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After the Jordanian-Syrian Summit - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The communiqué of the Jordanian-Syrian summit is as important as the actual summit itself because of timing and pressing issues involved. What is interesting in the final communiqué is the phrase which states that the “Fate of Arabs is decided by Arabs”.

So is this the Syrian conviction?

If the answer is yes, then this entails a plethora of results.

The proof lies in the fact that the Syrian Foreign Minister arrived in Tehran on 19 November 2007 and this is somewhat natural since Iranian worries are increasing. The importance behind the meeting between King Abdullah II and the Syrian President does not lie in the nature of Syrian-Jordanian ties but rather could be attributed to the character of the Jordanian King who has a clear vision and stance towards the region’s problems and on Iran.

The importance behind the Jordanian-Syrian summit is that it represents a break in the Arab-Syrian silence. Damascus has the right to search for solutions to issues that concern it atop of which is regaining the Golan Heights. Its other causes for concern include the demands of the International Tribunal with regards to the assassination of Rafik Hariri and the undermining of the Syrian regime owing to prolonged isolation.

In contrast, Arabs have their own set of legitimate fears including the Lebanese situation which should never remain a card to be played by Syria whenever it wants; Lebanon’s stability should not be an item up for bargaining. Arabs have their own fears regarding Syria’s exploitation of the Palestinian issue especially in a manner that could further deepen the rift between Palestinians themselves. Arabs also have their own fears regarding Syria’s misuse of the Iraqi situation and its attempts to stall the efforts of establishing security and achieving success for the political process.

All these fears are not a result of the extraordinary abilities of Damascus but rather due to its alliance with Tehran. Such an alliance contradicts the Arab agenda that aims at keeping the fate and resolutions of the Arabs within Arab hands.

Does this summit indicate that Syria is capable of eliminating all Arab fears? Is the Syrian party convinced that it is now time to work collectively with the rest of the Arab countries rather than swim against the Arab tide? Will Syria be able to control its alliance with Iran? After all, Damascus has the right to reprioritize its agenda but everything, without doubt, comes at a price.

These are all legitimate questions, the most important of which is will Syria be willing to be part of stability in the region or is it merely buying more time to visit Riyadh and Cairo and sit at the Annapolis table and prepare for a successful Arab summit in Damascus as the era of the current American administration passes; therefore breaking its state of isolation and surviving the storm?

Or is it that Syrians are convinced that Tehran is internally divided and that the next elections may bring reformists to fore and that in this case, Damascus will find itself as an item up for negotiation by Tehran rather than being a negotiator?

I do not think that the Syrians have forgotten the statement made by the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his visit to New York on the Israeli strike on a Syrian site approximately two months ago when he said, “Iran had nothing to do with this raid!”

Following the Amman-Damascus summit, we are only left with questions. However, what is good is that all will soon be clear, namely, on the day of the Lebanese presidential elections when we will see the true face of the Syrian position.

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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