American Middle East envoy William Burns arrived in Damascus on Friday to deliver a strong message to President Bashar Assad to pull his troops out of Lebanon .
‘Burns will deliver a strong message to Syrian President Bashar Assad because it is time for Syrian troops to withdraw from Lebanon and for an end to all interference in its internal affairs,’ Burns’ deputy Elizabeth Dibble was quoted as saying.
Burns’s visit came after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution calling Ã¢â‚¬Å“foreign forcesÃ¢â‚¬Â to leave Lebanon , but failed to mention Syria in name.
According to Dibble, Washington is considering further sanctions against Syria if it fails to comply with a United Nations Security Council resolution.
The Security Council decision came against the well of the Lebanese government, which slammed the resolution as a bold interference in Lebanese internal affairs, confirming that the elected legitimate government of Lebanon has the right to strengthen its alliance with its sister Arab state.
‘ Lebanon sees this resolution as interference in its internal affairs,’ Lebanese President Emile Lahoud told British Ambassador to Lebanon James Watt.
‘It represents a response to long-term Israeli demands that aim to shake the internal stability that Lebanon enjoys because of its choice to embrace the national resistance which liberated most of the south, and through coordination with Syria .’ He added.
Sources in the U.S. expressed anger last week following the Lebanese parliament’s approval, by a large majority, of an extension to the presidency of President Emile Lahoud by three years against the Security Council call to run elections.
Arab commentators expressed astonishment over the U.S. insistence to force one of the very few democracies in the Middle East to act contrary to the well of its legitimate government and the overwhelming majority of its Parliament.
As the Lebanese parliament already approved a three years extension to President Lahoud, Burns canceled plans to visit Lebanon .
U.S. escalated efforts to force Syria out of Lebanon coincided with repeated Israeli threats to attack targets inside both Syria and Lebanon, holding Syria responsible for the latest double bombing in Be’er Sheva.
Israel claims that orders to launch the attack came directly from Hamas’s leadership in Damascus . Hamas immediately denied such allegations, warning Israel against targeting its Ã¢â‚¬Å“outsideÃ¢â‚¬Â leadership.
Media reports said that most Hamas leaders left Syria and temporarily closed their Ã¢â‚¬Å“public RelationÃ¢â‚¬Â offices in the Syrian capitol.
Syrian President countered Israeli threats with a call for immediate Syrian-Israeli negotiations; a call that Israel is expected to dismiss.