Here is the most recent installment of the Tel Aviv University Notes. It gives a main stream Israeli view of Asad's interest in talks.
Asad’s Declarations: Ambiguous Words, Clear Meaning 
Aiman Mansour
Institute for National Security Studies 
TelAviv Notes 189, october 23, 2006

The recent series of interviews with Syrian President Bashar Asad in Arab and Western media reveals the extent of changes in the Middle East, in general, and Syria, in particular, in the wake of the confrontation between Israel and Hizbullah in the summer of 2006.  Before that conflict, Asad hardly ever mentioned “Israeli aggression against Syria that can end in war” or the “state of alert” in the Syrian army, but since then, Asad has repeatedly stressed the readiness of his military forces.

The latest confrontation, whatever the assessment may be of its tactical aspects, is seen by many in the Arab and Muslim world as Israel’s worst strategic failure since the Yom Kippur War of 1973.  Israel’s inability to destroy Hizbullah’s organizational and physical infrastructure has only strengthened the belief of many that Israel is a weak entity that can be shaken to its very foundations through violence and terror.  The perception that the summer war ended in a victory for Hizbullah has led the Alawite regime in Damascus to tighten its links with the “victor” and even to signal a readiness to adopt Hizbullah’s operational methods and policies.

Assad’s latest declarations reflect his (and his regime’s) growing self-confidence.  From his perspective, Syria is now in a “win-win” situation; every development will play to its advantage.  A glance through the Syrian prism at three possible scenarios shows how might all be expected to develop positively:

  1. initiation of negotiations for a comprehensive Syrian-Israeli peace agreement – Since Assad sees himself as someone who “bet” on the right cards (closer ties with Iran and support for Hizbullah) and won the strategic contest with Israel, he can go into negotiations with maximal demands: total Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, “dipping his feet” in the Sea of Galilee, and major Israeli concessions on the Palestinian issue.  Extracting these gains from a weakened Israel unwilling to risk a clash with Syria would allow the Syrian President to depict himself as one who refused to make concessions in a political process and, consequently, did not harm his regime’s legitimacy or do damage to collective Arab dignity;
  2. launching a “popular struggle” to regain the Golan – If negotiations do not begin (or begin but break off in failure), Syria might resort to a limited violent struggle.  In an interview with Dubai Television on 23 August, Asad explicitly declared: “The limits of our patience will be shown soon and I have already said that the present generation is the last generation prepared to accept the peace process.  Therefore, our patience will run out with this generation.  That means that [when patience runs out] the people will turn to resistance, which is a popular and not governmental path.”  Even if that “resistance” is not so “popular” and is actually institutionalized and subject to the absolute control of the Syrian security agencies, such a struggle would attract support, not only in the Arab and Muslim arenas – because it would be a struggle to restore conquered land and protect Arab honor in the long run — but also in the international arena – because the Golan is seen as Israeli-occupied territory.  Such a confrontation would also tie Israel’s hands.  On the one hand, it would lack the international legitimacy to launch a full-scale military attack on Syria.  On the other hand, at least in the eyes of the Syrian regime, Israel would suffer from the same inefficiencies and weaknesses against a guerrilla force that it experienced in Lebanon.
  3. a major Israeli war against Syria – Since Asad sees Israel’s power to threaten as having been eroded by the results of the campaign against Hizbullah, he may suspect Israel of wanting to rehabilitate its reputation by launching a major military action against Syria.  The Syrian ruler judges that his army is prepared for such an eventuality and makes frequent declarations about Syrian readiness.  Blocking an Israeli military initiative would enhance the regime’s legitimacy, bring honor to Syria and further discredit Israel’s deterrent; yet another military setback might well bring Israel to acquiesce in Syrian demands and permit the regime to achieve all its goals in negotiations.  But even if the Syrian army were unable to inflict a defeat on Israel, Asad apparently assumes that the survival of his regime would not be threatened because he would still be portrayed as someone who stood up to “Zionist aggression.”

