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Monday, November 27, 2006

Iraq Study Group to recommend 'engaging' Iran and Syria

This should come as a shock to no one. The New York Times is reporting that the bi-partisan Iraq Study Group, headed by James "F**k the Jews, they don't vote for us anyway" Baker is going to recommend that the United States 'engage' with Iran and Syria. They will also recommend that the US withdraw from Iraq, but no timetable is given.

Last night, I posted a link to a blog post at Captain's Quarters. While I applied Captain Ed's comments to Israel's situation, I have to say that I agreed completely with what he said about the US 'engaging' Iran and Syria as well - there is no common interest to serve as a basis for 'engagement.'

But it's not just Israel and the American right that are - or should be - upset if this recommendation is actually adopted by the Bush administration. In an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN last night, Saad Hariri, the son of assassinated anti-Syrian Lebanese politician Rafik Hariri, said that the US should not be 'engaging' Syria:
KING ABDULLAH II OF JORDAN: We're juggling with the strong potential of three civil wars in the region, whether it's the Palestinians, that of Lebanon, or of Iraq.


BLITZER: He's suggesting there could be a civil war among Hamas and Fatah in the Palestinian community, between Shia and Sunni in Iraq and between Christian and Sunni, on the one hand, and Shia, on the other hand, in Lebanon.

Is his concern legitimate, as far as Lebanon is concerned?

HARIRI: It is, you know, in some ways, if we let the Syrians and this axis of Iran, Syria -- we let it sway through Lebanon.

You see the thing is -- what I think his majesty King Abdullah was talking about is the main interference in the region of these regimes into Lebanon or into Palestine or into Iraq.

The problem is, today, Syria is playing a negative role in Lebanon and it's playing a negative role in Palestine and a negative role in Iraq. And I believe some people are saying that Syria needs to be engaged. Well, to be engaged with what?

If Syria is playing a positive role, then you don't need to engage with it. But if it's playing a negative role, then you're engaging into being a hostage for blackmail.
Most of the Times article deals with Iraq, and not with Iran and Syria. The article notes that
President Bush is not bound by the commission’s recommendations, and during a trip to Southeast Asia that ended just before Thanksgiving, he made it clear that he would also give considerable weight to studies under way by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and his own National Security Council.
It also has this to say about Iran and Syria:
Officials said that the draft of the section on diplomatic strategy, which was heavily influenced by Mr. Baker, seemed to reflect his public criticism of the administration for its unwillingness to talk with nations like Iran and Syria.

But senior administration officials, including Stephen J. Hadley, the president’s national security adviser, have expressed skepticism that either of those nations would go along, especially while Iran is locked in a confrontation with the United States over its nuclear program. “Talking isn’t a strategy,” he said in an interview in October.

“The issue is how can we condition the environment so that Iran and Syria will make a 180-degree turn, so that rather than undermining the Iraqi government, they will support it.”
Let's hope that Hadley's view holds court and not Baker's. But at best, that would give us a reprieve until after the 2008 Presidential election. Now is the time to make sure that the right person gets nominated and elected.


At 3:26 PM, Blogger ShumBaayaMyLord said...

Carl, no doubt you've also seen the Debka article just out on largely the same topic--indicative of Brent Scowcroft's influence as well as that of Baker. The "Iraq Study Group" should be re-dubbed the "Munich 1938 Commemorative Group."

Israel is on its own at least until something dramatic happens, by which I mean a forcible removal from power of the current cabinet. I wish I didn't feel compelled to write that last sentence, but I believe matters are simply too far gone for half-measures any longer. Not that I trust someone like Effie Eitam in such a scenario--rather, bring on Boogie Ya'alon.


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