The Mideastwire Blog

Excerpts from the Arab and Iranian Media & Analysis of US Policy in the Region

Bruce Reidel suggests putting Geneva plan on the table for Syria

Bruce Reidel has a piece that I obviously found interesting since it raises the point I made in the NYT earlier this month, about the supposedly “non-starter” Syria track as a part of dealing with the Assad in a different manner.

He has this unhelpful bit which elides the responsibility shown here in a March 28 2000 NYT piece which makes it clear: the US SHOULD HAVE KNOW better and Clinton should have been courageous and done the deal which Assad thought he has getting. Look how he puts it though.

“Finally, in Geneva in March 2000, Barak gave President Clinton authority to offer Assad all of the Golan except a thin strip 500 meters wide along the northeastern shore of Lake Tiberius. Syria would be compensated with territory elsewhere and thus get 100 percent of its lands back. Clinton promised billions in military aid to Israel to help sell the deal. But it was too late; Assad was on his deathbed, focused more on his son’s succession, and said no. It was a tragic missed opportunity.”

He also injects this counter productive bit:

“…And it should include one more issue. In return for full peace and full withdrawal, a post-Assad government would need to cease all military and intelligence cooperation with Iran and Hizbullah.”

This ADDED demand post 2000 collapse was always ridiculous from the start – get Assad and Syria into the actualization of peace with Israel and added stipulations like this became mere rhetorical phrases which only undermine the hopes of actually getting a deal done. With an israeli embassy in Damascus, do you really think a clause would be needed sticking syria’s finger into its former allies eyes?

Recognizing how the balance of power can allow for negotiating flexibility – and greater concessions like on the above point – is the key, as always…. and, as so often, always ignored.

Yesterday I was told by one of the main anti-assad lebanese politicians that Assad was like Hitler and should not be given any wiggle room and could not be dealt with because, like hitler, he was evil and incredibly dangerous.

Of course, among many points I stressed, was that the balance of power between Hitler and his enemies was far more balanced than that which obtains in the case of syria, even though Assad could cause great regional damage.

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Written by nickbiddlenoe

February 29, 2012 at 12:12 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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