Tag Archives: Syria

Syria And Israel Reportedly Reach Agreement

There are reports Syria and Israel have reached agreements on a series of proposals which hopefully will result in an end to their conflict and resolution of all outstanding issues between the two nations. According to a report in Maariv, both nations informed Turkish mediators who have been working for peace between the nations, they have agreed to bite the bullet and bring peace to the region. The agreement includes: (a) ending the state of war between Syria and Israel, and (b) exchange ambassadors and establish diplomatic relations. Israel promises to withdraw all troops from the Golan Heights and the area will be demilitarized. Syria agrees to reduce the number of its troops which are currently stationed near the area. An early warning station manned by international forces will be placed on Mount Hermon.

Terms of the proposed agreement include Syria cutting off its close ties with Iran which most probably would include forbidding Syria from supplying terrorist groups such as Hizbullah. If hopefully, the agreement is finally signed and goes into effect, it once again demonstrates the importance of getting third party nations like Turkey involved in peace negotiations within the Middle East and having Condi Rice and Americans remain out of the picture. The United States as this point in time is simply not regarded as an impartial nation in any negotiations dealing with the Middle East.

Washington Continues Policy Of Talking With Terrorists!

President Bush has repeatedly denounced assertions by Barack Obama that under his administration, the Untied States would engage in discussions with nations such as Iran and Syria. Bush and Senator John McCain have made plain any attempt to enter into discussions with nations listed as supporting terrorism would be appeasement of terrorism. Last week, the Bush administration dispatched a high ranking State Department official to participate in discussions with Iran. This week, the United States said it was ready to hold talks with two key visiting Syrian officials. Riad Daoudi and Ahmad Samir Al-Taki, are in the United States to participate in a forum organized by Search for Common Ground. The visiting Syrian diplomats will also have a meeting with representatives of the State Department.

The rhetoric of defiance which postures with strong words of defiance is a meaningless gesture whose audience is more likely right wing Republicans than the world outside. Barack Obama’s emphasis on talking and negotiating apparently has become accepted by the Bush administration.

Israel-Syria Talks Progress

Alon Liel, who formerly worked in the Israel Foreign Ministry, told the London Daily Telegraph there had been considerable progress in his talks with second-tier Syrian representatives. Syria is ready to make a move to alter its current relations with Iran. “They are asking not only for the Golan Heights but for a change in Washington that will break the Syrian isolation internationally. But, I think they will not do it unless they are assured they have an alternative to Iran. According to Liel, the Syrians may well wait until there is a new president in Washington due to their distrust of George Bush who for years denounced their country as a source of terrorism.

Turkey has been playing a key role as the mediator in the discussions. It suggests the world has not paid sufficient attention to the importance of Turkey in establishing stability in the Middle East. The Syrian attitude most probably will become more supportive of change if someone like Barack Obama becomes president.

Hamas–Israel Cease Fire Imminent

There are reports a cease fire is imminent between Hamas and Israel due to efforts by Egyptian mediator Omar Suleiman, head of Intelligence. It appears once the cease fire is in place Israel and Hamas will conclude final arrangements for the exchange of captured Israeli soldier Cpl. Gilad Schalit. An important factor in facilitating the exchange will be the number of Palestinian prisoners Israel is willing to release. Yesterday, an American military mission arrived in Gaza to assist Egyptian authorities who are monitoring tunnels through which Hamas smuggles materials. Israel is insistent the smuggling as well as rocket attacks from Gaza must cease.

Meanwhile, Israel and Syrian negotiators concluded the current round of talks that are being mediated by Turkey. The greater is Israel’s involvement in negotiating with Syria or Hamas the more difficult it will be for Israel to object if a new American president seeks to meet with regional leaders. Ironically, President Bush in his speech to the Israel parliament denounced negotiations with terrorists even as the Israel government was engaged in such discussions. Will Bush now term Israel as “appeasing terrorism?”

Some Progress In Syria-Israel Talks

In the latest rounds of unofficial discussions between Israel and Syria there are reports of some slight progress in resolving issues between the nations. A Syrain official who is close to the negotiations said that issues were being discussed along genral lines in preparation for future talks which hopefully would get down to specific issues that must be resolved. He said Israel has agreed in principle to the implementation of joint security efforts as atrust building step. Israel has not at this point insisted that Syria cut ties with Iran and Syria has made clear to the Iranian government it presently is dealing with issues of concern to its national interests.

