Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Keep the Syrians on the Roof | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Syrian diplomats have excelled recently in making conspicuous statements that cannot be ignored by commentators, not allowing people like me to enjoy the holiday season.

It seems that the Syrian negotiator has begun to make use of the methods of Israeli diplomats in mastering how to issue striking statements.

The latest of such statements was made by the head of the Syrian delegation Dr Samir Taki who headed to Washington on the pretext of reaching a better understanding of American public opinion and to communicate Damascus’ vision and ideas for the region to the Americans in a matter of ten days!

Regarding Syrian negotiations with Israel, Taki stated that Syria cannot ignore Israel’s presence because he can see the Israeli forces from the top of his office building. When and how did Dr Samir’s eyesight improve?

But there are some points that Taki made during his talk at the Brookings Institute based in Washington that should be discussed, most prominently the way in which members of the Syrian delegation described themselves as independent researchers who have no ties whatsoever to the Syrian regime. If independents in Syria were able to act in such a way then why has Syria imprisoned a number of individuals who issued the Beirut-Damascus Declaration?

Taki’s claim that the Syrian-Iranian alliance was a product of regional circumstances “that pushed Syria to ally itself with Iran,” and that it is “not a military alliance but one to serve the interests of Syria and because Egypt became concerned with its internal affairs and Saudi Arabia and Jordan were preoccupied with their own problems,” was nothing but superficial talk.

The Syrian-Iranian alliance goes back further than the current regional circumstances to the days of the late Syrian President Hafez al Assad just as cooperation between Tehran and Damascus has led to the strengthening of military militias such as the Iranian-affiliated Hezbollah and Hamas, which will sell itself to whoever’s buying!

As for the claim that Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are preoccupied with their own internal circumstances; this is new fruitless polemic and slyness on Syria’s part that should not go unnoticed. For the sake of Syrian and regional interests, the Syrians must remain on the roof so that they do not return to activities that may harm our security, most notably the alliance with Iranian ambitions in the region.

Syria has interests in Lebanon, Iraq and Washington, which have many implications and should not be facilitated for. This is not a matter of instigation; it is in the region’s interest that Syria becomes rational but without rewarding the Syrians similar to the immature French method as a result of juvenile Arab mediation.

It is important that the Syrians realize that this is no picnic and that they cannot buy time. As long as Damascus seeks to portray itself as having changed its orientation, it must realize that it is now following a road that it cannot drive through at any speed it wants.

The Syrians must observe the correct speed; driving too slow or too fast could cause a major collision.

And the role [of monitoring its speed] should be assumed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan and one of the first steps is a clear and explicit Arab coordination so that the process of Syria becoming rational cannot be tampered with.

It is in our interest that Damascus chooses rationality but tampering with the process threatens Arab security; therefore the Syrians must remain on the roof.