Posted by Joshua on Tuesday, March 24th, 2009
Jordan’s King Abdullah and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad held talks in Amman on Friday, part of a flurry of diplomatic moves to close Arab ranks ahead of a summit later this month in Qatar, officials said.
A palace statement said the talks between the two leaders focused on “efforts to crystallise a joint Arab stance to confront the common challenges facing and developments in the region.”
Conservative Arab states led by Saudi Arabia are mending ties with Syria to restore a semblance of Arab harmony before the Doha summit later this month.
This was Assad’s first visit to Jordan since 2005 and it followed the Syrian president’s meeting last week with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Kuwait.
ISRIA: President al-Assad and King Abdullah II underlined the importance of intensifying efforts in order to realize the Palestinian reconciliation in the interests of the Palestinian people.
It should be noted that the Jordanian Premier Nader al-Dahabi paid a visit to Damascus last November during which the emphasis was made on pushing the economic integration process forward and handling any administrative difficulties or obstacles facing it and activating the role of businessmen, Chambers of Commerce and Industry in a way that leads to increasing the volume of trade exchange and launching joint investment projects.
King Abdullah stressed Jordan’s support for Egypt’s efforts to achieve Palestinian reconciliation, compelled by Palestinian and pan-Arab interests.
Mark Lynch explains why the Doha summit may fail like the summits before it: “Another Arab summit hits the skids.
The Arab Summit slated to be held in Doha on March 29-30 had been shaping up to be a pivotal moment in Arab reconciliation, bridging the sharp divisions between the ‘moderate’ and ‘resistance’ camps and consolidating rapprochements between Saudi Arabia and Egypt on the one hand and Syria and Qatar and the other. The idea seemed to be that the Arab states would arrive at Doha with a united Arab front, a Palestinian national unity government, and a renewed Arab peace initiative. But it has been running into some pretty heavy turbulence and now may have quite the opposite effect. As I’ve noted in some earlier posts, the Palestinian reconciliation part isn’t going so well….
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria has appointed its first ambassador to Lebanon and Lebanese President Michel Suleiman accepted his diplomatic accreditation Tuesday, according to a statement from the Lebanese presidency.
The Lebanese presidency named the diplomat as Ali Abdul Karim Ali. Lebanon last week opened its first embassy in Damascus and has named its ambassador as Michel Khoury. Syria had opened its Beirut embassy last year….
Establishment of formal relations had been a central demand of anti-Syrian Lebanese factions that won an election in 2005 following the Hariri killing and the withdrawal of Syrian troops who had first entered Lebanon in 1976.
The United States and France had led pressure on Syria to establish formal ties with Lebanon. Syria had resisted the move, citing the countries’ shared history and close ties. Syria and Lebanon were carved out of the Ottoman Empire by imperial powers France and Britain in the 20th century.
Syria has yet to meet international demands to formally demarcate its border with Lebanon.
Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu won Labor chief Ehud Barak’s agreement on Tuesday to a political partnership that could help Israel’s next government avoid friction with Washington on Middle East peace.
Under the coalition deal with Barak, an administration led by Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud would respect all of Israel’s international agreements, a Labor Party negotiator said, a formula that includes accords envisaging Palestinian statehood.
Netanyahu has shied away from declaring support for a two-state solution that is at the heart of U.S. peace efforts. Indirect acceptance of that goal might keep him off a possible collision course with President Barack Obama…..
With center-left Labor in his corner, Netanyahu would have a ruling majority of 66 seats in the 120-member parliament, a margin he could still widen before an April 3 deadline to form a government following Israel’s February 10 election…..
Monday, Netanyahu sealed a coalition deal with the Orthodox Jewish Shas party. He had already signed up the Yisrael Beitenu party led by ultranationalist Avigdor Lieberman.
Syria: Al-Moallem: Syria Will Spare no Effort to Complete the Arab Reconciliation to be Comprehensive:
Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem has said that Syria’s efforts, through presiding the Arab Summit, has not stopped one day seeking to achieve Arab solidarity in order to confront the risks facing the Arab nation, pointing out that the title of Damascus summit was the “Summit of Arab Solidarity.”
In an interview Saturday evening with al-Jazeera TV satellite channel, al-Moallem underlined that President Bashar al-Assad has led the Syrian diplomacy throughout this period to get to where we are regarding the Arab reconciliation and in preparation for a successful Arab summit in Doha to be an important opportunity onthe way of the joint Arab action.
He stressed that Syria wants the summit to be a summit of Arab reconciliation to challenge and face up to the Israeli aggression as well as a summit of a new regional security.
The foreign minister pointed out that “Syria does not change its convictions. It is a front-line country and in a state of war with Israel, and its territories are occupied, so it is natural to seek to acquire factors of strength, and at the same time it believes that peace can not be achieved by political work only, but through supporting the resistance, which is a legitimate right to all peoples.”
“Syria will spare no effort to complete the reconciliation in order to be comprehensive, and Arab differences should be managed by mature and objective scientific thinking in order to avoid rupture,” he added.
He indicated that the Arab positive atmosphere has not been completed yet, and it is at the beginning of the right road to complete the reconciliation, adding that inter-Arab differences should be managed by a mature, objective and academic thinking to avoid alienation.
On the Syrian-Saudi relations, the Foreign Minister said when Syria found that the opportunity was proper for the initiative of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia at the summit of Kuwait, it didn’t hesitate to activate it where the quartet summit in Riyadh was held, adding that the efforts will be completed to build reconciliation on firm basis of clear understanding of main goals of the Arab strategy.
