Coward Old Universe…

by Jeremy G.

Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

Iran has lost a battle

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on July 14, 2008

Sarkozy’s decision to invite Syrian President Bachar el-Assad has stirred great controversy in France.  Sarkozy had announced, in the minutes that followed his election, that he would end past French realpolitik practices and would not compromise with dictatorships.  After the sight of Qaddafi in Paris, el-Assad’s visit has come as a major blow to human rights activists.

I understand the disappointment of those who have a hard time seeing the logic in all of this, as I experienced the same difficulties, and was a great fan of Sarkozy’s more idealist proclivities.  It is worth noting, however, that Syria is not Libya.  Today’s handshake between el-Assad and Sarkozy is the proof that if the West will talk to Damascus, the Syrians, in turn will listen.  The latter feel uneasy, to say the least, with the way they’ve been treated since the Hariri assassination and the subsequent Cedar Revolution.  Their ties with Hezbollah and Tehran are very solid given the current situation, but Syria remains the weak link in this Shiite Axis.

As a matter of fact, whereas the el-Assad is alawite, that is a branch of the Shiite sect, the majority of the population in Syria is Sunni.  There is therefore nothing “natural” about the axis allying Tehran to Damascus and Hezbollah, though it remains very solid in practice.  The truth of the matter is that it this is an ad hoc alliance that the West has the ability to break.  If and once this occurs, this will constitute a major blow to Tehran, which will start lacking support in the region.   

Sarkozy is spending part of his political capital, but if his calculations are as wise as they appear, this may turn out to be smart spending… 


Posted in World Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

International Reconciliation? Bachar is not laughing…

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on May 31, 2007



By ten votes to 0, and five abstentions, the UN Security Council voted resolution 1757, instituting an international tribunal to investigate the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafic Hariri.  More than two years after the fact, the International Community has awakened and finally sent out a strong message to Syria, whose intelligence services, in all likelihood, are behind the murder.

Talking to Syria has constituted a very controversial subject since 9 11.  Secretary of State Condi Rice, in spite of her firmly expressed opposition to a dialogue with the country in the fall, has recently flipped-flopped on the issue.  A turn of events that was applauded by the fans of the Iraq Study Group Report that advocated such a move.  On the other side of the Atlantic, until the very end, Jacques Chirac, a personal friend of the Hariri family – who lent the former French President the Parisian residence he currently lives in – never changed his mind and refused to return to the negotiation table with SyriaChirac was in favor of sending a strong message to Syria.

This is not however incompatible with talking to Syria.  What Baker and Hamilton failed to emphasize on in their report is that American difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan give the country an image of weakness that is very harmful to U.S. interests in the long run.  The realists they claim to be could have shed some light on this part of reality.  Thru international consultation and cooperation, just as the one that occurred today at the UN, the U.S. is re-acquiring its ability to intervene – in a different fashion – in the Middle East, especially by tackling an issue that seems to constitute a consensus on both sides of the Atlantic.

But there is another lesson in this turn of events.  Repeated calls among the Western Left in favor of Justice in the Middle East have been a leitmotiv of strategic speeches that claimed to be an alternative to U.S. unbalanced behavior in the region.  The principal culprit, in their eyes, is of course Israel.  As legitimate this may sound to many observers of the region, too many of them seemed to have been blinded by another obvious fact in the region: Justice is universal, and can only be effective if applied to all actors.  Syria just understood today that it won’t be able to hide anymore.


Posted in Middle East, World Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »