As the Lebanese Army held a ceremony to mark the departure of the final Syrian troops from its land (below) – there were 40,000 five years ago – the Iraq Survey Group published its final report saying it is unlikely there was any transfer of WMD into Syria.
It has been a key contention of the Bush administration that Syria is attempting to develop WMD and has taken stockpiles of Saddam’s WMD. That’s why there weren’t any in Iraq! It forms one of the three key demands placed on Syria:
Bush’s Iraq demand – declare Saddam’s WMD, don’t harbour Ba’ath members, and don’t allow fighters across the border.
Bush’s Lebanon demand – withdraw troops, don’t support Hizbollah.
Bush’s Palestine demand – close the offices of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Today sees two of those skittles come crashing down: Syria doesn’t have Saddam’s elusive WMD, and doesn’t have a single troop left in Lebanon.
After the ceremony in the Bekaa valley, the final 200 soldiers crossed the border, the Lebanese flag was raised over Anjar, and the ‘military lane’ (a special lane for Syrian military vehicles to bypass border formalities) was closed.
At the same time the UN team arrived in Lebanon to verify the withdrawal. They received a letter from Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq Ash-Sharaa declaring the end of Syria’s involvement in Lebanon. They’ll start work soon, visiting all the former Syrian military and intelligence bases – the ones known to the public, and the hidden ones.
The UN team has already said that although the troops have gone, Lebanese militia have not disarmed – and new Christian vigilanti city-militia groups have sprung up in the wake of the Syrian departure.