“How Syria Decided to Participate at the Deputy F.M. Level,” by Hamidi

Ibrahim Hamidi explains "How Syria Decided to participate in at the Deputy F.M. Level

Here is a loose synopsis by JL: 

The decision only came after an intense series of phone calls between Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Moualem and the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, and Egypt, all of whom pressured Syria to participate. Calls from Iran's President pressured Syria not to go.

Syria decided to go but the question remained at what level – the Foreign Minister, Deputy F.M. or Ambassador Imad Moustapha.

In the end, the middle road was decided on. In part this was because Michael Corbin, the US Charge d'affaires in Damascus, supplied the government with a finalized Annapolis schedule that included under the title of the third Tuesday session – "Comprehensive Peace" – two subheadings were added. One for the Syrian track and a second for the Lebanon track. This was an important element to the decision because Syrians can claim that the Golan is on the schedule, which has been Damascus' consistent demand from the beginning. Syrian authorities claim that they will use any legitimate foreign venue to raise the issue of the Golan and press for the execution on international law concerning this issue.

كيف قررت سورية المشاركة في انابوليس على مستوى نائب وزير الخارجية؟

دمشق – إبراهيم حميدي     الحياة     – 26/11/07//

أكدت سورية أمس مشاركتها في المؤتمر الدولي للسلام الذي يعقد غداً في مدينة أنابوليس الأميركية، ممثلة بنائب وزير خارجيتها فيصل المقداد، بعدما تسلمت صباح أمس جدول أعمال المؤتمر الذي أشار إلى أن الجلسة المخصصة لمناقشة «السلام الشامل» تتضمن «المسار السوري».   

وقالت مصادر ديبلوماسية غربية لـ «الحياة» أمس إن قرار القيادة السورية المشاركة جاء بعد اتصالات مكثفة بين وزير الخارجية السوري وليد المعلم ووزراء الخارجية السعودي الأمير سعود الفيصل والإسباني ميغيل انخيل موراتينوس والتركي علي باباجان والمصري أحمد أبو الغيط والأمين العام للجامعة العربية عمرو موسى وزيارة السفيرين الفرنسي ميشل دوكلو والبريطاني سيمون كوليس مقر وزارة الخارجية.

وأكدت أن هذه الاتصالات انقسمت بين «حض سورية على الحضور على مستوى عالٍ، وبين مطالبة المعلم العمل لدى واشنطن لالتزامها ما وعدت به»، وهو وضع الجولان على جدول الأعمال. كما قام الرئيس الايراني محمود احمدي نجاد باتصاله هاتفيا بالرئيس بشار الاسد نجاد  الى عدم مشاركة سورية.

وبحسب المعلومات كانت هناك احتمالات عدة بينها ان تمثل سورية بالوزير المعلم او المقداد او السفير في واشنطن عماد مصطفى وصولا الى احتمال مقاطعة المؤتمر، قبل ان يتخذ القرار بالمشاركة على مستوى المقداد كـ"حل وسط" ولترك الخيارات مفتوحة. وجرت محاولات عدة أمس لترتيب سفر المقداد إلى واشنطن بعد إعداد الخطاب الذي سيلقيه. ومن المقرر أن يضم الوفد السفير مصطفى.

وعلمت «الحياة» أن القائم بالأعمال الأميركي مايكل كوربون اتصل مساء السبت بمدير المكاتب الخاصة في وزارة الخارجية بسام الصباغ ليبلغه شفويا بجدول الاعمال، الامر الذي اطلق سلسلة من الاتصالات العربية والغربية مع دمشق. ثم ثام كوربون  صباح الاحد بتسليم نسخة من جدول الأعمال الى الصباغ، أشارت إلى أن الجلسة الثالثة من أنابوليس المخصصة لـ «السلام الشامل» تتضمن مناقشة «المسار السوري» و «المسار اللبناني» و «التطبيع» في تعديل للمسودة الأولى للبرنامج التي كانت تنص على أنه «ستكون هناك فرصة (في الجلسة) لمناقشة الصلح مع إسرائيل وفرصة لسورية ولبنان للحديث» عن المفاوضات.

ورأت مصادر رسمية سورية أن «ما طلبناه جرت تلبيته». وقالت لـ «الحياة» إن دمشق «قالت أنها ستشارك في المؤتمر إذا أدرج المسار السوري، أي الجولان. وبعد اتصالات عربية ودولية وممارسة جهود من الاجتماع الوزاري العربي في القاهرة لبّى الجانب الاميركي ذلك ووضع عنوانا أساسياً في الجلسة الثالثة للمسار السوري». واعتبرت أن مستوى التمثيل السوري في المؤتمر «عالٍ جداً». وأشارت المصادر إلى ما يقال عن أن المؤتمر «سيكون نقطة انطلاق لعملية مقبلة، ونأمل في أن يكون الأمر كذلك. والأولوية بالنسبة للحكومة السورية، هي الجولان المحتل ما جعلنا نريد أن لا يغيب موضوعها عن أي محفل دولي. وهذا ما استطعنا فعله».

Comments (76)

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51. Observer said:

I agree with Ehsani2. Syria does not give a damn about the return of the Golan per se. The regime survived without the Golan since 1967 and would continue to do so even if it means that the Golan is not liberated for another 30 years. As I see this conference, it is the meeting of the desperates: the desperate KAS that has no coherent foreign policy and that is driven by fear and only fear; the irrelevance of Egypt; and the insignificance of Jordan. The cover for the meeting is the Israeli Palestinian track while the inside discussions are all about the most important non invited guest: Iran. I am willing to be surprised but I would predict that if Syria is to be wooed away from Teheran, the Golan will only be a small price to pay. I suspect Syria will ask for a lot more including a friendly regime in Lebanon. Syria has everything to gain from going to Annapolis: it shows that the Golan should be on the agenda, it shows that occupation should end without compromise, it will keep the soft Arab regimes from melting like ice cream on the floor, and it may become a link between Iran and the US. I am most certain the Iranians would have wanted Syria to go as they are sure that the offer at hand will not woo Syria away and that the position of the administration would be further confused on how to present the Iran Syria axis as all-evil and anti peace.

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November 27th, 2007, 3:18 am


52. Enlightened said:

Question For All!

What has previous regional conferences taught us that this Annapolis conference will succeed?

To me this is just one gigantic smokescreen, attempting to provide a solid front against Iran. Forget the Palestinian/Israeli issue both sides are as far apart as they have ever been. This will not be resolved quickly, neither will Bush’s support for a Palestinian State make one iota of difference, America has neither the will or the clout to end the conflict.

What concerns me about this whole process, is that this whole conflict can be ended in six months if there is the political will to do so. Sadly this is not the case. There are too many competing interests at stake from both sides of the fence. 60 years of perpetual conflict! I wonder what the next 60 years will do?

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November 27th, 2007, 4:04 am


53. Enlightened said:


I admire your courage under fire, how you remain calm under constant provocation bewilders me sometimes, just to let you know of a old saying in Australia “Class is permanent, form is temporary”

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November 27th, 2007, 4:06 am


54. offended said:


The above article suggests that an immense pressure had been exerted on Syria to attend the conference (Spain, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia….). Do you think that a party that has been pressured/coaxed/cajoled/bullied this much into attending, would be a significant or insignificant one?

And by the way, spare us your pontification about how un-democratic and ruthless the Syrian regime is, because:
1- This is none of your business.
2- Syria is essential and significant player in the region, regardless or who’s ruling it!

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November 27th, 2007, 5:28 am


55. ausamaa said:

Has to occured to some of the “hopefull” soles above that Syria IS coordinating it moves in full with its allies all around?

Why underestimate Syrian policy, and why day-dream about things that may suite certain sides but which are not going to happen anytime soon?

Only to be “dissapointed” again as usual?!!

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November 27th, 2007, 6:06 am


56. Alex said:

Thanks Enlightened … it is not difficult … as long as you have exceptionally low expectations… this makes it possible to have a dialog with someone like our dear Syria’s Robin Hood.

