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Tunisia, Israel, and Syria – varying degrees of progress

Our resident Tunisia expert, Rob Prince, posted on his blog a few days ago about the Tunisian elections.  If you haven’t already read it, you need to stop and do so!

Meanwhile, Israel continues to ignore international consensus on the matter of settlements, and is going to put more in East Jerusalem.  Given past statements from Obama condemning further settlements, these actions by Israel can also be viewed as a failure of the US president to control an ally.  So much for good momentum toward peace following the Shalid swap.

Also, apparently the Arab League and Syria reached an agreement on how to wind down the violence in Syria.  Personally, I’m cynical that this matters.  The experience of Ali Abdullah Saleh in working with the GCC makes me skeptical that anything positive will come from working with the even more entrenched Assad.  From the New York Times article:

The Arab League called on Mr. Assad to withdraw security forces from the streets, release prisoners who had been detained since February and allow Arab monitors to enter the country. The initiative also calls for Syria to negotiate with the opposition, though terms of the talks remain unclear. Syria has resisted negotiating outside Damascus, its capital, fearing that a foreign locale will give the opposition more credibility.

And questions persist over precisely what opposition it would recognize — figures it has cultivated within the country who have stopped short of calling for Mr. Assad’s fall, or an exiled opposition that has claimed to speak on behalf of the uprising.

“Bashar al-Assad’s comments suggest that he is against the Arab proposal,” said Samir Nachar, a prominent figure with the exiled opposition. “Until now all the indications are negative. I think this is an attempt to buy time on behalf of the regime.”

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2 Responses

  1. The comments by duredhawk show little understanding of what is happening in southern Israel. One would have hoped for improved relations after the deal with Shalit but this hasn’t happened. This has been followed by non stop rocket attacks from Gaza affecting all the main cities (Ashdod, Ashkelon & Beersheva) as well as all the smaller villages. Schools were meant to start but children have been unable to go because of these attacks from Gaza.
    The IDF is being forced to consider a major action to stop the rockets because of pressure from these Israeli citizens demanding protection.
    As for the building of “settlements” these are in the city of Jerusalem in areas which will be in Israel as & when the PA decide to negotiate. In this area there is enough blame to go around for both sides.

    • @Herzl, your point is well taken. I think it is fair to say that if the majority of Israelis are proponents of actions against Gaza, then my tone, which suggests some duplicity on the part of Israeli leadership, is unfair. Could you post in a comment a link to an article about children not attending school because of the rocket attacks? On the settlements, I would respond to your point by saying that if the land they are being built on will eventually be in Israel regardless, then not waiting to build them seems like a careless decision that will add unneeded controversy to an already stalled peace process.

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