George Bush has offered to bring Bashar in from the cold, after two years of isolation, if he meets four key demands, according to senior American and Syrian sources.
His demands are:
1 – hand over any suspects named in the UN Hariri investigation to an international trial
2 – cease all ‘interference’ in Lebanese affairs
3 – end funding, training and support for Iraq’s insurgents
4 – end support for Hamas, Hizbollah and Jihad
In return America would resume full and friendly relations, re-open its Embassy, end its threats, and provide international investement and aid. The US would also lift all sanctions, allowing American companies to do business in Syria.
Although the demands are not new, it is the first carrot Bush has offered Syria since his hate campaign begun in 2003.
Syrian sources predicted Bashar will turn down the deal, because the old-guard will view the Hariri and Hizbollah demands as a step too far.
But the mere fact that the two new enemies are talking again is a positive step. Bashar confirmed that the US and Syria had resumed negotiations through intermediaries (thought to be Saudi and Egypt). Co-operation ended earlier this year when the US pulled out its Ambassador from Damascus, and Syria ended its intelligence sharing with Washington.
Most importantly, the offer demonstrates is that Bush does not have the willingness or ability for another Arab invasion during the rest of his presidency.