Centrul Diplomatic/Diplomatic Center

Centrul de Studii Politice si Diplomatie/ Center for Political Science and Diplomacy

Syria: the key for peace in the Middle East by Professor Anton Caragea

01_ASSAD

In only three month the US Middle East envoy, George Mitchell made two visits to Damascus prompting the world attention to the new place of Syria in the region.  What is the new role of Syria in Barrack Obama vision of peace for the Middle East?

Syria: an astonishing survival.

In 2003 Syria seemed to be on the brink of the abyss: a US lead invasion of Iraq has turn up side down the region, G. Bush placed Syria on the list of state to be attacked , in Lebanon US sponsored the anti-Syrian opposition in the  hope that will further isolate Syria.  The death of Hafez al Assad in 2000 and the ascension to power of a young leader, Bashar al Assad made the situation even more fragile. In this difficult climate of isolation, war in Iraq, US pressures and sanctions Syria succeeded a remarkable transformation.

First step was made by bringing to power a generation of very effective , western educated leaders that transformed the country in just a few years: Dr.Mohsen Bilal,  a very efficient minister of  information that transformed the media landscape of the country offering open gates policy to private  newspapers and media channels  ,Wallid Al Moallem, Foreign Affairs Minister  of Syria succeed in promoting a new image of his country  tacking Syria out of the isolation  , Dr. Faissal Mqdad, vice-minister of Foreign Affairs supported this active and efficient diplomacy transforming Syria in a diplomatic Mecca in the last five years  supported in this efforts  by professional  diplomats like Walid Othman and other dedicated diplomats  and the charismatic  Mr. Saadala Agaa, Minister of Tourism, that made Syria a touristic power in the region busting countries revenues from tourism . This new team brought to power by President Bashar al Assad succeeded simultaneous in disengaging Syria from Lebanon, restoring diplomatic ties with Lebanon, sheltering 1, 5 million refugees from Iraq (a humanitarian crisis of never viewed scale), creating economic development of 5% percent per year, closing the border to Iraq for terrorist group and having an effective diplomacy in the region and developing connection with European Union. This mixture of powerful diplomacy, open society and strong democracy   made Syria a key for peace in the region. The assessment  of first nine year of Bashar al Assad in power is a strong  positive one.  

No peace without Syria.

An Arab diplomatic wisdom is saying that in Middle East could not be a war without Egypt and peace without Syria. The latest years offers a new meaning to this word of wisdom. Syria has proven to be a force for peace in the region and a fundamental actor: supporting Hezbollah in his resistance made Syria a part of the reconstruction of Lebanon security and peace and in may 2009 election when Hezbollah lost the Lebanese elections Syria supported the peaceful recognition of the election results and the creation of a unity government. Also the Syrian diplomatic campaign for Golan was a new success, even US announcing that Israel must relinquish the Golan Heights to rightful owner: Syria, in the peace processes. The open relation with Turkey, accepting Turkey mediation with Israel and the worming relation with Iraq and Golf States transformed Syria in the diplomatic rally point for France ( N. Sarcozy visit Damascus in 2008 , Bernard Kouchner , French foreign minister  in 2008 and 2009)   or for Qatar diplomacy. Even in 2008 Bashar al Assad was invited for 14 July celebration in France, an honor that only few have.    

Visit in Damascus for the eyes of Tel Aviv.

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The US diplomatic overture to Syria is destined no doubt to exercise pressure on Israel. The US-Israel relation are suffering from a diplomatic cold after the Barrack Obama speech in Cairo and US decision to pressure Israel for  a halt in settlements construction and to re-open dialogue with Palestinian Authority.  Until now Israeli government choose to ignore the joint US-European Union- Russia pressure for a sincere dialogue with Palestine Authority and for halting the settlements in territories occupied after 1967 war. The US decision to send a new ambassador in Damascus and European Union rapprochement with Syria, all indicate that Israel could not hope indefinitely to go against international community wishes.

