Despite a flurry of charges to the contrary, the Syrian government hardly "commissioned" Hezbollah's abduction of two Israeli soldiers on July 12. According to accusations, Damascus wanted to divert international attention from the authoritarian regime of Bashar al-Assad, and so it sent its Lebanese proxy to start a war -- with devastating consequences for Lebanon and for regional stability. But Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's leader, was not acting on behalf of Assad when he ordered the cross-border attack. Especially since the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon in 2005, Hezbollah has become much more independent of Damascus. Most likely, high-level Syrian officials did not know about the July 12 raid until after it happened.
Nonetheless, Damascus quickly realized that the ensuing regional crisis could work to its advantage. Although the Syrian government clearly had no interest in being drawn into the war, as the fighting erupted, it began to emphasize just
Loading, please wait...