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What about Syria?

Soon, everyone in Washington will be able to breathe a breath of fresh air once Benjamin Netanyahu has gone. But it won’t be long before we’re graced with the presence of the illustrious Hosni Mubarak and the honorable Mahmoud Abbas. These three apes will be Obama’s partners in ‘peace’ for the foreseeable future, but some parties crucial to any comprehensive resolution remain absent from US-mediated negotiations that are supposedly regional in their approach.

There is no reason to believe that Khaled Meshaal or Ismail Haniyeh will be invited to the White House, but some people were starting to hope that Syria could soon become part of the process. It would make sense. The Golan Heights remain occupied and Damascus continues to support Hamas and Hezbollah. US officials also accuse Syria of not doing enough to stem the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq. Breaking from the policies of the previous administration, senior diplomats have made numerous trips to Syria in recent months and relations appeared to be improving.

Reality struck when president Obama decided to renew sanctions on Syria. Needless to say, this was not well received in Damascus. The White House explained its decision, saying Syria poses “a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States” because it is “supporting terrorism, pursuing weapons of mass destruction” and not helping to advance the US agenda in Iraq. Special Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell is planning on making his way over to Damascus to discuss this “national emergency” but his trip is unlikely to bear many fruits.

Unless the administration begins to do something more than talk, there is little reason for optimism when it comes to US-Syrian relations. As long as members of the US government (and the masses) continue to view Syria through the same prism as Iran there is no hope for change. Currently, most Americans cannot think of Syria without recalling Iran, and vice versa.

That’s a shame only because it’s so far from the truth. The most glaring difference between them is that Syria has a secular government while Iran is a theocracy. The Hama massacre was the most grotesque example of the lengths to which Damascus has gone to prevent anything resembling the revolution that swept through Iran. The greatest tie that binds the two nations is resistance to Israel. That similarity is the main reason why some people find it so hard to differentiate between them.

Of course, Israeli officials have gone to great lengths to portray Syria and Iran as one in the same, even if the spotlight has recently been on the latter. Despite the close proximity of Israel and Syria, Iran presents a greater military threat whose nuclear ‘capabilities’ cannot be taken down so easily. (It also serves as a smokescreen to shield attention away from the question of Palestine.)

Bibi spent 95% of his time in Washington talking about Iran. There are no indications of any substantive discussions having taken place on Capitol Hill about peace in the Middle East. Everyone was too busy talking about Iran, or sucking up to their master. Since the Iran-obsessed Israeli agenda dominated the proceedings, Syria must have been a more prominent talking point than anything resembling a two-state solution.

Washington’s efforts notwithstanding, there is little hope of any settlement between Israel and Syria for the time being. Netanyahu has adamantly refused to release the Golan Heights. The diplomatic dance between Washington and Damascus is fun to watch, but very little will come out of it so long as US policy is rooted in Israeli interests. Still, Obama continues to talk… If meaningful diplomatic relations were to be established, that would be a good thing. It would be a start, even if it has no immediate consequences. But even that seems like a lofty goal when one takes into account the recent renewal of US sanctions on Syria and Tuesday’s buttlicking contest on Capitol Hill.

Wouldn’t it be be nice if Obama sent an ambassador to Damascus and lifted sanctions on Syria? Maybe then, he could try to convince Netanyahu to let go of the Golan Heights and invite Bashar Assad over for matzo-ball soup. The Obamas and Assads could start hanging out, and Israelis could become friends with Syrians just like they are with Egyptians and Jordanians!

We are not living in a fantasy world so we should expect nothing from Israel, but there is no reason for an outside observer not to expect that US-Syrian relations can improve. They should if there is to be any hope of a comprehensive settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

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Discussion

21 Responses to “What about Syria?”

  1. Unless the administration begins to do something more than talk, there is little reason for optimism when it comes to US-Syrian relations. Kalash, maybe the problem is that you just don't understand what teh whole "diplomacy' thing is all about? The US is not going to do a damn thing to help Syria unless Syria starts taking some action that the US views favorably. You say the US Administartion needs to do something more than talk? You've got it exactly backwards. You seriously expect the US to make concessions to Syria, unilaterally? Why would we do that? Why would anyone do that? How does that benefit the US?

    Posted by programmer craig | May 20, 2009, 10:02 am
  2. There is no reason to believe that Khaled Meshaal or Ismail Haniyeh will be invited to the White House… That was a joke, right?

