Thursday, August 03, 2006

Syria's Price?

Martin S. Indyk:
There's no question Iran and Syria helped to light the fire that is now engulfing Lebanon and northern Israel, and if they want to be part of the solution, they could certainly help to douse the flames. But the question is: What is their price? If we were to ask Syria to help, that would be tantamount to an invitation to Syria to interfere again in Lebanon's affairs.
On the misleading historical parallels we keep hearing about:
I was looking at [former Secretary of State] George Shultz's memoirs the other day, and he recalled how President Reagan had sent a note to Hafez al-Assad in 1985 asking him to resolve the TWA hijacking problem, which he did.

Yes, but the context was different. I was involved [in the Clinton administration] with Secretary of State [Warren] Christopher and [Special Middle East envoy] Dennis Ross in several efforts to deal with the situation in Lebanon after Hezbollah launched rockets into Israel. That was in 1994 and again in 1996. And we went to Damascus and got Syria to curb Hezbollah. But the context there was one in which we were engaged in promoting negotiations between Israel and Syria on a peace deal, and Syria had 15,000 troops in Lebanon. And we could go to them and say: If you want us to continue negotiating the peace deal with Israel, you have to stop Hezbollah. The context is very different now. Now, the Syrians have withdrawn their troops from Lebanon, not because of our demands but because of the demands of the Lebanese people. And to ask them now to help solve this problem is to invite them to play a role again in Lebanon, which would be a betrayal of the Lebanese.

In other words, the Syrians would not just simply get in touch with Hezbollah and say, "Stop what you're doing"?

There will be a price, as the Syrians are telling the interlocutors. It's clear that they would be prepared to do that, but there will be a price, and the price will be Lebanon.
See also Joschka Fischer via drinksoakedtrotsforwar.


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