This conference started as the administration’s answer to the baker report … ignoring the “we must talk to Syria and Iran” part, instead trying to look like the administration is doing something about the Palestinian problem … which the Baker-Hamilton report said was the root of America’s problems in Iraq.

The conference’s timing became tied to the Lebanese elections … to make Syria deliver the Lebanese presidency to the Americans and Saudis in exchange for being invited to the conference (and not much more)

Annapolis also gives the impression that the “coalition of the Arab moderates” is taking positive action … because previously, all they did was to support America’s war in Iraq and Israeli’s war in Lebanon … which made them so unpopular in the “Arab street”… they needed to do something about the popularity of Nasrallah and his allies in Damascus and Tehran… that was then … when the conference was announced.

By now … Saudi Arabia does not feel the same Nasralah popular pressure … things calmed down a lot in “the Arab street”. Iraq is relatively calm .. so the American administration also lost its original incentive to sponsor such a conference.

What we are left with is Condy Rice trying hard to help save this administration’s legacy… President Bush is undecided between her approach and that of the Vice president.

But who knows what to expect … everything is possible.

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November 27th, 2007, 6:47 am


57. SimoHurtta said:

For example he says about Israel’s recent bombing: “They claimed to have targeted a Syrian radar post, with help of the United States.”

This is an outright lie. All the rest of his article is third rate Baathist propoganda with a weird view of history. If this is what you can dig up to support your view, you are in trouble.

AIG is complaining that Sami Moubayed is wrong by this Israel hitting a Syrian radar station. The last Aviation Week’s article however mentions that the attack against started with and attack against a radar station located at Tall al-Abuad on Turkish border.

When Haaretz published an article based on this latest Aviation Week story, with the radar station information, I put there a comment: Doesn’t it mean if the attack against Syria started with neutralizing a radar station on Turkish border, that the Israeli planes attacked from the Turkish side, not flying cross most of Syria as reported before. It would make more military sense than that the Israeli planes fly first cross Syria, destroy the radar station and then vanish in the Turkish airspace. After neutralizing the Syrian radar capacity there would be no need for that. Strangely Haaretz never did let my comment to appear, but allowed the normal kick-Arab-ass comments.

If the Israeli planes attacked the radar station from Turkey, which would make more military sense, than flying first hundreds of kilometres in Syrian airspace, opens room for new speculations. The Turkish army certainly must then have had prior knowledge of the operation.

Amusingly now the Israeli “experts” are retreating from the nuclear ractor story. Now the “nuclear reactor” is a nuclear bomb-assembly plant. Naturally the Israeli expert doesn’t much bother to explain of what parts the nuclear bombs are assembled and from where did the parts come. If North Koreans provided the nuclear stuff, why then they did not bring along a ready bomb? This new theory makes even less sense that the “nuclear reactor” story.

AIG the one who should check his own facts before accusing others to be liars is you yourself.

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November 27th, 2007, 10:47 am


58. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Moubayed does not claim Israel hit a radar site. He claims that Israel says it hit a radar site. That is obviously false and that is why Moubayed is a liar.

And the Jeruslaem Post quotes ONE expert that says he believes that it is a nuclear bomb assembly plant and you interpret it as all Israeli experts and American ones changing their opinion. Oh well. We are used to your generalizations by now.

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November 27th, 2007, 11:32 am


60. Gullgamish said:

I am Testing my participation and comment here for the first time! No where in the Arabic reported article did I read that Syria was “pressured” and as many who lived in Syria and the Arab world know, Syria will only “trade” and bargain with issues, and is rarely “pressured” without resiliently fighting back!

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November 27th, 2007, 11:50 am


61. offended said:

Seeing the schedule, it turns out that there is a session for the Syrian-Israeli track.

What do you think would the core subject of the discussion?

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November 27th, 2007, 12:28 pm


62. SimoHurtta said:

Moubayed does not claim Israel hit a radar site. He claims that Israel says it hit a radar site. That is obviously false and that is why Moubayed is a liar.

