Friday, February 19, 2010

Humor in the Middle East

From Agence France Presse today -
Syrian President Bashar Assad met with French Prime Minister Francois Fillon on Friday and discussed a number of issues including relations with Israel. During the meeting, Assad said peace requires will – something that he said Israel is lacking. He stressed that European countries should take upon themselves an important role in the region and force Israel to commit to peace. He also reiterated the need for Turkish mediation in the peace process, and stressed the importance of France's support.
I hope Prime Minister Fillon was able to keep a straight face while President Bashar was telling him this. This is the same Syrian regime which invaded Lebanon and occupied it for decades and was not long ago implicated in the assassination of the Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri. This is the same Syrian regime that provoked Turkish military action on their border. This is the same Syrian regime that funneled money and arms from Iran to Hezbollah. This is the same Syrian regime that alone among Israel's neighbors has not only not signed any peace treaty but has steadfastly refused to even enter into negotiations, even when urged by the other Arab countries and the Quartet. This is the same Syrian regime that has consistently endorsed the Rejectionist Khartoum Declaration of 1968. This is the same Syrian regime that massacred 20,000 of their own civilians during the military revolt at Hama in 1982.

This is who is lecturing Israel on peace?

But seriously, Bashar did not intend or expect to be taken seriously about Israel. His remarks are directed to the Turkish government. Since the Islamic National Salvation Party took power there, there has been an opening for Arab governments to improve their relations with Turkey, which is Israel's only explicit military ally in the Middle East.

Syria was excluded from this opening because of the border tensions caused by Syria giving sanctuary to Kurdish rebels who had committed guerrilla raids on the Turkish side of the border. Turkish troops actually entered Syria under the doctrine of "hot pursuit".

President Bashar's remarks about Turkish mediation appear an attempt to flatter the Turkish government and to unfreeze Turkish diplomatic hostility. And to undermine the Turkish-Israeli alliance.

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