Posted by Joshua on Tuesday, October 31st, 2006
Ibrahim Hamidi gets the scoop again. He reports in al-Hayat that a high level envoy of Tony Blair — Nigel Sheinwald, Blair's chief foreign policy adviser — visited Damascus unannounced yesterday and met with President Asad and Syria's Foreign Minister. This is the first time in two years that such a high level British visit has been made to Damascus and signifies that one more European finger has been taken out of the dike built up to isolate Syria. The Spanish Foreign Minister is due back to Damascus in a few days.
Peter Ford, Britain's Ambassador to Syria is leaving and just met Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmad Arnous on Sunday for his official going away ceremony. The two expressed their "keenness to have relations between their two countries improve." I guess they must have been chortling over that one.
John Jenkins will be replacing Ford as Ambassador in December. He is presently serving as HM Consul General in Jerusalem. By all accounts he will make an excellent replacement and should have an easier time of it than his predecessor if Anglo-Syrian relations continue to improve.
Ambassador Bolton has gone on the rampage again, accusing Syria of trying to destabilize Lebanon's democratically elected government by smuggling arms into Lebanon. AP has the story.
France's Ambassador to the UN Jean-Marc de La Sabliere isn't buying Bolton's barrage. He said "we don't have at this stage evidence" of violations.
Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari told reporters his country was fully complying with the arms embargo and all U.N. resolutions. The Lebanese defense and foreign ministers and a Lebanese intelligence chief had denied reports of Syrian violations, he told Al-Arabiya television.
The opinion of a high level Saudi official
A friend conveyed the following assessment of a high level Saudi official. The official is very pessimistic re Syria and the Americans and Israel. Suffice to say, he believes the Americans want to squeeze the Syrian regime till there's regime change – using upcoming report on Hariri for starters – and won't allow the Israelis to talk to Syria. Khaddam and the NSF are seen by Americans as potential alternatives to regime, he says. He says he can't believe how stupid Americans have been in the region.
The new issue of Mideast Monitor is available
THE MIDEAST WAR
Hezbollah and the Political Ecology of Postwar Lebanon by Gary C. Gambill
Hezbollah's conflict with is Israel is fueled substantially by local political conditions in Lebanon.
Implications of the Israel-Hezbollah War
The outcome of the recent Israel-Hezbollah war may prove to be a stable equilibrium. Gary C. Gambill
Briefing: Lebanese Public Opinion
SYRIA Divided They Stand: The Syrian Opposition
Syrian President Bashar Assad's efforts to exploit ethnic, sectarian, and ideological divisions within the opposition have failed to obstruct its growing unity.
The Islamic Revival in Syria
In response to growing Islamist militancy in Syria, the Assad regime has incrementally abandoned the ruling Baath Party's longstanding secularizing mission and encouraged the growth of Islamist civil society loyal to the state.
Syrian-Saudi Media Wars
Tony BadranTensions between Riyadh and Damascus have led to a lopsided war of words in the media.
Dossier: Bushra Assad
Assad's older sister shuns the spotlight, but her political influence has been decisive at times.