Posted by Joshua on Tuesday, August 26th, 2008
|www.chinaview.cn 2008-08-26 04:17:56|
by Jia Xiaohua
DAMASCUS, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) — French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner paid a short visit to Syria on Monday in preparation for an upcoming visit of French President Nicholas Sarkozy early next month.
During his hours stay, Kouchner held talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Muallem on a wide range of issues, particularly those in Lebanon, Iran and Iraq, in addition to bilateral relations.
According to the official SANA news agency, Assad underlined in his meeting with Kouchner the importance of adopting dialogue and diplomacy as the only way to solve conflicts, stressing that ending the Israeli occupation of the Arab lands is the guarantee for achieving permanent peace and security in the Middle East.
Kouchner told Assad that France, as rotating head of the European Union, wants Europe to play its role and assume responsibly in the Middle East.
At a joint press conference with Muallem following the talks, Kouchner reasserted that his country is willing to play a role in pushing forward peace process between Israel and Syria.
It was good that Syria and Israel were conducting indirect peace talks through a Turkish mediation, Kouchner said.
Meanwhile, Muallem said it is not time to go into direct talks with the Jewish state, saying "there has not been enough progress" for direct negotiation.
"But we feel that both sides are serious about solving the pending issues that are being discussed. Foremost is determination of the June 4, 1967 line," Muallem said, in the first official comment of the content of the talks.
On the Lebanese file, Kouchner said he had expressed concerns to Assad about the conflicts in the city of Tripoli in northern Lebanon, where dozens of people were killed in deadly sectarian clashes.
He also expressed happiness that Syria and Lebanon would exchange ambassadors before the end of the year.
Kouchner, who just wrapped up a visit to neighboring Lebanon, said in Beirut that he would tell Syrian officials during his stay in Syria that "the future relations between France and Syria highly depends on the nature of Lebanese-Syrian ties."
DAMASCUS, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad underlined on Monday the importance of adopting dialogue and diplomacy as the only way to solve conflicts, the official SANA news agency reported.
Assad made the remarks while meeting with visiting French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, stressing that ending the Israeli occupation of the Arab lands is the guarantee for achieving permanent peace and security in the Middle East. ….
Syria-Israel talks focused on border: Moualem
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis | August 25, 2008
DAMASCUS (Reuters) – Indirect peace talks between Syria and Israel are focused on the thorny issue of how much Syrian territory is under Israeli occupation, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said on Monday.
In the first official comment on the content of the talks, which began in May under Turkish mediation, Moualem said the two sides were seeking agreement on land Syria controlled before Israel occupied the Golan Heights in the 1967 Middle East war.
“We feel that the two sides are serious about solving the lingering issues that are being discussed. Foremost is determination of the June 4, 1967 line,” Moualem told reporters after meeting his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner.
Nearly a decade of U.S.-supervised negotiations between Syria and Israel collapsed in 2000 over the extent of a proposed Israeli withdrawal from the Golan, a water-rich plateau.
Syria argued then that it was in control before the 1967 war of parts of the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, on the edge of the Golan, and that these parts should be returned to Syria.
Jumblatt: "… Israel will fail if it aggresses Lebanon… (Thanks to "friday-lunch-club")
Obama as quoted n Haaretz, here: (Thanks to "friday-lunch-club")
"My job as president would be to try to make sure that we are tightening the screws diplomatically on Iran, that we've mobilized the world community to go after Iran's program in a serious way, to get sanctions in place so that Iran starts making a difficult calculation," Obama said in response to a voter question at a campaign event in Iowa. "We've got to do that before Israel feels like its back is to the wall," he said. .."
Maliki insists that there will be "no security agreement between the United States and Iraq without an unconditional timetable for withdrawal". … in McClatchy's, here.
"…..Maliki said that the United States and Iraq had agreed that all foreign troops would be off Iraqi soil by the end of 2011. "There is an agreement actually reached, reached between the two parties on a fixed date, which is the end of 2011, to end any foreign presence on Iraqi soil," Maliki said. But the White House disputed Maliki's statement and made clear the two countries are still at odds over the terms of a U.S. withdrawal…."
Maliki Demands All U.S. Troops Pull Out by 2011: BAGHDAD, Aug. 25 — Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki demanded a complete U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq by 2011 as he embarked Monday on an attempt to win support among Iraqi leaders for a draft security accord with the United States.
