Tag: Middle East Diplomacy
Bashar, Don’t Take Netanyahu’s Bait
Josh Landis outlines well the problems with America’s decision to maintain the Syria sanctions, but also outlines nicely what the Syrian and the Americans have done and not done so far in the relationship. Here is an excerpt:
What has Syria done for Obama?
* Both Hizbullah and Hamas have reached out to the US, claiming to want engagement and expressing willingness to compromise on key issues. Syria has great influence on these groups and has helped with this outreach.
* Syria wants intelligence sharing on al-Qaida and Iraq, but it has not handed over Iraqi Baathists resident in Syria to the US.
What has Syria refused to do for Obama?
* Syria will not agree to concessions on the Arab peace plan, i.e. stating that Syria will give all resident Palestinians citizenship as part of a Palestinian-Israeli deal. (This is symbolic because Syria is the Arab state that has
Landis on American Middle East Policy So Far
As usual, Josh Landis is brief, brilliant and right on target. The Obama White House should study every word. It is time for a diplomatic revolution if they want to save themselves a massive upheaval in the Middle East in the next few years. Listening to where the Arab world really is at is going to be the key to a successful American intervention in the region. The rage and shock that has spread across the Arab world could lead to a new regional confrontation with Israel. But if Obama coordinates a systematic engagement with all regional powers and players, including Syria and Turkey, in addition to a new kind of engagement and negotiation with outside powers such as Russia and China, we may see an emerging consensus on both what Israel must do, what Iran must do, and what Hamas must do, in order to step back from …
The Road to the State of Palestine Through Syria
Aaron Miller writes an extremely pessimistic piece of advice for President elect Obama on the impossibility of Israeli/Palestinian peace right now. I think that it is a very well written piece, and that anything Aaron writes should be studied carefully. But there are two responses that should soften his pessimism.
There is a myth out there driven by the Clinton parameters of December 2000, the Taba talks in 2001, the Geneva accord a year later, and the hundreds of hours of post Annapolis talks between Israelis and Palestinians that the two sides are “this close” (thumb and index finger a sixteenth of an inch apart) to an agreement. The gaps have now narrowed, perhaps impressively, but closing them, particularly on the identity issues such as Jerusalem and refugees, is still beyond the reach of negotiators and leaders.
The dysfunction and confusion in Palestine make a conflict-ending agreement almost impossible. The
Apology and Realpolitik: The Ethical and the Pragmatic Merge in Italy and Libya
The remarkable agreement between Italy and Libya for compensation as an apology for colonialism sets a very important precedent for the relationship between the Middle East and the West. Salah Sarrar reports:
Libya and Italy signed an accord on Saturday under which Italy will pay $5 billion in compensation for colonial misdeeds during its decades-long rule of the North African country.
“This accord opens the door to the future cooperation and partnership between Italy and Libya,” Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said at the signing ceremony at a palace which was once the headquarters of the Rome government’s senior official during the 1911-1943 colonial rule.
Italy has had difficult relations with Gaddafi since he took power in 1969 but has backed Tripoli’s recent drive to mend fences with the West. The “friendship pact” removes a major hurdle to an improvement in ties.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said the accord ends
A Last Chance for Bush to be Relevant to Middle East Diplomacy
Sami Moubayed, one of the most important Syrian commentators, is proposing a last chance for the White House to come to the table of Syrian/Israeli peacemaking. Sami writes:
Everybody is worried about progress on the indirect Syrian-Israeli talks, currently underway in Turkey. According to Syria commentator, Joshua Landis, they have either reached a breakthrough, or a dead end.
Contrary to what some media sources are saying, however, the talks are going well. Already 85 per cent of critical issues had been solved since the 1990s. The talks are going too well in fact and there is worry on both sides that an agreement can be reached within what remains of 2008.
The radical contrast between Washington’s attitude, and that of Iran, is striking. The Americans still refuse to endorse these talks, writing them off as a hoax by the Syrians to end the US-imposed isolation that started in 2003.
EXCELLENT SUPPORT OF ISRAELI/SYRIAN PEACE FROM EX-AMBASSADORS
Note this extremely well-argued realist piece from Robert Pelletreau and Ed Walker in the Boston Globe. All of my experience in Syria suggests to me that most of their points are accurate and should be appealing to the more rational side of the Bush team in its last months. It can only help the reputation of the Republicans to aggressively pursue a new approach to Syria right now. It could be the foreign policy success that has eluded them for eight years. Here is an excerpt:
Dr. Sami Taki, a close associate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said in late July that Syria might change its alliance with Iran if Syria achieves peace with Israel.
The United States stands to gain a great deal from an Israeli-Syrian agreement. Having served as US ambassadors to five Middle East countries, we are convinced that a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace is essential to
IT IS WHAT YOU DO THAT DEFINES YOU: A RE-ASSESSMENT OF DIPLOMACY IN THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT
There is a desperation at work in the sad excuse for negotiations underway between Israel and Palestine. This is the latest:
PA rejects Olmert’s offer to withdraw from 93% of West BankBy Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondent, and Reuters
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday rejected an Israeli peace proposal, which included withdrawal from 93 percent of the West Bank, because it does not provide for a contiguous Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
Nabil Abu Rdainah, Abbas’s spokesman, told the official Palestinian news agency WAFA that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s plan showed a “lack of seriousness.”
Under the proposal, Israel would return to the Palestinians 93 percent of the West Bank, plus all of the Gaza Strip, when the Palestinian Authority regains control over the Gaza Strip, which the militant group Hamas seized from forces loyal to Abbas in June 2006.
Olmert presented Abbas with the