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Tammy - a few thoughts

Reader comment on item: Two Palestines, Anyone?
in response to reader comment: Would Mr Pipes or readers help me clarify these questions? Thank you!

Submitted by Pat (United States), Jun 20, 2007 at 16:56

Tammy,

I have only a few answers, and the numbers match your questions, which is why you might find a gap.

1. It may be secular but Syria is ruled by Shiites. There is one connection with Iran. Another is that the two have joint interests. Neither wants the US to succeed in Iraq and they are willing to do whatever is necessary to prevent it. There is a real fear that a democracy in Iraq might have a cascading effect on its neighbors. Whether or not the fear is valid, it's still there. Many nations have been able in the past to work with countries that would seem to be adversaries if they perceived a greater danger. The best comparison I can come up with is the US, Britain and the USSR against the Nazis.

3. American elites think they'll gain favor from Muslims by ending the Palestinian conflict. If they can get Israel to agree on a peace deal then the US will score points with the world. I don't think they consider Israel expendable. Maybe they just think Israel can take care of itself and giving up a little territory isn't such a high price to pay. They no longer see Israel's enemies as our enemies. 9/11 should have shown them how wrong that was, but they still don't get it. They still think that "solving the Israeli - Palestinian conflict" will reduce the risk of terrorism against the US.

4. Lebanon was taken over a few decades ago. Hezbollah was set up in the early 1980s and it never left. I believe Syria invaded to protect the Sunnis. (Don't quote me on that. History gets muddled.) Even when the Syrians pulled out their armed forces there was no return to peace. Hezbollah fighters carry on. The Syrians murdered Rafik Hariri, who opposed their domination, in order to quash the "cedar revolution". Lebanon has been a country of factions since its civil war about thirty years ago. It once had a tripartite government with power-sharing between Shiites, Sunnis and Christians. Today Shiites dominate and Syria and Iran have a common interest in preventing democracy from taking root again.

5. Israelis are tired of fighting. They would never have considered returning the Golan ten years ago. Maybe since there is a new Assad in power they think they can strike a deal and they'll have one less border to guard and one less adversary to worry about. It's not clear that Olmert would return the Golan without a full security guarantee from Syria and whether that is a price Assad is willing to pay remains the question.

7. I would say yes. The question is can it survive as a Jewish state? That was the rationale for withdrawing from Gaza and, eventually, most of the West Bank. I've read that they would most likely retain a few settlements in the West Bank. It would not be a blanket pullout, as in Gaza. As long as Israel holds on to these areas the demographics mean that it will become a majority Muslim state sooner rather than later. There's a method to what seems to be their madness. They are willing to give up on the idea of "Greater Israel" in order to preserve the Jewish state. Whether it works is another matter.

These are just a few observations of a reader.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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