Syria: Troublemaker or Option for Peace ?

Posted in Broader Middle East | 28-Dec-07 | Author: Dieter Farwick

Syrian President Bashar Assad flanked by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah: "For Iran and Syria, Hezbollah is their client in Lebanon, both to gain influence in that country and to attack Israel."

The meeting in Annapolis, Maryland on November 27, 2007 on the Middle East with about 50 official participants caused controversial statements worldwide about the value of this conference and the following process.

For some observers, the conference was a promising starting point for a new process that could lead to significant agreements between Israel and Palestine. They believe that progress is achievable if and when US President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sustain their commitment until the end of 2008.

Another school of thought is more sceptical, pointing at the failures of many similar attempts in the past and emphasizing the weak political position of key players like the President Bush, Israeli President Ehud Olmert and the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.

Barry Rubin, the director of the Global Research for International Affairs (Gloria) Center of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel, is a leading figure of the second group of sceptics.

Having read his book “The Truth About Syria” (Palgrave MacMillan 2007) I asked Barry Rubin some questions to find out the reasons for his sceptical view of an – often underestimated - key player in the Middle East: Syria.