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Syria: The Summit of Contradictions - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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In the wake of the quartet summit that is being held in Syria, numerous rumors and political analyses began to overstate the summit. These rumors and analyses fall into two categories: the first states that the summit is like a presidential meeting of the Arab Summit, the European Union presidency and the GCC presidency. The other states that the importance of this meeting lies in the change to the map of key players in the region meaning that Damascus has shifted from a Syrian-Saudi-Egyptian axis in favor of another axis.

Of course, both points are oversimplification rather than a realistic insight to the course of events and are mere rumors on some websites and media affiliated to the Syrians in an attempt to give off the impression that Damascus has been successful in breaking the isolation imposed upon it as a result of its erroneous policies.

Why? The answer follows: if everybody in attendance has a position then what is the role of the Turkish Prime Minister, who will preside over the summit, other than his part in the Syrian-Israeli negotiations?

If the Syrian president has turned away from Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and Jordan of course, in addition to other Gulf States, then the question is who is representing the Arab Summit at the four-way summit in Damascus since the main Arab countries boycotted the last Arab Summit in Syria, headed by President Bashar al Assad? Who can guarantee that those in the Gulf agree with the issues of Iran and Syria?

Another question: do all Europeans agree with Sarkozy’s rapprochement with Syria, let alone accept the formation of an axis that includes France and Iran? Of course not all Europeans agree with the French, who continue to repeat that they are in the process of testing Damascus, especially that the Syrians are supporting the Russian invasion of Georgia whilst Europe is uniting against Moscow!

If Iran was part of this new axis it is likely that an invite would be extended to the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to attend the Damascus Summit. But the question here is will the Iranian president accept the invitation and attend a summit that will include negotiations with Israel as part of its agenda? This could be a great Iranian coup!

It is evident that the Damascus summit is nothing but a photo opportunity, as they say in politics, and without doubt, it is a summit of contradictions as the participants agree on much less than what they disagree upon.

The French cannot offer what the Americans want from Syria and Iran and Turkey does not have what Israel wants from Syria. Above anything else, the guests of Damascus do not have what Syria itself wants, which is to restore relations with the United States, Egypt and Saudi Arabia…yes Riyadh and Cairo. Whoever has visited Damascus recently would be aware of the level of tension there is as a result of the lengthy severance of relations with Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

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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