Photo: Reuters
Where is Assad heading?
Photo: Reuters
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Eytan Bentsur

Reassess Syrian policy

Deeds, misdeeds empty Assad’s statements of significance

Over the past two years I was in a position to ascertain the will expressed by prominent members of the highest echelon in Syria to engage in peace talks with Israel.


The Syrians acknowledged the benefits of peace with Israel in terms of economic and trade relations, and visualized the very engagement in peace talks with Israel as having a positive effect on Syria in terms of exposing its society to the inherent advantages of modernization without shattering its traditional structure.


This trend was to be substantiated by a series of statements made by President Bashar Assad and his associates calling for peace negotiations with Israel, and earned Assad the support of a large segment of Israeli public opinion, which called upon its government to respond in the affirmative and launch negotiations with Syria.


But it seems that Syria is emptying the statements of peace that Assad made from any significance through its deeds and misdeeds to the point of endangering its very security and any residue of international respectability.


The axis with Iran - a country that is financing and instigating terror - is incompatible with statements of peace. To host the headquarters of terrorist organizations scheming and perpetrating terror activity is the very negative of proclaimed peace endeavors.


Reassess Syrian policy


Ambivalent policy and action vis a vis the post-Saddam Iraq and the controversial presence in Lebanon are casting a big shadow over Syria, presenting a question as to where Assad is heading.


A reassessment of Syrian policy is called for. It is incumbent upon Assad to change course, to dissociate himself from the reactionary, belligerent anti-peace forces, and to carry out confidence building measures so as to substantiate the changing course.


Above all, it is imperative that Assad permit the widow and children of the late Israeli spy Eli Cohen to come to Damascus and pay their respects at his grave. This is one of the most fundamental human rights, and Syria should abide by it; to continue denying it from the Cohen family is unbecoming of a state striving to be a member of the family of nations.


A new Syrian policy will introduce prudence into the regime of Syrian-Lebanese relations. The withdrawal of the Syrian army should not be carried out in haste; it should be conducted with forethought in order to prevent the emergence of a void that may be filled by unscrupulous terrorist and die-hard forces.


A newly adopted policy and posture of Syria will render its dialogue with the international community reasonable and prevent the deterioration of Syria’s standing to the lowest ebb.


Eytan Bentsur is former Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

פרסום ראשון: 03.11.05, 22:20
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