23.11.06

Gemayel, Syria, Israel and the war in Iraq

Gulfnews: Gemayel, Syria, Israel and the war in Iraq:

There is an alternative theory, which is equally plausible, in which the more likely culprits are Israel and its local agents. Those who advance it ask who benefits from the crime. Certainly not Syria and its Hezbollah allies who, to their great embarrassment, now find themselves denounced once again as criminals before world public opinion.

This accusation of a new heinous murder comes just at a time when Syria was on the point of re-engaging with Europe and the United States and when Hezbollah was hoping to reap political rewards.

The murder of Pierre Gemayel has had the immediate effect of paralysing Hezbollah and throwing it on the defensive: it can no longer consider bringing its supporters out on the street in peaceful demonstrations, as it had planned and announced, to press its demand for a national unity government.

Similarly, the murder is a grave setback for Syrian diplomacy. It occurred when Syria's foreign minister, Walid Al Muallem, was in Baghdad where he announced the resumption of diplomatic relations between Syria and Iraq, after a breach of a quarter of a century.

At the same time, Iran called for a tripartite summit of Iranian, Iraqi and Syrian presidents to help end the appalling violence in Iraq.

By these moves Syria and Iran were signalling that Iraq's neighbours could not be excluded from an eventual settlement in Iraq; that they were able and ready to play a constructive role; and that they were, in fact, key players with whom the United States needed to engage if it was to find an honourable exit from the Iraqi quagmire.

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