Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tuesdays with Paulie 1/16/07

Israel and Syrian Understanding?

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz is running a fascinating story claiming that Israel and Syria held talks between September 2004 and July 2006, which resulted in the two countries formulating an understanding for a peace agreement. Some of the principles in the supposed agreement include Israel withdrawing from the Golan Heights to the lines of June 4, 1967. Israel will retain control over the use of the waters of the Jordan River and Lake Kinneret. A buffer zone would be set up along Lake Kinneret, a park will be set up for joint use by Israelis and Syrians. The park will cover a significant portion of the Golan Heights. Syria will end it's support for Hezbollah and Hamas.

It will be interesting over the next 24 hours to see if this story gets picked up by other press organizations. Am I excited or optimistic after reading this story? Sadly no. I'm not saying the story doesn't have any validity, but it is hard to believe that after the problems Israel occurred after the recent war in Lebanon, Syria would be interested in peace when they may view Israel as being vulnerable. On the other hand, the story does make sense when you look at the situation from a perspective of economics. Syria has suffered from the United States embargo. The Assad regime first priority is maintaining power. If the story is accurate that the regime is concerned about instability due to the loss of petroleum revenue than anything is possible.

The article does serve as a great reminder that we never know exactly what may be going on behind the scenes. Israel and the Palestinian Authority met secretly to create the Oslo Accords. In retrospect the agreement was disastrous, but the two sides did meet and talk in secret. I have always believed that the United States probably does talk directly with Iran, North Korea and even possibly Al Qaeda in undisclosed locations. In the real world it is not always beneficial for a countries press and public to know everything a government does. For the past few years the Dick Durbin's and Ted Kennedy's of the world have screaming bloody murder after the events at Abu Graib and the idea of the prisons at Guantanamo Bay. Comparing the United States to Nazi's and Stalin. However do they or any clear thinking person really believe that the United States or any country for that matter limit their interrogation techniques if they can possibly thwart the murder of hundreds or thousands of people?

Former Secretary of state Henry Kissinger said that if a Democracy is going to survive, it cannot be a Democracy outside it's borders. Anything is possible even for Israel when it comes to talking to her enemies behind closed doors or in a secret hotel room in a Norwegian country. I guess a part of me will always have a glimmer of hope that a country such as Syria could one day recognize Israel and a real peace can exist. Right now, as long as Syria continues to support Hamas and Hezbollah, Israel has the moral authority to turn Damascus into a towering inferno.

Party in South Beach
Residents waiting for Castro to die...again!

Here we go again! A Spanish newspaper is reporting that Fidel Castro is in "very grave" condition. We have heard this before. Now I not saying that the report doesn't have any merit, in fact it appears that the information definitely warrants attention, especially if the unnamed sources are from the hospital that employs the surgeon, who flew to Cuba in December to treat the dictator. However, I recall last year when the initial reports of Castro relinquishing power came out, the Cuban community in Florida celebrated non-stop for days, convinced he was dead. To the disappointment of thousands of Cubans in Miami, Castro was only ill not dead.

Now we have a new deathwatch for Castro and I am curious how the Cuban community will react this time around. Will they begin celebrating immediately or take a more cautious approach and begin their partying when a confirmation of death is revealed. Truth be told, Castro could be dead now and we may not know for months. His brother who would become dictator may want to keep the idea of Castro alive as long as it is politically beneficial. Since they have no freedom of the press, they can tell their citizens whatever they want. Not until a rotting smell comes out of Havana will the world know he is dead. Than again, they don't usually need a reason to party in South Beach.



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