Friday, November 26, 2004

Syria Agrees to Withdraw from Lebanon

Nizar Nayouf's group in France, The National Council for Truth, Justice and Reconciliation in Syria, put out a report today that Syria has agreed to pull out of Lebanon by next February. The particulars of the deal are still a little vague, but evidently 3,000 Syrian Special Forces will remain in Lebanon to guard 3 radar stations. This has been worked out with the US, France, and Israel to comply with UN resolution 1559.

Nayouf and General Aoun's group are upset with this deal because it will give cover to Syria to retain security personnel in the country, which will allow Syria to preserve its control over the intelligence community in Lebanon. The reason Israel has accepted this deal, Nayouf explains, is that there is a powerful Syrian Lobby in the Israeli Army and intelligence community, which has been arguing not to have Syria expelled from Lebanon before Hizbullah is completely transformed from a military to a political party. Syria is the best guarantor of the Israel's northern border, Israel feels. Evidently Bashar has agreed to confine Hizbullah and oversee its eventual transformation into a wholly political operation. Bashar has also agreed to curtail the operations of Palestinian groups in the region.

This will undoubtedly be the opening shot in a reinvigorated effort by Syria to reopen discussions with Israel over the Golan. Israel has been insisting that Syria must eliminate Hizbullah and the Palestinian groups as a sign of good faith before peace negotiations can be renewed. This US brokered agreement with Syria over Lebanon would certainly comply with Israel's conditions. At least that is the way it would seem. The UN and US would have had to sign off on this before Bashar would have taken the deal.

I haven't seen this reported yet elsewhere, but it makes sense.

This cartoon by Amjad Rasmi appeared in Arab News, 12/14/03.


At 11/29/2004 01:29:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On 11/26 Josh Landis wrote: "This will undoubtedly be the opening shot in a reinvigorated effort by Syria to reopen discussions with Israel over the Golan" and then by 11/27 we have the Syrians asking for peace talks and the Israeli president saying let's talk. And I see in Maariv on 11/29 that Emile Lahoud says he wants peace with Israel.

Can I possibly allow myself to hope that something good is happening?

Leila from Dove's Eye View -

At 11/30/2004 11:14:00 PM, Blogger John-Paul said...

Israeli public support for vacating Gaza is considerable. I've heard though that Israelis are much more invested in retaining the Golan. Is this true, and if so, can we expect anything positive to come of these developments?


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