Well AIG you are amusing as normal. From where do you think Aviation Week did get their knowledge about the details of the attack? From Syrian or Israeli intelligence and military experts?

You AIG have frequently claimed that Israel had hit a nuclear reactor in Syria. Has Israel ever said that? So why are you a liar. 🙂

Israel has officially not told much about the attack against Syria. I suppose the only official announcement related to the attack is the amusing apology to the Turkish government.

To your amusing generalization “talk”, in a previous comment you said

It is good to see in real time the processes of denial that have led the Arabs to so many mistakes over the last 60 years. I

Why are you a racist AIG? Some Arabs have made mistakes not all. I am now very, very angry AIG (even if I am not an Arab). Stop AIG using that anti-Semitic rhetoric and making stupid generalizations. 🙂

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November 27th, 2007, 1:28 pm


63. norman said:

Syria wants peace and is willing to have it’s own forign policy to acheive it ,

Report: Iran caught by surprise by Syria’s decision to attend Annapolis summit

The Associated Press
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
TEHRAN, Iran: Iran was caught by surprise when Syria decided to participate in a U.S.-sponsored Mideast summit, an adviser to the country’s supreme leader said in an interview published Tuesday. Syria took the unusual step of publicly defending its decision to attend.

Several Iranian officials and media also condemned the conference Tuesday and urged Arab countries not to compromise with the Israelis. But Syrian state-run media said the country hoped the conference could bring real peace to the region.

Syria is attending the conference “because peace is its choice and because it has made strides in previous negotiations to achieve it,” the daily Tishrin said in the editorial Tuesday.

Iran’s public criticism and Syria’s statement seemed to indicate at least some tension between the two allies over the issue, although it was unclear how serious the tension is.

Hossein Shariatmadari, an adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told a pan-Arab daily based in London, Asharq Al-Awsat, that Iran, an ally of Damascus, was surprised by Syria’s decision to take part in the Annapolis, Maryland meeting. The conference aims at trying to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

“We were surprised by the Syrian position, and we said that we do not support the conference. We expressed our opinion clearly and openly,” Shariatmadari told the paper, adding that the conference was a “a plot against the Palestinians.”

Syria previously has said it decided to send its deputy foreign minister, Faysal Mekdad, to the summit only after the issue of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights was added to the agenda.

Iran has been sharply critical of the conference, saying it was doomed to fail. But Shariatmadari’s comments were the first from Iran that explicitly mention Syria’s decision to participate.

U.S. officials are hoping Annapolis could mark a start to moving Syria out of its alliance with Iran and the Hamas and Hezbollah militant groups. But Syria has been cautious though so far, sending Mekdad instead of the country’s top diplomat as other Arab countries have done.

On Monday, dozens of hard-line Iranian students gathered in front of the Jordanian Embassy in Tehran to protest the summit after Khamenei said in a speech broadcast on state TV that the summit was a failure meant to salvage America’s reputation and not designed to help the Palestinians.

“Those who recognize Israel commit treason against Muslims and Palestinians,” the protesters said in a statement in an apparent reference to Arab leaders who attended the conference.

On Tuesday, Iranian government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham called on Arab and Muslim countries not to compromise with Israel at the Annapolis summit.

“Compromise in Annapolis will have no result except discrediting. It will damage the reputation of the U.S and its supporters,” Elham was quoted as saying by the official news agency, IRNA. He said Iran might host a conference of Palestinian groups soon.

The official Iran daily newspaper also condemned the conference.

“Will Arab leaders be ready to compromise over rights of Palestinian nation against Palestinians?” Iran said in an editorial. “The Annapolis conference is nothing more than a ridiculous intervention maneuver in and inter-Palestinian dispute.”

Elham also urged Muslim countries not to show their support for the Jewish state.

“Regarding our brotherhood relations with Islamic countries, such as Saudi Arabia, we are not interested in these countries standing next to the U.S. and Israel,” IRNA quoted Elham as saying.

