Thursday, December 07, 2006

Syria weighs in, again, on Iraq

Vice President weighs in here, with Syrian perspective and demands that include a fixed timetable under the 'excuse' of fighting 'occupiers'.

In reference to a Syrian worry about a widening conflagration coming out of a deteriorating Iraq, he either directly calls the Baker-Hamilton bluff or opens public negotiations by mitigating it:

As for the notion of an international conference on Iraq, many European countries have recommended it to us. We support the formula but only if we know what the intended outcome of such a conference is. It has to have reasonable objectives that we can agree to work for.

We will not support just any political process in Iraq, we will support it only when it takes into account the interests of all the different groups in Iraq, when the Unity of the country is preserved, and when there is a time table for withdrawal (of US troops)

The US has failed terribly in Iraq. The Baker-Hamilton Report is an indication that the American people are waking up to the fact that they have been badly deceived by their government in Iraq. Some say that through dialogue with Syria and Iran, Iraq can be stabilized. We are not so arrogant as to believe that Syria can single-handedly solve the Iraq problem, which will have repercussions throughout the world. Perhaps not even all countries working together can help solve Iraq's problem, but it is incumbent on us to have the modesty to listen to each other and to try what we can.

We will not help any Iraqi leader who isn't against the occupation of Iraq or trying to end it. We told this to Allawi, to Jafari and to Maliki. We are against foreign occupation.

We do not expect much change in the American position. Some minor change, or a cosmetic change, or a tactical change. Although the public opinion in the United States is against the war, there are powerful groups in the US saying: "we will not leave empty handed after the 450 Billions we spent in Iraq." [translation thanks to Joshua Landis & friends

And on the re-emergence of Sharaa, this nugget in the early evolution of Syrian thinking on Iraq:

Sharaa also argued for the hard Syrian line on Iraq (Jihad) and resistance) in contrast to Khaddam. He probably believing that Saddam would put up more resistance than he did in opposing the American invasion. When this didn't happen and the US went on its Syria offensive, accusing Syria of aiding Iraq's Baathist deadeners, taking in Saddam's WMD, and opening a Ho Chi Min trail, Khaddam was given the Iraq portfolio. Khaddam tried to organize the Sunni tribal leaders in order to deliver them to the Americans and reopen a dialogue with Washington on the basis of delivering Iraqi Sunni cooperation for Lebanon. This strategy failed because Washington would not talk to its enemies, use diplomacy with the Syrians, or pay blackmail (whichever description you prefer). [Landis]

UPDATE: December 10th
al-jazeerah poll:

Will Hezbollah protests bring down the Lebanese government?

Yes : 44.2 % ; No : 38.7 % ; I don't know : 17.1 %

Number of pollers:12779

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