“Syria Wants to See Word “Golan” Published on Agenda Before Deciding on Annapolis,” by Ibrahim Hamidi

Ibrahim Hamidi, al-Hayat's bureau-chief in Damascus, explains where Syria stands on Annapolis. He writes: 
Dear Joshua
.
As far as I know, the  Syrian final decision to attend Annapolis has not been taken yet. The story is: The Syrians were very disappointed by Rice's letter to invite Moalem, as the Golan was not mentioned at all.
.
In Cairo, Moalem said to his counterparts: "We are ready to attend if Golan is on the agenda." The Egyptian foreign minister and Mousa called Rice asking her to put Golan on the Agenda. You know there are three Sessions in Annapolis:
.
Palestinian – Israel track.
Economic support.
Comprehensive peace.
  
Abou Gheit told Rice to write " Syrian track (Golan)" and "Lebanese track" under the title "Comprehensive".
David Welch called back on Thursday saying, "Yes."
  
Moealem was happy about it. meanwhile many officials called Assad urging him to send Moalem.
.
Now, The Syrians are waiting for the written agenda. They want to see that "Syrian track (Golan)" is written on it. If so, they will go. At which level? We will see.
.
Best, Ibrahim
Here is Ibrahim's article from al-Hayat:

 

 

القرار النهائي لسورية للمشاركة في انابوليس مرتبط بمضمون جدول الاعمال

 

 

دمشق- ابراهيم حميدي

 

قال مصادر سورية رفيعة المستوى لـ"الحياة" امس ان القرار النهائي لسورية في شأن حضور الاجتماع الدولي في انابوليس ومستوى التمثيل مرتبط بمضمون الرسالة المتوقع وصولها من واشنطن وتتضمن الاجندة الرسمية للمؤتمر بحيث يكون وضع الجولان على الطاولة "جوهريا وليس اجرائيا".

وكشفت مصادر اخرى لـ"الحياة" ان المشاورات بين وزير الخارجية وليد المعلم ونظرائه العرب اسفرت عن قيام الامين العام لجامعة الدول العربية عمرو موسى ووزير الخارجية المصري احمد ابو الغيط بالاتصال مساء اول امس بوزيرة الخارجية الاميركية كوناليزا رايس لوضع المسار السوري-الاسرائيلي على جدول اعمال انابوليس كي تحضر سورية. وزادت ان اتصالات اخرى حصلت صباح امس بين مسؤولين عرب ونائب وزيرة الخارجية ديفيد ويليش تبلغ فيها الجانب العربي ان المسارين السوري واللبناني سيكونان على الاجندة.

وبحسب المعلومات، فان جدول اعمال المؤتمر كان يتضمن الافتتاح بجلسة موسعة في صباح 27 الجاري، تليه ثلاث جلسات: واحدة للمسار الفلسطيني-الاسرائيلي، ثانية للدعم المؤسساتي والاقتصادي، ثالثة لـ"السلام الشامل". واسفرت الاتصالات العربية ان يكتب في جدول الاعمال ان الجلسة الثالثة تستهدف الـ"السلام الشامل" مع اضافة عبارة "المسار السوري-الاسرائيلي" مضافا له كلمة "الجولان" بين قوسين وعبارة "المسار اللبناني-الاسرائيلي". وجرى نقاش اميركي-عربي في شأن وضع عبارة "مزارع شبعا" تحت عنوان المسار اللبناني.

واذ اعتبرت المصادر الدبلوماسية ذلك بمثابة "انجاز دبلوماسي"، قالت ان القرار النهائي مرتبط بوصول جدول الاعمال، اوضحت مصادر دبلوماسية غربية لـ"الحياة" ان القائم بالاعمال الاميركي مايكل كوربون سيسلم الجانب السوري نسخة من جدول الاعمال اليوم.
غير ان المصادر رفيعة المستوى حرصت على القول ان "القرار النهائي سيتخذ بعد تسلم جدول الاعمال والتأكد ان وضع الجولان على الاجندة هو جوهري وليس اجرائيا وحسب". وزادت :"ان الامر لايتعلق بالكلمات، بل يتعلق بصميم الموقف السياسي، ذلك ان لسورية تجربة في المفاوضات مع الاسرائيليين تقتضي ان يكون القرار جوهري باستئناف مفاوضات السلام وليس فقط كلمات".

