During the past few months the government of President Bashar Assad has alternated between expressing a desire for peace with Israel to inflammatory expressions of warlike defiance. The Army radio quoted a “high ranking Arab source” as claiming Assad was willing to risk war with Israel in order to pursue policies in Lebanon which support the efforts of Hizbullah to gain power in that nation. However, the London based daily Al Hayat, quoted Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Molem as saying his nation was willing to renew peace negotiations with Israel if its opponent was serious. The paper said both nations had exchanged reassuring messages of a desire for peace.
One of the problems in the Middle East stems from the disaster in Iraq where the Bush war has aided in the destablilization of the region. The United States has alternated between showing restraint in its policy with Syria to issuing threats. At the present time three issues are unresolved in the Middle East– the Israel-Palestinian conflict, the confusing situation in Lebanon which has prevented a president from assuming power, and the disaster that is Iraq. President Bush simply lacks the intelligence or sophistication to work in a cooperative manner with all the players trapped in present disputes. The world will have to wait the arrival of a new president who might be able to end bellicose rhetoric and work quietly and with intelligence to help all parties resolve these issues.