Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Syrian Question

Joshua Landis posts notes from an Alon Liel presentation on the secret Syrian-Israeli negotiations. Here's the key nugget:
"Swiss diplomats checked every move in the process with senior regime officials in Damascus (unnamed). The Syrians were feeding into the negotiations with government approved ideas and suggestions.

"The Israeli government did not.

"The Americans vetoed any formalization of the track showing no interest in engaging the Syrians.

"Olmert’s rejection is just a parroting of the US position.

"The Syrians wanted to go up a notch with a Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister, with an American official present in the room. The Israelis, according to Liel, were too scared even to ask the US. This happened 10 or 11 days into last summer’s war in Lebanon."

If Liel's perceptions are accurate, and I suspect they are, then American policy makes no sense, though since Dick Cheney was apparently in the loop of our involvement, that's to be expected. The war drums focus is clearly on Iran. I doubt the Bush administration could plan a major confrontation with Syria during its two remaining years in office. What, therefore, is the point of stymieing negotiations?

(Crossposted to American Footprints)


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