    Posted by programmer craig | May 20, 2009, 10:03 am
  3. Programmer Craig, Both Haniyeh and Netanyahu were elected by their people, neither of those men have personally carried military or violent attacks against, both this men deny that the other should have their own state. But Netanyahu is invited to the White House and Haniyeh hides in a basement in Gaza….does that sound fair to you? Thanks

    Posted by Hantizer | May 20, 2009, 2:24 pm
  4. Kinda ignoring the whole "mass waves of suicide bombings" that HAMAS is responsible for, eh? That's OK, I would pretend all that never happened to, if I was you. Just don't hold your breath waiting for the invitation to the White House going out to anyone associated with HAMAS. Just curious… why did you reply to that comment and not the first one? That was just an aside, because I really wasn't sure if Kalash was joking or not. I would think it was obvious to any American (even Arab Americans) that HAMAS is never going to be welcomed here.

    Posted by programmer craig | May 20, 2009, 3:41 pm
  5. Why do you ignore the decades of repression, dispossession and violence by Israel? You act as if one side and one side alone is guilty of violence, when the lion's share of the violence has been perpetrated by Israel. If the US is an honest broker it will speak to all sides, period. Your claims to "neutrality," as always, are bullshit, just as are those of our government.

    Posted by Sean2009 | May 20, 2009, 7:12 pm
  6. Both Haniyeh… were elected by their people Now that the criminals have power, they are not letting go… Hamas 'harming Gaza opponents' A rights group has accused Palestinian organisation Hamas of killing or maiming alleged collaborators and political opponents in Gaza. At least 20 people had been killed since the end of last year, Amnesty International stated in a report based on testimony from inside Gaza. Scores of others had been beaten and injured, the rights group said. Amnesty says Hamas has been meting out summary justice to those believed to have helped Israeli forces. "Hamas forces in Gaza have engaged in abductions, unlawful killings, torture and death threats against those they accuse of 'collaborating' with Israel," says the report. It says the same violence has been inflicted on "opponents and critics" of the Hamas administration. Many witnesses and victims are said to be too frightened to come forward. But one victim told investigators how he had been taken from his home by masked men and shot in both legs. Some of those killed are said to have been shot dead while receiving hospital treatment.

    Posted by eagle007blogger | May 20, 2009, 8:46 pm
  7. Both Haniyeh… were elected by their people Now that the criminals have power, they are not letting go… Hamas 'harming Gaza opponents' A rights group has accused Palestinian organisation Hamas of killing or maiming alleged collaborators and political opponents in Gaza. At least 20 people had been killed since the end of last year, Amnesty International stated in a report based on testimony from inside Gaza. Scores of others had been beaten and injured, the rights group said. Amnesty says Hamas has been meting out summary justice to those believed to have helped Israeli forces. "Hamas forces in Gaza have engaged in abductions, unlawful killings, torture and death threats against those they accuse of 'collaborating' with Israel," says the report. It says the same violence has been inflicted on "opponents and critics" of the Hamas administration. Many witnesses and victims are said to be too frightened to come forward. But one victim told investigators how he had been taken from his home by masked men and shot in both legs. Some of those killed are said to have been shot dead while receiving hospital treatment.

    Posted by eagle007blogger | May 20, 2009, 8:46 pm
  8. Haniyeh hides in a basement in Gaza….does that sound fair to you? No, he should be in jail or dead. Hamas: End Military Group Attacks Against Civilians Hamas’s military wing should immediately ensure that no further civilians are targeted for attack, Human Rights Watch List of Hamas suicide attacks As Hamas’ power grows, life for Gazans worsens. Hamas militiamen beat, club Gaza protesters GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Security men for Gaza’s Hamas rulers clubbed and slammed rifle butts into opponents staging a rare protest Monday, seizing the cameras of journalists covering the event and raiding media offices to prevent news footage from getting out. Children of Hamas The language of Hamas Hamas calls on Muslims to attack U.S. targets

    Posted by eagle007blogger | May 20, 2009, 8:54 pm
  9. Haniyeh hides in a basement in Gaza….does that sound fair to you? No, he should be in jail or dead. Hamas: End Military Group Attacks Against Civilians Hamas’s military wing should immediately ensure that no further civilians are targeted for attack, Human Rights Watch List of Hamas suicide attacks As Hamas’ power grows, life for Gazans worsens. Hamas militiamen beat, club Gaza protesters GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Security men for Gaza’s Hamas rulers clubbed and slammed rifle butts into opponents staging a rare protest Monday, seizing the cameras of journalists covering the event and raiding media offices to prevent news footage from getting out. Children of Hamas The language of Hamas Hamas calls on Muslims to attack U.S. targets

    Posted by eagle007blogger | May 20, 2009, 8:54 pm
  10. Hantizer thinks that Hamas are very brave: Hamas Pulling Back Into Crowded Cities, Beckoning Israelis

