Syria on Top

Tuesday 22 July 2008, by Michel WARSCHAWSKI

Another defeat for the US neo-conservative strategy: Syrian President Bashar el-Assad was the real guest of honor in the Mediterranean summit initiated by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Though Syria is still on Washington’s list of rogue states, it has become a rising power in the Middle East and a key factor in any further global diplomatic initiative for the region. For once, Ehud Olmert understands something and is even ready to defy the US embargo on Syria and to open secret negotiations with Assad’s regime.

In a long interview with French television, the Syrian president very clearly expressed his readiness to normalize relations with Israel and did not get angry when he was put on the bench of the accused, as if Syria was the problem and not, amongst other things, Israel’s 41 years of occupation of the Syrian Golan.

Initially, I interpreted the defensive attitude of Assad in that interview as a position of weakness, a surrender to the aggressive tone of the French journalist. Soon, however, I understood that the Syrian leader was speaking from a position of strength: the warm welcome of Nicolas Sarkozy simply confirmed that Europe has decided to recognize the new leading role of Syria in West Asia and that, sooner or later, Washington will follow.

Syria is the key for any stabilization in Lebanon; Syria can isolate Iran; Syria can substantially weaken the Islamist organizations, like Hezbollah, in closing the border with Lebanon and cutting arm supplies. In short, Syria can change the overall relation of forces in the Middle East and contribute to a substantial strengthening of Western positions in that area. However, all of this is conditional on Washington ending its anti-Syrian attitude. A close reading of the Baker-Hamilton report confirms that this will indeed be the policy of the next American administration, no matter who will wins the race for the US presidency.

In the meantime, the small US neo-conservative gang still in office in the White House will continue to relate to Syria as an enemy, providing additional time to Iran, the Hezbollah and other forces of resistance to the Empire to prepare themselves for the coming US offensive. Such an offensive may well occur in the next few months: in an article published few days ago in New York Times, Israeli neo-conservative analyst Benny Morris is openly calling for a preemptive strike against Iran in the next 10 months. No doubt, Morris was not writing from his own brain only, but reflected the opinion of the US and Israeli war-mongers’ faction.

Bush and Olmert are on their way out, the first to the garbage can of history as one of the worst US President ever, the second to jail, as one of the most corrupted politician in the history of Israel. Both are interested in remaining in the collective memory of their respective people as something else than a joke or a crook. War could be the way to do it.

View online : Michel Warshawski’s blog

Michel Warshawski works with the Alternatives information center

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