وقالت المصادر ان الوزير المعلم حرص على "الا يلتزم بحضور المؤتمر" لدى تبليغه بنتائج الاتصالات العربية مع رايس وويلش وعلى ان يكون "القرار النهائي مرتبط بالجدول النهائي للمؤتمر".

ونقلت عن المعلم تأكيده في الاجتماعات على "اهمية التوصل الى موقف عربى موحد ازاء المشاركة فى الاجتماع الدولى وجدول اعماله وان يتضمن جدول الاعمال ادراج بند الجولان السورى المحتل وذلك بهدف التوصل الى تسوية عادلة وشاملة للصراع العربى- الاسرائيلى وفق قرارات الشرعية الدولية ومبادرة السلام العربية".

انتهى

Here is what the NYTimes has to say.

Saudis to Join Mideast Talks; Syria Wavers
By MONA EL-NAGGAR and ISABEL KERSHNER
Published: November 24, 2007 

“We will not decide to participate until we receive the agenda and read that the second issue on the agenda is the Syrian-Israeli track, that is, the occupied Syrian Golan Heights,” said Syria’s foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem.

Officials in Cairo said that the Syrians had informed Washington of their demand. Arab League officials said that there were talks taking place that left them optimistic that Syria would be allowed to attend.

The distance between the sides appeared small: Syria wanted the item expressly put on the agenda, and the United States was willing to allow discussion of the Golan Heights, without putting it on the agenda, officials here said.

Mr. Moallem, in reference to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said, “She promised a positive response and we are waiting to receive the agenda.”

Bush administration officials said Friday that Syrian officials were free to bring up any issues they wanted during the conference, but that the United States would not specifically put the Golan Heights on the agenda. “We will not turn off anyone’s microphone,” a senior administration official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Comments (29)


1. Akbar Palace said:

“Syria Wants to See Word “Golan” Published on Agenda Before Deciding on Annapolis,” by Ibrahim Hamidi

IG, AIG,

With Facebook taken off the air and the word “Golan” not clearly shown on the invitations, I dare say these are difficult times for the Assad government;)

But really folks, Syria has nothing to gain from the Annapolis photo op, and nothing to lose if she doesn’t attend.

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November 24th, 2007, 4:07 pm

 

2. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

AP,
I think Syria has a lot to lose. Since it will be the only Arab country not attending, it will highlight how isolated Syria is in the Arab world.

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November 24th, 2007, 5:12 pm

 

3. IsraeliGuy said:

AP said: “But really folks, Syria has nothing to gain from the Annapolis photo op, and nothing to lose if she doesn’t attend.”

AP, I’m afraid we disagree…

Now that Facebook is gone, going to Annapolis may be one of the last channels through which Syrians can make new friends ; )

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November 24th, 2007, 5:35 pm

 

4. why-discuss said:

Ignoring Syria and Iran’s unavoidable influence on the whole peace process is typical of the Bush administration’s foreign policy that has brought only more problems in the area.
Bush’s main nightmare is Iraq. After years of denial, Rice seems to have convinced Bush that the Israeli-Palestinian issue is one of the keys in solving Iraq’s mess and the US growing hatred in the region. With Anapolis there are some immediate rewards: Strong message to Iran and its allies by emphasizing this meeting as an arab-israeli issue and getting the arab countries to show up. How will Iran and its allies deal with that rebuffing? I guess they are preparing a counter-anapolis strategy very soon.