Nearly 50 nations and organizations are set to attend the summit to relaunch the long stalled Middle East peace process. Iran is not among the invitees.



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Copyright © 2007 The International Herald Tribune | http://www.iht.com

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November 27th, 2007, 1:57 pm


64. Qifa Nabki said:

How funny would it be if the conference was a huge success?

George and Condi actually emerge as the architects of a comprehensive and lasting peace… In one fell swoop, a whole series of agreements are reached, one leading fluidly to the next like a clicking train of dominoes… Candid video shots of Syrian, Palestinian, and Israeli representatives weeping on each others’ shoulders in happiness… A beaming Nasrallah appears on al-Manar congratulating the Arab delegates and announcing that Hizbullah will begin imminent disarmament… Ahmadinejad tries to appear on Iranian state TV but trips on a microphone cable on his way to the sound stage and bumps his head, falls into a coma, and then awakens six months later to find that Iraq is peaceful, a Palestinian state exists with East Jerusalem as its capital, and that Iran is a pro-Western constitutional monarchy once again…

Ahhh… wouldn’t that be lovely?

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November 27th, 2007, 2:34 pm


65. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

So you know the Israelis told aviation week or are you just assuming? And what the Israelis told aviation week according to you is that a radar site and a nuclear site were hit. So again according to your logic Moubayed is a liar.

And I based my conclusions that a nuclear site was hit not on what the Israelis said, because they didn’t say anything (therefore Moubayed is a liar), but based on the sattelite photos, the lack of international condemnation, the risk Israek was willing to take and the cleaning of the site. I have explained my position many times that based on the totality of the evidence, I believe it was a nuclear site and not based on what the Israelis said (because they said nothing).

And thank you for pointing out that my statement could be understood as a generalization. I apologize to anybody this may have offended. It should read: It is good to see in real time the processes of denial that have led Arab regimes to so many mistakes over the last 60 years.

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November 27th, 2007, 2:51 pm


66. norman said:

It seems not all israelis as hostle as AIG,

Peres: Israel keeps in touch with Syria

http://www.chinaview.cn 2007-11-27 23:20:08 Print

JERUSALEM, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) — Israeli President Shimon Peres said Tuesday that Israel maintains contact with Syria and transfers messages both overtly and covertly, local media reported.

“We are conducting contacts, some of them ‘under the rug.'” Peres was quoted by Army Radio as saying in the Negev town of Yeruham, “The Syrian, however, must solve two problems. One, the problem of Lebanon becoming a satellite state of Iran, and the other, the permission given to Haled Mashaal to remain in its territory.”

“If Syria wants to negotiate with us, this is not a good way to start. It is, however, good that they came (to Annapolis) and the fact that the Saudis arrived is also important.” he added.

Regarding the U.S.-sponsored Annapolis summit, attended by representatives from some 40 countries in efforts to relaunch dormant peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the president said it was an important step in the peace process.

“The conference certainly has potential, and in the meantime, until we see all its results, it was certainly a good start from which to progress to something of importance,” he was quoted.

Peres pointed to the participation of Arab countries in the conference as an especially positive sign, “and it is not important who is shaking hands and who is not.”

The president also regarded Washington’s participation in the peace process positively, saying “I think that now all sides are interested in not wasting time or potential opportunities. Each one aspires to reach peace. I think this is common to all sides.”

Editor: Mu Xuequan

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November 27th, 2007, 3:54 pm


67. Friend in America said:

The Wall Street Journal Article: Syria’s decision to attend the Annapolis Conference was controversial in Washington as well a Damascus. Just as the “old guard” advocated boycotting the Conference, there were some in Washington that argued Syria would bring more roadblocks than solutions. This article reflects those concerns. What happened, however, is Secretary Rice and others prevailed (the leadership in Washington is not the leadership of 2002) and the foreign policy leaders in Damascus pervailed, but had to get assurance that Golan would be on the agenda in order to allay the suspicions of the old guard. This is part of decision making and I am not surprised, nor should any group in either capital be criticised for advocating its beliefs and fears.