The minister said the Palestinian issue is ranked the first on the Arab priorities, and Arab leaders unanimously agree on the stability and unity of Iraq’s people and lands and its Arab identity as an important part of the Arab nation.
The foreign minister said that Syria stands at an equal distance from all Palestinian resistance groups and the Palestinian Authority, encourages and calls for Palestinian national reconciliation and for those groups to be part of the Palestine Liberation Organization and to reach a Palestinian national unity government.
He added that if there is no resistance, then no body will think of something called political solution.
“Syria does not impose any decisions on the Palestinian side…. whoever accuses Syria that it influences the directions of the resistance factions can ask them about that… we adopt a positive approach towards them and we stand at one equal distance from them,” he said, hoping the inter-Palestinian dialogue would reach its sought-for results to safeguard the Palestinian people’s issue.
The foreign minister stressed that the Syrian people’s support for the steadfastness and resistance of the Palestinian people in Gaza was clear, as Syria embraced the resistance and was in continuous communication with it to strengthen its steadfastness. Syria did all of what was asked from it.
The minister pointed out to the position of the Turkish people in support of the Palestinian people, adding that Syria offered all needed facilities to Turkish assistance to reach Gaza Strip.
Regarding Lebanon, al-Moallem said that “we support the stability of Lebanon and the holding of the elections on time and in a safe and transparent way. Without the Lebanese national consensus, there would be no stability in Lebanon. There is a significant difference between the intervention and having friends standing by your side regarding your political position and vision of things… No one can cancel that.”
He saw that U.S. President Barack Obama’s statements pertaining Iran as a first step in the right direction.” We must wait to see how they will be carried out on the ground by practical steps.”
He pointed out that Iran is an Islamic state in the region neighboring the Arab countries, adding that Syria has established an excellent relationship with it based on the mutual respect.
He called on the United States to abandon all practices of the previous U.S. administration where the world, during the President George W. Bush administration, had faced many difficulties on all levels… Whoever reads the achievements of the US previous administration in eight years will find a continuous chain of wrong practices which did not bring security and stability to the world, so what any new administration must learn is that this policy was wrong and has to pursue a new policy that must be practiced on the ground.
On the Syrian-American relations and whether there are American conditions for these relations, al-Moallem pointed out that if there were conditions, then the dialogue between Syria and the United States would have faced from the beginning the same results it had already faced Former US. Secretary of State Colin Powell’s mission in 2003.
He added that the Americans have realized that Syria can not be dictated by conditions and doesn’t meet anybody’s demand ,but it looks to its interests and to the interests of the others and to where the interests meet. ANd when interests clash, then Syria would explain its point of view without abandoning its interests.
Regarding his meeting with Jeffrey Feltman, the Minister said Feltman is no longer the U.S. ambassador in Lebanon, but has become responsible for the Middle East Department and he represents a new U.S. administration’s policy. He had not come to Syria carrying demands or preconditions, but for taking the first step in the right direction in an open dialogue, adding that ” Syria wants America to separate between our bilateral relations and Syria’ points of view regarding the Middle East issues from Iraq to the Arab-Israeli conflict, combating international terrorism in addition to several issues. Syria is looking forward to normal relations with the United States.”
The foreign minister pointed out to the existence of meeting points in the interests of both countries such as security and stability of Iraq and its land and people’s unity, its independence and support of President Barack Obama’s decision to withdraw from Iraq, and for the establishment of the Iraqi national reconciliation and the Arab identity of Iraq.
Al-Moallem said Iraq needs its Arab brothers in this juncture stage with the start of the withdrawal of U.S. troops, and it is important that there should be Arab presence and interaction with Iraq,
About the expectations with regard to the forthcoming Israeli government, al-Moallem said: “There is no difference among all Israeli governments…The government of Ehud Olmert has yielded two aggressions against Lebanon and Gaza Strip and perpetrated most heinous war crimes…It is a government described by some in the west as moderate”
He pointed out that the leaning in Israel is to the right, and Syria has no concerns in this framework as it tested all the Israeli governments which put on the mask of peace while waging wars and aggressions on the ground…..
Gul Is First Turk to Call North Iraq ‘Kurdistan,’ Hurriyet Says
(Reuters) – Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul urged the prime minister of Iraq’s largely autonomous Kurdistan region on Tuesday to “take a clear position” against Kurdish separatist rebels using Iraq as a base to attack Turkey.
Gul met Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani for talks in Baghdad, the first time a Turkish leader has agreed to meet formally an official from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which has enjoyed de facto autonomy from Iraq since 1991.
Turkey accuses the KRG of not doing enough to crack down on rebels from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which operate out of northern Iraq to launch attacks on southeastern Turkey.
“I told him (Barzani) explicitly that the PKK terrorist organisation and their camps are … in your region (and) you need to take a clear position against them,” Gul told journalists after meeting Barzani.
“Once the PKK is eliminated there are no bounds to what is possible: you are our neighbours and kinsmen.”
Gul’s trip to Iraq was the first by a Turkish head of state for 33 years. Ties have been strained between Baghdad and Ankara over the PKK but a visit to Iraq by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan last year began a significant thaw in relations.
Syria and Kurds: “The Kurds of Iraq in the first half of next month will organize a national conference in Irbil. All Kurdish political parties, maybe among them the PKK itself, will participate in this conference,” Shoresh says.
“The aim of this conference is to reach a common understanding among the Kurds of Turkey, Iraq, and Iran, and Syria about how they can reach their national rights in the Middle East by peaceful means,” he adds.
Military operations have regularly spilled into northern Iraq, where Ankara says some 2,000 PKK militants maintain bases. Turkey has accepted the participation of KRG representatives in the three-country commission trying to disarm the PKK.