In response to an article I wrote at the height of the war in Lebanon, where I said the conflict provided a chance to open negotiations, I was told that Qatar had, in principal, succeeded in convincing Syria and Israel to open a new window for negotiations, practically the first high level opportunity since the limited contacts of a Syrian minister’s son failed.
If the project were true and will lead to large-scale negotiations and a real peace, the participating parties deserve recognition. However, if the Qataris are merely engaging in a bout of PR and the Israelis seeking publicity, at Qatar’s expense, and the Syrians looking for material gains, also at Qatar’s expense, this exercise is no more than a diversion, which will lead to even more violence.
It is said that the simple contacts have triggered off the instincts of each party, as both Syria and Israel have had enough of conflict. Israel is exhausted internally and on its border. Syria is laden with the opposition movements it hosts, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, the Iraqi resistance and others. It is also burdened with its dangerous enmity with the United States, which any country would find difficult to withstand for very long. Syria is also involved in several issues including the future of Iraq, the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Iran’s nuclear program and the war on Lebanon.
It has been said that Qatari officials addressed their Israeli counterparts in their own country and were welcomed by both parties but matters did not progress any further. In spite of this, it was a good first step that has brought us to a third possible peace with Syria, after Egypt and Jordan. Lebanon will certainly follow soon after. To those criticizing Qatar for acting as Israel’s ambassador in the region, I say this is not important. Anwar Sadat, Egypt’s former president, was also described as such, nevertheless, he achieved a historical victory, which saved the Egyptian and Arab people from more blood shed and the wasting of more financial resources.
In my view, it is important to encourage any positive step, no matter what it is and whom it is by, because small quarrels do not last. If the Qatari mediation between Israel and Syria were true, let us courageously say that no one should criticize the Syrians for wanting to negotiate or the Qataris for wanting to play a part. If it is a mere act or a temporary business deal, as some have claimed, they should be saluted for it because it will not last.