(By Amit R. Paley, The Washington Post)
Analysis: Shifting Middle East alliances
By Claude Salhani
Aug. 25 (UPI) —
Alliances in the Greater Middle East are written in sand, not stone, and as the winds blow and the sands shift, so do alliances. Today the prevailing wind appears to be blowing from Moscow.
Russia's aggressive response in Georgia has unleashed what Joshua Landis, co-director of the Center for Middle East Studies and a specialist on Syrian affairs at the University of Oklahoma, calls "a tectonic shift in the region." "It has emboldened Syria, Hezbollah and Iran to push harder against Israel and the U.S. in an attempt to capitalize on recent setbacks in the Balkans, Lebanon and Afghanistan," Landis writes on his Syria Comment blog at www.joshualandis.com/blog.…
One of the first "casualties" of Russia's muscle-flexing will be a drastic shift of alliances in the Caucasus/Greater Middle East region…. the United States might find it serves its national interest to cut Tehran some slack and have the Iranians on the same side when trying to thwart Russia's efforts to expand its zone of influence in the Caucasus/Middle East region. The nukes Iran so badly craves might after all serve to deter the Russians, ironically enough…..
They Can Only Go So Far By: Francis Fukuyama | The Washington Post
Various writers have suggested that we are now witnessing a return to the Cold War, the return of History or, at a minimum, a return to a 19th-century world of clashing great powers. Not so fast….
today's authoritarian governments have little in common, save their lack of democratic institutions. Few have the combination of brawn, cohesion and ideas required to truly dominate the global system, and none dream of overthrowing the globalized economy.
If we really want to understand the world unfolding before us, we need to draw some clear distinctions among different types of autocrats. First, there's a big difference between those who run strong, coherent states and those who preside over weak, incompetent or corrupt ones. ….
If today's autocrats are willing to bow to democracy, they are eager to grovel to capitalism. It's hard to see how we can be entering a new cold war when China and Russia have both happily accepted the capitalist half of the partnership between capitalism and democracy…
In lieu of big ideas, Russia and China are driven by nationalism, which takes quite different forms in each country. Russia, unfortunately, has settled on a version of national identity that is incompatible with the freedom of the countries on its borders; I'm afraid that Georgia will not be the last former Soviet republic to suffer from Moscow's sense of wounded pride. But today's Russia is still very different from the former Soviet Union. Putin has been called a modern-day czar, which is far closer to the mark than misguided comparisons to Stalin or Hitler. Czarist Russia was a great power with limited ambitions that became an integrated member of the European state system of the 18th and 19th centuries even as it crushed the weak states on its borders and deprived its own people of liberties. It is in this direction that I expect post-Putin Russia will evolve.
China's nationalism, on proud display at the Olympics, is much more complex. The Chinese want respect for having brought hundreds of millions of citizens out of poverty in the past generation. But we don't yet know how that sense of national pride will translate into foreign policy. Apart from the flashpoint of Taiwan, China doesn't feel the type of intense grievances that Russia nurses over the shrinking of its empire or NATO's expansion into the former Soviet bloc. And Beijing will have its hands full maintaining domestic stability when the inevitable economic slowdown occurs.
China's problem today, unlike in imperial times, is that it doesn't have a well-articulated sense of what the country represents in the larger world. …
Kadima premiership candidate Meir Sheetrit said on Sunday that he was willing to recognize Syrian sovereignty over the Golan Heights, but only under a plan which required that the land be leased for 20 years prior to being transferred.
“I am in favor of recognizing Syrian sovereignty,” Interior Minister Sheetrit said. “But only on the condition that they lease it for 20 years, just to make sure that they’re serious.”
“We must not gamble the fate of the country,” he said. “We have a responsibility to choose somebody with the experience necessary to lead the government and the nation.”
DE BORCHGRAVE: Unwinnable insurgencies?
Arnaud de Borchgrave
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
…. To turn Afghanistan into a viable economy beyond the clandestine multibillion-dollar opium-poppy-to-heroin traffic requires billions more in aid, which isn't available in the donor-fatigued national parliaments of the coalition. The outgoing NATO commander said at least 400,000 troops would be required to control Afghanistan, a country the size of France with 30 million people. Current deployment: 60,000.