Regime survival is the highest value in Syrian national security policy and that prompts Asad and those working under him to do everything to strengthen their legitimacy.  In the eyes of the regime, strengthening ties with the Hizbullah-Iran axis has already borne fruit in this regard and all that remains now is to pick the fruit, whether by political or military means.

Given the Arab and Muslim perception of Israeli failure in Lebanon, Syria is now trying to launch a policy that will change the status quo vis-à-vis Israel.  The regime would prefer to bring about that change by negotiating from the position of strength that it believes it now holds in light of Israel’s defeat.  But if negotiations do not take place or, alternatively, if they fail because of Israeli refusal to satisfy Syrian demands, that could bring the regime to adopt Hizbullah’s methods and shatter the quiet that has prevailed along the Syrian-Israeli line of separation for more than three decades.

Comments (25)


1. norman said:

I hope Syria is prepared as Israel wants to change the subject and wants the Israelies to forget the war in Lebanon and attacking Syria is the solution.

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October 25th, 2006, 12:57 am

 

2. norman said:

This is interesting,
Time for Bush to talk to Iran and Syria

Simon Tisdall
Wednesday October 25, 2006
The Guardian

Whatever else James Baker may recommend in his much-anticipated report on future US strategy in Iraq, it seems certain he will urge George Bush to open direct, high-level talks with Iran and Syria.
Such a dramatic shift would have implications stretching far beyond Baghdad’s bloodied streets, affecting everything from the Israel-Palestine conflict to the fate of British forces in southern Afghanistan.

Mr Baker started this particular hare running in an interview on October 8. “I believe in talking to your enemies … It’s got to be hard-nosed, it’s got to be determined. You don’t give away anything, but in my view it’s not appeasement to talk to your enemies,” he said. That contradicted Mr Bush’s instinctive view. But the president is short of political capital these days and fresh out of ideas on Iraq. Since the Baker intervention, the idea has been gaining traction.

Article continues

——————————————————————————–

——————————————————————————–

Whether the White House will heed Mr Baker’s advice depends largely on the extent of Republican losses in next month’s congressional mid-term elections. Mr Bush has stubbornly resisted previous calls to change course, even when issued by political allies. But if Republicans do especially badly, losing control of both the House and Senate, big changes in Iraq policy are expected. They will most likely be heralded by the sacking of Donald Rumsfeld, the unpopular Pentagon chief primarily blamed for post-invasion failings in Iraq.
These blatant political calculations have angered Bush opponents. The Democratic senator John Kerry said decisions about whether to adopt the Baker proposals should not be influenced by the poll outcome.

“I think it’s immoral to have the lives of young Americans being put on the line, waiting for an election day event … If you’ve got a better strategy, Mr President, we deserve to have it now,” he said. An angry editorial in the New York Times this week blasted a “gutless” Mr Bush for refusing to level with the public.

US-Iranian estrangement goes back 27 years and the idea of re-engagement is hardly new. Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador to Baghdad, proposed limited talks on Iraqi security with Tehran last year. The idea went nowhere, killed by ingrained mutual distrust. Since then Mr Khalilzad has renewed accusations that Iran is inciting Iraqi Shia militia attacks on coalition forces in retaliation for Israel’s US-backed summer war against Hizbullah in Lebanon.

Although the US maintains diplomatic relations with Syria, the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, has refused to visit Damascus. And since last year’s allegedly Syrian-backed assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister, the US has redoubled its efforts to punish Syria for its links to Palestinian militants, its supposed support for Sunni insurgents in Iraq and its alliance with Iran. This has had limited success. If anything, Syria has emerged more confident in the wake of the Lebanon war.

