Israel-Baath Alliance on Syria

Pelosi's Visit to Damascus, a Chapter Within the Jewish Lobby Strategy

By Raghida Dergham

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi's visit to Damascus was motivated by a fraction of the Israeli lobby convinced that stimulating Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's interest in striking a deal with Israel would prompt him to break him away from Iran and abandon Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The visit came on behalf of the Israeli government and its affiliates, who view the Syrian regime as weak and incapable of inflicting harm, yet the best de facto partner of Israel, since it will never stir up the Syrian-Israeli front, or allow for the emergence of the 'Muslim Brotherhood'. Hence, it stands to represent the wished for separation fence, running along the Syrian-Israeli borders.

The visit of the head of the top US legislative body came to the dismay of George W. Bush, the head of the executive body, who is tasked by the Constitution with foreign policy decision-making and entrusted with the prerogatives to outstrip jurisdictions.

This visit might cost Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party dearly, since she justified her trespassing by arguing that she played the role of the go-between by conveying a message from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to the Syrian president.

By doing so, she has impaired the prestige of the presidency of the US House of Representatives, while diminishing the status of the US presidency at the hub of a capital ruled by a regime standing accused of being behind politically-motivated assassinations in a neighboring country. Regardless of what Pelosi told the Syrian leadership with regard to her attitude toward the international resolutions concerning Lebanon, or Syria's persistent opposition to the establishment of the international tribunal to try those behind the assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafik al-Hariri and his companions.

She was rather expected to publicly endorse the international tribunal in Damascus, as she sat smiling beside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his deputy, Farouk al-Sharaa. Had she carefully studied the files in question instead of indulging in her favorite hobby, i.e. memorizing the 'conversation tips' dictated to her; she might have been able to resolutely extract from them pledges to respect the sovereignty and independence of Lebanon.

However, Nancy Pelosi's obsession with Iraq, derived from her obsession with cutting George Bush down to size and offering lip services to Israel under any circumstances, even at the detriment of the US interests, while pretending to safeguard democracy, led her to lose a key ethical and political scope.

The House Speaker may have thought she was picking up important concepts from the two leading figures in the Republican and Democratic parties, namely, James Baker and Lee Hamilton, who submitted their report addressing the action plan in Iraq and concluded that America's exit strategy from Iraq lies in engaging Syria and Iran in dialogue.

Pelosi headed to Damascus but did not dare to head to Tehran. She went with the concept of stimulating Syria's interest in a peace deal with Israel in exchange for a Syrian assistance to the US in finding a way out of the Iraqi quagmire.

She chose to uphold some random headings from the Baker-Hamilton recommendations and overlooked details. She appeared like a woman of insignificant size, pleading for help despite the senior post she controls and which calls for willpower.

There is nothing wrong with the Speaker's attempt to secure an exit for the US troops from Iraq, even if she was forced to head in the direction of unfriendly capitals. There is also nothing wrong with the House Speaker's resort to a means of persuasion and motivation as opposed to a means of defiance and isolation, particularly against the backdrop of her country's policies, which opted for military action as the groundwork for change in Iraq.

What is deplorable, however, is that Nancy Pelosi has acted as though she were a mere member of Congress, instead of rising up to the level of the post she controls, with all its components and ramifications.

She acted similarly to Hamas when the latter failed to adapt to its role as a government, continuing to act as a faction, which recently came to realize the impossibly of being both a government and a faction.

Therefore, Nancy Pelosi should act in accordance with what is entailed by the virtue of her post, rather than allow anything that might lead to the impression that she has opted for the principals that are against accountability and against the tribunal in the face of violations and assassinations.

This line of conduct constitutes the greatest harm to the US, making it seem as capable of exonerating anybody from punishment so long as it serves its own interests, and regardless of the costs this exoneration inflicts to others.

This line of conduct is a subversion of all the principals championed by a House of Representatives that claims to back emerging democracies like the one in Lebanon.

Therefore, should Israel opt to circumvent the international tribunal and the international resolutions defining the Lebanese-Syrian relationship, under the pretext that its interest lies in maintaining its relationship with the Syrian regime, then the US should not be compelled to make the same choice.

The US House of Representatives must seriously think of US interests as a priority during this critical stage of the US' history, instead of its known traditional tendency to drift along what is being dictated by Israel's interests.

Nancy Pelosi is now required to understand the following: the higher interest of the US cannot afford the collapse of Lebanon's march toward democracy and independence from Syria; and the establishment of the international tribunal to try those who gambled on the US' poor memory, and who are convinced that they will once again be able to proceed without prosecution.

She must also demand that her aides compile a comprehensive file on the significance of Lebanon's succumbing to tradeoffs or miscalculations, in order to realize that the issue at hand is not merely that of a country as small as Lebanon, but rather an issue of a symbol, an objective and a headline in the march of democracy in the Arab region as a whole.

