problem with the above analysis is that Hallinan stated in his December 22, 2006 column, that Israelis lust for war with Syria, and predicted that Israel would invade Syria in less than a year (still waiting). [HYPERTEXT to Hizbollah has no connection with Syria].  Now we learn from Hallinan that Israelis are actually peacemaking with Syria.  Which is it?  Hallinan thus transfers the war lust he formerly attributed to all Israelis to incoming prime minister, Benyamin Netanyahu.  However, Netanyahu is known to have made a generous offer of peace to the Syrians during his first term as prime minister.  He has been prime minister now for some months, with so much as a single saber rattle in the direction of Damascus.

The one theory Hallinan refused to even consider in this column is the straightforward, non-esoteric possibility that the U.S. wanted to kill suicide bombers in Syria and their handlers before they could act in Iraq.

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