Amid such deathly deadlock and destruction, it is increasingly clear that something has to give. And according to Charles Kupchan and Ray Takeyh of the US Council on Foreign Relations, Iran holds the key in Iraq and beyond; and a genuine attempt at high-level engagement is overdue. “It is in Iraq, where US and Iranian interests coincide, that the two countries could work together to advance regional stability. The resulting improvements … could at once defuse the nuclear crisis [over Iran's alleged atomic weapons programme] and advance the prospects for a stable Iraq,” they wrote earlier this year.

“US and Iran have many common interests in Iraq. Tehran, like Washington, is keenly interested in avoiding a civil war and sustaining Iraq as a unitary state … An Iraqi-Iranian-American dialogue could eventually provide a foundation for new security architecture in the Gulf,” they said.

These new structures might include mutual security guarantees, enhanced regional cooperation and arms control pacts and could provide the impetus for a historic settlement of the Arab-Israel conflict. That in turn would help stabilise fragile regimes from Cairo to Riyadh to Kabul while assuaging the west’s terrorism and proliferation concerns.

It looks like a long shot now. And much will depend on the willingness of Iran to play ball. Yet all but the most extreme hardliners in Tehran have long sought dialogue with the US. Like Syria’s leadership, what they really want from Washington is legitimacy and respect. More than current confrontationalism, such developments, if carefully nurtured, could ultimately advance the US aim of a democratic Middle East. Out of the Iraq disaster, something valuable might yet be plucked.

After Baker, the question is: does Mr Bush get it?

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October 25th, 2006, 1:09 am

 

3. True_Facts said:

This is a must read – a masterpiece on this controversial subject – Great work by Ammar:

Engaging Syria – Opportunity or Ambush?

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October 25th, 2006, 3:02 am

 

4. Alex said:

An excellent piece indeed.

Now where is Joshua’s equally impressive presentation at the Brookings Institute?

(i’m sure it is, even though I have not read it yet)

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October 25th, 2006, 4:13 am

 

5. t_desco said:

More signs that (at least some of the) Baker proposals will be rejected? -

“Led by James Baker, the former secretary of state close to the Bush family, and Lee Hamilton, a former Democrat lawmaker, the Congress-backed group is to report early next year. That might be too late.

In public the White House insists it will consider what they have to say. In private hardliners are rejecting several mooted suggestions – including a phased withdrawal and talks that would bring in Iran and Syria.”
FT, October 22, 2006

A small bomb blast in Beirut yesterday, but look where it took place (according to KUNA):

“BEIRUT, Oct 25 — A bomb blast occurred in the Beirut seaside district of Ramlet Al-Baida over the night causing damage, a security source said on Wednesday.

The source said a bomb disposal expert examined scene of the blast and determined that the explosive was made up of 100 grams of TNT.

The explosion occured on Rafic Al-Hariri Avenue damaging a nearby fence.”
KUNA

Fatfat has already blamed the earlier Riad al-Solh Square rocket attack on Syria.

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October 25th, 2006, 1:26 pm

 

6. ivanka said:

T-Desco, I think Bush will not consider any strategy changes unless he loses the elections. If the Dems do not win, he will continue what he has been doing for the last 6 years. If they do win, he will not change his policy, but it will be considerably slowed down.

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October 25th, 2006, 2:04 pm

 

7. Ehsani2 said:

During Bush’s Press conference, he asked Syria to do the following:

-Do not undermine the Seniora Government
- Help us (Israel) get back the Israeli soldier captured by Hamas.
- Don’t allow Hamas and Islamic Jihad to carry suicide bombings.
- Help us in Iraq.

If they do all of the above, we can talk.

On another note, he finally started talking about the critical energy supplies by saying that “terrorists want Iraq’s vast oil reserves”.

Many months ago, this article came out.

Read Here..