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November 27th, 2007, 4:26 pm


68. norman said:

برامرتز يحدد أربعة أشخاص متورطين في الاغتيال يكشف عنهم بعد مؤتمر أنابوليس

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November 27th, 2007, 4:38 pm


69. Friend in America said:

Annapolis is about 60 miles east of Washington, DC. The Naval Academy is located there. So is the capital of the State of Maryland. The Chesapeake Bay is about 75 miles north and south and is a lovely area for boating, so it is one of the fine sailing centers in North America. Years ago I was at the naval academy for sailboat races and during a practice day I ran aground (the Chesapeake is shallow) and had to be pulled off by a naval academy boat. I and my crew were put ashore until the first race. Very embarrasshing for a 17 year old.
I have been told each participating country will have a separate hotel, if requested. The entire building will be searched for listening devices by the security employees of both countries working together, each country selects the menus for every day and some bring chefs to work with the host hotel chefs. The meetings are being held at the conference center.

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November 27th, 2007, 4:41 pm


70. Observer said:

From Augustus Norton blog this is an interesting piece on the state department notice to its employees around the world on what the Annapolis “meeting” ( downgraded from a “conference” ) is supposed to mean

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November 27th, 2007, 5:13 pm


71. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Does anyone want to argue that the Golan was on the agenda? Neither Bush nor Olmert mentioned it or Syria. Bush did mention Lebanon and the US committment to it in detail. Abu Mazen mentioned it in one sentence when talking about the Arab peace plan.

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November 27th, 2007, 5:51 pm


72. Akbar Palace said:

Back from my lunchbreak demonstrating in Annapolis.

I have to admit, it was pretty quiet.

I guess it will be a while until Jews demonstrate like Gazans.

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November 27th, 2007, 6:07 pm


73. Atassi said:

What are you exactly demonstrating !! Why would you be demonstrating !!! Greedy and Cowered peoples like yourself, makes me wonder why I should be moderate….

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November 27th, 2007, 6:24 pm


74. Akbar Palace said:


As I already mentioned to the forum, I was demonstrating in SUPPORT of Bush and the peace conference.

My poster read: “Bush was Right”, “CONFRONT terrorism, don’t reward it”

Unlike most of the posters here and unlike most of the demonstrators in Annapolis, I am FOR a 2 state solution.

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November 27th, 2007, 7:51 pm


75. ausamaa said:

AP SAYS: My poster read: “Bush was Right”, “CONFRONT terrorism, don’t reward it”

But do you really think that Bush is serious about Confronting and Rewarding trerrorisem? Heck, AIPAC would be up in arms against him if he even “thinks” about reducing Cluster Bombs supplies to Israrel, let alone “confronting” Israel’s terrorism!

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November 28th, 2007, 11:01 am


76. eamonn said:

I think Syria’S attendance at Annapolis was set sometime before the Israeli raid on Deir Ezzor, which was obviously exploited as best as can be by the media. this might have served to alleviate the shock following a seemingly changed American policy in the region. Now, if we go back to all previous Republican adminstrations, this is the time of harvest which needs to be quickly used before Democratic adminstration takes power (especially after visits to Syria By two prominent Democrats, Nancy Pelosy and Bill Nelson). This actually closed the door on Democrats and allowed Republicans the necessary tools to bargain on iraq. The democrats were possibly open to talks with Syria, but they were never at any time ready to renegotiate Lebanon. Senator Nelson, for example, made it clear in a speech before the Washington Institute for Middle East policy that he made certain his visit to Syria would never be interpreted in way that would undermine the Signiora Government. The rush transcript of that paper was a crucial part of what Senator Tom Lantos presented to the congress. At that stage, no one in America was ready to renegotiate Lebanon, it only happened later when the Republicans felt the mounting pressures to reassess the war in Iraq, which made the prospect of another war in the region obsolete. But this is only temporary, and Ghadiry was recently visiting Richard Pearle to revist the (clean break) policy.

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December 5th, 2007, 1:14 pm


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