Now G. Mitchell goes to Damascus with a solid agenda: peace talks, returning Golan Heights to Syria, Damascus aid in stabilizing Iraq, removing Syria from US black list etc.  Especially Washington is interested in having Syrian backing for a swift resolution of Iraq conflict to relinquish the US troops station there.  US are conscience that Iraq will  descend in anarchy and havoc  after the US army pull out. US are trying to support a second : a Syrian model of open society, secular state, political equilibrium that will satisfy also Kurdish autonomy ambition and Sunni worries over a Shia controlled Iraq. This Syrian model in Iraq depends on Damascus support and is a valuable asset in US- Syria negotiation.  G. Mitchell is now in Damascus and already announced that what will be back.     

Now the question is if US has embarked only in a charmed offensive to worry Israel or really G. Mitchell found on the road to Damascus the light of a new policy for the region?

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July 26, 2009 Posted by | Diplomacy, Economy, Foreign policy, History, Informations, International Relation, Leaders, Mass media, News, Politics, Religion, Syria, Tourism, Travel, United States | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

THE SYRIAN REVELATION by Vlad Hogea, vicepresident of Romanian Conservative Party

THE   SYRIAN   REVELATION

Vlad Hogea

I spent a week in Syria, with a media delegation chaired by Professor Anton Caragea, director at the Institute for Political Science and International Affairs. Our visit was made possible through the kindness of the Ambassador of the Arabic Republic of Syria in Romania, his Excellency Walid Othman.
I knew some things about that part of the Levant especially that the Romanian-Syrian links have been extremely tight over the last 40 years: do not forget that 35.000 Syrians (3 of them – are being ministers in office in the Damascus Government along with many other officials!) studied at the universities in our country. Some of them got married with Romanian women and formed mixed families. Thousands of companies in Romania are owned by Syrian citizens. The Romanians built refineries and other important landmarks in Syria.  So we have in common things linked to our recent past, to continuous present and consequently there are the premises for a good cooperation in the future.
 I set out this journey hopping that Syria is a country to be discovered and I came back with the satisfaction of a true revelation. None of the stereotypes promoted by some journalists having the wrong information or bad intentions is valid. On the contrary, I have gladly traveled across a wonderful country from all the points of view. Syria has a long and glorious history (don’t forget that Damascus is the oldest capital in the world, and it remained like this until these very days) but it is also opened to the new and to the modern civilization (this is to be seen even in its infrastructure) in the context of political stability honorably represented by the President Bashar al Asad (the son and the spiritual heir of Hafes al Asad), the BAAS party and the National Progressive Front.
I saw the place where Saul of Tarsus got the message from God on the road to Damascus and became a Christian, being later known as Saint Paul. I entered the Umayyad Mosque (where lies the head of Saint John the Baptist also honored by the Islamic religion). I touched the Tomb of Saladin (the famous conqueror of Jerusalem and unifier of the Arabic tribes), but we didn’t miss the monasteries built to honor Saint Takla and Saint Serge and Bacchus (no connection with the god of wine). I visited the Azem palace, the Alep and Crac de Chevaliers fortress, the ancient vestiges from Ugarit, the magnificent area of Latakia, the Roman Amphitheatre from Bosra (much better preserved than the Colosseum in Rome) – the city where Mohammad met a Christian monk who told him that he would be the great prophet of a new religion. I went to Golan Heights, at Quneitra, the city completely destroyed (according to the conclusions of the international commission) by the Israeli troops in 1973 between the moment of signing the armistice and that of the partial retreat. Of course the official meetings at the ministerial and political level offered us the privilege to find out many interesting things about today’s realities and about Syria’s role as “part of the solution not of the problem in the region” (as stated by the president of the country).
We were welcomed and well treated everywhere. It’s a real friendship widely expressed by the Syrians. A friendship built and consolidated during decades of mutual trust, a friendship that nobody has the right to ignore or to denigrate.

July 25, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Environment, Foreign policy, History, Informations, International Relation, Leaders, Mass media, News, Politics, Religion, Tourism, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment