The idea to have American allies summarily expel Syrian diplomats was hatched, according to a US congressional source, in the fertile office of outgoing US Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, rumored to be on his way to New York to become, unimaginably one might be forgiven for thinking, the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs.”
It might require a semanticist with Noam Chomsky’s erudition to explain to some of us more obtuse the meanings, context, and policy nuances of two similar and repeated phases heard in Lebanon earlier this month by two well listened to guests . During over-lapping visits of top US and Iranian officials to Lebanon; one warned and threatened Lebanon, while the second praised Lebanon’s “achievements”. Admittedly, divining these Lebanese ‘achievements” is no mean task.
One fellow who works at the Beirut US Embassy tells the story of how, each year around the time of the vernal equinox, since 2005, when Jeffrey Feltman became the American Ambassador—(given Jeff’s domination of US Middle East Policy, he is still essentially US Ambassador to Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, the Gulf, and much of the region, although other names appear from time to time on the local US Embassy doorplates)—the now multi-hatted US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs would perform a sort of ritual.