Syria Could Have Had Peace with Israel. Instead, Its Rulers Chose Slaughter and Impoverishment

March 1 2021

Exactly ten years ago yesterday, the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad made a stunning offer to American negotiators: he would cut ties with Iran, cease support for Hizballah and Hamas, and stop threatening Israel—in exchange for the Golan Heights. But a mere two weeks later, his troops started shooting peaceful protestors in the city of Daraa, and Assad launched a bloody war against his own people that has not yet come to an end. Frederic Hof, who was an America mediator between Damascus and Jerusalem at the time, reflects:

The destruction of Syria has been senseless. A Syrian president seemingly committed to retrieving [lost] territory in exchange for Syria’s strategic reorientation threw it all away. And for what? . . . One possibility is that Assad deliberately used violence to cancel his conditional peace commitments and escape U.S. mediation. No one forced him to make those commitments; he offered them all during a 50-minute meeting. One wonders, however, if in the weeks following his promise of full strategic reorientation, Assad had second thoughts about Iran’s likely reaction and the domestic political implications of peace. In any event he has all but deeded to Israel the land he said he wanted returned to Syria.

Ten years on, Assad hopes the U.S. will reengage him diplomatically and lavish reconstruction funds on him and his entourage. The view here is that such hopes are illusory.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have died. Countless Syrians have been maimed and traumatized, both physically and psychologically. Tens of thousands remain in regime torture chambers. All this to preserve a family business; a business that might have thrived and evolved politically into something more inclusive and representative if it had made pragmatic and humane choices a decade ago. But was it ever capable of doing so? Syria’s condition in 2021 suggests the answer: no.

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Read more at Asharq al-Awsat

More about: Bashar al-Assad, Golan Heights, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war

 

Don’t Let Iran Go Nuclear

Sept. 29 2022

In an interview on Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden administration remains committed to nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, even as it pursues its brutal crackdown on the protests that have swept the country. Robert Satloff argues not only that it is foolish to pursue the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal, but also that the White House’s current approach is failing on its own terms:

[The] nuclear threat is much worse today than it was when President Biden took office. Oddly, Washington hasn’t really done much about it. On the diplomatic front, the administration has sweetened its offer to entice Iran into a new nuclear deal. While it quite rightly held firm on Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from an official list of “foreign terrorist organizations,” Washington has given ground on many other items.

On the nuclear side of the agreement, the United States has purportedly agreed to allow Iran to keep, in storage, thousands of advanced centrifuges it has made contrary to the terms of the original deal. . . . And on economic matters, the new deal purportedly gives Iran immediate access to a certain amount of blocked assets, before it even exports most of its massive stockpile of enriched uranium for safekeeping in a third country. . . . Even with these added incentives, Iran is still holding out on an agreement. Indeed, according to the most recent reports, Tehran has actually hardened its position.

Regardless of the exact reason why, the menacing reality is that Iran’s nuclear program is galloping ahead—and the United States is doing very little about it. . . . The result has been a stunning passivity in U.S. policy toward the Iran nuclear issue.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy