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After the Damascus Summit - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The statement made by Hezbollah’s International Relations Officer Ammar Moussawi, in which he said that Iran was comfortable with Saudi-Syrian rapprochement and the role that Syria could potentially play in bringing Saudi and Iranian viewpoints closer together, was eye catching. What was noticeable was that those people sometimes forget themselves and speak in a way that suggests they are representatives of the Iranian embassy in Lebanon. Does Moussawi represent Hezbollah or Tehran?

When Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban talks about Arab-Islamic unity, and about Saudi and Syria, and Turkey and Iran, she has her reasons to do so, especially as she is a presidential advisor [in Syria]. But what is most important about the visit made by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to Damascus is, firstly, bilateral ties [between Saudi Arabia and Syria] and building trust, although it is important to see that both sides issued separate statements. By comparing the two statements, we can a see that there is a difference that does not affect the bigger, agreed-upon, picture and it does not refer to Arab or Islamic axes.

Therefore, Moussawi’s statement is nothing but deception and justification of Hezbollah’s welcoming of the Damascus Summit. The Iranian position towards Saudi Arabia is clear from what Iran and its officials have said via their official news agencies, as the attacks on Riyadh have visibly increased since the Saudi monarch’s visit to Damascus.

I must mention here that since Syrian-Turkish rapprochement, on a number of occasions I have written that Damascus has begun to broaden its options and this is clear to anyone who looks into Syria’s interests and the course of events in the region, whether in Iraq, or the approach of Iran being held to account for its nuclear file by the West, or the events taking place within Iran. In fact, many have failed to notice that Damascus allowed Turks to enter Syria without visas.

With regards to the Saudis, King Abdullah was the one who restated the Arab Peace Initiative in Kuwait [in 2007] and when he did this [some] people said it was a Saudi PR campaign. But the King did what he said he would do whether with Damascus or with Libya in Qatar, despite all the confusion that occurred. Today, in the same regional conditions that we spoke about concerning the Syrians, the Saudis are interacting politically, especially as Iran involved itself in all regional issues and acted negatively, and the Arabs, particularly the Saudis, should have acted as if Iran did not exist, just as we said in the past, as the vacuum that Arabs are leaving open for Iran [to fill] is one of the weak points of Arab politics.

The important thing we must realize is that Arab rapprochement in accordance with interests, not slogans, is a good thing. Accordingly, the best thing the Lebanese can do today is to pay attention to the interests of their country, instead of talking about Iran and the policy of [forming] axes. The cat is now out of the bag, so they say, as Iran has responded positively to the West and this means its wings are being clipped and if the Iranians did not respond positively then the upcoming period would have been much worse, not to mention Iran’s internal crisis.

Just as we stated before, Saudi and Syrian focus on bilateral ties is more important and more beneficial than anything else. A diplomat, well informed of our regional issues, told me that a bilateral accord “is being cooked over low heat” so that it can overcome any obstacles between the two countries.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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