Posted by Joshua on Thursday, July 23rd, 2009
(AP) – The U.S. State Department says the Obama administration’s special Middle East envoy is heading to Syria.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley says George Mitchell plans to arrive Friday for his second visit in Damascus since he took up his post.
State Department Walks Back Suggestion U.S. Will Exert Financial Pressure on Israel
By Nina Donaghy, FOXNews, Thursday, July 23, 2009
The State Department on Thursday brushed aside any suggestions that the United States is contemplating financial or economic pressure against Israel to prevent it from building settlements and push it back to the negotiating table with Palestinians.
The State Department on Thursday brushed aside any suggestions that the United States is contemplating financial or economic pressure against Israel to prevent it from building settlements.
Spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters that there had been a “misinterpretation” of remarks made by deputy spokesman Robert Wood earlier this week.
Wood said reports of such action were “premature,” setting off alarm bells among the Israeli media that the U.S. is considering that option.
“We are not contemplating such action,” Crowley said. “Clearly, this is why George Mitchell is in the region today talking to all of the parties that we believe what they need to do is to set conditions, to resume negotiations so that all of these issues can be resolved through peaceful negotiations.”
Mitchell will visit Israel and the Palestinian territories Sunday and Monday, following a weekend stop in Damascus where he will meet Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Moualem, Mitchell’s second visit to Syria since being appointed special Mideast peace envoy.
Turkey has also said it is prepared to resume mediating peace talks between Syria and Israel but Crowley would not comment directly on the prospect of the talks re-starting.
“We’re trying to see what Syria’s prepared to do, you know, to move toward a comprehensive process. We’re also trying to develop bilateral issues that we have with the Syrians, as well.”
In Israel, Mitchell will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu has so far said he is ready to pursue a peace process but Israel will only accept a demilitarized Palestinian state. Washington and Israel are also deadlocked over where to draw the line on a freeze of Israeli settlements. Washington wants to see an end to all settlement activity. In the meantime, it is also calling on Arab neighbors to show signals of recognition toward Israel.
Arafat’s Death: What is behind the Qaddoumi Accusations of Murder?
I think the story of Qaddoumi’s accusation toward Abbas that he had something to do with Arafat’s death is worth looking at. This has Syria written all over it. Qaddoumi as you already know is Syria’s man in Fateh and while Assad has alluded to Arafat’s assassination a few years back everyone discredit his comment as a ploy to deter attention from the Hariri tribunal. So it’s interesting that Qaddoumi, or more likely Damascus, have chosen to reignite this accusation now.
I can only guess that it is some sort of (desperate?) payback for what Abbas has been doing to undermine Hamas in the territories or the unlikely attempt of coup within Fateh. I am not sure how much can this damage Abbas & co, i guess it really depends on what type of evidence they have. But audio tapes can be easily discredited and if there is more convincing evidence i am sure a backdoor deal would be made long before it could ever reach the public. That said, as the author of the Khaleej Times article states, negative public perception could very well be bad enough.
Here are some interesting articles.
Sami Moubayed, Who really killed Arafat?
Al-Jazeerah (in Arabic)
Tarek this is not a desperate move against Abbas … Syria does not do that. Remember that at the height of pressure from Lebanon’s M14 figures, the Syrians never shared in public anything against Hariri and Jumblatt for example … after decades of Syrian presence in Lebanon, they surely have plenty to share if they wanted to.
Syria’s deal with Saudi Arabia (and the US) is getting stuck partially because of Egypt. Mubarak seems to be not able to make any deal that gives Syria the Ok to be the main Arab party in peace negotiations (and one of the main players in Iraq, and Lebanon …)
This is probably intended as a warning … to weaken the only card Mubarak can play: His alliance with Fatah and Abbas.
When Hamas took over Gaza from Fatah they collected a number of documents which were sent to Damascus … Syria never used them publicly against Fatah. I heard there is so much serious dirt to be used if and when Syria decides to.
“I tend to agree with you Alex. The word (Desperate) was added to cater to the Syria’s critics who will call this another desperate ploy to hinder the US-KSA-EGYPT allies in the region. Obviously this is a calculated move, if they were desperate they would’ve pulled this card years ago during the Hariri tribunal fiasco.”
In FP, (Via FLC)
“… these five intelligence chiefs have leveraged their skills and connections to gain influence far above their pay grades.
* Omar Suleiman, Director of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service
* Meir Dagan, Director of Israel’s Mossad
* Qassem Suleimani, Commander of the Quds Force, IRGC
* Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz, Director general of Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Presidency (GIP)
* Assef Shawkat, Former commander of Syria’s military intelligence agency, current deputy chief of staff of the Syrian military
David Ignatius on the CIA: A generation ago, former officials say, the CIA had recruited and trained a team of Lebanese agents to assassinate people involved in the 1983 bombings of the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut.
“… He added that Israel would prefer not to use them. “I don’t see any need to use them in the near future,” Steinitz said. “But it’s good they are there.”
The guarantees have been instrumental in allowing Israel to raise money more cheaply and in sovereign ratings upgrades by credit rating agencies. Israel still has $3.8 billion left to use by 2011 after already issuing $4.1 billion in bonds backed by the U.S. and a $1.1 billion deduction for Israeli settlement building and concerns over the West Bank security fence…….
…………Palestinians are looking to set up a state in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, land Israel captured in the 1967 Six Day War.”