US halts prospects for peace with Syria

Posted: May 5, 2009 by Jonathan Boyko in Hezbollah, Israel, Syria, Terrorism

YOU COULDN’T FIND a better headline: US State Department told Syrian President Bashar Assad to shove it with his appeals to the US to bargain with Hamas and Hizb Allah. Instead, the US SD called on Assad to use his ‘influence’ on both organizations, influencing them to lay down their arms and live peacefully.

"We call on Syria to use its influence to make these two groups play a constructive role in the region. As I said, up until now they haven’t. They know what they need to do, and we hope Syria will use its influence on these two groups" [, said US State Department Spokesman Robert Wood.]

Wood also addressed reported Israeli concerns regarding the rapprochement between Washington and Damascus, saying: "We hope to have a dialogue with Syria about a number of concerns that we have in the region. And we hope that that will result in Syria taking some steps that we want to see. And our interests are the same as Israel’s in terms of trying to get Syria to play a much more productive role in the region, to cease from supporting terrorist groups."

In the meanwhile, Israeli analysts suspect Syria continues to supply Hizb Allah with arms and advice, as it believes latter should be well-armed when another confrontation between Israel and Lebanon ensues:

Syria’s intentions, according to the analysis, is to provide Hezbollah with sufficient advanced arms to raise its strength and capabilities to a level beyond what the group had prior to the Second Lebanon War in July 2006. Such capabilities would allow Hezbollah to embark on an offensive that would force Israel to fight on a second front in case of a regional conflagration, but allow Syria to prevent any fighting along the Golan Heights.

Israeli analysts believe that Syria is continuing to develop a military strategy strongly influenced by its analysis of the results of the Second Lebanon War. As such, the fundamental principle of the Syrian strategy is the acquisition of sophisticated defensive weapons, primarily air defense and anti-tank weapons.
In parallel, Syria is procuring sophisticated missiles that would enable it to target military bases inside Israel, in case a confrontation with Hezbollah escalates and Damascus is dragged into the conflict.

What can I say – those Syrians really want peace.

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