David Shagoury | Republican political analyst United States
November 28th, 2007

Re: ‘Syria's foreign policy

It has become trendy for certain Syrophiles, and most definitely Syrophobes to suggest that it should be inveterate in any progress on the Golan front for Syria to abandon its interests and its history in Lebanon. This is an insidious formula that is being put forward as almost self – evident in the hopes that such a radical new paradigm will be perceived as a long-standing assumption in the region, and hence a standard by which to judge Syria’ s worthiness to enter peace talks with Israel. Not only is the aforementioned a false paradigm that would have been previously viewed as laughable, but it is directly contravened by what emerged as a comprehensive consensus between all relevant parties during peace talks in the 90s.

When Syria and Israel were engaged in US sponsored, meaningful peace negotiations, no less than Israel itself (with the strong support of the US) enumerated its formal recognition of Syria’s special role in Lebanon. This Israeli recognition (which my country, USA, accepted years before) occurred for two specific reasons.

1) The position’s clear and unequivocal historic legitimacy
2) The position’s significant definitive strategic benefits to all regional parties and the US.

That said official recognition of a self evident truth also served to facilitate mid east peace and hence would be an immeasurably vital gift to all the peoples of the war weary region was an intended resultant.
Yet, the Israeli recognition of Syria’s special role in Lebanon was never tethered to a final agreement between Israel and Syria on Golan issues; nor should it be today.

There are ebbs and flows in geopolitics, especially in the middle east. But while current trends must by necessity be considered by states, and even compromised with to varying degrees, it cannot be a substitute for interests that are permanent. This aphorism is even more incontrovertible for weaker states such as Syria. Reasonable compromise may be strategically viable (talking peace with Israel was and is a worthy concession from past policies), but capitulation on the Lebanese issue will only bring derision, scorn and irrelevance upon a Syria with little else left in its quiver.

The recent past, due to a strong shift in American policy, has weakened Syria’s regional position, but while injured, Syria has resisted the temptation and coercion directed at it to abandon its permanent interests, and has proven itself not only quite resilient but also to the dismay of its political foes, still very relevant. If Syria now relents and allows itself to be marginalized in the Lebanon, the exemplification of a Syrian permanent interest, for benefits real or imagined in another front, it will most assuredly do so at its own peril.

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4 Responses to the Article

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Another mistaken view based on a “realist” interpretation. As George Bush said yesterday at Annapolis, the issue is democracy. No more short term deals for short term interests. The long term interests of the US are only served if there is a real democratization process in the middle east. And Lebanon is an example that could be a success. That is why Bush or Giulliani for that matter are not going to be striking a deal with Syria regarding Lebanon.

On the contrary, the US backed Israeli attack on syria has proven that the US and Israel are willing to risk a regional war to push Syria back. Syria better start thinking about a regional strategy that does not include Lebanon unless it wants to try its luck with a regional war.

Bashar Says:

David,

I find myself amused by your conclusion which is based on flawed premise for the following reason;

When you say;

“When Syria and Israel were engaged in US sponsored, meaningful peace negotiations, no less than Israel itself (with the strong support of the US) enumerated its formal recognition of Syria‚??s special role in Lebanon. This Israeli recognition (which my country, USA, accepted years before) occurred for two specific reasons.

1) The position‚??s clear and unequivocal historic legitimacy
2) The position‚??s significant definitive strategic benefits to all regional parties and the US.”

Don’t you think Israel and the US was counting on the Syrians keeping the fracutred peace in Lebanon as they have proven to be doing well at it during the 29 years of occupation? In another word those recognitions you speak of were merely words of appeasment to the late President Asad at the time. Israel and the US were simply playing Syria for self-serving reasons like having Asad compromise on the Golan issue.

I’m a bit disappointed in reading a US Republican political analyst calling for Syria’s domination of Lebanon while dismissing the more urgent call for political reforms in Syria. We all know Syria have a special and strategic relationship with its belly-botton neighbor Lebanon, yet this relationship should be built on mutual respect of independent Lebanon and Syria.

Now that Syria is out of Lebanon, the call for non-interfernce in the Lebanese affairs by the US is a ligitmate one and should be a condition for the return of the Golan. The unfortunate thing is that by Syria getting kicked out of Lebanon in a humiliating fashion two years ago, it has lost the lebanese card as a bargaining chip for the Golan and has become, as you say, “weakened” in the region.

Cheers

david s Says:

Bashar,
You partly make my point – it was, AND IS, in US interest to have Syria in a position to be held accountable in Lebanon. My country needs to return to realist and self serving policies, and returning to an entente cordial with Syria is a big part of that equation. You also use the term “concession” – well that is the most elemental aspect of diplomacy Bashar. In the end, it behooves the US and Israel to have strong and secure arab partners which are held to greater accountabality.
I also find it border line hysterical that the French ( who are at the root cause of much of this problem) and my President’s people are IN Beirut cajoling and directing Lebanese leaders as they denounce “foriegn interference”. Further, the leader (Hariri) of the majority party himself holds FORIEGN citizenship (SA).
Also for the record, ther is a wide swath of middle ground between complete dominance and the capitualtion that you prescribe. There need not be 30,000 troops for Syria to have a constructive and important role in Lebanon.
Lebanon willl always be heavily influenced by others, as it always has been; and those who complain the loudest about it are the one who actually over the years have embraced it and benefited from it.
I agree with you on one point Bashar,..that the US had the right to expect positive results regarding stability and a quiessant border with Israel from the policy in question….the fact is that Syria largely delivered on that – which is why we kept that policy until neocons took over US policy.
As an American, there is no doubt that i entrust the pursuit of our interests with GHWB and Baker than Wolwowoits and Eliot Abrams!!
Thanks for your comments my friend

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

David,
So the interest of the US is to support dictators like Asad and make deals with them?
Is that the view of any Republican front runner?
Could you let me know which Republican presidential candidates support your view? Ron Paul?

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