Negotiations with Syria: An Empty Package

[Ha'aretz] Jonathan Spyer - The revelation of negotiations with Syria last week came wrapped in the packaging of a diplomatic breakthrough. But it was nothing of the kind. The reason why the current negotiations are almost certain to lead nowhere relates to the Syrian regime, and to its perception of its own interests. Syria should not be expected to break with Iran, for the following, central reason: The Iranians and their friends are winning. In all the areas in which it is engaged in its long war with the West, Iran is gaining ground. Hamas, hosted by Syria and increasingly sponsored and trained by Iran, is holding on in Gaza. More fundamentally, the rise of Hizbullah to the status of arbiter of power in Lebanon represents a very significant and clear gain for the Iran-led bloc. If Syria were to depart the Iran-led bloc, its place in all of this would evaporate: no more blocking of the Hariri tribunal, because there would be no more backing of Hizbullah. No return to Lebanon - with its many economic opportunities - because its new American friends will want to respect Lebanese sovereignty. No more influence over the Palestinians through the support of Hamas. Instead, the Assad regime would gain the basalt plateau of the Golan Heights - the absence of which causes it no tangible discomfort - and would in return become a vulnerable, minority-led dictatorship with no immediately obvious justification for its own existence. Peace will become a possibility in the region only when the pro-Iranian alliance is challenged and faced down. The writer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, IDC, Herzliya.

2008-05-30 01:00:00

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