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October 25th, 2006, 3:13 pm

 

8. norman said:

I do not Syria will take president Bush offer ,his father oromised Syria a comprehensive peace conference and treaty on the run to liberating Kuwait only to be disappointed to talk to the Us i think the US owe Syria the Golan Hights ,untill then Syria should not do anything to help the US as Syria did after 9/11/2001 without gratitdute,if the us wants to talk ,Syria condition is the Golan Hights and solving the Palestinian problem,untill the US is ready for that i do not think talk will solve anything ,we should remember that the US in trouble in Iraq israel in trouble with it,s new freinds the Saudied and Egyptians,Syria is safe and people are happy with their gov stand on the midleast.It is sad that President Bush that i supported since he was a governer in Texas does not seem to get the fact that we need Syria to save our soldjers in Iraq and to have peace in the midleast.

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October 25th, 2006, 4:41 pm

 

9. ausamaa said:

Ehsani_2

That was what Victorious Bush asked Assad to do!

Do you want to make any bet as to what Assad answer -if he bothers to answer Bush now- would be. I imagine it would be something like: Beggers can not be Chosers. And Asad might add: And what exactly will happen if we do not??

Seems to me like Bush is not watching the news, or is still under the impression that God will still find a way to hand him the visionary victory he thinks God promissed during certain private conversations years back.

Having said that, I would not rule out a “personally motivated” Bush backlash against Syria should a mid term election prove to be a disasterous defeat for Bush and the Republicans (Heck, he can not accept that he plain failed, and since there is nothing that he can do about Iran or North Korea). Then, knowing his team’s vendetta against Syria, it would not be out of the question that he, and his die-hard neo-cons who know that they would have to stand up to answer the avallanch of questions which would eventually follow, may try something “Adventurous” against Syria (or Lebanon even, cause this guy takes things very personally). By fooling with Syria, at least they would have some thing to boost about to the folks back home once they leave office, and they would have (sorry, may have) a chance to channel and vent Bush’s frustrations about the grave failures he has brought to US policy and to its strategic standing in the world; from Iraq to Afghanistan, to Iran, to Lebanon, to Gaza/West Bank, to N Korea, to Sudan to God knows when by the time he hands things over.

But would Israel stand for such a request (can the tail refuse to be wagged by the master dog?), and what would the Generals at the Pentagon think about such a “personal favour/request”???

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October 25th, 2006, 5:12 pm

 

10. ausamaa said:

Norman,

Sorry but a small remark struck me at the end of the posted article by Simon Tisdall on Wednesday October 25, 2006, The Guardian, where it states:

“More than current confrontationally, such developments, if carefully nurtured, could ultimately advance the US aim of a democratic Middle East”.

With the full appreciation of the realistic approach of the article, but does anyone in his right mind still believes that Deeeeeemocracy is a major US aim in the Middle East??? An auxiliary by-product? Maybe. A US Aim? Hell No.

If some still happen to think its a true US aim, then I have a brilliant proposition for them:

Why doesnt the US “seriously” try this Deeeeemocracy stuff on its supportive, obedient, strategic and close allies in the Middle East such as: Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi, Morocco, Jordan, and maybe Israel -if one wants to add insult to injury-!. Then, and once this “mission is accomplished” in those “friendly and allied countries”, the US can carry the successful EXAMPLE to other countries who will be more receptive and more convinced of the US real aims. But it is mighty difficult for a brothel owner to breach the need and virtues of fidelity to others while not enforcing it in his own back yard, or in what he considers to be his second home. Practice what you Breach? Right?

I am sure such remarks look good in print on the pages of the Guardian to some, but do we still have people “buying” this stuff about Deeeeeemocracy as being a current US aim in the area? Hell, deeeeeemocracy is not a current Administration priority within the continental US itself as it seems now…

It is either idiots writing for the benefit of other idiots, or … (I’d better remaine polite as I am not aware of the true leanings, or previous opinions of a Simon Tsidall)..

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October 25th, 2006, 5:56 pm

 

11. ausamaa said:

Ivanca

I see it the opposite way.

If the Democrates win, then Bush has lost all..

