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President Obama’s decision to reopen negotiations with the Syrians is about much more than bilateral relations between the two countries. Syria’s cooperation is integral to initiating game-changing policies toward Iran and to achieving progress on the Israeli-Palestinian track.
As someone who knows little about Syrian politics and history, I have been consulting analysis from a variety of sources in order to understand Syria’s role in the region and what negotiations might be able to accomplish.
I have compiled a list of some of the best commentary I have found below. I tried to include a variety of perspectives.
- In the Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, New America Foundation/Middle East Task Force Director Daniel Levy supports American engagement with Syria and asserts that there is “strongly emerging support in the Israeli security establishment” for a deal with Syria – including Golan withdrawal – because of the strategic benefits that a deal would provide with regard to Iran, Hamas, and Hizbullah.
- In Haaretz, Aluf Benn provides a thorough history of Israeli-Syrian relations and past attempts at reconciliation between those two countries.
- Over at Syria Comment, Joshua Landis reminds us of the deep mistrust that persists between Syrian and American officials and argues that successful negotiations hinge on whether American officials can separate their own interests from Israel’s.
- In Foreign Affairs, Richard Haass and Martin Indyk place the prospect of a rapprochement in the context of a broader Middle East strategy.
- In the Wall Street Journal, Georgetown Historian Michael Oren provides a detailed history of the Syrian-American bilateral relationship.
- In Newsweek, Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass emphasizes the benefits that Damascus can provide on the Israeli-Palestinian track.
- In the National Interest, Amitai Etzioni explains why he is skeptical that a deal with the Syrians is likely to lead to significant progress with the Iranians.
I hope that you find these articles valuable.
— Ben Katcher