Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hamas feels the heat from Syria

A Very Important Article

By a Special Correspondent
(For personal security reasons, the writer of this article cannot be named)
Asia Times

"As relations between Syria and leading Western countries continue to coalesce, Damascus is set to take a major step in casting off its tag as a sponsor of terrorism.
News has emerged that Hamas' political leadership, based in Damascus, is to be asked to cease public statements and, over time, leave Syria. A source in the Syrian capital said this week that Damascus is keen to be seen as complying with demands from Washington and European capitals, while reiterating that Hamas and Fatah must work to unite to strengthen the position of the common Palestinian cause.

"Damascus is beginning to view itself as a genuine power-broker in the region," said the source, who also mentioned the possibility of Khartoum, Sudan, being proposed as a new base for the Hamas leader. "It sees moving out Hamas as a legitimate move in that it can push the Arab-Israeli peace process forward by putting pressure on Hamas to mend ties with Fatah by presenting a united front against Israel ahead of any possible negotiations."

The source, who cannot be named for security reasons, said a serious precedent was to be expected. "Hamas has been asked to tone down its public statements from Damascus [something Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal and others had been doing, particularly during and after Israel's recent military offensive on Gaza] and eventually move out."

"But this is not going to happen within the coming weeks; it could take a year or more.".......

Progress is steadily moving forward with the announcement that Jeffrey Feltman and Dan Shapiro, two of Obama's top Middle East hands, are expected to visit Damascus for a second time since March in the coming weeks. The Wall Street Journal quoted US State Department officials as saying “the first round of negotiations ... developed common ideas between Damascus and Washington, and now they are hoping to put these strategies into operation.".......

Even if the Syrian government is not quite sure where it is going - how much it wants better relations with the West and at what cost to its existing relationships with Hamas and Iran - it seems Assad is finally beginning to show his cards....."

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