Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Anti-Iran Annapolis Conference

".....The conference is only comprehensible in terms of the other agendas that drove it. Behind the scenes, the United States and Israel were less interested in making peace with the Palestinians than they were in building up a de facto coalition of Arab states against Iran, which is why there was intense diplomatic pressure to obtain the participation of every Arab country.....

The Iranians are undoubtedly aware of what the conference was all about. They are maneuvering to counter any Arab front being stitched together by Washington and Tel Aviv to challenge their regional ambitions.....

It is that exercise of power through surrogates that Israel and the United States are seeking to take away. In the discussions that preceded the actual meeting in Annapolis, many key Arab states balked at committing themselves to any explicit anti-Iran alignment, but the U.S. and Israel were able to focus on Syria, which they see as the weak link in Iran's strategic arrangements. The Syrians attended the conference because the issue of the Golan Heights was placed on the agenda. Israel and Syria were able to restate their adversarial positions, but the United States was also able to arrange a series of secret meetings between senior U.S. diplomats and Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Mekdad, followed by additional meetings with senior Syrian representatives in Washington on the two days after the conference closed. Syria is seen as vulnerable both to economic and political pressure, and it has long been believed that President Bashar Assad is eager for a deal that will establish peaceful coexistence with Israel and end U.S. attempts to destabilize the country and bring about regime change.

The discussions centered on the subject of Damascus' ties to Iran and to Hezbollah. The U.S., coordinating closely with Israel, sought to determine what would be necessary to detach Syria from its support of Hezbollah and its strategic relationship with Iran......."

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