Syria to Attend Peace Conference at Deputy Foreign Minister Level

Fayssal MekdadSyria has announced that it is sending its Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Mekdad to Annapolis. Foreign Minister Moualem is not going. Does this mean that the Golan Heights will officially be included on the agenda as Syria insisted or, as Burns said, "no one will turn off the microphones if Syria brings up the Golan"? Probably somewhere in between.

Here is Ehsani's comment: November 25th, 2007, 1:35 pm

Syria has confirmed that its deputy foreign Minister will attend the conference as the above article claimed would happen.

Slowly but steadily the White House is changing its Syria policy. The tide is turning in the direction of the Damascus leadership.

Interestingly, the Iranian President just stated the following:

“Participation in this summit is an indication of a lack of intelligence of some so-called politicians…I am sorry that some people around us plan to participate in the conference which only helps to support the Zionist occupiers”.

The title of the above article [“At Mideast Talks, U.S. and Israel Seek to Isolate Iran by Wooing Syria,”] seems rather relevant now.

Syria to attend peace conference
BBC: 2007/11/25

Syria has announced it will attend the forthcoming Middle-East peace conference in the US city of Annapolis.

Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mekdad is due to lead the Syrian team at the conference, which begins on Tuesday.

Syria decided to take part after learning that Israeli-Syrian peace moves on the Golan Heights would be discussed, Reuters news agency said.

Damascus had previously said it would not attend the conference unless the Golan Heights were on the agenda.

The meeting is aimed at launching talks for peace between Israel and the Palestinians and for the creation of a Palestinian state.

In another boost to organisers, Saudi Arabia also announced on Friday that it would attend.

Comments (29)

idaf said:

Israel welcomes Syrian participation in conference
WASHINGTON, Nov 25 (Reuters) – Israel welcomed Syria’s announcement on Sunday that it would attend a U.S.-hosted peace conference in Annapolis but stressed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be the main focus of the meeting.

“Israel sees in a positive way the high-ranking participation of Syria in a conference which is clearly about the Israeli-Palestinian track, but could open additional avenues to peace in the Middle East,” said Miri Eisin, a spokeswoman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who arrived earlier in Washington.

Also worth reading analysis from JPost:
Analysis: How important is it for Syria to be at Annapolis?
The second reason is connected to the broader context of the debate in Israel and the United States about the best way to deal with Syria. It appears that a shift in attitudes toward the question of Syrian participation reflects the growing influence of elements in both countries who are interested in renewing the dialogue with Syria.
A third reason is the desire to use the Annapolis meeting as a stage to manifest the broad Arab support for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and their objectives. Syrian participation and expression of that support are important, just as was Syrian participation in the Arab League summit in March 2002 and adherence to the Arab consensus in adopting the Arab peace initiative, and Syrian presence at the March 2007 Summit in Riyadh that again endorsed the peace initiative.

November 25th, 2007, 3:14 pm


IsraeliGuy said:

Ahmadinejad is not happy today… :

“The so-called conference… is of no benefit to the Palestinian people and has the aim of supporting the occupying Zionists,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a speech, quoted by the official IRNA news agency.

“Participation in this conference is a sign of a lack of political intelligence.

“History will not look positively on the name of those who participate in this conference and help the Zionist regime,” the Iranian president said.

November 25th, 2007, 3:33 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Israeliguy said:

Ahmadinejad is not happy today…

Let’s hope the US and Israel learned their mistakes from the Oslo facade.

If and when the notion of reciprocity sinks in, peace will be just around the corner. Anything else will be a prelude to more violence.

November 25th, 2007, 3:54 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

As I expected, the Syrians crawled in without getting any assurances that the Golan will be discussed except by the Syrians. In addition, this is against the wishes of their Iran and Hamas allies. The regime in Syria must be really feeling the heat.

AP, I agree with you, there is nothing concrete to be happy about until Mash’al is in Teheran and 1559 and 1701 are implemented. But I do see major signs of weakness in the Syrian regime:
1) They don’t react in any way to the Israeli bombing, instead they go humiliated to a peace conference that will not really discuss their issues
2) They cannot force a president on Lebanon
3) No Arab country is willing to back them the least bit
4) They are getting more oppressive at home

If Bush keeps up the pressure, there will be good results. Let’s wait and see.

November 25th, 2007, 4:14 pm


Jad said:

Mister Landis you wrote (November 17, 2006-
“(..) the return of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to Syria is the key to de-radicalizing the Middle East (..)”.

Don’t you think that it will be so at the expense of the palestinians? And don’t you think that, accordingly, it will boost the “radical” groups in the Middle-East?

Thank You.

November 25th, 2007, 4:53 pm


norman said:

This peace meeting is the last chance for the moderate in the middle east to survive , if there is no peace then the Jehadist and the radicals will be the ultimate winners.will see .

