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Russia's Fight Over Intervention in Syria

(This article was originally published on The Mantle)

By Ed Hancox

Alon Ben-Meir: Israeli-Syrian Negotiations

Dr. Alon Ben-MeirBy all accounts, the Israeli-Syrian indirect negotiations through Turkish mediation are going well, and the fact that a fourth round of talks is scheduled for the end of July suggests that both sides expect to make further progress. The reports from Damascus and Ankara, however, indicating that Syria will not enter into direct negotiations with Israel before the advent of new American administration show an obstructive apprehension on the part of the Syrian government. Indeed, Damascus should not only agree to direct negotiations with Israel—as Turkish officials strongly recommend—but time has come for it to make a bold move toward the Israelis. A high level meeting, for example, between Israel and Syria can change overnight the dynamic of their negotiations and dramatically increase the Bush administration's stakes in its successful outcome.

Alon Ben-Meir: Israel's Peace Offensive

Dr. Alon Ben-MeirIsrael's recent peace offensive may have been motivated in part by personal or domestic politics, but the driving force to negotiate is part and parcel of a much larger plan. As the dynamics in the Middle East shift in response to Iraq war backlash, and as Iran develops its nuclear program, Israel has finally conceded that peace with Syria is the key to rapprochement with the rest of the Arab world, including the Palestinians. If comprehensive peace with Syria can be reached, Israel will be better poised to successfully negotiate with Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority, and will be better equipped to deal with Hezbollah and Hamas—all which will become extremely important as Israel gears up to face Iran. Israel has planed to engage Syria in peace talks for more than a year. I have been privy to some of the indirect talks between the two sides, and know first-hand that Israel would have commenced these talks much earlier had it not been for objections from the Bush administration.

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