A BREAKTHROUGH ON THE GOLAN HEIGHTS FRONT?
"Damascus,(SANA)- Syria and Israel have started off indirect peace talks under the patronage of Turkey…where both sides have expressed desire to conduct talks with good intention and have decided to pursue dialogue between them seriously and sustainably for the achievement of comprehensive peace in line with reference of Madrid Peace Conference.
The source added:" Syria highly appreciates in that connection the incessant efforts that have been exerted by Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan , and the role of Turkey for over a year .
It is noteworthy to say that President Bashar al-Assad told Qatari daily alWattan recently that the Turkish mediation which continued from April last year until April this year was led by Erdogan.
The president indicated that the talks will be indirect through the Turkish mediation which will convey the basic data for finding a common ground which will be the basis for initiating direct negotiations later.
"An Official Foreign Ministry Source: Syria and Israel Have Indirect Peace Talks Under Turkish Patronage". in www.sana.sy/eng
"Negotiations with Syria will not be easy and will not be simple, it may take a long time and it will involve concessions....After evaluating all the data and receiving the opinion of the defence establishment, I reached the conclusion that the chance [for success] is greater than the risk, and with this hope we are today getting on our way".
Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, speaking on the 21st of May, in www.haaretz.com.
As I have predicted here in the past couple of weeks, all of the balance of forces are in the direction of an Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations and eventually a 'deal'. A sort of 'peace of the strong'. Those voices who worried or better yet predicted the possibility of a Syrian-Israeli War coming about, were I thought than, and, even more so think now, entirely mistaken. Neither Damascus or Tel Aviv, have much to gain from any conflict. Both have much to gain diplomatically from a peace accord. In the case of Damascus: to regain the Golan, to come out of the American-sponsored, diplomatic ice-box, to join the rest of the Near Eastern region's economic upswing. In the case of Tel Aviv: to gain peace on its northern front, to reduce the number of its enemies by one (and indeed the most important one), to also clamp down permanently the Lebanese-Hezbollah front as well, to reduce the Persian-radical Shiite influence in the region and to furthermore isolate the regime in Teheran (for this motivation, see: "Israelis see Syria peace as way to curb Iran [Persia] influence", in www.afp.com.
Of course all of the above was foreseeable as far back as two years ago. Unfortunately the Bush regime, in the full flush of its 'pro-Democracy' blindness and hubris, deliberately chose to ignore those voices in Tel Aviv, pleading for an opportunity to pursue the diplomatic option vis-`a-vis Damascus. Now it would appear that the American 'veto', has been either broken or ignored by Olmert (for the breakdown of the American 'veto' power in the region, as least in part, see: "White House Policies crumble as US allies make peace moves in the region," in www.dailystar.com.lb). Whichever one it is, the timing could not be better, given the modus viviendi that was agreed to in Doha by the opposing parties in the Lebanon most recently. Of course no one should expect an immediate peace accord. Negotiations will be protracted and difficult. Indeed, I do not expect anything to be agreed at concretely until the arrival of the next American President in 2009. Then and only then, will a positively green light be given to Olmert, et. al., to arrive at an accord with the regime of Assad fils. Nothing of the sort can be expected from the current crew in Washington, DC. As was made quite clear from the press briefing at the State Department, where the entire matter was discussed through gritted teeth and the verbal equivalent of frowns (see: www.state.gov) . From the next administration, it is entirely possible, and, indeed probable that a peace deal between these two longstanding antagonists, will be welcomed. Indeed, one can well imagine on the White House lawn no less...