November 25th, 2007, 5:36 pm


why-discuss said:

It will all depends on the “painful” and overwhelming concessions Israel must do in terms of removing settlements, paying compensations to expelled palestinians and the return of part of Jerusalem.
Palestinians have no concessions to make other that stopping violence and say yes to a two states palestine. They are in such a mess they have little to loose.
Israel’s desperately weak governement will surely be squeezed by the US and that may provoke its fall and a crisis in Israel. In view of the precedent disasters of this heavy-handed US admnistration, I am not very hopeful that this time they will do it right.

November 25th, 2007, 6:59 pm


ausamaa said:


let’s wait and see!

November 25th, 2007, 8:24 pm


Nur al-Cubicle said:

_Deputy_ Foreign Minister? Isn’t that the fellow who’s dispatched to Export-Import bank meetings and to open the local language school?

November 25th, 2007, 8:47 pm


CWW said:

This is certainly a positive development and cause for hope. Nevertheless, with Hamas controlling Gaza and a weak government in Israel what can really happen? The PA can’t make security guarantees with respect to Sderot and Eshkelon, which seem to be the focus of Palestinian attacks at the moment. And the Israeli government is probably not strong enough to survive a pull-out from the Golan or any major West Bank settlements. I imagine that both parties involved know that for these reasons it is pretty unlikely that much progress can be made in Annapolis. So, I don’t really understand what they are thinking.

Don’t Olmert and Abbas see that raisingexpectations and then failing to realize real gains risks hardening feelings of hopelessness and lowers people’s readiness to compromise down the road?

November 25th, 2007, 10:04 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Your analysis is correct. Maybe, just maybe, Olmert can survive a pullout in the West Bank if he brings it to a national referendum requiring 60% approval. Alternatively, Olmert may put forward the agreement and call a general election, with the election being a referundum on the proposed agreement. This is what I would do in his place. It would be a good way to reignite Kadima (his party) and block Netanyahu and Lieberman by changing the election topic from security and the government failures to peace and hope. A Golan pull out is much less popular in Israel and it is unlikely to be pursued by Olmert.

November 25th, 2007, 10:35 pm


why-discuss said:

Bush is a risk taker.. with the results we know. Abbas and Olmert are so weak they don’t have much choices than to follow the USA. Saudi Arabia’s supposed influence in the region will get a real blow in case of failure, after they sat down with Israel on the same table. Dissapointed arab public opinion will favor even more Iran’s resilient position toward the USA. The saudis may become the big loosers.

November 25th, 2007, 10:39 pm


Honest Patriot said:

Show the West Bank as a true model of peace, prosperity, order, and “civilization,” while at the same time leave Gaza, under Hamas control, to wallow in abject despondency, and would the Palestinian people not, by themselves, come to the right conclusion ?? Abbas and Olmert CAN make this happen, with the help of the United States and all moderate Arab countries.

… and, please don’t forget to ratchet the pressure on Syria to a really effective level so they fear being left out more than they fear abandoning Iran and Hezbolla. What is needed is a consistent policy with true “teeth” and backing. Syria will respond. Guaranteed. (Ask Dr. Landis).

The elements of the solution are there! what is everyone waiting for ?? Technology CAN and WILL protect Israel from any downside of giving up the Golan. It is time this fact be articulated unambiguously to all the Israeli citizen so they stop fearing giving up the Golan. The minority of religious fanatics who have other reasons to hold on to the Golan are just that, a fanatical minority. They should not be allowed to spoil what will otherwise be a long-term peaceful (and maybe even prosperous) accommodation.


November 25th, 2007, 10:43 pm


Akbar Palace said:

AIG said:

If Bush keeps up the pressure, there will be good results. Let’s wait and see.


You don’t know how tired I am of Israeli and American Jewish liberals who fell in love with Clinton and hate Bush.

Jewish liberals love it when Israel negotiates with terrorist enablers and they hate it when Israel (and US) confronts terrorism.

You want “pressure”? Good. Tell it to your Israeli liberal friends; and I will continue to hammer American Jews (who voted for Kerry in the last election by an astounding 76%)!

BTW – I’ve finalized my poster. It reads:

“Bush was right”

“Confront terrorism; don’t reward it”

I plan to patent the above with a trademark. Due to its “novel” arrangement.

Honest Patriot –

You go girl!

November 25th, 2007, 10:52 pm


IsraeliGuy said: (an Israeli Yahoo like portal), the 2nd most popular local site and a primary news source did a web survey today.

The question was: “What are you most interested in?”
Here are the results:

* The Annapolis conference – 8%

* When will the teachers’ strike end – 49%

* The latest police affair 5%

* The frequent earthquakes – 35%

* The quarrels in the judiciary system – 3%

Number of web voters: 19,287

November 25th, 2007, 11:03 pm


Nur al-Cubicle said:

Don’t know what this means but the King of Jordan has flown to Riyadh for talks with his counterpart. It suggests those missions Blair used to make to EU member states before the invasion of Iraq.