    Posted by eagle007blogger | May 20, 2009, 4:57 pm
  11. Hantizer thinks that Hamas are very brave: Hamas Pulling Back Into Crowded Cities, Beckoning Israelis

    Posted by eagle007blogger | May 20, 2009, 8:57 pm
  12. lol @ blurting out in a discussion about Syria and Hamas: "ISRAEL! ISRAEL! AHHHHHH!" If discussing the Tamil Tiger situation in Sri Lanka: "BUT WHAT ABOUT ISRAEL!" When talking about the situation in Darfur: "yeah sure but ISRAEL! AHHH!" When talking about what to have for dinner: "anything as long as its not ISRAELLLLL!" Sean2009 says, "I got a flat tire on the way to work – I think it was ISRAEL'S FAULT!!! ISRAELLLLL!"

    Posted by eagle007blogger | May 20, 2009, 9:00 pm
  13. I was responding to PC bringing up Hamas and the refusal of the US to deal with it as if it is solely responsible for the violence in Palestine. So yeah, Israel warrants a mention there. As for Sri Lanka, you might note that Israel armed and trained the Sri Lanka military including supplying it with fighter aircraft. So Israel warrants a mention there, too. With Darfur, the myth of a racist war between Arabs (bad guys) and blacks (good guys) has been invented and pushed by Zionists and neocons who likely are pursuing their usual agenda of fomenting conflict to weaken a Muslim state and make it ripe for the plucking, or just turn it into a failed state like Somalia. I have never eaten Israel for dinner, but I have been known to nosh on the occasional knish or bagel with lox and cream cheese. I will confess to screaming "Fuck youuuuu, Israeeeeel!" the last time I got a flat, but I do that a lot so I am not sure it was because of the flat.

    Posted by Sean2009 | May 20, 2009, 11:04 pm
  14. Thank you Sean for setting ht record(s) straight… it's too bad some people keep filtering out the truth.

    Posted by Kalash | May 21, 2009, 2:58 am
  15. Why do you ignore the decades of repression, dispossession and violence by Israel? Does that excuse a deliberate campaign of mass murder against innocent Israelis, Sean? If theer was any justice in this world HAMAS leadership and much of its membership would be on trial for crimes against humanity. Instead, they won an election. Whose fault is that, Sean? Mine? You act as if one side and one side alone is guilty of violence, when the lion's share of the violence has been perpetrated by Israel. </i? We aren't talking about generic violence, Sean,w e are talking about criminal violence – including mass murder and terrorism. Do you REALLY want the US Government to play kissy-face with mass murderers?

    Posted by programmer craig | May 21, 2009, 11:33 pm
  16. If the US is an honest broker it will speak to all sides, period. And I suppose we should talk to Al Qaeda, too? lol. Sean, you're a nutcase. I don't know if Obama would be impeached for taht or not, but he'd ceratinly face an insurrection in congress, and his future prospects would be very dim indeed. Your claims to "neutrality," as always, are bullshit, just as are those of our government. I never said I was neutral, Sean. I said I try not to advocate for Israel. You on the other hand are right here and right now advocating for people who proudly commit mass murder of the inncent.

    Posted by programmer craig | May 21, 2009, 11:34 pm
  17. And will you PLEASE switch to some blog software that doesn't suck?

    Posted by programmer craig | May 21, 2009, 11:35 pm
  18. Why do you ignore the decades of repression, dispossession and violence by Israel? Does that excuse a deliberate campaign of mass murder against innocent Israelis, Sean? If theer was any justice in this world HAMAS leadership and much of its membership would be on trial for crimes against humanity. Instead, they won an election. Whose fault is that, Sean? Mine? I asked a simple question: "Why do you ignore the decades of repression, dispossession and violence by Israel?" You speak only of crimes committed by Hamas, while totally ignoring those committed by Israel. You act as if one side and one side alone is guilty of violence, when the lion's share of the violence has been perpetrated by Israel. We aren't talking about generic violence, Sean,w e are talking about criminal violence – including mass murder and terrorism.> So Israel committing mass murder, mass dispossession, mass starvation, mass imprisonment without trial and state terrorism are all justifiable because state terrorism is "generic" violence whereas the violence of non-state players is "criminal?" That is dazzling hypocrisy even from a pro-Israel tool like yourself, PC. What's more laughable, is that you claim to be a "libertarian" but not only endorse the state's monopoly on violence by labeling non-state violence "criminal" but you also legitimize state violence by coming up with the mundo bizarro euphemism of "generic" to rationalize it. Like I always say, scratch a libertarian, and you'll find an authoritarian underneath. For me, the only difference between a suicide bomber with 50 lbs of explosives killing a bunch of innocent civilians and a 500 lb dropped from a US or Israeli aircraft doing the same is 450 lbs. That and the fact Hamas is resisting an illegal occupation and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians by Israel. Do you REALLY want the US Government to play kissy-face with mass murderers? No, I don't want them playing kissy-ass with mass murderers like they do with Israel, either. Last I checked, we weren't supplying Hamas with F-16s and looking the other way while Hamas agents spy on us and sell our secrets to our enemies.