And as they say: What is there more to loose? And being the vengeful, vindictive, self-righteous sole he is, God knows to what extent he will go while feeling depressed, desperate and feeling defeated. He could go for broke and take the country with him to the edge, believing that he could either make it, or that he can leave whatever new mess he manages to create meanwhile to his Democrat “enemies” to handle after his party’s eventual departure from both the Legislative and the Executive. Constitutionally, he does not need the full consent of the Legislative to lite up the fires if he deems it in the National Interest! Of course, accountability comes later (the thirty days notice stuff), but he can still take any action he pleases as the supreme commander!

On the other hand, if the Republicans come on top, then that may be the “leach” or the “rein” that can slow down the “wild horse” and prevent him from totally tarnishing the position and the credibility of the Republican Party much further. Ironically, they will try to force him, through adpoting a salvage-wahetever-you-can approach, to try to put a better face on things and to help provide a “realistic exit” from the mess he got the US in before departing the White House in two years time without leaving them to face the awaiting wolves both Local and Foreign.

Furthermore, a returned republican controled legislative will have a lesser chance of being re-blackmailed by the neo-cons and the Israeli Lobby as is customary during such transitions.

Sort of the Devil you know….figuratively speaking of course..

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October 25th, 2006, 7:17 pm

 

12. Abhinav Aima said:

It is interesting that Bush/Olmert want Syria to jump through all these hoops BEFORE they talk with Asad…

Bashar probably knows from his father’s experiences with Kissinger and Schultz that the U.S.-Israel interest in following up on Syrian goodwill gestures fades dramatically once the crises has been resolved…

Is it a co-incidence that U.S. approached Syria for cooling down BEFORE talks, when Israel was making peace with Egypt, or with the PLO, or with Jordan, or during Camp David in 2000? How about Syrian help when the US fought Saddam in 1991, and during the Afghan ops in 2001, and in the invasion of Iraq in 2003? In all these cases, Syrian cooperation got it nothing substantial in return – especially in the matter of the Golan.

Bush’s demands are as absurd as demanding that everyone in a poker game show you their cards before you decide to bet, and then pocketing the pot no matter who holds the best cards.

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October 25th, 2006, 8:18 pm

 

13. norman said:

Ausama and Abhinav,you said what i wanted to say but much better.Thank you both.

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October 26th, 2006, 1:27 am

 

14. Fares said:

http://www.asharqalawsat.com/leader.asp?section=3&article=389111&issue=10194

enjoy reading this…and cheer up the future of the region…I don’t know what Syria is achieving by being a pain in the ass everywhere.

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October 26th, 2006, 2:57 am

 

15. ausamaa said:

FARES,

Reading anything in the Al Sharq Al Awsat nowadays would be a cause for exoeriencing a real Pain in the Ass. The only purpose I look at it is to find out what the Apple Polishers are -subtly-suggesting to the confused owners they should see things. Or vice Versa. As a parometer actually of how painfull the pain in the ass is becoming, or how fast it is receding!!

Elaf, on the other hand is a better thermometer, and it has mainly left “Syria” alone during the past period. Except for the usual occasional double-talk articles. Combine the attitude of Al Sharq al Awsat, Elaph and throw in al Hayat as a stabilizer, and it is apparent that there is some sort of a Split or confusion down there.

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October 26th, 2006, 5:03 am

 

16. Innocent_Criminal said:

What a pathetic excuse for an article. Seriously Fares!!! Was asking us to read it some sort of practical joke on you part? That type of propaganda can only be matched by SANA. My favorite part is how Fateh wanted Hamas to join a unity government when they were in control. Funny

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October 26th, 2006, 7:21 am

 

17. t_desco said:

In Syria, Iraq’s Fate Silences Rights Activists

By Ellen Knickmeyer

DAMASCUS, Syria — Horror at the bloodshed accompanying the U.S. effort to bring democracy to Iraq has accomplished what human rights activists, analysts and others say Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had been unable to do by himself: silence public demands for democratic reforms here.

