Another take on Syria's hand-over of Hassan


The civilized world is celebrating the "capture" of Sabawi Ibrahim Hassan, half—brother of Saddam Hussein, by Syrian forces and his turnover to Iraqi government forces. Many view this as the result on pressure on Syria by Western powers. But an alternative viewmay be taken on the issue.

The Baathist parties of Syria and Iraq have never had any love lost on each other. This is a well—known fact, so the alliance between Bashir Assad and the remnants of Saddam's regime was always a somewhat odd one, based perhaps on bribery or a shared desire to defeat democracy and force America out of the region.

The return of one of the leaders of the insurgency might be seen as resulting from pressure not from America, but from Iran. Syria is in thralldom to Iran and depends on Iranian money to function: the two countries just announced an alliance to battle outside pressures.

Why would the Iranians be interested in the return of Sabawi to justice in Iraq? The possibility arises that after the election in Iraq and the ascendancy of Iraqi Shiites, it is Iran's interest that the new powers that be in Iraq be given support in stabilizing the country. The Iranians may feel confident that the new Shiite rulers would accept this overture from Iran's lackeys in the region as a goodwill gesture. Unfortunately, this may also give rise to concern that the Iranians feel that pro—Iranian Shiites in Iraq will return the favor in the years ahead.

Ed Lasky  2 28 05