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November 24th, 2007, 5:36 pm

 

5. Nur al-Cubicle said:

Via Le Monde: “mais les autorités syriennes attendent de voir si effectivement le Golan figure dans le programme d’Annapolis avant de se décider.”

The Syrian government is waiting to see of the Golan is effectively on the agenda for Annapolis before deciding [whether to attend].

The conference is 3 days from now and the agenda has not even been distributed??? You can imagine the furor if a meeting of a corporate board of directors did not have an agenda 3 days before the scheduled board meeting!

This is all very seat-of-pants. Blair had to be dispatched to Riyadh to get the Saudis change their mind. I wonder what behind-the-scenes maneuvering is going on in Washington?

BTW, where is the conference being held? At the Loews Annapolis Hotel, at the Naval Academy, etc?? A rather drear time of year on the Chesapeake in that little burg. Just doesn’t seem to be the right setting…

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November 24th, 2007, 6:02 pm

 

6. Seeking the Truth said:

Peace in the Middle East will remain elusive. The best that one can hope for realistically is crisis management, so that things do not get out of hand.

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November 24th, 2007, 6:57 pm

 

7. Akbar Palace said:

AIG said:

Since it will be the only Arab country not attending, it will highlight how isolated Syria is in the Arab world.

Please, Syria isn’t isolated in the Arab world.

IG said:

Now that Facebook is gone, going to Annapolis may be one of the last channels through which Syrians can make new friends ; )

Syria has more friends than the Zionist Entity.

IG and AIG,

C’mon, the Jihadists and their state sponsors have the most respect in the Arab world than the “appeasing” governments of Saudi Arabia, Eygpt and Jordan. Don’t you read what the posters on this website say??

http://video.state.gov/?fr_story=5df6e15851f3d5161469799875602abe303c3059

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20071123/pl_afp/mideastdiplomacyarabus_071123190133

Abraham –

You didn’t respond to my question regarding Sura 5.21? How come?

Well, now that we know where the conference will be, I was wondering if you were interested in putting together a “martydom mission”? I know it’s a last minute thing, but I think if we put our heads together, we could do something very constructive for the Palestinian cause, and at least, bring the plight of the Palestinians to the attention of the rest of the world.

Let me know:

palace.akbar@gmail.com

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November 24th, 2007, 7:35 pm

 

8. Nur al-Cubicle said:

More, this time from AFP: “Les Etats-Unis se sont engagés oralement à ce que le Golan, mais aussi le cas des fermes de Chebaa –petit territoire situé aux confins du Liban, de la Syrie et d’Israël– soient abordés mardi. Mais les pays arabes réclament une confirmation écrite.”

The United States orally agreed that Golan, including the Shebaa Farms–a strip of land located at the confines of Lebanon, Syria and Israel–would be discussed on Tuesday. But Arab countries are awaiting written confirmation.

So not just Syria.

Moreover, the US has now suggested the formation of a Coordinating Committee on Israel-Palestine composed of Arab states which would meet in Moscow in January to examine the issues of Lebanon and Syria.

Geez, Moscow in January. What’s wrong with the Algarve? No clue what is going on other than panic, panic, panic.

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November 24th, 2007, 7:50 pm

 

9. Seeking the truth said:

Akbar Palace,

How about going a couple of verses above to 5:12 & 13, what do you think? In any case, an observing moslem would answer you that the land was promised to the Jews if they would follow God’s commandments, and hence they should have converted to Islam when the new religion was revealed.

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November 24th, 2007, 7:57 pm

 

10. Akbar Palace said:

an observing moslem would answer you that the land was promised to the Jews if they would follow God’s commandments

Seeking the Truth:

Thank you for opinion. I’ll draw the obvious conclusion from your words above: the Jews must HAVE followed God’s commandments;)

I hope you and the “observing moslems” are not mad at me, moslems sure have a lot more land than we commandment-following Jews!