The idea of the government as a bulwark of stability and security has long been the watchword of Syrian bureaucrats and village elders. But since Iraq’s descent into sectarian and ethnic war — and after Israel’s war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, on the other side of Syria — even Syrian activists concede that the country’s feeble rights movement is moribund.

Advocates of democracy are equated now with supporters of America, even “traitors,” said Maan Abdul Salam, 36, a Damascus publisher who has coordinated conferences on women’s rights and similar topics.

“Now, talking about democracy and freedom has become very difficult and sensitive,” Salam said. “The people are not believing these thoughts anymore. When the U.S. came to Iraq, it came in the name of democracy and freedom. But all we see are bodies, bodies, bodies.”

Ordinary people in Syria are hunkering down, and probably rightly so, said Omar Amiralay, a well-known Syrian filmmaker whose documentaries are quietly critical of Assad’s one-family rule.

“If democracy brings such chaos in the region, and especially the destruction of society, as it did in Iraq and in Lebanon, it’s absolutely normal, and I think it’s absolutely a wise position from the people to be afraid to imagine how it would be in Syria,” Amiralay said. “I think that people at the end said, ‘Well, it is better to keep this government. We know them, and we don’t want to go to this civil war, and to live this apocalyptic image of change, with civil war and sectarianism and blood.’ ”
WP

U.S. Official: Syria Plans Campaign to Topple Saniora Through Aoun, Allies

A well-known U.S. official said Thursday that Syria was preparing an “intimidating political campaign” to overthrow Premier Fouad Saniora’s government through Gen. Michel Aoun and his allies.

An-Nahar said that other American executives have agreed with the official that any dialogue with Syria over the situation in Lebanon and in Iraq was “not possible now.”

The official said that the U.S. administration has turned down all requests for “talks with the Syrian government” made by non-governmental Syrian personalities as well as Lebanese and Americans “because we had held discussions with President Bashar Assad and his aides in the past but have reached a dead-end.”

He stated that the lack of trust in the Syrian regime “would make any dialogue in the near future useless.”
Naharnet

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October 26th, 2006, 11:28 am

 

18. norman said:

Some people learn from their mistakes ,some people learn from other people mistakes ,some people do not learn fromm their or other people mistakes ,thank god so far Syrians seem to learn from other p[eople,s mistakes.

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October 26th, 2006, 3:36 pm

 

19. t_desco said:

Interview with the Commander-in-Chief

Olmert believes in the same thing. … He starts to reach out to the Palestinians, the Jordanians, and others, and Hamas strikes; then Hezbollah strikes. This is a group of extremists who can’t stand the thought of democracy.

The reason I bring that up, it all fits together. These are people that are bound together by a common desire to spread their vision, a vision that at some point will clash — beginning to clash. Now the extremists and radicals have found great comfort with each other. But people are now beginning to really see the true culprit as Iran.

Iran empowered Hezbollah, Hezbollah takes the attack, and — which creates an interesting dynamic, and it gives us an opportunity to fashion kind of — an alliance of reasonable people headed toward a clash — all kinds of different ways, by the way — with extremists and radicals. I’m not necessarily speaking military. It makes it easier for us to isolate Iran in that the dynamics have changed. Hopefully, it will make it easier for us to be able to convince Syria to change, and/or isolate Syria.

Q If the Baker Commission comes back, recommending reaching out to Syria and Iran, would you be at all suspicious that that might not be a path to victory?

THE PRESIDENT: I am going to — I’ll answer that question after the Baker Commission comes back with their recommendation. (Laughter.)

Q … Instead of talking to Syria — can’t Syria get some payback for sending all these guys over the border to subvert Iraq? Can’t — shouldn’t Syria be getting subverted in return, in some way?

