Should The United States Engage Syria? A Saban Center Policy Forum Debate

The Saban Center for Middle East Policy hosted a debate on October 23, 2006 between Joshua Landis, assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma, and Ammar Abdulhamid, a Saban Center Nonresident Fellow, on whether the United States should engage with Syria. Martin S. Indyk, Director of the Saban Center, formerly Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs and twice U.S. Ambassador to Israel, and Tamara Cofman Wittes, Saban Center Research Fellow and Director of the Arab Democracy and Development Program, chaired the event. Continue reading

Israel and Syria: To talk or not to talk…

“Greetings from your Israeli reader and occasional correspondent. I’d be interested in hearing your views on the following matter. 


Shimon Peres, Israel’s inveterate devotee of the peace process, has ruffled a few feathers in the Prime Minister’s office by calling for negotiations with Syria. This, in response to an apparent spate of newspaper interviews by Assad suggesting the peace process could move forward (ignoring, or winking an eye at Assad’s simultaneous beating of the war drums). A prominent conservative Israeli economic columnist made an argument this morning in the economic supplement of Haaretz that now is the time for Israel to play the Syrian card, since Assad is opposed to Muslim fundamentalism, and peace with Israel could move him away from his alliance with Iran. Continue reading

The Pawns of War!

If even the generations that have witnessed firsthand and lived through the dark days of the 70s and 80s in Syria, and that have vivid memories of how oppressive things were at the time and how hypocritical and tiring all that patriotic song-and-dance about Israel and America and our intervention in Lebanon was, if even these generations who should be eyeing the current developments in the region through the disquieting prism of déjà vu, déjà entendu, déjà everything, can still disagree on everything that has taken place in their lifetime, can still offer a variety of interpretations and explanations thereof, and can still carry on with their ideological and personal differences to this very moment in time, how would the 75% of Syria’s inhabitants, who are below the age of 25, who have no memories to guide them in this regard and who have been brainwashed at home, at school and in the streets, and rendered absolutely apathetic, fearful and compliant with regard to the existing authority, be it political, social, economic and/or religious,how would they feel and think about the current going-ons in Lebanon, in Syria, in Palestine? Who should they blame? Who would they support? How would they show it? And what would they make of the heretical dissenting writings of someone like me? Continue reading

Prelude to War!

I have long come to believe that the cause of national liberation and independence, upon which we were raised and never weaned, has served more as an instrument for our continued enslavement by the ruling regimes than anything else.Indeed, the national discourse and the constant calls for mobilization against a declared enemy were at best a diversionary measure meant to postpone any serious consideration of our developmental problems and our ruling regimes’ corruption and inherent authoritarian predilections. Continue reading

The Show Must Go On!

The Assads continue to send defiant messages to the international community showing complete disregard for its will and its resolutions. Indeed, and just as the crackdown against democracy activists is continuing so is arms smuggling to radical Palestinian groups in Lebanon. The Assads are bent on exacting revenge for their humiliating withdrawal from Lebanon and for the continued defiance of the March 14th Movement. Continue reading