" The Bush administration’s attempt to isolate Syria has failed, even in the judgment of senior White House officials. That leaves Assad in the catbird seat, courted by European and Arab nations and conducting back-channel talks through Turkey with his erstwhile enemy Israel.
Asked, for example, about reports that Saudi Arabia is seeking to improve its relations with Damascus because it sees U.S. engagement with Syria ahead and fears that "the train may be leaving the station," Assad laughed.
"Maybe it has already left the station," he said. But he vows that he is ready to receive any emissaries. "I have no problem with the Saudis. We would like good relations with every country in this region."
Assad said that he is ready to move to direct talks with Israel as soon as he receives clarification on two points: One, he wants assurance that the Israelis will withdraw fully from the Golan Heights. To clarify that issue, he sent a "borders document" to the Israelis this month that highlights some points along the pre-1967 border. As of Monday, he said, he hadn’t received an Israeli response. His second condition for direct talks is that the United States join as a sponsor." Ignatius
The "borders" issue in the Golan Heights has become a non-issue. This is not the ’60s. Israel’s survival does not depend on the possession of a few hundred square kilometers of stony, scruffy land. Technology and capabilities have moved on. The military realities that the Likudniks like to talk about render such consideration "oldspeak," mere excuses for not giving up a square centimeter of the others side(s) land,
Bashar Assad’s Syria has sought accommodation with the US for the last several years. This was firmly rejected by the Bush people because it was and is neocon/Likud doctrine that Syria must be subdued and eviscerated, not accommodated. Assad wants to be let out of the "doghouse." He wants there to be a new beginning for the Middle East, one that a modern man like him can accept. This is our chance and the biggest opportunity the Israelis have ever had. Can the Israelis and their American "friends" rise to the occasion. I doubt it. They are so paralyzed by fear that their options are self limiting. We should hope for the best. pl