THE PRESIDENT: … Syria: My belief is that — if what you’re suggesting is we use the military, my attitude is, is that that ought to be the last option, not the middle option, or the first option. I believe — I know the President must be able to convince those whose loved ones will be in harm’s way that we tried alternatives prior to military action.

Syria needs to know that there are other people who are interested in isolating them economically than the United States, and we’re working toward that end, for example.

No question that Syria has got to understand that she’s got choices to make, the country does. I said today, and I’ve said often, that our interests in Syria, one, do not destabilize Seniora. The Seniora — bolstering, helping the Seniora government is in this country’s interests and it’s a priority. Why? Because we want young democracies that are fragile to take root in the Middle East.

Ultimately, the forms of government matter as to whether or not we have peace. I understand that stands in contrast to previous policy where people said forms of government didn’t matter. I think form of government does matter. …

Secondly, we want Syria to not be the headquarters for militant Hamas and Hezbollah, and obviously the Iraq issue — providing an avenue, to the extent they are, of money, material, and people.

What can we do? We can convince others that it’s in the world’s interests that Syria stop doing this and have them help us convince Syria. Diplomacy gets pretty complex until you get to the consequences. Then it gets really complex. And we are at the stage of formulating consequences. Most people now are beginning to understand. There was a moment of clarification when Hezbollah attacked Israel. It changed people’s perspective. It became abundantly clear to a lot of folks that Syria — and then I told you Iran — but Syria’s complicity with Iran is part of the problem.

Nations in the neighborhood now see that like they never have before. And we will work with them. I would hope that some people would support Syrian opposition leaders as a way to send a signal. Anyway, I spent a lot of time on this subject with allies including Prime Minister Blair. I worked with Jacques Chirac to get the resolution passed to get Syria out of Lebanon to begin with. That’s why it happened so quickly.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, that’s like saying, success is no violence. I’m not so sure how realistic that is. I also believe that this is going to take a while, and I know it’s necessary. I know it’s necessary. And people say, well, it’s because — you’re only trying to avoid failure. No, quite the contrary. I am trying to show success. It will affect Iran. A free Iraq will affect Iran. It will affect Syria. And that’s why when you say — and the problem with the President is, you then put it up — you put different decisions up based upon a two-year window based upon my presence in office, as opposed to conditions necessarily on the ground. So Krauthammer says, you got two years to take care of business, man. Yours is,your got two years to make this happen.

And one of the things we try to think about is how to institutionalize change so that certain things can’t be undone. I fully recognize that part of the problem we have in our democracy is that change of government can be disruptive to try to do big things. But we’ve managed it before. …
National Review

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October 26th, 2006, 4:38 pm

 

20. ausamaa said:

So revealing,

“So Krauthammer says, you got two years to take care of business, man. Yours is,your got two years to make this happen.” So says the President of the US. He has got two years to take care of business!and then. HE sure knows HIS gang (his party or just the neo-cons?)will be out within two years!

Such forsight! And a lot of people accuse him of not knowing what he talkes about and of failing to see reality. This proves how wrong they are.The guy sure as hell knows it all.

The problem is what else is Krauthammer -and others- are telling him…..and I sure hope it is not what I think it could be!!!

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October 26th, 2006, 8:23 pm

 

21. ivanka said:

The axis of moderates against the axis of extremists is a big illusion. Not even Egypt and KSA think creating the axis of moderates is a good thing. So this new axis, like all the old ones Bush talked about, is non existent on the ground. What Egypt and KSA want is to Stabilize Lebanon very quickly. They will both be making contacts with Hezbolla soon. What Qatar wants is to compete with KSA.

These are the three most important moderates – if we leave out Karazai who couldn’t make it! – and non of them are working to really isolate anyone.

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October 27th, 2006, 6:15 am

 

22. t_desco said:

Dissent Grows Over Silent Treatment for ‘Axis of Evil’ Nations

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 — Ever since President Bush first proclaimed there to be an “axis of evil” in 2002, pundits, diplomats and politicians have urged him to talk to its members. But in the last few weeks, with Iraq experiencing a further surge in violence, North Korea testing a nuclear device and Iran continuing to defy a United Nations Security Council demand to stop enriching uranium, the cries for dialogue have grown louder.