    Posted by Sean2009 | May 22, 2009, 4:35 pm
  19. If the US is an honest broker it will speak to all sides, period. And I suppose we should talk to Al Qaeda, too? lol. Sean, you're a nutcase. I don't know if Obama would be impeached for taht or not, but he'd ceratinly face an insurrection in congress, and his future prospects would be very dim indeed. You mean, like the insurrection Carter faced when he brokered a meeting between Israel and the PLO? I don't know where this loudmouthed, assinine macho bullshit about not negotiating with terrorists came from, but the fact is, we do it all the time. What's more, we have negotiated with parties far more vicious than Al Qaeda, such as the Nazis and Imperial Japan, who did more butchery on an off-day than Al Qaeda has done in its history. The simple fact is, if you want peace, and not excuses for maintaining an illegal occupation, land theft and continuous war to keep your people frightened and in control, then you have to negotiate with all parties in a conflict and that includes terrorists. But considering Israel doesn't want any peace that doesn't involve them getting all the land and the Palestinians going somewhere else, I can understand the opposition to negotiation: it lets them keep on killing civilians and stealing land while claiming some kind of perverted moral high ground, as if there's a dime's worth or difference between terrorism and state terrorism. Your claims to "neutrality," as always, are bullshit, just as are those of our government. I never said I was neutral, Sean. I said I try not to advocate for Israel. You on the other hand are right here and right now advocating for people who proudly commit mass murder of the inncent. Bullshit. Nowhere have I advocated or apologized for terrorists. whereas you are a shameless, unreasoned apologist for Israel's state terrorism. What I have advocated, is that as the elected representatives of the Palestinian people, Hamas has the same right to be at the negotiating table as the terrorist state of Israel. They have more rights, really, when you consider that Israel's occupation is illegal under international law and there really should be no negotiation necessary. Israel should pack up its gear and get the fuck out or face massive interntaional sanctions, including by the US. The only negotiation should be for a timetable for their withdrawal, not how much of the stolen property do they get to keep. I realize the concept of diplomacy is difficult for people like yourself who think diplomacy consists of dropping bombs on people until they see the error of their ways and come to realize they love Big Brother after all, but in the real world, peace can only be achieved when all warring parties are brought on board to reach an agreement. This is what the British had to realize in Northern Ireland. It took them 800 years to figure it out. If we had simply imposed terms on Germany and Japan without negotiation we would still be fighting a guerrilla war there. Thank God we didn't have people like you or Ariel Sharon at the bargaining table to negotiate the peace or Japanese kids would be carrying bombs in their bookbags and not Pokemon cards.

    Posted by Sean2009 | May 22, 2009, 5:02 pm
  20. If the US is an honest broker it will speak to all sides, period. Then the US is not an honest broker. Deal with it. Frankly, Sean, I'm disgusted that there are Americans who even WANT the US to treat a group that is guilty of mass murder as if they are legitimate. Would that make you proud, Sean? Would you go around bragging about how your country respects people who commit suicide bombings of children's schools? When did Americans sink so low? Not even the hippies were this morally ambiguous.

    Posted by programmer craig | May 22, 2009, 7:55 pm
  21. Yet you support our government giving money to Israel and have right here on this site justified Israel's use of white phosphorus against school kids. Now you want to stand on your high horse scooping up piles of high horseshit and flinging them at people who recognize the political necessity of dealing with all parties. How many schoolkids have been willfully shot in the head by Israeli snipers.? How many have gotten the shit beat out of them or had their bones broken as a matter of state policy? Do you even have a fucking clue or are you totally ineducable? Can you be any more of a shameless hypocrite, PC? Most of what you post here is bullshit and you know it's bullshit. Do you even have a point to make? I doubt it. You seem to just want to blather on and invent strawmen to tilt at while you vent your anti-Arab bigotry and paranoia. Christ, my country is filled with mind-fucked tools like you. That is what I am ashamed of.

    Posted by Sean2009 | May 23, 2009, 4:09 am

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