Ibrahim Hamidi, one of Syria’s leading independent journalists, says his nation is anxious to return to the negotiating table and that sereious progress has been made in the talks so far. President Peres of Israel said if Presdient Bashar Asad is serious he will come to Jerusalem and address to the Knesset or invite an Israeli to speak with his legislature as Anwar Sadat did in the 1970s in order to achieve peace with Israel.

Israel, Syria, and Iran Struggle To Resolve Issues

The Israel government is currently engaged in discussions with Syria due to the mediation efforts of Turkey. An initial stumbling block in resolving the Golan Heights issue is the insistence on the part of Israel that Syria cut its ties with Iran and cease funding terrorist groups. There is a strong likelihood had such discussions taken place two or three years ago, the Syrian response would have been more positive, but pressure by the Bush administration and right wing Israeli groups made it impossible to conduct such negotiations. The situation has changed. Hizbullah has now become a dominant force in Lebanon which means Syria has a chance to reassert its power in that nation. “Timing” is a vital factor in achieving a nation’s foreign policy goals and there are signs the current time may not be that beneficial for Israel.

Iranian and Syrian Defense ministers met over the weekend in Tehran where they pledged cooperation. Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mahommad Najjar said “Damascus is a vitaland strategc ally of Iran” and emphasized there was need for a regional alliance to maintain security in the region. The meeting came a day after Syria rejected Israel’s preconditions that Syria must cut off relations with Iran. The Syrian government bluntly stated: “Damascus rejects all preconditions concerning its relations with other countries and peoples.”

Perhaps, it is time to consider the possibility of a regional meeting at which all concerned parties discuss possible compromise solutions to the issues they are confronting.

Hamas Makes Threats As Israel-Syria Talk

Israeli and Syrian leaders are discussing possible peace, but the leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal, made clear his organization’s refusal to compromise on certain key points and the need to end the Gaza blockade. “If the international community and the concerned parties don’t take the initiative and break the siege, we will break it ourselves. We insist on opening of crossings, particularly Rafah.” He also reiterated the goals of his group. “The Palestinians will not accept any agreement with Israel that would compromise the rights of Palestinians in Jeruslaem, the right of return or the Palestinian right to rule our own land.”

The Hamas leader openly stated his belief that Prime Minister Olmert’s personal problems of being charged with corruption have weakened his hand in any negotiation with Palestinians. It appears the Israel and Syrian negotiations have already encountred a road block due to insistence by Israel that any agreement be conditioned on an end by Syria of its relations with Hamas and Iran.

Any agreement must entail give and take on the part of both sides. Historically, the idea of compromise has never been a comfortable concept when Israel and Arab nations enter into negotiations.

Syrian-Israel Talks Continue

Three days of indirect peace talks betwen Syria and Israel which are being conducted under auspices of Turkey have apparently led to a sense of satisfaction on the part of both sides. Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan noted: “Both sides were satisfied that the talks-which went on for three days on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Istanbul –resulted in findng a common ground.” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem claimed his nation had received firm commitments on the part of Israel for a fulll withdrawal from the occupied Golan Heights. Israel Pime Minister Ehud Olmert said his nation was “ready to make substantial concessions to Syria that will be quite painful.” Babacan refused to comment on the specific areas of agreement except to say”the basic philosophy is peace for land and land for peace.”

President Bush insists talking with nations that have engaged in or supported terrorism is an example of appeasement. Syria certainly fits the category of being a terrorist nation but appearently when Israel talks with terrorist nations it is not appeasement, according to the Bush version of the world, but simply an exercise in common sense. If the same sense of practicality could now be applied to initating discussions with Hamas and Hizbullah the Middle East might move onto the roadway of peace and reality.

Israel and Syria Agree On Golan Withdrawal

President George Bush, in his speech to the Knesset, warned of dangers posed by engaging in discussions with nations or groups which are in the forefront of terrorism and derided Democratic rivals who wanted such discusisons as believers in appeasement. A week after his pep talk to Israel, the government of Ehud Olmert acknowledged it has been involved in discussions with Syria, a state long identified as one supporting terrorism, and the two have agreed on an Israel withdrawal from the Golan Heights. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moliem, told the press: “We have received commitments for a withdrawal from the Golan to the June 4, 1967 line.” The Olmert government said ‘Israel and Syria have begun indirect talks with the Syrians, under the auspices of Turkey. The two sides have declared their intention to conduct the negotiations in good faith and with openess.”

