Friday, May 2, 2008

ANALYSIS: Syrian-Israeli contacts worry Iran, Hezbollah

".......Khaddam also claims that the Turks are not merely 'letter carriers,' but have presented compromise proposals of their own to the hostile neighbours.

Khaddam cites US sources that are supposedly well informed of the course of the covert talks.

He says Israel has offered Assad a complete withdrawal from part of the Golan Heights, and that the area in question may be somewhat smaller than what Israel offered his late father, president Hafez al- Assad, during talks in Geneva in 2000. Israel is said to want to lease the rest of the Golan from Syria for several decades.

Khaddam and a number of neutral Arab observers surmise that Iran and Hezbollah not only play a role in Israel's equation but also in the calculations of Bashar al-Assad, who is trying to wriggle out of the international isolation he manoeuvred himself into on account of his close partnership with Teheran.

Assad allegedly also hopes that peace negotiations with Israel could end an investigation of his brother-in-law and other Syrian officials who are suspected - possibly with Assad's knowledge - of pulling the strings in the 2005 assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister Rafik Hariri."

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