Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Syria: Erdogan's surprise visit

Erdogan has managed to place himself as the broker to be trusted between the Syrians and the Israelis. In light of everything that has been happening recently one wonders about the timing of the visit and whether the Israelis are trying to find out Syria's position on a possible strike against Iran. With Iran appearing to be paralysed by political turmoil, a quick strike might spell the end of the demonstrations and the demonstrators, but would be perfect in pushing back Iran's nuclear weapons programme. Syria is not capable nor interested in a full on military confrontation with the Zionist juggernaut, but it will not hesitate to reign the Israelis in by supporting Hezbullah to the hilt and who, along with Hamas, give Syria its only chance to grab the Israeli bull by the horns. If Israel attacks Iran then Hezbullah and Hamas will fire there rockets on Israel and probably more.

Recently there has been a concerted effort to try to bring Syria into the "moderate" Arab fold and gently coax it away from the Iranian orbit of influence. For its part, Syria has been happy to join in this detente, there have been high level visits by Saudi intelligence chiefs, American diplomats and agreements with the Lebanese "majority" groupings. Embassies have been opened in Damascus and Beirut, for the first time in this region's history. There is talk of a peace deal with the Zionist entity and investment agreements with Europe - investments that Syria desperately needs to keep its economy going. But Syria is playing hard to get, it goes along all the way when it knows that the Israelis would reject, and when the Israelis are amenable to peace it pulls out in the last instant when political developments in the region call for this. So when Gazans were being butchered in December and January, all talk of peace agreements, which seemed to be going in full ernest before this, was quietly hushed up and instead the Syrian president gave what was then considered to be quite a forceful and widely admired speech in which he condemned Israel for its assault. Hamas was, and remains, a useful thorn in Israel's side and with the menace of Hezbullah hanging over northern Israel like a black cloud, Syria has all it needs to leverage well against the Zionists.

Still, whilst Syria talks the talk of peace, I just don't see them pushing through with this nonsensical idea. And for good reason. Syria, whilst poor compared to the other Arab countries has an excess of something which is beyond deficient in the rest of the Arab world, political brains. With crucial countries like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia now effectively vassal states of the United States and openly allied with Israel, it is still a credit to Syria that it is able to punch above its weight and to hit where it hurts. It would be enormously easy for President Assad to go down the route of a Syrian Mubarak and just sign that paper saying that it is "ok" for the Jews to have Palestine, yet he does not. This is puzzling, yet comforting, for it seems that this machiavellian ruler, son of the ruthless and wily President Hafez al Assad, is hanging on to the last vestiges of Arab dignity and resistance - and succeeding.
Tomorrow Erdogan comes to Damascus bringing what he brings, and Damascus already knows what it needs to know from Mr Sadr's visit earlier this week. The Prince of Damascus will soon be facing some difficult decisions...


عمر نصر الدين said...

السلام عليكم أخ ميسلون,
أعتقد ان لزيارة اردوغان لسوريا معنى آخر و هو أن سوريا تحاول ان تعيد نفسها الى دائرة الحوادث و ان تجعل من نفسها الوسيط بين الغرب و ايران. هذه الزيارات من الصدر و من اردوغان رسالة الى الولايات المتحدة بأن سورية لا تزال مهمة في أي عملية و لا يمكن تجاهلها

و شكراً

Nour said...


I think your analysis is pretty much accurate. I think given its current position, Syria is trying to safeguard its steadfast stance against recognizing or normalizing ties with the usurping entity, while at the same time attempting to extract as many political concessions as it can and capitalize on as many opportunities as it can to improve its economic situation, by dangling the prospect of a peace deal over the heads of western states, then pulling it back when the circumstances call for it.

Maysaloon said...

و عليكم السلام و اهلا بك في ميسلون. أعتقد ان ما تقوله ممكن, و لكن لا أظن ان كل هذه التحركات فقط لاثبات وجود سوريا. من يفهم بالسياسة في أمريكا أو اسرائيل يعلمون طبيعة أرض الواقع في الشرق الأوسط و يعرفون دور سوريا و اهميته من غير حركات و "طفنيسات" من قبل البلد.

شكراً على تعليقك و أتمنى أن أقرأ المزيد من مقالاتك عن قريب

Maysaloon said...

Thanks for your comment. I had read the Landis comment on the purpose of the visits, which is similar to what Omar is saying above, and I don't agree. I don't think Syria has to do anything to "show" America or Israel that it is still important. Sadr's visit to Syria is a message from Iran, Erdogan is there to bring messages and also see what the Syrians have to say. By now, everybody who needs to know from Washington to Tel Aviv to Tehran will know what they want, and we will see movements accordingly.

Lirun said...

in telaviv we have forgotten that syria exists.. its a non entity as far as most of us are concerned..

it think damascus knows very well that it cant dream nuclear without us intercepting its thoughts and im sure it became very clear to syria what would happen to it should it attempt a violent operation in connection with the golan..

if syria wants any economic relief/recovery/progress/global integration it will need to change its tune and the intentions of the singer behind such tune..

until such time poverty and misery are likely to continue to fester in syria.. which helps explain why so many people are happy to live elsewhere..

18 million people is no small number..