The American response to the news that simultaneously came out of Jerusalem, Damascus, and Ankara, regarding the renewal of peace talks on the Israeli-Syria track, was quite cold. As if the Americans were saying: It’s your business. You’re a sovereign state. Syria is a terror-sponsoring state that needs to prove to us that it is starting to move in the right direction. If it proves to us that it’s different, perhaps we’ll show more interest.
Syria represents everything the Bush Administration has come out again. A dictatorship that represses its citizens, encourages and supports terror against American troops in Iraq and against Israel, and sabotages any attempt to stabilize a Lebanese democracy.
The Bush Administration is wholly dedicated to the Palestinian track. The Americans hope to see a shelf agreement by the end of Bush’s term, January 20, 2009. They know that the Israeli government cannot offer concessions on both tracts at the same time. With our prime minister under investigation, officials in Washington understand that the current government may not even be able to offer concessions on one track.
American support for the Syrian track? Don’t make them laugh. After Bush’s Knesset speech regarding Chamberlain-style appeasement and surrender, you think Bush will be a party to appeasement vis-à-vis the Syrians? After the speech resonated in the American media?
Helping a friend
But we’ll do anything for a friend. George Bush apparently really loves his friend, Ehud Olmert, and during a briefing with Israeli reporters at the White House before his trip to Israel he looked truly concerned about the affair threatening Olmert’s political and personal future. Bush asked what he can do for his friend, and the reporters didn’t really know what to tell him. Perhaps he got the answer in Israel, during a friendly talk with his friend. Olmert asked for a little room for maneuver, and got it. Not much more than that. And so, Israel was able to go ahead and announce the renewal of talks on the Syrian track.
What do the Americans really think about this track? Syria can start playing a more constructive role in the region if it wants to make peace with Israel, said State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack, adding that it can start by recognizing Lebanon’s sovereignty and marking the border between the two countries, including the Shebaa Farms.
The Americans have many more such examples, but they do not wish to ruin Olmert’s party. For the time being, they are sitting on the fence. Yet everyone realizes that without US backing for the talks with Syria, they have no value. America must be there in order to finalize a deal and agree on security arrangements.
Damascus would be able to disengage from Iran’s strategic bear hug only if its relationship with the US warms up. Yet this apparently won’t happen during George W. Bush’s term in office.