By Khody Akhavi and Jim Lobe
"WASHINGTON, May 21 (IPS) - "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold."
As the White House agenda for the Middle East continues to unravel, events over the past 24 hours seem to suggest that U.S. allies in the region are determined to construct a new edifice based on diplomacy, with or without Washington's help.
In spite of the President George W. Bush administration's efforts to isolate and defeat "terrorists and radicals" -- as Bush himself put it in a controversial speech to the Israeli Knesset last week -- U.S.-backed local actors are engaging precisely with those "forces of evil".
Indeed, engagement -- known as "appeasement" in the neo-conservative lexicon -- is bursting out all over the Middle East; in Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, Iraq, and between two nations that have existed in a state of "no war, no peace" for more than 40 years -- Israel and Syria......
"If you look at the Lebanon deal, Syria-Israeli resumption, Egyptian mediation of a potential ceasefire, either this all got the U.S. green light, and it's a major reversal, or it hasn't, and it's a rather major slap in the face," said Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator and fellow at the Washington-based New America Foundation.
"I think it shows U.S. weakness rather than a turnaround in the U.S. position," Levy told IPS......."