Bashar Al-Assad has held a summit of 10 Palestinian resistance groups based in Damascus. He declared his support for Hamas’s political leader Khaled Mishael (below).
It’s a massive change in Syrian policy. For the past couple of years, Syria has insisted that the offices of Hamas and Islamic Jihad along with other rejectionist groups in Damascus had been shut down. Indeed, Mishael himself was not welcome in Syria and fled to Qatar. But now he’s at the top table.
It’s a move that’s bound to infuriate the US. But confusingly it flies in the face of Bashar’s ‘reformist-appeasement’ line.
Bashar was even planning to attend the UN summit in the hope of holding private talks with US officials. He has repeatedly offered to restart peace talks – unconditionally – with Israel. And he pulled out of Lebanon quicker than anyone in the region imagined.
America in recent months has been trying to isolate Bashar. He’s the Arab World’s latest boogeyman. But the flipside is that if the Bush administration continues to reject Syrian attempts at reconcilliation, Syria might just turn its back and make no attempt to please the States.
Today’s meeting makes it clear that peace talks with Israel are off, and support for the resistance is on.
Is this the price of the American brick wall?