Posted by Joshua on Sunday, July 6th, 2008
(Written and Posted by Qifa Nabki)
As long as the Syria-Israel talks remain veiled in secrecy, there will be plenty of speculation, rumor-mongering, and head-scratching on the subject of how President al-Assad will guide his country to a peace agreement while not relinquishing Syria's strategic alliances.
Former top Israeli diplomat reportedly says Syria ready to cut Iran ties
A former senior Israeli diplomat has asserted that Syria is willing to cut its close relations with Iran in return for financial and military backing from the United States, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
Alon Liel, a former director general of the foreign ministry, told the British newspaper that Syrian President Bashar Assad is increasingly open to a peace deal with Israel which would greatly weaken Iran's influence in the Middle East.The Sunday Telegraph reported that Liel, who has been engaged in low-key "second track" discussions with Syrian representatives for many months, has said the prospect of an agreement with Syria was growing, though a new U.S. president might be necessary before a deal could be finalized. [continue]
Syria says no direct contacts yet
Published: Saturday, 5 July, 2008, 01:22 AM Doha Time
PARIS: Syria’s foreign minister said yesterday it was premature to talk of direct peace negotiations with Israel, a day after the Jewish state called for face-to-face discussions to start soon.
A third round of indirect talks between the long-standing foes took place in Istanbul this week and ended with an agreement to hold a fourth round of negotiations in Turkey in late July, a Turkish government source said on Thursday.
“It’s premature to answer this question,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said when asked when direct talks could be held. He confirmed that both sides had agreed to hold a fourth round of indirect talks, but did not say where or when. [continue]
Iran, Syria ink telecommunications deal
Tehran Times Economic Desk
DAMASCUS – During the visit of Iran’s minister for Information and Communication Technology to Syria, the two sides signed an MOU on telecommunications.
The MOU was inked on the sidelines of the 4th International Information and Communications Security Assembly in Damascus.
The sides made agreement on reducing the roaming tariffs and increasing the telecommunications capacity to 120 channels from the current 60 channels.
The officials of the countries have also separately held talks with Iraq’s Ministry of Communications officials in a bid to create Iran-Syria direct link of optical fiber network via north of Iraq.
Syria tells UN: Israel burying nuclear waste in Golan Heights
By The Associated Press
Syria has complained to the United Nations about a series of alleged Israeli wrongdoings in the Golan Heights, including burying nuclear waste and discriminating against the region's Druze residents.
The complaint was made in a report Syria handed to a UN fact-finding committee comprised of Senegal, Sri Lanka and Malaysia's ambassadors.
The report came after Syria held a third round of indirect negotiations with Israel in Turkey last week. A Turkish government source said Thursday that both sides had agreed to hold a fourth round of indirect negotiations in Turkey in late July.
Syria listed in the report a number of alleged Israeli violations of the Golan's Druze inhabitants' human rights.
In addition the nuclear claim, Damascus charged that Israel confiscates the Israeli ID cards of Druze students who return from studies in Syria, and that residents of the Golan continue to serve prison terms in Israeli jails, some for dozens of years.
Karim Makdisi (of AUB) has an engaging piece in CounterPunch on the amusing subject:
On Soccer and Politics in Lebanon
By KARIM MAKDISI
Amidst the torturous negotiations to form a ‘national’ unity government in Lebanon—and the rhetoric employed by both March 14 and opposition members alike about building a strong ‘nation’ to bind all of Lebanon’s communities—Lebanon’s national soccer team recently completed the last of six qualification round matches for the 2010 World Cup. The results have been nothing short of disastrous, with consecutive ‘home’ and ‘away’ defeats to Saudi Arabia (1-4, 1-2), Uzbekistan (0-1, 0-3), and Singapore (1-2, 0-2), and fourteen goals conceded in the process. Far from being a trivial sporting matter, the manner of Lebanon’s defeats illustrates the Lebanese political class’s chronic lack of imagination and willful neglect of a genuine nation-building project that could transcend sectarian or clientalist considerations. [continue reading]