Syria's Basher Assad seems to have a unique genius for getting caught having his dirty deals come to light.
His latest fumble involves the clandestine nuclear deal with North Korea. And it might just have torpedoed Condi Rice's ambitious scramble for a personal foreign policy legacy no matter what the costs.
Apparently Assad has his personal fingerprints all over Damascus’ nuclear deal with North Korea, and a couple of sources are reporting that the Mossad and the CIA have documents signed personally by Assad relating to the illegal deal.
Apparently the Norks and Syria had a deal going on, annual shipments of 100,000 tons of Durham wheat for five years worth a total of $120 million in exchange for a reactor capable of producing plutonium which retails at about the same price.
This year, the price of wheat shot up in commodity markets, and the price of Durham wheat doubled...but the Syrians didn't demand any additional North Korean money or goods as compensation, as they would have in a normal trade transaction. Later, when the Syrian crops had a shortfall, Assad personally signed orders to Syrian trade officials to fill the North Korean orders no matter what.
The final shipment of the reactor, disguised as cement, was carried by the North Koreans via ship to Tartus, after which it was sent directly to Al Tibnah in the Syrian Desert, the site the Israelis hit.
Especially revealing was the appearance of Syria's ambassador to the US, Imad Moustapha at a roundtable at The Institute on Religion and Public Policy October 23rd in Washington, DC.
After the usual anti-Israel and anti-American tirades, the questions got around to Syria's relationship with North Korea in light of Israel's strike against the Syrian-North Korean nuclear facility. The ambassador apparently got pretty heated up and said that Syria is free to have relations with any country it wants, and that they had relations with North Korea just like with any other country... trade, cultural exchanges, whatever. The ambassador then said that Syria gives North Korea "wheat, oil and other products" but kept dodging and refused to answer questions on what Syria got from North Korea in return. Finally, the exasperated ambassador said: "Stuff. We get stuff." (!!)
That's bad enough, but Ambassador Moustapha, like his boss, doesn't know when to leave well enough alone. He proceeded to dig an even deeper hole for himself:
"Hypothetically, suppose that North Korea built sophisticated jet fighters. We could buy them legitimately, legally, and have every right to do so!"
It remains to be seen how much farther any action against Syria on this will go. After all,Assad and company have been getting away with being a financier and haven of terrorism for years, sabotaging Lebanon's fledgeling democracy by assassinating political opponents, ignoring UN resolutions against rearming Hezbollah and operating a transport office for homicide bombers in Iraq ever since we invaded the country.
With all that on the table, the Bush Administration has yet to take any major action against the Assad regime. And this may end up more of the same.
Among other things, US Secretary of State Condi Rice is heavily involved on several counts. For openers, this reflects poorly on one of her most highly touted `achievements', the expected finalizing of the US-North Korean accords, something the Bush Administration has touting as part of its foreign policy legacy.
It especially looks bad since Rice, a major proponent of bribing Syria to try and wean them away from their alliance with Iran was leading the charge to try to stall Israel's strike on the Syrian nuclear facility because it would `damage regional stability'!
Also, this could further affect that lovely
Rice is apparently so desperate to make this happen that's she's even taken to taken to conferring with Jimmy Carter , Yasir Arafat's favorite president and Bill Clinton, Mr. Oslo, the man who was responsible for empowering Arafat and the rest of the Fatah Mafia by pressuring Israel to let Arafat and his cronies create a terrorist enclave right next to Israel's borders, with the results we see today.
Part of the fallout (pun intended)of the Israeli raid and Assad's direct complicity with North Korea could very well be a downplaying of both the North Korean agreements and Rice's summit..especially since President Bush has reportedly cooled to both ideas.
But given his close relationship with Condi Rice, it will likely be that they simply falls through the cracks with little fanfare, so as not to embarrass Secretary Rice if President Bush decides to nix the agreement with North Korea and the proposed summit shows little promise.