Several days ago there were reports in Israel newspapers that President Bashar al Assad of Syria had agreed to cooperate with Israel as part of an overall agreement that would end hostilities between the nations and would include Syria breaking its close ties to Iran. A few days after this report appeared, President Assad turned up in Iran where he was “to consult on the nuclear issue and the right of states to peaceful enrichment” and “exchange ideas aimed at clarifying Iran’s commitment to all international agreements.” Assad was assured by President Ahmadinejad that only discussions and diplomacy would be able to resolve the nuclear problem. President Assad informed President Sarkozy of France he asked Iran if it was working on a nuclear bomb and they replied in the negative.
Despite his discussions with Israel which undoubtedly included providing assurances Syria would not have close ties with Iran, the Syrian leader was having the best of all worlds — discussions with Israel, polite conversations with France, and warm embraces from Ahmadinejad. As of this point, Syria has yet to agree to anything but is being courted by everyone. Next on the agenda is an American decision to restore diplomatic relations with Syria.
In the tangled web that is the Middle East, perhaps, the best strategy is simply to sit tight and do nothing. Unfortunately, President Bush just never figured out the right way to succeed in the Middle East. He did something.