Mid-Eastern Pragmatism

“There will come a person after Bush, who will try to put this [Iraq] investment to profitable use”

Syrian vice-president Farouk al-Sharaa made remarks in an interview with the Syrian electronic newspaper Champress.com that are worth noting for a number of reasons, and this is a case where the commenters at Syriacomment.com (apparently mostly themselves Syrians except for the owner of the site, Josh Landis, who posted translations of parts of this) have been able to actually make their discussions meaningful enough so that even I could understand the relevance to the bigger world.

Sharaa was foreign minister until late 2005, when he was either demoted or promoted to vice-president, but in any event he is the first senior Syrian official to comment on the post-Baker situation. So that is one point.

Landis describes Sharaa as a hard-liner. His predecessor as vice-president, Khaddam, defected and is now leader of an exile opposition group. His successor as foreign minister, Muallem, is the relatively friendly face of Syrian foreign policy, a role Landis calls that of the “good cop”. So the emergence of the hard-liner Sharaa as spokesman now, suggests “the regime leaders are taking him out of mothballs in order to initiate a ‘bad-cop’ phase,” suggesting increased self-confidence across the board, with respect not only to Lebanon, but with respect to Palestsine and Iraq too.

Read it all here.

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