The Speaker of the House must have heard from Arab leaderships what might have led her to condemn her own decisions. Therefore, it would not be so far fetched that she would return from her tour to re-assess and reconsider her actions, as she allowed herself to fall victim to exactly what George W. Bush had been subjected to, namely: being hijacked by one cabal or the other.

She should give up attempting to shape US policies in Iraq from the angle of defying George W. Bush and the US policies in the Middle East from the angle of the US' guardianship of Israel.

We live in a different era, and it is high time for US decision-makers to take a little more time to review the Middle East region's contentious files from the US' interests point of view, rather than the customary angle of 'discussion tips' being dictated by the Israeli lobby and its expectations, which are geared toward serving Israel's interests, even at the expense of those of the US.

The war in Iraq, whether in conclusion, through premeditation or prior planning, came to the advantage of Israel and Iran, but at a dear price to the US.

Therefore, negotiating a way out of this predicament must not, once again, come to the advantage of Israel and Iran at the expense of the US' interests and status.

Accordingly, the Speaker of the House need not implore for Damascus' assistance in Iraq while on a visit that radically undermines the accomplishments of the US and international diplomacy in Lebanon and Iraq, then boasts that her visit was for the sake of peace in the Middle East.

The prospects for the Middle East are clear to all the moderate and rational Israelis who are well aware that the extremists in Israel and in the Jewish lobby within the US are those dictating policies on Nancy Pelosi and those of her caliber.

The deliberate obstruction of peace, rather than peacemaking, is their aim, as they play for time and exploit a number of Congressmen/women as tools in carefully studied and planned policies suitable to Israel and harmful to the US.

Buying time and establishing a tacit agreement to maintain the status quo was the actual purpose of the message Pelosi rallied back and forth between al-Assad and Olmert.

Accordingly, Nancy Pelosi's actions contradict and effectively block peace efforts exerted by the moderate Arab forces that gave Israel a clear and firm message indicating readiness for a collective and comprehensive peace with it in exchange for resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict first.

After having sat next to Vice President Dick Cheney during a special hearing at Congress and the Senate for Jordanian King Abdullah II a few weeks ago, Pelosi must have forgotten, pretended to forget, or even failed to hear the message being conveyed initially.

She did not exert any effort in following the events of the Arab Summit in Riyadh, which launched an extremely important initiative in the course of the genuine pursuit of peace and an Arab, Islamic normalization with Israel.

She acted either out of ignorance or ill intention by assuming a go-between role while visiting Damascus to breach its isolation amid a highly critical phase of isolation due to reasons directly related to the establishment of the international tribunal, sought to put an end to an era and a tradition of non-accountability and exoneration.

What Pelosi actually did was to implement another bleak chapter of the Israeli lobby strategy, stipulating to offer Damascus a deal with Israel to pull it way from Iran and Hezbollah.

The truth of the matter is that Damascus will not break away from Iran, regardless of its readiness to sacrifice Hezbollah as part of bilateral deals with Israel in Lebanon.

In fact, Israel needs a war to restore its image of supremacy following the uncovering of its weaknesses during last summer's war in Lebanon. It also seeks to militarily neutralize Damascus once again, as its is eager to claim its practical participation in sacrificing Lebanon. All the rhetoric over a peace deal in the Golan Heights are no more than lip service aimed at the Syrian and Israeli sides. This lip service has now come coupled with a smile from the US Speaker of the House, who assume the go-between role for deals doomed to failure.

A Democratic party seeking control of the White House is now required to radically compensate for Pelosi's actions, and to bear in mind the difference between reclaiming the White House from the Republican Party and stripping the US from the elements of its interests, status and future. The higher interest of the US calls on US Congressmen/women to stop thinking in terms of a pen merely inscribing the diktat of an extremist US-Israeli lobby intimidating the ranks of moderation in Israel.

If Israel is not ready for peace with the Palestinians, then it is up to Nancy Pelosi and those of her caliber to stop offering the interests and the future of the US as a hostage and an offering for the sake of the Israeli interest.

If both Israel and Syria are ready for peace, then it is hoped that they negotiate and immediately forge a bilateral peace pact that would spare the Palestinians and the Lebanese the tragedies of being used as cards in the Syrian-Israeli, US-sponsored waiting game like the one sponsored by Pelosi.

Where does Hezbollah stand with respect to all this? Is it favoring the deal being concocted between Damascus and Tel Aviv by the hands of the Israeli lobby in Washington? Or is it favoring Lebanon, to whom belongs its popular base, which it exploits in its political maneuvers?

Perhaps it is now time to reshuffle the cards, for what shows from the hidden cards now exposes more than one player and partner involved in a bleak game.


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