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RPGWatch Forums » General Forums » Politics, Religion & other Controversies » Syrian/Israeli peace talks confirmed…

Default Syrian/Israeli peace talks confirmed…

May 21st, 2008, 14:17
Well, well, well… looks like the rumors were true. The current info (from a variety of sources, including Jazeera, BBC) has it that:

(1) Israel has agreed to withdraw from the Golan.
(2) In return, Syria has agreed to sever ties with Hezbollah and Iran(!)

I would also surmise that the Golan would have to be demilitarized, and Syria would have to kick out Hamas from Damascus as well.

If this pans out, it'll radically change the picture in the Eastern Mediterranean. It also goes a long way to explain Hezbollah's itchy trigger finger in Lebanon. In fact, I had earlier dismissed conspiracy theories about the Imad Mughniyeh assassination, but with this information in mind, I wouldn't find it inconceivable that Damascus decided to offer his head to the Israelis as a token of their good faith.

Now, the implications. Unlike the recent Lebanese mess, which mostly had losers, this one has winners too.

* Winner: Syria. They'll get the Golan back, which is a win in itself. This is a big political gamble from them, but if it pans out, it'll pave a way out for them from pariah status — the USA and the West will feel completely differently about a Syria that's at peace with Israel and no longer shipping rockets to the Hezb. If these opportunities are exploited, it could lead to a similar rehabilitation of the country as happened with Libya.

* Winner: Turkey. Brokering this deal is an enormous feather in their cap, and will increase their influence in the Middle East no end. Because of the Kurdish situation, this will have repercussions as far as Iraq.

* Winner, with qualifications: Israel. They lose Golan, which will seriously piss off some people there, but their security position will be a great deal better — they will have several thorns removed from their side, as Hezbollah finds its freedom of movement constrained and Hamas loses its safe HQ in Damascus. It also could, just conceivably, lead to further movement on the Israeli/Palestinian front.

* Loser: Hezbollah. With their main weapons supply line cut, they'll find their weight as a regional player greatly reduced. They'll still be the dominant military power in Lebanon and perfectly capable of repelling any attempt at Israeli invasion, but their strategic capability will be limited to their stockpiles and whatever they can fly in through the Beirut airport; this will necessarily be much more limited than the overland shipments through Syria.

* Loser: Hamas. Currently their only safe haven outside Gaza is Damascus, and they'll lose it. While they'll certainly retain control of Gaza, their position will be even less comfortable.

* Loser: Iran. With Syria off their buddy list, they'll find their influence in the Eastern Mediterranean dramatically reduced. They will no longer pose a strategic threat to Israel through Hezbollah, since they won't be able to supply them freely with strategic missiles.

* Unknown: Lebanon. Does the deal include any back-room agreements about Syrian influence over Lebanon? If so, how will it happen? If Syria truly breaks with Hezbollah, how will that affect Hezbollah's political stance? Currently they've been the backbone of the "pro-Syrian" opposition; if the two fall out, Hezbollah will have no desire to have Syria interfere in Lebanon either. The optimistic scenario is that Hezb will no longer be beholden to Syrian interests and can focus its energies on integrating with the Lebanese state, using its newly acquired power. The pessimistic scenario is that the reshuffling of the deck will strain the already extremely fragile fabric of the Lebanese state to the breaking point, and we'll end up in civil conflict again, for one proximate reason or another.

* Unknown: Fatah. The Fatah/Hamas thing is yet another zero-sum game, so theoretically if Hamas loses, Fatah should win. But the Israeli/Palestinian talks are in an impasse, and have been since Camp David.

In any case, it's clear there's a major reshuffling of the deck going on in the Eastern Mediterranean region. Generally speaking that's been bad news; this time there is at least some grounds for cautious optimism. Let's hope the people in power behave like thoughtful, responsible leaders considering the big picture and the long term instead of short-term gains and their own personal advantages. (Yeah, sure.)
Last edited by Prime Junta; May 21st, 2008 at 15:37. Reason: Added Turkey.
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May 21st, 2008, 15:58
Prime J wrote:
In any case, it's clear there's a major reshuffling of the deck going on in the Eastern Mediterranean region. Generally speaking that's been bad news; this time there is at least some grounds for cautious optimism. Let's hope the people in power behave like thoughtful, responsible leaders considering the big picture and the long term instead of short-term gains and their own personal advantages. (Yeah, sure.)
Actually, I would think a more settled and less inflammatory military climate there IS to their own personal advantage, if they are able to see it. Perhaps the recent events in Lebanon have actually made other power groups hesitant about letting Hezbollah have too much say—do you think the events in Lebanon may have made people see them as more of a threat to their own situations than formerly?

For instance, I read an article on Reuters I think about a resentful formerly supportive Lebanese who had relatives killed in front of his eyes and was held and tortured in the street-fighting, and totally revised his opinion. And while that may be less than widespread—still, taking up arms and fighting in the street when your will is thwarted is not the most lovable trait in a political party.

It's also very impressive to see Israel cede anything. I can't remember a precedent—have they ever done this before in any major way?

Obviously it will take a while to see exactly how this pans out, but it does indeed seem like much better news than usual out of the region.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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May 21st, 2008, 16:05
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
Actually, I would think a more settled and less inflammatory military climate there IS to their own personal advantage, if they are able to see it. Perhaps the recent events in Lebanon have actually made other power groups hesitant about letting Hezbollah have too much say—do you think the events in Lebanon may have made people see them as more of a threat to their own situations than formerly?
I'm 100% certain that the Hezb put an enormous dent in their support among non-Shi'ites — and one that won't be easy to fill. That will make things politically trickier for them. OTOH they got what they wanted — they're now, for the first time, a fully empowered party in the Lebanese political establishment. It's certainly been a cold shower for lots of people there.

For instance, I read an article on Reuters I think about a resentful formerly supportive Lebanese who had relatives killed in front of his eyes and was held and tortured in the street-fighting, and totally revised his opinion. And while that may be less than widespread—still, taking up arms and fighting in the street when your will is thwarted is not the most lovable trait in a political party.
No, it isn't, and there's been way too much of it there already.

It's also very impressive to see Israel cede anything. I can't remember a precedent—have they ever done this before in any major way?
Sinai to Egypt, 1979. [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_David_Accords ]

Obviously it will take a while to see exactly how this pans out, but it does indeed seem like much better news than usual out of the region.
Here's to hoping.
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May 23rd, 2008, 20:16
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Sinai to Egypt, 1979. [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_David_Accords ]
South Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza Strip in 2005 also.
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May 24th, 2008, 18:10
These were both unilateral moves, though, not something that's a part of a peace deal.
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