Of course, it is so nice being around so many observant people, especially Hamas, Hezbollah, and the observant Iranian regime;)

Meanwhile, I’ll continue waiting for Abraham’s remarks concerning what is “mythology” and what isn’t. It is all so very confusing

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November 24th, 2007, 8:28 pm

 

11. Seeking the truth said:

Akabar Palace said:

I’ll draw the obvious conclusion from your words above: the Jews must HAVE followed God’s commandments

An observant moslem would tell you: “don’t be hasty in drawing that conclusion, we have not seen the end yet.”
And don’t take this to represent my personal opinion, I’m simply putting forward the counter argument. You mentioned the religious justification of the jewish promised land, and I’m saying dogmatic beliefs on both sides would lead to nowhere but more conflicts. So keep religion out of the picture.

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November 24th, 2007, 9:22 pm

 

12. Offened said:

AP, IG, AIG and AOIG (that is: all other israeli guys)

the series of events narrated by Ibrahim Hamidi (Al Moallem objection to the agenda without Golan, Abu Al Ghait calling Rice, Rice’s positive response…so on) gives a clear indication for the smart guys that Syria is not the least isolated.

As Bashar said once: “those who are trying to isolate Syria, they actually end up isolating themselves”

Mr. Bush (Mr. Palestine according to the economist!) knows better than snubbing Syria at this critical time. In fact, a lot of people are arguing that the conference means nothing without Syrian participation.

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November 24th, 2007, 10:06 pm

 

13. Akbar Palace said:

“don’t be hasty in drawing that conclusion, we have not seen the end yet.”

Seeking the Truth,

Again, thank you for the translation. It seems to me from your description of your “observant moslem” friends that their belief in Islam is contigent on the demise of Israel.

Please let them know that it shouldn’t be. If, for example the Jews were deemed to be “worthy” of the “holy land” per Sura 5.21, does that mean the Koran is null and void? I would think not. Whether or not the Jews have live in Israel or not or deserve Israel or not, this shouldn’t weigh at all on whether or not a muslim is a good/bad muslim.

So keep religion out of the picture.

I was responding to Abraham’s accusations on Jewish “mythology” and your own translations from your “observant muslim” friends. I hope you won’t mind if I respond, or did you just want me to listen and shut up? Of course, I would be happy to translate for “observant Jews” if you had any similar questions in this regard.

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November 24th, 2007, 10:09 pm

 
 

15. Offended said:

AP, IG, AIG and AOIG (that is: all other israeli guys)

the series of events narrated by Ibrahim Hamidi (Al Moallem objection to the agenda without Golan, Abu Al Ghait calling Rice, Rice’s positive response…so on) gives a clear indication for the smart guys that Syria is not the least isolated.

As Bashar said once: “those who are trying to isolate Syria, they actually end up isolating themselves”

Mr. Bush (Mr. Palestine according to the economist!) knows better than snubbing Syria at this critical time. In fact, a lot of people are arguing that the conference means nothing without Syrian participation.

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November 24th, 2007, 10:17 pm

 

16. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Yes Offended, wishful thinking is a common Arab method that has been used widely in the last 60 years. I’ll leave you to judge how successful it has been. As I see it, Arabs have been lying to themselves for 60 years and paying the price both internally and externally. But somehow denial seems easier than facing the truth.

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November 24th, 2007, 10:40 pm

 

17. Akbar Palace said:

Offended states:

a lot of people are arguing that the conference means nothing without Syrian participation

Are these same people saying the conference means nothing without Iran, Hamas, or Hezbollah’s participation?

The fact is, this conference shows the world who is interested in peace, and who is not.

IMHO, it shows me Syria is more interested in the Golan than the plight of the Palestinians. If you get down right to it.

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November 24th, 2007, 10:59 pm

 

18. why-discuss said:

AIG

If the arabs were militarily strong when the zionists started stealing Palestine from its inhabitants and if they were given the opportunities to oppose the europeans trying to forget their guilt over the horrors they had inflicted to their own jews, I think the mere existence of Israel would have been wishful thinking. I know these are just “ifs” but you are in Israel because of a simple favorable concourse of geo-politics circumstances.

