TITLE

Assad Holds Out a Hand

AUTHOR(S)
Benn, Aluf
PUB. DATE
January 2004
SOURCE
Newsweek (Pacific Edition);1/26/2004 (Pacific Edition), Vol. 143 Issue 4, p17
SOURCE TYPE
Periodical
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
This article looks at an apparent peace offering from Syria. Bashar Assad, the Syrian president, scored a diplomatic coup with his proposal to renew peace talks with Israel. While peacemaking or even mere negotiations appear unlikely, Assad's initiative has shaken the Israeli leadership, and exposed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as a peace refusnik. This is no small accomplishment in the Middle East political playground: the Palestinians have tried in vain to outmaneuver Sharon. In his interview, published Dec. 1, Assad begged the United States to resume Syrian-Israeli negotiations, which broke down in 2000 several weeks before the death of Bashar's father, President Hafez Assad. Bashar did not suddenly fall in love with Israel. He had a more obvious motive: fending off American pressure. The list of American grievances is long--from assisting Saddam Hussein to aiding postwar terrorism in Iraq, not to mention its long support of Palestinian terrorist groups and the Lebanese Hizbullah. The Syrian Accountability Act, signed recently by President George W. Bush, mandates U.S. sanctions. Since taking office in 2001, Sharon has simply ignored Syria, focusing on the Palestinian conflict. The Israelis mocked Bashar's immaturity and portrayed him as an anti-Semitic, worthless puppet of his dad's cronies. Since taking office in 2001, Sharon has simply ignored Syria, focusing on the Palestinian conflict. The Israelis mocked Bashar's immaturity and portrayed him as an anti-Semitic, worthless puppet of his dad's cronies.Which may be a pity: despite lacking his father's clout, Bashar has shown cleverness and diplomatic skills. Negotiating with him could be a refreshing alternative to the current muddy impasse.
ACCESSION #
12106888

 

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