The question arises: Is any of this cutting ice with the administration?

Officially, the administration is sticking to form. President Bush said as much during a news conference on Wednesday, when he was asked, again, whether he would be willing to work with Iran and Syria if it was determined that they could help bring stability to Iraq, their neighbor.

His reply did not veer from the script, which basically withholds American dialogue with “axis of evil” members until they change their ways. “Iran and Syria understand full well that the world expects them to help Iraq,” Mr. Bush said.

But within the administration, things are a little more nuanced, Bush officials said. One administration official distilled the internal deliberations this way, “On Syria, there’s a very healthy debate about whether we should talk to them; on Iran, there is no debate internally.”

The American officials who agreed to speak about the internal discussions are all involved in that debate, with some opposed to any discussions with Iran, Syria and North Korea, and others saying that such talks should be considered.

Among those inside the administration who are urging more engagement with Damascus, most come from the State Department’s Near Eastern Affairs bureau, including Assistant Secretary C. David Welch, the officials said.

But, surprisingly, in recent months, the usually hawkish deputy national security adviser, J. D. Crouch, has been pushing for the administration to talk directly to Syria, officials say. “His style with the Syrians is that we need to be very strict with them,” one senior administration official said. “It’s not a friendly ‘Let’s go for coffee.’ More like, ‘Let’s directly deliver a very strong message to them.’ ”
NYT

This is not another Iran

We must work with Syria to secure peace in the Middle East – only this can break the deadlock

Richard Spring (Conservative MP)
Friday October 27, 2006

In 2004 I was with a group of parliamentarians in Aleppo, Syria’s second city. The Grand Mufti asked me to speak to his 1,500-strong congregation at Friday prayers. I did so without facing any apparent hostility. I cannot imagine this happening anywhere else in the Arab world. Syria’s acceptance of religious and ethnic diversity is extraordinary by international standards, let alone those of the Middle East.

Since the recent conflict in Lebanon, Syria has again called unsuccessfully for a dialogue with Israel. Repeated overtures to the US have been rejected and an economic boycott remains in place. However, there are those in Washington who now believe that ultimately business will have to be done. That is certainly the view of the professionals in the Foreign Office, who recognise that Syria needs to be brought into the loop, first to help contain Hizbullah and second to help achieve regional stability. Early in the summer, however, the Foreign Office prevented a group of MPs from travelling to meet their Syrian counterparts. The explanation was that this would offend our American and European friends. Incredibly, at the same time the Foreign Office positively encouraged an equivalent visit to Iran. It was beyond inconsistency, and reflects the continuing lack of a comprehensive, coherent view of how we deal with the region. Despite our exceptional historical links, our influence in the Middle East under Tony Blair has collapsed.
The Guardian

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October 27th, 2006, 11:47 am

 

23. t_desco said:

“The security clampdown comes after four separate attacks in the capital that targeted two ISF barracks in Verdun and Corniche el-Mazraa, a commercial building downtown and an affluent neighborhood in Ramlet el-Baida that houses the residences of the Saudi and UAE ambassadors to Lebanon.

The same security source said the “extensive ongoing-investigation” into the attacks have led to the arrest of three members of a Syrian-Palestinian-Lebanese terrorist group.

The detainees “have given valuable information and named other members of the criminal web who might have taken refuge in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in Beirut and Ain al-Hilweh in Sidon,” the source said.”
The Daily Star

“Syrian” = Syrian state? Or Syrian citizens?

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October 27th, 2006, 11:14 pm

 

24. Alex said:

“Syrian” = anything they decide it to be.

How reliable would you say these stories have been the past year or two?

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October 27th, 2006, 11:17 pm

 
 

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