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November 25th, 2007, 12:39 am

 

19. Nur al-Cubicle said:

Surely Annapolis will produce nothing. If Nur were head of an Arab government and invited to an international conference with serious business and concessions on the agenda, she would have to spend weeks talking to to her strategic guy, her political guy, her United States expert, her Israeli expert, her regional expert, her military guy, her security guy and her negotiations guy to at arrive at a position, to be prepared to counteroffer x1 if they offer x, etc., not to mention the consulting the Cabinet. If a government is unprepared, it’s like a pinocle player going to play Bermuda Cup bridge. You’d get creamed!

Three days out and no agenda. That’s unbelievable!

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November 25th, 2007, 12:59 am

 

20. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Why,
Getting away from wishful thinking involves forgeting about the “ifs” and concentrating about the “is”. Or, learning form the “ifs”. Why were the Arabs weak relative to the Jews? Why is this still the case. Hint: Democracy.

Nur,
The Arab dictators do not have Israeli experts. Is there a unit for Hebrew or Israel studies in any Arabic university like there is a huge Arabic unit in every Israeli university?

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November 25th, 2007, 1:41 am

 

21. Ash-Shakkak said:

Seems perfectly sensible to me. What else but Golan would Syria have to talk about?

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November 25th, 2007, 2:02 am

 

22. norman said:

Syria wants Golan Heights on talks agenda
By Carolynne Wheeler in Jerusalem
Last Updated: 1:57am GMT 25/11/2007

America has given tacit approval to separate peace talks between Israel and Syria immediately after Tuesday’s landmark Middle East summit in Annapolis, Maryland.

Annapolis peace summit: Q&A
Diplomats believe that Syria’s expected participation in the meeting to be chaired by Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, signals a likely resumption of direct talks between the country’s Ba’athist regime and the Israeli government, for the first time in more than a decade.

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Syria had insisted that the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, seized from its control in the 1967 war, be on the table for discussion as a precondition for taking part in the summit.

On Friday it was among Arab countries which agreed to send ministers to the US for this week’s meeting – itself the first US-hosted talks on the Middle East since President Bill Clinton’s ill-fated final effort to make peace eight years ago.

The Arab League’s unanimous decision to take part in the Annapolis summit came under angry fire from the extreme Islamic group Hamas yesterday. A spokesman that said there could be no justification for taking part as long as Israel retained its hold on Palestinian territory and described the decision to do so as “a great shock”.

He added: “Participation opens doors for normalization of relations with the Israeli occupiers.”

But others were pleased. “At some point we need to have a renewed Israel-Syrian peace track. We need this,” said the Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat from Morocco, where the Palestinians had talks with the Arab League.

The inclusion of Saudi and Syrian foreign ministers at Annapolis has broadened the scope of an event previously feared as a brief photo opportunity with dubious long-term impact and restores some hope of reaching a wider Middle East peace agreement.

The US President, George W Bush, is striving for this as a better legacy than the quagmire of Iraq before he leaves office in January 2009. As a result, the gala dinner that will open the peace summit in Annapolis tomorrow night will see some unlikely partners dining together for the first time.

Along with the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, delegations from such countries as Morocco, Tunisia and Bahrain are also expected to join.

The focus will remain on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, is running on borrowed time after he imposed a government on the West Bank following an Islamist coup in Gaza. Meanwhile the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, has said failing to solve the conflict would have deadly consequences.

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November 25th, 2007, 2:20 am

 

23. norman said:

Syria should go with or without the Golan on the agenda as Syria has a say in the Palestinian solution , we all have to remember that Palestine is the south-western part of Syria.

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November 25th, 2007, 2:25 am

 

24. norman said:

Print | Close this window

Olmert says Syria welcome at peace talks
Sun Nov 25, 2007 2:31am GMT
BEN GURION AIRPORT, Israel (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Sunday he would welcome the participation of Syria at Middle East talks in the United States next week.

Speaking on board his plane as he was about to leave for Washington, Olmert said Israel would “view positively” Syria’s participation in the conference, due to take place in Annapolis, Maryland, on Tuesday.

“We have said constantly that we are interested in Syria participating,” Olmert said.

Syria has so far balked at giving a definitive answer as to whether it will attend the one-day summit on Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.

Asked if he believed the United States had promised Syria something in exchange for its possible participation, Olmert replied: “I don’t think so.”

Syria wants clarification on the conference’s agenda before deciding whether to attend.

It has said it wants to discuss the return of the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau overlooking northern Israel which was captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War.

Arab League ministers agreed in Cairo on Friday to attend the conference in the hope of promoting the creation of a Palestinian state and pushing for Israel to return the Golan Heights to Syria as part of a regional peace process.

“I hope Annapolis will lead to the launching of serious negotiations on all the core issues that will result in a solution of two states for two peoples,” Olmert said.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Heller; Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Andrew Dobbie)

© Reuters 2006. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.

Reuters journalists are subject to the Reuters Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.

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November 25th, 2007, 2:37 am

 

25. why-discuss said:

AIG

The arabs are weak because they were colonized for centuries and dispowered while the jews had to fight racism in Europe and have developped high education and survival skills that rendered them creative and determined. The jews were united in their aim for a safe haven as a result of the persecution, while the arabs were manipulated and divided by the european powers who wanted cheap access to their wealth ( Suez canal, oil etc.). When the zionists invaded Palestine, they were driven by their desire of conquest, and they had organizational and fighting skills that the arabs of palestine who were mostly peasants did not. This power unbalance together with the support of the guilt-striken europeans was decisive in the creation of Israel. Later being constantly threatened, Israel managed to always be above the arab military power with the support of the USA and by using undercover activities to prevent union among arabs that would threaten the existence of Israel.
The arabs are weak now because many of the rich arab countries are totally neutralized by consumer’s frenzy and the absence of any vision other than money. The only arabs who still follow some ideal other than consumerism and clientelism are labelled terrorists.

The emergence of Iran as a strong power against Israel’s regime is a new threat that is worrying Israel very much. Iran is a much harder country to manipulate than the arab countries, therefore Israel is trying to enroll the international community in neutralizing it. Yet we all know that the US , by eliminating the Taliban and Saddam Hossein have empowered Iran even more. Israel has now a more serious opponent to deal with. Peace with the arabs may be a way out, but would Israel with its delicate balance of jewish extremists and moderates be able to pay the price?

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November 25th, 2007, 2:44 am

 

26. majedkhaldoun said:

I think Syria should go , since palastine is part of Syria

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November 25th, 2007, 2:52 am

 

27. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Why,
The Arabs are weak because they don’t adopt democracy. That is it. Believe me, there is no difference between Jews and Arabs at the individual level.

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November 25th, 2007, 3:09 am

 

28. Enid Houston said:

A state requires order for democracy to be successful. Israel cannot even claim this state of polity. Syria should not accept the invitation unless the “Syria track (Goland)” is inserted in the agenda for this is the real key to the peace in the Levant…and by the way Palestine is not southwestern Syria…only the Goland Hights, full of Syrian Druze could be considered so….

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November 25th, 2007, 6:13 am

 

29. Akbar Palace said:

Why Discuss discusses:

If the arabs were militarily strong when the zionists started stealing Palestine from its inhabitants…

If the arabs were able to vote for partition in 1947…

Would’ve, should’ve, could’ve.

If the Arabs would have come to the peace table for the past 60 years instead of trying to throw Israel into the sea, the Arabs would not have endured so many premature deaths and instead have a prospering state.

With Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran still very much a threat, there is still a strong possibility that the road to self-destruction is possible.

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November 25th, 2007, 1:58 pm

 

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