Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 29, 2007

Syria's Annapolis Deal

Part of the backroom deals to the Annapolis conference now seems to have been about giving Lebanon to Syria.

Let's recap:

In Lebanon a coalition of the Shia Hizbullah and Christian groups under former General Aoun are supported by Syria and Iran. The March 14 movement, consisting of the Sunni leader and Saudi business mogul Hariri plus various Christian fractions, is supported by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

The official government of Lebanon is somewhat in limbo. Voting for a new president by the split parliament was blocked and the date to vote moved several times. There is still the threat of a new bloody civil war. Another vote on the president is supposed to take place tomorrow but will likely be postponed.

This, in geopolitical terms, small conflict was constapiated in the run up to the recent Annapolis conference.

There was a long discussion if and under what circumstances Syria would be part of that conference. The Syrians taking part was something the Bush administration really desired.

The central issue of Syria's participation was said to be negotiations between Syria and Israel about the occupied Golan heights - a fruitless endeavor as Israel doesn't want to give up on those unless really threatened. After some secret negotions with the U.S. and Saudi Arabia the Syrian's finally sent a deputy foreign minister to Annapolis.

Now, as Annapolis is over and Syria did take part, the various fraction in Lebanon seem to have quite suddenly agreed to a compromise candidate for president.

The chief of the Lebanese army, General Michel Suleiman, is the selected one.

He is not unfriendly to Syria and was originally put forward as a compromise candidate by Aoun.  Now the March 14 group has accepted him and he even has Saudi support. Aoun is now only  'somewhat' in support as he himself is still a possible but unlikely candidate too and he wants to stretch the deal a bit further.

Purely coincidental the international investigation by the UN, in person of chief investigator Serge Brammertz, into the killing of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri in 2005 which was pinned on Syria, today suddenly finds new culprits which are not Syrian and also says that Syria has generally co-operated with the investigation.

So after Syria took part in Annapolis, Lebanon now suddenly finds a somewhat pro-Syrian compromise candidate for president and at the same time the Brammertz investigation suddenly exculpates the Syrian government from the Hariri assassination. 

I was wrong to earlier characterize the Annapolis meeting as a pure photo op. This certainly looks like the price to get Syria to the table was not the Golan heights, but Lebanon.

But what is the deal about Syria's intimate relations to Iran , the real targed of the Annapolis sham?

Sidenote 1:
Will the U.S. demand that General Suleiman takes off the Uniform when he gets the new job? If I remember correctly there recently was a bit of hassle about such an issue and various constitutional questions in Pakistan ...

Sidenote 2:
Suleiman as chief of the army is responsible for the recent destruction of the Palestinian refugee camp in Nahr al-Barad. His election is their loss ...

Posted by b on November 29, 2007 at 20:14 UTC | Permalink


As I see now, Helena Cobban had the same idea regarding Suleiman as does Joshua Landis who she links. Both have not yet caught up on the Brammertz turn.

Suleiman has been one of the candidates favored by Syria. For me, this immediately raises the question of whether there was a Saudi-brokered deal that involved the Syrians sending a (not high-level) representative to Annapolis, and them then getting a presidential candidate in Lebanon with whom they feel they can live?

It was a switch to Suleiman's candidacy by the Saudi-supported Saad Hariri's "Future Movement" that made Suleiman the front-runner. Some constitutional issues still persist-- namely, that a government employee of his stature is not supposed to become president. But no doubt Musharraf could teach him the dance of the seven combat boots. And anyway, many Lebanese harbor some fairly fond memories of the presidency of Fouad Chehab, who took over in 1958 after a successful, nation-building term as Chief of Staff.

Posted by: b | Nov 30 2007 6:58 utc | 1

The Boss calls the shots.

In an about face, the United States on Friday withdrew a U.N. resolution endorsing this week's agreement by Israeli and Palestinian leaders to try to reach a Mideast peace settlement by the end of 2008, apparently after Israel objected.


Diplomats said Israel, a close U.S. ally, did not want a resolution, which would bring the Security Council into the fledgling negotiations with the Palestinians.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Nov 30 2007 22:39 utc | 2

Joshua Landis: How the Lebanese Delegation was Blindsided at Annapolis

According to good sources, the Lebanese government was blindsided at Annapolis with the candidacy of Michel Suleiman as President

As officials began to arrive at Annapolis and started circulating, E.U, and then Egyptian officials began to approach their Lebanese counterparts. “Congratulations on your new president,” they were informed.

The jaws of the Lebanese delegates dropped. It was the first any of them had heard of such news.

The Lebanese made their way to Secretary of State Rice to find out the truth of this breaking news. Secretary Rice played coy, claiming that the deal was the doing of the French and Egyptians. It was not clear to what extent she was on top of the latest deal making.

Posted by: b | Dec 1 2007 12:12 utc | 3

I got this through Arnold Evans' Blog

"GCC chief confirms Ahmadinejad to attend Gulf summit"

"DOHA (AFP) — The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) confirmed on Sunday that it had invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to attend its summit this week, the first such invitation to the Islamic Republic.

"President Ahmadinejad will be the guest of the summit," GCC secretary general Abdulrahman al-Atiyah told reporters ahead of the two-day summit which starts on Monday.

"This is the first time that the Islamic Republic of Iran gets invited," to a GCC summit, he said, but gave no details on how long Ahmadinejad would stay in the Qatari capital which is hosting the meeting.

Ahmadinejad's senior advisor Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi said last Thursday that the outspoken president would be at the meeting, which will be attended by the heads of state from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Iran has on occasion had rocky ties with GCC member states, most notably in the 1980s when regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia backed Saddam Hussein's Iraq in its eight-year war against Iran.

But Iran has been seeking to improve ties as it faces increasing international isolation over its nuclear programme, and senior officials have made regular trips to neighbouring countries."

As Mr Evans says, Saudi's attendance of the Annapolis summit was a cover for something else.

Posted by: Lysander | Dec 2 2007 21:52 utc | 4

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