The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

ME Politics 101

Here’s an AP story building on the recent news reports about a new initiative whereby Egypt and Saudi Arabia would intervene to try to sway Syria away from its alliance with Iran and Hizbollah--in an very classic exchange for a promise from Washington not to give them any headaches about this annoying democracy thing.
Though the AP story was good quality reporting, the title was rather funny: “Moderate Arabs look to curb militants.� “Moderate Arabs�? AP’s standards for political “moderation� seem to lie in how close the regime is to DC. One regime may sodomize dissidents, the other beheads them, but still according to AP they are “moderates.�
Moderate Arabs look to curb militants

By Steven R. Hurst and Salah Nasrawi

CAIRO, Egypt -- Egypt and Saudi Arabia - both with strained U.S. ties - are working to entice Syria to end support for Hezbollah, a move that is central to resolving the conflict in Lebanon and unhitching Damascus from its alliance-of-convenience with Iran, the Shiite Muslim guerrillas' other main backer, Arab diplomats and analysts said Sunday.

The two Arab heavyweights were prepared to spend heavily from Egypt's political capital in the region and Saudi Arabia's vast financial reserves to rein in Hezbollah as well as the Hamas militants now running the Palestinian government. In return, Washington would ease pressure on its moderate Arab allies for broad democratic reform, the diplomats and analysts said.

The deal offers hope of stopping the violence on both sides of Israel - the fight with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. It is believed that taking Syria out of the Hezbollah-Iran orbit would blunt Iran's bid to establish itself as a regional power-broker. Iran's attempts to expand its influence sends shudders through the moderate Arab world.

"The U.S. administration has already realized that its Middle East policies are not paying dividends. They have yielded no real reforms. Now the (Arab) regimes find it easy to tell them (in the administration) that the status quo is better and Washington should not insist on reforms," said Khalil el-Annany, a political analyst at the Cairo-based International Politics Center.

Arab diplomats in Cairo said the United States had signaled a willingness to re-engage Syria through Washington's encouragement of the Egyptians and Saudis to lean on Damascus to stop backing Hezbollah. For their part, the Syrians sounded ready to begin repairing ties with Washington.

"If the United States wants to involve in Syria's diplomacy, of course Damascus is more than willing to engage," Syria's ambassador to Washington, Imad Moustapha, said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation."