Assad Can't Deliver

[Ynet News] Ron Ben-Yishai - Syrian President Assad knows well that if he meets even some of the demands presented to him by Israel, the U.S., and Europe, his regime would face genuine danger as would the Alawite-Shiite sect he leads. Therefore, he is unable to deliver the goods even if he receives everything he wants. He is unable to disengage from Iran because it's getting stronger and is assisting him in expanding his ballistic missile arsenal. Iran also controls Hizballah, which is able to thwart overnight all of Assad's hopes regarding Lebanon. Tehran knows it has the power to veto any Syrian move it doesn't like. Assad is also unable to deliver the goods in the American context regarding Iraq. If he curbs the flow of money, fighters, and weapons to the Sunni rebels in Iraq, he knows they will launch a war against him and his regime with the help of Syria's Sunnis. The Sunni majority in Syria, and particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, are desperate for outside assistance in order to act against the Alawite-Shiite regime in Damascus. The Iraqi Sunnis refrain from acting against Syria because Assad provides them assistance. Should Assad stop the assistance, the Iraqi Sunnis would join forces with the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria and threaten Assad's regime. They will also resort to terrorism in order to torpedo any attempt for Syrian-Israeli cooperation or normalization should a Syrian-Israeli peace agreement be signed. The bottom line is that Assad, under the conditions currently prevalent in the Middle East, cannot give Israel and the West anything substantive in exchange for a peace agreement involving the Golan, even if he wants to do so. The reasons for Assad's peace offensive are mostly tactical: He believes that engaging in negotiations with Israel, even if indirectly, would remove international pressure regarding the Hariri trial.

2006-12-21 01:00:00

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