Rice Calls Out Iran, Syria for Inciting Cartoon Riots
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called out Iran and Syria for their part in inciting and fostering ongoing riots in their own countries and elsewhere throughout the region. In accusing the two countries of implication, Ms. Rice said, “I don’t have any doubt that given the control of the Syrian government in Syria, given the control of the Iranian government – which, by the way, hasn’t even hidden its hand in this – that Iran and Syria have gone out of their way to inflame sentiment and to use this to their own purposes, and the world ought to call them on it.”
To this end, while many have spent much time reading news on the ongoing situation, most may have missed the most salient observation yet, offered up by an unnamed EU diplomat regarding the riots in Syria and the torching of Denmark’s embassy there and noted in a Reuters report.
“Anyone who knows Syria knows that people don’t just go downtown and demonstrate without some official nod or wink.”
‘Demonstrate’ is a polite way of describing a mob torching the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Syria’s capital city of Damascus, but it makes his point even more effective and one that should be duly noted by those not intimately familiar with the governmental machinations of Bashar Assad’s dictatorship in Syria.
The Secretary of State’s words on Syria echo those of Lebanese MP Walid Jumblatt, who also accused Syrian president Bashar Assad of inciting riots against Danish offices in Lebanon and Syria. He said that, in Lebanon, many of the protesters trying to set fire to the Danish embassy in Beirut were arrested and some found to be Syrian soldiers in civilian clothes. “Those involved, including some arrested, were found to be people working for Syria, including Syrian soldiers disguised as civilians,”
If Syrian soldiers are confirmed to be among the arrested rioters, this will not bode well for Syria and Assad, with the Hariri Probe still looming over their heads.
In Iran, both the Croatian ambassador and a Romanian envoy were summoned by the government in Tehran in order to reprimand them for the publication of the cartoons in publications within their respective countries.
The Belmont Club notes a blog called Freedom for Egyptians, which has photographs of the October 17, 2005 edition of the Egyptian newspaper, al-Fager. In that edition were published the very pictures originally published in August 2005 in Denmark. The Egyptian blogger rightly wonders where the Egyptian riots are. She also notes that, while Denmark has apologized, the Egyptian publisher has refused to apologize, stating that he is proud that his newspaper ran the cartoons.
If the offenses were truly this egregious, would the riots not have occured months ago at their initial publication? Would there not have been riots immediately in the Muslim nation of Egypt after the Ramadan re-publication of the cartoons there? The level of the current outrage appears to be largely manufactured, with more than a small assist from Syria and Iran. And no less than 10 have died in Afghanistan as a result. Perhaps the sermons that accompany Friday prayers will pave the way to an end to this. Or add fuel to the fire.