Monday, 14 July 2008

Syria—in from the cold

Syria basks in diplomatic breakthrough, writes Sami Moubayed in Asia Times:

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad got things done — his way — first in Doha in May and now in Paris at the weekend. In a series of meetings at a "Mediterranean" conference, Assad resumed diplomatic ties with Lebanon and held indirect talks through Turkey with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Assad also made it clear that Damascus is central to solving problems in the Middle East. He also helped launch the Union for the Mediterranean with more than 40 other heads of state and government.

The Europeans — more so than the United States — realized that "isolating" Syria had led nowhere, except to empower groups like Hezbollah and Hamas. If anything constructive was going to be done in the Middle East with regard to Arab-Israeli peace, it needed to include the Syrians.

The perception of Syria started to change, from problem-maker to problem-solver. Among other things, it was reasoned that getting rid of Hezbollah through military force was impossible — as Israel found out in 2006.

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