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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Israel should just say no to negotiations with Syria

Haaretz this morning is gushing with that familiar, naive leftist enthusiasm that 'peace' with the murdering regime of Bashar al-Assad is at hand:
American-Syrian national Ibrahim Suleiman, who has been involved in unofficial peace talks between Israel and Syria, told Israeli sources that he intends to clarify to Israel's government that Damascus is truly interested in initiating peace negotiations with Israel.

Suleiman will appear before the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Thursday, alongside Alon Liel, former director general of the Foreign Ministry. The two will brief the committee members on the secret, unofficial talks they conducted, and on the understandings they reached for a peace agreement between Israel and Syria.

Suleiman, who landed in Israel on Tuesday, will inform the committee of the extent of his connections with the Syrian regime. He will tell the MKs about the committee appointed by Syrian President Bashar Assad, which is headed by one of his army generals, to coordinate the talks with Israel. In addition, he will relay the messages he received from Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem.

"There is a genuine willingness in Damascus to initiate peace talks with Israel, which at the very least requires Israel to test the waters," Suleiman told Israeli sources during his stay.
Yeah, right. Consider that aside from wanting all of the Golan in return for nothing, Assad may be trying to realize another old Syrian dream: 'Greater Syria.' Defined to include both Israel and Lebanon. In this morning's Washington Post, former State Department official(!) Liz Cheney tells the truth about Syria and why the US - and Israel - should not be talking to them:
It is time to face facts. Talking to the Syrians emboldens and rewards them at the expense of America and our allies in the Middle East. It hasn't and won't change their behavior. They are an outlaw regime and should be isolated. Members of Congress and State Department officials should stop visiting Damascus. Arab leaders should stop receiving Bashar al-Assad. The U.N. Security Council should adopt a Chapter VII resolution mandating the establishment of an international tribunal for the Hariri murder.

The Security Council should also hold Syria accountable for its ongoing violations of existing resolutions. The U.S. government should implement all remaining elements of the Syria Accountability Act and launch an aggressive effort to empower the Syrian opposition. European governments should demonstrate that they value justice over profit and impose financial and travel sanctions on Syria's leaders.

After Pierre Gemayel's assassination, I received an e-mail from a Lebanese member of parliament. "It is so awful," he wrote. "Pierre was such a promising young man, and he was afraid of nothing. They will try to kill all of us in the end, but we will keep fighting. We will never surrender."

Conducting diplomacy with the regime in Damascus while they kill Lebanese democrats is not only irresponsible, it is shameful.
At Amarji, Syrian dissident blogger Ammar Abdulhamid relates how one of his dissident friends in Syria is being treated: Meanwhile, my colleague, Kamal Labwani, is rotting away in a morbid cell in a Syrian prison. His crime: speaking out against the oppression of the realists' new friends, the Assads:
Kamal, as we are told by his recent visitors, is now
"in a solitary cell. He looked very tired and yellow. He has lost about 10 kg in weight. He cannot eat properly because of the dirty smells that come from the toilet in his cell. The toilet is broken and full of sewage. His clothes are very dirty and he has not been able to wash with soap for fifteen days. They have not allowed him to take a bath. He is wearing a thin and dirty uniform. His skin is red and bleeding. He has scabies and lice. Also the room is cold and no sunlight enters it. We think he has been put in this cell because of his defense statement. The next hearing will be on the 10th April and it will be the final judgment session. The worst signals are that now, before the final session, they have changed all the judges in the case. We think they have changed them because they have prepared the verdict and want the chief justice just to read it. People say that this justice is weaker than the former one… His beard and hair are very long now. They are trying to kill him slowly because they cannot do it fast.”
Here's what Ammar had to say about peace with Israel in a YNet interview:
What is your stance on Israel?

"The Muslim Brotherhood, by the way, said they prefer a negotiated settlement with Israel. They are not calling for Jihad to return the Golan (Heights). They went public on it, and I was very surprised nobody in the media picked up on it. And the head of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sadr Al-Din al-Banouni, said it very clearly in an interview on al-Jazeera. This is exactly why we decided we can talk to the Muslim Brotherhood.

"We simply cannot ignore the Islamists. We are talking about change, about democracy, about elections at one point in time. So it's really good to sit down to realize with whom we can talk and how much they can moderate their language, and what sort of deals we can arrive at. Because either we do this or we have two other options: Either we talk to the Islamists and find moderates and work together for change at the risk of being betrayed. The other options are to stick to the status quo but then the status quo cannot hold a lot with the Assads.

"The final analysis is that they are a minority regime, they are dictators, and they are not addressing any of the country's problems … and had they been good, slightly enlightened, I would never be in the opposition. It is much better to work with a slightly enlightened regime than to risk the chaos that comes with change. So we either continue to cooperate with a regime that will continue to abuse the system or we resort to violence ... All we want is support were do not want someone to do the work for us … As long as we are building networks, and we know we are creating realities on the ground, I don't care if it takes ten years.
I don't know how much I trust the Muslim brotherhood. But I certainly don't think we should be trusting Assad. Anyone who thinks that 'peace' with Assad is going to be anything other than exposing ourselves to the same dangers that existed in northern Israel pre-1967 is fooling himself. The government should tell Suleiman thanks, but no thanks.


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