Yeah this will work
The stumbling block
U.S. Plan Seeks to Wedge Syria From Iran
By HELENE COOPER and DAVID E. SANGER
Published: July 23, 2006
WASHINGTON, July 22 — As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice heads to Israel on Sunday, Bush administration officials say they recognize Syria is central to any plans to resolve the crisis in the Middle East, and they are seeking ways to peel Syria away from its alliance of convenience with Iran.
In interviews, senior administration officials said they had no plans right now to resume direct talks with the Syrian government. President Bush recalled his ambassador to Syria, Margaret Scobey, after the assassination of Rafik Hariri, a former Lebanese prime minister, in February 2005. Since then, America’s contacts with Damascus have been few, and the administration has imposed an array of sanctions on Syria’s government and banks, and frozen the assets of Syrian officials implicated in Mr. Hariri’s killing.
But officials said this week that they were at the beginning stages of a plan to encourage Saudi Arabia and Egypt to make the case to the Syrians that they must turn against Hezbollah. With the crisis at such a pivotal stage, officials who are involved in the delicate negotiations to end it agreed to speak about their expectations only if they were not quoted by name.
“We think that the Syrians will listen to their Arab neighbors on this rather than us,’’ a senior official said, “so it’s all a question of how well that can be orchestrated.’’
There are several substantial hurdles to success. The effort risks seeming to encourage Syria to reclaim some of the influence on Lebanon that it lost after its troops were forced to withdraw last year. It is not clear how forcefully Arab countries would push a cause seen to benefit the United States and Israel. Many Middle Eastern analysts are skeptical that a lasting settlement can be achieved without direct talks between Syria and the United States.
The effort begins Sunday afternoon in the Oval Office, where President Bush is to meet the Saudi foreign minister, Saud al-Faisal, and the chief of the Saudi national security council, Prince Bandar bin Sultan. Prince Bandar was the Saudi ambassador to Washington until late last year and often speaks of his deep connections to the Bush family and to Vice President Dick Cheney.
Ms. Rice is delaying her departure to the Middle East until after the meeting, which she is also expected to attend, along with Mr. Cheney and Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser. The session was requested by the Saudis, American officials said.
The expected outcome of the session is unclear. “We don’t know how patient the Saudis will be with the Israeli military action,’’ said a senior official said. “They want to see Hezbollah wiped out, and they’d like to set back the Iranians.”
But in the Arab world, the official added, “they can’t been seen to be doing that too enthusiastically.’’
Several of Mr. Bush’s top aides said the plan was for Mr. Bush and other senior officials to press both Saudi Arabia and Egypt to prod Syria into giving up its links with Hezbollah, and with Iran. The administration, aside from its differences with Iran over nuclear programs and with Syria over its role in Lebanon, has also objected to both nations’ behavior toward their common neighbor, Iraq.
“They have to make the point to them that if things go bad in the Mideast, the Iranians are not going to be a reliable lifeline,’’ one of the administration officials said.
Another said, “There is a presumption that the Syrians have more at stake here than the Iranians, and they are more exposed.”
The American officials are calculating that pressure from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan may help to get Syria on board.
But so far, there appears to be little discussion of offering American incentives to the Syrians to abandon Hezbollah, or even to stop arming it. The Bush administration has been deeply reluctant to make such offers, whether it is negotiating with Damascus or with the governments of Iran or North Korea
So, Israel is giving back the Golan Heights?
The corrupt Egyptians, the weak feckless Saudis, and the weak, feckless Jordanians are going to influence Syria? To help Israel?
What the fuck are these people thinking?
Syria has a bottom line demand, the Golan Heights. No Heights, no deal.
What the fuck is Rice thinking, everyone is as stupid as Bush? Oh yeah, there's the Kurd problem and the out of control Iraq problem. And the dead Syrian border guards and their little issue with Task Force 20. Yeah.
Iran is a better ally that Egypt at this point, because Iraq is under Iranian influence.
posted by Steve @ 10:25:00 AM