Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Off with the stick... in with the carrot

Has Tony Blair signaled a shift in the general strategy towards dealing with Syria? I ask that question because Reuters just published an article entitled "Blair offers Syria dialogue if it works with the UN."
Blair is reported to have said

I am very happy to have a dialogue with the Syrian government but it has to be on very, very clear terms and it's important they are not only saying these things (on cooperation) but that they are doing them

The fact is there can be no justification for interfering in Lebanon and the Mehlis (U.N.) report was not good reading for Syria, you have to accept that

Okay, considering that Assef Shawkat, Maher Assad, and even Bashar himself are all implicated in Hariri's assassination, I am not too sure how much of an incentive "dialogue" is for Bashar el Assad to cooperate with the UN. Anyways, let us see where all this is going, and whether Blair's announcement is a concerted effort, or merely a British one.
Watch out for more of these signals from other Western leaders.


Anton Efendi said...

This is all deja vu. I don't think it amounts to anything. When you're saying "cooperate with the investigation" you're saying sink yourself.

Like I said, deja vu. If the idea is to introduce a split within the regime, i.e., force Bashar to sacrifice someone, it's a dead-end idea, and one that's been already tried. It's not an option. It's not feasible. It's useless.

So whatever this little remark may mean, it won't amount to much, I don't think.

And like you said, "dialogue" is not really a "carrot," whatever the hell that may mean.

Firas said...

Unless its a clear sign that sticks have failed and carrots are all policy tools remaining. Bashar called the West's bluff with his war speech at damascus university and won. With strong Arab/Russian opposition to sanctions, Mehlis took Asif off the interogation list, folded his cards, and went home. Military action is off the table and there is limited ability to exert further economic/political pressure. Clearly, Bashar won this round.

Anton Efendi said...

Clearly nothing, Firas! Relax...

AbdulKarim said...

I'm afraid the Syrians will misinterpret these signals and go on with their policies. Honestly, I don't think this kind of regime is capable of dialogue.

Anonymous said...

This will be interpreted as a green light for more killings.
The West will never learn.

Raja said...

Tony, please substantiate. I'm affraid that I agree with Firas' position. Is there something that we do not know?

Anton Efendi said...

You're building this on what? Blair's out of context comment that wasn't even properly read? Did you hear the US reaction (see my latest post)? Did you forget that it was France, Britain and the US that co-sponsored the harsher resolution that was then tempered by Russia, China, and Algeria?

Don't ask me what I'm basing my dismissal on. Ask yourself what are you basing your conclusion on. You'll find it's not much.

Look, we are all worried, and on edge. But let's not lose broader perspective, and more importantly, facts.

Besides, re-read Blair. You'll find there's not much in there.

Hani G. said...

Guys does anyone have any information on a deal between Saudi Arabia and the US in order to relieve some pressure off Syria? Prince Bandar was Chief in these latest negotiations apparently. What's the truth in this deal?
How I feel sorry for Saad and for Lebanon if this is the case.
The carrot eill have been let in.

Anton Efendi said...

Do you mean the ones to get them to send the officers to Vienna?

Even those, it was rumoured, were at Egyptian behest. You'll remember that the Syrians tried to downplay Saudi mediation then, and Abdullah had to go public and declare his mediation and tell us that the era of bravado (zaman al-'antariyyat) was over.

The investigation will continue.

Doha said...

new from annahar: the US denies rumors that there's a deal being struck with Syria at Lebanon's expense. And the US ambassador to Damascus' news of returning to Damascus after leaving the country last February was also declared to be a rumor.

(sigh of relief....)

Anton Efendi said...

Walaw ya sitt Doha?! I told you to read my latest post wlo...

Doha said...

i read your post after writing this comment, monsieur nothing personal :)