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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Syria at Annapolis - big mistake?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/syria-at-annapolis-big-mistake.html

Many of us see Syria's attendance at Annapolis as a victory for the United States. It draws them out of the orbit of Iran and forces them to admit that Washington is still the center of the Middle East diplomatic world. The price may be Lebanon, but the Lebanese government seems to be unviable anyhow.
 
What would I do if my foreign policy had the objectives below? I would offer a carrot and a stick:
 
1- Stick - Get Israel or another country to do an air-strike on Syria that proved to them that they have no effective air defence and are vulnerable. Make it obvious by implication what could come next.
 
2- Invite them to talk peace, and perhaps offer them something they are going to get anyhow, like Lebanon.
 
Barry Rubin has a different opinion.
 
Ami Isseroff 
 
Drilling a Hole in the Lifeboat
Barry Rubin
November 25, 2007
 
 
What would you do if your foreign policy agenda had these priorities:
 
Get Arab and European support for solving the Iraq crisis.
Mobilize Arab and European forces against a threat led by Iran and its allies, Syria, Hamas, and Hizballah.

Get Iran to stop its campaign to get nuclear weapons.

Reestablish American credibility toward friends and deterrence toward enemies.

Reduce the level of Israel-Palestinian conflict.
 

That pretty much describes the U.S. framework for dealing with the Middle East nowadays. The Annapolis conference is not going to contribute to these goals. The most likely outcome is either failure or a non-event portrayed as a victory because it took place at all. No one is going to say: We are so grateful at the United States becoming more active on Arab-Israeli issues that we are going to back its policy on other issues.
 
On the contrary, the conference is more likely to show the inability of the United States to produce results, thus undermining belief in U.S. leverage in the region in general. It shines the spotlight on the most divisive issue, the great excuse for not doing more to help U.S. efforts, raising its prominence. What most of Washington simply fails to understand is that any real demand for Palestinian or Arab concessions will be fodder for radical groups and frighten Arab regimes, pushing the latter away from support for America rather than toward it. And any Israeli concessions obtained by this process will not satisfy their demands either.
 
Despite thousands of claims by lots of famous people, national leaders, and respected journals, solving the Arab-Israeli conflict will not make radical Islamism or terrorism go away. Would you like to know why? Because even if this issue could be solved—which isn't about to happen for reasons requiring a different article—to do so would necessitate a compromise including an end to the conflict, acceptance of Israel, and compromises by the Arab side. These steps would inflame the extremists and make any Arab rulers who accepted it vulnerable to being called traitors. It would increase instability in the Arab world, also by removing the conflict as splendid excuse and basis for mobilizing support for the current rulers. Arab politicians understand this reality; most people in the West don't.
 
Such considerations are accurate analytically but the conference will take place any way. It has been reinterpreted by the U.S. government as the opening of a long-term process rather than its culmination. The analogy is to the Madrid meeting of 1991—which started a nine-year-long failed peace process—rather than to the Camp David summit of 2000, which marked its breakdown.
 
Given the fact that the meeting is going to take place, and one would like to see as little damage result as possible, what is the worst mistake that could be made to ensure that an already difficult situation becomes worse? Answer: invite Syria.
 
Let's remember a few things. The meeting was called to deal with the Palestinian issue. Bringing in the Syrian question is going to destroy that focus. Palestinian leaders know this to be true and no doubt are horrified by Damascus getting equal time.
 
But that's just the start of the problem. Run your eye back up the page to the five points listed as priorities for U.S. policy.
 
Iraq? Syria is the main sponsor of the terrorist insurgency. It has a deep interest in ensuring that no moderate, stable, pro-Western regime takes root in Syria.
 
The radical alliance? Syria is a leading factor in the problem, a partner with Iran for twenty years. Anyone who believes that Damascus can be split from Tehran understands nothing about the mutual benefits Syria gets from the alliance, far greater than anything the West could possibly give to its dictator President Bashar al-Asad.
 
Iranian nuclear? When Iran gets atomic weapons it will be a great day for Syria, ensuring its strategic protection, damaging Western influence, and helping the radical Islamist cause that Syria backs.  
 
American credibility? It undermines years of U.S. efforts to pressure Bashar away from radical adventurism. Syria can now show that it can kill Americans soldiers in Iraq, murder democratic Lebanese politicians, foment Hamas's takeover of the Gaza Strip, and sponsor Hizballah's effort to seize power in Lebanon without incurring any serious risk or cost.
 
On the contrary, Syria is now making demands on the United States for concessions in order to entice it to show up. This is happening at the very moment when plans for an international trial of Syrian leaders for political assassinations in Lebanon is gathering momentum, as Syria's campaign to install a puppet government in Beirut has just been foiled.   
 
Is the conference's purpose, however ill-conceived, to make progress on Arab-Israeli peace and strengthen the Palestinian Authority? Having Syria present lets in  the main Arab sponsor of Hamas, a state working tirelessly to throw out the current Palestinian leadership and raise the level of Arab-Israeli violence.
 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center http://gloria.idc.ac.il and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (GLORIA) Center http://meria.idc.ac.il. His latest books are The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan) and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/11/syria-at-annapolis-big-mistake.html. Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.

1 Comments:

  • ohh ami great vision, but listen once you give the terrorist an inch they will come back and claim a mile..give up lebanon to terrorist and next on the list will be israel...cheers and good luck with that.....

    By Blogger Elie, At November 27, 2007 12:11:00 PM GMT+00:00  

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