Thursday, March 08, 2007

Syria statement due today

Michael Young writing in the opinion pages of the Lebanese Daily Star, sees the establishment of the UN tribunal on Hariri's murder as a bargaining chip the US should not give up. He argues that Syria's invitation to attend the Baghdad conference next week should not open the way for further dialogue with Assad. Rather than offering talks which will only be viewed by the Syrians as a reward for their bad behaviour, the US should threaten to punish Syria for its conduct in Lebanon by pushing for the UN tribunal.

"To talk now, while the Syrians threaten Lebanon on a daily basis, would validate their claim that threats work, and that Syria can bring envoys to its door by spawning instability in Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian territories. That's precisely the wrong message to send. The right message is that Syria can only put an end to its isolation once it accepts international law - which in Lebanon means accepting the tribunal and giving up on the dream of reimposing its hegemony over the country."

Click here to read full article

On the other side, Helena Cobban writing in Middle East Online, sees the US hard-line stance on Syria as negative, and in no way advancing the democratization of Syria. She says that the view from the ground is that US pressure on the Damascus regime has backfired.

" Firstly, the rapid deterioration in the US' power in the region has considerably diminished Washington's ability to pressure the Syria regime on any issues, and Damascus has become notably stronger and self-confident than it was a year ago.

Secondly, over the same period, the situation of human rights activists within the country seems to have improved some.[the]...number of (secular) political prisoners in the country is now less than 20."

Click here to read her article

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