President Bush, who opposes negotiations with terrorist regimes like Syria and Iran, is now claiming he doesn’t oppose Israel negotiating with Syria, but he will not allow his administration to negotiate with Syria. The Omert government will use these discussions in order to persuade Syria to end military support for Hamas and Hizbullah. This issue, undoubtedly, will be the central one in any compromise agreement. Of course, one might suggest the possibility of involving Hamas and Hizbullah in discussions with Syria in order to create a regional peace agreement. But, that would be appeasement and we know how George Bush doesn’t believe in appeasing agressors. He only believes in discussions with terorrist nations if they fit into his definition as to what constitutes appeasement.

Hopefully, future historians will be able to make sense of the Bush program of discussions with terrorist nations.

A Speech President Bush Could Have Given In Knesset

Following is the speech George Bush could have presented in the Israel Knesset if he was concerned about the security of Israel and its neighbors.

I am happy to be present on this momentous day which celebrates the 60th birthday of Israel as an independent nation. The people of Israel–Jews, Muslims, and Christians– are a beachhead of democracy in the region. I come as a friend, and, as a friend, it is important that I offer advice since I care about the future of this nation. The nation of Israel is isolated in the Middle East and must address those issues which have led to the current situation of being cut off from other countries in the area.

Let me begin by admitting that I made a mistake in supporting a policy of no negotiation with groups and nations with whom I disagree. The policy of refusing to negotiate has failed. Over thirty years ago, President Richard Nixon, who had supported for years a polcy of having no interactions with the government of Communist China, admitted his policy had failed. He initiated a dialogue with the Chinese Communist government whose leader, Mao Tse-tung had most probably killed 25 million people and was undoubtedly a terrorist in the truest sense of the word. Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, talked with and worked out agreements with their hated rival. We know that policy proved productive to the cause of peace in Asia and the slow, but steady, growth of democracy in China.

It is time to end policies of silence since they don’t work. Every American president from Truman to Reagan negotiated with Soviet Communist leaders despite the fact those individuals were dedicated to the overthrow of capitalism and supported terrorist groups in the world. Dialogue and negotiation maintained peace in the area. It is time to reach out to Hamas and Hizbullah and work with the Palestinian Authority led by President Abbas in order to create the basis for peace in the region. We must engage Syria and Iran as part of a new dialogue for peace.

I urge involving the talents and expertise of important world figures such as the UN Secretary General and individuals like Nelson Mandela. I suggest the Palestinian Authority ask the governmnt of Turkey to dispatch troops to the Gaza area who would ensure the non-importantion of military weapons and work to end rocket attacks on Israel. It is time for Israel to accept the Hamas offer of a cease fire and allow Turkish toops to enforce it. This could be a positive first step in the beginning of a new dialogue for peace.

After the end of World War II, the United States and European nations, worked under th auspices of the Marshall Plan to create the basis for economic cooperation and an end to traditional hatreds. Although, Germany had killed over thirty million Europeans, it’s leaders were welcomed as partners. I propose creation of a new version of the Marshall Plan which would bring together all nations of the Middle East. The plan would be funded initially at the rate of $25 billion a year. This plan would require Middle Eastern Arab nations to work in a cooperative modality to develop an economic plan which would rejuvenate the entire region. All plans would have to be agreed upon both by Israel and Arab nations. A condition of the plan would be that all members cease military support or action against fellow members.

I also call for the creation of a new university that would be funded by the Billy Gates Foundation and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This Middle Eastern University would be open to students from all nations, it would be free, and its task would be to create a new generation of Middle Eastern young people who are dedicated to peace in the region. The MEU would bring together the best minds in the fields of science, technology, medicine, and the liberal arts who would work on a transnational basis to ensure peace and prosperity in the region.

The time has come to cease using outworn expressions such as “appeasement” when discussing peace. We can no longer afford to pursue the path of isolation. We need Iran and Syria actively engaged in the fight for peace and prosperity. I recognize what I propose will frighten many people in Israel as well as Muslims. The road of isolation leads only to isolation. Peace entails risks but the alternative is continuance of the current policy of non-enagement which has only increased the risk of violence. The road to peace begins with a first step. The first step is ending the current situation in Gaza that both endangers Muslims as well as Israelis. Hopefully, after the first step, there will be a more active movement towards peace.