Centrul Diplomatic/Diplomatic Center

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



President Bashar Al Assad, the architect of a new alliance

2009 was the year of a diplomatic change in the Middle East. Quiet but efficient, the Syrian diplomacy supported a new strategy of alliances destined to assure the equilibrium in a fragile area.

Turkey and Syria: a new relation.

Usually, in the strategic landscape of the region, Syria and Turkey could be easily played one against the other, from the memories of Ottoman Empire repression to conflict over Euphrates water quota and the never ending story of border disputes all seemed to put a distance between Damascus and Ankara.

2009 change all this,  with a resolution over the Euphrates water dam , with  joint military exercises and cooperation agreement signed on cultural, tourism and economic field and with a well publicized border crossing opened , that made the former severely fortified border between Syria and Turkey, one of the most relaxed in the region.

As a result of this diplomatic overture Syria will benefit massively economic from the vitality of Turkey market and form tourism investment, where Turkey easily observed that Syrian market, practically untapped by European visitors will be the next El Dorado of tourism in the years to come. Syria also has become the bridge used by Ankara to rebuild the relations with Arab world. In the last 50 years Turkey was interested in building a laic state, oriented towards Western Military Alliance (NATO) and in the last 20 years had also unsuccessfully tried to join European Union.

Now Turkey is rediscovering the Islamic roots and the Arab market potential and economic power and is rebuilding a zone of cultural and political influence in the Middle East. In the new discovered Syrian – Turkey alliance , Turkey obtained a model of reconnecting with Arab world, an economic success story and , the most important, the Damascus support in forging a new alliance also with Iran. The results of Turkey- Syria friendship quickly lead to a new Iran- Turkey friendship, where President Abdullah Gul offered support for nuclear program of Teheran and to embattled Iranian president. The new Turkey- Syria –Iran alliance could offer and economic viable space and a political alliance that supports equilibrium in the Middle East.

Syria- Saudi Arabia connection.

2009 also was the witness of a rare image in Middle East policy, in a two day visit King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia embraced his Syrian counterpart  putting an end to a long rift between Damascus and Riyadh over Lebanon.  If with Turkey Damascus emphasized the necessity of an Islamic alliance to control Middle East and to put in defense an aggressive Israel, in Riyadh the accent was in Sunni reconciliation and cooperation to make a stable Lebanon and a stable Iraq. President Bashar al Assad of Syria has obtained his aim: a stable Lebanon, an inclusive government and maintaining Hezbollah armed to defend Lebanon and in governmental position. The success was un hoped for, after the defeat of Hezbollah in Lebanon elections many feared Lebanon will decay in civil disorder or even civil war. What will be to true extent of the October 2009 understanding between King Abdullah and President Bashar Al Assad will become visible in the next month and years, but already this new connection is shaping the Middle East.

With a solid  financial background offered by Saudi-Syria Company for Industrial and Agricultural Investment and a bilateral Businessmen Forum   the new  friendship promise to be also a trade and economic opportunity for the two countries.

But the most spectacular is the political understanding. In just a month after the King Abdullah visit to Damascus, in Lebanon a new unity government was in place and the country begin regaining strength on economic field and on national reconciliation and Hezbollah obtained the agreement for a maintaining his military apparatus . Also remarkable is the evolution of Iraq situation where the Sunni  alliance is approaching a 35% percent voting support in the polls, becoming the maker or broker of any future Iraq government that will results from March 2010 elections.

The Al Maliki government witnesses this situation with apprehension and when he tried to block some of the Sunni candidate to appear on the ballot he faced even a United States high level intervention by Joe Biden against any person being blocked in participating in elections. A Syrian- Saudi joint proposal backed by United States, this is showing how much Syrian diplomacy changed the rule of games in Middle East in the last year.

Syria: the center of a new Middle East strategy.

The recognition of the new Syrian role in the Middle East come quickly , George Mitchell , the US envoy for the region visited Damascus in 2009 as never in the past . President Sarkozy of France becomes a frequent host and roll up red carpet treatment of President Bashar Al Assad.

What is make the new Syrian political opening remarkable is the astonishing diplomatic capacity of President Basher Al Assad in maintaining in the same time the strong connection with Teheran while negotiating with Paris, Riyadh and Washington. Creating a Sunni alliance with Riyadh will make a stable Iraq and will defuse tensions at eastern border of Syria and will ease the refugee tension on Damascus that had accepted on his territory more than 1.5 millions Iraqi refugees in the last 7 years. Also in Lebanon, Syria has made an important comeback, economic and politic a Lebanon- Syrian- Saudi alliance is the best situation for the entire region. Finally Syria has obtained also a general backing on total retrocession of Golan Heights from Israel as a precondition for any dialogue, in according to United Nations resolution

Damascus in the heart of diplomatic action.

All this comes as a result of a young and talented crew gather around President Bashar al Assad and decided to make Damascus the heart of the diplomatic game of the region. Among this are, the able and always smiling, educated and charming Minister of Information Dr. Mohsen Bilal, that succeed  transforming international media views on Syria, Walid Al Moallem as minister of foreign affairs traveled from Ankara to Teheran and Beirut and in all the major capitals of the world   promoting the new Syrian diplomacy.    Saadala Agaa as minister of tourism played the culture and history card making Syria a stopover for all important tourism events that opened the country to the world. (I have also the opportunity of seeing this powerful new diplomacy in actions with energetic and convincing Ambassador Walid Othman promoting Syria as a cradle of civilization on diplomatic arena).

Now with a powerful and skilled diplomatic team, a strong economy, a stable society and in the middle of strong alliance how will Damascus exploit his success further is everyone question?

January 26, 2010 Posted by | Diplomacy, Eastern Europe, Ecology, Economy, Environment, Foreign policy, History, Informations, International Relation, Leaders, Mass media, News, Open Letter, Politics, Religion, Syria, Tourism, Travel, United States | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on SYRIA: THE CENTER OF A NEW STRATEGIC ALLIANCE by Professor Anton Caragea

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


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.


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?

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