November 25th, 2007, 11:09 pm


IsraeliGuy said:, the website of Maariv (the 2nd most popular daily newspaper in Israel), did a web survey today.

The question was: “How will the Annapolis conference end?”

Here are the results:

* Only with a photo – 92%

* With a real process – 8%

Number of web voters: 1,440;1663029

November 25th, 2007, 11:24 pm


IsraeliGuy said: (an Israeli portal), the 5th most popular local site and a news source, did a web survey today.

The question was: “The Annapolis conference is…”

Here are the results:

* The right road to peace – 12%

* The road to another failure – 16%

* The road to the next Intifadah – 18%

* The road to nowhere – 54%

Number of web voters: 1,137

PS: Please give me some feedback if you want me to continue bringing some more relevant surveys from Israel (from time to time, when they’re published) or if I’m just wasting my time… and yours : )


November 26th, 2007, 12:13 am


Akbar Palace said:

An Irishman spends 14 months in Syria.

His story:

November 26th, 2007, 12:30 am


SimoHurtta said:

Keep posting IG nice to know what Israelis think about the situation. Here is a link to recent Israeli poll (a little larger in questions than those rather limited internet polls).

Though how relevant is the public opinion of Israel? Israel has to do in the end what US government demands (allows) them to do. Could any Israeli government exercise an fully independent foreign policy without the support of USA? Maybe for a short while, but with what price?

November 26th, 2007, 12:46 am


why-discuss said:


November 26th, 2007, 12:48 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

All the polls in Israel mean nothing until a concrete deal is on the table. Doing abstract polling is worthless. For example, the same proposal endorssed by the Arab league would be more supported in Israel relative to the case where it is not endorssed. There are many factors in play, based on which, the Israeli public will decide whether a deal is “good” or not.

November 26th, 2007, 12:58 am


Honest Patriot said:


Amen! What does Dr. Landis have to say to that (Oh So True!) post of the Irishman in Syria ???

Professor, …., Oh Professor,…, what say you ?

And to think that the Assads are supposed to be the moderates who put down mercilessly uprisings by even more radical groups (Hama, 1982). Nice culture, nice society, nice history, huh ?

November 26th, 2007, 1:03 am


Alex said:


Thanks for posting the polls. I am always interested to learn from them.

These were not scientific of course. But with a 92% to 8% there is no need to go too scientific : )

Anyway … the polls tell me that Israelis who are not takng the poll’s questions seriously are relaxed at least. This is always good.

November 26th, 2007, 1:24 am


norman said:

Hamas liberated Gaza , let us see if Abbas can do any better , That will never happen , Israel will never leave the west bank completely and will never let the Palestinian back or even give them compensations. any agreement is going to fail.

November 26th, 2007, 2:17 am


norman said:

مأمون الحمصي يطالب جورج بوش بمزيد من العزل لسورية

How can people like these be considered leaders for Syria , they are self centerd do not want anything good to happen to Syria if they are not envolved.

November 26th, 2007, 2:31 am


Akbar Palace said:

Nice culture, nice society, nice history, huh?

Honest Patriot,

I’m not sure what your background is, but clearly you don’t buy into the terror-enabling regime of Bashar. And that’s good.

But I wouldn’t dare hit on Arab culture and history which is rich and glorious. One day, I hope the Arabs will feel the same about Israeli culture and history as we all live side-by-side.

Norman said –

Hamas liberated Gaza…

Yes, liberated from Jews. But not liberated from poverty, violence, oppression, and isolation. One out of five means they’re “batting” .200. In baseball terms, that’s nothing to hoot about.

, let us see if Abbas can do any better

He has, and if he plays his cards right, he’ll continue to do better.

That will never happen, Israel will never leave the west bank completely…

Israel didn’t even have the West Bank prior to June 1967. What was the problem then? OK, so you think Israel has to leave the West Bank completely? I think not. I think continued terrorism prevents peace. In the meantime, Israel’s population in the West Bank increases. Time may not be in your favor.

So if Arafat wants to turn down 94% of the West Bank, that’s his prerogative.

November 26th, 2007, 4:05 am


norman said:

Hamas liberated Gaza from Israel not the Jews and it liberated 100% of it , It is time for Israel to look beyond bounderies and to the future of it’s people .enough is enough .

November 26th, 2007, 4:47 am


CWW said:

Norman and AP:

Those meeting in Annapolis (and at later summits) will have to be creative when it comes to the West Bank settlements. While Israelis have shown their desire to pullout from more settlements by electing the current Kadima govenrnment, there are more than a quarter million Israelis living in highly developed settlements in the West Bank. Ariel has a University, while Maale Adummim and Modi’in Illit constitute small cities. Kfar Etzion also has real historical significance. Completely removing over 250,000 people from their homes is simply not practical, and needless to say, politically feasible.

It’ll be interesting to see how compromises are made on this front.

November 27th, 2007, 2:49 pm


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