Friday, September 12, 2008

Talk but no more

The Syrian-Israeli peace talks gambit is just that, for now

By Ramzy Baroud
Al-Ahram Weekly

"Few would argue that the indirect Israel-Syria talks through Turkish mediation, which were first announced 21 May, were a sign of political maturity and readiness for peace. In fact, while the discussions seemed concerned with the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and Israel's desire for security at its northern borders, the true objective behind the sudden engagement of Syria is largely concerned with Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas.....

Whether the report is fully, partially or not at all accurate, the fact remains that Israel's key objective in engaging Syria is to further isolate Hamas and to deny its leadership safe haven.....

It is clear that neither Israel nor Syria is anticipating a "breakthrough" anytime soon. For now, talking is an end in itself. Concurrently, Israel wishes to woo Syria to break with Hamas and other Palestinian groups, break with Iran and, at least, twist Hizbullah's arm in Lebanon. Syria, on the other hand, knows well that indirect talks with Israel are an unmatched act of political validation in the West, enough to lessen US threats, win France's friendship, and appear in a positive light internationally.

Both parties want to come across as accommodating, willing partners in peace and, at a future point, there might be a few overtures, the extent of which could be devastating to Palestinian factions in Damascus. Meshaal might not be in Sudan, but if he is, or will be soon, one cannot be entirely surprised."

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