The waiting game
First I should mention that the BBC called me last Sunday to be part of their show Have Your Say (previously Talking Point) which I was part of on 4 different occasions last year. You can watch the whole show here. Or if you only want to hear my part you can click on the video link (right hand side) and forward to the 22nd minute and 40th second.
Now, back to blogging:
So!!! Hints have started flying right & left that Syria will be coming in from the cold to reign in Hizbullah. The Syrian president must be expecting the phone to go off the hook by now and the red carpet is probably at the dry cleaner getting ready to be stomped on by Arab and hopefully foreign dignitaries. A front page article about the subject has appeared on the WSJ (of all papers) discussing the issue. Here is an excerpt of the article which was sent to me by Ehsani2 (Thanks Ehsani).
But one of the key players in determining the success of any efforts will be Syrian President Bashar Assad, a diplomatic neophyte, whose decisions in the coming days could either escalate or defuse the crisis that has enveloped his country, neighboring Lebanon and Israel. It is a return to regional pre-eminence for Syria, which under President Assad's late father, Hafez el-Assad, was at the center of power politics in the Mideast for years
President Bush, in remarks unintentionally picked up by a nearby microphone during a lunch meeting Monday with other Group of Eight leaders, named Mr. Assad as a central factor in any ceasefire. He told British Prime Minister Tony Blair that the most important development would be to "get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and then it's over." Mr. Bush also told Mr. Blair he wanted to tell United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan "to get on the phone with Assad and make something happen."
But I doubt things will go through so smoothly and immediate signs are in that direction. Even if the US would consider thawing their relations with Syria (which I doubt) it will come through on very modest means. Option can vary from the return of US ambassador to Damascus or pushing Riyadh and Cairo to bring Damascus back into the Arabic leadership triangle they were part of. But for now at least, time is on Damascus’s side. If the west doesn’t want to play ball they will have to solve this dilemma alone (the Israeli way). This will be counter-productive in the long term. So President Assad will continue to just sit and wait.